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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The world's most powerful mobster you have never heard of

Imagine a mobster that comprised the cunning of Lucky Luciano, the brilliance of Meyer Lansky, the ferocity of Vito Genovese, the duplicity of Carmine Galante and the massive wealth of Pablo Escobar. Such a person is not the fantasy creation of some novelist or screenwriter, but rather a real-life flesh-and-blood monster that lives among us.

Semion Mogilevich looks nothing like Marlon Brando nor Al Pacino. The short, bald, pockmarked, grossly obese, 66-year-old Ukrainian is believed by international law enforcement agencies to be one of the most powerful criminals on earth.

The Moscow resident reportedly holds Russian, Ukrainian, Greek and Israeli passports.

Among a litany of crimes, Mogilevich allegedly defrauded thousands of investors in the US and Canada in the 1990s, netting him at least $150 million. He also served as the chief of Inkombank, a Russian financial institution, which was accused of money laundering.

Indicted in 2003, Mogilevich is currently one of the FBI’s ten most wanted fugitives, wanted for wire fraud, RICO conspiracy, mail fraud, money laundering, securities fraud, among other offenses.

With a $100,000 bounty on his head, Mogilevich is also suspected of involvement in murder-for-hire, arms dealing and drug trafficking. The FBI noted that he holds a degree in economics (quite unlike most mobsters) and smokes heavily (quite common for Russians and Ukrainians).

He was arrested in Moscow in 2008 for tax evasion, but released the following year. Russia subsequently rejected a request by U.S. authorities to extradite Mogilevich to answer charges related to the aforementioned massive stock swindle.

A website called Gangstersinc. reported that Semion Mogilevich’s criminal career began slowly and with little initial success. As a young man in the early 1970s, he belonged to the Lyubertskaya group, a band of small-time crooks in Moscow. He apparently served two separate jail terms during this period for a plethora of petty crimes.

His fortunes improved dramatically during the 1980s when the Russian government allowed thousands of Jews to depart for Israel, Europe and the U.S. Seeing a grand business opportunity, Mogilevich defrauded his fellow Jews by buying their possessions at discount prices (exploiting their eagerness to leave) and promising to sell them on the market and send the profits fron such nonexistent sales overseas at a later date. Mogilevich scored millions of dollars on this scheme and used these funds to invest in the highly lucrative areas of weapons and drugs smuggling, prostitution and gambling.

In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union empire in the early 1990s, scores of organized crime gangs took advantage of the chaos, but Mogilevich fled to Israel.

However, he did not relinquish his criminal activities. Indeed, Mogilevich made contacts with other mobsters while still running various illegal enterprises and investing his ill-gotten cash in myriad businesses. After marrying his Hungarian girlfriend Katalin Papp, Mogilevich relocated to Budapest, where he formed a criminal empire based on the structural model of the Sicilian Mafia.

Eventually, the tentacles of Mogilevich's criminal empire expanded across Europe, into North and South America and even Pakistan and Japan.

Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (now in jail herself) accused Mogilevich of illegally profiting from the Russia-Ukraine gas deals.

"He has access to so much, including funding, including other criminal organizations, that he can, with a telephone call and order, affect the global economy," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Peter Kowenhoven told CNN.

FBI Special Agent Mike Dixon declared: "[Mogilevich]'s a big man. He's a very powerful man. I think more powerful than a John Gotti would be, because he has the ability to influence nations. Gotti never reached that stature."

The FBI has labeled Mogilevich as the “most dangerous mobster in the world.”

Like virtually all powerful organized criminals, Mogilevich is closely linked with top politicians. According to reports, he has been allied with Yury Luzhkov, a former Mayor of Moscow, Dmytro Firtash and Leonid Derkach, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, and Oleksandr Turchynov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine.

"Semion Mogilevich is as serious an organized criminal as I have ever encountered and I am confident that he is responsible for contract killings,” said Jon Winer, a former anti-crime official with the Clinton Administration, in 2006.

At least one analyst has linked Semion Mogilevich to the most powerful man in Russia, Vladimir Putin.

Roman Kupchinsky wrote in the Eurasia Daily Monitor that Leonid Derkach, the former chief of the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, characterized Mogilevich as a close friend of Putin while conversing with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.

"[Mogilevich]'s on good terms with Putin,” Derkach allegedly said. “He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad… They have their own affairs."

Mogilevich remains a free man.


Updated: Current Leadership Charts of the Five Families

Check out the Updated Leadership Charts for all Five New York Families, at the link above or below. Thanks to Mukremin from Gangster BB for putting them together!


Happy 2012!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise and Fall of A New York Mobster coming in 2013

Tony DeStefano's new book for 2013 will be "Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise and Fall of A New York Mobster," to be released in late Spring, early Summer by Lyons Press.  The 288 page trade paperback will encompass not only the life of the imprisoned Bonanno captain but also be the first lengthly treatment of Joseph Massino's testimony as a government witness and the big show down between both men in federal court.  Included will be some never before published photos from Basciano's life.  The book is available for prepublication order on Amazon.com and the Barnes and Noble site.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Godfather of the Buffalo Mob dies after long illness

Joseph E. Todaro  was praised for his generosity.
Joseph E. Todaro, a former construction laborer who earned a legion of admirers for his generosity and his highly successful La Nova Pizzeria, but also the scrutiny of federal investigators over several decades, died Wednesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a lengthy illness. He was 89.

He lived in the Town of Tonawanda and wintered in Florida.

A carpenter, Mr. Todaro in 1957 founded La Nova Pizzeria, which grew from one small West Side restaurant to one of the largest independent pizzerias in the nation, a multimillion-dollar business that sells frozen chicken wings, pizzas and hot sauces all over the world. 

Although friends described him as a religious, hardworking man who was devoted to many charitable causes, Mr. Todaro was hounded for decades by allegations that he and his son headed Buffalo’s La Cosa Nostra family.

