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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lawyers claim mob witness has killed more people than a season of Game of Thrones

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Seated left to right: Vito Badamo, Anthony "Skinny" Santoro, Ernest Aiello and Nicholas "Nicky Cigars" Santora were arrested in an alleged gambling, loansharking, extortion and Viagra peddling case in 2013.

The defense in a mob case is taking offense, saying a key prosecution witness against a group of ordinary men is the real bad guy.

The witness in the alleged Bonanno loansharking, gambling, extortion and pill-peddling case is a repeat killer, with seven grim notches on his belt, a lawyer for one defendant said Tuesday at the start of the two-month trial in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Adam Konta, who represents alleged soldier Anthony "Skinny" Santoro, told jurors the District Attorney's office has gone after alleged gangsters who are actually non-violent nobodies.

"One of their witnesses killed seven people — that's more than on a season of 'Game of Thrones,' " said Konta.

The lawyer also said the DA pursued the scraps left behind from a past police probe that netted no arrests.

"Mr. Santoro did not make anyone 'sleep with the fishes,' " he said, citing a slang reference for a mob hit.

Santoro, along with alleged 73-year-old boss Nicholas Santora and underlings Vito Badamo and Ernest Aiello, is on trial on enterprise corruption, racketeering and other counts.

Santora's lawyer, Michael Alber, argued the charges against the wheelchair-bound alleged captain, who was the basis for a character in cult classic "Donnie Brasco," are bogus.

"It will be crystal clear at the end of the trial you will have every reason to doubt Mr. Santora's involvement in this case," Alber argued.

Aiello was such a low priority that investigators did not even search his home, his lawyer, Stacey Richman, argued.

He was arrested at 6 a.m. on July 9, 2013, and "has waited until this day for (you) to evaluate the evidence and set him free," she told the jury.

But prosecutor David Stuart said the crew used old-school mob tactics and code words to try to throw off law enforcement.

They arranged meetings at "the place with the good sandwich" or the one "with the waitress you like," he said.

Stuart said that while they were involved in selling Viagra and Cialis on the black market, "the real money maker for them, their bread and butter, was the online gambling operation."

The activities of the crew were sanctioned and overseen by the highest levels of the "family," the assistant DA said.

"I'm sure that everyone has heard of La Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, the mob," Stuart argued. "Let me assure you, ladies and gentleman, this is not Hollywood. These crimes and these defendants are real."

Porn star may cause dismissal of her former flame's trial

Trista Geyer has been arrested five times in Florida since November 2014, even though she claimed to be taking care of an ill family member.
A porn star’s wild antics may cause the dismissal of charges against an ex-boyfriend who has been waiting years for a trial.

Trista Geyer, aka Kendall Brooks, the former flame of Thomas Gelardo, has been arrested five times in the Sunshine State since November 2014, including for breaking into the home of her former lawyer — also her lover — the week before Christmas.

Gelardo's prosecution for allegedly busting into the “Naughty Athletics” star’s apartment in 2013 has been on ice after jury selection started and was abandoned in May 2015 because Geyer claimed to be taking care of an ill family member.

Arrest records produced by Gelardo's attorney show she’s been busted on drug and shoplifting charges in the meantime. On Dec. 21, Geyer, who appeared in "Housewives Need Cash 5," allegedly burglarized the property of Michael Dicembre, an attorney who she was shacked up with from August to November.

She returned her key after their split, he told cops, but may have made a copy.

Dicembre, who wasn't home, watched her entry in real time on his phone when a motion sensor was triggered.

"He saw Trista Geyer enter his bedroom and walk to his nightstand ... Geyer appears to be startled or remembers something and suddenly turns around towards, and notices the camera," court papers say.

She allegedly stole the $200 equipment and was charged with burglary and petit theft. Cops also spoke to Dicembre about the "theft of a firearm" but Geyer's official charges do not mention a weapon.

The self-described fellatio pro has also been busted on separate occasions for cocaine possession, shoplifting Nicorette gum and pre-natal vitamins from a supermarket and stealing a $55 pair of Van's shoes from a J.C. Penney.

In May, Geyer, 30, told Manhattan prosecutors she could not come to Manhattan to testify against 33-year-old Gelardo, a union construction manager, who faces assault and criminal contempt charges based on her allegations, because of a sick relative.

A relative with medical issues did exist but Geyer has not been tied up full time because of it, prosecutors now concede.

Trista Geyer is a key witness against ex-boyfriend Thomas Gelardo, who faces assault and criminal contempt charges based on her allegations.

Justice Charles Solomon was stunned when Gelardo’s lawyer, Vincent Martinelli, told him details of the about the alleged victim's bad behavior, asking: "So she broke into her lawyer's house?"

"You've got to be kidding me!" the jurist added after hearing the lawyer and Geyer "had a relationship" and "were living together."

Solomon will decide by March 8 whether Gelardo's case must be thrown out because of the long delay.

"If this is true and she's running around committing crimes in Florida and the people are saying she can't be here to testify because of a sick family member — game over," Solomon said.

Geyer could not be reached for comment. Dicembre did not return a message left at his office.

Martinelli said Solomon must decide simply "whether the prosecution was lawfully 'not ready' for trial over the last nine months because of a medical emergency of (Geyer's) family member."

He has been arguing that her "unavailability for trial had nothing to do with a family member's health."

Gelardo is the the nephew of a member of the Lucchese mafia family member by the same name.

His lawyers have denied Geyer's claims since his initial arrest, painting them as fabrications by an unhinged erotic actress.

"The bigger issue is why is this witness worthy of belief to begin with?" Martinelli said.

NYPD dissolves mafia investigation unit

The NYPD is finally dumping the unit responsible for investigating the mafia.

