IN THIS ISSUE|
· The Last Ride of "Long John"
· Where’s Andy?
· Short Takes
· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations
The Last Ride of "Long John"
The six-block jaunt that brought Raymond "Long John" Martorano to a halt against a fire hydrant at 8th and Spruce in downtown Philadelphia proved to be his last. On January 17 three bullets fired through the windshield of Martorano’s Lincoln Town Car, hitting the aging mobster in the chest, abdomen and arm, finally took their toll. But "Long John," at the age of 74, put up a courageous fight.
Joseph DellaGuardia, an attorney for the family, said there had been encouraging signs of improvement in recent days. Even though Martorano had been placed in a medically induced coma, it was reported that he was responding to the presence of family members. The family, who kept a vigil at his bedside at Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center, was there when the end came at 7:37 on the morning of February 5.
"He put up a hell of a fight," said Martorano’s daughter Delores.
Upon gaining his freedom from prison in November 1999, Martorano made a promise he wouldn’t keep – he was going to die in Sicily. He and family members returned from the island of his birth just four days before he was shot. Martorano had found a $92,000 home there he was thinking of purchasing. "Long John" had indicated he was through with the mob and that he was dedicating the remainder of his life to fighting for his son’s freedom and staying close to his family. His son, George "Cowboy" Martorano, is serving a life term for selling drugs and is currently incarcerated in Louisiana.
However, many sources on the streets of Philadelphia claim the old mobster was trying to force his way back into gambling operations in the city. It was reported by one mob-insider that just before the NFL playoffs began Martorano walked into a South Philadelphia bar and urged patrons to "bet with me and my guys."
There have been some developments since the investigation began. On February 1 Philadelphia police and the FBI raided the home of Stephen "Stevie Gongs" Casasanto in South Philadelphia, but would not comment on the results. Casasanta’s attorney stated the search had nothing to do with the Martorano investigation.
The Philadelphia Daily News claimed it was withholding the names of two brothers believed to be the triggermen. The newspaper reported the two "were trying to impress mob boss Joseph Ligambi." One source told the paper, "The information that we received is that they acted on their own – it wasn’t under Ligambi’s orders. They’re a couple of loose cannons."
If the current track record holds true in the "City of Brotherly Love," these killers will be ratted out by someone who will then write a book about it.
As for the Martorano family, they will be burying the second of a father-son-grandson combination. Raymond W. Martorano was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident last year. After losing "Long John" for 17 years the family had him back for 2. They will have to fight alone to get Georgie Cowboy to come home. If that ever happens let’s hope for the family’s sake that he doesn’t take the path his father took – again!
One of the first things I did when I got my computer and signed onto the internet back in the spring of 1998 was to put "organized crime" into the search engine to see what I could come up with. What I found was Jerry Capeci’s Gang Land. One of Jerry’s features was "Ask Andy." People would e-mail questions and Andy would help answer them and one would appear as a column piece each week. Later, Andy was able to write some of his own columns on the history of the New York crime family’s and other subjects.
In October 1998 Andy decided to retire and I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to replace him for a short eight weeks between November and January, before Rick Porrello made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I treasured those eight weeks being associated with the popular and well-respected Capeci. For all intents and purposes it launched my organized crime writing career and more importantly I was introduced to Charlie Molino, the Youngstown Moose, now a good friend and the most knowledgeable guy I know.
I always wondered what happened to Andy though. Andy, if that was his real name, was an extremely knowledgeable organized crime historian, not to mention an ex-FBI employee, former college football All-American, and a Medal of Honor winner as a member of the Green Beret. I always hoped that he would pop up during the early days of the AmericanMafia.com Forum or even on some of the Forums that became popular later. Here was a guy that obviously knew a lot and enjoyed sharing what he knew. I was both surprised and disappointed that he never surfaced again.
So, Andy, if your still out there, drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to and know that you’re missed.
