Tuesday, November 25, 2008

D'Elia informs, gets nine-year sentence

NE Pennsylvania boss
cooperates in probe

Federal prosecutors believe the sentencing of William D'Elia (right) in federal court yesterday represents the "final chapter in the dismantling of the Bufalino Pittston crime syndicate," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

D'Elia, 62, of Hughestown PA, was sentenced to 108 months in prison for conspiring to launder money and tampering with a witness. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following that prison term. D'Elia, reputed boss of the Northeastern Pennsylvania "Bufalino" Crime Family based on Scranton, Pittston and Wilkes Barre, has already served about two years.

Prosecutors say they will recommend additional time be taken off D'Elia's sentence if he continues to provide "substantial" assistance to the Dauphine County District Attorney's Office on a perjury case against Mount Airy Resort Casino owner Louis DeNaples, according to a story by Michael Rubinkam of the Associated Press.

D'Elia pleaded guilty last March and was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas I. Vanaski. The judge could have imposed as many as 15 years in prison for the charges against D'Elia. When first charged, there were as many 18 counts against him, and he faced possible punishment of up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. Most charges were dropped in the plea bargain process. D'Elia's attorney had argued for a sentence of just seven years, according to a story by Terrie Morgan-Besecker of the Wilkes Barre Times Leader.

"I'm truly sorry for my actions that may have harmed people," D'Elia told the judge. "I hope I will soon be able to resume my life with my family in a positive, honorable and productive way."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said D'Elia is assisting the perjury case against DeNaples and his adviser Father Joseph Sica. County authorities charge that both men lied about DeNaples' connections to organized crime when DeNaples applied to operate his Pocono Mountains casino, according to a report by Norm Jones of WNEP-16, Moosic PA.

A DeNaples spokesman said "Louis DeNaples is innocent and absolutely doesn't have any connections to organized crime. When this case finally goes to court, we'll have the chance to tell the court the truth." A spokesman for Father Sica said, "Father Sica never committed perjury. His prosecution is offensive."

A DeNaples attorney told the press that D'Elia was lying to investigators in an effort to have time shaved off his sentence.

D'Elia and several codefendants were indicted in May 2006 on charges that they aided a drug dealer in the laundering of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug sale proceeds by setting up phony companies. D'Elia was released on bail. A second indictment charged him with continuing to launder money after his release and with ordering the murder of witness Frank Pavlico III.

"This was a cold-blooded attempt to obstruct the investigation by murdering a witness," said Zubrod.

Law enforcement agencies had considered D'Elia a bigshot in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Crime Family for decades. He once served as driver for regional boss Russell Bufalino. Philadelphia's turncoat crime boss Ralph Natale testified in 2001 that D'Elia was boss of the old Bufalino organization. In 2003, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement put D'Elia on its Exclusion List (left), banning him from casinos in the state. Still, D'Elia was not charged with a crime until the money laundering case.

Pavlico, originally a codefendant in that case, wore a "wire" and recorded conversations with D'Elia. Pavlico pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

RI LIUNA official indicted for racketeering

Nicholas Manocchio, director of a New England regional organizing fund of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), has been indicted on one count of labor conspiracy, according to a report by Nancy Krause of WPRI and a story by W. Zachary Malinowski of the Providence Journal.

Arrested yesterday, Manocchio (left), 55, of Cranston RI, is accused of accepting cash and other gifts from an undercover agent posing as a contractor looking for work in Rhode Island. The gifts included liquor, use of rental cars and gift certificates. Manocchio was released on $25,000 unsecured bond. He is scheduled for arraignment in December.

Also indicted on related racketeering charges were Harold Tillinghast, 44, also of Cranston, and Gerald Diodati, 59, of Seekonk MA. Tillinghast is a former employee of LIUNA. Diodati is a contractor. The two men were arrested last month and are free on bond. Charges stem from a six-year-long investigation of corruption in an Olneyville RI development project.

Authorities noted that Manocchio is the nephew of Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, longtime boss of the New England Crime Family. Nicholas Manocchio served about seven years in prison in the 1980s after being convicted of manslaughter and related charges in connection with the killing of Richard Fournier, 24, in North Providence.

Feds break up Lucchese gambling ring

Federal prosecutors say they arrested an acting lieutenant in the Lucchese Crime Family and five other men for running a sports gambling ring in the Bronx, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Authorities say Anthony Croce, an acting lieutenant in the crime family, regularly received payments from the betting organization. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges against him. The gambling operation, which included offshore locations and made use of the Internet, was revealed when investigators recorded cell phone conversations of bets being taken on football games and other sports events.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

RI police discover mobster's remains

Rhode Island State Police believe they have discovered the buried remains of slain mobster Joseph P. "Joe Onions" Scanlon behind the Lisboa Apartments in East Providence, according to a story by W. Zachary Malinowski and Mike Stanton of the Providence Journal.

Police were directed to the site by Nicholas S. "Nicky" Pari, 71, of North Providence. Pari has already served time for the 1978 killing of Scanlon. He admitted to that crime back in 1982. His latest revelation for law enforcement came after he was arrested in Operation Mobbed Up earlier this week. The remains, unearthed yesterday, will be subjected to DNA testing.

