Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bonanno associate convicted of 2005 killing

Joseph "Joe Black" Young, 30, a Bonanno Crime Family associate, was convicted Monday of the March 29, 2005, mob murder of Robert McKelvey, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News. Young's attorney plans to appeal the verdict.

At trial, Young admitted to dismembering McKelvey's remains and disposing of them in a furnace at the Kreischer Mansion on Staten Island. He denied causing McKelvey's death. Young was an associate of a Bonanno crew led by Mafia soldier Gino Galestro. In August, Galestro pleaded guilty to ordering McKelvey's death.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Admits disposing of body but not killing

Joseph "Joe Black" Young, associate of the Bonanno Crime Family, on Monday acknowledged dismembering and incinerating the remains of Robert McKelvey but denied causing McKelvey's death, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

McKelvey, 39, was stabbed and drowned to death in March 2005 at the Kreischer Mansion (left) on Staten Island. His remains were disposed of in the mansion's furnace. Young was a caretaker at the site, while he was also working as an associate in the crew of Bonanno soldier Gino Galestro.

Young, who was testifying in federal court in his own defense, blamed mob soldier Michael "Sonny" Maggio for the McKelvey killing. Young admitted to most other crimes included in his federal racketeering indictment.

Galestro is believed to have ordered the killing of McKelvey following a financial dispute.

Feds call for $3.9 million from convicted mobsters

Five convicted Chicago mobsters owe $3.9 million in restitution to the families of their murder victims, federal prosecutors insist. The prosecutors say Frank Calabrese Sr., James Marcello, Joseph Lombardo, Paul Schiro and Anthony Doyle should be held jointly and severally liable for the restitution amount, according to a report by Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone of ABC-7 in Chicago. The amount took into consideration an accountant's estimate of the lost earning capacity of 14 victims.

The five men were convicted in the Family Secrets case last year. They are waiting to be sentenced. After the initial racketeering verdict, Calabrese, Marcello and Lombardo also were found guilty of participating in 10 racketeering murders. A jury deadlocked on Schiro's involvement. Doyle was not charged with racketeering murder.

Lombardo (right) has challenged the restitution and called for a forfeiture hearing in front of a jury. The Family Secrets defendants had waived the right to a hearing. But Lombardo argued that his bad ears kept him from learning that his defense attorney had waived the right. Defense attorney Rick Halprin has acknowledged that he never discussed the matter with Lombardo before or during the trial.

Prosecutors answered the challenge by pointing out that recent Supreme Court opinion has viewed forfeiture as an element of sentence, beyond the scope of the jury's responsibility.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nicolo Rizzuto, 84, gets suspended sentence

Nicolo Rizzuto, 84-year-old father of reputed Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, was released from a Canadian prison today, according to reports by the Canadian Press, the Globe and Mail and the National Post.

Last month, Nicolo Rizzuto (right) pleaded guilty to possessing goods obtained through criminal gains and to possession of proceeds of crime for the benefit of a criminal organization. He was sentenced today to time served and three years of probation.

Rizzuto was arrested as part of the massive Canadian "Project Colisee" back in November 2006.

Four other reputed leaders in the Montreal Mafia were sentenced to between six and 15 years in prison. Authorities say Project Colisee targeted participants in a ring that smuggled cocaine through Montreal's airport. Police initially arrested 90 people.

Vito Rizzuto is serving a 10-year racketeering sentence in a medium-security prison in Colorado. He was convicted of participating in three 1981 Mafia murders in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Lefty' Rosenthal dies in Florida at 79

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who once supervised mob gambling rackets in Las Vegas, died of a heart attack Monday night at his Florida home, according to a story by Mary Manning of the Las Vegas Sun and a report by Fox5 Las Vegas. He was 79 years old.

Authorities believe Rosenthal (left), a Chicago native (born June 12, 1929), secretly supervised the Stardust, Fremont and Hacienda casinos for an underworld consortium that included the Chicago Outfit. He worked closely with the Outfit's enforcer in Las Vegas, Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro. The activities of the two men were depicted in the fictionalized movie Casino, with Robert DeNiro playing the role of Sam Rothstein (Rosenthal) and Joe Pesci playing Nicky Santoro (Spilotro). Spilotro, like his movie representation, was murdered by underworld associates. Rosenthal barely escaped a similar end.

