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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Former Hartford gangster convicted of child sex charges

A Hartford gangster who appointed himself the "Apostle" of a church he founded in Florida was convicted by a jury there Monday of transporting girls between states in order to have sex with them.
Luis "Tito" Morales once was the target of a Mafia murder contract while living in Hartford. He moved to Florida and became a self-described preacher after serving 10-years for selling drugs in Connecticut in the 1990s.
Morales called his Orlando-based ministry En Fuego (On Fire) for Jesus and its website depicted him jetting to Latin America where he purported to drive demons from possessed women.
Federal prosecutors in Orlando, where he was convicted of a half dozen child sex trafficking charges, called Morales a predator who told girls he wanted to "break" them so they could become "prophets" in his ministry.
Convicted with Morales, 57, was so-called En Fuego "Prophet" Rebeca Rivera, 27, of East Hartford, accused of arranging with Morales to transport a girl from Hartford to Orlando.
A jury in federal court in Orlando convicted Morales and Rivera after deliberating for fewer than three hours. Both face up to life in prison when sentenced.
Morales is accused of abusing six girls, several of whom he encountered through his ministry. He and Rivera were convicted of charges associated with the abuse of four of the girls, who testified during closed sessions of court.
Among other things, the jury heard testimony that Morales traveled by van with some of his victims and their uncle to Connecticut in 2009, ostensibly to visit church members in the Hartford area. He also is accused of molesting children at his home in Ormond Beach, FL, in hotel rooms and in the coach section of an airplane.
Rivera's attorney told jurors she is a devoted mother and wife.
Morales claims that his exorcisms and other ministerial work regularly called him to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Rivera described herself on an Internet blog as a Mexican living in the U.S. and traveling the world to preach the good news of Jesus Christ
A television news station in Honduras once posted a video recording on the Internet that purports to show Morales chasing the devil from a writhing, flopping, apparently tormented woman somewhere near Tegucigalpa.
Morales achieved a different sort of celebrity in the wrong circles in Hartford 1980s and '90s, where he first came to the attention of law enforcement authorities. At the time, the bustling Puerto Rican neighborhood around Park Street was expanding south, and Italian racketeers were trying to hang on to shrinking territory that they held around Franklin Avenue.
Morales went to work for the Mafia robbing drug dealers and later fathered a child after becoming romantically involved with the daughter of a soldier in the Patriarca crime family, the FBI has said. When the romance soured during an FBI organized crime investigation in Hartford, its deterioration was memorialized on FBI wiretaps.
The father of Morale's girlfriend eventually was convicted of conspiring to murder him, although the reason for the contract was never conclusively settled.
There were some indications that Morales was trying to muscle in on mob gambling operations in south Hartford. Others suggested that he had behaved rudely to the mob soldier's wife.
The FBI tipped Morales to the contract. Not long after, the state police arrested him for selling drugs.
Toward the end of his drug sentence, Morales said in an interview with the Courant that he had found his "savior" while in prison.


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