IN THIS ISSUE|
· What Took Them So Long
· Scranton Crime Boss
· Scranton Crime Bust
· "I Want You"
· This Week in Mob History
What Took Them So Long
None of us organized crime buffs were surprised when the New York Post reported on September 28 that the mob had stolen 250 tons of "crime-scene material" from the ruins of the World Trade Center disaster. The "material" was scrap metal and found its way into three scrap yards, two of which were located in New Jersey.
No one ever accused the mob of not being enterprising. One has to wonder, what’s next? Counterfeit death certificates? Insurance fraud? The mob, unfortunately, always seems to find a way.
In the article the perpetrators were called "unpatriotic crooks." I guess that would make Carmine Agnello a patriotic crook. Agnello recently offered the city use of his powerful metal shredder in helping to clear waste from the devastated financial district.
All the scrap metal was reported to be returned. So far, no arrests have been reported.
Our Scranton watch continues with some background on alleged crime boss William D’Elia. The 1990 Pennsylvania Crime Commission report describes D’Elia as a "waste broker," and a soldier in the Bufalino LCN Family, who "plays a more significant part than his title would indicate."
Based on the fact that during the early 1990s he helped prevent a major lawsuit, and/or murder, involving the Genovese Family of New York and a Camden, New Jersey area attorney he seems to have moved up in the organization.
The Bufalino Family, which traces its origin as far back as the 1880s, began in the Pittston area of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Santo Volpe, Sr., the first official boss of the family, was a member of the State Coal Commission during the 1930s and helped family members take over local coal companies controlled by the United Mine Workers Union. Then they obtained "sweet heart" contracts from which they benefited.
One of the more noteworthy leaders of the family, which in its early years was referred to by law enforcement as the Northeastern Pennsylvania Family, was Joseph M. Barbara, Sr. A one-time bootlegger and suspected murderer from Scranton, Barbara relocated to Binghamton, New York. It was at Barbara’s palatial country estate that on November 14, 1957 history was made when over 50 members of organized crime were arrested during what would come to be known as the Apalachin Summit. After this incident the government, and J. Edgar Hoover in particular, could no longer deny that organized crime operated on a national scale in this country.
During Barbara’s reign he made one brilliant move by naming Russell Bufalino as his underboss. Bufalino took over the family after Barbara’s death in 1959 and ran it until a conviction in the 1980s, after which the aging boss retired. When Bufalino was imprisoned, Edward Sciandra, the family’s consigliere, became the acting boss.
Incredibly, the Crime Commission Report states that, "It has been decided by the LCN Commission that the Bufalino Family will not be permitted to accept new members, nor will the Commission allow the Bufalino Family to appoint a new boss." This could be the reason why D’Elia was talked about in terms such as "alleged leader."
The report claims that D’Elia’s "expanded role" in the family was as much a result of his close relationship to Russell Bufalino as it was with the deterioration of the family itself. D’Elia developed close contacts with the New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Families over the years, his background in the solid waste brokering business making him a valuable asset to them. It was in this capacity that he helped settle the New York/Camden dispute.
In George Anastasia’s The Goodfella Tapes, the author reveals that FBI listening devices caught D’Elia in the Camden law offices of Salvatore Avena, son of one-time Philadelphia mob leader John Avena, discussing a waste hauling dispute. Avena, a partner in AAA Waste Hauling with Genovese Family earner Carmine Franco, had filed a lawsuit against his former partner after the business went bankrupt.
D’Elia helped resolve the dispute, which could easily have cost Avena his life. On tape D’Elia was heard to joke, "The answer was that when he [Franco] was standing by the [trash] trucks, somebody should have bumped him in and let them compact him."
Also caught on tape several times was Sal Profaci, a capo in the Colombo Family and the son of Joseph Profaci. During one session, after finding out that Avena had filed the lawsuit, Profaci spoke his famous line: "Goodfellas don’t sue goodfellas…Goodfellas kill goodfellas."
In addition to the solid waste business, D’Elia was at one time involved in gambling junkets to Atlantic City, New Jersey and active in the management of Spaniel Transportation, a trucking concern.
