Feature Articles

May 2000

Mob Monthly
A Round Up Of The Usual Suspects

By John William Tuohy

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

compiled by John William Tuohy

CALIFORNIA: According to Microsoft Corporate security, Asian organized crime has shifted from hard-core and gang-related activities to hardware and software piracy because the profits are high and the risk of getting caught is low.

CALIFORNIA: Five family members have pleaded guilty to running a counterfeit memorabilia ring that included forging the signature of Mother Teresa on a baseball, the US Attorney's office said. The five pleaded guilty in US District Court to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax evasion. Federal agents found items carrying fake signatures of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa, and Micky Mantle. Agents estimated the haul to be worth up to $10 million on the market. The five defendants were named as Angelo Marino, 67; his wife Gloria, 64; their two sons, John, 36; and Greg, 39; and Greg's wife, Kathleen, 39.

CHINA: The Chinese mobs, who excel in kidnapping children for the sex slave market, have sunk to a new low, they're stealing fossilized dinosaur eggs, smuggling the, out of the country and selling them on the collectors black market. Police found three cases of the 150 million-year-old eggs in the back of a truck that was stopped as it crossed the boarder. The men bought the eggs from farmers who found them in their fields while plowing.

COLUMBIA: Leftist rebels have announced they'll begin kidnapping millionaires and corporate executives who refuse to pay tribute to the guerrillas. The guerrillas oppose a $1.7 billion anti-narcotics aid package for Colombia under discussion in Washington. Along with extortion, a key source of FARC revenue are "taxes" it levies on drug traffickers and laboratories.

ENGLAND: Drug dealers have turned to the Internet to sell their product. British Police estimated 1,100 Web sites were offering drugs ranging from cannabis to heroin, and urged nations to band together to stamp out the illicit E-commerce. Buyers simply have to log-on to an Internet site, give credit card details and the narcotics are mailed to them. Marijuana is the largest seller, followed by ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. Arresting the dealers is complicated by the fact that they can close down a Web site and simply start up another.

LOUISIANA: Former Governor Edwin Edwards was convicted on charges he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen applying for riverboat casino licenses. His son was found guilty as well. Edwards was convicted of 17 of the 26 counts against him, including two racketeering charges that each carry 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Chinese have a saying, Edwards said: ''`If you sit by a river long enough, the dead bodies of your enemies will float by you.' I suppose the feds sat by the river long enough and here comes my body.'' Prosecutors said Edwards, his son, a state senator and four other men engaged in an elaborate bribery and extortion scheme. involving casino licenses.

LIECHTENSTEIN: After being slammed in the world press by France as a money-laundering haven, this tiny country has pledged to finally do something about the problem......again. "Liechtenstein, by the end of this year, will have put into effect a simplified and reinforced arsenal of laws and regulations against financial crime which I believe to be one of the best in Europe," the principality's Justice Minister Heinz Frommelt said...again.

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, concerned about the federal indictment of Camden Mayor Milton Milan, has asked Attorney General John Farmer to have Milan removed from office during the investigation. Milan surrendered to federal authorities after a grand jury indicted him on 19 charges of corruption, including bribery, conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and fraud. He denied allegations that he had accepted payments from a Philadelphia organized crime leader, who has been cooperating in a lengthy grand jury probe.

NEW JERSEY: Philadelphia crime boss Ralph Natale pleaded guilty to murder, extortion, gambling and drug distribution. He also pleaded guilty to bribing the mayor of Camden and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and murder in aid of racketeering. Natale is the highest-ranking mob boss ever to cooperate with prosecutors. Court documents accused Natale of orchestrating a racketeering conspiracy that included murder, extortion, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, stolen cars, loan sharking and other crimes. He has been cooperating with investigators in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey since he was arrested on drug charges last summer.

NEW YORK: Police smashed a Wall Street stock fraud and money laundering ring involving Russian and Italian mobsters that stole some $40 million from investors, law enforcement officials said. Nineteen people were indicted in a "pump and dump" scheme in which unsuspecting investors were lured into buying stocks by crooked brokers at two brokerage houses. Once the stock price was "pumped up" the defendants allegedly took the profits and then "dumped" the stock and watched the price plummet. One Russian mobster was involved in the scam with members of the Bonnano's, Genovese's, Colombo's or Gambino families.

NEW YORK: Bank of New York Chairman and Chief Executive Thomas Renyi defended the bank's reputation as shareholders questioned management's role in a massive money laundering investigation last year. Bank of New York is one of the oldest commercial banks in the country. Last year it was at the center of an investigation into money laundering by an alleged Russian mobsters and businessmen, who passed some $7 billion through accounts at its branches. In what must be the deal of a life time, a probe into the bank's role in the money laundering ended with a regulatory agreement, in which the bank agreed to periodically report money transfer activity to regulators.

NEW YORK: The arrest of Sammy the Bull Gravano is already starting to have fall out. Federal prosecutors in the Big Apple have elected not to charge an alleged mob associate Bosko Radonjich, former head of the Westies gang, with jury tampering, in part because Gravano's testimony wouldn't be credible since his arrest on drug charges. Radonjich would have been charged with tampering with a juror in an effort to throw the first federal trial of John J. Gotti out of court. Gravano testified in 1992 that he gave Radonjich $60,000 to bribe a juror in Gotti's 1987 trial. The juror, George Pape, was indicted with Radonjich in 1992, and was convicted and sentenced to three years in the Can. Radonjich fled the country and remained a fugitive for nearly eight years until his arrest at a Miami airport.

