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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Son of Vinny Gorgeous tells judge he has no plans to go into the mob

Mobster’s son says he won’t follow dad into ‘family’ business
A jailed son of Bonanno crime boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano says he has no plans to follow his dad into the “family” business.
“I love my father with all my heart, and my heart bleeds for him [for] what he is going though, but I do not have plans to chose the life he lived or walk down the same path he did,” Stephen Basciano, 30, recently insisted in a two-page handwritten letter from his cell at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center to Manhattan federal Judge Richard Sullivan.
Stephen Basciano is scheduled to be sentenced by Sullivan on Friday for running a mini-marijuana enterprise with his two brothers.
He is facing 46 to 57 months in prison under a plea deal with the feds, but his lawyer, Joshua Dratel, has asked Sullivan for a sentence “well below” that amount.
“The choice I made by selling marijuana made my mother so upset that she hasn’t spoken to me since my arrest [in September 2013],” Stephen bemoaned to the judge in his missive.
He added that his bust did little to boost his girlfriend’s mother’s opinion of him, either, adding that his gal pal cries “herself to sleep at night.”
He makes it a point of referring to Sullivan as a “very popular judge” who “must have heard it all.”
But Basciano also notes his father’s arrest eight years ago “turned my world upside down,” adding “he was my best friend.”
Stephen says he had to shut down a body shop he co-owned shortly after his dad headed to the Big House because it was not doing well.
Vincent Basciano, 54 — who owned the “Hello Gorgeous’’ hair salon in The Bronx — is serving two life sentences for mob murders.
Over the next few years, Stephen said, he worked various blue-collar jobs before making “one of the worst decisions” of his life by agreeing to sell pot.
He says he once thought marijuana “wasn’t a serious drug” but has “learned the hard way … it’s still illegal.”
Stephen, along with brothers Vincent Jr., 32, and Joseph, 28, pleaded guilty earlier this year to running the ring, which the feds say involved hundreds of pounds of pot being brought from California to New York for distribution between August 2009 and April 2013.
After the brothers’ arrest, only Stephen remained in custody.
Prosecutors argued he should be denied bail because he has a long history of violence that includes being taped by a government witness bragging about having a gun with a silencer for years and having no problem “shooting people in the leg.”
Last month, Joseph Basciano became the first of the three brothers to be sentenced. Facing two years in jail, Sullivan cut him a break by giving him only six months in prison.
He also gave him fatherly advice, saying, “Go out there and get a real job. Pay taxes and do all the things ordinary people do.”

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Businessman with mob ties indicted in fraud scheme

A federal grand jury indicted a Glen Rock man with reputed mob ties and a disbarred attorney from Westchester on charges of conning 15 victims out of $3 million by pretending to broker deals on a pizzeria in the Bahamas, a casino in Atlantic City and the “flipping” of a chunk of real estate in Matawan, among other bogus ventures that authorities said drained victims’ life savings.

Paul Mancuso, 46, and 52-year-old Pasquale “Pat” Stiso of West Harrison, N.Y., were up to their necks in hock with bookies — including a $500,000 debt that Macuso still hasn’t paid, the indictment alleges.

Instead of funding the purported projects, Mancuso and Stiso used the money for personal expenses and financing their involvement in illegal gambling pursuits,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said, adding that the victims “lost all of their investments or life savings in Mancuso’s schemes.”

Mancuso reputedly has ties to Genovese captain Joseph “The Eagle” Gatto (above, right) of Paterson, who died in April 2010.

Authorities said Mancuso participated in a gambling ring headed by Gatto that took $300,000 a week in illegal wagers from tens of thousands of customers nationwide.

Gatto’s father and brother, legendary North Jersey Genovese gangster Louis “Streaky” Gatto and Louis Gatto Jr., both died while serving federal prison sentences.

Mancuso also was associated with Frank Lagano of Tenafly, 71, who was shot dead in April 2007 outside a Middlesex diner he co-owned, in a gangland-style hit that has yet to be solved.

A source connected to the case said authorities seized $269,000 from Lagano’s home and deposit box after he was arrested as part of what was billed as one of the largest gambling busts in state history, dubbed “Operation Jersey Boys.”

Beginning in 2009, Mancuso held himself out as a real estate investor, broker, and/or developer, as well as a “hard money” lender and broker of other various purported investments, according to a complaint on file in federal court.

Federal agents say he conned “substantial investments for various projects that, in fact, either did not exist at all, or in which [he] had no actual involvement.”

