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

Monday, November 23, 2020

Feds bust 15 members and associates of the Philadelphia crime family on racketeering and related charges


United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that a Superseding Indictment was unsealed today against 15 defendants, including alleged members and associates of the South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-based criminal organization La Cosa Nostra (LCN), known as the “mafia” or the “mob.” The Superseding Indictment charges various crimes including racketeering conspiracy, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.

The defendants charged in the seven-count Superseding Indictment are Steven Mazzone, aka “Stevie,” age 56; Domenic Grande, aka “Dom,” aka “Mr. Hopkins,” aka “Mr. Brown,” aka “Dom14,” age 41; Joseph Servidio, aka “Joey Electric,” age 60; Salvatore Mazzone, aka “Sonny,” age 55; Joseph Malone, age 70; Louis Barretta, aka “Louie Sheep,” age 56; Victor DeLuca, aka “Big Vic,” age 56; Kenneth Arabia, aka “Kenny,” age 67; Daniel Castelli, aka “Danny,” aka “Cozzy,” aka “Butch,” aka “Harry,” age 67; Carl Chianese, age 81; Anthony Gifoli, aka “Tony Meatballs,” age 73; John Romeo, age 58; Daniel Malatesta, age 75; Daniel Bucceroni, age 66; and John Michael Payne, age 34.

According to court documents, the Philadelphia LCN is one of a number of LCN organized crime families based in various cities throughout the United States. The purpose of the LCN in Philadelphia and elsewhere is to make money through the commission of various crimes, including illegal gambling, loansharking, drug trafficking, and extortion.

Like other LCN families, the Philadelphia LCN is operated through a defined hierarchical structure, including a Boss, an Underboss (defendant Steven Mazzone), and Captains (defendant Domenic Grande), who oversee “crews” consisting of “soldiers” and “associates.” As detailed in the Superseding Indictment, soldiers are members of the family who have been formally initiated through a ritual called a “making ceremony,” during which they swear allegiance to LCN above all else, take a vow of secrecy about the organization (the Code of Silence or “Omerta”), and agree to commit violence on behalf of the LCN, if necessary. After this ceremony, these men (who must be of 100% Italian ancestry) are then referred to as “made members” of the LCN. Associates are men who engage in criminal activity on behalf of LCN but who have not been formally “made,” either because they are up-and-coming and aspire to full membership, or because they are ineligible to be made because they lack fully Italian ancestry. Made members and associates who break Omerta may be targeted for death by other members of the group.

As described in the Superseding Indictment, the Philadelphia LCN sought to use its reputation and influence to exercise control over criminal rackets, like bookmaking and loansharking in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, particularly Atlantic City. During a period beginning in August 2015, ten of the defendants allegedly conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia LCN through both a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts. The remaining five defendants are charged with allegedly committing a variety of other offenses, including conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to make extortionate extensions of credit, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, in partnership with other members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN.

As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, on October 15, 2015, defendants Steven Mazzone, Domenic Grande and Salvatore Mazzone participated in a “making ceremony” (as detailed above) in a South Philadelphia residence, during which several new soldiers were inducted into the Philadelphia LCN. The Superseding Indictment goes on to describe the various acts allegedly committed by the defendants and others as members of the group, including the distribution of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and oxycodone pills; the disbursement and collection of tens of thousands of dollars of unlawful bookmaking and other debts “owed” to the group at interest rates as high as 400%; and even an alleged conspiracy to kidnap or murder a drug dealer in order to protect the reputation of the Philadelphia LCN after the dealer sold members of the group fake drugs.

“Thanks to the dedicated and courageous efforts of federal law enforcement over the past several decades, the Philadelphia mob isn’t what it used to be, and thank God for that,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “But it is still a problem and is still allegedly committing serious federal crimes, which is why we at the Department of Justice are focused on stamping it out. We will not rest until the mob is nothing but a bad memory.”

“The charges unsealed today against these 15 alleged members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra show that the mafia remains a criminal presence in our city and beyond,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “From loansharking and illegal gambling to drug trafficking and extortion, the mob continues to keep its fingers in many different pots, in its ceaseless quest for illegal profits. This group should’ve learned by now that the FBI is as committed to eradicating organized crime as wise guys are to embracing it.”

The case is being investigated by the FBI, including its Philadelphia Field Division and Atlantic City Resident Agency, as part of a long-running investigation, with the assistance of the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Ortiz of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Alexander Gottfried of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Organized Crime and Gang Section.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Turncoat former Gambino underboss Sammy the Bull resurfaces on social media

Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, former underboss in the Gambino crime family, is sworn in at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Investigation subcommittee on Capitol Hill in April 1993.
In another century, in another city, in a different world, a rap on Sammy “The Bull” Gravano’s front door resonated with impending menace.

These days? Not so much.

“I got a neighbor, and she comes over and knocks,” recounts the former Gambino crime family underboss, now 75 and living in a sleepy Arizona neighborhood. “I open the door, and she’s giving me broth. I said, ‘What’s this?’ She says, ‘I know you’re living alone, and I don’t know if you’re eating right.’

