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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Federal Judge Finally Sets Vinny Gorgeous Trial Deadline

A federal judge has set a deadline for the capital murder trial of former Bonanno crime-family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, saying he will not permit any more delays.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis said that jury selection will begin on March 2.
"This case is over five years old, the trial has already been postponed, and the parties have had ample time and resources to prepare," Garaufis wrote in an order today. "No further requests to postpone the trial date will be entertained."
Basciano, who has been housed in solitary confinement at a federal detention center while waiting to stand trial for the murder of a mob associate, is already serving life in prison on a previous racketeering and murder conviction.
A week ago, the judge ordered Basciano to stop sending him letters from jail, as the mobster tried to second guess his own team of defense attorneys and argue legal points directly to the judge.
"My death-penalty case is right around the corner," Basciano wrote the judge. "I want to be consulted about the very important issues and decisions that will ultimately affect my life."


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Firebombs Montreal's Hot Issue

The year's most jarring reminder of organized crime's broad reach here came not from the sniper who killed Nicolo Rizzuto in his own kitchen or the abduction of one of his lieutenants, but in the many firebombings that continue to hit local businesses.
Arson investigators were on the scene of another such attack on Wednesday, bringing the city's total to more than two dozen for the year.
The target this time was Cafe Calypso in Montreal North. As is typically the pattern, the damage caused was minimal.
The fires, which have focused on cafes and small restaurants in the northeast of the city, are clearly meant to deliver a message, but police are still puzzling over exactly what the message is.
A rash of firebombings first broke out in 2009, as one Italian cafe after another was hit by nighttime Molotov cocktail attacks. Last January, as the number of fires climbed to 18, police speculated that street gangs could be behind the arson, as they sought to claw away turf from a Mafia in disarray.
The once powerful Rizzuto clan had been hobbled by the imprisonment in the United States of its boss, Vito Rizzuto. Vito's son and heir apparent, Nick Rizzuto Jr., was murdered in late December 2009. After arrests last spring related to five of the fires, there was a lull in the attacks. Police said the nine people arrested were known associates of street gangs, but they were unable to clarify the motive for the attacks. The arsonists could have been advancing their gangs' interests, or they could simply have been hired by one of the parties in an internal Mafia feud.
Hopes that the arrests had ended the spate of attacks dissolved this fall as a new wave began. Cafes remained a favourite target, but in one week in November, arsonists hit three pizzerias on the same Montreal North street.
Organized crime observers note that Montreal has seen similar violence in the past driven by the mob's desire to control distribution of a product. Police wiretaps in 2004 and 2005 uncovered evidence of Mafia violence and intimidation aimed at ensuring a particular brand of coffee was sold in restaurants. The coffee in question, Moka d'Oro, was distributed by a company with ties to a son of deceased mob boss Frank Cotroni. In the 1980s, Montreal saw a similar firebomb campaign aimed at forcing restaurants to carry a certain ice cream.
In early November, Montreal police appeared at a loss to explain the latest string of attacks. But by the end of the month, Commander Mario Lamothe, head of the economic and property crimes division, had narrowed his focus. "The motive behind these arsons is a conquest of territory between Italians for control of the drug traffic," Cmdr. Lamothe told reporters on Nov. 30. It was the first time police publicly connected the firebombings to an internal Mafia war, but he declined comment when asked to confirm who was challenging the Rizzuto family.
On Dec. 9, when police arrested nine people in connection with drug trafficking at north-end cafes, Commander Denis Mainville was hopeful the arrests would stem the arson attacks. He blamed the fires on people trying to intimidate competitors in a battle over drug-trafficking turf in an area that, until recently, was generally controlled by the Rizzuto clan.


Gambino Family Associate Michael Scarpaci Pleads Guilty To Gambling Winnings From Stock Fraud

Don Carlo GambinoDon Carlo Gambino
A reputed Gambino crime-family associate who headed an elaborate, $20 million stock scheme admitted this morning that he wagered some of his proceeds in illegal gambling operations.
Michael Scarpaci, 34, pleaded guilty to racketeering tied to his roles in an Internet sports-betting ring and high-stakes poker games.
He agreed to serve up to 30 months behind bars in addition to the five years he faces for running the bogus "Gryphon Financial" investment firm, which duped investors through a "boiler room" located in a Staten Island strip mall.
During a hearing in Manhattan federal court, the recovering alcoholic and drug addict said he steered fellow bettors to his Web-based, off-shore sports bookie and also recruited players to join him at card games in Manhattan hotels.
The gambling charges against Scarpaci -- who was briefly released from jail for his daughter's April baptism -- were contained in a sweeping indictment that led to the arrests of 14 mobsters earlier this year.
Scarpaci, however, didn't admit any involvement with the Mafia, with defense lawyer Joseph Corrozzo insisting that "the people he was dealing with were lifelong friends from growing up in Brooklyn."
Corozzo appeared with Scarpaci after beating prosecution attempts to disqualify him on grounds that he serves as "house counsel" to the Gambinos, in which his father, Joseph, is the reputed consigliere, and his uncle Nicholas is a reputed capo.
Afterward, Corozzo described Scarpaci as "a good man who made a mistake."
"Good men make mistakes, they accept responsibility for it and they get punished," Corozzo said. "That's our system of justice, and that's what Mr. Scarpaci is doing."


Montreal Expects More Mafia Violence In 2011

In Montreal, QC Canada 2010 literally is going out with a bang.
Over the last few months there have been 19 fire bomb attacks against Italian cafes and bars in the city, and Police Commander Mario Lamothe opined that the violence "is rooted in an ongoing battle between rival Mafia clans for control of the drug trade" as reported by Jan Ravensbergen for The Gazette.
Over the last year several Rizzuto clan members and associates -- including patriarch Nicolo Rizzuto and his grandson Nick Rizzuto Jr. -- have been slain in Montreal. Some mob experts speculate that interloping 'ndrangheta or Calabrian mobsters from Ontario -- perhaps with the blessing of some boys from New York -- may be responsible for the ongoing massacre against the Sicilian Rizzuto clan.
In any event, police are bracing for more of the same in 2011 as reported by The Canadian Press:  "One veteran officer says either the Rizzuto clan will mount some sort of offensive or they will be replaced for good."
Meanwhile, Quebec Premier Jean Charest "will face one of the toughest challenges of his political career in 2011:  untangle his province and government from a web of scandal and corruption allegations" as reported by Marianne White for Postmedia News:  "They range from mob infiltration in construction contracting to underground party financing and cronyism."

