Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bloods gang members facing death sentence for murder of Bonanno associate

A reputed Bronx mobster gunned down at a McDonald’s drive-thru was targeted for death by killers using a hidden GPS device.
Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that Sylvester "Sally Daz" Zottola, a longtime associate of the Bonanno organized crime family, was murdered five days after the plotters surreptitiously placed the tracking device under his car.
Zottola, 71, was fatally shot five times as he waited for a cup of coffee behind the wheel on Oct. 4, 2018. Five suspects accused in his death could face the death penalty in the mob execution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes said after detectives discovered the device beneath the dead Mafioso’s car, they reviewed closed-circuit television footage close to where the device was first activated.
“Sure enough, you see some of the defendants handling the tracking device,” said prosecutor Gerdes — adding the GPS tracker was first activated on Sept. 29, 2018.
Sylvester Zottola is pictured in an undated photo.
Sylvester Zottola is pictured in an undated photo.
Telephone records confirmed Bushawn "Shelz" Shelton, Herman "Taliban" Blanco, Arthur Codner, Himen Ross and Kalik McFarlane plotted to kill Zottola and his son Salvatore, as did evidence showing Shelton’s car parked near the victim’s residence on 20 different occasions in the months prior to his killing, court papers allege.
At their joint court appearance in Brooklyn federal court on Friday, the defendants sat in shackles while prosecutors rolled out the damning new revelations.
Defense attorneys for the accused men asked U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie to lift an order requested previously by prosecutors to prevent the co-defendants from discussing the case with one another. Dearie asked the government to reconsider its position, but Gerdes indicated that prosecutors had a reason for their request.
“These defendants have all communicated with one another in furtherance of a plot to kill two people,” charged Gerdes. “One of those people is dead.”
Zottola’s son Salvatore, 41, had survived a July 11 murder attempt outside his waterfront home in the Bronx — a hit ordered in an effort to “lure out” the father, according to a federal criminal complaint. Two of the suspects drove to his house to lie in wait, but Salvatore never appeared that day, the complaint said.
His father similarly escaped death in multiple threatening incidents over the last year, including a December 2017 attack inside his Bronx apartment where three masked invaders stabbed Sylvester Zottola repeatedly in the neck and chest.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Despite Junior Gotti's support MMA fighter is convicted of bank robbery

Mixed martial arts fighter Sergio Da Silva was convicted of robbery Thursday for holding up a Queens bank.
Sergio Da Silva, 32, was on trial for the Aug. 24, 2017, robbery in which he allegedly said he had a gun and threatened to shoot a bank teller before making off with $46,000.
The brawler jumped onto the counter of his local Citibank on Steinway St. near 28thAve. in Astoria with a black bandana wrapped around his face and demanded cash, prosecutors said during the trial.
Jurors deliberated for four days and found Da Silva guilty of third-degree robbery - but let him off the hook for first-degree robbery, a charge hinging on Da Silva having a gun during the crime.
“Yes!” a family member of Da Silva whispered when the jury announced he was innocent of the higher charge.
Moments later though, Da Silva’s family, including his son Sergio Da Silva, 8, who testified for the defense, burst into tears and dabbed at their eyes with tissues when the MMA fighter was pronounced guilty of the lesser charge.
Asked on his way out of court if the jury got the verdict right, an irritated Da Silva responded, “No they did not. I wouldn’t be fighting this hard if they did. I’m living to fight another day.”
Just hours into deliberations Tuesday, jurors sent Judge Leach a note saying they could not reach a verdict.
"We could not come to a unanimous decision," jurors wrote. Judge Leach implored them to continue deliberating.
Though each of the 12 jurors eventually agreed on the verdict, one male alternate juror shook his head continuously as Da Silva’s fate was revealed Thursday.
All the jurors declined to comment as they left Queens Supreme Court.
Da Silva faces up to seven years in prison on the third-degree robbery rap. If he had been convicted of first degree robbery he would have faced up to 25 years.
The MMA fighter had a powerful ally in his corner. Ex-mob head John Gotti Jr. showed up on the second day of jury deliberations in an Adidas track suit to lend support to the brawler, who trains with Gotti’s fighter son.
Gotti Jr. called da Silva a "magnificent father” who brings his son to the gym on a regular basis. “I believe the kid is innocent," Gotti Jr. told reporters
Da Silva tweeted just minutes before his verdict. “Thank you for all the support to those who always believed in me. If justice is served I will be not guilty”
Judge Leslie Leach will sentence Da Silva Feb. 28.


