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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Montreal mafia clan leader denied bail

The alleged leader of a clan within the Montreal Mafia was denied bail in a cocaine trafficking case on Tuesday along with one of his co-accused.
Andrea "Andrew" Scoppa, 53, a resident of Île Bizard, registered little reaction as Quebec Court Judge Serge Boisvert listed off the reasons Scoppa was being denied a release in Project Estacade, an investigation into drug trafficking in Montreal and Laval conducted by the Regional Integrated Squad. On Feb. 1, eight people, including Scoppa, were charged in Project Estacade at the Montreal courthouse, and another small group of men were charged in Laval.
Fazio Malatesta, 48, was also denied bail as part of the same hearing where Boisvert heard evidence over the course of three days in April. A publication ban has been placed on the evidence. Because of the seriousness of the charges the men face, they were required to prove they merited a release, as opposed to the normal standard where the Crown is required to prove they should be detained. One reason Boisvert cited in his decision was that a well informed member of the public, aware of the evidence gathered in the case, would lose faith in the justice system if the men were released at this point in their case.
Scoppa and Malatesta are both charged with conspiring to traffic in drugs, drug trafficking and possession of cocaine with the intent to traffic in cocaine.
The case returns to court next week to set a future date for a preliminary inquiry.


Pizzeria owner busted for coke ring pleads with judge to give him life and spare his family

Gregorio Gigliotti, 61, received an 18-year sentence for his role at a family restaurant involved in an international drug trafficking ring.
The patriarch of a reputedly mobbed-up Queens pizzeria sobbed and dabbed his nose with a tissue Tuesday as a judge sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

Gregorio Gigliotti begged the judge to give him “life” if he would only allow his wife and son to go “home.”

“I ask that when you sentence my wife and son, you show them mercy,” Gigliotti, 61, blubbered as he addressed sympathetic-looking Brooklyn federal court Justice Raymond Dearie.

Gigliotti’s wife, Eleonora, and son Angelo still face sentencing for their part in the scheme, which transported an estimated 120 kilos of cocaine through their Queens pizzeria, Cucino a Modo Mio.

“My wife is not well, and my son is a hard-working family man,” the alleged Genovese crime-family associate told the court through tears. “Please show them mercy and don’t make them pay for my mistakes.”

In between sobs, the father also managed to say, “I’m not organized crime.”Modal Trigger
Angelo Gigliotti

A jury convicted Gregorio and Angelo in July of smuggling two shipments containing more than $1 million worth of cocaine from Costa Rica hidden inside the box flaps of yucca shipments.

The men then commissioned family members including Eleonora to deliver cash to dealers and ship the drugs to a family-run warehouse in The Bronx.

The Gigliottis stored their drug proceeds and a collection of weapons and ammunition in the Corona eatery, prosecutors said.

Eleanora, who had previously been found unfit to stand trial, copped to conspiracy charges in January.

Gigliotti had faced up to 35 years behind bars.

Before Dearie handed down his 18-year sentence, defense lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio asked the jurist to sentence her client to 15 years, noting he was a “hard-working and dedicated individual who got mixed up in alcohol abuse and gambling.”

“He’s more than willing to take the lion’s share of the responsibility for this,” Macedonio continued. “He would fall on his sword for his family.”

Judge Dearie agreed that Gigliotti, who immigrated to the US as a young man from Italy, was a “hard worker.

“What strikes me here is the incongruity,” the judge said. “You weren’t some fat cat sitting in a hotel suite. You were successful, and you just decided to add one more business to your roster of successful businesses.

“And all because of money, the root of all evil,” Dearie concluded before handing down his sentence. “And look where it got you.”

Macedonio said she would appeal and asked the judge to recommend Gigliotti be sent to prison in Danbury, Conn., in the hope he could be near his wife if she was ultimately sent to the women’s penitentiary near there.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Judge is concerned about the safety of witnesses in Bonanno family case

Brooklyn prosecutors and lawyers for 10 reputed mobsters squabbled Monday over recordings that will reveal the identities of cooperating witnesses — as a federal judge expressed concern that mismanagement of the tapes could result in those very witnesses getting whacked.

“The concern is the ultimate witness tampering — that a witness actually dies,” Brooklyn federal court Judge Dora Irizarry told the lawyers for alleged acting Bonanno capo Ronald Giallanzo, the nephew of aged and admitted wiseguy Vincent Asaro, and his cohorts.
Ronald Giallianzo, nephew of Vinny Asaro

Giallanzo, 46, and the others were pinched last month on various charges, including loansharking, gambling, kidnapping, and attempted murder.