The Organized Crime Control Bureau will be a thing of the past under the department’s strategic reorganization that goes into effect citywide in March, officials said.

“What we’re moving towards is a unified investigations model,” NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said during a briefing at NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan.

“In each Patrol Borough there’s going to be an investigations chief and reporting to that investigations chief is going to be the precinct detective squads, Narco, Gang and Vice,” he said.

Each Detective Chief, AKA Super Chief, instead of reporting to the commander of the patrol borough will report to Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, O’Neill said.

“So all the investigative entities are going to move to the chief of detectives office,” O’Neill said. ‘Basically, we’re eliminating the Organized Crime Control Bureau.”

Boyce will be in charge of all the department’s investigative resources except for the Internal Affairs Bureau and Intelligence, which deals with counter-terrorism.

“Narcotics is not the issue it was back 20 years ago,” Boyce said. “Now we have gangs that are driven by credit card fraud.”

Under the new system, investigators can go directly to the investigative chief and report problems with narcotics, gangs, crews and get solutions, O’Neill said.

“This will give us the laser like focus on the issue at hand,” O’Neill said. “Sometimes that’s where the frustration was. Gang would be doing great work here, Narco would be doing great work here. But we need to better coordinate our resources to be better focused and to continue to push crime down.”

The NYPD has reported the lowest crime data in January last month and has been experiencing a decrease in shootings. The number of homicides increased in 2015 over 2014, however.

The Bonanno crime family is still alive and is doing well

The mob is still thriving, Manhattan prosecutors told jurors Tuesday at the trial of reputed Bonanno capo Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora — who inspired the character played by the late Bruno Kirby in the 1997 film “Donnie Brasco” — and three members of his crew.

“This is not Hollywood,” said ADA David Stuart in his opening statement at the enterprise corruption trial in Manhattan Supreme Court.

“These crimes and these defendants are real and you’ll hear that far from being dormant the Bonanno organized crime family was alive and well, and the old guard was training the new members to take over their reins.”

Stuart laid out the case against the aging underboss, nicknamed “Captain Crunch,” who allegedly oversaw an online gambling operation, the sale of prescription drugs, including Cialis and Viagra, and a loansharking scheme from 2010 to 2012.

Stuart cautioned jurors not to be fooled by the appearance of the benign-looking 73-year-old who sat at the defense table in a wheelchair. He referenced the mobster’s own sarcastic words to an underling caught on wiretap, “Who do you think runs this? An old f—king man?” and “Your d—k rises and falls with me.”

The lawyer for reputed soldier and co-defendant Anthony “Skinny” Santoro told jurors, “The idea of the mob is sexy” because we’ve all grown up watching movies that “glorified the mafia or made it seem like a crime syndicate pervades our daily life.”

But co-defendants Santoro, Santora, Vito Badamo and Ernest Aiello are simply close friends who grew up together, Konta said.

“Mr. Santoro did not make anyone sleep with the fishes,” Konta continued. “He’s just a guy who ran a gambling operation and has nothing to do with the Bonanno crime family.”

Konta also attacked the credibility of the prosecution’s cooperating witness James Tartaglione: “You’ll hear one of the witnesses killed 7 people. That’s more than on a season of ‘Game of Thrones.’”

Defense lawyer Michael Alber told jurors that alleged mob boss Santora is “supposed to be operating a crew” yet authorities found no physical evidence linking him to the crimes.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Trailer for new Philadelphia mafia documentary

With real-life South Philly characters "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, "Skinny Joey" Merlino and Angelo "The Gentle Don" Bruno peppering Tigre Hill's new documentary on organized crime, it's bound to be a hit.
Last week the "Shame of a City" and "Barrel of a Gun" director released the trailer for his latest film, "The Corrupt and The Dead."
Hill described the forthcoming documentary as focusing on the detrimental effect of organized crime on society, as well as its impact on the economies of its host cities. The film covers the mob's influence in cities across the country, but takes heavily from the mob's impact on Hill's native city of Philadelphia.
"Philly was so unique," Hill said, "even the mafia was saying, 'What the (expletive) is going on in Philly?'"
The film bookends with Philly elite, beginning with Salvatore Sabella, who Hill claims is the first known Sicilian Mafia boss in Philly, and it concludes with Merlino's fall.
"A lot of old mobsters have no respect for Merlino," Hill said, "Not that they're worthy of respect."
The filmaker - known for tackling such controversial issues such as the 2003 mayor's race and the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner by Mumia Abu-Jamal - said the project will be finished in May.

Chicago Outfit mobster sentenced to over 3 years in prison for violence and threats

