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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Son of Philly mob underboss is busted for drug overdose deaths

The son of jailed mob underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino was arraigned Saturday on charges of selling narcotics that caused the overdose deaths of two Queen Village residents in April, according to police.
Joseph Massimino Jr. was charged under a Pennsylvania law establishing harsh penalties for dealers convicted of selling narcotics involved in overdose deaths. Police arrested Massimino several weeks ago following a raid on his Mountain Street house in South Philadelphia, where they allegedly seized $200,000 worth of heroin and other illegal narcotics, $7,000 in cash, and firearms, a police source said.
Massimino is being held. His bail was set at $1.5 million.
In the past, authorities typically treated overdose deaths as accidents and dealers were not held criminally liable for more than the sale of drugs. But in reaction to the opioid epidemic, Pennsylvania joined other states in enacting so-called “drug-dealer liability” laws that impose harsher sentences on dealers whose clients overdose.
Massimino’s lawyer, Greg Pagano, said he planned to vigorously contest the charges.
“We plan to defend against these charges and investigate everything thoroughly, hire our own experts if necessary, and review all the evidence,” Pagano said.
Joseph Massimino Sr. was convicted in 2013 of racketeering and conspiracy in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia following a three-month trial. Judge Eduardo Robreno sentenced Massimino to more than 15 years in prison.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Colombo crime family boss is close friends with Bernie Madoff in prison

Shortly after Bernie Madoff arrived in prison, at the start of a 150-year sentence, the mastermind behind the largest fraud in financial history was slapped across the face.
Madoff was closely following the way his case was being reported in the media and had gone to the jail’s TV room to watch “60 Minutes.” When he changed the channel—in defiance of the prison’s unwritten rules, he soon learned—another inmate objected and wanted it changed back. There was a scuffle, and then a smack on the cheek.
It was then that Carmine John Persico Jr., the notorious boss of the Colombo crime family, known as “The Snake,” who has been serving his own century-plus sentence at the same prison, intervened.
“Carmine sent his boys over, or his ‘friends,’ rather, to ‘have a talk’ with the guy who delivered the slap,” recounted Steve Fishman, a journalist who has covered Madoff for years. Persico’s men “issued what Madoff called ‘an extraordinarily stern warning,’ and talked it all out. After that, Bernie got to watch” whatever he wanted.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between a pair of notorious, geriatric inmates (Madoff is just shy of 80 and Persico is 83) serving what amounts to life in prison.
According to Fishman, the host of “Ponzi Supernova,” an audio series about the case that features extensive interviews with the jailed Madoff, the mobster and the Ponzi schemer have become “good buddies,” with Persico also acting as both protector and mentor to the disgraced former nonexecutive chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market.
“It was Carmine who first greeted Bernie when he arrived,” Fishman said. “Carmine sent him shower slippers, tried to make him feel at home. Bernie didn’t know the rules of prison, and that was something Carmine was able to help with.”
The NYPD Organized Crime Task Force suspects that Persico, who served as his own attorney during his criminal trial in 1987, may be linked to multiple murders; nonetheless, Madoff calls him a “very sweet man,” Fishman said. “He talks about how Carmine was visited by his grandchildren, what a tender scene that was, and how gentle he was with them.” Madoff has lamented his own lack of family visits.
The former Wall Street money manager, who once hobnobbed with the deep-pocketed elite, has assembled an unusual fellowship in jail.
“He doesn’t really fit into the prison life, which is very segregated by race and sexual orientation, among other things,” Fishman said. “He moves from group to group. He has social relationships with some of the gay prisoners, the child molesters, the mob guys. It doesn’t matter to him.”
Madoff is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex, in Butner, N.C. It is a medium-security facility, one that is sometimes referred to as “Camp Fluffy” for being relatively comfortable. Madoff has a picture window in his cell, and his door isn’t locked at night. He has access to a computer where he fires off emails, and to a kitchen. The prison yard features both a sweat lodge and a bocce ball court, where Madoff and Persico “hang out,” according to Fishman, who got these details from Madoff himself.
As per the rules of the prison, Madoff has various jobs, including working in the commissary, “kind of like a grocery store clerk,” and mopping the cafeteria floor.
Madoff, who cooked his books to the tune of a $65 billion fraud, “wanted to do something finance related,” Fishman reported. “He volunteered to keep the prison’s books, but the supervisor just laughed. ‘I don’t think so,’ he said.”
To the extent he can, Madoff has remained somewhat active in finance. As Fishman previously told MarketWatch, he has doled out stock advice to other prisoners—or “colleagues,” as he calls them—and bought up the commissary’s supply of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, cornering the market and reselling them for profit.
Mostly, however, he spends his free time reading and talking with his lawyers. Fishman suspects he continues to have contact with Ruth Madoff, his estranged wife, but couldn’t say definitively.
Madoff stays apprised of the fallout from his Ponzi scheme, and even watched the miniseries that was produced about his crimes last year. His only objection to the film, according to Fishman, was a scene in which Richard Dreyfuss—who plays the title role—slaps one of his sons. He took umbrage to that particular characterization.
“People forget, but he really was a good family man,” Fishman said. “He was very careful about how his relationship with his family was portrayed.”
Both of Madoff’s sons died after the fraud was uncovered. Mark Madoff hanged himself on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest, while Andrew Madoff, at the time the last surviving progeny of the swindler, died of lymphoma, a cancer whose return he blamed on the stress of his father’s crimes, having previously been in remission.
Another on-screen account of Madoff is being released, this time with Robert De Niro as Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife. The film, The Wizard of Lies, will premiere on HBO on May 20. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, De Niro didn’t attempt to meet Madoff to inform his performance.
“I always want to meet the person that I’m playing, but I felt, in this case, I was a little wary,” De Niro said, adding he that he was concerned “that that would be a mixed message that I was endorsing him.”
“Bernie thinks he’s come full circle,” Fishman said. “He started as a struggling guy, and now he’s back to making his own bed and ironing his own khakis. His health isn’t great, but he’s a survivor.” In 2016, ABC News reported that Madoff had a “little bit of a heart problem,” citing his lawyer, Ira Sorkin.


