Feature Articles

December 18, 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects 2

By John William Tuohy

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

compiled by John William Tuohy

London: British gangster Reggie Kray, who died at the weekend after thirty years in prison, will to be buried alongside his brothers near the East End area of London, the area they ruled in the 1960s.

     No date has yet been set for his funeral and burial.

     Kray, 66, died Saturday after a long battle with cancer of the bladder. He had been freed from prison in August on compassionate grounds.

     An estimated 50,000 people lined the 12-mile route between St. Matthew's Church and Chingford Cemetery in 1995 to bid farewell to Ronnie, whose coffin was carried on a horse-drawn hearse and followed by a 30-car cortege.

Pennsylvania: Two former guards at a federal prison accepted thousands of dollars from inmates to smuggle contraband and sperm used to impregnate the inmates' girlfriends, prosecutors say.

     One of the inmates involved in the alleged scheme was a New York mob associate, Antonino Parlevecchio, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

     The former guards were arrested last week, charged with bribery and released. One of the men allegedly accepted $5,000 from an undercover agent posing as an inmate's girlfriend. The agent asked that sperm be smuggled out of the Allenwood prison in a cryogenic sperm kit.

     The guard is accused of being ``very close'' to jailed organized crime figures at the prison in White Deer. Among the contraband he allegedly allowed in last year was a package containing a sperm kit.

     The New York Post, citing anonymous law-enforcement sources, reported Sunday that as many as five New York mobsters fathered children in federal prison.

     The paper reported that authorities began investigating two years ago after Kevin Granato, a convicted Colombo family hit man, was seen in the Allenwood visitation room showing off a toddler he called ``my son.'' The incident raised eyebrows because he had been in jail since 1988.

Rome: Italian police said they had cracked a Mafia-led organization accused of planning to steal as much as $680 million through an online bank fraud by arresting two Mafiosi and 19 other people on charges of money-laundering, attempted theft and connections with the Mafia.

     Paolo Giovagnoli, the magistrate in charge of investigations, said the group worked with corrupted employees of Sicily based Banco di Sicilia to create a computer system resembling the bank's own.

     It would have been programmed to connect to the interbank transfer network after normal office hours, allowing hundreds of billions of lire belonging to Sicily's regional government to be shifted to bank accounts in Italy and abroad.

Rome: Giuseppe Leo, one of Italy's leading Mafia bosses was arrested Thursday near Modena in northern Italy after a two-week manhunt.

     Leo was arrested by the Guardia di Finanza (tax police) a He is believed to be the leader of the Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown), after they found him hiding out in the town of Nonantola. The Sacra Corona Unita is the smallest of Italy's four main Mafia groups and is less deep-rooted than the Mafia in Sicily, the Camorra in Naples or the Ndrangheta in Calabria.

     Three accomplices were also arrested. The four men had been on the run since September 18 following the assassination of another man in an effort to win control of a drug ring in Puglia, southern Italy, police said.

Philadelphia: Joe Merlino, 38, alleged Philadelphia mob boss is suing prison officials and the Justice Department, saying his isolated jail conditions amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

     Merlino, 38, who is awaiting trial on charges of racketeering and murder, filed a civil complaint asking to be returned to the general prison population and demanding unspecified damages and attorney's fees.

     Merlino says that for the past three months he has been allowed to leave his cell for only an hour a day and that he can only speak with his wife by telephone for 15 minutes a month and with his attorney for 15 minutes a day.

     According to the lawsuit, prison officials told Merlino he had been segregated for his own safety and because he was ``the alleged leader of a criminal enterprise.''

     Merlino's attorney Edwin J. Jacobs Jr. said he has to meet with his client in a room which is too small and confining for meetings which sometimes involve as many as nine others.

Charleston, S. C: A judge has awarded $11 million to a man who said he was libeled in a book that claimed Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination was a conspiracy between the government, sniper teams and organized crime.

     Billy Ray Eidson sued London lawyer William F. Pepper and his publishers in 1997 for writing that Eidson was part of a Special Forces unit sent to Memphis on April 4, 1968, to kill King.

     Pepper, in ``Orders to Kill: The Truth About the Murder of Martin Luther King,'' wrote that Eidson was killed to ensure secrecy. Eidson, alive and well and living in Costa Rica, surprised Pepper in June 1997 on the ABC television show "Turning Point."

New York: Frank Sinatra's daughters Tina said her father persuaded an organized crime figure to help President John F. Kennedy win the presidency in 1960.

     In an interview with CBS's '60 Minutes' Tina Sinatra, 52 -- the youngest of Sinatra's three children -- said Sinatra told her that JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, asked him to seek the Mafia's help in securing the union vote in the important West Virginia primary.

Dublin: The trial of John Gilligan, alleged leader of the Irish underworld who is accused of the murder four years ago of investigative reporter Veronica Guerin, began on Tuesday.

     Gilligan was returned to Ireland from Britain earlier this year after losing a three-year battle against extradition.