Scanlon grew up in an Italian neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut, aspiring to Mafia membership. He moved to Providence with hopes of joining the Patriarca Crime Family. Scanlon had a falling out with area mobsters and reportedly began cooperating with authorities investigating Pari and Andrew Merola (right). Less than a month after becoming an informant, Scanlon disappeared.

Pari and Merola were both arrested for killing Scanlon. At trial, Scanlon's girlfriend testified that the two men cooperated on the murder. Pari punched Scanlon to distract him, and Merola then shot Scanlon in the back of the head. The pair was convicted of first-degree murder, but they won a new trial on appeal. They subsequently pleaded no contest to lesser charges.

On April 1, 2007, Merola at the age of 71. He had been battling cancer. A Providence Journal story reported that one of his last visitors was Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, head of the regional crime family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Operation Mobbed Up' nets 17 in RI

Rhode Island state police arrested 17 people yesterday morning as part of Operation Mobbed Up, according to a story by Mike Stanton and W. Zachary Malinowsky of the Providence Journal. An 18th suspect was already in custody on unrelated charges.

Among those arrested were Nicholas S. "Nicky" Pari, 71, and Gerald M. "Gerry" Tillinghast, 62 (image at left shows police information from a 1976 Tillinghast arrest). Pari is charged with racketeering, firearms and drug violations. Tillinghast is charged with drug and gambling offenses. Authorities consider those two men longtime members of Rhode Island's underworld and former underlings of the late Raymond L.S. Patriarca. Pari faces charges of overseeing "a large-scale criminal operation" at the Valley Street Flea Market in Providence. Also arrested was Lloyd Morse, 50, owner of the flea market.

Investigators say two criminal rings were based at the flea market. Those rings are believed to have engaged in fencing stolen goods, dealing in guns and drugs, gambling, counterfeiting, theft and insurance fraud.

Pari was previously imprisoned for the 1978 mob killing of Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon, though Scanlon's body was never found. Pari was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years.

As he was taken into custody yesterday, Pari reportedly provided state police with the location of the remains. A police dig began almost immediately at a lot in East Providence, according to a story by Hilary Russ of the Associated Press. The police would not confirm that they were searching for Scanlon's remains.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ex-agent Connolly guilty of 2d-degree murder

John Connolly (right), a former FBI agent who became involved with the Boston underworld, was convicted in a Miami courtroom yesterday of second degree murder, according to a story by Curt Anderson of the AP.

Jurors deliberated for two-plus days after the two-month trial before deciding that Connolly leaked information to Boston organized crime figures that led to the 1982 shooting death of former world Jai-Alai president John Callahan. Connolly warned the gangsters that Callahan could provide evidence linking them to a 1981 killing.

Connolly was the FBI's handler for two top-level informants in the Boston underworld, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi. The former FBI agent was convicted in 2002 of racketeering and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. Connolly reportedly received $235,000 from Bulger and his gang in return for protection. Connolly has been accused of leaking information to Bulger, including news of a pending indictment against Bulger. The Boston gang boss managed to avoid arrest in 1995 and remains at large.

This latest Connolly conviction carries the possibility of a life sentence in prison.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Coppola charged with racketeering, murder

A federal indictment unsealed Monday charges Michael Coppola, 62, alleged lieutenant in the Genovese Crime Family, with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy offenses including a 1977 murder, extortion and wire fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Federal prosecutors say Coppola (left) approached 68-year-old Giovanni "Johnny Cokes" Larducci (also known as John Lardiere) outside the Red Bull Inn motel on Route 22 in Bridgewater, NJ, on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1977. Coppola allegedly attempted to shoot Larducci with a firearm, but the weapon jammed. Believing he had escaped an assassination attempt, Larducci asked Coppola, "What are you going to do now, tough guy?"

Coppola allegedly drew a revolver from an ankle holster and shot Larducci to death. Larducci was reportedly a Genovese lieutenant serving under boss Gerardo Catena. Larducci is believed to have been involved in loansharking and was suspected of involvement in the 1971 disappearance of Teamsters Local 945 President Michael A. Ardis, according to a story published on Mycentraljersey.com.

As Coppola, also known as Michael Rizzo and Mikey Cigars, became a leading suspect in the Larducci killing in 1996, he fled, the press release said. His story was featured on the America's Most Wanted television program. Coppola was captured by the FBI on March 9, 2007. Authorities had learned he was staying with an alleged Genovese Crime Family associate on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

New Jersey state prosecutors passed on the murder case against Coppola when DNA evidence came back with an inconclusive result, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

The indictment accuses Coppola of involvement in a conspiracy to extort payments from International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235. That extortion allegedly went on for a period of three decades. The Daily News reports that Coppola is also a suspect in the 2005 killing of Genovese Crime Family lieutenant Lawrence Ricci (right).

Prosecutors plan to introduce evidence obtained through a 1980 wiretap of the home of the late Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Crime Family.

About Me

My photo
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.