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LAST ISSUE 5-27-02


Sex, Lies & "Dust Bunny" Videotapes

     William "Dust Bunny" Rinick is regretting that he didn’t crawl back under the bed of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino’s daughter and stay there. His life has been nothing short of a three-ring circus since he was discovered under there last December 6.

     On May 13 Rinick was indicted for the murder of South Philadelphia restaurant owner Adam Finelli, an alleged drug dealer. Rinick surrendered to authorities the following day and is being held without bail.

     Around 7:00 am on the morning of October 31, 2001 Finelli was found with several bullet holes in his head, slumped over the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade SUV on Jackson Street. Police believe Finelli was murdered as part of a robbery in which as much as $100,000 was taken. Also taken was a deed for real-estate, which Rinick attempted to have fraudulently transferred.

     During a state grand jury investigation in Harrisburg into the Finelli murder, Michael Focoso, an alleged accomplice with Rinick in the murder, was called to testify. Although granted limited immunity, Focoso refused to talk and has been held in Dauphin County jail for the past seven weeks.

     On May 22 a preliminary hearing for Rinick was held. News swirled around the Municipal Courthouse that Focoso had made an "apparent decision to flip." The hearing was brief and another was scheduled for June 13.

     George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that "Focoso, who apparently feared retaliation against his family, agreed to tell authorities what he knew." That information entailed "details about both the murder and about how and where he and Rinick disposed of the gun and other evidence."

     According to sources, Focoso, who claims he was unaware of Rinick’s murderous intentions that night, will not be charged for his role in the slaying. However, Focoso is still a target of an ongoing federal drug probe.

     In December 2001, during raids made on five properties owned by Rinick, authorities found videotapes of the one-legged "Dust Bunny" having sex with four different women in separate encounters. An ensuing investigation revealed that none of the women gave their consent to the taping or had any knowledge of it.

     In June 2000 Rinick videotaped himself getting it on with two fifteen year-olds. He pled guilty to corruption of a minor and was placed on four years probation. Rinick’s attorney Joseph Levin said he wants to "investigate" the videotapes to see if they were part of the June 2000 seizure. If this were the case this would constitute double jeopardy, the astute lawyer was quick to point out. However, a lawyer representing the family of one of the minors stated that the taping of the two under aged girls was on a single cassette.

     Where’s Edwin these days? Edwin "Money Grubber" Jacobs has made himself scarce since his sexually perverted client was convicted in April of sucker punching Salvatore Abbruzzese. Edwin must be thinking up ways to spend Rinick’s hardly earned money. Based on the charges outlined by Kitty Caparella of the Philadelphia Daily News, Edwin has a plethora of charges in which to bill Rinick. "Charges of murder, conspiracy, recklessly endangering another person, robbery, theft, forgery, intimidation of witnesses, invasion of privacy, theft of services, fire arms violation, and violation of the tax code and Wiretap Act stem from a joint city and state probe," Caparella reports. If it were against the law to be an idiot Rinick would have been charged with that too.

     Joseph Levin told reporters, "We’re looking forward to the preliminary hearing…to hear the purported evidence against Billy Rinick and these unjust charges." Yeah, right! AmericanMafia.com wonders what the "Dust Bunny" is looking forward to more: Seeing himself banging under-aged girls on the small screen, or waiting for "Skinny Joey" to return and start banging Rinick over the head with his wooden leg.

Youngstown Mentality     ^TOP

     Disgraced US Representative James A. Traficant, Jr. has requested and received permission to use two Columbus-based attorneys to help in his quest for a new trial. US District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells will allow attorneys Percy Squire and Lloyd Pierre-Louis to argue that the jury pool used in the Northern District of Ohio was unconstitutional.

     In a letter to the court Traficant stated, "I continue to have full confidence in my ability to conduct my own defense." This despite the fact that Traficant has lost miserably in his past two trials going 0 for 10 in the case which ended in his conviction in April.

     Traficant claimed he wanted "to assure that the interests of my constituents and the trial process be protected…"

     Jimbo has concerns about the interests of his constituents?

