Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Deputy U.S. marshal guilty of leaking info

A jury yesterday found John T. Ambrose, former deputy U.S. marshal, guilty of leaking information about federal witnesses, according to published accounts. He was acquitted on two counts of lying to federal agents.

Chicago Sun-Times

Ambrose (right) was convicted of stealing and leaking information from the file of Nicholas Calabrese, a former Chicago mobster who aided prosecutors on the Family Secrets Case and was placed in the Witness Protection Program.

Federal agents became aware of the leak after they bugged the visitors room at a prison in Milan, Michigan, where Chicago Outfit boss James Marcello was held. During a visit by Marcello's brother Michael, the two men were overheard discussing an underworld ally within federal law enforcement.

The Marcellos referred to their "mole" in law enforcement as "the Babysitter" and indicated that he was the son of a former Chicago policeman who went to prison years ago after extorting money from drug dealers. From that information, federal authorities decided that Ambrose was the source of their information leak.

Ambrose's jury deliberated for three days, according to a story by the Chicago Tribune. One of the jurors had to be excused from the 12-person panel because she was sick with flu-like symptoms. The law permits a jury of 11 to reach a verdict.

Ambrose remains free on bond. He is expected to appeal. Judge John Grady provided grounds for appeal when he was slow to stop the playing of an FBI video recording of the two mobsters discussing Ambrose. The judge ordered the jury not to consider the tape as evidence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prisco convicted of 1992 Sangiuolo hit

Angelo Prisco, 69-year-old lieutenant in the Genovese Crime Family, was found guilty yesterday of conspiring to kill his first cousin, Angelo Sangiuolo, in 1992, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News. Prisco (right) also was convicted of participating in a string of gunpoint robberies in the 1990s and of extorting money from individuals and businesses.

Prosecutors say Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, then boss of the Genovese clan, ordered the hit on Sangiuolo. Prisco then assigned underling John Leto and another man to kill Sangiuolo. The victim was lured to a Bronx social club and told to get into a van with Leto, who shot him to death, prosecutors say. The body was left in the van, as Leto drove away in a car with Prisco.

Prisco's trial lasted two weeks, according to a press release distributed by the FBI. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 23.

Prosecutors say Prisco was inducted as a member of the Genovese Family in the late 1970s and later was promoted to capodecina. He oversaw a crew of Genovese soldiers and associates in New York City and nearby New Jersey. A state inquiry was launched several years ago when Prisco, a resident of Toms River, New Jersey, was paroled from a New Jersey prison just four years into a 12-year sentence for arson and conspiracy.

Cicilline expected to represent 'the Saint'

John F. Cicilline, a prominent attorney and father of Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor David N. Cicilline, is expected shortly to take over the defense of mobster Anthony M. "the Saint" St. Laurent, according to a story by Michael P. McKinney of the Providence Journal.

St. Laurent one week ago pleaded not guilty to charges that he plotted the murder of a rival in the New England Crime Family. A federal grand jury indicted him earlier this month. The not guilty plea was entered by his court-appointed lawyer Olin W. Thompson. Thompson noted that John Cicilline is expected to take over the case.

In response, Magistrate Lincoln Almond said St. Laurent could be compelled to pay for Thompson's services if he discovers that the veteran mobster had sufficient resources to hire his own lawyer.

Cicilline has represented a number of New England Mafiosi in the past, including St. Laurent, reputed crime family lieutenant Edward C. Lato, racketeer Matthew L. Guglielmetti Jr. and Robert P. "Bobby" DeLuca Sr. St. Laurent is now charged with attempting to hire an assassin to kill DeLuca. St. Laurent and DeLuca have been rivals for years. Since the mid-1990s, DeLuca has accused St. Laurent of being an informant for state and federal authorities. St. Laurent denies the accusation.

St. Laurent is currently serving a five-year sentence for extortion at a federal prison in Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Murder victim was mob associate

State and federal authorities say William Romano, 70, who was found murdered in his apartment Thursday, was a longtime associate of Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, reputed lieutenant in the Genovese Crime Family, according to a story by Christine Hauser of the New York Times.

Officials recalled that Romano was arrested almost 20 years ago at Kennedy International Airport with two pounds of heroin taped to his shins and midsection. Romano avoided conviction through two trials by insisting that the drugs had been planted on him by law enforcement.

Last seen alive at 9 a.m. on April 22, Romano was found dead late the next afternoon, submerged in an upstairs bathtub of his duplex apartment, 8020 Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Romano apparently died of head injuries. His companion, Elviza Aronova, 36, was found stabbed to death in a bedroom on the lower floor. She had also suffered head injuries.

Police said they found the apartment in disarray. The electricity had been turned off within. And it appeared that someone had tried to clean the crime scene using bleach.

Romano had owned the 54-unit apartment building until 2006. When he sold the building, he retained two apartments for himself. The second apartment was used as an office. Police found a small arsenal within, including two shotguns, a .45-caliber handgun and a live hand grenade.

Boston area gambling racketeers convicted

Four men were convicted Wednesday (April 22) of racketeering and other charges related to the operation of "one of the largest gambling and loansharking operations... in the greater Boston area," according to a story by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe.