Trial of 5 gangsters linked to Genovese family is moved

The case involving five Springfield alleged mafia associates is moving to Worcester. Attorneys for the five men were in federal court Friday for a status conference.
22News cameras were not allowed to shoot video inside the courthouse. The next hearing will be on July 24, in Worcester, in front of a U.S. District Court Judge.
Ralph Santaniello, Giovanni Calabrese, Jarold Daniele, Francesco Depergola, and Richard Valentini were arrested last August. They are accused of loansharking, collecting unlawful debt, and extorting money.
The men are alleged associates of the Genovese La Cosa Nostra crime family in New York, but all live in Hampden County. According to court documents, four of the defendants allegedly threatened a towing company owner. The victim claims that they threatened to cut off his head and bury him in the woods if he did not pay $20,000.
Another victim was allegedly threatened over a gambling debt.
Four of the men have been out on bail since August, while Santaniello was ordered held on bail, after a judge determined that he could be a danger to the community.
If convicted, the defendants could receive sentences of up to 20 years in prison.


Queens woman gets 7 years in prison for role in mafia linked cocaine operation

Eleonora Gigliotti (l.) was fully involved in the operation run by her husband Gregorio Gigliotti (r.), according to Brooklyn Federal Judge Raymond Dearie.
A Queens woman got a seven-year prison sentence Thursday for helping run an international cocaine trafficking operation out of the family’s pizzeria.

While the family’s patriarch might have been the ringleader, Brooklyn Federal Judge Raymond Dearie said Eleonora Gigliotti, 56, was fully involved in a crime that was also a “family tragedy, to be sure."

Gigliotti, her husband, Gregorio, and their son, Angelo, were charged in 2015, after authorities nabbed cassava shipments with cocaine stashed inside.

Prosecutors said the operation had links in Italy and Costa Rica, importing at least 120 kilos of cocaine since 2012.

When law enforcement raided the Gigliotti's Corona restaurant, Cucino a Modo Mio, they found a stockpile of weapons, a drug deal ledger and more than $100,000 in cash, authorities said.

When the trio were first detained, prosecutors said the Gigliotti family had "close business ties" to the notorious Calabria-based crime organization the ‘Ndrangheta and pointed to Italian authorities who said Gregorio was hashing out a drug sale with members of the organization.

Law enforcement officials also said Gregorio, 60, and Angelo, 36, were tied to the Genovese crime family.

In April 2016, Dearie said Gigliotti wasn't mentally fit for trial. She was hospitalized for about six months and ended up pleading guilty to a lesser offense this past January.

Eleonora Gigliotti, 56, was sentenced to 7 years for her involvement.

Jurors convicted Gregorio and Angelo in July 2016. Gregorio received an 18-year term last month, while Angelo is awaiting sentence.

Gigliotti said Thursday she was sorry for what she’d done — adding she wanted "to be a good mother and grandmother when I get out."

She waved and blew kisses to family members in the front row when the sentencing was done.

The defense pressed for a five-year term — the lowest sentence possible.

Defense lawyer Nicholas Kaizer said his client married a "dictatorial, patriarchal figure."

Kaizer said he personally witnessed Gregorio's temper and domineering ways. He said Gregorio "exploded at me" when learning his wife was taking a plea deal without consulting him.