Great Christmas Day Diamond Heist in Chelsea

by: Tom Robbins
Amid the tales of peril and loss still emerging from what's now being dubbed "Bloomberg's Blizzard," there is this from the Post about a troop of intrepid jewel thieves who made the most of the build-up to nature's calamity by sacking a Chelsea diamond store on Christmas Day. The Post's Jamie Schram describes this Ocean's Eleven-style crew as "ransacking display cases like hungry piranha."

The break-in began at 5 P.M. -- sunset -- on Christmas when a trio of masked men made their way to the roof of a building at West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. Cat-like, they made their way to the next-door roof of a building where a branch of Ultra Diamonds is housed then smashed their way in with a sledgehammer. Cameras and video systems were disabled, and display cases shattered, police sources tell Schram. Apparently, the thieves missed one camera since police have released a video still showing the black-clad crew hard at work inside the store.

The brazen burglars made off with "a treasure trove" of diamonds, rings, watches, and jewelry. They remain at large and cops are hoping that someone they stiffed for a Christmas present will give 1-800-577-TIPS a jingle.

This is an impressive heist, but it is nowhere near the record for holiday-inspired thievery. That still belongs to the crash-and-carry crew of late Colombo crime family captain Greg Scarpa Sr. who, in the late early '80s, broke through the roof of a store in the old diamond district at the corner of Canal and Bowery over the July 4th weekend. The gang then worked their way through the walls of each adjacent store, taking their time and partying as they went. They spent the entire weekend in the complex, undisturbed in their looting. "Banditos!" headlined the Daily News after the burglary was discovered, the thieves long gone.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Federal Prosecutors Indict Genovese Captain And Three Others On Gambling Counts

Joe ValachiJoseph Valachi via WikipediaA federal grand jury has indicted three people on gambling conspiracy counts based on charges by Rockland prosecutors accusing them of loan-sharking and operating a multimillion-dollar sports betting operation tied to organized crime.

The indictment names Frank John Fea, 70, of New Jersey; and his son Alfred Joseph Fea, 44, and the younger Fea's wife, Tracey Kosierowski-Fea, 39, both of Orange County.
They are charged with conspiracy to make extortionate loans, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business. The indictment also seeks bank accounts and property from the Feas.
The Feas have denied the charges and have been released on bail. Their next federal court appearance is scheduled for early next year.
The indictment accuses them of running a gambling operation, charging higher than legal interest on loans and then attempting to hide the proceeds from the gambling operation.
The federal indictment unsealed in August accuses the Feas of conspiring to run a gambling operation with loansharking and extortion between February 2009 to June 2010.
The Rockland District Attorney's Office brought charges against the Feas in June, culminating an 18-month investigation.
Police agencies raided 12 locations in Rockland, Orange County, New Jersey and the Bronx.
Officers seized gambling records, $376,081 in cash, 18 weapons, $3 million in bank accounts, nine electronic slot machines, poker chips, computers and six high-end vehicles. The weapons included high-powered rifles with scopes, automatic handguns and a shotgun.
Rockland prosecutors dismissed their charges against the Feas this month before Clarkstown Justice Scott Ugell.
Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said he decided to refer the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan for prosecution. He said federal prosecutors were better equipped to handle the case and federal penalties were harsher.
"Based upon the nature of the complaint and the fact there's a lot of properties located out of New York state beyond our jurisdiction, we consulted with the U.S. Attorney's Office," Zugibe said. "They adopted our charges and presented it to the grand jury."
The gambling operation involved associates taking bets and using Internet sites to handle bets that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, authorities said.

The illegal bets were placed on pro sports, including major league baseball, basketball, football and hockey games.
Defense attorney Deborah Loewenberg of New City said all three Feas pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in U.S. District Court. She and law partner Kenneth Gribetz are representing Tracey Fea, the mother of three children.
"We're optimistic we'll be able to have a good resolution," Loewenberg said.
Frank Fea and Alfred Fea are being represented by Bennett M. Epstein and David M. Stern, both of the Manhattan law firm of Rothman, Schneider, Soloway & Stern.
During a June press conference announcing the arrests, Rockland Sheriff James Kralik said Frank Fea has a long association with organized-crime gambling operations, going back to Genovese crime family kingpin Joseph Pagano.
Pagano, who started with the East Harlem gangs and as a hit man for Joseph Valachi, ran the mob's operation in Rockland and neighboring counties from his home in Ramapo until his death.
Pagano's son, Daniel of Ramapo, has been described as a Genovese crime family captain and has served federal and state prison time for mob-related convictions.


Judge Orders Bonanno Boss Vincent Basciano To Stop Sending Him Letters

This mobster doesn't know write from wrong.
A federal judge has ordered former Bonanno crime-family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano to stop flooding him with letters.
The photogenic mobster is a prolific jailhouse correspondent, and for some time now, Judge Nicholas Garaufis has been his favorite pen pal. But it's a one-sided conversation, and the Brooklyn judge has grown weary of being inundated by Basciano's missives.
"This court ORDERS Defendant [Basciano] to cease sending letters directly to the court," Garaufis wrote.
"Any letters the court receives directly from defendant, including the most recent letter, will remain unopened and unread."
But the judge's directive fell on deaf ears.
Basciano has continued writing, sending several more letters in recent weeks to the judge -- either directly to the court or passing them through his defense attorneys.
In response, Garaufis issued two more orders for the wiseguy to stop.
It is an odd turn of events, given that Basciano -- a former beauty-salon owner and ranking New York mobster -- once listed the judge on a piece of paper that prosecutors argued was a hit list.
Basciano, whose nickname was derived from the "Hello Gorgeous" salon he once owned in The Bronx, denied the 2008 document was a hit list, but instead a Santeria curse that named the judge.
Wherever the truth lies behind the list, one thing is hard to dispute: Basciano has a lot of time on his hands.
Sitting in solitary confinement while he awaits trial for the murder of a fellow mobster, Basciano -- already in prison for life on a previous racketeering and murder conviction -- writes letter after letter filled with highly technical observations about how to fight the charges against him. They also include minutiae of his daily prison life and focus on matters that sometimes seem mundane.
To him, the points are anything but small.
"My death-penalty case is right around the corner," Basciano wrote the judge. "I want to be consulted about the very important issues and decisions that will ultimately affect my life."