Arthur Gianelli (right), 51-year-old reputed mob associate from Lynnfield, Massachusetts, was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, arson and attempted extortion. Prosecutors said he ran an organization involved in sports betting, video poker and online gambling. Court testimony and conversations secretly recorded by Massachusetts State Police indicated that Gianelli secured the protection of the New England Mafia by paying $2,000 per month in tribute to reputed underboss Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio. The payments continued from 2001 to 2003.

Prosecutors say Gianelli used his rackets income and underworld connections to take over a number of bars in the Boston area. The extortion charge against him stemmed from his 1998 to 2002 attempts to control Clarke's Turn of the Century Saloon in Faneuil Hall and McCarthy's Bar and Grille on Roylston Street.

Gianelli's partners in the gambling operation included Dennis "Fish" Albertelli, 56, of Stow; Albertelli's wife Gisele, 54; and Frank Iacaboni, 65, of Leominster. They were convicted of a variety of charges, including illegal gambling and racketeering conspiracy.

The jury found Gianelli, Dennis Albertelli and Iacaboni guilty of arson. The three planned to burn down the Big Dog Sports Grille in North Reading. The arson charge carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Gianelli is reportedly the brother-in-law of former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr, according to the Boston Globe. Connolly was convicted of racketeering in 2002 and of second-degree murder late last year.

Gianelli's wife, Mary Ann, was initially named as a defendant in the case. She pleaded guilty March 4 to racketeering, money laundering and other charges and so avoided trial. In the wake of her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped 141 money laundering charges.

Leak case is in jury's hands

The case of a deputy U.S. marshal accused of leaking information about a federal witness to members of the Chicago mob has been in the hands of a jury since late Thursday afternoon (April 23), according to a story by Chuck Goudie of WLS-TV Chicago.

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose (left), 42, is charged with providing information about protected federal witness Nick Calabrese to a friend with connections to the Outfit. Prosecutors say he also leaked classified information regarding reputed Outfit boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo and leaked police information regarding the mob murders of the Spilotro brothers.

Through the testimony of convicted racketeer Mickey Marcello - brother of reputed Outfit leader James Marcello - prosecutors were able to link mob awareness of Nick Calabrese's cooperation in the Family Secrets investigation with Ambrose's friend. Robert Grant, special agent in charge of Chicago's FBI field office, testified April 20 to a confession made by Ambrose. Grant said Ambrose admitted to "a huge mistake" and to having improper friendships.

Ambrose's defense attorney Frank Lipuma argued that his client may have violated policies but committed no crimes. Among the character witnesses brought forward for Ambrose was longtime federal Judge Charles Kocoras. Kocoras did not choose to testify but was brought to the witness stand through a subpoena.

'Little Nick' goes away for 13+ years

A federal judge in Brooklyn has sentenced Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, 69, to 13 and a half years in prison for the 1996 killing of Lucchese Crime Family associate Robert Arena that also left an innocent bystander dead, according to stories by the UPI and Newsday.

Corozzo (left), reputedly a high-level lieutenant in the Gambino Crime Family, admitted to ordering the Arena killing and to racketeering. He was sentenced April 17.

Last week, prosecutors attempted to restrict Corozzo's activities while in prison. They hoped to keep him from interacting with other mobsters or with family members linked to organized crime. Judge Jack Weinstein turned down the request, saying it would require prison officials to isolate Corozzo and/or place him in a penitentiary far from his family.

Researcher seeks Hoffa grand jury records

Believing there was "prosecutorial misconduct in the case," retired law professor William L. Tabac has asked a federal judge in Nashville, Tennessee, to unseal 45-year-old grand jury records relating to legendary Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, according to a story by the Associated Press.

Tabac believes the records could show that federal prosecutors and Attorney General Robert Kennedy used illegal means - including wiretaps and improper testimony - to indict Hoffa on jury-tampering charges in the early 1960s. Hoffa (right) was convicted in Chattanooga in 1964.

The former Teamsters leader was last seen in 1975, as he prepared to rejoin the union after serving time in prison. It is widely believed that Hoffa was killed by former allies in the underworld. His remains have not been found.

U.S. attorneys are opposing Tabac's request. They say witnesses need to be confident that grand jury testimony will remain secret. They also argue that Tabac has provided no substantiation for his claim that Hoffa prosecutors acted improperly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reputed Bonanno boss bound for Canada

Salvatore "Sal the Ironworker" Montagna, 38, reputed boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, soon will be deported to Canada, according to reports by UPI and the New York Daily News.

Montagna entered the U.S. through Canada as a teenager. Montagna's attorney said the government, frustrated at finding no grounds to prosecute Montagna, was deporting his client over a 2003 contempt of court conviction that violated the terms of his U.S. residency. Sources differ on the country of Montagna's birth. The Daily News reports that Montagna was born in Montreal but raised in Sicily. The UPI reports that he was born in Sicily. He was arrested April 6 by agents of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Aside from the contempt conviction, Montagna has not been charged with a crime in the U.S.