“So she gives me the broth.”

Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, former underboss in the Gambino crime family, is sworn in at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Investigation subcommittee on Capitol Hill in April 1993.

It’s a new world for the Brooklyn-born Mafioso who admitted to 19 gangland rub-outs before turning government witness, putting 37 organized crime figures behind bars — including his old boss, John Gotti. Gravano has swapped the Mafia’s once-secret society and his vow of omerta for a social media onslaught.

Gravano, who entered and left federal witness protection after his devastating testimony in the ‘90s, is now available on Facebook and Instagram. He’s poised to launch his own podcast, and last year sat for a lengthy YouTube interview that garnered 8.4 million views ... and counting.

His Brooklyn accent remains unchanged a full 28 years after he moved west, and he still carries the baggage of his violent rise through the ranks of the Gambinos under Gotti. The Dapper Don, convicted after Gravano’s testimony, died behind bars in 2002.

“Everybody has regrets,” reflects Gravano. “No matter what life you’re in, everybody who goes forward has some sort of regrets. Of course. I’m involved in a lot of murders. When I talk about it for my podcast, I actually relive it — and it nauseates me to a degree.”

Count his time as Gotti’s second-in-command among those regrets.

Ex-Gambino family boss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano at his home in Arizona.
Ex-Gambino family boss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano at his home in Arizona.

“I think he single-handedly destroyed the Mafia,” says Gravano of his old spotlight-loving boss. “I think he made every mistake you could make. What John did, he hurt the entire Mafia. You could take 15 guys who cooperated, put them together, and they didn’t do as much damage as he did by putting the whole Mafia on front street.”

Gravano, who spends up to two hours before bedtime replying to questions on Facebook, doesn’t shy away from his infamous past. He speaks fondly of former Genovese family underboss “Benny Eggs” Mangano, and less so of one-time acting Lucchese family boss “Little Al” D’Arco.

Gravano recounts the end of a productive business meeting with Mangano: “He gave me a smile, a hug and a kiss.”

And he recalls a less cordial conversation with D’Arco: “I told him, ‘The next time you see me, I’ll be the last f---ing person you ever see.’”

Sammy the Bull ascended through the Gambino ranks in the 1980s, sitting alongside Gotti as the pair drove past the corpse of executed boss “Big Paul” Castellano after a pre-Christmas 1985 hit outside Spark’s Steak House. He was also indicted alongside Gotti in 1990, only to turn his back on the mob and become a devastating witness.

Given a new lease on life, Gravano moved to Arizona. He quit the federal Witness Protection Program, returned to a life of crime. And he was arrested again in 2000 for running a Ecstasy ring, with a sentence of 20 years imposed before Gravano eventually walked free in 2017.

Gravano’s embrace of the 21st century included appearances on his daughter’s reality television show. Sammy admits he’s still a bit flustered by the new technology, although he’s assembled a team to assist in his acclimation to the new millenium.

“Listen, when I left home, these phones never existed,” he says with a chuckle while speaking on one. “As a kid, I would talk to the television and they thought I was crazy. Now if you don’t talk to the f---ing television, it doesn’t change the channel.”

Gravano says he’s comfortable living out west, although there’s something missing so far away from the streets of his hometown.

“I love New York, I love the attitude of people in New York,” he says. “I still know a lot of people in the Mafia out of New York. And there’s a lotta guys who flipped, they’re in touch with me every three minutes. But I don’t fit in there no more.”

Gravano’s new social media endeavors are reachable through his website, SammyTheBull.com/links.

“I still love the Mafia, cause it’s part of my heritage,” he says. “I still believe in it. I still think I’m a gangster. Now, my ex-wife will ask me all the time, ‘You can’t stop thinking like that?’

“And I say, ‘That’s me.’”


Friday, November 20, 2020

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

FBI offers reward for information in suspected Philadelphia mob murder

The FBI’s Philadelphia Division is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the unknown individual(s) responsible for the murder of Gino DiPietro. On December 12, 2012, at approximately 2:55 p.m., DiPietro was shot to death as he emerged from his vehicle near his residence in Philadelphia.

Video from surveillance cameras in the area of the murder shows a vehicle (the getaway vehicle) repeatedly driving by the area where DiPietro was killed in the hours prior to the murder. Witnesses later saw an unidentified male (the shooter) approach and shoot DiPietro multiple times. Surveillance video captured the shooter running away from the scene and witnesses observed the shooter get into the getaway vehicle.

Suspect in the Shooting

The driver of this vehicle was later arrested and convicted for his role in the offense and is serving a state prison sentence. The FBI is seeking information regarding the shooter and any other individuals involved in the planning of the murder.

Vehicle Used in the Shooting

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Gino DiPietro.

Anyone with information that may be helpful to investigators is asked to call the FBI at 215-418-4000 or share it online at tips.fbi.gov. Tipsters can remain anonymous.


Federal judge orders compassionate release of ailing former Colombo mobster

Ailing Brooklyn mobster Gregory Scarpa Jr. caught a break Wednesday when a judge ended his 32-year prison stretch on racketeering murder charges by ordering his compassionate release.

