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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Family files $10M lawsuit against two turncoat Colombo mobsters for decades old murder

Maybe time heals all wounds — but for a Brooklyn family suing over a decades-old murder, the wound is still deep and raw.
It was 24 years ago this past week when Carmine Gargano Jr. walked out of his parents’ Bay Ridge home.
“Mommy, I’ll be right back,” he said.
It was the last time his mother, Rosa, would ever hear or see son.
A malicious mobster shot the 21-year-old man twice that day at a McDonald Ave. chop shop, and took a sledgehammer to his 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame. Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello was acting on orders from Dino "Big Dino" Calabro to “take care of it,” Brooklyn federal prosecutors said.
Someone’s beloved son was just someone else’s dirty job.
And then the Colombo crime family bigs became cooperators. Competiello received a 12-year sentence in 2014 for his turncoat talents and Calabro received an 11-year term in 2017. They dodged the possibility of lifetime sentences for a multitude of admitted sins, and just like that, Gargano’s murder went away.
Competiello’s racketeering conspiracy plea counted the savage killing as one of his underlying crimes. Calabro was not charged with Gargano’s murder, but one of the underlying crimes in his racketeering conspiracy plea was being an accessory after the fact in connection to Gargano.
The Garganos say justice was not served. Rosa, 66, and Carmine Sr., 73, are now suing Calabro and Competiello in a $10 million wrongful death case.
“I’ll never let it go,” Rosa Gargano told the Daily News during a tearful interview. “Those guys changed my life and my family forever.”
The retired Navy custodian opted to sue because she “wants them to pay and that they suffer as much as possible.”
Everyone in the surviving family is pitching in with the Brooklyn Supreme Court case against the pair, and their help is sorely needed. Years ago, the wiseguy duo testified they were in witness protection, but it’s not clear where they are now. No lawyers wanted the Garganos’ civil case for fear of the Mafia, they said.
The December 2017 case is actually a second effort from the Garganos, after a judge said an initial 2015 wrongful death suit against the pair had technical defects.
Before they knew who was linked to crime, the Garganos knew to be worried when Carmine didn’t return soon that day. They traveled to Long Island, Staten Island and downtown Brooklyn looking for Carmine and his white van.
Gargano was a Pace University student eyeing an accounting career. But prosecutors said the young man was also helping to operate a chop shop with Competiello.
Rosa Gargano said her son didn’t really hang with Competiello and his circle, but only knew them briefly through a cousin she disliked and didn’t trust.
Shortly before he died, Gargano made the mistake of complaining to Competiello about getting his full share of the proceeds, according to prosecution court papers.
Joseph Competiello is walked by the FBI from Federal Plaza on June 4, 2008.
Joseph Competiello is walked by the FBI from Federal Plaza on June 4, 2008.
Competiello initially buried Gargano at the garage.
In that first, frantic search, Gargano’s brother, Michael, went to the McDonald Ave. spot.
“I probably walked by his body and didn’t know that,” he said.
Prosecutors said that at some point, Competiello, Calabro and others moved the body to a wooded spot in Farmingdale, Long Island.
Gargano’s corpse was never found, though investigators with Competiello’s cooperation found strands of his hair at the chop shop in 2008.
At Calabro’s sentencing, the eight-time killer said he knew “the words just don't exist to heal the wounds I have inflicted.”
“He doesn’t feel sorry. He got away with it.” Gargano’s brother, Jerry, 44, said.
“Look at their sentence,” fumed Gargano’s 46-year-old brother Michael. “Is that justice?”
No reply papers, or anything else, have been filed in the case.
Rosa Gargano said the family will press the lawsuit as much as they can.
“The rest is in God’s hands,” she said.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Three made members of the Colombo and Gambino families busted for threatening debtors

