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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Mafia Was Wrong: You Can’t Quickly Dissolve a Body in Acid

It’s a sad day for aspiring kingpins and Mafia godfathers–it turns out that you can’t dissolve a corpse within minutes by dunking it in sulfuric acid. If that’s not bad enough, scientists have also shown that even if you wait days, acid alone cannot fully destroy “the evidence.”
This Mafia technique of disintegrating human flesh entered public parlance in the early 1980s when police in Palermo, Sicily, discovered vats of acid in a Mafia boss’s digs. The crime leader, Filippo Marchese, had his goons kill their victims and dissolve the bodies in a room known as “the chamber of death.” But violent people tend to meet violent deaths, and Marchese was himself dissolved in acid sometime in 1982.
At this week’s meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, researchers explained that they wanted to find out whether the Mafia’s claims about sulfuric acid’s extraordinary effectiveness were true. As the forensic researchers told Science News, Mafia informants make some big claims, such as: “We put the people in acid. In 15, 20 minutes they were no more — they became a liquid.”
So to test this idea, the scientists placed pieces of pig carcasses into vats of sulfuric acid, and discovered that it took several days to dissolve the flesh. However, they did notice a difference when they added water to the sulfuric acid: In this case, it took a mere 12 hours for the muscle and cartilage to disintegrate. And by day two, even the bones had turned into dust. But according to Science News, the researchers say their results still put the lie to Mafia accounts.
“[I]t is impossible that they completely destroyed a corpse with acid,” said study coauthor Massimo Grillo of the University of Palermo in Italy.
Naysayers may suggest that the research is flawed because the scientists used a pig corpse in place of a human body–but pigs are widely used as replacements for human flesh in scientific experiments. And even though the Mafia seems to have overstated its claims about acid’s abilities, the scientists do give them some credit. From Science News:
“[T]hey are smarter than some Georgia criminals,” said Michael Heninger, an associate medical examiner in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located. “People think they will destroy a body, but they’ll do things that preserve it. These guys are more experienced,” he said of the Palermo killings.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feds ID New England Mafia Leaders

For the first time ever, the federal government is naming who officials believe is running the New England Mafia, and as Fox Undercover earlier reported that leadership team is in Massachusetts.
The revelation came out in court documents as the former boss of the New England mob, Luigi "Baby Shanks" Manocchio pleaded not guilty to extortion and conspiracy charges in Rhode Island.

Federal prosecutors in Rhode Island filed paperwork to keep Manocchio locked up while he waits to go on trial.
Part of their argument is that Manocchio is still active in the New England mob.
In court documents, US Attorney Peter Neronha cited this example:
"In June, 2010, (Manocchio) was observed by law enforcement having an extended meeting with then acting (New England Mafia) boss Peter Limone and underboss Anthony DiNunzio at a Chinese restaurant in Boston."
"His access to high ranking (New England Mafia) figures demonstrates his continued power and respect within the organization..."
DiNunzio is the brother of reputed Mafia leader Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio, who is currently serving a federal sentence.
Limone pleaded no contest last July to running an organized crime gambling ring, but avoided going to jail.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts State Police organized crime investigator Lt. Steve Johnson told Fox Undercover Limone remains active in the Mafia.
“Do you think Mr. Limone belongs in prison?” asked Fox Undercover’s Mike Beaudet.
“Yah,” replied Lt. Johnson.
“Fair to say he was a significant player?” asked Beaudet.
“Fair to say he is a significant player,” said Johnson.
Limone's attorney did not return phone calls, but earlier this month she denied her client is the boss of the New England mob.
Manocchio remains locked up. He'll be back in court again next week when a judge will decide if he'll be released.
Click here to read the government’s court filing


Prosecutors say made members of LCN will testify against Baby Shacks

The reputed former boss of New England's Patriarca crime family, Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal extortion and conspiracy charges.
Manocchio, 83, entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Martin in federal court in Providence this afternoon, hours after he returned to Rhode Island for the first time since his arrest last month.

Prosecutors say Manocchio accepted protection payments from Providence's Satin Doll and Cadillac Lounge strip clubs starting as early as 1993.
Martin ordered Manocchio held without bail for now, but the elderly defendant will get another shot at temporary freedom in another hearing the judge scheduled for Tuesday.
Prosecutors urged Martin to deny Manocchio bail, claiming that he poses a flight risk. Manocchio's lawyer, Mary June Ciresi, argued that was not the case because he has been aware of the investigation for several years yet hasn't fled.
The judge said he would consider allowing Manocchio to stay in home confinement at his brother's house under electronic monitoring.
But he also asked Manocchio to proivde a list of people who would pledge their properties as surety if he is allowed free. The government said it wants time to investigate whether all those people are doing so willingly and whether they actually own the properties in question.
In an extensive new filing Thursday, prosecutors alleged Manocchio has maintained ties with organized crime since reportedly stepping down around 2009 after more than a decade as the boss of New England's La Cosa Nostra, and said therefore he should remain behind bars.
Prosecutors expect more indictments against Manocchio and additional defendants to come down before the case is finished, according to Thursday's filing. They also claim to have made members of the Patriarca family who are prepared to testify in court against Manocchio.
Officers arrested Manocchio Jan. 19 at a Florida airport as part of the largest single-day organized-crime bust in FBI history. If convicted of both charges, he could face up to 40 years behind bars.
Manocchio arrived at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls just minutes after 9 a.m. Thursday. He was transported there in a government bus after being flown from a holding facility in Oklahoma to New York earlier this week.
The other Rhode Islander implicated in the case was Johnston resident Thomas Iafrate, 69, who was charged with extortion and conspiracy. He stands accused of acting as the delivery man for the alleged protection payments.
Iafrate pleaded not guilty Jan. 20 and was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond. Judge Martin ordered Iafrate to stay away from strip clubs and a number of alleged organized crime figures.


Kim Kardashian Up for Role in New John Gotti Flick

Kim Kardashian is on the verge of scoring the role of a lifetime ... opposite John Travolta -- as John Gotti's daughter-in-law in the new biopic about the mafioso's life.

Kim Kardashian Gotti
Sources connected with the movie tell TMZ, Kim recently met with executive producers on the film to discuss the possibility of playing Kim Gotti in the movie.

Nothing's been signed yet -- but we're told KK's a front-runner to land the role ... and producers have expressed strong interest in casting her ... to act.