Scarpa, 69, a former Colombo crime family mobster turned prison snitch — he helped the government probes of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — is currently at a federal Bureau of Prisons halfway house in Kansas City, Kan., records show.

“I do not minimize the evil acts Mr. Scarpa committed over the course of his criminal career,” wrote Brooklyn Federal Judge Edward Korman in ordering Scarpa’s release.

“The reality, however, is that Mr. Scarpa is a seriously ill man who is unable to care for himself and has little prospect of recidivating.”

Among Scarpa’s many illnesses behind bars has been a late-stage cancer, for which he’s received radiation and chemotherapy and surgeries, including the removal of a tumor that left a hole in his throat.

Doctors removed Scarpa’s salivary glands during the surgeries — and now he “regularly chokes” on his food, to the point where he has had to learn to be able to do the Heimlich maneuver on himself, the judge wrote.

In healthier times, Scarpa Jr. — whose father was also a famous murderous Colombo family mobster— was a high ranking member of the crime family, often requesting permission from leaders to kill perceived enemies.

He was convicted in 1998 of a large-scale racketeering case that the feds say involved four murders he committed. He was already incarcerated in another case before that.

In 1981, Scarpa Jr. shot Robert DiLeonardi in the head in a secluded spot on Staten Island because DiLeonardi was bragging to people about bank heists their crew had pulled off, prosecutors said.

That same year, Scarpa Jr. had his dad and Joseph DeDomenico murder limousine driver Alfred Longobardi, with whom Scarpa Jr. had a feude, said the feds.

Six years later, Scarpa Jr. murdered DeDomenico because he believed DeDomenico was “committing lucrative crimes without sharing the proceeds with other crew members,” according to federal prosecutors.

In 1983, Scarpa Jr. hatched a plan to murder Sal Cardaci, who Colombo family members believed was a rat. After members of their crew killed Cardaci, Scarpa Jr. ordered him buried in the basement of a Bensonhurst store, according to the feds.

In 1985, Scarpa Jr. was tasked with offing Anthony Frezza after Frezza murdered a member of the Gambino crime family. Scarpa Jr. shot Frezza in the head at the Scarpa home, the feds said.

Behind bars, Scarpa Jr. turned into quite a rat.

He worked as an informant behind bars for the FBI to get information from Al Qaeda terrorist and 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Youssef.

While housed in 2005 at Colorado’s “Supermax” federal prison, Scarpa learned from fellow inmate and Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols (pictured) the location of some explosives hidden in Nichols’ home.
While housed in 2005 at Colorado’s “Supermax” federal prison, Scarpa learned from fellow inmate and Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols (pictured) the location of some explosives hidden in Nichols’ home.

While housed in 2005 at Colorado’s “Supermax” federal prison, Scarpa learned from fellow inmate and Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols the location of some explosives hidden in Nichols’ home.

Scarpa Jr. told a private investigator that the explosives were buried in the basement of Nichols' home in Kansas, and the private eye passed it on to two congressmen who alerted the FBI. The explosives were recovered.

The judge in Scarpa Jr.'s case took ten years off his sentence for the tip, but an appeals court later reversed that decision.

Korman cited Scarpa Jr.'s aid in those cases — as well as his model prisoner behavior — in granting the compassionate release. Korman also noted that Scarpa Jr. has exhibited signs of early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Court papers say Scarpa plans to live with a sister in Florida.


COVID-19 outbreak in NJ prison sickens numerous mobsters

A massive coronavirus outbreak has turned a New Jersey federal prison into a house of horrors, with quarantined inmates bedridden, coughing and vomiting, according to harrowing inmate accounts.

At least five New York City mobsters have been sickened at FCI Fort Dix, in Burlington County, N.J., about 30 miles east of Philadelphia.

In one unit, 217 out of 230 prisoners — 94% — tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 5, say court filings. The prison’s 232 confirmed COVID-19 cases exceeds those of any other federal prison or jail in the country.

“I woke up at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, drenched in sweat, unable to breath, I vomited for two hours, my entire body ached,” wrote Felix Morales — who is incarcerated at Fort Dix — in a Nov. 10 email obtained by the Daily News.

“Twenty minutes my breathing was constricted in little gasp, it felt like I was being suffocated.”

Fort Dix Unit 5812 has accounted for nearly all the COVID-19 cases in the prison, which — counting its adjacent prison camp — last week housed 2,774 inmates, more than any other federal lockup.

“I’ve been bedridden since I first got my symptoms on Monday,” inmate Robert Speed said between coughs during a recorded Nov. 8 phone call shared with The News. “I don’t see them [staff] doing anything but temperature checks.”

The outbreak has renewed calls from inmates for compassionate release from judges. Many of those seeking compassionate release are members of La Cosa Nostra in New York City.

One of the sick wiseguys at Fort Dix is Bonnano family member Daniel Mongelli, who was convicted of taking part in a mob rubout. Mongelli was ordered released by a Brooklyn federal judge Nov. 5.

