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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bonanno captain sent back to jail for attending the crime family's Christmas party

A Bonanno capo who violated his probation by attending a Christmas party thrown by wiseguys was tossed back in prison for two more years Tuesday by a judge who blasted his “brazen disregard” of court orders.

A clearly fed-up Brooklyn federal court Judge Nicholas Garaufis said Anthony “Little Anthony” Pipitone abused the court’s trust by claiming he was “done” with his mobster lifestyle after serving 46 months for a brutal 2004 stabbing.

“The defendant has not given any indication to me that he is willing to extricate himself from the Bonanno family,” the judge said.

Pipitone, who was ordered to stay away from mobsters as part of his supervised release post-prison, was busted for attending the party and two other meetings with Mafia pals within a nine-month period.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Feds plan to auction Whitey Bulger's items to compensate victims

PHOTO: James "Whitey" Bulger is shown in this June 23, 2011 booking photo.
Soon the public will have the chance to purchase items once owned by notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger – a list that includes a rat-shaped mug and Stanley Cup ring.
The U.S. Marshals announced today that assets owned by Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, will be put up for auction next week, following a court order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper in April.
“Although the proceeds we obtain will never be enough to make up for the harm the victims and their families have suffered, it is our hope that this process and the restitution we will be able to distribute as a result of the auction will give some relief to the victims and families in this case," U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in the April statement announcing the plan for an auction.

PHOTO: U.S. Marshals will auction items belonging to James “Whitey” Bulger. Items include a skull ring. 
U.S. Marshals will auction items belonging to James “Whitey” Bulger. Items include a skull ring.

They released nine photos of the items going on the bidding block, including the hat Bulger was wearing when he was captured and arrested in 2011. All of the items were confiscated from the apartment he shared with Greig in Santa Monica, California. Federal prosecutors filed a motion yesterday to forfeit additional Bulger assets in an effort to satisfy a roughly $25 million court judgment against him.

PHOTO: U.S. Marshals will auction items belonging to James “Whitey” Bulger. Items include a rat cup.
U.S. Marshals will auction items belonging to James “Whitey” Bulger. Items include a rat cup.

All of the belongings in their possession will be sold at an auction on Saturday, June 25 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

PHOTO: U.S. Marshals will auction items belonging to James “Whitey” Bulger. Items include a rat cup.
U.S. Marshals will auction items belonging to James “Whitey” Bulger. Items include a rat cup.

In 2013, Bulger was convicted for his participation in 11 murders that took place during the 1970s and 1980s. He is currently serving a life sentence.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Son of jailed Genovese family soldier victim of shooting during drug deal

antonio fusco.jpg
Antonio Fusco, a 21-year-old Longmeadow resident police say was shot in the Hall of Fame parking lot on May 17 in the midst of a drug deal, was released on $500 bail in Springfield District Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Fusco, the son of Genovese crime family soldier Emilio Fusco, pleaded not guilty to distribution of marijuana. He was arrested at his home Tuesday morning and appeared in court shackled and with his arm in a sling.
A witness told police Antonio Fusco was shot in the shoulder after he began arguing with a prospective buyer in Fusco's car. The "buyer" stuck a gun to a female witness' head and Fusco whacked him with an expandable baton, police records state.
A police department spokesman said the witness account sounded like a hold-up, as opposed to an actual transaction. Police recovered nearly three pounds of marijuana from a backpack in Fusco's car, according to court records.
A pretrial conference was set for July 28.

