IN THIS ISSUE|
· He Ain't Heavy-He’s Carmines Brother!
· In Other Gambino Family News
· Teddy Deegan – Revisited (Part Two)
· Short Takes
· This Week in Mob History
· Trials and Tribulations
"He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Carmine’s Brother!"
That’s easy to say when Carmine Agnello has the use of a crane to move his nearly quarter ton younger brother about. Michael Agnello weighs 450 pounds. For those who are wondering – that’s roughly three-quarters of the weight of the "Four Horsemen of Notre Dame." Oh, if they only had him on the offensive line!
Michael received a six-month sentence delay due to the fact that he’s "morbidly obese" and needs open heart surgery. Attorney Alan Futerfas told the court if his client didn’t lose 100 pounds "he might not make it off the operating table alive." Futerfas suggested his client be ordered by the court to attend a weight loss program.
On the opposite side of the issue, Assistant US Attorney Bridget Rohde thought that an environment like the Bureau of Prisons, free of all the fast-food temptations, was just what "Big Mikey" needed.
Judge Nina Gershon – who put the kibosh on visits to Carmine by his tattoo-butted girlfriend Debbie DeCarlo the prior week – gave Michael a verbal bashing before granting a six-month grace period. The younger Agnello pled guilty last August to torching a van in 1999 and destroying vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on cars during the mid-1990s.
Meanwhile, Bureau of Prison officials already faced with the enormous financial responsibility of feeding Philadelphia’s "Fat Ange" Lutz have requested that the two heavyweights not be housed in the same prison.
Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano was the alleged target of members of the "Mexican Mafia" at the Maricopa County Jail where Sammy is currently residing. Gravano’s lawyer, Lynne Stewart revealed that Arizona jail officials "informed Mr. Gravano that they had information that members of the ‘Mexican Mafia’…had received a contract from the Italian Mafia to kill him."
Famed Sheriff Joe Arpaio told the New York Daily News that "there was a jail house rumor," but it was never verified. Arpaio said he didn’t believe the rumor.
There is some confusion over when "the Bull" will finally be sentenced. The New York Post reported last week that Federal Judge Allyne Ross "heard Gravano’s guilty plea last June in Brooklyn and is expected to sentence him in the near future." The Daily News reported back on June 30 that Gravano would be sentenced in New York on September 11 – we all know what happened there. But a call from AmericanMafia.com to Ross’s courtroom deputy last week revealed that a date had not been set as they were still waiting for pre-sentencing reports.
The latest is Gravano has not been sentenced in either jurisdiction – New York or Arizona – and that once Judge Ross sentences him then the Arizona sentence will follow. Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Linda Lacewell is asking for 20 years while Stewart is hoping for a range of 12 to 15.
Meanwhile, unable to follow the plight of Gravano and the Agnellos is John A. "Junior" Gotti. It was reported that the son of the "Dapper Don" "no longer finds the local paper outside his cell every morning" because his subscription was cancelled due to non-payment. Junior had been receiving daily copies of the Press Republican from Plattsburgh, New York, the former wallpaper producing capital of the country, after he was incarcerated in 1999. This follows him sending a Christmas tip of $10 to the newspaper last month.
In 1972 the United States Supreme Court overturned the death penalty. Henry Tameleo, Louis Greco, Peter Limone and Ronald Casseso’s death sentences for their 1968 murder convictions of Edward "Teddy" Deegan were commuted to life. Tameleo died of pneumonia in 1985 at the age of 84, the oldest person in the Massachusetts prison system; Casseso died in 1991; and Louis Greco died of natural causes at the age of 78 in 1995. In 1997, Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld commuted the sentence of Joseph Salvati. Only Peter Limone and Wilfred Roy French were still left rotting in prison.
In the late 1990s revelations of a nefarious underworld / FBI partnership had turned the city of Boston upside down. With confidence in the Boston FBI office at an all-time low, John H. Durham, a federal prosecutor from Hartford, Connecticut, was asked to head an investigation into the improprieties.
Information from files collecting dust in Washington DC would provide damning evidence against retired agents H. Paul Rico and Dennis Condon. In Deadly Alliance, published in July 2001, Ralph Ranalli, a veteran legal journalist for the Boston Globe revealed:
"Two days before the murder, Rico was told that the Deegan murder had been approved by Raymond Patriarca and that it would be carried out by Barboza and [Vincent] Flemmi. He apparently did nothing to stop it. On March 13, 1965, the day after Deegan was gunned down in an alley in the gritty, working class city of Chelsea, Flemmi confessed that he, Barboza, and two associates – Roy French and Ronald Casseso – had committed the crime."
