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· Sadness Across the Nation
Scranton Story…continued
· Traficant’s Upcoming Trial
· This Week in Mob History

LAST ISSUE 9-17-01


Sadness Across the Nation

     The country is still reeling in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack on New York City and Washington DC. AmericanMafia.com salutes the brave fire fighters and police officers that gave their lives in the rescue effort at the World Trade Center. We also offer our condolences to all the citizens nationwide who suffered loses.

     The day following the attacks there was a round of finger pointing at airport security around the country. Singled out was Boston’s Logan Airport from where two of the flights took off. It should be noted that these hijackers were not armed with automatic weapons. So in that vein there was no security breach. Sadly, where there is a will; there is a way. This terrorist plot was brilliantly thought out and carried out with monumental fatal results.

     The fact that no one believes America will be the same anymore may be the most crushing result of this terrorism after all – and most likely what our attackers were trying to achieve.

     We as a country have no choice but to retaliate if Osama Bin Ladin, who is believed to be behind the attacks, is not turned over to us by his protectors. Otherwise these incidents are not going to stop. Yet I cringe when I think of what the response to our retaliation could lead to. Anywhere large groups of people gather could possibly be the target of these killers who are willing to die to carry out their mayhem.

     These thoughts come to mind when I ponder what could happen:

  1. One of the things I have always feared is an attack on one of our sporting events. Baseball and football stadiums offer a large population target.
  2. How do we keep these attackers away from our smaller airports? What is to keep a terrorist from purchasing or hiring out a small plane, loading it with explosives and attacking any target they desire?
  3. Driving home after teaching on the Friday after the attack I noticed a Ryder rental truck parked off the exit ramp under the freeway I had just traveled. Thinking back to what Timothy McVeigh did, how would we prevent someone from blowing up a freeway overpass during a rush hour?
  4. Working as a security guard at two major downtown Cleveland office buildings I am acutely aware of how easy it would be to bring guns and explosives into each building. How would we stop it? You would have to search every brief case, purse and package being brought into the building by every tenant and visitor. We know from events in Israel that these fanatics will strap bombs on their bodies. What then? Strip search everyone that enters? Purchase expensive metal detectors and explosive sniffing dogs?
  5. Some people have even suggested placing the Arab population in internment camps, much like what we did with the Japanese during World War II. Others argue we should return to isolationism, stop all the foreign aid and spend all our money at home on our own needs and defense.

     These and other questions will need to be answered as America seeks to survive in this new century.

Scranton Story…continued     ^TOP

     Last week AmericanMafia.com announced it had received a copy of attorney David Kurtz’s civil RICO complaint against Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse. This week we take a look at Kurtz’s allegations involving former Judge Frank Eagen.

     Kurtz claims that as rumors began to circulate around the county courthouse about Barrasse’s alleged drug use they were brought to his attention by Eagen. Kurtz relates, "Barrasse snapped at the Judge to mind his own business." With Eagen up for retention in the November, 1997 election Kurtz contends, "Barrasse conceived of the plan to have Eagen removed as the judge and have himself appointed or elected at the next election to fill the vacancy as judge and provide himself with a new venue to protect himself and the illegal drug enterprise."

     Kurtz further states that, "Barrasse convened a secret county-wide investigating grand jury and began leaking to the media that Eagen was a target of the investigation." Due to this unflattering information being released, Kurtz said, "The press became so negative regarding the hints from the district attorney’s office of kick-backs and extortion involving estates being ruled upon by Judge Eagen, that he was not retained by the voters at the election."

     The complaint alleges that in April 1998 prosecutor Barrasse had no evidence with which to charge Eagen with a crime. He then turned the matter over to the Attorney General’s Office and proceeded to provide them with "false statements and perjured testimony from his own witnesses and employees in the District Attorney’s Office…to keep Eagen off the Bench and preserve his opening." Kurtz states that included in these documents were false statements from five assistant district attorneys.

