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

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bonanno gangster fatally shot at Bronx McDonald's drive thru

A reputed mobster — whose son was injured during an attempted hit job three months ago — was blasted to death at a McDonald’s drive thru in the Bronx on Thursday, sources said.
Sylvester Zottola, 71, a Bonanno crime family associate, was shot in the head and chest and shoulder while sitting in his car outside the fast food restaurant at Webster Avenue and Belmont Street at around 4:45 p.m., according to law enforcement sources.
Sylvester had been roughed up three times in the past year. His son, 41-year-old Salvatore Zottola, was injured when a gunman opened fire on him outside his Bronx home on July 11.
The July shooting was captured on surveillance video, but the younger Zottola did not cooperate with authorities and no arrests were made, sources said.
Investigators believe the attack on Salvatore was intended to be a message to his father, who received his own share of attempted assaults.
In September 2017, the elder Zottola was walking near his Bronx home when an assailant clubbed him over the head, sources said.
Two months later, a gun-wielding thug tried unsuccessfully to force Sylvester Zottola into a car at Meagher Avenue and the Throgs Neck Expressway, sources added.
The most vicious run-in came on a late December night when Sylvester Zottola walked in on three burglars ransacking his home.
One burglar pulled a knife and stabbed Zottola in the neck, putting him in critical condition in Jacobi Medical Center.
No arrests had been made Thursday evening in Zottola’s slaying.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Five Families of today are keeping quiet

