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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

With Gotti Jury Deadlocked, Prosecutors Face Prospect of Another Stalemate

John Gotti Jr. sat at the defense table, the weight of his family history and whatever we have learned from countless movies and TV dramas about the Mafia, swirling around him.
This was the fourth time in the last four years that prosecutors have brought a case against him, this time for murder and racketeering, and just like the previous three trials in the ornate federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, a jury of 12 ordinary citizens have not been able to decide if he is guilty of the crimes charged.
“They have exhibited strength, intelligence, compassion and truthfulness and should be doubly commended for standing tall and firm for their beliefs and disbeliefs,” Victoria Gotti, John’s sister, told Fox News, acknowledging the proceedings have been a “difficult and exhausting trial.” That slow journey will continue after the Thanksgiving holiday, with the jurors returning for more deliberations next week.
The jury announced it was deadlocked, just as the last three juries have since 2005, potentially handing federal prosecutions a stalemate. The U.S. government has so far been unable to convince 48 people that Gotti continued to follow his father’s line of work. He has said he quit, in 1999, when he plead guilty to racketeering charges and went away for six years. At the time he said he thought that plea, and the sentence, would wipe the slate clean, but he was slapped with new charges when he left prison four years ago.
Prosecutors have ridiculed the claim that he quit.
“This defendant has lived the Mafia life,” declared Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Trezevant, “and he never, never quit that life.” They say the claim was concocted as a legal strategy and tried to show you just can’t give the mob walking papers.
They presented the testimony of Bonanno Family Capo Dominick Cicale, who said you can only leave the Mafia by cooperating with the federal government or by dying.
But others have walked away and lived to tell about it.
he most noted examples were the founder of the Bonanno crime family, the late Joseph Bonanno, and his son, Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno. Bill told Fox News in 2006 that he thought John Gotti Jr. had indeed left what they call “the life,” in 1999, seeing what the world glamorized by “The Godfather” had really become.
In his book, “A Man of Honor,” Bonanno wrote: “The world I grew up in is gone and what is left is in ruins. The Mafia stories continue, however, regardless of the emptiness behind them.”
Bonanno wrote those words in 1999, not only the same year Gotti, Jr. claims he dropped out, but the year that the “The Sopranos” debuted on HBO, giving America a new, fictional mob fascination.
“The Sopranos” ended with the famous, and controversial, black-out scene. No Tony in handcuffs, no Tony walking away. Just Tony eating with his family. We think he’s still out hustling in New Jersey and then dining at the Vesuvio with Carm.
But in real life, organized crime careers have voluntarily ended with the finality viewers were denied by “The Sopranos” nebulous ending.
“You can quit the mob, I’ve done it,” former Columbo crime family Capo Michael Franzese told Fox News.
The 58-year-old Franzese is the son of John “Sonny” Franzese, “a kingpin of the Columbo crime family,” as Michael’s Web site, MichaelFranzese.com, puts it. But after being released from prison, he became a born-again Christian, motivational speaker, producer and author. His latest book, “I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse,” applies what he learned in the mob to the business world - legally.
“You’ve got to be crazy to stay in the life,” says Franzese. “Like me, John wasn’t destined for this life and neither was I. I was going to school to become a doctor. I question my own self at times. I did this for my dad. At one point I wanted him to be proud of me, and I think John shares a similar feeling like that. So we got into it for one reason and realized what it was all about, and maybe had second thoughts.”
The most intriguing, and surprising evidence of precedent for departing the ranks of wise-guys and not being stuffed in a barrel and dumped in the ocean, was a 1985 F.B.I. wiretap of Aniello Dellacroce. The then 71-year-old mob patriarch suffered from terminal cancer, and as the reputed underboss of the Gambino Crime Family at the time, he actually explained how the Gambinos had kicked someone out.
Dellacroce, who was the mentor of John Gotti Jr.’s father, was secretly recorded talking about a dismissed crime family member on June 9, 1985, in his home on Staten Island, New York, six months before he died.
“We threw him out of the Family,” Dellacroce explained.
“So, youse knocked him down,” responded a listener, meaning the man in question was demoted.
“No,”responded Delleacroce. “He’s out of the family.”
“He’s out?” asked his friend, incredulously.
“Yeah,” said Dellacroce. “We threw him out. Out.”
“You threw him out?”
“Out. He don’t belong in the Family no more. Any friend
f yours, any, any friend of ours in the street…that you see…you tell them. This guy, he ain’t in the family no more. You don’t have nothin’ to do with him. That’s it.”
Four days later, another FBI wiretap heard the group discussing their lawyers, and their visit to one lawyer’s office.
“My God, what a layout he’s got. They got more customers… Michael Franzese was there,” noted one speaker, impressively.
During that tape, they resumed discussing the banished former Gambino.
“This guy is out, We threw him out,” the group was reminded and then they start arguing about that possibility.
“I heard (this guy) was just taken down, he wasn’t thrown out.” said one.
“This guy was thrown out. Ya understand?” Dellacroce snapped. “Nobody’s gonna bother with him…I wouldn’t bother with him and nobody else would…I’ll explain to him a little better this time…Maybe he didn’t get the message right… Threw him out, that’s, that’s right. We threw him out…They don’t understand English,” said Dellacroce, trying to finally get his message through.
Even Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who later served as the Gambino Underboss, quit by agreeing to testify against the senior Gotti in 1992. Gravano wrote in his book, “Underboss,” that he when he walked in to meet Gotti’s prosecutor, he declared: “I want to switch governments,” meaning from the Gambinos to Uncle Sam. He later was caught running a drug ring in Phoenix after he served five years for 19 murders, and is now back in prison.
The current, active members of Cosa Nostra may not agree, but history shows that even their leaders, at the highest levels — including the bosses of two crime families- have walked away. And now a jury, once again, is trying to determine if John Gotti, Jr. did just that.
“I can tell you, unmistakably, that he has left that life,” John’s sister, Victoria, told Fox News. “We’re not talking about a guy that is being paraded out there and there are videotapes or audio tapes of John with present day mob members,” she notes, indirectly alluding to the avalanche of wiretaps and surveillance videos the Feds used as evidence against her father.
“John is no part of that life anymore,” she adds. “I believe they know that deep in their hearts and in their brains.”
Meanwhile, John Gotti, Jr. waits for a verdict — if there is one.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Judge shows pity to Colombo Associate

