Feature Articles

November 13, 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

New York: Victoria Gotti, daughter of imprisoned mob boss John Gotti, is seeking a divorce from her jailed husband, a syndicated columnist reported Tuesday.      Gotti filed for divorce last month from husband Carmine Agnello in Nassau County Court, according to Newsday columnist Liz Smith.

     Last June, she offered to put up half the couple's $4.2 million Long Island mansion as collateral to bail her husband out of jail, but a federal judge denied his release, saying he posed a threat to the community.

     Agnello, who faces federal racketeering charges alleging extortion, arson and tax fraud, remains in custody on $18 million bail.

     Gotti and her husband, a 39-year-old scrap dealer, have three sons.

Boston: Prosecutors should be allowed to use wiretaps made during the 1980s in their trial of alleged mobster Stephen ``The Rifleman'' Flemmi, a federal appeals court ruled.

     The ruling overturns a lower court ruling finding. Flemmi, who is jailed and has been awaiting trial since his 1995 indictment, had contended FBI agents had promised the evidence wouldn't be used against him because he was an informant.

     The three-judge panel said FBI agents, acting independently, didn't have the power to make such promises. "Thus, the alleged promise ... even if made, was unauthorized," the court said.

     The racketeering charges against Flemmi, 66, include allegations he was involved in four murders in 1967. He also faces additional racketeering and money laundering charges in two other cases.

     Prosecutors allege that for nearly 30 years Flemmi, reputed crime boss James ``Whitey'' Bulger and their associates engaged in murder, extortion, racketeering and other illegal acts. Bulger, who remains a fugitive, also is charged in the indictment.

New York: According to the New York Daily News Mafia families, including the Colombo, Genovese and Bonnano clans, are cooperating to divide profits from Wall Street scams.

     The scams involve brokers who hype small stocks that the Mob owns. The Mob then dumps the shares at inflated prices, regulators claim, according to the paper. The investors, typically senior citizens, buy the stocks at the inflated price and are then left with shares that plummet once the Mob dumps its holdings.

     For the past few years Mob families have been involved with several small brokerages that have been prosecuted for fraud, including A.S. Goldman & Co., First Liberty Investment Group, William Scott & Co., and Meyers Pollack Robbins. White Rock Investments, on State Street from 1993 to 1996, and Meyers Pollack, at 30 Broad Street, in 1996 and 1997, were both controlled by an alliance of the Colombo, Genovese and Bonnano clans, the New York Daily News reported, citing Brooklyn federal prosecutors and court papers.

     Alphonse Persico, the alleged boss of the Colombo clan, is said to receive 6 cents for every share the mob controls in these pump-and-dump schemes, the newspaper said.      In June, federal prosecutors charged 120 defendents with manipulating penny stocks, bribing brokers and running securities scams over the Internet, some of whom were involved with the Mob.

New York: Three men accused along with a Miami Beach nightclub owner in a mob murder case surprised prosecutors by pleading guilty to racketeering charges carrying possible life sentences.

     The men entered the pleas two weeks before they were to go on trial together in Brooklyn for allegedly robbing banks, dealing drugs and settling scores for the Bonanno organized crime family.

     The nightclub owner, Chris Paciello, and the other remaining defendant, reputed Bonanno boss Anthony Spero, now will be tried separately, with Paciello's trial delayed until mid-November.

     Prosecutors had alleged that all five men were behind an early 1990s crime spree that left a half-dozen bodies in its wake, including that of New York housewife Judith Shemtov.

     Shemtov's daughters wept in Brooklyn federal court Monday as defendant Thomas Reynolds confessed he was part of a violent holdup crew that raided her home in 1993 on a tip that her businessman husband had $200,000 stashed in a safe. Reynolds, 28, claimed his gun accidentally went off, killing the victim before the getaway car - allegedly driven by Paciello - sped away.

     Reynolds also told US District Judge Edward Korman that he was among the armed bandits who smashed the windows of a Staten Island bank and stole $300,000 in 1992. Accomplice witnesses have alleged Paciello was both mastermind and lookout for the heist.

     The other defendants were Joseph Benanti, 66, and Fabrizio DeFrancisci, 30. Korman did not set a sentencing date.

     Authorities have accused Paciello, 28, of using mob money to open a string of celebrity hangouts in South Beach like Liquid, Bar Room and Joia. Paciello, whose real name is Christian Ludwigsen, has denied any wrongdoing.

Russia: Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had no information about the alleged involvement of Russian citizens in the bizarre case of a partly built submarine in Colombia believed to have been intended to smuggle drugs.

     Colombian police last week announced the discovery of a 100-foot submarine on the outskirts of the capital Bogota, saying it was apparently designed by Russians and intended to smuggle cocaine or heroin.

     Police say drug gangs from the United States, Russia and Colombia may have made a three-way deal to build it for drug-running operations off Colombia's Caribbean or Pacific coasts.

     Russian-made tools and engineering documents translated from Russian into Spanish were found in the warehouse where the submarine was being built.

     It remains unclear why it was being assembled in landlocked Bogota, which sits on an Andean plateau some 8,530 feet above sea level.

Haiti: A jury has convicted the former police chief of Haiti's capital and three other officers of rounding up 11 suspected gang members and executing them.

     The trial was seen as an advance in government efforts to rein in rampant police violence. It was the first time members of Haiti's new force, created five years ago with US help, have faced trial.

     The killings occurred on May 28, 1999, as police were investigating a shootout between rival gangs. At the time, police said the gangsters started shooting at officers, who returned fire. Rameau denied responsibility for the killings.

     However, a medical examiner's report showed the victims had been shot in the front two to 12 times each at close range.

     Hundreds of officers have been fired for crimes including drug dealing and murder, but none has been tried. In 1999, police killed 66 people, twice the number as in 1998.

Columbia: The US Coast Guard has seized three tons of Colombian cocaine, worth up to $510 million, in international waters of the Pacific Ocean, in the latest high seas drug bust carried out in conjunction with the Colombian Navy, Colombian officials said.

     More than 12 tons of Colombian cocaine has been seized in international waters of the Pacific this year, according to Pineda. The latest consignment is thought to have been shipped from Colombia's main Pacific Coast port of Buenaventura.

     Sources close to Colombia's drug trafficking underworld said the latest cocaine seizures in international waters were not the result of joint intelligence work by U.S. and Colombian authorities but had been surrendered by drug mob leaders themselves as part of an immunity from prosecution deal.

     The sources said a number of Colombia drug traffickers have recently cut deals with the DEA, handing over part of their wealth, revealing drug transport routes, surrendering shipments and breaking ties with the illicit trade in return for getting immunity in the United States. U.S. authorities have not confirmed those claims.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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