Meet the new mob — same as the old mob.
Thirty-three years after John Gotti carried out his audacious hit on crime boss Paul Castellano, which flouted Mafia rules and brought a wave of devastating prosecutions under the Dapper Don’s brash reign, New York’s five crime families have reverted to their old-guard ways.
They’re keeping quiet.
No more press conferences or TV appearances. No more weekly meetings with capos at favorite restaurants or social clubs. No more shootouts between warring factions. No more wire rooms for taking wagers.
Instead, gangsters try to keep their heads down and earn as they’ve done for decades, with drug dealing, loan-sharking, running strip clubs and protection rackets and skimming from union construction jobs, cops and prosecutors say. Bookmaking is still a lively trade, but most of it is done online using offshore accounts, not at smoke-filled gambling dens.
Crimefighters say the new old way is aimed at avoiding police scrutiny and preventing turncoats from selling out their fellow wiseguys.
“Everybody’s a rat,” said an ex-NYPD detective who continues to track mob business. “You can’t trust anybody anymore.”
Lieutenants and soldiers avoid gathering in groups so as to be less vulnerable to the wiretap or surveillance photo. And with suspicion permeating all activity, families have turned to veteran, low-profile leaders, including geezer gangsters Carmine Persico, 85, and John “Sonny” Franzese, 101, who hated Gotti’s gabby flamboyance. All these years later, those two are calling the shots for the Colombos, albeit from jail in Persico’s case. (Franzese got sprung last year.)
This more careful approach to La Cosa Nostra — this thing of ours — has the Mafia looking to bounce back.
There’s no clearer sign of the times than the leadership change in the Gambino family, which was once dominated by John Gotti’s outsized exuberance. The late Gotti’s jailed brother Peter remained in charge till 2015, but they have a new boss in Frank Cali, who according to one law-enforcement source is the exact opposite of the Teflon Don because “no one ever sees him.”
Cali, 53, who lives in Staten Island and has deep ties to Sicilian wiseguys, infused the family with “zips” — hoodlums from the old country — and bulked up its heroin and OxyContin business. But he avoids regular sitdowns with his capos, a tradition John Gotti embraced, preferring to communicate less frequently with a select few of his top people.
Even the recently released Gene Gotti, John’s 71-year-old brother, who spent 29 years in jail for heroin dealing after the feds caught him blabbing on tape, may have trouble challenging Cali’s rule. “He is everything over there,” said a gangster in Italy who was recorded raving about Cali’s standing in New York, the feds said.
He’s also kept his nose relatively clean. Cali has just one criminal conviction: a federal extortion charge in 2008 involving an attempt to shake down a trucker working at a proposed NASCAR race track in Staten Island. Though hit with 80 counts that also netted 62 other alleged hoods and associates, Cali did just 16 months in prison.
“The Gambinos are running smoothly — gambling, pills, construction unions, etcetera,” one law-enforcement official told The Post. “The last thing they want is someone to put them back in the papers and on TV.”
Secrecy is key to the success of the Genoveses, the biggest and most powerful of New York’s five families.
They engage in the same activities as others — loan-sharking, extortion — but it’s common for their soldiers to not even know the full names of the bosses they work for or other criminal associates, experts say.
Being extra careful, however, isn’t always enough.
In January, the feds busted Joseph “Joe C” Cammarano Jr., the boss of the ultra-cautious Bonanno family, on charges of murder conspiracy, extortion, drug dealing and loan-sharking. The 58-year-old godfather, a Navy vet whose underboss dad died in jail, had taken the reins of the operation three years ago, vowing to revive the organization.
He and his crew of cronies, including Pete Rose’s former bookie, constantly fretted over rats in their ranks, prosecutors said, following a tide of turncoat testimony over the years, starting with FBI mole Joe Pistone, aka “Donnie Brasco,” and ultimately including boss Joseph Massino.
The Luccheses also got hit last May, when current boss Steven “Wonder Boy” Crea got busted on racketeering and murder charges, along with 17 other family members or associates, including Crea’s son, Steven Crea Jr.
Despite those takedowns, there’s still plenty of money to be made among the bent-nose set. Strict regulations that went into effect following the mortgage meltdown provided a nice boost to the business of street loans — fast cash at an exorbitant rate.
“Things are tight with banks these days, so if you’re running a business and need a loan, you might be willing to pay the 3 percent weekly vig,” said the former NYPD detective, referring to the usurious interest that mob lenders charge.
Gambling continues to rake it in.
“The Internet is an important tool for the business and a lot of them use it for Internet gambling,” mob author Selwyn Raab told Rolling Stone.
“And why not? People aren’t going to bookies the way they used to. They couldn’t compete by just having some old-fashioned bookmaking with some guy with a telephone … It’s big, it’s a lot of money.
And if you’re putting up a Manhattan skyscraper, chances are some of your construction budget finds its way into mobsters’ pockets.
That’s because Mafia honchos retain influence in the trade unions, which allows them to finagle deals in which builders pay union rates for jobs that then go to non-union workers, who are willing to take less. Wiseguys pocket the difference. They also tack on extras to every bag of concrete purchased for the project.
It helps that law-enforcement’s top priority is terrorism, not the Mafia. Following 9/11, the combined organized-crime fighting forces of the FBI and NYPD in New York went from 300 or 400 agents, down to 20 or 30, according to Raab. “When you don’t have the personnel, you’re not going to have the indictments or convictions,” he said.
Even so, old-time wiseguys lament that much of the culture of La Cosa Nostra sleeps with the fishes.
There’s very little communication among the five families, for example. Previously, when an associate or aspiring gangster was proposed for official membership, all the families had to give their OK. “Now they’re not passing the lists around to each other,” said one source. “The Colombos just made about half a dozen guys but they didn’t tell the other families.”
Many of those coming into the life aren’t of the same sturdy stuff as during the Mafia’s heyday, insiders say.
“They had to lower their standards when making people,” said another law-enforcement source, noting that fewer people are joining the mob — and many are leaving it.
They’ve also disappeared from neighborhoods that loved their lore.
“Little Italy, where you used to have all the social clubs, is nothing more than a collection of restaurants,” said Raab. “Same thing in Bensonhurst [Brooklyn]. They no longer live there and don’t have to operate there.”
And there’s less violence. If a lesson can be learned from Gotti’s bloody run or the ruinous Colombo internal war of the 1980s, it’s that murder is bad for business. Nor is there much threat of retribution, should one get caught and turn state’s evidence against former associates.
Gene Gotti went down in part because of the cooperation of Lewis Kasman, John’s former trusted aide, who sat for an interview with this reporter in Florida in 2012. Kasman feared for his life but was not in witness protection.
The same goes for Chris Paciello, a close associate of the Bonannos and Gambinos, who was responsible for putting away 70 top wiseguys, including Bonanno boss Massino, according to his lawyer, Ben Brafman. Paciello, who’s dated Madonna and Sofia Vergara, is hardly in hiding. He runs a nightclub in Miami’s South Beach.
And the most infamous mob rat of all, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, the homicidal underboss whose testimony put former best friend John Gotti in jail, is alive and well. And free as a bird.
Even with all the changes in the Mafia, some things remain the same.
“They’re still part of the fabric of New York City,” said a law-enforcement source. “They’re never going to go away.”


