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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NJ Gambino Boss Sentenced To 11 Years For Rackeetering

An East Hanover resident, who federal authorities say is one of the Gambino Crime Family's highest ranking members in New Jersey, was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison for his role in multiple fraud schemes and an illegal gambling operation, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Andrew Merola, who is also known as Andrew Knapik and also lives in Toms River, had previously pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering conspiracy charge before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler, who imposed the sentence in Newark
federal court.
"The record you have compiled to date is not anything anyone would be proud of,'' Chesler said while sentencing Merola.
According to documents and statements made in court:
Merola, 43, admitted that between February 2002 and March 2008, he was associated with other individuals in a criminal enterprise that operated principally in New Jersey and New York.
He also admitted that he conducted the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of illegal activity that included the commission of racketeering acts, and that the purpose of the enterprise was to make money for its associates through participation in criminal activity.
Merola admitted to running an illegal gambling operation; the extortionate collection of payments due on extended credit; conspiracy to commit wire fraud involving a bar code scheme to defraud stores such as Lowe's Home Improvement, Home
Depot, Circuit City, Best Buy and Walmart; conspiracy to commit wire fraud involving a credit card and identity theft scheme; conspiracy to extort lunch truck vendors; conspiracy to commit wire fraud involving no show or low show jobs; and
receiving unlawful labor payments or bribes.
Merola had more than five gambling agents working for him in the illegal gambling operation. Bets on sporting events and casino-style games were placed over an Internet website that operated overseas and by telephone calls placed to a toll-free
telephone number.
Gambling agents who were delinquent in making their payments to Merola and his co-conspirators faced threats of violence to ensure collection of their gambling debts to the enterprise.
In the bar code scheme, Merola and his co-conspirators went to stores to find and record the bar code numbers of items with significantly lower prices than similar items in the same store. They then created a bar code label with the bar code
number of the lower priced item.
Later, Merola and his co-conspirators would return to the stores, place the fake bar code label over the original label on the more expensive merchandise, and then purchase the item at the reduced price. On various occasions, Merola and his co-conspirators would remove the phony bar code and return the merchandise for a refund or in-store credit based on the item's true price.
In addition to the prison term, Merola was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $100,000 and pay $161,481 in restitution.
To date, Chesler has sentenced 14 other defendants who were charged in the indictment to which Merola pleaded guilty, including the following Morris County residents:
<,Justin Cerrato, 31, of East Hanover, was sentenced Oct. 14, to 10 months of home confinement, two years of supervised
release and a $3,000 fine for his involvement in the illegal gambling operation.
‹‚Vincent Derogatis, 46, of East Hanover, was sentenced on Oct. 18, to six months of home confinement and two years of
supervised release for his involvement in the illegal gambling operation.
‹‚Jonathan Lanza, 27, of Florham Park, was sentenced Oct. 19, to 12 months of home confinement and three years of
supervised release for his involvement in the-2-conspiracy to embezzle from union benefit funds.
‹‚Christopher Doscher, 31, of East Hanover, was sentenced Oct. 21, to six months of home confinement, two years of
supervised release and a $2,000 fine for his involvement in the illegal gambling operation._

‹‚Anthony Marra, 27, of East Hanover, was sentenced Oct. 21 to six months of home confinement, two years of supervised
release and a $2,000 fine for his involvement in the illegal gambling operation.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Super Rat Sal Vitale Gets Time Served, Witness Protection For 11 Murders