Stranger things have happened.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gambino Associate Cops to Extortion Charges; Details Beating For Mob Actor

One of the Gambino mob goons used in the savage beating of a man who owed money to a “Sopranos” actor pleaded guilty to extortion charges today.
Crime family associate Giovanni “John” Monteleone detailed how he and another Gambino underling met with actor Tony Darrow, whose real name is Anthony Borgese, to discuss the plan.
Monteleone, a burly 42-year-old Gambino associate, detailed how he and another enforcer had an upstate New York rendezvous with Borgese, to discuss their plan to confront the debtor.
"Me and Joe had driven up to Monticello, NY, and had met up with Tony Borgese at a diner," Monteleone told a judge in Brooklyn federal court. "We had something to eat.
Then Monteleone described how he and the other Gambino associate drove along with Borgese while the actor pointed out the debtor's house.
The two mobsters then drove back to the diner to drop the actor off there.
After that, the enforcers drove back to the man's house.
"I was there to collect a debt, " Monteleone said.
As Monteleone stood by, the second enforcer walked up to the front door.
"Joe knocked on the guy's door," Monteleone explained.
Monteleone said he then watched as his partner confronted the debtor and a short time later the second enforcer and the debtor began struggling.
As the second enforcer fell to the ground, Monteleone said he jumped into the fray.
"I ran over and punched the guy," Monteleone said. "I got Joe up, and we left in the truck."
On a FBI recording, another Gambino member was heard recounting the confrontation: "So Tony [Borgese] meets them ... shows them where the house is. They go to the house ... the guy answers the door ... they beat the living sh*t out of him."
Borgese, who uses the stage name Tony Darrow and who starred in Goodfellas and Analyze This, has already plead guilty to arranging the 2004 beating, which resulted in the victim being left with a broken jaw and rib.
Darrow has since apologized for the incident and says he wants to take his message that crime does not pay to America's troubled youth through lectures at high schools and juvenile detention centers.
Monteleone, a mechanic from northern New Jersey, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Eric Vitaliano.
But Assistant US Attorney Evan Norris told the judge that under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Monteleone is expected to be sentenced to between 33-41 months in federal prison.
Monteleone's defense attorney, Mitchell Golub, said his client is not a professional mob enforcer.
"It was a one-time event - it's not who this man is," Golub said. "He's trying to put this behind him."

Reputed Colombo mobster Scott Fappiano released on $1.5 million bail

A reputed Colombo crime associate was released on $1.5 million bail secured by the Staten Island home he purchased with a seven-figure settlement from a wrongful conviction for raping a cop's wife.
Scott Fappiano, 48, charged with racketeering, robbery, conspiracy and loansharking, strode out of Brooklyn Federal Court Wednesday and straight to a substance-abuse rehab program in Queens.
He received $2 million from the state after DNA testing sprung him from prison after serving 21 years for the 1985 attack.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Qaddafi's Son Bankrolls `Mafia Killer' Movie While Father Clings to Power

Al-Saadi Qaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, may manage to keep his Hollywood investment business going even as his father fights off a rebellion at home.
Al-Saadi, a 37-year-old former professional soccer player, has invested in a $100 million Los Angeles-based film production fund called Natural Selection, founded by Matty Beckerman. He may be able to continue to push film productions for that fund as his father struggles to contain a revolt in Libya that has left hundreds dead.
“This son is quiet and legitimate and less political than his father,” said Wendy Mitchell, head of news at London-based film trade magazine Screen International. “It’s hard to get money to invest in films so I’m not sure people would necessarily go the other way. They were doing good business before all this happened.”
Natural Selection is producing “The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,” with Mickey Rourke in the lead. The fund is also backing “Isolation,” a thriller with Susan Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amurri. While the Qaddafi connection raised eyebrows when Al-Saadi announced in 2009 that he was getting into Hollywood, the crisis in Libya may not sway investors and actors from taking on films backed by his fund.
The fund is slated to produce 20 films over a five-year period, Mitchell said.
Al-Saadi has kept a low profile during the recent protests in Libya. In contrast, his brother Saif al-Islam this week threatened that “rivers of blood” would flow unless the uprising ends.
Libya’s Qaddafi vowed yesterday to fight a growing rebellion until his “last drop of blood” and pledged to deploy the army and police to impose order. He said he’s the leader of a revolution that requires “sacrifice until the end of life” and said rebels had been drugged and the “masterminds” behind the uprising were abroad.
Qaddafi’s crackdown on a weeklong unrest -- following similar turmoil in Tunisia and Egypt, whose leaders were toppled -- has already left more than 200 dead, according to Human Rights Watch.
“I really don’t have a comment on this,” Natural Selection’s founder Beckerman said when reached by telephone in L.A. yesterday about the uprising in Libya and its possible impact on the fund.
Al-Saadi, who played soccer professionally, was suspended by the Italian Olympic Committee for using steroids in 2003.


N.J. judge refuses to dismiss indictment against alleged Bloods member charged in 2007 mob bust

FBI surveillance photo of Casso (right) with L...Vic Amuso and Anthony CassoA Superior Court judge today refused to dismiss an indictment against an alleged Bloods gang leader who is accused of working with the Lucchese crime family to smuggle drugs and cell phones for fellow inmates at East Jersey State Prison.
Edwin Spears, 36, of Neptune, allegedly participated in the conspiracy in the summer of 2007 and was initially charged in December 2007.
His attorney, William Johnson, sought to dismiss the indictment on grounds that Spears’ right to a speedy trial has been violated because so much time has elapsed since he was charged. Spears is being held at the Morris County jail on $125,000 bail.
Johnson pointed out that an indictment was not returned against Spears until June 2010, meaning the case was delayed nearly three years, and Spears has been incarcerated for all but three months of that period.
Judge Thomas Manahan, sitting in Morristown, said the delay was not as long as Johnson claimed. The judge pointed out that Spears was found to have violated terms of his parole and 14 months were added to his sentence on a prior charge.
Still, Manahan said, there was “at least a 17-month delay,” adding that “under ordinary circumstances” that might be a problem.
However, Manahan said, “This was no ordinary street crime.” He pointed out that Spears is one of 34 defendants charged as being part of a Lucchese racketeering operation that allegedly ran an international gambling ring and money laundering during a 15-month period ending in December 2007.
“It’s an extremely complex case and (Spears’) conduct cannot be severed,” Manahan said. He added that the delay was mostly due to “the complexity of the case” and said there was “no deliberate attempt to delay.”
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn pointed out that evidence in the case includes wiretaps of 10,000 intercepted phone calls.