Bonnanno soldier Michael Padavona caught the bug. “He is currently alone in his cell with a fever and an extremely irregular blood pressure,” wrote Padavona’s lawyer in a Nov. 4 request for release from prison for his client,

“To be sure, the government understands that the defendant has contracted COVID-19 and is currently in isolation suffering from the disease, and does not mean to downplay that fact,” the feds wrote in opposition to Padavona’s request for release.

But they argued that Padavona’s minor symptoms, fever, body aches, loss of smell, headaches and coughs do not merit compassionate release for the made man.

Other mobsters with COVID-19 are 75-year-old Genovese family member Ernest Montevecchi, Lucchese capo John Castelucci and Colombo associate Michael Spataro.

Lawyers, inmates and prison union officials say the outbreak began after numerous groups of men — some who ended up testing positive for COVID-19 — were transferred to Fort Dix from the minimum-security federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.

“It’s clearly a huge outbreak and it’s clear it happened because BOP screwed up and transferred people from another facility that had a huge outbreak — from Elkton,” said David Patton, attorney-in-chief of the Federal Defenders in Manhattan.

The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Whitey Bulger's family files lawsuit against for failng to protect him prior to his death in prison


Family members of Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and 30 unnamed employees of the prison system for failing to protect Bulger, who was beaten to death at a West Virginia prison.

The family filed the lawsuit against the prison system last week, two years after Bulger, 89, was killed at United States Penitentiary, Hazelton, a federal prison in West Virginia's Preston County. Bulger died the same day that he was transferred there from another prison.

The lawsuit said the prison system failed to protect Bulger by moving him to Hazelton, a prison with constant inmate violence, news outlets reported.

The family also alleges the prison system was aware that Bulger was labeled a “snitch,” and that he was perhaps the most well-known inmate to be incarcerated since Al Capone, but yet did not do enough to shield him from the other inmates.

The Bureau of Federal Prisons did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Bulger was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, an Irish-American organized crime operation that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in South Boston. He was also an FBI informant who snitched on the New England mob, his gang’s main rival, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was a top national priority for the FBI.

He became one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives after fleeing Boston in late 1994. After more than 16 years on the run, Bulger was captured at age 81 in Santa Monica, California. He was later convicted in 2013 of participating in 11 murders and other crimes.

Bulger was moved to the West Virginia prison after being initially housed in Florida and in Tuscon, Arizona, two prisons known for protecting inmates who may be at risk because of their crimes, according to the lawsuit.

“Predictably, within hours of his placement in general population at Hazelton, inmates believed to be from New England and who are alleged to have Mafia ties or loyalties, killed James Bulger Jr. utilizing methods that included the use of a lock in a sock-type weapon,” the lawsuit reads.

According to the Bulger family, no information has been received about an investigation into Bulger's death or his transfer to Hazelton.

The family is seeking damages for Bulger’s physical and emotional pain and suffering, as well as for wrongful death.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Philly mobster is sentenced to 15 years in prison after FBI wiretap catches him saying everything he does is criminal

Joseph Servidio was never shy about who he was and where his money came from.

“I’m a criminal,” the reputed Philadelphia mob soldier told an associate in 2017. “Everything I do is criminal.”

Later, he boasted: “There’s nothing better than making money. I make money every day, illegally.”

So, when one of his mob brothers started recording their conversations for the FBI, it was only a matter of time before Servidio’s mouth landed him behind bars.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Camden sentenced the 60-year-old, known by his nickname “Joey Electric,” to 15 years in prison for one of the many rackets he boasted of on those recordings — a resumè that ranged from drug-dealing and bank fraud to armored-car heists and potentially even murder.

His sentence came a year after Servidio pleaded guilty to charges alleging he pumped pills laced with heroin and fentanyl into Atlantic City. He confessed based in part on how thoroughly the wire recordings implicated him in those crimes.

And like many a fallen mobster before him, Servidio knew better: It’s always the tapes that get you.

“Eighty percent of eyewitnesses get the wrong person … so without any corroborating evidence, you can beat that,” he said a year before his arrest, according to transcripts of the recordings filed in court records. “The things you can’t beat are the tapes … with you saying it.”

Servidio’s attorney, Marco A. Laracca, did not return calls for comment Thursday.

And federal prosecutors in New Jersey have not identified Servidio’s conversation partner, except to describe him as a made member of the Philly mob with his own extensive rap sheet. The man began recording his fellow Mafia associates in 2016, after being arrested in connection with an insurance fraud case involving a faked pawnshop robbery.

In Servidio, the cooperator found a rich target.

A part of the Philly mob’s North Jersey crew, Servidio “made his bones” in the crime family at the age of 19, he told the man recording his words, describing what FBI agents say was a murder committed as his initiation into the group.

He was charged with racketeering in 2001 alongside reputed Philly mob boss Joey Merlino and with drug-dealing in 2006, and has spent years in federal prison.

But by 2016, Servidio was out and had launched a home repair and renovation company — albeit, he admitted, mostly to launder money he had coming in from various criminal rackets. Secretly, though, he had returned to his old ways, and was looking to make a move into the Atlantic City market.

