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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mob Figure May Unearth Corruption of Lawmen

During the 16 years James (Whitey) Bulger spent on the lam, several of his former partners in crime testified that he had made payoffs to two dozen Boston police officers and half a dozen F.B.I. agents over his long criminal career — giving them thousands of dollars and rings, a Meerschaum pipe and Lalique glass.
But few lawmen — with the notable exception of John Connolly, his longtime handler at the F.B.I. — were ever convicted of corruption.
Now that he is back in custody after his capture last week in Santa Monica, Calif., the looming question is whether Mr. Bulger, a longtime informant — who fed information about his rivals to the F.B.I. for years in return for their protection — will squeal again.
“I think there are a whole bunch of people out there he could probably name who are probably a little puckered right now, who are worried what he might say,” said Robert Fitzpatrick, who was an assistant special agent in charge of the Boston office of the F.B.I. in the 1980s, and who has testified that he tried unsuccessfully to end Mr. Bulger’s run as an informant.
The Bulger saga has been explored in trials, Congressional hearings, reams of newsprint and a shelf of books. But a review in recent days of hundreds of pages of trial transcripts and court decisions, along with interviews with several former law-enforcement officials and lawyers connected with the case, shows that, despite all the scrutiny, there has never been a full official reckoning of the public corruption that allowed Mr. Bulger to thrive for so long.
His partners have testified that former F.B.I. agents were on the take, and named names, but in many cases, the agents simply denied it and nothing happened. A report promised years ago by a special prosecutor was never issued. It is unclear even now whether the government wants to reopen old wounds.
“It’s not always just the guy pulling the trigger who is guilty,” said Tom Foley, a retired state police commander who pursued Mr. Bulger with Ahab-like intensity for years, only to see him elude capture thanks to help from his F.B.I. friends. “It’s also the people who set that up and allowed it to happen, and especially the people who had a responsibility to put a stop to it.”
Even if Mr. Bulger, 81, decides to talk, it is not clear that he has much to bargain with: he stands accused of 19 murders, and some of his closest associates have implicated him. The statute of limitations has passed for most crimes he could talk about, and most former investigators are retired or dead. But former F.B.I. agents and lawyers connected to the case say that Mr. Bulger may decide that he wants to settle a few scores.
For much of the 1980s, he turned the world of Boston law enforcement upside down.
The F.B.I. considered Mr. Bulger and his partner Stephen (the Rifleman) Flemmi “top echelon” informants, but the pair seemed to get more from the bureau than they gave. Federal agents helped them by locking up rivals, protected them from other investigators and tipped them off when witnesses threatened to implicate them. Those would-be witnesses quickly wound up dead, sometimes with their teeth removed to make it harder to identify the corpses.
In those days it was not just the G-men who referred to the gangsters with colorful nicknames like Whitey and the Rifleman. Mr. Bulger had his own nicknames for the F.B.I. agents he wined and dined and used, associates testified: Zip, Agent Orange, The Pipe, Doc, and Vino.
John (Zip) Connolly was the F.B.I. agent who handled both Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi, using their information to build high-profile cases against the Mafia. Mr. Bulger called him “Zip” because they came from the same South Boston housing project and had shared a zip code. But Mr. Connolly grew too close to his source. He was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice in 2002, in part for tipping Mr. Bulger off in 1994 when he was finally about to be indicted. Then he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2008 for warning Mr. Bulger in 1982 that a man named John Callahan was likely to implicate him in several murders connected with an attempt to profit from World Jai Alai, a company with fronts in Connecticut and Florida. Mr. Callahan’s body was found in the trunk of a car at Miami International Airport, after an attendant noticed blood dripping from it.