Even mobsters are feeling the squeeze in today's tough economy.
A bizarrely sympathetic judge took pity on a reputed Colombo family associate yesterday, saying he can keep his job at the trendy Lucali pizzeria in Carroll Gardens -- despite prosecutors' claims that it's a sham.
Dominick Dionisio, 39, who has a conviction for racketeering, works at the popular restaurant six days a week, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., yet makes just $300 to $400 per week. But that didn't raise any red flags for Brooklyn federal Judge Dora Irizarry.
"Realistically, it's quite problematic [even] for people who don't have the burden of a criminal conviction to find a job right now," Irizarry said, noting that Dionisio is using part of the money he earns to pay the feds restitution for his previous conviction.
GETTING HIS CUT: Mob-tied Dominick Dionisio (above) won his fight to work at Lucali pizza parlor in Brooklyn, which he allegedly treats as a social club.
GETTING HIS CUT: Mob-tied Dominick Dionisio (above) won his fight to work at Lucali pizza parlor in Brooklyn, which he allegedly treats as a social club.
"People . . . have lost jobs and can't find a job," the judge said.
Assistant US Attorney Nicole Argentieri had argued that Dionisio just hangs out at Lucali -- using the restaurant as a social club -- and doesn't do any real work. Federal agents even watched the reputed gangster come and go from the pizzeria, which has often been written up in the New York media, in different cars. The prosecutor said the job thwarts the purpose of Dionisio's house arrest, which allows him to leave for work. A probation official also said the atmosphere at the brick-oven eatery is too loose and many of Dionisio's co-workers are paid in cash, while he receives personal checks for his pay from owner Mark Iacono.
Iacono insisted the job is legit and said Dionisio is "learning the business."
"The parole officer has been here and checked everything out. This is just [prosecutors] trying to discredit Dominick," he said.
Dionisio is awaiting trial for racketeering, including charges that he and another mobster shot at two rivals in broad daylight during the Colombo mob wars in the 1990s. One rival and an innocent bystander were injured.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gotti Jury Deadlocked

Photo of an unidentified man wearing eyeglassesJunior Gotti via Wikipedia
They’re deadlocked – again.
Jurors deciding the fate of reputed mob boss John "Junior" Gotti told a judge today that they are "unable to reach a unanimous verdict," but agreed to give it another try.
After the note came in from the jury around 3 p.m., Gotti’s lawyers immediately asked Judge Kevin Castel to declare a mistrial.
As the defense and prosecution teams reassembled in the courtroom, Gotti blew a kiss to his supporters. Tense and weary jurors came in with their heads down.
The deadlock marked the second time the jury has reached an impasse.
But Castel denied the mistrial request, and read jurors the Allen charge, a set of legal instructions stressing the importance of the case, to encourage them to reach a unanimous verdict.
"This trial has been conducted at considerable expense and human effort to both the government and the defendant," the judge told them. "If your deliberations do not end in a verdict, in all likelihood it would have to be tried again before another jury."
Jurors apparently took the charge to heart, agreeing to deliberate for a half-day tomorrow and then again on Tuesday, after one of the panel members returns from a holiday vacation.
Before Castel sent them home for the day, jurors sent out two more notes, one requesting the half-day session and another asking for transcripts of testimony from seven witnesses.
Last week, jury members told Castel that they were deadlocked, raising the prospect of a fourth Gotti mistrial, but the judge urged them to continue deliberations until they reached a unanimous verdict.
Prosecutors have accused Gotti, 45, of directing a kidnapping and attempted murder plot against Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, as well as several gangland murders dating to the 1980s.
Gotti, the son of larger-than-life mob boss John Gotti, maintains he retired from organized crime in 1999, and that turncoat mobsters are telling lies on him in exchange for lighter sentences.
Four jurors were dismissed before the jury went to deliberations. Gotti’s three previous trials ended in hung juries.

No bail for alleged Bonanno Captain

A top Bonanno gangster's bail hearing blew up Monday after he was forced to explain where he got the $10,000 in cash the FBI found on his bedroom dresser.
Joseph Sammartino, a reputed capo and member of the crime family's ruling panel, whispered his explanation into his lawyer's ear.
It was left to lawyer Marc Agnifilo to repeat it to Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis: "He said he and his wife had been on vacation recently in the Bahamas and they brought it back from the Bahamas."
Needless to say, the judge didn't buy it.
"They went on vacation and came back with the money? I'm going to the Bahamas tomorrow," Garaufis said mockingly, calling the explanation absurd, especially because Sammartino claims he lives on a disability pension.
Sammartino, 55, is charged with collecting the proceeds of an extortion debt.
He was ordered held without bail pending trial.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bonanno Scion Murdered

Daniel Bonanno, the son of the late William Bonanno, was found murdered in a parked pickup truck on November 9 in Hawaii the day after he had been released from a five-year stretch in prison on a theft conviction as reported by Paul Curtis for The Garden Island:
[Kaua'i Police Department] Assistant Chief Roy Asher . . .  said he has evidence that Bonanno is linked to the East Coast organized crime family bearing his last name, but declined to elaborate. Police know what the murder weapon is, Asher said, but can’t divulge that information without jeopardizing the investigation. The assistant chief would not reveal the extent of injuries Bonanno suffered, so that if a witness does come forth they will be able to tell from the witness testimony whether the person was really there when the murder took place. He also would not say whether the murder was a professional hit, but did confirm that the investigation is still KPD's and has not been taken over by any state or federal law-enforcement or investigative agency.

Arrests in Alleged Extortion Scheme

Michael C. Sciarra, "reportedly a onetime associate of infamous Local 560 boss and late Genovese capo Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano," was charged today with two others in an alleged plot to extort more than $200,000 from a Hawthorne, NJ man "by using the threat of Mafia muscle" as reported by Peter J. Sampson for The Record:
Also charged was his nephew Michael A. Sciarra, 46, and Mark Ventricelli, 25, both of Union City. They are accused of conspiring to shake down the victim, identified only by the initials M.H., by using threats of injury and death between May 2006 and February 2009. An eight-count indictment, unsealed after the arrests, outlines a scheme to force the victim to make interest-only payments on a series of loans, or "vig," to Ventricelli, an employee of the landscaping business.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vincent Basciano Trial Update

The Vincent Basciano case could have an interesting turn, some legal sources have said. The sources, none of whom wanted to be identified, believed there was a chance that the U.S. Court of Appeals for The Second Circuit could reverse a lower court ruling that the current racketeering indictment against him didn't violate the Double Jeopardy rule.  The sources based that view on the questions asked by the appellate panel. As explained in Chapter 28 of "King Of The Godfathers," Basciano was convicted in 2007 of various rackets charges. If the appeals court rules that way, the indictment would have to be redrafted, causing delay in the trial date which is tentatively set for February. However, it is sometimes a fool's errand to predict what any group of three judges on an appeals court will rule. If they sustain the lower court, the death penalty case could go to trial in February.