Paul Carparelli
A reputed Chicago mobster was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 years in federal prison for a series of extortion plots involving a team of bone-cracking goons who traveled the country to confront deadbeat businessmen.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman told Paul Carparelli it was clear from the hundreds of hours of undercover recordings captured by the FBI that Carparelli "took pleasure in the fear and discomfort of others."
"These are crimes of violence, sir, not just of poor decision-making," Coleman said as Carparelli stood before the bench in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles. "The public safety is at risk."
The judge's sentence, however, was far below the more than 11 years originally sought by prosecutors, who argued that Carparelli was looking to rise in the ranks of the Outfit and become a "made" man after several bosses of the Cicero faction went to prison.
In court Wednesday, Carparelli, 47, choked up as he apologized for his actions. He asked the judge for a moment to compose himself as he talked about embarrassing his young son. Carparelli said he's come to realize since his arrest in 2013 that he has "anger issues" and often can't control thoughts that "go straight from my brain to my mouth."
"Sometimes it seems like the anger wells up inside me," he said. "In short, my big mouth gets me into trouble."
With credit for the time he has already served in custody, Carparelli could be released in about two years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather McShain played excerpts in court from several conversations Carparelli held with his key enforcer, George Brown, a 300-pound union bodyguard and mixed martial arts fighter who was secretly cooperating with the FBI.
In one meeting, Carparelli could be heard laughing as Brown described a beating he purportedly administered at Carparelli's behest. In fact, the beating never took place because Brown was already working undercover for the government.
"They said they really did a number on his ribs," Brown said on the recording. "They are guaranteeing me that something broke."
"Good," Carparelli replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
Carparelli pleaded guilty last year to five counts stemming from a series of extortion attempts involving deadbeat businessmen.
In one case, Carparelli played a behind-the-scenes role in a plot to confront a business owner in Appleton, Wis., about a $100,000 debt. In a backroom at a Fuddruckers restaurant, Brown and two other mob toughs threatened the owner, who had offered to hand over a special-edition Ford Mustang as partial payment.
In addition to the extortion plots, Carparelli was caught on surveillance arranging for the beating of suburban car dealership owner R.J. Serpico — he wanted both his legs broken — for failing to pay back a $300,000 loan from Michael "Mickey" Davis, a longtime partner of reputed mob lieutenant Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis.
At the center of the case were hundreds of hours of conversations between Carparelli and Brown that paint a colorful picture of Carparelli as a callous midlevel mob operative looking to move up the chain of command.
"This position doesn't happen all the time, George," Carparelli told Brown in a recorded call from 2011. "This is like a once-in-a-lifetime (expletive) thing, if this is what you want to do, if this is the way you want to live your life."
Carparelli's lawyers asked Coleman for as little as probation, saying in a recent court filing that the former pizzeria owner was "nothing but a blowhard" whose constant exaggerations of his mob ties "caused the government to believe he was a connected guy."
"Mr. Carparelli is clearly a 'wannabe' who has watched 'The Sopranos' and 'Goodfellas' too many times," attorneys Ed Wanderling and Charles Nesbit wrote. He was simply playing a "role," they argued.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Big Ang's cancer fight takes a turn for the worse as chemotherapy is not working

"Mob Wives" star Angela Raiola is in big trouble and could use help from her fans.

The reality star, known as "Big Ang," is battling stage 4 brain and lung cancer, and chemotherapy is not helping the disease from spreading so her family has created a GoFundMe page.

“Mob Wives” star Big Ang (Angela Raiola) had the first of two surgeries for throat cancer in 2015. She is seen here at home with her dog Lou in her living room.

The money raised will pay for cannabis oil — a common alternative medical treatment for cancer — which can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per month.

The GoFundMe page was created by her sister, Janine Detore, who wrote that "one tumor grew larger" and that the cannabis oil will help her with the pain.

According to her family, Ang was taken to the emergency room on Tuesday with "labored breathing and pain.” "The amount of pain she is having is by far more than she could handle," Detore wrote of her current condition (her rep has yet to respond to the Daily News).

Ang entered chemotherapy in January — days before the VH1 mob show's final season aired.

Mob Wife Angelina "Big Ang" Raiola attends Karen Gravano's "Mob Daughter" book release party at Greenhouse on February 15, 2012.

Sources told Confidenti@l last month that she cut her hair in preparation for the hair loss.

The niece of mobster Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi is known as the peacemaker on the VH1 show. Her larger-than-life personality spawned two VH1 spin-offs: "Big Ang" and "Miami Monkey."

She announced in March of 2015 that she had a large tumor in her throat and underwent two major surgeries to remove the lump and the lymph nodes, as seen on Season 5 of "Mob Wives."

"The doctors are saying that I'm a very lucky person," she told People magazine in September. "I caught this at stage 2."

On Tuesday, her "Mobs Wives" castmate Renee Graziano posted a photo in support of Ang, with the caption, "Friends like sisters...All my prayers sit this the ones I love Send our super star #bigang some love ... All is well."

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Longtime Toronto mob boss shot dead by son in law

