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

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Son of deceased Genovese boss Chin Gigante sentenced to 2 years in prison

Vinny “The Chin” Gigante’s love child, who is a reputed high-level wiseguy in the Genovese crime family, was handed a two-year prison sentence on Friday for what prosecutors described as a 16-year shakedown of a union official.
The sentence for Vincent Esposito, the 51-year-old son of Gigante and the boss’ longtime mistress Olympia Esposito, was on the low end of a stipulated sentencing range worked out as part of Esposito’s plea agreement.
Prosecutors had agreed to push for no more than 30 months on the racketeering conspiracy charge.
Esposito admitted to extorting annual payments from a United Food and Commercial Workers official from 2001 to 2017. When he was arrested in 2018, authorities raided his $12 million Upper East Side townhouse and found $3.8 million in cash, two unlicensed guns, brass knuckles and a​n actual​ list of made guys in La Cosa Nostra.
Esposito’s father, the former head of the Genovese family, was also known as “The Oddfather” for putting on an act in which he would shuffle around Greenwich Village in a bathrobe and slippers to help with his claims that he was legally insane — a ruse that fell flat in 1997 when he was sent to prison on eight racketeering charges.
At Esposito’s sentencing hearing, his attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, argued that Gigante’s reputation “cast a shadow” over Esposito.
“The name Vinny ‘The Chin’ brings up all kinds of feelings,” Lichtman said.
Before issuing Esposito’s sentence, District Judge Victor Marrero of the Manhattan federal court noted that he received 45 letters from Esposito’s supporters — including one from the guard keeping watch over Esposito for his house arrest — that paint a “glowing portrait” of the defendant. But he said the charges against him show a “dark side.”
“It’s probably fair to say that qualifying for membership in an organized crime family does not happen overnight,” Marrero said, adding that becoming a made guy doesn’t come from “public charity, solid citizenship and caring for widows and orphans.”
Esposito is required to surrender in 45 days.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Judge tells Bonanno captain he bears more responsibility and hands him 7 year sentence

Sometimes it really sucks being the captain — especially in the mafia. 
Joseph “Joe Valet” Sabella, a Bonanno capo who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison after a judge said he bears more responsibility than his underlings
“You were involved more extensively as a captain, as a leader, and you have to take responsibility as a captain to your family,” said Judge Alvin Hellerstein
The sentence was on the low end of the range of years suggested by the federal sentencing guidelines. And the racketeering conspiracy charge was not Sabella’s first — in 2004, while allegedly working as a foot soldier for the crime family, he and six other members pleaded guilty to various charges. 
Sabella moved up the ranks and, last year, he was one of 10 reputed Bonanno wiseguys who were collared. That included alleged acting boss Joseph “Joe C” Cammarano Jr., who was acquitted on racketeering and extortion charges in March.  
As part of his latest plea agreement, Sabella, 54, admitted to violently shaking down a former business partner with whom he owned a valet parking business outside of a Staten Island restaurant after he refused to pay up. 
Sabella also admitted to teaming up with consigliere John Zancocchio and another alleged member of the family in the savage beatdown of Steven Sabella — no relation — inside a Staten Island strip club and then extorting the beaten man’s interest in a loansharking business, two strip clubs and a gambling ring. 
Joseph Sabella, who appeared for his sentencing on Thursday in a gray blazer, a white shirt and dark pants, also admitted to using fraud to maintain control of a Brooklyn demolition company — shaking the company down for $20,000 a year for protection — and taking over a dump site where mob-backed companies could dump potentially hazardous materials for cut rates.
Sabella was ordered to surrender to a prison in South Carolina on Aug. 27.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Joint raids in Italy and USA bust 19 mobsters