In all, prosecutors say, he and his codefendants were responsible for the distribution of more than 200 grams of fentanyl and heroin there and roughly 300 grams of meth between 2016 and 2018.

But as his conversations with the cooperating witness — recorded at Servidio’s Marmora, N.J., home and in restaurants up and down the Jersey Shore — reveal, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

His higher-ups in the mob weren’t always supportive. “They don’t want me to do nothing illegal,” Servidio said in 2016.

A year later, he caught wind that a mob member was openly mocking him — an offense that led Servidio to stake out the man’s house for three hours in hopes of gunning him down, agents said. The FBI stepped in beforehand to warn the intended target.

There were times, too, that others confronted Servidio with the ramifications of his crimes. He described being confronted by a friend whose son had died from an overdose.

“She said, ‘Joe, please stop what you’re doing,’” Servidio recalled, according to the transcripts. “'You hurt people. People like you hurt people.'”

The man recording him replied: “You think she’s right? …. What’s wrong with us?”

Servidio responded candidly.

Drug-dealing “is the most money I can make,” he said. “And I like to spend money.”


Saturday, October 24, 2020

New Mafia Cops series in development from the creator of Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter has teamed with Asterlight, a San Francisco-based independent production company, to develop a true crime limited series based on the 2003 book Friends of the Family: The Inside Story of the Mafia Cops Case, by former NYPD Detective Tommy Dades, former Brooklyn prosecutor Mike Vecchione and David Fisher.

The book chronicles the true story of Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, two decorated NYPD police detectives who secretly worked on behalf of the New York mafia, principally the Lucchese and Gambino crime families, while committing serious crimes including racketeering, bribery, kidnapping and murder.

The story made national headlines when it was exposed that Caracappa and Eppolito received thousands in monthly payoff money in exchange for confidential information on police informants and investigations, in addition to serving as mob assassins. The infamous duo became known as the “Mafia Cops” and were convicted in 2006 of eight contract murders, two of which they carried out themselves. They were sentenced to life in prison in 2009.

Dades will work with Winter on the as-yet untitled project. Other contributors from the original investigation will include Joseph Ponzi, former Chief Investigator for the Brooklyn District Attorney, retired DEA agent Frank Drew and former NYPD Detective Frank Pergola. Former New York Gambino crime family underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano will add his knowledge of the story. Asterlight is producing.

“It’s an honor to work with Terry Winter and Tommy Dades and the rest of the team to bring this crime story to life,” said Joe Poletto, founder of Asterlight. “There’s no one better than Terry to tell the story of these two corrupt cops who betrayed their badges, their department and their city — and almost got away with it. It’s an era in New York City history we can’t forget.”

“Caracappa and Eppolito disgraced their badges like no one else in NYPD history,” said Winter. “It’s a privilege to tell the story of Tommy Dades, Mike Vecchione and Joe Ponzi – the good guys who brought them to justice.”

Winter also has a untitled mob drama series in development at Showtime with Brian Grazer and Nicholas Pileggi.

Winter created and executive produced HBO’s period mob drama Boardwalk Empire. He also co-created and exec produced HBO’s rock ‘n roll drama Vinyl. Additionally, Winter was a writer/executive producer of HBO’s blockbuster mob drama The Sopranos, for which he received four Emmy Awards as well as three WGA Awards. Winter, nominated for an Oscar for his The Wolf of Wall Street screenplay, is writing a TV series for HBO Max set in the world Matt Reeves is creating for The Batman feature. Additionally, he has Tokyo Underworld crime drama in works at Chris Albrecht’s Legendary Global.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Friday, September 25, 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Man marked for death by the Bonanno family arrested for child sex assault

A man who the Bonanno crime family tried to assassinate in 1978 was arrested on Monday in Garden City on child sexual abuse charges.

Anthony Coglitore, 87, of Whitestone, was charged with course of sexual conduct against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. According to court records, officials said the abuse stemmed back to 2001.

After his arraignment, Coglitore was ordered held on bail of $200,000 cash or $400,000 bond, which was not posted. A temporary order of protection was also issued.

Coglitore was the target of an attempted mafia assassination in 1978. According to a book he wrote on the subject, he had just parked in the driveway of his home in Queens when two men approached his car and opened fire.

Coglitore was shot 11 times in his driveway and survived. He was targeted by the Bonanno family because they thought he was involved in the attempted murder of a Bonanno family soldier, according to court documents.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

FBI raids Staten Island home of self proclaimed boss of the Genovese family


The FBI is investigating a gun-toting, self-proclaimed Genovese mob “boss” who has drugged two girlfriends since 2018, court papers claim.

A search warrant for the Staten Island home of Stephen “Stevie Westside” Blanco quietly unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court details the feds’ ongoing investigation for illegal gun possession, gambling and interstate stalking. The probe began in June when one of Blanco’s exes walked into an NYPD precinct on the island’s south shore.

“Blanco often carried a firearm and large amounts of cash. Blanco told her, on more than one occasion, that he was a member of organized crime,” FBI Special Agent Joseph Costello wrote in a July 23 document in federal court explaining the investigation.