D’Elia’s influence reached across the state. In the late 1980s it was reported that he was receiving "tribute monies" from bookmaking operations in Western Pennsylvania. He was reportedly involved in several "ventures" with Youngstown mob leader Joseph "Little Joey" Naples, who was cut down by a sniper in August 1991. Those ventures were believed to be locating landfill "airspace," a D’Elia specialty.
In the 1990s D’Elia’s name was linked to a money laundering scheme that involved a weekly newspaper in Exeter, Pennsylvania called The Metro. Internal Revenue Service investigators from Harrisburg, PA claim that $3.0 million, the proceeds of a drug and prostitution ring, were laundered through the newspaper.
The Wilkes-Barre Citizen’s Voice reported, "The money is believed to have purchased bogus advertisements and subscribers that never existed. The publication ceased operation in 1998." Reputed to be linked to the laundering scheme is embattled Lackawanna County Court Judge Michael Barrasse.
On May 31, 2001 agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, US Postal Inspectors and state police executed search warrants at the homes of D’Elia, of Hughestown, PA, and three others, seizing records.
Perhaps in the decade since the 1990 Crime Commission Report was issued D’Elia has made it to the top of the Bufalino Family. In an August 12, 2001 article the Citizen’s Voice referred to D’Elia as the "reputed La Cosa Nostra crime boss."
James A. Traficant, Jr.’s boast to Assistant US Attorney Craig Morford apparently is going to come true – much to the chagrin of the congressman. Since bating the prosecutor at a July discovery hearing the flamboyant Traficant has tried everything possible to get Morford replaced. Two weeks ago US District Court Judge Lesley Brooks Wells denied four motions made by the congressman.
In reviewing evidence Traficant submitted Judge Wells spent considerable time on a taped conversation between Traficant and Richard Detore, the former COO of United States Aerospace Group in Virginia. USAG was once run by Youngstown businessman John J. Cafaro, who pled guilty to paying bribes to Traficant to advance the use of a laser-guided landing system the company held the rights to.
During the taped conversation, which Judge Wells called "extraordinarily self-serving," Detore, who did not know he was being recorded, complained about being threatened with an IRS audit and being indicted as a co-conspirator in the case.
In her decision Wells wrote, "For defendant Traficant’s benefit, the two discussed how potential prosecution witnesses, such as Mr. Cafaro, are liars. Traficant also sang his own praises: ‘I’m one of the few in America willing to stand up to our Gestapo government.’"
It’s too bad the congressman isn’t one of the few to leave the country because of his dislike of our government – which, he failed to acknowledge, he is a part of.
Wells continued, "One cannot avoid being struck by the self-serving nature of the entire conversation...the conversation follows a cross-examination format, where Traficant prompts Detore with leading questions, puts words in his mouth and occasionally attempts to distort his answers."
In her decision Judge Wells denied Traficant’s request to question Morford at a evidentiary hearing; denied his request to sanction and remove Morford from the case; and denied the congressman’s request to call Morford as a witness at trial.
"The issues are settled and cannot be reopened by Traficant," Wells confirmed.
When I attended the July 20 discovery hearing my first impression of Judge Wells was that she looked like someone’s grandmother. When I mentioned this to Craig Morford and Judge Ann Aldrich, who presided over Traficant’s 1983 trial, they both gave me the same response: "She’s nobody’s grandmother on that bench!"
Judging by how she has handled the petulant congressman to date I’m beginning to understand why.
Look for Traficant to file a motion to have her removed next.
It looks like "Cleveland week" as five mobsters from the "Best Location in the Nation" met their demise here.
