Monday, August 18, 2008

FBI tape labels "Cheese Man" as Mafia head

Carmen DiNunzioFBI recordings seem to point to Carmen "the Cheeseman" DiNunzio (right), 51, as the head of the Mafia in the Boston area and as the prime underworld authority behind a scheme to defraud administrators of the "Big Dig" project, according to a story by Laurel J. Sweet of the Boston Herald.

Andrew Marino, a contractor who has been indicted in connection with the scheme, was reportedly unaware he was being recorded as he spoke with a federal informant. According to the FBI, Marino identified "the Cheeseman" as "the guy in the North End - the head of the ... organization" and as "the head of [the] Mafia."

When the two men discussed an individual who was not trustworthy, Marino said the "rat" would be dealt with: "They'll kill him, dude. This ain't ... regular hoodlum that's setting this up. This is the Cheesman."

Marino refused to refer to DiNunzio by name: "You'll know his name if I said it, but nobody says his name."

Federal prosecutors have identified the Cheesman as DiNunzio, who has operated a cheese shop on the North End's Endicott Street. They say DiNunzio has served as underboss of the New England Mafia since about 2003.

In a different audio tape, DiNunzio identified himself as "the Cheeseman" to an undercover FBI agent: "I'm the Cheeseman... You ask anybody about me. We straighten out a lot of beefs, a lot of things."

DiNunzio was arrested May 2, the result of the FBI's "Big Dig" sting operation. He, Marino and Anthony J. D'Amore were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a federally funded program. The group allegedly offered bribes in order to win a contract to provide fill for the Big Dig underground highway project. The men allegedly planned to provide substandard fill to the project.

DiNunzio is under house arrest. He also awaits trial on extortion and gambling charges.

Italian jails aren't as much fun as they used to be

Flouting many years of tradition, the conservative Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi (left) seems intent on making prison an unpleasant experience.

According to a story by Nick Pisa of the UK Telegraph, the Berlusconi administration has been cracking down on prison privileges formerly extended to convicted Mafiosi. Among the measures recently instituted, inmates are prohibited from singing. Officials noted the possibility that convicted crime bosses could communicate orders through their songs.

Prison socializing has also been curtailed. It is common for Mafiosi deemed dangerous to be locked in their cells for 23 hours each day and to have only limited exposure to family, friends and attorneys. The government has a list of 570 prisoners it feels are threats to society.

"We have evidence that in the past orders and messages were passed on and we have also stopped them mixing with each other as well. They will spend the majority of their day alone in their cells," Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said.

FBI involved in Vegas mob museum

FBI agents past and present have become involved in the planning for the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, according to a story by Sam Skolnik of the Las Vegas Sun.

Oscar GoodmanEllen Knowlton, former special agent in charge of the local FBI office, leads a non-profit group working with Las Vegas on the project. Sitting Bureau officials are reviewing the plans to ensure that accurate portrayals of mobsters and crimefighters.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (left), a former attorney for accused racketeers, has been the major force behind the museum proposal.

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
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.