Allan May's book MOB STORIES
IN THIS ISSUE|
· "The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano" – 2
· Motor City Mob – Down for the Count? - 1
· Short Takes
"The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano" – Revisited (Part Two)
In 1972 Martin A. Gosch contacted Richard Hammer and the two came to an agreement to produce The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano. With notes Gosch provided from his interviews with Luciano, Hammer wrote the entire book. The two men became at odds, according to Hammer, when Gosch tried to "rewrite my writing."
Hammer pointed out to AmericanMafia.com that the Gosch name is pronounced "Gosh." When asked about Gosch’s career in California, Hammer replied, "Well, he produced a couple of Abbott and Costello movies (actually only one that we can discover). He was mainly a ‘go-for’ for Louis B. Mayer, and a couple of other studios."
AM.com pointed out that the Internet Movie Data base listed him as a writer.
"He never wrote a word," Hammer replied. "He couldn’t. He could hardly write his own name!"
While writing the story Hammer had access to all of the notes, which Gosch demanded back. When asked about the story that Gosch’s wife destroyed the notes, Hammer remarked, "I knew her very well. When he died she had the apartment on Crescent Drive, in Beverly Hills, and she couldn’t stay there so she was going to live with her niece in Las Vegas. She had an apartment full of stuff that she didn’t know what to do with. I knew her well enough to know, and my wife knew her well enough to know, that indeed, she never discussed it with anyone, she just told the superintendent, ‘I’m moving. Take all the stuff and throw it in the incinerator.’ She didn’t think it was worth anything."
When asked how much research he did on the statements made by Luciano, Hammer claimed, "I did a lot of research. Some stuff I knew because at the time I was writing the series on organized crime for Playboy. So it meshed. If I could check what Luciano said, if I would find something in Gosch’s notes on Luciano where he said something that was different from what my research had shown, my tendency was – I knew this guy did it. The research you were dealing with was people like Nick Gage and Nick Pileggi and all these guys who thought of themselves as Mafia experts because they took whatever anybody they knew said, but they were not on the inside and they were fed a lot of crap like everybody else. I remember times having dinner with some of these people and they would tell me things I knew was a lot of crap because they want to put themselves in a good light. Frequently it was, you know, ‘say anything you want to, just spell my name right.’"
AM.com: Were you and Nick Gage friends?
AM.com: Are you still friends?
AM.com: That basically ended with that article…
Hammer: That’s right.
AM.com: Is he still around? He isn’t doing any crime writing.
Hammer: I think he’s out in Hollywood.
In summing up his involvement with The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano Hammer states, "It’s in my past and I don’t think about it any more. It’s optioned for a movie so at some point I may have to think about it again, but I’ve gone beyond all that stuff. I don’t give a hoot. I don’t care about this."
When asked if other than doing those initial interviews, did Gosch do anything else as far as research, Hammer replied, "As far as I know, he wrote a screenplay with somebody – I don’t know who – based on his conversation with Luciano. That was the Genesis of the whole thing. He had met Luciano and here he was a Hollywood guy living in Spain and Luciano asked him to do this so he worked with Luciano on developing a screenplay and then the boys from New York came in and said ‘there’s not going to be a movie about you Charlie.’ So the screenplay, which I’ll tell you I saw it, it never could have been made into a movie, it was so bad, but when he [Luciano] was told he couldn’t make it that’s when he came to this agreement with Gosch. There was a piece of paper, a signed piece of paper, about what would be covered and Gosch would do his biography and nothing would be done with it until 10 years after Luciano’s death, because he was going to say things about people who were his friends."
AM.com: Based on what you saw of the notes, was there anything kept out of the book?
Hammer: No. Nothing I kept out of the book.
AM.com: Anything else you would like to tell us about Gosch?
Hammer: The less I say about him the better.
Nicholas Gage launched the public attack on The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano in his December 17, 1974 article, which appeared on the front page of the New York Times.
