Feature Articles

April 2000

Mob Monthly
A Round Up Of The Usual Suspects 4-17 thru 4-21-00

By John William Tuohy

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

compiled by John William Tuohy

Australia: The government here is planning to seize assets of suspected drug barons, money-launderers and people-smugglers, if proposed legislation is passed. The bill will allow the law to freeze and then seize assets obtained through illegal activity without first convicting or charging the suspect.
Money-laundering is on the rise in the region with the world's criminals who depend on Asia's enormous underground banking systems to clean their dirty cash. Narcotics trafficking remains the biggest source of dirty money followed by fraud.

Arkansas: Eleven people were charged with staging car crashes to collect insurance money, including some suspects who used their children, some as young as 7, to help fake the crashes. The Children were allegedly used as passengers and trained to act injured after the crashes.

Bulgaria: The International Organization for Migration launched a campaign to save thousands of Bulgarian women from becoming sex slaves on the international market. Human rights groups estimate that some 10,000 Bulgarian women, many under 18, are trapped in the sex industry. Many are lured by advertising promising work as models, dancers, baby-sitters, waitresses and maids, or marriage with foreigners. Others are kidnapped and smuggled over the border. The growing involvement of Bulgarian women in prostitution is one of the results of the economic hardship that has accompanied Bulgaria's transition to a free market economy after communist rule collapsed a decade ago.

China: A national campaign by Chinese police to rescue kidnapped women and children and arrest their kidnappers who sell them in to Asia's massive flesh trade.
Officials estimate that last year, some 7000 woman and children were reported abducted or missing in China. Another 9,000 were rescued by police. One extended family, now under arrest, are suspected of stealing and selling almost 1,000 babies over the past three years. The gangs who do the kidnapping are well organized and ruthless and have no aversion to violence or even murder. Many of the kidnap victims are young rural women tricked into leaving home with offers of work as housemaids, waitresses or factory workers.

California: Two men were charged with trying to extort $250,000 from "Family Feud" host Louie Anderson by threatening to reveal that the comedian allegedly asked him for sex.

----Hollywood: Rumor has it that NBC is planning to launch a new program in the fall dealing with the FBI and the mob in Florida. Stay tuned for more.

Columbia: National Police chief General Rosso Jose Serrano, Columbia is preparing for battle against the Russian mob whom he says are running a heroin network out of his country. Columbia produced an estimated 520 tons of cocaine and six tons of high-grade heroin last year, giving this South American nation the dubious honor of being the world's leading cocaine supplier. Police believe that Columbia is responsible for about two-thirds of the heroin sold in the United States.
Heroin production began in Colombia when Afghani and Pakistani traffickers taught Colombia's cocaine kings that end of the narcotics business.
General Serrano says the heroin is smuggled out in quantities of less than a kilogram in plastic wrappings swallowed by drug couriers, or "mules", in a variety of ways including a catch recently discovered in a rubber penis-shaped sex aid.
Serrano said that Russian mobsters are operating in Colombia, often working from offices in nearby countries.

Florida: Drug traffickers, now cut off from traditional air routes, are shipping cocaine and heroin by sea into Central America and then overland in trucks and cars in to the United States, says General Barry McCaffrey, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The General said that efforts to combat narcotics smuggling had largely shut down drug flights into Mexico, forcing traffickers to use small boats in sea lanes along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. He also added that cocaine production has dropped dramatically in Andean countries in the last few years, but that cultivation in Colombia is booming, with that country now producing 70 percent of the world's coca.

Japan: Police arrested three 15-year-old boys on suspicion of extorting 9 million yen in cash from a classmate and, on at least one occasion, beating him severally and breaking the boy's ribs. The police believe about 10 other boys and girls were also involved in the case and took a total of about 50 million yen from the boy. The money included 30 million yen in insurance money the boy's family received when his father died in an accident, as well as the family's savings, the police said. The boy's mother told the police she had borrowed money from her own father to give to three bullies to stop them beating her son.

----Tokyo: National trust in the once-venerated Japanese police, has sank to its lowest level in more than 20 years, according to an opinion poll published on Tuesday. The National Police are battered by a recent succession of scandals and gaffes.
Only 38 percent of those Japanese polled said they trusted the 320,000 strong police force while 60 percent said they did not. Critics are quick to blame the "old boy" network, the tiny elite of 520 officers who run the force and are deemed reluctant to introduce reforms, as a source of some of the problems. A flurry of scandals has slammed the Japanese police over the past year, ranging from incidents involving extortion to drug use.