Mob associate inadvertantly led NYPD to drug ring

An NYPD drug probe dubbed “Operation Goodfellas” hit paydirt because one of the targets was a real dumbfella.
Reputed mob associate David Antinuche, 51, and four alleged accomplices were busted following a 10-month investigation into narcotics sales in Queens and Brooklyn, according to the NYPD.
Undercover officers made 19 purchases, buying a total of 300 grams of cocaine and 150 grams of heroin with a combined street value of $35,000.
At least two batches of the heroin also contained the deadly, synthetic opioid fentanyl.
But in addition to making the buys, the undercovers convinced Antinuche to introduce them to his suppliers, said Deputy Inspector Dominick D’Orazio, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Criminal Enterprise Investigative Section.
The not-so-wise-guy’s rap sheet includes previous busts for attempted murder, robbery and drugs, officials said.
He and pal Robert Henricks, 42, were both arrested during a Tuesday raid on their home at 73-32 53rd Road in Maspeth, where cops seized several glassine envelopes of heroin and drug paraphernalia.
Three other men — Santiago Villarraga, 23; Samuel Rivera, 47; and Eliescer Matta Medina, 25 — were also busted, and two others were being sought.
D’Orazio described the suspects as “mid- to high-level” dealers, but officials wouldn’t say which, if any, were the suppliers inadvertently identified by Antinuche.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Chicago outfit solder gets 18 years for robbing drug stash house

An alleged Outfit soldier has pleaded guilty to a state racketeering charge more than four years after he was caught posing as a cop to rip off a drug stash house on Chicago’s Southeast Side.
Robert Panozzo Sr., a reputed member of the Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew, was sentenced Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building to 18 years in prison. But he could be paroled in just 4 ½ years because of credit for time already served and expected day-for-day credit.
Panozzo still faces separate federal charges of extortion for the alleged beating of a McHenry County man. Cook County records indicate his sentence in the racketeering case will run concurrent with his federal sentence and that the time will be served in federal prison — likely indicating he also intends to plead guilty in federal court.
Panozzo and longtime associate Paul Koroluk are part of a crew run by Albert "Little Guy" Vena, according to sources and court testimony in the federal trial of Steven Mandell, a former Chicago police officer who was convicted in a grisly plot to kill a suburban businessman.
The sweeping racketeering charges allege the crew participated in wide-ranging crimes, including home invasions, armed robberies, burglaries, insurance fraud and prostitution. They allegedly carried out five or six major "rips" a year, robbing drug stash houses while posing as police officers.
The case against Panozzo and his associates was the second Cook County case brought under a state law modeled after the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Many of Panozzo’s associates, including his son, Robert Jr., previously pleaded guilty to RICO-related charges. Koroluk was also sentenced to 18 years in prison. The crew’s purported “computer guy,” Maher Abuhabsah, still has a pending case, according to court records.
Panozzo and Koroluk were arrested in a dramatic sting in 2014 after the two posed as cops to rob what they thought was a cartel stash house on the Southeast Side. They kicked in the door and grabbed stacks of drugs — only to be arrested by Chicago police and federal agents who had wired the house for audio and video surveillance and watched from above with an FBI spy plane. Koroluk wore a police star dangling from his neck, authorities said.
Prosecutors allege the crew participated in several other elaborate schemes targeting drug dealers, many of which involved tracking their targets with GPS to find where they stashed their product.
Raised in the old Italian-American enclave known as "the Patch" on the Near West Side, Panozzo and Koroluk have criminal histories that stretch back decades, court records show. In 2006 they were both sentenced to seven years in prison for a string of burglaries targeting tony north suburban homes that netted millions of dollars in jewelry and other luxury items. Police at the time described the burglars as some of the most sophisticated they'd ever seen, from the disabling of state-of-the-art alarm systems to the cutting of phone lines.
According to court records, Panozzo got his start as a juice loan collector under former Grand Avenue boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, who was convicted in the landmark Operation Family Secrets trial.
Before his arrest in the racketeering case, Panozzo was operating a house of prostitution masquerading as a massage parlor in the 800 block of West Superior Street, according to the charges.
The racketeering charges also alleged that Panozzo has a history of violence. Panozzo has often bragged to associates that he threw an elderly woman down three flights of stairs to her death in 1987 after tricking her into signing over ownership rights to her three-flat in the 2300 block of West Ohio Street, authorities alleged.
Court records also allege Panozzo discussed arranging the killing of a witness in a kidnapping case against one of the crew members.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Old school Bonanno mobster dies before retrial