Blanco “frequently boasted...about being a member and ’boss’ in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra,” the agent wrote. Blanco allegedly told the woman, who was not identified in papers, that he was inducted into the family around the same time as Frank Cali, the reputed head of the Gambino crime family who was gunned down in front of his family home last year.

Notably, the FBI agent does not write that he believes Blanco is actually a mobster.

Reached by phone, Blanco said the feds had the wrong guy and did not search his home. He said he has a pistol permit and no criminal record. “I have a fiancee. I have no idea what all this is,” Blanco said.

His former flame told cops Blanco kept a gun hidden behind a bidet in the second floor of his Ashland Ave. home and a second handgun in a Louis Vuitton handbag stashed in the trunk of his car.

The woman rekindled a romance with Blanco from 2018 to March 2019 and tagged along with him while he collected debts for a Costa Rica-based gambling operation, she said. The relationship took a darker turn when Blanco persuaded her to keep $20,900 in cash at his house, she said. Blanco later told her he gave the money to a neighbor for a piece of property and that she’d agreed to the deal the prior evening, according to the filing. The woman believed Blanco drugged her.

“You know who I am... you’re not going to f--k me, right?” Blanco allegedly told the woman in June 2020 as he returned some of her belongings.

A neighbor of Blanco’s who declined to be named said the FBI and NYPD blocked her driveway while searching his home about a month ago.

“I wish them well. Hopefully everything is okay. We just want to live in peace. That’s what everyone wants. With all the crap that’s going on now, he’s the least of our problems. This city has gone nuts. We need to support the cops. It’s getting ridiculous. You can’t let the criminals rule the streets,” the neighbor said.

Another of Blanco’s ex-girlfriends told authorities she had an abusive relationship with him between 2017 and 2018, according to the FBI agent.

“Woman-2 believed BLANCO frequently drugged her by serving her drinks mixed with Xanax,” the agent wrote.

That relationship ended in November 2018 after Blanco allegedly texted her an audio clip of him raping her while she was under the influence, according to the filing.

The NYPD confirmed a 57-year-old woman had filed a harassment complaint against Blanco at that time, but no arrest was made.

Papers indicate Blanco was convicted in 1999 of conspiracy to defraud the United States.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Attorney for gangster linked to Genovese family says he doesnt represent rats

An attorney for a Springfield mob associate has made an unusual request of the federal government: Tell the public his client is not an informant.
In the charged world of organized crime, this is a particularly damaging label.
Springfield attorney Daniel Hagan on Wednesday filed a letter in the public docket of a pending extortion case against Anthony J. Scibelli on behalf of his own client, David Cecchetelli, identified as “witness #5.″
Cecchetelli, 52, is a defendant in an unrelated illegal gun possession case pending in U.S. District Court. He has historical ties to the local faction of the Genovese crime family and a previous bookmaking conviction.
“Placing in public filings, information which can be used to derive Mr. Cecchetelli’s identity, and where the context could lead the public to conclude that Mr. Cecchetelli is a government informant or cooperating government witness, these filings have the potential to subject Mr. Cecchetelli and his family to serious harm,” Hagan wrote in an Aug. 19 letter to federal prosecutors and Scibelli’s defense attorney.
“What is especially alarming here is that Mr. Cecchetelli is not a government informant or cooperating government witness and never has been,” the letter continues.
Scibelli, 51, was charged last year with collecting on a $5,000 extortionate debt. Investigators say Scibelli beat the unnamed informant in a parking lot in June of 2019, and threatened to pummel another of the informant’s relatives with his wife’s walker.
Scibelli has pleaded not guilty to the charge. His attorney, Nikolas Andreopoulos, has argued in court hearings and written pleadings that the alleged victim in the Scibelli case, “Victim 1,” was not a victim at all but a compulsive gambler who tired of paying local loan sharks. The alleged victim told investigators he paid up to $36,000 in interest but could never get out from under the debt.
He began wearing a body wire at the behest of the FBI and state police to several meetings with Scibelli over six weeks in the spring of 2019, according to court records. In one unfortunate instance, someone forgot to shut the microphone off and the informant wore a “hot mic” for more than 24 hours, lawyers have said during hearings and in court filings.
In a recent motion, Andreopoulos quoted the unnamed informant as saying he and his brother would take control of Springfield’s rackets once his rivals went to prison.
Hagan has lobbied the government to publicly confirm Cecchetelli is not the informant and is merely on its witness list as a coincidental bystander.
“I don’t represent rats. So if there was something to it, I wouldn’t be representing Mr. Cecchetelli,” Hagan said when contacted for comment.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston declined comment, citing the ongoing nature of the case.
Scibelli was released to house arrest after spending weeks behind bars in 2019. His pretrial restrictions have since been relaxed. No trial date has yet been set.


