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

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Son of Mob Wives star is accused of unemployment fraud


Anthony Pagan

Staten Islander Anthony Pagan, the son of “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano, stands accused of unemployment fraud.

Pagan, 27, illegally received more than $3,000 in unemployment payments from February through April of 2018 while he was working for a construction company, according to the criminal complaint.

The arrest stems from an investigation by the Economic Crimes Bureau of the District Attorney’s Office.

A review of business records of the New York State Department of Labor was part of the probe.

The complaint alleges that while Pagan “was employed and earning income from his employer, Tishman Construction Corp., the defendant certified to the New York State Department of Labor” the he was “totally unemployed and as a result received unemployment benefits issued by the New York State Department of Labor that defendant was not entitled to.”

Pagan is accused in the complaint of “utilizing the computer systems of the New York State Department of Labor to create false entries... in that defendant did fraudulently assert that defendant was totally unemployed and entitled to said benefits, when in fact the defendant was employed.”

The funds were directly deposited into a KeyBank benefits account accessed with a debit card mailed to the home address that Pagan listed on the application for unemployment benefits, the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that Pagan “did not have permission or authority to take, remove or possess said currency due to his employment status.”

Pagan has been charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and falsifying business records.

He was issued a desk appearance ticket on Monday and released on his own recognizance.

He is due to appear in Criminal Court on Nov. 23, according to public records.

“I am vigorously defending Anthony’s case,” said Dawn Florio, his defense attorney. “It is a pending case so I will not be commenting further.”

Graziano became famous for her appearances on VH1′s “Mob Wives,” which was created by her sister, executive producer Jennifer Graziano.

The show was canceled in 2015 after six seasons.

https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2021/08/son-of-mob-wives-star-accused-of-unemployment-fraud.html

Fugitive Colombo family Consigliere turns himself in to the FBI in NYC


 

Fugitive Colombo crime family consigliere turned himself in to the FBI in New York City Friday morning after his son posted - and later deleted - a picture of him sitting poolside in Florida, law enforcement sources told DailyMail.com. 

Ralph DiMatteo, 66, walked into the Brooklyn federal courthouse with his lawyer to surrender and was arraigned via teleconference on racketeering charges Thursday afternoon. 

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and will be held in jail until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for October 21.  

The alleged mobster was the only one to avoid arrest in Tuesday's sweeping federal raid targeting the leadership of the Colombo crime family. 

The alleged consigliere, or advisor to the crime boss, made national headlines after his son Angelo posted a picture of his dad - shirtless and waist-deep in a Florida pool - to his Twitter account on Wednesday and removed it by Thursday morning. 

DiMatteo's wife is pictured behind him, with her head at the edge of the pool as she relaxes and enjoys its waters.

He also tweeted a picture of a rat, suggesting the family is unhappy about snitches getting them in trouble, on Tuesday. That too has been removed. 

The indictment accuses the crime family of running a scheme involving labor union shakedowns, extortion, loansharking, drug trafficking and money laundering.

DiMatteo is accused of colluding with fellow defendants to devise a scheme to launder money from union healthcare contracts and payments.

DiMatteo is said to have done this through various channels linked to Joseph Bellantoni, who was named as a co-conspirator in the indictment, and eventually to the Colombo crime family's leaders, according to the federal indictment.

He was also accused of threatening bodily harm to control the management of the labor union that they were targeting and influencing decisions that benefitted the family. 

Reputed Colombo street boss Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo, 87, and his underboss, Benjamin "The Claw" Castellazzo, 83, were also scooped up by federal agents and New York police, along with seven other members of the Colombo crime family.

Among those charged was 75-year-old capo (captain) Vincent "Vinny Unions'"Ricciardo, who was recorded during a phone call in June threatening to kill a labor union official if he didn't play ball, according to the 19-count indictment.

The other captains, or capos, arrested include Richard Ferrara, 59, and Theodore "Skinny Teddy" Persico Jr., 58, who is the nephew of the late Colombo boss Carmine 'The Snake' Persico.

Colombo soldier Michael Uvino, 56, and associates Thomas Costa, 52, and Domenick Ricciardo, 56 - Vincent's cousin - were also booked.

'Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,' FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll said concerning the indictment. 'The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.'

'These soldiers, consiglieres, underbosses, and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don't seem to comprehend that we're going to catch them. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Task Force, and our law enforcement partners, are positioned to take them out again, and again.'

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators committed and are charged with a wide array of crimes – including extortion, loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking – on behalf of the Colombo organized crime family.

In 2019, the family sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the union's healthcare system directly to the administration of the Colombo crime family.

The Colombo family is one of five major mafia organizations in the northeastern United States. The others are the Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino and Bonanno families.

The latest indictments leave it unclear who remains to take control of the Colombo syndicate on the street.

The entire administration of the Colombo crime family, including Russo and Castellazzo, already pleaded guilty to a variety of mobster activities in 2012.

The New York mafia has been weakened by several blows in recent years, including arrests, fratricidal struggles and competition from other criminal organizations, but they are still considered active.

The reputed boss of the Gambino clan, Frank Cali, was shot and killed outside his home in the New York borough of Staten Island in March 2019.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10002561/Fugitive-Colombo-consigliere-surrenders-FBI.html

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fugitive Colombo Consigliere is on the run from the feds in Florida


 https://www.nydailynews.com/resizer/6dv8EfH0BfVDzKSGnWcNmEFgrF8=/800x668/top/cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/tronc/LD2M2IULBZFBTNPXY6CEAPMJYI.jpg

The newly-indicted consigliere of the Colombo family is getting along just swimmingly.

Fugitive mobster Ralph DiMatteo was on the run from the feds on Wednesday — and his son posted a taunting Twitter picture of his shirtless wiseguy dad waist-deep in a pool.

DiMatteo, 66, was the only member of the Colombos indicted Tuesday to evade arrest after he traveled to Florida the day before. On Tuesday, his arrest was expected imminently — but by Wednesday, he was in the wind, the feds said.

“We consider him now to be a fugitive,” said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

DiMatteo’s son, Angelo DiMatteo, updated his Twitter profile picture Wednesday to a photo of his barrel-chested father leaning back in a swimming pool with his wife lying behind him.

It’s not clear if the shot was taken before or after the indictment was filed.

Angelo also posted a rat emoji to his Twitter account on Tuesday, suggesting someone in the Colombo family gabbed to the feds.

DiMatteo senior’s attorney, Mathew Mari, was in contact with the feds about a possible surrender Tuesday, but talks fell apart, a source familiar with the matter told the Daily News.