Gambino and Lucchese Mobters Busted

Twenty-two suspects have been arrested pursuant to five indictments coming out of Staten Island, NY resulting from two separate investigations alleging schemes tied to the Gambino and Lucchese crime families involving bid rigging, bribery, loan sharking and bookmaking.
Murray Weiss for the New York Post reports:
The feds busted 22 captains and a Sanitation Department official who was caught on tape calling his relative, Michael Murdrucco, tipping him that the city agency was seeking new concrete barriers, a multi-million dollar contract, that he should try to get, sources told The Post. Also arrested was reputed Gambino capo Carmine Sciandra, who owns the store Top Tomato in the Travis section of Staten Island.
Arrested was Sanitation Department Deputy Chief Frederick Grimaldi, a 19-year veteran who was months from getting his pension. * * * Also arrested was a corrections officer assigned to Brooklyn State Supreme Court.
The press release issued by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly states that the arrests "capped long-term investigations dubbed 'Operation Pure Luck' and 'Operation Night Gallery.'"
Operation Pure Luck:
"Operation Pure Luck" was a long-term investigation into the alleged loan sharking and bookmaking activities of alleged Gambino capo Carmine Sciandra, alleged Gambino soldier Michael Murdocco, and alleged Gambino associates Vinnie LaFace and Benedetto Casale, among others. Sciandra owns a chain of popular supermarkets on Staten Island called "Top Tomato." Sciandra and Murdocco are alleged to be "made men" in the Gambino crime family. * * *  In "Operation Pure Luck," conversations among high-level Gambino members – which were heard through bugs placed in Murdocco's car and in a Staten Island tile store owned by Casale ("Casale Tile") – revealed the hierarchy and alleged criminal activities of the Sciandra crew. According to the charges, Gambino members lent money to their victims at interest rates averaging 156% per year and collected from reluctant payers through extortion and threats of violence. The Sciandra crew also allegedly ran an illegal sports gambling operation through an off-shore wire room that handled wagers on college and professional sports and horse races. According to the charges, the gambling operation generated millions of dollars worth of wagers. The charges also assert that Murdocco and his son-in-law, New York City Department of Sanitation Deputy Chief Frederick Grimaldi, engaged in bribery and bid-rigging to steer Department of Sanitation contracts. In exchange for kickbacks, Grimaldi allegedly leaked city contract bids to Murdocco to ensure that New Jersey-based Duramix Concrete Corporation and its President Vincent Alessi, a longtime acquaintance of Murdocco, would receive the contracts. Duramix Concrete Corporation and Alessi are also charged in this scheme. Based on "Operation Pure Luck," New York State Court Officer Scott Weissman, who is assigned to the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, is charged as a sheet holder for Gambino associate Vinnie LaFace. "Operation Pure Luck" resulted in four of the indictments being unsealed in Richmond County today, charging a total of seventeen defendants. In the first, 89-count indictment, thirteen defendants are charged with Enterprise Corruption based on a pattern of loan sharking and illegal gambling activities. The Enterprise Corruption charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison. Four of the Enterprise Corruption defendants, including Sciandra and Murdocco, were also charged in the second indictment, which alleges the use of extortion to collect gambling debts. Murdocco, Grimaldi, Duramix Concrete Corporation, and Alessi are charged in the third indictment with bribery, bid-rigging, and receiving kickbacks on a Department of Sanitation contract. The fourth indictment charges Christopher Cipriano, a loan sharking victim, with Workers’ Compensation fraud and grand larceny.
Operation Night Gallery:
"Operation Night Gallery" was a long-term investigation into the alleged loan sharking and bookmaking of alleged Luchese capo Anthony Croce, alleged Luchese soldier Joseph Datello, and Joseph Datello's brother, Frank Datello, among others. According to the charges, the Datellos would collect from reluctant payers by using threats of violence, and Joseph Datello and Croce based their operation out of a Staten Island bar called the "Night Gallery." Croce and Joseph Datello are alleged to be "made men" in the Luchese crime family. Five defendants, including Croce, Joseph Datello, and Frank Datello, are charged in a Richmond County indictment with loan sharking and bookmaking charges. This is separate from the four indictments arising out of "Operation Pure Luck."

Monday, November 16, 2009

The mob's Mr. Fix-it

Former crime figure once ruined lives . . . now he helps leagues and athletes battle the dark side of sports