Prosecutors say the racket has run out of Howard Beach, Queens, for the past 20 years and are requesting that Judge Irizzary issue an order which will allow the defendants to only hear the 21 recordings in the presence of their lawyers so as to deter the evidence passing into the wrong hands.

But “the cat will be out of the bag as soon as we listen to the recordings,” argued lawyer Seth Ginsberg, who represents purported Bonnano associate Robert Pisani. “Then the identities of these so-called victims will be known.”

Prosecutor Nicole Argentieri countered that, in Howard Beach, a hard-copy recording could make a life and death difference for the victims and their families.

“In this neighborhood, there is a difference between having people call someone a cooperating witness, and then having a tape circulating that proves that,” she said.

Irizarry indicated she will rule “fairly quickly” whether the requested order is necessary.

Giallanzo allegedly became acting cap​o in 2014, after his first cousin, Jerome Asaro, was nabbed and thrown behind bars.

The purported captain soon began making piles of money through stock fraud schemes​ ​–​ ​for which he served 87 months in prison​ ​–​ building a loansharking network worth around $3 million, according to court papers.

While out on bail for his 2006 stock fraud case, Giallanzo and others tried to kill a man he suspected of robbing him, the papers say.

Around the same time, the alleged mobster had an unidentified associate bring him a customer who was behind on his payments and beat the customer until he soiled himself, as Giallanzo screamed “Where’s the f—ing money?” authorities say.

The defendants are set to return to court June 23.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mobster asks judge for permission to go to Las Vegas

This wiseguy’s a real joker.
Mobster Paul Cassano was charged with 46 others last August in a massive racketeering takedown, which implicated him in sports gambling business based in New York, Florida and Costa Rica, prosecutors said.
That didn’t stop Cassano from asking Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan, who’s presiding over his case, to let him go to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker.
The 38-year-old is currently only allowed to travel freely through portions of New York state while he awaits trial.
“Mr. Cassano is a registered poker player is requesting permission to travel to Las Vegas ... to participate in the World Series of Poker tournament. He has participated in this tournament each year since 2005 and constitutes a substantial portion of his yearly income that goes to provide for himself and his family,” wrote Cassano's lawyer A. James Bell.
"The tournament is scheduled to begin on May 30th and concludes on July 13th of 2017. Mr. Cassano, however, is requesting permission travel to Las Vegas, staying through June 12th of 2017.”
But Sullivan shot down Cassano’s request on Thursday.
Given that Cassano "has been charged with participating in a racketing enterprise engaged in, inter alia, illegal gambling activity," Sullivan reasoned, "the Court is unwilling to modify Defendant's bail conditions to allow him to travel to Las Vegas to participate in a poker tournament."
Bell did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
Cassano isn't the first accused East Coast La Cosa Nostra member in this indictment to unsuccessfully ask Sullivan for gambling-related breaks.
Anthony "The Kid" Camisa was on the lam around four months after the racketeering charges came down in August.
The feds caught Camisa in late December and prosecutors pushed for him to be jailed pending trial — saying his MIA status made him flighty.
Camisa's lawyer argued for bail, telling Sullivan his client's MIA status was for a "practical reason."
"Your Honor knows that the government claims that my client has a gambling business,"his lawyer, Gerald McMahon, said at a Jan. 12 bail hearing. "Without being indelicate, I think it is fair to say that my client expressed to me that he intended to surrender after the Super Bowl ... "
"Judge, I told you what the reality is. The reality is he was going to come in after the Super Bowl," McMahon continued.
"If we accept the government's allegations for purposes of this bail hearing that he is a gambler, there is a practical reason why somebody would wait until after the Super Bowl to surrender," McMahon contended.
Sullivan said Camisa demonstrated "impulsivity and immaturity" in denying his request.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Queens bank robber has second court arraignment