     Based on this information Eagen was eventually charged with 13 counts of extortion, bribery and obstruction of justice. Eagen went to trial in October 1999. He was acquitted of all charges except one count of obstruction, a misdemeanor, for allegedly asking too many questions after he realized he had been targeted.

     One Scranton area crime watcher told AM.com, "Nobody believes Frank Eagen had anything to do with the swindle of these estates. [He] just used bad judgement in associating with some slimy characters. Eagen has the reputation of a straight shooter, even among his enemies. Again, Frank reportedly netted a whopping $1,500 from this alleged scam. He believed it was all gifts and political contributions, he did not know it was estate money. He gave the gifts back before he got in trouble. The others [involved in the case] got $250,000 and $190,000. Eagen lost on appeal. He lost his license, pension, the whole works."

     In the meantime, AM.com spoke to attorney David Kurtz this week. Kurtz was captain of the 1994 United States Bobsled Team. In 1998 he managed the team. In July 1986 Kurtz helped fill in as attorney for Salvatore Salamone during the famous "Pizza Connection" drug trial after Robert Fogelnest suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of the trial.

     Kurtz told AM.com that currently there are three federal investigating grand juries, two in Harrisburg and one in Williamsburg looking at Barrasse and conditions in the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre region. Kurtz states, "I think you will see in October a number of indictments."

     When asked about what kind of danger he was in Kurtz replied, "I’m not concerned about direct retaliation, but I am lying low."

Next week: Al Carpinet, Jr. the alleged prostitution kingpin.

Traficant’s Upcoming Trial     ^TOP

     Youngstown / Warren Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. is heading back to trial again, his third. Charged this past May in a ten-count indictment the flamboyant congressman is looking at a February 2002 trial date.

     It’s no secret that AmericanMafia.com host Rick Porrello and I are co-authoring a book on the history of organized crime in the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania. In July I attended a discovery hearing for Traficant in Cleveland. It was the first time I had actually seen the congressman in person. My first impression was that it was not Traficant, but rather an actor playing him. Later, after I passed him in the court hallway, I chuckled to myself as he said to me, "How ya doin’, guy?"

     Traficant, as many recall, was acquitted in 1983 of accepting bribes from Youngstown mobsters while running for sheriff in 1980. During that trial, as in his upcoming one, Traficant chose to represent himself. After his acquittal he boasted that he was "the only person in American history to win a RICO case" brought against them by the Justice Department.

     In 1986 Traficant, now the Democratic Representative from Ohio District 17, was back in court. This time it was a civil IRS case involving his not paying taxes on the alleged money he received from mobsters. Again representing himself, Traficant lost in a decision made by the judge and was ordered to pay back taxes along with penalties and interest.

     One of the IRS attorneys that prosecuted that case was Craig S. Morford. For the past three years Morford, in his new role as assistant United States attorney, has put away what many hope will be the last vestige of mob control in the Mahoning Valley along with a host of crooked judges, lawyers and public officials.

     At the discovery hearing Traficant stood and pointed his finger at Morford claiming "I want you" in the upcoming trial. In the hallway afterward the congressman spouted off, to no one in general; "They are undefeated. This may be the finest group of U.S. Attorney’s in America and I’m looking forward to challenging the undefeated Justice Department attorneys in Cleveland." Since then Traficant has done everything imaginable, and those who know the congressman know what an imagination he has, to remove Morford from the case.

     The trial has all the makings of a good vs. evil morality play. Craig Morford is one of the most decent people I have ever met and has a sterling reputation as a prosecutor. And Traficant…well, use your own imagination.

     More to come as the trial approaches.

This Week in Mob History     ^TOP

September 24, 1983 – Philip Amari, according to Organized Crime: 25 Years After Valachi, was the one-time boss of the DeCavalcante Family in New Jersey. No one is sure exactly when he took over the leadership, the previous boss, Gaspar D’Amico was wounded and fled the country in 1937. In May 1957 Amari stepped down from the family leadership for an "extended residence" in Italy leaving the reigns to Nicholas Delmore. Amari died in Los Angeles of natural causes.