     He’s the only congressman without a committee assignment, he has missed 170 roll call votes this year, and was not around to vote on a tax reform issue that he claims is a "high priority." Traficant spokesman, Charles Straub, reported that, "he feels bad for missing all of them."

     Local radio personality Louie Free, one of the congressman’s most ardent critics, called for Jimbo to resign. "It’s all about him…it’s not about what’s best for the people," Free stated. "He’s an impotent congressman." Free’s name made the newspapers during the trail. Traficant witness Michael "Beef" Terlecky appeared on Free’s radio broadcast at the same time he was supposed to be testifying for the congressman. Traficant told Judge Wells that his witness was home sick that afternoon. Free was working at another Youngstown radio station when he found himself unemployed following the purchase of the station by Percy Squire.

     Squire, now representing the congressman, amused the Cleveland courthouse in April during his less than credible testimony for Traficant. Squire told Assistant US Attorney Craig S. Morford that for over a year he knew that Traficant didn’t leave a Youngstown State University meeting hall with local businessman John J. Cafaro. Squire testified that he kept it to himself and, despite the high publicity, didn’t acknowledge it to the congressman, or anyone else, until the day he appeared in court on Traficant’s behalf.

     Cafaro had testified that after the meeting Traficant got into the businessman’s Cadillac where Cafaro handed him $13,000 during a spin around the block. Squire, who insisted he watched the congressman leave, was asked in what type of vehicle Traficant left?

     "It wasn’t a Cadillac," Squire responded. This answer left several jurors amused and others shaking their heads.

     It’s this kind of credibility, that many from the Mahoning Valley refer to as the "Youngstown Mentality," that Traficant is crying for to make up his jury pool. This is what helped him win his first trial. He turned that trial into a popularity contest of "Jimbo verses an oppressive and deceitful government." Despite the fact that the FBI had a signed statement of Traficant confessing, as well as having the then sheriff of Mahoning County admitting on tape he had received $163,000 from the mob, Traficant was found not guilty by a jury led by nit wit foreman Joseph Christopher, an admitted supporter of Traficant from Girard, Ohio, a Youngstown suburb.

     Another twit on the jury, Donald Mumford of Warren, told reporters, "The prosecutors thought they had it made from the very beginning, so they didn’t make much effort to do research." Yes, Donald, they did think they had it made. They had a signed confession and Traficant on tape. What prosecutor in the world wouldn’t think he had it made with that evidence? And yes, Donald, they didn’t do their research. If they did they would have realized that morons like you and Christopher had no place on a jury where it takes half a brain to listen to testimony before making an intelligent decision based on the facts instead of acquitting Traficant because he was a good old boy and amused you.

     Fortunately for the Mahoning Valley this time Traficant did have an intelligent jury and guess what Donald and Joe? The prosecution didn’t have the luxury of having a signed confession and there was no tape of Jimbo anywhere. Which totally amuses us at AM.com because the congressman kept complaining to this jury that the government had no tape of him.

     It’s no wonder critics have claimed the first Traficant jury made the O. J. Simpson jury look like "brain surgeons."

     Christopher, instead of crawling under a rock because his decision has helped hold down the Valley for some 20 years, loves to run at the mouth letting everyone know he’s still a Traficant supporter and that he has voted for him in every election.

     Oh, well. It’s just the Youngstown mentality.


Announcements: On June 17 AmericanMafia.com will begin a three-part series looking at the trio of mobsters who participated and later wrote about their experiences in the Castellammarese War – Joseph Valachi, Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Joseph Bonanno. We’ll begin with our own opinion as to who we believe the mysterious "Buster from Chicago" really was. In part two we’ll talk about the major differences in the description of Salvatore Maranzano between Luciano and Bonanno, and in part three we’ll discuss the key murders that took place comparing each mobster’s versions of the events.