Rocco Zito in the 1980s
Rocco Zito in the 1980s
Rocco Zito, a leading Mafia boss in Toronto until slowed by age and a growing distaste for the self-indulgent glitz of the modern-day underworld, was killed Friday in a violent attack inside the modest house he lived quietly in for decades.
He was 87.
Zito was pronounced dead Friday after suffering a single gunshot wound. Emergency crews were called to the home at dinnertime and police quickly searched for a gunman.
Toronto Police Service
Domenico Scopelliti, 51, is charged with murder in the death of Rocco Zito after surrendering to police.
After investigators publicly named Domenico Scopelliti, 51, of Toronto, as the accused gunman, the suspect — Zito’s son-in-law — surrendered at midnight, ending the manhunt but not the investigation into the death of a figure who, despite being a slight, unassuming man, loomed large in the underworld since the late 1950s.
Zito was at the centre of underworld intrigue at a time when police in Canada were beginning to realize the presence here of the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful Mafia that formed in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
But Zito loathed the flash of the modern Mafia, with its ostentatious displays of wealth meant to show power; true respect, he believed, came from “honour.”
In the years before he was killed, Zito often dismissed the young mobsters who were pushing and preening north of Toronto as “Hollywood.”
Zito said he disliked hanging out with “the people in Hollywood,” meaning Woodbridge, Ont., where many mobsters now call home, and lampooned them as “glamorous,” according to a source who knew him.
“In my day, we didn’t have the big houses, drive the big cars and the suits and all the flash,” Zito said. “But all the guys in Woodbridge have the big houses and drive the big, black SUVs and put on airs.”
He drove a car that was as plain as you could buy — no extras, no options, no flash, no nothing.
Zito lived that philosophy of old-school modesty to the end.
“If you were to look at the guy, you’d never guess he was a Mafia chieftain,” said Larry Tronstad, a retired RCMP Staff Sergeant who led an anti-Mafia unit that probed Zito for years. “He drove a car that was as plain as you could buy — no extras, no options, no flash, no nothing.
“He dressed very plainly, lived quietly as he could.”
Zito officially listed his occupation as a ceramic tile salesmen and he looked the part.
But his position was not in dispute in the underworld.
Police files say he was one of the original six members of the mob’s “Camera di Controllo,” or board of control, formed in Toronto in 1962 to settle disputes between Calabrian Mafia clans. Police sources said he was elevated to chairman of the board in the 1980s.
Thirty years ago, almost exactly, Zito was himself the subject of a police manhunt in a slaying, and was also described as “armed and dangerous.”
Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Police investigate at 160 Playfair Ave, the home of Rocco Zito, in Toronto on Saturday January 30, 2016. 
Zito surrendered to police in January 1986 to face a murder charge after the frozen body of Rosario Sciarrino, a Toronto photo studio owner who owed Zito money, was discovered in the trunk of his own car.
Zito had shot Sciarrino in the head and bashed in his face with an ashtray during an argument over the photographer’s unpaid debt. The judge accepted a plea deal to manslaughter on the grounds the only witness testified that Zito was provoked.
It was an uncharacteristic public lapse.
Zito was born Aug. 19, 1929 in Fiumara, a town of about 1,000 people in the countryside hills of Calabria that is 12 kilometres from the provincial capital of Reggio Calabria and seven kilometres from the coast that overlooks Sicily.
Fiumara’s population was double that at the time Zito immigrated to Canada in the 1950s.
He arrived here already entrenched in the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful Mafia of Calabria.
Zito had been inducted into the mob clan led by his uncle, Giuseppe Zito (nicknamed “the Pope”), and to which Zito’s father, Domenico, was also a member, according to police files.
In 1952 Zito was charged in Italy in a murder but the charge was dismissed. Shortly after he left Italy.
He initially wanted to immigrate to the United States but was twice caught trying to sneak in and was charged with smuggling and deported. In the late 1950s he arrived in Canada through Montreal and became a Canadian citizen in 1971.
Carlo Gambino
Zito made an immediate impact with fellow mobsters in Canada. Police wiretaps secretly listening to conversations of Ontario’s already established Mafia leaders soon picked up talk of Zito and his entrepreneurial urges.
Giacomo Luppino, the powerful senior Mafia boss in Hamilton at the time, said — with a seeming mix of annoyance and admiration — that Zito had suddenly become a major player.
Luppino had “very rarely heard of Rocco Zito in the past,” he was heard telling his son in his wired-up home in 1967, but now he “hears of Zito all the time” and understands he is “in the money.”
Police long believed he earned that money through gambling, loan sharking, drugs, fraud, counterfeiting and other criminal ventures. He also had an early bootlegging conviction.
Zito was first a police target in Canada in 1960 in a fraud investigation. By 1962, he was seen meeting with powerful mob figures, including Luppino.
In 1978, a police investigation of a counterfeiting operation focused on a printing company Zito owned. It led to the seizure of $1.7 million in counterfeit money in Vancouver. The bills originated in Toronto but charges against Zito were never laid.
Police also said at the time he had extensive gambling interests in Toronto, overseen by a relative of the man charged in Zito’s murder.
Zito was inordinately well connected to gangsters around Canada and in other countries.
He had ties with high-ranking members of the American Mafia, including two of the notorious Five Families of the New York City Mafia. When Paolo Gambino — brother of Carlo Gambino, the boss of the Gambino crime family — came to Toronto in 1970 he met for hours with Zito in a Holiday Inn, who entered through a rear service entrance. Zito was also seen meeting members of New York’s Bonanno crime family.
He was tight with mobsters in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto, and colleagues back in Italy, not only in Calabria, Rome and Milan, but also in Naples, where another Mafia organization, the Camorra, ruled.
Zito traveled back to Italy for special occasions.
One such occasion was in February 1975 for the funeral of his brother, Giuseppe, who had been killed during a Mafia power struggle in Reggio Calabria, according to police.
He was an important guy. He was a powerful man who lived through a lot when his contemporaries were being killed.
Perhaps sparked by the mob war at home, Zito’s father, Domenico, tried to join his son in Canada but was refused landing status because of a conviction for Mafia association. He was deported back to Italy.
Domenico Zito died a year later and his wife, Angela — Rocco Zito’s mother — came to live with Zito until her death in 1984. Along with their grieving family and wide circle of friends, a who’s who of the mob attended the funeral out of respect for Zito.
Adrian Humphreys archive
Adrian Humphreys archive Rocco Zito in 1968
In the 1980s, he was one of the top targets of the RCMP-led Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, a joint police unit targeting serious organized crime.
“We had this guy wired from stem to stern back in the day,” said Tronstad. “He was an important guy. He was a powerful man who lived through a lot when his contemporaries were being killed.”
With wiretaps in the kitchen and living room of Zito’s Playfair Ave., home and police staked out in a cockroach infested observation point on the top floor of a high-rise overlooking Zito’s street, investigators watched and listened to him, almost constantly, for three years.
Zito was wily and careful, investigators said.
Zito was even under surveillance the day he killed Sciarrino. Court later heard that Zito and Sciarrino met inside a Brampton meat store over an unpaid debt; Zito grew furious and felt insulted when Sciarrino sought more money instead of making payment.
In a scuffle, Sciarrino was shot in the head and chest.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 4½ years in prison, a sentence many balked at.
The investigation in Canada of Zito and his associates uncovered ties to mobsters in Italy, and information shared by the RCMP with Italian authorities helped bring arrest warrants against 62 people in Italy in 1986. The case included firearm transfers during a mob war between the De Stefano and Imerti clans in Calabria in a feud known as the Second ’Ndrangheta War.
He is retired. He is done. He is away from it all.
And the CFSEU’s probe also led to Zito being charged in 1986 in a high-end theft ring that stole and resold $450,000 worth of backhoes, portable compressors and other expensive construction equipment from constructions sites.
Over the years, however, the police files on Zito grew dusty, as he retired from a leadership role and police moved on to other, more aggressive targets.
“He is retired. He is done. He is away from it all,” said a police investigator in 2008.
Instead of gangland, Zito reveled in his family, especially his five children and at least eight grandchildren, and was well liked in the neighbourhood and community, said a neighbour.
It looked as if he would escape the violence of his underworld life, destined for a natural death from his growing ailments.
Until dinnertime on Friday.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Strikes close Ports of New York and New Jersey