Gigliotti's "deep seated psychological problems" left her without self-esteem. If she hadn't married Gregorio, Eleonora wouldn't have been mixed up in such a crime, Kaizer said.

When law enforcement raided the Gigliotti's Corona restaurant, Cucino a Modo Mio, they found a stockpile of weapons, a drug deal ledger and more than $100,000 in cash, authorities said.

What happened was “Shakespearean in tragedy,” he added.

Gigliotti's time in jail and treatment there had already been tough enough, Kaizer argued.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Edelman said Gigliotti played a "crucial role" in the trafficking scheme — like her multiple trips to Costa Rica to hand off cash to coke suppliers.

Dearie said he "acknowledged Gregorio's dominance" and that Eleonora was "somewhat vulnerable."

But evidence showed she was a "serious player" in the operation.

Outside the courtroom, Kaizer said the prison term was "a difficult sentence, no doubt.”

Still, Gigliotti would serve her time and then looked forward to getting back to her family, he said. Family members declined to comment on the sentence.


Mobster couldnt be arraigned because he was too busy flirting in court

A Gambino crime family associate who beat the rap for stabbing the owner of popular Brooklyn ​pizzeria Lucali​ ​–​ ​​only to w​ind up behind bars for another stabbing​ ​–​ ​is now using the prison mail system to deliver threats, prosecutors said.
Battista “Benny” Geritano was back in court Thursday to face charges he’d been using the mailing system at Green Haven prison to commit extortion​ ​–​ ​but was too focused on ​a feamle Brooklyn federal ​court clerk to be arraigned under the new indictment. The objects and content of his pen-pal blackmail remained unclear.
“Can I know what her name is?” the 44-year-old ​flirtily asked, interrupting Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky as he tried to explain to the proceeding. “I need to know what her name is.” When the judge told him the clerk’s name was irrelevant, Geritano​ ​–​ ​who’s served four years of a 12-year sentence in an all-male facility​ ​–​ ​became agitated.
“You’re in my court now,” the incarcerated mobster barked​ back, catching the judge​ off guard. “I’m a sovereign, Christian male.”
Pohorelsky turned to an equally taken-​a​back ​lawyer ​Michael Sporn, who had yet to be assigned to represent Geritano, to ask if ​he felt Geritano was competent to continue the proceeding.
“Oh I’m competent,” the twitchy inmate said, again interrupting the judge as he glanced at the clerk.
Pohorelsky ordered the marshals to eject the Gambino associate, who thrashed as three men descended on him and pushed him out of the courtroom.
“Based on his performance, I don’t think he’s ready to be arraigned,” said Assistant US Attorney Lindsay Gerdes, who successfully prosecuted Geritano as an Assistant DA in his 2012 Brooklyn Supreme court ​stabbing case.
The sinewy goon was convicted on assault charges for knifing Nunzio Fusco inside a Bay Ridge ​b​ar​ ​– just a year after he was cleared of stabbing ​Lucali owner Mark Iacono over a purported love triangle.
The Brooklyn DA’s office dropped the case after Iacono refused to testify against his former friend, who had become convinced the ​Carrol gardens pizzeria owner was trying to steal his gal pal.
Geritano is slotted to return to court Tuesday.


Bonanno mobster gets 7 years for role in gambling ring

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A member of the Bonanno crime family will spend up to seven years behind bars for his role in a gambling and extortion ring, prosecutors said Thursday.
Vito Badamo, 54, was one of several members of his crew busted in July 2013 for peddling drugs like Viagra and Cialis as well as running loansharking and gambling rackets.
The Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption in the case — to avoid a trial.
A previous case against him and three others ended in a mistrial in May 2016.
Charges are still pending against his alleged former boss, Nicholas "Nicky Cigars" Santora, 74, who is at liberty but is hospitalized.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Judge denies $2 million bail package for aging Bonanno captain after threats surface

