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· Sammy’s Brother-In-Law Pleads
Agnello Officially Out of the Fold
· Providence Story
· Just Legalize It
· This Week in Mob History

LAST ISSUE 11-5-01


Sammy’s Brother-In-Law Pleads

     Edward Garafola was described by his infamous brother-in-law, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano as "a sneaky, scurvy scumbag." In Underboss, by Peter Maas, Gravano talks about Garafola and his role in Sammy’s defection while in jail:

     "It’s my whining brother-in-law, Eddie Garafalo, a whining motherfucker all my life, who put the idea in my head.

     "So now he comes in for a visit, whining one more time with that crying voice, ‘Sammy, you’re gonna go down on this case’"

     "‘I said, ‘What do suggest, Eddie?’"

     "He says, ‘I hate to say this, Sammy, but maybe you should cooperate. I’ll go with you. Me and you cooperate and we’ll go into a whole other life. Take our families and run after it’s over’"

     After Gravano made the decision to cooperate with the government he discusses what happens next with Garafola:

     "When Eddie is in for another visit, I told him. And he double-crosses me. He backs out. He ain’t coming along.

     "Eddie’s a schemer, a wheeler-dealer, a conniver…he starts thinking that there’s no heat on his ass…I could bad-mouth Sammy, grab some of his construction business.’"

     Gravano apparently was correct, Garafola continued as a member of the Gambino Family despite Sammy’s defection.

     On November 2 Garafola pled guilty to "extortion conspiracy" before Judge I. Leo Glasser, who presided over John Gotti’s final trial. Garafola was indicted with 19 others in a $40 million "pump and dump" stock scan that law enforcement dubbed, "Goodfellas meet Boiler Room." The scam was a joint venture involving the Italian and Russian Mafia.

     For those of you who don’t fully understand this recent "pump and dump" phenomenon, like myself, I found a good explanation in a recent Reuters news article:

     "In a boiler room scheme, brokers call unsuspecting investors and promise them mammoth returns if they buy shares of the stocks they are touting. The brokers, which already have a stake in the company at lower prices, wait until the stock climbs to a certain level and then abruptly sell out, leaving the investors holding shares worth a fraction of what they originally paid for them."

     From 1993 to 1996 Garafola, described by the New York Post as "A larger-than-life figure in the construction industry for more than 20 years," and his mob associates helped defraud investors by buying up stock in small companies and artificially inflating their value through unscrupulous brokers. Once the mobsters decided the stocks reached their peak levels they sold their shares and watched the values crash leaving defrauded investors holding the bag.

     The 62 year-old Garafola – like every mobster over the age of 50 who is looking at prison time – was described by his lawyers as being "in poor health." Facing up to 20 years in prison, if convicted, the Post reported that due to his plea he "will likely serve a greatly reduced sentence – between one year and 18 months in a medical facility."

     Here’s hoping for Eddie’s sake that the medical facility is not located in Springfield, Missouri.

     Of the 19 people originally indicted only two are left to stand trial. One of which is Daniel Persico, the nephew of Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico.

Agnello Officially Out of the Fold     ^TOP

     October 15th is a special day for Victoria Gotti. For the past 21 years she has placed five "In Memoriam" notices in the New York Daily News celebrating her son Frank’s birthday and expressing the family’s "undying" love for him. The young 12 year-old was the tragic victim of an accident in March 1980.

     This year there was a difference. The notice she placed from the Agnello family was short one by one Carmine – the Senior one!

     Carmine Agnello, Sr. was sentenced to a nine-year prison term after pleading guilty to racketeering/extortion/arson charges last month. Successful novelist and New York Post columnist Victoria Gotti Agnello is in the process of getting divorced from Carmine after it was revealed by investigators that he was having an affair with his bookkeeper Debbie DeCarlo.