Durham uncovered a report filed by Rico in which an informant had provided a detailed account of the Deegan murder. The report stated Vincent Flemmi, Barboza, Casseso, French and Romeo Martin were the men who carried it out. Shocked by this revelation was Suffolk County Prosecutor Ralph C. Martin II, whose office had fought both Salvati’s and Limone’s attempts for new trials; and Jack Zalkind, the lead prosecutor during the 1968 trial.
"I’m stunned," Zalkind stated. "I have never seen any FBI reports that were signed by Paul Rico and I was the prosecutor."
More information came pouring out as the probe into the FBI’s relationship with Winter Hill Gang leaders James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi was exposed. John Martorano, a long-time hitman for Bulger and Flemmi, became a government witness after he realized the treachery of the pair left him facing life in prison. In a plea agreement in 1999 Martorano said that Vincent J. "Jimmy the Bear" Flemmi, brother of Stephen, had confessed to him his participation in the Deegan murder. Jimmy Flemmi died in the mid-1970s of a drug overdose in Norfolk State Prison. In addition, Martorano told a DEA agent that Barboza had told him he framed the men for the murder because the Mafia "screwed me, and now I’m going to screw as many of them as possible."
Barboza’s deep seeded hatred of the mob had climaxed when he was not bailed out after the weapon’s arrest, coupled with the murder of his two friends who were trying to help him. What were the reasons for him implicating the people he did? One source tells AmericanMafia.com that, "Barboza hated anyone he couldn’t intimidate." After a barroom altercation in which Barboza stabbed Jackie Civetti, a gambler and sneak thief known as "Wacky Jacky," over $50, he was ordered by Peter Limone to stay out of the North End. Louis Greco at 6’ 2" and 250 pounds was an imposing figure whom Barboza feared and came to disdain after the ex-war hero told him to "stay off his corner" in the city of Revere. Salvati was thrown in because he allegedly owed Barboza shylock money and was a slow-payer. Salvati was close with the local wiseguys, so to Barboza he was untouchable.
In December 2000 attorney John E. Cavicchi, representing Peter Limone, attended a hearing to discuss information uncovered by Durham. Before Middlesex Superior Court Judge Margaret R. Hinkle, Cavicchi argued "that Barboza committed perjury at the trial, falsely implicating Limone and the other defendants while protecting his best friend, gangster Vincent ‘Jimmy the Bear’ Flemmi." The lawyer claimed "the FBI gave its blessing to Barboza’s lies in order to gain convictions against the Boston Mafia and to curry favor with Jimmy Flemmi’s brother, Stephen, who was Rico’s valuable informant."
That same month longtime Boston defense attorney Joseph J. Balliro, who had represented Vincent Flemmi, testified that his client had told him that Limone, Salvati, Greco and Tameleo did not have any role in the Deegan murder. Vincent Flemmi, according to Balliro, had claimed Barboza fingered the men because they each had "disrespected" him at one time.
The following month attorney Ronald J. Chisholm, who represented Ronald Casseso, revealed that in a meeting in state prison in 1967 that his client confessed to him that the Deegan murder participants were Barboza, Flemmi, French, Martin and himself. Casseso claimed Salvati, Tameleo, Greco and Limone "definitely were not involved." He also told Chisholm that Rico had come to see him and offered him a deal. In exchange for corroborating Barboza’s story, he would not have to serve any time for the Deegan murder. Casseso declined and died in prison.
Based on all the information presented to Judge Hinkle, Peter Limone was released on January 5, 2001 after spending 33 years in prison.
On April 5, 2001 it was announced in Washington DC that Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana would chair Government Reform Committee hearings to look into the alleged criminal relationship between the Boston FBI and organized crime. While the pressing issue was the FBI’s relationship with Bulger and Stephen Flemmi, the Deegan murder was also investigated.
In addition to hearing testimony from the Salvati family, the committee members questioned one-time Barboza attorney F. Lee Bailey and former agent Paul Rico, now 76. Bailey, never one to mince words, said the Boston FBI office "has a nest of ruthless, cold-blooded, psychopathic killers."
Former agent Rico came across just as cold. When confronted with the plight of the Salvati family for 30 years, a result caused by the actions, or rather the in-actions, of the one-time agent, Rico replied, "What do you want, tears?" Meanwhile, Rico’s former partner, Dennis Condon, told committee members he was too sick to attend the hearings.