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lucchese soldier cops plea deal for tracking down and trying to to kill government cooperator

The mob’s Mr. Magoo took a page from “The Sopranos’’ to try to exterminate a rat — but he botched the job.
Joseph “Joey Glasses’’ Datello — whose eyesight is so poor he couldn’t read a special large-type statement without the help of his lawyer in White Plains federal court Monday — copped to the crime as part of a plea deal.
Datello was caught on wiretaps discussing his vendetta against former business associate Sean Richard, prosecutors said.
The Lucchese soldier, 67, was stewing because Richard left him holding the bag on a $200,000 debt to the mob that the pair had racked up. Richard also turned state’s evidence against Datello and his fellow goodfellas, the feds said.
The Staten Island wiseguy was worried about getting “clipped’’ over the debt, prosecutors said.
Then Datello learned Richard was living in New Hampshire, so he headed north in 2016 and “lay in wait’’ to kill him, prosecutors said.
The move echoed mob boss Tony Soprano in the HBO series, when he hunts down Mafioso-turned-FBI informant Fabian Petrulio and strangles him in Maine.
But Datello failed to kill Richard. He was charged with the planned hit last year.
He is expected to get 14 to 17 and a half years as part of the deal.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Gambinos brace for Gotti to rejoin the crime family after prison release

“Dapper Don” John Gotti’s younger brother, Gene, is back on the streets after serving 29 years in prison for dealing heroin — and the mob is bracing for what it will mean to their rackets, The Post has learned.

An exclusive Post photo shows Gene Gotti, 71, outside his family home in Valley Stream, Long Island, following his release on parole from a federal lockup in Louisiana last week.

The picture shows the stark change in appearance he underwent during nearly three decades behind bars.

Although Gene went away sporting dark hair, the geriatric gangster is now nearly bald — and what little hair he has left is snowy white.

The Gambino organized crime family once run by his late brother — who died in prison in 2002 — is now headed by Domenico Cefalu, with Frank Cali as its “street boss,” law enforcement sources say.

But as a made man who was a mob captain when he headed off to the slammer, Gotti is entitled to a role in the Gambino family — which has his cronies worried about the scrutiny that could bring, sources said.

“The Gambinos are running smoothly — gambling, pills, construction unions, etc.,” one law enforcement official said.
Gene Gotti leaves his home in Valley Stream, LI.

“The last thing they want is someone to put them back in papers and on TV.”

John Gotti’s penchant for publicity “set them back 30 years,” the source added.

“They don’t want no flashy leaders, no weekly social-club meetings,” the source said.

It’s unclear whether Gotti — who allegedly oversaw a lucrative loan-sharking operation while behind bars — will demand that he resume his role as a “capo” or even insist on a higher rank.

“Everyone hopes he will be low-key and just make a living, but that is very un-Gotti-like,” one source said.

Gene Gotti was infamously caught blabbing over telephones tapped by the FBI, which recorded him describing his older brother as a ”powerhouse captain” about three years before John allegedly took over the Gambinos by ordering the 1985 assassination of boss Paul “Big Paul” Castellano outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan.

No one answered the door Sunday at Gotti’s home, which is owned by his wife, Rosalie.

A sign on the front door says “Nana and Papa’s Nest — where the flock gathers.” A white Mercedes-Benz sedan was parked in the driveway.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Lucchese associate pleads guilty to attempted murder