Stiso, meanwhile, “held himself out as an individual who was working with Mancuso on various purported projects,” the complaint says.

Authorities have indicated that others were involved in the alleged schemes — though they haven’t said how many and to what degree they may be cooperating with the investigation that led to this morning’s arrests.

“Most, if not all, of Mancuso’s victims lost all or substantially all of the money they invested with him and his co-conspirators,” the complaint says. “Many of Mancuso’s victims have lost all or substantially all of their life savings in his various schemes to defraud.”

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, the IRS, and investigators in his office with making the case, presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Colone of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bonanno associate dodges life sentence for massive pot smuggling ring

City pot kingpin dodges life behind bars
A Bonanno crime family associate who helped run one of the city’s biggest pot rings dodged a life sentence, instead landing 11 years behind bars during sentencing Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.

John “Big Man” Venizelos, 35, who plead guilty last year to marijuana trafficking charges, was one of the biggest New York customers of French Canadian alleged drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer.

During his bust in 2013, federal agents seized more than $150,000 in drug proceeds, narcotics, encrypted blackberry devices and multiple guns, including a handgun that was stolen from a law-enforcement officer.

Venizelos also got into trouble for witness tampering last year after prosecutors say he sent encrypted Blackberry messages to a colleague explaining that Cournoyer bankrolled a “murder fund” for hits against informants.

“No question, I sold pot. … Now that I’m clean and sober for the first time, I see the mistakes I made,” Venizelos said in court, wearing his signature horn-rimmed glasses, as about 20 friends and family looked on.

Before sentencing, Judge Raymond Dearie offered a stern warning, telling Venizelos that if he was ever arrested again, “God only knows what’s going to fall on you.

“You have some shady friends, got to make some new friends,” Dearie told him.

United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement, “Venizelos used violence and intimidation to protect his position as a major narcotics distributor.

“[His] conviction underscores our commitment to prosecuting drug offenders who flood our communities with narcotics, especially when those individuals have chosen a life of organized crime.

Cournoyer is awaiting sentencing. His alleged operation ran on alliances with the Bonanno family, Hell’s Angels, Montreal mafia and the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.

Gambino tied CEO threatened wholesaler over unpaid debt

He doesn’t want to end up sleeping with the fishes!

A Florida seafood wholesaler told cops the CEO of Western Beef — who has family ties to the New York mob — threatened him over an unpaid debt and secretly attached a GPS tracker to his car, The Post has learned.

Michael Grieco, 52, who formerly owned Delray Beach-based Sutton Foods Inc., says in a police report that Peter Castellana refused to pay a $121,000 debt and started singing, “Be careful,” during a meeting at Western Beef’s Queens office.

Castellana’s father is a reputed Gambino soldier and cousin of late Mafia boss Paul Castellano — who was infamously gunned down execution-style on the orders of John Gotti outside Sparks Steakhouse in December 1985.

“You start to get a little freaky about going out to your driveway and getting in your car,” Grieco told The Post. “Someone could run up to your window and say goodbye. I don’t want to be found dead in my driveway.”

Grieco said his first meeting with Castellana occurred at the Ridgewood, Queens office of Western Beef last May 12 — a month after he said he was forced to sell Sutton Foods because he couldn’t collect the debt.

Castellana, Grieco says, told him to “get the f–k out” and refused to pay the $121,000 bill for a seafood mix.

After Grieco returned Delray Beach, two mysterious men slapped a GPS tracker to the undercarriage of his car, the police report states.

“They threatened my life and all of a sudden I got a tracker under my car. I was in fear for my life,” Grieco said.

Grieco returned to New York to confront Castellana, but he never made it past Western Beef’s head of security, the report states. The security head cryptically said “things were heating up and actions needed to be taken,” according to the report.

On Aug. 4 in Florida, Grieco was slapped on the head by an unidentified assailant, who snarled, “Be careful. You know who is looking for you,” before running off, the report said.

Delray Beach police are investigating Grieco’s allegations.

Benjamin Petrofsky, general counsel for Western Beef, said: “We can’t comment due to an open investigation with local and federal authorities.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alicia from Mob Wives gets four years probation for stealing from union

Former “Mob Wives” star Alicia DMichele was sentenced Thursday in Brooklyn Federal Court for stealing from a union fund.

Former “Mob Wives” star Alicia DiMichele was hit with four years’ probation Thursday for stealing from a union welfare fund.