September 24, 1976 – Frank Pircio was the first innocent victim of Cleveland’s Bombing War during the mid-1970s. The intended victim, Allie Calabrese, had parked his Lincoln Continental in Pircio’s driveway the night before. When Pircio went to move it in the morning he was killed instantly by the explosion.

September 24, 1991 – Robert A. Donati, a victim of Boston’s mob war, was found in the trunk of his Cadillac. Believed to be tied to the "renegade faction," Donati had been beaten to a pulp and had his throat slashed. Years later it would be revealed that Donato was an informant for the state police. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_9-11-00.html

September 25, 1950 – William Drury was a former "acting police captain" in the Chicago police department. Drury had been furnishing information on the Chicago Outfit’s gambling operations to the Kefauver Committee. Two hours before the killing Drury and his lawyer had met with an investigator from the committee. When Drury arrived home, he backed his car into his garage just before he was hit by four shotgun blasts and a bullet from a .45. Discovered by his wife, Drury died in Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago a few hours later.

September 25, 1950 – Marvin J. Bas, an attorney and close friend of Chicago Crime Commissioner Virgil Peterson, was gathering information on the Chicago Outfit’s gambling syndicate for the Kefauver Committee. Bas was cut down by two "nattily clad gunmen" on Chicago’s near West Side. An eyewitness said the gunmen chased Bas up Orchard Street, shot him, and then fired into him after he fell.

September 25, 1959 – Anthony "Little Augie Pisano" Carfano and Janice Drake, were found dead in the front seat of "Little Augie’s" Cadillac in Jackson Heights, in the Queens’ section of New York City. Mrs. Drake had been shot once in the neck and was slumped against the passenger side door. Carfano shot once in the neck and once in the left temple, had fallen over to his right with his head resting on Drake’s lap. Carfano, whose life of crime dated back to the Prohibition years when he was a friend and associate of Al Capone, was believed to have been murdered for failing to come to a conference called by Vito Genovese during his take over of the family. The killer was alleged to have been Anthony Mirra. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_10-18-99.html

September 25, 1971 – Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio, one of the Chicago Outfit’s most feared hitmen, died at the age of 59 of an apparent heart attack while walking in the yard at the federal prison in Marion, Illinois. Born in Yonkers, New York, Alderisio moved to Chicago as a child. In his teens he moved to Milwaukee, became a boxer and earned the nickname "Milwaukee Phil." Described as a "millionaire mobster," Alderisio was serving time for extortion and bank fraud.

September 27, 1955 – Michael DeStefano was the brother of sadistic Chicago killer "Mad Sam" DeStefano. According to William Roemer, Michael had developed a drug habit and sources said Sam Giancana wanted him out of the way. "Sam carried out the murder himself by stabbing his brother to death. He then stripped the body and washed it with soap and water to cleanse his brother’s soul." However, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that DeStefano was shot five times with a .32 caliber weapon. The newspaper speculated that the murderer had a personal motive because DeStefano was not shot in the head and police were notified within hours of the killing before the body had a chance to decompose. He was found in the trunk of his car, on a quilted comforter, half a block from his home. See my column http://www.americanmafia.com/Allan_May_5-10-99.html

September 30, 1935 – Joseph Amberg and Morris Kessler were killed by members of Murder, Inc. Joey Amberg, a Russian immigrant, and his brother, Louis "Pretty" Amberg, led a gang in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn that specialized in robbery and extortion. The Ambergs may have incurred the wrath of the Murder, Inc. killers after Hy Kazner, a gang member, disappeared after owing the brothers money. Kessler, or Keossler, was a driver for Joey. The two men were murdered in a garage on Blake Street in Brooklyn.

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com


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