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· Gravano in Graves Condition
One Down, One to Go
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· This Week in Mob History



Gravano in Graves Condition

     Perhaps it was fitting that on the week the Christian world celebrated Good Friday Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano was crucified in a Brooklyn Federal Courthouse and in the New York media. Poor Sammy! It seems like everybody took a shot at him. Kati Smith of the of the New York Post claimed Gravano "chickened out" of testifying on his own behalf in an article titled "SAMMY BULL GETS RATTED OUT." The New York Daily News reported "Mobster Wimps Out."

     Even the families of Gravano’s victims got in on it. Mona Garofola, the 82 year-old mother of Eddie Garofola, the last hit of the 19 Gravano participated in, told reporters, "He’s not a rat, he’s a coward."

     Finally, in his March 28 Gang Land column, Jerry Capeci called Gravano a "jerk." Capeci, who normally reserves his biting commentary for Ernest Volkman, was right on the mark when he talked about Gravano ducking the opportunity to testify. Jerry wrote that Gravano, "sat on his hands like the loser he has become. What a jerk."

The long trek to put Gravano away has not been completed. US District Judge Allyne Ross will decide, based on testimony from the week of March 25, if Gravano will get the twelve and half to fifteen years, according to federal sentencing guidelines, or the twenty years government prosecutors, led by Assistant US Attorney Linda Lacewell, are asking for.

     Here’s a recap of the week’s events. Lynne Stewart, Gravano’s New York City based lawyer, claimed her client would take the stand in an effort to keep his sentence at the low end of the range. Gravano, referred to by the Daily News as "The crime world’s rat of all rats," was to talk about all the convictions the government achieved from his testimony. Looking forward to "the Bull’s" bullshit was Gravano’s Arizona based lawyer, Larry Hammond.

     "He’s very articulate, has testified many times and his truthful testimony has been relied on in Brooklyn courts," says Hammond. "Find somebody who has testified for more good effect for the government and I will be surprised."

     The surprise in the Brooklyn courtroom was the physical appearance of Gravano. The one-time steroid chomping, barrel-chested ex-boxer, is suffering from Graves disease, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The condition has caused large patches of his hair to fall out, resulting in Gravano shaving his head. In addition, the hair from his eyebrows has fallen out prompting one mob-watcher to lament by the end of the two-day hearing that "Sammy had lost the hair from another part of his anatomy, too."

     Gravano’s condition garnered no sympathy from the family members of his victims who were seated in the courtroom.

     "Every time I see him he looks worse and worse," said Jackie Colucci, "and that’s what makes me feel better." Colucci’s brother, Joseph, was the first of Gravano’s victims and the only one of the 19 murders in which Sammy pulled the trigger.

     "I hope he’s dying of a terminal illness," said Laura Garofola, the 17 year-old daughter of Gravano’s last victim. "…rotting from the inside out."

     Seated in the front row of the courtroom, Mona Garofola stared Gravano in the eyes and made the sign of the cross before pointing to the ceiling.

     "I’m praying for you," Garofola said.

     "I’m praying for you, Mona," Sammy responded.

     "How can you say that?" Garofola angrily replied.

     "I didn’t do nothing to you," Gravano answered.

     Mona Garofola later told a reporter, "He’s an animal and he looks like an animal. What he doesn’t realize is I’m praying against him. I’m praying for God not to forgive him for his sins."

     Also in the courtroom was Roseanne Massa, the sister of Michael DeBatt, Sammy’s #13, who Gravano ordered killed in 1987.

     Testifying on the first day of the hearing was Michael Papa, who, like Gravano did in 1991, became a government witness and ratted out his fellow conspirators. Papa testified that he was in awe of Gravano and that his new mentor taught him how to structure the gang and how to keep its books. Papa told the court how gang members would gather at "Uncle Sal’s," a Scottsdale, Arizona restaurant owned by Gravano’s wife, and listen to Sammy’s stories about his mobster days back in New York.

     Papa claimed, "We were going to use his name to monopolize the ecstasy market in Arizona. People feared Sammy the Bull’s name, and they pretty much did what we wanted." Papa said Gravano once warned another drug dealer, "I own Arizona. It’s locked down. You can’t sell pills here without going through me."

     Attorney Stewart painted Papa as being the gang’s ringleader and claimed Sammy’s only participation was in lending his son, Gerard, money on "a couple of occasions." As for Gerard, he was dropped from the hearings on March 25 after agreeing not to appeal a sentence of 14 years or less.

     On Tuesday, March 26 Philip Pascucci finished off any desire Gravano had to testify on his own behalf. Pascucci, an ecstasy manufacturer who was taken under Gravano’s wing, discussed several murder plots Sammy was planning. One was to kill Ronald Kuby, the attorney who filed a $50 million lawsuit against Gravano to recoup money from Sammy’s book deal for the families of his victims. Another plot called for killing Gerard’s girlfriend who had allegedly spit in his face. Yet another one was to kill Edward Garafola (not to be confused with victim #19 Eddie Garofola). Edward Garafola is married to Gravano’s sister.