Fifteen accused N.J. mob members and associates all plead not guilty in one of largest FBI Mafia takedowns

Sam DeCavalcanteFifteen New Jersey defendants pleaded not guilty today to racketeering conspiracy and other charges in federal court in Newark.
The defendants were arrested in January as part of a massive federal roundup of more than 120 suspects in what authorities touted as the largest federal mob roundup in history.
All were arrested Jan. 20 when federal authorities rolled out a series of early morning raids — spanning from Brooklyn to New Jersey — nabbing more than 120 alleged members and associates of seven organized-crime families.
Charges against those arrested ranged from murder to loan-sharking — and involved some crimes dating back 20 years or more. Sixteen indictments were handed down, based on investigations in New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
Justice Department officials said that those charged were connected to all five New York-based crime families: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese families, along with the New Jersey-based Decavalcante family and New England’s Patriarca crime family.
Most of the New Jersey defendants were linked to the waterfront. The defendants include current or former union officials on the docks with alleged ties to organized crime figures. 
In a 53-count indictment, the New Jersey defendants were variously charged with racketeering conspiracy, bookmaking, extortionate collection of credit and illegal gambling. Some of the defendants were charged with collecting "Christmas tribute" money from dockworkers after they received annual year-end bonuses. Prosecutors described the tribute money as mob kickbacks.
Two defense attorneys involved in the case said today that their clients are innocent and ready to go to trial.
"It’s a trial all the way," said Joseph Hayden, who represents Albert Cernadas Sr. "He’s emotionally sound and ready to fight."
Cernadas served as both executive vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and president of ILA Local 1235 in Newark.
Cernadas is charged with racketeering conspiracy — including conspiring to extort ILA members on the New Jersey piers — bookmaking, extortionate collection of credit, and illegal gambling.
Sarita Kedia, attorney for Stephen Depiro, 55, of Kenilworth, who is listed at the top of the federal indictment, said: "I think this is going to be a fairly lengthy proceeding," and added, "I believe the allegations against [my client] are entirely unfounded." Depiro is also charged with racketeering conspiracy, bookmaking, extortionate collection of credit, and illegal gambling.
Due to the number of defendants and the complexity of the case, U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh said that he would not set a trial date for at least six months.


Lawyers wrangle at final pretrial hearing for Fotios Gaes, Ty Gaes and Arthur Nigro, accused in Al Bruno murder

When they weren’t serving prison time, local defendants in an upcoming mob murder trial essentially crafted a long-term business around robbing drug dealers, extorting business owners, roughing up rivals and taking out suspected informants, according to federal prosecutors.

Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 44, of West Springfield, and his brother, Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, appeared along with co-defendant Arthur “Artie” Nigro, the onetime alleged boss of the New York-based Genovese crime family, at their final pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The hearing lasted nearly three hours and was scheduled for lawyers to wrangle over which evidence U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel will allow a jury to hear in the final stretch of pretrial maneuverings, a prelude to what is expected to be a month-long trial starting with jury selection on March 8.

The brothers and Nigro are accused in the 2003 murder-for-hire plot against Western Massachusetts Genovese crime boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and a litany of other mob-related activity.

While the case will be tried in New York, the most egregious accusations in the sweeping racketeering indictment generate from a violent spree that played out in Greater Springfield in 2003, according to law enforcement officials.

Al Bruno Murder Case
Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno (center) talks with attorneys in the hallway of the Hampden County Superior Court during a recess in his trial for attempted murder. 
Bruno and police informant Gary D. Westerman were murdered by Bruno’s reputed successor, Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, and his cohorts, according to witnesses. The regime change in local rackets also fueled a spate of extortion, loan-sharking and illegal gambling rings in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, according to the charges and arguments in court.

Over objections by defense lawyers, Castel will allow jurors to hear about the Geas brothers’ lengthy prison histories, prior alleged plots to kill Westerman, a pattern of tractor-trailer truck heists, hold-ups of drug dealers, myriad other thwarted murder plots, paid beatings of adversaries and shake-downs of strip club, bar and restaurant owners dating back to the 1990s.

While defense lawyers argued any evidence of alleged misbehavior not included in the indictment will create a pile-on that will infect the trial, prosecutors countered that the government should be able to present to the jury a rich history of criminal bonding among the players.

Under that theory, prosecutors also will put on evidence of an alleged trip Arillotta and Nigro took through the Bronx in 2003, looking to greet mob associate Anthony DiFranco with a lead pipe. While they didn’t find him that day, prosecutors said, it represented the flavor of their partnership.

“This is how Nigro operated in the Genovese family - through assaults. That’s how one gets a reputation in the Genovese family,“ Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher told Castel, adding that the beating was carried out later.

Bruno was gunned down in a dark parking lot on Nov. 23, 2003 in what prosecutors say was a classic gangland murder-for-hire. Admitted shooter Frankie A. Roche, 39, pleaded guilty in 2008 to shooting Bruno, 58, six times for $10,000 at the behest of Arillotta and the Freddy Geas, whom he had met and befriended in state prison.

Arillotta pleaded guilty over the summer to killing Bruno and Westerman, in addition to admitting other charges, under a plea deal with prosecutors. He told investigators he and the Geases lured Westerman, 48, to a wooded lot in Agawam, shot him twice and buried him in an eight-foot grave because they correctly believed Westerman was a state police informant. Westerman also was Arillotta’s brother-in-law.

Arillotta is scheduled for sentencing on March 11 and is expected to receive a reduced sentence for his testimony in the upcoming trial and other matters. He will be among the government’s star witnesses, along with Roche and East Longmeadow gangster Felix Tranghese, who also was charged in the Bruno murder in July and turned informant shortly after.

The jury also will hear testimony about an alleged beating of Tranghese by Freddy Geas in 2006. Lanpher told Castel it was delivered after Nigro ordered Tranghese, 58, be “put on the shelf“ and was accompanied by the message: “This is from your friend in New York.“

Castel has not ruled on a motion by the government to impanel an anonymous jury. Prosecutors argued they must protect members from jury tampering and protect cooperating witnesses in the case. A defense lawyer for Freddy Geas said it will create unnecessary fear among the panel.

“This is a run-of-the-mill murder case. The fact that this has mob allegations has nothing to do with anything,“ attorney Frederick H. Cohn told Castel, adding that none of the defense lawyers has the reputation of being “in-house counsel for the mob.“


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Judge rules Gambino boss to stay in jail until trial

A federal judge ruled today that a top Gambino Mafia boss charged in a 30-year-old mob double-murder should remain behind bars until trial, overturning a decision to release him by a lower-ranking jurist.
Judge Sandra Townes held that Bartolomeo Vernace, a Gambino capo who is one of three made men sitting on the crime family’s ruling panel, poses a danger to the community based on "clear and convincing evidence."
Townes, a US district judge, overruled Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, who held several weeks ago that Vernace could be released on bail.
Both judges sit in Brooklyn federal court.
Federal prosecutors had objected and appealed Reyes’ ruling, while Vernace remained in custody awaiting judicial review.
The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn has charged Vernace with being one of the trigger-men in the 1981 Queens bar mob double-kill where one victim was shot point-blank in the face and another in the chest, saying they have new eyewitnesses to the slayings.
Vernace, 61, was acquitted in a 2002 state-court trial of the murders of John D’Agnese and Richard Godkin in the Shamrock Bar on Jamaica Avenue after an argument arose over a drink spilled on a wiseguy’s girlfriend.
A Gambino associate who was involved in the dispute left the bar and later picked up Vernace and a third accomplice, prosecutors say.
The three allegedly returned and opened fire on D’Agnese and Godkin, who owned the bar.
In an 11-page ruling released Tuesday, Townes ruled that Vernace should not be released until after he’s tried because he is a leader of a criminal organization with "dangerous criminals...at his beck and call."

Police lose track of alleged soldier in the mob, until Canadian Tire tussle

André Roy, an in-house investigator for Canadian Tire, was scanning images from the store’s live security cameras last November when a customer in the automotive aisle caught his eye. He says the man, dressed head to toe in black, looked left and right before removing some packaging and shoving an item inside his trench coat.
Nicola Cortese is said to have shoplifted $250 worth of merchandise, including a handgun holster, an ammunition pouch and a balaclava.
Nicola Cortese is said to have shoplifted $250 worth of merchandise, including a handgun holster, an ammunition pouch and a balaclava.

For half an hour, Mr. Roy watched the short, stocky customer moving from one department to another, discarding packaging and pocketing merchandise. As the man headed toward the cash register to pay for a flashlight, Mr. Roy and his assistant manager moved in.
The suspect, according to Mr. Roy, put up a fight, and it took four employees to subdue him until police arrived. To Mr. Roy’s amazement, a thick wad of $100 bills totaling more than $3,000 fell from the shoplifter’s pocket during the scuffle. He also noticed the man’s Rolex watch and diamond ring. “I was asking myself why someone with so much money would be committing such a petty theft and reacting so violently,” Mr. Roy testified in Quebec Court last week.
The mystery would only deepen following that Nov. 13 arrest.
Court documents and testimony show that the alleged shoplifter was not the unilingual Italian-speaker named Vincenzo Sestito he pretended to be. A fingerprint check after his arraignment revealed he was Nicola Cortese, a cousin and former business partner of an alleged Toronto Mafia boss. Mr. Cortese, who is considered by police to be a trusted soldier in the Calabrian mob, had vanished in 2008 as police in Ontario searched for him on drug, theft and fraud charges.
Among the items he is alleged to have grabbed from the Canadian Tire were a handgun holster, an ammunition pouch for 12-gauge shotgun shells, a black balaclava and a rubber car part that a police source said could double as a silencer. His true identity and his alleged shopping list have led Montreal investigators to question whether his presence in the city last fall could be connected to the sniper attack that killed the patriarch of the Sicilian Mafia, Nicolo Rizzuto, two days before Mr. Cortese’s arrest.
“Concerns were raised about his presence here, but there is nothing particular that we know about,” a source close to the investigation said. A second police source said Mr. Cortese has been asked about the Rizzuto homicide.
“It is certainly of great interest to me that someone like that is in Montreal at that time,” the source said.
One motive police are investigating for the attacks on the Rizzuto family is a power struggle between Toronto’s Calabrian mobsters and the Sicilian Mafia in Montreal.
On Feb. 9, at the conclusion of a two-day preliminary hearing, Judge Pierre Labelle ordered Mr. Cortese, 47, to stand trial on three charges of theft with violence related to the incident at Canadian Tire. He has chosen a trial before a judge alone, and a date has not been set.
Mr. Cortese is also facing eight charges in Montreal alleging fraudulent use of a credit card and a debit card and possession of a forged Italian passport and a fake Ontario driver’s licence. The charges allege that his first use of the stolen credit card in Montreal was on Oct. 25. It was used there again on Nov. 1. Additional charges filed at the Montreal courthouse allege that he obstructed a police officer by providing a false identity and breached a court order related to outstanding charges in Ontario. After pleading not guilty to all charges, he waived his right to a bail hearing and will remain in custody until trial.
Mr. Cortese remains on the Halton Regional Police most-wanted list for a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud and for failing to appear at a 2008 court date. He is also wanted by Niagara Regional Police in relation to the 2008 bust of a $15-million marijuana grow-operation.
For more than two years he remained off the radar until his visit to Canadian Tire. Three store employees testified last week that Mr. Cortese reacted aggressively after Mr. Roy flashed his store detective’s badge. When the employees tried to handcuff him, he fought back and bit one of them on the finger, court heard.
“I was next to him. I saw my manager’s finger in his mouth,” Mr. Roy testified. Mr. Cortese released the finger when the manager punched him in the jaw.
Jean-Philippe Chartré, an assistant manager, said the items Mr. Cortese is alleged to have stolen were worth about $250. In addition to the holster, ammunition pouch and balaclava, there was a screwdriver, an electronic deer call and a rubber muffler support.
Mr. Cortese is represented by the team of Richard Shadley, one of the city’s top defence lawyers, and his associate, Mathieu Corbo. Wearing designer glasses, the accused appeared relaxed in court, bowing to the judge as he entered the courtroom on one occasion and greeting him with a clear, “Good morning, your honour,” on another. Mr. Shadley declined a request for comment: “I would not like to comment at all on any case that is presently before the courts,” he said Wednesday.
Members of the Cortese family immigrated to Canada from Chiaravalle Centrale, a southern inland town in Calabria in the toe on the boot-like map of Italy.
Police have long considered Mr. Cortese to be an associate of his cousin, Vincenzo DeMaria, a Toronto businessman who is known as Jimmy.
DeMaria is a convicted killer who was named by Italian authorities as a mob leader with a seat on the powerful Camera di Controllo — a board of control for the Ontario clans of the ‘Ndrangheta, the proper name of the Calabrian Mafia.
He is on lifetime parole for second-degree murder after the 1981 shooting of a man who owed him $2,000. Canadian police say he is an influential underworld figure.
DeMaria’s relationship with Mr. Cortese was considered to be of such concern that DeMaria’s parole was revoked for seeing him.
In 1997, DeMaria was told he was breaching parole conditions by associating with Mr. Cortese, described by parole documents as a man “who had a criminal record with drug-related convictions” as well as continued involvement in criminal activity.
At the time, Mr. Cortese was listed as secretary in the corporate records of Invicta Financial Services, the Toronto company that DeMaria started in 1993 soon after his release from prison.
According to corporate records obtained by the National Post, on Aug. 26, 1997, Mr. Cortese signed a one-line letter tendering his resignation as an officer of the company. He transferred all of his Invicta shares to DeMaria and another official — 50 shares to each. Mr. Cortese was living in Mississauga, Ont., at the time.
In 2009, DeMaria was again arrested for an alleged breach of his parole conditions. Again, among the allegations was an association with Mr. Cortese.
Police alleged that DeMaria helped Mr. Cortese flee Ontario when he was facing arrest warrants. DeMaria has previously denied the allegations, saying he no longer has contact with Mr. Cortese. Not only is he not a member of the ‘Ndrangheta, he said, he did not even know the word. “I’ve got a problem, like you, pronouncing it,” DeMaria said at a 2009 parole hearing.
A police source who has tracked the organization for years said Mr. Cortese has been impeded by his “self-indulgence.” In photographs of him in a corporate setting for one of his business ventures, the Cortese Group, the opulent offices ooze wealth and success but the image is undermined by Mr. Cortese sitting behind the immense dark-wood desk wearing a leather jacket and loops of gold chains and medallions strung around his neck, dangling down over a tight-fitting T-shirt.
There are also photographs showing him standing inside one of his family’s Italian restaurants. The chain, San Antonio Bistro, once had four outlets west of Toronto, but two have burned down and the phone numbers for the other two are no longer in service. The cause of the fires has not been determined and they remain under investigation by the Halton Regional Police. The restaurant in Cambellville, which was destroyed by fire a year ago, had figured in an earlier drug bust.
In May 2008, Niagara police announced the discovery of the region’s largest marijuana grow-operation, with drug seizures valued at $15-million. One of the properties raided was a former church in Thorold owned by a numbered company. At the time, the St. Catharines Standard reported that the numbered company had the same address as the San Antonio Bistro outlet in Campbellville. A land transfer tax statement listed Mr. Cortese as having the authority to act for the numbered company, the newspaper reported.
Since failing to appear for an August 2008 court appearance on the mortgage fraud charges in Milton, Mr. Cortese’s whereabouts have been unknown. During that Milton hearing, his father, Antonio Cortese, told the court that his son couldn’t make it because he had broken his ribs on the way to the courthouse. According to a press report, Crown attorney Andrew Goodman advised the father: “Niagara Regional Police is also looking for your son. If you know where he is, he might want to turn himself in.”
The advice was never taken, but an ill-fated trip to Canadian Tire has delivered him to police.


