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· Traficant – Guilty on All Counts
No Oddfather Sequel?
· Black Book – A.C. Version
· Short Takes
· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations



Traficant – Guilty on All Counts

Flashback –May 11, 1983: Sheriff James A. Traficant, Jr., acting as his own lawyer, is in court questioning Sam Traficanti about a visit the two men made to Youngstown mob leader James "Brier Hill Jimmy" Prato’s home on the eve of the 1980 election for Mahoning County Sheriff. Traficanti had just testified about recalling that a gun was lying on an end table inside the house.

     "Did we have a gun, Sam?" the sheriff inquired.

     "No," answered Traficanti. "We had your mouth."

     The "mouth" that had been Traficant’s best weapon over the past twenty years in the Mahoning Valley has been silenced. On Thursday afternoon April 11 a jury of ten women and two men found the brash congressman guilty of all ten counts of an indictment in a trial which began the first week of February.

     Despite the fact that Traficant had lost in a non-jury IRS trial in 1986, the congressman had been lulled into thinking he was invincible. He felt he had won the first trial due to his pro se lawyering skills. The reality was he won the affections of that jury, three of which were from the Youngstown area, when he was allowed to spew non-sense and present unqualified witnesses to "prove" his case. Years later a reporter would state that the first Traficant jury made the O. J. Simpson jury look like brain surgeons.

     On June 27 US District Court Judge Lesley Brooks Wells will have the last word on Congressman James Traficant, who belittled, ridiculed and accused her of many misdeeds during the trial. The grandmotherly-looking Wells, who watched over the jury like a dedicated shepherd protecting a flock, doesn’t appear to have a vindictive bone in her body. If Traficant gets the long sentence he deserves, don’t look for his treatment of her to be the basis.

     From the first day of testimony, when Traficant barked out his innocence to twelve jurors and five alternates, the congressman failed to produce any evidence to prove he was innocent. He chose instead to have many of the government’s witnesses testify to what a great guy he was; to bring in his own witnesses to lie on the stand for him; or to provide testimony that had nothing to do with his case.

     The one witness who came across as the most confident and believable was a bookkeeper for T. C. Ready Mix of Youngstown. She provided testimony that Traficant paid his bill for cement, which was ordered for his horse farm, over a period of a year. The cement had been ordered by convicted contractor A. David Sugar. However, it never came into contention that the congressman didn’t pay for the cement, only the labor Sugar’s company provided to lay it.

     Over the course of the trial the congressman fought, badgered and argued with both the prosecutor and the judge. During the past few years as I have been co-authoring a book about the history of organized crime in the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania with AmericanMafia.com host Rick Porrello, I had the pleasure of getting to know and admire Craig Morford, the Assistant US Attorney who was the lead prosecutor in the case. I would be hard pressed to find a more decent human being. Prior to the trial I questioned everybody I could about Judge Wells. Every person I spoke to – prosecutors, defense attorneys and other judges – had only wonderful things to say about her as a person and a judge. I once mentioned to Judge Ann Aldrich, who presided over Traficant’s first trial, that Judge Wells looked like somebody’s grandmother. Aldrich looked me in the eye and firmly stated, "She’s nobody’s grandmother on that bench." Despite her slight figure and warm kindly face, she proved to be one tough judge.

     Still, coming to know her over these past ten weeks, it turned my stomach to listen to the way both she and Morford were treated by the brash, crude congressman. Traficant argued with and interrupted the judge at will. He accused her of siding with the prosecution and being unfair by not allowing him to put certain witnesses on the stand. Traficant accused her of thwarting his defense and in doing so shredding the Constitution like toilet paper. All his accusations were without legal basis. During one afternoon argument while Wells was talking Traficant walked right out of the courtroom. Without raising her voice or missing a beat Wells simply stated, "Goodbye, Congressman."

