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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Drita from Mob Wives and her husband make list of top tax deliquents in New York State

“Mob Wife” Drita D’Avanzo and her husband Lee appear on a list of the state’s worst tax delinquents, the Advance learned Thursday.
Dating back to 2016, the pair owes a little over $8,200. Individually and as the representative for Just Me Cosmetics Corp., Drita D’Avanzo owes nearly $670,000, according to a list of the state’s top 250 tax delinquents
Their alleged tax delinquency comes in the wake of the D’Avanzos’ December arrest following a raid on their Pleasant Plains home.
Both face charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a firearm and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
New Jersey authorities also arrested Lee earlier this month as the result of a year-long investigation that busted 24 people in a ring that allegedly distributed marijuana and infused THC into popular candies.
A number listed for the D’Avanzos had been disconnected Thursday.
The couple with alleged ties to organized crime joined 10 other tax delinquents from Staten Island on the state’s list. None of them cracked the top 10 of the list.
The arrests aren’t the couple’s first contact with law enforcement.
The husband has served prison stints on numerous federal convictions.
Lee was one of four suspects arrested in “Operation Turkeyshoot" after they were caught trying to break into the vault of a bank in New Springville in 2008.
Drita, who shot to fame with her role on the controversial show “Mob Wives,” was raised in the Todt Hill Houses and drew acclaim for her prowess as a high-school soccer player.
Drita appeared on the show from 2011 to 2016.
"Four Staten Island women are headed for prime time as VH1 prepares to launch its 10-episode ‘Mob Wives,’” read an Advance article which previewed the series in 2011.
"Ever wonder what it’s like to be married to an alleged mobster who’s in jail? Or what it’s like to live in witness protection in Arizona because of your dad? Staten Island is once again headed for national fame as Karen Gravano, Drita D’Avanzo, Renee Graziano and Carla Facciolo are headed for the small screen,” the Advance reported.
She used her celebrity status to promote various businesses and social ventures. In 2013, Drita opened a storefront in West Brighton to promote her Just Me Cosmetics line.
She was arrested in February of 2016, when she was accused of punching a woman at the victim’s home in Tottenville. She was charged with misdemeanor assault, but prosecutors ultimately dropped the case.
The list excludes taxpayers who have filed for bankruptcy, set up an installment payment agreement with the state, or have requested a review.


Peter Gotti set to die in prison as judge rejects plea for early release

Peter Gotti will die behind bars because he’s not sick enough to warrant early release, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Manhattan federal court judge Colleen McMahon issued the decree following multiple requests from lawyers for the ex-Gambino boss that he be sprung from jail early due to illness.
“I have no doubt whatever that Gotti — who has the burden of showing that ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons’ to reduce his sentence exist — has established that he suffers from a plethora of serious, debilitating, and progressive medical conditions,” McMahon wrote. “However, he has not shown that he has a terminal illness or a serious physical or medical condition that has substantially diminished his ability to provide self-care within the environment of a correctional facility.”
“Many of Gotti’s claimed conditions are heart or lung conditions, which, according to the BOP, are adequately treated and monitored,” the jurist’s ruling read.
Lawyers for the 80-year-old have repeatedly insisted he’s on his deathbed, suffering from an enlarged prostate, gastric reflux and early onset dementia. So far, he’s served 17 years of a 25-year sentence for racketeering.
McMahon also sided with prosecutors that Gotti continued to pose a danger to the community, despite claims from his lawyers that the sickly wiseguy was incapable of violence and is a changed man.
“Gotti headed one of the most vicious and violent organized crime organizations in New York for a period of years,” MacMahon wrote. “I reject the notion that Gotti is no longer a threat to the community. The danger posed by a Gambino Family leader like Gotti is not that he will personally engage in acts of violence, but that he can command others to do so.”
A lawyer for Gotti did not immediately return a message.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Firm linked to the Gambino crime family helped build affordable housing in The Bronx

The taxpayer-subsidized 11-story Creston Apartments in The Bronx is among the latest entries in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature push to build or preserve 300,000 affordable apartments.
For a contractor federal prosecutors say is a front for the mob, it was just another job.
CWC Contracting Co. counts Creston Apartments as one of a dozen big projects featured on its website, listing it as a “newly constructed building in the Mount Hope neighborhood.” According to Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donohue, CWC is controlled by the Gambino crime family.
An indictment unsealed Dec. 5 names alleged Gambino capo Andrew Campos as “the principal” of CWC — and charges that an accused mob soldier, Vincent Fiore, has an ownership interest and is a CWC “project manager.” The indictment also describes alleged soldier Richard Martino as having an “ownership interest” in the Mount Vernon-based company.