Those allegations, made in court statements by the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department, were never proved in any court. He was never convicted of a felony crime, despite numerous attempts by federal investigators.

Mr. Todaro and his family sent free food to soldiers in the Middle East, to rescue workers at ground zero after the 9/11 attacks and to countless charity events, according to family members.

“I’ve gone to them so many times, I’m embarrassed to ask again,” one priest said. “But they always help out and they never look for publicity.”

“I don’t know about [the allegations], but I’ve always known him as a kind and generous man … unbelievably generous,” Buffalo developer and lawyer Carl P. Paladino said of Mr. Todaro. “A very soft-spoken man, very devoted to his family and his extended family. … I knew him for more than 30 years.”

Similar comments came from Anthony M. Masiello, the former Buffalo mayor who said Mr. Todaro had been a good friend of his for more than three decades.

“Joe Todaro and his family have made tremendous contributions to our community,” Masiello said. “There are always rumors and allegations about people, but from my dealings with the man and his family, I only saw good things.

“They’ve done a lot more for the needy of this community than people with pristine reputations. They helped out a lot of people with jobs at La Nova, and they never abandoned their roots on the West Side.”

Both Paladino and Masiello spoke to The News about a year ago, when Mr. Todaro was seriously ill.

“I admired his ability to stand up for what he believed in,” Buffalo attorney Paul Cambria said on Thursday. He, too was a friend of Mr. Todaro of more than 30 years. “He was a real self-made man and an old-timer,” Cambria said. “People like him just don’t exist anymore.”

In a series of prosecutions over more than four decades, law enforcement could never make their allegations against Mr. Todaro stick.

In May 1967, Mr. Todaro and 35 other men were arrested at a stag party for his son at Panaro’s, a lounge on Hampshire Street. He was charged with “consorting with known criminals,” a charge that was later dismissed in Buffalo City Court.

Mr. Todaro later filed an unsuccessful false arrest and civil rights lawsuit against police agencies involved in the raid, accusing the cops of singling out Italian-Americans for harassment.

In 1985, he was acquitted of federal tax evasion charges after allegations were made that he underreported his income for years 1976, 1977 and 1978.

As recently as June 2004, Town of Tonawanda police were calling the elder Todaro a “person of interest” in the unsolved murder of Charles Gerass, a real estate salesman who was shot and left in a car trunk in September 1965. Police said Gerass had disappeared after leaving his home for a business meeting with Mr. Todaro.

FBI agents re-examined evidence from the Gerass homicide using modern DNA evidence-gathering techniques, but the investigation led to no charges against Mr. Todaro or anyone.

To friends of the Todaros, the episode was just another example of cops trying to falsely blame a crime on an innocent, hardworking businessman.

In 1989, Mr. Todaro and his son were identified as the leaders of a 45-member Buffalo Mafia family in a sworn statement filed in connection with a gambling investigation.

The FBI statement alleged that the family controlled “a variety of criminal activities, including labor racketeering, bookmaking, loansharking and narcotics trafficking.”

Similar allegations were made in a 1996 Justice Department report in which the two Todaros were listed among 24 alleged organized crime figures who were accused of influencing the Laborers International Union of North America since the 1960s.

But lawyers for the family always denied those claims, pointing out that the allegations of mob leadership were never proven in any court case. 

“They just keep making statements without any proof,” the late Harold J. Boreanaz, an attorney for the Todaros, told The News in July 1989. “Either the government is pretty inept, or [the Todaros] just aren’t doing it.”

During a brief interview with The News in August 2004, the elder Todaro declined to comment on the FBI claims, saying he didn’t want to “dignify” the allegations by addressing them.

In an interview in March 1992, his son said, “Some of the things they put in the papers, they turn out later to be untrue.”

The elder Todaro loved cigars and going to horse tracks. In additions to his family, his pride and joy was La Nova, which began as a small pizzeria on West Ferry Street. La Nova opened a second location on Main Street in Amherst in 2001, and today, La Nova calls itself one of the largest makers of pizza and Buffalo wings in the nation.

According to the company’s website, La Nova is now a $30 million-a-year business, and the company has more than 500 distributors nationwide.

Surviving are his wife of 69 years, the former Josephine Santamauro; a son, Joseph A.; a daughter, Linda Gerace; a brother, Sam; and three sisters, Josephine Harrington, Jeannie Baker and Mary Gilbert. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Monday in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 200 St. Gregory Court at Maple Road, Amherst.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Murder victims of Frank Calabrese Sr

In 2007, Frank Calabrese Sr. was found guilty of 13 murders in federal court.
Car bombs, guns, knives and ropes were tools of the trade used by the mob hit man.
These are his victims:
◆ August 1970: Mob loan shark Michael “Hambone” Albergo is killed at what was then a warehouse at 3300 S. Shields. Now it is a parking lot at U.S. Cellular Field. Outfit members were worried Albergo might implicate them after he was subpoenaed to testify on mob loan-sharking activity. In an unsuccessful attempt to find his body, authorities excavated the area in 2003 after receiving a tip he was buried there.
◆ June 24, 1976: Paul Haggerty is strangled and histhroat is slit in a garage in the 2800 block of South Lowe. His body was found — after he had been missing for a week — in the trunk of a car that was towed to the police auto pound. He had been bound, gagged, blindfolded and stuffed into a plastic bag.
◆ March 15, 1977: The murdered and decomposing body of Henry Cosentino was found bound and gagged in an abandoned car in a police auto pound in the 4600 block of West Division. His head was resting on a box of hamburger patties. He had been missing since Jan. 24, 1977.
◆ Jan. 16, 1978:John Mendell, who allegedly led the burglary crew that robbed the River Forest home of outfit leader Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo, is strangled and his throat is cut in the same garage in the 2800 block of South Lowe where Haggerty was murdered. Mendell’s body, found in the trunk of an Oldsmobile, showed signs of torture.
◆ Jan. 31, 1978: Vincent Moretti and Donald Renno are murdered in a Cicero restaurant.Both were suspected of being involved in the burglary of Accardo’s home. They were found badly beaten with their throats cut in the back of a Cadillac.
◆ July 2, 1980: Mob enforcer William Dauber and his wife, Charlotte, are gunned down during a high-speed car chase in rural Will County because Dauber was cooperating with authorities.
◆ Dec. 30, 1980: Mobster William “Butch” Petrocelli is brutally murdered at an empty building near 14th and Laramie, his face mutilated with a blow torch.
◆ June 24, 1981: Trucking executive Michael Cagnoni dies when a bomb planted in his Mercedes explodes on the Hinsdale on-ramp to Interstate 294. He ran afoul of the mob and knew it. He had hired a bodyguard, carried a gun and wore a bulletproof vest for a while.
◆ July 23, 1983: Bar owner Richard Ortiz and his friend Arthur Morawski are shot in Cicero. Ortiz is killed because the mob believed he was dealing drugs and had committed an unapproved murder. Morawski was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The gunman reportedly fired eight 12-gauge shotgun rounds into the driver’s side of Ortiz’s parked 1983 Mercury
◆ Sept. 14, 1986: Hit man John “Big John” Fecarotta is gunned down outside a bingo hall on Belmont.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Radio interview with Philly's Mafia Prince