Underboss of the Lucchese family sentenced to life in prison

In May 2017, 12 members of the Lucchese family were arrested and face a slew of federal charges, including murder and racketeering, among others. 
Today, the last of the 12, Steven L. Crea, second in command of the Lucchese Family of La Cosa Nostra, was sentenced to life in prison. 
U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel also hit Crea with a $400,000 fine and the forfeiture of $1 million as part of his sentence. 
A jury convicted Crea and three co-defendants on Nov. 15, 2019, for the 2013 murder of Michael Meldish, conspiracy to commit racketeering and other felonies after a six-week trial in White Plains federal court before Seibel.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss applauded the work of the FBI and NYPD. 
“Steven L. Crea — the Underboss of the Lucchese Family — is the last of a dozen men arrested in 2017 to be sentenced for his crimes," Strauss said in a statement after the sentencing. "For his role in the 2013 murder of Michael Meldish and other crimes, Crea will now spend the rest of his life behind bars. Thanks to the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and NYPD, we continue our commitment to render La Cosa Nostra a thing of the past.”
Crea helped lead the Lucchese Family, which made millions of dollars in profit from crimes committed by family members and associates in New York City, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey and elsewhere, prosecutors said. In 2013, Crea helped orchestrate the Meldish's murder. 
He, along with 11 other members of the Lucchese family, were arrested three years ago for crimes they committed between 2000 and 2017. 
With the exception of one captain who died before his case was resolved, everyone charged in this years-long case pleaded guilty or was convicted, And now they've all been sentenced. 
Crimes included the murder, three attempted murders — including the attempted murder of a former witness against the Mafia, multiple assaults, drug trafficking, extortion; millions of dollars in fraud against a public hospital in the Bronx, loansharking, operating illegal gambling businesses, among others, prosecutors said.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday, August 17, 2020

Man with links to Gambino family busted for loan sharking

A convicted felon and bodybuilder who collected debts for one of the nation’s largest merchant cash-advance companies was arrested in New Jersey last week on loan-sharking charges.
Renato “Gino” Gioe sent threatening text messages to a small-business owner who owed him money, and later confronted the man at his home and said words to the effect of, “I’m going to kill you,” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark.
Gioe was arrested at his home in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, on Aug. 7 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. attorney’s office in Newark said Friday. He was released on bail pending trial, prosecutors said. The complaint was made public Friday.
A lawyer for Gioe, Jonathan Savella, declined to comment.
Gioe, 52, was the subject of a 2018 Bloomberg News story that described how he traveled the country on behalf of Complete Business Solutions Group, a Philadelphia cash-advance firm that does business as Par Funding. Gioe paid surprise visits to Par’s delinquent borrowers, demanding immediate payment and hinting darkly about the consequences of default.
In an interview for the story, Gioe said he never tried to intimidate anyone, and that customers who were scared might be prejudiced against Italian Americans.
Both Gioe and his onetime boss at Par, Joseph LaForte, denied links to organized crime in the Bloomberg News story. According to the FBI complaint, Gioe was an associate of the Gambino crime family, as was “one of the owners” of Gioe’s employer, an unidentified company whose description matches that of Par. A lawyer for LaForte declined to comment.
Alleging securities fraud, regulators placed Par in receivership last month, and the FBI charged LaForte with criminal possession of firearms. The FBI last week revealed a broad investigation targeting LaForte’s operation, including searches of several of LaForte’s homes and offices.
The charges against Gioe don’t relate directly to his work for his employer, but to a side deal Gioe allegedly struck with a customer.
According to the complaint, Gioe’s employer loaned about $400,000 to the owner of a Toms River, New Jersey business in 2017, and later that year, Gioe confronted the man over missing payments and worked out a repayment schedule. When the customer again had trouble repaying, Gino provided his own loans, eventually totaling $175,000, often in cash, the complaint states.
In 2019, after the borrower failed to repay the personal loan, Gioe showed up at the borrower’s house and angrily confronted him, the complaint states. The borrower called the Toms River police, but declined to pursue charges after they arrived.
Prior to his work in the cash-advance industry, Gioe served prison time for convictions on charges including drug dealing and assault.