Jailed Colombo captain granted one week furlough to conduct cancer tests

Colombo capo Luca DiMatteo, 70, was released Tuesday on extraordinary one-week medical furlough to undergo cancer tests.
An ailing Colombo capo was sprung from behind bars Tuesday on an extraordinary one-week medical furlough so he can undergo tests to determine whether cancer has spread throughout his body.
Luca DiMatteo, wearing his prison khakis, walked slowly with the aid of a cane outside Brooklyn Federal Court, accompanied by family members who signed a $1 million bond guaranteeing his return in seven days.
Prosecutors had dropped their opposition DiMatteo’s bail application after his lawyer made a compelling argument to a federal judge that the reputed mobster has received shoddy medical treatment at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
“I understand the MDC is not the Mayo Clinic,” Judge Leo Glasser said in Brooklyn Federal Court earlier this month. “But I also understand that even the MDC or the Bureau of Prisons has an obligation to see to it that a person in need of medical attention is receiving it appropriately and adequately.”
DiMatteo, 70, was diagnosed with bladder cancer before his arrest last July on racketeering charges.
A month before he was busted, federal agents observed DiMatteo travel directly from his chemotherapy treatment to pick up alleged extortion and loansharking payments from a victim.
His two previous bids for bail were rejected by a magistrate judge and Glasser who accepted the government's contention that the geezer gangster was a danger to the community, but the latest court filing seeking reconsideration of the bail issue contained new information about his deteriorating condition.
Defense lawyer Flora Edwards said her requests for medical intervention to treat DiMatteo's "agonizing pain" were either ignored by the MDC's warden, or bungled by the staff. Besides cancer, DiMatteo also suffers from congestive heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
The complaints included failing to check the battery on DiMatteo's pacemaker, not providing him with insulin before every meal, changing pain medication that he was previously prescribed to a type that isn't working, and transporting him to the emergency room of a Brooklyn hospital without forwarding his medical records.
"They turned around and they took him back (to the MDC) which left him bedridden for another two days," Edwards told the judge."He can't be left to suffer at the MDC until his heart gives out."
A prison told the judge via telephone that the pain DiMatteo is experiencing could signify that his cancer has metasticized, and that he should undergo a bone scan and other tests.
Glasser, who was annoyed that prosecutors did not bring the doctor to his courtroom, ordered a hearing on DiMatteo's treatment. The feds agreed to the one-week furlough to avoid the hearing.
Outside the courthouse, DiMatteo's lawyer declined to comment.
DiMatteo's nephew and co-defendant, Lukey DiMatteo, was granted a weekend release from jail in April by Glasser so the reputed mob associate to visit his baby daughter in the hospital where she was recovering from cancer surgery.
Both men are scheduled to go on trial in September.

Widow of murdered acting Bonanno family boss killed in Montreal has harsh words for his killers

Behind every homicide carried out in Montreal’s underworld is human suffering, and Francesca Montagna’s harsh words for a man who plotted her husband’s death are a reminder of that pain.

“I will regret you for the rest of my life, Mr. Desjardins. I will never forgive you. I tried, but I can’t. You will never know the harsh pain and struggle you caused us,” Montagna said during a court hearing in April. She was addressing Raynald Desjardins, who last year pleaded guilty to being part of the plot to kill her husband, Salvatore.

Desjardins, 62, played a leading role in the conspiracy. Montagna was killed on Nov. 24, 2011, in Charlemagne, just east of Montreal. The motive was revenge for a failed attempt on Desjardins’s life two months earlier, in Laval.

The two influential Mafia figures had formed an ill-fated consortium to wrest power from the Rizzuto organization. The alliance fell apart during the spring of 2011, when Montagna and Desjardins began arguing over control of such areas as loansharking and bookmaking in the city.
Dec. 20, 2011: Police officers arrest Raynald Desjardins (centre) in the death of Salvatore Montagna.

But the reasons behind the dispute were irrelevant to Francesca Montagna when she appeared before Superior Court Justice André Vincent on April 29 at the Gouin courthouse. She appeared before the judge via a video link-up from New York City, where she and Montagna had spent most of their time together before Montagna was expelled from the U.S.

American authorities, after realizing he wasn’t a citizen despite having lived there for years, gave Montagna the choice to be sent to his native Canada or to Italy, where he was also a citizen. At the time Montagna was ordered deported, he was the temporary boss of the Bonanno crime family in New York, which had links to Montreal dating back decades. So Montagna and his wife moved to Montreal, the city where he was born, in 2009.

It is almost unheard of for a relative of someone slain in an underworld settling of accounts to testify at a sentence hearing in a Canadian court — especially when it involves such influential mob figures as Desjardins and Montagna. But Francesca Montagna wanted Desjardins to know the harm he and his accomplices caused to her family.

“I don’t know how I’ve made it since (my husband was killed),” she said via video link from the offices of Canada’s Consulate General in New York. “When I stop and think where my life is now, I want to scream and let the whole world hear me.”

“I speak not only on my behalf but on behalf of my (three) daughters,” Montagna said with a thick New York accent. Despite being in Canada for a couple of years before the murder, one thing that remains foremost in her memory is that her husband was killed on American Thanksgiving. She said she wore black clothing for four years “to mourn my husband’s death before I realized that no matter what colour I wore, it made no difference.”

She said she and her daughters also kept a place for him at their dinner table, and blew out candles on his birthdays.

