Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gotti faces federal murder and drug charges

John A. "Junior" Gotti, who three times won mistrials on racketeering charges, was arrested again today for racketeering offenses, including possession with intent to distribute 5 kg or more of a "substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine," and the murders of George Grosso, Louis DiBono and Bruce John Gotterup, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida.

The latest charges against Gotti, 44, grew out of a Tampa, Florida, investigation into an arm of the Gambino Crime Family - including Ronald 'Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio and John Alite - that had been active in that community. Trucchio and several others were convicted in 2006. Alite is awaiting trial. He was in Brazil when the others went to trial and had to be extradited.

The latest Gotti indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Tampa and sealed on July 24.

Gotti was arrested this morning at his home at Oyster Bay, Long Island, and he was taken to Manhattan federal court for a hearing of the charges, according to a report by WNBC-TV. Gotti faces a possible life prison sentence if convicted of the charges against him.

An attorney representing Gotti, Seth Ginsberg, told the press, "We're confident that there is no strength to the allegations and that he will prevail once again." Ginsberg said he expected Gotti to be transported to Tampa for arraignment.

Gotti has admitted to participating in the leadership of the Gambino Crime Family once bossed by his father John J. Gotti. "Junior" Gotti pleaded guilty to racketeering offenses - bribery, extortion, fraud and gambling - back in 1999. He served his time and was released in 2005. The younger Gotti insists that he left the Mafia life years ago - beyond the statute of limitations for more recent federal racketeering charges. Three trials between September 2005 and September 2006, which involved accusations that Gotti ordered the kidnapping of radio personality Curtis Sliwa, ended in mistrials.

The murder conspiracy charges could present a more difficult problem for Gotti and his attorneys, as the statute of limitations will afford no protection.

George Grosso was killed Dec. 29, 1998, in Queens, NY. Louis DiBono, Gambino soldier and construction contractor, was found shot to death inside of a Cadillac sedan at the World Trade Center in early October 1990. He had been shot seven times - four times to the head. John J. Gotti was convicted of ordering that killing. Bruce John Gotterup was killed Nov. 20, 1991, at the Boardwalk at the Rockaways in Queens.

In addition to the charges against Gotti, the Tampa-based prosecutors revealed related charges against alleged Gotti associates John A. Burke, 47, now imprisoned in New York; James V. Cadicamo (right), 33, of Tampa; David D'Arpino, 33, of Howard Beach, NY; Michael D. Finnerty, 43, of Oceanside, NY; and Guy T. Peden, of Wantagh, NY.

Other coverage:

Nicosia guilty of extortion conspiracy

Angelo Nicosia, a 46-year-old associate of the Genovese Crime Family crew run by Angelo Prisco, was found guilty July 29 of extortion and extortion conspiracy, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

According to the release, Nicosia demanded payment of tens of thousands of dollars from a Manhattan-based contractor for work that he had not completed. When the contractor did not pay, Prisco underling Peter Rizzo allegedly attacked the contractor's business partner. Years later, Nicosia once again demanded the same payment. Nicosia and co-conspirators threatened the contractor and his family. The contractor made the demanded payment of $50,000. Nicosia and his associates divided the money among themselves, sending $10,000 as tribute to Prisco.

Eight men were initially charged in the case. Seven have been convicted of various related offenses - Michael Iuni, John "Rocky" Melicharek, Dominick "Shakes" Memoli, Louis Pipolo, Dardian "Danny" Celaj, Ened "Neddy" Gjelaj, and Nicosia. The eighth, Gjelosh "Jimmy" Krasniqi, remains at large.

Nicosia faces a possible prison term of 40 years when he is sentenced at the end of October.

Feds explore mob link to restaurateur's killing

The FBI believes the early July 30 killing of Frank Fresca, 66, at his Italian restaurant on Staten Island, could be linked to the Bonanno Crime Family, according to a story by Joe Mollica, Jamie Schram and Adam Nichols of the New York Post. and a story by Xana O'Neill, Tanangachi Mfuni and Jonathan Lemire of the New York Daily News.

Just after midnight, Fresca was shot seven times in the torso, once in the back and once in the head. Police believe his killer was waiting for him in a row of bushes behind the Fresca by the Bay restaurant (right). As the shots were fired, Fresca was heard calling out for a business partner. That man rushed to Fresca's side and later told investigators, "There was nothing I could do."

Authorities recalled that Fresca was severely beaten and was shot at by four men who burst into his restaurant back in 2005. One of his attackers in that case has been identified as Joseph Catapano, who accused Fresca of having a relationship with Catapano's estranged wife. The relationship between Fresca and Kelly Catapano reportedly continued.

Restaurant employees noted that Fresca had not paid some of them in more than a month. They also said the restaurateur seemed worried about business and about his security. He had hired a bodyguard and had been losing weight.
An anonymous online review of Fresca's restaurant, posted just 16 days before his killing, attacked the restaurateur personally and seemed to have more knowledge of him than an occasional patron could acquire: "The owner is a complete idiot with no manners and no respect for woman. He treats his staff horribly, yelling and cursing in front of customers. He has no business sense at all."

Coroner delays Schweihs service

A legal technicality caused the remains of Frank "the German" Schweihs to arrive late for a July 28 funeral service attended by his family, according to a story by Michael Sneed and Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The medical examiner's office had not been properly notified when Schweihs died in custody at Thorek Memorial Hospital the previous Wednesday. The law requires an examination of all those who die in custody. On July 28, the medical examiner tracked Schweihs' remains to Salerno's Galewood Chapel and ordered them transported for examination.

Schweihs' family and friends, many of whom were already upset that they could not be with him during his last minutes of life, were gathering for a funeral service at that time. Facing trial on racketeering charges this October, Schweihs died of complications from cancer. He had recently battled lung cancer and a brain tumor.

Schweihs was one of the original defendants in the Family Secrets case. His poor health kept him from being tried with the rest of the accused.

Nick Corozzo admits gambling

Nicholas Corozzo, reputed lieutenant in the Gambino Crime Family, pleaded guilty July 30 to running a Queens NY-based gambling ring, according to a story published by the New York Daily News. Corozzo, 68, faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced in December. Corozzo was among the scores of alleged Gambino members and associates rounded up in February.

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.