The International Longshoremen’s Union staged a walkout Friday at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the most significant labor action at the facility in recent memory, shuttering all six terminals at the East Coast's busiest commercial seaport.
“Right now the entire economy of the port is shut down,” said Jeff Bader, president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, speaking to media early Friday. “We’ve missed hundreds and hundreds of exports. Containers are sitting there unmoved.”
The Port of New York and New Jersey said this morning that no additional trucks would be permitted to queue up on port roadways, and asked companies to stop sending further vehicles.
The strike appeared to come suddenly; the port authority issued procedural notices only on Friday morning until 10:45 AM, when they warned of heavy congestion and a union walkout. Terminal operators and truckers reported that they had no prior warning.
At 3 PM local time, the port issued an update thanking affected parties for “your patience & cooperation as we safely & efficiently cleared the marine terminals.”
The walkout is said to be related to tensions between the ILA and the bi-state agency responsible for its regulation and oversight, an assertion confirmed by ILA spokesman Jim McNamara. McNamara said that the union was making a “unified action against the Waterfront Commission [of New York Harbor],” or WCNYH, which was created in the 1950s to fight corruption and organized crime on the waterfront.
While legal actions against specific members are not necessarily reflective of the ILA as a whole, WCNYH has participated in recent investigations of union members for alleged prohibited or unlawful activity, including extortion, distribution of narcotics, and associating with members of the Genovese organized crime family. WCNYH is also said to have recently tightened the required commissioning and licensing procedures for longshoremen.
The New York Shipping Association (NYSA) told media in New York that the labor action was a violation of the ILA's contract, and that NYSA intended to file for a court injunction to force the resumption of port activities. “We don’t have a reason for why they’re doing this,” a NYSA representative said.
Separately, strikes by the Greek Seamen's Union shuttered ports and ferry terminals across Greece for a third day on Friday. The strike, which began January 27, coincides with actions by truckers and farmers to block roads and border crossings. It was originally intended for two days but has been extended another 48 hours, through Sunday morning.
According to a client advisory from Inchcape Shipping Services, the Towage and Salvage Crew Union of Piraeus will stage a four-hour stoppage Saturday morning, following a similar action Friday. Vessels will not be able to berth, shift or sail from affected ports during the strike; Thessaloniki will not be affected.
The strike is the latest in a series of labor actions protesting state pension and benefit modifications and privatization of state assets, moves required by Greece's foreign creditors under a debt restructuring plan.

Exotic dancers sue man linked to Genovese crime family over low pay

Keepers Gentlemen's Club on Woodmont Rd. in Milford, Conn. Six exotic dancers at the strip club will have their claims of unfair pay reviewed by an arbitrator. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media / Connecticut Post
Six dancers at a local strip club say they are just looking for a fair shake.
But they claim the owner of Keepers Gentlemen’s Club, former Genovese family crime figure Gus Curcio, is denying them a piece of the action.
In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court, the dancers, Sugeily Ortiz of Stratford, Crystal Horrocks of New Haven, Zuleyma Bella Lopez of Branford, Jacquelyne Green of Bristol, Dina Danielle Caviello of Wolcott and Yaritza Reyes of New York, claim they are not being paid a living wage.
“Defendants have unjustly and unlawfully enriched themselves at the expense of their employees by denying the named plaintiffs and other similarly situated class members their earned minimum wages, overtime pay and full retention of their gratuities ... and by charging the plaintiffs fees to work and arbitrarily and impermissably subjecting them to various fines in violation of their lawful employment contracts and applicable statutory and common law,” the lawsuit states.
The dancers’ lawyer did not return calls and emails for comment Tuesday. The dancers claim Keepers has annual gross sales of $500,000, that they have worked at least 40 hours a week at the club for several years and have to pay a “house fee” and a separate fee to the disc jockey from each paycheck.
They also argue in their suit they are not paid overtime after working 40 hours in any week, and are fined for breaking any of the club rules.
Lawyer Stephen Bellis, who represents the director and president of Keepers, Joseph Regensburger, argued Tuesday that the dancers are independent contractors and therefore not entitled to the same benefits as employees. He said they signed a contract to that effect.
“The issue in the lawsuit is really about whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor,” said Bellis, who also teaches business law. “This is not anything different than we see in any other business. They get tips and come and go as they want.”
A judge recently agreed to let an independent arbitrator hear the dispute.
“The judge ruled there is an arbitrator clause in their contract, so we will let an arbitrator decide the case,“ Bellis said.
Keepers is the first storefront in a commercial strip on busy Woodmont Road. Much of the inside resembles many of the sports bars in the area, with numerous large-screen TVs mounted on the walls.
But the handful of men bellying up to the bar Tuesday were not paying attention to the TVs. Their eyes were fixed on a young woman, lying on her back on a small stage with her feet in the air.
“I’m just here for a beer, I don’t know anything about that,” said one male patron when asked about the dancers’ lawsuit. He declined to give his name.
Regensburger is a longtime associate of Curcio and runs his businesses, including strip bars, restaurants and a development company. Curcio, of Stratford, has long been linked by federal prosecutors to the Genovese crime family. He has served federal prison time for loan sharking, extortion and obstruction of justice. Both men list a small house on Light Street in Stratford as their address. Neither could be reached for comment.

