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

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, August 28, 2020

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

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


Underboss of the Lucchese family sentenced to life in prison

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


Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday, August 17, 2020

Man with links to Gambino family busted for loan sharking

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


Friday, August 7, 2020

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

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


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Chicago mobster requests early prison release due to coronavirus fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, July 31, 2020

Man with links to Gambino family accused of defrauding investors


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, July 27, 2020

Lucchese mobsters sentenced to life in prison for murder of Purple Gang leader

A trio of reputed New York mobsters — including one who was accused of plotting to break out of jail by losing weight — were sentenced to life in prison Monday for carrying out a Bronx hit in 2013.
A slimmed-down Christopher Londonio, Matthew Madonna and Terrence Caldwell were all given life in federal court in White Plains for the slaying of former Purple Gang leader Michael Meldish in Throggs Neck in 2013.
Madonna, the former acting boss of the Lucchese family, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy for ordering the hit over an unpaid gambling debt.
At his sentencing Monday, an elderly Madonna continued to plead his innocence.
“I am innocent. I had absolutely nothing to do with the tragic death of Michael Meldish. I conspired with no one,” he said.
Londonio, a friend of Meldish’s, was convicted of luring him out of his house and driving him to the scene of the hit, where Caldwell blasted him.
While awaiting trial for the slaying, prosecutors accused Londonio of plotting to escape the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn by losing a huge amount of weight and using braided dental floss to begin “perforating the glass” at the lockup.
The alleged crash-diet prison break plan landed Londonio on the front page of The Post with the headline “The Veal Shank Redemption,” but he was later acquitted of the escape charge.
A lawyer for Londonio previously said he intends to appeal his conviction.


Friday, July 10, 2020

New Jersey based Lucchese soldier pleads not guilty to assaulting husband of reality show star

The ex-husband of a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member and a reputed mobster have pleaded not guilty to plotting to assault the star’s current husband.
Tommy Manzo, 55, of Franklin Lakes, NJ, allegedly hired John Perna, 43, a purported soldier in the Lucchese crime family, to attack the new beau of Manza’s ex-wife, Real Housewives star Dina Manzo, in July 2015.
Both men pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges Wednesday during an arraignment hearing conducted through videoconferencing in New Jersey federal court.
Perna, of Cedar Grove, used a slap jack to beat David Cantin, the TV star’s current husband, in a strip-mall parking lot in Passaic County, the federal indictment said.
In return for the attack, Tommy Manzo allegedly gave Perna a hefty discount to throw a large wedding reception the following month at a Paterson catering hall that Tommy co-owned.
Perna threw a “lavish wedding reception at Manzo’s restaurant for a fraction of the price.” More than 330 people attended the soiree, including scores of Lucchese mobsters, prosecutors said.
Tommy Manzo, 55, and Perna, 43, both face charges for committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, as well as fraud and other charges.
Tommy and Dina were married for 11 years before their divorce was finalized in 2016.
Perna, 43, has also pleaded not guilty to beating up Cantin, who was dating Dina Manzo at the time. Cantin and Manzo later tied the knot in 2019.
He was also hit with a count of insurance fraud for falsely reporting his Mercedes Benz was destroyed in 2016 after setting it on fire with other Lucchese mobsters.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Two recently released Lucchese mobsters test positive for coronavirus during home confinement

Baldy and Boobsie got the bug.
Two convicted Lucchese mobsters who got sprung from federal jails early over fears they would catch coronavirus promptly tested positive as soon as they got into home confinement.
It’s not clear how or when Michael "Baldy Mike" Spinelli, 66, and Eugene "Boobsie" Castelle, 60, contracted the potentially deadly disease.
Castelle began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on April 16 while living at home -- roughly 17 days after a judge let him out of his federal lock up in Danbury, Conn.
An asymptomatic Spinelli -- who was supposed to be living 24/7 at his house -- tested positive on June 22, nearly two months after his May 5 release from Manhattan federal jail. Spinelli only learned he had the disease when he got swabbed before a colonoscopy.
The two ex-Lucchese crime family soldiers have now used their coronavirus-positive state to delay next steps in their criminal sentences.
Spinelli is supposed to be locked up until 2029 for his role in the brutal 1992 attempted murder of innocent mom Patricia Capozzalo — whose only crime was being the sister of a mob snitch. Spinelli, who stalked her for weeks before the hit, was the getaway driver who ferried the triggerman to the place where Capozzalo was to be murdered. Capozzalo was hit in the neck, ear and back, but somehow survived the attempt on her life.
Castelle was convicted of racketeering in 2019 for his role in helping run an illegal sports betting website for the crime family and threatening violence to collect mob debts.
Spinelli, who wants to become a yoga teacher, was released in early May by federal judge Raymond Dearie pending a resentencing in his case. He was ordered to surrender himself into federal custody later that month after his hearing, but got the date pushed back because of his positive COVID-19 test.
On Friday, his lawyer submitted papwork asking that Spinelli’s return to prison be delayed yet again.
“Certainly, it is in no one’s interest for Mr. Spinelli to bring the virus into any prison,” attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg wrote.
The judge allowed Spinelli to remain out until July 31 and ordered him two get tested every two weeks.
Castelle’s positive test caused federal prosecutors to request a delay in installing his electronic ankle monitor so he could continue to quarantine.
Hundreds of federal inmates in New York City have applied for release from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic, but only a few dozen have been let out. 


Lucchese mobster is son of former head of crime family's New Jersey operations

The alleged Mafioso accused of assaulting the husband of ex-“Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo is a real “family” guy, authorities say.
Suspect John Perna is the son of reputed former longtime Lucchese crime-family capo Ralph V. Perna, who the feds once accused of running the Mafia faction’s New Jersey operations.
Authorities got a serious glimpse into the inner workings of the alleged crime family-within-a-crime family during the massive takedown of a $2 billion-plus illegal online sports-betting operation in 2010 — and it wasn’t pretty.
Ralph V. and two of his sons — John and Joseph “Little Joe” Perna — were convicted in the scheme, which reflected the Perna criminal dynasty’s reliance on bookmaking, an investigator told the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time.
Wiretaps caught the sons once boasting about “Daddy’s” rise to the top.
Federal tapes also revealed how the sons were initiated as Lucchese soldiers at a ceremony at Joseph’s Toms River home in 2007 — with New York City reputed mob bosses Joseph “Big Joe” DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna in attendance, the paper said.
At one point, Joseph was heard griping on tape, “I made $67,000 in the last 10 days and I don’t have a dollar . . . not a dollar. . . . It goes to the house and this and that and bills.”
Both he and his brother were also caught plotting assaults on those who didn’t pay their debts, the paper said.
In 2016, Ralph V. landed an eight-year prison sentence for his role in the gambling scheme, while his sons got 10 years each, all part of plea deals, NJ.com reported at the time.
John got out of state prison in July 2019 — and was cuffed Tuesday for allegedly assaulting Manzo’s then-boyfriend and now-husband in 2015, the year before he was convicted in the gambling operation.
The feds say John Perna was hired by Manzo’s ex, Tommy Manzo — and in exchange for the assault received a steep discount for his wedding reception at Manzo’s catering hall in Paterson the next month.
Both John Perna and Manzo pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Tuesday.