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· Short Takes
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LAST ISSUE 10-14-02


Editor’s Note – Sorry for the short column this week, but Allan May is back in Youngstown working on the book.

Shorts Takes      

Las Vegas (1) – Could it be the ghost of Ted Binion haunting the family casino – Binion’s Horseshoe? The landmark Las Vegas casino, owned and operated by Ted’s sister, Becky Binion Behnen, has been struggling financially in recent years. William Thompson, a casino industry expert and a professor at UNLV, claimed recently, "I think it’s a spiral into bankruptcy." Problems were publicized several months ago when the Fremont Street Experience sued the casino for $2.0 in past due membership fees. Earlier this month the Nevada Gaming Control Board ordered the Horseshoe to "shut down 40 percent of its 1,300 slot machines and three of its four table game pits…after gaming regulators found the casino had insufficient cash reserves," according to reporter Jeff Simpson. In a recent court filing lawyers for the casino stated, "The Horseshoe is the 15th largest privately owned company in the State of Nevada, employing over 1,700 employees on an average payroll of over $35 million." Nick Behnen, Becky’s husband, downplayed the closing of the slot machines as temporary. Lynn Saladino, the Horseshoe’s vice president, "blamed the bankroll shortfall on an unanticipated number of Horseshoe employees cashing their paychecks at the casino cage." Simpson wrote, "The Horseshoe, in an effort to cut costs, recently closed the cashier’s cage, craps pit and many other table games…" Meanwhile, Professor Thompson states that Becky Behnen "needs an outside rescuer to come in with money, either as a partner or to buy her out."

Las Vegas (2) – And readers wonder why I have a problem with defense attorneys! A couple of weeks ago AmericanMafia.com talked about a shootout in a downtown Las Vegas automobile showroom involving aged Genovese mob figure "Springfield Sam" Maranite, who turned 84 last week. At a scheduled hearing on October 4 the two men who were fired at – Astro Auto Sales owner Dino Boggiano, who was wounded in the wrist, and John Pasqualone, the showroom manager – were no shows in the courtroom. Maranite’s brain surgeon attorney, James "Bucky" Buchanan, asked the judge that the charges of attempted murder and an ex-felon in possession of a firearm be dismissed immediately. Buchanan said his client was only acting in self-defense during the shooting on September 9. Well let’s just suppose this crap were true. The question becomes "Why was Maranite in possession of a firearm to begin with?" While it would be tough for a normal human being to come up with an excuse for this – not so for this crafty, forward thinking defense lawyer. Glenn Puit of the Las Vegas Review Journal writes, "Buchanan said on the day of the shooting, Maranite didn’t actually own a firearm. He said he happened to find a gun in an alley and, knowing that Boggiano was a gun collector, Buchanan said his client was simply ‘going to give the gun to Dino.’" Apparently "Springfield Sam" decided to give Dino the bullets first. The judge set a second hearing for October 16.

New York (1) – "You’re no stranger to this. There must have been some point in your life that you understood this criminal conduct was going to catch up to you," scolded Brooklyn Federal Judge I. Leo Glasser. "I wish somewhere along the line you had made up your mind to take a different path in life, but you didn’t." With that, Glasser sentenced the 72 year-old Salvatore "Sammy Meatballs" Aparo to five years in prison for racketeering on October 10. Aparo’s attorney was hoping for a downward departure in the sentencing due to Aparo’s age and health problems. The government pointed out that the Genovese Family capo had been involved in a criminal career that spanned half a century. The Bureau of Prisons will assign Aparo to a federal medical facility, due to his diabetes and heart condition. "Sammy Meatballs" was brought down by the one-man Genovese Family wrecking-crew, Michael Durso, who recorded meetings he attended with Aparo, and his son Vincent, with a high-tech listening device implanted in a Rolex watch.

New York (2) – In another case involving Michael Durso (whose name is also listed as D’Urso), Genovese associate Mario Fortunato had his bail revoked on October 4 by Judge Glasser. Fortunato was one of five men accused of killing Tito Lombardi in an East Williamsburg social club in 1994. Durso, Lombardi’s cousin, was wounded in the head in the shooting, which took place during a card game. When he recovered he swore to get even. Fortunato, who was granted bail, was fitted with an electronic bracelet this past August and given work privileges at his bakery. However, government attorneys claim Fortunato spent 90 percent of his time outside the bakery where video surveillance picked him up conversing with a Gambino Family associate. Fortunato’s attorney defended the outside activities by claiming his client has a "two-pack-a-day" habit. "He couldn’t smoke inside the bakery." Glasser didn’t buy the excuse and Fortunato is now smoking in stir.