In June the committee issued a "sweeping request" for all Justice Department documents dealing with organized crime investigations in Boston. The committee’s efforts were delayed by the events of September 11 and later would hit a brick wall in December 2001 when President Bush invoked executive privilege, for the first time during his administration, to block the release of the information.
On July 24, 2001 attorneys representing Limone and the estates of Tameleo and Greco filed a $375 million lawsuit against the FBI.
In an ironic twist, the last member of that infamous hit team still in prison, Wilfred Roy French, was released from prison on December 19, 2001. French had confessed his role in the Deegan murder, but said he participated "out of fear of Barboza and fellow hitman Vincent Flemmi." Claiming he should have been convicted of manslaughter only, French wrote a letter to Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr that stated, "I should go home because of the FBI crime."
Despite the new revelations and massive impending law suits there is still one burning question left in the minds of Boston mob watchers regarding the Deegan murder. If the information Durham uncovered was correct, that Raymond Patriarca had approved the hit and knew Barboza was to carry it out, then who passed the boss’s approval to Barboza? Was it Peter Limone? People who know Limone are adamant he wasn’t involved. Many mob watchers believe, despite the denials of Casseso and Vincent Flemmi, that it was Tameleo who gave the order. One reason for this belief is that Tameleo put up the least protest over his innocence during his years in prison.
After completing his reduced prison sentence Barboza was released into the Federal Witness Protection Program. In 1970 he met with attorney F. Lee Bailey and allegedly told him that he had lied about the facts during the Deegan murder trial and wanted to "recant his testimony." Bailey suggested that Barboza take a lie detector test to prove that he was now telling the truth. However, after a meeting with Rico and federal prosecutor Edward F. Harrington, Barboza had a change of heart. In 1971 Barboza was indicted for the murder of a man in Santa Rosa, California. Faced with the death penalty the FBI was afraid of what Barboza might say to save himself. Agents Rico and Condon, as well as prosecutor Harrington, headed for the West Coast. After the two agents testified at his trial Barboza agreed to a plea bargain where he would serve five years for second degree murder.
In February 1976 Theodore Sharliss, a friend of Barboza’s, met him for lunch in San Francisco where the twice-released killer had relocated. Afterwards Barboza was shot to death by New England Family member Joseph "J. R." Russo. Twenty-five years later, in a twist that surprised no one, it was revealed that Sharliss was an FBI informant and that the government "was aware Barboza was to be killed prior to the murder taking place."
Former federal prosecutor, now federal judge, Edward Harrington has been called to appear before Dan Burton’s committee. Former agents Condon and Rico were subpoenaed. The three will be questioned on February 6. In November Condon was contacted by a staff member of the committee to remind him of the upcoming hearing. Thinking that the September 11 terrorist attack had made everyone forget the mess in Boston, Condon responded, "Don’t you have anything better to do?"
Meanwhile, this horrific chapter in FBI history will continue – apparently with no end in sight.
Final Note: On January 15, Joseph Salvati’s lawyer, Victor J. Garo sent a heart-felt letter to President Bush on behalf of his client in an effort to get the Chief Executive to reverse his decision. Part of the letter read:
"Mr. Salvati is not a man of power, position or means; however, he is a husband, a father, and a human being who was denied the American dream of ‘…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ You have spoken many times, Mr. President, about accountability. For those who violated the law, justice must prevail."
Years ago rogue members of Boston’s FBI office had created their own definition of justice.
Chicago – A disgraced former mayor from the suburb of Stone Park was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $5,000. Robert Natale, who served 12 years as mayor, pled guilty to accepting bribes from the Outfit last August to avoid a possible eight years or more behind bars. Natale admitted to accepting $500 a month between 1989 and 1994 to protect the Outfit’s video poker machines in his town. At a town meeting in 1993 he pushed for the opening of a book and video store in town which he knew would be used to promote pornography. Natale accepted payments from former Stone Park police officer Thomas Tucker, the "right hand man" of late mob boss Anthony Centracchio. Indicted for these crimes in 2000, Natale responded by running for re-election. He was beaten by a reform candidate. Natale had nothing to say to US District Judge Robert Gettleman, who asked him, "How did you look at yourself in the mirror when you were in office?"
