Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pittsburgh's Bazzano Jr. dies at 81

John Bazzano Jr., longtime racketeer in western Pennsylvania, died last Friday at the age of 81, according to a story by Torsten Ove of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The son of an early Pittsburgh Mafia boss executed by the mob in Brooklyn in 1932 and the son-in-law of the late crime family lieutenant Antonio Ripepi, the junior Bazzano became a top-ranking member of the regional crime family. He is widely believed to have served as underboss to the late Michael Genovese between 1987 (When Jo Jo Pecora died) and Genovese's 2006 death.

Like his father, John Jr. was a war veteran, serving in the Army just after World War II. He enlisted as a private on Aug. 31, 1945, two months after his 18th birthday and two weeks after the Japanese surrender.

In 1974, federal agents uncovered evidence that he was running a massive numbers gambling operation. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He began his term in March 1978. He was paroled in 1981 and returned home to Peters Township, southwest of Pittsburgh.

Born on June 28, 1927 (a 1930 census curiously shows him just over a year old, living with his parents, two siblings and grandfather at 1287 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon, PA), John Jr. was five years old at the time his famous father was murdered.

John Bazzano Jr.'s death occurred two weeks after the On the Spot Journal published an in-depth report of his father's assassination, written by Thomas Hunt and Michael A. Tona.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chicago mobster Schweihs dies at 78

Frank Schweihs

Frank "the German" Schweihs (left), reputed assassin for the Chicago Outfit, died last night, according to stories by Chuck Goudie of WLS-TV-7 in Chicago and the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Schweihs' poor health did not allow him to be tried with his Family Secrets Case codefendants last summer. He was reportedly suffering from cancer. A separate trial for Schweihs was to begin this October.

During a June court appearance, Schweihs made an impression, with his rude and vulgar comments. Schweihs was transfered recently from Metropolitan Correction Center to Thorek Hospital and Medical Center, where he died.

According to the WLS report, Schweihs was first arrested in 1949 and averaged more than one arrest per year since then.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

KC Outfit bigshot 'Tuffy' DeLuna dies at 81

Carl DeLunaCarl Angelo "Tuffy" DeLuna, former underboss of the Kansas City Mafia organization known as the Outfit, died Monday at the age of 81, according to reports by Meredith Rodriguez of the Kansas City Star and Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone of Chicago's WLS-TV-7.

DeLuna (right) was repeatedly convicted of racketeering and other crimes and served a total of 12 years in federal prison. He was investigated for skimming from Las Vegas casinos and for squeezing money out of the Teamster union pension fund. Electronic surveillance in 1978 allowed the FBI to listen in on a casino skimming-related conversation between DeLuna and Carl "Cork" Civella, then boss of Kansas City's Outfit. Civella's organization and the Chicago Outfit had an agreement in place for splitting skim drawn from the Tropicana Casino. Agents later discovered DeLuna documentation of underworld skimming. His records implicated mobsters in several cities.

DeLuna had been out of prison since 1998. He was noted at betting parlors in the Kansas City area until Feb. 23, 2005, when the Missouri Gaming Commission banned him.

Born April 30, 1927, law enforcement officials believe DeLuna began his career as a street gangster, armed robber and gunman. Federal agents came to regard him as a "perfect gentleman," according to former FBI supervisor Gart Hart. "He treated everyone with the same respect."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

62 years for Chicago's Anthony Calabrese

Reputed Chicago hitman Anthony Calabrese, 47, was sentenced yesterday to 62 years in prison, according to a story by Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times. Calabrese was convicted of leading three armed robberies.

Calabrese plans to appeal the sentence.

Unrelated to the two Calabrese brothers involved in last year's Family Secrets case, Anthony Calabrese is suspected by federal authorities of involvement in the 2001 mob killing of Anthony "the Hatch" Chiaramonti. He has not been charged with that killing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Allie Persico could get new trial

Alphonse PersicoAlphonse "Allie Boy" Persico (left), the Colombo Crime Family boss convicted late last year of ordering the death of William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, could be given a new trial, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

The new trial is under consideration because a key prosecution witness might have lied. Cutolo's widow, Marguerite Cutolo, testified that federal agents allowed her to keep $1.6 million in cash that her husband, the Colombo Family underboss, stashed around their Staten Island NY home.

