Allan May's book MOB STORIES
IN THIS ISSUE|
· "The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano" – 1
· Another Lawsuit in Beantown
· Don't Free John Connolly
· Short Takes
"The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano" – Revisited (Part One)
Since AmericanMafia.com ran its three-part series on the Catellammarese War we have received numerous e-mails regarding The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano by Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer. Before it was even published the book had been shrouded in controversy. Was this really dictated by Luciano himself? Was it a fraud perpetrated by Gosch?
This week AmericanMafia.com begins a two-part look at the book and provides the pros and cons based on the comments of Nicholas Gage, Hank Messick, Peter Maas, Richard Hammer, Tony Scaduto and others close to the publication of the now infamous book. We were fortunate to get a brief interview with Richard Hammer, one of the co-authors.
Nicholas Gage was the New York Times’ organized crime guru in the 1970s. During that decade he wrote the book The Mafia Is Not An Equal Opportunity Employer (1971) and edited and contributed to Mafia USA (1972), a compilation of stories by the era’s most celebrated organized crime writers.
On December 17, 1974 Gage’s front page article in the New York Times raised questions about the authenticity of a new book about to be published by Little, Brown and Company of Boston – The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, by Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer.
Gosch himself is a mystery. There is a photo of him in the British magazine publication, Murder Casebook. If this is truly a picture of him, instead of Jake Shapiro, then he could pass as "Gurrah’s" twin brother. He is listed on the book’s jacket as a "movie producer."
A few weeks ago NYMafia.com host, Nelson, supplied AM.com with a copy of Tony Scaduto’s Lucky Luciano: The Man Who Modernised the Mafia. Nelson, who has a growing reputation as one of the best researchers on organized crime history in this country, felt the book was one of the best written about the fabled mob boss.
In Scaduto’s book, released the same year as Last Testament…, the author devotes a 12-page appendix to ripping Gosch apart. He points out that "film producer" Gosch does not name a single film he ever produced. A check of the Internet Movie Data base http://www.imdb.com/ reveals that Gosch was a producer of only one film, Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945). By the way, that’s Lou Costello, not Frank. He has two writing credits, the aforementioned Abbott and Costello film and Horas de Panico (1957), a Spanish made film, also known as A Day of Fear, which he also distributed.
A second mystery is why, when Luciano allegedly was interviewed in 1961, did it take until 1975 before the book was released. According to Gosch, the agreement he had with Luciano was that the book would not be published until ten years after the mobster’s death; a fact that Richard Hammer confirmed in our interview.
Controversy over the book began before it was published by Brown, Little and Co. The book had a full-page advertisement in the November 18, 1974 issue of Publisher’s Weekly claiming:
"Before he died, Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano dictated his story to Martin Gosch in retaliation for the mob’s taking away of his pension and power. For ten years those tapes were locked in a vault where no one – the government, the mob, or the police – could get to them. But now the vault has been opened, and Gosch has collaborated with Richard Hammer, author of ‘One Morning in the War,’ to produce the most revealing account of American gangsterism ever written – from the words of the ‘boss of bosses’ himself."
Roger Donald, who edited the book for Little, Brown & Co., and Richard Hammer were quick to acknowledge that no tapes EVER existed and that all the information had come from 30-plus interviews between Gosch and Luciano. They explained that the advertisement was a misunderstanding. "It was copied from an ad put out by Penthouse [magazine] when it serialized part of the book." Hammer stated that he was suing Penthouse for misrepresentation. An executive at Penthouse Magazine claimed that no papers had been served at the time Nicholas Gage contacted him.
William Guthrie who produced the advertisement for Little, Brown & Co. admitted he was "influenced" by the Penthouse ad. "When the background of the book was explained to me, I put the emphasis on the wrong thing, on tapes. Nobody corrected the information given to me," Guthrie explained.
Gosch can hardly be blamed for the faux pas; he died of a heart attack on October 20, 1973, fifteen months before the book was released.