Construction Racket Alleged

In court papers, prosecutors say the accused gangsters paid CWC employees some if not all of their wages in cash to avoid getting hit for payroll taxes, and bribed their way on to several New York construction sites, then siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars through inflated billing.
Alleged Gambino family members Andrew Campos (right) and Richard Martino (left) with imprisoned mobster Frank Locascio (center), according to photos entered as evidence.
Alleged Gambino family members Andrew Campos (right) and Richard Martino (left) with imprisoned mobster Frank Locascio (center), according to photos entered as evidence.
Campos’ attorney, Henry Mazurek, declined comment. Fiore’s attorney, Lawrence DiGiansante, did not return calls. Martino’s attorney, Maurice Sercarz, stated, “As alleged in the indictment, Mr. Martino’s connection to CWC is tenuous at best.”
As THE CITY reported in early December, one of the sites CWC worked on was an ultra-luxury condo and hotel now under construction alongside the High Line in Chelsea, where a half-penthouse is on the market for $25 million. The indictment does not specify whether the alleged illegal activity occurred at the Creston Avenue site.
The Creston apartments are on the other end of the financial spectrum from the High Line tower. The project created 114 units set aside for low- and moderate-income tenants and was built by developer Schur Management with general contractor MacQuesten Companies. CWC was brought in as a carpentry subcontractor.
When the development was announced by the developer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in August 2015, Schur Management promised the building would include a “study center for children to do homework with desks and computers,” and a “large outdoor landscaped recreation area.”
The building was supposed to open in summer 2017 but fell way behind schedule. It finally opened to tenants last March.
Resident Jessica Liriano recently pointed to an empty room next to a “Study Room” sign, then walked a few feet to point to a vacant brick patio. That, she said, was the “landscaped recreation area” promised when she signed her lease for a two-bedroom at $1,500 a month.
The "large outdoor landscaped recreation area” at 2030 Creston Ave. promised by developer Schur Management.
The “large outdoor landscaped recreation area” at 2030 Creston Ave. promised by developer Schur Management.
“I love the building, but I just feel it’s false pretenses,” she said. “They’re going to make you think you’re in a nice luxury place, but once you make the commitment to rent, you’re stuck here. They disregard our voices because they’re not going to do anything about it.”
And last summer and into the fall, the building’s two elevators repeatedly broke down, sometimes for days at a time. Records show four times tenants filed complaints to the city Buildings Department, including this one on Sept. 15: “2 elevators are always going out of service and there’s 11 floors in the building including elders with wheelchairs and walkers.”

The Mayor’s Mission

Creston is among dozens of subsidized developments that de Blasio cites in touting his program to combat the dwindling supply of affordable living space in a city that’s experienced a growing disparity between the rich and the poor and a diminishing middle class.
It counts toward his pledge to build or preserve 300,000 affordable units by 2026 — five years after his second and final term expires. To date, the mayor says the city has built or preserved 135,000 units since he arrived at City Hall six years ago.
As with all the projects in de Blasio’s affordable housing program, Creston was financed with significant taxpayer help.
Developer Schur Management applied for financing for the $44.2 million project under the Extremely Low and Low-Income Affordability (ELLA) program. The firm got $16.3 million in direct city subsidy, with most of the rest backed by tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.
In a news release, the firm’s president, Billy Schur, noted the project was part of the city’s affordable housing campaign, adding that he decided to build on a vacant lot he owned “after seeing the many new affordable buildings projects that have been developed in the borough as well as the strong commitment of (Bronx) Borough President Diaz Jr. and Mayor de Blasio.”

Beset With Issues

From the start, records show Creston was plagued with problems, beginning with issues regarding the underpinning of the building’s foundation. Construction ultimately fell months behind schedule, and the building didn’t begin renting up until March — a year and a half past due.
During the delay, city records show inspectors issued 41 code violations, including several for dangerous conditions that resulted in four injured workers. As of last week, all but one have been resolved.
Inspectors charged that laborers on upper floors were working without safety harnesses, that openings in top floors had no fall protection and that scaffolding did not meet safety code requirements.
A wire snapped and hit a worker in the head, records show. A worker removing a hoist fell eight feet on to his back and had to be hospitalized, buildings department records state.
The records do not spell out who these workers worked for, but prosecutors allege that CWC employees bribed an OSHA-certified job safety instructor to falsely report to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that several CWC employees had taken and passed job site safety training tests when they hadn’t.
The lobby of 2030 Creston Ave. in The Bronx last month.
The lobby of 2030 Creston Ave. in The Bronx last month.
The prosecutors do not spell out which projects these employeesworkers worked on and what DOL was doing to find out how many CWC employees had the bogus safety certifications. Last week a DOL spokesperson said the agency “can neither confirm nor deny an investigation.”
The building’s general contractor, MacQuesten, was cited repeatedly for multiple violations — sometimes for the same problem that wasn’t fixed after the first citation, records show.
Ultimately, the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development put the company on “heightened monitoring” due to its nonresponsiveness to address multiple problems at the site — including “incomplete fall protection, incomplete scaffolding, non-operational hoists, and systems not being built as per plans,” HPD officials said in an email to THE CITY.
The developer, Schur Management, and the general contractor, MacQuesten, did not return several calls seeking comment. Calls to CWC went unanswered.