Federal investigators captured DiMatteo speaking on government recordings about mob family business, including one where he offered a menacing job description.

“That’s what I do for a living, I get people like you and I scare them,” he explained in a recorded phone call.

DiMatteo, known as “number three” by other members of the Colombo clan in deference to his rank in the family hierarchy, was hit along with 87-year-old boss Andrew Russo on charges of racketeering, including acts of extortion and money laundering.

He was also charged with conspiracy to steal and embezzle health benefit funds, attempted health care fraud and other charges as the feds took down the family’s entire hierarchy.

His co-defendants include underboss Benjamin "The Claw" Castellazzo and four capos — including the nephew of the crime family namesake Carmine "Junior" Persico.

Feds said the wiretaps illustrated his control over lower-ranking crime family members, with DiMatteo heard summoning his underlings immediately to meetings at Russo’s home or to report to “Brooklyn” — a reference to meet at a garage in Gravesend.

DiMatteo’s rap sheet includes a 1985 conviction for conspiracy to distribute heroin and drug trafficking offenses that got him a eight-year prison sentence. In 2001, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which got him an 18 month sentence.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-colombo-family-consigliere-ralph-dimatteo-fugitive-florida-20210915-3kfxbug6cvauhm73hgy5iexvk4-story.html

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Feds take down entire Colombo family administration in sweeping indictment



A sweeping federal indictment has charged the entire leadership structure of the Colombo crime family in a scheme involving labor union shakedowns, extortion, loansharking, drug trafficking and money laundering.   

Reputed Colombo street boss Andrew "Mush" Russo, 87, and his underboss, Benjamin Castellazzo, 83, were scooped up by federal agents and New York police, along with seven other members of the Colombo crime family, a U.S. attorney spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

Russo's consigliere, Ralph DiMatteo, 66, was also charged in the indictment but remains on the run, prosecutors said. 

Among those charged was 75-year-old capo Vincent "Vinny Unions" Ricciardo, who was recorded during a phone call in June threatening to kill a labor union official if he didn't play ball, according to the 19-count indictment. 

'I'll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f***ing house,' Ricciardo says in the disturbing recording described in the indictment.

'I'm not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would f***ing shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f*** it, let me go, how long you think I'm gonna last anyway?' 

The other captains, or capos, arrested include Theodore Persico Jr., 58, - the nephew of the late Colombo boss Carmine Persico - and Richard Ferrara, 59. 

Colombo soldier Michael Uvino, 56, and associates Thomas Costa, 52, and Domenick Ricciardo, 56 - Vincent's cousin - were also booked.

The indictment against the crime family members lays out multiple schemes in a long-running campaign to infiltrate and take control of a Queens-based labor union and its affiliated health care benefit program, and to a conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with workplace safety certifications. 

Russo, Castellazzo, DiMatteo, Ferrara, Persico, Uvino, and Vincent and Domenick Ricciardo colluded with fellow defendants Erin Thompkins, 53, and Joseph Bellantoni, 39, among others, to devise a scheme to launder money from union healthcare contracts and payments through various channels linked to Bellantoni, and eventually to the Colombo crime family's leaders, according to the indictment.

'Today's charges describe a long-standing, ruthless pattern by the administration of the Colombo crime family, its captains, members and associates, of conspiring to exert control over the management of a labor union by threatening to inflict bodily harm on one of its senior officials and devising a scheme to divert and launder vendor contract funds from its health care benefit program,' Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said of the high-profile arrests.

'In addition, for their own enrichment, the defendants conspired to engage in extortionate loansharking, money laundering and fraud, as well as drug trafficking.'

'This Office and its law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling organized crime families, eliminating their corrupt influence in our communities and protecting the independence of labor unions.' 

The feds also arrested a soldier for the Bonanno family, 59-year-old John "Maniac" Ragano, who is charged with loansharking, fraud and drug-trafficking offenses. 

Ragano is accused of leading a scheme to issue fraudulent workplace safety training certifications to construction workers, according to the indictment.

Rather than provide candidates the proper training, Ragano and fellow defendant and business partner, John Glover, 62, allegedly falsified federal paperwork, indicating hundreds of workers completed mandatory safety courses that they did not actually complete - or even attend.

Instead, various defendants used Ragano's pseudo-schools to conduct meetings involving Sicilian mafia members and to store stashes of illegal drugs.

Meanwhile they generated cash using the schools in Franklin Square and Ozone Park as 'certificate mills', charging $500 a pop for construction safety training certificates without providing any training or testing, according to the indictment. 

The final defendant, Vincent Martino, 43, was charged along with Vincent Ricciardo, Ragano, Costa, and Glover with conspiracy to distribute marijuana by transporting large shipments of the drug across state lines in vehicles from New York to Florida. 

'Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,' FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll said concerning the indictment. 'The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.' 

'These soldiers, consiglieres, underbosses, and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don't seem to comprehend that we're going to catch them. Regardless of how many times they fill the void we create in their ranks, our FBI Organized Crime Task Force, and our law enforcement partners, are positioned to take them out again, and again.' 

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators committed and are charged with a wide array of crimes – including extortion, loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking – on behalf of the Colombo organized crime family.

The document asserts that Russo, Castellazzo, and DiMatteo, as well captains Persico, Ferrara and Vincent Ricciardo, initiated direct threats of bodily harm, to control the management of the labor union that they were targeting, and influenced decisions that benefitted the family. 

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Colombo captain Ricciardo and his cousin, associate Domenick Ricciardo, collected a portion of the salary of a senior union official for roughly 20 years, threatening the high-ranking official and his family with violence - and even murder - if he did not comply with the family's demands.

In 2019, the family sought to divert more than $10,000 per month from the union's healthcare system directly to the administration of the Colombo crime family. 

The suspects were taken to federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon and will appear before a judge via videoconference to face the slew of charges against them.   

Unlike the others, Vincent Ricciardo was arrested in North Carolina and will be arraigned in Charlotte, also Tuesday afternoon. 

Russo, known as 'Mush,' is a cousin of Carmine Persico, and first rose to prominence in the family when he was promoted to acting underboss in 1973. Carmine Persico, nicknamed the Snake, died in 2019.

Russo was sentenced to 14 years in state prison in November 1986, until his release in July 1994, under special parole conditions. 

He first ruled as street boss from 1996 to 1999, bringing the then-warring Colombos back from the brink after a devastating civil war, but was arrested again in 1996 by the FBI, who slapped him with racketeering charges, claiming he illegally controlled and oversaw Long Island's garbage hauling industry. 

