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· Lieutenant Rick Porrello

· Danny Greene Killer to be Released
· Short Takes
· This Week in Mob History

LAST ISSUE 7-15-02


Lieutenant Rick Porrello

     Congratulations to Rick Porrello who was sworn is as a lieutenant this past July 1. Rick is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia and To Kill the Irishman. More importantly Rick is the owner and host of AmericanMafia.com.


Danny Greene Killer to be Released     ^TOP

     After a recent shit storm that had FBI agents and prosecutors – past and present – pointing fingers and making allegations against one another, Ronald David Carabbia will be released from prison on September 24. On July 9 the Ohio Parole Board voted 7-2 to recommend that the 73 year-old be set free. The imprisoned Youngstown gangster was convicted of detonating the bomb that killed infamous Cleveland gangster Daniel J. "Danny" Greene on October 6, 1977.

     Carabbia was arrested in December 1977 and has been in prison ever since. At trial Carabbia was represented by former Mahoning Valley mob attorney Carmen A. Policy, now the president of the Cleveland Browns. In November 1979 Carabbia was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

     A strong factor in Carabbia’s release was the written the recommendation by the man who won his conviction, Carmen Marino, a longtime Cleveland prosecutor who handled many mob related cases during his successful career. Marino sent a letter to the parole board on January 30, 2002, the day before he retired. The controversy began when word got out that Carabbia was going to be released on May 20. At that time the FBI made a surprise announcement that Carabbia was still involved in gambling through his son. The parole board put the release on hold until a private hearing could be held.

     A barrage of finger-pointing quickly began with the FBI claiming, "It was inappropriate for Carmen Marino to write that letter of recommendation without advising us of his intent. The FBI was a crucial part of the Danny Greene murder investigation team in the late ‘70s, and we should have been told about it."

     Marino, responding to this claim and the FBI’s allegations that they had information that Carabbia was still participating in gambling operations, countered, "Carabbia is our defendant. They’ve [the FBI] been criticized nationally for failing to cooperate. John Ashcroft and other people in the Bush administration have been guaranteeing that there’s going to be more cooperation between the federal government and the locals. This is a situation where they had a duty to tell us what was going on with one of our cases…and they didn’t do it."

     In January the FBI raided La Villa Sports Bar & Grille, which is owned by Carabbia’s sister-in-law. The FBI believes that Carabbia is running a sports-betting operation out of this pub from his prison cell in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in Ohio.

     Despite what information the FBI claimed they had, Andrea Dean, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, stated the "board felt no hard evidence was presented to show Carabbia should stay in prison…"

     A former federal prosecutor told AmericanMafia.com that it’s an unusual move on the part of a prosecutor to do something like this. In 1979 Marino stood before a judge and urged that Carabbia spend the rest of his life in prison, now he’s supporting his release. If Marino was in favor of the release then what he should have done "was nothing." Most times the prosecutor’s office will only step forward to block something like this from happening.

     John Sommer, who retired from the FBI two and half years ago, worked on the Greene case and was a member of the Strike Force team that helped close down the Cleveland Mafia. Sommer disagreed with the prosecutor's recommendation, "I respect Carmen Marino as a prosecutor, (but) I disagree with his take on this case."

     Ronald Carabbia and his two older brothers – Charles "Charlie the Crab" and Orland "Orlie" – have long been involved in underworld activities as part of the "Cleveland faction" of the Mahoning Valley mob.

     The FBI fears Carabbia will return to Youngstown and pick up where he left off. However, family members have told AmericanMafia.com that Carabbia doesn’t want to return to Youngstown and instead wants to relocate to the warm climate of Florida.

     Albert Celec, Jr., a nephew of Ronald Carabbia, is well aware of the life and activities of his infamous uncle. Yet he remembers many of his good qualities, too. In a June letter to the Ohio Parole Board Celec wrote, "The totality of a man’s life should not be based on only one aspect of that life. My Uncle Ronnie is more than an inmate, he is a husband, father, brother, son, uncle, grandfather, in all these roles he has been an exemplary role model." It will be up to the Carabbia family to make sure that the 26 years Ronald spent in stir was not wasted. Any move to return to the life he left will surely be dealt with quickly.

