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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Alleged mobster has job application denied after two year probe

A city commission took nearly two years to run a background check on a reputed mobster.

In 2012, alleged mob associate Frank Coppola sought to work as a sales rep for Mr. T carting Corp in Queens.

And in late 2014, the Business Integrity Commission — which was established to root out mob ties on the waterfront and in waste-hauling industries — finally ruled to nix his bid for a job.

The commission said Coppola “lacks good character, honesty and integrity” because of his reputed ties to the Gambino and Lucchese crime families.

Coppola served nearly five years on a felony conviction related to a waterfront cocaine-ring bust in 1996.

In court papers, Coppola’s lawyers argued that he had paid his debt to society and noted that the commission cleared him to work in 2010.

Coppola, 54, worked for Metropolitan Recycling Corp in Queens from 2010 to 2012 “without incident,” the lawyers said.

Officials say he hadn’t been formally approved.

Coppola didn’t return a message and his lawyer declined comment.

http://nypost.com/2015/01/27/city-denies-alleged-mobster-a-job-after-two-year-probe/

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wealthy magnate linked to the Colombo crime family bought site for future strip club

A company managed by car and yacht magnate John Staluppi, once described by the FBI as a member of the Colombo crime family, bought the Double D Ranch and Saloon site in 2013 and later transferred it to his son-in-law’s firm, an investigation by The Palm Beach Post has found. Staluppi’s company bought the site for $1.9 million and sold it in May to a firm owned by Scott Lizza. The purchase was at least the second time Staluppi has ventured into the world of adult entertainment in Palm Beach County in recent years.

In 2012, Staluppi’s S&J Property Holdings bought what was once known as Club Diamonds from a company managed by Thomas Farese of Delray Beach. Farese was described as the consigliere of the Colombo crime family in a 2012 affidavit from an FBI agent filed in a New York court. He was convicted in 1998 of hiding his interest in and laundering money through strip clubs, including Club Diamonds, and sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. Diamonds is now Monroe’s of Palm Beach at Congress Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard, and it’s managed by Lizza. Gerald Richman, Staluppi’s attorney, said Staluppi has no interest in Monroe’s. The construction of the Double D has generated intense opposition from nearby residents, who argue that it will depress property values and serve as a magnet for crime. Some of those residents have pressed Palm Beach County commissioners to stop the project, but county staff members say it is properly permitted and that moving to block it could expose the county to legal challenges.

Seeking to serve food
Commissioners, who had no vote on whether to permit the project, are contemplating a zoning change that would allow the 20,000-square-foot Double D to serve food. Last month, they voted 5-2 to move forward with a proposed change that would allow strip clubs in industrial areas to serve food. On Thursday, they are scheduled to take up that issue again. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who lives near the Double D site and has been hearing from angry residents about it, said Staluppi’s connection to the project and previous descriptions of him as an organized crime figure are worrisome.
“I don’t want to tie somebody to their past, but that kind of link to a crime family is concerning,” she said. “My opinion of the (Double D) project hasn’t changed. I’m still opposed to it.” Currently, only clubs in commercial areas, such as Monroe’s, can serve food. The change could be lucrative for Double D, increasing a the club’s property value as customers stay longer and spend more money.
Before Staluppi’s company bought the Double D site, several people wanted to buy it but lost interest because the club couldn’t serve food, a county official wrote in an email last year.

No stake in Double D
Richman confirmed that Staluppi purchased the Double D site, but he said the Brooklyn, N.Y., native will have no stake in the strip club being built there. “That’s the business his son-in-law has chosen to get into,” Richman said. “(Staluppi) will have no involvement whatsoever.” Multiple efforts to reach Lizza were unsuccessful. Organized crime and strip clubs have a long history. In addition to Farese’s case, strip clubs from South Florida to Las Vegas to New England and New York have been involved in federal Mafia court cases. To reveal the people and firms connected to the Double D, which is being built on Southern Boulevard just west of Florida’s Turnpike, The Post sorted through stacks of documents detailing the corporate trail. At first blush, it wasn’t clear that either Lizza or Staluppi owned the Double D site. Records show that it is owned by 8162 Southern Blvd. LLC. That company shares a registered agent, Haile Shaw and Pfaffenberger P.A., with S&J Crazy Lizards, which lists its address as 1000 N. Congress Ave., West Palm Beach — the same address as Monroe’s of Palm Beach. Lizza is the only officer listed for Crazy Lizards.

In February 2014, three months before Staluppi’s S&J Property Holdings transferred the land to Lizza’s firm, Lizza signed a zoning document as “managing member” of S&J. He left blank a form to disclose all ownership interests of 5 percent or more in the property, prompting a county reviewer to note that the disclosure needed to be filled out. County officials say they never pressed Lizza for the names, because later on, officials determined the form was not required. Staluppi himself signed the deed transferring the Double D property to Lizza’s company three months later, land records show. Staluppi’s involvement in the Double D project had long been rumored. The Post asked Richman whether Staluppi, who in 1972 pleaded guilty to a felony charge of receiving stolen car parts, was using his son-in-law as a front because of Staluppi’s guilty plea and because of allegations that he is a member of the Colombo crime family. Richman said Staluppi “unequivocally” denies that he is using his son-in-law as a front, and he said allegations that Staluppi is in the mob are false. “He was not and is not” a member of the mob, Richman said. “He’s not involved in a crime family.”