A second arraignment for an alleged bank bandit went much better than the first attempt.
On Wednesday, Michael Ciaccio couldn't make it through proceedings on his arrest for a Queens bank heist that ended when a dye pack exploded and left Ciaccio literally red-handed.
During the first Brooklyn federal court arraignment, Ciaccio, 52, sat doubled over and mumbled he understood what was going on.
Ink stains still showed on his hands.
But Ciaccio's lawyer said it'd be better to adjourn the arraignment.
On Friday, Judge Cheryl Pollak asked Ciaccio how he was feeling. Ciaccio apologized and said "that's what happens when you're not on medication."
Pollak remanded Ciaccio after the prosecution pushed for detention based on his criminal history and the lack of any bail package.
Though the prosecution didn't get into specifics about Ciaccio's past, the Daily News has previously reported about his mob past.
Ciaccio was a government witness in the 2005 Miami federal court case against Gambino crime family captain Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bumbling bank robber is outed as witness against Gambino captain

Michael Ciaccio is taken into custody in Howard Beach, Queens, on Tuesday.
Years before Michael Ciaccio allegedly bungled a Queens bank robbery Tuesday — ending up with red dye all over his hands — he was a government witness in a federal case against a Gambino crime family captain.

The Daily News learned Ciaccio took the stand in a 2005 Miami federal court cast against Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, who’s serving a life sentence. Ciaccio said he was once a member of the crew in New York linked to Trucchio, according to court papers.

He looked like an amateur this week.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors accuse Ciaccio of stealing more than $1,300 from a Queens bank.

He was caught when authorities saw red ink from an exploded dye pack all over his hands while he allegedly tried to hide at a Queens nursing home.

The stains were still visible on his hands as he stumbled into court on Wednesday.

Ciaccio needed to take a seat, then doubled over. He mumbled to the judge that he understood what was happening.

The defendant closed his eyes and rubbed his head as his court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Jacobson, tried to figure out whether to go ahead with the arraignment.

Jacobson said he wasn’t sure what medications Ciaccio was taking. He asked for proceedings to be postponed until Friday, after doctors at Metropolitan Detention Center could take a look at Ciaccio.

“Feel better. Make sure you tell the doctor what’s going on,” Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak told Ciaccio.


Underworld laughs at embellished stories from turncoat Philadelphia mob boss

Some of the guys in South Philadelphia are calling it “fake news.”

Others are using a more graphic description – “bullshit.”

They are speaking, of course, of the story that Ralph Natale is spinning in his book Last Don Standing, which went on sale last month.

The book and word of the interview have already created a buzz in Philadelphia underworld and law enforcement circles. Players from both sides are said to be less than pleased and more than a little taken aback by the version of events presented by the one-time don turned star government witness.Natale discussed the book and his life in the Philadelphia underworld recently in an exclusive interview with Fox 29 crime reporter Dave Schratwieser. The piece is expected to air soon during an evening news broadcast.

An online synopsis of the book’s storyline claims that in the mid-1990s Natale put the beleaguered Philadelphia crime family back together, forged alliances “around the country” and “achieved a status within the mob never seen before or since until he was betrayed by his men and decided to testify against them in a stunning turn of events.”

The story is vintage Natale, a combination of bravado and self-deprecation, a mix of fact and fiction. And in that sense it’s not unlike his two appearances on the witness stand after he began cooperating with the government in 1999.

Natale first testified in federal court in Camden in the trial of disgraced Camden Mayor Milton Milan. But that was just a warm-up. His star turn came in the trial of Joey Merlino and six co-defendants which took up nearly five months through the spring and summer of 2001. Natale was on the stand for 14 days.

His performance got mixed reviews.

His book has generated the same reaction.


Ralph spins a good story and he clearly enjoys being center stage. But while he likes to portray himself as Don Corleone, the reality is he was more like Uncle Junior.

Here’s the ironic bottom line in the Ralph Natale story.

Ralph Natale's new book, Last Don Standing, has already created a buzz in Philadelphia underworld and law enforcement circles. The book – and a hoped-for movie – is his final chance at celebrity.

He was played by Merlino and the guys around Skinny Joey. They let Ralph parade around as the boss and often fed him bogus information about what they were doing, about the scams, the flimflams and, more important, about the hits and misses that left a half dozen wiseguys dead or wounded.

No matter.

When Natale was arrested on drug dealing charges, he used that disinformation, which at the time he might have thought was true, to get out from under the potential life sentence he was facing as a three-time offender and convicted narcotics trafficker.

The feds bought what Ralph was selling even though it didn’t hold up in court.

Now he’s asking the reading public to do the same.

Was Ralph a tough guy? In his early years, probably.

Was he a murderer? Without question.

Was he an effective witness? Not so much.