Former Bonanno crime family underboss Salvatore Vitale, who switched sides to become one of the most helpful government informers in U.S. mafia history, was sentenced Friday to time served and is heading into witness protection.
Known as "Good Looking Sal," the 62-year-old mobster had pleaded guilty to participating in 11 murders, along with a host of other offenses such as extortion and gambling, that could have put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
But federal prosecutors asked the judge to sharply reduce his sentence - despite an adult lifetime dedicated to crime - citing Vitale's seven years of cooperating with government investigators that helped decimate the Bonanno organization and severely damage the four other New York crime families.
Salvatore Vitale, left, member of the Bonnanno family, leaves the Federal Court building in Central Islip, Long Island with his lawyer in 2001.
Salvatore Vitale, left, member of the Bonnanno family, leaves the Federal Court building in Central Islip, Long Island with his lawyer in 2001.
The feds described his assistance in a single word: "devastating." To wise guys, Vitale's considered "super rat."
Vitale told Judge Nicholas Garaufis "I've committed some horrible crimes which I'm truly ashamed of, and I pray for forgiveness."
Garaufis sentenced him to time served - which has been seven years - plus five years probation.
Since his 2003 arrest, Vitale identified more than 500 mob members and associates in New York, New Jersey, throughout the U.S., Canada, and beyond.
He provided information and evidence about more than 30 murders, attempted murders, and murder conspiracies planned and plotted by the mafia, federal prosecutors told the judge.
Vitale pulled back the curtain and provided secrets about all five New York-based Cosa Nostra families, as well as the DeCavalcante family in New Jersey. He identified locations where the mob met and detailed their criminal enterprises, leading to the prosecution of high ranking members of the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, and Genovese crime families.
His knowledge included clues about nearly three decades of mob hits. Included was the 1976 murder of Vito Borelli, who was dating the daughter of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, whom he apparently insulted, the feds believe.
Another was the 1992 execution of Thomas and Rosemary Uva on Christmas Eve, after the pair was suspected of knocking over mob-controlled social clubs in what became known as the “Bonnie and Clyde” robberies, prosecutors wrote. Vitale testified about the hits in a trial.
He also recounted his and others’ roles in the 1981 murder of Bonanno captain Dominick “Sonny Black” Napolitano, only weeks after the crime family learned that a young mob associate who worked under Napolitano was actually undercover FBI Special Agent Joseph Pistone.
The saga was later chronicled in the film “Donnie Brasco.”

Vitale was born in Brooklyn and lived in Queens and Long Island. His employment history in legitimate jobs was “brief,” prosecutors say, and included work in the catering business and a stint as a “narcotics corrections officer” for the State of New York.
In custody for the past seven years, the feds have taken special security precautions to protect him from a mob assassination.
His defense lawyers said that during his time behind bars, Vitale has voluntarily completed an anger management course, worked in the prison factory, regularly attended confession, and assisted a priest by setting up the chapel and running the religious service.
Enemies list
Some of the top criminals Salvatore Vitale helped put in prison:
* Joseph Massino, boss of the Bonanno crime family, life sentence
* Vincent Basciano, Bonanno boss/acting boss, life
* Alphonse Persico, Colombo acting boss, life
* Anthony Urso, Bonanno acting boss/acting consigliere, 20 years
* Michael Mancuso, Bonanno acting boss, 15 years

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Killing for the Mob Then Decimating It in Court