Also on June 17, AmericanMafia.com will re-cap the recently concluded trial of "Dishonest John" Connolly. For those of you who have been living like the Taliban – in caves – Connolly was convicted on May 28 on several, but not all, charges and is facing up to 20 years in prison. There was one positive thing for old "Dishonest John" with this verdict – his movie, Only the Ghost Knows, will now have a happy ending. AM.com salutes the efforts of John Durham whose investigation and prosecution of this case is the first step restoring a good name to law enforcement in the Boston area. AM.com says, "Bring on H. Paul Rico!"

Short Takes     ^TOP

Chicago (1) – Thomas Tucker, a former police lieutenant from Stone Park, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role as a "bagman" in delivering payoffs from the mob. The money was passed to public officials in three of Chicago’s western suburbs to protect mob-controlled video gambling operations. In the early 1990s Tucker delivered the money to Stone Park, Northlake and Franklin Park officials at the behest of the late Anthony Centracchio, the Outfit’s reputed boss in the west suburbs. In addition to the prison time, the 65 year-old Tucker was ordered to forfeit $10,000 paid to him in bribes and fined $5,000.

Chicago (2) – Another accomplice of William Hanhardt has been sentenced for his participation in a nation-wide jewelry theft ring that operated out of the Chicago area. On May 20 Sam DeStefano, the nephew of "Mad Sam" DeStefano known as the mob’s Marquis de Sade, was sentenced by US District Judge Charles Norgle, Sr. to five years in prison, followed by three years probation. In addition, he must pay restitution of $5.1 million. DeStefano, according to a Chicago Tribune article, "was the first insider to admit he took part in the sophisticated jewelry theft ring." Hanhardt, who headed the ring, was the highest-ranking Chicago police official ever convicted of corruption. Norgle sentenced him to more than 15 years on May 2. DeStefano told the judge, "I stand before you today to take my punishment. I am guilty, and so the penalty should be just." DeStefano pled guilty in August 2001. According to a Chicago Sun Times article, in his plea agreement DeStefano admitted to "dressing in fake mustaches and beards while he and his crew members used slim jims, listening devices and locksmith tools to steal more than $5 million in jewels from cars, hotel rooms and safe deposit boxes." DeStefano told about scouting jewelry stores, store owners and jewelry salesmen. The 48 year-old DeStefano, as part of his agreement, did not promise to testify against Hanhardt. Thus he avoided the wrath from the grave of "Mad Sam." See my stories http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-10-99.html and http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-17-99.html

Las Vegas (1) - An article in the Las Vegas Journal Review reported that most of Ted Binion’s incredible collection of silver dollars has been sold to private collectors by a coin wholesaler. Binion began collecting the Morgan and Peace silver dollars when he was a child. Many of the dollars were used in regular casino business until 1964 when the silver content of coins was reduced by the government. The old-time dollars were stored in bags and left untouched for years, kept inside a walk-in freezer at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino. The coins were dated between 1878 and 1935. Binion reportedly owned a complete set of uncirculated Morgan dollars that were produced at the Carson City mint. Binion’s family sold the collection earlier this year to a wholesale coin company in Orange County, California. Some of the 100,000 coins sold for as much as $10,000 a piece. The company reported that many of the purchasers were Nevada residents who bought the coins due to the "notoriety of the Binion murder case." If any AM.com readers are interested in learning more, or possibly purchasing one of the coins, there is a website devoted to them: www.binioncollection.com.

Las Vegas (2) – Allegations are flying in Sin City just before Sandy Murphy’s appeal hearing is due to start in Nevada Supreme Court in Carson City at the end of June. Murphy’s defense attorney, Herb "Money" Sachs, has asked for a new trial based on new evidence. However, he requested that the state court hold off in considering Murphy’s request for the new trial until after the Supreme Court makes a decision on her appeal – just in case the court sides with his client. The new evidence is a 1999 FBI report in which informant Antone Davis, a figure from the Herbie Blitzstein murder case, who outlined a "mafia plot" to have Binion murdered and have his death appear as a drug overdose. Sachs says he also has an affidavit from an FBI agent (hopefully not "Dishonest John" Connolly) stating that Binion received $10 million the day he was murdered and the money hasn’t been seen since. Wow, $10 million! How did the prosecutors, defense lawyers and all of the investigators miss this tiny tidbit? Murphy alleges in this latest filing that key prosecution witness, Steven Kurt Gratzer, now claims Sandy was not involved in the Binion murder. Gratzer, hardly the poster-child for mental stability, was 1) paid $20,000 by the Binion estate, 2) told not to talk to the defense, and 3) threatened with charges by the prosecutors if he did – this according to Sachs. Finally the attorney claims he has information that "someone other than Murphy and Tabish was in the murder home on September 17, 1998." Herbert "Money" Sachs is right on the money on this point. It was Teddy, Herbie.