Among the people Gage interviewed was Moses Polakoff, one of Luciano’s attorneys at his 1936 trial for compulsory prostitution. Gage wrote that the aging attorney "read the 65-page section of the book describing events in which he was directly involved and said that ‘not 5 per cent of the accounts bear any resemblance to reality.’"
One of the errors Polakoff pointed out was that the book described attorney Francis W. H. Adams as participating in Luciano’s defense. Richard Hammer claimed his own research "indicated that Adams was one of the trial lawyers." When Gage interviewed Adams, who at one time served as New York City Police Commissioner, he claimed he was not at the trial, he was only involved in the appeal. "I came in later. I never met Luciano in my life," Adams admitted.
Another error Polakoff discovered was the book stated that after Luciano’s arraignment in New York in April 1936, he "quickly posted" bail and returned to his Waldorf Towers apartment where he met with Polakoff and several key New York underworld figures. Polakoff told Gage, "The bond was never posted. At any rate, no such meeting took place. I was never at his Waldorf apartment."
In response to Polakoff’s remarks, Hammer gave Gage two statements. First, "if he didn’t make bail, it raises a major question about this section of the book." Later, Hammer said, "Luciano was very insistent [to Gosch] that he got out. Maybe he got out secretly at night. He was a powerful man and anything was possible in those days."
Another discrepancy involved Luciano’s nickname, "Lucky." In The Last Testament… Luciano claims he got the nickname after surviving a brutal beating on Staten Island in October 1929. However, Gage writes that a New York Times article dated October 18, 1929, reporting the incident, begins, "Charles (Lucky) Luciano…," dispelling that version of the nickname. If Gage looked more closely he would have seen that it actually read, "Charles (Lucky) Luciania…" While this was an obvious misspelling, the New York Times, up through his prostitution trial, referred to him as "Charles (Lucky Luciano) Lucania." When AM.com questioned Richard Hammer about this matter, he replied that Luciano gave three different stories about his nickname and they picked one and went with it. That being said, it should be pointed out that over the years Luciano also gave three versions of what happened that October night.
Despite Gage’s hoopla over the book he never really implies in the article where the fault lies. Did Gosch make the whole thing up, or did Luciano lie and embellish his story? Up to this point in the article Hammer and Roger Donald, of Little, Brown and Co. the publisher, had agreed that "confused recollections are inevitable when a man looks back on his life in his old age as Mr. Luciano did."
One discrepancy that Gage puts full responsibility on Gosch is where Luciano is commenting on a casino in the Bahamas that Meyer Lansky had an interest in. However, the casino in question didn’t open until January 1964, two years after Luciano’s death. Of this last revelation regarding the casino, Hammer’s response was, "If Gosch made that bit up, I don’t think there’s much else that he did. I think the rest of the book hangs. It may be self-serving and it may be inaccurate in parts, but it’s Luciano’s story as he told it." In our interview, in retrospect, Hammer now states that gambling in the Caribbean had been going on for years and perhaps Luciano was referring to a different casino.
One of the items in the Gage article that AmericanMafia.com questions is a confirmation by authors Peter Maas and Hank Messick that "most of the book’s information on the Mafia has already appeared in previous books…" If this were the case then why such a wide disparity in the reporting of so many events?
The immediate fallout from the Nicholas Gage article was that the New American Library, which agreed to pay $800,000 to publish the paperback edition of the book, suspended its printing plans. The article also caused embarrassment for the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Playboy Book Club, both of which had made The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano one of its "main selections."
On December 26, 1974 Little, Brown and Company announced that they were going ahead with their plans to publish the book claiming it had "received all the available data on which the manuscript was based." Simultaneously with this decision, the Book-of-the-Month Club made The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano its February 1975 selection, even though the judges who made it their choice "were now embarrassed by their vote."
Edward E. Fitzgerald, president of the club, stated in a New York Times article, "There was…never any question as to the manuscript’s authenticity. There may be inaccuracies in the book, but there has been no challenge to the basic fact that it is indeed based on meetings and conversations with Luciano."