Providence Story     ^TOP

If you’re like me and enjoy reading in depth newspaper coverage of local mob history then your going to love Bill Malinowski’s six-part epic on Providence, Rhode Island mob associate Bobby Buehne. Here is the opening to the series:

"For years, Bobby Buehne lived a double life -- as a player in the Providence underworld and as a police informant. Now he has a new identity and a new life, which the government gave him after he helped lock up a ruthless figure in the Rhode Island mob. This is his story."

Malinowski covers Buehne’s relationship with Providence police detectives Steven Cross and Robert Lauro and discusses the fall of such mobsters as Kevin Hanrahan, Ronnie Coppola, Peter Scarpellino and Gerald Ouimette. His reporting of Coppola and Scarpellino’s murder at the hands of Antonino "Nino" Cucinotta is particularly chilling.

To read this series click http://www.projo.com/extra/mob_witness/.

Malinowski, whose specialty is police and political corruption, in addition to organized crime, was one of the reporters who worked on the "Operation Plunder Dome" series, the federal corruption investigation of Providence Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci, Jr. and others. This series can be read at http://www.projo.com/news/plunder/

On November 7 Malinowski reported that Artin H. Coloian, a onetime top aide to Cianci, had requested a separate trial in an effort to distance himself from the mayor. Coloian, at 36 years of age, was the youngest of the five men charged this past April, and faces the least amount of charges. However, the two counts – bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery – could land Coloian in prison for 15 years and cost him $500,000.

Just Legalize It     ^TOP

     There’s been a lot of ink in the press over the past month about New York State’s expanding its legalized gambling. Why not? If people want to spend their money on gambling, drugs and women let them do it. But why should the profits go to organized crime.

     If Prohibition taught us a lesson it’s that we can’t regulate morality. All the crime, corruption and murder associated with trying to enforce Prohibition in the 1920s is the same crime, corruption and murder we experienced trying to prevent gambling and curb the country’s drug problem. Alcohol is more dangerous than any drug out there due to its easy access. When is the last time you heard about someone being arrested for being under the influence of marijuana and causing a head on collision on the freeway? How many domestic dispute calls do the police handle involving someone on cocaine or heroin compared to someone who is intoxicated?

     Yet, we would never dare to introduce Prohibition again.

     When this country gets done with Bin Laden it’s time to focus its attention on what really matters and that’s education. Think of all the money the government would earn if the profits from drugs, gambling and prostitution were going into their hands instead of the pockets of criminals and organized crime families. How relieved would our law enforcement agencies be if they didn’t have to chase down drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes and gamblers all day long.

     There is legalized prostitution in Nevada as well as gambling. Why should one state be able to collect all that money? The result? Look at how large the city of Las Vegas has grown in the past ten years alone.

     In the mid-1990s Ohio had a referendum on the ballot to allow "Riverboat" gambling. It failed. A decade ago if an Ohioan wanted to gamble legally they had to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. No more. They can drive to Detroit, Michigan or Windsor, Ontario, or head up the other side of Lake Erie to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The state of Ohio didn’t prevent these people from gambling, they just prevented them from spending their money in their own state.

     If people want to gamble, see a prostitute or do drugs they are not going to let the law stop them. Think about it. Why is it illegal to pay to have sex in California, but in the next state over, Nevada, it’s okay.

This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

November 12, 1941 – Abe "Kid Twist" Reles was found on the roof of a restaurant six floors down from his room at the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island. Reles, one of the lead killers in the Murder, Inc. gang, ratted out his fellow members resulting in the likes of Lepke Buchalter, Mendy Weiss, Louis Capone, Pittsburgh Phil, Happy Maione, Dasher Abbandando, Buggsy Goldstein all going to the electric chair in Sing Sing. Reles was being guarded around the clock by six New York City police officers. The official investigation had the police officers claiming Reles was playing a prank. He had tied sheets together and was planning to climb down to the fifth floor and then come up and surprise the officers. The sheets came apart causing his death. There is some belief that Reles had been thrown out the window. More than one book has been reported that Reles’s body was 21 feet out from the wall. Another story has it that Frank Costello paid $50,000 to have Reles silenced. It was later said of Reles, "The canary could sing, but he couldn’t fly."

