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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alicia from Mob Wives resigns from the show and withdraws her guilty plea


 Alicia DiMichele, heading into Brooklyn Federal Court Wednesday, has resigned from “Mob Wives,” sources told the Daily News.
Sexy “Mob Wives” star Alicia DiMichele resigned from the reality TV show, the Daily News has learned.

The wife of reputed Colombo enforcer Edward "Tall Guy" Garofalo, Jr., was mum on the subject Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court where she announced another shocker — DiMichele withdrew her guilty plea to embezzling union funds from the trucking company owned by her hubby.

DiMichele submitted a resignation letter to the VH1 cable channel three weeks ago, sources said.

“I can’t talk about that,” the tanned, raven-haired beauty said outside the courthouse.

DiMichele, who also owns the Addiction Boutique in Cherry Hill, N.J., was pulling in $8,000 per episode from the women-behaving badly show prompting prosecutors to argue that she was able to pay a $96,000 fine.

“The word is that she trying to present a better image to the judge,” said a source.
DiMichele also withdrew her guilty plea for stealing union funds, the sources said.

“She’s trying to fix her image.”

But Federal Judge Sandra Townes is focusing for now on the amount of restitution DiMichele, 40, owes Teamsters Local 282. DiMichele’s lawyer and the government had agreed the figure is $20,000, but the general counsel for the union’s benefits fund pegged the amount at $2.8 million including 18% interest.

Townes said she could not accept the lower figure and offered DiMichele the opportunity to take back her guilty plea.

“I’m relieved and as always I’m staying positive,” DiMichele told The News.

“We expect there will be a new plea that satisfies the government and the defense without having her potentially liable for $2 million in restitution,” predicted defense lawyer John Wallenstein.
DiMichele, second from left, along with other “Mob Wives” cast members. DiMichele was earning $8,000 per episode on the reality show.

Under the plea deal, she faced up to six months in prison.

DiMichele’s husband pleaded guilty to a murder conspiracy — not the embezzling charge — so she is on the hook for the full amount of restitution.

Garofalo, 46, was sentenced last December to seven years in prison.

He had agreed to testify during Wednesday’s hearing but prison officials couldn’t get him to Brooklyn from his out of state lockup.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/alicia-dimichele-resigns-mob-wives-article-1.1766161#ixzz2zjFvLZ6y

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lucchese associate asks for mistrial after being ejected from courtroom

A reputed Lucchese crime syndicate associate on Monday sought a mistrial in his prosecution for allegedly draining $12 million from a mortgage lender and forcing its bankruptcy, claiming a New Jersey federal judge infringed his rights and tainted the jury by ejecting him from court. 

Salvatore Pelullo filed a motion on Monday asking the court to declare a mistrial in the prosecution of his alleged role in the extortionate takeover of FirstPlus Financial Group, a Texas mortgage lender. Pelullo has been unable to attend his own trial for a month, following an order from U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler barring Pelullo from the courtroom after he made several outbursts that may have been audible to the jury.

Pelullo said in his filing that by expelling him from the courtroom, Kugler violated his Fifth Amendment right to due process and Sixth Amendment right to be assisted by an attorney and tried by an impartial jury. The judge’s decision was unwarranted, according to the brief, because Pelullo’s “outbursts” were merely his attempts to confer with counsel and were not significantly disruptive to the proceedings.

“Although it is undisputed that Mr. Pelullo made a comment concerning government witness Ken Stein's veracity, it is equally undisputed that he made this comment in the course of conferring with counsel during the course of trial, a right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment,” the brief said.

“In response to Ken Stein's testimony regarding the receipt of certain information, Mr. Pelullo informed his counsel that Mr. Stein was lying, which was information that counsel could only learn from Mr. Pelullo. In short, Mr. Pelullo was assisting his counsel in the precise manner that a defendant is supposed to do during the course of a trial.”

Pelullo also pushed back against federal prosecutors’ claim that his comments were audible to the jury. According to the brief, Pelullo’s remarks were not audible to Kugler or the court reporter, and are inaudible on an audio recording of the proceedings.

The brief also said jurors have seen Pelullo in his prison clothes, prejudicing them against him and precluding a fair, impartial trial.

Oral argument has been requested, but is not yet scheduled, according to court filings.

