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· Short Takes
Trials and Tribulations



Editor’s Note: AmericanMafia.com is taking the week off. On September 16 we will have the second part of our Detroit mob piece and begin a two part series on Peter Gotti.

Short Takes

New York – The long awaited sentence for Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano was finally handed down last Friday. The one-time Gambino Family underboss, who became a turncoat and served five years for his participation in 19 murders after ratting out the late John Gotti, was given the maximum sentence possible, 20 years, and fined $100,000. Gravano wisecracked to his court appointed attorney Anthony L. Ricco, "It’s a good thing she couldn’t give me more than 20 years." Of the fine he said, "Where does she think I’m going to get that." More next week.

Providence – On Friday, May 7 the long career of Providence Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci came to an end when US District Judge Ernest C. Torres sentenced him to five years and four months in prison. Cianci, the longest serving big city mayor in the United States, was convicted on June 24 on one count of corruption out of 29 charges brought against him. Torres called the former mayor a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." In handing down the punishment Torres told Cianci, "There appears to be two very different Buddy Ciancis that come across here." The first is "one of the most talented political figures Rhode Island has ever seen," the other, a man who presided over an administration "rife" with corruption. "My job is to sentence the second Buddy Cianci, because the first Buddy Cianci wouldn’t be here." In addition to the prison term the former mayor was fined $100,000. The 61 year-old Cianci has 90 days before he has to report to prison. Cianci’s two co-defendants were also sentenced. Frank E. Corrente got 63 months and a $75,000 fine; Richard Autiello was handed 46 months and fined $50,000.

Trials and Tribulations      

AmericanMafia.com attempts to keep its audience advised of ongoing legal matters in the world of organized crime. New entries and addition to existing information will appear in RED.


September 9, 2002 – Boston – The racketeering trial of Robert Luisi, Jr. is scheduled to get underway before US District Court Judge Reginald C. Lindsay. Luisi at one time had a plea agreement which called for him to testify against Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino last year. On December 27, 2001 Luisi withdrew the plea.

September 9, 2002 – Camden – The trial of Daniel M. Daidone is scheduled to begin. He is charged with corruption involving disgraced mayor Milton Milan. Daidone answered to former Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale, who is expected to testify. The federal trial will be in the courtroom of US District Judge Joseph H. Rodriquez.

September 17, 2002 – Boston – Retired state trooper Richard J. Schneiderman goes on trial on charges that he hampered the FBI’s search for James "Whitey" Bulger by letting Bulger family members know that the FBI had requested pen registers on their telephones. The trial was originally scheduled for January 28, then rescheduled for June 24. AM.com thanks J. M. Lawrence for this update.

September 2002 – Hackensack, NJ – The racketeering trial of Danny Provenzano is "tentatively" scheduled to get underway. The great-nephew of Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano is charged with extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars through fear, intimidation and violence.

November 12, 2002 – Cleveland – Richard E. Detore goes to trial on one count of conspiring to violate a federal bribery statute involving United States Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. This was rescheduled from July 29, 2002.

December 3, 2002 – Camden – The trial of James R. Mathis, Jr. is scheduled to begin. He is charged with corruption involving disgraced mayor Milton Milan. The federal trial will be in the courtroom of US District Judge Joseph H. Rodriquez.

December 2002 – Philadelphia – The trial of William "Billy" Rinick and Joseph Viola, Jr. on eleven federal drug counts will get underway before US District Judge Eduardo Robrena.

January 27, 2003 – Youngstown – The trail of Sam "Skinny Sam" Fossesca, which was originally scheduled for August, has been postponed until after the new year. AM.com has been told that the end result of this trial will "blow the lid off the Naples/Carabbia War of the late 1970s and early 1980s."

January 2003 – Boston – "Big Paul" DeCologero goes on trial for ordering the murder of 19 year-old Miss Aislin Silva who disappeared on November 13, 1996. US District Judge Rya W. Zobel will oversee the case. DeCologero is expected to represent himself.

POSTPONED INDEFINITELY – Rochester, NY – Albert M Ranieri goes on trial for conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Since his arrest on December 29, 2000, another defendant, prominent defense attorney Anthony Leonardo, Jr., has pled guilty and implicated Ranieri in the May 2000 murder of his former business partner Anthony Vaccaro. Authorities also suspect Ranieri of a 1990 armor car heist of $11 million. On July 8 the deputy court clerk for Judge Jonathan Feldman has informed AM.com that no date has been established for this trial.