A lawyer for Mr. Connolly, James E. McDonald, said that Mr. Bulger’s capture could stir things up. “If I were the Department of Justice prosecutors, I’d be nervous, because if Bulger starts to talk, the whole edifice they have created about John being the corrupt agent will have holes you could drive a truck through,” he said.
Mr. Connolly did not act alone.
His supervisor at the F.B.I., John (Vino) Morris, admitted to taking $7,000 in bribes from Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi — beginning when he asked them to pay for his mistress to fly to a training session he was attending in Georgia. Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi took to calling him “Vino” after a 1981 dinner at Boston’s Hotel Colonnade, where he drank a great deal of wine. They later sent him a case, with $1,000 in it. But Mr. Morris was granted immunity when he agreed to cooperate with the government.
Still, he may have the most to fear.
Mr. Morris admitted that in 1988 he told The Boston Globe, which has long done ground-breaking reporting on the Bulger saga, that Mr. Bulger was an F.B.I. informant. His lawyer, Michael A. Collora, said that Mr. Morris did so in the hopes that exposing the troubled relationship would end it. But Mr. Bulger’s brother, William M. Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts State Senate, saw a more sinister motive. He testified before Congress in 2003 that the leak’s purpose was “bringing about the death of James Bulger."
After Whitey Bulger became a fugitive, he called Mr. Morris with a threat: he vowed to take Mr. Morris with him if he went down.
But Mr. Collora noted in an interview this week that Mr. Morris, who he said worked part-time at a wine store, had already admitted wrongdoing and had been granted immunity. The statute of limitations has run its course for most crimes, he said, and there are serious questions about what kind of witness Mr. Bulger would make. “A situation where you have a man who’s been on the lam for 16 years, who says now I’ll help you out, even though he’s done 19 murders?” he asked.
One memo that has received little scrutiny shows how officials in Washington were warned that the F.B.I.’s Boston office was too close to Mr. Bulger. It was written in 1982, after the Jai Alai murders were linked to Mr. Bulger’s group, which was known as the Winter Hill gang. An agent in the Miami office warned officials in Washington that local investigators were cutting the F.B.I. out of the loop, in part because they believed “that some agents in the Boston F.B.I. would not pursue allegations against the Winter Hill gang vigorously.” Sean M. McWeeney, who was in charge of the bureau’s organized crime section, wrote that he held meetings in Washington and Tulsa to reassure the local investigators.
It took two decades for the full story to get out — including Mr. Connolly’s role in the murders.
John McIntyre was another witness who never made it to the stand. Mr. McIntyre, a 32-year-old fisherman who agreed to cooperate with investigators in 1984 about Mr. Bulger’s involvement in drug and gun shipments. Tipped that there was an informer in their midst, Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi chained Mr. McIntyre to a chair and made him confess. They then tried to strangle him with a rope, and when that did not work, Mr. Flemmi testified, they shot him and removed his teeth.
A federal judge awarded Mr. McIntyre’s estate $3.1 million, finding that the federal government was liable for his death because Mr. Connolly had leaked Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi enough information for them to identify him as an informer. Steven Gordon, the Concord, N.H., lawyer who represented the estate, said that the government’s defense showed a continued refusal to come clean. “They allowed a whole city to come under siege,” he said.
When Mr. Bulger fled, some joked that he should be on the F.B.I.’s “least wanted” list. In a 1999 ruling after hearings that helped expose the F.B.I.’s dealings with Mr. Bulger, Federal District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf cited evidence that “raises questions concerning whether the F.B.I. has consistently made its best efforts to apprehend” him. He noted that agents had waited 15 months before approaching Theresa Stanley, the first girlfriend Mr. Bulger fled with, who returned to Boston in 1995 because she disliked life on the road.
Judge Wolf began his decision with a quote from Lord Acton, who wrote in 1861 that "everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice."
“This case,” the judge wrote, “demonstrates that he was right.”


Mob Book Has Strong Queens Ties

Author Anthony DeStefano and his new book, “Mob Killer: The Bloody Rampage of Charlie Carneglia.”
For anyone who grew up in South Queens in the latter half of the 20th Century, the mob is something we all seem to have a connection to; either through friends, neighbors, or perhaps even families. Everyone has a story about the mob in Queens.
For Newsday reporter Anthony DeStefano, the mob was an interest that just fell into his lap. While working at a news service in the 1970s, he got assigned an investigative story about the mafia in Manhattan’s Garment District, and that’s where it began. Since then, he’s been a crime reporter and become almost a mafia historian. He wrote a book called “King Of The Godfathers” about “Big Joey” Massino, former head of the Bonanno crime family. Now he’s out with a new book; “Mob Killer: The Bloody Rampage of Charlie Carneglia, Mafia Hit Man.”
Carneglia, who lived in Ozone Park and Howard Beach, is well known for his connection with Gambino family crime boss John Gotti for his brutal killings. He was convicted of four murders and sentenced to life in prison in 2009, but was acquitted of the murder of one: Albert Gelb, a court officer gunned down in Richmond Hill in 1976.
DeStefano covered the Carneglia trial for Newsday, and when it ended, was asked to write a book about it. The book required extensive, labor-intensive research, including combing through 5,000 pages of trial testimony and interviewing witnesses who often didn’t want to be quoted.
“Luckily I attended the trial so I knew the outline of what was going on,” DeStefano said. “Interviewing people, that was the really challenging part.”
For Queens natives, “Mob Killer” unearths interesting and sometimes shocking pieces of local history, some of which went on in our own neighborhoods, and fairly recently. The book takes the reader to places around the borough that Queens natives – especially those from the Italian-American neighborhoods along the Brooklyn border – are familiar with: Forest Park, St. John’s Cemetery, Aqueduct Racetrack and places locals may know like Philly’s Bait and Tackle Shop on Cross Bay Boulevard and St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, both in Howard Beach.
The Lindenwood Diner on Linden Boulevard, where Carneglia threw the dismembered finger of one of his victims into his boss’ soup, and the famed Gotti hangout Bergin Fish & Hunt Club on 101st Avenue in Ozone Park also factor in.
DeStefano said the mafia was never really an interest to him until he became a crime reporter. His job and the mob collided as he ended up covering mafia trials and he gathered tons of information from it.
“You become almost a historian,” he said. “You keep records and files and you remember the names.”
Some of the characters in “Mob Killer” were names he recognized from his research he conducted as early as the 1970s.
DeStefano held a book discussion and signing in Queens on June 11 at the Borders at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale. The interest in Queens was palpable, with crowds coming in and out all day, interested in a much-talked about local topic.
“People were very curious to hear what I had to say because they knew some of these people, or they knew about them,” he said.
DeStefano said the mob is a topic that interests many, even decades after the mob reached its pinnacle in New York.
“People are fascinated by the mob experience. It’s almost like folklore in a way,” DeStefano said. “How long that will go on for? I don’t know. It could be like Westerns, it could just keep going.” 


