IN THIS ISSUE|
· Donnie Brasco – Part 2
· Two In One Week
· Book Update
· Short Takes
· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations
Donnie Brasco – Part 2
It started out as a bad week for law enforcement in New York City. The New York Post reported that there was a 32 percent increase in the number of shooting victims and that murders in the last four weeks were 20 percent ahead of last year.
A New York Daily News article claimed that due to the September 11 terrorist attack "many cops and detectives had to be diverted to rescue and recovery missions." While city officials tried to downplay the sudden – but predictable – spike in crime, the police department has been "deploying large numbers of plainclothes cops to serve warrants, execute buy-and-busts and monitor gangs in an all-out effort to bring the situation under control," this according to Daily News Police Bureau Chief John Marzulli.
On December 4 Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik responded to the crime wave by ordering a "major shakeup" in the New York Police Department, transferring 15 of the city’s top commanders.
Amidst this chaos and disorder came the news that on Wednesday, December 5 Federal prosecutors indicted 73 members of the Genovese Family on racketeering charges. Barry W. Mawn, assistant director of the FBI’s New York Office, said the indictments targeted the "middle management and the rank and file" of the Genovese Family. Law enforcement officers rounded up 60 suspects. Several of those listed in the indictment were already in custody.
This is the second major blow to the Genovese Family this year. Back in April 45 members and associates were indicted.
The hero in this latest indictment is an undercover New York City police detective who infiltrated the crime family ala Joseph Pistone / Donnie Brasco. Pistone’s undercover work for the FBI over a decade ago helped bring down a major portion of the Bonanno Family. Greg Smith of the Daily News reported, "Before the indictments were unsealed yesterday by U. S. Attorney Mary Jo White, the detective had to leave his parents and siblings behind and relocate to another state."
Unlike Pistone, this undercover cop has no wife or children. In his undercover role he posed as a chop shop owner where he specialized in committing insurance fraud for the mob. Robert Cordier, head of the FBI’s criminal division in New York said this officer "was so convincing in his role as a wanna-be goodfella his gangster mentors were talking about sponsoring him for membership in the Genovese family."
Included in this momentous roundup were three Genovese capos: Pasquale "Patsy" Parrello, Rosario "Ross’ Gangi and Joseph Dente, Jr. Parrello is the reputed head of a Bronx based crew; Gangi, currently serving a 97-month sentence, is the alleged boss of a Manhattan crew; Dante is described as the leader of another Bronx crew involved in a major loansharking operation.
In a statement released by Mary Jo White, the outgoing U. S. Attorney said, "As the law-abiding citizens of New York City return to normalcy in our lives, we will permit no such return to ‘business as usual’ for members of organized crime and the criminal element in New York."
Side Note: It’s seems obvious that the New York Police Department and the FBI worked in unison on this project. As many of us mob watchers know the two agencies, not just in this city but others around the country, don’t always play well together. I point this out because John L. Smith of the Las Vegas Journal Review wrote an article last week where he spoke about a "Thaw in FBI-police relationships" in Las Vegas. Calling the revelation "nothing short of incredible," Smith attributes the change in attitude to the September 11 attack. Let’s hope for the sake of law enforcement everywhere that this trend catches on.
The Associated Press has reported that one day after the sweeping indictment of 73 members and associates of the Genovese Family, that twelve men, seven of who are connected to the Lucchese Family, have been indicted on a "variety of gun, drug, conspiracy, assault, gambling and racketeering charges"
The investigation, which took place over a 32-month period, involved two New York City detectives who posed as hijackers to infiltrate the Lucchese organization. George Brown, chief of the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, called the undercover work by the two detectives "one of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement. These officers did it flawlessly."
The undercover operation had the two officers conducting over 50 transactions, most of which took place in parking lots, where the mobsters were sold "counterfeit name-brand watches, knockoffs of designer jeans, and other fake items police had seized for trademark infringement."
It is interesting to note that all but one of the twelve men arrested were between the ages of 29 and 36. This is in contrast to other recent indictments where mob members from other families seem to be much older. Is youth a new trend in the Lucchese Family?
In an August 13, 2001 article, New York Daily News reporter Murray Weiss wrote:
"The Luccheses are being run by Joseph "Joe Dee" DeFede, while the family’s boss, Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso, is in prison. The family, made famous by the movie "Goodfellas," runs major carting rackets."