Gambino Associate Pleads Guilty To Racketeering

A reputed Gambino crime-family associate who was accused of recruiting a baby-faced teen for a mob-run prostitution ring struck a plea deal yesterday in which prosecutors dropped sex-trafficking charges against him.
But Anthony Manzella, 32, did plead guilty to racketeering for a scheme in which his meat company, Gold Pride Foods, illegally inflated its bills by up to 40 percent.
Manhattan federal court papers say Manzella scammed "various high-end restaurants" by kicking back about 5 percent of his proceeds to the chefs who placed the orders.
The high-school dropout also admitted running a weekly high-stakes poker game and extorting a securities-trading firm, Griffin Financial.
Manzella faces 41 to 51 months in the slammer under terms of his plea deal, along with 70 to 87 months for a robbery-conspiracy conviction in Brooklyn federal court.
"He has five children and hopefully when he gets home, he can be a better father -- which he intends to do," defense lawyer John Meringolo said.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan US Attorney's Office declined to comment.


Long Time Genovese Family Captain's Death Marks End Of Era In Hartford

Anthony "Tony" Volpe, the last man to control greater Hartford's once-booming, now-moribund gambling and extortion rackets, died Tuesday, prompting a flood of talk about another passed milestone in the city's evolution.

"It's the end of an era, absolutely," said retired FBI agent Donald Brutnell.

Brutnell spent the 1980s and '90s building indictments against Volpe, who was 78, and the dozens of other mobsters, hustlers and gamblers who seemed to live in the after-hours joints and hidden gambling parlors in the city's South End.

Volpe, who was mostly retired and living in West Hartford, died after a prolonged hospitalization in Hartford.

Until his health failed in recent years, he was the mob's senior figure in what was once a profitable central Connecticut network of mob enterprises that included sports betting, loan-sharking, labor racketeering and truck hijacking. Law enforcement and mob sources said he was aligned with a Springfield-based faction of New York's Genovese crime family.

• ARCHIVES: The Mob In Connecticut
• FILE: Reputed Mobster Pleads Guilty To Racketeering
• FILE: Volpe Associates Plead Guilty To Gambling Charges
• FILE: 13 Arrested On Racket Charges
• FILE: Crackdown Has Bookies Nervous; Volpe A Target

At the end, there was little over which to preside. Most of Volpe's reputed associates in organized crime died over the past decade, including Francesco "Skyball" Scibelli, Adolfo Bruno of Springfield and Americo Petrillo of Old Saybrook. And the mob's money-making businesses — almost all of which were dependent on illegal gambling – were gutted by the proliferation of legal gambling.

"Whether you liked him or not, he was an interesting character and he was part of Hartford's history," said Michael Georgetti, a city lawyer who knew Volpe, as well as many of the police officers who tracked him over at least three decades.

A Volpe contemporary, speaking anonymously, called him "the last of the Mohicans."

Volpe became a newspaper subject in the 1970s as a member of a tough-talking, hard-hitting mob crew that worked in Hartford for Scibelli, a Genovese family capo who kept a summer home in Old Saybrook.

In the late 70's, Volpe, who once played semi-professional football, was sentenced to prison on racketeering charges that included hijacking a truckload of meat and using violence or threats to collect from customers who had borrowed money or lost bets to the mob.

A month before the sentencing, 200 friends gathered at a Rocky Hill restaurant to wish him well in prison. Two hundred more guests would have attended, one guest complained, if the FBI hadn't been outside snapping pictures and taking down license plate numbers.

Volpe was known for lending money at rates that sometime approached 10 percent a week, a contemporary said Tuesday.

"Physically, he was a tough guy," the contemporary said. "He was no slouch. But he was all right. If you needed a favor, he would give you a favor."

By the mid-1980s, Volpe, who once owned a bar on New Britain Avenue, had become the dominant mob figure in Hartford, then an "open" city not subject to the control of any single organized crime group.

That changed with the release from prison of William "The Wild Guy" Grasso of New Haven, who was second in command in the Providence-based Patriarca crime family. Grasso negotiated a deal with Genovese family higher-up's in New York that gave him exclusive control of Hartford.

The Hartford-based Genovese crew was pushed into Springfield. A mob figure familiar with the events said Grasso delivered the news to Volpe personally at what was then Valle's Steak House in the South Meadows.

"Billy took him down there and told him, 'Just stick to your bar and don't let me catch you doing nothing illegal," the mobster said.

By the early 1990's, Grasso had been shot in the head and federal prosecutors had convicted the Patriarca family leadership. Hartford was open again and Volpe re-emerged as the leader of the local rackets.

That made him an FBI target. In 1996, he was convicted again of racketeering charges and sentenced to more than 3 years in prison.

One of Volpe's last arrests was for assault. He was accused of delivering a knock-out punch to a man at a birthday party, arranged by Volpe's daughter, after the man insulted Volpe and tossed a drink in his face. Volpe was acquitted. In his summation, Volpe's lawyer asked jurors what the alleged victim had expected would happen.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mob History Treasure Trove At Hathi Trust

Hathi Trust, a digital library which is a partnership of more than fifty research institutions and libraries, is putting the public record online, and among the documents available are otherwise hard-to-find governmental hearings and reports on organized crime.
For example, its collection includes the groundbreaking 1951 Kefauver Committee Report On Organized Crime together with some of the underlying transcripts and exhibits from its committee hearings including volume numbers two, six, seven, eight and twelve.
Other notable works in the Hathi Trust's extensive collection include: the 1921 report enabling the Chicago Crime Commission; 1983 Senate Hearings on Organized Crime in America:  volumes one and two; 1983 Senate hearings on Organized Crime in Chicago; the 1986 President's Commission Report On Organized Crime and its underlying 1984 hearing transcripts and exhibits; and 1988 Senate hearings on Organized Crime:  25 Years After Valachi.