Former informant faces new allegations

A Glen Rock man who is awaiting sentencing for bilking upwards of $3 million from more than a dozen investors is at it again, federal authorities allege, using a phony alias to scam new victims.

Paul Mancuso (center) in court Dec. 2, 2004 with defense attorney Robert Galantucci (left), and Frank Lagano (right).
Paul Mancuso (center) in court Dec. 2, 2004 with defense attorney Robert Galantucci (left), and Frank Lagano (right).
The new allegations against Paul Mancuso, 49, were leveled in a letter that a federal prosecutor sent last week to U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark requesting that his $250,000 bail be revoked and that he be detained pending sentencing.
“Despite having pled guilty [in September] to defrauding numerous victims over a three-year period of more than $3 million, Mancuso is continuing to hold himself out as a real estate entrepreneur — using a phony alias —  in a brazen attempt to lure additional victims into fraudulent real estate transactions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Mahajan wrote in his letter to the judge.

Earlier this month, Mancuso, posing as Anthony Morino, a purported “administrator” of an estate in Tenafly, visited a potential victim to solicit a $30,000 investment “in a fraudulent real estate transaction,” Mahajan said.
Mancuso, who authorities say has ties to organized crime, allegedly claimed the estate was being developed into condominiums and other real estate projects with an overall value of $8.8 million, but that he had exclusive rights to offer the property for $5.5 million, the prosecutor said.
The $30,000 investment was solicited to purportedly cover the remaining cost of engineering plans. Mancuso also asked the victim to provide him with the names of other potential investors, Mahajan said.
When the victim responded that he was going to investigate who, in fact, was listed as the administrator, Mancuso changed his story, admitting he was not the administrator but insisting he held the exclusive offering rights, the prosecutor said. The victim did not make any payments to Mancuso.
The incident shows that Mancuso “continues to commit the very same type of frauds to which he pleaded guilty just four months ago,” and that he should be jailed pending his sentencing, Mahajan said.
Martini was expected to conduct a hearing on the request on Wednesday.
When he pleaded guilty in September to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Mancuso admitted that he conspired with Pasquale Stiso, 53, a disbarred New York lawyer, to defraud 15 victims of $3.4 million, often by getting them to invest in projects that did not exist or in which they had no actual involvement.
Authorities said he promised unsuspecting clients lucrative returns on investments including a casino on “the last oceanfront property in Atlantic City,” a pizzeria in the Bahamas and a Florida apartment community.
Court records show Mancuso was a confidential informant for the FBI in Newark from 2008 until 2011, when the FBI terminated the relationship because it became aware of his illegal activities.
In a letter to the judge last year, prosecutors provided details about Mancuso’s connections to organized crime, noting that he had ties to the Bonanno crime family of La Cosa Nostra, one of the five New York families, and that he was intercepted on wiretaps speaking with a member of the Bonanno mob on multiple occasions.
Mancuso’s attorney, Stacy Biancamano, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

Former NYPD detective could turn up in movie about infamous Colombo family enforcer

New York private eye turned Hollywood actor Bo Dietl is booking more roles after his appearance in Martin Scorsese’s HBO series “Vinyl.”

Spies said Dietl could pop up next in a biopic of Gregory Scarpa, the Colombo crime family enforcer, starring Sylvester Stallone and written by “Goodfellas” scribe Nicholas Pileggi.

Dietl was at the “Vinyl” premiere on Friday with stars Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano, as well as his fiancĂ©e, Margo Urban.

“Scorsese taught me how to act,” said Dietl, who has appeared in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Carlito’s Way.” “I didn’t go to acting school.”

He added the director originally wanted him to read for a different role in “Vinyl,” set in the music biz of 1973.

But when the gumshoe saw the script, he realized he was meant to play Joe Corso, a radio promotions guy.

“I read for this other guy then I looked at the camera and said, ‘Marty, I am Joe Corso,’ and read that part.”

Turncoat Gambino underboss Sammy the Bull in talks for TV show upon release from prison this year

Sammy "The Bull'' Gravano at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Investigations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in 1993.

Confidenti@l is told that notorious mobster Salvatore "Sammy The Bull" Gravano is in talks with production companies about making his own TV show when he comes out of jail this year.

The infamous Mafioso - who got a free pass for 19 murders in exchange for ratting on his boss John Gotti - is negotiating with execs with the help of his reality TV star daughter, Karen.

"There are production companies out there that are very interested in producing something on his life story," Karen told us, "They have contacted me and we're in - I don't want to say we're in any kind of deal-making situations yet - but we're into bouncing around a couple of ideas."

"He's very infamous and famous and now I'm famous," Karen - who is currently starring in the sixth and final season of VH1's "Mob Wives," a reality show about the female relatives of Made Men - tells Confidenti@l. "I don't think we're just going to fade off into Nevernever Land and nobody's going to hear from us again."

"Publicly, at this point he can stand up for what he did and be accountable and maybe he could set the record straight on a lot of what happened between him and John Gotti," said Karen.

However, we're told Gravano Sr. won't be following his daughter into the reality TV business.

Sammy “The Bull” Gravano during his sentencing on October 30, 2002 in Phoenix. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison for masterminding an Ecstasy drug ring.