There appears to be no official documentation supporting her claim about the money. If prosecutors are unable to resolve the discrepancy, a new trial might be ordered.

'Cadillac Frank' sentenced, expects to be out in '09

Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, 74-year-old former boss of the New England Crime Family, was sentenced Tuesday to five years for lying and obstruction of justice, according to a story by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe. With credit for time served, he could be released from prison by December or January. After prison, he will be in a supervised release program for three years, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Frank SalemmeIn a plea deal, Salemme (right) admitted lying to investigators about the May 1993 disappearance of Steven A. DiSarro, owner of a nightclub in South Boston known as "The Channel." Salemme maintains that he had nothing to do with DiSarro's disappearance. The nightclub owner is presumed to have been murdered. A decade ago, Salemme told investigators that former New England boss Nicholas Bianco wanted DiSarro eliminated.

"I want to categorically deny that I had anything to do with DiSarro, the assault or the murder...," Salemme told the court before hearing his sentence.

Salemme took over as New England boss after Bianco was removed by federal prosecution and by his November 1994 death in prison. During a power struggle within the Boston and Providence-based Mafia, Salemme was indicted on racketeering charges in January 1995.

James BulgerAlso indicted at that time were James "Whitey" Bulger (left) and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi. Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants. According to Salemme, former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. warned Salemme, Bulger and Flemmi of the indictments. Bulger and Flemmi fled. Bulger remains a fugitive. Salemme became a government witness against Connolly in 1999, helping to convict Connolly of racketeering.

Salemme was released into the witness protection program in 2003. He was back in custody in 2004 after prosecutors accused him of covering up his son Frank Jr.'s alleged involvement in DiSarro's slaying. Salemme denied the charge. Frank Jr. died in 2005 of lymphoma.

Prosecutors noted that DiSarro's disappearance occurred shortly after investigators began looking into the relationship between the Salemmes and The Channel.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Statement links construction firm to the mob

An affidavit filed in Brooklyn federal court links officials of the Schiavone Construction Company with schemes involving organized crime, according to a story by William K. Rashbaum of the New York Times.

The affidavit was part of a 2005 investigation of organized crime. In it, a federal investigator described the methods through which Schiavone officials intended to direct payments to a trucking executive connected with the Mafia. The statement includes a quote attributed to carting company executive Nicholas Calvo, in which Calvo explained Mafia influence over Schiavone. Calvo, arrested in a racketeering case earlier this year and identified by prosecutors as a Genovese Crime Family associate, recently pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy.

Schiavone ties to the Genovese Crime Family have been rumored since an unsuccessful state fraud prosecution of a company owner in 1987. However, the contracting giant's general counsel Mary Libasi insists Schiavone is operating within the law and is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn on the investigation. No charges related to the affidavit have been filed against the company or its executives.

Two employees of Schiavone Construction Company were among the 62 people charged in a broader racketeering investigation earlier this year.

'Mafia cop' Eppolito gets 18 months on tax charge

Louis Eppolito, a former New York Police detective who aided the Lucchese Crime Family, has been sentenced in Las Vegas to 18 months in prison for filing a false income tax return, according to broadcast reports.

During his July 1 sentencing in U.S. District Court, Eppolito also was ordered to pay $102,000. The imposition of a prison sentence won't mean much to the former detective. In federal custody since 2005, he has been credited for time already served. He pleaded guilty in February to one count of filing a false income tax return. As part of his plea deal, Eppolito acknowledged owing just over $102,000 to the IRS for tax years 2000 through 2002.
Eppolito is expected to be turned over to New York authorities. The state has a detention order against him in connection with a racketeering case.

In 2006, Eppolito and his NYPD partner Stephen Caracappa had been convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn of participating in mob killings on the behalf of the Lucchese Family. The two former detectives became known in the press as the "Mafia Cops." A federal judge ruled, however, that the statute of limitations on the charges had expired. Prosecutors are appealing that decision.

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at tphunt@gmail.com.)
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website Mafiahistory.us; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.