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· Chicago Mob War?
Mixed Signals on "Nicky" Scarfo
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· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations

LAST ISSUE 11-26-01


Chicago Mob War?

     Is it the beginning of a mob war, a change in leadership, or just a pissed-off juice customer getting even with an oppressive collector? These rumors and others have been circling around the Windy City since the shooting death of Anthony Chiaramonti on November 22.

     One source told AmericanMafia.com that Chiaramonti was a close associate of James J. Marcello, who was sent to prison in 1995. Rumor had it that Marcello was already out on the street despite a Chicago Tribune article that reported otherwise. A check by AM.com with the federal Bureau of Prisons in Milan, Michigan reveals Marcello is still there and not due to be released until November 2003.

     If Marcello is indeed heir apparent to the throne of the Chicago Outfit, the 57 year-old will be one of the younger men to head it in recent years. A look at the past decade reveals the following septuagenarians and octogenarians. Although not all were bosses, they held a position of prominence in the Outfit:

Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa 89 Died February 1997

Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo 86 Died May 27, 1992

Gus Alex 82 Died July 24, 1998

John P. "Jackie" Cerone 82 Died July 26, 1996

Pasquale "Pat" Marcy 79 Died March 13, 1993

Angelo LaPietra 78 Died March 28, 1999

Sam "Wings" Carlisi 75 Died January 1, 1997

Dominic Cortina 74 Died November 20, 1999

Vincent Solano 72 Died November 16, 1992

     A background check on Marcello shows that he was a chauffeur, bodyguard and confidante to Sam "Wings" Carlisi. A Chicago Tribune article dated April 6, 1995 reported that prosecutors said Marcello was "the Chicago area’s second-ranking mobster."

     Indicted in 1992, Marcello was held in jail for what Assistant US Attorney Mark Vogel described as being a member of a street crew which relied on "violence, intimidation and threats to collect gambling and juice-loan debts from 1979 through mid-1990." In late 1993 Carlisi and Marcello were convicted on federal charges of racketeering, arson, extortion, gambling and loansharking. The convictions included a plot to murder Anthony Daddino – a mob associate who the gang thought was cooperating with law enforcement – and financing Lenny Patrick’s loansharking operation.

     Before the sentence was handed down in April 1995 Vogel asked the judge for the maximum sentence of 14 years stating that for society’s sake "I have to do everything I can to incapacitate Mr. Marcello as long as I can."

     The defendant defiantly told the judge, "If my name wasn’t James Marcello, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you. That’s all I have to say." US District Judge Paul Plunkett then gave Marcello a twelve and a half-year sentence.

     Meanwhile, Chicago law enforcement officials believe that Chiaramonti’s murder is part of turf battle for control of the South Side rackets that started with the death of John "Johnny Apes" Monteleone this past January. Monteleone controlled operations in Cicero, the South Side, and Chicago’s southern most suburbs. The main money generators there are bookmaking, labor racketeering and loan sharking.

     Chiaramonti had seized a part of this action, which may have come to a head with the recent release of Anthony "Little Tony" Zizzo, who Chiaramonti allegedly reported to. Chiaramonti had a ruthless reputation. One Chicago mob watcher stated that Chiaramonti was a "violent, nasty, son-of-a-bitch his entire life." This lends to the thinking in some circles that he may have pushed one of his debtors too far. Articles following his death reported that he once "punctuated his point by jabbing a fork in a man’s chin," and had slammed "an indebted restaurant owner down of a hot griddle." Whatever the reason for his death it is unlikely he is going to be missed.

Mixed Signals on "Young Nicky" Scarfo     ^TOP

     Nicodemo "Young Nicky" Scarfo, the son of imprisoned-for-life mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, is embroiled in a trial that is described as "the first courtroom test of cutting edge cyber-surveillance technology."

     The case centers on a new sophisticated surveillance tool called a keystroke-logging device. The FBI, armed with a search warrant, placed the device on Scarfo’s computer keyboard in June 1999 so they could obtain a password he was using on an encrypted program he created to store gambling records.

     The government is refusing to reveal how the device works citing national-security concerns. A government attorney claims the "key logger" is protected under the classified Information Procedures Act. Scarfo’s lawyer claims that the information on how the device works is "absolutely vital to the defense’s case."

     In October Alex Roslin wrote an excellent in depth article for the Montreal Gazette in which the views of several experts on both sides of the issue gave legal opinions. Some of the discussion involved the way the device was installed. Should it have been allowed to be planted during the execution of a search warrant or should the procedures of requesting a wire tap order been adhered to.

     Whatever the case, there were credible arguments presented on both sides.