Feds Wont Seek Death Penalty In Big Al Rubout

                                                        Murdered Genovese Boss Adolfo Bruno

Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty for two of the Western Massachusetts defendants charged in the murder conspiracy case involving the 2003 slaying of regional mob boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno.
After several weeks of vetting the issue, the U.S. Department of Justice informed defense lawyers for Fotios "Freddy" Geas and his younger brother, Ty C. Geas, both formerly of West Springfield, that they will not seek lethal injections as a potential penalty in the case set to go to trial in March in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Onetime alleged Genovese crime boss Arthur "Artie" Nigro, the brothers' codefendant, also dodged a potential death sentence, according to court records.
The men are accused in the murder-for-hire slaying of Bruno, who was gunned down in a parking lot on the eve of his 58th birthday.
Convicted shooter Frankie A. Roche, formerly of Westfield and now enrolled in the federal witness protection program, told investigators Fotios Geas paid him $10,000 to ambush Bruno at the behest of younger gangsters jockeying for his seat. Prosecutors say it was a classic gangland-style hit sanctioned by mob bosses in New York, hence the venue for the upcoming trial.
Since Roche's guilty plea in 2008 in U.S. District Court in Springfield, other defendants have fallen like dominos.
Roche's cooperation with law enforcement led to the indictment of Fotios Geas. New York soldier John Bologna, who has reportedly pleaded guilty in the case in a closed proceeding, according to law enforcement sources, netted Bruno's successor, Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield.
Arillotta turned informant shortly after he was charged in February, which this summer yielded new charges and three new defendants: Ty Geas, convicted loan shark Emilio Fusco, of Longmeadow, and Felix Tranghese, of East Longmeadow.
The Geases are being held without bail along with Nigro in a Brooklyn, N.Y., prison. The Italian-born Fusco fled to Italy before he was charged and is awaiting extradition, according to his lawyer. Law enforcement sources say Tranghese also is cooperating with the government and U.S. Bureau of Prison records show him as "released" a day after he was arraigned in August.
The convoluted result is that only Nigro and the Geases are poised for trial in federal court in Manhattan starting March 8.
The federal murder conspiracy charges tripped the possibility of capital punishment, but it is ultimately up to the U.S. attorney general's office to decide whether to pursue that penalty. It is rarely introduced in organized crime-related murder cases, however.
Despite the fact that the prospect was unlikely, Fotios Geas' lawyer, Frederick H. Cohn, said it is a notable development nonetheless.
"It's important that the government has declined to seek the death penalty. Too many innocent people have bargained down to avoid it. We look forward to trial," Cohn said.
The indictment also accuses the Geas brothers and Fusco of conspiring to murder Gary D. Westerman, a low-level gangster who also was Arillotta's brother-in-law and had served time for a truck heist with Fotios Geas in the 1990s.
Westerman's remains were recovered by the FBI and state police in an 8-foot-deep grave in a wooded area in Agawam in April. Westerman had been missing since shortly before Bruno's murder in 2003. He had been shot twice in the head, officials said.
The three defendants poised for trial also face an array of other charges including shake-downs of business owners in Western Massachusetts and an attempted murder of a union official in New York.
A pretrial conference is scheduled for Jan. 25.


Monday, December 27, 2010

FBI Wiretaps: Donnie Brasco and Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero

These are the real FBI wiretaps recorded by Joseph Pistone "Donnie Brasco", the wiretaps are a series of conversations between Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero and Joseph Pistone "Donnie Brasco". The conversations are about the situation concerning a rat being on the FBI boat (which was Pistone, he trys to cover his tracks during the talks with Ruggiero) Pistone used to host the meeting with Trafficante in Florida. Other mobsters, such as, Anthony Mirra and Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano are mentioned frequently throughout the wiretaps.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Still Home For Holidays: Rumored Indictment of Alleged Mob Boss On Hold

Joseph Ligambi (right) with Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino in 1998. Ligambi took over the mob after Merlino's '99 arrest, sources say.

Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi celebrated the holidays in comfort this year, despite persistent rumors that he and members of his organization were about to be indicted on federal racketeering charges.
Authorities say Ligambi, 71, remains the target of a probe, but they would not comment on what has held up the potential indictment.
"It's not if, but when," said a frustrated law enforcement source familiar with the case, which has been in the works for at least three years.
The delays, according to individuals familiar with the investigation, were due in part to philosophical differences between former leadership in the U.S. Attorney's Office - Patrick Meehan and his interim successor, Laurie Magid - and prosecutors and FBI agents assigned to the case.
The low priority assigned by Meehan to organized-crime cases apparently ended with the swearing in of Zane Memeger as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in September.
Soft-spoken and intensely focused, Memeger was a prosecutor in the last high-profile Philadelphia mob case: the 2001 trial of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and six codefendants. Those who know Memeger say he is a stickler for detail who wants any indictment brought during his watch to be as strong as previous mob cases.
Documents and testimony from other investigations have said the probe is focused on the mob's gambling and loan-sharking operations. A federal grand jury sitting in Philadelphia continues to hear testimony from witnesses.
Informants, wiretaps, and evidence from cases developed by state law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania - including an investigation into the illegal video-poker machine business in South Philadelphia - also could be used in the racketeering investigation.
In the meantime, authorities say, Ligambi continues to run the family in a way that reflects his stay-in-the-shadows philosophy.
"He's an old-school wiseguy," said Stephen LaPenta, who worked organized-crime cases for the Philadelphia Police Department and later the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice before retiring three years ago.
"He's from the Angelo Bruno mold. . . . Make money, not headlines."
Just a few months ago, law enforcement sources claimed that Ligambi and his top associates would be "eating their [Thanksgiving] turkey at Seventh and Arch," the site of the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia.
Instead, Ligambi had both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner as usual. He and his wife, who have three sons, live in a well-maintained corner house in the Packer Park section of South Philadelphia.Philadelphia crime familyPhiladelphia Mafia Boss Joseph Ligambi
Ligambi has been the focus of law enforcement interest since his release from prison in 1997 after a murder conviction was overturned.
Most sources say he became acting boss in 1999 when Merlino was arrested. Ligambi, those sources say, had the acting dropped from his title between Merlino's conviction in July 2001 and his sentencing that December.
Merlino, 48, was given 14 years in prison and has a release date of September, according to federal prison records. Should he choose to apply for it, however, he could be placed in a halfway house in March. Merlino has told associates that he intends to move to Florida.
He also has been mentioned as a target in the current investigation. If true, that could scuttle both his release and his travel plans.
Authorities had assumed a new indictment would come before Merlino was freed and are concerned he could be on the streets before the hammer comes down in the current case, a source said this month.
Whether Merlino's return will cause friction within the crime family is a question authorities are unable to answer.
Unlike Ligambi, Merlino was a "media-friendly" mobster who never shied from the spotlight. Usually accompanied by an entourage of young associates, he frequented pro sporting events and night clubs, hosted an annual Christmas party for homeless children, and captained a softball team in a summer league in South Philadelphia.
LaPenta described Merlino as part of a new generation of mob "pretty boys . . . more interested in hanging out and getting manicures than making money."
Merlino's live-for-the-moment approach was best described by Ron Previte, a major mob figure in the 1990s who became an FBI informant. Previte wore a body wire for nearly two years while helping build a case against Merlino and Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale.
"Joey's agenda on Monday was to get to Tuesday," Previte said disdainfully of Merlino's lack of planning, foresight, and ability to generate sustained underworld income.
If Merlino and some of his associates are included in a new indictment, Previte could end up back on the witness stand, albeit in a secondary role rather than in the principal position he held in the 2001 case.
Five defendants in that case already have completed their prison sentences and are back in Philadelphia. With Merlino's release, the only defendant still behind bars would be George Borgesi, who is due out in 2012.
Borgesi, Ligambi's nephew, has been tied to a gambling operation in Delaware County that could be folded into the racketeering probe.
He remains a suspect in the 1995 slaying of Ralph Mazzuca in South Philadelphia, a killing that could figure in the racketeering case. Borgesi has always denied he was involved.
Roger Vella, a mob associate who confessed to that shooting, told the FBI that Borgesi, Merlino, and a half-dozen other mob figures had helped him carry out the hit, according to FBI debriefing documents.
Vella's testimony is suspect, however, because of conflicting stories he has told the FBI. Most law enforcement sources believe that the only way the Mazzuca slaying would be added to a racketeering case is if authorities have someone else to back up Vella's account.
Three other unsolved mob hits, the slayings of Ronnie Turchi in 1999, Raymond "Long John" Martorano in 2002, and John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto in 2003, also are under investigation.
But, as with the Mazzuca killing, it is unclear if there is enough evidence to include them in a racketeering case.
That the authorities still are focusing on the Ligambi organization was evident when federal prosecutors subpoenaed pictures taken by a private photographer at the posh wedding reception of reputed mobster Anthony Staino and his wife. The affair, in the atrium of Philadelphia's Curtis Center in September, was attended by about 300 guests, including Ligambi and other alleged ranking members of the local crime family.
Staino, 55, of Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, is the reputed number-two man in the South Philadelphia mob. He has never been charged with a crime, but investigators have described him as Ligambi's closest underworld associate.
His loyalty to Ligambi, those sources say, is unquestioned, unlike some younger mob members whose allegiance is to Merlino.
But LaPenta said concerns about an internal dispute were a secondary issue for Ligambi.
"Ligambi's biggest fear is ending his life in a cell," LaPenta said informants had told him repeatedly.
Ligambi, who served 10 years for the murder of Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso before that conviction was overturned, does not want to go back to prison.
"He's a cautious man - some would say paranoid," LaPenta said. "He trusts almost no one, conducts business as low-key as possible using intermediaries, and insulates himself. . . . He's trying hard not to make the mistakes of the predecessors.
"He doesn't want to go back to jail . . . or wind up dead."