Capitalizing on the new interest in Lucky Luciano the Citadel Press in 1975 re-released Hickman Powell’s Ninety Times Guilty. First published in 1939 the book, now called Lucky Luciano: His Amazing Trial and Wild Witnesses, focused on the 1936 court case.
The following year Sphere Books Ltd. of Great Britain released Lucky Luciano: The Man Who Modernised the Mafia. The author, Tony Scaduto, was a former features writer for the New York Post. He has written biographies on the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra. Despite the fact Scaduto claims, "most of my adult life has been devoted to an investigation and exploration of the Honored Society, the Mafia," the Luciano piece seems to be his only book on the subject of organized crime.
Scaduto was not as diplomatic as Gage in his assessment of The Last Testament… book, or of Martin Gosch for that matter. Referring to Gosch’s effort as a "piece of humbug," he claims the entire book is "fraudulent." While attacking one point, Scaduto calls Gosch’s statements, "Balderdash, bullshit and garbage." It should be noted that Scaduto does not acknowledge Gosch’s co-author, Richard Hammer, once throughout his diatribe. AM.com has no idea why he made this omission.
Dedicating a 12-page appendix to deride the book’s authenticity, Scaduto writes:
"Now that Gosch has been dead for almost two years it may seem rather unfair and callous to attack his integrity since he can no longer defend himself. But the fact is that Gosch’s book is such a complete fantasy that it would have come under attack were he still alive."
Scaduto claims, "I have found, without exaggeration, at least fifty major errors in Gosch’s book." After expounding on just a few of them – some hypothetical – he boasts, "I could go on for another fifty pages or more, but space does not permit (nor does the queasy feeling the stench of this book leaves in my stomach)." He then "ticks off" several other errors, five to be precise, some of which were already questioned by Gage.
One of the "errors" pointed out by Scaduto, which was mentioned earlier by Gage and Moses Polakoff, was Luciano’s claims, through Gosch, that he had meetings at his Waldorf Towers apartment after his arraignment in April 1936. He even claims to have had "sexual intercourse" with his girlfriend, Gay Orlova. They point out Luciano never posted bond and remained in jail the whole time. Richard Hammer defends this by claiming, "Maybe he got out secretly at night. He was a powerful man, and anything was possible in those days."
While that may seem like a lame explanation to many, it should be noted that this is not unique. In the mid-1920s Chicago’s Terry Druggan and Frankie Lake, as federal prisoners, were said to have "spent about as much time outside the Cook County jail as they did inside," and Mahoning Valley mobster S. Joseph "Sandy" Naples also accomplished the same feat in 1958. Naples was actually photographed arriving back at the jail after a sexual tryst with his girlfriend. Luciano was far wealthier and influential than either of these men.
Despite all of Scaduto’s allegations against Gosch, and after trashing him on numerous occasions for his lack of journalistic intelligence and research skills (none of which Gosch claimed to have), Scaduto practically destroys his own credibility by making the colossal blunder of acknowledging the "Night of Sicilian Vespers:"
"Throughout the remainder of that day [September 10, 1931] and over the next day, approximately forty Maranzano men in the New York area and in several other cities were murdered in what has come to be known in Mafia circles as The Night of the Sicilian Vespers."
Since Scaduto makes himself out to be "devoted to investigation and exploration of the Honored Society," AmericanMafia.com wonders if Scaduto, forced by his own pride, was compelled to admit the "Night of Sicilian Vespers" really took place for the sole reason that Gosch/Luciano denied it!
Scaduto, after claiming to "know Luciano well" and without offering any information to back up his claims, writes, "during his teens and his twenties, when he was hustling on New York streets, and after his formal induction into the Mafia at the start of Prohibition, Luciano killed at least 20 men…"
Another sore spot Scaduto leaves with AM.com is his criticism of Hickman Powell’s book. He states Ninety Times Guilty was one of "Dewey’s approved books," meaning that Powell placated Dewey by making the book out as though it was written to kiss Dewey’s ass. Yet Scaduto takes large portions of Powell’s work – word for word – and includes it in his book without crediting Powell.