In August 1999, Russo was convicted of jury tampering and sentenced to 57 months in prison, compounded by 123 months for both parole violation and his involvement in the racketeering case. 

After his release in 2010 at 76 years old, Russo again took over the family as street boss after his parole expired, succeeding the incarcerated Ralph DeLeo, while Persico's son, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, served as acting boss. 

In 2011, he was arrested again on racketeering charges, garnering a 33 month sentence. He resumed his role as street boss on his release in 2013. 

The Colombo family is one of five major mafia organizations in the northeastern United States. The others are the Genovese, Lucchese, Gambino and Bonanno families.

The latest indictments leave it unclear who remains to take control of the Colombo syndicate on the street. 

The entire administration of the Colombo crime family, including Russo and Castellazzo, already pleaded guilty to a variety of mobster activities in 2012. 

The New York mafia has been weakened by several blows in recent years, including arrests, fratricidal struggles and competition from other criminal organizations, but they are still considered active.

The reputed boss of the Gambino clan, Frank Cali, was shot and killed outside his home in the New York borough of Staten Island in March 2019.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9990007/Colombo-crime-boss-arrested-feds-one-famed-five-families-fraud-corruption-raid.html

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Friday, September 3, 2021

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Son of Gambino Captain claims overtime fraud at Long Island Rail Road was widespread


Frank Pizzonia's father, Dominick “Skinny Dom” Pizzonia, pictured here in 2007, is a convicted Gambino crime family captain.

It’s not fraud if everyone does it, a former LIRR worker charged with cheating the MTA out of an insane amount of overtime pay argues in a new court filing.

Frank Pizzonia is one of five Long Island Rail Road workers federal prosecutors say ran a conspiracy earning astronomical levels of overtime while not showing up for shifts. Pizzonia’s attorney Joseph Corozzo wrote in a filing late Tuesday that the allegedly crooked quintet of LIRR employees were far from the only ones raking in exorbitant OT. 

He cited interviews disclosed by federal prosecutors with an alleged co-conspirator of the overtime scheme identified in papers only as “WITNESS-1.”

“The act of being absent during one’s shift and being paid regardless was common practice at the [LIRR] and everyone that WITNESS-1 worked with did it,” according to the filing, which was partially redacted. “WITNESS-1 was told he could leave the job site as long as he was available by phone” and “was led to believe this was allowed because everyone was doing it and it was a common practice.”

The witness also said that the LIRR was aware some overtime shifts ended early but signed off on paying the entire shift, anyway. 

“Sometimes the contractors finished their work early...They were subsequently told by the Project Manager and the Union to ‘pay themselves,’” according to the filing.

Corozzo said an agreement between LIRR management, union leaders and a third party contractor allowed engineers, foremen and other track workers to leave work early while collecting overtime, provided the job got done.

“We expect the evidence to show that the third party contractors (as well as LIRR management and the union) were aware that workers would sometimes bill for full shifts if they left early, and that the LIRR management, the union and the third party contractors accepted this practice,” Corozzo wrote in the Manhattan Federal Court filing.

Pizzonia’s father is Dominick “Skinny Dom” Pizzonia — a convicted Gambino crime family capo who served as a hitman for John Gotti. The younger Pizzonia says he has nothing to do with organized crime.  

Frank Pizzonia argues some of the charges against him should be reduced or dropped because the overtime theft was commonplace and accepted by managers. One of Pizzonia’s alleged co-conspirators in the scheme, John Nugent, pleaded guilty in July.

Pizzonia, 53, claimed in 2018 to have worked 3,780 hours of overtime, which would require 10 hours of work a day on top of his regular 40-hour workweek, according to a criminal complaint. He earned $305,000 that year, making him the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 29th highest-paid employee.

The new filings also reveal that some of the allegedly bogus overtime claims came on the notoriously over-budget and behind-schedule East Side Access project, which will bring LIRR trains into a new station 150 feet beneath Grand Central Terminal.

A search warrant shows Pizzonia filed an eight-hour shift to work on the East Side Access project at the Harold Interlocking in Queens on June 21, 2018 — an aspect of the boondoggle that MTA officials have cited as a key source of delays. Pizzonia never showed up for the shift, but instead made 28 calls on his cellphone from his Howard Beach home, authorities say.

 https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-lirr-overtime-fraud-frank-pizzonia-mta-east-side-access-20210825-vipmgejeprhtbo5vdaijhvc7ga-story.html

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Union and political influencer who was also a Gambino captain dead at 87


 https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/08/1581642.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=1024

Anthony Scotto — a former union leader, Big Apple political kingmaker and reputed mob boss — has died at 87, his daughter announced Sunday.

“We are broken hearted to share the passing of Anthony M Scotto 87 years, beloved husband of Marion Scotto and father of Rosanna, Anthony jr, John, and Elaina, and grandfather to Jenna, Louis, Anthony, Gabriella, Danny, Julia, Bianca and Andrew,” wrote Fox 5 host Rosanna Scotto in an Instagram post, without elaborating on his cause of death.

A native of Brooklyn, Anthony Scotto began working on the Brooklyn waterfront at age 16 and went on to become the union leader of the International Longshoremen Association Local 1814, the post read.

He studied at St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn and focused on pre-law and political science at Brooklyn College. He taught labor relations at Harvard University.

Rosanna Scotto noted that several major politicians, including former Gov. Mario Cuomo and former President Jimmy Carter, vied for her father’s endorsement.

Anthony Scotto, Roseanna Scotto, Elaina Scotto and Marion Scotto.
Anthony Scotto with his daughters Roseanna and Elaina, and his wife Marion.

“He enjoyed golfing with his friends, loved a good cigar, and relished making Sunday Sauce with his family,” her tribute concluded. “He was loved by everyone and will be missed dearly.”

While head of the longshoremen union, the Justice Department in 1969 outed Anthony Scotto as a member of the Gambino crime family, according to newspaper reports at the time. He served as a captain in the mob, according to contemporary reports.

In 1980, Scotto was sentenced to five years in federal prison and fined $75,000 for racketeering and income tax fraud, despite maintaining his innocence. Prominent politicians reportedly vouched for his character ahead of his sentencing, which reportedly impressed the judge on his case.

Fresco by Scotto.
The Scotto family owns Fresco by Scotto on East 52nd Street in Manhattan.

He served about three years in two different prisons and was released in October 1984, the Associated Press reported at the time.

The Scotto family owns Fresco by Scotto on East 52nd Street, which recently reopened with a redesign after being shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

https://nypost.com/2021/08/22/anthony-scotto-former-mob-boss-and-union-leader-dies/amp/

Friday, August 20, 2021

Underworld in disbelief as news of legendary Colombo family Boss being a rat runs rampant


Front page of the New York Daily News on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.