 Harry Hurley’s interview with Philip Leonetti.
Leonetti is the author of, “Mafia Prince: Inside The Most Violent Crime Family and the Bloody Fall of LaCosa Nostra.”
“Mafia Prince” is a first-person account of one of the most violent eras in Mafia history — “Little” Nicky Scarfo’s reign as boss of the Philly family in the 1980s—written by Scarfo’s underboss and nephew, Phil Leonetti. Listen to it at the link below.


Notorious Chicago mobster dies on Christmas day in prison

In the end, the Christmas Day death of ruthless Outfit boss Frank Calabrese Sr. proved one thing: he actually had a heart.

Calabrese, 75, was stricken by an apparent cardiac seizure on Tuesday while serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Butner, NC according to his longtime Chicago attorney Joe "the Shark" Lopez.
"Christmas was his favorite holiday" recalled Lopez on Wednesday after learning of his client's passing. The mob boss had been in ill health.
The mob killer, known in mob circles as "the Breeze," was characterized as bloodthirsty and unforgiving by many of those who encountered him. He personally had a hand in more than a dozen gangland murders during his long and violent career according to federal investigators.
Calabrese Sr. had been pursued by law enforcement and prosecutors for decades, since his rise through the Outfit ranks to the upper crust of organized crime.
He died imprisoned with no hope of ever seeing freedom after being convicted as the central figure in the government's 2007 "Family Secrets" case.
Fourteen members of the Chicago mob were indicted for a variety of crimes, including 18 murders and one attempted murder. Two other Outfit defendants were sentenced to life behind bars besides Calabrese: Joey "the Clown" Lombardo and James "Jimmy the Man" Marcello.
The keys to the landmark case that spelled the end of Frank Sr. were his two closest relatives: brother Nick, a mob enforcer and assassin; and son Frank Jr., who found a conscience while serving a prison term and turned on his father.
The beginning of the end for Frank Sr. was in 1997 when he was sent to prison with Nick and Frank Jr. on a series of racketeering charges. Facing a substantial prison sentence, son Frank Jr. typed a letter to the FBI, offering to help bring down his father's gangland empire.
"I didn't want immunity. I didn't want any kind of deal" said Jr. on numerous occasions. Calabrese Jr., who claimed he was manipulated and abused, said he only wanted to "keep my father locked up."
In court testimony-and later in a book-Frank Jr. said his father was dangerous and should never be free.
He wore a wire while spending time with his dad at the federal pen in Milan, Michigan. The tapes caught Frank Sr. admitting to the murders and rackets that the feds had suspected he committed, but could never pin on him.
Jr. testified against his father during the Family Secrets trial in Chicago. The son's cooperation proved to be an incentive for the brother, Nick, to become a government witness as well. Nick Calabrese was an eyeball witness-and participant in-many of the mob murders that Frank Sr. committed during more than three decades. Most of them remained open until the Family Secrets case resolved them.
Among the last public words that Calabrese Sr. uttered were in a courtroom threat against the federal prosecutor who would send him to prison. "You are a f---ing dead man" Calabrese mouthed to Asst. U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk. There was never any violence executed against Funk, but Calabrese did spend his final years in prison isolation because of the threat.
Following an autopsy, standard in any prison death, Calabrese will be turned over to his family, left splintered and scattered by the mob case.
The date of death on his tombstone will be December 25, 2012.
"He loved Christmas" said attorney Joe Lopez. "The family would get together and eat, drink and be merry. Nick would bring the kids. Frank loved the social interaction with the family."
With Frank "the Breeze" Calabrese gone, the family and "the Family" will go on...with one less ghost of Christmas past.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