New York (3) – In March Joseph "Joey Green Eyes" Anemone pled guilty to extortion charges. On October 9 he told Judge Reena Raggi he wanted to recant his guilty plea. The Colombo Family associate is gambling that the mental episode that has become William Cutolo, Jr. will get him off the hook from a possible two-year sentence. If he’s wrong, the green-eyed mobster is looking at a possibility of five to twenty years. The five years could come as a result of a perjury charge – lying under oath when he pled guilty. Anemone pulled his turn-around in Judge Raggi’s courtroom after realizing that the psychological problems of young Cutolo would prevent his testimony. Anemone’s attorney, Joseph "Tapioca" Tacopina, who’s becoming a regular on Court TV, claimed his client had been misled by Assistant US Attorney Amy Walsh. The prosecutor is obviously on Judge Raggi’s shit list. Walsh allowed both Colombo "acting boss" Alphonse Persico and Anemone to plead guilty even though she knew Cutolo would not testify, or if he did would have little credibility on the witness stand. Persico has also battled to recant his plea. Although he was scheduled to be sentenced last month the legal wrangling continues. A trial date for Anemone is pending.

Trials and Tribulations      

AmericanMafia.com attempts to keep its audience advised of ongoing legal matters in the world of organized crime. New entries and addition to existing information will appear in RED.


November 4, 2002 – Hackensack, NJ – The racketeering trial of Danny Provenzano is "tentatively" scheduled to get underway. The great-nephew of Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano is charged with extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars through fear, intimidation and violence. This trial was originally scheduled for September. AM.com would like to thank reporter Peter Pochna for the update. Pochna advises there could be more delays.

November 12, 2002 – Cleveland – Richard E. Detore goes to trial on one count of conspiring to violate a federal bribery statute involving United States Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. This was rescheduled from July 29, 2002.

December 3, 2002 – Camden – The trial of James R. Mathis, Jr. is scheduled to begin. He is charged with corruption involving disgraced mayor Milton Milan. The federal trial will be in the courtroom of US District Judge Joseph H. Rodriquez.

December 2002 – Philadelphia – The trial of William "Billy" Rinick and Joseph Viola, Jr. on eleven federal drug counts will get underway before US District Judge Eduardo Robrena.

January 6, 2003 – Boston – Retired state trooper Richard J. Schneiderhan goes on trial on charges that he hampered the FBI’s search for James "Whitey" Bulger by letting Bulger family members know that the FBI had requested pen registers on their telephones. Due to "administrative delays" the trial has been pushed into next year. The trial was originally scheduled for January 28, then rescheduled for June 24, then rescheduled for September 17. AM.com thanks J. M. Lawrence for this update.

January 27, 2003 – Youngstown – The trail of Sam "Skinny Sam" Fossesca, which was originally scheduled for August, has been postponed until after the new year. AM.com has been told that the end result of this trial will "blow the lid off the Naples/Carabbia War of the late 1970s and early 1980s."

January 2003 – Boston – "Big Paul" DeCologero goes on trial for ordering the murder of 19 year-old Miss Aislin Silva who disappeared on November 13, 1996. US District Judge Rya W. Zobel will oversee the case. DeCologero is expected to represent himself.

NO WORD ON THIS – September 9, 2002 – Camden – The trial of Daniel M. Daidone is scheduled to begin. He is charged with corruption involving disgraced mayor Milton Milan. Daidone answered to former Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale, who is expected to testify. The federal trial will be in the courtroom of US District Judge Joseph H. Rodriquez.

POSTPONED INDEFINITELY – Rochester, NY – Albert M Ranieri goes on trial for conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Since his arrest on December 29, 2000, another defendant, prominent defense attorney Anthony Leonardo, Jr., has pled guilty and implicated Ranieri in the May 2000 murder of his former business partner Anthony Vaccaro. Authorities also suspect Ranieri of a 1990 armor car heist of $11 million. On July 8 the deputy court clerk for Judge Jonathan Feldman has informed AM.com that no date has been established for this trial.


