Feature Articles

July 10, 2000

July 10, 2000
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 and Ed Becker

FLORIDA: Fifteen people, all alleged members of the Colombo crime organized crime family, were arrested on charges of running the family's gambling, extortion and money laundering operations in South Florida.
     FBI says the South Florida crew grossed as much as $2,000 a day in gambling and bookmaking since 1997. All of the men were arrested on RICO charges. Three others also indicted were still at large.
     Among those arrested were the mob faction's alleged leaders, Joseph "Joey Flowers" Rotunno, 54, and Reynolds Maragni, 48. Maragni is suspected by the FBI as being the messenger between the South Florida crew and the bosses of the Colombo family, while Rotunno allegedly had control over the group's daily activities.

LIECHTENSTEIN: Liechtenstein expects no punitive sanctions after an international review put it on a blacklist of 15 countries deemed "uncooperative" by regulators fighting money laundering.
     Mario Frick, head of Liechtenstein's government, said the tiny principality is addressing the problems cited in a report issued by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a G7 agency.
      Liechtenstein does not deny Russian Mafia money, or Latin American drug money may be in some accounts controlled by the nearly 200 trustees and fiduciaries, or around 50,000 funds and foundations registered there.

TENNESSEE: Fifteen gang members were arrested in Nashville after terrorizing the store clerk at a men's formal wear shop.
     The alleged hoods had gone to be outfitted for a friend's funeral and then begun smashing apart the store. Fortunately for police, the gangsters had first filled out applications for the tuxedos. The cops called their homes and enticed them back to the shop to arrest them.

TEXAS: One of the persons caught up in the mob related stock scam that broke the news earlier this week is Dallas businessman Gene Phillips, who was released on a $1 million bond on charges involving money laundering.
      Phillips was in the Bahamas on vacation when federal agents came to his home and office with an arrest warrant at his residence and at his business, Basic Capital Management Inc.
     Basic Capital Management is also named in the indictment. Basic Capital is one of the nation's larger real-estate management firms. BCM is described in federal securities filings as owned by a trust operated for the benefit of Mr. Phillips' children. Through BCM, Phillips manages or controls other real-estate companies including American Realty Trust which is also named in the federal indictment.
      Phillips is accused of scheming with underworld figures and labor bosses to market an issue of American Realty Trust stock. For every $10 million in ART stock sold, $2 million was allegedly set aside in foreign accounts to pay kickbacks to union officials whose pension funds were to purchase the stock.
     The marketing in the scheme, according to the indictment, was carried out by members of the Mafia who intimidated brokers with beatings and threats of beatings if they did not cooperate with the scheme.
     The hearing judge in the case released Phillips on bond, under the condition he wear an electronic monitor. Phillips was also required to put up $1.8 million in property as collateral.
     Phillips is charged in nine of the indictment's 26 counts, including racketeering, pension fraud and wire fraud.
     In an affidavit filed by the FBI, Phillips is described in secretly taped conversations as "the real guy behind the deal" and as "the bad guy" who was to "stay in the background."
     Phillips is the former chairman and leading stockholder in Dallas-based Southmark Corp. As Southmark chairman, he was involved in major transactions with California savings and loan executive Charles Keating, convicted Louisiana financier Herman K. Beebe and St. Louis attorney Morris Shenker, long reputed to be associated with organized crime.
     Southmark borrowed nearly $130 million from Mr. Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan. Federal regulators later said those loans were above legal lending lines.
      Shenker is the former chairman of the Dunes, who once represented Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, as well as the Teamster Pension Fund for the Central, Southeast and Southwest States.
     In December 1985, according to documents filed by Southmark, Southmark helped pull Shenker from bankruptcy by spending more than $19 million to secure two large parcels of Shenker-owned real estate in California and more than 1.2 million shares of the Dunes Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
      In 1974, Shenker, also a former Hoffa lawyer, was prepared to purchase the Stardust casino with a Teamster loan that would have been provided to him through Del Coleman, an investor. However, Shenker mysteriously backed out of the deal at the last moment and mob frontman Allan Glick was moved in on the deal.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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