Speaking of new trends in the Lucchese Family, the article listed John Donnadio among those indicted. They described him as a "crime crew supervisor." Is this a new position? Does he move up from here and become a "crime crew manager" or become the "crime crew director" before being named capo?
I just began reading Death in the Desert: The Ted Binion Homicide Case, Cathy Scott’s version of the now infamous murder. Scott is a talented writer and an award-winning journalist who is very involved in professional journalistic societies. Her book The Killing of Tupac Shakur became a best seller.
It doesn’t take the reader long to discover Scott’s slant is for Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish, although it’s not presented in an obnoxious way. In the early chapters she bounces around quite a bit, but what I found most enjoyable is that she covers the mob’s alleged participation in the murder well. In addition she provides the reader with great information on Benny Binion’s life, the murder of Herbie Blitzstein, coverage of mob lawyer-turned mayor Oscar Goodman, and some history of Las Vegas and gambling there pre-Siegel.
I just purchased Celeste A. Morello’s Before Bruno: Book 2-1931 – 1946. I panned her first effort – a thirty-dollar investment for a trade paperback, this one was more reasonably priced. I’m hoping she picks up the pace a bit in this one and has toned down her criticism of other writer’s efforts.
I have Paul Kavieff’s second effort, The Violent Years: Prohibition and the Detroit Mob, on the way and I’m anxiously awaiting Joseph Griffin’s book on Buffalo early next year. Anyone who reads This Week in Gang Land should be keenly aware that Jerry Capeci has penned a new release, part of the "Complete Idiot’s Guide" series this one called The Mafia.
Anyone out there aware of any other new books on the horizon?
Chicago – I was re-reading the Chicago Tribune article covering the murder of Anthony Chiaramonti and had to chuckle as a staff reporter referred to the killing as a "classic mob hit." Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t a "classic mob hit" mean that the victim was set up by someone close to him, takes two bullets in the back of the head, and then is found in the trunk of his car – with no witnesses present? Chiaramonti, according to witnesses, got into a loud argument with his killer and then ran back into a restaurant vestibule from where he had made a phone call. His assailant chased him, firing along the way, and finished him off inside the small vestibule. This leads some investigators to wonder if the murder wasn’t the result of one of Chiaramonti’s customers being pushed to far by the vicious juice collector.
Miami – Does anyone out there know what’s going on with the Tony Pep trial. The Miami Herald dazzled us with a report back on November 21 where Anthony Trentacosta’s lawyer in his opening statement claimed that his client was a "made" member of the Gambino Family. Since then – Zilch! Anyone have a clue?
Philadelphia – If you haven’t heard, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, reputed boss of the Philadelphia Family, was sentenced to 14 years in prison last Monday. With time off for good behavior, plus the time he has already served, Merlino is looking at a good nine and a half years behind bars. The following day 71 year-old family member Frank Gambino received a sentence just one month short of six years. The sentences for the seven convicted family members are being doled out one per day by US District Court Judge Herbert Hutton. On Wednesday underboss Steven Mazzone got nine years. Those left to be sentenced are consigliere George Borgesi, members Martin Angelina and John Ciancaglini and associate Angelo "Fat Ange" Lutz.
Youngstown – Edward A. Flask, the former director of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District board, has filed for protection under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. Flask pleaded guilty last year to improprieties while in office that included paying a local construction company for work that it never performed. The Ohio Attorney General’s office is challenging the validity of the filing claiming that Flask is trying to avoid a lawsuit filed by the state to recover $2.4 million. In answering questions about the suit, Joe Case, a spokesman for the attorney general stated, "We’ll go through the process to convince the court that the [$2.4 million] should be exempt from any bankruptcy protection so we can get it kicked back to the judge and get it to trial."
"Kicked back to the judge?" Interesting choice of words.
Only in Youngstown!
December 11, 1994 – Paul C. Struzella was murdered during the Boston Mob War, which took place in the 1990s. During the early morning hours members of the Revere Fire Department were called to the scene of an automobile fire in a parking lot on Bennington Street. After extinguishing a burning 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass, firemen found Struzella’s body. He had been shot in the head before the car was torched. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_9-11-00.html
December 12, 1948 – Jimmy Velasco, according to Tampa mob historian Scott Deitche, was a gambling figure and a political fixer for the Tampa Family. Velasco was entering his car when he was shot five times with a .38 and killed instantly, the bullets piercing his head and heart. Miraculously, his wife and daughter, who were with him, were not injured. Joseph Provenzano was tired for the murder but acquitted the following year.