Louisiana: Prosecutors say that former Governor Edwin Edward's paid off large gambling debts and big-ticket purchases with cash that came from graft, according to evidence presented at his racketeering trial.
Edward's admitted on the stand to his high spending habits, but has said the money was legitimately earned.
He is accused of extorting $3 million from applicants for riverboat casino licenses, and faces more than 300 years in jail if convicted. Prosecutors say Edwards, demanded payoffs for telling the now-dismantled Louisiana Riverboat Gaming Commission which permits to approve.

Massachusetts: The former business agent for Local 25 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers was charged with soliciting and accepting illegal payments from an employer who had entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Local. Anthony Frizzi was charged with soliciting and accepting illegal payments from Boston Ship Repair, Inc.
Frizzi served as the Business Agent for the Local.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pearlstein charged that Frizzi received $30,826 in "no show payments" from Boston Ship Repair.

----Boston: An alleged member of the Patriarca Crime Family was sentenced to 35 years in prison on racketeering charges. Vincent Marino, AK "Gigi Portalla" , was alleged to be involved in the struggle for control of the Patriarca Family between 1989 and 1994.
Marino was one of 15 defendants indicted by a federal grand jury in 1997, on charges including murder, conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to distribute drugs, extortion, illegal gambling, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, use of firearms in connection with drug trafficking offenses and crimes of violence, racketeering, and perjury.
He was convicted by a jury in federal court of conspiracy to murder the Boss of the Patriarca Family, Francis P. Salemme, in an effort to wrest control of the mob family.
Nine other defendants convicted in the case were sentenced earlier, including Robert F. Carrozza, a Capo Regime in the Patriarca Family, Michael P. Romano, Anthony Ciampi, Nazzaro Ralph Scarpa, Eugene Rida, a/k/a Gino, and Anthony Diaz. Defendant Enrico Ponzo is a fugitive. Only one defendant, John J. Patti, III, has yet to be sentenced.
Three of the government's cooperating defendants were recently sentenced. Leo M. "Chipper" Boffoli, Mark F. Spisak, and John M. Arciero, pled guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government. The government asked the Court to sentence each of the three to reduced sentences. The Court agreed.
Boffoli pled guilty to conspiracy to murder Matteo Trotto. Boffoli was sentenced to four years and ordered to pay a $12,500 fine.
Spisak pled guilty to conspiracy to murder Francis Salemme and of the attempted murder of Richard Gillis, gambling, and carrying firearms. He was sentenced to seven and one-half years
Arciero pled guilty to RICO and conspiracy to murder Salemme and others and the attempted murders of Michael Prochilo and Stephen Rossetti, drug trafficking conspiracy, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, and using or carrying firearms during or in relation to the conspiracy to murder. He was sentenced to six and one-half years' imprisonment and five years' supervised release.

----Boston: A Boston Police Officer assigned to the Police Department's Hackney (Taxi) Unit was sentenced for accepting over $40,000 in payments in connection with the issuance of taxi licenses. Officer David Corbin was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months' imprisonment, a $2,000 fine and 3 years of supervised release.

----Boston: Three men have been indicted on federal racketeering conspiracy, pension fund kickback, and money laundering charges involving almost a million dollars in commission kickbacks paid to two trustees of Chicago-based labor union pension funds. Christopher Roach, and Richard Tringale are charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and with paying kickbacks to trustees of employee benefit plans.
Also indicted was William Close, of Chicago a former trustee of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union Number 710 and the Automobile Mechanics Local Union Number 701 pension funds. Close is charged with receiving kickbacks and with money laundering.
According to the indictment, Roach and Tringale controlled a Detroit-based brokerage firm known as East/West Institutional Services, Inc. Working from this company, they contracted clearing brokers to pay East/West commissions generated by investment trades of labor union pension plan assets, the feds say. They also charge that the pair made promises and threats to investment advisors that Local 710 and 701 pension fund business could be had if the investment advisors agreed to funnel commissions through the clearing brokers to East/West.
The indictment also alleges that they paid almost a million dollars in kickbacks to Close and another union pension fund trustees, Robert J. Baker. Baker died in 1997.
The feds alleged that both trustees influenced and voted on the selection of investment advisors to the Local 710 and 701 pension funds. As a result, three million dollars in commissions were transferred from bank accounts in the United States to the Cayman National Bank in the Cayman Islands and then distributed to accounts in various names for Baker, Close, Roach, and Tringale.
The funds were then transferred to accounts on the Isle of Man.
According to the indictment, Roach and Tringale claimed they had paid $25,000 to a union official in Providence, Rhode Island to get him to agree to funnel commissions to East/West. When the union official didn't send the payments, they puled a gun on him and demanded payment. The feds say that the couple threatened to have the investment advisor's legs and knees broken and to send someone to attack him with a baseball bat.