Mob Wives Star Drita D'avanzo Opens Up About Karen Gravano, Ending Her Marriage & Her Infamous Temper

Drita D’avanzo

Drita D’avanzo

Those sultry good looks, that raspy voice and the hair-trigger temper: Drita D’avanzo is the embodiment of a dangerous femme fatale. There is something so beautiful and yet dangerous about the mother of two who has had a turbulent ride as the wife of Lee D’avanzo, a convicted alleged bank robber and the alleged leader of a “Bonanno and Colombo crime family farm team,” according to D’avanzo’s official VH1 cast bio. It is her intriguing combination of edginess and vulnerability that has made Drita D’avanzo a breakout star of the hit VH1 reality television series, Mob Wives. If you haven’t tuned in, Mob Wives chronicles the lives of four women caught up in the organized criminal lifestyle on Staten Island. The men in their lives have been in and out of prison. Or in the case of Karen Gravano’s father, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who was shipped off to Arizona under the federal witness protection program (though the former Gambino family underboss blew his own cover in 1999 with an explosive memoir). In the first season of Mob Wives, it was Sammy Gravano’s daughter, Karen Gravano, who was Drita D’avanzo’s main foil. The two women became increasingly hostile towards one another over an unresolved conflict that dates back for more than a decade. Drita married and had two daughters (Aleeya and Gizelle) with Karen’s ex-boyfriend, Lee D’avanzo.
Drita D’avanzo and I had a frank discussion about the events that culminated in the outrageous fight scene with Karen Gravano that aired in the last episode of the first season of Mob Wives, and how it all could have been different. We discussed some of Drita’s realizations about what she would very much like to change. Drita D’avanzo is a fiercely loyal and protective woman with the people in her life who she loves. That blind loyalty stung her when she recently found out about her husband Lee’s alleged infidelity. Throughout our conversation, I found Drita to be hilarious with an infectious, boisterous laugh. Drita D’avanzo is a complicated woman with unresolved pain from the past. She wants to work through it to find a better path for herself and her children, and I hope she will.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): What do you think of your title as a “mob wife?”
Drita D’avanzo: I wasn’t crazy about the title [of the show] but that’s the title they chose. I would rather that it had been something with just women in this lifestyle.
PR.com: Apart from the name of the show, Mob Wives, how do you feel about the label of mob wife being attached to you?
Drita D’avanzo: Look, it’s attached to me, and that’s the way it is. There’s nothing I can do about it. But I’m sure in the future it probably won’t stick with me, the word “wife.” Or really the word mob, honestly. Either way I’ve got to push for my own identity at this point.
PR.com: How do you define yourself as a woman?
Drita D’avanzo: I’m very loyal and strong-minded. I would just say strong all around, physically and mentally. I’m also very soft when it comes to my family and my children, and I think I was raised differently from a lot of people. I was raised in an Albanian household, so my mentality is a lot different from everyone else’s. I was really going to stick it out throughout my marriage, whether it was bad or not. But as a person, I would say I am definitely hot-tempered. I did change a lot though, believe it or not. I’m actually not even as hot-tempered as I used to be.

Karen Gravano, Drita D'avanzo, Carla Facciolo & Renee Graziano in Mob Wives

Karen Gravano, Drita D'avanzo, Carla Facciolo & Renee Graziano in Mob Wives

PR.com: Do you mean that what people saw on the first season of Mob Wives is actually not as bad as it used to be?
Drita D’avanzo: Right. Well, what people saw on the first season of the show is actually nothing like it used to be. When I was younger I would not tolerate you even getting nasty in my face or raising your voice. I would give warning and then just start fighting. Now, the last thing I wanna do is show Aleeya, by example, to get physical. I’m trying to teach them that it’s not the way to go about solving anything. So me being physical, I’m only going to contradict myself and I don’t want to do that. I’m trying to change for my daughters and for myself, because it doesn’t solve anything. I’m too prideful I think. I have too much pride.
PR.com: What is your earliest memory where you, as you say, “blacked out,” and had one of your violent episodes?
Drita D’avanzo: When I was twelve years old. I lived in the projects growing up, and fighting [was] just normal. Everyone’s always like, “Oh, why’d you have so many fights?” I remember when I was younger, about twelve; this girl wanted me and another girl to fight. I wasn’t even mad at the girl. I didn’t want to fight. I was only twelve and I was like, “I don’t wanna fight with her.” But I remember this girl pushed me and hit me, and that was it. I blacked out, but there are in and out moments that I remember. I beat her up, bad, because she hit me. And I was like, “Oh Shit!” (Laughs). I didn’t realize how strong I was. It really is crazy to realize, in that moment, what you’re capable of doing, I guess. But me being strong, and my father training me to be a soccer player with push-ups and sit-ups, he made me super-strong. And on top of that, I had a bad temper. I was not like a girl when I was younger. I was so much more like a boy, so that didn’t help either. I played sports with boys, so I was a tough little girl.
PR.com: What precipitated most of the fights you had growing up?
Drita D’avanzo: Most of the fights I had, I really fought for other people. I beat up a kid in school to [defend] a kid in a wheelchair. It had nothing to do with me, and I beat the shit out of him because I can’t tolerate people bullying or doing anything of that sort. Most of my fights weren’t even really because of me.
PR.com: You felt like you were always trying to stick up for what was right.
Drita D’avanzo: Exactly. That’s not right, to go beat someone up, but that’s the way I handled the situation. I also used to feel like, “You’re bullying a kid with CP in a wheelchair?! Are you kidding?”
PR.com: With the situation with Karen Gravano in the last episode of Mob Wives, what brought it from a verbal argument about your husband (Lee D’avanzo) to a physical altercation? What was it that she said that made you take it there?
Drita D’avanzo: It’s not what she said, it’s what she did. It was her action by getting up. When she got up, I had zero intention of standing or getting physical. If I was gonna hit her, I would have hit her a long time ago on the show. I had no intention of hitting her, period. I don’t want to hit anyone on TV. First of all, you’re on camera, so getting physical on camera is stupid; God forbid something really bad happened. So I worried about that, and then my children and [Karen’s] daughter. I didn’t want to get physical, but when I verbally went against her she got up like she was gonna do something, and that’s it. That’s all I need. To me that’s a threat.