Las Vegas – Appeals for Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish will be heard by the Nevada Supreme Court on a yet to be determined date in June. Jeff German of the Las Vegas Sun reports, "the high court informed lawyers in the case that all seven justices, instead of a three-member panel, will hear the arguments." Why all the justices? Could it be because famed Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz will be arguing Murphy’s appeal? We’ll see.
Kansas City – Missouri, the "Show Me" State, could show states like Massachusetts, Ohio and Rhode Island, as well as a few others, how to make money in the gambling biz. A recent report showed that casinos in Missouri topped the $1 billion mark in revenues for last year. Reporter Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star reported, "Gamblers in Missouri blew a billion at the state’s casinos last year…Missouri casinos have become one of the state’s biggest employers, accounting for 10,400 jobs. They also are one of the state’s biggest taxpayers, with $322.5 million in gambling taxes and fees paid last year to state and local governments. Of the total, more than $252 million went to the state, and most of that went directly into the state’s public education fund." Two new casinos added to this tally. The Isle of Capri, which AmericanMafia.com reported on last month, opened December 6 and in just 25 days brought in over $5 million. In addition to the increase in revenues, it’s only fair to report that phone calls to the problem gambler’s hotline grew for the third consecutive year. A spokesman for the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling claims that those with problems are a small percentage, one to three percent, of the population. He adds, "the important thing in Missouri is that they can get free treatment." Hoping to increase attendance for 2002 the Missouri General Assembly will be asked to lift the state’s $500 loss limit. The rule restricts gamblers to "buying no more than $500 worth of slot machine tokens or table chips every two hours."
New York – Blowing town! That’s exactly what Dominick "Little Dom" Curra did on Christmas Eve. The ex-bookie of John Gotti boarded an American Airlines plane and headed for Costa Rica to enjoy the holidays and apparently ditch his March 1 sentencing date after pleading guilty in mid-trial to art fraud on December 14. "Little Dom" left behind his wife Donna who told authorities she hadn’t seen her husband since January 2. Since that was an obvious lie federal agents put her in stir until a bail hearing was held January 12. "Little Dom" is facing three years in prison. Perhaps he just wants to have a nice tan for when he reports.
Youngstown (1) – On December 21 Mahoning Valley Congressman James A Traficant, Jr. stood on the steps of the Federal Court House in Cleveland and told reporters he "hasn’t even looked at the government’s evidence against him." Due to the fact that the trial was just 45 days away many believed this statement was just typical Traficant bravado. Now Americanmafia.com is wondering if the congressman wasn’t telling the truth – for a change. Last Monday Traficant objected to the government’s request for an anonymous jury stating that he wasn’t charged with obstruction of justice. However, count six of the congressman’s indictment charges just that. It alleges that from January 21 to February 29, 2000, "he tried to corruptly influence, obstruct and impede the administration of justice…" In his objection before Judge Lesley Brooks Wells, Traficant stated, "that anonymity for jurors is highly prejudicial and will diminish their sense of responsibility." He also claimed the need to have information about juror’s ethics and religious background.
Youngstown (2) – A few weeks ago AmericanMafia.com reported that convicted hit man Mark Batcho was to be sentenced for a murder that he failed to tell Federal authorities about during a plea bargain, but blurted it out while testifying in a state trial. Batcho, a charming guy who has been charged with stabbing, shooting and beating people, was once transferred from a county jail to a state prison while awaiting trial because he so disruptive. Due to a judge’s "strict interpretation" of the Fifth Amendment, Batcho was able to cop a plea to the murder of Larry Sisman and get just 10 years. This made both the 35 year-old Batcho and his attorney quite happy as they saw it as part of his 18-year sentence for the shooting of two prosecutors. No to be! On January 15 Judge Stephen A. Yarbrough ordered that the sentence run consecutive with his current one and now Batcho will be in the can for 28 years.
Philadelphia – An attempt to murder Raymond "Long John" Martorano left the "elder statesman" in critical condition with three bullet holes in his body – chest, abdomen and right arm. Martorano, who was alleged to have been trying to "reestablish himself in the underworld." Martorano was driving alone in his black Lincoln Town car on the way to a doctor’s appointment when the shots were fired through the window. Martorano and Joseph Ligambi, reputed to be the new boss of the Philadelphia Family were soldiers under Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo during the early 1980s. Martorano was released from prison in November 1999.
An in depth look at Martorano will appear next week
January 21, 1977 – Phillip Piazza was the owner of the Red Top Bar in Tampa, a notorious gambling den. According to resident expert Scott Deitche, "Piazza was a soldier with arrests for bookmaking, liquor law violations and buying and selling stolen property." Piazza sold the Red Top to his nephew after his bookmaking arrest. He died of natural causes.
