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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Philly man named Bootsie pleads guilty to illegal gambling

A Philadelphia man charged along with the reputed leaders of the city's mob family pleaded guilty Wednesday to conducting an illegal gambling business, prosecutors said.
In a hearing in federal court, Robert Verrecchia, 43, admitted helping reputed underboss Joseph Massimino run a video poker bookmaking business at Lou's Crab Bar, a South Philadelphia tavern that prosecutors say Massimino controlled, the office of U.S. Attorney Zane D. Memeger announced.
Verrecchia, known as "Bootsie," was one of 15 defendants indicted two years ago, but had won a bid for a separate trial. He faces up to a year in prison when U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno sentences him in June.


Turncoat Philly underboss says his 10 murders felt natural

Phil Leonetti was the underboss of the Philadelphia crime family until he became a government witness. He broke the codes of La Cosa Nostra and testified against the mob.
For more than a decade, he’s been in hiding with his family.
Now, in a new book, “Mafia Prince,” Leonetti reveals for the first time what it was like to be the youngest underboss of a mob family. He writes about violating the sacred oath of mob secrecy, becoming one of the highest ranking mafia turncoats in history.
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller spoke to Leonetti, and said on “CBS This Morning,” “Leonetti was different. He was young, he had movie-star good looks — and he was a stone-cold killer. But after his rise to the top of the Philadelphia mob, he made a decision to betray those secrets. If you have seen ‘The Godfather’ or ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘The Sopranos,’ you know the fictional characters. But when you meet Phil Leonetti, you understand the real world of the mob.”
Leonetti told Miller, “I never did nothing ruthless besides, well, I would kill people. But that’s our life. That’s what we do.”
Asked what he liked best about being a gangster, Leonetti — his face filmed in shadow to avoid being recognized — said, “I liked the respect that I received from everybody in our family because I had quite a reputation, you know, from being taught by my uncle the rules of the mob. He taught me how to kill people.”
Leonetti was the nephew of Nicedemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, the mob boss who controlled rackets from Atlantic City to Philadelphia. Leonetti was his right-hand man. They called him “Crazy Phil,” a name Leonetti told Miller he didn’t like, but his uncle admired.
“I said I wanted to do something about (the name),” Leonetti recalled. “He says, ‘Are you crazy?’ He said, ‘People would pay money to have a nickname like that.’”
Miller asked, “Because you’d be feared?”
Leonetti said, “Yes. But that wasn’t me.”
When asked when he knew and understood what the mafia was, Leonetti said he thinks he always knew, but added, “I really understood it when I was about 10 or 11 years old. They killed a guy. And he had this truck that was stolen that he had to get rid of. So he took me with him from Atlantic City to bring it back to Philly to get chopped up. And he was telling me the story as he was driving me why he was bringing me.”
By the age of 23, Leonetti pulled the trigger on his first mob hit. He said, “I remember the feeling I had; I felt cold and I didn’t feel any remorse.”
“I ran behind him,” he recalled. “And I stuck the gun to his — behind his head. And I fired. And I thought he was running away because the force of the gun moved him forward, you know? And then he fell down. And I emptied my gun into him.”
That would be the first of many murders. Asked what it felt like to do it, Leonetti said, “I hate to say, but it felt natural. I mean, I didn’t feel anything. I just did it. I thought it was my job. And — and that was it.”
Leonetti said he doesn’t think about the people he killed. “To me they were all bad people,” he said. “I mean, they could have killed me, too; I could have got killed. So I’m not — I — I can’t worry about the past.”
Once Leonetti had participated in mob hits, he was qualified to become a “made man.” He was sworn into the ranks of La Cosa Nostra in a secret ceremony in a room full of fellow mobsters.
“They pricked my finger, my uncle did,” Leonetti said. “And they put a picture of a saint, blood. They put the blood from my finger on the picture of the saint. And you lit the saint on fire in my hands. And I cupped my hands. And he told me, ‘Don’t make that saint fall out of your hands. Just keep juggling it until it burns out,’ which I did. And as I’m doing that, he tells me, ‘You gotta say, ‘May I burn like this saint if I betray my friends.’”
When his uncle “Little Nicky” took over as boss, Leonetti was made underboss and things began to change. “He always told me, he says, ‘You gotta kill people. And you gotta keep on killing ‘em,’” Leonetti said. ” That’s how this thing works, La Cosa Nostra. That’s how he looked at a problem. They would have to kill him not to be killed. But there was no more brotherhood. I mean, my uncle took over. And the way he was acting, it wasn’t the same. It was — he was — breaking all the rules that he taught me to obey. And I just — I was disgusted. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
He added, “Once you are in this life, there’s only two ways out: jail or death. There was no retiring or quitting. I felt stuck.”
So after 10 murders, as he faced a 45-year prison sentence, Leonetti decided to turn, and became a government witness.
Leonetti said he anticipated the half-million-dollar price on his head named by his uncle. “It’s expected,” he said. “I mean, what I’m doing is going against all the rules of La Cosa Nostra. You know, I put myself and my family in a bad situation. That’s why we’re — we’re careful. We gotta be careful.”
Leonetti was sentenced to 55 years in prison, and served five years of a 45-year sentence for killing 10 people. Miller said to Leonetti, “Some would argue that’s not justice. How do you see it?”
He replied, “It’s justice for me. I’m happy I’m out of jail. I think I did a good job with my family that I’m raising. I’m not looking to be in the mob. I never got in trouble after I got out of prison. So I think I’m doing pretty good. I think I’m a success story.”