Karen Gravano, Carla Facciolo & Drita D'avanzo in Mob Wives

Karen Gravano, Carla Facciolo & Drita D'avanzo in Mob Wives

PR.com: As someone who used to have a temper, speaking for myself, I had a temper in my teens and early twenties…
Drita D’avanzo: Really? At least you can understand…
PR.com: I can relate. I came from a home with a very strong father who raised me like a tomboy, same as you. But I also had a lot of anger and pain in me that I hadn’t yet resolved, and I was letting my ego run my life back then.
Drita D’avanzo: I got that, yeah.
PR.com: For example, if I were to be in the situation now that you were in with Karen in that last episode, I would likely say to her, “Why are you getting up? Why do you want to fight? What’s really bothering you?”
Drita D’avanzo: You’re right. I wish I did do that. I think what really caused this fight was, the show aired while we still filmed, so I’m watching what she’s saying about me. Knowing my temper and my pride, for her to come out of her face and completely disrespect me and my family… there’s a way to go about something when you’re hurt, and she went about it the wrong way, and in a way that she knew I would not be good with.
PR.com: Are you and Karen Gravano on speaking terms now? What’s your relationship like right now?
Drita D’avanzo: Right now we’re not really talking, but we’re not going to war either. Second season, we’ve got to feel each other out and see how we can overcome this as mothers. I feel terrible about what happened and it didn’t solve anything. We’ll never be great friends, but there’s got to be a level of respect, and I feel like she didn’t have any for me, and I also feel that I did for her. The way people were talking about her and were so against her, I felt very protective over her, and I felt like she turned on me.
PR.com: Generally speaking, how would you like to see the second season of Mob Wives be different from the first season of the show?
Drita D’avanzo: I don’t like cattiness. It’s kind of hard to get away from that with a bunch of women. We all know each other for a long time and there are a lot of issues and personal things. I’m just hoping we can all resolve our problems differently. Me, personally, I want to focus more on business and making money, and I want to open the door to a new life and not go backwards. I just want to move forward. And I like having a good time. I like being funny. There’s a funny side of me, and I would rather people see that.
PR.com: Since the show wrapped, has your husband Lee given you a more concrete answer as to when he will be coming home?
Drita D’avanzo: It’s going to be in three years, that he’ll be home. There’s no exact date, but around that time.
PR.com: Does that sit ok with you?

Drita D’avanzo

Drita D’avanzo

Drita D’avanzo: No. Lee and I are not talking because of the cheating. I confronted him, and right now we’re not on speaking terms. He’s obviously not happy about me confronting him, and it seems to me that he doesn’t want to talk. I can’t call him, and he’s not calling me. He calls to talk to his daughter. There was information that was here and there but never confirmed (referring to her husband Lee’s alleged infidelities). I don’t jump to conclusions, but I had to know because it was too much. The girl called me, herself. I have a lot of jealous girls around me in my life, so I’ve had this happen and it was not true. But she got into too much detail about things that she should not know, so that’s when it made me want to find out.
PR.com: Are you in touch with any members of your immediate family?
Drita D’avanzo: Yes. My mother is a huge support. I would never be where I am if it wasn’t for her. She helps me with my children. My brother also is just the best, my best friend. I have a huge family, so a lot of them I’m very close with and a lot of them, because of my kids, I don’t really have the time. But I do have my family that has not turned their back on me. They support me. They did what a family is supposed to do. When things got rough, they were there for me.
PR.com: And you and your father are still estranged?
Drita D’avanzo: Yeah, my father and I… I’m sure it bothers and hurts him. I think he was just so upset that I chose to go this route. He did so much for me, so I don’t even blame him in that sense. He knew this was going to come. He felt like, “How are you so smart, college, soccer, and then you throw everything away for a criminal.” My father is a highly educated man, and in a different world. He’s a very hard worker. He wouldn’t steal a pack of gum (laughs). It’s really sick, like, I’m talking sick! It’s to the point where I couldn’t have married any more opposite than I did. But then again Lee is strong-minded like my father. Even though my father is a hard worker, he is just as tough and strong as my husband. But I went the other way and it was hurtful to my father. Bottom line, if I was really hurting and didn’t have my mom, and I really needed him, I can’t see him just walking away from me. He just doesn’t have a heart like that.
PR.com: What’s your take on bad boys now?
Drita D’avanzo: It’s not worth it and there’s nothing ahead of you that’s going to be easy or make you happy. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a dead end street where you just keep driving around in circles, and I think I’ve done that a little bit too much.
PR.com: Are you open to dating?
Drita D’avanzo: A hundred percent. I’ve been alone for so long. It’s not even sex that I’m thinking is what I need. I just need to have a friend, like a male friend or companion, to go to dinner and go watch a movie. I really want someone for that; not to be the father of my kids. I don’t ever want to get re-married. I don’t want any more children. I just want a friend that I can talk to and hang out with. I’ve been around my female friends forever, and I’m always alone. I would definitely date. I just think I’m a little afraid to. I mean, really, who the hell’s gonna date me after watching this fuckin’ show?
PR.com: You’d be surprised (laughs).
Drita D’avanzo: (Laughs). Yeah, right. I wonder who that would be!