The mob is still alive and well, prosecutors said Wednesday as six reputed members and associates of the Colombo and Gambino crime families — three of them “made men” — were arraigned for loansharking and other crimes in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday.
Assistant US Attorney Matthew Miller described how allegedly inducted Colombo soldier Vito “The Mask” DiFalco terrorized his debtors, who Miller said “keep paying because they would be terrified of what would happen to them if they don’t pay.”
Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes told the court that telephone wiretaps had caught the skeletal 63-year-old threatening to flood victims’ homes and even telling someone they were lucky he hadn’t torched their car like he used to as a younger man.
“Good things happen to me when I stay calm,” Difalco was recorded saying, according to court papers. “See, like, I was by your house the other day. Four years ago I would have put the Benz on fire.”
“They put people in fear,” Geddes said of the wiseguys, which prompted a snicker from Difalco’s daughter in the gallery.
Fellow Colombo soldier Jerry “Fat Jerry” Ciauri even threatened to shoot one man and his wife if he didn’t cough up the money he owed, according to court papers.
“You can run upstate all you want, I’ll go up there and shoot you and your wife in the head,” Ciauri, 59, is accused of saying.
Both Difalco and Ciauri were held without bail Wednesday, as was allegedly “made” Gambino member Anthony “Anthony Suits” Licata on extortion charges.
Joseph Maratea, Salvatore Disano and Joseph Rizzo were also arraigned for their role in the well-established racket.
Maratea worked closely with Difalco, Geddes said, running a pawn shop out of the same Dyker Heights building where Difalco ran his bar: the Tryst Lounge. It was at the Tryst they engaged in illegal gambling, court papers say, running Monday night football pool schemes.
Prosecutors said the pawnshop was actually a front for their loansharking business, with Maratea, 42, and Difalco making copies of people’s driver’s licenses — which they kept in personalized files — so they could find them at home when they didn’t pay.
The accused mafiosi all pleaded “not guilty” Wednesday to various charges, including racketeering, money laundering, illegal gambling, making extortion and extortionate collection.
They’re due back in court Aug. 7.


NYPD releases video of attempted murder of Bonanno associate in the Bronx

Cops released dramatic video footage of an attempted hit on the son of a reputed Bonanno crime family associate in the Bronx, sources said.
Shooting victim Salvatore Zottola, 41, can be seen desperately trying to escape as the gunman pulls up in a dark Nissan sedan and opens fire on Wednesday, according to the video.
The shooter, who was in the passenger seat, exits the vehicle after firing a few shots on Tierney Place near Longstreet Avenue and chases Zottola, shooting him a total of three times before fleeing.
Zottola can be seen rolling on the pavement in an attempt to avoid the bullets.
He was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in critical condition, but survived.
Cops were on the lookout for the gunman Thursday night.


Volatile gangster admits threatening to kill former lawyer's son

An unpredictable wiseguy pleaded guilty — just barely — to mailing a threatening letter to his ex-lawyer.
Brooklyn federal prosecutors said while Battista "Benny" Geritano was locked up on a state sentence for a 2013 stabbing, he wrote a foul-mouthed screed to force his onetime lawyer into saying he blew the case. The unidentified lawyer wouldn’t sign such an affidavit, prosecutors said, so Geritano’s menacing February 2017 missive said: “If you and your son don’t get me the f--- out of jail very soon — your son’s head is going to come off his f----n shoulders ...”
On Thursday, the reputed Gambino associate admitted to mailing a threatening communication, even though he once seemed bent on fighting the case.
Judge Ann Donnelly asked Geritano, 45, if he meant to threaten the attorney.
“Though I had no intent of carrying it out, yes I did,” Geritano replied. He also said he was dealing with “bad news pertaining to a heart doctor’s analogy” and “going through a breakdown. I was told I wasn’t going to live through the remainder of my sentence.”
Donnelly pressed Geritano on whether he meant to threaten the lawyer.
It took the judge a couple times to hear Geritano give a straight “yes” to her question.
Geritano’s daughter watched the proceeding and stormed out of court when the plea was over. Her father faces up to 20 years on the federal offense, and his plea deal makes no promises on whether the sentence will run concurrently with the state term, or start after it. Geritano was sentenced to 12 years on his state conviction in 2014.
“He very well could get consecutive time,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes told Donnelly. Part of the plea deal lets prosecutors seek any sentence up to 20 years.
Geritano burned through three attorneys in the federal case before getting his latest lawyer, Jeremy Iandolo.
He also mouthed off to one magistrate judge at his arraignment and got forced out of court. Another judge sent him for a mental health check. Later, Geritano even cursed out one of his defense lawyers.
Donnelly wasn’t having any of Geritano’s bizarre act Thursday. He identified himself as a “secured party creditor” at one point.
“Whatever, all right,” the judge said, waving her hand and moving on.
Iandolo declined to elaborate on the plea.
“He’s keeping his head up strong,” he said “If you want to plead guilty, you have to accept what you did.”