New York’s Little Italy, Littler by the Year

NYC: Little Italy In 1950, nearly half of the more than 10,000 New Yorkers living in the heart of Little Italy identified as Italian-American. The narrow streets teemed with children and resonated with melodic exchanges in Italian among the one in five residents born in Italy and their second- and third-generation neighbors.
Luigi Di Palo, the owner of Di Palo’s with his sister Marie and his brother Salvatore, in the background. Fifth-generation family members work in the store and sell goods online.
Of the nearly 4,400 foreign-born residents of the heart of Little Italy who were counted in 2009, 89 percent were born in Asia.
By 2000, the census found that the Italian-American population had dwindled to 6 percent. Only 44 were Italian-born, compared with 2,149 a half-century earlier.
A census survey released in December determined that the proportion of Italian-Americans among the 8,600 residents in the same two-dozen-square-block area of Lower Manhattan had shrunk to about 5 percent.
And, incredibly, the census could not find a single resident who had been born in Italy.
Little Italy is becoming Littler Italy. The encroachment that began decades ago as Chinatown bulged north, SoHo expanded from the west, and other tracts were rebranded more fashionably as NoLIta (for north of Little Italy) and NoHo seems almost complete.
The Little Italy that was once the heart of Italian-American life in the city exists mostly as a nostalgic memory or in the minds of tourists who still make it a must-see on their New York itinerary.
The only streets that really feel like they belong to Little Italy, Mulberry and Grand, are still crammed with venerable Italian restaurants and shops. But Chinese-language advertisements for reflexology spas pepper the sidewalk, a poster announces the Lunar New Year celebration, and a “for rent” sign hangs on a new seven-story condominium building at 182 Mulberry.
The Gambino crime family’s old Ravenite social club at 247 Mulberry is now a shoe and handbag boutique. As recently as 2005, Vincent Gigante, the 77-year-old boss of the Genovese crime family, roamed the neighborhood in a bathrobe and slippers feigning mental illness to avoid prosecution. Last month, more than 100 reputed members of mob families were charged with federal crimes; none lived in Little Italy.
Sambuca’s Café, at 105 Mulberry Street, is listed by Yelp, the food-oriented Web site, as being in Chinatown — a particularly humiliating geographic transgression because it is owned by the president of the Little Italy Merchants Association.
Last year, the National Park Service designated a Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District with no geographic distinction between the neighborhoods. The two neighborhoods have begun organizing a Marco Polo Day and an East Meets West Christmas Parade.
City Hall will soon further erase the boundaries.
Following the lead of three local community boards, the City Planning Commission is expected in March to approve the creation of a Chinatown Business Improvement District, which would engulf all but about two square blocks of a haven that once spanned almost 50 square blocks and had the largest concentration of Italian immigrants in the United States.
“It’s really all Chinatown now,” said John A. Zaccaro Sr., owner of the Little Italy real estate company, founded by his father in 1935.
Even the Feast of San Gennaro, which still draws giant crowds to Mulberry Street, may be abbreviated in size this year at the behest of inconvenienced NoLIta merchants.
The number of residents of Italian descent in the neighborhood has been declining since the 1960s, as immigration from Italy ebbed and Italian-Americans prospered and moved to other parts of the city and to the suburbs.
“When the Italians made money they moved to Queens and New Jersey, they sold to the Chinese, who are now selling to the Vietnamese and Malaysians,” said Ernest Lepore, 46, who, with his brother and mother, owns Ferrara, an espresso and pastry shop his family opened 119 years ago.
Still, about 30 Italian-American babies born in the neighborhood are baptized at the Church of the Most Precious Blood on Baxter Street every year. And some residents cling to a neighborhood that is rich in history and culture.
Natalie Diaz’s children are the fifth generation of a family that arrived on Ellis Island from Naples in 1916. She still lives in the same gray five-story building on Mulberry Street above Il Piccolo Bufalo where she grew up. Ms. Diaz, who is 34, runs a group for parents of twins and triplets. Her husband’s parents were Irish and Puerto Rican, and he works as a manager at her family’s restaurant in the neighborhood, La Mela.
“Little by little, everyone wants a little more, more space, and moves away,” Ms. Diaz said. “There are some families, mostly from my mom’s generation, who have held out. To be honest, though, I feel a really strong sense of tradition. I owe it to my ancestors. I feel that everything my family worked for from the time they got off the boat is here.”
Of the 8,600 residents counted by the census’s American Community Survey in the heart of Little Italy in 2009, nearly 4,400 were foreign-born. Of those, 89 percent were born in Asia. In 2009, a Korean immigrant won a tenor competition sponsored by the Little Italy Merchants Association. That same year, a Chinese immigrant, Margaret S. Chin, was elected to represent the district in the City Council.
Ms. Chin played a key role in galvanizing diverse factions to create the business improvement district, which reaches north from Chinatown with two arms that flank Mulberry Street and arc toward it from the middle of two parallel streets, Baxter and Mott.
“We opted out” of the district, said Ralph Tramontana, president of the Little Italy merchants’ group and owner of Sambuca’s Café. “We didn’t think there was a need for it, because through the merchants’ association we already do what a business improvement district does.”
“I told Chinatown businesses,” said David Louie, who helped push for the district, “ ‘You should look at Little Italy and follow their example — at 8:30 in the morning you can see them scrubbing down the sidewalks.’ ”
Cleanliness, quaintness and low crime have broadened the neighborhood’s appeal, which has driven up rents. Rent-controlled apartments are still home to some Italian-Americans, Mr. Zaccaro said, but market-rate residences cost vast sums more. An 800-square-foot one-bedroom in a six-story renovated building at 145 Mulberry was advertised recently for $4,200 a month. The owners of a two-bedroom co-op on Grand Street are asking $1.5 million.
Paolucci’s, a popular restaurant that opened on Mulberry in 1947, moved to Staten Island after the owner’s rent was raised in 2005 to $20,000 a month from $3,500, he said.
Still, other Little Italy landmarks have not only survived, but appear to be thriving thanks mostly to tourists and to what the author Nicholas Pileggi described decades ago as suburban “Saturday Italians” — the “prospering overweight sons of leaner immigrant fathers.”
Di Palo’s, an Italian specialty food store at 200 Grand Street, opened for business in 1903, a decade after the Alleva dairy at 188 Grand, which advertises itself as the nation’s oldest Italian cheese store and which, like Ferrara, opened in 1892. Fifth-generation family members work in all three stores, and all three also sell their products online.
In 1990, Lou Di Palo said, his ailing father handed the next generation the keys.
“We decided we’re going to take our business and go backwards — focus the way our grandparents and great-grandparents ran their operation: family-oriented, hands-on customer relations,” he said. “We’re going to cut your piece of cheese and slice your prosciutto. We’re still a neighborhood store, but we took the initiative to make our shop a destination.”
“It went from an immigrant store to an Italian-American store focused on authentic products of Italy,” Mr. Di Palo explained. “We don’t expect our customers to come on a daily basis. A great customer we’ll see once a week, a very good customer we’ll see once a month. People used to say to me, ‘You’re still here!’ I said, ‘As long as you keep coming, I’ll be here.’ ”