     Revealed in the article were two sides of "Young Nicky," whose father left behind a legacy of senseless bloodshed in Atlantic City and Philadelphia during the 1980s. The article claimed he was "the real life inspiration" for the Christopher Moltisanti character on the Soprano’s television series. Yet another reference describes him as a computer "geek."

     AmericanMafia.com wonders why the government is spending all this money and placing themselves in peril of having to reveal their "high-tech surveillance device" over a simple bookmaking operation?

     If Scarfo is truly like the Michael Imperioli character from the Soprano’s, there is no doubt the feds will get him on something new – and probably soon! Let’s get real. It’s not like the feds would be giving up on a case against a criminal – let’s say – that was involved in 19 murders.

     If Scarfo is a "geek," as one of his former lawyers describes him, then maybe this will be the wake-up call he needs to turn his life around since once having to eat eight MAC-10 submachine gun bullets apparently didn’t do the trick.

     The trial, which was scheduled for October, is still in a holding pattern in Newark. Meanwhile, Scarfo has been under house arrest since posting bail after his June 2000 indictment.

Short Takes     ^TOP

     Boston – After a valiant effort investigators called off their search for Walter and Edward "Wimpy" Bennett, who disappeared in 1967. Hopes were high that the bodies of the two would be unearthed at a Hopkinton shooting range after information regarding their whereabouts was provided by former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, who was involved in the murders of the two brothers. Massachusetts State Police Major Thomas Foley was resigned to say, "It is frustrating we didn’t find them. It’s a lot of work, and you…want to bring closure for the families." In a touching farewell Barbara Bennett, the 43 year-old daughter of Walter, tossed a farewell note into the site that stated, "Daddy, I am a grown woman now, you would be proud of me. All the pain over the years now needs to come to a stop…I can no longer hold on to you; it is time for me to sat goodbye." The pain of James "Whitey" Bulger lives on. No wonder he is second only to Osama bin Ladin on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

     Las Vegas – Despite two attempts I have come up empty in trying to get Benny Binion Behnen to respond to my request to elaborate on his claims that Jimmy "the Weasel" Fratianno lied in his book, The Last Mafioso, about the murder of "Russian Louie" Strauss. However, I will keep the offer open for an interview if he cares to come forward.

     New York – Does anyone besides me find it odd that there was so little coverage regarding the recent death of Gambino capo Joseph "Joe Butch" Corrao. The 64 year-old mobster died of kidney failure on November 14. Charlie "Moose" Molino reported, after a trip back home for turkey dinner, that there was little or no coverage in the New York papers. If it wasn’t for a short blurb in This Week in Gang Land it’s seems unlikely any of us would have heard about it.

     Providence – The ensuing and much anticipated "Plunder Dome" case got some pre-trial publicity in the form of a near barroom brawl at the "elegant Raphael’s Bar Risto in Union Station" as local talk-show personality John DePetro and indicted conspirator Artin Coloian squared off. Coloian, chief of staff to Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, was dining with friends, while DePetro of WHJJ sat at the bar having drinks with friends. Soon the two encountered each other in the john and exchanged words. Both men had different versions of the encounter. Friends later kept the evening from becoming a free-for-all.

     Scranton – Lawyer David Kurtz was kind enough to give AmericanMafia.com an update on his pending lawsuit against Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse. The case is in what is referred to in legalese as Rule 12. Kurtz tells us, "If we survive the Rule 12 motion to dismiss phase then we’ll go forward into discovery and have the right to take depositions. This will take two to three months." After that a judge will make a ruling if there is enough credible evidence to proceed to trial. Meanwhile, grand jury testimony, on events reported previously by AM.com, continue in Harrisburg. Kurtz says, "I believe that by the week before Christmas there will be 2 or 3 indictments coming down. I don’t believe the indictments before Christmas will involve Barrasse." It’s interesting to note that the newspapers in Harrisburg, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have pretty much shied away from doing any in depth reporting on this matter.

     Youngstown – On November 27 Richard A. DeTore pleaded innocent to violating a federal bribery law and was released on a $50,000 bond. DeTore will be a co-defendant in the racketeering trial of Mahoning Valley Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. that is due to begin February 4, 2002. DeTore, an ex-employee of U S Aerospace Group once run by millionaire Youngstown area businessman John J. Cafaro, had not secured counsel yet and told the judge that since his indictment he had lost his latest job at Galaxy Scientific. Perhaps the flamboyant congressman can represent him and earn honestly some of the money he wolfed down from USAG.

This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

December 3, 1958 – Augustus "Gus" Greenbaum and his wife Bess were brutally murdered in their Phoenix home. Greenbaum had been forced out of retirement, by the mob murdering his sister-in-law, into managing the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas for the Chicago Outfit. Greenbaum then turned the Riviera around, but in doing so had become a heroin addict, alcoholic and a heavy loser at the gambling tables. When he began "skimming the skim" the Outfit told him to leave. When Greenbaum refused they responded by cutting his throat to near decapitation. Bess Greenbaum was hit over the head with an ornamental bottle and then had her throat slashed. Attending the funeral was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.