In 1982, Rosenthal survived an apparent mob hit in a parking lot outside a restaurant at 600 E. Sahara Avenue. His 1981 Cadillac Eldorado exploded around him. Rosenthal suffered no serious injuries, but was burned on his legs, his left arm and the left side of his face. He refused to sign a police incident report or to cooperate in an investigation.
Rosenthal's forte was sports handicapping, and he is credited with pioneering lucrative sports gambling in Vegas. Between 1976 and 1988, Rosenthal battled with Nevada gaming authorities to obtain a state gaming license. The Nevada Gaming Commission banned him from casinos in the state in 1988, when it put him into the "Black Book" officially known as the List of Excluded Persons.
A planned "Mob" museum in Las Vegas is expected to feature items from Rosenthal's career. Current Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, once a Rosenthal attorney, said he would speak about his former client today (Wednesday, Oct. 15).

Rosenthal's writeup in the Black Book states: "Rosenthal was suspected of overseeing a Las Vegas casino on behalf of organized crime interests and directing the skimming of funds from the casino. In 1982, Rosenthal survived a car bombing in a failed attempt on his life. In 1991, the Nevada Supreme Court upheld Rosenthal's listing in the Black Book. Rosenthal now resides in Florida, the book and movie "Casino" chronicles his life."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jury in Florida finds four guilty of racketeering

Four men, including a the alleged leader of a Gambino Crime Family crew in South Florida, were convicted of racketeering and other charges on Oct. 3, according to a story published by the Miami Herald.

A federal jury found Vincent Artuso, portrayed by prosecutors as a made member of the Gambino clan, guilty of rackeering and fraud. His son John Vincent Artuso, Gregory Orr and Philip Edward Forgione were also convicted on similar charges. Prosecutors depicted the younger Artuso, Orr and Forgione as crime family associates.

KasmanThe prosecution's case was aided by the testimony of Lewis Kasman (left), a informant once regarded as the late Gambino boss John Gotti's "adopted son."

Addressing the jury, defense attorney Mike Pasano contested the prosecution's portrayal of the defendants. He said the idea that the Gambino clan had a branch operating in South Florida was "ludicrous."

Another defendant in the case William Larry Horton pleaded guilty earlier and will be sentenced on Oct. 23. The trial judge dismissed charges against defendant Robert Gannon.

The case was related to the operation of a phony subscription telemarketing company, according to a Jan. 24, 2008, press release of the Miami FBI office. The company's operation defrauded numerous individual victims as well as ADT Security Services, Inc., the press release said. ADT lost an estimated $7 million through the fraudulent rigging of a property sale-lease back scheme over five years.

Grasso killer's sentence is trimmed by 7 years

U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas agreed yesterday to reduce by seven years the prison term of Gaetano J. Milano, convicted killer of Connecticut Mafia big shot William "Wild Guy" Grasso, according to a report by Edmund H. Mahony of the Hartford Courant.

Milano, now 56, was sentenced in 1991 to 33 years in prison. With the reduction in sentence, he has about four more years to serve. Judge Nevas considered reports that Milano has been a model prisoner.

In 1989, Grasso was the top man in the underworld of New Haven, CT. He was considered second in command of the Boston and Providence-based New England Mafia, and he might have been contemplating a move up. The 62-year-old was shot to death within a van on Interstate 91 in June 1989. His body was dumped along the banks of the Connecticut River in Wethersfield.

Patriarca Jr. and MercurioEvidence was produced to show that Milano believed Grasso was preparing to kill him. Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio (FBI surveillance photo shows Mercurio, right, walking beside New England boss Raymond Patriarca Jr.) reportedly planted that idea in Milano's mind in order to manipulate him into killing Grasso. Government investigators knew of Mercurio's role but did not reveal it at Milano's trial because they were protecting informant Mercurio. When the coverup was revealed it provided defense attorneys with grounds to appeal Milano's sentence. Family members had hoped that Milano's sentence would be reduced to time already served. Mercurio died in 2006 while in the witness protection program.

Others charged with complicity in the Grasso murder included Frank and Louis Pugliano and Frank Colantoni Jr., according to a story by Stephanie Barry of the Springfield MA Republican. Mercurio

Parolee charged with extorting hot dog vendor

Robert "Bobby Fingers" Francella, on lifetime parole after serving time for killing his girlfriend, was arrested in New York this week and charged with extorting protection payments from a hot dog vendor on Boston Road in the Bronx, according to a story by Oren Yaniv and Alison Gendar of the New York Daily News.

The police alerted parole officials of the charge, but that notification did not occur until the 49-year-old Francella had made bail yesterday.

Francella, a reputed associate of the Gambino Crime Family, was also accused of jury tampering in connection with a trial of Peter Gotti, the Daily News reported.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

FBI identifies Cutolo's remains

A body pulled from the ground in a wooded area of Farmingdale, Long Island, has been identified as that of William Cutolo Sr., according to a story published by the New York Times.