November 13, 1924 – Adolph Adelson and Joseph Rosen were murdered by members of the Lonardo Gang in Cleveland, Ohio. Rosen was involved in supplying raw alcohol to his customers from which they manufactured synthetic gin and whiskey. After 50 drums of the alcohol were stolen from his warehouse Rosen retaliated and hijacked a shipment of alcohol the Lonardo Gang was waiting to heist. Lonardo hitmen caught up with Rosen a month later and killed both him and his brother-in-law, who was an innocent bystander having arrived in Cleveland to attend a wedding.

November 13, 1925 – Sam "Samoots" Amatuna was one of the many presidents of the Unione Siciliana to be murdered in Chicago during the 1920s. An important member of the Genna Brothers Gang, in the wake of Angelo Genna’s murder, Amatuna seized the opportunity to make himself head of the Unione Siciliano. He hired two body guards, Edward Zion, and Abraham Goldstein, then walked into the Unione headquarters and proclaimed himself boss. His leadership was short lived. Preparing to go to the opera on November 10 with his fiancee, Amatuna was shot and mortally wounded in a barbershop on Halsted Street. He died three days later. See my column

November 14, 1957 – The discovery of the Appalachin Conference was the biggest blunder to befall organized crime in America. At the urging of Vito Genovese, mob bosses from all over the country met in the little town of Apalachin, New York on a fall Thursday to discuss cooperation in the underworld. Whether it was just good police work or perhaps a word from gangsters who held Genovese is disdain – Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello – the meeting was raided and 58 gang leaders were arrested. Although no serious charges were brought against the mobsters, the significance was that J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, could no longer deny that organized crime existed on a national level.

November 15, 1993 – Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino was arrested for a parole violation. Released from prison in 1992 after participation in the robbery of an armored car, Merlino was shot and wounded on August 5, 1993, during what became known as the Stanfa / Merlino War in Philadelphia. Merlino was returned to prison eight days later.

November 16, 1927 – Benedetto Amato, a St. Louis gangster, was killed during the Green Ones / Cuckoo War which took place in that city during the 1920s.

November 16, 1978 – Keith Ritson was one of the burley enforcers that worked for Irish mobster Danny Greene during Cleveland’s bloody bombing war in the mid-1970s. After Greene’s death Ritson hooked up with West Side gangster-on-the-rise Carmen Zagaria and was involved in the drug trade. Drinking heavily and using drugs Ritson soon became a liability. He was murdered in Zagaria’s pet shop by sadistic hitman Hartmut "Hans" Graewe.

November 16, 2000 – Stephen "Uncle Steve" Raffa led the South Florida faction of Tampa’s Trafficante Family. In October 2000 Raffa was among 19 mobsters arrested by federal authorities for money laundering and racketeering. Before the case could come to trial Raffa committed suicide at his Pembroke Pines home.

November 17, 1925 – Edward Zion was one of the muscle men used by "Samoots" Amatuna when he took control of the Unione Siciliana in Chicago. Zion was on his way home from Amatuna’s funeral when he was shot to death by two gunmen in his driveway.

November 18, 1975 – Mario Paniccioli was allegedly gunned down in a retaliatory murder due to his participation in a shooting that took place at Club 42, a barroom in Bensonhurst. In that incident John Consola, a reputed member of the Gambino Family member was wounded and a bartender killed. Later that day Joseph Dorio, the brother of the owner of Club 42, was found shot to death on a Staten Island beach. Paniccioli was on his way to court for the barroom shooting when the killers attacked.

Footnote: Last week in this section I talked about the murder of three members of the DiGregorio faction of the Bonanno Family. In an attempt to learn more about the incident I went to the Cleveland Public Library to pull the article from the New York Times. In any other city in this country the story would have been front-page news. The article titled, "Submachine-Gunner Slays 3 in Queens Restaurant," appeared on page 68. Only in New York City!

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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