Las Vegas (3) – As AmericanMafia.com reported several weeks ago, former Los Angeles Family member Stephen "The Whale" Cino was looking to have some time lopped off his 15-year sentence on his conviction from several crimes involving the late Herbert "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein. Convicted in the spring of 1999 an appeals court overturned one charge of money-laundering and on May 22 US District Court Judge Philip Pro reduced Cino’s sentence by two years. Cino reportedly participated in the trial by telephone due to "poor health." His lawyer, David Chesnoff, argued for a more substantial reduction. He rattled off all of Cino’s medical maladies and concluded by saying he "might not get out alive." Members of the Blitzstein family want to remind Chesnoff that Herbie didn’t make it out alive either. Cino told Judge Pro that he hopes his family will get the chance to see him again "outside prison walls." If Cino is as sick as Chesnoff makes him out to be that "chance" will be fulfilled at the wake. See my story on the Blitzstein murder at http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_8-23-99.html

Warren – In mid-May FBI Special Agent John "Raising" Kane announced that the bureau’s ongoing investigation to root out corruption in the northern end of the Mahoning Valley should begin to bear fruit sometime this summer. That’s when the work of a federal grand jury in Cleveland should be complete and charges relating to "kick backs and bribes" will be filed against officials in Warren. Kane refused to say on whom the investigation was focused other than to state it includes some higher-ups in the city’s Engineering Department. A team of FBI agents has been questioning contractors in the area over alleged bribes being paid to secure construction contracts. Last September local contractor James Matash pled guilty to giving $5,000 to former Building Inspector James Lapmardo for a demolition contract on a condemned hotel. Look for Lapmardo to be one of the government’s key witnesses.

Youngstown – The release of Ronald D. Carabbia, who has been rotting away in prison for almost 23 years for the bombing murder of Cleveland Irish racketeer Daniel J. "Danny" Greene, has been put on hold. William Mason the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, whose critics claim he doesn’t fart unless he knows the direction of the political winds, got the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to cancel the release until a closed hearing is held on June 12. Carabbia, who was due to be released May 20, is accused by the FBI of giving illegal gambling advice to his son Ronald, Jr. The FBI’s supervising agent of the Youngstown office, John "Raising" Kane, is worried that Carabbia, if released, "is likely to pick up where he left off." The main reason for Carabbia’s release appears to be a letter from former Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Carmen Marino, who urged Carabbia’s release after receiving a request to do so by Carabbia lawyer Gerald Messerman. The prominent Cleveland attorney had some unkind words for the authorities suggesting that they were inept, if what they claimed was happening were true.

A personal opinion, and not the view of AM.com, is this. If Carabbia was convicted of capital murder, he should have been put to death. Since he was not put to death and he was sentenced to life in prison – let him die there. But don’t tell the man and his family that he’s going to be released after nearly a quarter century in prison and then come up with a lame excuse to pull the rug out from under him. I could understand if the release was the result of some fraudulent means, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. The people suffering from this consequence are members of the Carabbia family, who have been through enough. Even Greene’s son, Danny Kelly told reporters the families shouldn’t have to suffer.

This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

June 3, 1981 – Robert J. Lumio, according the Pennsylvania Crime Commission’s 1990 report, was a made member of the Philadelphia Mafia Family having been inducted by boss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa in June 1980. The 43-year-old Lumio died of natural causes.