In his own attempt to discredit one of Dewey’s witnesses, Scaduto claims "Joe Bendix, as an outsider, not a member of the Mafia, could never have held those conversations with Luciano," as Bendix had testified to during the 1936 trial. To back up his point, Scaduto relates an incident from Joseph Valachi when he went to see Vito Genovese about placing slot machines in the Bronx. When Valachi arrived, Luciano happened to be there. Valachi and Luciano speak, but only through Genovese as if the other wasn’t there. Scaduto called this "Mafia protocol," that soldiers could not discuss Mafia business directly "with the head of the family."
However, a few chapters earlier, and within the same year, 1935, Scaduto now quotes Valachi where he has walked into a restaurant in which Dutch Schultz has just left a table with Luciano and others. This was during the time the Dutchman wanted to kill Tom Dewey. Luciano invites Valachi to sit at the table and then complains in front of him, "All the Dutchman can talk about is Tom Dewey this and Tom Dewey that." Scaduto used whatever he could to bolster his points even if the information contradicted itself later on.
Scaduto makes several errors when he discusses Johnny Torrio and events taking place in Chicago – not an uncommon error for mob writers when they leave their area of focus.
Finally, if you believe Scaduto’s account, you have to believe that Dewey and all his people were liars who framed Luciano and put him away for 30 to 50 years unjustly. None of the information from Hickman Powell’s book that would exonerate Dewey from Scaduto’s allegations was presented. But then, of course, Powell was on the "Dewey approved" list.
In the end Scaduto, Gage, as well as many others have brought up legitimate points to challenge The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano. Jerry Capeci once told me that he and his old sidekick Andy had identified at least 50 mistakes in the book. The question remains, did Luciano provide Gosch with a story to inflate his own ego and embellish his image for decades to come? Or did Gosch completely produce a fraudulent story on his own?
In forming your opinion, consider this. Gosch said he waited ten years to publish the book because of his agreement with Luciano. If this is false, and Luciano never dictated the notes to him, then it must have taken Gosch ten years to write this himself. If Gosch did write this himself, then why did he need Richard Hammer? Why would he share the profits of his book with anyone if he had written it himself?
In Hickman Powell’s book, he details how Tom Dewey ripped Luciano apart when the mobster decided to take the witness stand in his own defense. Dewey pointed out lies, time and again, that Luciano had told over the years. Coupled with the fact that Luciano was pissed off because "the boys" from New York had nixed his movie deal AM.com wonders how anyone could be surprised that Luciano told the tale to Gosch the way that he did.
AmericanMafia.com feels that, although the book has a great deal of mistakes and embellished stories to feed Luciano’s ego, Gosch did not fabricate the tale and it is based on what Luciano told him. In short, it’s a search for the truth. Errors have been documented and more will eventually become known, but what’s left, and there are documented proofs, is a very unique story of one of America’s most notorious crime bosses – and liars.
Below are some opinions from other mob researchers:
Thom L. Jones – Contributor to BostonMafia.com – "My attitude toward it is one of cynical ambivalence. There are so many things that don’t ring true. So does this mean the book is a myth? I really don't know. Did Luciano give Gosch the skinny and then did Gosch and Hammer twist it around to make the book more ‘readable?’ That's possible. Hammer would have had access to plenty of police intelligence reports and information from his contacts. The two could have blended some facts, some half-facts and some ‘interpreted’ facts to suit the framework of their story.
"A number of mistakes doesn't necessarily make the whole book a fabrication. But I think it casts doubt. From what I have seen, Gosch was a pretty insignificant player in Hollywood. Perhaps he saw this as a way to get into the big time. But then he died before the book was published. At the end of the day, the book is one of three things: rubbish, a truthful account, or a mixture of fact and fiction, leaning heavily on the fiction.
"The third one is my choice."