NEW YORK: George "Georgie Neck" Zappola, an alleged Capo in the Luchese crime family, bribed a prison guard to smuggle his sperm to a Manhattan fertility clinic for use in impregnating his girlfriend law-enforcement sources say. However, the girlfriend changed her mind which allowed the federal agents time to uncover the scheme. Zappola is charged with seven murders and attempted murders, extortion, labor union payoffs and racketeering. Zappola, 40, is reported to be a top aide to Alfonse D'Arco - then head of the Luchese family.

OREGON: Daren Keith McCoy, 32, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 15� years in prison for murdering Portland gangster Anthony Branch, Jr. Branch, also known as "lil Smurf," a member of the Kerby Block Crips, died October 9, 1997. He had been shot through the neck in a parking lot outside a strip joint. He was 20. His father was murdered in 1995 after several men broke into his apartment and demanded to know his son's whereabouts. When he refused to tell them, the men beat him and finally shot him. Branch was Portland's best known gang members. He had been implicated in dozens of shootings and feared constantly for his life. McCoy, Branches killer, known on the street as "Bey Bey," was on parole in Oregon at the time of his arrest in April 1998. Since his death, Branch has been immortalized in a highly successful gangster rap album featuring the song "No Deal,"

PENNSYLVANIA: Robert LuisiJr., left Boston after the Mob there refuse to take him seriously, and joined the Philadelphia mob as a drug dealer in Boston. He allegedly joined with Charlestown gangster Stephan Flemmi, and tried to move in on the territory that once belonged to gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. Bulger is now a fugitive. Luisi, facing a lengthy prison term since his arrest last year on drug trafficking charges, has agreed to cooperate in organized crime investigations stretching from Boston to Philadelphia.

PENNSYLVANIA: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which is under federal watch due to its constantly "missing" financial sources and ties with organized crime, said that Teamster Local 107 in Philadelphia and a picket line captain were found in contempt of court and fined a total of $30,000 in connection with the assault on an Overnite Transportation Company driver. The Teamsters are picketing Overnight. According to court papers, an Overnite driver was assaulted while en route to work. He was struck in the face during the attack and identified Milligan in court as one of his assailants. The teamsters called for a nationwide walkout against Overnite in 1999. The company has 13,000 employees and operates 166 service centers nationwide. Less than 700 employees, including 19 persons in Philadelphia, are honoring the teamster picket lines. Most of those manning the picket lines are not employees of Overnite. Judges in 14 states have issued restraining orders to curb union violence and the threat of violence. The National Labor Relations Board has issued nine complaints against the teamsters for violence and threats of violence. A federal task force is investigating possible teamster links to 48 reported shootings and numerous acts of assault and vandalism aimed at Overnite and its employees since the protest began.

RHODE ISLAND: Alleged mobster Robert DeLuca was sentenced to federal prison after he serves out the 5 years left on his Rhode Island federal sentence. He must then complete another five years for a Rhode Island State conviction. DeLuca's indictment alleges that he and three other men became soldiers in the Patriarca family in a ceremony presided over by Raymond Patriarca and attended by 17 Mafia members. The men allegedly swore their allegiance in Italian, pricked their trigger fingers and burned a holy card depicting a saint.

SAUDI ARABIA: The Saudi's executed a man for smuggling drugs into the country, earlier this month. He was beheaded. He was the twenty-fifth person executed in the Arab State this year. The national policy is to execute murderers, rapists, drug smugglers and other criminals convicted under strict Islamic sharia laws.

TURKEY: A Turk, Oral Celik, arrested in the 1981 shooting of Pope John Paul II was released from jail Friday pending trial on charges of loan sharking. He was arrested after an Istanbul businessman complained that Celik and four other had threatened him over repayment of a loan. Celik has been detained by police several times since returning to Turkey in 1999 after spending four years in a Swiss prison for drug smuggling. He is currently on trial for allegedly kidnapping and raping a Russian dancer. Mehmet Ali Agca, another Turk, is serving a life sentence for shooting and seriously injuring the pope in a 1981 attack in Rome. An Italian court acquitted Celik in 1982 of charges of conspiring to kill the pope.

WASHINGTON DC: Harold Koh, assistant Secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor, said international criminals are moving away from guns and drugs to marketing women. The White House says that as many as 2 million women worldwide forced into sexual slavery, which it said is replacing the narcotics business as the favored illegal trade of international organized criminals. Furthermore the government estimates that at least 50,000 women brought into the United States annually for forced labor. Countries dealing in slave trade include Ukraine, Albania, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and Nigeria, according to officials.

YUGOSLAVIA: Belgrade is rife with conspiracy theories after Zika Petrovic, the head of Yugoslav Airlines, was gunned down in a city street. The murder was said to be mob related. The shooting was similar to other gangland-style murders of top officials, policemen and underworld figures since the bloody breakup of old socialist Yugoslavia.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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