Italian Mafia Spreads In Switzerland

Formulas from the code of the ‘Ndrangheta: The...
Switzerland has always been a key destination for Italy's mafia bosses to launder their assets or hide their cash, but recent probes show that Italian organised crime is broadening its activities there.
Some groups, in particular the 'Ndrangheta from southern Italy's Calabria region, are also investing in property and businesses here, as well as trafficking arms and drugs through Switzerland, sparking alarm among Swiss law enforcers.
Keen to stop the mafia from spreading its reach in the Swiss economy, federal police this year made the fight against Italian organised crime a priority.
"The 'Ndrangheta is a clear priority of the work of the federal criminal police this year," said Stefan Kunfermann, a spokesman of the Federal Police Office (Fedpol) told AFP.
They have been "moving into investments in construction, property and restaurants" not just in Ticino -- the canton bordering Italy, but also other cantons, he noted.
Switzerland is also being used for "drug trafficking on a large scale" and as a hideout for mafia members being hunted by police, added Kunfermann.
He cited, for instance, a case before the courts in October 2009 of a trafficker who had brought more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of cocaine to Switzerland and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"He was acting under the mandate of a clan of the 'Ndrangheta," said Kunfermann.
"During the summer of 2010, several cases also showed the implantation in particular of the 'Ndrangheta in Switzerland," added the spokesman.
In one example, the head of a mafia clan who was sentenced to 21 years in prison in Calabria had lived for several years in Switzerland.
Another member of the mafia was extradited from Switzerland to Italy after havinb een sentenced to 11 years in prison for arms and explosives trafficking and concealment, said Kunfermann.
In its latest annual report, Fedpol said it expected the mafia to transfer more of their businesses to Switzerland as they were coming under increasing pressure in Italy "due to the determination of authorities."
Federal judge Jacques Ducry, who this year completed a probe into 'Ndrangheta activities in Switzerland, said the gang had links in Zurich and Ticino.
In an interview with Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Ducry claimed that two financial companies -- PP Finance and World Financial Services -- were controlled by members of organised crime outfits.
"They gathered money that they had stolen in part from their clients by driving the two companies into bankruptcy. They then hid a part of this money and bought land in Sardinia.
"It's the truth and we're talking about tens of millions of francs.
"Our hypothesis is that these people who run these structures are part of the criminal organisation.
"Behind these figureheads, there are two or three people who go up to Calabria and who take care of these companies very intensively," said Ducry.
Ducry's report was submitted in June to the federal attorney-general's office, said Jeannette Balmer, spokeswoman of the office.
Stephanie Oesch, author of the book "Organised Crime, A Threat for the Swiss Financial Centre?", estimates that the Italian mafia have laundered "between 20 to 30 billion Swiss francs" (20.8 to 31.2 billion US dollars) in the past five years in Switzerland through investments in restaurants, property, art or luxury."
These illegal groups have clearly increased their presence here, a sign that the law is not adapted to act efficiently against them, said Oesch, who is also researcher at the University of Zurich.
Ducry meanwhile warned that Switzerland was not doing enough to tackle the problem.
"Switzerland is rather slow, too bureaucratic -- in my view, examining magistrates need to coordinate better their investigative work with cantons and foreign authorities.
"The law gives investigators significant means to confront organised crime and money laundering, it must be used in a courageous and intelligent manner," he added.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mafia State: This Russian regime is more corrupt than under the Soviets as crime bosses and politicians link up to get rich