Merlino and his co-defendants beat every murder and attempted murder charge Natale testified about in that 2001 racketeering case. Joey’s lawyer, ace criminal defense attorney Edwin Jacobs Jr., would tout the result as a victory. And in a broad sense – considering that Merlino was looking at a possible life sentence – it was.

Joey got 14 years instead.

Ralph, as a result of his plea deal and cooperation, did less time than Merlino. Today, when not making media appearances to tout his book, he’s stashed away in the Witness Security Program. He turned 82 a few weeks ago. His health and eyesight are failing.


The book – and a hoped-for movie – is his final chance at celebrity, his way to have the last word in a story that often was more soap opera than Mafia saga.

Ralph used to refer to Merlino, whom he had met and befriended in prison in the early 1990s, as a fine young man. In an interview with Schratwieser back in those days, he boldly said he would be happy to “share a foxhole” with Merlino and the guys around him.

But in the book and in the interview with Fox 29, Natale describes Merlino and the others as “punks,” the same description he used while testifying against them in federal court in Philadelphia.

The book doesn’t dwell much on his relationship with the Merlino crew. Written by veteran New York Daily News reporter Larry McShane and Dan Pearson, an entertainment industry producer, it’s more a personal account of Natale’s life in the mob, heavy on stories about guys who are no longer around to dispute or challenge what he has to say.“He certainly tells an interesting story,” Schratwieser said about his exclusive. “And he doesn’t mind tweaking the wiseguys. It’s not every day a former mob boss steps out of the shadows to talk publicly. Whether his former mob running mates choose to believe him, that’s another story for another day. None of them would comment on camera for this story.”

Natale is described in promotional releases for The Last Don Standing as a smart, savvy and articulate boss who “brought the region’s Mafia back to prominence in the 1990s.” He apparently portrays himself the same way in his Fox 29 interview, commenting on three unsolved South Philadelphia gangland murders, speculating on who he thinks should be running the organization today and offering a less than flattering description of his one-time young partners (Merlino and company) in the Philadelphia crime family.

The consensus from those who were on the streets with Natale in the late 1990s is that he always talked a better game than he played. In that sense, it appears little has changed.

More than a decade ago from the witness stand, Natale denounced his life of crime and bemoaned what he said it had done to his wife and family. “I spit on myself” was his emotionally charged comment, a public plea for forgiveness, an acknowledgement of how wrong he had been.

Now he’s apparently saving his saliva while promoting himself as one of the last true men of honor.


Ralph tells a great story.

But it’s sometimes built around alternative facts.

Under oath on the witness stand in 2001 he told a jury that he had declined mob boss Angelo Bruno’s offer to be formally initiated into the Mafia back in the 1970s. He said he loved and respected Bruno but didn’t trust the men around him. He said he didn’t get along with many of Bruno’s crime family members and figured they’d end up killing him or he would have to kill them.

Ralph liked to present the image that he was his own man.

A good story? Absolutely.

But not a part of Natale’s life rewrite.

He now claims that he became a “made” member of the mob while working for Angelo Bruno back in the 1970s. Bruno and New York mob boss Carlo Gambino did the honors, he says. It wasn’t enough to be formally initiated by his own my boss, he was made by two Mafia dons.

Ralph likes to embellish.

He demonstrated that from the witness stand in the 2001 trial when he described himself as a hitman and enforcer for Bruno. That might have been true. But Ralph couldn’t stop there. He called himself Bruno’s attack dog and said the boss would unleash him to take care of business.

This was in 2001.

A decade earlier Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, testifying in the trial of his mob boss John Gotti, said much the same thing about his relationship with his boss.

“When he barked, I bit,” said Gravano, who admitted to his own involvement in 20 murders, most carried out on Gotti’s orders.

Ralph didn’t have nearly as many notches on his gun, but he apparently liked Sammy’s attack dog reference enough to make it his own.

Plagiarism was not one of the predicate acts listed in the case against him.

Maybe it should have been.

While he’s telling a different story now, from the witness stand Natale boasted that he had, in essence, made himself after coming out of prison and aligning with Merlino in a war against then mob boss John Stanfa in 1994.

Is that possible, he was asked?

“If you have the cojones,” he replied.

Ralph always had big ones.

It got him through life.

Now he’s hoping it will bring him another payday.

It might.

Fake news sells.


Contractor admits to concealing mafia ties to land World Trade Center contract

A Queens contractor with alleged mob ties admitted Wednesday to hiding his company’s organized crime connection in order to win the lucrative 1 World Trade Center contract.