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bonanno associate refuses to cooperate with FBI after Bronx shooting

The son of a Bonanno crime family associate who was critically wounded in an attempted hit outside his sprawling Bronx home is refusing to cooperate with investigators, law enforcement sources said.
FBI investigators descended on Salvatore Zottola’s waterfront home in Locust Point on Wednesday afternoon, but were forced to cull surveillance footage from a neighboring yacht club because Zottola has denied them access to his houses’ cameras, sources said.
Zottola — shot three times by a still-unapprehended gunman while walking to his car Wednesday morning — is heavily sedated at Jacobi Medical Center, but has spoken enough to investigators to make clear he refuses to help, according to sources.
It’s believed, however, that the 41-year-old victim knew his attacker, sources said.
The gunman sped off in a waiting dark Nissan sedan.


Bonanno associate survives Bronx shooting weeks after father was also targeted

Their family crest just might be a bulls-eye.
A reputed Bonnano crime family associate survived two bullets in a botched mob hit Wednesday outside his $2 million Bronx home barely a month after his father was targeted just 4 miles away, authorities said.
Alleged mobster Salvatore "Sally Daz" Zottola was leaving his home on Tierney Place in Throggs Neck when he was ambushed by a lone shooter at 6:40 a.m.
Zottola, 41, was hospitalized in serious but stable condition after he was shot in the chest and right hand. He also suffered a graze wound to the head, authorities said.
It was unclear if the shooting was related to a June 12 incident where Zottola’s dad Sylvester, 71, was arrested after squeezing off several shots at a man who pulled a gun on him around 7:30 a.m. outside his Bronx residence. Sylvester Zottola was arrested for weapons possession, reckless endangerment and other charges, and did not have a permit for the gun.
The family patriarch, identified in court papers as a Lucchese family associate, also survived a Dec. 27, 2017, stabbing in the neck and back when he walked into his home to find three people burglarizing the place.
Both father and son were affiliated with former Bonanno family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano until the gangster was jailed for life after a 2007 murder conviction.
The gunman who targeted Salvatore Zottola fired four shots before climbing into a waiting getaway car and fleeing. No arrests were made in the shooting of the younger Zottola nor in either of the violent incidents with his dad.
“We want to thank everyone for their kind words, but you can go f--- yourself,” a Zottola family member said outside the Jacobi Medical Center, where Salvatore was hospitalized.
Salvatore Zottola and his relatives apparently own three pricey four-story homes on the street overlooking the water on the eastern tip of the Bronx. One of the homes near the Locust Point Marina is marked with a sign reading “Zottola Court.”

Salvatore (Sally Daz) Zottola (left) sits with Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano before Basciano was sent up the river for life in 2007.
Salvatore "Sally Daz" Zottola (left) sits with Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano before Basciano was sent up the river for life in 2007.