October 24, 2003 – Youngstown – Russell J. "Champ" Saadey faces ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Saadey was convicted in April for his role in a case-fixing conspiracy involving disgraced former Mahoning County Prosecutor James A. Philomena. Saadey was arrested for a domestic dispute while waiting to report to prison.

October 24, 2002 – New York – Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico will be sentenced after pleading guilty to extortion, loansharking and money laundering. The son of jailed-for-life mobster Carmine "the Snake" Persico was the alleged "acting boss of the Colombo family. The sentencing date was originally scheduled for June 13, 2002. At that time Persico filed a motion to reverse his plea claiming prosecutor misconduct. The prosecutors were given two weeks to respond to the motion. A new date was then set for the sentencing. This had been rescheduled for September 27. We’ve been told that defense attorneys have asked for an adjournment until after October 24.

October 28, 2002 – Newark – Eugene Wilson, indicted last year with eight others including Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, will be sentenced after pleading guilty this past June 27 to gambling and running an illegal gambling operation.

October 29, 2002 – Boston – John J. "Mick" Murray will be sentenced by US District Judge Reginald Lindsay for his June guilty plea to charges of embezzlement, extortion, racketeering conspiracy and theft of interstate shipments.

November 7, 2002 – Detroit – Anthony Joseph Zerilli the alleged underboss of the Detroit Mafia will be sentenced for his August 19 conviction of seven racketeering and extortion felonies. The 74 year-old will be sentenced by US District Court Judge Lawrence Zatkoff.

December 4, 2002 – Philadelphia – Michael A. Focoso is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty on August 22 to one count of conspiracy and one count of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school in South Philadelphia. Focoso was part of a cocaine distribution ring which involved William "Billy" Rinick and Joseph Viola, Jr. Since Focoso is expected to testify against the two don’t be surprised if the sentencing date is moved back.

December 6, 2002 – Hackensack – Douglas Peek, Bernard Recanti and Paul Sabo are scheduled to be sentenced by Bergen County Superior Court Judge William Meehan. The three men were indicted in May 1999 along with alleged Genovese Family associate Danny Provenzano. All three may end up testifying against Provenzano, which may delay their sentencing on charges of extortion and criminal coercion.

Early 2003 – Chicago – The sentencing date for the recent convictions of Betty Loren-Maltese (Cicero town president), Michael Spano, Sr. (the Outfit’s alleged boss of Cicero) and five others has not been scheduled but it is believed it will not take place until after the first of the year. The seven were convicted after a ten-week trial, which ended with guilty verdicts for all but one defendant on August 23.

January 6, 2003 – Boston – Robert C. Luisi, Jr. will be sentenced for his September 27 conviction on drug charges of possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy. He is facing up to ten years in prison.

NO WORD ON THIS – May 2, 2002 – Rochester Thomas Marotta pled guilty to federal narcotics charges and is waiting sentencing. US District Judge David Larimer’s deputy court clerk tells AM.com no date has been set for the sentencing.

NO WORD ON THIS – May 2002 – New York – Donna Curra, wife of Dominick "Little Dom" Curra, is scheduled to be sentenced for lying to the FBI after her husband fled on Christmas Eve 2001 to Costa Rica. She is looking at a 6 to 12 month stretch. Meanwhile, "Little Dom" remains in a Costa Rica jail fighting extradition.

NO WORD ON THIS – September 9, 2002 – Camden – Robert E. Gibson, the former Camden sewer superintendent and a 40-year employee of the city, will be sentenced for accepting illegal payments. Gibson claimed he was swept up in the corruption of disgraced mayor Milton Milan’s administration. He is looking at 18 to 24 months.

NO WORD ON THIS – September 2002 – Philadelphia – Albert R. Coccio, Jr. will be sentenced by US District Judge John P. Fullam after his May 28 guilty plea to charges of wire fraud, making false statements and money laundering. Coccio, a South Philadelphia contractor who at one time employed Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, faces 6 to 18 months in prison.

NO WORD ON THIS – October 11, 2002 – New York – Bonanno Family underboss Salvatore "the Chief" Vitale is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty on June 14 to racketeering charges involving gambling, loansharking and money-laundering operations which he ran out of the European American Bank in Melville, Long Island. Vitale faces an incarceration period of 33 to 41 months.


Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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