The no-jail punishment was meted out after the raven-haired embezzler tearfully apologized for her role in a scheme that diverted money from a trucking company owned by her hubby, reputed Colombo soldier Edward "Tall Guy" Garofalo, Jr.

“I knew that my husband and his partners were doing something wrong and I helped them,” she said in Brooklyn Federal Court, reading from a prepared statement.

“This is not who I am and I can’t even describe how embarrassed I am to be standing here today.”

In the spring, DiMichele, 41, resigned from the VH1 reality show where she made $8,000 per episode. The program follows a group of mafiosos’ spouses as they romp around Staten Island.

Her husband started serving a seven-year sentence for murder conspiracy last December, leaving the busty boutique owner to care for their three sons.

“She is a loving mother,” said defense lawyer John Wallenstein. “She’s effectively a single mother because Mr. Garofalo is a guest of the government.”

He also noted that the allegations date back 10 years, to between June 2003 and June 2005.
DiMichele faced up to six months behind bars.

DiMichele was facing up to six months in prison under a plea agreement, but Judge Sandra Townes gave her probation, coupled with a warning.

“I don’t want to see you again,” the judge said.

The defendant also agreed to pay $40,000 in restitution to the fund of Teamsters Local 282 plus thousands more in expected proceeds from a pending lawsuit involving her husband’s company.

She said nothing as she trotted out of court in extra-high heels wearing all black.

Part of a tattoo she inked a few weeks ago with her 19-year-old son, who got a matching tat, was peeking from underneath her suit jacket.

It says, “Family over everything.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dormant Gambino associate is top donor to Brooklyn State Senator

One of Sampson’s campaign donors is a mob associate
At least one major contributor doesn’t care that Brooklyn state Sen. John Sampson is running for re-election while facing corruption charges — a former legal client with ties to the mob, The Post has learned.

Election records show the pol’s dwindling list of donors includes reputed Gambino crime-family associate George Fortunato, who last month gave $10,500.

According to the Democrat’s latest campaign filing, the Brooklyn businessman provided more than 90 percent of the funds raised between July 15 and Aug. 4.

The next-largest contribution — $500 — was from lobbyist Stacey Rowland, who joined Sampson on a 2011 junket to South Korea.

Sampson described Fortunato, 72, as a “close family friend” and declined to comment further. Campaign treasurer Bernard Alter said Sampson had solicited the contribution.

“He’s a nice guy. He likes the senator. Thank God,” Alter said of Fortunato.

Sampson is also under indictment in Brooklyn federal court, where he’s charged with a litany of crimes, including allegedly embezzling $440,000.

George Fortunato

Fortunato, of Mill Basin, has been a Sampson supporter since at least 1999.

Sampson was his defense lawyer after he was busted on hate-crime charges in a 2003 attack on a Chinese woman in a Queens restaurant. Fortunato’s wife, Jackie, and a daughter, Annamarie, were also arrested.

Charges against Annamarie were dropped. George and Jackie pleaded guilty to assault in a deal that spared them prison in exchange for taking racial-sensitivity and anger-management classes.

Also in 2003, Fortunato was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in an extortion plot that figured in the racketeering trial of ex-Gambino boss Peter Gotti.

Law-enforcement sources said he is considered a “dormant” Gambino associate and not under investigation.

Fortunato didn’t return requests for comment.

Acting Bonnano captain barred from attending his daughter's equestrian show

Alleged mobster barred from daughter’s equestrian show
Births, deaths and graduations are important life events — show jumping, not so much.

A reputed Bonanno acting capo under house arrest since January was barred from attending his daughter’s equestrian performance after prosecutors argued that it wasn’t an “important life event,” according to Brooklyn federal court papers

Jack Bonventre, who was busted in the sweep of top Bonannos that netted accused Lufthansa heist robber Vincent Asaro, had begged the feds to let him attend the Sullivan County show because he was his “daughter’s No. 1 fan,” according to court papers.

Bonventre’s attorney whined on the wiseguy’s behalf that he had been forced to miss all of her performances this summer and was desperate to catch her final appearance.

Prosecutors initially agreed to the day trip to Brook Edge Farms in upstate Ferndale but reversed course after officials argued that the allowance would be extravagant.

“The government respectfully submits that the defendant’s conditions should only be further modified in case of ‘important life events,’ which does not include his daughter’s horse show,” prosecutors wrote in pushing for a denial.

Judge Allyne Ross agreed and rejected Bonventre’s bid, papers say.