Kugler banished Pelullo from the courtroom last month after Pelullo said, “That’s a lie,” as Stein, a government witness, testified. According to court filings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D’Aguanno alerted the court that he heard the comment and said he saw a juror look in Pelullo’s direction after the comment was made. Three U.S. Marshals later reported to the court having heard the same comment.

Pelullo had already been warned about his outbursts following another incident in late February, in which Pelullo laughed loudly while another witness testified. Kugler warned Pelullo that he would be booted from the courtroom if there were further incidents.

J. Michael Farrell and Troy A. Archie, Pelullo’s attorneys, quickly filed a motion asking Kugler to allow their client back in to the courtroom, arguing that removing Pelullo from court for the remainder of his trial violates his constitutional rights, and effectively punishes him for suffering from bipolar disorder, which is to blame for Pelullo’s outbursts. The attorneys also assured the court that Pelullo would curtail his behavior going forward, but Kugler denied the motion.

Pelullo’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

According to an October 2011 indictment, Pelullo worked with fellow reputed Lucchese family member Nicodemo Scarfo to seize control of Beaumont, Texas-based FirstPlus by intimidating its board of directors into approving new board members handpicked by and under the influence of Pelullo and Scarfo. Following the takeover, the board approved multimillion-dollar acquisitions of companies owned by Pelullo and Scarfo that were grossly overvalued and essentially worthless, authorities said.

FirstPlus investors meanwhile were in the dark about the company's financial situation, thanks to false and misleading U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, prosecutors said. They had little indication anything was wrong until the company's announcement in June 2009 that it had initiated Chapter 11 proceedings in the Northern District of Texas.

Pelullo faces 25 charges, including racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Kugler denied a motion to dismiss the case late last month, ruling Pelullo and Scarfo failed to prove prosecutors withheld evidence that might have proved their innocence and violated the scope of warrants when they seized various electronic records during a May 2008 raid.

Pelullo is represented by J. Michael Farrell and Troy A. Archie.

The case is U.S. v. Scarfo et al., case number 1:11-cr-00740, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

http://www.law360.com/articles/528851/lucchese-associate-asks-for-mistrial-due-to-court-ejection

Genovese associate faces trial over sex assault case

Dardian Celaj, under supervised release in a federal case tied to organized crime, faces a judge Tuesday in a sexual assault case from two years ago in Derby.

Celaj, a native of Albania, has waived his right to trial by jury and has chosen a court trial before Superior Court Judge Denise D. Markle.

He was arrested March 3, 2012, by Derby police and is free on $250,000 surety bond.

Celaj was charged with first-degree sexual assault, a felony, and third-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor.

Details on the allegations of the March 2, 2012, incident are unavailable, as the records are sealed.

He is represented by Don Cretella of Zingaro & Cretella, Bridgeport, who could not be reached for comment.

Celaj was named in a December 2007 federal indictment as being involved in several crimes with members or associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family.

Celaj, in July 2011, was ordered by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York into three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to six federal charges. He was also ordered not to commit another federal, state or local crime.

He was given credit for time served and ordered not to have any dangerous weapons. His time served could not be determined.

Celaj had pleaded guilty to six counts:

• Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery.
• Two Hobbs Act robberies, Sept. 28, 2003, and Oct. 19, 2003.
• Use and carrying a firearm, 2004.
• Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion, 2007.
• Conspiracy to distribute marijuana, 2002.

The Hobbs Act prohibits extortion by the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence or fear.

Celaj’s status as an Albanian native could not be determined. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesmen could not be reached for comment.
New Haven immigration lawyer Gregory J. Gallo, while not commenting on this case specifically, explained the U.S. policy toward noncitizens who are convicted of crimes.

“In general, the U.S. takes the position that if you are a noncitizen convicted of an ‘aggravated felony,’ which can include a number nonviolent misdemeanors, you can be subject to deportation without having a hearing because a number of nonviolent misdemeanors can be considered an aggravated felony,” said Gallo, of the Pellegrino Law Firm.

“So the immigrant does not get a removal hearing, is ineligible for asylum, can’t apply to cancel the order and generally, you are permanently ineligible to return,” Gallo said.

http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20140420/man-linked-to-genovese-crime-family-faces-trial-in-derby-sex-assault-case

Friday, April 18, 2014

Prosecutors and defense lawyers invoke the mafia during Scarfo trial

Nicky Scarfo Jr. in Morris County courtroom .
The meeting at a North Jersey bar was convened to set things straight. Contrary to rumors bouncing around the Philadelphia-New Jersey mob world, Pete "the Crumb" Caprio did not have a hit out on Nicodemo S. Scarfo, son of the jailed, infamous mob boss.