Gosch met with Richard Hammer in 1972, approximately a year before he died. Hammer, on one of his jacket covers, is described as "an award-winning reporter for the New York Times." Hammer’s mob book credits include The Illustrated History of Organized Crime (1974), Gangland USA (1975), Hoodlum Empire (1975) and Hoffa’s Man, with Joseph Franco (1987). Hammer also wrote about civil rights, law, Vietnam and politics. Two of Hammer’s books, One Morning in the War, which dealt with the Mylai massacre during the Vietnam War, and The Court-Martial of Lt. Calley, were nominated for the National Book Award. Another book, The Vatican Connection, won an Edgar Award.
Gage writes about Hammer’s decision to assist Gosch:
‘"I checked with some people in Hollywood who said the guy is as honest as Hollywood producers are honest, more honest than most.’ Mr. Hammer said. He added that he did not like Mr. Gosch personally, but became convinced that the producer had genuine notes which were based on conversations with Mr. Luciano and decided to collaborate with him on the book.
"…he and Mr. Gosch stopped speaking following differences about how the book should be written. ‘He started thinking he was a writer,’ he said of Mr. Gosch."
Roger Donald told Gage that he "has two sworn affidavits and three signed letters from friends and relatives who were close to Mr. Luciano and knew he was telling his life story to Mr. Gosch." Of these people, some were sharing in the book’s royalties. Donald said, "But just because a person receives money doesn’t mean he’s not telling the truth."
Of the five people who were sharing in the royalties, Donald identified four of them – Rosario "Chinky" Vitaliti, a close friend of Luciano; Adriana Rizzo, Lucky’s last lover; and Luciano’s two sisters, Concetta and Francesca. Vitaliti was the only one Gage interviewed for his article. He told Gage that he was in Italy when Luciano had his interviews with Gosch.
Gage asked if Luciano "had specifically told him [Vitaliti] that he was recounting his life story to Mr. Gosch." Vitaliti said he was "positively sure." Vitaliti revealed that he and Luciano’s two sisters and two sisters-in-law "will share five percent of the book’s royalties and five percent of any motion picture sale."
"It is widely known that Mr. Gosch met on a number of occasions with Mr. Luciano on the aborted film project, and presumably the gangster recounted some of his experiences during those meetings. But contradictions and inaccuracies in the book raise questions to the claim that Mr. Luciano told his life story to Mr. Gosch and that everything in the book attributed to Mr. Luciano actually came from him."
Hammer told Gage that he was "persuaded that the Gosch notes were genuine ‘by the fact that Gosch had been meeting Luciano …the fact Adriana Rizzo said she was aware of these meetings…and little anecdotal kind of things that Gosch just didn’t have the imagination to have invented.’"
Hammer informed Gage that the original notes were in the possession of Gosch’s widow, Lucille. However, when Gage contacted Lucille Gosch in Las Vegas, she informed him that she had destroyed them.
Gage reported, "She said her husband made tapes for Mr. Hammer in which he discussed the material in the notes and that she didn’t think it was necessary to keep the notes themselves. ‘I’m not a lawyer,’ she said." Lucille Gosch told Gage she was present during several of the interviews between her husband and Luciano. She claimed the two had at least 30 meetings.
Upon finding out that the notes had been destroyed, Hammer expressed his disappointment to Gage. He stated that he never made copies for himself because, "at first it just didn’t occur to me…and later when I did, Mr. Gosch and I were not speaking. I never thought anyone would destroy the notes. I’ve learned a bitter lesson."
When contacted for comment by Gage, the late author, Peter Maas, who had read an advance copy of the book, stated the work was "almost an exact compilation of all the available published material on organized crime in general and Luciano in particular." Maas claimed that "every twist in the evolution of the Mafia and every resulting gangland murder" paralleled the historic account given by Joseph Valachi.
AmericanMafia.com finds this to be a curious statement given the fact that, number one, Valachi and Luciano’s description of certain events have major disparities, as we pointed out in our three-part series. Number two, Luciano, according to Gosch, discusses things that were never brought to light and today are being questioned as to if they really happened.
