IN THIS ISSUE|
· Short Takes
· Book Talk with One of the Best
· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations
With no major mob stories in the news this past week, we will begin with a plethora of minor mob stories:
Buffalo – One of four Buffalo Police Department detectives scheduled to go to trial next month in a police corruption case apparently thought that preparing for trial included threatening two government informants in the case. Daryl Parker, who faces the most serious charges of the four defendants, was jailed December 12 for this indiscretion. The four officers were arrested in March 2000 after stealing cash from an undercover FBI agent posing as a drug dealer during a sting operation specifically staged to target the detectives. Parker is accused of accepting payoffs from drug dealers in exchange for information about undercover police investigations. All four officers have been on paid suspension since their arrests.
Chicago – In the past few weeks it has been New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Missouri that have been pressing the gaming issue locally to increase revenue for the state. This week it’s Illinois and Ohio (see Youngstown notes). Newly appointed Illinois Gaming Board administrator Philip Parenti has come under fire recently for comments he made when he accepted the new position this past October. Then, he stated, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, "he planned to ‘make sure gaming thrives to increase state revenue’ and said he wants to take a fresh look" at the Rosemont casino proposal rejected this year by the board. AM.com readers may remember that Chicago Crime Commission’s Chief Investigator Wayne Johnson’s testimony helped sink that proposal. During Parenti’s first meeting gambling critic Reverend Philip L. Blackwell, a senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church in the Loop, asked "Who’s going to protect us from the gaming industry if you don’t?" The reverend had earlier accused Parenti of "pimping for the mob." At the meeting Parenti introduced ideas that would set "credit limits and asset-verification procedures" aimed at preventing compulsive gamblers from getting unlimited credit. In perhaps a variation of Nevada’s infamous "Black Book," Parenti said he would undertake the state’s first effort to keep self-identified compulsive gamblers out of the casinos. The purpose, according to Parenti, would be "identifying problem gamblers so they don’t have to give away the farm and destroy their families."
Kansas City– Joseph Peter Simone, the son of alleged Kansas City Family boss Peter Simone, was found not guilty of extortion by a jury which rendered its verdict on December 13. Simone had borrowed $4,500 from a woman and repaid just $1,500. When she pressured him for the balance he allegedly threatened to kill her.
Las Vegas – Two’s company three’s a crowd! At least that must have been what was on the mind of convicted murderer Margaret Rudin when she talked about sexual activity going on in her jail cell at the Clark County Detention Center. Rudin, who was convicted of murdering and beheading her husband, was in the same cell with two other high-profile murderers – Sandra Murphy, convicted of murdering Ted Binion, and Jessica Williams, convicted of killing six teens with her vehicle on Interstate 15. Rudin told District Judge Joseph Bonaventure, who handled both the Rudin and Binion trials, that at night Murphy and Williams put their mattresses together and were "having sexual relations." They were "cuddled up together, laughing, talking, whispering all night…" While jail personnel believed Rudin made up these allegations to get a new cell, officials split up the three "as a precautionary measure."
Los Angeles – Barry Keenan, the "insane" kidnapper who helped snatch Frank Sinatra, Jr. from a Lake Tahoe, Nevada hotel room in 1963 is crowing because California’s "Son of Sam" law is preventing him from cashing in on $485,000 that Columbia Pictures is willing to pay for his story. Keenan’s attorney, Stephen Rhode, after appearing before the California Supreme Court, said, "We need to have books written by people who’ve been involved in crimes in order to learn about crime, learn about punishment." And, apparently, learn about paying their lawyers. Keenan says he owes more than $200,000 in legal fees. Convicted and sentenced to life plus 75 years, Keenan was later declared legally insane at the time of the crime and was paroled in 1968. The criminally insane Keenan made a miraculous recovery and is now a developer in Texas. He claims the "publicity over the issue has cost him $12 to $18 million from development projects."
Miami– A four-year investigation into organized crime activity in Southern Florida has come to an end after a federal racketeering trial – which had opening statements on November 21 – resulted in three convictions on December 14. Anthony "Tony Pep" Trentacosta, a capo in the Gambino Crime Family, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy. Frederick Massaro got hit with the kitchen sink. He was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, 15 counts of bank fraud, loansharking, passing counterfeit checks and possession of stolen goods. The third defendant, Ariel Hernandez, was found guilty of murdering stripper Jeanette Smith, just 22 years old. Smith was believed to be an FBI informant by the mob. Hernandez was supposed to dispose of her body. When it was recovered, Massaro ordered two crewmembers to kill Hernandez. In all, eleven men were indicted; eight have already pled guilty.