A mob war of words erupted Friday over court documents identifying infamous Colombo family boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico as a federal “top echelon informant.”

Lawyers for Persico blasted the charge leveled in a court filing Wednesday seeking compassionate prison release for one-time acting Colombo boss Victor “Little Vic” Orena.

“This story is BULL----!” tweeted defense attorney Matthew Mari. “Calling Carmine Persico a rat is like calling George Washington a British spy! Junior was a great client, man, and friend. The government railroaded him and he fought back like a MAN!”

David Schoen, representing Orena, delivered the bombshell Brooklyn Federal Court filing — including a 1971 law enforcement document identifying Persico as a member of the FBI’s “Top Echelon Informant Program.” The 50-year-old paperwork was revealed through a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed against the Justice Department.

Schoen said he hesitated to go public with the charge until doing some digging to verify the shocking story.

Carmine Persico, late boss of the Colombo crime family.
Carmine Persico, late boss of the Colombo crime family.

“Independently of this document, two lawyers who represented Mr. Persico in the past have said that they had solid reason to believe that this information is accurate, as did another cooperating witness who gave examples that he believed proved the point,” Schoen wrote in a Friday email to defense lawyer Anthony DiPietro. “I would never have filed such a document without having taken these steps.”

In another email, Schoen said he heard from a former Colombo associate declaring “the assertion is 100% right.” The mobster was a cooperating witness who testified against two of Schoen’s clients.

DiPietro, who fought unsuccessfully to win Persico parole before the mobster’s March 2019 death, dismissed the charge as ridiculous after The News published the exclusive scoop.

“Having served as Carmine’s lawyer and being his friend, I am very upset by this allegation,” said DiPietro. “What I know for fact is that this allegation is completely false and the 50-year-old document cited by Orena’s lawyer provides no support for this bogus claim. We fought the government until his last dying day and there wasn’t even a thought of cooperation.”

The revelation came as Schoen argued for the ailing, 87-year-old Orena’s early release from federal custody. Orena is battling senility, and Schoen argued that Persico’s cooperation was another factor in favor of turning the elderly mafioso loose.

The Colombo family famously went to war with itself between 1991-93, with factions loyal to Persico and Orena battling as 10 people were killed — including an innocent teen slain at a Bay Ridge bagel store during the bloody battle.

Schoen alleged Orena’s racketeering conviction and life sentence were the result of FBI misconduct. Orena has long argued that Colombo turncoat Greg “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa and his FBI handler Lindley DeVecchio instigated the mob war.

David J. Garrow, the author of a book on the FBI’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr., messaged the lawyers that the document indicated Persico and a handful of other gangsters were the targets of informants, rather than cooperators.

But Schoen remained adamant that he’d considered all these possibilities and ran them by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General during an in-person meeting.

Colombo crime family boss Carmine “the Snake” Persico's name in documents naming four turncoat mobsters.
Colombo crime family boss Carmine “the Snake” Persico's name in documents naming four turncoat mobsters. 

“I met with the DOJ inspector General and two FBI agents. ... All agreed that the document reflected exactly what it has been represented to reflect,” he said. “I avoided filing this document for quite some time because of the seriousness of it and the implications.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-persico-informant-arguments-20210820-honciwioq5ggdo2nxdqyx44c5e-story.html#nt=pf-single%20chain~new-right1-chain~flex%20feature~curated~snake-5p~HONCIWIOQ5GGDO2NXDQYX44C5E~1~1~5~6~art%20yes

New documents reveal that notorious Colombo family Boss Carmine Persico was a Top Echelon informant


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The Snake was a rat.

Colombo crime family boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico was a “Top Echelon Informant” for the feds, shocking new court papers reveal, adding a posthumous twist to the tale of an infamous gangster known for his ruthlessness and street smarts.

The revelation, which likely has implications for numerous Brooklyn mob cases, is contained in a government document from November 1971 listing members of a “Top Echelon Informant Program.” Persico’s name appears among those of four turncoat members of the Colombo family.

“I think it changes the entire dynamic of how this so-called Colombo war has been sold,” said attorney David Schoen, who submitted the document Wednesday in a Brooklyn Federal Court filing.

“I never wanted to disclose this document. I think it potentially puts people in danger.”

Ten people died in the city’s last major gang war, including an innocent teen killed at a Bay Ridge bagel store, as the Colombo factions battled between 1991-93.

The list emerged through a Freedom of Information lawsuit that pried confidential documents from the Justice Department. Schoen represents onetime acting Colombo boss Victor “Little Vic” Orena, who is 87 years old, senile and seeking compassionate release from prison. Schoen cited the stunning revelation as another reason to release the octogenarian gangster serving a life sentence, alleging his racketeering conviction was the result of FBI misconduct.

“There is no truth to this allegation and the supporting record is substantively worthless. Having served as Carmine’s lawyer, I can attest that he was not an informant nor did he provide information to the Government. Until this day, Carmine remains a giant among men, and I was honored to represent him in the many contentious legal battles he fought against the Government,” attorney Anthony DiPietro said.

In the popular narrative, Orena challenged Persico’s position atop the Colombo family around the early 1990s and sparked one of the bloodiest wars in mob history.

Colombo crime family boss Carmine “the Snake” Persico was a “Top Echelon Informant” for the feds, shocking new court papers reveal, adding a posthumous twist to the legendary gangster known for his ruthlessness and smarts.
Colombo crime family boss Carmine “the Snake” Persico was a “Top Echelon Informant” for the feds, shocking new court papers reveal, adding a posthumous twist to the legendary gangster known for his ruthlessness and smarts.

But Orena has long argued that Colombo turncoat Gregory Scarpa Jr. and his FBI handler, Lindley DeVecchio, set him up, fomenting the war with Persico.

“The ‘official boss’ of the Colombo family, on whose side Scarpa and DeVecchio were working, Carmine Persico, was himself, since decades earlier, in the government’s employ as a member of its ‘Top Echelon Informant Program,’” wrote Schoen.

“This explains a great many events, both directly related to Mr. Orena’s case and otherwise.”

Victor Orena in handcuffs leaves 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan in 2006.
Victor Orena in handcuffs leaves 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan in 2006.

DeVecchio’s messy relationship with mob snitches has been cited by gangsters in court since the 1990s.

Schoen said that Persico’s cooperation made the Colombo “war” more of a one-sided “attack.”

“It seems like perhaps it was being orchestrated from the top,” Schoen said.