December 13, 1980 – Ronald "Ronnie the Crab" Carabbia was one of three brothers that allegedly ran the Cleveland faction of the Youngstown/Warren rackets in the 1970s. His brother Charles "Charlie the Crab" Carabbia was sentenced to life in prison for the 1977 murder of Cleveland racketeer Daniel J. "Danny" Greene. In 1979 the Naples / Carabbia War took the lives of ten area mobsters. Carabbia was believed to have been murdered after not returning a $60,000 bribe that was earmarked for James A. Traficant, Jr. who was running for Mahoning County sheriff. Carabbia left his home on a Saturday morning and was never seen again. A few days later his abandoned car was found on the West Side of Cleveland. See Rick Porrello’s book To Kill the Irishman.
December 14, 1983 – Enrico Riccobene was a sad side note to the Riccobene/Scarfo War. Enrico, Mario Riccobene’s 27 year-old son, had no real connection to the hostilities that were going on other than being a blood relative. While working at his jewelry store he was notified that Salvatore Testa, Phil Leonetti, and Lawrence Merlino were looking for him. Enrico went to the safe, pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-8-00.html
December 16, 1959 – Roger "the Terrible" Touhy was the son of a Chicago policeman and had a colorful career during the Prohibition years as a bootlegger in the Windy City. In the early 1930s Touhy was framed and convicted of the kidnapping of John "Jake the Barber" Factor and sentenced to life in prison. Touhy made news with a sensational jailbreak in 1942, but was soon apprehended. Touhy fought for years to prove the kidnapping was a hoax. A judge finally agreed with him in 1959. He was released on November 25, of that year. Four weeks later, as Touhy was on his way to visit his sister, he was shot down outside her apartment.
December 16, 1985 – Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti were mowed down in one of gangland’s most sensational hits just nine days before Christmas on a midtown-Manhattan street bustling with holiday shoppers and pedestrians heading home from work. The murders were ordered and arranged by John Gotti who would soon be named boss of the Gambino Family and become a legend with his flamboyant and media-inviting personality. See me column on Bilotti http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_2-8-99.html
December 17, 1973 – Frank Brancato’s participation in the Cleveland Mafia lasted more than 40 years. The Mayfield Road hitman was believed responsible for Cleveland’s biggest mob hit, the triple-slaying involving brothers Ray and Rosario Porrello and their bodyguard, Dominic Gueli in February 1932. Brancato was involved in gambling, loansharking and bookmaking operations over the years and at one time was described as the "Number 3" man in the Cleveland Mafia. He was 76 years-old when he died. See Rick Porrello’s Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia http://www.americanmafia.com/Preface_Rise_and_Fall.html
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.
December 13, 2001 – Bergen County, New Jersey – A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Daniel Provenzano who was charged in a 44-count racketeering indictment.
January 7, 2002 – Atlanta – Former Atlanta police officer Jack Redlinger goes on trial for allegedly fixing traffic tickets for Gold Club employees in exchange for cash. Redlinger is the last of 17 people indicted in the Gold Club case. Everyone else has either gone to trial or pled guilty.
January 28 – Boston– Retired state trooper Richard J, Schneiderman 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.
January 2002 – New York City – Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico is scheduled to go to trial with five others on a racketeering indictment.
January 2002 – Chicago – Michael Spano, Sr., alleged mob boss of legendary Cicero, Illinois, goes on trial for attempting to bribe a high-ranking federal official to obtain a pardon or clemency for former Chicago Outfit boss Rocco Infelice in 1998.
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 2002 – Miami – Genovese mobster and Trafficante Family associate John Mamone and members of the Tampa family's Miami faction go on trial for racketeering and money laundering. AM.com contributor Scott Deitche will keep us posted on this one when it comes up.
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.
May 2002 – Chicago – Michael Spano, Sr. and Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese go to trial for looting the city coffers of millions of dollars.
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.
January 31, 2002 – Chicago – William Hanhardt, 72, the former chief of detectives for the Chicago Police Department, will be sentenced for his guilty plea to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to ship stolen jewels across state lines.
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