IN THIS ISSUE|
· Enemy of Civilized Society
· According to historian Allan May
· Trials and Tribulations
· Short Takes
· This Week in Mob History
Confirmed Enemy of Civilized Society
Sounds like the Joey Merlino I know!
Assistant US Attorney David Fritchey, in what George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer called a "scathing report," stated that Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino "did not join La Cosa Nostra to become a decent person. He joined to seize the opportunity to make more money and enjoy personal power in the underworld that membership in organized crime provides."
Fritchey pulled no punches in describing Merlino as a menace to society whose criminal career began years ago when he was a teenage Mafia associate. In a sentencing memo to the court Fritchey wrote:
"When one views Merlino’s past criminal history, his dogged allegiance and pursuit of a mob career, despite impediments and reverses that would have discouraged a less resolute criminal, there can be little question that he is committed body and soul to the perverted values of La Cosa Nostra."
In addition, Fritchey stated that Merlino was a "confirmed enemy of civilized society" whose crimes were "deliberate, premeditated and systemic."
While found not guilty of the more serious charges of murder and attempted murder when a jury returned its verdict this past July, Merlino’s attorney feels that his client will be looking at seven to nine years. If the government gets its way Merlino will be sentenced to more than 24 years.
Several weeks ago I was on line at Amazon.com (using the AmericanMafia.com link, of course) ordering the new Paul Kavieff release on the Detroit Mob. Under Amazon.com’s "Hi Allan R. May, we have recommendations for you," section I was stunned to see that there were two more releases on the murder of Ted Binion in Las Vegas.
I quickly posted a Forum message asking "what is it about this guy, he’s been dead for only three years and there are already four books written about him." Of course I had to order the books for my collection and on Friday, November 16 I received An Early Grave by writer Gary C. King of Las Vegas. King has a talent for being able to spit out books on True Crime topics, most of which pertain to recent headline makers.
As I was reading through his introduction I nearly fell off my couch when I came across the line, "According to historian Allan May…" King had come across a story I wrote about Frank Bompensiero, which originally appeared at CrimeMagazine.com, that talked about the murder of "Russian Louie" Strauss. King quoted from my article, although the original information came from Jimmy Fratianno’s book The Last Mafioso.
Tickled about seeing myself quoted I suddenly remembered an e-mail that was sent to me last month. Under the "Subject" line, which read "Fact and Fiction" the note said:
"Mr. May I read your story about the murder of Russian Louie, it’s not correct. How do I know this because Benny Binion was my grandfather. Jimmy the Wiesel (sic) lied about a lot of things.
Benny Binion Behnen
It soon dawned on me that young Benny must have read King’s book and checked out the article on the website.
My response to Benny was, "If you would be willing, I would gladly listen to your side of the story and prepare an article where you refute claims made by Jimmy Fratianno. I can assure you that my audience would be thrilled to read something like this."
Unfortunately I never heard back from him. With this recent revelation I think I will try again. It would be nice to hear his take on the Fratianno book and perhaps get some comments on his now infamous Uncle Ted, as well as on Sandra Murphy and Rick Tabish.
Speaking of Sandra and Rick. Chief Deputy District Attorney David Roger filed a brief last week with the Nevada Supreme Court defending the convictions of the two. In the brief – if you can call 179 pages brief – Roger pointed out that the trial was not "free of blemishes." But he was quick to point out that presiding District Judge Joseph Bonaventure stated, "A defendant is not entitled to a perfect trial, but only a fair one."
Roger claimed, "The state offered overwhelming circumstantial evidence demonstrating that Ted Binion was murdered and that Murphy and Tabish were the culprits."
Representing Murphy in her appeal will be famed Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Side Note: My girlfriend and I watched the Jim Carey film Me, Myself and Irene on cable a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t help but think if they ever made a movie about the Ted Binion murder that Renee Zellweger would make a great Sandra Murphy.
AmericanMafia.com will attempt to keep its audience advised of ongoing legal matters in the world of organized crime. In future weeks this section will follow "This Week in Mob History."
January 2002 – New York City – Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico is scheduled to go to trial with five others on a racketeering indictment.
February 2002 – Boston – Stephen "the Rifleman" Fleming is scheduled for trial this month. The co-Winter Hill Gang leader is charged with killing ten people.
February 4, 2002 – Cleveland – Mahoning County Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. begins his third trial. The flamboyant former sheriff is one for two in successfully representing himself.
April 2, 2002 – Providence – Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. goes to trial for his indictment in Operation Plunder Dome.
December 7, 2001 – Philadelphia – Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and six others will be sentenced for their July conviction on racketeering charges.
January 11, 2002 – Queens, NY – Ralph Romano will be sentenced for his recent conviction in the murder of John Spensieri
January 21, 2002 – New York City – John "Porky" Zancocchio, a Bonanno Family soldier will be sentenced for his October 28 guilty plea to charges of loan sharking and tax evasion.
January 23, 2002 – Boston – Four men found guilty of involvement in an armored car heist will be sentenced.
As of November 21 state investigators in Massachusetts were considering calling off the search for missing brothers Edward and Walter Bennett, both victims of mob murders in 1967. The burial site, a target range in Hopkinton, was revealed to authorities by Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme in exchange for a sentence reduction. Let’s hope that part of the deal is that the bodies have to be recovered before "Cadillac Frank" sees one minute lobbed off his sentence.
