Feature Articles

December 18, 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects 1

By John William Tuohy

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washingon, D.C.

compiled by John William Tuohy

     SUMMARY HIGHLIGHTS: Gangster Reggie Kray dies of cancer in England. Three alleged members of the Gambino family are indicted in New York.

London: Reggie Kray, last survivor of a crime family that rose to the top of London's underworld in the 1950s and 1960s, died in his sleep Sunday of bladder cancer. He was 66.

     He had been free only 35 days. He had been in prison more than three decades. Kray was sentenced to life in prison for murder in 1969, he was granted compassionate parole by Home Secretary Jack Straw on Aug. 26 because of his illness.

     With his twin, Ronnie, and older brother Charlie, Reggie Kray was a Cockney legend. He was, despite his image, a brutal gangster.

     In 1968, Reggie killed a bungling hit man named Jack "The Hat" McVitie in a north London apartment, stabbing him so thoroughly that his liver fell out.

     When rival gangster George Cornell called Ronnie Kray a "fat poof," Ronnie rushed into the Blind Beggar pub and shot Cornell in the head as the jukebox played "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More."

     The twins reportedly received $375,000 for a 1990 film version of their lives. An autobiography, "Our Story," was published in 1988. T-shirts, recordings and even books of the twins' poetry followed.

     Ronnie Kray died in 1995 in the Broadmoor institute for the criminally insane. Charlie died in April while serving a sentence for drug dealing.

     Reggie Kray spent some of his years in prison in a cell furnished, according to fellow prisoners, with wall-to-wall carpet, fish tanks and an imitation oak-beam ceiling.

     Reggie Kray's first wife, Frances, committed suicide in 1967. He is survived by his second wife, Roberta. Funeral details were not immediately announced.

New York: Three alleged Gambino mob associates were arrested on charges of trying to peddle fake artworks that they claimed were created by Picasso, Chagall and Rubens.

     Prosecutors said the defendants planned to sell the fakes through an upscale Manhattan gallery for $32 million. Federal agents, using wiretaps and an informant, disrupted the alleged scheme and no paintings were sold.

     Defendants Dominick ``Little Dom'' Curra, 56, Kevin McMahon, 35, and Robert Walsh, 35, are associates of reputed Gambino organized crime soldier Charles Carneglia, prosecutors said.

Colombia: While trying to elude a pursuing U.S. Navy frigate, a speedboat crew allegedly smuggling cocaine began hurling dozens of boxes of pure cocaine into the sea.

     Apparently trying to wash away any traces of the white powder, the men stripped and doused themselves with gasoline, the navy reported.

     For some reason then, the crew turned their 36-foot boat toward the USS De Wert, a 453-foot guided missile frigate. The speedboat crashed into the ship, caught fire and sank, leaving one of the crew members with burns and broken bones.

Washington: The National Legal and Policy Center filed a formal Complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requesting that AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka be disbarred from the practice of law.

     The Complaint details several money laundering schemes that Trumka allegedly participated in to aid in the 1996 reelection of then Teamsters President Ron Carey. Six individuals have been criminally charged in these schemes, five have pled guilty and one has been convicted. Trumka has invoked the Fifth Amendment on at least two occasions to avoid federal investigators' questions in the matter.

Brussels: European Union finance ministers reached broad agreement Friday on new moves to crack down on money laundering after resolving a dispute on whether lawyers should have to report suspicious dealings by clients.

     Current pan-European legislation against money laundering, adopted in 1991, only covers the financial services industry and only obliges its members to report suspicious movements of funds that they believe derive from drug trafficking.

     Most EU nations have already gone further, extending the list of offenses likely to give rise to money laundering to all types of organized crime and, in some cases tax evasion, but the new legislation will set a common standard for all 15 EU countries.

     The agreement, which has to be formally endorsed by ministers and the European Parliament before it can become law, followed a heated debate about to what extent lawyers should be covered by the obligation to report.

Turkey: Syria and Turkey have agreed to cooperate to close down organized crime within their countries.

Delaware: The Del Webb Corporation, which helped start the casino boom in Las Vegas by working for mobster Bugsy Siegel, was sued by a shareholder who wants directors to reconsider a proposed $551 million takeover offer by rival J.F. Shea Co. or auction the company.

Las Vegas: Three men linked to the death of gambling figure Ted Binion and the theft of his silver fortune have accepted plea bargains that will allow them to avoid prison sentences.

     David Mattsen, Michael Milot and Steven Wadkins have accepted deals. The case against the only remaining defendant, John B. Joseph, also could resolved without a trial.

     Mattsen, 64, Binion's former ranch manager, is accused of helping Rick Tabish dig up an underground vault filled with $6 million of silver two days after Binion's Sept. 17, 1998, death.

     Tabish, 35, and 28-year-old Sandy Murphy were convicted in May of killing Binion, a Las Vegas gambling heir, and plotting to steal his fortune. Both are serving life sentences.

Boston: (Government news release) Albert Melchione, age 71, of Rockland, Massachusetts, and his grandson, Richard Melchione Jr. have been indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy and mail fraud charges in connection with a scheme to defraud numerous insurance companies.

     The indictment alleges that the Melchinoe's devised a scheme to defraud motor vehicle insurance companies by causing others to file false motor vehicle theft reports and affidavits.

     As part of the scheme, the indictment charges, motor vehicle owners gave their motor vehicles and keys to Albert Melchione in order to get rid of the vehicles so that the owners might report them stolen.

     The Melchione's, in turn, "gave up" the motor vehicles and keys to "Joe Young," an undercover Massachusetts State Police trooper who purported to be a ramp truck driver who could get rid of the motor vehicles by transporting them across state lines and out of the country.

"Round Up the Usual Suspects" is a Magazine Network Production.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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