     Gravano gave Pascucci the following tips for carrying out a hit:

  • When you’re dressing for a hit, wear different size shoes than you normally do. For example, if you wear size 8 shoes, put on a pair of size 10s.
  • Get rid of all the clothes you were wearing after the hit is done.
  • Always use a revolver. It will never jam on you like a semi-automatic handgun might.
  • Sometimes the murder victim has to be left at the scene to get a message out. But other times it may be necessary for the body to completely disappear.

     Pascucci had a vanity plate for his car, "WISEGUY," which Gravano told him to get rid of. In giving Pascucci a copy of his book, Underboss, Gravano signed it:


     Glad you’ve moved ‘WISEGUY’ off your license plate and into your heart; Your next Boss and Pal,


     It was Pascucci’s revelations, according to Stewart, that kept Gravano from testifying. She feared that federal prosecutors might slap her client with a new conspiracy indictment based on his testimony. And rightfully so.

     Meanwhile, everyone is anxiously awaiting Judge Ross’s sentencing.

One Down, One to Go     ^TOP

Michael A. Spano, Sr., the mob boss of Cicero, is hoping his next trial in May will not be a repeat performance of the one that concluded on March 28. Why? Because Spano was found guilty.

     Spano and co-defendant James "Jimmy I" Inendino were convicted on 11 counts of bribery, money laundering, tax evasion and theft. The latter charge was for steering a $75,000 private investigating contract to a firm that Spano secretly controlled. A third defendant, Emil Schullo, listed as either the former Cicero public safety director or police chief – depending on which coverage you read – was convicted of bribery and embezzling taxpayer money.

     The story begins in 1995 when several Cicero firemen claimed that three city police officers were allegedly living outside of the city, a violation of the town’s residency requirements. When the complaint was brought to the attention of Schullo, he was forced to act. After discussing the matter with Spano, Schullo steered the contract to investigate the three officers to Hargraves Security Services, an operation owned by Spano, but fronted by Peter Volpe, a cousin of Spano.

     A Berwyn police detective, Volpe used police computers to run the license plates of the three officers. A few years later Volpe would be sentenced to a year in prison for stealing hundreds of electronic dartboards and bicycles from a Cicero storage facility while a police officer.

     Spano met with James Inendino, a loanshark with a violent reputation. He reputedly once used an icepick on a debtor’s eye and on another occasion was recorded threatening to break every bone in a man’s body unless he paid up. One of the people indebted to Inendino was Sam Rovetuso, who owed the "juice man" $200,000.

     Rovetuso had a sordid past. In 1993 he was found guilty of conspiracy to murder a federal witness. Two years later he was working as a private investigator. By hiring Rovetuso to do the investigating Inendino figured he would start recouping some of the money he was owed.

     The scheme’s last conspirator was Gregory T. Ross, a former agent for the Internal Revenue Service who had become an accountant for the mob. Spano was the best man at Ross’s wedding.

In July 1995 none of the alleged participants – Spano, Schullo, Inendino, Ross and Volpe – knew that Rovetuso was working undercover for the FBI and the IRS. Rovetuso was wired and would make more than 300 recordings over the next three years.

     After the five men were indicted Peter Volpe became the first to crap out. On February 5 of this year Volpe pled guilty to the same 11 counts that Spano would be convicted of. At the time it was reported that Volpe would not be cooperating as part of the plea. Following Volpe’s plea, Ross cut and rolled the same month. In his plea agreement he agreed to testify against Spano.

     On March 12 opening statements began in the case with the lead prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Mitchell Mars, promising jurors they would get a "rare, behind-the-scenes look at how a kickback scheme works." Mars explained, "It’s a world where everybody gets a cut." Crucial to the prosecutor’s case were the words of Sam Rovetuso – on tape. Rovetuso wasn’t available to testify, having passed away in 1999 from leukemia. Mars strengthened the significance of the tapes, in the absence of Rovetuso’s corroborating testimony, by telling jurors, "Perhaps the best evidence is the words the defendants spoke themselves."

     As the trial got underway one of the key recordings played was from November 1995 when Rovetuso met with Schullo to review an invoice for his services. Schullo questioned a charge for equipment calling it expensive. Rovetuso explained that’s where they plugged in Schullo’s portion of the kickback. Alarmed y the investigator’s candor, Schullo went to Spano to complain about Rovetuso’s openness. Spano relayed this to Inendino who had a conversation with Rovetuso. On tape "Jimmy I" told the undercover man not to discuss matters so openly with Schullo, "even though he’s a member of the club."