Vincent Vertuccio now faces up to 37 months in prison after copping to filing doctored tax returns and obstructing an investigation into the scheme to defraud the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in connection with the $11.4 million project.

The 61-year-old has purported ties to the Bonanno crime family, according to federal court documents.

He allegedly hid much of his initial $1.5 million payout in his mother’s bank account, then used the funds to pay for his daughter’s house. As a result, his company was unable to meet its obligations at 1WTC and was terminated from the project.

The Maspeth builder, of Crimson Construction Corp., will also have to pay as much as $1 million in fines and some $1.4 million in restitution to the Port Authority and the IRS following his guilty plea.

Vertuccio had faced up to 20 years behind bars before cutting the plea.

He declined comment as he left court.

Vertuccio’s co-defendant John Servider is slotted to head to trial June 12.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NYPD cop who served as Lucchese family hitman dies in prison while serving life sentence

Stephen Caracappa, one of the notorious NYPD “Mafia Cops” who moonlighted as a hitman for the Lucchese crime family, has died in federal prison.

Caracappa, 75, who was serving out his sentence at a federal detention center in Butner, N.C., died on April 8, federal prison records show.

Caracappa and his partner, Louis Eppolito, 68, were sentenced to life behind bars in 2009 for committing eight mob-ordered executions between 1986 and 1990.

It’s not clear how he died, but in June 2016, Caracappa petitioned Federal Judge Jack Weinstein, who handed out his life sentence, for “compassionate release.”

“Please know I have been fighting the case in the courts ... I have stage 4 cancer and will not survive,” he pleaded in a handwritten letter to the judge.

Weinstein replied a month later, “There is nothing I can do in your case.”

Stephen Caracappa wrote a letter (left) to Judge Jack Weinstein to seek a "compassionate release" on June 27, 2016. (Right) Weinstein responds to Caracappa.

Caracappa and Eppolito earned $4,000 a month on the payroll of Lucchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso from 1986 to 1990 to orchestrate murders and pass along confidential police information.

The city shelled out $18.4 million to settle seven lawsuits with the families of their victims, who included a diamond dealer the pair kidnapped and murdered, two Gambino made men, two Lucchese mobsters and a mob-connected painters' union leader.

Mafia cop Louis Eppolito (pictured) is still in prison serving a life sentence.

At their sentencing, the son of one of the duo’s victims, Gambino capo Edward Lino, unloaded on the two dirty detectives.

“These two lowlifes shot and killed my father," Vincent Lino said in court, amid cheers. “May you have a long life in prison.”

Eppolito remains locked away in a high-security penitentiary in Tucson.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DeCavalcante soldier pleads guilty to road rage incident

A reputed mobster may have just driven himself straight back to prison.

Ex-con Jerry Balzano, an alleged soldier of the New Jersey crime family that inspired HBO’s “The Sopranos,” pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court Monday to violating the terms of his supervised release after he was caught on a dash-cam unleashing road rage on another driver.

Balzano admitted in court to “intentionally” striking the other driver, at which point an unidentified member of the alleged wiseguy’s family loudly sighed in the gallery.

Balzano, a reputed member of the DeCavalcante crime family, was driving on Route 17 upstate when he suddenly stopped in front of another car, got out and began beating the guy up, according to the video footage and audio.

“You want to play f—— games, you little c———!” Balzano yells at the other driver. “You want to cut me off like a tough guy?”

The driver’s wife can be heard frantically calling 911 as the purported Mafioso pummels her spouse.

“Someone is hitting my husband!” she screams, before a thud is heard, she yelps, “Oh my gosh!”

The angry 54-year-old tough guy then gets back in his car and speeds away, despite not being licensed to operate a vehicle, according to court papers.

Balzano’s court appearance came a mere two weeks after Bonanno crime-family capo Vinny Asaro — who was famously acquitted of orchestrating the 1978 Lufthansa heist —was nabbed on road-rage-related arson charges.

Balzano faces up to two years behind bars for his beat-down.

Balzano already served nearly two years in prison when he was caught up in a wide-ranging racketeering sweep in 2011. His rap involved the peddling of illegal cigarettes, as well as tax fraud.

He had been released on supervised parole, then landed on the feds’ radar again for lying about having a gun and ammo. That rap netted him a few more months in the slammer.

He is slotted to return to court May 16 for sentencing.