     Morford caught just as much of Traficant’s wrath. Craig and his co-prosecutors, Bernard Smith and Matt Kall were continuously taunted by the congressman. This routine went on daily beginning each morning with, at times, friendly and humorous comments, but as the day went on the remarks became biting. Traficant became most vocal when the gallery had its largest audience. One morning when a group of students were in attendance the prosecutors argued successfully that a witness Traficant wanted to call had no relevant testimony. The congressman stated, in a loud enough voice for people in the back row to hear, that the prosecutors "had the testicles of an ant." If this were true they were in similar company as Traficant proved to have the class and brains of an ant.

     Despite Traficant’s antics Morford could not and would not be pushed around. The congressman continually tried to intimidate the lean 6’ 7" prosecutor. While arguing motions before the judge Traficant would rise from his chair and get right in Morford’s face. He was like the schoolyard bully daring and taunting Morford to knock the chip from his shoulder. Morford never gave in.

     If anyone wilted under the congressman’s nonsense it was me. With Traficant’s mouth running like a jack-hammer with no off-switch there were days I chose not to attend, or decided to view the proceedings from the overflow room in the courtroom below from which I could make an easy exit. Some mornings, by the 10:30 break, I had had enough and retreated to the record’s room on the fourth floor, choosing to do research instead of listening to the "mouth."

     I spoke with Judge Wells’s courtroom staff, the Federal marshals and courtroom security officers often during the trial. They all told me that they had never heard any lawyer or defendant treat the judge with such disrespect. Many were disgusted with him.

     Traficant’s most outrageous antics occurred while presenting his defense. Witnesses came in and told the courtroom security officers that they dreaded being there. One witness told me he wasn’t looking forward to testifying and wished that Traficant had not asked him to come, even though he was the congressman’s friend.

     Three courtroom security officers, the ones who checked people into the courtroom each morning – Fred the Fed, Al and Norm – told me that Traficant’s supporters were turned off by the congressman’s antics. Indeed, one morning in the courtroom I was sitting next to a man from Poland, Ohio where the congressman resides. "I just come up to give Jimbo some support," the man told me. After witnessing the congressman’s performance the man turned to me and said, "Why doesn’t that judge slap him with a contempt charge?" My response was, "Why doesn’t the judge just slap him."

     It almost appeared as though Traficant would call people at night to see if they would come the next day and testify for him. This apparently was the case with Edward Nishnic, who stopped by the courthouse to wish the congressman well. A half-hour later, Traficant called and asked him to come down and be a character witness. Nishnic, the son-in-law of John Demjanjuk, an accused Nazi death-camp guard whom Traficant had helped, came in cold and was placed on the stand. Of all the congressman’s witnesses, however, Nishnic came across as the most honest and genuine. But Traficant even screwed this up. Nishnic poured from his heart all the kind things the congressman had done to help his family and discussed several good qualities the congressman possessed. Instead of saying, thank you, and leaving on a positive note Traficant begged for more leaving Nishnic in an embarrassing spot having to repeat himself several times. What could have been great ten-minute testimonial turned into a half-hour root canal.

     One of Traficant’s witnesses was supposed to take the stand on the afternoon of April 1. When he wasn’t there the congressman stated that he was home ill. Instead, he was in Conneaut, Ohio appearing on the Louis Free radio show. Another pitiful witness the congressman called was Percy Squires, a Black attorney and businessman. Last year it was alleged that Squires purchased the radio station that Louis Free then worked for in Youngstown and had the talk show host fired because he was an outspoken critic of the congressman.

     When John J. Cafaro was indicted for bribing Traficant last year he confessed to giving the congressman $13,000 after a talk he gave at Youngstown State University. Traficant got into Cafaro’s Cadillac and the two drove around the block as the money was passed. Squires said he attended the meeting and never saw Traficant leave with Cafaro. On cross-examination, during one of the most ridiculous exchanges of the trial, Morford asked Squires if he saw what vehicle the congressman left in. Squires answered, "It wasn’t a Cadillac." Although this event, the exchanging of the $13,000, was widely publicized last year when Cafaro pled guilty, Squires told the prosecutor that he had never discussed with Traficant that he had watched him leave alone that day and that the congressman was hearing this revelation for the first time this day.