Drita D’avanzo

Drita D’avanzo

PR.com: There could be a guy out there who’s a little on the nerdy side who’s smart and successful, and maybe he needs a sexy, tough girl like you to excite him and to toughen him up a little (laughs).
Drita D’avanzo: You’re probably right.
PR.com: It would be like an adventure for him.
Drita D’avanzo: It’s funny because I go out on national TV tied up in a marriage, and now I have a whole new door to open and it’s just strange. I’m not looking. I just hope I do meet someone.
PR.com: What are your hopes for your daughters, Aleeya and Gizelle?
Drita D’avanzo: I really hope that they learn from my mistakes. I talk to Aleeya all the time about everything. I try to be honest with her about what happened with her father, and men like her father. It’s a tricky thing because you can’t hurt a kid by talking bad about their father. I know how to choose my words wisely on how to go about explaining that this is not the type of guy to marry, and not the type of guy to be with. But also, my daughter is not going to grow up in an area like I did. She’s fortunate to be in a [good] area. She’s not gonna be getting jumped in the staircase. I had survival of the fittest. I had to be the way I was. She doesn’t have that problem. Hopefully, I open a door for her to see a different world, and a good one.
PR.com: When does the second season of Mob Wives start filming?
Drita D’avanzo: I think at the end of July. Wish me luck, buddy!


Did the Russian mafia kill MI6 agent Gareth Williams?

Police outside flat of dead MI6 man Gareth Williams

Source claims Williams was working on system to foil Russian money-laundering

MI6 agent Gareth Williams, who was found dead zipped into a holdall in his London flat last year, was working on technology designed to thwart money-laundering by the Russian mafia.
The claim, made by an unnamed source in the Mail on Sunday, has sparked off yet another theory about how and why the 31-year-old died: that he was assassinated by a Russian gang to stop his work in its tracks.
The source said: "He was involved in a very sensitive project with the highest security clearance. He was not an agent doing surveillance, but was very much part of the team, working on the technology side, devising stuff like software.
"A knock-on effect of this technology would be that a number of criminal groups in Russia would be disrupted. Some of these powerful criminal networks have links with, and employ, former KGB agents who can track down people like Williams."
The Russian mafia theory is just the latest in a series which have failed to explain Williams's death. At first, police were said to be working on the theory that he had died when a bondage sex game went wrong.
This was quickly questioned, with the suggestion that Williams had been murdered – and the bondage gear had been planted by his killer to throw investigators off the scent.
Next, Williams's uncle suggested that stories Williams was secretly gay, visited drag bars and had an extensive collection of designer women's dresses were indeed a smokescreen – but one planted by the government.
In January this year, it was suggest that he had died in a bizarre accident brought about when he zipped himself into the bag as part of an art project.
The Russian mafia story may be flimsy - but it's at least more credible than that outlandish theory. 


Celeb-poker promoter roughed up by 'thugs' fearful she was blabbing to feds

A sexy Manhattan poker princess who attracts A-listers like Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire to the high-stakes West Coast card games she runs found a far less glamorous -- in fact, downright dangerous -- crowd drawn to her tables in the Big Apple.
Stunning brunette Molly Bloom was forced to flee her Upper West Side apartment for the West Coast after two "thugs" roughed her up for fear she was blabbing to the feds, sources told The Post.
Bloom, a defendant in a bankruptcy lawsuit that has rocked LA's celebrity card-playing world, also faces a $116,133 federal-tax lien for failure to pay taxes while living in New York.
"I don't know if she's permanently left New York, I just know that she's [no longer] involved in any poker," said Bloom's Beverly Hills lawyer, Ronald Richards. "It became more trouble than it's worth."
Bloom, 33, moved to Manhattan in 2009 and began hosting games that drew Wall Street-types and others whose income was less obvious.
Last fall, Richards said, two Eastern European "thugs" tried to "get some money from her . . . They pushed her around a little bit" after getting up to the door of her pricey Upper West Side apartment.
But sources said Bloom was targeted because her assailants believed she was talking to New York-based federal authorities.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mob boss held without bail