"If it was so, I said you would have been gone a long time ago," said Caprio to an associate in a secretly taped conversation of the meeting.

The February 2000 recording - by mob associate and government informant Philip "Philly Fay" Casale - was played for jurors and dissected by lawyers Thursday in Scarfo's FirstPlus mortgage fraud trial, well into its fourth month.

In the case, before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in Camden, Scarfo and an associate, Salvatore Pelullo, along with lawyers and corporate partners, are charged with taking over the Texas-based FirstPlus Financial mortgage company and looting its shareholders of $12 million.

On Thursday, as a prosecution expert on the mob testified, both the prosecution and the defense invoked organized crime allegations to support their positions, and a revelation emerged about the notorious Halloween attempt on Scarfo's life 20 years ago.

The defendants are charged with racketeering, extortion, fraud, money laundering, and obstruction. Scarfo and Pelullo also face RICO charges, accused of having alleged mob ties and of extortion.

The government says the FirstPlus shakedown was a mob enterprise led by Scarfo, who it says is a made member of the Lucchese crime family.

His lawyer, Michael Riley, says the government is invoking Scarfo's incarcerated mobster father, Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, to portray the son as more involved in organized crime than he was and to make a bad business deal seem illegal.

Riley said Thursday that his client's family has been maligned for years because of the Scarfo name. One of his brothers changed his name and another tried to commit suicide.

On Thursday, jurors who had grown accustomed to hearing testimony about SEC filings and bank documents listened to FBI Special Agent Kenneth Terracciano give them a primer on mob structure and rules, and explain Scarfo's relationship to a cast of characters with nicknames such as "Joey Electric" and "Beeps."

Terracciano, with crew-cut white hair and a slight North Jersey accent, said he had worked on organized crime for about 10 of his 19 years with the FBI.

Scarfo's father ran the Philadelphia mob from 1982 until he was convicted of racketeering and eight counts of murder in 1988. Trouble came to the younger Scarfo, Terracciano said, on Halloween 1989, when a masked gunman interrupted him at dinner at Dante's & Luigi's in South Philadelphia and shot him eight times, nearly killing him.

The case has gone unsolved, but on the stand, Terracciano told jurors he believed the gunman was Joey Merlino, son of Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino and the alleged current mob boss of Philadelphia.

Terracciano said Salvatore Merlino "had a beef" with the older Scarfo at the time, stemming from an internal struggle over control of the family.

Speculation has surrounded Joey Merlino - who denies involvement and has never been charged - but no one in authority had publicly pointed the finger at him until Thursday, Riley noted.

"You told this jury and everyone else that wants to listen for the first time since 1989 that Mr. Merlino shot Mr. Scarfo?" Riley pressed Terracciano.

"He gave his opinion, he said what he said," Kugler interjected.

Following the attempt on his life, Scarfo moved to North Jersey, where his father had set him up with the Newark crew of the Lucchese family for protection, Terracciano said. "He remained in Northern Jersey and ultimately became a member," he said.

Less than 10 years later, FBI agents warned Scarfo about threats to his life, this time from Peter Caprio, whom Terracciano described as a known killer and fellow member of the family.

On Feb. 18, 2000, Caprio and Casale, who was wearing a wire, met at a diner before heading to the bar to see Scarfo. In the recording of their conversation, Caprio and Casale, along with others, are heard discussing how little they know about Scarfo, inquiring about his body type, age, line of work, and whether anyone had seen him since he was shot.

Riley highlighted the dialogue to distance Scarfo from the mobsters.

"These guys, who worked with the father for many years and knew the father when he was running the streets for the family, don't have any idea who [the younger Scarfo] is, what he looks like, what he does or how old he is," Riley said.

With the jury sent out of the room, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D'Aguanno argued that one reason the younger Scarfo was not on the mobsters' radar could have been that he was in and out of prison in the 1990s on racketeering charges - something he said should be presented to the jury. He said Riley had opened up that time frame in question.