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A Brooklyn federal judge rejected the bail bid of "Goodfellas" gangster Vinny Asaro Thursday, days after the feds accused the aging mobster of trying to arrange the murder of a prosecutor on his arson case.
Judge Allyne Ross brushed off Asaro's $2 million bail package, saying the charges — having a car torched that cut in his traffic lane — and the new claims of a rub-out all combined to show "just how volatile, dangerous and violent the defendant remains."
Asaro denied making any threats. But Ross said the fact that authorities even had to investigate the incident showed there were “credible threats warranting a response.”
The judge said it made no difference if the 82-year Bonanno capo had health problems, as the defense argued. The high-ranking gangster only had to communicate his intentions to others in order to put people at risk, Ross said.
In 2015, Asaro was acquitted on charges that he was involved in the 1978 Luftansa heist immortalized in the 1990 gangland opus "Goodfellas."
But prosecutors indicted Asaro in March for having a car charred by mobster minions in 2012 when the driver cut in his lane. They nabbed him, plus six others who were accused of other crimes like a bank robbery and jewelry store stick-ups.
Asaro was held without bail when arrested on the new case.
And that's when prosecutors said an inmate passing through the Metropolitan Detention Center heard the alleged threats.
"We need to handle this and do something about this b---h," Asaro allegedly told another defendant in his case. According to sources, the person referred to is Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri, who wasn't at Thursday's court clash.
Another time, Asaro allegedly said, "We need to do something about this b---h, and not f--k it up like Vinny. We need to handle this."
"Vinny," according to the prosecution, is the onetime acting Bonanno boss Vincent Basciano who tried to get the prosecutor on his case whacked.
On Tuesday, Asaro's lawyer, Elizabeth Macedonio, said her client "adamantly denies" the allegations he was putting out any sort of hit request.
And even at the very best, Macedonio said this was "an angry, 82-year-old man sitting in prison lamenting he was back in prison" in the sights of the same government team that came at him in the Luftansa case.
Macedonio said she's had hundreds of defense clients through the years who've complained about the prosecutors on their case.
There was "nothing special except for the fact that the government is going after Mr. Asaro yet again."
The murder threat investigation turned up zilch, Macedonio said, noting authorities found no plans or anything in visitor logs and recorded calls.
She noted Asaro was thrown in the special housing during the investigation — but now he's back in general jail population with the other reputed Bonanno members and associates.
Asaro posed no danger to the community, she said. He's been minding his business since his 2015 acquittal, Macedonio said. The old-timer's been acting like any other old-timer — "cooking dinner, eating dinner, enjoying his family."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Edelman said Asaro was doing more making blustery chit chat behind bars. He made "multiple, specific serious threats regarding a prosecutor," Edelman said.
In Asaro's world, phrases like "do something" and "handle this" were "specific words with specific meaning ... it’s murder."
Asaro's family and supporters blew him kisses and said "we love you" as he was taken out of court. They declined to comment outside the courtroom.
Macedonio told reporters she was "disappointed" the judge "relied on the government's baseless allegations. Now we're going to focus on the trial."
Asaro's trial is scheduled for August.


New Jersey mafia soldier gets 11 months for attacking driver in road rage incident

The man had a dash cam in his vehicle, which documented Jerry Balzano's tough talk, the 911 call of the driver's wife and the thuds of Balzano’s hits.
A convicted wiseguy’s fast and furious rough-up of a driver is getting him an 11-month trip to lock-up.
Jerry Balzano got the almost yearlong sentence Thursday in Brooklyn federal court for a road rage fury caught on camera.
Balzano, a reputed soldier in New Jersey's DeCavalcante crime family, was out on supervised release for racketeering conspiracy in November 2016 when he accosted a driver on Route 17 in Wallkill.
The man had a dash cam in his vehicle, which documented Balzano's tough talk, the 911 call of the driver's wife and the thuds of Balzano’s hits.
Balzano apologized for losing his cool when Judge Kiyo Matsumoto sentenced him. "To the gentleman I had the altercation with, I just lost control. It got blown out of proportion, like a snowball effect."
Matsumoto imposed a 21-month supervised release after the jail time.
Balzano pleaded guilty to violating his supervised release terms in April. Earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to state court charges for the incident, harassment and improper lane use.
This is his second violation of supervised release for his 2011 racketeering conspiracy conviction.


Volatile mob associate busted for mailing threatening letters fires own attroney

Battista (Benny) Geritano at Brooklyn Federal Court where he testified at his own hearing.
It did not go well for a wiseguy who tried to act as his own lawyer Thursday in Brooklyn federal court.
Battista "Benny" Geritano was serving 12 years in state prison for a 2012 stabbing at a Brooklyn bar when the feds indicted him for mailing threatening letters.
The reputed Gambino associate is charged with allegedly using the mail in February to commit extortion — but Brooklyn federal prosecutors didn't get much farther in talking about the case because Geritano had to be removed from the courtroom.
"He's fired. I'm representing myself," Geritano said about Michael Sporn, his court-appointed defense lawyer for the day.
"We have a few wrinkles," Sporn told Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky.
When Geritano insisted on finding out the names of the clerks in the room, Pohorelsky said that wasn't something he needed know.
Actually it was, said Geritano.
"You're in my court," Geritano said, adding he was a "sovereign Christian male."
He tried handing a handwritten note when Pohorelsky told him not to. The magistrate asked the marshals to remove Geritano.
"No, it's better we do it now," he protested when at least three marshals swarmed. Geritano wriggled a little and they shoved him out the room.
Geritano refused to be fingerprinted or processed, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes — who also had Geritano's stabbing case when she was with the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.
Geritano, 44, faces up to 20 years on the federal charge.
When Geritano was produced a second time, he insisted he was going to be his own lawyer. "He's not my attorney, he's fired," Geritano said of Sporn again.
The case is on for a second crack at an arraignment on Tuesday.
In 2011, Geritano was busted for allegedly stabbing pizza chef Mark Iacono in a fight over a woman. The charges were dropped when Iacono and Geritano didn't agree to testify.


