Feature Articles

December 11, 2000

Florida Updates

By Scott M. Deitche

Inspired by John Touhy's Round Up The Usual Suspects.

News and updates on mob activity from the Sunshine State


October 26, 2000

Steve Raffa, leader of the Trafficante family�s South Florida faction, was indicted with thirteen others in a massive money-laundering and racketeering investigation by the local FBI. Raffa, along with New Jersey mob figure John Mamone, and other mob associates were charged with laundering proceed from gambling, loansharking, and a massive financial fraud scheme, based out of South Carolina, through check-cashing stores in South Florida. The others indicted included Julius Chiusano, Joseph Silvestri, Fred Scarola, and Charles Clay. Clay, a Margate police officer, warned members of the group that they were under investigation.

This was the first time Raffa was ever indicted, although he had been investigated for narcotics trafficking before, and was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1994 Worldwide Gaming Case out of New Orleans, which netted members of the Marcello, Gambino, and Genovese crime families.

Update to October 26, 2000 (added 6/12/04):
Charles Clay was acquited of all charges in April of 2003.


November 14, 2000

Virgilio Fabian, 92, passed away in Tampa. A WW II veteran, Fabian was also a bolita figure in Tampa. Bolita is a Cuban numbers game popular in Tampa through the 1950�s. He was called in front of a county grand jury in 1953 investigating organized crime and illegal gambling. Fabian was also partners with Eddie "El Gordo/The Fat Man" Blanco and Joe Pelusa Diaz- two gambling kingpins in Tampa. Joe Diaz was gunned down on July 2, 1958, victim of a gangland hit. Fabian faded from the underworld scene after Diaz�s slaying.


November 16, 2000

Steve Raffa, 59, was found hanging in his South Florida home, the victim of an apparent suicide. As noted above, he was indicted less than a month earlier in a sweep of the Trafficante family�s South Florida operations. Police currently hold to the idea that it was a suicide. Raffa was out on bail awaiting trial for money laundering.

An interesting coincidence involved the double suicide of Pizza Connection figure Giovanni Ligamarri and his son Pietro. The Ligamarris were found hanging side by side in their NY home over two years ago. Raffa had ties to many key figures in the Pizza Connection case. The boss of the Trafficante family, Vincent LoScalzo was also close with the Ligamarris. He was an attendee at Pietro�s wedding. LoScalzo and Raffa were tight- often meeting in Tampa and South Florida.

Word has also come to me that a co-defendant of John Mamone�s in another case also committed suicide. Coincidence?? Connection?? This story is definitely not over.


Scott Deitche can be reached at

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