December 3, 1978 – Charles F. "Spider" Grisham was described as a two-bit Mahoning Valley burglar with a strange drinking problem. When drunk Grisham enjoyed pulling a weapon on fellow bar patrons and then beating up one or two of them. In 1978, he practiced on a Carabbia brothers’ associate in a Trumbull County bar, making the man crawl on his hands and knees. When word of this humiliation reached the Carabbias, Joseph DeRose, Jr. was dispatched to right the indiscretion. Grisham was cut down with a high-powered rifle as he arrived at the front door of his Howland Township apartment. Grisham was the first of 12 victims of the Naples / Carabbia War which plagued Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

December 5, 1928 – The first known meeting of a national crime cartel took place in Cleveland, Ohio at the Statler Hotel. All the meeting’s participants were Sicilian lending to the belief that it was a gathering of the Unione Siciliana to discuss changes in the wake of the murders of Frank Uale in New York and Anthony Lombardo in Chicago. The meeting was snuffed out by an unassuming beat patrolman who watched several gangsters check into the hotel. He recorded the names and turned them into the detective bureau before going off duty. Two dozen mobsters from around the country were soon arrested. For more information read Rick Porrello’s Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia. http://www.americanmafia.com/Preface_Rise_and_Fall.html

December 5, 1976 – Joseph Charles Fusco was as a "chieftain in Al Capone’s beer-making racket." Fusco became involved in the bootlegging operations of the Chicago mob in 1921. Fusco claimed that he retired from the rackets with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. During the 1930s and 1940s Fusco headed Gold Seal Liquors, Inc., the largest liquor distributor in Cook County. Fusco was called to testify before the Kefauver Committee in 1950, at which he admitted his company was the largest in terms of sales volume in Chicago. Although he was identified in 1963 as a member of the Chicago Outfit his role, if any, was believed to be minimal. He died of natural causes at the age of 74 in his suite at the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

December 6, 1983 – Robert Riccobene was the last victim of the Riccobene / Scarfo War. Two crews of hitmen had been stalking Robert Riccobene the day he was murdered. That afternoon Scarfo gunmen "Faffy" Iannarella, Charles "Charlie White" Iannece and Joey Pungitore caught up with him outside his mother’s house. Riccobene had just driven up with his mother and parked. As they walked toward the house Riccobene spotted Iannarella carrying a sawed-off shotgun. Riccobene took off with "Faffy" in pursuit. Iannarella fired a blast as Riccobene vaulted a fence. The shot caught Riccobene in the back of the head killing him. During the chase, Mrs. Riccobene had grabbed Iannarella and screamed at him to stop. "Faffy" responded by hitting the terrified mother in the face with the butt of the shotgun. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-8-00.html

December 7, 1996 – Joseph Sodano was a North New Jersey capo who refused to come in and answer to "new leadership" in the wake of the Merlino / Stanfa War. His punishment for "disrespecting the wishes" of mob leaders Ralph Natale and Joey Merlino was a bullet. His murder is now the center of controversy in a new trial involving Merlino. In a trial that ended this past July the jury decided that the Sodano murder charges were "not proven." Prosecutors are seeking to try him a second time for the murder while Merlino’s attorney claims this constitutes double jeopardy.

December 8, 1992 – Vincent A. Arcieri, a Boston area restaurant owner, was murdered in the driveway of his Orient Heights home during a mob war that took place in the city during the early and mid-1990s. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_9-11-00.html

December 9, 1953 – Dominick "the Gap" Petrilli was a ranking member of the Lucchese Family when Gaetano Gagliano was running it. Petrilli got his nickname after having his two front teeth knocked out in a fight during childhood. Charles "Lucky" Luciano claimed that he sent Petrilli to his dentist who fixed the problem with a bridge. Afterward Petrilli became a lady’s man and for this, according to Luciano, "if I asked him to jump off a buildin’ he would’ve done it." In 1930 Petrilli murdered Joseph Pinzolo who had replaced the recently murdered Thomas Reina. Petrilli was deported sometime after a narcotics conviction in 1942, but had returned by the fall of 1953. Rumored to have been working with law enforcement, Petrilli was murdered in a bar on East 183rd Street in the Bronx by three gunmen. In the movie The Valachi Papers the Petrilli character is fictitiously shown to be messing around with Vito Genovese’s wife while "Don Vitone" is in Italy. Petrilli is rewarded by having his penis cut off and left bleeding and begging Joe Valachi, played by Charles Bronson, to finish him off.

Trials and Tribulations     ^TOP

     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 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.


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.

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.

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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