An elderly Bonanno crime family boss ran out the clock on racketeering and other charges by dying before his retrial.
Nicholas "Nicky Cigars" Santora, 76, took a stumble after his release from jail on bail in December 2016 and was in declining health ever since, prosecutor Gary Galperin said in court Friday, as Santora’s case was officially closed.
Santora’s first trial on charges he he led the Bonannos in “old-fashioned” loansharking, gambling, drug dealing and other illicit acts ended in a mistrial in May 2016.
The jury in that trial deliberated eight days — but the case came to a halt after one juror claimed he “couldn’t hear” audio evidence the panel had been reviewing for days.
The hearing-troubled juror — who was the panel’s foreman — also complained that other jurors were ganging up on him and had their hearts set on conviction.
A new trial date was never set due to the wheelchair-bound geriatric goombah’s failing condition. He died Oct. 27.
Santora was among nine accused mob toughs busted in 2013 on a range of charges including peddling Viagra pills on the black market.
Santora maintained his innocence until the end while all of his co-defendants have pleaded guilty. Seven of his associates got prison sentences as high as nine years, prosecutors said.
Santora was caught on wiretap scolding associate Vito Badamo for “acting like a clown.” The younger man was set to “take over this neighborhood” and needed to “conduct yourself in a certain way,” the capo said.
“You gotta act like you're supposed to act. You understand?" he went on.
Santora’s case formally ended when his death certificate was presented to the court.
“The judgments of conviction against the other eight defendants shall stand for all time, an official testament to how old-school mobsters were overcome by old-time justice,” Galperin said at Friday’s hearing.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Death penalty on the table for five suspects accused of murdering Bonanno associate

Bushawn "Shelz" Shelton
Five men could face the death penalty in a murder-for-hire scheme that led to the assassination of a reputed mobster who was gunned down while waiting for a McDonald’s coffee, authorities said Tuesday.
The men — including ex-cons Bushawn “Shelz” Shelton and Herman “Taliban” Blanco, both 34 — were charged in a superseding indictment that alleges they conspired to pull off the Oct. 4 rubout of Sylvester Zottola, 71.
The reputed Bonnano crime family associate — who was known as “Sally Daz” — was repeatedly shot while waiting in the drive-thru lane of a McDonald’s restaurant in The Bronx.
The hit is believed to have been ordered by Albanian gangsters who wanted to take over an illegal gambling racket involving “Joker Poker” video games that Zottola ran, law-enforcement sources have said.
A cooperating witness who claims that Shelton and Blanco hired him to serve as the hitman has been helping prosecutors build their case, according to previously filed court papers.
Shelton, who was paroled in 2012 after serving a three-year prison term for illegally possessing a handgun, was busted a week after Zottola’s slaying.
Blanco, who was sent to prison in 2009 for burglary and assault in Queens, was picked up on a parole violation and transferred to federal custody last month, records show.
The indictment handed up Thursday also names Herman “Taliban” Blanco, Arthur “Feddi Bossgod” Codner, Himen “Ace” Ross and Kalik McFarlane as co-defendants.
All five could all face the death penalty on two counts, murder-for-hire conspiracy and causing death through use of a firearm, according to the feds.
Codner, 30, of New Hampton, New York, Ross, 32, of The Bronx, and McFarlane, 36, of Brooklyn, were arrested Tuesday morning.
Herman “Taliban” Blanco

They all pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned later in the day and were ordered held without bail, a spokesman for Brooklyn US Attorney Richard Donoghue.
In addition to Zottola’s slaying, Shelton is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm that the feds identified as a .32-caliber Armi Tanfoglio Giuseppe pistol.
He’s also charged with perjury for signing a sworn affidavit about his finances — which defendants use to be assigned court-appointed defense lawyers — in which he claimed to have just $5,500 in cash and bank deposits.
When Shelton was first hauled into court following his arrest, a prosecutor said a search of his Brooklyn home — which he shares with his grandmother — turned up $45,000 in cash and a loaded gun.
His granny told the FBI that “he came into that money very recently, most notably after the murder” of Zottola, prosecutor Lindsey Gerdes added.
Shelton and Blanco are scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.


Sunday, December 16, 2018