Examples of this are the Havana conference that Gosch details as taking place in late December 1946, and Luciano’s role in the murder of Joe Masseria. It’s interesting to note that Maas wrote of Valachi’s retold tale of "The Night of Sicilian Vespers," while The Last Testament…may have been the first publication to deny that it ever took place. The first two major researchers to question Bo Weinberg’s "Vespers" fairytale were Humbert Nelli in 1976 and Alan Block in 1980, both after Gosch’s revelations.
Both Valachi and Luciano describe Masseria’s murder in similar detail, but with different triggermen involved. As we reported in our Castellammarese War series, neither the New York Times nor the Herald Tribune mentions that Luciano was waiting there after the murder for police to arrive. Now AM.com finds that in the notes from Robert Lacey’s Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life, that Luciano’s name never appeared in the police reports from the incident. Still both books claim he was there.
Peter Maas pointed out that in The Valachi Papers he misspelled the name of Girolamo Santuccio – writing Santucci. The same incorrect spelling appeared in the Gosch/Hammer book. Hammer claims the mistake was his fault "because he checked the names in the Luciano book against the index in The Valachi Papers and may have picked up the misspelling" Again Hammer’s statement clears Gosch of any intentional wrongdoing.
Gage also contacted Hank Messick, the dean of mob authors of that period. Messick, who also read an advance copy, stated that he found "information from several of my books in it. Errors from other books, including some of my own, are repeated here and put in Lucky’s mouth. Things attributed to Lucky that he could not have said." However, Gage never reveals any of the "errors" Messick refers to in the article.
Richard Hammer is still alive and writing, but not about organized crime, which he indicated that he has had his fill of. It’s been more than 27 years since the release of The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano and Hammer still stands by his comments that the book is correct, even to the extend that when we questioned him about the discrepancies in the description of the Tommy Reina murder he said he would "go with" what Luciano said.
When Hammer met with Gosch, the "movie producer" had notebooks filled with his 30 plus interviews with Luciano. Hammer said that one of the problems was there were so called "Mafia experts" of the day who didn’t take lightly to their ground being tread upon by new organized crime writers. Nicholas Gage was one of these people. Hammer claims he discussed the book with Gage before it’s release and was disappointed that Gage had come out arguing it’s authenticity the way he did.
Next Week: AmericanMafia.com takes a look at specific discrepancies pointed out in the Gage article as well as some we have spotted ourselves. We’ll also summarize the attack by Tony Scaduto on the Gosch/Hammer book and we’ll take a shot or two at Scaduto’s book. Plus more from the Richard Hammer interview.
Attorney Victor J. Garo has announced he will file a $300 million lawsuit against the government after claiming that the Department of Justice had failed to offer a "fair and reasonable compensation package." Boston Herald reporter J. M. Lawrence called the suit, filed on behalf of Joseph Salvati, the "largest civil rights lawsuit of its kind."
Garo compared the figure to the amount the United States ordered the Iranian government to pay to former hostage Terry Anderson, who was held hostage for six years prior to his release in 1991. The attorney stated, "The Salvati case is worse then the Anderson case because this was done by our own government to our own citizen."
Salvati was arrested in 1967 after being named by vicious mob hitman-turned-government-witness Joseph "Joe the Animal" Barboza in the 1965 murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan. Found guilty during a trial in 1968, Salvati spent the next 30 years in prison. During this time Garo represented him for free. Since his release in March 1997, Salvati and his devoted wife Marie have lived in a small North End apartment, living off Social Security and Marie’s small pension.
The other men falsely imprisoned by Barboza’s testimony were Peter Limone, Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo. Limone was released last year, while both Greco and Tameleo died in prison. Lawyers have filed lawsuits for Limone and the families of the other two men.
Michael Avery is helping to prepare the cases for the three. Avery, a Suffolk University Law School professor who specializes in law enforcement misconduct, called this "the worst case I’ve ever seen."
Salvati’s claim will ask the government for $125 million in damages; $50 million for his wife, Marie; and $125 million for his four children, who were forced to grow up without a father.
Garo asked the question, "What is the deterrent to the young FBI agents of today when no one has been punished for what went on in the Deegan murder?"