“My in-laws both recently died, I believe, from broken hearts caused by the death of their wonderful son. I often prayed that God would take me, too. But I realized I need to (move) forward to help and teach my daughters to live productive, happy lives. I decided to not have my daughters here today because I feared that this court proceeding would destroy them by coming face-to-face with their Papa’s killer, the one who has destroyed their lives. Please have patience with me today, it is very difficult for me to express my feelings (on) the destruction Mr. Desjardins has caused my dear family.”

Near the end of Desjardins’s sentence hearing, a prosecutor told Vincent that Francesca Montagna would be informed, by phone, of how six other people also pleaded guilty, on March 30, to being part of the conspiracy to murder Montagna. A seventh man pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder. The six men who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge are scheduled to have a sentence hearing on Friday.

It was unclear in April whether Montagna’s widow intends to testify during the sentencing stage of their cases, as well. She had written her statement in February — weeks before the other men admitted to their roles in the plot.

“I will respect the sentence you will (eventually) hand down to Mr. Desjardins. However, in determining a just sentence I ask that you consider my pain, grief and suffering of my three young daughters’ broken hearts,” she said as she finished reading from the statement.

The next date in Desjardins’s sentence hearing is scheduled for September. The conspiracy charge he pleaded guilty to carries the possibility of a life sentence.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Retired NYPD cop busted for running major prostitution ring linked to the Gambino crime family

A retired Brooklyn cop collecting a disability pension was busted by the feds Tuesday for allegedly operating a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring in which his hookers billed well-heeled clients up to $2,000 per hour.

Michael Rizzi, who is related by marriage to two members of the Gambino crime family, was collared at his Bensonhurst home, where Department of Homeland Security agents and detectives seized computers, business records, and a stolen handgun found in the basement.

Rizzi, 44, was the alleged pimp behind a lucrative online escort service that spawned out of a Staten Island prostitution operation called Pure Platinum Models taken down by the feds in 2012.

He was charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering.

“With this arrest, we continue to unmask organizations that launder millions of dollars through alleged criminal networks,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers.

A complaint unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court alleges that Rizzi is the registrant of 58 active websites, including, and, which features photos of women in lingerie and bikinis, or topless with a “donation” price listed next to their name.

NYPD and Homeland Security investigators raid the home of retired police officer Michael Rizzi on Tuesday.

Defense lawyer Javier Solano insisted Rizzi is a legitimate businessman.

“He ran an escort service that was strictly for companionship,” Solano said.

Court papers allege Rizzi accepted applications emailed from escorts who described their looks, ethnic origin, measurements and sexual attributes.

“I love sex and if I can get paid for it why not?” a woman stated in her application, according to the complaint.

“I have...perky t---ies and a nice ferm (sic) butt...interests = Roleplay, Foreplay, S&M, and oral sex,” another jobseeker wrote.

Rizzi allegedly ran 58 websites that "processed millions of dollars in transactions," a source said.

Rizzi allegedly interviewed the women in person at hotels, boasting that his clients were among the wealthiest people in the world. Investigators interviewed hookers and clients of Rizzi’s alleged service, according to court papers.

Rizzi was a nine-year veteran of the force when he retired in 2000 due to a line of duty injury. His lawyer said he was not aware of the details of the disability.

In 2009, Rizzi was arrested in a sports gambling takedown by the Queens district attorney’s office. The gambling ring had ties to the Gambino crime family.

Rizzi’s wife, Jill, is the niece of Gambino capo Sonny Juliano and her father is Gambino soldier Richard Juliano Jr., authorities said.

Immediately after he was released from federal custody on a $500,000 bond co-signed by his wife Tuesday afternoon, Rizzi was arrested by detectives on a stolen gun charge.

Authorities seized computers, business records, and a stolen handgun found in the basement.

His lawyer claimed the handgun was an antique firearm. He has yet to be arraigned on that charge.

Investigators placed a GPS tracking device on Rizzi’s Infiniti SUV and followed him on his rounds, including stops at the Love Jones adult entertainment store in Staten Island, where he met with owner Edward Shamah, suspected of collecting money from the escorts for Rizzi, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Contacted by phone at his sex emporium, Shamah shouted: “No comment!” and hung up.

One of Rizzi’s neighbors was shocked by the allegations. “I don’t believe it,” the neighbor said. “He’s a family guy.”

Gambling website run by Lucchese family mobster is shut down

Eugene (Boopsie) Castelle is walked into Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday. He is the alleged ringleader of the gambling website.

This wise guy is up to his same old tricks.

Six men were busted Thursday for conducting an online gambling operation that raked in over $13 million, prosecutors said.