Feds say jailed Bonanno captain threatened to kill federal prosecutor

Aging Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro has been overheard on jailhouse tapes threatening to whack his federal prosecutor, court papers say.
The 82-year-old Asaro told a fellow inmate he needed to take care of his “b​itc​h” prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Nicole Argentieri, according to newly filed documents.
“We need to do something about this b​it​ch,” Asaro — who famously dodged prison for his suspected role in the 1978 Lufthansa heist​ immortalized in the film “Goodfellas” — said recently as he languished as a guest of the state awaiting trial for a road rage-related arson. Argentieri is one of three federal prosecutors working that case.
Asaro may have beaten the rap ​18 months ago ​​when federal prosecutors put him on trial in the notorious ​JFK ​heist, but he’s now accused of ordering henchman — including the namesake grandson of John Gotti​ ​—​ ​to torch the car of a driver who unwittingly cut him off.
“We need to handle this,” the elderly mafioso purportedly snarled while holed up in the Manhattan Detention Complex on his new case. “And not f–k up like Vinny.”
Prosecutors claim Asaro was referencing Vincent “Vinny ​Gorgeous” Basciano, former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. Basciano currently is serving a life sentence for murder after a failed attempt to rub out his own prosecutor, according to the same filing.
The letter detailing the threats follows an attempt by defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio to spring her elderly client on bond in his 2012 arson case.
Asaro was also allegedly overheard saying he would snuff out his “rat cousin” Gaspare Valenti if he ever saw him again. Valenti, who is now in the witness protection program, was a key witness in the Lufthansa trial.
Macedonio did not return messages.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bonanno associate needs to wait to learn whether his bond will be revoked

Robert Pisani (c.) was ready to duke it out with Brooklyn federal prosecutors on whether his $500,000 bond should be revoked for an unrelated arrest as he prepares for loansharking case.
A reputed wiseguy will have to wait a little longer to learn if he’s going to be fighting a Brooklyn federal loansharking case from the outside — or the inside.

Robert Pisani was ready to duke it out with Brooklyn federal prosecutors Tuesday on whether his $500,000 bond should be revoked for an unrelated arrest.

Police say Pisani forced himself on a woman working at his Broad Channel, Queens, deli last month. They arrested him this month when the alleged Bonanno associate left Brooklyn Federal Court. Pisani’s court papers call the accusations “fallacious.”

Prosecutors told Judge Dora Irizarry on Tuesday that they have a recording the alleged victim’s father made Sunday. That raised the question of potential witness-tampering, and Irizarry postponed the case a week. Pisani is under house arrest.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Supporters pack courtroom as Genovese captain pleads guilty

Supporters packed a Manhattan federal courthouse Monday to cheer reputed Genovese capo Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello — including a priest and a couple of plumbers — as he pleaded guilty to extortion charges.

“Thanks for coming, everybody,” a smiling Parrello, 72, said as he waved to the crowd.

“We love you,” several people shouted back. Some of them blew kisses at Parrello or stood to pay tribute to him as he was cuffed and chained by US Marshals and brought back to prison, where he has been since his arrest last year.

Parrello, who looks as if he has been pumping iron in prison, copped to three counts, admitting that he ordered underlings to beat people up and threaten them over debts.

“I want Buddy to choke him, choke him, actually choke the motherf–ker . . . and tell him, ‘Listen to me . . . Next time I’m not gonna stop choking . . . I’m gonna kill you,’ ” Parrello said of a guy who owed $30,000 to reputed Lucchese associate Pasquale “Mustache Pat” Capolongo, the feds said.

Parrello, who allegedly ran his crew out of his red-sauce joint Pasqual’s Rigoletto on Arthur Avenue in The Bronx, faces between five and seven years in the slammer when he is sentenced Sept. 7.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Brooklyn man arrested for 1980 murder by Mob Cop seeks new trial

A Brooklyn man doing 25 years to life for the murder of a cabbie says he suffered in silence — and innocence — until he found out the detective who busted him moonlighted as a Mafia hit man.

Paul Clark had no idea who notorious Mob Cop Stephen Caracappa was until his lawyers, James Henning and Craig Phemister, dug into his case and unearthed the rogue detective’s name.

The discovery sparked a hope in the 54-year-old Clark that he might finally walk out of prison free, and vindicated.