Below is an update of all the recent lawsuits filed in the ongoing "Disaster in Beantown."
Against the United States government the suits total $1,806,000,000:
March 7, 2001 – $50 million– filed by Jeffrey A. Denner, representing Christopher McIntyre, his mother Emily and the estate of murder victim John McIntyre
March 8, 2001 – $36 million– filed by Robert A. George, representing the family of Michael J. Donahue, an innocent man who was murdered with Brian Halloran.
July 24, 2001 – $375 million– filed by William T. Koski, representing Peter J. Limone and the families and estates of Henry Tameleo and Louis Greco.
August 3, 2001 – $25 million– filed by Albert F. Cullen, Jr., representing Patricia Marie Maccarelli, the widow of Brian Halloran.
March 14, 2002 – $860 million– filed by Frank Libby, representing the family of Oklahoma millionaire Roger Wheeler.
March 21, 2002 – $120 million– filed by Paul Kelly, representing Stephen Rakes
July 2002 - $40 Million– filed by attorneys representing the family of Richard Castucci
August 2002 - $300 Million– to be filed by Victor J. Garo, representing Joseph Salvati and family.
Against James "Whitey" Bulger et al the suits total $74,000,000:
February 26, 2001 – $30 million– filed by Robert S. Sinsheimer, representing Olga Davis, the mother of Debra Davis, who disappeared in September 1981.
February 26,2001 – $14 million– filed by James E. Riley, Jr., representing Richard Milano and the family of Michael Milano.
July 3, 2001 – $30 million– filed by an attorney representing Julie (Rakes) Dammers.
On August 20 US District Judge Reginald C. Lindsay heard arguments in the case of Michael Donahue. During the hearing Lindsay suggested that the federal government set up a victim’s compensation fund to cover all the civil suits.
"I’d like to see all of these cases settled," said Lindsay. "I’m proposing a process like what the government has done for 9-11," where the Justice Department has created a fund that promises an average settlement for each of the victims who perished in the terrorist attack.
The response from the government was not favorable. "I doubt that would be a route the Department of Justice would go," attorney Peter Schlossman stated. "I say this so many times people don’t think it’s serious: The government is willing to entertain any serious settlement offer." Indicating that $36 million for one individual was "too much."
Victims of the September 11 attack under the compensation program laid out by the government would receive an average payout of $1.85 million. Most victims of the government’s atrocities in Boston would probably be delighted with $1.85 million. However, their attorneys are not about to let that happen.
J. M. Lawrence reports Edward T. Hinchey, an attorney representing the family of Michael Donahue, claimed "The government is not defending this case, it’s blocking this case because there isn’t a defense."
Judge Lindsay set a September 26 hearing date at which time he want’s to discuss "global mediation."
On August 22, in yet another hearing, government lawyers asked US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner to dismiss the $375 million lawsuit filed on behalf of Limone, Greco and Tameleo. The government claims that the 1968 conviction of the defendants in the Deegan case were "obtained by valid legal process."
Michael Avery will file a response to the government in September.
Sit back folks, this whole process is going to be an interesting one.
In addition to information supplied in her articles, AmericanMafia.com wants to thank
J. M. Lawrence for additional information for this article.
As the weeks tick down to the September 16 sentencing date of "Dishonest John" Connolly, the judge is finally getting letters urging "no breaks" for the convicted former agent.
According the Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe, Robert J. Jordan, an agent who once shared a car with Connolly, said last week that he is "crafting a letter to US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro, urging him to consider the maximum amount of time allowed under federal sentencing guidelines for Connolly because of the ‘depth of his betrayal and its harm to law enforcement.’"
On September 3 Jordan will take office as the assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility in Washington DC. The office looks into charges of misconduct by employees of the FBI. One of Jordan’s claims is that "our brothers and sisters" in the Massachusetts State Police feel betrayed by Connolly and his former supervisor John Morris’ actions and now look upon the FBI with suspicion.