The six other defense lawyers, otherwise mostly silent, objected one by one, starting with Barry Gross, lawyer for David Adler, a New York-based lawyer who is among the accused. Gross said allowing such testimony could taint the six defendants with no organized crime ties.

Ultimately the judge did not permit the testimony to be presented to the jurors.

Prison telephone records of conversations between the elder Scarfo and his son, played to the jury earlier in the trial, appeared to provide a stronger mob connection in the case:

"Honest to God, we're a good six to 10 months off from being able to help everybody," Scarfo tells his father, allegedly referring to crime associates, in a phone conversation from 2007.

In another jail conversation in 2007, following the dismantling of the former FirstPlus board of directors, Pelullo tells Scarfo's father, "We crushed them. . . . It was all upon your direction. . . . The only people that can [obscenity] it up now is us."

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20140418_At_Scarfo_trial__each_side_invokes_mob_to_press_its_case.html#of9s4srhGwh0gJwQ.99

FBI searches for man connected to Gambino family home invasion murder

The feds are looking for their man.Antoine Burroughs, 25, is wanted in connection with a 2009 Ozone Park home invasion robbery gone awry.
A week after FBI agents arrested a suspect in a mob-related 4-year-old murder case in Queens, the agency has asked the public for help tracking down a second man.

Antoine Burroughs, 25, could be hiding out with relatives in the Bronx or Harlem, where he was last seen with family, law enforcement officials told the Daily News Monday.

“If anyone knows his whereabouts, we’re asking that they come forward with that information,” said Richard Frankel, special agent in the criminal division of the New York City field office. “As always, tipsters can remain anonymous.”

A grand jury indicted Burroughs on March 13 along with an accomplice, Leon Whitefield, for trying to rob pizza store owner Bartolomeo Antoniello at his Ozone Park home in September 2009. The two shot Antoniello’s son Gerardo, 29, as he attempted to protect his father, prosecutors said.
Gerardo "Jerry" Antoniello died at 29 defending his father from robbers hoping to steal the family pizza joint's cash for the night in September of 2009.

The feds apprehended Whitfield six days later, but the six-foot, one-inch Burroughs remains on the lam and should be considered armed and dangerous, said Frankel.

Family members of the fallen janitor who often helped his father at the family’s Howard Beach pizzeria Romeo’s welcomed news of the renewed search, though Gerardo’s older brother Angelo Antoniello was hesitant to speak too much in light of the pending trial at Manhattan federal court.

“Now they have the feds involved — I think that’s great,” said Antoniello, 39, who added, “We’re hoping these guys get life if they're the ones that did it.”
Francis LaCorte is convicted of arranging the 2009 robbery. He's currently serving 50 years to life for his role in the death of Gerardo Antoniello.

The 2009 robbery-gone-awry was one of three home invasions orchestrated by Gambino crime family associate Francis LaCorte, according to the FBI. LaCorte is currently serving 50 years to life for his role in the killing.

“This was a particularly brutal murder in which a son was gunned down in his own home as he bravely came to the aid of his father who was being robbed,” said Queens DA Richard Brown after LaCorte’s 2012 sentencing.

“At trial, the defendant was found guilty of not just murdering the young man but of having orchestrated, planned and carried out other home robberies at gunpoint.”

Tipsters who spot Burroughs can contact the FBI anytime at 212-384-1000.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/fbi-searching-conspirator-murder-article-1.1732409#ixzz2zFoZCvMF

Monday, April 14, 2014

Philadelphia mob in chaos as numerous mobsters get released from jail

For mob boss Joe Ligambi the living is easy. The 74-year-old wiseguy can be seen most days relaxing at his South Philadelphia home after two juries failed to find him guilty on federal racketeering charges. He was released after two long trials and almost three years in jail. But while he's chillin at home at 17th and Federal, trouble is brewing over who controls the local wiseguys and the ever dwindling mob dollar..

"Everybody's getting out, the pie's a little smaller, the money's not out there anymore, they might think they have devys on it and there could be some problems," said John Apeldorn, former commander of the city's Homicide unit and organized Crime Unit during the mob's hay day in the late 1980s and 1990s.

"Could something happen, I think there's a recipe there for violence absolutely," he added.

The aging Ligambi has told some he's done running the mob. Insiders say he may not be up to the task of unifying 15 to 20 made guys on the street, dividing up the ever shrinking mob gambling dollars and finding new ways to make a buck.