In Mesa, Arizona prosecutors won a court battle to have a portion of the proceeds from Sammy Gravano’s book, Underboss, set aside for victims of his crimes. Gravano admitted to involvement in 19 killings, although he only pulled the trigger himself in one of those. Attorneys for the victim’s families had been unsuccessful in trying to get judges in the state of New York to award anything there. Gravano’s Phoenix lawyer, Larry Hammond, groveled that this was a violation the First Amendment. God forbid one of the family members of Sammy’s victims sees a dime before Hammond gets paid.
Arizona authorities placed ads in the Newark Star-Ledger, the New York Post and New York Newsday in an attempt to locate individuals who will share in the proceeds. A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office stated, "The amount ($400,000) is expected to grow from interest and possible future books or movies on Gravano’s life of crime."
Meanwhile, former AM.com columnist and New York Post reporter Al Guart informs us that the feds want to put Sammy in the slammer for 20 years. He is currently looking at 12 to 15.
Finally…Who else besides me vomited upon reading that ex-FBI agent John "Scum Bag" Connolly wants to have a movie made about his wretched life? The only possible good that could come is if the families of Connolly’s victims receive the money that would be made from this.
November 26, 1971 – Giuseppe Antonio "Joe Adonis" Doto was one of the New York mob’s mystery men. A powerful organized crime leader, his ranking was never really understood by law enforcement or mob historians. Adonis never had an official title of boss or underboss, and certainly the title of capo would have seemed beneath him. Yet he had the respect of all the New York City family leaders as well as those from New Jersey, where he moved his base of operations in the early 1930s. Adonis was deported to his native Italy in 1956. He died at the age of 69 from heart failure. After his death, like his long time crime associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, his body was returned to America for burial. He was interred at Madonna Cemetery in Fort Lee, New Jersey
November 28, 1914 – William "Little Patsy Doyle" Moore drew the wrath of Owney "Killer" Madden when he announced that he was taking over the old Gopher’s gang. Madden had been wounded and not expected to live. Madden recovered and using two of the gang’s girls he set up Doyle at the Ottner Brothers’ bar at Forty-first Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. Doyle fell for the ruse and when he arrived at the bar two Madden loyalists shot him. Doyle staggered out of the bar and fell dead on a tenement doorstep. Madden was later charged as an accomplice in the murder and was sentenced from ten to twenty years in Sing Sing. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_1-3-00.html
November 29, 1944 – Frank Todaro, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was boss of the New Orleans Family. He died of natural causes and was succeeded by Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Carollo. However, other information indicates that Carollo took over the leadership of the family as early as 1925 from Charles Matranga, and that Todaro had only risen to the position of underboss. In Mafia Kingfish, by John H. Davis, a writer noted for distorting a fact or two every now and then, the author claims that Todaro attended a meeting of the New Orleans Family in May 1947, some two and a half years after his death. Carlos Marcello was married to Frank Todaro’s daughter Jacqueline. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_12-20-99.html
November 29, 1980 – Angelo Bedami, Sr., according to Tampa mob expert Scott M. Deitche, was a driving force, along with his family, in the Tampa underworld. As patriarch of the family, Bedami, Sr. was close to the top names in the city’s rackets. For most of his career he kept a low profile, his only arrests coming for conducting an illegal lottery in the 1950s. A leader in that region’s bolito rackets, in 1958 Bedami was questioned about the murder of gambler Jose Pelusa Diaz. Bedami died of natural causes at the age of 86.
November 29, 1992 – Francisco DiGiacomo was a gambler and alleged drug dealer from South Philadelphia who apparently offended John Stanfa by bragging that he had connections to the Stanfa Crime Family. He was murdered by his friend Rosario Bellocchio who shot him four times in the neck and chest and then threw his body in the gutter. When Bellocchio later testified about the murder he told the court that DiGiacomo was crying and asking, "Why are you doing this?" To which Bellocchio responded, "Don’t make this any harder for me."
November 30, 1984 – John McIntyre was a fisherman and part time drug smuggler who was murdered by members of James "Whitey" Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang after he began cooperating with the local FBI. McIntyre disappeared and his body was uncovered less than two years ago after information was provided by former Bulger lieutenant Kevin Weeks. His family currently has a $50 million unlawful death suit filed against the FBI and former agent John Connolly, who the family alleges provided Bulger with the information that McIntyre was cooperating. The government was attacked by local area Congressmen on November 8, 2001 for trying to quash the suit based on "procedural tactics."
December 1, 1999 – Joseph Dominic Lazzara was the brother Tampa mobster Augustine Primo Lazzara and the owner of the Castaways Lounge, an infamous meeting place for the mob. According to resident expert Scott M. Deitche, the Castaways opened in 1966 and then became the Sahara in the early 1980s. Joseph Lazzara and his son, John, used the operation to launder money. Lazzara died of natural causes.
December 2, 1985 – Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce was the mentor of flamboyant Gambino Family boss John Gotti. As longtime underboss to family leader Carlo Gambino many believed Dellacroce would become the new boss when "Don Carlo" passed away in 1976. Instead, Carlo named his cousin, Paul Castellano to replace him and a division in the family created a blue collar and a white-collar wing. This division came to a head with Dellacroce death at the age of 71 from cancer. Castellano refusal to attend the wake or funeral of his underboss Dellacroce put the final nail in his coffin and he was murdered by a Gotti hit team exactly two weeks later. Dellacroce was buried in St. John’s Cemetery in Queens, New York.
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