October 8, 1927 – Jack Brownstein and Ernest Yorkell billed themselves as protection providers and thought they could extort "protection money" from the warring bootleg factions in Cleveland. They were mistaken. After two weeks in town the pair were shotgunned to death and found in Ambler Park near the border of Cleveland / Cleveland Heights on the city’s East Side. The arrest of gunman Charles Colletti during the ensuing investigation stripped Cleveland boss "Big Joe" Lonardo of his protection. See or purchase Rick Porrello’s The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia http://www.americanmafia.com/Preface_Rise_and_Fall.html
October 9, 1974 – Carmine "Mimi" Scialo was found "encased" in concrete in the basement of Otto’s Social Club on President Street in Brooklyn. According to Joseph Cantalupo in his book Body Mike, Scialo was called the King of Coney Island and was in charge of gambling and loan-sharking there for the Colombo Family. His death came about after getting drunk one night at Garguilo’s restaurant in Coney Island and insulting Carlo Gambino, who had stopped by to have dinner.
October 10, 1928 – Salvatore "Toto" D’Aquila was one of the most mysterious members of organized crime. Described as a powerful early boss, there is virtually no information available on him other than his murder. D’Aquila was associated with Frank Uale, who was killed the previous July, and Mike Abbatemarco, who was buried the day before D’Aquila’s murder at the hands of three assassins at the corner of Avenue A and 13th Street in Brooklyn. D’Aquila was believed to have been the long-time leader of the gang that eventually became the Gambino Family.
October 11, 1926 – Hymie Weiss was born Earl Wajcieckowski. If his name wasn’t spectacular his demise was. He became the leader of the North Side Gang following the death of Dion O’Bannion in November 1924. Weiss made the mistake of trying to get even with Capone for the murder of O’Bannion. Attempts made on each side to kill one another included the spectacular ten-car raid on Capone headquarters in September 1926. During a break from a trial Weiss was involved in he was cut down in a hail of gunfire in front of Holy Name Cathedral on State Street.
October 11, 1926 – Patrick Murray, described as a "journeyman bootlegger" and bodyguard for Earl "Hymie" Weiss, was murdered in the hail of bullets that killed his boss outside the Holy Name Cathedral. In addition to the deaths of Weiss and Murray, attorney William W. O’Brien, driver Sam Peller, and private investigator Benjamin Jacobs were wounded, but would recover.
October 11, 1968 – Paul Clautti was an alleged Youngstown area rackets figure whose death ended almost six years of peace in the Mahoning Valley after the nationwide outrage following the car bomb murders of Charles "Cadillac Charlie" Cavallaro and his young son. Clautti, who was shotgunned in the driveway of his home, was once the victim of a car bombing attempt himself in 1953.
October 11, 1972 – Felice "Paul the Waiter Ricca" DeLucia, whom the Chicago Tribune called "chairman emeritus of the Chicago crime syndicate," died at the age of 74 from heart disease at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital. The long-time crime figure’s career went back to the days of Al Capone. During the 1930s, 40s and 50s he either led the Chicago Outfit or shared leadership responsibilities with Frank Nitti, Anthony Accardo and Sam Giancana. Ricca/DeLucia was the key figure in the infamous Hollywood Extortion Case.
October 13, 1927 – John and Joseph Lonardo were murdered by members of the Porrello gang after arriving at the Porrello brother’s barbershop to play cards. Joe Lonardo was recognized as the leader of the Cleveland underworld. The long friendship between the Lonardo family and the Porrello Family, which began back in Sicily, turned into the bloody "Corn Sugar War," which raged until 1932. In the end the war would cost the lives of seven members of the two families. See or purchase Rick Porrello’s The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia http://www.americanmafia.com/Preface_Rise_and_Fall.html
October 14, 1930– Anthony Colletti was found hanging in his cell at the Cuyahoga County Jail. In August he confessed to murdering his young bride, Christina, claiming she had been unfaithful to him. After his death his lawyer revealed that Colletti told him Christina had witnessed the murders of Joseph Porrello and Sam Tilocco in Frank Milano’s cafe by members of the Mayfield Road Mob. Colletti, the nephew of the Mayfield Road Mob’s top hitman Charles Colletti, shot his wife and left her body on the West Side of the city. Anthony Colletti’s cellmates just happened to be Mayfield Road Mob members Frank Brancato and Dominic DeMarco. See or purchase Rick Porrello’s The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia http://www.americanmafia.com/Preface_Rise_and_Fall.html
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