New York’s Gambino crime family and its cronies in the Italian Mafia got slammed during a series of coordinated, international police raids that were triggered by a trans-Atlantic WhatsApp message.
Italian authorities on Wednesday announced the arrests of 18 reputed mobsters, some of whom were paraded in handcuffs through the streets of Palermo, Sicily, by state police and FBI agents.
A 19th suspect was also being sought in the US, and law-enforcement officials searched the homes of reputed gangsters on Staten Island and in Philadelphia, an FBI spokeswoman said.
The crackdown capped a joint investigation — dubbed “New Connection” — that the feds and Italian state police conducted into ties between the Gambinos and Sicily’s Inzerillo crime family.
The probe uncovered a “strong bond established between Cosa Nostra Palermo and US organized crime,” according to Italian police.
Law-enforcement officials made their moves simultaneously at 3 a.m. in Italy and 9 p.m. Tuesday in the New York region, based on a message sent via the WhatsApp messaging service, Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper said.
The app is not only free to use, but also allows communications between American and European cellphones that employ different wireless technologies.
The mob roundup “will definitely have effects in New York City and 18th Avenue in Brooklyn,” where the Gambinos maintain their base of operations, a law-enforcement source told The Post.
“The Sicilians have become the power in the Gambino crime family since John Gotti went away,” the source said, referring to the “Dapper Don” who died in prison in 2002.
“They are the money earners and the enforcers in the family.”
Among those busted was Thomas Gambino, 47, who’s suspected of holding a key position in the Gambino family, CBS News reported.
Italian police said Gambino was caught on video while meeting with ranking members of the Inzerillo clan on a speedboat off the coast of Palermo last summer.
The group was allegedly discussing the sale of property formerly owned by then-Gambino boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, according to the BBC.
The Sicilian-born Cali married into the Inzerillo family, which fled Italy following a bloody, early 1980s war with the rival Corleonesi faction, but has been making a comeback since the 2017 death of Sicilian mob boss Salvatore “Toto” Riina, also known as “The Beast.”
Cali, 53, was gunned down outside his Staten Island home in March in a killing allegedly committed by construction worker Anthony Comello, 24.
Cali’s killing hasn’t been tied to his role in the mob, with law-enforcement sources instead saying that Comello — whose lawyer plans to mount an insanity defense — may have been seeking revenge against Cali for ordering his niece not to date Comello.
Others arrested include Salvatore Gambino, the mayor of Toretta, a small town outside Palermo, and Rosario “Sal” Gambino, a former New Jersey resident who was deported to his native Italy following his conviction for heroin trafficking.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Prosecutors say son of deceased Genovese boss should get two years in prison

The son of infamous bathrobe-wearing crime boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante should serve no less than two years in prison for extorting a labor union official, Manhattan prosecutors argued in a new filing.
The recommendation that Vincent Esposito serve somewhere between 24 and 30 months behind bars is part of a plea deal he copped in April.
The 51-year-old, the son of late Genovese boss Gigante and his longtime mistress Olympia Esposito, pleaded guilty to a rackeetering conspiracy charge for his role in the crime family’s 16-year shakedown scheme.
He also agreed to forfeit $3.8 million — which prosecutors say he’s now trying to use in a bid for leniency ahead of his sentencing, which is scheduled for Friday but may be postponed.
“Esposito essentially seeks to buy his way out of a prison sentence,” they wrote in court documents filed Monday in Manhattan federal court. “Esposito must be judged by this Court for his own conduct, without regard to his payment of forfeiture.”
The feds also accuse Esposito of painting himself as the victim — and filing “self-serving” motions and bail applications to “downplay the severity of his offense.”
He’s been under house arrest at his “multi-million dollar Upper East Side townhouse, in the company and care of his mothers and sisters” pending sentencing, which he’s claimed should be punishment enough for his crimes, prosecutors said.
“Living in one’s own home, surrounded by loved ones, can hardly qualify as just punishment for these offenses, particularly given the means available to Esposito,” they said.
The Probation Office, which makes its own sentencing recommendations, suggested a sentence of 18 months, noting that Esposito has no prior criminal history and an “enlarged aorta.”
But the feds disagreed, saying his criminal conduct lasted well over a decade and that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is more than capable of providing “appropriate medical care.”
The defense has yet to file its own recommendations.
Gigante was best known as the “Oddfather” for wearing a bathrobe and slippers on his jaunts through Greenwich Village — an act the feds claimed was meant to bolster his claims of mental illness.
He died in prison in 2005 at age 77.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Mob associate convicted for possessing machineguns

Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Paul Ragusa, an associate of the Bonanno and Gambino organized crime families, was sentenced by United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen to 72 months’ imprisonment for possessing nine firearms, including three automatic assault rifles and a silencer. Ragusa possessed the firearms while serving a custodial sentence at a residential re-entry facility in connection with three prior felony convictions. Ragusa pleaded guilty to the firearms charge in October 2018.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sentence.

“While serving a prior sentence for violent crimes involving machineguns, Ragusa was ready and willing to transport more guns, including assault rifles,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Today’s sentence incapacitates the defendant, who clearly continues to pose a danger to the community.” Mr. Donoghue thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New York City Police Department, as well as law enforcement partners in Canada, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the GTA Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Ontario Regional Office.

Between July and October 2017, Ragusa met with a cooperating witness (CW) whom he knew through their prior affiliation with the Giannini Crew, a criminal enterprise responsible for numerous violent crimes. During recorded conversations with the CW, Ragusa agreed to commit a murder-for-hire. Ragusa stated that he did not need a gun, because he would stick an “ice pick” through the victim’s head.