     The Mahoning Valley that Ronald Carabbia said goodbye to in 1977 is not the one he will be returning to. A mob war in the early 1980s took the life of his brother Charles and in 1987 his sister Jean Celec succumbed to breast cancer after a long and courageous battle. His mother passed away in 1992. The free-wheeling mobsters, and corrupt lawyers, judges, politicians and law enforcement officials that disgraced the Valley for over 80 years were cleared out by the Craig Morford-led prosecutions over the past three years. The local FBI office, now headed by Special Agent John "Raising" Kane, is not sitting on its laurels. Kane and his agents have attacked Mahoning County’s neighbor to the north, Trumbull County, with a vengeance. With disgraced Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. facing a seven-year prison sentence and expulsion from the House of Representatives it’s time for people realize that the Mahoning Valley is getting another chance.

Short Takes     ^TOP

Boston (1) – John J. "Mick" Murray, described as a "reputed Charlestown gangster" with ties to James J. "Whitey" Bulger, pled guilty to all 12 counts of a January indictment. The charges included embezzlement, extortion, racketeering conspiracy and theft of interstate shipments. Murray admitted, "he shook down bookies and along with members of Charlestown-based Local 25, conspired to steal nearly $1.5 million in computer equipment from trucks." Murray was indicted with Teamsters Local 25 president George W. Cashman and vice president William Carnes. Murray’s lawyer, Joseph Oteri, was quick to point out that the plea agreement contains no provision that Murray cooperate or testify against the two officials. In the agreement prosecutors have agreed to recommend Murray serve eight years and one month. Oteri is looking for a sentence that would be ten months shorter. US District Judge Reginald Lindsay has scheduled sentencing for October 29.

Boston (2) – On July 10 US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro refused to throw out a jury’s decision in finding that disgraced former FBI agent "Dishonest John" Connolly "became part of Bulger’s group." Connolly was found guilty on May 28 on 5 of 19 racketeering counts. Defense attorney Tracy Miner immediately went to work trying to keep her client from receiving an estimated eight-year prison term when he is sentenced on September 12. One of the jurors created controversy by claiming he was confused by the racketeering charges he found Connolly guilty of and sent a letter to the judge asking for a lenient sentence. Reacting to the juror’s claim was jury forewoman Jacqueline C. Plouffe. She sent a letter to Tauro claiming that "at no time did any juror state they were confused. We worked as a team deliberating the facts and agreeing on the verdicts we arrived at." Plouffe earlier wrote to the judge urging that "there would be no justice if Connolly didn’t serve a full sentence."

Boston (3) – A newspaper report out of Boston two weeks ago painted a scary picture of what’s going on in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The report claims the office has lost 14 prosecutors, "including the entire executive staff," this despite a rising murder rate. A former Superior Court chief stated, "The prosecutors are overburdened and they aren’t getting guidance from senior people because they aren’t there." A former District Court deputy stated, "With less people, cases are not in as good shape and the number of dismissals increase. It hurts the communities because prosecutors don’t have as much time to reach out to the victims and witnesses." District Attorney Daniel F. Conley blames the loss of prosecutors on budget cuts, while former prosecutors claim the departures were politically motivated. Conley’s employees were quick to come to his defense. New Deputy District Court Chief Gerry Stewart told reporters, "We don’t see a dilemma in the work load or a depreciation in the quality of work." However, it’s more important what the voters see. With an upcoming election we’ll see how they feel about Conley’s efforts.

Boston (4) – The government is 0 for 2 in their efforts to duck lawsuits filed against them that now total over $1.5 billion from the acts of rogue FBI agents. Last month US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner denied the government’s attempt to toss out the claim of the family of Brian Halloran claiming that they missed "a two-year window of opportunity to file after FBI corruption was exposed in 1998." On July 11 it was Chief US District Court Judge William G. Young denying the government’s same claim against Stephen Rakes. Paul V. Kelly, Rakes’ attorney, stated, "The government’s efforts to get the case thrown out is repulsive." Rakes and his former wife, Julie Dammers, were forced to sell a liquor store in January 1984 to James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi. Their efforts to get the store back went ignored by "Dishonest John" Connolly, who is named in the lawsuit.

