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

Monday, December 3, 2012

90 year old Colombo mobster to accept award from union he is accused of robbing

Charles Panarella.
Charles “Charlie Moose” Panarella is set to travel from his home in Pennsylvania’s Poconos to New York so he can be feted by the International Union of Operating Engineers.

A 90-year-old Colombo gangster who has avoided a labor racketeering trial for a decade by claiming he’s too ill is apparently spry enough to accept an award from the union he’s accused of pillaging.
Charles “Charlie Moose” Panarella is set to travel from his home in Pennsylvania’s Poconos to New York so he can be feted by the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Daily News has learned.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Sterling Johnson approved the trip without the government weighing in on the audacious request.
“We would never have approved it,” said a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Panarella must obtain permission to travel to New York City for medical and lawyer visits, but the judge balked at letting him attend a niece’s wedding in 2008.
The wizened wiseguy gets around on a motorized scooter and wears a portable oxygen unit.
“He rarely travels except for trips to his many doctors and, on occasion, to visit family,” court papers state.
He is technically still charged with racketeering conspiracy and supervising the Colombo crime family’s influence over union Locals 14 and 15 in an indictment filed on Feb. 26, 2003.
Panarella was charged along with 18 others — all of whom pleaded guilty. Some have served their time or died. But Panarella, a retired construction worker, has a long list of physical ailments and mental deficiencies that apparently renders him incapable of enduring the rigors of a trial, according to court papers.
Two years ago, Johnson agreed to take the case off his calendar, granting what he termed the government’s “vulture option” — essentially waiting for Panarella to croak.
But the legendary mobster is still kicking and ready to accept the union award “in recognition of his 50 years of service,” according to court papers filed by defense attorney Sam Schmidt.
“Whatever he has been alleged to have done, it doesn’t detract from the fact that he was a hardworking member of the union for many years,” Schmidt told The News.
The lawyer said he did not know the details of the award ceremony, which is to be held April 4 in Long Island City, Queens.
Local 14 of the operating engineers is under the court-appointed supervision of a corruption monitor, former federal prosecutor George Stamboulidis, who did not return a request for comment.
A spokesman for the International Union of Operating Engineers could not be reached.
Panarella’s rap sheet dates to 1940; he has been linked to several gangland murders but never charged. In the 1980s, he moved to Las Vegas, but still allegedly kept a hand in construction rackets.
In 2001, he apparently participated in a sitdown with the Genovese crime family to settle a union turf dispute.
“(Panarella) would chop your f---ing head off. . . . (He’s) an old man, but you know what? They still s--t in their pants about (Panarella),” former Colombo underboss John “Jackie” DeRoss said in a 2001 taped conversation.


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