From Sept. 2015 to this March, hundreds of bettors either went to with their own unique username and password or called the company’s toll-free number to place bets on various professional and collegiate sports, prosecutors said.

“We’ve now shut down this illegal enterprise that was controlled by organized crime and will fully prosecute those who have been indicted,” said Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson.

The ringleader, Eugene "Boopsie" Castelle, a reputed member of the Lucchese crime family, received payments for his leadership and to protect them against rivals, prosecutors said.

“I don’t shake hands with cops,” Castelle allegedly told authorities.

Castelle, 56, was “back to business” eight years after he was released from federal prison, where he served 88 months for racketeering charges, prosecutors said.

Anthony Grecco, second left, leaves after making bail at Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday.

Anthony Grecco, 62, was the alleged master agent of the operation, who managed the activities in Costa Rica, with the other agents as well as his own clientele.

The four other defendants on the 37-count indictment were the alleged “sheetholders” who handled administrative duties with account holders and collected a percentage of lost wages, prosecutors said.

They were each variously charged on the indictment for enterprise corruption and promoting gambling. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun set bail between $25,000 and $250,000 bond.

Grecco was also indicted for separate charges of money laundering.

Rizzuto crime family boss is killed in Montreal
Exactly one decade ago, Rocco Sollecito was part of a group of six men who seemed untouchable.
The six had been chosen to take charge of the Mafia in Montreal while its leader, Vito Rizzuto, was incarcerated in the United States.
Now, following Sollecito’s brazen killing on Friday – in broad daylight and within sight of Laval police headquarters – only two of those six men remain alive and they both were recently returned to federal penitentiaries out of concerns for their safety.
According to police sources, investigators have evidence that a man, described as being in his 30s and dressed entirely in black, was waiting at a bus shelter on St-Elzéar Blvd. and opened fire into the passenger-side window of Sollecito’s white BMW sport utility vehicle when it stopped at a stop sign at around 8:30 a.m. Several shots were fired into the vehicle and Sollecito, who was alone inside the SUV, was declared dead after being taken to a hospital. 
The shooter appeared to know Sollecito’s morning routine, one source said, adding that, besides the shooter, investigators were also trying to track down the driver of a vehicle that moments after the shooting appeared to slow down as it approached Sollecito’s SUV and then continued on in the same direction the shooter is believed to have fled on foot. 
Everything changed for Sollecito and those five other men in November 2006, when they were the main players arrested in Project Colisée, a Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit investigation that struck at the very heart of the Rizzuto organization. All six men eventually pleaded guilty to various charges in Colisée and received sentences of varying lengths. The investigation, coupled with Vito Rizzuto’s absence, left the organization in a weakened state.
The first of the six to go was Vito Rizzuto’s brother-in-law, Paolo Renda, 70, who was abducted off a street in May 2010, near his home in northern Montreal, by men who appeared to be pretending to be plainclothes police officers. Renda has never been seen since and, in 2013, his family sought to have him declared dead in court.
Six months after Renda was abducted, Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo "Zio Cola: Rizzuto, 86, was killed in his home on Nov. 10, 2010.
On March 1 of this year, Lorenzo "Skunk" Giordano, 52, one of the younger members of that six-person committee, was fatally shot in Laval, not far from where Sollecito’s slaying was carried out on Friday.
Giordano had only recently reached his statutory release date on the 15-year prison term he received as a result of Colisée.
The other two men who were part of that group back in 2006 who have survived are Giordano’s close friend, Francesco "Chit" Del Balso, 46, and Francesco Arcadi, 62, a close lieutenant to Vito Rizzuto for years before Rizzuto died of natural causes in 2013. Both received sentences similar to Giordano’s and were released earlier this year when they also reached their statutory release dates. Following Giordano’s murder, both men were returned to federal penitentiaries out of concern for their safety.
Sollecito received a much shorter sentence than Arcadi, Del Balso and Giordano, in part, because the evidence gathered in Colisée indicated he apparently steered away from the large-scale drug trafficking schemes the other men were involved in.
Sollecito’s expertise was in bookmaking. On Sept. 24, 2004, with the Colisée investigation well underway, police secretly recorded a very revealing conversation between Giordano and Sollecito inside the Mafia’s headquarters, a café in St-Léonard. They were lamenting how the long summer had deprived their bookmaking operation of NHL games and they were eagerly awaiting the upcoming new season.
According to a summary of the conversation that was later presented as evidence in court, Giordano longed for the NHL season because of its steady stream of games offered on a nightly basis. Sollecito was recorded as saying that with hockey their bookmaking operation “never loses.”
During another conversation recorded inside the café on May 23, 2005, Sollecito explained how the committee worked to a Mafioso who was visiting from Italy. Traditionally, a Mafia clan operates with one leader and the visitor from Italy couldn’t figure out why the senior leaders; Sollecito, Nicolo Rizzuto, Arcadi and Renda, were splitting their profits evenly, with a fifth share going to Vito Rizzuto even if he was behind bars in the U.S. 
“How do you see this? What do you think?,” the man from Italy asked Sollecito at one point. 
“You have to look at it from the right side because we are splitting it in five and it is right that we split. You are coming from the other side (Italy) so therefore you are entitled to your opinion, the way you see it,” Sollecito said
Renda’s abduction and Nicolo Rizzuto’s slaying in 2010 were the clearest signs the Rizzuto organization was under attack from a group, led by Salvatore Montagna, a now-deceased mob boss from New York, that tried to take control of the Mafia in Montreal. 
While some people very close to the Rizzutos apparently betrayed the organization Sollecito remained loyal throughout the conflict. In 2012, a few police sources speculated that it was Sollecito’s leadership that held the organization together before Vito Rizzuto returned from the U.S. in October of that year. 
That loyalty was apparently rewarded when a new six-member committee was reportedly assembled after Rizzuto died of natural causes. Both Sollecito and one of his sons, Stefano, 48, were reportedly named as members of the new committee.  
In November, the younger Sollecito was identified as a leader in the organization by the Sûreté du Québec when he and Rizzuto’s son, Leonardo, 46, were arrested in an investigation into drug trafficking. While the younger Sollecito was under investigation he was advised by the police that they had credible information that his life was in danger. 
On Friday, Lt. Jason Allard, a spokesperson for the SQ, said it was too early in the investigation to begin discussing possible motives behind the shooting. He also cautioned that it was too early to say with certainty whether Sollecito was killed by only one gunman or how many shots were actually fired. 
As he made the comments investigators and crime scene technicians were combing over St-Elzéar Blvd. looking for evidence and witnesses and slowly working their way back to Sollecito’s SUV. 
Allard said the SQ will wait until a coroner has examined the body before the provincial police can confirm the victim was Sollecito. But he could confirm that the victim “was 67 years old and had ties to organized crime.” 
The investigation was taken over by the SQ because of the organized crime element but, Allard said, “that means we work along with the municipal (Laval) police in the investigation. They know the area. It’s their investigators who will know what might have been going on. They will know the lay of the land.”