June 5, 1950 – James Lumia, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was the boss of the Tampa Family and was succeeded by Santo Trafficante, Sr. Our Tampa mob expert, Scott Deitche tells us Lumia was the prime suspect in the 1945 murder of mob turncoat Carl Carramusa who ratted out a narcotics ring which operated between Kansas City and Tampa. Deitche states Lumia’s shotgun slaying was "one of the most spectacular of Tampa’s gangland killings."

June 5, 1972 – Dominic Chirico was in charge of a special crew set up by Rochester boss Frank Valenti who drew his power from the Pittsburgh Family. In Valenti’s strange hierarchy he had an underboss, consigliere, and capos, but he then set up this crew under Chirico that reported directly to him. The members of this special crew committed crimes on Valenti’s orders and the proceeds would go to him and were not shared with the rest of the family. When other members of the family showed their dissatisfaction, Valenti ordered Chirico to have them killed, but the crewmembers refused. Instead of murdering the greedy mob boss the dissatisfied gang members moved against Chirico and he was shot-gunned to death outside the apartment of his girlfriend. See my story on the Rochester Family at http://www.americanmafia.com/Cities/Rochester.html

June 5, 1982 – John J. Vitale was a longtime member of the St. Louis Mafia, but it was never entirely clear what his role actually was. Vitale, called the "gentleman gangster" due to his quiet demeanor, was considered a consigliere and underboss. However, some say he actually took control of the family for a short period after the death of Anthony Giordano. The 73 year-old Vitale died of heart disease at Faith Hospital in Creve Coeur, Missouri. See my story on the St. Louis Family at http://www.americanmafia.com/Cities/St_Louis.html

June 6, 1953 – Henry Hicks, according to Scott Deitche our Tampa mob expert, was hit in the face with two shotgun blasts as he was mopping the floor at the Silver Meteor Bar in Tampa. Hicks, an innocent janitor performing his job, was killed by shots intended for Paul Ferraro, a bartender at the Silver Meteor and a local gambling figure.

June 6, 1983 – John Santiago was hit #8 of Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano. Of the 19 hits only one other victim is less known than Santiago. Gravano provided little information on the killing failing to name the shooter, participants, or who ordered the hit.

June 7, 1925 – Henry C. Hassmiller was killed and Walter O’Donnell mortally wounded in a bizarre shooting at the Capital Inn in Evergreen Park. The two men rolled into the bar around 4:45 am drunk and in a "fighting mood." According to questionable witnesses the two tried to rob the place. One of the patrons allegedly left by a side door, re-entered through the front door and claimed he shot Hassmiller five times in self-defense – unable to explain while all the bullet holes were in the dead man’s back. At the sound of the shooting O’Donnell, one of nine brothers who made up the South Side O’Donnell Gang headed up by Edward "Spike" O’Donnell, leaped out a window. However, Walter O’Donnell took two bullets in the back one shattering his spine. The 25 year-old died two days later at Auburn Park Hospital. Because of O’Donnell’s past he was refused the rites of the Catholic Church before burial.

The Chicago Tribune reported that another man was found murdered on the night of the O’Donnell shooting, "an unidentified Italian, the top of whose head had been blown off with a shotgun." The article claimed, "The body had been dumped in the lake at the foot of Ninth Street in Grant Park and was found only because of a search started after two men found the top of the skull and a cap on the shore."

June 7, 1930 – Joseph and Sam Gaglio, according to Detroit organized crime ace Paul R. Kavieff, were gunned down in broad daylight at Mack and Mt. Elliot Avenues in the Motor City. The brothers were top gunmen for Chester W. LaMare who was attempting to take over the Detroit underworld in the wake of Sam Catalanotte’s death. The men were changing a tire at a gasoline station when, "Another car filled with rival gangsters noticed the two men working on their vehicle and casually pulled alongside of the men and opened fire." See Kavieff’s book The Violent Years: Prohibition and the Detroit Mobs for further information.