Additional charges for husband of Mob Wives star in massive New Jersey drug bust

Officials arrested the husband of Staten Island “Mob Wives” star Drita D’Avanzo in connection to a major drug bust that took place in New Jersey, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office announced on Tuesday.
Lee D’Avanzo, 52, was arrested and charged in connection to “Operation on the Ropes,” a year-long investigation that busted a total of 24 people in a ring that allegedly distributed marijuana and infused THC into popular candies, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
D’Avanzo, of Pleasant Plains, was charged with fourth degree conspiracy to possess marijuana and fourth degree possession of marijuana in excess of 50 grams, Gramiccioni said in a press release.
It is not clear what role exactly D’Avanzo played in the scheme.
During the operation, prosecutors discovered a distribution network of THC-infused candies like Nerds Rope and Sour Patch, Gramiccioni said.
“The network operators used regular candy to further their scheme, buying hundreds of boxes of product from wholesalers before transporting it to a processing facility where they would unwrap the individual pieces of candy, lay it out on trays and then spray the candy with a concentrated formula of THC distillate,'' Gramiccioni said. "Once the THC dried on the candy it was repackaged as an illegal marijuana edibles product for distribution across New Jersey.”
The operation took place in a warehouse on Park Avenue in Manalapan Township, N.J.
“The packaging on this THC laced ‘candy’ is almost indistinguishable from regular drug store candy," Monmouth County Chief of Detectives John G. McCabe said. “Your kids may be getting high right before your eyes if you are not paying close attention.”
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office gave credit to multiple law enforcement offices on Tuesday including the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD’s 123rd Precinct.
D’Avanzo was arrested on Dec. 20 after the NYPD raided his home at 226 Woodvale Ave.
When police entered the home then, detectives found two loaded firearms, one inside a bedroom and one in the kitchen, according to the criminal complaint.
NYPD detectives found hydrocodone, a pain killer, and alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication, in the couple’s bedroom, the complaint states.
Detectives also found “two scales, ziplock bags used for the purpose of unlawfully packaging a narcotic drug, a sum of United States currency and multiple cellular phones” inside the home, the complaint alleges.
Police recovered “a large quantity of marijuana” in the basement and in a kitchen cabinet that was accessible to their 12-year-old daughter, according to the complaint.
After the December arrest, D’Avanzo faced charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm and endangering the welfare of a child.
It is not yet clear if the raid and the New Jersey arrest are connected.
D’Avanzo has served prison stints on numerous federal and state convictions.
He was arrested in “Operation Turkeyshoot," when four suspects were allegedly caught trying to break into the vault of a bank in New Springville in 2008. The evidence indicated that Lee and other suspects attempted to gain access by drilling through the walls of a neighboring building, according to Advance archives and documents previously filed in court by federal prosecutors.
Lee was on federal probation at the time for similar crimes and he pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 36 months to five years in state prison.
In 2003, Lee was sentenced to 62 months in federal prison on a conviction of racketeering for multiple robberies, marijuana distribution, loansharking and money laundering.
In that case, he was identified by prosecutors in court documents as a member of the “New Springville Boys, a racketeering enterprise with connections to the Bonanno organized crime family.”


Inside the raid of Mob Wives star and her husband busted on drug charges

Loaded firearms and marijuana were staple ingredients in the kitchen cabinets of former “Mob Wives” star Drita D’Avanzo and her husband, Lee, prosecutors allege.
The husband and wife stood side by side just like any other couple when they appeared for their arraignment in Criminal Court in St. George on Friday afternoon, after the NYPD allegedly found weapons and drugs in their Pleasant Plains home during a raid Thursday night.
Drita rose to national fame when VH1′s launched “Mob Wives” in April of 2011. Her husband’s extensive criminal history and reputed ties to the mob were a central theme of the show.
After giving a brief nod to a man in the back of the courtroom, Lee D’Avanzo, 50, faced Judge Ann Thompson. His lawyer, James Foccaro Jr., stood on his left side.
His wife, Drita, 43, stood quietly between him and her lawyer, John J. Rapawy.
When police entered their home at 226 Woodvale Ave. at around 6 p.m. Thursday, detectives found two loaded firearms, one inside their bedroom and one in the kitchen, according to the criminal complaint.
NYPD detectives found hydrocodone, a pain killer, and alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication, in the couple’s bedroom, the complaint states.
Detectives also found “two scales, ziplock bags used for the purpose of unlawfully packaging a narcotic drug, a sum of United States currency and multiple cellular phones” inside the home, the complaint alleges.
Police recovered “a large quantity of marijuana” in the basement and in a kitchen cabinet that was accessible to their 12-year-old daughter, according to the complaint.
The raid happened after the NYPD received community tips and concerns about activities at that location, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Thompson set bail for Lee D’Avanzo, who had a fugitive warrant in New Jersey, at $100,000 and at $15,000 for his wife.
They are both facing charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a child.
The judge also issued a limited order of protection against both of them for an individual that was not named in court.
They will be both back in court on Jan. 31.
The husband has served prison stints on numerous federal and state convictions.
He was arrested in “Operation Turkeyshoot," when four suspects were allegedly caught trying to break into the vault of a bank in New Springville in 2008. The evidence indicated that Lee and other suspects attempted to gain access by drilling through the walls of a neighboring building, according to Advance archives and documents previously filed in court by federal prosecutors.
Lee was on federal probation at the time for similar crimes and he pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 36 months to five years in state prison.
In 2003, Lee was sentenced to 62 months in federal prison on a conviction of racketeering for multiple robberies, marijuana distribution, loansharking and money laundering.
In that case, he was identified by prosecutors in court documents as a member of the “New Springville Boys, a racketeering enterprise with connections to the Bonanno organized crime family.”
Drita’s own “Mob Wives” biographical page posted on the VH1 website when she was starring in the show detailed her husband’s alleged ties to organized crime.
Her bio described Lee as “the leader of a Bonanno and Colombo crime family farm team."
While her husband is serving time in prison, she is “left alone raising two young girls,” the bio says.
"Drita, who comes from a strict Albanian household, defied her parents and married someone outside the community — an Italian."
Drita, who lived for a time in the Todt Hill Houses, “was raised in the projects of Staten Island after her family settled there from Albania,” according to her bio.