A chance on Honda
Staluppi built his billion-dollar fortune on cars, taking a chance in the 1970s on a little-known Japanese firm called Honda, his official biography says. Soon after, he owned 20 dealerships in New York, and it grew from there, including another bet on Hyundai. His Atlantic Automotive Group grew to sit among the top 15 dealer groups in the country. In the 1980s, he added yachting to his portfolio. He founded Millenium Super Yachts, a luxury yacht builder in Riviera Beach, and he’s owned a pack of super yachts, many named after James Bond movies and most among the fastest in the world. In Palm Beach County, Staluppi has established himself as a force in philanthropy and politics. He donated $1.5 million to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palm Beach Gardens for a center that now bears his name. And since 2008, Staluppi, his relatives, associates and firms have donated at least $17,000 to Palm Beach County office-seekers. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has received the most: $7,500 during his 2008 campaign, records show. Staluppi also has hosted fundraisers for Bradshaw’s “Shop with a Cop” program at the site of Staluppi’s former rare car collection in North Palm Beach. In 2009, Bradshaw spent taxpayer dollars taking Staluppi out to lunch as a “thank you” for the donations, the sheriff later told a state ethics prosecutor. The Florida Commission on Ethics dropped the case because Bradshaw followed department policy, which was subsequently changed.

Staluppi has long wrestled with allegations that he is tied to the mob. He grew up with and has acknowledged friendships with people who have been identified by law enforcement as mobsters and convicted of crimes. In 1992, a helicopter charter service owned by Staluppi and seeking to fly into Atlantic City was denied a non-gaming casino service industry license by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. The New Jersey State Division of Gaming Enforcement wrote a letter opposing the application. “A check with law enforcement authorities by the Division revealed that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have identified John Staluppi, 100 percent owner of the applicant, as a member of the Colombo family, a career offender cartel,” a November 1991 memo from the division states. The division also sought to have Staluppi excluded from casinos for life, dubbing him a “career offender” because of alleged ties to the Colombo family. An FBI supervisor and a criminal investigator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York testified that Staluppi was a member of the Colombo crime family. The investigator said Staluppi’s personal phone directory contained the names and phone numbers of “several members” including the acting head of the Colombo family.

The FBI supervisor said his information came from an FBI agent who worked for him. That agent in turn got the information from a confidential informant. He said he could not reveal any more to corroborate his testimony because of FBI policy to protect the identity of confidential informants. As a result, a hearing examiner, in an initial decision, wrote that the law enforcement allegations against Staluppi were largely unsupported. “I conclude that the division has failed to establish by a preponderance of the credible evidence that (Staluppi) is a career offender,” the examiner wrote. The commission agreed.

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/man-once-accused-of-mob-ties-bought-site-for-doubl/njwW4/?icmp=pbp_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_pbpstubtomypbp_launch#5d0ac401.2602168.735623

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sofia Vergara's connection to a turncoat Bonanno gangster

There aren’t many women who can steal a pop princess’ thunder without even trying. But, as Britney Spears discovered at her New Year’s Eve soiree in Las Vegas, extending an invitation to Sofía Vergara will render any hostess invisible.
“Sofía walked into the backstage area and the room literally fell silent,” a guest at the Planet Hollywood event tells The Post. “The guys were all gawking, and the women’s eyes were on stalks. Nobody was interested in watching Britney.”

Sofia Vergara films a commercial in 2011


The curvaceous 42-year-old is certainly used to turning heads — and her omnipresence makes her hard to ignore.
Not only is the “Modern Family” star one of TV’s highest-paid women, she also presides over a $37-million endorsement empire, hawking everything from diet soda to dandruff shampoo.

Sofia Vergara and fiancé Joe Manganiello

With a chiseled fiancé — “True Blood” and “Magic Mike” star Joe Manganiello — and the drama “Wild Card” opening in theaters Friday, the Latina’s life appears charmed. But her rise to the top has been fraught with tragedy and heartache.
One of six children born to a housewife and a cattle farmer in Barranquilla, Colombia, Vergara was scouted for her first TV commercial at 17.
The Pepsi ad, which featured the teen beauty in a bikini, was an immediate hit throughout Latin America.
But, for a while at least, Vergara eschewed red carpets in favor of root canals. It was while studying dentistry that she married her childhood sweetheart, José “Joe” Gonzalez; a year later, 20-year-old Vergara gave birth to a son, Manolo.
The couple divorced in 1993, and Vergara dropped out of dental school and moved to Bogotá. She was soon in demand as a model, landing a starring role in the Mexican telenovela “Acapulco, cuerpo y alma.”
Soon, other networks took notice and Vergara was “ecstatic” when, in 1994, Univision asked her to host a travel show based in Miami.
“She saw it as a chance to give her son a better life,” an insider says, adding that the star had become fearful of gang-related violence in her homeland. “She said yes immediately.”
In 1998, her older brother Rafael, 27, was murdered in their hometown. “We come from a successful family, and he knew he was a target for kidnapping,” the actress has said. “He always had bodyguards. Then one day he went out alone and was shot dead [in a kidnapping attempt gone wrong]. I was devastated.”
Just two years after Rafael’s death, Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “I felt totally healthy, and suddenly they tell me I have cancer?” Vergara told Parade magazine. “I was scared.” But the cancer was caught at an early stage and the treatment — surgical thyroid removal, and a course of radioactive iodine treatment — proved successful.
Still, her love life was in turmoil.
In the mid-1990s, the actress had become involved with Chris Paciello, the darling of Miami’s South Beach nightclub scene, who originally hails from Staten Island. Paciello’s reputation as a mobster preceded him — he was a member of a gang that operated under the auspices of the Bonanno crime family, with a rap sheet of alleged burglaries and bank heists so lengthy he earned the
nickname “The Binger.”