     Traficant brought on a total of three Black defense witnesses and it was obvious by this tactic that he was playing to the four Black women on the jury. The congressman got them to talk about all the great things he had done for the minorities in the district. One witness he called "Brother Bob." I was waiting to see if Traficant was going to high-five the witnesses as they came down from the stand.

     As Traficant ran out of people who were willing to come in and testify for him he seemed to grow desperate. As it came time for him to rest his case the question arose as to whether the congressman would take the stand and testify in his own defense. Again Traficant went on the offensive telling Morford he would take the stand only if Craig would reciprocate for 15 minutes. That wasn’t about to happen. On Thursday afternoon, April 4, Traficant said he had five more witnesses to call and would not rest his case until the following week. At this point a Youngstown area lawyer who was holding court in the overflow room stated that Traficant was wearing Morford down. But on Friday morning Traficant surprised everyone by resting his case. It had come down to crunch time for the congressman to take the stand in his own defense – for Traficant to put up or shut up. The man who had accused the prosecutor of having the "testicles of an ant" proved he had even less.

     Traficant seemed paranoid of Morford’s impending closing argument. (The prosecution and the defense were allotted 90 minutes for their closing arguments. The prosecution gets to split its time by opening and closing.) Traficant was certain that Morford would open up and use just one minute and then in rebuttal take an hour and 29 minutes to rip apart the congressman’s close. He demanded that the judge not allow him to do this and to set times for both Morford’s closing argument and rebuttal. The judge denied the request; there were no legal grounds for to order this.

     Traficant must have been shocked when Morford spent an hour on his closing argument. The prosecutor detailed all of the ten counts and discussed all the evidence that backed up the government’s charges. He likened the congressman to the "Energizer Bunny," the unlawful acts kept going and going.

     Afterwards the judge gave the jury a short break. In the mens room Traficant walked out of a stall and gave me a playful shove. During the early days of the trial, before I became disgusted with his treatment of the judge and prosecutor, he called me the "Big Guy" and I called him "JT." He had never lost his playful sense of humor. It seemed like no matter what happened to him this was the one part of his personality that could never change. Despite how rambunctious he became during the day, each morning he would come in and quietly joke with the Federal Marshals, Howie and Dan, and courtroom artist, Margaret Small, claiming that in her drawings she was making the prosecutors more handsome than he was.

     Traficant began his 90-minute closing. He used every second. Many expected a fireball finish for the congressman, but it never came. His voice at times was hardly audible to us sitting in the back of the courtroom. It was totally opposite from his opening statement in which he seemed to be screaming at the jurors. Many anticipated that this was the moment that Traficant had waited for to inject his self-serving theory that the government was fulfilling a vendetta that went back to his 1983 trial. Traficant’s efforts to do this, while meek to say the least, were thwarted by Judge Wells. A potential confrontation never materialized. Instead Traficant hammered home the point that the government had no fingerprints and had not recorded him on tape.

     As Morford delivered his rebuttal for the first time I saw a different Traficant. The look could only be described as defeated. The closing argument of Traficant that he feared Morford would take 89 minutes to take apart was destroyed in just 30. The congressman’s only concern during the rebuttal was keeping an eye on the clock.

     Morford was absolutely masterful in his final summation. He addressed the two points that jurors, as well as myself, had decided that Traficant made sense in questioning. The fingerprints and the tapes. Traficant had argued that his fingerprints had not appeared on any piece of evidence. Morford explained that this evidence was envelopes, paper documents and money. He confirmed that indeed Traficant’s fingerprints did not appear on any off these items, but quickly pointed out that no one’s fingerprints were retrieved from any of these items. Most powerful in his argument were two documents, that witnesses, employees of Traficant, confirmed was in the congressman’s own handwriting, that his fingerprints could not be lifted from.