If one man symbolises the ­relationship between organised crime and the Russian government it is Viktor Bout.
Three weeks ago, Bout, 44, in handcuffs and body armour, was extradited from Bangkok to New York on arms-trafficking charges. The Russian Government ­furiously opposed his removal, claiming he was an honest businessman.
Ironically, the former Russian military interpreter had once worked with a UN peace-keeping operation in Angola.
But he was not in Manhattan to visit his old colleagues at UN headquarters.
He headed to jail to join a less ­illustrious group, including John Gotti, head of the notorious Gambino mafia family, and Bernie Madoff, the man who scammed $60 billion on Wall Street.
As Russia controversially ­celebrates being chosen by Fifa to host the 2018 World Cup, the Bout case is compelling evidence for claims made in a Wikileaks cable.
In the cable, Jose Grinda Gonzales, a Spanish magistrate, claims that today’s Russia is “a virtual mafia state”.
Bout, dubbed the Merchant of Death by Peter Hain while he was a Foreign Office minister, had been the target of the US Justice Department for more than 10 years. Washington claims he is the biggest dealer of illegal weapons in the world.
He was the model for the ruthless arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage in Hollywood movie Lord of War and is thought to have supplied weapons to all sides in the conflicts which have blighted Africa and Asia over the past two decades. His many clients include the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Two and a half years ago, he was caught in an elaborate sting in a five-star Thai hotel by America’s anti-narcotics police, the DEA.
Bout was taped agreeing to sell weapons to Colombia’s Farc, the brutal paramilitary organisation that is one of the world’s main cocaine producers.
Senior American law enforcement officials with whom I’ve discussed the case insist in private he enjoys the full protection of the Russian Government right up to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The Wikileaks cables seem to confirm this. American diplomats in Bangkok say the Russians offered bribes to senior Thai politicians to block Bout’s extradition after he was arrested in Thailand.
Other intelligence suggests the Russians offered Thailand advanced weapons’ systems at knock-down prices to keep Bout out of American hands.
In October this year at a meeting in Hanoi, the Russian Foreign Minister warned Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, that Moscow would consider pulling its support for Nato’s anti-narcotics operations in Afghanistan if Bout were not allowed to return to Moscow.
Jose Grinda Gonzalez’s leaked comments about a mafia state are well founded.
He’s been investigating Russian mafia activities in Spain and elsewhere for almost a decade, including a vast money-laundering operation involving property in Spanish resorts and sex trafficking.
Whenever he and other Western law enforcement officials have attempted to secure co-operation with the Russian state, they are greeted with a brick wall.
Grinda’s most detailed revelations concern the Arctic Sea, a ship supposedly seized by pirates last year off the Swedish coast (where piracy is otherwise unknown). According to Grinda, this was a scam organised by Russian intelligence to allow an organised crime syndicate to sell weapons to a Kurdish insurgent group in Turkey, the PKK, classified by the US and the EU as a terrorist group.
Russian intelligence thought this would destabilise Turkey while the organised crime group would make a handsome profit. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, corruption was rife but the Communist Party came down hard on anything that looked like a mafia-style operation.
Soviet prisons were full of thieves, rapists, embezzlers and murderers and inside they developed a complex code of honour.
The Russian dons were known as vory-v-zakonye or Thieves-in-Law. When ­communism collapsed many of these characters were released and Russia’s under-resourced criminal justice system was unprepared for the brave new world of capitalism.
The mafia came into its own. They provided protection for the new business class, the oligarchs, who became fabulously wealthy buying oil, gas and metals plants for a song, then selling the products on world markets for an astronomical markup. These men and women, supported by organised crime syndicates, were fully in control of then President Boris Yeltsin as he stumbled towards alcohol-induced dementia.
The crime syndicates also set up their own business in illicit goods and services – drugs, women or illegally-fished caviar.
Competition between these groups was intense. I travelled regularly to Moscow in the 90s when groups like the Chechen Mafia and Moscow’s largest homegrown unit, the Solntsevo Brotherhood, would engage in firefights using automatic weapons in broad daylight.
Young girls plucked from the provinces would engage in explicit sex acts in bars and night-clubs. Cocaine and other narcotics were also readily available especially after a Moscow crime syndicate struck a deal with the Colombian coke cartels to import the stuff via the Balkans.
Yet when I was investigating Russian organised crime in Moscow and St ­Petersburg soon after the Millennium, the outward signs of this “gangster capitalism” had disappeared. Russian cities now boast some of the safest streets in Europe (unless you are a critic of the Government in which case you risk being murdered by underworld thugs).
The man who cleaned up Russia was Vladimir Putin. But whereas in the 90s the oligarchs and criminals controlled the ­politicians, Putin has turned the tables – he and his friends control the networks of corruption and crime.
In the most revealing of Wikileaks cables, the American ambassador in Ukraine reports how Ukraine’s biggest gas trader claims he was forced to co-operate with one of Moscow’s leading crime bosses, Semyon Mogilevich, known as the Brainy Don, ­whenever he had to strike a deal with Russia’s state-run gas company, Gazprom.
Along with the illegal arms deals, the transit of gas from central Asia and Russia’s far east to the European Union is among the biggest criminal scams in the world.
Every year Russia and Ukraine argue about the cost of sending gas through Ukraine and almost every year, it results in the Russians shutting down supplies. The real reason is greedy Russian and Ukrainian politicians and their criminal associates can’t agree on the size of their kickbacks.
The World Cup is sure to act as a honeypot to Russia’s crime organisations. The ­construction industry, a traditional home for mafia groups around the world, will be where the biggest backhanders will be paid to politicians.
But perhaps the greatest ­opportunity lies in the field of cybercrime, an area in which Russian hackers are acknowledged as masters.
If anyone wants to go to Russia for the finals, be very careful who you buy tickets from.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Updated: 2011 Mafia Prison Releases

                                      Gambino Consiglieri Joseph "JoJo/Miserable" Corozzo

UI: Under Indictment
IP: In Prison


Capo (NJ) - Joseph "Sammy" Sammartino/Street Boss (IP/1/27/2011)
Soldier - Vincent “Vinny Bionics” DiSario/47 (IP/1/21/2011)


UnderBoss - Arnold "Zeke/Bozey" Squitieri/72 (IP/11/30/2011)
Consiglieri - Joseph "JoJo/Miserable" Corozzo/67 (IP/6/10/2011)
Capo (Queens and Westchester) - Thomas "Tommy Twitch/Sneakers" Cacciopoli/60 (IP/4/4/2011)
Capo (NJ) - Nicholas Mitarotonda/71 (IP/3/01/2011)
Capo (Brooklyn and Queens) - Michael "Mickey Boy" Paradiso (IP/5/15/2011)
Soldier - Vincent "Vinny" Dragonetti/44 (IP/5/17/2011)
Soldier - Thomas “Monk” Sassano/62 (IP/10/23/2011)


Capo (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island) - Joseph Baudanza/65 (IP/2/18/2011)


Capo (Brooklyn, Staten Island, Connecticut and Long Island) - Ciro Perrone/89 (IP10/14/2011)
Soldier - Anthony “Tony the Guinea” Rotolo/66 (IP/5/28/2011)


Nobody getting out of prison.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Daughter of Sammy the Bull set to make small screen debut in controversial mob reality show