Arizona – Perhaps Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano’s new lawyer, Lynne Stewart needs to take a refresher course at law school. While mob trials have taken on a life of their own in the past 20 years, I still believe it’s the proper procedure to claim your client is not guilty and then go to trial. Ms. Stewart appears to have things somewhat backward. On June 29, 2001 she allowed Gravano to plead guilty. Now she claims he’s innocent. In papers filed in New York on February 1 Stewart claimed her client was not the leader of the Phoenix-based ecstasy operation, and that his remarks about "owning Arizona" were the byproduct of "informants who have watched too many reruns of ‘The Sopranos.’" Hey, didn’t I use that line in a December column? Mob watchers believe Stewart is only trying to get Sammy’s anticipated sentence of 15 to 20 years knocked down a bit. Speaking of the sentence – that date has yet to be announced.
Boston – Okay, so maybe he’s not a professional bean-counter, but how sharp can Kurt Schwartz be when he claims that after two years the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office can’t build a case against Francis K. Fraine. Schwartz, head of the attorney general’s criminal bureau, says there’s just not enough evidence. Fraine claimed he had an average income of $26,000 a year and hadn’t filed an income tax return since 1990. Yet he tools around town in a Jaguar, owns a $535,000 home and likes to travel. Over the holidays he and a dozen family members spent two weeks at a resort in the Dominican Republic. Fraine, who has ties to fugitive Winter Hill gang leader James "Whitey" Bulger, was revealed to have received $7 million from the MBTA Retirement Fund while providing kickbacks to the fund’s executive director John J. Gallahue, Jr. Those transactions are currently being investigated by the feds. When asked about the Fraine / Gallahue connection Schwartz was quick to point out that this was not part of the state’s investigation. Schwartz also pointed out that the state’s decision not to prosecute had nothing to do with the fact that Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly once represented Fraine in two arson cases in the 1970s.
Buffalo – The trial of four Buffalo police detectives is moving into its fifth week. The trial is one of the most widely followed trials in the city in recent years. The four defense attorneys are having a hard time due to the overwhelming evidence against the defendants and are resorting to nitpicking over insignificant items, and arguing with the judge, who is having none of it. Darnyl Parker, the defendant upon which most of the evidence and testimony is based, will have to sit through the testimony of his son. Parker had a drug dealer, who was working undercover for the FBI, set his son up in business. William Parker has agreed to testify against his father. You gotta wonder why these guys didn’t take a plea. There is a lot of testimony and coverage of this trial. AmericanMafia.com recommends the following html to follow the action http://www.buffalonews.com/ Veteran Buffalo News reporters Michael Beebe and Dan Herbeck are covering the trial.
New York (1) – Unless you’re living in a cave you must know by now that Vincent "the Chin" Gigante is on his way back to the Big Apple to be arraigned after a late January indictment. The Chin is being charged with running the Genovese Family from prison and with obstruction of justice for "feigning mental illness to stall prosecution." Apparently the only person on the face of the earth who believed Gigante’s crazy man act was his attorney Michael Marinaccio. The lawyer, who readily accepted payments from the "crazed" gangster, still claims his client is sick and "I haven’t seen any evidence to dissuade me from that view." Marinaccio better start thinking about how he’s going to present his client in court this month. With the Super Bowl just completed this could be the next best thing to bet on. How will Gigante enter the court?:
AmericanMafia.com wonders why the government has to pay to fly this guy from Texas to New York. Can’t a magistrate in Texas accept Gigante’s not-guilty mumble?
New York (2)– As we received another report about John Gotti’s failing health on February 1, AmericanMafia.com has made two observations. One, that self-described "adopted son" Lewis Kasman was not recognized by the New York Post. In two articles in the New York Daily News Kasman was listed as "a close and long-time family friend" who is dispensing information as if he were the Gotti family spokesman. In the Post article he isn’t mentioned. Second, the "Dapper Don" is turning into this decade’s version of the 1970’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain who every few months was reported to be on death’s doorstep. I can remember an old Saturday Night Live episode with Bill Murray doing "Weekend Update." Three weeks after the leader’s death Murray reported that, "Franco was still dead." Meanwhile the Daily News reported that "Gotti’s health has taken a turn for the better," and he was returned to Springfield on February 5.