Vergara became involved with Chris Paciello in the mid 1990’s. Paciello, a Staten Island native, was charged with the felony murder of a Staten Island housewife in a botched 1996 robbery. In the photo (right) he leaves Brooklyn Federal Court after being placed under house arrest.
“They seemed very much in love,” an associate tells The Post.
The lifestyle was certainly seductive. Paciello’s nightclub-business partner, Ingrid Casares, was friends with Madonna, and the Material Girl was now a regular on the Miami scene, along with Casares pals Jennifer Lopez, model Niki Taylor and MTV star Daisy Fuentes. His fearsome reputation coupled with Casares’ connections meant that “Paciello had a lot of power and influence,” the source says.
In 2000, the same year Vergara received her cancer diagnosis, Paciello was charged with the felony murder of a Staten Island housewife in a botched 1996 robbery. Vergara offered her Miami home as collateral toward her lover’s $15 million bail, and watched, impassively, as he blew her kisses in the courtroom.
She has never forgotten who she is. She’s very loyal and has the same manager who’s been with her since the start.
 - Photographer Manny Hernandez, who has known Vergara for more than 20 years
Paciello pleaded guilty to murder and ratted out mob bosses to shorten his sentence. He eventually served six years in jail, and the couple went their separate ways, but Vergara’s predilection for “bad boys” hadn’t waned.
She reportedly had a fling with former Colombian drug lord Andrés López López, who was released from a 20-month jail stint in 2004. In an interview, he called the actress “a marvelous woman who I love dearly.”
Following a guest role on ABC’s “My Wife and Kids,” Vergara signed a long-term contract with the network, and she and her son moved to Los Angeles in 2005.
Shortly after, she was introduced to Tom Cruise at a party.
According to the the actor’s unofficial biographer Andrew Morton, Cruise “laid on the charm with a trowel.” Morton claims that Vergara’s son was invited to play with Cruise’s kids and that, following trips to the Scientology Celebrity Center, “.  .  . there was no doubt [Tom] was auditioning [Vergara] for the part of his wife.”

Sofia Vergara attends HBO’s Emmy after-party in 2013


But the Catholic actress allegedly had no intention of becoming the next Mrs. Cruise.
“She sincerely believed that she would be struck down by God and burn in hell if she joined [Scientology],” Morton claims. (Cruise went on to marry Katie Holmes a year after his ill-fated dalliance with Vergara.)
The relationship may have foundered, but the actress’ association with an A-lister had piqued Hollywood’s interest -— and the tabloid moniker “Sofía Viagra” was born.
Next up were supporting parts in the Tyler Perry movies “Meet the Browns” and “Madea Goes to Jail.” ABC cast Vergara in several shows — 2007’s “Dirty Sexy Money” was a moderate success — but it was the 2009 debut of “Modern Family” that changed her life.
The part of trophy wife Gloria Delgado-Pritchett was reportedly written for Vergara, and — with her low-cut necklines and Colombian accent intact — she became the show’s standout. Her weighty paychecks (Vergara now commands $325,000 an episode) allowed her to indulge in private jets and Hermès handbags, but family still came first.

Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on “Modern Family.”
To mark her 40th birthday in 2012, Vergara flew 107 loved ones to Mexico for a weeklong celebration and “picked up the tab for everyone,” sources say. She purchased 21 tickets for the 2013 Emmy Awards so that her family could have a taste of her showbiz life. (Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, she has never won.)
“She has never forgotten who she is,” photographer Manny Hernandez, who has known the star for more than 20 years, tells The Post. “She’s very loyal and has the same manager who’s been with her
Vergara and her son Manolo

Vergara is particularly close to the son she raised as a single mother.
“She had her career and she still managed to raise me at the same time,” Manolo, now 22, has said. “She’s a Latin mother, which means she’s very loud, and sometimes very overprotective.”
Sadly, Vergara’s dedication to family could not save them from tragedy.
Having brought her younger brother Julio to Miami after their older sibling’s death, Vergara watched helplessly as he battled drug and alcohol addictions that resulted in 30 arrests over a decade. In 2011, Julio was deported back to Colombia.
“To see somebody dying over 10 years, little by little, that’s the worst punishment. Now he’s like another person,” Vergara told Parade. “With so many bad things happening, it creates a tough skin .  .  . Even when horrible things happen to me, I go on.”
That sense of stoicism was further tested during her volatile relationship with Onion Crunch founder Nick Loeb, 39. The couple met at a Golden Globes party in 2010 and were on and off for four years.

Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb

“They would fight all the time .  .  . It was very uncomfortable to be around them sometimes,” a source confides. “She’s feisty, he’s dorky — they were like oil and water.”
Vergara’s continuing friendship with Paciello, now out of prison, didn’t help matters. At a New Year’s Eve party at Paciello’s Miami nightclub Story in 2012, a brawl ensued between Loeb and security.
Vergara later cut all ties to her ex, and branded Paciello a “thug” on Twitter, but her relationship with Loeb was beyond repair.
“The arguments just accelerated after that,” the insider adds. “He felt humiliated, and she felt that he was trying to control her.”
The Post’s Richard Johnson reported that Vergara was turned off by Loeb’s constant hucksterism of his Onion Crunch brand, including trying to sneak the condiment into a White House dinner.

Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara

The couple finally split last May, two months before Vergara went public with her latest paramour, actor Joe Manganiello.
The photogenic couple got engaged on Christmas Eve during a romantic Hawaiian vacation, and Vergara “seems blissfully content,” a friend tells The Post.
With rumors of a summer wedding swirling, baby news may soon follow.
Having frozen her eggs back in 2013, Vergara has been candid about her willingness to use a surrogate if she cannot conceive naturally.
“She’s found her dream guy. After all the ups and downs she’s had, she truly deserves this,” the friend concludes.
“It’s finally the best time of her life.”

http://nypost.com/2015/01/24/drugs-murder-mafia-inside-sofia-vergaras-rocky-road-to-fame/

Vito Rizzuto tried to muscle into Dominican Republic casino before death



               
One of Canada's richest men, a philanthropist and an officer of the Order of Canada, poured $112 million US into a gambling venture headed by three businessmen with ties to organized crime, and is now locked in an international fight over Caribbean casinos with links to one of Canada's most feared Mafia clans.

Michael G. DeGroote, who has the business and medical schools at Hamilton's McMaster University named after him, and who has been lionized as a self-made billionaire philanthropist, lent the money to a trio of men from the Toronto area to create a chain of gaming facilities in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
There is no evidence that at the time DeGroote knew of their underworld connections.

Now, as a yearlong joint investigation by the CBC and the Globe and Mail found, the companies known as the Dream Group have descended into a bitter conflict of alleged murder plots, threats, armed robbery and bribery allegations, featuring an underworld roster right up to the late Montreal godfather Vito Rizzuto.

The tale began innocently enough in 2010 when DeGroote, the 81-year-old tycoon who built Hamilton-based Laidlaw Transport into one of North America's biggest waste-haulage firms before selling his stake in 1988, ran into an old friend, a businessman named Andrew Pajak.

Pajak made the following pitch: He was working with two brothers, Antonio and Francesco Carbone of Vaughan, Ont., on a company manufacturing electronic slot machines. They had plans to install them at a nightclub casino in Jamaica.

Wowed by the gambling terminals and Antonio Carbone's sales job, DeGroote agreed to put up $5 million US in December 2010. "He was very enthusiastic. He was all-in," Francesco Carbone, 47, said in an interview with CBC's Terence McKenna that airs Friday night on the fifth estate.

The early returns seemed promising, and they smoothed the way for DeGroote agreeing to become the sole investor in Dream Group's acquisition of sports betting outlets, lottery kiosks and a dozen casinos one island over, in the Dominican Republic.

By May 2012, the billionaire's total underwriting of the Caribbean operations stood at $111.9 million US. "I am not an owner of Dream. I am strictly a creditor," DeGroote later said in sworn testimony.

By their own account, the Carbones worked day and night to turn their newly acquired Dominican Republic casinos into a chain of glittering gaming houses worthy of Las Vegas. "A lot of hard work, lot of hours... leaving our families, seven days a week," Francesco Carbone said.
The Lamborghini-driving brothers threw promo events featuring models and Dominican celebrities, took out splashy newspaper ads and gave away cars.

And at first, Dream Group was making good on its loans.

But then, in May 2012, the payments to DeGroote stopped.

After a summer of haggling, in October, DeGroote sued to get access to the company's books and to get his money back, alleging the Carbones and Pajak had misappropriated portions of the funds. One judge ruled in November 2013 that DeGroote had established "a strong case" for fraud.

And as the lawsuit unfolded, so did the Carbones' and Pajak's history.
It turned out this was not the first time the Carbones had been sued over large debts. Before Dream Group, they ran a house-painting business and a cigar-importing company. Both were pursued by banks over unpaid loans, and both had receivers appointed who found serious flaws in the companies' books, according to court filings.

The provincial government had pursued them as well, raiding the cigar business in 2009 on suspicion it was underpaying tobacco tax. During the raid, police found two handguns — one in Antonio Carbone's filing cabinet, the other under Francesco Carbone's desk, loaded and with the serial number filed off.