Philadelphia crime familyPhilly Mob Boss Joe Ligambi

Alleged Philadelphia mob leader Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi was denied bail in a sweeping racketeering case Wednesday by a judge concerned about his potential access to cell phones and computers while on house arrest. Ligambi, 71, is accused of running La Cosa Nostra for the past 12 years, heading a South Philadelphia enterprise deeply engaged in illegal gambling, loan sharking, sports betting and other crimes.
The indictment suggests La Cosa Nostra during his reign focused on making money, not killing off rivals. But prosecutors argued that Ligambi relied on his reputation—and the threat of violence—to collect debts.
In one example, Ligambi wrested control of 34 illegal poker machines from their owners to snag the proceeds from the profitable machines, prosecutors said.
"In a successful extortion ... the (victims) do what they are told," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer said. "Nobody gets hurt."
He argued that Ligambi could send orders electronically if released, putting cooperating witnesses in danger. Evidence in the case includes seven such mob insiders, along with 14,000 taped conversations from the past decade, he said.
Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. argued that neither the indictment nor government excerpts of those tapes allege any violence. And he said his client's only serious conviction, for gambling, is two decades old.
"We're not going to see hollow-point bullets, we're not going to see handguns," Jacobs said. "If they have a strong case, they have a gambling case, they have a financial case."
Ligambi was once convicted of murder in state court, but the verdict was overturned and a second jury acquitted him.
"How youse doin'?" Ligambi shouted to his wife and other supporters as he entered the courtroom in handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit Wednesday.
He has been in custody since his arrest in late May. The lengthy indictment names 12 others as co-defendants.


Mobster posed as white supremacist in rural Ohio while on the lam from the mob and the FBI


When North End gangster Enrico Ponzo went to ground out West, he tried to go native as a white supremacist, and had a bust of Adolf Hitler in his house, membership patches for two race-baiting groups, and literature on the Aryan Nation movement when U.S. marshals caught up with him in a tiny town in the Idaho foothills, according to a new government filing in the case.
The finds were reported by FBI Agent Todd I. Richards in affidavits attached to government motions to keep Ponzo behind bars while he awaits trial. One Herald source familiar with the case theorized that he spent his early fugitive years posing as a white supremacist in order to stay below the mob’s radar.
“He was more afraid of the Mafia finding him, than the government,” the source said. Idaho is seen as a hotbed of homegrown extremist activity — not the first place rivals might look for an East Coast mobster.
In the ranch home that Ponzo built himself, the FBI also found the books “Hide Your A$$ets,” “Vanish!” and “How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found,” as well as nine bogus driver’s licenses.
Ponzo fled the Bay State in 1994, while under investigation for the 1989 attempted murder of Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. He was wanted on racketeering, attempted murder, drug and assault charges. Ponzo’s lawyer could not be reached last night.
Ponzo was nabbed in February in rural Idaho, where he’d been living quietly as 42-year-old “Jay” Shaw, an aspiring rancher. As stunned neighbors looked on, the feds hauled $16,000, 34 guns, and “hundreds of thousands of rounds” of ammo from a home he once shared with a common-law wife and two kids. In March, the FBI came back, searching for a safe under the basement floor. It was empty, but a neighbor admitted he opened it. That man turned over to the FBI $102,000 in cash and gold coins worth $65,000, court documents state. The FBI said much of the cash dated from the early 1990s and represented “proceeds of Ponzo’s illegal drug dealing and extortion during and before 1994.”
Ponzo, who is now behind bars at MCI-Cedar Junction, recently asked a judge to allow him to spend the summer at his sister’s home in Swampscott. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Tabak said in court papers yesterday, “The evidence that Ponzo is a significant flight risk is overwhelming.”

Russian Mob Tied To A-List Poker Ring, Games’ Ringleader Violently Assaulted

Members of the notoriously brutal Russian mafia participated in the multi-million dollar underground Hollywood poker games involving A-List actors, Star magazine is reporting exclusively.
In a terrifying twist, Star magazine has also learned Molly Bloom, the 33-year-old ringleader behind the illegal gambling ring, was roughed up after fleeing Los Angeles to New York.
Insiders connected to the game speculate that the mob may be responsible for her beating.
Star magazine broke the story that Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and other top celebrities have been participating in secret, high stakes, allegedly illegal poker games.
Now Star is reporting in its new issue that the feds are also probing illegal card games and their links to organized crime.
"It an active investigation for sure," said one law enforcement source inside the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Spider-Man star Maguire, 35, won hundreds of thousands of dollars from a convicted fraudster at the twice weekly games held in suites at the luxury Beverly Hills hotel, Four Seasons and the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard.
Brad Ruderman, former CEO of Ruderman Capital Partners, settled his debts with stolen money, lawsuits filed against Maguire and others alleged.
DiCaprio, Affleck and Damon have not been sued.
When the Los Angeles games ended in 2009, Bloom relocated to Manhattan to establish a similar high stakes poker scene for Wall Street stock brokers.

Local Russian mobsters are said to have eventually joined in, sources told Star.
That’s where things turned violent.
“Molly admitted to friends that she was assaulted while in New York and even had photographs of herself bloody and bruised to prove it,” one of her pals told Star.
“Molly told one friend that she believes the bashing has something to do with mobsters.” (Her lawyer denies that the incident was connected to the mob.)
Some insiders believe the mafia wanted to intimidate Bloom before she faced questions from feds and lawyers in the widening investigation.