     On another recording Rovetuso tells Inendino, "You’re clean," after the loanshark asks him to sweep his car for bugs in July 1996. The bug detecting device Rovetuso used to impress Inendino was provided by the IRS.

     Near the end of his undercover work in April 1998, with federal investigators bearing down on the conspirators, Rovetuso told Spano that he was confronted by law enforcement officials and questioned Spano on who could be working with the feds. Spano assures him that it is not Ross, but he’s not sure about Schullo.

     "You know, the only guy left to be worried about is Emil…that’s the only guy I’m worried about."

     By the end of the trial’s first week the government had completed playing the 60-plus tapes they wanted the jurors to hear. Defense attorneys were at a loss to provide any logical explanation to account for the utterances of Spano and Inendino. However, since Schullo was seldom on the tapes, or even mentioned, his lawyer, Edmund Wanderling was casting doubt about his client’s participation.

     On March 18 Gregory Ross took the stand and detailed for the government how he prepared tax returns which concealed the kickbacks the three defendants had received. Ross had also prepared the tax returns for Rovetuso for 1995 and 1996. These returns made it appear as if Rovetuso had received all of the contract money. He complained that he was going "to be socked with a hefty tax bill as a result of the scheme."

     Ross then testified that he had helped a friend of his, an architect, get some work for the Town of Cicero. Spano later told Ross that the friend had to kickback 15 percent of the money to Spano. Matt O’Connor of the Chicago Tribune reported the mob boss proceeded to tell the accountant "that anyone who obtained a contract from the Town of Cicero had to pay 5 percent to him, ‘President Maltese,’ a reference to Town President Betty Loren-Maltese, and ‘Chief Schullo,’…"

     On March 21 Peter Volpe took the stand and ratted out his cousin. Volpe did not want to testify against the defendants, but was forced to by the government, which gave him immunity from prosecution. The now ex-Berwyn detective testified that when he picked up the checks from the company’s billings to the Town of Cicero that he didn’t go to city hall, instead they were handed to him by Spano who had received them from Schullo.

     When the case went to the jury the only defendant whose guilt was in doubt was Schullo. Indeed, after the jury deliberated into the second day the only hang-up was the bribery charge against Schullo. There was no direct evidence to show he received any bribe money. Jurors went over the transcripts of the conversations between Rovetuso and Schullo several times before two hold out members were convinced about Schullo’s role.

     After the guilty verdicts were announced the three men were allowed to remain free until a sentencing date was set by US District Judge Ruben Castillo, who oversaw the trial. Spano and Inendino are currently confined by electronic monitoring. All three men could face a prison term of 3 to 4 years. It’s possible the sentences won’t be handed down until after the upcoming trial in May in which both Spano and Schullo are defendants. Neither Ross nor Volpe have been sentenced.

     The May trial is the result of a June 2001 indictment accusing ten people of looting the Cicero town coffers of some $10 million. Along with Spano, the other "featured" defendant will be Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese. The original indictment included Gregory Ross as well as Spano’s son.

Short Takes     ^TOP

Boston – Tracy A. Miner, the attorney for former FBI agent "Dishonest John" Connolly, is still desperate in her efforts not to have to defend this scumbag. On March 26 she filed a motion with US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro to have some of the charges against her client thrown out. Specifically, Miner was referring to the charge that Connolly advised James "Whitey" Bulger that an indictment was coming down causing the Winter Hill Gang leader to flee in January 1995. In her motion Miner writes that, "It should be noted that Bulger, while not a fugitive during this period, was purposely avoiding the Boston area because he was aware that indictments were forthcoming. Telling somebody something which alerts them to a fact already known is simply not obstruction of justice." Some Boston mob watchers don’t have a whole lot of confidence in Tauro’s handling of the case so far. One e-mail sent to AmericanMafia.com stated, "This judge could fuck up a wet dream." Let’s hope not for the sake of all the families that have suffered from the indiscretions of this sick agent.

This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

April 8, 1962 – Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo was a longtime scheming member of the New York underworld who constantly changed sides for self-preservation. Vito Genovese realized after he was sent to prison for a narcotics conviction in 1959 that Strollo was part of the plot that put him there. Strollo disappeared and his body was never found. Just before leaving home for the last time his wife reminded him that it was cold out. Strollo replied, "I’m only going out for a few minutes. Besides, I’m wearing thermal underwear." Unfortunately for Strollo the underwear wasn’t bulletproof.

April 8, 1968 – Augustine Primo Lazzara, according to Tampa Mafia expert Scott Deitche, was a Tampa area mobster and the brother of Joseph Lazzara owner of the infamous Castaways Lounge in Tampa. In the early 1950s Augustine Lazzara was called before a grand jury investigating the shotgun slaying of Joe Antinori in a Ybor City bar. Lazzara died of natural causes.