New York City (1) – Well, did he or didn’t he? In opening arguments Tuesday, December 11 defense attorney Joseph Corozzo said of his client Dominick "Little Dom" Curra that there was no illegal intent on his part to "cash in on some old paintings that fell into his lap at a time when he was out of work and hard up for cash." The paintings were fake duplicates of works by artists Picasso, Chagall, Botero and Rubens. Corozzo, the nephew of Nicholas "Little Nicky" Corozzo, confronted the court saying, "Does he know they were stolen? No, he does not. Does he know they were fraudulent? No, he does not." Does Corozzo know he will be standing with egg on his face by the end of the week? No, apparently not. An hour before the prosecution was set to end their case Curra pled guilty to the charges. Curra’s claim to fame is that he was at one-time the "personal bookie" for John Gotti.
New York City (2) – Organized crime once again showed how it "keeps up with the times" after four men were indicted December 11 for allegedly promoting a "pump and dump" stock scam that took advantage of the anthrax threat that America is currently struggling with. Spectrum Brands Corp, described as a "mobbed-up biotech company" based in Hauppauge, Long Island, "tried to cash in on the scare by promoting a hand-held gadget it falsely claimed could kill the deadly bacteria," according to Mike Claffey of the New York Daily News. The company claimed they had a "device that zaps anthrax germs with ultraviolet light." Ironically, Saveria "Sammy" Galasso, a reputed associate of the Colombo Family, engineered the fraud while awaiting sentencing on a racketeering conviction. This is the second time the mob has tried to take advantage of the post-September 11 turmoil. The first being scrap material from the World Trade Center disaster being diverted to mob controlled scrap yards.
Youngstown– The Casino for Youngstown Committee has launched a letter, e-mail and fax campaign to get Ohio Governor Bob Taft to support an Indian gambling casino in the Mahoning Valley. The organization is working with members of the Wyandotte Indian tribe, which once owned most of the state. However, according to the Ohio attorney general’s office, there are no federally recognized Indian tribes in the state – except, of course, the Cleveland Indians. A spokesman for the group claims the state would receive an annual profit of $20 to $40 million. In addition the casino would create 2,000 new jobs for the severely economically depressed valley. The committee has it’s own website – www.youngstowncasino.com.
Since appearing in my column last week business has gone through the roof for Russ McDermott. This week to show his appreciation he delivered his "Most Overpriced Mob Books" list by hand. Russ flew to Cleveland in his brand new Lear jet with a bevy of beauties. I found out that the young ladies were all out-of-work dancers from the Gold Club in Atlanta. Isn’t that just like Russ to look out for others less fortunate than him?
Like he did with his "Top-Ten Rarest Mob Books," Russ gives us the following qualifier:
"I consider a book overpriced when there are a lot of copies available, but the price remains up in the clouds. Doesn't mean the book isn't any good, just that it isn't rare. Here is my ‘Most Overpriced Mob Book’ list."
1. To Drop a Dime, by Ira Pecznick and William Hoffman – This book commands high prices but it is not rare. I can lay my hands on a dozen copies anytime I want to if I’m willing to pay the prices. The hardcover can go for up to $600 and even the paperback goes for $100 plus. A more practical acquisition is the book Deal, by Harvey Aronson, which tells essentially the same story for much less money.
2. The Silent Syndicate, by Hank Messick – Again, the book commands high prices and it is a very good book, but it is far from rare. You can find many copies for sale through various book search services and Amazon.com's Z-Shops.
3. Blood and Honor, by George Anastasia – By far Anastasia’s best book, it commands semi-high prices ($40 and up, up being more common) but you can find a copy cheaper if you look.
Side Note: I can still remembering purchasing my copy of Anastasia’s Blood and Honor while on a visit to Manhattan in 1991. I couldn’t put the book down. There was a gold label attached to the cellophane, which I removed and placed on the cover. It was a quote from Jimmy Breslin that read: "Forget about it! This is the best gangster book ever written!" Jimmy didn’t lie. – Allan May
4. The Bluegrass Conspiracy, by Sally Denton – Commands high prices from booksellers, even in paperback, but turns up all the time on e-bay for $30 or more. The demand is there for the book even though it will be reprinted in a few months so wait and save.