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that VINCENT BRUNO pled guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison to attempting to kill, and conspiring to kill, a Bronx man in 2012.  In May 2017, BRUNO and 18 other members and associates of the Luchese Family of La Cosa Nostra were arrested and charged in a nine-count Indictment, for their involvement in offenses including racketeering, murder, attempted murder, narcotics trafficking, and gun crimes.  Since the unsealing of the Indictment, BRUNO and nine other defendants have pled guilty, and have been or will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Bruno’s attempt to murder a man at the behest of his mob superiors has ended where it should:  With Bruno behind bars.  We will continue to work with the FBI and our other partners in law enforcement to stamp out the remnants of La Cosa Nostra.”
According to the superseding information to which BRUNO pled guilty, his statements when pleading guilty, the allegations in the Indictment, and statements made in related court filings and proceedings:
In 2012, armed members and associates of the Bonanno Family of La Cosa Nostra forced their way into a Bronx social club controlled by the Luchese Family.  During the ensuing confrontation, one of the Bonanno Family associates (the “Associate”) acted in a manner that a leader of the Luchese Family, Steven L. Crea (“Crea Sr.”), perceived as a personal affront. To avenge this supposed offense, Crea Sr. ordered his son, Steven D. Crea (“Crea Jr.”), to have the Associate killed.  Crea Jr. passed the order to Paul Cassano Jr., a/k/a “Paulie Roast Beef,” and BRUNO.  On a subsequent night, BRUNO and Cassano travelled to the Associate’s Bronx residence.  There BRUNO, armed with a gun, tried to find the Associate in order to kill him, but failed.  The dispute between the rival families was then resolved before the murder was carried out.
In conjunction with this incident, Cassano pled guilty to attempted assault in aid of racketeering in 2017.   Crea Sr. and Crea Jr. are also charged with attempting to have the Associate killed and other crimes, and are scheduled to begin trial before Judge Seibel in 2019.
*                      *                     *
BRUNO, 34, pled guilty to one count of attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and one count of conspiracy against the United States.  In total, the counts to which BRUNO pled guilty carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.  BRUNO will be sentenced before Judge Seibel.
The allegations contained in the Indictment as to Crea Sr., Crea Jr., and the other defendants who have not pled guilty are merely accusations, and these defendants are presumed unless and until proven guilty.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which comprises agents and detectives of the FBI, NYPD, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.  He also thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.
The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Hartman, Hagan Scotten, and Jacqueline Kelly are in charge of the prosecution.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Former New England boss turned rat sentenced to life in prison for 1993 murder

Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was unrepentant Thursday as he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 killing of a nightclub owner, declaring that the "real story" will come out one day.
Salemme, the 85-year-old onetime head of the New England family of La Cosa Nostra, looked down at the table in front of him and read a document while the children of the man he's convicted of killing described the pain of losing their father and not knowing his whereabouts for more than two decades.
"While there is closure in this case, for me the healing is just beginning," Steven DiSarro's daughter, Colby, told the court. "This is not a movie. This is and has been our life: the story of a family who was robbed of the love and affection of their father."
Salemme and his co-defendant, Paul Weadick, were found guilty in June in the slaying of DiSarro, whose remains were discovered in 2016. Weadick also received a mandatory life sentence on Thursday.
Before being sentenced, Salemme rose from his chair, called the proceeding "ridiculous" and said DiSarro's family hasn't been told the truth.
"The real story about what happened here has not been out yet," said Salemme, who wore his gray hair slicked back and a bright orange jumpsuit. "But it will come out. It will come out in time," he said.
Longtime federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak at one point choked back tears as he spoke about the crimes of the mobster, after whom Wyshak has been going since the 1990s.
"This man is ruthless, barbaric and he is an individual who richly deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison," Wyshak said.
Salemme's trial transported jurors back to a time when the Mafia was a feared and powerful force in Boston and its environs. With slicked-back grey hair and a frail frame, Salemme is almost unrecognizable from the bulky mob boss depicted in grainy surveillance photos from his heyday.
Another former mobster told authorities that he saw Salemme's son strangle DiSarro while Weadick held the nightclub owner's feet and Salemme stood by. Salemme's son, known as "Frankie boy," died in 1995.
Authorities at the time were looking into Salemme's involvement in DiSarro's nightclub, the Channel. Federal authorities had told DiSarro he was about to be indicted and should give them information on Salemme.
Salemme and Weadick's lawyers said the other mobster, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, was lying to take Salemme down and help himself. Flemmi, who was notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's partner and once good friends with Salemme, is serving a life sentence for killing 10 people.
Salemme and Weadick insisted they had nothing to do with DiSarro's killing.
Salemme, who has admitted to a slew of other killings, was living in Atlanta under the name Richard Parker in 2016 when the FBI received a tip the remains were buried near a mill building in Providence, Rhode Island. Salemme's lawyer questioned why he would admit to those slayings but never fess up to ordering DiSarro's death.
Salemme decided to cooperate with the government after learning that Bulger and Flemmi had been informing the FBI behind his back. In exchange, the government cut his sentence for a 1999 racketeering conviction and he entered the witness protection program.
He was kicked out of witness protection in 2004 when he was charged with lying to investigators for suggesting another mobster killed DiSarro, but was later allowed back under government protection.