    'Sasha Visser,' as he's sometimes known, has at least four identities, CBC reporters found. He also goes by Zeljko Zderic, Sasha Vujacic and Pavle Kolic.
The brothers pleaded guilty in July 2011 to illegal possession of firearms and were sentenced to 60 days in jail. In interviews with the CBC, they admitted it was a "terrible idea" to acquire the guns, but said they had received threats — five bullets in the mail and an accompanying note — and wanted to protect themselves and their families.

There is also evidence they were involved in a bookmaking operation linked to organized crime.

The Carbones deny it, but the investigation by CBC and the Globe and Mail found corporate filings from Panama, Costa Rica and Britain, as well as court and website records, which indicate the brothers were behind an online gambling website called Don Carbone Sportsbook and Casino, or DCSC.com. Banking records show they wired at least $245,000 from their tobacco company's bank account to DCSC in 2008.

Until it closed shop in 2010, DCSC was affiliated with a wider bookmaking network called Platinum Sportsbook, which police took down in February 2013 in a series of raids in southern Ontario. Investigators have publicly described Platinum as a joint undertaking of the Hells Angels and Italian Mafia.

As for Pajak, DeGroote has said he's been friends with the 62-year-old businessman for over 40 years.

Pajak has no criminal record, but four former investigators — two from the RCMP, two from Toronto police — said he has a history of association with known Mafia figures, with one of those investigators describing him as "a mob associate of the first degree."

In a secret recording filed in court by the Carbones as part of litigation over the Dream Group, he is heard saying that "I used to take care of all, a lot of the mob's money."
While DeGroote's legal battles with the Carbones progressed in the first half of 2013, other characters with a dubious past entered the fray.

In May of that year, DeGroote was visited by two men at his family's luxury condo in downtown Toronto.

One of them was Peter Shoniker, an outgoing, white-haired former Crown attorney who had been convicted of money laundering in 2006 after he became caught up in an RCMP sting. Shoniker had been hanging around the Dream Group's Toronto offices for most of the prior year, and came to believe the Carbones were swindling DeGroote.
Vito Rizzuto at Caribbean casino
The other was a large, broad-chinned man introduced as Alexander Visser.

Unbeknownst to DeGroote, Visser had a long criminal history, amounting to more than 40 convictions in Canada for fraud, uttering threats and assault.

The justice system knows him as Zeljko Zderic, 44. But he also kept passports from various countries under the names Sasha Vujacic and Pavle Kolic, and had ties to a series of mobsters.

At the meeting, Visser made a stunning offer, according to secret audio recordings he made that have been filed in court by the Carbones.

He said he could get Dream employees in the Dominican Republic to sign affidavits claiming the Carbones had massively defrauded DeGroote, but for a price.

"You pay me half a million you're going to get all that. You have my word," Visser said. "I am going to make sure that the Carbones can't even sell chestnuts on the corner of the f—king street."
Initially, DeGroote objected, saying "I cannot buy evidence." But eventually he began negotiating over the asking price, according to the tapes.

They settled on $500,000 — $250,000 for Visser, and another $250,000 to pay the Dream employees' back wages. By the end of the meeting, however, DeGroote again had doubts and said he would first check with his lawyer.

The next day, he retracted the offer.

He nevertheless told Visser he would send him $150,000 with "no strings attached" for possible future help.

DeGroote declined to be interviewed by CBC and the Globe and Mail, but through his lawyers, he said the secret recordings were manipulation, created by "individuals with a long history of practising deceit."

He has also testified under oath that he never actually sent any money to Visser.

But he acknowledged that Visser did end up working for the Dream Group in the Dominican Republic.
Visser flew there in July 2013, and soon began making death threats against the Carbones and one of their associates.

Security footage from around that time shows him walking the floor of a Dream casino in Punta Cana. He's accompanied by none other than Vito Rizzuto, who until his death later that year was the godfather of the Montreal Mafia and one of the most powerful mobsters in Canada.

Rizzuto had a long history in the Dominican. For years, Canadian police compiled evidence that his Mafia clan was using the island to ship drugs to Canada. Testimony at Quebec's Charbonneau inquiry into municipal corruption revealed the godfather often went to the DR to golf and vacation.
The Carbones claim that this time, however, he was there as part of an effort by their partner Pajak to take over their company.

Starting that fall, Rizzuto began to have a series of meetings at the tony Casa de Campo community in the eastern Dominican, according to two sources who were present. The meetings were also attended by Visser and Dream Casinos president Pajak, the sources said.

Peter Shoniker, who had flown down to the country and partook in some of the gatherings, said that the men discussed what to do about Dream and the Carbones — and that he was astonished to discover at one discussion that the Mafia godfather would now have a substantial involvement in Dream.

"I recall Mr. Rizzuto saying that, you know, somebody's gotta get this all approved by Mike DeGroote. At which point in time Andy Pajak said, 'I speak for Mike DeGroote,' " he said.

"It was after that conversation that Mike DeGroote called me and said, 'Peter, what the hell is Vito Rizzuto doing involved in this?' I said, 'Why don't you ask your boy Pajak? He's staying at his house.' "
Through the fall, a number of Rizzuto henchmen showed up in the Caribbean.

They included Stacey Richard (Rick the Russian) Krolik, convicted in 2010 for his role in a Rizzuto clan online gambling operation, and Gianpietro Tiberio, who has no criminal record but was named in the Charbonneau commission as an "organized crime figure." Tiberio even attended court representing Dream Casinos and showed up at a radio interview about the company.

Tiberio's lawyer Franco Schiro called CBC News on Friday afternoon to say that while his client met Vito Rizzuto in the Dominican Republic, he was never an operative for the Rizzuto clan. Schiro added that Tiberio was doing legitimate business for Dream Casinos and that he acted as "a management consultant" and met "all sorts of people."

Back in Toronto, in November, Antonio Carbone got an ominous phone call, he claims.

"I was contacted by an individual to attend a meeting. The individual told me that Vito Rizzuto was in Toronto, and he needed to speak to me urgently, and it was in my best interest to meet with him," Carbone said in an interview.

The ensuing meeting was held at a steakhouse north of Toronto, Carbone claims. He maintains Pajak also attended, as well as a number of other Toronto-area men affiliated with Rizzuto.

"He was brought in to intimidate us. And when the time was right that we were putting up a fight, Rizzuto presented himself and told me to walk away, or else," Carbone says.

Whatever Rizzuto's plans might have been, he died shortly after — two days before Christmas — of lung cancer.
CBC asked DeGroote, the billionaire who had lent a fortune to the Dream venture, about the involvement of Rizzuto. His lawyer answered: "Mr. DeGroote has never met Mr. Rizzuto, has never spoken to him and has never had any association with him of any kind."
There were many signs by that Christmas of organized crime involvement in the Dream Casino business. DeGroote, however, continued to pour money in, lending a further $2.4 million in "emergency funding" to Dream, which two separate court-appointed supervisors have reported is in financial distress.

His lawyer said in a statement that DeGroote has never "been complicit in members of organized crime becoming involved in any of his business affairs."
Carbones adamant

The Carbones are adamant they will prevail in court, oust Pajak and retake control of the casinos.

They have also countersued DeGroote and Pajak, alleging a conspiracy to sabotage the Dream venture.

Sasha Visser remains a fugitive from Canadian justice and still has business in the Dominican Republic.

As for the billionaire investor, for his part, he rues ever advancing a single cent to the Caribbean endeavour.

In his only on-the-record statement about the Dream fiasco, issued through his lawyers, DeGroote said: "Frankly, I sincerely regret that I ever agreed to invest in this venture. Indeed, I am embarrassed by it."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/billionaire-michael-degroote-s-casino-dream-turns-into-organized-crime-nightmare-1.2929109

His lawyers later added: "Mr. DeGroote is someone who has been wronged, rather than a wrongdoer."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Turncoat former pal of John Gotti Jr says he was a spoiled mobster

He was a spoiled fella.
John “Junior” Gotti was a “self-mutilating” stunad with no street cred, according to his former best friend and mob turncoat John Alite.
“He’s like Kim Jong-un — a spoiled brat that took advantage of guys around us by his dad’s authority,” the former Gambino crime-family enforcer seethed to The Post.
“Ever since we were kids, he’s self-mutilating himself, burning himself with cigars,” Alite said in his first interview before a book by George Anastasia — “Gotti’s Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia” (Dey St. Books) — hits shelves on Jan. 27.
“He would play drinking games with other guys, and part of these drinking games was if you lose, you gotta burn your hands with cigars,” he continued. “These are his ideas.
“This is what made Junior an inadequate boss: his insecurities,” Alite said of the Mafia scion who was always trying, and failing, to prove his toughness to the true tough guys around him.
“He forgot about me and guys like me standing in front of him if ever someone raised their hands to him,” said Alite, 52.
Junior was 28 when he inherited the helm of the nation’s most powerful crime family in 1992 as his father, the “Teflon Don” John Gotti, went to the slammer. (He remained acting boss until at least 1999, when, Junior claims, he quit the mob.)
In the eyes of Alite and other Gambino “earners,” the new boss was thick as a slice of Sicilian pizza and about as tough as overcooked fettuccine. He was branded with insulting nicknames such as “Urkel” — for wearing chest-high sweatpants like the TV nerd — and “Kong” — because some thought he looked like an ape. Even his own sister, Victoria, had a moniker for Junior — “Blinkie,” because he blinked incessantly when he lied, which was often.
Alite’s biggest beef was his pal’s penchant for “blaming anyone close to him when something goes down.” He recalled how Junior and several members of his crew got into a scrap at a Queens club.
“From behind me, Junior pulls out this derringer, reaches around my body and shoots the kid. A cheap shot,” Alite says in the book.
Turned out the victim, who was hit in the thigh, was the nephew of Genovese capo Ciro Perrone — creating a major headache for John Gotti Sr.
The don demanded to know who the triggerman was, but Junior never confessed. Instead, he let Alite take the fall — and catch a beating for it.
“The father was a tyrant and the son was a p—y . . . that’s what people don’t know about the Gottis,” Alite says in the book.
Junior was also no Einstein. The book notes how, in 1997, Gotti Jr. was caught red-handed by the feds — twice — with documents that hurt the five families.
First was a bookkeeping ledger in an Ozone Park apartment found alongside about $350,000, listing all of Junior’s wedding guests and what they gave — a veritable who’s who of the American mob.
“Junior kept cash in that basement, and what he would do was continually replenish the supply. Money he made from drugs, gambling, extortions, whatever wound up in that basement. That’s why the cash they found amounted to about the same total as the money in the ledger,” Alite says in the book.
Second was a secret list of candidates to become “made men” that year, which the five families would circulate to weed out problematic nominees. The standard practice was to destroy the lists — but Junior decided to save his as a keepsake, enraging the other families.
His reign ended the next year when he was arrested and charged in a racketeering indictment — which clued the families in to the embarrassing detail.
Alite, a Woodhaven-born Albanian whose father drove a cab, took the stand against his pal in 2009 for the feds’ fourth and final attempt to send the mob scion to prison on racketeering and murder charges. The hung jury would later say they found Alite’s testimony less than credible, but the tough guy — who from 1996 to 2014 spent 14 years in prisons on charges and convictions that included six murders, at least 37 shootings, home invasions and countless beatdowns — is still chirping.
Alite describes how he was running with Junior by 1983, and thanks to drug, bookmaking and loan-shark operations, was living large. Some months he alone would pull in $100,000, he said.
He was so close to the Gottis that he’d crash on the couch in their two-story house in Howard Beach — where it was rarely a quiet night.
“He overheard shouting matches in which [Junior’s mother] Victoria matched her husband expletive for expletive,” the book says.
Alite also learned the secrets of the mob clan. For example, despite his nickname as the “Dapper Don,” Junior’s father was a “terrible dresser,” who, left to his own devices, would look like the Steve Martin character in the “Wild and Crazy Guy” skits on “Saturday Night Live.” When Gotti Sr. became boss, he had an associate named “Fat Bob” serve as his stylist — Gotti had the money for the $2,000 outfits, “he just didn’t have the fashion sense to put it together.”
Junior sometimes did the right thing, Alite said. The night before Alite was going to prison on an assault charge in 1991, Junior threw a party in Alite’s honor. They had a cake in the shape of an inmate, with frosting that read, “It’s up the river for you John.” “He told all the guys to make sure they bring money I was owed every week to my wife,” Alite recalled. “It was a substantial amount.”
But it was Alite’s alleged relationship with Junior’s sister, Victoria — a relationship she denies — that marked the beginning of a rift between Alite and Junior.
“I was fooling around with Vicki Gotti on the sneak, nobody knew, in the late ’80s,” he testified in 2009 at the trial of hit man Charles Carneglia. “I had a problem with Carmine beating up Vicki. That turned into me, Vicki fooling around a lot, seeking each other on the sneak.”
These days, Alite is tight-lipped about the fling. “We were kids at the time — I have a lot of respect for her, but I wasn’t going to lie on the stand.”
Junior faced four racketeering trials and walked each time after juries failed to reach a verdict.
In advance of Anastasia’s book, Junior rushed out a self-published memoir last week called “Shadow of My Father,” in which he for the first time acknowledges his leadership role inside the Gambino family — but says his father was the one ordering hits.
Alite, a free man since 2012, now lives in Freehold, NJ, and said he can’t remember the last time he served up a knuckle sandwich. For the past two years, he said, he’s going to therapy and working in real estate, overseeing the rehab of distressed homes. “I’m struggling a bit, but it’s a job.”
For better and worse, his old life as a coldblooded murderer still haunts him. “You miss hanging out with everybody and laughing, but you don’t need to be a mobster to do that.”

http://nypost.com/2015/01/18/former-mobster-calls-junior-gotti-a-pretend-tough-guy/

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Charges dropped against four Rizzuto family mobsters