No trial date set in Miami murder

One of the reputed mobsters accused of orchestrating the murder of Miami Subs founder Gus Boulis was jailed last week as the case lurches toward trial. Another languishes in the Broward County Main Jail, waiting for his day in court. The third is free after pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against the other two.
But nearly 12 years after Boulis was gunned down on a Fort Lauderdale street, and more than seven years after Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari and James "Pudgy" Fiorillo were arrested and charged in the crime, a firm trial date remains elusive.
For the first time, the website of the Broward Clerk of Courts is listing a date to begin the trial, but the Broward State Attorney's Office says that date, April 8, is unlikely to see the start of jury selection.
Moscatiello, 74, who was free on a $500,000 bond until last week, and Ferrari, 55, who has been in custody since 2008 when his bond was revoked, are each charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and solicitation to commit first-degree murder. They face the death penalty if convicted.
Fiorillo pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and was sentenced to six years in prison, but because more than six years had already passed since his arrest, he was immediately freed. He is now in protective custody, with other criminal charges hanging over his head should he fail to follow through on his promise to testify against his former co-defendants.
The complexity of the case has contributed to the length of time it has taken to bring it to trial, despite repeated assertions by Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes that she's eager to seat a jury.
The murder of Boulis was one of the most sensational in Broward's recent history, bringing together an eccentric cast of characters: the victim, founder of Miami Subs and former owner of the SunCruz casino gambling boats; Adam Kidan, founder of the Dial-A-Mattress franchise in the northeastern U.S.; and, indirectly, powerful Washington, D.C., lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a Republican fundraiser with access to then-President George W. Bush.
The SunCruz fleet offered "cruises to nowhere," opportunities for South Florida residents and tourists to legally gamble by traveling to international waters in the 1990s, before such gambling was allowed in Florida.
Boulis had been ordered by federal authorities to sell the SunCruz fleet because federal laws prohibited the ownership of commercial vessels by non-U.S. citizens. Boulis was Greek.
Abramoff partnered with Kidan to buy the fleet in a $147.5 million deal that was later determined to be fraudulent. Boulis repeatedly argued with Kidan about promised payments that never seemed to materialize, and Kidan later accused Boulis of threatening to kill him.
In a pre-trial hearing on April 11, Kidan admitted he hired Moscatiello, who had reputed ties to John Gotti and the Gambino crime family in New York, for protection in late 2000. But he said he never wanted Moscatiello to kill or even communicate with Boulis.
Prosecutors believe Moscatiello saw Kidan as a steady stream of income for himself and family members, and ordered the hit on Boulis to protect that income.
Boulis was shot to death on Feb. 6, 2001, as he was leaving his Fort Lauderdale office. The actual gunman was believed to be reputed mobster John Gurino, who was killed two years later in Boca Raton.
Far from protecting the stream of money from Kidan, the murder of Boulis brought increased scrutiny to the SunCruz deal, resulting in criminal charges against Kidan and against Abramoff, neither of whom were ever connected to the Boulis murder. Kidan and Abramoff later pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.
Moscatiello, Ferrari and Fiorillo were arrested in 2005.


Feds plan to move Sandy victims into homes of convicted union officials

Some Hurricane Sandy victims could find themselves in new homes because of crooks who are cooling their heels in the Big House.
The feds are asking a judge to let New Yorkers who were left homeless by the killer storm move into several vacant Staten Island apartments owned by three corrupt ex-union officials.
The apartments are located in buildings set to be forfeited as ill-gotten gains from the former labor leaders’ decades-long shakedown scheme — but prosecutors say they should be rented out immediately “as a humanitarian measure.”
Court papers cite the “great need for temporary housing in light of the destruction on Staten Island caused by Hurricane Sandy.”
“Permitting the rental of the [apartments] . . . all of which have power and are otherwise in move-in condition, would serve the local community by providing additional temporary homes for displaced New Yorkers,” Manhattan federal prosecutor Paul Monteleoni wrote.
The properties are owned by Anthony Fazio Sr., his son, Anthony Jr., and nephew, John Fazio, all imprisoned for extorting bribes from business owners who employed members of Local 348-S of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
According to the FBI, John Fazio also had mob ties that included regular, “face-to-face” meetings with reputed Genovese crime-family captain John Barbato, and phone conversations with Rita Gigante, daughter of the late Genovese boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante.
The mob-tied kin amassed a real-estate portfolio of 12 rental properties, mostly two-family homes, in such neighborhoods as Eltingville, Great Kills and New Dorp Beach.
According to court papers, there are vacant apartments in at least six of them, all of which are currently going to waste and could be leased out by the US Marshals Service.
In addition to providing much-needed housing, the feds say the rental income would generate cash to help pay off a $2.5 million forfeiture order and another $2.5 million in restitution owed by the Fazios.
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Marshal Joseph Guccione said potential tenants would come from a FEMA list of displaced families, and that the leases would be set at “fair market value” based on the apartments’ rental history.All the deals would be on a month-to-month basis, and the Marshals Service “will run credit checks and verify employment of potential tenants,” court papers say. Several neighbors around the vacant apartments -- which have dark blue Marshals Service “No Trespassing” signs posted in their windows -- approved of the rental plan. ”I hope they allow people to move in. What are the poor people supposed to do, and where are they supposed to go?” said Pattie Pelligrino, who lives near one apartment at 19 Weed Ave. ”The government has been a huge help to us. I think this is amazing.” Angela Marronaro, who lives near three vacant apartments on Blaise Court, called it a “nice” idea. ”It’s really sad this time of year, with it being around the holidays,” she said. ”A lot of people are trying to rebuild.” Lawyers for the Fazios -- who are all locked up in the federal slammer in Fort Dix, N.J. -- have until tomorrow to respond to the feds’ proposal. A lawyer for Anthony Fazio Jr. declined to comment. Lawyers for his dad and cousin didn’t respond to inquiries.


Mob Wives Season 3 Trailer Released

Judge gives mob rat no jail for Christmas


 Evidence photo of Nicholas Pisciotti, aka "PJ" from the racketeering trial of Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano.
Somehow this guy made it on the “nice” list.
A murderous mob rat got a plum sentence just in time for Christmas — no jail time as a reward for testifying against former Bonanno boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano.
Nicholas "P.J." Pisciotti was a capo in the crime family himself before deciding to cooperate because he thought fellow wiseguys were planning to whack him.
"He's provided a lot of intelligence information regarding…a number of individuals ultimately (who) were convicted based in part on information provided by Mr. Pisciotti," Assistant U.S. Attorney Taryn Merkl said Friday, according to an unsealed transcript of the sentencing.
The biggest fish Pisciotti helped the government harpoon was Basciano, by testifying at his 2007 racketeering and murder trial that ended with the flamboyant gangster convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Pisciotti admitted he participated in the fatal stabbing of a Bonanno associate inside a bar in the 1990s, and was arrested for beating up the co-owners of a Little Italy restaurant over a dispute stemming from the city's smoking ban.
But the toughguy apparently cleaned up his act sufficiently for a New Jersey judge to award him custody of his teenage son and two daughters in a custody battle with his ex-wife.
Pisciotto told Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis he has reinvented himself as a partner in health clubs in Manhattan.
"I don't go in that often anymore because I raise my children," Mr. Mom told the judge. "I'm sorry for those acts that I have brought upon myself."
Pisciotti was sentenced to time served — about two years in the can after he was arrested in 2007 for marijuana dealing on behalf of the Bonannos.