Detroit – Longtime Detroit Family underboss Anthony J. Zerilli went to trial last week on charges of helping to direct a criminal enterprise involved in extortion, gambling, loansharking and obstruction of justice. The charges are from a March 1996 federal indictment in which 17 people were charged. Zerilli, 74 years old, was severed from the trial due to health problems. His lawyer requested the trial be delayed because Zerilli was hospitalized with heart problems; the judge accommodated him. His lawyer requested the trial be delayed because Zerilli had surgery on both of his arthritic knees; the judge accommodated him. Zerilli suffers from inoperable blockages of multiple arteries. US District Judge John O’Meara then granted an additional delay until the courthouse could be outfitted with emergency cardiac defibrillators. But when O’Meara ordered a delay because FBI agents, scheduled to testify, were called away because of the events of September 11, Zerilli’s lawyer Harold Gurewitz asked the judge to dismiss the case because his client didn’t receive a speedy trial. Defense lawyer! What are you going to do!

New York (1) – Several recent law enforcement tactics have left some mob watchers shaking their heads. The incarceration-until-death of John Gotti is one of three incidents being discussed. The government would not allow Gotti to be moved to a facility where his family could choose the doctor, and Gotti wasn’t allowed to be placed in a facility that would have made it more convenient for his family to visit him. After his death his brother Peter and son John "Junior" were not allowed to attend the funeral. Since few other mobsters were in attendance, God only knows what kind of security breach there was to be concerned with. Finally, on July 9 federal prosecutors fought the efforts of Judge Frederic Block to release reputed Gambino soldier Primo Cassarino for a week so he could be with his 12 year-old daughter following what the judge described as "serious surgery." Cassarino was indicted last month with Peter Gotti and 15 others on wide ranging racketeering conspiracy charges. Cassarino, Peter Gotti and capo Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone were denied bail considerations. Cassarino’s lawyer, Dominick Porco, asked for a "humanitarian release" for his client. Block agreed to release Cassarino for seven days for the operation, which was scheduled for July 15. "I am trying to accommodate the daughter," Block told prosecutors. Prosecutors, who argued that Cassarino be held without bail, then insisted on a $1 million bond and imposed conditions which included home detention and 24-hour guards, which Cassarino would have to pay for himself.

New York (2) – Gerard Gravano, son of Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, received a prison sentence of nine years and three months from Brooklyn Federal Judge Allyne Ross on July 10. In a teary-eyed admission, Gravano, known as the "Baby Bull," told the judge, "This is my fault…I hope to get a second chance." Gravano will be eligible for parole in less than eight years. He is facing the same sentence in Arizona. Judge Ross will ask the Arizona courts to let the sentence run concurrently. She will also ask that Gravano be allowed to serve his sentence in Arizona in order to be close to his family and his new son. Judge Ross will also decide the fate of Sammy Gravano soon. Shortly after the pre-sentence hearing Gravano’s attorney Lynne Stewart was indicted and Gravano dumped her. Gravano is looking at a maximum sentence of 20 years.

New York (3) – Speaking of dumped lawyers! Peter Gotti dropped ineffective attorney and longtime Gotti family sycophant (suck-up) Bruce Cutler, and retained Gerald Shargel. Despite the change in attorneys, Gotti is still behind bars and being denied bail. Shargel presented a plan to Judge Frederic Block in which Gotti would be released on a $4 million bond and be confined to his Howard Beach home with an electronic bracelet slapped on. Shargel’s argument that Gotti should be entitled to bail is based on the fact that he has not been charged with any "acts of violence." The bail money would be secured with the homes of over a dozen friends and relatives including Carmella Gotti (brother Vincent’s wife), Diane Pietrofeso (Peter’s daughter) and Roberta Gurino (the sister-in-law of Anthony Gurino, an alleged Gambino Family member). Prosecutors, led by Assistant US Attorney Andrew Genser, oppose the move claiming Gotti "profited from acts of extortion," and was the alleged boss of the family. Genser was asked by Block if there "was any scenario under which the boss of a crime family could be released on bail." Genser replied, "It’s possible, but not in Peter Gotti’s case." An angry Shargel insisted that Gotti was not a Mafia boss. "You want to tell the court who the …boss is?" asked Block. "I have no idea," claimed Shargel.