Another theory, according to a knowledgeable source, is that Molly had agreed to give the feds evidence about those who participated in her exclusive events — and the mob wanted to teach her a lesson for being a ‘snitch’ and breaking their “omerta” -- the notorious code of silence.
She told a number of poker player that it was not in his best interest to play in New York games in March, sources told Star.
“The insinuation being that something could ‘go wrong’ if they were to sit at a poker table,” the insider said, adding. “It was clear what Molly was saying.”
Molly’s attorney, Ronald Richards, had “no comment” on the claim that she had turned into an informant.
He did confirm that his client had been attacked, however.
“Molly was roughed up approximately nine months ago by two thugs in New York,” Richards said, but he insisted that the nasty incident was not related to the poker games or to the Russian mob.
“The matter was dealt with by the proper people who deal with those kinds of things.”
In a recent deposition for the lawsuit filed by Ruderman’s victims, obtained exclusively by Star, Bloom refused to detail if she was still operating the poker games in New York.

“If you are going to get into present day poker games in New York,” said Richards, adding: “I’m going to have her assert the Fifth on every single question.”
But Bloom, the sister of a U.S. Olympian and former pro footballer, did confess — despite her lawyer’s protests — that she owned a poker table in New York to conduct games.


This’ll make you view the neighbors in a new light

Here’s the tale of my only near brush with the fame that sometimes comes to people who witness mob violence firsthand: It was a sunny June morning in 1989, and I was the editor of an alternative newspaper serving the North Shore of Boston. My mother had been visiting, and I was driving her from our home in NorthAndover to Logan InternationalAirport to catch her flight back home. We were running early, so we stopped at an IHOP in Saugus for breakfast.
My mother had never eaten in an IHOP before, and was impressed with the pancakes. She would have been more impressed with the whole experience had we known at the time that one of the other customers was a guy named “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, a longtime associate of the Winter Hill Gang run by Massachusetts crime legend James “Whitey” Bulger and Steve “The Rifleman” Flemmi.
Minutes after we finished our breakfast and left, a Patriarca crime family button man named Angelo “Sonny” Mercurio lured Salemme out into the parking lot and shot him twice — once in the chest and once in the leg. Cadillac didn’t die. In fact, he ran into a sub shop next door, made them call the police and paramedics, and bled all over the floor until they arrived. The shooting started a mob feud that raged for two years, until John Gotti brokered a truce.
For years afterward, we joked that if we’d only stayed around for another cup of coffee, we might have been on the network news that night, like lots of other regular patrons who’d witnessed the botched assassination attempt that morning. But Mom dined out on the tale for years, regaling folks in Wyoming with accounts of her near miss. The way she told it, we were so close to the action she could actually hear bullets whizzing past the passenger-side window as we drove away. Old Mom was never one to let a fact get in the way of a good story. Her nickname was Pinocchio.
That was the closest I ever came to Whitey Bulger or his mob, but you couldn’t escape his legend if you lived in Massachusetts.
I won’t go into exhaustive detail about his career, because that’s been done in a number of fine books. But in a nutshell, Whitey grew up on the south side of Boston — Southie — and came to crime early. He and “The Rifleman” Flemmi joined, and eventually took over, the infamous Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish crew that was into gambling and loan sharking, and among other lucrative enterprises they also robbed, tortured and murdered victims for years. He was protected from prosecution, largely because he was also working as an informant for the FBI, providing information against the Italian Mafia, with whom he was in competition.
The feds allowed him to continue his criminal activities as long as no violence was committed, but when it came out that Bulger and Flemmi were involved in a string of killings while they were informing, it all came crashing down and Bulger was slated for arrest. Before he could be nabbed, however, he was tipped off by an FBI buddy and escaped — and stayed missing for 16 years. He spent all of that time on the bureau’s Most Wanted list, with a reward of up to $2 million on his head and 19 murders to account for.
He became America’s Osama bin Laden — the monster nobody could catch — and a huge embarrassment to national law enforcement agencies. And all the while his legend grew. In Massachusetts, he became a folk hero, and tourists gawped at landmarks associated with his career, like the bar he used to own where he tortured people in the basement. There were so many reported sightings that Elvis would have been jealous, had he been keeping track. The cops and feds had so many news conferences and put out so many press releases saying they were this close to catching Whitey, that people stopped paying attention.
Many people, like me, suspected he was charmed, and protected at the highest levels. For one thing, they figured he still had ties to the FBI and friends in the bureau. For another, his brother, WilliamBulger— dubbed “The Corrupt Midget” by Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr — was president of the Massachusetts Senate and had tremendous influence over what happened in the state. And although Billy swore he had no idea where his brother was, and there was never any proof to the contrary, many folks assumed he had a role in keeping Whitey out of the slammer.

So when the 81-year-old Whitey Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, were finally arrested last week in Santa Monica, Calif., a lot of us who have followed the saga laughed when authorities professed “surprise” that they had been living for most of that time in a modest, rented condominium where neighbors said they were a fairly quiet couple — Charlie and Carol Gasko, they called themselves — although the old dude could get a bit cranky. They weathered the longest-running manhunt in American history and eluded arrest for 16 years by hiding in plain sight.
Sound familiar?
I’ll leave further, in-depth analysis of this business to historians, but here are two quick observations for today’s take-away:
 We can’t be overly critical of the authorities in Pakistan for not finding Osama (12 years on Most Wanted list), who was hiding in the suburbs in plain sight, when Whitey Bulger (16 years on Most Wanted list) was living in the suburbs of Santa Monica, often wearing a Red Sox cap.