In a surprise development at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday, the Crown decided to not proceed with a series of firearms-related cases filed against alleged Mafia leader Antonio “Tony” Mucci and three other people.
Prosecutor Véronique Beauchamp announced the decision Wednesday, which was scheduled to be the first of six days set to deal with a motion concerning Philippe Paul, a former Montreal police detective who retired last year while he is being investigated by the RCMP.
The motion was intended as a chance for the defence to challenge the credibility of information supplied by Paul, who is one of the investigators in the Mucci case.
Beauchamp did not say why the Crown has decided not to proceed with the trial. She said the Crown won’t file an official indictment, which is required at the start of any trial. The decision means Mucci and the others aren’t acquitted and can be charged at a later date.
Defence lawyer Claude Olivier said afterward that he does not know why the cases were dropped, but that he believes it involved his motion concerning Paul.
“My opinion is it can’t be any other thing,” Olivier said.
In the defence motion, which was filed last year, Olivier stated that the prosecution planned to enter the search warrants carried out when Mucci and the others were arrested into evidence. He states that it was already his intention to contest the motives behind the search warrants and claimed information used to obtain them contains “falsities and omissions.”
But then, on Jan. 29, 2014, the Montreal police confirmed Paul had been assigned to lesser duties while he was being investigated, reportedly by the RCMP and another government agency. Paul is being investigated for allegedly leaking information to someone outside of the police force.
Olivier included that development in his motion and argued it called into question the credibility of information used to obtain the warrants.
According to the motion, two of Paul’s sources supplied information used to obtain the warrants. He also was “present or in charge of the majority” of the surveillance and tailing operations the police did while they investigated Mucci.
Paul has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
At the beginning of April, the Montreal police announced he was suspended without pay and Paul reportedly retired two days later.
The case involving the firearms dates to Aug. 26, 2010, when Mucci, 60, was arrested while the Montreal police sought to arrest anyone they believed might be armed while rival factions in the Mafia were involved in an internal conflict.
Mucci faced ten charges in all, including the illegal possession of bear repellent, a Taser-like weapon and a sawed-off shotgun.
Two men, who the police alleged were acting as Mucci’s bodyguards as he moved in and around Montreal — Jesse Petrocco, 25, and Carmine Serino, 46 — faced charges related to firearms seized when the police arrested Mucci. Beauchamp announced the Crown will not proceed with charges in their cases as well as that of Tania Melissa Di Luigi, 33, a woman who was arrested at the same residence as Serino and was accused of possessing a Colt firearm the police found on the premises.

http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/firearms-cases-dropped-against-alleged-mafia-leader-antonio-mucci-three-others

Connecticut bookmaker granted bail in restaurant arson case

A judge granted bail Tuesday for a reputed mob bookmaker who had a stun gun and a cattle prod when he was charged last week with burning down a Middletown restaurant in an insurance fraud.
Federal prosecutors insisted that, as a condition of his release, John Barile of East Hartford be prohibited from possessing "a TASER, stun gun or any personal defense devices that can send an electric volt" and U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Martinez agreed.
Criminal defense lawyer Hebert J. Santos said Barile kept the stun gun and cattle prod for personal protection, but has not had the need to use them.
Barile, 51, is charged with conspiracy, arson and fraud in an indictment that was returned Dec. 30, just hours before the statute of limitations ran out on criminal charges associated with an alleged January 2010 fire at Enzo's Restaurant.
The Main Street pizzeria and lounge is near the city police department. Barile supplied food when city officers staged a rally in the late 1990s to support an officer suspended from duty for criticizing Wesleyan University, where students rallied to support a convicted cop killer in Philadelphia.
Federal law enforcement has been watching Barile since 1994 when he was arrested with a who's who of the Genovese crime family's western New England branch during an FBI gambling crack down in Hartford. Arrested then with Barile were Francesco "Skyball" Scibelli and Carmine "Carlo" Mastrototaro, the Genovese capos in Springfield and Worcester, Mass.
Barile was charged with racketeering and accused of using threats of violence to collect gambling and loan shark debts. FBI sources said he worked for Tony Volpe, the Hartford lounge owner who ran Hartford for the Genovese family. Barile and an associate from Springfield, a 250-pound former professional wrestler known as "Big Pat" Poland, were given 30-month sentences after pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
Barile is accused of plotting to burn down Enzo's with three unidentified co-conspirators, one of whom is his partner in the restaurant. The indictment charges that an associate helped Barile find someone with "specialized knowledge of fire and fireworks." The specialist examined Enzo's and, the indictment says, the conspirators agreed that their best chance to avoid detection would be to stage a fire at the deep fryer in the restaurant kitchen.
Because business is good around Christmas and New Year's Eve, the indictment said, Barile decided to wait until after the holidays to ignite Enzo's. He sprayed cooking oil around the deep fryer to feed the fire and set the fire midnight on a Sunday.
The indictment said Barile's partner was "inebriated" at the time of the alleged arson and, under circumstances that are not explained, remained locked in Enzo's after the fire began. News reports at the time indicate a fire was reported at Enzo's at 12:45 a.m. and a restaurant employee was treated for smoke inhalation and released.
Barile received an insurance payout for the restaurant, including about $165,000 he deposited into a back account he controlled in November. Under the terms of his release on bail, Barile is confined to his residence, but permitted to work for a relative's landscaping business.

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-barile-mob-bail-0114-20150113-story.html

Judget tells Colombo gangster to get married after he finishes jail term for extortion

A jailed Colombo mobster seeking permission to cross state lines with his fiancé to get hitched more than two years from now was shot down Friday by a judge who called the proposal “premature.”
Brooklyn Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ruled that reputed gangster Giuseppe Destefano is free to pop the question when he has completed his 50-month sentence for extortion sometime in 2017 depending on credit for good behavior.
Destefano, of Staten Island, wrote a letter to the judge explaining that his devoted fiancé is required to fork over a deposit soon to the swanky Nanina’s in the Park catering hall for their Dec. 31, 2017 wedding day.
The government also opposed granting the request so far in advance.

http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/judge-mobster-finish-jail-sentence-married-article-1.2082001