The deadly feud between Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante and Gambino boss John Gotti revealed in new book

Genovese family boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante in 1997.

Vincent Gigante, firmly established as the bathrobe-clad boss of the Genovese Family, was well into his mental illness scam before the Dec. 15, 1985, mob hit on fellow boss “Big Paul” Castellano of the Gambinos.

The Chin suddenly found himself facing an unexpected nemesis: John Gotti.

This excerpt from “Chin: The Life and Crimes of Mob Boss Vincent Gigante” (Kensington Books, on sale May 31), written by veteran Daily News reporter Larry McShane, recounts their testy relationship.

If the Chin was not too well versed about the outer borough thug who had just whacked his pal Castellano, Gotti was fully in the know about his Genovese family counterpart.

John and his brother Gene Gotti told a confidential informant in 1984 that Gigante was used by the Commission during the 1970s to execute Mafiosi caught violating the ban on dealing heroin.

“CHIN: The Life and Crimes of Mafia Boss Vincent Gigante” by Larry McShane.

 An FBI agent summed up the Gottis’ beliefs this way: “Those apprehended and/or convicted ... normally met with individuals associated with Gigante, and these meetings were usually their last.”

The Gotti brothers specifically referred to Carmine Consalvo, tossed from the roof of a 24-story building in Fort Lee, N.J., while facing a heroin trial in 1975. His brother Frank suffered the same fate three months later after a shorter fall: Five stories from a building in Little Italy.

Gotti’s renegade crew not only feared the Chin — they respected him. Charlie Carneglia, one of Gotti’s most trusted contract killers, was caught on another bug calling Gigante “smart” for his ongoing mental health routine. (Proof of Chin’s high-quality act: Carneglia was convicted in 2009 after prosecutors said he unsuccessfully pulled the same stunt.)

To Bill Bonanno, former Bonanno family boss and son of Mafia founder Joseph Bonanno, Gotti and his ilk were hardly men of honor.

John Gotti, Gigante's nemesis.

“They’re a product of ‘the opera generation’ — me, me, me,’” scoffed Bill Bonanno. “It is a different mob.”