The daugther of legendary Gambino turncoat Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano stars in a new mob reality show - and that's not sitting well with relatives of her dad's victims.
Karen Gravano has started shooting for "Mob Wives," set to possibly air next year on VH1.
In one scene, she receives a well-timed prison phone call from her father, who is serving 20-years for Ecstasy trafficking, a preview copy obtained by the Daily News shows.
Gravano, 38, is one of five women tracked on the show - the other four in the preview video are actual wives; she's the only daughter.
Relatives of her 65-year-old murderous father's 19 victims say she should keep her mouth shut - and her face off TV.
"She grew up a little spoiled brat on blood money," said Jackie Colucci, whose slain brother Joseph was Salvatore Gravano's first victim in 1970.
"She should be ashamed that her father is a murderer and a drug dealer. I would be ashamed and crawling in a hole and staying out of the limelight.
"We're the victims. My brother's kids grew up without a father."
Karen Gravano's connection to the show is all part of an effort to reinvent herself. The self-proclaimed "aesthetician and makeup artist" hopes to open a beauty business.
Gravano said her dad's notorious past is his past - not hers.
"As far as the situation with my father, for the last 20 years I've always had that attention so it's nothing new," she said. "I'm trying to get out of that shadow."
"I'm sure it's going to be a good show," she said of the VH1 project, which is largely set in Brooklyn and on Staten Island
In one scene, she gets a call from Sammy Bull and gushes over a drawing he made of her daughter.
"Mommy showed me the picture you drew of (Sammy's granddaughter), it's beautiful!" the mob princess chirps.
Gravano also describes what it was like when she learned her dad broke his mob oath and agreed to testify against mob boss John Gotti.
"When he told me he was going to cooperate, it was devastating. . . . Finding all this out didn't matter because he's my father," she said on the video excerpt.
It should matter, the family of her dad's victims say. Capitalizing on the Gravano name trivializes the destruction he wrought as a gangster, they say.
"Doesn't she realize the aftermath of her father's actions? She has put him on a pedestal and they want to keep making money off Sammy," the relative said. "She's feeding off him."
"Mob Wives" is being produced by Jennifer Graziano, the daughter of Bonanno capo Anthony "T.G." Graziano.
Her sister, Renee Graziano, praises Karen Gravano in one scene.
"Karen has got a huge set of b----, yes, she does," Graziano says.
A spokesman for "Mob Wives" declined to comment, insisting the show's cast is not set and "real production doesn't start until after the holidays."
Meanwhile, Sammy Bull may be starring in another drama if he is called to testify at next month's trial of longtime Gambino associate Joe Watts.


Suspected Mob Bodyguard Charged In Montreal

Bodyguard of the BKA
A 33-year-old man who was believed to have served as a bodyguard at the highest levels of the Mafia in Montreal faces almost a dozen charges in a case that indicates people tied to the mob are still bracing for violence.
Desiderio (Desi) Pompa, 33, of Laval, was charged at the Montreal courthouse yesterday with 11 counts related to firearms and another weapon the Montreal police seized in an investigation they described as related to organized crime. Rita D'Andrea, 30, a woman who resides at the same address as Pompa, was arrested with him on Monday.
The charges they face are related to at least four firearms seized in the investigation, including a .357-calibre revolver and a .22-calibre semiautomic pistol.
It is the fourth series of arrests made this year of people alleged to have ties to the Mafia in Montreal, including Antonio (Tony) Mucci, reputed to be an influential mob figure. While he was investigated, Mucci was known to be driving around the city in a heavily-armoured sport utility vehicle. Since August 2009, several people tied to the Mafia have been killed in and around the city.
During Project Colisee, a police investigation into the Mafia that ended in dozens of arrests in 2006, Pompa appeared to police to be acting as a bodyguard for the most important members of the Mafia.
Late in 2005, while Francesco Arcadi, a man who was at that point considered to be the street boss of the Rizzuto organization, was involved in a potentially explosive conflict with members of an organization based in Granby, Pompa was observed by police at the Consenza
Social Club in St. Leonard escorting mob leaders to their cars.
The dispute was over a large-scale marijuana deal that had gone bad. By December 2005, a person associated with the Rizzuto organization had been kidnapped and held against his will for weeks.
On Dec. 30 and 31 of 2005, Pompa was observed escorting Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., who was murdered at his home last month, to his car. When Arcadi would come to or leave from the social club, which served as the Rizzuto organization's headquarters, Pompa would come out to his car and escort him inside.
He was also observed both at the Consenza Social Club and a bar in Laval, acting as a bodyguard to mob leaders Francesco Del Balso and Lorenzo Giordano shortly after their associate, Domenico Macri, was murdered in August 2006. According to court documents filed in Project Colisee, Pompa was seen manipulating a firearm inside the Laval bar while it was being monitored by police. Pompa was not charged in Project Colisee.


Gambino Family Boss Pleads Guilty In Nephew's 1998 Murder

This mob murder was kept all in the family.
A reputed Gambino crime-family boss pleaded guilty yesterday to authorizing a hit on his nephew for cooperating with the feds.
Daniel Marino said he was visited in prison in 1998 by unidentified "co-conspirators" seeking his "permission" to murder mob rat Frank Hydell, who was later fatally shot outside a Staten Island strip club in 2004.
"I gave them the equivalent of a green light to go forward," gravel-voiced Marino, 70, said in Manhattan federal court.
Under terms of his guilty plea, Marino will serve the five-year max for conspiracy to murder a witness.
He also agreed to forfeit $1.25 million in ill-gotten gains, $1 million of which he must fork over before his scheduled Jan. 25 sentencing.
The plea bargain almost fell apart when Marino initially said he "took no steps to stop" Hydell's murder, an inaction that Judge Lewis Kaplan noted was not a crime.
Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel quickly drafted an additional statement in which Marino implicated himself in the plot without admitting his alleged role in the Mafia.
Prosecutor Elie Honig said authorities struck the deal with Marino because of his age and history of heart trouble.


Appeals Court: There's No Quitting The Mafia

Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo is a ...
A federal appeals court has affirmed the conviction of Charles Carneglia.  The Gambino hitman was convicted in March 2009 on a racketeering charge involving four murders, and sentenced in September 2009 to life in prison.  Carneglia argued that he had retired from the mob, and the five-year statute of limitations was expired by the time of the indictment.  However, the appellate court found sufficient evidence that the mob hitman in fact had continued his relationship with the Gambino crime family within the relevant period preceding the indictment, and aptly noted that there's no such thing as quitting the Mafia:  "The government . . . offered uncontroverted testimony that Carneglia was a made member of the Gambino family, and that made members are never permitted, on pain of death, to quit, retire, or withdraw."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trial of 1980 Brooklyn mob rubout to feature a who's who of Mafia snitches