     He is also charged with possession of firearms and importation of cannabis.

     Guerin was shot dead in June 1996 as she stopped her car at traffic light just outside Dublin. Two men have already been sentenced to life imprisonment for their part in the killing, which outraged the Irish public.

     Gilligan was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport in October 1996 as he attempted to board a flight to Amsterdam.

Kentucky: A new book on Australia's most famous racing horse discounts the popular belief that Phar Lap was poisoned in the United States. It was popularly believed Phar Lap was poisoned, perhaps by gangsters.

     The book, by sports commentators Peter Thompson and Geoff Armstrong, is based on autopsy reports and claims there is no doubt Phar Lap died of a bacterial infection often found in horses after traveling long distances.

     The disease was not identified until the early '80s.

     After winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930, Phar Lap was taken to America but died in mysterious circumstances in 1932.

Quebec: Federal police arrested Maurice "Mom" Boucher, the leader of Quebec's Hells Angels biker gang after a provincial appeals court ordered him to face a new trial in connection with the 1997 deaths of two prison guards.

     The Quebec Court of Appeal canceled Boucher's November 1998 acquittal on charges of ordering the deaths of two prison guards in separate 1997 shootings.

     News of the court decision and arrest came less than 48 hours after Boucher and the leader of the arch-rival Rock Machine motorcycle gang, Frederic Faucher, dined together at a Montreal restaurant.

     The media speculated that the two gang leaders -- who invited a reporter and photographer to witness their meeting -- were thrashing out a truce in their battle for control of the province's drug trade.

Australia: Police in the Western Australian Goldfields are mounting a major campaign to prepare for the funeral of murdered motorcycle gang member William Grierson.

     About 80 bikers from three different groups in Perth and the eastern States are expected to travel to the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region tomorrow.

     Investigators have confirmed they have questioned a former Western Australian police officer and bar room owner about the shooting.

London: One man was shot dead and a second killed in what detectives suspect were drug-related killings by Yardie gangsters in London.

     Officers working on Operation Trident, a police initiative set up to combat black-on-black gun crime, are investigating the two unrelated murders.

     Police said the first man, 27-year old Denis Cowan, was shot in the head and shoulders by a man in a busy street in Brixton, south London.

     The second man, aged around 18, was found lying outside a block of flats in Southall, west London. Police have not yet released further details about his killing.

     A Scotland Yard spokesman said Operation Trident had been set up to combat shootings by the so-called Yardie gangs, often the result of turf wars over control of the drugs trade.

Tehran: Police killed three armed bandits in a shootout in southeastern Iran and arrested three others, seizing guns and ammunition. The bandits had been robbing commuters on intercity roads in Kerman province.

     Three members of a gang of drug traffickers were also killed in Kerman by security agents after a six-hour battle, the daily newspaper Entekhab reported.

     Iran's drug-infested southeast lies on the main transit route between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the so-called ``Golden Crescent,'' and the lucrative markets in Europe and oil-rich Arab states.

     Iran also faces a serious domestic drugs problem with about two million addicts in a population of around 63 million.

     More than 170 Iranian policemen were killed in shootouts with bandits and drug traffickers in the year to March 2000.

Jamaica: Six armed men traded gunfire with guards in a hospital and freed an inmate wanted in the United States. One guard was injured in the shootout.

     The gunmen ambushed the guards in the waiting room of the Kingston Public Hospital's eye clinic as they were bringing Mark Anthony Morant in for treatment.

     A Jamaican soldier - one of three guards - was wounded in the arm and abdomen, police said.

     The gunmen fled with Morant in a white Toyota, shooting at a hospital guardhouse as they went.

     Morant and his girlfriend, Pauline Pickersgill, were arrested in July in a raid on their Kingston home. US authorities have accused the couple of smuggling several tons of marijuana from Mexico into the United States

Washington: The late actor Edward G. Robinson, best known for his memorable film roles as a gangster, will be honored when a new commemorative postage stamp is issued by the U.S. Postal Service this year.

     Born Emanuel Goldenberg in Romania in 1893, Robinson appeared in some 90 films, including "Double Indemnity" (1944), "Key Largo" (1948) and "The Ten Commandments" (1956).

     He immigrated to the United States with his family when he was a young boy. In 1913 he began his professional acting career, working in theater for many years and eventually moving into film. Robinson is best remembered for his classic portrayals of gangsters in "Little Caesar" (1931)

New York: Fans and collectors took part the auction from the estate of one of actor James Cagney who made his reputation portraying gangsters in the early days of film.

     The standing room only crowd in the salesroom, the thousands of Internet bidders, and the hundreds of telephone bidders vied heavily for Cagney's 1961 Bentley, his 1984 Presidential Medal of Freedom, a diamond engagement ring given to his wife, and a rare miniature version of the Oscar. The sale grossed $480,671 against a pre-sale estimate of lots sold of $138,800-199,450.

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

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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