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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Penn Hills Crime Family" Members Testify Against Leadership

Mafia crime family structure treeImage via WikipediaThey called themselves La Cosa Nostra -- a "family" of Penn Hills men charged in a Mafia-like burglary ring that met in a basement and operated through unwritten rules and a hierarchical structure, one of them said Tuesday.
At the top was Louis Anthony Amendola, 21, a self-appointed leader who tasked his subordinates with "jobs," or burglaries, then collected their loot.
Below him was a "second-tier of leadership," Philip E. Vecchio, 21, and Shane A. Kesneck, 22, who communicated Mr. Amendola's orders to the rest of the group. A "third tier" executed their plans and consisted of just three men -- Thomas Maxwell, 19, Chris Lang, 22, of Verona, and David Giesey Jr., 23, who described the burglary ring Tuesday during a lengthy preliminary hearing in City Court that lasted late into the evening.
Mr. Giesey and Mr. Lang waived their hearings and agreed to testify against Mr. Amendola, Mr. Vecchio, Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Kesneck. District Judge Randy C. Martini ordered them to stand trial on multiple charges of burglary, theft, criminal attempt and criminal conspiracy. All of the defendants except for Mr. Maxwell will stand trial on charges of simple assault for beating up Mr. Lang. The judge dropped a corrupt organization charge against all four defendants and one of the burglary charges against Mr. Vecchio.
Police said the group was responsible for at least 17 burglaries at homes and businesses in Penn Hills and other eastern suburbs that began as far back as June 2008. Others were reported in Wilkins, Squirrel Hill and Plum.
Mr. Giesey said the group members also were friends who went out together and didn't always commit crimes. He met most of them in grade school, but they started hanging out at Mr. Giesey's Plum apartment in 2007. At some point, Mr. Amendola and Mr. Vecchio began discussing their burglary plans and told Mr. Giesey that "if I wanted to know about it, I had to be 100 percent [involved]," he said.
Not wanting to be left out, Mr. Giesey agreed and said he became a lookout for the ring during at least six burglaries. In one of their most brazen, in August 2008, the gang robbed a Vocelli Pizza employee who was about to make a night deposit at a bank.
"Louis told us we had a job that night and to meet up at Shane Kesneck's house," Mr. Giesey said. "He told me my job was to lookout for Philip Vecchio and Chris Lang to take money from a driver."
After that, he said, they drove to Mr. Amendola's girlfriend's house, where he received $50 and saw the stolen bank bag. In another incident, they took a TV from the Kollel Jewish Learning Center in Squirrel Hill, Mr. Giesey said.
He described similar incidents at the Churchill Country Club, where they stole liquor to drink at parties and a failed attempt to lift a TV from a Verona bar.
Paul Boas, who represents Mr. Amendola, said prosecutors' emphasis on the fact that the ring called itself La Cosa Nostra and operated like the Mafia is offensive and prejudicial.
"This is a nothing case, if it weren't for the fact that the commonwealth is making such a big deal about the name," he told the judge. "Otherwise, it's just a group of kids."

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