If you believed the mob rats, the Villa66 restaurant in Brooklyn must have been crowded with hit men the morning a shotgun blast blew away gangster Gerard Pappa.
Stoolies have fingered more than six killers responsible for the July 10, 1980, rubout of Pappa as he ate breakfast, sources said.
The challenge for federal prosecutors is none of them was reputed Bonanno soldier Armando Rea - who goes on trial next month for Pappa's killing.
Former Bonanno underboss Salvatore (Good Looking Sal) Vitale recalled that Rea was tapped to kill someone in the late 1980s because it was believed Rea had not earned his bones - killed anyone - yet.
Genovese turncoat Salvatore (Big Sal) Miciotta said a pair of Colombo hit men carried out the hit.
Frank Gioia, a Luchese family canary, claimed it was a wiseguy in his crime family who whacked Pappa in the Borough Park eatery.
Former Luchese crime boss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso told the feds that the late Genovese boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante gave the contract to a member of his crime family who put together a hit team.
Casso was caught in so many lies prosecutors didn't call him as a witness at Gigante's trial in 1997 and Chin was acquitted of ordering Pappa's murder.
"There have been allegations of multiple shooters and now the government is trying to rewrite history," Rea's lawyer, John Meringolo, argued in Brooklyn Federal Court last week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Posa shot back: "Mr. Rea doesn't have to be the shooter to be guilty."
Witnesses who saw the gunman fleeing Villa66 with the murder weapon wrapped in a red tablecloth described someone taller than Rea - who is only 5-feet-7 - but was accompanied by a short chubby guy, which matches Rea's description.
Prosecutors and Meringolo say they will each call a cavalcade of infamous mob turncoats to testify, with each side pitting their rats against the other.
Rea, who lives in Las Vegas and claims he's broke, began sobbing loudly in court during discussions about his numerous medical issues.
Meringolo denied that unindicted co-conspirator Ronald (Ronnie Mozzarella) Carlucci is paying Rea's legal tab after an FBI agent spotted the high-powered lawyer's Maserati parked in Carlucci's driveway.


Feds Continue Probe Into Waterfront Corruption

Emblem of the International Longshoremen's Ass...
The feds apparently aren't done in their investigation into suspected Genovese-driven corruption on the New Jersey docks.
Last week the feds indicted Albert Cernadas Sr., a former vice president of the International Longshoremen's Association and president of ILA Local 1235 in Newark, NJ, for allegedly "shaking down his union members under threats of violence, in what was described as a long-running racketeering operation tied to the Genovese organized crime family" as reported by Ted Sherman for The Star-Ledger.
And now "sources say a federal grand jury in Newark is investigating the family's links to sister Local 1478 -- whose longtime leader Nunzio LaGrasso was hit with corruption charges in March" as reported by Jerry Capeci for The Huffington Post:  "The grand jury is also probing the murder of Genovese mobster Lawrence Ricci, who was killed while he was on trial for labor racketeering in 2005."

John Gotti Crony Anthony "Tony Roach" Rampino Dies At 71

Anthony (Tony Roach) Rampino, a member of the late John Gotti's crew that whacked then-Gambino boss Paul Castellano, died Monday at an upstate hospital.
Rampino, 71, was serving a 25-years-to-life term for a 1987 heroin trafficking conviction at the time of his death.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Correction said Rampino was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital in New Hartford on Dec. 4.
The colorful mob character had been suffering from heart and respiratory ailments, according to court filings.
Rampino, notable for his skull-like appearance, was never inducted into the crime family, but was a member of Gotti's inner circle and always at his side at wakes, funerals and mob social clubs in the 1980s.
On Dec. 16, 1985, Rampino was a backup shooter when Castellano and bodyguard Thomas Bilotti were gunned down in front of Sparks Steak House - an assassination that vaulted Gotti to the leadership of the crime family and Mafia infamy.
"His job was to kill anyone, civilians or cops, who followed the hit team," said a knowledgeable source. "He was the scariest man you'd ever meet - tall, lean and he looked like a vampire."
Rampino would have been eligible for parole in 2012.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Gotti to Stallone: "Stop Messing Up My Biopic"


It’s Gotti vs. Rocky.

John "Junior" Gotti wants Sylvester Stallone to stop telling people he’ll play his father, legendary mob boss John Gotti, in a movie based on his life -- a charge Sly denies.
Junior and his partners insist that's the case.
“It’s frustrating, because when we’re talking to anybody -- actors, studio finance people -- we keeping getting the same spiel that Stallone is making this movie,” Marc Fiore, chief executive officer of Fiore Films, who have teamed up with the younger Gotti, told TheWrap. “I tried to talk to him about it and his people said they’d get back to us.”
Gotti's father, known as the "Dapper Don," was the head of the Gambino crime family. "Junior" Gotti was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 77 months in prison. He was released in 2005.
Stallone did have a much publicized flirtation with the Gotti story, hosting “Junior” Gotti at a dinner at Mr. Chow and telling several media outlets that he was circling a Gotti project.
However, Gotti claims that ultimately he went with the lower profile Fiore Films, because he and Stallone had different ideas about how his father’s story should be told.
“Marc knew the direction we wanted to go in. Stallone wanted a mob ‘shoot ‘em up’ movie. This is a father-and-son story,” Gotti told TheWrap.
As for Stallone, he emphatically denies that he is muddying the waters for Fiore and Gotti.
“Reports that Sylvester Stallone has implied that he owns the rights to the John Gotti Story or that he is advising the entertainment community not to work with the Gotti family are completely inaccurate,” a spokesperson for the actor told TheWrap. “Mr. Stallone – who does not have a Gotti project in development – recently had dinner with John Gotti Jr., speaks highly of him as a gentleman and wishes him well in his endeavors.”
Not so, say individuals with knowledge of the production.
They claim within the past month, Stallone and his camp have not only spoken to several actors about his vision for a movie based on the Gotti story, but that he has also pitched the idea to senior executives from at least one major entertainment company.
"Stallone has been pursuing this story for so long that he just can't walk away; he's got this Gotti bone in his mouth and won't let it go,” an individual with knowledge of the production told TheWrap.
As for Fiore, they’re moving ahead with the $50 to $60 million production. Nick Cassavetes is reportedly in talks to direct the project, and Fiore says they have several A-list actors interested in playing both Gottis.
Pre-production is expected to start in February, with filming scheduled to begin in New York in May or June.
But both Fiore and Gotti say they’re upset over Stallone’s actions.
“I take it personally. I admired what [Stallone] did to get his first film made, and to kick someone like me who is justing entering the business. I just thought he’d have shown more respect,” Fiore said.
Ironically, it is Gotti who seems less upset over the possibility that Stallone is working against his project.
“I wish him well in life. I’m just confused, because he’s not participating in this project,” Gotti said. “We keep hearing, ‘What about Sly? What about Sly?’”