The Chin was a padrone, taking care of local problems in a low-key fashion reminiscent of “Godfather” Don Corleone on the day of his daughter’s wedding. Gotti, in a typically showy move, hosted a massive Fourth of July party in Howard Beach — complete with illegal pyrotechnics.

The annual event was held despite Gotti’s unknown past as a draft-dodger; the Dapper Don avoided wearing olive drab by blowing off his draft board on the very day that President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

Gotti, a guy from Queens, was hardly part of the mob’s upper echelon; his base of operations was in far-flung Ozone Park at the Bergin Hunt & Fish club, where the rods came equipped with silencers. Hijackings at Kennedy International Airport were their bread and butter. Gotti was hardly a subtle guy; when the threat of violence wasn’t enough, he simply turned to violence.

To a made man with Chin’s mob pedigree, Gotti was an outsider and unworthy of respect — even after the Castellano hit. Gigante was unappeased by Gotti’s public denials of the murder or his immediate “election” by Gambino captains as the family’s new leader.

Gotti’s disregard for both mob management and his late boss was captured on a particularly bilious recording made in an apartment above the Ravenite after the Castellano assassination.

“Hate, really hate Paul,” Gotti ranted. “He sold the Borgata (family) out for a construction company. He was a piece of s---. Rat, rat c---sucker. Yellow dog!”

His feelings toward Gigante, while not as colorful, were equally dismissive. Gotti sneered at the Chin’s bread and butter, the crazy act: “I would rather be doing life than be like him,” the mobster once told his son John "Junior" Gotti.

Gotti (l.) with son John Jr. (c.).

Gotti was a guy who nursed a grudge, like the one he held toward Castellano, and he cared — a lot — about making money. Gigante took a more benevolent approach to the cash generated by his illegal operations and his loyal staff.

“Chin was very well-liked by his crew because he didn’t ask for a lot of money from his capos, his soldiers,” said federal prosecutor Greg O’Connell.

Gambino underboss Gravano agreed: “He ain’t that interested in the money. He already had a ton of money. His biggest problem was where to hide it. He didn’t take money from most of his captains.”

Three different law enforcement sources said the murderous Gambino boss was petrified of the ruthless Chin.

Gotti had a penchant for gambling — and sometimes went in over his head.

“John Gotti was terrified of Gigante,” said FBI Agent Bruce Mouw, once the head of the agency’s Gambino Squad. “He knew that the Genovese were the most powerful family, very tough, a vicious family.”

“I’m sure he was,” agreed O’Connell, noting the Chin was apparently afraid of nothing.

Former Colombo capo Michael Franzese echoed the law enforcement assessment.

“I believe everybody feared Chin, even when Fat Tony (Salerno) was the boss,” said the born-again gangster. “It was pretty much common knowledge that Chin was no fan of Gotti’s.”

The body of Thomas Bilotti, friend and chauffeur of Mafia boss Paul Castellano, lies in the street after he and Castellano were shot and killed outside a W. 46th St. steak house.

While the Chin’s gambling was now limited to fixed card games with his Greenwich Village cohorts, Gotti was a wild bettor who couldn’t get out of his own way. Secretly recorded tapes found the Dapper Don bemoaning his leaden touch while betting football, including a $53,000 beating in a single weekend.

“I bet the Buffalo Bills for six dimes ($6,000), they’re getting killed 10-0,” he griped on a wiretapped Nov. 11, 1981, conversation. “I bet New England for six dimes, I’m getting killed with New England. I bet six dimes on Chicago, they’re losing. I bet three dimes on KC, they’re winning. Maybe they’ll lose, those motherf-----s.”

The Chin, despite decades of federal pursuit, was never heard discussing his multi-million business or any other matters of organized. Gotti talked his way into a life sentence after the Castellano hit.

Yet when the feds secretly planted a bug in an apartment upstairs from the Ravenite, they captured nary a bad word from Gotti about Gigante.

Gigante (second from r.) and his mob cohorts in an undated photo from the U.S. Attorney's office.

“All the conversations in the Ravenite, John Gotti badmouthed everybody — the Colombos, the Lucheses,” said Mouw, who listened to hours and hours of tapes. “And every time it got around to Chin, he almost lowered his voice like the old E.F. Hutton commercial — ‘Well, the Chin says ...’”

Even when alone with his most trusted Gambino associates, Gotti would never admit to any complicity in the Castellano killing. He seemed haunted by the thought that somehow, someway, word of his treachery would reach Gigante.