New York (4) – Lawyers representing actor Steven Seagal have filed a motion asking New York State Supreme Court Judge Joseph J. Maltese to dismiss a $60 million lawsuit filed against their client by recently indicted Gambino Family associate Julius Nasso. Nasso filed a complaint in March claiming a breach of contract. Nasso maintains that Seagal, whose career Nasso takes credit for launching, agreed to do four films in the 1990s before reneging after he received advice from a spiritual advisor. Lawyers for Seagal maintain there was "no deal" and "no contract."

In a related story, Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch was working on a story about Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone and the extortion of Steven Seagal. Ciccone was captured on tape ordering Nasso to demand $150,000 from an entertainment figure that sources identify as Seagal. Soon after Busch began working on the story she found the windshield of her automobile smashed and left a note left behind with the word "Stop" on it. The police bomb squad unit investigated a metal box found on the car. When opened a dead fish was found inside. Sources have reported that Busch "resigned from the story and is in hiding."


This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

July 22, 1976 – David Bonadonna, Sr. was a member of the Kansas City Mafia Family. Associated with the Cammisano faction during the River Quay days, the group found him expendable when he couldn’t persuade his son Fred, the President of the River Quay Bar and Restaurant Association and Vice President of the Market Area Businessmen’s Association, a group of civic and business leaders in the River Quay neighborhood, to allow the Cammisanos to put adult entertainment in the area. David Bonadonna’s body was found in the trunk of his car. He had been shot five times in the head. See my story at http://www.crimemagazine.com/kcfamily.htm

July 22, 2000 – Paul Leisure was part of Jimmy Michaels’ Syrian faction in the St. Louis underworld. In 1980 Leisure and his brother Anthony turned against Michaels and arranged his car-bombing death on a St. Louis freeway. Less than a year after Jimmy Michaels’ murder, his supporters retaliated by planting a bomb under Paul Leisure’s car outside his mother’s home on Nottingham Avenue on August 11, 1981. The ensuing blast cost him his right leg and left foot. In addition, his face was severely disfigured. When gang turncoats led to the unraveling of the mob, Paul Leisure was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole for 50 years in December 1987. Leisure died at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri where he had been incarcerated since 1993. Leisure, who was 56, suffered from heart disease. See my story at http://www.americanmafia.com/Cities/St_Louis.html

July 23, 1921 – John "Two-Gun Johnny" Guardino (Gardino) was a lieutenant of Anthony D’Andrea and was murdered during Chicago’s Bloody 19th Ward War. The Chicago Tribune kept a tally of the killings and listed Guardino’s as "#11 since January 1." Guardino was shot three times while standing in front of a store on West Polk Street. He died while being transported to Jefferson park Hospital. See my story http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_10-2-00.html

July 23, 1930 – Gerald E. "Jerry" Buckley was a Detroit radio commentator and crusader who campaigned bitterly for the recall-election of Mayor Charles Bowles. When the recall vote was counted Detroit was due for a new mayor. Less than two hours after signing off the air waves, Buckley was dead after two gunmen fired eleven slugs into his body as he sat in a hotel lobby, set up there by a woman who had telephoned him earlier with the promise of a story. Years later the gunmen were identified as Russell Syracuse, Joseph English, and John Mirabella. See my story http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_11-22-99.html

July 23, 1985 – Frank "Frankie Flowers" D’Alphonso was described by George Anastasia as "Angelo Bruno’s old friend and highly successful business associate." Apparently D’Alphonso wasn’t ready for a change in leadership and he was given a severe beating on October 29, 1981. In the mid-1980s when Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo felt D’Alphonso was being greedy over a real-estate deal he decided that Frankie Flowers had to go. While walking his dog to get a pack of cigarettes two men put five slugs in D’Alphonso’s back, and face.

July 24, 1917 – Emmanuel Roggers was a member of the Detroit Police Department’s "Sicilian Squad." Detroit mob expert Paul R. Kavieff writes in The Violent Years, "Police theorized Roggers, who was investigating the Giannola brothers, had found out too much and for this reason had to be eliminated." Roggers was shot to death.