5. Blue Thunder, by Thomas Burdick and Charlene Mitchell – Prices sometimes go sky-high for this not very interesting and highly speculative book. But the book is common and many copies are available through book search sites.
6. Kefauver Commission Third Interim Report, published both by Didier and Arco – This was basically a reprint of the summary of the Kefauver Commission’s findings. Good info, but I have seen this listed for $100 or more. You can find a reasonably priced copy for $20 if you look a bit.
Russ McDermott can be contacted, and books can be purchased from him, at www.mobbooks.com Tell Russ you heard about his website through AmericanMafia.com and ask if Russ will throw in a lap dance as part of the deal.
December 26, 1920 – Edward "Monk Eastman" Osterman was a notorious labor racketeer and brutal gang leader in New York City who made a name for himself around the turn of the 20th century. Sentenced to prison in 1904, by the time he emerged, five years later, the politicians and gangsters he had once served ignored him. During World War I he served with distinction winning several medals and was hailed as a hero upon his return to New York. In 1920 Eastman tried to cut himself in on the new profits that bootlegging was providing. A rival shot him five times outside the restaurant where he ran his small operation. Eastman was buried with full military honors.
December 26, 1991 – Epifano "Fano" Trafficante was the brother of Tampa Mafia boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. Resident expert Scott Deitche says Fano was arrested for obstruction of justice in 1954 and for promoting prostitution in 1963 and 1968. In addition he was nailed on a federal liquor violation in 1967. He once owned and operated the Flamingo Lounge in Tampa. Like his more famous brother, he died of natural causes.
December 27, 1958 – Antonio Mirabile, as revealed by Jimmy "the Weasel" Fratianno, helped set up his friend Frank Borgia in the early 1950s. Mirabile brought Borgia to the home of Joseph Adamo. Once inside the front door, Mirabile grabbed Borgia in a bear hug, while Bompensiero and Fratianno performed what the Weasel called the "Italian rope trick." That is they looped a rope around the victim’s throat and two men pulled from opposite ends until the person was choked to death. Mirabile would himself be murdered before the decade was through.
December 28, 1927 – Vito Giannola was the leader of the first Mafia gang in St. Louis. He, his brother John, and Alphonse Palizzola came from the Stoppagleria faction of the Sicilian Mafia. They imposed a tax on all goods sold in St. Louis’s Italian community. With little resistance, the trio went about establishing a foothold in the rackets and soon found that the non-Italian gangs dominated the liquor trade in the city. Their entry into bootlegging started a mob war in the mid-1920s that would eventually decimate the gang. In the mid-1920s Giannola chased away the husband of a woman he fell in love with. Two men claiming to be police officers came to the house where they were living and, after finding Giannola hiding in a secret compartment upstairs, shot him 37 times. See my story on the St. Louis Family http://www.americanmafia.com/Cities/St_Louis.html
December 30, 1963 – Joseph Magliocco was the brother-in-law of Joseph Profaci and was his longtime underboss. He attended both the Cleveland Statler Meeting in 1928 and the Apalachin Summit in 1957. Magliocco took over the reigns of the family upon the death of Profaci in 1962, but due to an internecine war with the Gallo clan he did not have the moxy to handle the strife. He died of a heart attack five days after Christmas 1963. There were rumors that he had been poisoned, but an autopsy failed to prove that.
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 8, 2002 – Buffalo– Four police detectives go on trial on charges of stealing money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a drug dealer. The four officers have been suspended, with pay, since their March 2000 arrests.
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.
February 26, 2002 – Miami– Gambino Family members Anthony "Tony Pep" Trentacosta and Frederick Massaro and associate Ariel Hernandez will be sentenced for their December 14, 2001 convictions. The convictions ended a four-year probe into mob influence in Southern Florida.
March 1, 2002 – New York – Dominick "Little Dom" Curra will be sentenced for trying to sell fake artwork. Curra was at one time a "personal bookie" for "Dapper Don" John Gotti. He pled guilty in mid-trial on December 14, 2001.
March 2002 – Trenton – Joseph V. Lo Re and four others will be sentenced for their December 17 conviction for an embezzlement conspiracy involving a Bayonne, New Jersey waterfront union.
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