Nelson – Host of NewYorkMafia.com – "I'm sure there is truth in The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, but I just don't think we’ll really be certain where it begins and ends. For me, I have problems believing it in the introduction before even reaching the first page of the book. An unsigned note is sent from America and hand-delivered to Luciano saying it is a bad time to do the movie? Luciano decides to give him the whole story anyway, he just has to wait ten years after his death to tell it? Give me a break.
"Gosch certainly talked with Luciano, but this book, with the mistakes, has to be at least a collaboration of whatever Luciano did say along with other sources. Gosch never had the chance, for whatever reason, to make a movie based on Luciano's life. I think this is his movie - BASED ON A TRUE STORY - in print.
"Tony Scaduto must have been well along the way to completing his book when The Last Testament… came out. This would explain the appendix blasting the book and his outrage, which must have been like Howard Hughes’ reaction to Clifford Irving’s 1971 alleged ‘authorized’ biography of him. Irving’s fraud landed him in a federal prison. But of course Hughes was still alive."
Charles Molino – The Youngstown Moose – "I think Luciano skirted a lot of issues, told Gosch the story in a self serving manner, and embellished it along the way."
It took nearly six and a half years, but the conviction of Anthony Joseph Zerilli on August 19 may have been the final nail in the coffin for the Detroit Mafia.
It was the eve of the Ides of March 1996. While most of America was glued to their television sets enjoying March Madness there was another type of elation going on in Detroit. The FBI indicted Motor City Mafia boss Jack William Tocco and 16 members of his organization including underboss Anthony Zerilli and capos Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone, Vito William "Billy Jack" Giacalone, Anthony Joseph Corrado and Anthony Joseph Tocco.
In announcing the 57-page indictment Joseph Martinolich, Jr., the special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office, stated, "You name it, we believe that the organized crime family here in Detroit tried to do it. We believe we’ve driven a stake through the heart of La Cosa Nostra." There were 29 alleged "made members" of the Detroit Mafia at the time of the indictment.
Less impressed with the FBI’s effort was lawyer William Buffalino II, a relative of one-time Pittston crime boss Russel Buffalino. Attorney Buffalino, who represented several of the mobsters at their arraignment, used his best Bruce Cutler imitation in claiming the indictment "amounts to a bunch of muck and they hope some of it sticks. This is 57 pages of baloney. These people are all respectable, upstanding citizens. Some are school kids, some are businessmen, some are retirees."
Inside the government’s 57 pages of lunchmeat were 25 counts with conspiracy charges dating back to the 1960s. Keith Corbett, head of the US Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force in Detroit, would prosecute the indictments through to the bitter end. He said the charges show "the general ways in which they generated income over the [past] 30 years."
Most of the charges "focused on loan-sharking and extortion of area bookies and illegal operators," the Detroit Free Press reported. Although no murders were mentioned in the charges there were several acts of violence including alleged murder plots.
It would be nearly two years before the trials got underway. Instead of one huge trial, US District Judge John Corbett O’Meara ordered three separate ones. In the first trail, scheduled to begin on January 27, 1998, nine of the defendants would be tried. Before the trial date two would plead guilty and two would be severed from the case due to ill health – one of whom was Zerilli.
One of those pleading guilty was Vito "Billy Jack" Giacalone. The 74 year-old’s guilty plea called for him to admit that a Detroit Mafia existed and that he was part of it.
Although Giacalone would not be required to cooperate with the prosecution, or testify against the other defendants, this was still a major victory for the government. The Free Press reported, "That stipulation undercuts years of claims by reputed gangsters and their attorneys that there was no active Detroit mob, and that federal agents were wasting time and money chasing tired old men, ghosts or movieland myths."
The governments’ celebration was short-lived as Judge O’Meara ruled that a key prosecution witness – former Lucchese Family acting boss Alfonse D’Arco, now government witness – would not be allowed to take the stand because his testimony would "be profoundly prejudicial."
A devastated Keith Corbett claimed the decision got "our legs cut out from under us." Corbett, in his opening statement on February 9, told jurors that D’Arco would "describe Mafia initiation rites, explain how crime families are organized and outline rules that ‘made members’ must follow." In addition, the jury was told that D’Arco would "detail how mob bosses like Jack W. Tocco are isolated from Mafia foot-soldiers to protect them from criminal charges."