“I was like, ‘Wow!’” Clark told the Daily News in an interview at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, Dutchess County. “This is unbelievable. Here you have a guy who is 10 times worse than me. And I’m stuck in here because of him.”

Clark has been behind bars more than three decades, but until late 2015 he had no idea that the cop who helped put him away was so dirty. Caracappa and his partner, Lou Eppolito, were busted in 2005 and later convicted of committing eight murders for the Luchese crime family.

Paul Clark speaks about his case inside the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, N.Y. on May 4.

Clark remembers Caracappa as the ruthless detective who arrested him in the April 1980 shooting death of cabbie Oswen Fraser on Jay St. in downtown Brooklyn. The taxi driver, 60, died in what appeared to be a botched robbery.

By the time Clark crossed paths with Caracappa, he was already imprisoned for a murder he admits he did commit in his East Flatbush neighborhood. Clark, 18, shot a 17-year-old, Keith Thomas, at a block party four months after Fraser was killed.

But he did not, he told Caracappa, kill Fraser. Clark told the cop he was with his family in the apartment he shared with his mother and other relatives.

“I was home, asleep,” Clark remembered saying. “I don’t live around that area, I don’t have friends in that area — nothing. He was callous.

Former NYPD Detective Stephen Caracappa (l.) was convicted of committing eight murders for the Lucchese crime family. He died in federal prison on April 8 at age 75.

“He didn’t want to hear what I had to say.” Now, Clark hopes to be heard. His lawyers plan to file a motion Monday asking that Clark’s conviction be set aside so he can get a new trial.

“All the evidence in this case came from a detective who was a serial killer for the Mafia,” Henning said. “That alone is enough to warrant a new trial.”

But there is much more, the lawyers said — most notably the troubling inconsistencies provided by witness Veronique Dowie, an NYPD office worker who testified at Clark’s 1984 trial.

Curiously, the police file for the Fraser murder is missing, according to the lawyers from the Napoli Shkolnik firm and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. But Henning and Phemister pieced together a chunk of the case based on documents from the district attorney’s file.

Ex-New York City cop Louis Eppolito (r.) with his partner Stephen Caracappa in an undated photo taken in the 63 Precinct in Brooklyn. 

Dowie, who worked a midnight shift at a warrants office in lower Manhattan, was heading home after 4 a.m. As she pulled up near her building, a yellow cab sped past her in reverse, jumped the sidewalk and crashed into a fence bordering a small cemetery near the Cathedral Basilica of St. James, she told police at the time.

Fraser was dead behind the wheel. But many details of her account, including the number of suspects, what the gunman did after getting out of the cab, what he was wearing and what he looked like, are different from what other witnesses saw — and changed from the time of the shooting to her testimony at trial.

Caracappa got involved in the investigation in September 1980. In a pretrial hearing, he testified that when he met Dowie in 1982 she claimed to have reported to police six months earlier that she’d seen a wanted photo of Clark that was distributed after the block party shooting.

She realized, Caracappa said, that Clark had also killed Fraser.

Paul Clark is incarcerated inside the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, N.Y. He has been behind bars for more than 30 years.

But Clark’s lawyers said there is no record of any such report. They’re also suspicious that Caracappa didn’t bother with the other witnesses and decided he could lock Dowie into a story that would stand up in court.

“Her insistence on things that didn’t happen reeks of coercion,” Henning said. “And he closed up shop as soon as he got Veronique Dowie. As soon as she came in with the wanted poster, before she’s even viewing photographic arrays, he’s calling up the DA’s office, saying, ‘Let’s do a lineup with this guy, Paul Clark.’

“No followup investigation.”

The conviction review unit for the Brooklyn DA’s office has been reviewing Clark’s case.

Paul Clark's lawyer, James Henning, said a new trial is warranted because all the evidence came from a cop who was a hitman for the Mafia.

The NYPD, meanwhile, didn’t answer questions about what steps it took to review the cases of Caracappa and Eppolito after they were busted.

Dowie died in June 1991 at age 47. Caracappa died in a federal prison in North Carolina on April 8. He was 75.

Clark, who was sentenced to 331/3 years to life for the block party murder, could conceivably be free on parole now if not for the Fraser conviction.

If he does get out, waiting at home will be the woman he married in prison — they met when she was visiting another inmate — a 36-year-old daughter from an earlier relationship, who was born shortly after he was first convicted, and his mother, whose dream is to live long enough to see him walk through the front door of her Crown Heights apartment.

Barbara Willis, 80, speaks about her son, Paul Clark, on May 9. She said her dream is to see him walk through the front door of her Crown Heights apartment.

“I hope and pray,” said Clark’s mom, Barbara Willis, 80. “I’ve been praying every day.”

For his part, Clark says he’s moved past his rage.