In 1988 Jordan worked on a police corruption and organized crime case where members of the Boston Police Department were extorting local restaurant and bar owners. There were nearly 40 convictions for racketeering and extortion. However, when one of the police officers who agreed to cooperate with the FBI attempted to "secretly record a conversation with [Whitey] Bulger and [Stephen] Flemmi outside a South Boston liquor store, it quickly became apparent that the pair had been warned in advance," recalled Jordan.
Jordan bemoaned how he worked seven days a week on the case and "those guys, with a phone call and a meeting, and for a case of wine and some money, tipped it."
Also involved in that investigation was former agent Barry Wallace. In his letter to Judge Tauro about Connolly, Wallace acknowledged disgust with his former supervisor as well. "I have no recommendation for sentencing and I only wish Morris were a defendant as well. Between the two of them they either killed or destroyed many lives, gave the FBI a horrendous blow, as well as hard-working State Police officers trying to do the right thing about Whitey."
Speaking of lives destroyed, Olga Davis, the mother of Debra Davis, urged the judge to "Give him [Connolly] life." She claimed, "Those FBIs did as bad as the killers did."
Debra Davis was the girlfriend of Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi for seven years before deciding to break up with him in 1981. The decision cost Davis her life. Flemmi strangled her to death and her body dumped in a "mob grave."
Olga Davis believes Connolly was one of the agents who came to her home when her daughter was reported missing. "They asked me would I like them to find my daughter. But they were asking me more about (Flemmi) than they were wondering about my daughter."
J. M. Lawrence of the Boston Herald wrote, "Davis said she and her family endured two decades of lies from their own government as the FBI protected her daughter’s killers."
Olga Davis sadly revealed, "What they did to me and my family, they really did a job on us and it’s still not forgotten. I still go into depressions something wicked. They did things that hurt us bad."
Meanwhile, Lawrence reported that US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan doubts the letter writing campaign will have any effect on "Dishonest John’s" sentence.
"I’m confidant Judge Tauro will apply the appropriate federal sentencing guidelines and the defendant will be sentenced within the range," Sullivan said. He also claimed Connolly’s supporters "do not have all the facts."
Lawrence writes, "Several defense attorneys said the letters may backfire on Connolly by putting the judge in the spotlight."
Let’s hope so!
On August 22 the Boston Herald reported that "Dishonest John," who claims he doesn’t have the money to pay his legal fees, was "about to collect nearly a half-million dollars on the sale of his vacation home."
In March US Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings ordered the government to pay Connolly’s legal fees, after "Dishonest John" claimed he was indigent. The Herald dug up public records that show Connolly’s worth from real estate to be $1.3 million. In addition, he owns a 23-foot powerboat and receives two pension payments.
A financial affidavit filed by Connolly with the court is sealed and Collings won’t allow reporters access to it.
Robert Fitzpatrick, a former assistant special agent-in-charge of the FBI office in Boston told the Herald, "This guy lives in a house that’s worth close to a million dollars, he’s selling a house worth a half a million dollars and he’s getting two pensions. How can you call him indigent?"
Fitzpatrick fired off a letter to Judge Tauro urging him to give "Dishonest John" a sentence that would "compel" him "to cooperate truthfully with the Justice Task Force. A further redemptive act would be for Connolly to admit guilt, express remorse and to heartfully express sorrow to all the victims involved. If Connolly is not willing to comply by admitting guilt then the maximum sentence should be granted."
AM.com would not be surprised by anything that Connolly does. Whatever his statement is before sentencing you can be sure it will be calculated and self-serving to put him in the best light – truth be damned. No one who knows this mutt expects anything to come out "heartfully."
Boston (1) – US District Judge Robert "Buster" Keeton has thrown out four of six guilty verdicts that a jury convicted Michael L. Carucci of this past April 16. Carucci, a Boston real estate broker was charged with helping Winter Hill Gang leader Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, launder money. Keeton ruled that the government went "too far" in a 100-count indictment, which was first filed in 1997. Keeton stated, "I find that government misconduct did occur, in the form of unwarranted overcharging." During the trial Keeton knocked down most of the counts. After hearing the evidence the jury convicted Carucci of six counts of money laundering. From the moment the verdict was announced Keeton let it be known that he wasn’t satisfied. Trial watchers weren’t sure if Keeton believed the jurors were idiots or if he felt the entire jury system was inferior to his own judgement. No sentencing date has been established, as prosecutors have not had a chance to respond to the decision. Carucci’s lawyer, Martin A. "Whiney" Weinberg, boasted, "I’m going to do everything in my professional power to make sure at the end of the road Mr. Carucci is fully exonerated." Judge Keeton seems hell-bent on helping him. The judge ruled that if an appeals court reinstates the defendant’s conviction on the four dismissed counts, then Carucci should be granted a new trial. If a new trial is held perhaps there will be a new judge who will let a jury decide the case.