Montagna is believed to have risen to the command of the Bonanno organization about 2006 after previous bosses Joseph Massino and Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano were successfully prosecuted.

Leak threatened 'most important witness'

A leak of information about turncoat Mafiosi Nicholas Calabrese could have led to the death of "the most important organized crime witness that has ever testified in this district, and perhaps in the entire United States," FBI Special Agent Michael Maseth stated in court earlier this week.

Maseth was testifying at the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, who is accused of revealing confidential details about Calabrese while Calabrese was in the witness protection program. The leak is believed to be the first ever for the program, according to a Chicago Tribune story. Calabrese cooperated in the Family Secrets case, helping the federal government jail several senior members of the Chicago Outfit.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gambling suspect dies in NYPD custody

Samuel Nastasa, 72, suffered an apparent heart attack and died while being arrested in a Brooklyn gambling raid early Tuesday afternoon, according to a story by Alison Gendar and John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Police raided the Banner Civic Social Club on 72nd Street at about 1:30 p.m. Authorities believed the club to be a gambling den run by the Bonanno Crime Family and considered Nastasa a caretaker of the club.

Nastasa collapsed as he was being cuffed. Detectives reportedly called for an ambulance and administered CPR. Nastasa was taken to Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, where he was declared dead at 3:10 p.m.

A report issued through the police commissioner's office indicated that Nastasa's death was due to natural causes and suggested that Nastasa had a preexisting medical condition. Nastasa's family told the press that he had no known medical problems. Relatives blamed the police for taking too long to get him help.

Grand jury indicts St. Laurent for murder plot

A federal grand jury in Providence, Rhode Island, on Wednesday indicted New England mobster Anthony "the Saint" St. Laurent Sr. for plotting to murder another high ranking member of the regional crime family, according to a story by the Providence Journal and a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Rhode Island.

St. Laurent (left), 65, is already serving a 56-month sentence for extortion. He is held at the medical facility at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

The grand jury indicted St. Laurent of planning with others in 2006 to murder reputed New England crime family caporegime Robert "Bobby" DeLuca Sr. According to prosecutors, St. Laurent - while in prison - was looking to hire someone to kill DeLuca. He allegedly told fellow inmates that the killing of DeLuca had been approved by Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, reputed boss of the Providence, RI, based Mafia organization.

Prosecutors say DeLuca has repeatedly accused St. Laurent of being an informant for state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Four Secrets defendants to pay $24 million

Chicago mob bosses, convicted of racketeering and murders in the 2007 Family Secrets trial, have been ordered to pay more than $24 million in fines and restitution to their victims, according to stories by Mike Robinson of the Associated Press and Chuck Goudie of WLS-TV Chicago.

One defense attorney called the amount "ridiculous."

Judge James Zagel yesterday ordered Frank Calabrese Sr., Joseph Lombardo, James Marcello and Paul Schiro to pay $4.3 million as restitution to the families of 14 men who were killed by the mob. (Back in October, prosecutors calculated that the victims' families were owed $3.9 million in lost wages.) Calabrese, Lombardo and Marcello were found guilty of racketeering and murders. Schiro was convicted of racketeering. He was charged with racketeering murder, but a jury deadlocked on the question of his guilt.

The remainder of the $24 million, the judge said, "represents the total amount of proceeds acquired and maintained by the Chicago Outfit since the 1960s" in criminal endeavors charged in the Family Secrets trial.

Family Secrets defendant Anthony Doyle, convicted of racketeering but not charged with murder, was assessed a fine of $44,225.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ill 'Roach' seeks early out from prison

After serving 21 years of a 25-to-life sentence for heroin trafficking, Anthony "Tony Roach" Rampino, 70, is asking a Manhattan judge to let him out of prison, according to stories in the New York Daily News and Newsday

In requesting a resentencing, Rampino's attorney argued that today's laws would limit his client's prison term to 20 years. The attorney also said Rampino was in ill health with heart and respiratory problems. Justice Arlene Goldberg is considering the arguments.

Rampino (right, much younger), reputed associate of the Gambino Crime Family, is widely believed to have performed a backup role in the 1985 assassination of former Gambino boss Paul Castellano. He is also suspected of participating in the 1980 murder of late Gambino boss John J. Gotti's neighbor John Favara. Authorities say Rampino was never inducted into the crime family because of his drug use.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No public cash for Gotti defense lawyer

Manhattan federal Judge Kevin Castel has ruled that John A. "Junior" Gotti will not be able to acquire public funds to pay his attorney Seth Ginsberg and two paralegals, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Gotti, 45, is facing his fourth racketeering trial this September. The son of the late Gambino Crime Family boss John J. Gotti, John A. Gotti admits previous involvement in racketeering and pleaded guilty to the charge in 1999. However, he insists he separated himself from the crime family years ago - beyond the statute of limitations for the more recent charges brought against him.

Judge Castel offered to appoint a public defender for Gotti, if he could not afford legal counsel. "Trial will not take place until Sept. 14, 2009, and there is ample time for new counsel to become fully familiar with the case," Castel wrote.

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.