The street outside bore signs of the investigation, including discarded blue surgical gloves and small orange cones marking recovered shell casings. A folded yellow towel rested on the ground nearby.
Zottola was apparently home alone while his wife and their two children were down at the Jersey Shore, when the gunfire erupted.
Neighbor Joe Peloso, 78, described the younger Zottola and his relatives as good neighbors who often hosted parties for local residents in their beachfront backyard with its pier and his Jet Skis.
Back in 1999, Salvatore Zottola allowed Basciano’s mistress to stay in one of his Bronx homes — unaware a mob investigator had just moved in across the street and was monitoring his moves. The elder Zottola partnered with the owner of the Hello Gorgeous hair salon in running lucrative Joker Poker machines, court documents showed.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Gambino family soldier to pay funeral costs for young girl killed after being caught in crossfire during shootout


A lawyer says a former member of the Gambino crime family will pay for the funeral of a 9-year-old girl who police say was killed by crossfire during a shootout between two groups while waiting in a car in Cleveland.
The lawyer for Carmine "The Bull" Agnello tells Cleveland.com Agnello offered Friday to cover funeral expenses for Saniyah Nicholson of Maple Heights, and her mother agreed.
Saniyah was shot Wednesday. Four teenagers have been arrested and a fifth is being sought.
Attorney Ian Freidman says Agnello wants to be an example of doing the right thing. His offer comes a year after Agnello avoided prison with a plea deal in a case that authorities described as a multi-million dollar scam involving stolen cars and scrap metal.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The mafia still wields influence over the New Jersey ports

Port Newark
The Huck Finn on Morris Avenue in Union is an unremarkable, typical Jersey diner, where the usual three-egg omelets and burgers share the menu with Greek salads, tuna sandwiches and, of course, meatloaf.
But it has a more notorious claim to fame. In November 2005, authorities made a gruesome discovery in the trunk of a silver Acura that had sat undisturbed for weeks in the back of the diner’s big parking lot.
Alerted by a foul odor and the swarming of flies around the car, police found the decomposing body of Lawrence Ricci—an alleged Genovese crime family capo with hooks into the waterfront, who had disappeared weeks earlier in the midst of his own racketeering trial.
Face down with a grey sweatshirt over his head, somebody had put a bullet in his brain.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Man killed in Montreal had mafia ties

The 45-year-old man who was fatally shot in Laval Wednesday night had ties to leaders in the Montreal Mafia.

The victim of the shooting is Laval resident Steve Ovadia, according to the Sûreté du Québec. He was shot in the head in the parking lot of a strip mall on Samson Blvd. shortly after 8 p.m. Two men were seen fleeing the scene of the shooting, but no arrests have been made. The investigation has been turned over to the SQ because of Ovadia’s ties to organized crime.

They are looking for a four-door vehicle that is either pale grey or pale blue, and police dogs are arriving on scene to search for clues.

In recent years, police sources have told the Montreal Gazette that Ovadia had been observed meeting with alleged Mafia leaders like Stefano Sollecito and Leonardo Rizzuto while both men were under police surveillance. That included a meeting at a restaurant in September 2015 with Sollecito and Marco Campellone, a 24-year-old drug dealer who was involved in a conflict with rival dealers in eastern Montreal. Campellone was killed days after the meeting was held.

Laval police clean up the scene of shooting death of Steve Ovadia, a Laval man with ties to the Montreal Mafia, June 28, 2018.

Ovadia’s name was also mentioned a few times during a bail hearing held for Andrea "Andrew" Scoppa, the alleged leader of a Calabrian clan within the Montreal Mafia, when the latter was arrested for drug trafficking last year. During the bail hearing, held over the course of two days in April 2017, a police investigator testified that Scoppa was secretly recorded on Sept. 15, 2016 as he spoke to an associate and commented on how Ovadia had been arrested that day.

The arrest and search warrants carried out that day were covered by various media and the fact that Ovadia was taken into custody appeared to spook Scoppa. He told his associate that he was considering fleeing Canada because of Ovadia’s arrest.

At the time, Scoppa was being investigated for having distributed kilograms of cocaine to lower-level drug dealers. He was charged in 2017, but for reasons that were never made clear in open court, on May 11 the prosecution suddenly announced it was dropping the case.

Surete du Quebec crime scene investigators inspect the pavement behind a vehicle at the scene of the shooting death of Steve Ovadia, a Laval man with ties to the Montreal Mafia.