     As far as the non-existence of any tapes was concerned, Morford stated that by the time the government started investigating the crimes they were several years old. He claimed Traficant would have smelled a trap in a minute if they had wired someone and asked them to go talk to the congressman about a crime that had taken place five years earlier. All Traficant would have to do is claim he knew nothing about it and then the tapes could be used as exculpatory evidence for the congressman’s benefit. During testimony witnesses stated repeatedly that Traficant was wary of being taped and went to great lengths to avoid talking about certain matters in his office, over the telephone and even in automobiles.

     In an emotional finish Morford stated that Traficant had blamed the government for all his problems. Morford pointed to the congressman and, nearly shouting, exclaimed, "Who is he? He’s the government. If the government is so bad, what has he been doing for the last 18 years?"

     As Traficant left the courthouse reporters and cameramen followed his every step. The news people that the congressman had courted all through the trial, giving interviews to so he could try his case in the media, all of a sudden became an unwelcome burden.

     For all the lies he told and misconceptions he presented to his followers and constituents, Traficant told the truth about one aspect of his case. He was correct when he said that Morford, Smith and Kall were the "finest prosecutors in the United States." After his first trial Traficant bragged that he was the only man in America to ever beat a RICO case. He then lost during a second case, an Internal Revenue Service trial in 1986, which Morford, then with the IRS, helped prosecute. Morford is now 2 and 0 against the irreverent congressman, but Craig is not the type to boast.

     Traficant told reporters that he viewed the whole process as theatre. He saw himself in the lead role as a pro se defense attorney. It looks like the fabled congressman will be taking an another acting role in the future – that of "Cool Hand Luke?"

No Oddfather Sequel?     ^TOP

     Unlike the "Godfather" movie series, which consisted of three parts, New York City federal prosecutors are out to quash any thoughts of an "Oddfather II." In putting the hammer down Assistant US Attorneys Dan Dorsky, Paul Shoeman and Paul Weinstein are going after members of Vincent "the Chin" Gigante’s real-life family and the doctors who helped stretch the mob boss’s trial during the 1990s into a seven year sojourn.

     Last week AmericanMafia.com suggested that Gigante "cut and roll." – cut a deal with the government and roll over on his old associates – in hopes that this would help his son Andrew and prevent the leader of the Genovese Family from having to die behind bars. Now, Gigante’s decision would prove to be even more beneficial to his immediate family as the feds have made them a target – and rightfully so.

     On April 5 John Marzulli of the New York Daily News wrote, "By hauling Gigante’s doctors before a grand jury and investigating close family members, prosecutors appear to be aggressively moving to head off delay tactics that they say his defense lawyers have used in the past." Doctors had been misinformed by family members as to the incompetent mental state of Gigante. "We are investigating potential charges against Gigante family members related to the information," prosecutors revealed.

     Family members could face conspiracy charges if they help Gigante obstruct justice. Currently being investigated are "the Chin’s" brother, Reverend Louis Gigante, his wife Olympia, daughter Yolanda, and sons Salvatore and Vincent Esposito. In paperwork filed by prosecutors they cite "consistent stories" by family members to psychiatrists Dr. Thomas Gutheil and Dr. William Reid. The government claims that "hundreds of prison tapes" are at complete odds with these representations. The prosecutors are considering perjury charges against one un-named doctor for his recent grand jury testimony.

     Of course his defense attorneys are crying foul. Michael Marinaccio, who represented Gigante during his 1997 trial, claimed, "I’m really outraged by this." Who cares! I’m really outraged that Marinaccio took tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer fees from a client he claimed was mentally incompetent.

     The prosecutors have challenged Gigante to either confront this situation as a man and answer the allegations or watch his family get dragged even deeper into the dark comedy that has become his life.

Editors Note: AmericanMafia.com received a lot of e-mail last week commenting about the urging of Vincent "the Chin" Gigante to give it up and become a government witness. This week we are asking our readers to tell us if Gigante rolls and you had the chance to interrogate him what would be the first question you would ask him?