Michael Franzese has gone from an athlete's worst nightmare to guardian angel.
The son of reputed Colombo Family underboss John (Sonny) Franzese, his criminal empire included gasoline bootlegging, gambling operations and multiple businesses that brought in $6 million-$8 million a week.
He was also a silent partner in the sports management agency fronted by Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom who, federal investigators claimed, used Franzese's name to frighten college athletes into joining Walters' agency. By the mid 1980s, Franzese was ranked 18th on Fortune Magazine's list of the Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses.
"I've seen a lot of tragedy. I've seen more families broken up and more lives destroyed over gambling than either drugs or alcohol and that's a heavy statement for me because I had a sister who died because of an overdose of drugs," Franzese says.
A lot of that tragedy came courtesy of Franzese. He was not a very nice man to know. That was yesterday.
Today, he lives in California with his second wife, speaks to church groups, works for the FBI and counsels college and professional athletes on how to avoid the guy that he used to be.
"I tell them straight out, I wasn't your friend 12-13 years ago. As a matter of fact, I ruined a lot of your lives because I didn't care. We had a big gambling operation. We had athletes gambling with us. It was a business for me," Franzese said in an interview with Sun Media. "I tell them how we put athletes in trouble and how it could happen today."
He has spoken about organized crime and the dangers of gambling at more than 400 college campuses and acts as a consultant to almost every major professional sports league, including some in Europe.
"People have raised eyebrows when they ask us for speakers and we recommend somebody who is a former organized crime member," says Rachel Newman Baker, director of the agent, gambling and amateurism department of the NCAA. "But he's hands down the best on this issue. People listen to him."
Curious how that can happen when a captain from the mob walks into the room.
"I tell them if I've got 300 of you in this room, 100 of you are gambling on something right now, whether it's poker or sports. Every time I say that the eyes go down, there might be a sideways glance. The statistics bear me out and I might even be a bit low."
When he walks out the door, he leaves his e-mail: michaelfranzese@gmail.com; his website: michaelfranzese.com or says he can be contacted via Facebook or Twitter.
"I tell them I don't want to know your name. We can talk through it and it has never failed yet -- I've done over 400 schools and before I get back to my hotel room that night I've got e-mails from kids in that room. Every. Single. Time."
Franzese is the only high-ranking official of a major crime family to ever walk away, without protective custodies, and survive. He puts a face to a menace that otherwise seems like something out of a fairyland. Gambling, unlike steroids, drugs or guns, doesn't sound quite so dangerous. But then, today's hobby evolves into tomorrow's addiction. And, for an athlete, today's buddy becomes tomorrow's loan shark.
Franzese (pictured at right) has seen it happen; he has made it happen.
"It's a worldwide dilemma and the reason is because of the accessibility of gambling today," Franzese says. "I just came back from Europe where they're concerned about cricket matches being compromised by organized crime. It's what all the leagues, the Big Four, tennis and soccer, are all concerned about."
Research shows college and professional athletes are more prone to gamble than the general population.
"It raises the stakes in the competition and that's what athletes are all about," Franzese says of gambling's lure. "If you have a compulsive, addictive personality, gambling should be up there on the radar screen with drugs, alcohol, pornography. It's an addictive vice. Gambling gets their juices flowing."
Which helps explain Michael Jordan sitting in a casino the night before a playoff game.
It sheds light on how NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley -- who claims to have lost $10 million gambling over the years -- can end up getting sued in a Nevada state court for failing to repay $400,000 in credit to a casino company.
"They gamble, and they gamble heavy," Franzese says of professional athletes, "but mostly they can cover their losses, they're making plenty of money." It's when the losses can't get paid that the big trouble -- the loan sharking, the demands for inside information, the point shaving -- begins.
It is that murky business that attracted the Colombo Family and Franzese to Walters/Bloom.
"My interest when I took it back to the boss of my family was ... 'look we're going to be around players. What better way to get close to the players. It'll benefit us in the gambling industry. I know they gamble. I know they'll gamble with my bookmaker and it will be a tremendous edge.' He said go for it."
Later in court, and after Franzese was in jail for racketeering, Maurice Douglass, who played with the Bears and Giants for 11 NFL seasons, would testify that he was told someone would break his legs if he deserted the sports agency. Former Kansas City running back Paul Palmer was defrauded of his signing bonus and court was told that Texas football player Everett Gay was told "someone" could fix it so that he'd never play again.
There is a reason major sports leagues and the NCAA have rules against associating with gamblers. Franzese tells how his group used to work:
"Pro athletes would seek out a bookmaker. I would tell the bookmakers working for me to give them all the credit they want; give them $50,000, if they want to bet $150,000 let them because for us it's a paper transaction. Let them lose as much as they can lose on paper. In time they have to answer for the debt.
"What I used to do was say, 'OK, you owe us 100 grand. Can you pay it by Monday?' No. 'Can you pay it next week?' No. 'Right, here's the deal. I'm going to let you pay me 2% a week on the outstanding debt until you find a way to pay me back.' What am I doing? I'm getting him deeper into a hole. He can't pay that kind of money. Finally, when all else is gone, we bring him back in and say, 'Hey, here's what we're going to do. The only way you're going to wipe out this debt is to help us. We need information. What's going on in the locker room?'
"If it's a player of substance, you can affect the outcome of a game. You pick games where the point spread can be manipulated by one player, where a fumble or interception could mean something. You have that player working with you now because he has no choice.
"Over a season, you can make some money and wipe out the debt. At the end, everyone is happy except the player because once he does this he is in it for life. He's done. Because now you've got something hanging over his head. Basically, you ruin the poor guy."
Sometimes, it doesn't start or end with anything nearly so sinister. But it's still bad news for the athlete. Trouble can sometimes come, says Franzese, from just a guy "you're hanging out with. Gamblers are always looking for an edge. So the guy you think is your buddy is just trying to get information out of you."
If there is a guaranteed solution, Franzese isn't aware of it.
"I don't think reading about Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley has an impact. Gambling is so powerful. The marketing is so strong. It's so appealing to people that you're swimming upstream with this. I don't see any way to legislate this away. I got questioned a lot when (referee Tim Donaghy) went down that the NBA isn't doing enough. I said, 'listen, they all have an anti-gambling policy ... Unless you can scare the heck out of (players) one on one, I don't think just reading the stories has an effect.'"
Remember Bloom? He was acquitted on appeal, then found murdered in a hotel room. While no connection linking the murder to Franzese was ever made, the Colombo crime family is thought by law enforcement to have contributed to his death.
If that doesn't scare off some bets, maybe nothing will.
- In October 2007, Russia's Nikolay Davydenko becomes the centre of the match-fixing controversy in tennis. Five Italian players are later suspended in another gambling investigation.
- Frederico Luzzi is fined $50,000 and suspended by the ATP for 200 days for betting on matches. He becomes the fifth Italian tennis player to be punished for betting on matches.
- Dolphins' Will Allen faces investigation for pulling a gun in a dispute over gambling debts.
- John Daly says he has lost between $50 million and $60 million during 12 years of heavy gambling. He recalls earning $750,000 when he lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods. Instead of going home, he drove to Las Vegas and lost $1.65 million in five hours playing mostly $5,000 slot machines.
- Shawn Chacon, former MLB pitcher, is facing a felony charge of passing three bad $50,000 cheques to cover gambling debts at Caesar's Palace.
- Two days before the 1994 Super Bowl, Art Schlichter is sentenced to 25 months in prison for passing bad cheques. If not for the fact that he is a compulsive gambler the former first-round draft pick might have been the starting quarterback in the game.
- In March 1991, MLB all-star Lenny Dykstra, a notorious high-stakes bettor, is linked to a gambling probe in Mississippi.
n In Antoine Walker's 13-year NBA career, he made at least $110 million, but apparently today he's broke. Walker will be going to court this week in Las Vegas to answer to charges of fraud for writing bad cheques -- totalling $1 million -- to different casinos.
- In Swaziland, a prominent club director with the Manzini Wanderers soccer club took 200,000 euros from the club coffers in cash, went gambling in a local Casino, and lost.
- Tim Donaghy, a former NBA referee, is sentenced last year for 15 months after he said he took thousands of dollars from a professional gambler in exchange for inside tips on NBA games -- including games he worked.
- Pete Rose, the best hitter in baseball history, remains a Hall of Fame outcast.


CRIME HISTORY - Mob whacks henchman wanted for agent's death

On this day, Nov. 17, in 1989, members of the Bonanno crime family killed one of their own, Costabile "Gus" Farace Jr., instead of giving him up to the FBI for the murder of a Drug Enforcement Administration officer.
Farace had recently been paroled from prison for the murder and rape of a male prostitute in Greenwich Village in New York City. He soon got into trouble again after he set up a drug deal with Everett Hatcher, a DEA agent, and shot him through the head three times.
Hatcher was believed to have been the first law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty on Staten Island.
The FBI placed Farace on its Top 10 Most Wanted list and began squeezing his mob bosses.
The search ended on this night 20 years ago, when Farace was lured to Brooklyn with the promise of cash to escape the country. He died after he was shot 11 times.
In the TV thriller "Dead or Alive: The Race for Gus Farace," Tony Danza played the title character.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gambino linked Rescue Ink Star Sheds Light On Past

One of the founding members of Rescue Ink, the tattooed biker group whose "in-your-face" approach to quelling animal abuse is the subject of a cable TV show and a book, pleaded guilty in 2002 to a money-laundering charge and served most of a 3-year jail sentence.
Robert Misseri, 40, has alternately been described as the executive director, organizer, dispatcher, CEO and principal of the Long Beach-based group of motorcycle-riding animal lovers, who investigate and not-so-gently persuade people they say are abusive pet owners into changing their ways.
The group made headlines last week after members were escorted out by police for interrupting a pet-store news conference to charge that the Suffolk County SPCA mishandled the case of a Selden woman charged with animal cruelty. Some 20 dogs were found buried in the woman's yard.