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Former Mob Wives star and husband arrested for drug and weapons charges


A former member “Mob Wives” star is now ironically in trouble with the law.
Police searched Drita D’Avanzo’s Staten Island home and now she and her husband are facing a slew of charges.
The explosive reality star of VH1’s “Mob Wives” ran out of a Staten Island courthouse Friday afternoon after she was arraigned on drug and weapons charges, along with her husband Lee.
The couple was arrested at their Pleasant Plains home on Staten Island Thursday night after the NYPD conducted a search and found two loaded guns, a large quantity of marijuana and assorted pills – including painkillers, anxiety meds, and a scale to weigh the drugs.
Investigators say the bust took place after community members called the police with concerns about activity at the home.
Most neighbors did not want to comment Friday, but one father says he’s seen the show with his wife and daughter.
“Run into them in the stores here… nothing real special.” Alan Fried said.
D’Avanzo works as a makeup artist, but her husband Lee has never been featured on the show. He’s mostly been locked up for robberies.
The 43-year-old’s show bio describes her husband as “the leader of a Bonanno and Colombo crime farm team.”
The couple has two young daughters.
The reality star-turned-suspect was granted a $15,000 bail. Her husband will remain in custody. None of the other “Mob Wives” from the show were in court to support her.
An unnamed person also has an order of protection against the couple.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Strip club raid fuels talk of Buffalo mafia resurgence

Last month, federal prosecutors indicted former DEA agent Joseph Bongiovanni for allegedly accepting bribes from criminals with ties to what they called “Italian organized crime.”
Last week, the feds followed up with a raid at Pharaoh’s Gentleman’s Club in Cheektowaga. The strip club is operated by Peter Gerace, who is related to the Todaro family that the FBI accused decades ago of running the Buffalo mob (the Todaros denied the charges).
But documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show these recent developments are part of a wider federal investigation into the possible re-emergence of organized crime in Buffalo.
And they’ve left many to wonder: is the Buffalo Mafia actually dead? Or has it somehow come back to life?
“I would have trouble believing that there is an organized crime family in Buffalo,” said Lee Coppola, an expert on the Buffalo Mafia who broke stories on organized crime as a former Buffalo News and WKBW-TV reporter.
During his reporting, Coppola once knocked on the door of Stefano Magaddino, the now-deceased crime boss from Niagara County who wielded immense power in the underworld as head of the Buffalo mob.
“He’s been ancient history for 40 years,” Coppola said in a recent interview.
The organization Magaddino once ran died a slow death, Coppola said, hastened by a loss of revenue, crime figures who no longer practiced a code of silence and federal prosecution like the probe in the 1990s that purged crime figures from the ranks of Laborers Local 210.
Coppola said prosecutors may be grasping in their attempts to connect current criminal activity to the old crime syndicate. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment.
“What happens a lot of times is that there are criminal elements, people who commit crimes or people who are investigated for crimes,” he said. “And if they happen to have a last name that ends in a vowel, the tendency is to say, ‘Oh, there's a criminal crime family, La Cosa Nostra,’ the mafia is thriving and growing. I have trouble believing that.”
Attorney Joel Daniels, who represents Gerace, said, “there are no mafia ties” to his client. Attorney Paul Cambria, who represents Bongiovanni, said last month that the mafia references in Bongiovanni’s indictment make for sensational headlines but are not grounded in fact.
But former Hamilton, Ont., police officer Paul Manning said any reports of the mob’s extinction are inaccurate.
“That's just not true,” Manning said. “There's definitely a presence.”
He acknowledged the Buffalo crime family was weakened in the 1990s and 2000s, but said recent gangland-style killings in Canada show they are starting to become active again.
The Buffalo gangsters now are “nothing more than a satellite family to control Ontario and parts of Montreal,” Manning said.
New York City crime families, he said, are using Buffalo underworld figures to fight a “proxy war” in Canada because they are hoping to tap into the 9 million people in the country’s “Golden Horseshoe” region.
“You've got a reemergence because there's so much profit to be made north of the Border,” Manning said.
Manning has direct knowledge of mafia efforts to infiltrate law enforcement. As a police officer, he went undercover in the mob, an experience that nearly cost him his life . He said he was betrayed by crooked Hamilton officers and nearly killed by a mob hit. He is now suing the Hamilton government.
The allegations against Bongiovanni, the former DEA agent, follow the same pattern, and the I-Team has learned that Bongiovanni is not the only police officer suspected of breaking the law.
“It also confirms that we do have a problem with law enforcement working for the other side,” Manning said.


Chicago mobster indicted for defrauding Social Security

A Chicago mobster once sent to prison as a result of the FBI’s landmark Family Secrets case has been indicted for stealing $44,000 in Social Security funds, court records show.
Michael Marcello, 68, of Wood Dale, allegedly once helped run the Chicago mob while his older brother, James Marcello, was in prison. He also took the witness stand in 2009 in the trial of Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose, who was charged with leaking details about the Family Secrets investigation to the mob.
Now, he faces a one-page indictment alleging that he stole $44,623 from the Social Security Administration between September 2017 and May 2019. The document offers no further details.
His lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
Marcello, the half-brother of Chicago mob boss James Marcello, was sentenced in March 2008 to 8 ½ years in prison— the first to be sentenced in the Family Secrets case. He once ran a lucrative video poker machine operation in the western suburbs and carried out his half-brother’s orders while James Marcello was in prison, authorities have said. He admitted his role in the mob in a 2007 plea agreement.
He also worked for the Chicago Sun-Times as a truck driver from 1986 to 1995.
In April 2009, Michael Marcello took the witness stand in the trial of Ambrose, who leaked key details to the mob about Nicholas Calabrese, the hitman who became a crucial government witness in the Family Secrets case.
Marcello testified that John “Pudgy” Matassa had funneled sensitive information to him — information he thought Matassa had obtained from a former Chicago cop and family friend of Ambrose.
Just this year, Matassa admitted to an embezzlement scheme stemming from his job as the secretary-treasurer of the Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly gave him six months in prison.
But before the judge sentenced him, Matassa complained that, “the only reason I’m standing here today is because my name is John Matassa.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