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Black Hand Forum provides place to discuss the mafia with others online

Organized Crime Forum
A new organized crime forum has sprouted online which has grown immensely popular in recent months. The Black Hand Forum provides an area to discuss the mafia amongst other enthusiasts of the genre. The forum already boasts a membership list of over 100 individuals and is rapidly expanding. After the decline of the Real Deal Organized Crime Forum, the site operators over at The Black Hand have promoted an open-door policy to former members of the Real Deal and new members and encourage them to join the site.

Sign up for a free account over at the The Black Hand Forum and start participating today!

North Jersey based Philly mobster sentenced to 55 months in prison

Louis Fazzini
A North Jersey mobster, who admitted to participating in the affairs of Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra, was sentenced today to a 55 month term in federal prison.
Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini, 45, pleaded guilty in October to a racketeering conspiracy charge linked to a mob-controlled gambling and loan-sharking operation.
A self-described "made" member of the mob, Fazzini, of Caldwell, operated a sports bookmaking business and ran a social club in northern New Jersey where illegal gambling on card and dice games occurred regularly. In addition, he devised a scheme to get health benefits through a "no show" job at a trash hauler controlled by the Philly mob.
Fazzini was convicted of similar charges in 1999 in Newark and sentenced to 48 months in prison.
In recognition of his loyalty to the mob, Fazzini was formally initiated into the Philadelphia mob with Joseph Ligambi presiding over Fazzini's making ceremony. In a conversation recorded by federal investigators, Fazzini recounted the ceremony:
"When I got straightened out, you either knew you were getting straightened out (meaning initiated) or you're getting clipped (meaning murdered). One of the f..ing two."
Fazzini told the story about how Ligambi could not get blood out of Fazzini's finger with a pin during the ceremony, so he used the ceremonial knife and "the f..ing blood splashed all over his shirt, my shirt...," according to court documents.
Federal authorities previously described Fazzini as a key operative for Joseph "Scoops" Licata, a capo who headed the Philadelphia crime family's Newark-area operations.


Acting New England mob boss sent to prison in Pennsylvania

The reputed one-time acting boss of the New England crime family has been moved to a Pennsylvania prison, from Central Falls, to serve his sentence.

Anthony DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, is now being housed at the Canaan United State Penitentiary in Waymart Penn., according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. The high security facility is near the New York border of Pennsylvania, about 130 miles north of Philadelphia.

In November DiNunzio was sentenced to six and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy. Investigators say he continued the shakedown of Rhode Island strip clubs for protection money after admitted mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio was arrested for the same scheme the year before.