Not hiding its past
National Geographic Channel, which airs "Rescue Ink Unleashed," said it is aware of and has never tried to hide the sometimes checkered histories of a few members of Rescue Ink, including two (Misseri and Joe Panzarella) who federal officials once accused of having ties to organized crime.
"This is a story about redemption, not only for the animals but also these guys," said National Geographic Channel spokesman Chris Albert.
In an interview Friday, Misseri said he has "taken a step back" from the group because of a busy schedule running a catering company, though he said he remains active in animal rights issues and "independent" rescues. He also is managing partner in two related for-profit Rescue Ink entities.
He concurred Rescue Ink has "always been about redemption."
Misseri said the case against him, which initially involved murder and arson charges - allegations that were later recanted and dropped - is behind him. "That was 10 years ago," he said. "I've come a long way since then." Letters from the governors of several states thanked him for efforts in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, including feeding responders, blood drives and benefits.

In a 2000 indictment against him and 10 others, Misseri was accused by federal prosecutors of directing the "Galasso-Misseri crew" of the Colombo organized crime family. But as the case neared trial, the charges against him largely disintegrated.
"This is about a guy who befriended certain people and wound up in their web of lies," Misseri said. "It ruined my life."
He pleaded guilty to a single count of money laundering conspiracy related to the sale of what the government contended were nonexistent pay telephone routes.
Misseri passed two lie detector tests his lawyer said proved he had nothing to do with the murder and arson, and the government ultimately dropped the charges, court papers show.
His lawyer, Alan Futerfas of Manhattan, Friday said he's rarely dealt with a case in which such a long list of serious charges were proven false.
"The government threw around a lot of allegations," he said. "They were all -- ."
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which brought the case, said, "The record speaks for itself and his guilty plea is in the public record."
According to the indictment, a witness had accused Misseri of being in a car during the 1994 murder of Louis Dorval, an accused mobster whose body was found stuffed in a large toolbox found floating in the ocean south of Long Island. Prosecutors have since charged a Long Island gym owner, Christian Tarantino, who was not among the original 11 defendants, with ordering Dorval killed. Tarantino's lawyer said he denies it.

Arson charge dropped
The arson accusation involved a fire at the Have-A-Home Kennel in Old Brookville, in which Misseri denied any role. A police report made no mention of him having been in a car of men who confessed to the crime, court papers said. Futerfas said the government's main witness failed four lie detector tests.
"I told prosecutors, 'I think you overreached, you have the wrong guy,' and they were willing to listen," said former FBI agent Warren Flagg, who worked on Misseri's defense. Misseri has "done his time. Rescue Ink is doing well."
Promotional material for Rescue Ink makes no bones about some members' histories. "Some of the guys grew up in the projects, some had their brushes with the law, some used their smarts to survive, even thrive on the streets," the group says on its Web site.
According to the group's authorized book, "Rescue Ink," Joseph Panzarella is a man whose "body is an encyclopedia of war wounds." The book says he once used toilet paper to plug up a bullet hole in his chest after being shot five times.
The book suggests he was the target of a hit but, avoided death becausehe knew enough not to go to "his apartment and the hospital. Those would be the first places they would look for him to finish the job."
In court papers filed in the 2008 racketeering and murder trial of convicted mobster Charles Carneglia, Panzarella is described by prosecutors in Brooklyn as "Gambino family associate" who was shot in a 1995 mob conflict. Carneglia, according to the papers, sought to avenge the shooting of Panzarella by another accused mobster, referred to as "Cliffy LNU."
The court papers in a footnote describe Panzarella as an "unnamed co-conspirator" in five racketeering acts of the Carneglia case. He has not been charged with any crime.
Albert, the National Geographic Channel spokesman, said court references to Panzarella "surfaced after we were already working on the show." He noted that Panzarella was "not indicted, he's not arrested. He's being called as a witness."
Numerous attempts to reach Panzarella, who a person affiliated with the group said was traveling in Europe last week, were unsuccessful.
In the Misseri case, in a letter to the court in which he explains witness Peter Pistone's recanting of murder allegations against Misseri, assistant U.S. Attorney James Miskiewicz charged that "witness intimidation and obstruction ha[ve] emerged as a pattern in this case . . ."

Pistol incident alleged
He pointed to an incident in which "Misseri, while out on bail in this case, put a starter's pistol to the back of [government witness Frank Saggio's] head in an obvious attempt to determine whether Saggio was in fact a cooperator." Misseri denied the account as "absolutely absurd."
In addition to 37 months in prison, Misseri was sentenced to 3 years supervised release and ordered to pay $109,349.50 in restitution, court papers say. He was given credit for time served from April 10, 2000, until Nov. 22, 2000, and he says he served 32 months.
In prison at Allenwood, Pa., Misseri said he started an organization called Get Out and Stay Out, which prepared inmates for clean lives after prison. "I've been a do-gooder my whole life," he said.
His court record also includes several letters filed by religious and charitable organizations and friends attesting to his generosity and compassion. One even hints at his future working with animals.
In that April 2000 letter to the court, the North Fork Animal Welfare League recalled how Misseri and his wife happened to be driving by when a dog escaped from its kennel. "They noticed our predicament and stopped their car to assist," the agency wrote. "Not only did they help to control traffic so the dog would not be hit, they got out of the car and actively took part in the safe recapture of the animal."
Misseri said he hopes less-flattering revelations of his past don't hurt his mission.
"This is a period of my life that is behind me," he said. "Ultimately, an animal doesn't care about problems I've had in my past. I've been doing only good since then."


Former G-man Runs For Congress

Michael Grimm, a former FBI special agent who once worked undercover as "Mikey Suits" for the New York field office's Gambino squad, is running for Congress from Staten Island, NY, and in a twist of irony his primary opponent is Michael Allegretti "whose late father, Alfred, spent the last years of his life denying suggestions that his company was linked to the Gambino clan" as reported by David Saltonstall for the Daily News:
Allegretti's family owns Bayside Fuel Oil Corp., which in the mid-1990s lost millions of dollars in city contracts after a top Gotti capo, Joseph (Joe Butch) Corrao, was found to be on the company's payroll. The younger Allegretti was never linked to that chapter in his family's history, which unfolded when he was a teenager. * * * "The man worked there, he was convicted and he was fired," Allegretti said of Corrao. "We were as shocked as anyone to learn about who he was."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Former Mob member shares his testimony

Michael Franzese, former member of the Colombo crime family in New York, delivered Liberty University’s convocation message Monday in the Vines Center.
Franzese became a sworn, made member of the mob at the age of 24 and soon became the target of state, local and federal organized crime task forces as one of the biggest money earners for organized crime since Al Capone. He was the heir-apparent to the Colombo family’s vast power.
One day, on the set of a movie he was producing, he met a woman named Camille Garcia. Garcia was a Christian and it was her influence on his life that eventually led him to quit the mob and become a Christian.
Franzese shared how for a long time he thought he didn’t need God, but God wanted him. “He knew how to get my attention and he knows how to get yours,” Franzese said. “When you drift, He’s gonna bring you back, no doubt about it. Once He’s got you, He will never let you go.”
In quitting the mob, Franzese was doing the unthinkable and almost guaranteeing his death. Instead, God has let him live and has given him an amazing testimony.
“When God has a plan and purpose for you in your life, there ain’t no Mob or anything else that’s gonna stand in the way,” he told students. “But remember this, all the glory and all the honor and all the praise for everything that we do in this life … all goes to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Franzese is a motivational speaker and author of “Quitting the Mob” and “Blood Covenant.” He has worked with the American Football Coaches Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, Building 429, SonicFlood and Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery.