O’Meara didn’t stop with D’Arco. He also disallowed three other government witnesses – Ron Fino of Buffalo; Frank "Goo" Suppa, another former Lucchese Family member; and Frank Culloto, a former member of the Chicago Outfit.
The Detroit News reported, "Defense attorneys and their clients were visibly jubilant after O’Meara’s decision" Although under gag order not to discuss the case, Jack Tocco’s lawyer, David Griem, bragged that he wanted a shot at D’Arco. "The government has spent $1.6 million supporting him and his family and they were going to bring him to Detroit to testify at a gambling trial. Another fine example of tax dollars at work."
O’Meara had to then postpone the trial to allow defense attorneys time to prepare for the prosecution’s new witness line-up.
On February 18 the government’s first witness was Angelo Polizzi, the son of Detroit Family member Michael Polizzi, who died in December 1997. Angelo Polizzi told the jury that his father admitted to him that he was a member of the Detroit Mafia and that Jack Tocco was the boss. Later, Angelo’s mother, Angeline Polizzi, would be called by defense attorneys to refute parts of her son’s testimony.
The Detroit News reported that Angelo Polizzi, a computer salesperson in Metro Detroit, "told jurors that his dad said the family would receive mob money after his father went to prison for his role in a scheme to get a hidden interest in a Nevada casino. The money was a reward for not informing on co-conspirators." His mother, who later appeared as a defense witness, disputed the story claiming the family never received any money.
The government’s best witnesses were the defendants themselves – captured on 70 hours worth of tape. The FBI had bugged the automobiles of Nove Tocco, a second cousin of the mob boss, and Paul Corrado, the nephew of capo Anthony Corrado. The tapes played for the jury revealed a pair of bungling hoods who got lost on several occasions while pursuing collection victims. Extortion victims called to testify admitted that the mobsters didn’t scare them.
"Nobody ever gets hurt," said James Ali a gambler and former bar owner. "This is the Detroit mob – not New York City."
Another bookie, Johnny Johns said Tocco and Corrado approached him several times about paying them a percentage of his business to which he refused. At first, Johns claimed, he wasn’t going to testify, but it wasn’t because he was scared.
"My wife’s afraid something might happen," Johns said, "but she worries about everything."
The trial at times took on a light-hearted atmosphere between the bumbling mobsters on tape and the testimony of easygoing witnesses. On April 8 Judge O’Meara cancelled court for the afternoon so Anthony Corrado’s attorney William B. Daniel could attend the Detroit Tiger’s home opener.
When the government completed its case the defense portion of the trial began and was expected to take a week. It lasted less than two days. The judge then gave both sides a week to prepare for closing arguments. The government relied on the tape recordings of Nove Tocco and Paul Corrado and their referral to Jack Tocco as the boss to support their case. The defense hitched their wagon to the same conversations with Jack Tocco’s lawyer David Griem calling the pair criminal "wannabe’s."
On April 29, 1998 the jury came back with their verdicts. From the Detroit News:
Jack W. Tocco, 72, Grosse Pointe Park
Anthony Corrado, 63, Clinton Township
Anthony Joseph Tocco, 66, Grosse Pointe Park
Paul Corrado, 30, Clinton Township
Nove Tocco, 50, Clinton Township
Next week: The Detroit Mafia implodes after betrayal by one of its members, and the trial and verdict of Anthony Zerilli.
Boston – On August 23 Michael Boudin, the Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, announced that no disciplinary action will be taken against US District Judge Edward F. Harrington following his public apology for his letter to US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro requesting that he go lightly in his sentencing of "Dishonest John" Connolly. In Harrington’s written admission he stated, "Upon reflection, I did commit a clear violation. For this act, I am exceedingly sorry and sincerely apologize to the Judicial Council and to my fellow judges in the First Circuit." Meanwhile, famed Harvard University Law professor Alan Dershowitz continues to hammer away that the disgraced former FBI agent is hiding something. "I ask the question why are so many good people getting behind this corruptor of justice. I think because they’re afraid of him." J. M. Lawrence of the Boston Herald writes, "Dershowitz speculated that Connolly holds many secrets about the government and might divulge them if Tauro hands him a harsh sentence." Dershowitz claims, "The only way he’ll talk is if he gets a stiff sentence. He more than any person who is in the custody of the United States knows the full extent of Boston corruption." Tauro is scheduled to sentence Connolly on September 16.