Gigante was “the anti-Gotti, to the extent that Gotti brought law enforcement attention, couldn’t avoid electronic surveillance, promoted people he shouldn’t and created internecine warfare,” said Ronald Goldstock, the former head of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.

“Gigante was exactly the opposite. No matter how we tried, there was no electronic surveillance. People in the family respected him. He resolved problems, rather than fomenting them. The people surrounding him were tried and true.”

Bathrobe-clad Vincent "The Chin" Gigante in custody and placed under arrest.

Mouw said Gotti yearned for the kind of reputation and respect accorded the Chin.

“I’m sure he was envious,” said Mouw. “The one thing John respected was power. Power and money.”

Atlantic City mobster Phil Leonetti, in a conversation with Gambino underboss Gravano, got the lowdown on the feud between the nation’s two top mobsters.

“Sammy told me that John hated the Chin,” Leonetti recalled. “But I think it was because John knew that he would never have the power that Chin had. I mean, the newspapers and the media made him ‘The Dapper Don.’ But to guys on the street, guys in the mob, they knew it was the Chin who was the real power in New York. And I think that irked Gotti, that as regal as he was, he couldn’t trump this guy in a bathrobe.”

Gigante (2nd from r.) discussing business with his underlings in 1997.

When Gotti ascended as the new Gambino boss, Chin never regarded him an equal, a partner or a friend. Gigante viewed the interloper as a rule-breaking cop magnet and general pain in the ass.

Gigante, as he did when Philly boss Bruno was whacked in an unsanctioned hit, wasted no time in plotting his payback on the Castellano plotters. A murder contract was placed on Gotti’s head after the Chin — accompanied by his brother Ralph — ventured to the wilds of Staten Island for a sitdown with Luchese boss Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo.

The men, sitting in the home of “Christie Tick” Funari, agreed that Gotti had to go.

Longtime Luchese soldier Al D’Arco recalled the Chin’s initial plan was to deliberately not whack Gotti in a quick strike, the way Castellano was taken down. The fuming Gigante wanted to eradicate Gotti’s friends and fellow plotters, leaving the Gambino boss with the feeling of a noose tightening around his disrespectful throat.

A bearded Gigante (r.) during his 1997 trial.

“Vincent Gigante wanted John Gotti,” said D’Arco, who would eventually become boss of the Lucheses. “He just didn’t want him killed first.”

One of the things that Gigante most despised about Gotti actually kept the Gambino boss alive: Johnny Boy’s constant attention from the FBI and the press wrapped him in a security blanket, making it hard to hit the new boss. The storefront Ravenite in Little Italy was tucked amid cramped and crowded streets that made a mob killing almost impossible in the neighborhood.

Gotti survived the Chin’s assorted murder plots, although he couldn’t escape arrest.

When his son John Jr. assumed command after the Teflon Don was busted on Dec. 11, 1990, the Genovese hierarchy — in a final slap at the elder Gotti — refused to even meet with the Mafia novice.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

South Philadelphia bookmaker continues to fight federal conviction

Jailed South Philadelphia bookmaker Gary Battaglini will be in town for another month ---as a guest of the federal government.

Battaglini, currently serving a 96-month sentence on racketeering/gambling charges, was in court this morning in an ongoing battle to have his conviction overturned. Dressed in a green prison jumpsuit, his hair a little grayer than when he appeared for sentencing two years ago, the soft-spoken reputed mob associate argued that his trial lawyer had improperly advised him on his appellate rights.

"He told me there was no grounds to file an appeal," Battaglini said during an hour-long hearing before U.S. District court Judge Eduardo Robreno in the same 15th floor courtroom where Battaglini and three others were convicted in February 2013.

His trial lawyer, Lawrence O'Connor, appeared as a government witness and disputed most of what his former client said.

Robreno gave both sides in the case time to file written briefs on the issue and indicated that he would rule in about a month. In the meantime, he ordered that Battaglini should remain at the Federal Detention Center at 6th and Arch Streets until the issue is resolved.

From the witness stand Battaglini, 55, said he had little contact with O'Connor after he and three co-defendants were convicted following a lengthy and convoluted trial that ended in February 2013. In fact, he said, O'Connor did not take his phone calls and came to visit him only after Battaglini wrote to the judge complaining that he could not reach his lawyer.

Mob boss Joseph Ligambi was the lead defendant in the racketeeing case. Ligambi and two other defendants were eventually acquitted.