Friday, August 7, 2020

Judge sentences husband of Mob Wives star to more than 5 years in prison

“Mob Wives” star Drita D’Avanzo’s reputed mobster hubby was sentenced Friday to more than five years in prison after pleading guilty in Brooklyn court to being a felon in possession of a gun.
Drita was in the gallery as federal Judge Rachel Kovner gave her husband, Lee D’Avanzo, a twice-convicted bank burglar, 64 months in prison — well more than what prosecutors asked for — citing his lengthy criminal history and the seriousness of his crime.
Prosecutors had recommended just 37 to 46 months.
“The defendant had two guns in the house with his kids, and they were loaded with hollow-point ammunition,” the judge said as Lee, 51, stood before her. “At the time, there was other contraband in the house.”
The judge also referenced Lee’s 2009 conviction for trying to break into a Staten Island bank vault using high-speed drills.
The proceeding was the first in-person hearing in the downtown Brooklyn courthouse since the coronavirus pandemic shut it down in March — and Lee’s loyal wife, 44, was in the gallery.
Drita — who starred on the VH1 reality-TV show for six seasons — penned a handwritten letter to the judge describing Lee as an “amazing father” to their two daughters.
“He has a family that is fully supporting him and hoping he comes home soon,” she wrote.
Lee was charged earlier this year with being a felon in possession after investigators executed a search warrant at his Staten Island home and found two Smith & Wesson firearms loaded with hollow-point bullets.
One gun was stashed in a kitchen cabinet above the refrigerator, while the other was under the couple’s mattress in their master bedroom.
Authorities also seized an assortment of pills, as well as more than a pound of marijuana in a kitchen cabinet that could be accessed by their then-12 year-old daughter, officials said.
Initially, Drita and Lee were hit with a slew of charges in Richmond County Court — including criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
After the feds swooped in and busted Lee over the incident, the Richmond County DA dropped the charges against the couple.
As part of a plea bargain in Brooklyn federal court, he copped to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The couple’s criminal entanglements have lived up to the show’s storyline, which followed a group of Staten Island women with relatives in the mob.
Hot-tempered Drita, who starred on the series until it was canceled in 2016, was known for on-air brawls with her nemesis, Karen Gravano — the daughter of Sammy the Bull.
On her bio page for the show, Drita is described as the wife of Lee, a low-level mobster “who federal prosecutors allege is the leader of a Bonanno and Colombo crime family farm team.”
According to a friend who wrote a letter to the judge asking for leniency, Lee’s father was murdered when he was 7, and that trauma sent him down the wrong path.
Lee’s rap-sheet has spanned 18 years, and he has served time for assaulting a victim with a lug wrench, two bank burglaries and narcotics trafficking, according to federal prosecutors.
He has six criminal convictions, including four felonies.
Lee still faces charges in Monmouth County Court in NJ for conspiracy to possess marijuana and possession of marijuana, according to court papers.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Chicago mobster requests early prison release due to coronavirus fears

Reputed mob boss Michael “the Large Guy” Sarno says 10 years behind bars has reduced him to “a senior citizen with severe medical issues,” and he wants out of federal prison early because of the “deadly risk” of the pandemic.

A petition filed Monday seeks compassionate release for the 62-year-old Sarno, who was sentenced to 25 years in 2012 for ordering the bombing of a rival business in Berwyn to protect his illegal and lucrative video poker operation.

“Mr. Sarno poses no danger to any person or to his community,” the petition argues. “Between his multitude of medical issues and confinement to a wheel chair, he is no longer the Michael Sarno of the past.”

“For anybody to suggest that Mr. Sarno belongs in jail and that he is a violent offender — it’s wrong, it’s misplaced,” Sarno’s lawyer, John Chwarzynski, told the Tribune Tuesday. “Mr. Sarno should be back at home. He should be with his family.”

When he was sentenced, a federal judge noted that the bombing took place on a public street in Berwyn and that Sarno was willing to endanger people who might have been nearby. “The need to protect the public is very high,” the judge said.

Sarno’s crew also engaged in smash-and-grab robberies in which hundreds of thousands of dollars in gems were stolen from jewelry stores and then fenced at a Cicero pawnshop operated by the Outlaws motorcycle gang, according to prosecutors.

The petition argues that the 25-year sentence was overly harsh, contending the evidence against Sarno was not strong and the judge wrongly considered him a career criminal. “By keeping Mr. Sarno in jail, they are now essentially changing his sentence to the death penalty, and that’s not right,” Chwarzynski said.

The petition details a host of medical problems: “Empyema of the lungs, chronic obstructive asthma, iron deficiency anemia, benign hypertrophy of prostate, an enlarged gallbladder, renal failure, an elevated white blood cell count, he is 100% incontinent, hypertension, osteoarthritis of the knees requiring two total knee replacements, and is unable to walk and ambulates with a wheel chair.”


Friday, July 31, 2020

Man with links to Gambino family accused of defrauding investors


Federal officials say a convicted felon with mob ties and his wife fraudulently raised more than half a billion dollars from investors for their company, which loaned cash to small businesses at interest rates as high as 400 percent.

Convicted felon Joseph LaForte, who goes by the name Joe Mack, and his wife Lisa McElhone founded Par Funding in 2011 — the same year he was released from prison for stealing $14 million in a real estate scam and, in a separate case, for running an illegal gambling operation.

Par Funding issued $600 million in loans to small businesses across the U.S. since its inception, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission’s complaint filed July 24 in a Florida federal court.

The company raised the funds from more than 1,200 investors by “scheming and lying” — including making the false claim that their loans had a default rate of less than one percent when it was actually more than 10 percent, the complaint alleges.

“The fraudulent scheme operates behind multiple veils of secrecy built on the defendants’ lies,” the complaint charges.

The couple, based in Philadelphia, used unregistered sales agents to raise cash for which they were investigated by Pennsylvania securities regulators in 2018.

LaForte, whose grandfather, nicknamed “Joe the Cat,” and his uncle “Buddy,” were made men in the Gambino crime family, went to great lengths to hide his criminal past from potential investors using several aliases, according to Bloomberg and court papers.

The complaint accuses the couple and their agents of violating federal securities law and wants the court to freeze their assets, impose civil fines and appoint a receiver to protect investors.

LaForte and McElhone couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.