Judge forces jailed Colombo mobster to give $250K legal settlement to crime victims

That’s the way the ping-pong ball bounces.
One-time Colombo crime family street boss Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli’s $250,000 settlement for a table tennis tumble while behind bars should go for restitution to a fur store and a bank robbed by the gangster and his crew back in the ’90s, a Brooklyn Federal Court judge ruled.
“In this case, once defendant’s settlement is finalized, he will have immediate access to (the money),” wrote Judge Brian M. Cogan last week in his ruling against the notorious Gioeli. “... His financial circumstances have seismically shifted, and he now has the financial means to make immediate court-ordered restitution.”
Gioeli is on the hook for a $360,000 payback to a Chemical Bank branch and a business called Furs by Mina, with Cogan ruling that Gioeli “personally profited from these robberies ... (he) was the undisputed leader of the pack (and) ... the other perpetrators were his direct subordinates within the Mafia hierarchy, acting pursuant to his orders.”
According to court papers, the settlement money is currently sitting in an interest-bearing account under the supervision of Federal Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.
Gioeli’s lawyer Jennifer Louis-Jeune asked for a extended deadline of Dec. 20 to respond to Cogan’s decision ordering the defendant to show cause why the new money should not accelerate the 67-year-old mobster’s payback process.
Goeli is less than halfway through an 18 1/2-year prison sentence following his racketeering conviction. The restitution was part of his sentence, with the initial payback set at $25 every three months while in custody and 10% of his gross monthly weekend while on supervised release.
But in August 2013, the ping-pong playing inmate skidded in a puddle near the showers inside the Manhattan Detention Center, with Gioeli’s slip-and-fall leaving him with a broken kneecap and a 30-day hospital stay.
He sued the federal Bureau of Prisons for $10 million, eventually agreeing to a quarter-million dollar settlement.
The fur business robbery in 1992 netted 150 fur coats worth an estimated $900,000, while the 1995 bank heist netted roughly $210,000, according to court documents. Goeli, a tough guy described by racketeering trial witnesses as a cold-blooded assassin, was ordered to pay the full amount to Chemical Bank and $150,000 to Furs by Mina.
As of two months ago, Tommy Shots had ponied up just $450 in restitution — leaving an outstanding balance of $359,550.
Cogan denied Goeli’s motion to vacate or modify the payback, and ordered the imprisoned Mafioso to show cause why his six-figure windfall “should not accelerate defendant’s restitution payments, based on a material change in his economic circumstances.”


DeCavalcante crime family associates charged with drug distribution

Two alleged associates from the Elizabeth-based DeCavalcante crime family of La Cosa Nostra were recently charged with possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. One of them has also been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Residents of Toms River, New Jersey— Mario Galli III, 27, and Jason Vella, 37, are charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. In addition to the drug possession charge, Galli is also charged with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Drugs and firearm recovered

Search warrants were executed on the residences of the alleged associate members by investigators from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office on September 19, 2019. Investigators claimed that during the search of their residences, cocaine in excess of 150 was seized along with other drug-related implements such as baking soda, grinders, digital scales, glassine envelopes, and a money counter. Cash amounting to $2,295 was also recovered they said.
Authorities also said that the search at Galli's residence resulted in the recovery of a FEG 9mm Model PGK-9HP gun loaded with 12 rounds of ammunition. This find is particularly important as Galli was on supervised release from a 2016 federal conviction at the time of the weapon's recovery. He was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in excess of 500 grams for the aforementioned crime.

The penalty that they could face if convicted

20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine is the maximum penalty for the charge of charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and both could face this penalty if convicted. In Galli's case, he could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The second count that he has been charged with— possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, must be served consecutively to any sentence on the drug count and a $250,000 fine. The investigation and filing of charges was attributed to the FBI's Organized Crime Task Force in Newark and investigators from Ocean County Prosecutor's Office by the US Attorney's office.


Gambino family looted towers going up near the High Line in Manhattan

They’ll stand as shining symbols of affluence next to The High Line: two towers known as The XI, housing a hotel and 234 condos going for up to $25 million, rising to take their place in the city skyline.
The Chelsea buildings, according to the developer’s website, will be “unmatched in Manhattan and unparalleled in the world.” They’ll feature “groundbreaking amenities” and “mesmerizing views of the Hudson River and New York City skyline on all sides.”
The XI, a recipient of nearly $1.5 million in tax breaks, also may already have achieved another sort of distinction: serving as a kind of ATM for the Gambino crime family, according to federal prosecutors.
The Mafia family once controlled by the late John Gotti skimmed hundreds of thousands of dollars from The XI and other Manhattan projects by buying off a top executive of the firm behind the condo complex, prosecutors charged.
That executive, identified by prosecutors as John Simonlacaj, 50, is a managing director of the HFZ Capital Group, a Manhattan real estate developer that’s built multiple luxury residential and hotels across the city. Simonlacaj oversaw construction of The XI for HFZ, which purchased the Chelsea property in 2015, according to court papers.
On Friday, Simonlacaj surrendered and entered a not guilty plea in Brooklyn Federal Court to federal charges of wire fraud conspiracy and tax fraud. He was released after posting $250,000 bail.
Simonlacaj is the cousin of Mark “Chippy” Kocaj, 49, one of 10 alleged mobsters busted Thursday in Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue’s major crackdown on the Gambino clan, once notorious for its control of New York’s construction industry.
Prosecutors say that Kocaj, reputed Gambino capo Andrew Campos and alleged crime family soldier Vincent Fiore operated a Mount Vernon carpentry firm, CWC Contracting, which was hired to work on multiple city projects, including The XI.
To get the inside track with HFZ Capital, between June 2018 and June of this year, CWC allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to “multiple employees” of HFZ Capital, prosecutors charged. Sometimes it was in cash, but sometimes it was “in-kind benefits” to the employees, according to court papers.