Buffalo – Former Buffalo narcotics detectives Robert E. Hill and Darnyl Parker were sentenced last week. On August 19 Hill, who retired after his arrest in March 2000, was given 41 months for his conviction on one count of theft from an undercover FBI agent posing as a Jamaican drug dealer. Hill was the only one of the four arrested who admitted to stealing. Outside the courtroom, after a "public tongue-lashing" from US District Judge Richard J. Arcara, Hill told reporters, "I’ve always said I was a member of the human race, not the perfect race. I’m subject to the same temptations and weaknesses as any other human being." The day after Hill’s sentence Parker stood before the judge. Dan Herbeck of the Buffalo News reported that Parker, convicted of ten felony counts, "took bribes from drug dealers, arranged cocaine deals and organized the theft of cash from the undercover agent. Parker was also convicted of setting up his own son, William, in a cocaine business." Parker, who serves as a lay minister and was the leader of a prayer group in the Niagara County Jail, was given eleven years and four months, the middle of the sentencing guidelines. While making an "emotional" plea to the judge, in which he admitted his guilt, Parker blamed his demise on the fact that the Buffalo Police Department’s Narcotic’s Squad lacked a night-shift supervisor for eight months due to a lieutenant being out on sick-leave with a replacement. "I was a dedicated police officer," Parker stated, "a man of integrity. I did my job. When you’re left to your own devices, you leave the door open to disaster. Fifteen years, I had a supervisor, and no trouble. I had eight months with no supervisor. All of a sudden, I’m in jail." Former detective John Ferby received the same sentence as Robert Hill one week earlier. The fourth detective, David Rodriquez, was acquitted and is still fighting to get his job back.
Chicago – Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese was found guilty last Friday of racketeering conspiracy and fraud. The charges were in connection with an indictment accusing her and others of looting the town coffers of over $12 million. Six others defendants were also found guilty including alleged Cicero mob boss Michael Spano, Sr. and his son. The ten-week trial was capped off by jury deliberations lasting eleven days.
AM.com will cover the trial and convictions in more detail at a later date.
Detroit – On Monday, August 19 a federal jury found aging Detroit Mafia leader Anthony Zerilli guilty of racketeering and extortion. The 74 year-old Zerilli could be facing up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on November 7. Zerilli’s attorney, Harold Gurewitz says he plans to ask US District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff to "throw out the jury’s verdict..." AM.com has a call into Gurewitz to let him know he has mistaken Judge Zatkoff for Boston’s Judge "Buster" Keeton.
Next week:AmericanMafia.com will review the entire trial, which dates back to 1996 when 17 Motor City mobsters were indicted.
New York (1) – The lawyers for Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, in an effort to obtain a separate trial for their client, have stated in recently filed papers that they will not dispute the existence of the Genovese Family. Although acknowledging the crime family’s existence they will deny the government’s claim that Gigante is the boss. Robert Mintz, a former deputy chief of the federal Organized Crime Strike Force Division in New Jersey indicated that the move was made to "water down" the evidence that prosecutors will use against Gigante at trial and hopefully lessen the chance of guilt by association. Gigante, who admitted earlier this year that he is now "sane enough" to stand trial, was one of eight mobsters indicted in January. No trial date has been set. AM.com was amused by articles in the New York Post and Daily News quoting mob experts expressing shock at this revelation. Former federal prosecutor James Walden was quoted as saying, "It is at odds with the whole oath of omerta." Please! Wake up and smell the Sopranos! This is the 21st Century. There is no more omerta! The "cut and roll" today is as much a part of "mob tradition" as the burning of the saint and the pricking of the trigger finger. Enough with the bullshit tradition! If you want tradition, go watch the Godfather again for the 50th time!