On October 25, 2017, the CW asked Ragusa if he knew anyone who could transport firearms. Ragusa responded, “Yeah, me! I’ll do it!” On November 2, 2017, Ragusa met an undercover FBI agent who drove him to a warehouse in Nassau County, where Ragusa packed nine firearms, including two AK-47 assault rifles and one M16 rifle, into a large bag. Ragusa and the agent drove to a parking lot in Queens, where Ragusa loaded the firearms into a waiting undercover FBI vehicle. Ragusa was paid $2,000 in cash. Unbeknownst to Ragusa, the firearms were the property of the FBI and had been rendered inoperable.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Tanya Hajjar and Drew Rolle are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age: 48
Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-613 (PKC)


Friday, June 21, 2019

Chicago outfit soldier pleads guilty to beating up businessman

Reputed Outfit soldier Robert Panozzo pleaded guilty Wednesday to threatening and beating a suburban businessman he claimed owed him $100,000 and then hiring a goon to torch the debtor’s car and house when he wouldn’t pay.
“This is serious. I want my money,” Robert Panozzo Sr. allegedly told the victim in 2005 before embarking on a four-year effort to collect the juice-loan debt.
Panozzo, a reputed member of the Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew, entered his guilty plea to one count of extortion conspiracy in the federal courthouse in Rockford.
His plea agreement calls for up to 14 years in prison, but Panozzo’s attorneys have disputed prosecutors’ calculation of the sentencing guidelines and are free to ask U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard for a lesser sentence.
Whatever time Panozzo receives in the extortion case will be served concurrently with his 18-year prison term handed down earlier this year for his conviction in a sweeping racketeering conspiracy brought in Cook County court.
In that case, Panozzo and longtime associate Paul Koroluk admitted to heading a crew that participated in wide-ranging crimes, including home invasions, armed robberies, burglaries, insurance fraud and prostitution.
Panozzo, Koroluk and several other members of the crew were arrested in 2014 during the attempted robbery of a drug stash house on Chicago’s Southeast Side. That turned out to be a law enforcement ruse, however.
Panozzo was a longtime soldier for Albert “Little Guy” Vena, the reputed Grand Avenue boss, according to prosecution testimony at a mob-related trial in 2014.
Panozzo’s 17-page plea agreement entered Wednesday does not call on him to cooperate in any other investigations.
According to the document, Panozzo loaned the McHenry County businessman — identified only as Victim 1 — $40,000 in 2005 and then followed up with “additional loans.”
At a meeting at a restaurant in Palatine in 2006, the businessman handed Panozzo an envelope with $25,000 in cash, according to the agreement. He believed that was his final payment, but Panozzo let him know he still owed $100,000 in interest on the loans.
That October, after the victim had not paid, Panozzo and his associate, Joseph Abbott, confronted the businessman at work and beat him, causing “injuries and contusions to Victim 1′s head,” the plea agreement said.
Panozzo was later sentenced to prison for a burglary conviction and couldn’t collect on the debt. Once he was released in 2008, though, Panozzo began calling Victim 1 demanding repayment, the plea agreement said.
In February 2009, Panozzo paid Abbott $1,000 to set fire to a Dodge Caravan that was parked in the victim’s driveway, according to the agreement. Two months later, Abbott “used an incendiary device” to set fire to the victim’s garage and several nearby trash cans, the plea said.
Panozzo acknowledged in the plea agreement that he paid Abbott about $4,000 or $5,000 to “blow up” the victim’s residence.
Abbott has pleaded guilty to extortion and is awaiting sentencing, court records show.
Raised in the old Italian American enclave known as “the Patch” on the Near West Side, Panozzo and Koroluk have criminal histories that stretch back decades, court records show.
In 2006 they were both sentenced to seven years in prison for a string of burglaries targeting tony north suburban homes that netted millions of dollars in jewelry and other luxury items. Police at the time described the burglars as some of the most sophisticated they’d ever seen, from disabling state-of-the-art alarm systems to cutting phone lines.
Panozzo and Koroluk were arrested in a dramatic sting in 2014 after the two posed as cops to rob what they thought was a cartel stash house on the Southeast Side. They kicked in the door and grabbed stacks of drugs — only to be arrested by Chicago police and federal agents who had wired the house for audio and video surveillance and watched from above with an FBI spy plane. Koroluk wore a police star dangling from his neck, authorities said.
Prosecutors allege the crew participated in several other elaborate schemes targeting drug dealers, many of which involved tracking their targets with GPS to find where they stashed their narcotics.
Koroluk was also sentenced to 18 years in prison. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mobster's son ordered his murder at McDonald's drive thru in the Bronx