Murder contract made Bonanno captain turn rat

A Bonanno captain decided to become a government informant against the crime family’s boss after the FBI warned him a contract was out on him, according to court documents.
Nicholas “P.J.” Pisciotti became a marked man in 2005 after a fight erupted between rival wiseguys over a disagreement on the city’s anti-smoking law.
Pisciotti had reportedly beaten a Genovese crime-family figure over the issue. Later, his Bonanno leadership reportedly failed to back him up at a sit-down.
“The FBI in 2007 went to Mr. Pisciotti and said, ‘Your life is being threatened. There is a contract out for your life,’ ” the wiseguy’s attorney, Richard Kwasnik, told a federal judge last week at Pisciotti’s sentencing hearing. The transcript of the hearing was unsealed yesterday.
Later that year, Pisciotti testified for the feds at former Bonanno boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano’s murder trial.
On Friday, Pisciotti, 43, got time served on mob-assault and extortion charges, after spending two years in prison.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

FBI sets up sting and busts Gambino crew

An informant wearing a wire helped the FBI catch a crew of New Yorkers with nicknames like "Augie," "Jimmy Boy" and "Charlie Tuna" as they attempted to steal and sell $1 million worth of cigarettes, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

The informant also helped nab an East Hanover man who allegedly sold the informant cocaine, according the U.S. Attorney's office.

Eight people — seven of them from New York, one whose residence isn't known — were charged in the alleged cigarette theft conspiracy. All face charges of conspiracy to commit cargo theft. Two — Augustine Guido and John Torlone — also face charges of conspiracy to transport stolen goods in interstate commerce. They could each face up to five years in prison and $250,000 per offense, if convicted.

Carmen T. Marticci, 37, of East Hanover, alone was charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He could be imprisoned for as much as 20 years, and could face a $1 million fine. He's already incarcerated on an unrelated matter, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

The investigation reaches back to January of 2010, when the informant and 72-year-old Guido of Staten Island attended a funeral together, according to the statement. Guido was recorded asking the informant if he knew of any warehouses they could rob, and said he was interested in stealing perfume, cigarettes and pharmaceuticals, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Cooperating with the FBI, the informant took part in a sting operation in which he and the eight men stole a tractor-trailer loaded with 270 cases of counterfeit Pall Mall and Lucky 7 cigarettes from a warehouse in Edison, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Federal agents placed video cameras and other evidence-gathering equipment in the area, it said.

In June, the informant met with some of the men to discuss the planned theft of the trailer — another recorded meeting — the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"Defendant Guido noted the lock was a 'piece of (explicative)' and advised the others than they needed ski masks and baseball caps," the U.S. Attorney's Office wrote in an announcement about the sting.

Then, on July 31, law enforcement officers saw and video-recorded some of them men, wearing masks, breaking into the warehouse and driving away with the trailer, which they dropped off at a warehouse in Perth Amboy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In March 2011, the informant paid one of the men, James "Jimmy Boy" Dellaratta, 70, $500 — representing a portion of the sales from the cigarettes, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

In February of this year, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant of the Perth Amboy warehouse and found 52 full boxes, with each box containing about 50 cartons of the cigarettes, it said.

In a separate sting in June of 2011, the informant told the defendants that 25 32-inch televisions had been stolen, and the TVs were transported to New York by Guido and Torlone, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Martucci, the East Hanover resident, allegedly sold cocaine to the informant on Jan. 26, 2010.
The full list of those charged in the thefts is:

• Augustine Guido, a.k.a. “Augie,” 72, of Staten Island.
• James G. Dellaratta, a.k.a. “Jimmy Boy,” 70, of Amityville, N.Y.
• John Torlone, a.k.a, “Samuel,” 46, of Bellmore, N.Y.
• Charles A. Giustra, a.k.a, “Charlie Tuna,” 51, of Staten Island
• Vincent J. Cerchio, 59, of Staten Island
• Richard A. Lapenna, 49, of Staten Island
• John S. Dicrescento, 32, of unknown residence
• Anthony Gerbino, a.k.a. “Beansie,” 51, of North Valley Stream, N.Y.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Meet the newest member of Mob Wives