Mexico: Mexican authorities said they had arrested and deported an Italian alleged to be a Sicilian Mafia boss who masterminded the 1990 murder of an Italian judge. Giuseppe Montanti, was deported to Rome after his arrest this month in the Pacific resort town of Acapulco. Montanti is believed to be the leader of the Sicilian crime organization known as "Stidda" or, the star, which is based in Agrigento, Sicily, and was hiding in Acapulco for six years as a fugitive from Italian justice for allegedly ordering the assassination of Judge Rosario Livantino. Livantino was machine gunned t death in 1990 after his car was ambushed by at least six gunmen as he drove to work in Agrigento. The Stidda is a rival to the island's Mafia and has fought the Mafia for control of drugs trafficking.

----Mexico City: The three Mexican federal drug agents found dead last week were tortured and then had their skulls crushed by a 3-1/2 ton truck. Mexican federal officials dismissed local police reports from the wild border city of Tijuana that the agents had died in a car crash. The three agents were found dead in early April, at the bottom of a ravine 70 miles east of Tijuana'
Further investigation shows that the three men died of severe head traumas, possibly from a baseball bat and tire tracks found on the bodies indicated the agents were run over by a vehicle of around 3-1/2 tons.

Minnesota: Angel Hernandez, an alleged former gang leader has been sentenced to college as a means to keep him out of trouble. Hernandez was convicted in January of attempted theft, assault and making terroristic threats as a member of the Latin Kings, and faced a 30-month prison sentence. County District Court Judge Donald Spilseth, against the wishes of prosecutors ruled that jailing the alleged 19 year old gangster would do nothing to reform him, so Hernandez, who is on five-year probation, is applying to the University of Minnesota. He's also ordered to perform community service, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and get a job.

Missouri: Six members of a Minneapolis family were sentenced to prison this month for running a multi-state prostitution ring. The men were sentenced on guilty pleas to federal charges of conspiring to transport individuals in interstate commerce with the intent of having them engage in prostitution. They were also convicted of interstate prostitution, conspiracy and money laundering and face maximum sentences ranging from 45 to 125 years. A three year investigation turned up more than 50 women and girls as young as 14 working as prostitutes in 24 states and Canada.

-----Kansas City: Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Bam Morris was jailed on charges that he and two other suspects conspired to distribute at least 220 pounds of marijuana.
Morris announced his retirement from football after the 1999 season, shortly before disclosure of a federal investigation of alleged drug and car-theft rings.

New York: A United States Army officer who headed American anti-drug efforts in Colombia pleaded guilty this month to concealing knowledge of the fact that his wife was laundering drug money while they lived in Bogota. Colonel James Hiett faces a maximum three years in prison and $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in June.
Hiett admitted that his wife, Laurie Anne, made two trips from Bogota to New York and returned with $25,000, but never questioned her about it.
Mrs. Hiett pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to smuggle heroin and cocaine. She faces seven to nine years in prison. The couple have two sons, aged 10 and 12

----Manhatten: Meyers Pollock and Robbins, the now defunct stock brokerage allegedly involved with members of the Genovese and Bonanno crime family in a scheme to manipulate stock prices, and its former president, Michael Ploshnick, have been indicted on securities fraud charges.
The charges grow out of a 1997 indictment against 20 defendants including high-level members of the two crime families in a scheme to manipulate the market price of certain securities including those issued by Mesa, Ariz.-based HealthTech, a health and fitness club operator.
Federal prosecutors allege that the Mafia families joined forces with the stock promoters and HealthTech officers to infiltrate Meyers Pollock, then used bribes, threats and violence as part of a scheme to manipulate stock prices.

Oman: In a recent meeting between Gulf Arab nations it was agreed that the focus between them should be on fighting crimes such as drug trafficking and smuggling.

Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia cell where Al Capone spent eight months will be restored and opened to the public during the 2000 tour season at the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia. Criminologist Norman Johnston will spend the night of May 4, in the cell, as part of the opening ceremony for the new tour season.
Capone was arrested in Philadelphia on May 16, 1929. He had been traveling from the National Crime Syndicate convention in Atlantic City when he was arrested by Philadelphia police Lieutenants John Creedon and James "Shooey" Malone for carrying loaded and unlicensed .38 caliber revolvers.
Most crime historian agree that Capone had arranged for the arrest to avoid the bloodshed back in the streets of Chicago.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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