“I was angry for a long time,” he said. “But I’m a man of faith now. I’ve got to forgive.”


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chicago mob boss stops paying court ordered government restitution

Chicago Outfit boss Rudy Fratto has stopped paying restitution from a federal court tax evasion conviction and the government is going after him for more than $130,000, the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

The last time Rudy "The Chin" Fratto made news, he'd just been sentenced to prison for rigging $2 million in forklift contracts for a pair of trade shows at McCormick Place. That followed a tax evasion conviction-and court ordered restitution of $141,000.

But the I-Team has learned Mr. Fratto still owes most of that. In newly filed court records, U.S. prosecutors say Fratto stopped paying his hefty bill more than a year ago.

Because of it, they say the government is "entitled to 25% of Fratto's disposable earnings for each pay period...until the debt is paid in full." Fratto claims he should only be paying 10 percent and there will be a federal court hearing on May 24.

Mr. Fratto is currently employed at a small electrical firm in Bartlett, "running pipe and wire," according to the company owner.

Such legit work may seem out of sync for someone considered prone to violence and over the years suspected by law enforcement in numerous crimes, including murder. Fratto has managed to avoid prosecution for acts of Outfit violence.

The hoodlum's jovial and engaging demeanor in public and outside court is in sharp contrast to the cut-throat position authorities say he holds in the mob. The west suburban Darien resident is an understudy of Outfit elder John "No Nose" DiFronzo, the mob's statesman of Elmwood Park, who is said to be in failing health.

Fratto has the mob in his DNA. He is the nephew of Louis "Cock-Eyed Louie" Fratto, so-named because his eyes were out of kilter. Cock-Eyed Louie, an associate of Al Capone and the Chicago Mob's emissary in Des Moines, Iowa Mob from 1930 until 1967.

Even if Fratto ponies up and starts paying his federal bill at garnishment rate he wants per week, it will take a while to whittle down what he owes. At 10 percent from his paycheck, he wouldn't pay off the debt for 25 years, at age 98.

Mr. Fratto's attorney has not responded to messages left by the I-Team. A spokesman for the United States Attorney in Chicago declined to comment on the case.


One time rising star in the Chicago mafia says he is a religious man

Michael Magnafichi, once described by authorities as a “made” member of the Chicago mob, raised Catholic, says he prays every night before bed, believes in heaven for most people.

Nearly 20 years ago, an FBI document described Magnafichi as a “rising star” in Chicago’s underworld. How would he describe himself now, at 55?

“Well, not ‘up and coming in the mob,’ that’s for sure. I describe myself as first just enjoying life, I guess. . . . I still play a lot of golf.”

“I don’t do anything illegal any more. I was basically just in the gambling business . . . Truth of it is what’s legal today was illegal yesterday. Now, there’s gambling all over the place . . . It’s a thing people are doing at their office on their breaks,” going online.

Grew up in Bensenville, went to college for two years or so, including Northern Illinois University on a partial golf scholarship.

His dad Lee Magnafichi was a mob figure of some heft, a confidante of late Chicago Outfit overlord Tony Accardo and deceased boss Jackie Cerone. He died of cancer in 1989.

“We were a very structured family, meals at home . . . very normal.”

“Wasn’t beaten . . . over the head” with religion.

“We were born and raised Catholic, went to catechism” — in other words, Sunday school — “church every Sunday . . . My father didn’t go.” But his mom often did.

“She always . . . told us that you don’t have to go anywhere to have faith. You could say your prayers. As long as you believe in God and try to do good by God, God could hear you anywhere.”

His parish growing up was St. Alexis in Bensenville, though the family also attended Holy Ghost in Wood Dale sometimes.

Magnafichi’s dad didn’t discuss it but had religious beliefs. When he got ill, a friend’s wife gave him a saint’s medallion that he kept in his wallet.

“I always thought that religiously, that if you don’t pray during the good times and only in the bad times, that God wouldn’t hear you. But that’s not necessarily true.

“I’m no religious person. I don’t go to church . . . I do say prayers, though. I pray every night before I go to bed. . . . I say an Our Father, Act of Contrition and a Hail Mary. And I pray for . . . healthiness for all my friends and family.

“I believe that God does answer your prayers in His time. You can’t say a prayer, buy a Lotto ticket, say, ‘God make me win this Lotto.’

“I believe in, I don’t want to say karma, but it seems like good things happen to good people.”

How do mobsters reconcile religious convictions with a criminal life?

“A guy one time told me that God is not concerned with the person, he’s concerned with the person’s soul. So the person could do things that maybe aren’t God’s way, but, if the soul is good, that’s what God’s concerned with. And that’s how I think a lot of guys rolled with it, dealt with it that way.”

In other words, “This is my business, but this is my life, my life I choose to lead one way, my business” is different.