Cleveland – We have a little tidbit for those of you who have read Mob Nemesis. The book recounts the incredible career of former FBI agent Joseph Griffin, whose work helped put away dozens of organized crime figures in Buffalo and Cleveland. Griffin was the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Cleveland FBI office when Angelo Lonardo flipped. Lonardo, who had been convicted and sent to prison for 100-plus years, was the "acting" boss of the Cleveland Family and at the time was the highest-ranking mobster ever to become a government witness. The book is a perfect compliment to Rick Porrello’s To Kill the Irishman and James Neff’s Mobbed Up in that it gives a behind the scenes look to the bureaus investigative efforts into the Cleveland Mafia, and the Teamsters under Jackie Presser. While reading Mob Nemesis, AmericanMafia.com was confused by the fact that Griffin didn’t discuss the fact that Danny Greene was an FBI informant. It was reported in the newspapers, in several Cleveland Magazine articles, and in both the Neff and Porrello books, as well as in The Informant Files, by Robert James. Griffin, retired from the FBI and now the CEO of an investigative and consulting firm in Chicago, was kind enough to let AM.com know that because the bureau never officially identified Greene as an informant he was not allowed to discuss it in his book. He told us the FBI reviewed the material in the book before it was published. AM.com thanks Joe Griffin for the phone call and the explanation.
Philadelphia – William "Dust Bunny" Rinick was arraigned on August 22 after his recent indictment on eleven federal drug counts. Rinick, who has been held without bond since May for the murder of Adam Finelli, pled not guilty to the charges. When the trial date arrives, now scheduled for December, there will be two government witnesses testifying against Rinick and his co-defendant, Joseph Viola – Michael Focoso, who was a drug ring partner of the two men and with Rinick when he killed Finelli; and Samuel A. Pollino a former drug customer of Rinick who later helped the "Dust Bunny" distribute cocaine. Pollino’s role was revealed by prosecutors during Rinick’s arraignment. Kitty Caparella of the Philadelphia Daily News reported that, "Pollino made six buys of cocaine…from Rinick with money supplied by the state attorney general’s office." It was this marked money that was recovered from Rinick on December 6 when he was discovered in the home of Philadelphia Family boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino. Authorities just recently revealed that during the raid an agent asked the young daughter of Merlino, "Where’s Billy hiding?" The girl ratted him out, "There he is," pointing to the one-legged Rinick sharing space with the dust bunnies under her bed. For his cooperation Pollino was reported to be getting ten years’ probation. Caparella also disclosed some information about Rinick’s settlement with SEPTA, the transit agency, which was responsible for Rinick losing his leg. She writes, "Despite claims of a $4 million settlement, Rinick received only about $100,000 and paid nearly half for legal expenses, according to a source familiar with the case." Meanwhile, George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "Focoso, who like Rinick has been denied bail, is currently being held in the protected-witness section of an undisclosed prison."
Tampa – Local mob expert Scott Deitche supplied us with the following chuckle from the St. Petersburg Times. Monica Sierra, a 35 year-old candidate for Hillsborough circuit judge, held a campaign kickoff reception this past June at the Tampa Garden Center. She included on the invitation the names of 160 supporters. On the list was Vincent LoScalzo, the reputed head of the Trafficante Family. Sierra was quick to go on the defensive stating, "There’s going to be a lot of people that support me that I don’t know." Sierra’s claim that she never took campaign money from the mobster was confirmed after a check of her campaign contribution records was made. She told reporters, "I’m reviewing everything more closely now."
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