Ovadia’s arrest in September 2016 was part of an investigation of a small group of men who were alleged to have been trafficking in cocaine with Scoppa. While Ovadia was not charged in the case, another man who was arrested that day, a 62-year-old Laval resident, was charged with drug trafficking at the Laval courthouse at the same time Scoppa was charged in Montreal in 2017. The man is scheduled to have a trial in August.

Ovadia did not have a criminal record in Quebec, but in 2000, he agreed to follow the conditions set out in a peace bond after having been charged with threatening someone.

The homicide was carried out one day after John Mckenzie, 48, a man with alleged ties to the West End Gang, was shot in Laval. McKenzie survived the attempt on his life.


Notorious Chicago mobster dies in jail after being denied pardon by President Trump

The prime suspect in Chicago's last known Outfit murder will never be charged in the case.

Anthony "Tough Tony" Calabrese died of cancer Tuesday while serving time at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Calabrese, 57, was in prison for several armed robberies.

After learning of his terminal illness he had applied for Justice Department clemency but the request was denied by President Trump in April.

Tough Tony's attorney, Joe "The Shark" Lopez, was still arguing in federal court for a last-minute "compassionate release" from prison so that Calabrese could die at home in Chicago.

Death arrived before the judge's ruling.

In the last court filing ten days ago, Lopez claimed that prison officials had made an "arbitrary and capricious" decision to keep Calabrese locked up "in an attempt to get Mr. Calabrese to waive his 5th amendment right" against self-incrimination.

Federal investigators tried to squeeze Calabrese for 17 years about the gangland killing of Outfit lieutenant Anthony "The Hatch" Chiaramonti in west suburban Lyons-believed to be Chicago's last mob hit before the bosses realized blood was bad for business.

The FBI had pegged Calabrese as shooter in that Thanksgiving Day 2001 killing of Chiaramonti, 67, the result of a mob power struggle in Cicero. Chiaramonti was hunted down like a turkey and chased into a fast-food parking lot according to investigators, until the assassin could squeeze off the kill shot.

Federal agents also suspected he was involved in the plot to murder Chinatown hoodlum Ronnie Jarrett two years earlier. They were the two most recent of more than 1100 mob hits in Chicago since the Roaring 20's-most of them still unsolved.

Calabrese is not related to the more notorious Outfit family with the same last name-led by the late hitman Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese-but authorities say they were all wrapped up in the same rackets. As the I-Team has reported over the years, Tough Tony was sometimes known as "The *Other* Calabrese."

Anthony Calabrese was sentenced in 2008 to 62 years in prison for robbing a leather shop, a butcher shop and a tattoo parlor in the suburbs. The crimes all involved guns and required strict, lengthy sentencing under federal guidelines. He was not due out until July 19, 2061.

While never charged with the Chiaramonti or Jarrett hits, prosecutors depicted Calabrese as a stone-cold enforcer. They played a secretly-recorded tape at his robbery trial, in which he is heard brutally beating a man suspected of cooperating with the government.

"Strip off your clothes," barks a twitchy Calabrese on tape, concerned one of his underlings had turned on him and was wearing a hidden FBI tape recorder, which he was. But Calabrese never found it.

"You know to keep your mouth shut. I mean, you understand what'll happen?" asked Calabrese.

"Tony, do I look like I wanna be dead?" answered the associate.

During the stick-up of the tattoo parlor, he also ordered the owner's hands to be pounded with a hammer as revenge for tatting up the underage daughter of a mob boss.

Calabrese died Tuesday morning, still locked away in federal prison. The Bureau of Prisons website, that was slow to catch up with his death, by Wednesday afternoon was finally listing him as "Deceased...06/05/2018." A spokesperson for the prison in Terre Haute told the I-Team that he died of "esophageal carcinoma."

According to his attorney Joe Lopez, the end came as predicted ... before he could be released ... and before the feds put him on the hook for the city's last Outfit killing.

"He went out two feet standing up and that is that," said Lopez on Tuesday evening.