The newest member of the “Mob Wives” crew has really been there all along.
Love Majewski has been just off-camera during the first three seasons of VH1’s addictive mob opera, set on Staten Island.
She has known and hung out with most of the “wives” for more than 20 years.
For three seasons now, the show’s producer’s have had to cut her out of shots and dialogue because viewers did not know who she was.
The only question is why it took this long to add a character with a name that sounds like a comic book hero’s girlfriend.
Truth is, Love’s boyfriends are more likely to come out of the pages of Jerry Capeci’s on-line Mafia column, Gang Land.
ISLAND GIRLS: Love Majewski (right) becomes the newest member of “Mob Wives” when it returns. Renee Graziano (above, left) and Drita D’Avanzo in Season 1.
ISLAND GIRLS: Love Majewski (right) becomes the newest member of “Mob Wives” when it returns.
And she has the FBI dossiers to prove it.
In the 1990s, she went on the lam to Israel — which curiously has no extradition treaty with the US — to avoid having to testify against ex-boyfriend Ray Merolle, whose car-theft operation reportedly inspired the film “Gone in 60 Seconds.”
That was after years spent with club king (and mob associate) Chris Paciello, famous for rubbing shoulders with Madonna in the 1990s and then turning mob canary to keep himself out of jail on a murder charge.
In all, she spent nearly four years in Israel, avoiding federal subpoenas — and violent ex-BFs who might worry that she would flip.
“I actually speak fluent Hebrew,” she said of her years in Tel Aviv. “That’s how long I was gone.”
During her years there, Love, now 41, says she wised up.
She has boiled her hard-knocks knowledge down to a single piece of advice for girls who are dazzled by “The Life” — the expression the ‘Mob Wives” use on the show to mean the world of cars, furs and racketeering trials:
“If your man is not at work on Tuesday at 2 in the afternoon, you have a problem,” she says.
Even though she is not Italian — “Russian Polish, I think they call us” — Love fits in easily with the rest of the cast: Drita D’Avanzo, Carla Facciolo, Karen Gravano, Renee Graziano, Ramona Rizzo and especially fan-favorite Big Ang. It is not her first time in front of the cameras.
In 2011, she appeared on an Investigation Discovery series called “I Married a Mobster,” telling her story — and doing make-up for the rest of the cast.
Love’s official bio lists her as a celebrity make-up artist now. Sharon Osbourne and soap star Fiona Hughes have been among her clients.
But she is most proud of building her own small line of high-end cosmetics. “I taught myself how to do everything out of one of those ‘Small Business for Dummies’ books.” she says.
The show, which begins its new season next month on VH1, will not let her talk about what happens this year. “All I can tell you” she says, “is that I’m buffer between Drita and Karen,” who have had some epic brawls on the show over a guy both used to be with and now profess to care nothing about.
Go figure.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Philly mobster predicts victory as trial is adjourned until January

They won't be going home for Christmas, but several accused mobsters appeared upbeat Wednesday as their racketeering trial in Philadelphia nears an end.
After two months of prosecution testimony followed by two days this week from the defense, closing arguments are set for Jan. 3. The jury was sent home for the holidays, and five of the seven defendants returned to jail.
"Happy holidays! See you in about a month, three weeks," defendant George Borgesi told supporters as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He even extended the greeting to prosecutors.
Prosecutors believe his 73-year-old uncle, lead defendant Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, quietly ran Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra for a decade, making money through sports betting, illegal poker machines and loan-sharking. There's been practically no talk of any bloodshed, in marked contrast to the mob rule a generation ago.
But a gangland-style slaying in South Philadelphia last week may have shattered defense claims that the mob today uses neither handguns nor hollow-point bullets.
A man whose name had come up at trial was gunned down hours after the government rested its case. Court records show 50-year-old victim Gino DePietro forged a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in a 2008 drug case, but they don't show if he was ever sentenced or sent to prison. That's helped fuel speculation he was cooperating, although he was not one of the several mob turncoats who testified.
One of them, Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, tried to make a star turn of his day in court. Newly chiseled compared with images of him in surveillance tapes Monacello stared down Ligambi and swiveled in his seat to talk to jurors.
He apparently has hopes of landing a reality TV show, according to a neighbor's testimony, though Monacello still faces at least some prison time after pleading guilty to a long run as a loan shark.
Monacello also dropped bold-face names during his testimony last month, claiming Ligambi had threatened to kill oldies radio DJ Jerry Blavat. Blavat laughed off the claim.
Jurors also heard from aging ex-mobster Peter "Pete the Crumb" Caprio; a retired FBI agent who had infiltrated the Gambino crime family in New York; and a mob historian who described La Cosa Nostra activities over 40 years under Angelo Bruno, Nicodemo Scarfo and others.
As the testimony wrapped up Wednesday, one juror was removed amid concerns about news coverage of the DiPietro slaying. The juror had done nothing wrong, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno said.
The final defense witness was a gambling expert who said wiretap evidence suggests defendant Damion Canalichio was a heavy bettor, not a bookmaker.
A day earlier, a South Philadelphia produce terminal manager likewise challenged claims that Ligambi had a no-show Teamsters job with a trash company. Ligambi was frequently on site, he said. And a North Jersey restaurateur said an alleged La Cosa Nostra leadership meeting had been held in the open, not in a back room. The lunch fare included filet mignon, calamari, broccoli rabe and six bottles of wine.
Bank records seized by prosecutors show a Ligambi entity deposited nearly $700,000 in cash in a corporate bank account from 2002 to 2009.
But the trial's most damaging testimony may have come from a man who said Ligambi's men had wrested control of dozens of profitable albeit illegal video poker machines he had in area bars.
They didn't take no for an answer when he declined to sell them, the witness said.


Russian mobsters murdered New Jersey stockbrokers

A Colts Neck, N.J., police cruiser guards the scene of a double killing of two stock brokers, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1999 in Colts Neck. The two men, Alan Chalem and Mayir Lehmann were found shot to death in the dining room of the mansion Tuesday where they were involved in stock promotion over the internet. (AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky) Original Filename: STOCK_BROKERS_KILLED_2MR.JPG
This was the Colts Neck, N.J., house where Alan Chalem and Mayir Lehmann were murdered in 1999.

The FBI believes a group of Brooklyn-based mob henchmen is behind the 1999 execution of two stockbrokers in a New Jersey mansion, the Daily News has learned.
The murderers, with ties to the Russian Mafia, killed crooked stockbrokers Alan Chalem and Mayir Lehmann — themselves connected to organized crime — to avoid paying them their $5 million cut in illicit pump-and-dump schemes, according to a source close to the probe.
The pair was shot multiple times in the foyer of a Colts Neck, N.J., mansion where Chalem lived with his girlfriend on a 10-acre spread. Lehmann resided with his wife and five children in Woodmere, Long Island.
Investigators had initially theorized that Lehmann, 37, may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it is now believed that both victims were targets.
The FBI is analyzing previously untested DNA evidence recovered from the bloody crime scene to positively identify a perpetrator who may have suffered a cut during the rampage.
The shootings appear to have been carried out by professional hit men recruited by the Russian businessmen who would face federal murder conspiracy charges.
Chalem, 42, also had personal and business ties to figures in the Colombo organized crime family, but investigators have ruled out any involvement by the Italian Mafia, sources said.
FBI spokesman James Margolin declined to comment on whether arrests are imminent.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Judge dismisses juror from Philly mob trial

A juror who apparently was leaning toward a guilty verdict was dismissed Wednesday shortly before the defense rested in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligami and six co-defendants.