15 NJ residents in massive mob bust due in court

All 15 New Jersey defendants in a recent massive takedown of reputed mob members and associates entered not guilty pleas Tuesday. They were among more than 120 people arrested in January in the roundup across the Northeast.
Defense attorneys for each of the men entered the pleas during arraignments Tuesday morning in Newark federal court.
The New Jersey defendants are charged with crimes ranging from running illegal poker games to shaking down fellow dockworker union members for Christmas bonus payments.
At the top of the federal indictment in New Jersey is 55-year-old Stephen Depiro of Kenilworth. He’s described by prosecutors as a soldier in the Genovese crime family who ran a racketeering enterprise.
A former top union official of the International Longshoremen’s Association was also among those charged.

Feds to provide Vinny Gorgeous his choice of suits

He'll be a model prisoner.
Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano already has the perfectly coiffed hair, but at his upcoming capital-murder trial, the former Bonanno crime-family boss will also have a personal valet -- courtesy of the US Bureau of Prisons.
A federal judge has ordered prison officials to make available to the mobster a selection of five coordinated business outfits each day of his death-penalty trial.
The judicial order skirts the perennial questions bedeviling men's fashion, such as:
Paisley or pinstripes? Brogues or semi-brogues? A half-Windsor or a four-in-hand?
BASCIANO - Dapper Don II.
Dapper Don II.
But it also suggests that New Yorkers can look forward to the most stylish mob trial since the flashy-gangster days of the Dapper Don himself, John Gotti.
"The court now orders that the [federal Manhattan detention center] accept up to five sets of clothing, including but not limited to undershirts, socks, shoes, dress shirts, suit pants and suit jackets, be made available to Basciano prior to each court date in this case," Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote.
The judge's unusual order -- most defendants are lucky if they have a single suit arranged by their lawyers -- was prompted by a request from Basciano's defense attorneys aimed at ensuring that the mobster's trial in Brooklyn federal court will not be marred by the sort of wardrobe malfunction seen at his 2007 murder and racketeering trial.
That's when Basciano ran out of freshly laundered dress shirts and was forced to borrow a shirt-and-tie combination from the judge himself.
In that trial, when Basciano showed up to court in a gray suit over a white undershirt, Garaufis asked his size and sent out for a dress shirt. "I would do my shopping here," the grateful Bonanno boss joked while changing.
Garaufis referred to the episode during a recent court hearing, saying he hopes that Basciano will have an ample array of clothing at his disposal.
Taxpayers won't be paying for the clothing, which will be privately delivered to the detention center.
Although he spends his days behind bars in solitary confinement, Basciano appears in court with an immaculately proportioned haircut that looks as if it were sculpted at a pricey Madison Avenue salon.
Hair care is a subject Basciano knows something about: He used to own a beauty salon in The Bronx, Hello Gorgeous, from which his nickname is derived.
Last week, at the start of jury selection, Basciano appeared in a well-tailored suit but privately groused that the length of his pants' cuffs was not to his taste.
Basciano, who is already serving a life sentence on an earlier conviction, faces new charges of murdering a mob associate.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Accused hitman sells cattle for big $

When accused Mafia hit man Enrico Ponzo’s 12 cows were sold at an auction last week, they fetched top dollar, the alleged mobster’s former Idaho neighbors told the Herald.
“They were in really good shape, and they sold pretty fast,” said Kelly Verceles, a 39-year-old rancher who still thinks of himself as one of John Jeffrey “Jay” Shaw’s best friends.
Two weeks ago, Verceles learned that his buddy was Ponzo, a man the FBI says is extremely dangerous. The East Boston native’s true identity was revealed after he was arrested and charged with conspiring to murder 14 people.
Ponzo, 42, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Verceles, 39, a former Marine, is sticking by him.
“He was the go-to guy for anything, working on the computer or fixing irrigation problems,” Verceles said from Marsing, Idaho, a tiny ranching town where he spent years getting to know Jay Shaw.
“Everyone says he should get some benefit for his good behavior. If there’s some kind of justice, they should take that into account.”
Verceles said he still speaks daily with Ponzo, who is in a maximum security Idaho jail, waiting to be transported back to Boston, where, authorities say, he played a key role in an especially bloody chapter of La Cosa Nostra’s history in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
But as far as Verceles knows, “Shaw” was a former military man who met his common-law wife, Cara Lyn Pace, in 1997 in Arizona. The couple lived in Washington before settling in Idaho in 2000.
At barbecues and on hunting trips, the pals would talk politics, Verceles said.
“Jay was always really patriotic,” he said.
Ponzo was a devoted father whose world turned upside down when Pace took the couple’s two children to Utah, Verceles said.
And when his son had trouble in school, “Jay was literally just beside himself,” Verceles added.
“He told us after he got caught that he knew he would get caught. She would turn him in or the courts would find out. “He had the means to run, but he stayed for the kids,” he said.
And although Verceles insists he and Shaw were “as tight as brothers,” there are still surprises.
For instance, Ponzo often told Verceles he was Irish-American and from New York, so Verceles was caught off-guard when he went to clean up Ponzo’s home, and discovered a pantry full of traditional Italian foods.
“I thought, ‘Well, son of a gun. This is the most Italian Irishman I’ve ever seen,’ ” he said.