Free Home Work Alleged

With Simonlacaj, CWC provided free labor and materials to perform “extensive” renovations on his home in upscale Scarsdale, according to court papers. The cost of the work was covered by inflated invoices to HFZ, the indictment alleges.
In court papers, prosecutors charged that the Gambino family “is thriving, earning millions of dollars through various forms of fraud, bribery, money laundering and extortion, particularly in the construction industry.”
CWC got jobs by bribing employees of numerous construction companies and real estate developers, prosecutors alleged. One of those outfits is listed in the indictment as Construction Company 1, identified by other public records as HFZ Capital.
To get their hooks into HFZ, prosecutors say, the mob bribed Simonlacaj, who handled several projects for HFZ and is listed as the owner’s representative on The XI in city Building Department records.
The XI, which is still under construction, abuts The High Line, the popular park built on an abandoned railway that runs through Chelsea up to the recently opened Hudson Yards. It’s considered one of the hottest real estate locations in the city, with luxury residences adjoining the park selling for hefty sums.
The XI is one of these high-end properties, a pair of leaning towers that will include a Six Senses Hotel and condos ranging from $2.8 million for one-bedrooms to $25 million for a half-floor penthouse. The developer benefited from $1.49 million in tax credits for cleaning up a toxic brownfield at the site, according to state records.
Prosecutors say that Fiore is heard talking about how CWC would get work with HFZ, noting that Kocaj is Simonlacaj’s cousin  — “but keep it to yourself,” he states.
“There’s things we can do with Chippy there,” Fiore allegedly said. “He whispers what he needs to whisper and we get things done.”

‘Chippy Knows’

Both Kocaj and Fiore were recorded by the FBI boasting about their violent escapades, according to prosecutors.
In one recorded conversation, Kocaj went off about a fight he had in a diner where he “stabbed the kid, I don’t know, 1,000 times with a fork,” according to prosecutors. Fiore allegedly threatened to send members of the Latin Kings gang to assault individuals who had hit his son.
Discussing eight days of work owed to a laborer for his work at Simonlacaj’s home, Fiore — who refers to Simonlacaj as John Si — was heard on the feds’ wire stating, “Put that against 76 11,” listing the address of The XI at 76 11th Ave, near 18th Street.
“Chippy knows about that as well. That’s John Si’s house.”
Through CWC, the Gambino family allegedly siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from HFZ by getting Simonlacaj and other unnamed HFZ employees to approve inflated “change orders” that jacked up the cost from the original proposed scope of work on several projects, prosecutors say.
On Friday, Christophe Lagrange, an executive at HFZ, said he was not aware of the charges filed against Simonlacaj and said he hadn’t seen him at work all day. He declined further comment.
At the time of THE CITY’s call to Lagrange, Simonlacaj was entering his not-guilty plea. On his way out of Brooklyn Federal Court, he declined to speak to a reporter for THE CITY.


Saturday, December 14, 2019

Lawyer claims former Gambino boss Peter Gotti is near death and seeks compassionate release

Peter Gotti is at death’s door, according to his lawyer.
The claim came as attorneys for the former Gambino boss continue their efforts to get the 80-year-old client sprung from prison early on compassionate release.
“We are truly afraid he is dying now, he feels he is,” James Craven wrote in court papers Tuesday. “As his lawyer, I am afraid this will all become moot soon if nothing is done.”
Gotti, who suffers from an enlarged prostate, gastric reflux and early-onset dementia, is 17 years into his 25-year sentence for racketeering.
Craven — who previously said even Stevie Wonder could see that Gotti has repented for his crimes — notes in his Tuesday court papers that death rates at Gotti’s North Carolina prison are “at an all time high.”
“We pray Peter Gotti won’t be next on that list, but these cases are very sad and very real. Peter Gotti has a loving home to go too, with his daughter in Howard Beach, New York. He has served over 80% of his sentence and is dying. May he get there in time,” the motion reads.
A judge has yet to rule on the request.