Following a closed-door session before U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno, defense attorneys and prosecutors returned to the 15th floor courtroom where Robreno told the other members of the jury panel that "juror number five will not longer be sitting with us."

Robreno offered no other explanation, but told the jury it had nothing to do with an impropriety and that the trial would continue.
The juror, a middle-aged white male (the jury was chosen anonymously) was one of nine members of the panel who said they had read or heard about a gangland murder last week in South Philadelphia. Eight other jurors (there are five alternates) said they had not heard about the incident.

Robreno questioned each juror individually. The defense and prosecution were then permitted to review transcripts of that questioning. Based on the answers of juror number five the defense moved that he be dismissed.

While what the juror told the judge has not been made public, sources in the defense camp said his answers raised questions about whether he could continue to sit and impartially evaluate the case. According to one source, the juror indicated that he was already have trouble finding any evidence or testimony that supported the defendants' claim to innocence. 

The juror's dismissal, came on the heels of testimony from defense witnesses Tuesday that challenged some of the charges in the case and bouyed the hopes of defense attorneys, defendants and their family members.

One source from that group noted that it was ironic that an event that was perceived as a negative for the defendants -- a gangland hit coming during a trial in which the defense had argued that their clients were non-violent -- could turn out to be a benefit for the Ligambi camp.

Had the hit not occurred, there would have been no reason for the judge to question the jurors and  juror number five would have taken his thoughts and leanings with him into jury deliberations.

The trial recessed shortly after noon Wednesday after more testimony from a gambling expert called by defense attorney Margaret Grasso, the lawyer for mob soldier Damion Canalichio. Grasso attempted to use wiretapped conversations introduced by the government to show that while Canalichio may have been a gambler, he was not a bookmaker. 

The often esoteric and contradictory testimony took up several hours over two days. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor was able to point out in his cross-examination that an individual could be both a gambler and a bookmaker. More important, he alluded to a taped conversation in which Canalichio described his role in a gambling operation as a collector of debts.

Collecting debts, the gambling expert reluctantly conceded, was a part of a bookmaking operation. 

Defense attorneys and the prosecution will be back in front of Robreno Thursday to discuss the jury charge -- Robreno's instruction to the panel on the law that applies to the case. Ligambi, 73, and the others have been charged with racketeering conspiracy tied to allegations of sports betting, loansharking, extortion and the operation of illegal video poker machines.

The defendants and the jury are not due back in court until Jan. 3 when closing arguments are to begin. The jury will likely get the case and begin deliberations after Robreno's charge on Jan. 7.

Family members and friends wished the defendants well as they were lead out of the courtroom. Only defendants Anthony Staino, and Gary Battaglini are free on bail. They, like the jurors, will be home for Christmas.

Ligambi, Canalichio, mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino and mob capos Joseph "Scoops" Licata and George Borgesi (Ligambi's nephew) are being held without bail and will spent the holiday break in the Federal Detention Center next door to the courthouse where they have been held since their indictment in May 2011.

Massimino has been predicting for the past week that he will be coming home soon.

His sister Patty, who has attended the two-month trial regularly, said she and other family members were hopeful. 

"My brother would give you the food off his table and the shirt off his back," she said of the oft-convicted 62-year-old mobster who has spent nearly half of his adult life in prison for convictions tied to gambling, racketeering and drug dealing.


Defense rests their case during Philly mob trial

Defense lawyers in the racketeering trial of reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and six associates rested their case today, hours after the trial judge dismissed a juror.The case will resume with closing arguments in January.U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno didn't publicly explain why he dismissed the man, identified as Juror No. 5, or who requested it.But lawyers previously said the man was the only panel member who admitted during private talks with the judge that a reported mob hit in South Philadelphia last week might taint his view of the case."Juror No. 5 will no longer be sitting with us," Robreno told the reconfigured 12-member jury and five alternates as they filed into the courtroom. "You should not speculate as to the reasons for that. He has been dismissed from juror service."The decision came one week after Gino DiPietro, 50, was gunned down outside his home on the 2800 block of Iseminger Street on Wednesday afternoon. 

Police later charged reputed mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo, 41, with the killing.Investigators have offered no motives for the killing. Nicodemo and DiPietro had no clear ties to the ongoing federal trial. Some reports have said the victim may have been cooperating with federal organized crime agents. DiPietro also had a criminal record for drug dealing.The shooting was poised to upend a prosecution case against Ligambi that has largely lacked any evidence of violence. Prosecutors say the 73-year-old mob boss oversaw a crime family that used its past reputation and threats to controlled illegal gambling, extortion and loan-sharking rackets.Lawyers for Ligambi and his codefendants claims the allegations are based on unreliable informants looking to save themselves. They ended their portion of case after barely a day, calling just four witnesses. Robreno dismissed the jurors until Jan. 3, when they are scheduled to hear two days worth of closing arguments and begin deliberations.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Devastating day for prosecutors at Philly mob trial

It was a good day for the defenseTuesday in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

So good, in fact, that mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, a co-defendant, joked about going home. One of five defendants being held without bail, Massimino, during a break in the trial, asked Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han, "Can you give me a ride John?"

Massimino, Ligambi and the three other defendants held without bail will have to wait at least until January to find out if they walk out of the Federal Detention Center next door to the U.S. Courthouse. Jury deliberations are expected to begin on Jan. 7 following a recess later this week for the holidays.