January 23, 1976 – Frank Cucchiara, according to John Morton in Gangland International, "rose through the ranks of the Mafia to become Raymond L. S. Patriarca’s right hand man." The only New Englander present at the infamous Appalachin Summit in 1957, Cucchiara had a rap sheet that dated back to 1915, including one arrest for "unlawful possession of morphine and dynamite." Cucchiara, in his early 80s and suffering from health problems, committed suicide.
January 24, 2001 – Natale Richichi, known as "Big Chris," was a capo in the Gambino Family and a close associate of John Gotti. Active for the crime family in both Florida and Las Vegas, Richichi was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the US by concealing income form the IRS. Sentenced in April 1997 the 84 year-old mobster died at the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.
January 25, 1947 – Alphonse "Scarface" Capone was the most famous and most written about gangster in United States history. The name Capone became synonymous with organized crime. Capone became boss of the Chicago underworld in 1925 at the age of 26. In 1931 his rule in Chicago was over as he was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. Released in 1939 due to mental deterioration brought on by years of untreated syphilis, Capone lived another eight years before dying, officially of pneumonia, at his Palm Island estate in Florida
January 26, 1962 – Charles "Lucky" Luciano, after Capone, was the most recognizable name in the American underworld. After guiding his associates through the murderous Castellammarese War in the early 1930s, Luciano continued the five-family system, established by Salvatore Maranzano, with one exception – there would be no "boss of bosses" and disputes would be settled by a national commission made up of family bosses from selected cities. Luciano was sent to prison by Special New York City Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey in 1936. After providing help on the New York docks during World War II, Luciano was released from prison, but deported back to his native Sicily. Luciano died at the Rome airport of a massive heart attack while meeting a film producer who was preparing a movie about the mobster’s life.
Due to space constraints, in the future the complete "Trials and Tribulations" listing will only be shown on the first Monday of the month. Weekly we will show the ones that are due to occur in the next 30 days and any new additions.
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.
January, 2002 – Atlanta – Former Atlanta police officer Jack Redlinger goes on trial for allegedly fixing traffic tickets for Gold Club employees in exchange for cash. Redlinger is the last of 17 people indicted in the Gold Club case. Everyone else has either gone to trial or pled guilty. AmericanMafia.com has found out that charges were dropped against Redlinger in early November 2001 after he agreed to resign his position as an Atlanta Police officer.
January 28, 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.
January 2002 – Chicago – Michael Spano, Sr., alleged mob boss of legendary Cicero, Illinois, goes on trial for attempting to bribe a high-ranking federal official to obtain a pardon or clemency for former Chicago Outfit boss Rocco Infelice in 1998.
February 4, 2002 – Cleveland – Mahoning County Congressman James A. Traficant, Jr. begins his third trial. The flamboyant former sheriff is one for two in successfully representing himself.
February 7, 2002 – Washington DC– The Government Reform Committee will resume its hearings and will listen to testimony from Massachusetts Federal Judge Edward F. Harrington and former FBI agents H. Paul Rico and Dennis Condon and their handling of murdered government witness Joseph Barboza.
June 2002 – Las Vegas – The Nevada Supreme Court has scheduled arguments on the appeals of Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish the convicted murderers of Ted Binion. Alan Dershowitz will argue Murphy’s case.
January 11, 2002 – Queens, NY – Ralph Romano will be sentenced for his recent conviction in the murder of John Spensieri. The Queens’ District Attorney’s Office has informed AmericanMafia.com that the sentencing was adjourned to March 1, 2002.
January 21, 2002 – New York City – John "Porky" Zancocchio, a Bonanno Family soldier will be sentenced for his October 28 guilty plea to charges of loan sharking and tax evasion.
January 23, 2002 – Boston – Four men found guilty of involvement in an armored car heist will be sentenced.
March 1, 2002 – New York – Dominick "Little Dom" Curra will be sentenced for trying to sell fake artwork. Curra was at one time a "personal bookie" for "Dapper Don" John Gotti. He pled guilty in mid-trial on December 14, 2001. As of January 3, 2002 Curra is a fugitive having fled to Costa Rica on December 24, 2001.
March 1, 2002 – New York – Ralph Romano will be sentenced for his November 5, 2001 conviction in the murder of John Spensieri. The sentencing was originally scheduled for January 11.
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