     In a related story, two alleged acting capos for the Genovese Family pled guilty April 1 to racketeering charges in a Brooklyn Federal Courtroom. Salvatore "Sammy Meatballs" Aparo and Peter "Petey Red" DiChiara are looking at six to seven years in federal prison when sentenced later this year. These pleas were in response to the April 2001 indictment of 33 members of the Genovese Family, of which half have pled out. To date only nine members are still facing trial. In addition to the two capos, Aparo’s son Vincent and an associate, Joseph Zito, have also pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Black Book – A.C. Version     ^TOP

     The infamous "Black Book" of Las Vegas, officially known as the "List of Excluded Persons," has a brother in Atlantic City. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has its own "exclusion list," which currently contains 150 members, mostly organized crime figures. Two weeks ago investigators for the agency sought to increase the total by including a Bonanno, a Colombo, a Gambino and a Philadelphia Family member.

     Thomas N. Auriemma, a member of New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission, helped author the regulations that make up nominations to the exclusion list. Active since the 1970s, Auriemma is currently the acting director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement. On April 1 the agency filed a petition for the following individuals to be added to the list:

Frank Coppo, Sr. – a capo in the Bonanno Family

John "Jackie Zambooka" DeRoss – acting underboss of the Colombo Family

Joseph "Mousie" Massimino – underboss of the Philadelphia Family

George "Big Georgie" Remini – a capo in the Gambino Family

     According to Philadelphia mob expert George Anastasia, "The petitions are the first step in the exclusion process. An individual named by the Division of Gaming Enforcement has the right to a hearing before the Casino Control Commission. Most petitions are not challenged."

     Anastasia provides us with the following info on Massimino. The acting underboss, in the wake of Steve Mazzone’s June 2001 conviction, was indicted last year on charges of leading a gambling ring that had made millions of dollars in Philadelphia and South Jersey. In 1988 he pled guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge and was sentenced to two years in prison. In 1993 Massimino again pled guilty to drug charges. This time for accepting eleven pounds of methamphetamine to satisfy a gambling and loansharking debt. He served three years of a ten-year sentence in that case.

     After last year’s indictment Massimino became a "key associate" of reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Ligambi, the uncle of recently imprisoned consigliere George Borgesi. During Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino’s racketeering trial last spring, Ligambi and Massimino attended the proceedings together.

     AmericanMafia.com will see if the agency has a published list of entrants to the Atlantic City list.

Short Takes     ^TOP

Boston – A Beantown federal judge has put the chances of prosecutors getting a conviction of Michael L. Carucci in jeopardy by throwing out most of the government’s case. Boston Herald reporter J. M. Lawrence states US District Judge Robert E. Keeton, "dismissed conspiracy and racketeering charges first lodged five years ago against" Carucci and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi. Carucci’s lawyer, Martin Weinberg, has maintained that his client was not a participant in an ongoing conspiracy and asked the judge to throw out these charges. In making his decision Keeton stated, "They have not succeeded in showing Mr. Carucci manifested an agreement to become a member of any such conspiracy." Weinberg, now on a roll, will next argue to dismiss the remaining counts of the indictment. Meanwhile, Flemmi has already pled guilty in the case and has forfeited millions of dollars worth of real estate.

Detroit – On March 30 the FBI office in Detroit announced that they were turning over their findings in the 27 year-old disappearance of James R. Hoffa to local prosecutors. John Bell, special agent in charge of the Detroit bureau, said the case of the missing former teamsters’ president was "stymied" because of the length of time that had elapsed since Hoffa’s disappearance in July 1975. Hopes of reaching a conclusion ran high last September when DNA revealed that Hoffa’s hair was in the car Chuckie O’Brien was driving at the time Hoffa vanished. Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, a St. Louis municipal judge, was not pleased. "I don’t see this as an ending," she stated. "I see this as the FBI washing their hands of the situation. Meanwhile, AmericanMafia.com has arrived at the conclusion that the FBI is not buying the story of Donald "Tony the Greek" Frankos that he and Westies leader Jimmy Coonan murdered Hoffa. Frankos told this fairy tale as well as some others in his "explosive story," Contract Killer.