Battaglini said O'Connor told him there were no issues that could be appealed -- a contention that O'Connor disputed. Battaglini said, "I never was on trial before so I was confused." But he insisted he never told his lawyer not to file an appeal.

He also disputed a prosecution contention that he did not want to appeal the conviction because he preferred to serve time in a federal prison rather than a state prison. Battaglini was facing a cocaine-dealing charge in Common Pleas Court at the time. He eventually was sentenced to a five-year to 10-year term after pleading guilty in November 2013. That sentence, under the terms of a plea deal, was to run concurrently with the federal sentence and would end before or at the same time at his federal  jail time.

"I didn't care either way," Battaglini said. "My time is my time. A prison's a prison."

But O'Connor testified that Battaglini told him serving his term in a federal facility was an important issue. The veteran defense attorney, a former assistant district attorney, also said he would never advise a client that there were no appealable issues.

"I would never do that," he said. "I'm of the opinion you could always find some issues to appeal."

Indeed, he said a motion he filed with Robreno for a post-trial reversal of the conviction contained the same issues that would be filed in an appeal. Robreno rejected those arguments which included charges that the government had improperly introduced evidence and witness testimony.

O'Connor said he had notified Battaglini's wife that the 14-day period for filing a notice of appeal was running out a few days after sentencing was imposed on July 12, 2013.

The government then introduced a series of emails between O'Connor and Battaglini's wife, including a final email, two days before the deadline, in which she wrote, "Thanks, Larry, for everything, but we're not appealing."

Hope Lefeber, Battaglni's court-appointed lawyer for today's hearing, argued that O'Connor represented Battaglini, not his wife, and that only Battaglini could have authorized him not to file an appeal.

Robreno, who said he would take the arguments under advisement, said it appeared the issue on whether to file an appeal "was left open," but that the legal question was whether O'Connor should have done more to obtain a direct order from Battaglini or whether Battaglini, as the government argued, had the obligation to inform his lawyer.

The appeal question is the first prong of a two-pronged legal battle. If Battaglini is denied the right to file an appeal, Robreno will then decide whether to consider a motion Battaglini filed on his own from prison asking to have his conviction vacated and asking that he be given a new trial.

Among other things, Battaglini has argued that he was improperly tainted with mob associations. He said he was a bookmaker, but insisted that his gambling operation was not tied to the mob.

Battaglini's three convicted co-defendants, mobsters Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, Anthony Staino and Damien Canalichio, have had their appeals denied.

Ligambi and mobsters George Borgesi and Joseph "Scoops" Licata were found not guilty, although the government had two tries to convict Ligambi and Borgesi. The first trial ended with the jury acquitting the two of several charges, but hanging on several others. A second trial ended with Borgesi found not guilty on the one remaining count against him and the jury again split -- some acquittals and some no decisions -- on the charges against Ligambi. The government opted not to try the  mob boss a third time.

Former Gambino family enforcer's brother sues him in court

John Edward Alite, a mob enforcer who spent nearly a decade in prison, is being sued by his brother.
This mob tale gives family style a bad name.

John Alite, a Gotti mob enforcer-turned rat who spent nearly a decade in prison for his involvement in six murders, is being sued by his brother James. The plaintiff says he’s battling cancer and needs the money he’s allegedly owed from business deals the pair made after John was sprung from the Big House in 2011.

According to James, his little brother won’t even return his calls.

“To this day I’d do anything I can for him,” James tells Confidenti@l. “For five years I’ve given him the opportunity to do the right thing.”

The lawsuit, filed in both New York and New Jersey, alleges that John, 53, cut James, 54, out of “lucrative book deal, reality television show, speaking engagements and various other media deals.” James also alleges the pair had a deal to refurbish office spaces in New Jersey that netted $240,000, which went straight to John’s account. He’s asking for $2 million total.

James’ attorney, Elio Forcina, says he filed in Queens and New Jersey because John has homes in both places, but attempts to serve him papers in person have been unsuccessful. He says he also made an attempt to serve John at an anti-bullying campaign on Long Island where the former button man was expected to speak, but the defendant-to-be never arrived.

James is also suing his gangster brother for defamation, claiming that John began a “whispering campaign” encouraging business associates to cut his big brother out of the deals they set up together and telling people that James was “insane, was faking cancer, was a liar, and was a sexual deviant.”

James’ lawyer can’t understand why John is refusing his brother’s offer.

“He’s admitted to murder and he goes on TV and brags about how tough he is, but he’s afraid to face his brother in court because he knows what he did was wrong,” says Forcina.

Lawyers representing John Alite did not respond to requests for comment.