New York (2) – In a decision that caused a federal judge to respond "I’ve never seen this before," a Brooklyn jury found Westley "The Kid" Paloscio guilty of two counts gambling, but deadlocked on a murder charge against him. Paloscio, described as a "Staten Island bookmaker" with links to New Jersey’s DeCavalcante Family, was accused of luring Joseph "Joey O" Masella to a parking lot where mob associate Anthony Grecco shot him to death. In 1999 Paloscio was one of 39 people arrested in a massive indictment of the DeCavalcante Family. So far he is the only one to stand trial. During jury deliberations the jury foreman allegedly told the other jurors that Paloscio’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, was "wearing $2,000 suits and I wouldn’t be surprised if the mob is paying for his defense." That sounds about right to AM.com, but others jurors took offense and told the judge. After listening to their concerns, Judge Lawrence McKenna polled the jurors and then decided they could continue their deliberations. On Monday, August 19 they sent a note to the judge stating they could not arrive at a unanimous decision on any of the seven charges. McKenna urged them to continue deliberating. On Tuesday the jury said they had come to a decision on two of the counts, but were deadlocked on the others. No sentencing date has been set for the conviction. Prosecutors are already asking for a new trial date on the five remaining.
New York (3) – On Friday, August 23 Joseph "Joe the German" Watts was sentenced to six years after pleading guilty in June to charges of money laundering. Watts was imprisoned in 1995 for conspiracy to commit murder. In January 2001, days before his release, he was charged with money laundering and income tax evasion. During a colorful trial last year Watts was found guilty of tax evasion, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the money laundering count. Watts was sentenced to five years for the conviction and a new trial was ordered for the remaining charge. Just prior to the opening of the retrial Watts pled guilty in a deal that would land him one additional year. He was also fined $1.0 million. Watts requested that after his six years are served that he be able to leave the country, even though he’s due to be on supervised release for three years. US District Judge Edward Korman agreed to the request and US prosecutors did not oppose the move. Watts’ lawyer, Joel Winograd, claimed his 61 year-old client was of Italian/Irish decent. It had been reported that he was Welsh. Wherever the Italian/Irish mobster, known as the German, who was previously thought to be Welsh, is going, no one has said.
Philadelphia – Even from behind bars Billy "Dust Bunny" Rinick continues to make news. On August 15 Rinick and two others were indicted on charges of distributing cocaine in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The eleven-count indictment caps a year-long investigation conducted by local, state and federal authorities. The charges of distributing cocaine span a period from June 1993 through January 2002 and include two counts of distributing cocaine within 1,000 feet of South Philadelphia High School – most likely to the two fifteen year-old girls Rinick videotaped himself banging. Rinick’s two co-defendants are Joseph Viola, Jr. and Michael Focoso. In the indictment prosecutors allege Focoso was taught the drug trade by Rinick and Viola, including "a more efficient way to dilute and repackage cocaine." Focoso is not expected to remain a "co-defendant" for long. He is currently being held in protective custody and is expected to testify as a government witness against the other two. In addition, Focoso will also testify at Rinick’s upcoming murder trial for the October 31, 2001 killing of Adam Finelli. Viola was jailed pending a bail hearing, while Rinick has been imprisoned since being charged with murder last May.
Many readers have expressed an opinion to AM.com that Rinick seems to get excessive press for just being a "basic screw-up." That being said, it should be noted that at the news conference to announce the indictment in attendance were Pennsylvania Attorney General Michael Fisher and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Patrick Meehan. During the press conference Meehan stated that Rinick was a "major player, significant player," in the cocaine trade. Prosecuting the case will be Assistant US Attorney Barry Gross, who helped put away Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and the top level of the Philadelphia mob last year. If this should ever come to trial, look for Gross to make short work of the "Dust Bunny."
Copyright © 1998 - 2002 PLR International