DeVecchio was even indicted by the Brooklyn District Attorney for helping Scarpa kill four people in the 1980s and 1990s, but the case fell apart and was dismissed.

The feds have acknowledged that Scarpa “lied” and “misrepresented” his involvement in murders during the Colombo civil war while also feeding them information.

Schoen said the Persico paperwork was such a game changer that he made an appointment with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and other federal agents to confirm the documents were legit.

“They did not indicate they had any reason to believe it was anything other than what it purported to be or that any information reflected on it is inaccurate,” Schoen wrote.

Carmine Persico, boss of the Colombo Crime Family, poses for a portrait Sept. 15, 1986 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.
Carmine Persico, boss of the Colombo Crime Family, poses for a portrait Sept. 15, 1986 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.

Schoen acknowledged that the “top echelon informant” document left many questions unanswered. Persico does not seem to have benefited from his cooperation ― he died in prison in 2019 at age 85 while serving a 139-year sentence. Schoen noted that Persico’s son, however, had secured a plea deal recommending a sentence of around three years in 2017 despite a judge concluding that he participated in a murder.

The elder Persico took over the Colombo family after the 1971 shooting of boss Joe Colombo. He maintained control over the family despite frequent stints in prison, making millions through labor racketeering, gambling, loan sharking and drug trafficking around New York.

He was famously charged along with the heads of the other four crime families in the “Commission” prosecution led by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Persico’s response was to propose putting out a contract on Giuliani’s life, though the other families disagreed.

Persico received a 39-year term in the first case. In the second, where he acted as his own attorney, Persico was hit with a 100-year term — ensuring his death behind bars.

Manhattan Federal Judge John Keenan described Persico as “one of the most intelligent people I have ever seen in my life” for his performance as a lawyer.

Persico’s attorney DiPietro said the Commission case was based on “false information” provided by Scarpa.

“This is ridiculous on its face. If this were the truth, Carmine Persico would have won compassionate release and not have died in prison like a dog,” DiPietro said.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-carmine-persico-the-snake-federal-informant-20210820-anhp4c4z2baxznj6dslyyropxa-story.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Florida parole board denies release for notorious Boston gangster linked to Whitey Bulger in prison for 10 murders in three states


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Notorious Boston gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who is serving life sentences for 10 murders in three states, had his request for parole denied on Wednesday.

During a telephone hearing, the Florida Commission on Offender Review denied the 87-year-old’s request, telling him that he could reapply for parole in seven years. Flemmi cited health concerns in his bid for release.

Flemmi, whose is being housed at an undisclosed federal prison, is serving sentences for murders in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Florida.

Flemmi was a close partner of James “Whitey” Bulger, the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, which terrorized Bostonians for decades. 

Flemmi’s daughter, Jeanette Benedetti, urged the commission to release her father because she believes he is a changed man.

“His change has been overwhelming,” Benedetti said. “He’s gone into to detail with me with how remorseful he is.”

Stephen Davis, whose 26-year-old sister, Debra, was killed by Flemmi, spoke about the dangers he would pose to the public if he were to be released.

“If this man is released in the public again, it would be horrific,” Davis said. “The guy is like a Charles Manson…This guy doesn’t even deserve to be breathing.”

Flemmi testified against Bulger during his 2013 trial.

https://whdh.com/news/notorious-boston-gangster-stephen-the-rifleman-flemmi-denied-parole-in-florida/

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Feds say no way to Lucchese soldier's request to accept plea deal he snubbed


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Prosecutors and defense lawyers rarely agree.

Except this one time in the case of reputed mobster Eugene "Boobsie" Castelle.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors have petitioned a judge to deny the imprisoned Lucchese family soldier’s request to accept a plea deal he refused two years ago.

Echoing the court filings of Castelle’s lawyer, Gerald J. McMahon, prosecutors contend Castelle went to trial of his own accord and not due to bad advice from the attorney.

In 2019, the Staten Island resident was convicted in Manhattan federal court of racketeering conspiracy and running an illegal gambling business.

The 61-year-old defendant is serving a 77-month sentence. His anticipated release date is in September 2025. Public records indicate he lives in Annadale.

In a prior pro-se filing with the court, Castelle said he would have accepted prosecutors’ offer of eight to 14 months behind bars had McMahon accurately advised him of what his likely sentence would be if convicted.

Castelle alleges McMahon underestimated those numbers.

Prosecutors say no cigar.

“The record conclusively demonstrates that Castelle would not have accepted the plea offer even if trial counsel’s sentencing-guidelines predictions had been different, and the court should discount Castelle’s conclusory and self-serving assertion to the contrary as belied by the record,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob R. Fiddelman.

In May, Castelle asked the judge to give him a second chance and let him take the plea deal he previously snubbed.

Castelle said McMahon told him before trial he faced 33 to 41 months behind bars if found guilty of the gambling and racketeering counts and acquitted of attempted extortion.

As it turned out, Castelle was convicted of gambling and racketeering and beat the extortion charge.

However, Manhattan federal court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein determined the sentencing guidelines to be higher than McMahon’s estimates. Hellerstein calculated them at 51-63 months in prison.

Yet at Castelle’s sentencing, Hellerstein went even higher.

He hit the defendant with 77 months, which is 14 months above his own interpretation of the guidelines’ maximum.

Judges are not bound by the guidelines in imposing sentence.

Castelle contends McMahon failed to do his homework in estimating the guidelines range.

“Pointedly, had counsel accurately advised movant, he would have accepted the government’s 8-to-14-month plea offer,” wrote Castelle.

ATTORNEY RESPONSE

In a reply to the court last month, McMahon shot back that “Castelle’s assertions are factually incorrect.”

“Whether the post-trial guidelines were 33-41 months, 51-63 months, or some different numbers entirely, the fact is that Castelle wanted a trial, regardless,” McMahon wrote. “Having just triumphed (with the undersigned as counsel) in a racketeering case in Brooklyn Supreme Court, which included among other charges the gambling case with co-defendant Anthony Greco, Castelle wanted a dismissal or trial in SDNY (Southern District of New York – Manhattan federal court).”

In support, McMahon pointed to his remarks to the court as contained in an excerpt from Castelle’s sentencing transcript.

“My client wanted the trial. Notwithstanding what his attorney recommended, my client wanted a trial, and he got a trial,” the transcript quoted McMahon as saying.

In fact, the lawyer said he had “strongly recommended” that Castelle accept prosecutors’ 8-to-14-months plea offer.

McMahon said he emphasized to Castelle he could only estimate the guideline range.