Of all the life lessons that Salvatore Vitale took from a boyhood friend he idolized, two of them became practically second nature: as a child, he was taught how to swim; as an adult, he was instructed how to kill.  The latter skill, he would later admit, was one he practiced regularly on behalf of the friend, Joseph C. Massino, who would marry Mr. Vitale’s sister, become the boss of the Bonanno crime family and eventually elevate Mr. Vitale to serve as the underboss.
Mr. Vitale’s criminal life story is laid out in sharp relief in a remarkable document that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn filed under seal last month. An inch thick, it contains a story that spans more than three decades and touches on 23 murders, 11 of which Mr. Vitale directly participated in, and many other crimes that he and other mob figures committed.
But the document, which was unsealed this week, also tells another story: how the Bonannos were decimated, in some measure through Mr. Vitale’s betrayal in 2003 of the crime family and his own extended family, as he became a star government witness. Using his testimony, federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents have been able to imprison 51 mob figures, including Mr. Massino and the last four acting bosses of the Bonanno family.
Mr. Vitale, 62, is to be sentenced on Friday. Prosecutors have called his cooperation “groundbreaking by any measure,” and filed the 122-page document to seek a more lenient sentence than the mandatory life term set forth in the advisory sentencing guidelines.
In a 10-year assault on the Bonanno family, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors have convicted a total of 135 members and associates, making Mr. Vitale perhaps the most prolific mob turncoat since Salvatore Gravano, who testified against the Gambino boss John J. Gotti.
Prosecutors say Mr. Vitale has identified more than 500 organized crime members and associates in the United States and abroad, and information he has provided has led to prosecutions of high-ranking members of the Colombo, Gambino and Genovese families, in addition to Bonanno family figures.
He has also provided information that led investigators to uncover murder victims buried decades earlier, including in a mob graveyard in a swamp on the Brooklyn-Queens border where two men killed in 1981 were interred. But some see his cooperation, and the government’s effort to secure a more lenient prison sentence for him, possibly even one that would release him into the witness protection program, in a very different light.
David Breitbart, who defended Mr. Massino at his 2005 murder and racketeering trial, criticized the government’s handling of Mr. Vitale and its use of cooperating witnesses in general, noting that a half dozen admitted killers who testified against his client have been released into “the population at large.”
“I don’t want them living next door to me, and I don’t see how the government justifies that,” Mr. Breitbart said. “They take someone on and they use him and they file a 120-page motion in order that the individual can go home.”
Until 2002, the Bonanno family stood out among New York’s five Mafia clans in that it had never had a “made” member cooperate with the government and testify in court. That distinction was due in part to the obsessive fear of informants and infiltrators, borne of an undercover F.B.I. agent’s years-long penetration of the family in the 1980s, which cost two Bonanno figures their lives. (The case became the basis for the 1997 movie “Donnie Brasco.”)
But Mr. Vitale’s cooperation helped break the Bonanno family, leading to a historic event in organized crime in the United States: Mr. Massino’s own betrayal, nearly two years later, of the crime family he headed. An unprecedented act, it made Mr. Massino, an Old World stalwart known as the Last Don, the first Mafia boss in this country to cooperate with the F.B.I. and prosecutors.
Mr. Vitale thus helped create such an embarrassment of riches for investigators that it prompted one F.B.I. official to complain jokingly at the time that there were more insiders providing information on the crime family than agents on the squad assigned to investigate it.
Slender, soft-spoken and polished, Mr. Vitale, who grew up in Brooklyn and Queens and attended City College for a year, made an effective witness. Often, when he answered questions, he said “True,” rather than yes, giving his responses an air of authority.
He served in the Army as a paratrooper for two years, stationed in Mainz, Germany, and worked as a U.P.S. truck driver and a New York State correction officer before he began working for his childhood friend, Mr. Massino, driving a catering truck to sell coffee and pastries at factories and car dealerships on Long Island.
Mr. Vitale, whose silver hair always appeared carefully combed (he was known as Good Looking Sal), came to idolize Mr. Massino, who was nearly five years his senior.
During the course of his three decades with the crime family, his portfolio of crime was substantial and varied. He told agents and prosecutors of committing arson, burglary, hijacking, loan sharking, extortion, insurance fraud, illegal gambling, money laundering, obstruction of justice and securities fraud.
And then there were the murders. Mr. Vitale pleaded guilty in April 2003 to racketeering conspiracy and murder-in-aid of racketeering, admitting to 11 killings between 1976 and 1999.
The document methodically maps out the various aspects of Mr. Vitale’s work with the government. It is known as a 5K motion, for section 5K1.1 of the sentencing guidelines, under which prosecutors can argue for a term shorter than that set out under the advisory guidelines if a defendant has provided “extraordinary cooperation.”
In some ways, the lengthy document adds little new information to what the government has already said in court papers and what Mr. Vitale has said from the witness stand at six trials in United States District Court in Brooklyn, where he will appear before Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in his own case on Friday afternoon. But it weaves together the various narrative strands, trials and cases that were brought, in part, on information Mr. Vitale provided.
Two of the prosecutors who led the assault against the Bonannos, Greg D. Andres and John Buretta, prepared the 5K motion, and, with other submissions, argue for a sentence far shorter than the mandatory life term he faces.
Judge Garaufis, who has presided over cases against scores of Bonanno figures, including four of the trials at which Mr. Vitale testified, will consider the motion, along with a companion document that remains sealed.