July 24, 1998 – Gus Alex was a Chicago Outfit member whose career as a gambling boss and political fixer spanned nearly 50 years. Alex was the first target of the late great former FBI agent William F. Roemer to turn into an informant for the bureau’s Top Hoodlum Program. Roemer discusses his pursuit of Alex in depth in his classic, Roemer: Man Against the Mob. Alex, of Greek descent, died of a heart attack at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

July 25, 1939 – Irving Penn was a victim of mistaken identity and killed by members of the notorious Murder, Inc. gang in their hunt to exterminate potential witnesses against Louis "Lepke" Buchalter. The 42 year-old Penn, a father of two, was an executive with a music publisher. He was walking on Eight Avenue on his way to work when two gunmen put five slugs in his back. Police believe Penn was killed because he looked like the gang’s intended target Phil Orlovsky.

July 25, 1944 – Corrado Giacona, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was the boss of the New Orleans Family for approximately 20 years and was succeeded by Frank Todaro. He died of natural causes. Other sources list Sylvestro Carolla as the boss during that same period. See my story http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_12-20-99.html

July 25, 1979 – John R. "Jack" Tobin was a victim of the Mahoning Valley’s Carabbia/Naples War. The 39 year-old Tobin was described by the police as "one of the larger bookmakers in the area." He was returning home just before 2:00 a.m. and, after parking his car, headed for the front door of his home. As he did, an automobile with two men inside headed for him. Tobin stepped back and drew a revolver. Approaching Tobin from behind, a masked man called out to him. Tobin spun around and was hit in the chest with a shotgun blast, knocking him to the ground. He was pronounced dead at Youngstown’s St. Elizabeth Hospital.

July 26, 1934 – Charles Coletti was one of the Cleveland Mayfield Road Mob’s most proficient killers during the Prohibition Era. In the early 1930s he contracted tuberculosis and moved to Arizona in hopes that the warmer climate would help cure him. When it didn’t, he returned to Cleveland where he grew despondent and committed suicide. He was 34 years old.

July 26, 1996 – John Peter "Jackie" Cerone was known as "Jackie the Lackey" among his Chicago Outfit associates. Cerone rose to the tops ranks of the Chicago mob after beginning as a driver for Joseph Aiuppa. In the early 1980s Cerone was sentenced to prison for his role in a Las Vegas skimming operation. He died in Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois six days after being paroled from spending the past ten and a half-years in prison.

July 27, 1992 – Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno was the cigar-chomping boss of New York City’s Genovese family. The 80 year-old died in prison where he had been since the mid-1980s after his conviction in the famous Commission case.

July 27, 2000 – Robert Rogers, aka Bobby Rogers Santarsky, was found bleeding to death outside a Malden, Massachusetts bar. Newspaper reports described the 20 year-old Rogers as a "petty criminal who got in the middle of a fray and was left on the street to die." Authorities believed Rogers was killed by William Angelesco, a mob wannabe, who later gunned down New England strip club owner Peter DeVito.

July 28, 1931 – Michael Vengali, at age five, may have been the youngest victim ever of a mob hit gone awry. In the attack four other children were wounded in a botched murder attempt on Dutch Schultz associate Joey Rao outside the Helmar Social Club on East 107th Street. When Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll’s name was released to the newspapers as the main suspect in the shootings the press dubbed him, "the Baby Killer." Coll was acquitted of the murder in a December 1931 trial.

July 28, 1956 – Abraham Telvi was the 22 year-old hood who tossed acid in the face and blinded nationally known columnist and commentator on labor affairs Victor Riesel on April 5, 1956 outside Lindy’s restaurant. Telvi, who was allegedly paid $1,175 by Johnny Dioguardi, soon demanded more money. Telvi was paid with a bullet in his head on Mulberry Street.

July 28, 1975 – James Colletti, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was the former boss of the Colorado Family and died of natural causes. While Colletti’s role in the leadership structure of the Denver Family is not fully understood, he was significant enough to have attended the infamous Apalachin Summit in November 1957.

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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