Moreover, he said he told the defendant prosecutors would likely seek a higher sentence, and the court could put him behind bars for up to 20 years.

PROSECUTORS: HE MAINTAINED INNOCENCE

Prosecutors said McMahon’s account is accurate.

“The record makes clear that counsel was merely making a prediction or estimate and had appropriately caveated the estimate,” wrote Fiddelman. “Counsel affirmatively advised Castelle that the government would likely argue for a higher range or an above-guidelines sentence. Counsel also affirmatively advised Castelle that regardless of his guidelines estimate, the court could sentence Castelle to anything within the statutory range.”

Castelle’s comments at his sentencing show he would not have accepted the plea offer “under any circumstances,” Fiddelman said.

Castelle maintained his innocence then, saying that’s the reason he decided to go to trial, wrote Fiddelman.

“Because the record conclusively demonstrates that there is no reasonable probability that Castelle would have accepted the plea offer had trial counsel’s guidelines estimations been slightly different, his self-serving assertions to the contrary should be discounted,” Fiddelman said.

Castelle has until late August to respond to prosecutors’ opposition motion.

No date has been set for a ruling.

https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2021/08/reputed-mobster-boobsies-bid-to-exit-prison-is-self-serving-feds-say-want-request-tossed.html

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Former priest turned NYC councilman and brother of late legendary Genovese family boss accused of child sex abuse



Louis Gigante, a former priest turned New York City councilman who is credited for rebuilding the Hunts Point section of the Bronx in the 1980s, is being accused of sexually abusing a minor while at St. Athanasius Church in Longwood, according to recent court filings.

According to documents filed with the Bronx County clerk on May 25, an unnamed “John Doe” alleges that Gigante sexually assaulted him from 1976-1977 when he was a nine-year-old attending Gigante’s bible study at St. Athanasius Church.

The man, estimated to be 50 years old, alleges that during that time Gigante forced him to perform oral sex during bible study sessions.

“The Archdiocese knew or should have known that Father Gigante was sexually abusing children and/or had the propensity to do so,” the claim reads. “The defendants Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church knew or should have known of the abuse that Mr. Doe and other young children were suffering at the hands of their clergy.”

St. Athanasius Church officials declined to comment on “a pending legal matter” and attempts by the Bronx Times to reach Gigante for comment about the allegations were unsuccessful.

Gigante is one of 177 names recently unveiled in a wave of lawsuits against parishioners and officials connected to the Archdiocese of New York via the state’s 2019 Child Victims Act, which granted a one-year window for child sexual abuse survivors to file court cases that had already been time-barred or expired.

Having already been extended twice, the act’s latest timeline extension expires on Aug. 14.

In the most recent legislative session, state lawmakers had discussed the Adult Survivors Act, which creates a similar look-back window similar to the Child Victims Act, but for those who were sexually abused as adults and are time-barred from filing civil suits.

In a statement to the Bronx Times on Wednesday, NYC-based law firm Curis Law, who is representing the unnamed plaintiff, is hoping future legislation can continue to remove the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse.

“We commend all child sexual abuse survivors coming forward and seeking justice,” the statement reads. “It is unfortunate that the August 14, 2021 deadline will soon come to an end and look to New York State to implement new legislation to remove time restrictions as the trauma and suffering for these survivors is everlasting.”

Gigante was the parish priest of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was a teenager, which is documented in her memoir “My Beloved World.”

Gigante is more widely known, however, for his work in economic and community development in the South Bronx and his involvement in NYC politics.

Gigante founded the Southeast Bronx Community Organization (SEBCO) and Simpson Street Development Association in 1968 and 1969, respectively. In 1971, Gigante, while still a priest, founded the Bruckner Democratic Club and then was a two-term Bronx city councilman after being elected in 1973.

He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1980, however Gigante’s fingerprints are all over the Hunts Points section of the Bronx.

In the ’80s, the non-profit housing group SEBCO developed al­most 2,000 new or renovated housing units for low-income families in the Hunts Points area, which was considered downtrodden by national pundits and media.

However, a four-month investigation by The Village Voice in 2007 revealed that Gigante and his publicly financed South Bronx developments were $50 million investments that benefitted companies owned by or affiliated with top-ranking members of the Genovese organized crime family.

Between 1978 and 2004, SEBCO registered 18 businesses, including six nonprofit organizations and 12 for-profit companies. Gigante is listed as CEO of five of the corporations and a chairperson of the majority of the nonprofit organizations.

In July 2017, Gigante was honored for “rebuilding major stretches of the South Bronx” by elected officials at a Family Day celebration in front of his former church at St. Athanasius.

The law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, a firm advocating for survivors of sexual abuse, says more than 1,700 alleged perpetrators are tied to the Catholic Diocese in New York.

Approximately 962 lawsuits have already been filed under the state’s Child Victims Act involving the Archdiocese of New York.

“Many times when a survivor comes forward with allegations against an alleged perpetrator, more survivors are often out there and may come forward,” said a representative from Anderson & Associates PA, a firm advocating for survivors of sexual abuse. “Unfortunately, so many survivors feel alone and when they see another survivor from the same location of abuse, or abused by the same alleged perpetrator, it can inspire those survivors to come forward and seek legal justice.”

https://www.bxtimes.com/ex-nyc-councilman-sebco-founder-accused-of-child-sex-abuse/

Monday, July 19, 2021

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

New book covers the latest FBI infiltration of the New Jersey based DeCavalcante crime family


 Amazon.com: Giovanni's Ring: My Life Inside the Real Sopranos eBook: Rocco,  Giovanni, Schofield, Douglas: Kindle Store

“Giovanni’s Ring: My Life Inside the Real Sopranos,” written by Giovanni Rocco with Douglas Schofield, covers the true story of a former FBI undercover operative and his successful infiltration of the DeCavalcante Cosa Nostra crime family.

Rocco was a New Jersey police officer assigned to an FBI task force that focused on nailing Charlie Stango, one of the DeCavalcante family’s top captains. For two and a half years, Rocco penetrated the mob using the undercover name Giovanni Gatto. His undercover life ended in 2015 with the arrest of Stango and nine other mobsters. 

I reached out to Rocco and asked him if the real New Jersey mobsters he encountered were anything like the TV gangsters “The Sopranos,” which was based reportedly on the DeCavalcante crime family.  

“Inside the real world of the mafia, there are no ‘second takes or re-dos’ like on TV,” Rocco replied. “If you do not get it right the first time, there may not be another tomorrow for you. But I think the ‘Sopranos’ TV series depicted a genuine look into the life of the Italian American mafia and had several similarities to the DeCavalcante crime family.