“I don’t know if that’s hypocritical, I don’t know if it just works for me, but it does.

“If the soul is good, that’s what God’s concerned with.”

“My dad was away when we were young. He went away for four years.

“I’m at peace with everything I’ve done . . . I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have peace with it . . . You can call that what you want, but that’s just my way.”

Once during mass as a kid, when the basket was being passed for donations, the priest said, “I want to hear a silent collection today” — meaning just bills, no change.

“You kind of lose respect for the Church. They’re a business, too.”

He’s godfather to several friends’ kids.

He stopped regularly going to church around 13. “I was sports-minded . . . I just didn’t make time for it.”

The 10 Commandments, “I’ve broken a few.”

“I’ve gotten caught up in some things, I’ve been in jail before . . . but I believe I paid the price for that.

“My idea of heaven would just be Augusta National, being able to play that every day.”

Believes most people make it to heaven.

But “I think what these terrorists are doing, I think that’s unforgivable . . . I don’t think God has a place for these people who kill innocent people for no reason.”

“I think what these terrorists are doing, I think that’s unforgivable . . . I don’t think God has a place for these people who kill innocent people for no reason.”


Connecticut housing agency is aware of developer's past mafia links

The state Department of Housing said Friday it was aware of the link between the developer of Ponemah Mill in Taftville and a man who has pleaded guilty in an organized crime case involving union corruption when it awarded the firm with taxpayer dollars to help finance the project.
Onekey LLC Director of Operations Finbar O’Neill, husband of Onekey and Ponemah Riverbank LLC owner Paula O’Neill, pleaded guilty to New York state charges 13 years ago, and federal charges seven years ago, connected to a carpenters union corruption case. The Bulletin first reported the federal pleas, on counts of making unlawful payments to labor representatives and conspiracy to make such payments, in September 2009.
Finbar O’Neill, as an officer of Terra Firma Construction Management and General Contracting LLC, was one of 38 people indicted in 2000 as members of a criminal enterprise dubbed the Lucchese Construction Group, which engaged in labor bribery, bid rigging and “other anticompetitive schemes that systematically siphoned millions of dollars from both public and private construction projects” between 1997 and 1999, according to the New York indictment.
Groundbreaking for phase one of the Lofts at Ponemah Mills, the planned $30 million housing complex of 116 units at the massive former textile mill site along the Shetucket River, took place last May and is scheduled to continue through October. Phase two of the project will create 121 new units of mixed-income family housing.
In March 2015, state leaders announced a $14 million financing package for Ponemah Riverbank. That deal included an allotment of $6.1 million from Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties, a program of the housing department, as well as $8.25 million from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority in the form of tax-exempt bonds.
“Ponemah Riverbank LLC submitted an application in response to a competitive request for proposal,” state Department of Housing spokesman Dan Arsenault said. “Paula O’Neill is the managing member and sole owner of this company and, as such, she was the applicant for these funds.”
Arsenault said Paula O’Neill’s proposal was ranked among the highest of all the applications reviewed by the department.
“Details of her husband’s background were known during the approval process,” he said. “To be clear, Finbar O’Neill was neither the applicant, nor is he an owner, of Ponemah Riverbank LLC.”
The department has in place procedures to prevent fraud, waste and abuse of state funds, Arsenault said. These include regular written reports and on-site inspections. Requests for disbursement of funds include all relevant invoices, progress certifications and appropriate lien waivers.
Arsenault said during the application process, housing department officials had a “frank discussion” of Finbar O’Neill’s past convictions.
The legal troubles were also known by Norwich officials several years ago, former mayor and City Council President Pro Tempore Peter Nystrom said.
“I was aware of his problems back then,” he said. “That was something that was around even before I was mayor. But it was known and there didn’t seem to be a lot of concern. The state has all those checks and balances in place.”
Records show Finbar O’Neill helped deliver illegal cash payments to Michael Forde, the then head of the 25,000-member Carpenters Union District Council in New York City, according to information from the FBI. In return for the money, certain contractors would be able to pay union members below-union rates without benefits, and hire illegal immigrants and nonunion workers.
Contractors, who were required to use union labor and pay prevailing wages, instead used nonunion labor and did not pay prevailing wages. However, they billed the public agencies and private developers as if they had complied with the law.
The difference between what was billed and the contractor’s actual labor cost financed bribes to allow the use of nonunion labor and payments to organized crime officials of a “mob tax” of at least 5 percent of the contract’s value. In addition to the “mob tax” imposed on them, the contractors were also required to employ made members of the Lucchese crime family as “no show” or “no work” employees, according to the indictment.
O’Neill pleaded guilty to state charges of falsifying business records in 2004. He was placed on probation and government monitoring for five years and fined $50,000.