September 9, 2002 – Boston – Michael Flemmi, the brother of notorious Winter Hill Gang member Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, will be sentenced for his May 3 conviction of obstruction of justice and perjury. Michael Flemmi helped hide the arsenal of the Winter Hill Gang and lied to a grand jury about it. This sentencing was originally scheduled for July 15.

September 9, 2002 – Camden – Robert E. Gibson, the former Camden sewer superintendent and a 40-year employee of the city, will be sentenced for accepting illegal payments. Gibson claimed he was swept up in the corruption of disgraced mayor Milton Milan’s administration. He is looking at 18 to 24 months.

September 16, 2002 – Boston – Disgraced former FBI agent "Dishonest John" Connolly will be sentenced for his May 28 conviction on one count of racketeering and two counts of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. He is looking at from 8 to 20 years. This was originally scheduled for August 7, then September 12.

September 26, 2002 – Cleveland – Henry DiBlasio, a former aide to US Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr., will be sentenced for lying to a Federal grand jury about paying kickbacks to the congressman. DiBlasio, 72 years old, could be sentenced to as much as 16 months in prison.

September 27, 2002 – New York – Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico will be sentenced after pleading guilty to extortion, loansharking and money laundering. The son of jailed-for-life mobster Carmine "the Snake" Persico was the alleged "acting boss of the Colombo family. The sentencing date was originally scheduled for June 13, 2002. At that time Persico filed a motion to reverse his plea claiming prosecutor misconduct. The prosecutors were given two weeks to respond to the motion. A new date was then set for the sentencing.

September 2002 – Philadelphia – Albert R. Coccio, Jr. will be sentenced by US District Judge John P. Fullam after his May 28 guilty plea to charges of wire fraud, making false statements and money laundering. Coccio, a South Philadelphia contractor who at one time employed Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, faces 6 to 18 months in prison.

October 11, 2002 – New York – Bonanno Family underboss Salvatore "the Chief" Vitale is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty on June 14 to racketeering charges involving gambling, loansharking and money-laundering operations which he ran out of the European American Bank in Melville, Long Island. Vitale faces an incarceration period of 33 to 41 months.

October 28, 2002 – Newark – Eugene Wilson, indicted last year with eight others including Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, will be sentenced after pleading guilty this past June 27 to gambling and running an illegal gambling operation.

October 29, 2002 – Boston – John J. "Mick" Murray will be sentenced by US District Judge Reginald Lindsay for his June guilty plea to charges of embezzlement, extortion, racketeering conspiracy and theft of interstate shipments.

November 7, 2002 – Detroit – Anthony Joseph Zerilli the alleged underboss of the Detroit mafia will be sentenced for his August 19 conviction of seven racketeering and extortion felonies. The 74 year-old will be sentenced by US District Court Judge Lawrence Zatkoff.

December 4, 2002 – Philadelphia – Michael A. Focoso is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty on August 22 to one count of conspiracy and one count of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school in South Philadelphia. Focoso was part of a cocaine distribution ring, which involved William "Billy" Rinick and Joseph Viola, Jr. Since Focoso is expected to testify against the two don’t be surprised if the sentencing date is moved back.

Early 2003 – Chicago – The sentencing date for the recent convictions of Betty Loren-Maltese (Cicero town president), Michael Spano, Sr. (the Outfit’s alleged boss of Cicero) and five others has not been scheduled but it is believed it will not take place until after the first of the year. The seven were convicted after a ten-week trial, which ended with guilty verdicts for all but one defendant on August 23.

NO WORD ON THIS – May 2, 2002 – Rochester Thomas Marotta plead guilty of federal narcotics charges and is waiting sentencing. US District Judge David Larimer’s deputy court clerk tells AM.com no date has been set for the sentencing.

NO WORD ON THIS – May 2002 – New York – Donna Curra, wife of Dominick "Little Dom" Curra, is scheduled to be sentenced for lying to the FBI after her husband fled on Christmas Eve 2001 to Costa Rica. She is looking at a 6 to 12 month stretch. Meanwhile, "Little Dom" remains in a Costa Rica jail fighting extradition.

Contact: AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com

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