Betrayed by a Mafia Underboss

Salvatore Vitale, a former underboss of the Bonanno crime family, helped put away 51 organized-crime figures through his testimony as a government witness, 38 of them for murders.
Name Nickname Rank Sentence
Joseph Massino* Joey Bonanno boss Life Imprisonment
Vincent Basicano* Vinny Gorgeous Bonanno boss/acting boss Life Imprisonment
Anthony Urso* Tony Green Bonanno acting boss/acting consigliere 20 Years
Michael Mancuso* Michael Nose Bonanno acting boss 15 Years
Alphonse Persico* Allie Boy Colombo acting boss Life Imprisonment
Lawrence Dentico* Little Guy Genovese acting boss 51 Months
Louis Attanasio* Louis Ha Ha Bonanno acting underboss/captain 15 Years
Joseph Cammarano Sr. Joe C Bonanno acting underboss 15 Years
Nicholas Santoro Nicky Mouth Bonanno acting underboss 36 Months
Anthony Rabito Fat Anthony Bonanno acting consigliere 33 Months
John DeRoss* Jackie Colombo acting underboss Life Imprisonment
Jerome Asaro Jerry Bonanno captain 30 Months
Peter Calabrese* Peter Rabbit Bonanno captain 15 Years
Dominick Cicale* Donnie Bonanno captain Facing Life Imprisonment
Louis DeCicco Louie Electric Bonanno captain 40 Months
Joseph DeSimone* Joe Desi Bonanno captain 12 Years
Frank Lino* Curly Bonanno captain Facing Life Imprisonment
Robert Lino* Little Robert Bonanno captain 27 Years
Daniel Mongelli*
Bonanno captain 24 Years
James Tartaglione* Big Louie Bonanno captain Facing Life Imprisonment
Michael Cardello* Mickey Bats Bonanno soldier/captain 10 Years
Louis Restivo*
Bonanno soldier/captain 10 Years
Baldassare Amato* Baldo Bonanno soldier/captain Life Imprisonment
Anthony Indelicato* Bruno Bonanno soldier/captain 20 Years
Dominick Pizzonia* Skinny Dom Gambino captain 15 Years
Robert Attanasio* Bobby Ha Ha Bonanno soldier/acting captain 10 Years
Generoso Barbieri* Jimmy the General Bonanno soldier/acting captain Facing Life Imprisonment
Joseph Cammarano Jr.* Joe C Jr. Bonanno soldier/acting captain 27 Months
Anthony Furino Anthony Black Bonanno captain/acting captain 24 Months
Anthony Aiello* Ace Bonanno soldier 30 Years
Sandro Aiosa
Bonanno soldier 12 Months
Giacomo Bonventre Jack Bonanno soldier 9 Months
Peter Cosoleto* Petey Boxcars Bonanno soldier 10 Years
Joseph DiStefano Joe Shakes Bonanno soldier 24 Months
Anthony Donato*
Bonanno soldier 25 Years
Anthony Frascone Anthony Stutters Bonanno soldier 12 Months (and 1 Day)
Gino Galestro*
Bonanno soldier 24 Months
Emanuel Guaragna Manny from the Bronx Bonanno soldier 20 Months
Steven LoCurto* Stevie Blue Bonanno soldier Life Imprisonment
Anthony Navarra
Bonanno soldier 3 Years Probation
Philip Navarra
Bonanno soldier 21 Months
John Palazzolo*
Bonanno soldier 10 Years
Richard Riccardi* Big Richie Bonanno soldier 10 Years
Vito Rizzuto* Vito from Canada Bonanno soldier 10 Years
Johnny Joe Spirito* Johnny Joe Bonanno soldier 20 Years
Paul Spina* Fat Paulie Bonanno soldier 106 Months
Joseph Torre
Bonanno soldier 24 Months
Frank Ambrosino*
Bonanno associate Facing Life Imprisonment
Anthony Basile*
Bonanno associate Facing Life Imprisonment
Ronald Filocomo*
Bonanno associate 20 Years
Patrick Romanello* Patty Muscles Bonanno associate 10 Years