The Boston mobster was snared in the Rhode Island case as part of a superseding indictment after investigators say they tracked him receiving payments from Providence capo regime Edward “Eddie” Lato.

Since his arrest in September, DiNunzio has been held at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls. Records indicate he was held at a prison in Brooklyn last week before being transferred to Pennsylvania.

His estimated release date is December 2017. DiNunzio will then be on three years of supervised release.


Uncle Joe Ligambi denied bail until his retrial

"Uncle Joe" Ligambi will remain a "guest" of the federal government while awaiting a retrial on racketeering conspiracy, gambling and obstruction of justice charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno, in a ruling that drew sarcastic comments from several friends and family members who packed the courtroom for today's bail hearing, turned down Ligambi's request for bail, accepting the government's argument that the mob boss was a "danger to the community."

"I'm shocked," one members of the Ligambi entourage said at the end of the 90-minute court session. 

Robreno had earlier turned down a similar bail request by George Borgesi, Ligambi's nephew and co-defendant. His his ruling today was not unexpected.

Lawyers for both Ligambi, 73, and Borgesi, 49, have indicated they will appeal the bail denials to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, both defendants remain in the Federal Detention Center.

At today's hearing, Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., argued that the jury verdicts in the trial that ended on Feb. 5 had substantially changed the circumstances under which Ligambi had originally been denied bail. But the prosecution contended that the verdicts -- even those verdicts of not guilty -- should not have any impact.

Jacobs again cited the fact that the jury delivered not guilty verdicts on 46 counts, hung on 11 and only delivered guilty verdicts on five counts. Ligambi, he said, was acquitted of five counts and the jury hung on four others which the government intends to retry.

Contending that the government had a weak case to begin with, the jury verdicts, Jacobs aruged, had further undermined the "legs" on which the conspiracy count rests. The pending case against Ligambi, Jacobs said, "pales in comparison to what we were facing" in the original trial.

But prosecutors offered an entirely different take built around the same set of facts 

"If our case is so weak, why were (three other defendants) convicted of racketeering conspiracy?" said Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor, one of the prosecutors in the case.

Labor also pointed out that of 15 defendants originally charged, 10 have either been convicted or pleaded guilty. Only mob capo Joseph "Scoops" Licata, 71, was found not guilty.

Licata, who authorities said headed the Philadelphia crime family's North Jersey operations, was acquitted of racketeering conspiracy, the only count he faced. He was released after the jury verdict was announced.

Three other defendants. Damion Canalichio, Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, and Gary Battaglini, were convicted of racketeering conspiracy and are to be sentenced on May 21. A four defendant, Anthony Staino, was convicted of two extortion counts and is to be retried on racketeering conspiracy along with Ligambi and Borgesi. 

In other developments today, Robreno sentenced mob soldier Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini to 55 months in prison. Fazzini, 46, of Caldwell, NJ, had pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge prior to the start of the trial.

A top associate of Licata's, Fazzini faced virtually the same charges as the mob capo, leading many  courtroom observers believe he, too, would have been acquitted at trial.

A retrial for Ligambi, Borgesi and Anthony Staino has tentatively been set by Robreno for April 16, but in all probability will be postponed to a later date. Lawyers for both Ligambi and Borgesi have indicated that they have other trial commitments that could tie them up for the next four to six months.

Labor told Robreno the prosecution would be ready to start a retrial in April. He said the trial would be shorter than the 10-week presentation in the first case. Most observers believe the retrial will probably go off in September and last four to five weeks.

The government is expected to streamline its case, perhaps using fewer witnesses and playing fewer tapes. The most puzzling aspect to the case thus far is the racketeering conspiracy charge that remains against Borgesi.

The jury acquitted him of 13 other counts in the case, but hung on the conspiracy charge. That charge centers on allegations that the defendants played a knowing role in the ongoing criminal enterprise that is the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra. The case focused on events between 1999 and 2011 when the first Ligambi indictment was handed up.

For most of that time Borgesi was in jail. He was arrested in March 2000 and convicted in July 2001 of racketeering charges. He was completing a 14-year sentence when he was indicted along with Ligambi and the others in the current case.