June 7, 1962 – Joseph Profaci, at the time of his death, was the longest serving mob boss of the original five New York Families, having been a recognized gang leader since 1928. There was no other recognized leader of this group prior to his death. Profaci and his brother-in-law Joseph Magliocco had the distinction of being the only two major mob figures to be arrested at two different national meetings of the underworld. The first was the Sheraton Hotel meeting in Cleveland held in December 1928. The second was the infamous Appalachin Summit in November 1957. Profaci’s greediness was credited with starting the first publicized inter-family squabble when he cheated the Gallo brothers in the early 1960s. Profaci wouldn’t live to see the end of the conflict as he died of liver cancer at Southside Hospital in Bayshore, Long Island. Known as the "Olive Oil King, Profaci was 64 when he passed away.

June 7, 1989 – John Spensieri became a rival to Ralph Romano, Jr., the son of a reputed Lucchese Family associate, in the garbage carting business in Queens after the two men, who were originally partners, split. Romano drove to Spensieri’s Astoria, Queens home and shot his ex-partner four times in the face and five times in the body. At the trial, Romano wept and said he considered Spensieri a father figure. This may have been due to the fact that Spensieri lived with Romano’s mother and taught the young man how to drive. Romano was convicted of the murder in November 2001.

June 9, 1925 – August "Gus" Rini was active in Italian political circles in Cleveland and was an alleged bootlegger and hijacker. The reason for Rini’s murder has never been made clear. The wealthy businessman was hit with six bullets fired by two gunmen as he stepped from his automobile in front of the Rini Realty Company. The unsolved murder, which took place at East 25th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, was one of many that caused the area to be dubbed the "Bloody Corner" in the mid-1920s. For more see Rick Porrello’s book The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia.

June 9, 1931 – Alfred "Jake" Lingle’s sensational murder in the summer of 1931 touched off a wave of newspaper hysteria as the Chicago Tribune’s chief crime reporter’s death filled the front pages of that newspaper as well as others around the country. Lingle was believed to be not only in Capone’s back pocket, but heavily involved in gambling operations on the city’s North Side. Lingle was on his way to the racetrack when he was shot in the back of the head in a busy underpass. Leo Vincent Brothers was alleged to have been paid off by the Capone mob to take the fall for the killing. He was sentenced to just 14 years for the highly publicized murder.

June 9, 1947 – Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, was a hulking and terrifying muscle-man who worked with Louis "Lepke" Buchalter in the labor rackets, specifically in the garment industry. He earned his colorful nickname by his shouting of the words "get out of here," that with his Yiddish dialect came out sounding "gurrah’ta ‘ere." When Thomas E. Dewey started putting the clamps down on New York City racketeers in the 1930s, Shapiro and Lepke were found guilty of violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act as it pertained to the restraint of trade of rabbit skins in the garment industry. The trial took place in October 1936 and to the surprise of many, both men were found guilty and given the maximum sentence – two years. However, both men knew Dewey was working on an even bigger indictment and the two became fugitives in July 1937 going underground with the help of close friend Albert Anastasia. While Lepke stayed in hiding until August 1939, ordering the deaths of anyone who could testify against him, Gurrah was ill and turned himself in on April 14, 1938. He died in prison of natural causes.

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.

     This "Trials and Tribulations" will consist only of updates since last week.


June 12, 2002 – Cleveland/Youngstown – A closed hearing will be held regarding the release of Ronald D. Carabbia, the convicted murderer of Cleveland mobster Daniel J. "Danny" Greene in 1977. The Ohio Parole Board ordered Carabbia’s release for May 20, but an emergency board hearing was requested by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason derailing the release.

June 13, 2002 – Philadelphia – A preliminary hearing is scheduled for William Rinick. On May 14 he surrendered to authorities after being indicted for the October 31, 2001 murder of Adam Finelli in South Philadelphia.


August 7, 2002 – Boston – Disgraced former FBI agent "Dishonest John" Connolly will be sentenced for his May 28 conviction on one count of racketeering and two counts of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. He is looking at from 8 to 20 years.

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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