"I think we're open for discussion on a lot of things, but no," said Karen, "he doesn't want to make a mockery of himself and go out every day and be followed and fight and argue. That's not who he is."

"There are a couple of ideas that have been thrown out to him that I really can't speak of that have been thrown out to him," she added, "Possibly even doing a television series about his life that I would be producing."

While a lieutenant in the Gambino crime family in the 1990s, Salvatore cooperated with the government to bring down Gotti, the family boss. Though dodged jail for the murders he committed while working for Gotti, he was jailed in 2002 for his part in an Ecstasy-dealing ring in Arizona in 2002.

Gotti's daughter, Victoria, and grandchildren Frank, Carmine and John, famously starred in the reality show "Growing Up Gotti."

Bookie linked to Gambino crime family found dead two days after Brooklyn District Sttorney raids home

 Bookie Patrick Deluise was found dead in a car on Friday, two days after the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office executed a search warrant on his home for running an illegal gambling operation.

A New Jersey bookie who suffered "panic attacks" over a loan he took from a Gambino crime family associate to help pay for his wife’s cancer treatment was found dead days after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office searched his home, law enforcement sources said.
The body of bookie Patrick Deluise was found with a gunshot wound in a car in Holmdel, N.J., at 2 a.m. Friday, according to sources.
The Holmdel Township Police Department declined to comment on Deluise’s death, stating that it was an open investigation. However, sources said his death appears to be a suicide that occurred sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning.
Two days before Deluise's body was found, Brooklyn DA investigators had executed a search warrant on his property — the culmination of a 17-month probe of interstate gambling operations that also involved the Gambino associate, Anthony Vallario, according to court documents obtained by DNAinfo.
Deluise was expected to be indicted on felony charges for running a $10 million gambling ring, according to the court documents, which are connected to a civil forfeiture proceeding.
Brooklyn prosecutors said in the documents filed Monday that within the next 120 days, they plan on arresting Deluise’s two sons and three of his associates for their involvement in the ring.
Vallario and an associate, Joseph Mancuso, will also face charges within the next 120 days for running two illegal betting rings that took in nearly $5 million in proceeds, the court documents say.
Brooklyn prosecutors said in the court documents that Vallario, his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law face felony loan-sharking charges for forcing Deluise to pay $2,400 a month in interest on a $50,000 loan.
Vallario, 76, of Staten Island, is the brother of Louis Vallario, a reputed Gambino captain and a onetime aide to the family's former boss, John Gotti.
Vallario's loan to Deluise funded experimental cancer treatment for Deluise’s terminally ill wife in Germany.
Deluise is believed to have paid $129,600 in interest on the loan to Vallario in the past four-and-a-half years, prosecutors said in the court documents.
The bookie was so distraught after years of paying the interest without making a dent in the principal that he desperately asked friends to float him money and sought advice on securing a legitimate second mortgage to cover the debt, the court documents say.
The documents include transcripts of wiretaps in which Brooklyn DA investigators caught Deluise complaining to a friend about Vallario.
“I just can’t pay it anymore. I can’t. The f------ guy. He don’t want to give me a break and I can’t catch up,” Deluise told the friend in a Jan. 25, 2015, phone conversation.
During the conversation, the friend asked Deluise if Vallario was a buddy he could reason with about the excessive payments.
“I don’t know. I thought he was, I, but, you know, he’s, he’s a f------ wiseguy,” Deluise responded.
Vallario’s lawyer, James J. DiPietro, declined to comment on the Brooklyn DA’s allegations because he had not yet received the civil forfeiture court documents.
But DiPietro said Vallario gave money to Deluise when he was desperately trying to save his wife.
“My client, being the good soul that he is, tried to accommodate that man,” the lawyer said. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA's office declined to comment on the gambling probe, but acknowledged the death of Deluise.
"We are aware of the death Mr. Deluise in New Jersey and that incident is being investigated by the local police," the spokesman said.
Deluise's sons did not respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors filed the civil forfeiture documents on Monday in Brooklyn Supreme Court in order to freeze property and financial assets connected to Deluise, Vallario and the nine other suspects.
Deluise’s ring took in $10 million in proceeds and involved using online gambling sites set up offshore, including one called, the court documents say. But Deluise, who lives in Hazlet, N.J., and his associates are accused of taking wagers from local bettors over the phone and via text.
Deluise and his associates would collect payments and drop off winnings at Bay Ridge bars and in the parking lot of a Nathan’s restaurant in Dyker Heights, the court documents say.
One of Deluise’s associates, Pasquale Marrone of Bay Ridge, is accused of running a similar illegal-gambling ring connected to Deluise that took in more than $2 million in proceeds.
Vallario, who drives a Cadillac and lives in the Charleston neighborhood of Staten Island, has a history of loan-sharking and mob ties, according to prosecutors.
The Brooklyn DA’s court documents describe Vallario as an associate of the Gambino family.
DA investigators said in the documents that, to avoid detection from law enforcement, Vallario had his son-in-law Stephen Cucich collect payments on the loan from Deluise.
Vallario’s wife, Rosanne, and daughter, Joan Cucich, are accused of facilitating the administrative side of the loan-shark scheme.
Aside from shaking down Deluise, Vallario is believed to have lent money at exorbitant sums to other unnamed victims, according to the court documents.
In 2005, Anthony pleaded guilty to one count of making extortionate extensions of credit in Brooklyn Federal Court. He received two years of probation, court records show.
Before his sentencing in 2005, Anthony asked a judge for leniency, claiming he had a heart condition. At the time, Stephen Cucich wrote a letter to the judge also asking for leniency for his father-in-law.
“In a time where family values seem to be a lost part of society, he has made it a priority that his family will always be together,” Cucich wrote.
Deluise isn't the first person to end up dead after the Brooklyn DA's Office executed a search warrant.