The charges against him revolved primarily around the testimony of his one-time top associate, Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello. But the jury verdicts -- the 13 not guilties -- would seem to indicate that the panel was not buying what Monacello was selling from the witness stand.

A new trial with a new jury could also include a new look -- less arrogant, more focused -- Monacello. And ironically, many of the allegations contained in the counts that the jury rejected in the first trial could again be used as evidence to support the racketeering conspiracy charge that Borgesi's faces.

In other words, Monacello could get to tell the same story to a different jury that the prosecution hopes will come back with a different verdict.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Staten Island Deli king caught in check fraud scheme

Saquib Khan,the deli king of Staten Island, was in trouble.

Hurricane Sandy had devastated his businesses,leaving him unable to pay his bills. His mob ties had been exposed in federal court. His financial maneuvering had just come under scrutiny by auditors.

Mr. Khan saw one way out,federal prosecutors said: He wrote hundreds of checks to himself,then raced across the city from bank to bank to deposit them in accounts under his name or those of his businesses.

In all,the prosecutors said,the checks totaled $82 million.

It was one of the largest check-fraud schemes anywhere in the country in recent years,according to the complaint against Mr. Khan and interviews with fraud experts - a brazen example of a crime that has been on the rise since the recession hit.

This is an era in which thieves steal millions with the click of a mouse. But Mr. Khan is accused of carrying out a low-tech fraud that has unexpectedly exposed holes in the security of the banking system. He took advantage of the willingness of banks to allow some customers to overdraw their accounts temporarily,prosecutors said.

The criminal complaint also sheds light on Mr. Khan,one of those extraordinary characters nurtured by the city,an immigrant whose life of operatic twists has wound through tribal Pakistan,Staten Island strip malls,fund-raisers for Hillary Rodham Clinton and underground gambling halls.

The banks have recovered most of the $82 million,officials said. More than $11 million of the money that Mr. Khan withdrew is now frozen in an account to be distributed to the banks to help repay their losses,his lawyer said.

It appears he spent at least $2 million of the money before he was arrested on Dec. 13, according to interviews and the criminal complaint,which was brought by the United States attorney's office in Brooklyn.

Mr. Khan,who declined to be interviewed, is free on $500,000 bail and trying to arrange a plea bargain with prosecutors, according to court records. His lawyer said that Mr. Khan was only trying to save his business,and that he was working hard to pay back the banks.

But even experts were taken aback by the accusations.

"It blows my mind," said Frank Abagnale, the celebrated con man who inspired the Steven Spielberg movie "Catch Me if You Can" and now works as a fraud-detection consultant.

"That's way,way out there," Mr. Abagnale said.

Mr. Khan,51,comes from a prominent family in Pakistan - relatives said he was a favorite nephew of Bashir Ahmad Bilour,a well-known politician who spoke out against the Taliban. Mr. Bilour was killed in a suicide attack in late December.

Trained as a doctor,Mr. Khan came to the United States in the 1980s,but ended up working with his sister and her husband, who owned some two dozen delis across Staten Island.

From there,Mr. Khan set out on his own, building up Richmond Wholesale Company, a cigarette and grocery business that recorded $125 million in sales last year, according to Dun & Bradstreet,a financial information provider. Richmond Wholesale supplies products to delis and gas stations across the New York region. Mr. Khan also owns three delis.

Mr. Khan,until recently the chairman of the board of a prominent Staten Island mosque, was known in the borough's close-knit Pakistani community as a flashy businessman. He once had a mansion in the Todt Hill neighborhood and drove a Mercedes with a license plate that read "SKHAN."

He was also a generous supporter of politicians of both major parties,giving more than $65,000 to more than 40 campaigns in the last decade,including those of Mrs. Clinton,former Representative Anthony D. Weiner,former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and former Gov. George E. Pataki.

His friends said that while he reveled in his achievements,he was also a hardworking entrepreneur who built a life for himself deli by deli.

"I'd rather be working in my store," he said in 2010. "I'd rather be doing my daily business."

That comment,though,hinted at the dark side of his success. He made it while testifying at a mob trial.