Mafia actor a remade man after real life crime

Regrets, he's had a few.
Anthony Borgese is singing a new tune -- the 72-year-old wiseguy actor who admitted arranging for mobsters to beat up a deadbeat, told The Post in an exclusive interview that he has cast himself in a brand new role, guiding troubled youngsters down the straight and narrow.
Borgese, who used the stage name Tony Darrow playing connected guys and mob bosses in "The Sopranos" and films including "GoodFellas," said, "I'm very sorry for what I did. The only way I can change it is by trying to help other people."
So he shot his own indie film -- a public service announcement designed to convince young people to stay away from crime.
FULL CIRCLE: Anthony Borgese -- mob-pal thug star of 'GoodFellas' -- is sharing his story with troubled youngsters.
FULL CIRCLE: Anthony Borgese -- mob-pal thug star of "GoodFellas" -- is sharing his story with troubled youngsters.
In it, Borgese recounts the day the FBI phoned him in Detroit, where he was shooting the feature film "Kill the Irishman."
A short time later, he was in a New York federal detention center, charged with arranging for mobsters to maul a deadbeat.
"They threw me into a cage with 70 . . . criminals," he says in the film. "I was the only one who got arrested for the first time . . . I was so frightened I thought I was going to pee myself."
In addition to the film, he hopes to be booked for live appearances in schools and jails.
Under his plea bargain, Borgese, who is out on bail, is supposed to get 33 to 41 months for extortion.
Borgese -- who had never before been convicted of a crime -- was born for the roles he played.
He grew up in Brooklyn's East New York and his dad was a connected "street guy" who was in and out of jail.

"When I was younger and my father was in jail, [local mobsters would] run a dice game -- the wiseguys. They'd go, 'Hey, Anthony, he's cutting the game' -- I'm going to take vig from the game. Every time they throw the dice, I take a dollar out of the pot. Then I'd bring it home to my mother."
The whole neighborhood seemed married to the mob.
"The old Italian ladies were sitting up looking out the window," he recalled. "They'd whistle when the cop cars were coming.

One of his early nightclub jobs came through a mob connection, his pal Paul "Little Paulie" Vario.
Little Paulie's father, mobster Paul Vario, got him booked into the local Bamboo Lounge, then a popular watering hole for wiseguys. Years later, Borgese played the club's owner in "GoodFellas," which also featured Paul Sorvino as the mob boss Paul Cicero, based on the Vario Sr. character.
"I knew John Gotti -- I knew all those guys from the neighborhood," Borgese said. "They always treated me well."
One day, as Borgese played golf with a wiseguy, he mentioned an outstanding debt.
"I asked him for a favor," Borgese said.
That favor was using mob enforcers to teach the debtor a lesson he wouldn't forget -- the pounding the victim took in upstate Monticello left him with a broken jaw.
Borgese said the idea for his latest film came after he spoke to his teenage son.
"He said, 'The guy owed you money; you tried to collect it. You didn't do anything,' " Borgese recounted. "It made me feel worse. It was not the message I wanted to give him."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mafia Attire Banned at Feast of San Gennaro

It's a clash of cannoli vs. couture.
Supporters of Little Italy's famed Feast of San Gennaro -- set to celebrate its 85th year in September -- are fighting a newly passed Community Board 2 resolution urging the city to consider shrinking the boisterous, sausage-filled festival by three blocks -- including one that includes beloved St. Patrick's basilica.
The recommended cutback -- blasphemous to Italian-Americans who revere the celebration -- stems from gripes by owners of snooty Nolita boutiques about the noise, crowds, cooking smoke -- and even customers attracted to the 11-day event.
'ATSA BALONEY! -  Sausage man Roberto Mereneino (inset) and other Italian merchants stink up the neighborhood, says Heewon Kim of Coqueta lingerie.
Sausage man Roberto Mereneino (inset) and other Italian merchants stink up the neighborhood, says Heewon Kim of Coqueta lingerie.
"They come in with greasy hands" and stain the leather handbags and $300 dresses, said Ying Ying Chong, owner of White Saffron, one of the hip shops that have popped up on Mulberry Street between Kenmare and Houston streets -- the blocks where the festival would be banned.
"I have cannolis frying in front of my store!" she said.
Heewon Kim, a co-owner of Coqueta, a lingerie shop across the street, said she sprays Febreze on the lacy undies to kill the smoky odor.
The street fair, scheduled for Sept. 15-25, normally stretches seven blocks on Mulberry, from Canal to Houston Streets, and fills four more blocks on side streets.
The Nolita opponents say the food and game booths hinder access to their clothing, jewelry and bag boutiques. Despite foot traffic of 100,000 people a day, "it's not our target clientele," Ying sniffed.
San Gennaro organizers are hotter than freshly fried zeppole.
"You can't understand the emotion we have -- the anger -- when we feel we're being attacked," said John Fratta, president of the Little Italy Restoration Association, who was raised in the neighborhood and whose grandfather co-founded the feast in 1926.
"This is our culture and our heritage."
More than 100 Little Italy residents and boosters jammed the community-board meeting Thursday to voice opposition to stopping the revelry at Kenmare Street.
That explosive recommendation was tucked into a larger resolution, quietly passed on Jan. 26, that approved other permit logistics. Vowing a "full-court press," supporters distributed fliers urging community members to bombard Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials with calls and e-mails to keep the feast intact.
Fratta and others say Nolita boutiques are always empty anyway -- and can't blame the feast if their pricey apparel doesn't sell.
As an olive branch to Nolita, the feast organizers agreed to give the shops a discount on booths to hawk their stylish wares -- and even the chance to stage a fashion show on Mulberry Street. Both offers were refused.
To prove that funnel cake and fashion can co-exist, the San Gennaro group wants to ask Giorgio Armani or another top designer, preferably Italian, to create a catwalk for the festival.
The only taboo attire will be T-shirts with words like "Mafia," "Sopranos" and "Cosa Nostra." For the first time in its history, the feast will ban the sale of garb that glorifies organized crime.
Figli di San Gennaro, a nonprofit that has run the feast since 1996, has donated $1.6 million to charities and schools from fees charged to vendors. The city collects 20 percent of the fees.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wife of businessman tied to Rizzuto is ambushed