New York – The former acting boss of the Lucchese Family, Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede, has spent a lot of time spilling his guts to the government these past 60 days. DeFede decided to become a government witness in February after he found out there were criminal charges pending against him on the eve of his release from prison. DeFede revealed to the FBI that the Lucchese Family was operating a protection racket involving legitimate businesses in Queens. Former AM.com contributor Al Guart reported that "at least five Queens restaurants [were] among the targets." The extortion ring was raking in $5,000 a month from the operations. However, the restaurant owners are now being subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Manhattan and must either testify against the vicious ring members or face contempt charges. What will Defede reveal next?

This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

April 15, 1931 – Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was one of two feuding underworld powers in New York City during the infamous Castellammarese War. As the war became costly in lives and lost revenue for the gangs Masseria’s trusted lieutenant, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, set his boss up in a Coney Island restaurant. In The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, Luciano reveals that after excusing himself to use the bathroom Masseria was murdered in a hail of bullets from a hit team consisting of Joe Adonis, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.

April 15, 1932 – Thomas "Tommy" Hayes, of St. Louis, was considered an unusual gangster because he came from a respectable family, didn’t drink or smoke, and worked out to stay in shape. Hayes’ police record began in 1913 when he was fifteen. By the early 1920s, he had become "an efficient killer" for the Cuckoos Gang. Carl Shelton convinced Hayes to split from the gang and turn on its leader Herman Tipton. In February 1931, Hayes led an attack on a roadhouse in which three Shelton men were killed. Shelton, suspecting a double-cross, in turn double-crossed Hayes, who was found in Madison, Illinois with twelve slugs in his back. His death effectively ended the Cuckoo gang as a force in the St. Louis underworld. See my story http://www.americanmafia.com/Cities/St_Louis.html

April 16, 1951 – Sam Maceo, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was at one time the underboss of the Texas Family. He died of natural causes in a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

April 16, 1957 – Johnny Torrio, along with Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello, was one of the brightest minds involved in organized crime in the United States. Beginning his criminal career in New York, Torrio went to Chicago where he took over the Italian underworld there and served as mentor to Al Capone. After surviving a murder attempt in January 1925 Torrio left Chicago for good returning to New York City. In May 1929 he helped Costello and Lansky organize the Atlantic City Meeting. On a spring morning in 1957 Torrio sat down in a barber’s chair for a haircut and suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to Cumberland Hospital. With his devoted wife Anna at his bedside the "Fox" died peacefully at 3:45 that afternoon. See my columns http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_4-24-00.html and http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-1-00.html

April 17, 1980 – Antonio "Tony Bananas" Caponigro and his brother-in-law, Alfredo "Freddy" Salerno, were brutally murdered in New York City and found stuffed in the trunks of two cars found several miles apart. George Anastasia in Blood and Honor writes that Caponigro "had been tortured, beaten, strangled, and repeatedly stabbed and shot, and his naked body was in a mortuary bag stuffed in the trunk of a car." The killers stuffed $300 in twenty dollar bills in his mouth and anus, a mob symbol to indicate greed. Caponigro had made the mistake of thinking he had the Commission’s blessing to murder his boss, Philadelphia Mafia leader Angelo Bruno. As for Salerno, Anastasia wrote, "He had been shot three times behind the right ear and once behind the left ear. Rope was tied around his neck [and] most of the bones in his face were broken.

April 17, 1981 – Joseph DeRose, Jr. was a vicious hitman for the Cleveland faction of the Youngstown mob during the Naples / Carabbia War. DeRose’s father was an innocent victim of the war. Fuming over the death of his father, DeRose vowed to kill Joey Naples. He kept a low profile, moving to Pittsburgh where he hid out and plotted strategy. However, it was Naples who made the first move. Police found an automobile belonging to DeRose’s new girlfriend engulfed in flames on a park road in Peninsula, Ohio, a small town located between Akron and Cleveland. DeRose was not in the car, which he had borrowed the night before. A search of the car revealed only a spent 9mm-shell casing. The 33 year-old DeRose was the tenth and final murder victim of the Naples / Carabbia War. The ensuing investigation into his death by the FBI uncovered a tape hidden in a breadbox in the apartment he was staying at in Pittsburgh. The tape recording was of a meeting where Mahoning County Sheriff James A. Traficant, Jr. was overheard discussing the taking of bribes.

