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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mob informant commits suicide

A mob informant who helped bring down William "Billy" D'Elia, a reputed Scranton crime boss with ties to former Mount Airy Casino owner Louis DeNaples, was found dead Wednesday in an apparent suicide, authorities said. Frank Pavlico III helped federal investigators snare D'Elia, the reputed kingpin of Northeast Pennsylvania's Bufalino crime family. Pavlico's testimony led to charges in 2006 that D'Elia was involved in laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money.
D'Elia, who is serving a seven-year federal prison sentence, later threatened to have Pavlico killed, authorities said. D'Elia allegedly told an informant in August 2006 that he would give him photos of the cooperating witness.
Pavlico, 43, hanged himself at his Waverly Township, Lackawanna County, home on Tuesday sometime after he stood in a Wilkes-Barre courtroom to face a charge he had failed to appear for a hearing in South Carolina in an unrelated wire fraud case, authorities say.
An arrest warrant issued by a federal magistrate in South Carolina was appended with a handwritten note that Pavlico committed suicide by hanging and was found Wednesday. Prosecutors in South Carolina on Wednesday filed papers to discontinue the wire fraud case.
The Lackawanna County coroner's office confirmed that Pavlico was found dead at his home Wednesday and ruled the death suicide by asphyxiation.
Pavlico's attorney, Rose Mary Parham of Florence, S.C., said her client was on his way to the airport to fly to South Carolina when he was injured in a car accident Tuesday morning.
After he was discharged from a hospital, Pavlico appeared before Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion in Wilkes-Barre, who released him to attend a hearing rescheduled for Wednesday in South Carolina, Parham said.
Parham said her client steadfastly maintained his innocence of allegations that he took money from South Carolina residents for a bogus investment scheme promising zero risk and highly favorable rates of return.
"I was shocked because we were prepared to go forward in our case," Parham said of Pavlico's death.
Pavlico's cooperation in the FBI's quest to arrest D'Elia helped state investigators bring charges in the first major scandal to mar Pennsylvania's fledgling gambling industry.
D'Elia's arrest spurred his cooperation in a 2008 investigation into DeNaples' relationship with the reputed organized crime figure. The Dauphin County district attorney's office convened a grand jury to investigate whether DeNaples lied to state gaming regulators about his relationship with D'Elia in order to secure a casino license for Mount Airy.
DeNaples was charged with four counts of perjury for telling the state Gaming Control Board that he knew D'Elia only as a guy from the neighborhood who shopped in his Dunmore, Lackawanna County, auto parts store.
D'Elia, who was promised a sentence reduction for his cooperation with the Dauphin County grand jury, testified in 2007 that he and DeNaples had a lengthy business and personal relationship.
Prosecutors withdrew the perjury charges after DeNaples agreed to relinquish his slots license and turn over control of the Monroe County casino to his daughter.
Pavlico, who also served 10 months in federal prison for his role in the 2006 money laundering scheme, was facing federal wire fraud charges in South Carolina. He was arrested Tuesday for failure to appear on a hearing that he had violated his bond in the case.
D'Elia was once the driver and confidant of Russell Bufalino, who controlled organized crime in northeast Pennsylvania from the 1940s until his death in 1994.
D'Elia took over the reins of the Bufalino operation, according to law enforcement. D'Elia was named as a suspected mobster in several Pennsylvania Crime Commission reports in the 1980s. New Jersey banned him from entering any Atlantic City casinos because of his reputed mob ties.
He is scheduled to be released from prison in February.
DeNaples founded the Mount Airy Casino in Paradise Township in 2006, investing his own money to build the $400 million-plus gambling hall. But he hasn't had control of the casino since 2008, when his personal license was suspended after he was charged with perjury.
In June, the Gaming Control Board approved a plan that gave DeNaples' children ownership of the casino. It also revokes DeNaples' gaming license and allows him to assume more than $106 million in casino debt.
In April, the Federal Reserve Board directed DeNaples to resign from the board of First National Community Bancorp, and give up his controlling interest in the publicly traded company, after ruling that the agreement with Dauphin County prosecutors to drop perjury charges made him ineligible.



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