Gotti jury requests transcript of prison tapes

The jury in John "Junior" Gotti's gangland murder and racketeering trial asked Thursday for transcripts of prison tape recordings used by the prosecution and defense in the first substantive note since the panel began its deliberations.
Jurors already had the audio of the recorded conversations - including some of Gotti with his father, the late Gambino family boss John J. Gotti, and some with other alleged mob associates - and U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel quickly agreed with lawyers for both sides to provide the transcripts to help the panel decipher the often unintelligible dialogue.
The various tapes are subject to different interpretations: Prosecutors say that some show Gotti conducting mob-related business and trying to hang on to power after he was imprisoned in 1999, while the defense has used others that it claims show Gotti's desire to quit the mob after he was imprisoned. Some of the tapes played a prominent role in closing arguments.
After a seven-week trial, the jury got the case at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Jurors deliberated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday without appearing in the 26th-floor courtroom, and will return at 10 a.m. Friday for another day of work. Castel revealed that Juror 1 on the anonymous panel, a court clerk, has been chosen as foreperson.
Gotti, 45, of Oyster Bay, is charged with participating in a wide-ranging mob racketeering conspiracy dating back to 1983, and two drug-related murders in 1988 and 1991. He claims he quit the mob in 1999.
Three previous racketeering trials of the mob heir ended in hung juries in 2005 and 2006. Those juries deliberated for between three and eight days.


Former Board Members-Trustees of NYC Transit Union Plead Guilty

When they weren't serving in their capacity as union officials, Nicholas and Paul Maddalone shook down bus company owners. Now they're set to join several partners in prison. The Maddalone brothers, formerly board members and assistant trustees of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 in Queens, N.Y., on September 10 pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on various extortion and bribery charges. They allegedly had obtained tens of thousands of dollars in coerced payoffs related to a federally-subsidized program for special education students in the New York City public school system. 
ATU Local 1181, which represents about 15,000 school bus employees of the City Department of Education, is no stranger to this publication. Nicholas and Paul Maddalone, ages 54 and 60, had been indicted for extortion, unlawful payments and conspiracy to commit bribery. The brothers, known associates of the Genovese crime family, allegedly facilitated a scam involving four current or former public school system bus inspectors - Neil Cremin, George Ortiz, Milton Smith and Ira Sokol.

The Maddalones had demanded payments from bus companies participating in the special-ed program. In return, they overlooked vehicle safety violations, falsified records that allowed the companies to overbill the City, and granted union members more lucrative routes. Earlier this year, Ortiz, Cremin and Sokol received sentences in Manhattan federal court; Smith's case remains active. If convicted, the Maddalones face up to 20 years in prison on each of the two unlawful payment counts.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trial in Murder Of Genovese Capo Delayed

The trial for Fotios "Freddy" Geas, charged with planning the 2003 hit against New England Genovese capo Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, has been adjourned from February 1 to March 1 in order "to allow for a broader pool of potential jurors" as reported by Stephanie Barry for The Republican:
Bruno was shot seven times in a darkened parking lot outside the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society in the city's South End on Nov. 23, 2003, the eve of his 58th birthday. After turning government witness, admitted triggerman Frankie A. Roche told investigators he was paid $10,000 to ambush Bruno, the regional boss for the New York-based crime family. Although a fringe character, Roche, 35, said he was the pick to shoot Bruno amid a high-level power play for control of the area's rackets. Investigators have said Geas, labeled as the muscle for Bruno successor Anthony J. Arillotta, acted as a conduit between Roche and higher-ranking mobsters but have not specified for whom. Arillotta has not been charged, nor have any New Yorkers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John (Junior) Gotti boycotts his own trial - for four hours, then returns

The great Gotti boycott is over - after less than four hours.
Second-generation Gambino boss John A. (Junior) Gotti, after declaring he was through attending his ongoing racketeering trial, changed his mind Tuesday morning.
A Metropolitan Correctional Center visit from defense counsel Charles Carnesi ended the short-lived protest from Gotti, who thinks he's getting an unfair shake in his fourth racketeering trial.
The jury will not hear an explanation for the morning delay caused when Gotti opted for his cell over a seat at the defense table.
Federal Judge Kevin Castel said marshals called him around 8 a.m. to say Gotti "did not wish to participate further in the trial."
By 11:30 a.m., word came that Gotti, 45, was changing into his suit for a return to the courtroom.
Gotti supporters said a disappointed Junior decided to stay behind bars to protest what he sees as an unfair trial. Gotti, during the two-month trial, sent a note directly to the judge complaining about the case.
"He's frustrated, it's an emotional decision that he feels is justified," one Gotti backer said.
Carnesi said he was "surprised" by his client's decision. Castel put the trial on hold so the lawyer could visit Gotti at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Gotti's decision to "quit" the trial came just before Carnesi was expected to wrap up his closing argument. The jury in the case could begin deliberations later Tuesday.
Gotti's mother, Victoria,  who twice blasted Castel last week, including once in an e-mail to the Daily News, was back in court Tuesday for the closings.
She refused to stand when the judge entered the courtroom, remaining seated as the rest of the spectators rise.
This is Gotti's fourth racketeering trial in the last five years. The previous three ended with hung juries and a mistrial.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Book Reveals Sammy Gravano Is Homosexual

Notorious gangster Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano had homosexual relations with a young man before making his way up the ranks of the Gambino crime family, according to a new book proposal currently being shopped.
Authors Laura and Karen Garofalo were just 17 and 25, respectively, when their father, Eddie Garofalo, was murdered by Gravano's henchmen in 1990. In "Our Father's Blood," the sisters reveal that Gravano's bisexuality was "common knowledge" in Brooklyn. "People in Bensonhurst knew, but no one really talked about it," Laura Garofalo tells Page Six.
According to the proposal now being offered to publishers, Gravano once carried on a secret relationship with a man the Garofalos call "Jack Russo." After Gravano wed Debra Scibetta in 1971, he supposedly learned that Scibetta's brother, Nick, had admitted to her that he was gay, and that he, too, had been involved with Russo. "Nick knew Gravano's secret," Garofalo says.
Nick Scibetta, an alcoholic with a cocaine habit, was murdered in 1978 after insulting the daughter of a Gambino boss and getting into a fight with the son of another. According to Laura, "Sammy has always maintained that Nick was killed because his behavior was out of control and he was a liability, but the truth is that he wanted him dead because Nick had threatened to out him."
Garofalo says that of the 19 murders Gravano admitted to as part of his plea deal, Scibetta's is the only one that remains sealed.
Gravano, who famously flipped on Gambino boss John Gotti and later entered the Witness Protection Program, is currently serving a 19-year stint in Arizona state prison after being convicted of possession and distribution of ecstasy in October 2002.


Prosecutors: John A. (Junior) Gotti a massive cocaine trafficker

John A. (Junior) Gotti is a career crook who reveled in the vicious acts needed to protect his drug empire, prosecutors said Monday as the mobster's fourth trial wound down.
Prosecutor Jay Trezevant told jurors Gotti "built and ran a massive cocaine trafficking operation" and did "whatever was necessary" to keep it flourishing.
Despite his claims to have gone straight, Gotti "never never quit that life," Trezevant said.
He compared Gotti's main defense - that he left the mob in 1999 - to a balloon where "the smallest hole, one pin prick and it's gone." He said Gotti's claim to have left the mob was "complete nonsense...made up to escape prosecution."
Gotti's tempestuous mother was not in the courtroom for the government's summation, and sister Angel and brother Peter walked out as the prosecution began.
Sister Victoria Gotti stayed and listened, often with her head bowed.
Prosecutors hope it's the fourth time lucky after three previous attempts to put Gotti away ended in hung juries.
His father, Gambino boss John Gotti, who evaded conviction so many times he was dubbed "the Teflon Don," eventually died in prison in 2002.
Trezevant described Gotti as a wealthy kid who had plenty of other options besides a life of crime, but who chose to be a professional criminal. He embraced the violence needed to become an effective street thug, he said.
Trezevant reminded jurors of testimony that Gotti mocked the gutted Danny Silva as he lay dying on the bar in the Silver Fox restaurant with a Porky Pig imitation: "Th-th-th-that's all folks!"
Quietly and calmly, Trezevant led jurors through the career the government has pinned on Gotti as he morphed from street thug to Gambino soldier to Gambino captain to street boss.
Along the way were nine murders and five conspiracies to kill; six robberies and assaults on drug dealers; three kidnappings; extortion; bribery; money laundering and jury tampering.
In the afternoon, Gotti's defense took its turn. Gotti's wife, Kim Albanese, and his sisters Angel and Victoria, were on hand to watch.
 Defense lawyer Charles Carnesi placed his podium in front of the jury and told the panel that "90% of this case" rests on the credibility of a single witness.
"Everything spins off John Alite," he said of Gotti's former best pal, star witness for the prosecution and an admitted liar and crook.
Carnesi reminded jurors that Alite pleaded guilty to so many crimes, including murders, that he couldn't keep track of them all and is now facing life in prison.
"How does he get out?" Carnesi asked the jurors. "All he has to do is add the tag line 'John told me.'... Those few words wash away a multitude of sins: 'oh, John told me.'"
Carnesi said jurors should remember that "truth is consistent and...not something for sale."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Update: Vincent Basciano Trial

After Dominick Cicale testified in the case of John A. Gotti Jr., Vincent Basciano's lawyers are asking the government to turnover docuemnts which show the movement of Basciano and Gotti when they were both lodged at the Metropolitan Correction Center.  This was the period in "King of The Godfather's "when Basciano in Chapter 28 has been arrested but before he went into solitary.  Cicale testified that Basciano had a conversation with Gotti and related that the Gambino mobster said "that with the current times and all the government informants, all the wiretaps, that is is foolish for us not to admit that organized crime exists." Cicale testified further that Gotti told Basciano he was going to argue that he had no part of organized crime and that Joey D'Angelo would testify Gotti had quit the life.  The government is trying to show that Gotti's defense is a ruse.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Allie Boy Persico Broke?

What are they going to do, bust his kneecaps?
A Long Island debt-collection law firm is suing the imprisoned boss of the Colombo crime family, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, demanding more than $34,000 in unpaid credit card bills, court records show.
"I'd reconsider how badly they want that money," quipped one veteran lawyer familiar with the Colombo family history.
Even if it is brave enough to go forward with the claim -- instead of having the suit mysteriously "disappear" -- the collection firm of Forster & Garbus, one of the New York area's most active, may not see its money for quite some time. Persico, 55, is currently doing life in the federal pen for rubbing out rival William "Wild Bill" Cutolo in a feud over control of the family in 1999.
Alphonse Allie Boy Persico,
Alphonse Allie Boy Persico

According to the suit, Persico owes the money to FIA Card Services, a subsidiary of Bank of America.
Judging from the papers, the collection firm appears not to have read up on Persico's legal setbacks, as it lists an address on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, rather than the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, Calif. The Brooklyn address belongs to Romantique Limousines, a Persico family business that sources said functioned as the informal headquarters of the Colombo crime family.
Forster & Garbus declined to comment, and a spokesman for Bank of America did not respond to a message.
Persico's lawyer, Vincent Romano, said he wasn't aware of the suit.
The suit is bound to be a new experience for Persico, who presumably became accustomed to demanding money rather than forking it over. When agents busted him for Cutolo's murder in 2004, they recovered records showing close to $1 million in loan-shark money out on the street, the sources said.
Court records did not reveal whether Persico had been served with the suit yet. But it wouldn't be the first time a Forster & Garbus defendant has complained of poor service.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo named the firm as one of several he's investigating for "sewer service" -- the practice of falsely claiming to have served papers on a debtor, then going ahead with the lawsuit while the target remains unaware.
In September, The Post reported how Forster & Garbus mistakenly sued a Penn State student from Brooklyn, Rachel Lindor, causing her loan provider to yank her funding and the school to expel her.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wiretaps reveal Colombo family authorized hit on Junior Gotti

NYPD mugshot of John FranzeseColombo Underboss John Franzese via Wikipedia
In a significant victory for the defense, the judge in the John "Junior" Gotti racketeering trial ruled Wednesday morning that Gotti will be allowed to present evidence that another top mobster approved killing him after Gotti used the defense that he had withdrawn from the mob in his second trial in 2006.
If U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel sticks by his ruling Wednesday afternoon, the jury in federal court in Manhattan hearing Gotti's latest racketeering trial will be the first to hear that he received a death threat, which could make his claim that he quit the mob in 1999 seem more genuine.
According to descriptions by Castel and defense lawyer Charles Carnesi Wednesday, a recording and FBI reports from April 2006 indicate that John "Sonny" Franzese, identified as a captain and acting underboss of the Colombo family, told a confidential informant that the "Howard Beach crew," a contingent of the Gambino family, had asked for permission to kill Gotti.
"They were very upset with John Gotti's behavior and said there's no such thing as quitting the mob," said Carnesi, who was provided with the FBI report Wednesday morning after Castel reviewed it.
Franzese, he said, told the cooperator "that he gives consent to kill John Junior . . . if necessary."
According to gangland rules, mobsters are supposed to get permission from other families before killing other mobsters - particularly those of the stature of Gotti.
Brushing aside prosecution objections that the testimony would be hearsay and had limited relevance to the question of whether Gotti actually withdrew, Castel ruled that the government had to produce either the informant or Joon Kim, the federal prosecutor responsible for Gotti at the time, to testify about the conversation.
Aside from its implication that Gotti's withdrawal was for real, the death threat contradicts a key piece of the prosecutors' case. Two prosecution informants testified that Gotti, while jailed in 2004, got clearance from other top jailed mobsters - including Colombo boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico - to use the withdrawal claim in court.
The evidence about Franzese raises questions about the credibility of those witnesses. It could also, however, be a double-edged sword. Prosecutor Elie Honig pointed out to Castel that Gotti claims to have withdrawn from the mob in 1999. If the withdrawal was genuine, he said, it was surprising that other top mobsters were only learning about in 2006 - after Gotti had used it in court for his defense.

Gotti, 45, of Oyster Bay, is charged with racketeering and two murder counts. He was tried three times on racketeering charges in 2005 and 2006, but each case ended in a hung jury after the defense argued that he had quit the mob before the five-year statute of limitations on racketeering.


Two booted off Junior's trial; mother escorted from court room

Two jurors were booted off the John "Junior" Gotti case this afternoon after the judge decided they would not be able to deliberate.
The decision by Manahattan Federal Judge Kevin Castel to remove Juror No. 7 and 11 came two days after those jurors got into a heated squabble.
The move prompted mob queen Victoria Gotti, Junior's mother, to shout, "This is a railroad job. Enough! Enough is enough! "They're railroading you, They're doing to you what they did to your father!" -- a reference to her late-husband, Gambino crime boss John "Dapper Don" Gotti.
As court officers tried to restore order, Junior shot back, "Please, mother. Please, mother. It's OK. I can handle it."
An out-of-control Victoria Gotti, no stranger to courtroom outbursts, screamed, "They're f-----g liars! They're the gangsters, right there!"
She continued sputtering as she was led out, yelling: "You sons of bitches! They're f-----g liars!"
On Monday, a fight nearly erupted between the two jurors when a young woman who's been accused of creating a "hostile environment" taunted a fellow panelist as a "hater."
Juror No. 11 told the judge she was "getting a lot of innuendoes" from Juror No. 7, who last week was the subject of an anonymous juror letter complaining about her foul mouth and pro-Gotti attitude.
During a private sidebar conference immediately following the incident, Juror 11 said Juror 7 was "asking that I did something," but that when she tried talking to her about it, was rebuffed with the comment: "I'd rather the phony people not speak to me at all."
"Then we went outside to have a break and she started singing: 'Hater, hater,' " Juror 11 said. "I'm going to take it personally, because apparently she has an issue with me, and it's very uncomfortable."
Juror 11, who works as a city procurement-contract analyst, then twice interrupted Castel as he urged her to calm down and give the situation some time.
Juror 7, who works for the US Postal Service, had been the subject of jury angst last week when an anonymous member of the panel mailed the judge a letter complaining about her.
"One of the black female jurors who sits on the first row from the bottom and the first seat that faces the defense team" – aka Juror No. 7 -- uses foul language and creates a hostile jury environment, gets mad if she doesn't have a prime seat and goes all googly-eyed for the defense team, especially Gotti's attorney Charles Carnesi, whom the "concerned juror" mistakenly referred to as "Charles Carneglia" – a notorious mob assassin – in the rant received by the judge.
The letter also said Juror 7 had ordered calamari to go -- on the court's dime -- after a recent lunch outing the jurors had taken at a lower Manhattan restautrant named Spaghetti Western.
Carnesi objected to the jurors being ejected, saying, "I think, frankly judge, that the letter was racially motivated."
But Castel disagreed.
"I think the court has been influenced by the letter," he said.
Legal experts had said the conflict involving Juror 7 has raised the possibility of a hung jury -- even before the start of deliberations.
Carnesi said the juror who wrote the letter should get the boot.
"Root out whoever wrote the letter," he said.
Outside the courthouse, members of the gotti family were stunned. While Junior's sister, Victoria, cried, her brother Peter said, "It's not about my brother. It's about justice."
Gotti's three previous racketeering trials all ended without verdicts.
Earlier in the day, a career criminal testified that the prosecution's star witness, mob turncoat John Alite, "hated" Gotti and that the former Gambino boss "didn't deserve the reputation that he had."
Matthew Morris, 36, who shared a prison cell with Alite in Florida for two weeks, testified in Manhattan federal court that Alite bragged to him that he had "a key" to get out of prison -- a reference to him dropping a dime on Gotti in exchange for a lighter prison term.
Morris, a convicted bank robber and drug dealer who appeared loopy on the stand and admitted he was taking Zoloft to combat depression, said Alite had no love for Gotti.
"He hated his guts," Morris said Alite told him when talking about the mobster. "He hated the Gotti family."
Morris said Alite told him that Gotti "didn't deserve the reputation that he had."
Alite also "had to do whatever he had to do" to get out of prison, according to Morris, who is doing time in a federal prison in West Virginia.

Gotti may testify in his murder trial

John “Junior” Gotti may take the stand in his own defense in his murder and racketeering trial.
The defense has notified the judge that he may decide to testify.
Gotti is on trial for a fourth time in Manhattan federal court. The previous three cases ended in hung juries.
The feds have accused Gotti of racketeering and his involvement in three mob murders.
Meanwhile, Judge Kevin Castel tried to lighten the jury’s tense mood.
Before the first break today, he broke out a plastic jug of 105 individually wrapped Twizzlers.
The judge said the candy would help jurors refrain from discussing the case because they can’t have serious discussions while eating Twizzlers.
Or jurors could take out their frustrations by chewing on them, Castel said.
The jury has had a tough time in this trial.
Yesterday, a fight nearly erupted between two jurors when a young woman who's been accused of creating a "hostile environment" taunted a fellow panelist as a "hater."
Last week, one of the jurors involved in yesterday’s altercation was sowing discord with diva-like behavior and a plan to push deliberations past Christmas, a fellow panelist snitched to the judge.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Peter stole from John Jr in Gotti case

Oh brother!
While John "Junior" Gotti was sitting in an upstate prison, his brother Peter collected on an old loan and stole $10,000 from him, according to testimony today in Manhattan federal court.
Gotti, 34, testified that he swiped the cash because he's a degenerate gambler and needed the money to help pay down his out-of-control debts.
"I learned of the two debts [in 1997] ... I was looking for money anyway I could get it," Peter Gotti said during Junior's fourth racketeering trial.
Gotti's previous three trials ended in either a hung jury or mistrial.
Peter Gotti said he has had a gambling problem since he was an 8-year-old and that he and his father, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, illegally bet on football games.
As a result of his gambling addiction, Gotti said he owes the IRS $58,000 and can't afford to pay for health insurance for his wife and four kids.
Gotti has also worked an array of odd jobs, including on his sister Victoria's reality TV show, a vending machine business and a bakery that went out of business.
While Junior was at the federal prison in upstate Ray Brook near Lake Placid, Peter said he learned that his brother had made two loans -- one in 1993 and a second in 1995 -- totaling $35,000 to a cousin.
Peter said that under the guise that he was collecting for his brother, the cousin handed him $3,000 the first time and a series of subsequebt payments that totaled another $7,000.
Peter Gotti said he took the money without notifying Junior.