Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Police bust Philadelphia betting ring

Philadelphia police have "a strong feeling" that a $2.5 million illegal sports betting ring raided last week was linked to the Mafia, according to a story by Kitty Caparella of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Nine men aged 23 to 48 were arrested last Wednesday. Police expect to arrest two or three more. The suspects were arraigned on conspiracy and bookmaking charges. Police also seized 19 networked computers from two locations in West Philadelphia.

Police are looking into whether the operation paid a street tax to a Mafia organization or used crime family connections to lay off some bets.

Boston's Ferrara pleads not guilty to gambling

Vincent Ferrara, 59, of Boston, pleaded not guilty in Norfolk Superior Court yesterday to gambling-related charges, according to a story by Franci R. Ellement of the Boston Globe.

Ferrara, a former lieutenant in the New England Mafia who was jailed for 16 years on a racketeering conviction, said he had nothing at all to do with a gambling ring recently broken up through police telephone wiretaps. Prosecutors contend that Ferrara was sharing gambling operation profits with ringleader Dominic Santoro of Quincy, MA.

Santoro faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges against him. The charge against Ferrara is a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. However, Ferrara is still on probation from federal prison and could be returned there if found to be violating the terms of his release.

Pellicano convicted of racketeering

Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano was convicted last week of racketeering, wiretapping and other charges, according to a story by David Halbfinger of the New York Times.

After deliberations of nine days, a federal jury convicted the 64-year-old on 76 of the 77 counts against him on May 15. Just one count of racketeering could result in a 20-year prison sentence. Pellicano's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 24.

Most of the charges against Pellicano stem from his extensive use of wiretapping to accumulate damaging information against business rivals and former spouses of powerful Hollywood executives. A number of Pellicano's wealthy clients admitted paying for and listening to illegal wiretaps. However, they were not charged with wrongdoing.

Investigators turned up evidence that Pellicano surveillance was directed for a time against Sylvester Stallone and Keith Carradine and that an illegal criminal background check was done against Garry Shandling.

DiNunzio released on $20K cash bail

A federal magistrate has ordered the release today of reputed New England Mafia underboss Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio on cash bail of $20,000, according to a story by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe. DiNunzio is awaiting federal trial on bribery charges.

Judge Judith G. Dein ruled that evidence against DiNunzio (right) is strong but did not relate to violence or threats of violence. That was enough to defeat the prosecution's argument for holding DiNunzio. Federal prosecutors said DiNunzio is dangerous.

The prosecutors played a surveillance audio tape of DiNunzio saying he wanted to throw an underworld associate off a roof if the associate backed out of a loan deal. Dein said the comment was an expression of annoyance rather than an actual threat.

Defense attorney Anthony Cardinale said his client suffers from obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease and sleep apnea and is not a danger to anyone.

Conditions for his release will include confinement to his East Boston home except for trips to the doctor, the court or his attorney. DiNunzio will have to wear a tracking bracelet and avoid contact with witnesses and codefendants in the case. He will not be permitted to work in his cheese shop on Endicott Street in Boston's North End. The FBI has documented visits of Mafiosi at the shop.

DiNunzio was arrested May 2 on charges related to a 2006 FBI sting operation. He was charged with offering bribes to win contracts for Boston's "Big Dig" highway construction project. A $10,000 down payment allegedly was given to an undercover FBI agent posing as an inspector for the Massachusetts Highway Department. Law enforcement agents say DiNunzio became second in command of the New England Mafia in 2004.

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.