A wiseguy’s son paid more than $200,000 to have his dad whacked in a McDonald’s drive-thru in The Bronx — and also ordered a botched hit on his own brother, federal authorities in Brooklyn said Tuesday.
Anthony Zottola Sr. , 41, potentially faces a death sentence for the alleged patricide of reputed Bonanno crime family associate Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola, 71, who was gunned down while waiting for a take-out cup of coffee last year.
Anthony’s stunning indictment followed the arrests of several reputed Bloods street gang members, including ex-con Bushawn “Shelz” Shelton, who Anthony is accused of hiring to organize the Oct. 4 rub-out.
Court papers say that Anthony began scheming against his dad more than a year before the assassination, which capped a “series of violent attacks and attempts on his life” and that of Anthony’s older brother.
Salvatore Zottola, 42, was shot and critically wounded outside the family’s sprawling waterfront compound in Locust Point on July 11, during what the feds have previously described as an attempt to “lure out” his dad.
Anthony was charged with murder-for-hire conspiracy, unlawful use and possession of firearms and causing death through use of a firearm.
Prosecutors allege that text messages Anthony sent Shelton, 35, are proof of his “position at the helm of this sinister plot.”
One particularly chilling text shows the two men communicating in movie-style code on Nov. 26, 2017, about 45 minutes after Sylvester narrowly escaped death when his car was forced over by a dark van and a man in a mask got out and pointed a gun at him, the feds said.
Authorities later found the van, with the mask inside, and used DNA testing to tie it to Shelton, court papers say.
In one message, Shelton wrote, “The star stormed off the set and I think it spooked him,” prompting Anthony to allegedly write back, “That is why we need to get to the final secen (sic) before The star doesn’t come back,” the feds said.
“I need this bad…because I can see the film taking a twist,” Anthony allegedly added.
“Today was supposed to be the end until the actor wanted to do his own stunts and throw it in reverse in the middle of shooting a scene and drive in the opposite direction,” Shelton allegedly wrote.
“Ok. But we can still do the end I hope,” Anthony allegedly replied.
Prosecutors didn’t reveal a motive but law-enforcement sources said Anthony wanted control of his dad’s illegal gambling operation, which involved “Joker Poker” video games.
“It looks like it was over the family business — the Joker Poker machines — and the son was looking to take over,” a source said.
A source also described Sally Daz as “a stubborn old guy who wouldn’t give up his business.”
Before zeroing in on Anthony, investigators suspected that the old man had been targeted by rival Albanian gangsters.
Sources said Sylvester Zottola was formerly associated with Bonanno boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, who’s serving a life sentence for the 2004 murder of renegade underling Randolph Pizzolo.
Following Basciano’s 2011 conviction, sources said, Sylvester began reporting to acting Bonanno boss Joseph “Joe C” Cammarano, who beat the rap in an extortion and racketeering case earlier this year.
Neither Anthony nor Salvatore Zottola are known to have mob ties, and they’re believed to have been “just living off the father,” a source said.
Cammarano’s acquittal came after a defense lawyer memorably told jurors not to convict him just for looking like he “stepped out of a central casting in a mob movie.”
Salvatore Zottola was among the spectators who watched as Anthony, and accused accomplices Jason “Stacks” Cummings, 31, Alfred “Aloe” Lopez, 36 and Julian “Bizzy” Snipe, 32, pleaded not guilty.
A neighbor in Locust Point expressed shock over Zottola’s arrest and likened it to a classic mob movie.
“I know it happened in ‘Godfather II’, but I still don’t believe it,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “I never liked that part where he had his brother shot in the boat.”
Sylvester was killed inside an Acura SUV that was boxed in by other vehicles outside the McDonald’s at Webster Avenue and Belmont Street.
Court papers say the shooter, who wore a hooded sweatshirt, opened fire through one of the SUV’s windows, then hopped into a waiting car driven by Lopez.
Evidence tying Anthony to the slaying includes communications with Shelton before and after the hit, with Anthony sending a coded text assuring payment that said “I have the cases of water in a day or so.”
A photo shot a day after the hit and recovered from one of Shelton’s cell phones shows “a cardboard box of bottled water, as well as over $200,000 in banded currency,” court papers say.
Two days later, Anthony sent Shelton a text that said, “All good. Did you drink the water. Was it the right one.”
“Definitely was the right one thanks I was able to water the plants and get some of them squared away,” Shelton said.
Anthony’s wife burst into sobs as Judge Roanne Mann refused to release him on their Larchmont home, saying: “He was not the one who fired the weapon but he was the one who called the shots.”
Zottola wiped away tears as he was led out of the courtroom and the brother he’s accused of trying to have whacked broke down in sobs in the hallway.