“The DeCavalcante crime family is one of the oldest Italian American crime families in the United States based out of North Jersey,” Rocco explained. “Because of the close proximity to New York City, they can be overshadowed by New York’s traditional five families, but that doesn’t mean they do not hold their own among the other families. They are a very close-knit organization with old school Cosa Nostra beliefs with a strong propensity for violence. Their reputation as such is the reason the other families respect and have been known to contract out work to them, such as extortions, murders, and other rackets.”

Rocco said Stango and Luigi Oliveri, two of his targets, were committed to life inside the DeCavalcante family.

“They are two generations of the crime family who both grew up in Elizabeth, N.J. They both value the old-school mafia beliefs and live by the code of Omerta. Oliveri and other defendants in the case were sentenced and served time, and Stango is currently serving his 10-year sentence in federal prison.”  

Rocco began his law enforcement career in 1990 as a patrolman. He later worked as a detective in a Vice/Gambling Unit investigating organized crime and then worked in a narcotics and major case unit. 

“I was then deputized as a special U.S. federal marshal and assigned to a DEA task force to investigate narcotics violations and trafficking organizations within the U.S. and internationally,” Rocco said. “Eventually, I joined the FBI task force and trained to be a certified FBI undercover employee.” 

I asked Rocco if his undercover work brought him in contact with the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family. 

“Because Stango was my capo and I reported directly to him and spoke on his behalf, I was exposed to individuals within all the major crime families. On occasion, I met with or was introduced to members of the Philly/South Jersey crime family,” Rocco recalled.  

Rocco said he participated in the investigation of Nicky Scarfo Jr. and Salvatore Pelullo in a financial fraud scheme that netted millions of dollars illegally. Pellullo and Scarfo, whose father, Nicky Scarfo Sr., was the former mob boss of Philadelphia, were sentenced to 30 years in prison for racketeering, securities and wire fraud, and other charges related to the 2007 illegal takeover of FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. 

“I was also part of the investigation surrounding the witness cooperation of Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli, who had wired up against significant Philly crime figures such as Joe Merlino, Joe Ligambi, Anthony Staino and others before Stefanelli ultimately murdered another witness and took his own life rather than going into the witness protection program,” Rocco said.  

I asked Rocco if there was a time he was concerned about his life while undercover.

“I was concerned for my life every single day I lived the life inside the mafia,” Rocco said. “I knew that Stango had prior convictions for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The stress of being discovered as an infiltrator, crossing the wrong person, or worst, being accused of being an informant or rat, was constant.”

I asked Rocco what he thought of Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia is a city rich with history, culture and a feeling of constant growth. Its residents are dedicated, hard-working and passionate,” Rocco said. “It is a city with many similarities to the neighborhoods I remember growing up in the Hudson County area of N.J. Their pride in the city and the close-knit feeling the residents still have in their neighborhoods may contribute to making Philadelphia stand out as the great city.”

https://philadelphiaweekly.com/the-real-sopranos/

Lucchese family soldier Boobsie again tries to get out of prison


Reputed mobster wants out of prison. Says he nixed plea deal on lawyer’s bum advice.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That old maxim appears to be the mantra of a reputed mobster who is taking another stab at an early release from prison, despite his prior failures.

Alleged Lucchese crime family member Eugene "Boobsie" Castelle, 61, has asked a federal judge to let him take a plea deal which he previously refused.

The Staten Island resident contends, in a pro-se motion, he was led astray by his lawyer.

The defendant, who is serving a 77-month sentence after being convicted at trial of running an illegal gambling business and racketeering conspiracy, had rejected the government’s offer of eight to 14 months behind bars prior to his trial two years ago.

Castelle maintains he nixed that deal because his attorney, Gerald J. McMahon, had miscalculated his likely sentence if he was convicted at trial.

McMahon told him he faced 33 to 41 months behind bars if found guilty of those charges, said Castelle, who public records indicate lives in Annadale.

However, Manhattan federal court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein determined the sentencing guidelines to be 51-63 months in prison.

As it turned out, Hellerstein hit Castelle with 77 months, which is 14 months above his own interpretation of the guidelines’ maximum.

Judges are not bound by the guidelines in imposing sentence.

Castelle contends McMahon failed to do his homework in estimating the guidelines range.

“Pointedly, had counsel accurately advised movant, he would have accepted the government’s 8-to-14-month plea offer,” wrote Castelle.

As it stands, Castelle’s anticipated release date is in September 2025.

Ordered by the judge to respond within 30 days, McMahon didn’t waste any time.

Or mince words.

“Castelle’s assertions are factually incorrect,” McMahon wrote the court. “Whether the post-trial guidelines were 33-41 months, 51-63 months, or some different numbers entirely, the fact is that Castelle wanted a trial, regardless.”

“Having just triumphed (with the undersigned as counsel) in a racketeering case in Brooklyn Supreme Court, which included among other charges the gambling case with co-defendant Anthony Greco, Castelle wanted a dismissal or trial in SDNY (Southern District of New York – Manhattan federal court),” McMahon wrote.

In support, McMahon pointed to an excerpt from Castelle’s sentencing transcript, which the defendant included in his motion.

“My client wanted the trial. Notwithstanding what his attorney recommended, my client wanted a trial, and he got a trial,” the transcript quoted McMahon as saying.

In fact, the lawyer said he had “strongly recommended” that Castelle accept prosecutors’ 8-to-14-months plea offer.

McMahon said he emphasized to Castelle he could only estimate the guideline range.

Moreover, he said he told the defendant prosecutors would likely seek a higher sentence, and the court could put him behind bars for up to 20 years.

The lawyer even took a shot at the judge.

Hellerstein increased the sentencing range after finding that Castelle had extorted Greco, his gambling partner and former state court defendant, wrote McMahon.

But no jury found that Castelle extorted Greco, McMahon said. And Manhattan federal prosecutors never charged Castelle with extorting Greco, he said.

“It certainly was not unreasonable or ‘wrong’ for counsel not to anticipate such an unwarranted — indeed, made-up — enhancement,” wrote McMahon.

Prosecutors must respond to Castelle’s motion by Aug. 8, after which the defendant has 30 days to reply.

No date has been set for a ruling.

PRIOR ATTEMPTS

Castelle has been down this road before.

A federal appeals court previously denied his motion to overturn his conviction and sentence.

In addition to 77 months behind bars, Castelle was sentenced in June 2019 to three years’ supervised release, fined $100,000 and ordered to forfeit nearly $189,000 in criminal proceeds.

In March, Hellerstein, the Manhattan federal court judge, denied Castelle’s bid for early release due to COVID-19 concerns.