FBI agents matched distinctive features of the remains with those of Cutolo, a Colombo Crime Family underboss who has been missing and presumed dead since 1999. The agents used dental records and noted that the body was missing the tip of its right middle finger, a match for Cutolo.

Last year, reputed Colombo big shots Alphonse Persico and John DeRoss were convicted of involvement in Cutolo's murder. Their legal defense included an argument that Cutolo might still be alive.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

FBI diggers find apparent human corpse

FBI agents digging at a site in Farmingdale, Long Island, have found what appears to be a human corpse wrapped in a tarp, according to stories by John Marzulli and Leo Standora of the New York Daily News and by the New York Times.

The discovery was made Monday afternoon, when agents expanded a dig area they had searched last week. The site was a wooded area near a Frank Avenue industrial complex. The remains were taken to the New York City medical examiner's office.

Authorities believe the body may be that of William Cutolo (right), a high-ranking member of the Colombo Crime Family who disappeared on his way to 1999 meeting with acting boss Alphonse Persico. Persico was convicted last year of ordering Cutolo's murder.

The FBI indicated that informant Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello told them of a mob burial ground in East Farmingdale. The Bureau believes two other missing men - Carmine Gargano and Richard Greaves - may also be buried there.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vegas approaches mob museum with humor

mob museum logoLas Vegas is having a bit of fun with the organized crime museum it plans to open in 2010. The name of the museum includes redacted words, as one might find in a mob report from the FBI. The official name, according to recent reports, is "The (redacted) Museum: Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement."

The opening screen of website looks to be a government document full of redactions. A machine sound is hear in the background, and the document quickly appears to be shredded.

An AP story by Oskar Garcia noted that city officials have displayed t-shirts bearing the words: "There is no such thing as a mob museum nor have I ever been there."

Bonanno big shot Spero, 79, dies in prison

Anthony Spero, 79, once part of a leadership group in the Bonanno Crime Family, died Monday while serving a life sentence in federal prison, according to a story by Anthony M. DeStefano and Rocco Parascandola of Newsday.

SperoAuthorities say Spero (left) and Sal Vitale supervised Bonanno operations during the late 1980s, when boss Joseph Massino was in prison. Vitale and Massino later aided racketeering investigations. Spero was convicted of racketeering, including murders, in 2001.

In prison, Spero suffered from the early stages of renal cancer and developed breathing problems.

Mob burial ground on Long Island?

The FBI will not discuss details but acknowledges that it is digging in two areas of Farmingdale, Long Island NY, in an effort to find the remains of mob victims, according to a story published in the New York Times.

CutoloA law enforcement source said one of the bodies sought was that of William Cutolo Sr. (right), missing since 1999. Alphonse Persico and John DeRoss, reputed leaders in the Colombo Crime Family, were convicted last year of causing Cutolo's death.
A report by WABC-TV in New York indicated that local homicide detectives and members of the New York medical examiner's office were on hand at the dig locations. Excavation is taking place at a Farmingdale industrial complex, which was built nine years ago, and at a section of woods nearby. The areas have been roped off and designated as crime scenes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Italy arrests 29 in Camorra crackdown

SpagnuoloItalian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni yesterday announced 29 arrests of Camorra-linked suspects in the Naples area, according to a story by the AFP news agency. Raids were conducted in the wake of the Sept. 18 killings of an Italian businessman and six African immigrants.

Among the suspects were Alessandro Cirillo, Oreste Spagnuolo (right) and Giovanni Letizia, reputed members of the Camorra's Casalesi clan, according to a report by CNN International. Also arrested was Giuseppina Nappa, 48-year-old wife of jailed clan leader Francesco "Sandokan" Schiavone.

Son of reputed mobster gets life for knife murder

Vincent Arena, 23, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the September 2005 stabbing murder of 27-year-old Anthony Braccia, according to a story by Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News. In May, he was convicted of second degree murder by a Brooklyn Supreme Court jury.

Arena's father, Steven Arena, was identified by the New York Post as an associate of the Genovese Crime Family. The Daily News reported that Arena's $2 million bail - revoked after his conviction - was arranged through the aid of a Gambino Crime Family lieutenant.

Braccia was robbed of jewelry and then stabbed 31 times within a van. Arena later set the van on fire and reported it stolen. Two other suspects in the crime, Matthew Munch and John Fontana, testified against Arena and are expected to receive light sentences. The jury found Arena not guilty of first degree murder but convicted him of second degree murder and filing a false report.

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
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; 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.