But the defense camp was decidedly upbeat after Tuesday's court session which included testimony from one witness who blistered key government informant Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and another witness who raised serious questions about whether a mob meeting at a North Jersey restaurant back in May 2010 was anything other than a bunch of guys getting together for lunch.

"I think we had a really good day," said one defense attorney.
The trial resumes Wednesday with U.S. District Court Judge Eduardoi Robreno taking up the issue of whether a highly publicized mob hit in South Philadelphia last Wednesday impacted the jury. Robreno privately questioned each of the 17 jurors (there are five alternates) before the start of Tuesday's session.

Nine jurors said they had heard about the shooting, but only one indicated that the news might have affected his ability to remain impartial, according to courtroom sources. The defense is deciding whether to ask that the juror be replaced by an alternate. Robreno intends to take up the issue before the defense continues presenting its witnesses.

Testimony could conclude later in the day.

Ligambi, Massimino and their co-defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy in a case built around bookmaking, loansharking, extortion and illegal video poker machines.

The key defense witness called Tuesday was Jerry Davis, 54, a one-time South Philadelphia neighbor of  Monacello.

Monacello testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial, tying Ligambi and co-defendant George Borgesi, Ligambi's nephew, to gambling, extortion and loansharking rackets.

The defense has argued that Monacello, 45, a key Borgesi associate, lied on the witness stand. They contend that he was acting on his own in the criminal underworld while using his mob connections, particularly his ties to Borgesi, to advance his own money-making operations.

Davis, who lived next door to Monacello on South 18th Street before Monacello moved to Vetnor in 2011, said he frequently socialized with the mob figure who he described as "vicious" and vindictive.

He said after Monacello was indicted along with Ligambi, Borgesi and the other defendants in May 2011, he told Davis that he would "do whatever it took" to get out from under the charges. Monacello was at first denied bail, but was released in July 2011 after agreeing to cooperate.

He relocated to Ventnor after being freed.

Davis said he met Monacello around 2005, about the time authorities allege Monacello was running Borgesi's gambling and loansharking operations in Delaware County. Borgesi, 49, was serving a 14-year sentence for an unrelated racketeering conviction at the time.

Davis described several drinking sessions he said he had with Monacello in the basement of Monacello's home. Monacello, he said, favored a shot of Crown Royal whiskey chased with a glass of beer. Davis said the more Monacello drank, the more he talked about Borgesi, Ligambi and mobster Martin Angelina.

Monacello, he said, boasted that he could use "Borgesi's name to get anything he wanted."

He said Monacello told him that "he hoped (Borgesi) would never come home from prison." He also said Monacello "hated" Ligambi and wanted Angelina "dead."

From the witness stand Monacello admitted most of that to the jury, but insisted that whatever he did in the underworld was on behalf of Borgesi and often with Ligambi's blessing.

Davis, speaking in a quiet, firm voice, said Monacello frequently complained about the leadership of the crime family.

"Nobody knows what they're doing," he said Monacello would say after a few drinks. He also said Monacello told him that he, Monacello, should be the boss of the organization.

Monacello has been described as a mob associate, but not a made or formally initiated member of the crime family. During his testimony, he told the jury that he often found himself caught in the middle of underworld disputes between Borgesi and Ligambi involving gambling and loansharking issues.

Borgesi, who was about to be released from prison for the earlier racketeering conviction when he was indicted and ordered held without bail in this case, clearly felt that Davis' testimony supported his contention that Monacello had fabricated stories about him.

"See, I told you," he said during a break.

Whether the jury sees it that way, however, is the only issue that matters. After two months of testimoy and evidence, it is clear that the case against Borgesi depends almost entirely on Monacello's testimony.

The defense also appeared to undermine a key piece of evidence against Joseph "Scoops" Licata, a North Jersey mob figure whose connection to the overall racketeering conspiracy has been tenuous at best throughout the trial.

Among other things, the prosecution has alleged that Licata was a key participant in a mob meeting at a North Jersey restaurtant, La Griglia, in May 2010. Authorities have described the lunch meeting, attended by Ligambi, Licata, co-defendant Anthony Staino and several members of the Gambino crime family as a meeting of the "board of directors of organized crime."

The meeting was secretly recorded by a mob informant who wore a body wire to the session.

But Tuesday Chris Tocci, the manager of the Kenilworth restaurant, testified that the lunch meeting took place in the main dining room and within earshot of other patrons. Under questioning from Licata's lawyer, Christopher Warren, Tocci said he had offered to set the party up in a private room, but that Licata and the others declined.

"They said they wanted to eat in the main dining area," Tocci said.

Warren then introduced as evidence photos of the main dining with dozens of tables and the private room where the mobsters could have met. The point Warren made visually -- and one he is expected to expand on verbally in his closing argument -- is that if the mobsters wanted privacy to discuss criminal business the private dining area would have made more sense.

In his opening argument, Warren, along with several other defense attorneys, argued that the prosecution had stitched together a series of unrelated charges and events to create a criminal conspiracy where none existed. The meeting at LaGriglia was one example.

During what authorities have said was a four- to five-hour lunch meeting, the food ordered by Licata, Ligambi and the others included seafood salad, cajun calamari, grilled filet mignon, yellow fin tuna, Chilean sea bass, chicken with broccoli rabe and diver scallops, according to the bill.

One mobster also ordreed the cod lunch special. Another had a half plate of linguine. And there were two orders of broccoli rabe with sausage and two orders of fricassee. Desserts included fresh berries, cheesecake and shortcake. They washed it all down with seven bottles of mineral water (at $7 each) and five bottles of wine, four 2005 Mocali (at $65 per bottle) and a 2001 Biondi Santi for $200.

The bill came to $902 with tax. Tocci said the bill was paid in cash. There was no indication of how big a tip the mobsters left.