Hellerstein cited Castelle’s 2019 sentencing in which the defendant “refused to acknowledge any responsibility for his conduct, denied his guilt and expressed no remorse for his crimes.”

Castelle, he said, had “immediate(ly)” returned to the Lucchese family and a life of crime despite serving a prior 88-month sentence for racketeering conspiracy.

https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2021/06/reputed-mobster-boobsie-is-trying-again-to-get-out-of-prison-this-time-hes-blaming-lawyer-advice.html

Friday, June 18, 2021

Whitey Bulger's infamous FBI handler getting released from Florida prison due to cancer


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A Florida prison review panel on Wednesday voted to release on medical grounds a former FBI agent diagnosed with cancer who was serving a 40-year murder sentence for helping Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger carry out a 1982 hit on a businessman.

John Connolly, Bulger’s handler within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had served nearly 20 years of his sentence following his 2008 second-degree murder conviction in Florida over the death of businessman John Callahan.

The Florida Commission on Offender Review voted 2-1 to release Connolly, 80, after hearing he had cancer and a prognosis of less than one year to live. He must remain confined in an approved residence or hospice.

Bulger, who led the Winter Hill Gang, lived a double life as one of Boston’s most notorious mobsters and as a secret FBI informant before going on the run for 16 years after Connolly tipped him that his arrest was imminent.

Bulger was convicted in 2013 of 11 murders, among other charges, and was serving a life sentence when the 89-year-old was killed in prison in 2018.

Bulger’s trial revealed his corrupt relationship with federal law enforcement officials, who turned a blind eye to the Irish-American gangster’s crimes in exchange for information they could use against the Italian-American Mafia.

Connolly and Bulger both grew up in South Boston. After being assigned to the FBI’s organized crime division in Boston, Connolly recruited Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi in the 1970s to work as informants.

Prosecutors said Connolly warned Bulger and Flemmi that the FBI was seeking to question Callahan, the president of sports betting operation World Jai-Alai, about another mob slaying, prompting them to arrange for a hitman to kill him.

Connolly has long proclaimed his innocence. “John was nowhere near the scene of the crime,” James McDonald, his attorney, told the commission.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-florida-crime-fbi-bulger/whitey-bulgers-fbi-handler-to-be-released-from-prison-due-to-cancer-idUSKBN2AH2AE

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Imprisoned longtime Gambino mobster hopes letter from Sammy the Bull will clear him of murder and overturn his life sentence


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An octogenarian mob bigwig is pinning his hopes on an affidavit from notorious Mafia turncoat and one-time Graniteville resident Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano in a longshot bid to be sprung from prison.

One-time Gambino crime family underboss and acting consigliere Frank "Frankie Loc" LoCascio is serving a life sentence in the 1990 murder of wiseguy Louis DiBono.

DiBono was killed on the order of Gambino chief John Gotti for not reporting to meetings with the “Dapper Don” as told.

LoCascio maintains he had nothing to do with DiBono’s slaying, and that Gravano’s affidavit backs him up.

Gotti and LoCascio, now in his late 80s, were convicted at trial in Brooklyn federal court in 1992. Gotti died behind bars nearly two decades ago.

But LoCascio, who has been locked up for almost 30 years, recently got a ray of hope.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has agreed to consider whether the octogenarian is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to determine if he was wrongfully convicted.

Despite Gravano’s affidavit, a Brooklyn federal court judge had denied LoCascio’s motion for a hearing late last year.

“We are pleased the Second Circuit recognized that there are substantial issues in Mr. LoCascio’s case,” said his lawyer William W. Fick of the Boston-based firm, Fick & Marx. “We look forward to proceeding with the appeal and eventually convening a hearing where Mr. Gravano can testify.”

No date has been set.

A spokesman for Brooklyn federal prosecutors declined comment.

Gravano, whose testimony helped bring Gotti down, signed the affidavit in November 2018.

In it, he says he was never asked at trial whether LoCascio agreed with the decision to kill DiBono. Nor was he asked if LoCascio approved of the hit.

“Frank had no role in the planning of, nor did he participate in any way in the murder or conspiracy to murder Louis DiBono,” wrote Gravano. “… LoCascio’s role as a member of the administration did not require him to agree with the ‘boss’ in every situation. Clearly, Gotti, as the boss of the family, had the sole authority to make the decision to kill DiBono.”

In support, Gravano pointed to a Dec. 12, 1989 wiretapped conversation between LoCascio and Gotti.

LoCascio tried to calm Gotti down after the chief said he had decided to kill DiBono for disobeying him, Gravano said.

In fact, LoCascio predicted the victim would bring the boss $50,000 to amend things, according to Gravano.

“This conversation shows that Frank tried to save DiBono’s life, and he did not agree with nor approve the decision to kill DiBono,” Gravano wrote.

Shortly after that discussion, Gotti told Gravano he “strongly resented” LoCascio’s suggestion that he take the cash and spare DiBono’s life, said Gravano.

Gotti was so peeved he promoted Gravano to official underboss and demoted LoCascio to acting consigliere, Gravano wrote.

“Viewed in light of all the evidence, this declaration proves LoCascio innocent of the DiBono murder,” LoCascio’s lawyers wrote in their Appeals Court motion. “Gravano’s testimony that LoCascio played no role in the murder, did not want DiBono to be killed, made his view clear to Gotti, and did so at the expense of his own role in the organization, was likely to convince the jury that LoCascio was not involved in, and not guilty of, the murder.”

In previously denying LoCascio’s motion last November, Brooklyn federal court Judge I. Leo Glasser questioned the validity of Gravano’s statements.

Gravano, he noted, was not present during the intercepted conversation between Gotti and LoCascio.

Yet Gravano interpreted the meaning of LoCascio’s words without having heard his tone of voice or seeing his face, said the judge. Nor had he discussed the conversation with LoCascio.

“It is, remarkably, the reading of his mind or divine enlightenment some 30 years later, that ‘shows’ him what his words meant,” wrote Glasser.

“Frank LoCascio was not trying to save the life of Louie DiBono. He predicted that DiBono would try to save his own,” the judge said. “Throughout the (trial) transcript, one becomes aware that going against, disobeying, or disagreeing with Gotti is fraught with danger, and Gravano and LoCascio knew it.”

LoCascio’s “utter silence” on Gotti’s “stark pronouncement” to murder DiBono “bespeaks a wordless assent,” opined Glasser.

https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2021/06/mob-bigwig-hopes-letter-from-sammy-the-bull-will-clear-him-of-1990-murder-life-sentence.html