"Book making, numbers, all that's legal now and they've faded a little bit," Apeldorn explained. "You've got the Russian mob, the big drug people, they're actually falling down the ladder."

With gambling and the once popular video poker business fading by the day, the wiseguys have turned to new business ventures trying to make money. Like internet gambling cafes, state lottery stands, even the auto repair business and trash hauling. They've dabbled in the home improvement business, storm window replacement, flipping homes for profit, they've even tried the hardwood flooring business.

"Where do you breed these businesses, well you gotta have people out there who know what's going on. If they know what's going on, they can approach them and say we want our tribute" he added.

While none of those new ventures have proven to be big money makers yet for the mob, deciding who gets what share of the shrinking mob dollar tranlates into trouble on the horizon. There are now three mob factions on the street. Former mob boss Joey Merlino's crew, headed by acting boss Steven Mazzone, Joe Ligambi's skeleton crew of wisegyuys and members of the old Nicky Scarfo mob who are just now returning to the streets after nearly three decades behind bars.


"If you don't get somebody to step forward to consolidate all that, which is probably the biggest problem confronting them, you're gonna have a big problem," Apeldorn, who now heads the Citizens Crime Commission, predicted.

"In my opinion it will never happen," said one former wiseguy

Mob insiders like this former mob soldier, who asked us to conceal his identity, says bringing these three mob factions under one leader and sharing those shrinking mob resources is near impossible.

"It's a time bomb waiting to explode," he predicted.

"When I was at homicide, they were dropping bodies all over the place and what you don't want to do is you don't want to go back to that," Apeldon said. "If they don't get along then you have a climate for violence to happen."

"If someone steps over someone's territory or into somebody's territory, that's when we have what.., well that's where you have the big bang," he added.

"In the end, the government's gonna bury all of them," said our mob insider.

In addition to worrying about their current leadership void, shrinking finances and infighting, the wiseguys also have to be concerned about two ongoing criminal cases where two of their own could end up turning against them if they get convicted.

If that happens, who's running the mob and where the next buck is coming from will be the least of their worries. Staying out of prison will once again be their top priority.

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/25205343/wiseguys-out-of-jail-local-mob-in-chaos#ixzz2ysAQswk6

Monday, April 7, 2014

Al Sharpton worked as secret informant to take down the Genovese crime family

Al Sharpton was a secret FBI snitch whose recorded conversations with top mobsters helped take down members of the Genovese crime family, a bombshell report claims.

While it was known that Sharpton worked with the FBI in the early 1980s, thesmokinggun.com — citing new documents and extensive interviews with investigators — spelled out new details that for the first time exposed his interactions with four of the five New York City crime families.

The report released Monday said investigators from the FBI and NYPD equipped Sharpton — known as “CI (confidential informant) 7″ — with a bugged Hartmann briefcase into which unsuspecting mobsters spilled their secrets.

Dirt provided by Sharpton helped the feds secure court orders to wire two Genovese family social clubs, including former boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante’s headquarters, three cars used by the mob and more than three dozen phone lines, including Gigante’s, the report said.

Sharpton worked directly with the FBI/NYPD Organized Crime Task Force, according to the report.

The feds worked hard to shield Sharpton’s identity because the undercover work put his life at risk, the report said.

Sharpton was known to have crossed paths with underworld figures through his work in the music industry and boxing world, including with his mentor James Brown. He also had an association with boxing promoter Don King.

Sharpton, in a Post interview, did not deny that he cooperated with the FBI. But he said the report greatly exaggerated his role.

“It’s crazy. If I provided all the information they claimed I provided, I should be given a ticker-tape parade,” Sharpton said.

He insisted he did not own a briefcase with a listening device.

There’s a dispute about how Sharpton became an FBI informant.

The report said Sharpton was recorded in a meeting that involved an undercover FBI drug sting. While Sharpton did not explicitly offer to arrange a drug deal, the feds had enough to frighten the fiery activist into becoming an informant, the report said.

But Sharpton offered a different account.

He said it was he who contacted the feds after a mobster threatened him while he was acting as a concert promoter.

Later this week, Sharpton will be hosting a meeting of his National Action Network in New York at which President Obama is the featured speaker.

http://nypost.com/2014/04/07/al-sharpton-secretly-worked-as-an-fbi-mob-informant-report/