Actor from The Sopranos is cooking private meals at home of fans

Joseph Gannascoli — who played Vito Spatafore on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” and is now an in-demand Italian chef — has begun cooking private meals for fans in their homes.
Gannascoli, who’s done guest spots at various restaurants, told Page Six the private dinners are for 12 to 50 guests and that he usually does an antipasto and two different pasta dishes.
Besides prepping the food, he also poses for pics, does “Sopranos” trivia and a Q&A, and tells behind-the-scenes tales about the HBO hit.
“I’m usually at their house about 10 hours. People say it’s been the greatest party they’ve been to!” Gannascoli quipped of his “Sopranos” meals.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Italian mafia ready to embrace gay members

Even the Italian mob has started flying the rainbow flag.
A star prosecutor in Italy has revealed the mafia is now open to gay men — and even has a drag queen in their midst.
“The mafia have evolved along with society,” Nicola Gratteri, an anti-mafia investigator in Calabria, told the Times of London. “Gays can be accepted now, even as foot soldiers, so long as they don’t parade it in public.”
The inspector claims to have intercepted “passionate” letters between a crime boss and a young lieutenant, and has eavesdropped on phone conversations revealing many mafia foot soldiers enjoy transvestite bars. The scion of one crime family is living as a drag queen under the name “Lady Godiva,” the prosecutor found.
Previously, mobsters risked being murdered if they were even suspected of being gay.
Homosexuality is still taboo among older bosses.
“It undermines their image of themselves as tough, virile guys,” Gratteri said of the previously homophobic underworld.
In 1992, New Jersey mob boss John “Johnny Boy” D’Amato, head of the DeCavalcante family, was shot dead by one of his own soldiers after it emerged he was homosexual.


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Gambinos held secret meeting on Staten Island days after murder of underboss Frank Cali

Four days after Gambino underboss Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali was killed outside his Hilltop Terrace home, members of the mob family organized a “clandestine meeting” on Staten Island, as they launched their own investigation into the murder, prosecutors say.
Andrew Campos, 50, who prosecutors identified as a captain in the Gambino family, and Vincent Fiore, 57, an alleged Gambino soldier, met with multiple other high-level crime family members to discuss the then-unclear circumstances surrounding Cali’s death, the U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of New York, wrote in a detention memo that was unsealed on Thursday afternoon.
The detention memo does not detail where exactly on Staten Island the group met.
In the following days, Campos and Fiore, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Briarcliff, N.Y., respectively, actively helped the Gambino family investigate the murder, the memo alleges.
The day after the meeting, on March 18, Fiore talked to his ex-wife about the session, telling her that he and Campos met with “a half dozen” people, prosecutors wrote in the memo.
Fiore also told her that he had seen the surveillance video of Cali’s slaying and speculated on a possible motive “relating to a woman” who had been at the Hilltop Terrace home on the day of the slaying, the memo says.
Prosecutors do not specifically say who that woman could have been.
The accused Gambino soldier affectionately called Cali “Frankie” and described him as someone who “was loved," according to the memo.
Fiore, however, had started discussing Cali’s murder the morning after he died, when he received a call from James Ciaccia, 51, of the Bronx, an accused Gambino family soldier, according to the memo.
During the phone call, Fiore said Cali’s death was “a good thing” because Campos, to whom both Fiore and Ciaccia reported, was likely to gain more power in the family, prosecutors allege in the memo.
On March 16, Anthony Comello, 25, of Eltingville, was arrested in connection with the slaying.
He has been in jail since then and made several inconsistent statements to investigators when he detailed what happened that night in March.
On Thursday morning, Justice William E. Garnett denied a motion to suppress the statements Comello made to investigators. 
The details about the Gambino family meeting were revealed after the Eastern District of New York announced the arrests of 10 alleged members and associates of the Gambino family on Thursday.
The defendants are facing charges that span from racketeering conspiracy, bribery, loansharking, fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses.
None of the people arrested are from Staten Island.
“The outstanding investigative work by this office’s prosecutors and our law enforcement partners uncovered a litany of crimes allegedly committed by members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family, who still don’t get it – handcuffs and a jail cell are waiting for criminals who threaten violence and commit fraud, money laundering and bribery in furtherance of their enterprise,” said United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue.
The arrests, conducted in conjunction with the FBI, the NYPD, the IRS and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, were based on alleged crimes that occurred since 2013.