April 17, 1988 – Anthony Frank "Nino" Gaggi was made famous in Jerry Capeci’s classic tale Murder Machine, the story of Gambino Family killer Roy DeMeo, who answered to Gaggi. After Gaggi’s nephew Dominick Montiglio became a government witness Gaggi was convicted of conspiracy to steal cars and sentenced to prison. In early 1988 he was returned to New York to face a RICO trial. In the midst of the trial Gaggi, suffering from a heart ailment, died of a heart attack at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

April 19, 1951 – Philip and Vincent Mangano in 1931 were placed in control of what would become the Gambino Family. Although Vincent was the boss, he and his brother ran the family jointly under the jealous eye of ruthless underboss Albert Anastasia. It was no secret that Anastasia coveted leadership of the family and he took it in a double coupe by murdering Philip, while Vincent disappeared and was presumed murdered. Philip Mangano’s role as a ranking member of the Mafia was so low key that the New York Times article covering his death was titled, "Aide of Joe Adonis is Found Shot Dead."

April 19, 1955 – Charlie Wall, according to Tampa mob expert Scott Deitche, was known as the "Dean of the Tampa Underworld." Wall ran everything in the city from gambling to narcotics. By the mid-1940s Wall gave into the Mafia under the control of Santo Trafficante, Sr. Wall survived three attempts on his life over the years. But in his case, the fourth time was a charm. According to Deitche, "Wall’s wife came home from a vacation and found Charlie lying dead on the floor of their bedroom, his throat slashed, his skull fractured and his face a mess of bruises.

April 21, 1974 – William Simone was victim number five of the eighteen murders committed by prolific Chicago Outfit hitman Harry Aleman. Simone, a counterfeiter was found in the backseat of his car near Kedvale Avenue in Chicago. His hands and feet were tied and he had been shot in the head.

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.

     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.


April 15, 2002 – Providence – Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. and four co-defendants go on trial in what the FBI has dubbed Operation Plunder Dome.

April 15, 2002 – Boston – The racketeering trial of Robert Luisi, Jr. is scheduled to get underway before US District Court Judge Reginald C. Lindsay. Luisi at one time had a plea agreement which called for him to testify against Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino last year. On December 27, 2001 Luisi withdrew the plea.

April 15, 2002 – Rochester, NY – Albert M Ranieri goes on trial for conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Since his arrest on December 29, 2000, another defendant, prominent defense attorney Anthony Leonardo, Jr., has pled guilty and implicated Ranieri in the May 2000 murder of his former business partner Anthony Vaccaro. Authorities also suspect Ranieri of a 1990 armor car heist of $11 million.

April 17, 2002 – New York – Nicholas Gambino will be back in court and a decision will be made to either strike a deal with Queens’ prosecutors or go to trial again on the three charges jurors deadlocked on in his February trial. At tat trial he was acquitted on nine charges involving a vicious knife attack in August 2002 in which four young men were wounded. Gambino claimed self-defense.

May 6, 2002 – Boston – The long awaited trial of former FBI agent John J. Connolly, Jr. is scheduled to get underway before US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro.

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.


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.

May 17, 2002 – New York – Colombo Family underboss John "Jackie" DeRoss will be sentenced for his February 6 conviction on extortion charges.

June 2002 – Buffalo – Three former Buffalo narcotics detectives will be sentenced for their role in stealing money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a Jamaican drug dealer. The men were found guilty in March.

June 2002 – Newark – Nicodemo "Young Nicky" Scarfo will be sentenced for supervising a North Jersey gambling operation by US District Judge Joel Pisano.

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.


Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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