Mobster card shark in jail for illegal gambling asks judge to let him play on pro poker circuit

A card shark accused of supervising a mobbed-up illegal gambling den wasn't bluffing when he asked a judge for permission to travel out of state so he can play in poker tournaments.
Anthony (Tiger) Arcuri is betting Long Island Federal Judge Leonard Wexler will approve the gambling tour because the government doesn't oppose the highly unusual request.
Arcuri, 42, was busted in January as part of the takedown of more than 100 mobsters in the metropolitan area. He is charged with supervising illegal card games at a club controlled by organized crime in Farmingdale, L.I. Although he is free on $100,000 bail, he is required to remain in New York.
One of his bail conditions prohibits him from engaging in gambling of any kind.
Defense lawyer Glenn Obedin has asked that Arcuri be allowed to travel to New Jersey and Connecticut "to participate in legally sanctioned poker tournaments."
"Mr. Arcuri derives the majority of his earnings from such tournaments," Obedin said.
Obedin did not return calls for comment and Arcuri could not be reached.
Poker site Cardplayer.com lists Arcuri's career winnings at $5,437 based on three tournaments from 2006 to 2010.
Arcuri pleaded guilty to state gambling charges in 2007 and paid a $1,000 fine. He also forked over the $2,700 he was carrying in his pocket, court records


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ligambi to seek release on bail at hearing

Philadelphia crime familyJoe Ligambi

Joe Ligambi wants out.
Jailed since his arrest on May 23, the reputed mob boss will be in court Wednesday to argue that a federal magistrate judge erred when he denied him bail on racketeering-gambling charges last month.
Ligambi, 71, is the lead defendant in a 50-count indictment built around charges of gambling, extortion, and loan-sharking.
The alleged Mafia don, who traditionally spends long weekends at the Jersey Shore in the summer, instead faces the prospect of life in a 6-by-10-foot cell in the Federal Detention Center at Seventh and Arch Streets, pending a trial that is at least a year away.
In arguing for bail, lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court that federal prosecutors and Judge Timothy R. Rice had given more weight to Ligambi's criminal record than was warranted.
Jacobs also argued that Ligambi's "alleged membership in the Mafia is . . . not sufficient to justify his pretrial detention."
Unlike previous mob racketeering cases, the charges against Ligambi and 12 codefendants do not involve murder, attempted murder, or other acts of violence.
Jacobs, one of the top criminal defense attorneys in New Jersey, has described the indictment against his client as "racketeering lite."
Prosecutors contend that Ligambi has headed the Philadelphia crime family for at least the last decade, and has used threats of violence and intimidation to run his organization. In arguing that Ligambi should be denied bail, they have cited both his criminal history and his role as a crime-family boss to justify incarceration.
In his motion, Jacobs has asked Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, the trial judge, to review the no-bail order.
Ligambi, Jacobs pointed out, has a 1988 gambling conviction built around a mob sports-betting operation and a 1971 conviction for selling untaxed cigarettes.
Described by federal investigators as a hitman for mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, Ligambi was convicted with Scarfo and several others of the murder of Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso in 1987 and sentenced to life.
But that conviction, Jacobs pointed out, was overturned on appeal and Ligambi was found not guilty at a retrial. He was released from prison in 1997.
Scarfo and the other defendants in that case were also acquitted, but they were serving lengthy prison terms on racketeering charges and remained in jail.
While prosecutors want to paint a picture of Ligambi as a major mob figure, Jacobs argued that his clilent "is virtually a first offender: His only serious conviction was on charges of gambling and resulted in a 31/2-year sentence over two decades ago."
Jacobs noted that Rice, in granting bail and house arrest for codefendant Anthony Staino, cited Staino's lack of a criminal record as a primary reason for allowing him to be free pending trial.
Federal prosecutors, who are expected to oppose Ligambi's attempt to get bail at Wednesday's hearing, may be forced to offer more details about the pending case to bolster their argument that Ligambi is a threat to the community.
Seven of the 13 defendants in the case - Ligambi, reputed mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, alleged mobsters Gaeton Lucibello, Damion Canalicio, Martin Angelina, and George Borgesi, and reputed mob associate Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello - have been ordered held without bail.


Reputed mob associate arrested again

A reputed mob associate, who spent nearly two decade behind bars for a double homicide, was arrested Monday for allegedly harassing his estranged wife.
Anthony Parrillo, 60, of Cranston, was charged with violating a restraining order after he allegedly screamed at his wife from the front lawn then waited in the driveway according to an arrest report obtained by Target 12. The report states on June 2nd a Family Court judge issued a restraining order forbidding Parrillo to approach his wife.
“[Parillo’s wife] stated that she feared for her life,” the police report states. “She feels that with his anger […] and with his criminal past, she feels her life could be in jeopardy.”
In 1986, Parrillo pleaded guilty for the 1982 murder of two men after an apparent drug deal gone bad. Parrillo was released to home confinement in 1994.
Parrillo was initially held without bail while police determined if he was in violation of his probation. A Department of Corrections spokesperson said his probation expired in 2009. Parrillo was released late Wednesday on $50,000 surety.
Parrillo’s attorney John Harwood declined to comment.
In 1997, Parrillo was profiled in a Target 12 Investigation revealing he was working as a Teamster on the Michael Corrente film “Outside Providence.” Undercover video showed Parrillo acting as a bodyguard and driver to film star Alec Baldwin.
At the time, law enforcement sources identified Parrillo as a close associate to then-mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks”