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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jury Seated, Mob Trial Begins

Colombo crime familyImage via WikipediaA jury was selected Monday in the federal trial of reputed mobsters George Wylie Thompson and Ralph Francis Deleo.

Twelve jurors and two alternates — 12 women and two men — were selected from a pool of 60 people after nearly three hours of questioning from U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes and attorneys for both sides.

Thompson, of Cabot, and Deleo, of Somerville, Mass., are facing drug trafficking and conspiracy charges for a total of four counts. Both are alleged by federal prosecutors to be members of the Colombo crime family.

Laura Hoey, an assistant U.S. attorney, led the prosecution team and was assisted by Pat Harris. Jason Files and Blake Hendrix represented Thompson, while Deleo’s attorney was Dale West.
In her opening statement, Hoey laid out the government’s case and said that Thompson, Deleo and Tri Cam Le, a Thompson employee who goes by Mikey, were involved in a conspiracy to move a little more than two kilograms or about 4.5 pounds of cocaine from Los Angeles to Boston, with Little Rock as the midway point.

Hoey said Deleo provided the cash, some $50,000, to purchase the cocaine that he sent to Le by FedEx. Le then took the money to Los Angeles and returned to Little Rock before going on to Boston on Dec. 12, 2008.

Hoey said Le already was under FBI surveillance at that point and agents notified the Arkansas State Police that Le would be traveling east — most likely on Interstate 40.

Trooper Vic Coleman received the call and pulled over Le’s vehicle at eastbound mile marker 180 on I-40 around 4 p.m.
“I was told to develop my own probable cause,” to stop Le, Coleman told the jury. Coleman said his radar unit indicated that Le was going 76 mph.

A K-9 officer, Coleman received consent to search the vehicle and found, after 15 minutes, two one-kilo bricks of cocaine in the trunk.

After being taken to the Lonoke County jail, Le called to ask Thompson to bail him out.

Hoey said Thompson then called Deleo and said, “we got a problem.” Thompson then called Hubert Alexander, a Jacksonville attorney to represent Le, who was eventually sentenced to 14 years in state prison.
Le was not indicted by federal authorities in exchange for his testimony, and Harris said that Alexander might also serve as a witness for the prosecution.

Defense attorneys declined to disclose who would serve as witnesses for them.

In his opening statement, Files said that Thompson’s and Deleo’s involvement were all part of a legitimate business deal that went bad because of Le’s involvement.

“They had some business ventures,” West said of Thompson and Deleo. The $50,000 was a loan to purchase 40 to 45 ounces of scrap gold and that Le was to take it back to Boston. Purchasing and transporting the cocaine was Le’s idea.

In a written statement, Le told state police investigators that he bought the cocaine from a “black guy” in a Wal-Mart parking lot and was taking it to Memphis in exchange for $2,000.

Files said that Thompson and Le, who is fluent in at least four languages, worked together on at least one legitimate business deal to get a Vietnam factory to produce boat parts for Southern Marine in Little Rock.

Files also acknowledged some criminal activity on Thompson’s part.

“We don’t disagree,” he said when prosecutors called Thompson a bookie. “He was a bookmaker and a pretty good one in fact.”

Files said that Thompson used Le as a translator to the Asian community in Central Arkansas to help process the bets that came in. Files added that Thompson and Deleo were friends and in the estimated 7,000 phone calls that were intercepted by federal authorities in the wiretap investigation, he said the pair sound like old men talking about the weather.

Prosecutors contend that the conversations were guarded and occasionally coded because of wiretap fear.

Lance Smythe, a special agent for the FBI, also testified about the federal wiretap procedure before Holmes called for a break.

The trial continues at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and Holmes expects the case to last three or four days, “possibly a week.”
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