Philadelphia crime family is growing in numbers

The Philadelphia mob is back in business

Ron Galati won't be taking part in the underworld renaissance currently unfolding in South Philadelphia.

Instead, the wannabe wiseguy and auto body shop owner, who is already serving a 23-year federal sentence for a murder conspiracy conviction, is due in Common Pleas in September to answer fraud and murder-for-hire charges.

A trial date of Sept. 7 was set this morning at a status conference hearing before Judge Jeffrey Minehart. Galati, his wife Vicki and his son, Ron Jr., are slated to be at the defense table along with several other defendants if that trial goes off as planned.
Galati has been off the streets for the past two years and has missed out on what law enforcement sources are describing as the resurgence of the local crime family. At his bail hearing two years ago, Galati, now 65, was described by Assistant District Attorney Dawn Holtz as having a "close personal relationship" with then mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and Ligambi's nephew, mobster George Borgesi.

Both Ligambi and Borgesi were back in the news this week. On Monday, reporter Dave Schratwieser on a Fox 29 television special report, offered an update on the local mob, noting that Ligambi, Borgesi and others are frequently spotted at a recently opened clubhouse at 11th and Jackson Streets and that Borgesi and others have branched out into the construction and home rehab business with an office on Passyunk Avenue.

"It's all legit," said one source familiar with the new business ventures. "They're not doing anything wrong."

The television report said as much, but that hasn't stopped some of the wiseguys, wannabes and sycophants now hanging out at the clubhouse from complaining about media coverage.

"You have to admire their resilience," said one state investigator who, like several others, has been surprised at how quickly and easily the mobsters have fallen back into their old routines, hanging with the same individuals, congregating at a clubhouse to socialize and branching out into the business world.

The FBI and investigators with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and State Police have been tracking the activities.

David Fritchey, the recently retired head of the Organized Crime Strike Force for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, said the business ventures and associations bear watching and that he is confident law enforcement is doing just that.

"They have a long and successful business model" that involves "violence and intimidation," Fritchey said while dismissing the argument that the one-time convicts have paid their debt to society and ought to be left alone. "If they're not doing anything wrong, then they shouldn't be worried about who's looking at them."

No one is claiming any criminality in the current activities. But Fritchey noted that, "it doesn't bode well for their rehabilitation if they are hanging out with the same people with whom they committed crimes."

That, the ex-prosecutor said, is a formula for "recidivism."

Law enforcement investigators are also aware that back in October there was a mob initiation ceremony in which five associates were formally inducted into the crime family. Traditionally, a making ceremony is overseen by the crime family boss and the initiates are individuals who have sworn a blood oath of allegiance to Cosa Nostra and who have proven that allegiance by having taken part in a murder.

But this is Cosa Nostra 2000 and individuals are often "made" because of their blood relationship to another member or because they are good earners. Money trumps murder in the modern American Mafia, at least in South Philadelphia.

For now, at least, the greed, treachery and violence that once were the hallmarks of the organization are on hold. It has not been lost on law enforcement, however, that the ventures into home rehab, construction and mortgage refinancing are exactly what mob informants Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and Anthony Aponick testified about at Borgesi's last two racketeering trials.

Both said Borgesi, from prison, was planning a foray into those fields once he was released. Borgesi's first trial ended with his acquittal on all but one charge on which the jury hung. At the second trial he was found not guilty of that as well.

Monacello and Aponick were vilified by the defense camp as "lying rats" who were fabricating information to curry favor with federal prosecutors. While the jury rejected the bulk of their testimony, it appears that at least in terms of what Borgesi's future plans were, they were telling the truth.

Part of the reason for the continued monitoring of the local crime family is the belief in law enforcement circles that several of the mobsters who have returned from prison and are back out on the streets have literally gotten away with murder. None of the murder or attempted murder charges that were part of a 2001 racketeering case against mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, Borgesi and five other defendants were proven, however.

What's more, there are those who believe that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia no longer has the mob as a top priority. Terrorism, political corruption and narcotics trafficking are the topics of primary concern. The FBI's organized crime unit, which once boasted nearly a dozen investigators, currently has four or five members.

Still, local, state and federal investigators continue to work on the unsolved murders of Raymond "Long John" Martorano, John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto and Ron Turchi. The hope in investigative circles is that pressure can be put on someone who knows enough to help make one of those cases.

George Borgesi and Stevie Mazzone
To date, that hasn't happened. In fact, part of the resilience of the local organization stems from the fact that the most recent mob informants -- like Monacello -- haven proven to be ineffective witnesses. Monacello came across as arrogant and vindictive on the witness stand and what he said was often overshadowed or undermined by his tone and demeanor.

Still, Fritchey said, "there are a lot of people in law enforcement who believe he was telling the truth" when he described the roles Ligambi and Borgesi played in the mob, its penchant for violence and its deceit and treachery.

Among other things, Monacello testified that he, Borgesi and others helped Galati carry out insurance fraud scams in the 1990s by deliberately crashing into and wrecking cars. Galati was convicted and sentenced to 38 months in prison in 1994 for insurance fraud.

Two years ago, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office announced a new indictment alleging that Galati was back to his old tricks, orchestrating a $5 million insurance fraud scheme through false and trumped up accident and repair costs. What's more, the indictment alleges, Galati hired two hitmen to kill two rival auto body shop owners who had testified before a grand jury that was investigating him.

All of that is part of the case now set for trial in September.

Authorities say Galati came out of prison in the late 1990s and went right back to doing what landed him in jail in the first place. Both law enforcement and underworld sources say there's a lesson there for the mobsters with whom he has had "close personal relationships."