February 12, 1976 – Joseph "The Animal" Barboza was a New England Mafia hitman who became a government witness. Barboza was mad at Raymond Patriarca, the boss of the family, for not providing bail when Barboza was arrested on a weapon’s possession charge. Convicted and sent to prison, Barboza got even by ratting out members of various hits. In at least one occasion, the murder of Edward Deegan, Barboza added the names of several men he wanted to get even with. Barboza was murdered in San Francisco by New England mob member Joseph "J.R." Russo. See my stories http://www.americanmafia.com/Mob_Report/1-14-02_Mob_Report.html and http://www.americanmafia.com/Mob_Report/1-21-02_Mob_Report.html
February 13, 1936 – "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn was a bodyguard for Al Capone and the mobster credited with planning the St. Valentines’ Day Massacre. Depending on which reference you are reading, he was born either James DeMora or Vincenzo Gibaldi. McGurn’s fabled reputation as a hitman had him depositing nickels into the palms of all of his victims. McGurn was also behind the maiming of entertainer Joe E. Lewis. McGurn’s status in the gang went south after the imprisonment of Capone. He was murdered in a bowling alley on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the infamous massacre. His killers left a caustic Valentine note on his body which read:
"You’ve lost your job,
You’ve lost your dough,
Your jewels and handsome houses.
But things could be worse, you know.
You haven’t lost your trousers."
February 13, 1980 – Robert "Bobby" DeCerbo, who had survived one attempt to kill him – a car bombing which left him partially maimed – was a victim of the Mahoning Valley’s Carabbia/Naples War. DeCerbo was in his Beaver Township home watching television with his wife. The couple’s children were a sleep in their bedrooms. At approximately 10:45 two shotgun blasts exploded through the front window hitting the 36 year-old DeCerbo in the chest and arms. He was rushed to St. Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center where he died an hour later of shock and hemorrhage from the wounds. DeCerbo’s killer was believed to be Joe DeRose, Jr. Police theorized that DeCerbo, who had been associated with the Carabbia faction, might have changed sides.
February 14, 1929 – James Clark, Adam Heyer, John May, Reinhardt Schwimmer, Al Weinshank and brothers Frank and Peter Gusenberg were lined up against a garage wall and mowed down with machinegun and shotgun fire in the most infamous gangland murder of all-time, The St. Valentines’ Day Massacre. Only Frank Gusenberg left the garage alive. He died a few hours later. The intended target, George "Bugs" Moran, was spared as he was having coffee with two bodyguards down the street.
February 14, 1969 – Vito Genovese was the original underboss to Charles "Lucky" Luciano when the crime families were formed in 1931. A greedy, vicious mobster, Genovese is solely responsible for bringing the Mafia to the forefront of this nation after his aborted Apalachin Summit, in November 1957, was raided by local authorities. Luciano, Costello and Lansky plotted to set Genovese up for a narcotics bust. The plot was successful and "Don Vitone" was convicted and spent the rest of his life in prison dying at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.
February 14, 1989 – Nicholas Piccolo was the oldest of four brothers who were members of the Philadelphia Mafia. Known as "Nicky Buck," his three brothers were Anthony "Tony Buck," Joseph "Joey Buck" and Michael "Mike Buck." The nephew of the four brothers was Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo. The Pennsylvania Crime Commission listed "Nicky Buck" as the consigliere in the family, although George Anastasia only gives him capo status. Nicholas Piccolo died of natural causes. Last week AmericanMafia.com reported that "Tony Buck" was denied early release from prison, but had his sentence reduced from 45 years down to 13 and a half.
February 15, 1926 – Orazio "the Scourge" Tropea was supposed to being heading the collection effort for the defense fund for Sicilian killers Albert Anselmi and John Scalise in the wake of the Samoots Amatuna murder. In his heavy-handed methods to collect money, a good portion of which he kept, Tropea sufficiently pissed off enough people. A shotgun blast from a passing car caught the 44-year-old in the head killing him instantly.