April 10, 1928 – Peter Clifford was associated with Joseph Tallman, a Detroit rumrunner. In the late 1920s Tallman was at war with the River Gang. Tallman and Clifford co-owned a blind pig on Third Avenue in the city. Tallman’s enemies struck at Clifford riddling his automobile with bullets and badly wounding him. Clifford survived the attack and six months later Tallman lost the war. For more see Paul R. Kavieff’s, The Violent Years.

April 11, 1951 – Charles Fischetti was one of three brothers who rose to prominence due to the fact they were cousins of the Capones. Charlie’s ranking in the Outfit could be seen by his attendance at the Havana Conference in 1946. His death at the age of 50 at his Allison Island home near Miami was allegedly brought on by the "fear that authorities would finally catch up to him" and serve a subpoena for him to testify before the Kefauver Committee. In a less than flattering reporting of his death Chicago Tribune writer James Doherty wrote, "Few, if any mourners were to be found in gang circles here. Acquaintances said Fischetti was not liked and was never known to have done a kind deed or helped any of the less fortunate of his criminal associates."

April 11, 1981 – John D’Agnese and Richard Godkin were murdered by Frank "Frankie the Geech" Riccardi in a Queens’ bar. Riccardi had been thrown out of the bar when he became enraged after a patron spilled a drink on his girlfriend. He returned with two other men and began blasting. Riccardi became a fugitive and was in hiding for more than 20 years before he was arrested in Florida in late 2001. His capture was initiated by Brian Godkin a US Marshal in Las Vegas, who is the son of murder victim Richard Godkin. One of the witnesses at the bar that night was Linda Gotti, niece of the "Dapper Don." Although she initially identified one of the shooters, she later recanted.

April 11, 1999 – Gino Marconi was described as a low-level associate of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, the Philadelphia mob boss. Marconi was on a date when an assassin fired several rifle shots at him and his girlfriend Patricia Miley. Marconi was hit once in the head. He was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was placed on life support. He died the day after the shooting. Miley was hit three times in the chest, but survived.

April 12, 1979 – Robert E. Furey was a 40 year-old former vending route driver for Mahoning Valley mob leader Joseph "Little Joey" Naples and was a victim of the Carabbia/Naples War. Furey’s police record included the gang kidnapping and rape of a fifteen-year-old girl in 1958. He was sent to the Lima State Hospital twice to determine his sanity level for the crime and was eventually sentenced from five to thirty years in prison. Around 7:00am on the morning of his death, Furey left home heading for work at his stepfather’s construction company. He soon returned and told his wife he had a flat tire. Police believe his killers had let the air out to set him up. After returning to his automobile a gunman put two .32 caliber bullets in his head. Furey died on the front seat of his car.

April 13, 1914 – Frank "Dago Frank" Cirofici, Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, Louis "Lefty Louie" Rosenberg and Jacob "Whitey Lewis" Seidenschmer were all executed in the Sing Sing electric chair for the July 1911 slaying of Herman "Beansie" Rosenthal. The following year a jury decided that New York Police Captain Charles Becker had ordered the murder. In one of New York City’s most sensational trials Becker was found guilty and sentenced to die in the same death chamber as the men he had ordered to do the killing.

April 13, 1930 – Clinton G. Price was the district attorney of Juneau County Wisconsin and a well-known figure in Milwaukee and Wisconsin politics. While speaking with his wife in the kitchen of their home he was cut down by a shotgun blast and died the following morning.

April 13, 1996 – James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke was a tough New York City hood who was made famous by actor Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of him in the movie "Goodfellas." An Irish mobster, Burke was close to the leadership of the Lucchese Family and an intimate associate of family capo Paul "Big Paulie" Vario. Burke was noted for being the mastermind of the famous Lufthansa heist in 1978, although he was never charged. He was convicted of a point-shaving scheme involving two Boston College basketball players and while in prison was convicted of the murder of Richard Eaton. In both trials Henry Hill testified against him. Imprisoned at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, Burke died of cancer at a Buffalo hospital at the age of 64. See my story http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters3/lufthansa/

April 14, 1973 – Sam "Mad Sam" DeStefano was known as the "Marquis de Sade" of the Chicago Outfit. A sadistic killer and torturer, DeStefano murdered his own brother Michael, on the orders of Chicago boss Sam Giancana in September 1955. Sam carried out the murder by stabbing his brother to death. He then stripped the body and washed it with soap and water "to cleanse his brother’s soul." In an ironic twist "Mad Sam" was cut down by shotgun fire from a two-man hit team consisting of his brother Mario and Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro. See my stories http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-10-99.html and http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-17-99.html

April 14, 1979 – Giovanni Priziola, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was a former consigliere of the Detroit Mafia family. He died of natural causes at the age of 84.

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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