Businessman Tony Magi tries to wave away a  photographer as he leaves the Montreal courthouse after he was arraigned on weapons charges last September.
Businessman Tony Magi tries to wave away a photographer as he leaves the Montreal courthouse after he was arraigned on weapons charges last September.
The wife of Antonio Magi, a business partner of the late Nicolo (Nick) Rizzuto Jr., was reportedly ambushed Friday morning by a gunman near the intersection of Beaconsfield and Somerled Aves. in Notre Dame de Grace.
She was not injured in the incident.
Police have not confirmed that Magi's wife, Rita Biasini, was the victim, but Montreal police Constable Daniel Lacoursière acknowledged that shots were fired at an SUV being driven by a 50-year-old woman about 8:40 a.m. Friday.
The woman was driving south on Beaconsfield and came to a stop at Somerled, Lacoursière said. At that point a man in his 20s ran into the intersection from between cars parked on the east side of Beaconsfield and opened fire. He fired at least once at the SUV before the victim sped off. She took refuge at the local police station just two blocks away, Lacoursière said.
Police have no suspects, and no arrests had been made as of 12:45 p.m. Friday.
"Investigators are now trying to determine the possible motivation for this attack," Lacoursière said.
Antonio (Tony) Magi was the target of an attempted killing in 2008, and his offices were raided by police in 2009 in an extortion investigation that produced no charges against him.
Magi was also involved in a land development project with Rizzuto Jr., son of reputed Mob boss Vito Rizzuto, when the younger Rizzuto was killed in December 2009 in N.D.G.


Poll Results: Which Mafioso is most likely to get the "death penalty" at their upcoming trial?

Vincent Basciano - Bonannos: 120 (34%)
Thomas Gioeli - Colombos:  20 (5%)
Joel Cacace - Colombos: 36 (10%)
None - The Feds are bluffing: 174 (49%)

Vincent Basciano
350 total loyal readers voted and 174 of them believe that the Federal Government will not give the death penalty to any of the mobsters it is currently trying to. They believe they are using this for leverage to possibly get these guys to cooperate, as a deterrent against other members of organized crime, or as an example of not to pursue crimes against police officers/judges. 120 people believe that Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, the former Acting Boss of the Bonanno Crime Family will get the death penalty for his crimes. We shall find out the answer to these questions as the year plays out.

Be sure to vote in our new poll!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Magistrate: Dismiss lawsuit in 1964 KKK killings

A federal magistrate has recommended the dismissal of a lawsuit in which a reputed Ku Klux Klansman claims the FBI used a mafia hit man to gather information that led to his conviction in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers.
Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter in 2005, 41 years after the deaths of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.
Killen's lawsuit, filed in February 2010, claimed the FBI used a gangster called "The Grim Reaper" to intimidate witnesses during its 1964 investigation. The lawsuit seeks millions and a declaration that Killen's rights were violated.
U.S. Magistrate F. Keith Ball's recommendation goes to U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan, who has the final say.


Trial Date For Basciano-April 4th

The capital trial of Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano is slated to get underway with opening statements on April 4, 2011, Judge Nicholas Garaufis said. Jury selection actually began on February 16th and is expected to continue for the rest of the month and into March. Garaufis ordered that the federal jail in Manhattan keep five sets of clothing on hand for Basciano so he can be properly attired during the trial. Gotta keep up with the moniker "Gorgeous." 


Former Bonanno crime boss Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano can only use paper clips, not staples

Former Bonanno crime boss Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano could face the death penalty if convicted of ordering the murder of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.
Former Bonanno crime boss Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano could face the death penalty if convicted of ordering the murder of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.
Vinny Gorgeous got clipped by the feds on Wednesday.
Former Bonanno crime boss Vincent Basciano will have to make do with plastic paper clips holding voluminous jury questionnaires together because jail officials don't want him getting his hands on staples.
"He will be provided with file folders and plastic paper clips in order to reduce the amount of metal in his cell," said prosecutor Taryn Merkl.
Basciano could face the death penalty if convicted of ordering the murder of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo. Four years ago, the feds discovered an alleged hit list of judges, prosecutors and witnesses written by Basciano.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bronx jury convicts gangster of botched hit

Amid extra security, a skittish jury today convicted a reputed gangster of a botched mob hit 12 years ago in a Bronx tavern.
Jurors said Joseph Meldish, 54, was guilty of gunning down Joey Brown in Frenchy’s Tavern in Throggs Neck in 1999, although prosecutors said he was probably targeting the victim’s brother, Thomas, who had a long-running feud with the gunman.
Cops have said they think Meldish and his accomplice, Kimberly Hanzlick, 45, meant to retaliate against Thomas Brown after Meldish was arrested on robbery charges.
Hanzlick was convicted of helping Meldish carry out the mistaken-identity murder.
Meldish — a reputed member of the Purple Gang, a drug-dealing group tied to the Gennovese, Lucchese and Bonanno crime families – will be sentenced May 9.
A wall of security officers stood between Meldish and his family and friends who were there to support him. Days earlier, Judge Troy Webber denied a request for a mistrial amid jurors’ concern that "family" would be present for an open court read-back of key testimony.

Nearly 100 charged, dozens arrested in operation targeting Armenian organized crime

Dozens of people were arrested Wednesday morning in a massive operation by federal and local law enforcement authorities targeting Armenian organized crime, particularly members of the powerful street gang Armenian Power.
Operation Power Outage involved nearly 1,000 officers and concentrated primarily on suspects who reside in heavily Armenian neighborhoods in Glendale and East Hollywood, but authorities said arrests and indictments also were made in other parts of the country.
Citing the ongoing operation, officials did not immediately release specifics but said nearly 100 individuals had been charged in federal and state court in indictments alleging racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, drug-related offenses and white-collar fraud.
Participating law enforcement agencies included the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Secret Service, Immigration Customs Enforcement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles police departments.
The bulk of the arrests and search warrants had been served without any major incidents. But officials stressed they continued to search for some of the suspects.
Armenian Power -- AP for short -- is a small but virulent gang that took root among Armenian immigrants who arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s, authorities said. They are concentrated in Glendale and East Hollywood. Law enforcement officials described Armenian Power as having an "extensive portfolio" that combined ruthlessness with opportunism, focusing on white-collar crime that included identity theft crimes such as credit-card skimming.