February 17, 1943 – William P. "Dinty" Colbeck was a one-time leader of the St. Louis Egan Rats Gang. After two major robberies in 1923 Colbeck was convicted and sent away to prison. Released after 16 years he tried to get back into the rackets, but his comeback was short-lived. Colbeck was returning home at 10:30 p.m. After crossing the McKinley Bridge, a car pulled alongside his at Ninth and Destrehan Streets. A man with a Thompson opened up on the 58 year old Colbeck putting half a dozen slugs into him. See my article http://www.americanmafia.com/Cities/St_Louis.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.
Due to space constraints, the complete "Trials and Tribulations" listing will only be shown on the first Monday of each month. Weekly we will show the ones that are due to occur in the next 30 days and any new additions.
February 7, 2002 – Washington DC – The Government Reform Committee is scheduled to resume its hearings and listen to testimony from Massachusetts Federal Judge Edward F. Harrington and former FBI agents H. Paul Rico and Dennis Condon on their handling of murdered government witness Joseph Barboza.
February 11, 2002 – Miami – Five members of the Trafficante Family go on trial for racketeering and money laundering. The key defendant in the case, John Mamone, pled guilty on January 16. Look for others to follow. AM.com contributor Scott Deitche will keep us posted on this one when it comes up.
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.
March 11, 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. This trial was originally scheduled for January. AM.com would like to thank Chicago Tribune reporter Matt O’Connor for the update.
April 1, 2002 – 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. The trial was originally scheduled for January 28. AmericanMafia.com would like to thank Boston Herald reporter J. M. Lawrence for the update. AM.com, which uses a lot of Lawrence’s articles, was surprised to find out J. M. is a woman. Lawrence also tells us that Judge Edward F. Harrington, who was called Washington DC to testify last week, has recused himself from the case.
April 2, 2002 – Providence – Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. goes to trial for his indictment in Operation Plunder Dome.
May 20, 2002 – Chicago – Michael Spano, Sr. and Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese go to trial for looting the city coffers of millions of dollars.
June 2002 – Las Vegas – The Nevada Supreme Court has scheduled arguments on the appeals of Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish the convicted murderers of Ted Binion. Alan Dershowitz will argue Murphy’s case.
July 29, 2002 – Cleveland– Richard E. Detore goes to trial on one count of conspiring to violate a federal bribery statute involving United States Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr.
January 23, 2002 – Boston – Four men found guilty of involvement in an armored car heist will be sentenced. J. M. Lawrence of the Boston Herald informs AM.com that no new sentencing date yet for the men convicted in the Merlino case. Attorneys for the men have filed a flurry of post-trial motions seeking acquittals and U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns is reviewing them. Stearns last month did throw out the men's motion to return to general population.
February 15, 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. This sentencing date has been pushed back from the original January 21 date. The new date was supplied to AM.com by Federal Judge Jack Weinstein’s office.
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. As of January 3, 2002 Curra is a fugitive having fled to Costa Rica on December 24, 2001.
March 1, 2002 – New York – Ralph Romano will be sentenced for his November 5, 2001 conviction in the murder of John Spensieri. The sentencing was originally scheduled for January 11.
March 22, 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.
March 27, 2002 – New York – Joseph "Joey Flowers" Tangorra will be sentenced after a plea agreement was reached on December 21. Tangorra admitted to wounding a man in 1992 over an unpaid debt and dealing in cocaine for 15 years.
April 29, 2002 – Chicago – Originally scheduled for January 31, the sentencing of the former chief of Chicago detectives William Hanhardt was delayed to allow prosecutors additional time to prepare their pre-sentence report. Hanhardt pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and interstate theft for operating a nationwide jewelry theft ring that involved members of organized crime. Hanhardt, 72 years old, has been held since an unsuccessful suicide attempt this past October.
June 13, 2002 – New York – Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico will be sentenced after pleading guilty to extortion, loansharking and money laundering. The son of jailed-for-life mobster Carmine "the Snake" Persico was the alleged "acting boss of the Colombo family.
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