Feds takedown money making Gambino captain and his crew

Two indictments and one complaint were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn variously charging 12 defendants with racketeering conspiracy, bribery, loansharking, fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses.  Those charged with racketeering conspiracy were Andrew Campos, an alleged captain in the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra; James Ciaccia, George Campos, Vincent Fiore and Richard Martino, alleged Gambino family soldiers; and Renato Barca, Jr., Benito DiZenzo, Mark Kocaj, Frank Tarul and Michael Tarul, alleged Gambino family associates.  The charges relate to the defendants’ criminal activities throughout the New York metropolitan area since February 2013.
Eleven defendants were arrested this morning and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr.  One defendant is a fugitive.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“The outstanding investigative work by this Office’s prosecutors and our law enforcement partners uncovered a litany of crimes allegedly committed by members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family, who still don’t get it – handcuffs and a jail cell are waiting for criminals who threaten violence and commit fraud, money laundering and bribery in furtherance of their enterprise,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  Mr. Donoghue thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Probation Departments for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for their assistance during the investigation.
“The Gambino members arrested in this case ran the gamut of criminal activity.  Everything from the usual thuggish behavior of beating people up, forcing people to take the fall for their crimes, all the way to defrauding the federal government,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “Several suspects even went to prison, were released, and allegedly went right back to breaking the law.  At some point, these crime families should realize we see what they're doing, and their actions are going to lead them right back to the same prison cells.”
“Financial gain is the primary motivation of any criminal enterprise and these allegations are no different,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen.  “The criminal investigators of IRS-Criminal Investigation specialize in unraveling such serious charges where multiple financial frauds and extreme measures are utilized for personal enrichment.”
“The NYPD and its law enforcement partners remain committed to eradicating organized crime in New York City,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.  “Associates of the Gambino Crime Family – or any other enterprise that seeks to enrich its members through racketeering, bribery, loansharking and fraud – should know that investigators will build strong cases against them, and they will be prosecuted.  I commend the members of the NYPD, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their work on this case.”
As alleged in the government’s court filings and summarized below, Andrew Campos and members of his crew used bribery, fraud and extortion schemes to infiltrate the construction industry and earn millions of dollars in criminal proceeds.
Honest Services Wire Fraud Bribery Schemes
Andrew Campos, Fiore, Kocaj and DiZenzo operated a carpentry company, CWC Contracting Corp. (“CWC”), and are charged with paying bribes and kickbacks to employees of numerous construction companies and real estate developers.  In exchange, these employees took steps to benefit CWC, including awarding contracts and approving change orders to add or delete from the original scope of a contract.  Specifically, between approximately June 2018 and June 2019, CWC paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to multiple employees of a real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #1”), including John Simonlacaj, the company’s current Managing Director of Development.  CWC paid the bribes in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of free labor and materials used for renovations on Simonlacaj’s residence that was paid for by a fraudulently approved change order.  As Kocaj stated, although the work was paid for by a change order, “it should have been pro bono” because Construction Company #1 “do[es] 50 million a year in business”, and it was “worth it to do some of the paperwork.”  In another intercepted conversation, Fiore described the benefits provided by Simonlacaj, “This director, John.  There’s a beautiful in there.  There’s things we can do with [Kocaj] there, he whispers what he needs to whisper and we get things done.”
Obstruction of Justice – Martino’s Concealment of Financial Assets 
In 2005, Andrew Campos and Martino were convicted in the Eastern District of New York for their role in a massive scheme to defraud users of adult entertainment services.  Martino was ultimately sentenced to 108 months’ imprisonment and ordered by the court to pay $9.1 million in forfeiture.  After his release from prison, Martino, together with Frank Tarul and others, concealed Martino’s substantial wealth and income, falsely reporting that Martino had limited assets and worked for Tarul’s flooring company.  In reality, as revealed by court-authorized wiretaps, Martino operated multiple companies that earned millions of dollars, including construction work, investments in pizzerias and other business ventures.
Loansharking and Extortion
As detailed in the government’s court filings, various defendants used extortionate means to collect money.  For example, Andrew Campos and Fiore used threats of violence to collect at least $100,000 from one victim.  In a lawfully wiretapped phone conversation on March 13, 2019, Fiore warned the victim, “When you get punched in the face and your teeth get knocked out . . .  you’re not going to laugh no more, okay? . . .  At the end of the day, when you’re upside down [i.e., unable to make certain payments], you deal with him,” referring to Campos.
Kocaj and Lopez, a former professional boxer, are charged with loansharking, including Kocaj’s recovery of tens of thousands of dollars of a gambling debt on behalf of an Albanian organized crime figure.  Kocaj bragged about his ability to violently collect money, stating that he could send “a couple of my Albanian guys” and have somebody “grab [a potential victim] by the f-----g neck.”   Kocaj helped collect over $30,000, threatening that if the victim did not pay, “[h]e’s going to get his head split open. . . .  These are not the guys to f--- around with. . . .  These Albanians, you know what they’ll do.”  Earlier this morning, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Lopez’s home and seized $25,000 in cash, brass knuckles and several large knives.
Retaliation Against Grand Jury Witness – Obstruction of Justice
Andrew Campos allegedly directed that a CWC worker believed to have testified before the grand jury be fired.  Subsequently, during a lawfully recorded conversation on November 22, 2019, Fiore directed that the CWC worker be fired as “a personal favor to Andrew,” because the worker “could’ve pled the Fifth.” 
Additional Charged Schemes
The indictments and complaint include additional alleged criminal schemes, including (1) laundering money by cashing checks made out to others, purportedly for work performed in connection with CWC construction projects; (2) fraudulently procuring cards from the United States Department of Labor indicating completion of certain Occupational Safety and Health Administration training courses when, in fact, the courses were never completed; (3) defrauding the U.S. government by paying CWC employees millions of dollars in cash without making the required payroll tax withholdings and payments; (4) overbilling CWC clients by causing them to pay for fraudulent or inflated work orders; and (5) evading taxes and money laundering, including by having CWC construct Andrew Campos’s residence.
The charges in the indictments and complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman and Kayla C. Bensing are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by EDNY Special Agent Erik Nesbitt.  Assistant United States Attorney Claire S. Kedeshian is handling forfeiture matters.
The Defendants:
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-575 (FB)
RENATO BARCA, JR. (also known as “Ronny”)
Age: 32
Bronx, New York
Age: 50
Scarsdale, New York
Age: 72
Peekskill, New York
Age: 51
Bronx, New York
BENITO DIZENZO (also known as “Benny”)
Age: 53
New Rochelle, New York
Age: 57
Briarcliff, New York
MARK KOCAJ (also known as “Chippy”)
Age: 49
Tuckahoe, New York
Age: 60
Rye, New York
JOHN SIMONLACAJ (also known as “John Si” and “Smiley”)
Age: 50
Scarsdale, New York
FRANK TARUL (also known as “Bones”)
Age: 45
Bronx, New York
MICHAEL TARUL (also known as “Perkins”)
Age: 43
Bronx, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-577 (FB)
MARK KOCAJ (also known as “Chippy”)
Age: 49
Tuckahoe, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-MJ-1126
ADRIAL LOPEZ (also known as “Adriel Lopez” and “Andrew Lopeck”)
Age:  56
Bronx, New York