As he rose in the business community on Staten Island,he developed a close relationship with a soldier in the Genovese crime family,John Giglio,also known as Johnny Bull or Fat John,according to the court testimony.

Mr. Khan testified that he had used that connection to pressure at least one reluctant deli owner to sell his business to him.

Through Mr. Giglio,Mr. Khan said he met other high-ranking organized crime figures in gambling halls,though he was never charged in connection with these relationships. (Mr. Khan's testimony came at the trial of Anthony Antico,who was convicted of racketeering.)

Prosecutors who put together the recent criminal complaint against Mr. Khan said his fraud was an outsized version of a familiar swindle - check kiting - in which the thief takes advantage of the time it takes for banks to clear checks.

The thief deposits inflated checks and then quickly transfers the money to another account before the checks bounce.

Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island particularly hard,leaving Mr. Khan desperate to recoup business lost during power failures and worse,his lawyer, Sharon L. McCarthy,said.

"All he was trying to do was run his business and pay his employees," Ms. McCarthy said. "He did not intend to hurt any of these financial institutions."

The transfers and withdrawals are complicated,but suggested a simple plan: he deposited worthless checks and withdrew real money - tens of millions worth,according to the criminal complaint.

Over two weeks in November,he wrote hundreds of checks to himself,more than a dozen a day,drawing from accounts at about six banks,the complaint said.

The pattern of precise amounts - $886,841, then $874,532,then $461,232 - was an indication of fraud,experts said.

The pace grew increasingly frantic. He deposited $49 million worth of checks into accounts at Capital One,a mix of legitimate ones from vendors and fraudulent ones written to himself,according to court records and interviews.

The bank made those funds available without waiting for the checks to clear. That turned his fictions into millions,allowing Mr. Khan to transfer $42 million into accounts at other banks,according to a lawsuit that Capital One filed against Mr. Khan's company.

He then withdrew and transferred more money to other accounts as the fake checks kept piling up. He wrote checks worth $82 million that did not "appear to have had any legitimate purpose other than to support the 'check kiting' scheme," the criminal complaint said.

Ms. McCarthy called the $82 million figure "an artificial number" that represented the amount of overdrafts,but not the banks' total loss.

Soon,auditors at some of the banks -including Capital One,M & T Bank and Flushing Savings Bank - realized what was going on.

Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Khan blew the whistle on himself,alerting the banks that he had withdrawn far more than was in his accounts and planned to pay it back.

The banks declined to comment,and several civil lawsuits against Mr. Khan are pending.

His friends on Staten Island said they were shocked by the accusations,and described him as a humble man who was always on the job.

"If you had called him when he was doing cigarette wholesale,he would arrive there at 5 a.m. and be there until 8 p.m.," one of them,Suhail Muzaffar,said.

Mr. Khan's arrest has also caused turmoil at the mosque where he was chairman, Muslim Majlis of Staten Island. He resigned late last month.

He was once well respected there. Now, mosque leaders are sharply divided in their feelings toward him. A founder of the mosque recently resigned from its board after 33 years because of the taint of the Khan case.

For now,Mr. Khan is working to stave off the charges and pay back the banks any way he can,including selling his business -the final twist in the deli king's fall.


Friday, February 22, 2013

ILA union linked to Genovese crime family hit by lawsuit

A former shipping terminal operator in Newark and Brooklyn is suing the International Longshoremen’s Association for $160 million, charging that leaders of the 65,000-member dockworkers’ union are organized crime associates who forced the company out of business after it refused to go along with their racketeering schemes.
The suit names ILA President Harold Daggett, union subordinates, and several other members of the local shipping community as defendants in the case, asserting that they formed a “Waterfront Group,” that was linked to organized crime, and engaged in extortion, bribery, fraud, embezzlement, and other forms of racketeering.
“Defendant Daggett is and at all relevant times has been, associated with organized crime,” the suit states.
One of the allegations in the suit by American Stevedoring Inc., is that ILA leaders told the company’s chairman, Sabato Catucci, in August 2011 that if he refused to pull up stakes and leave the port he would be carried out “in a box.”
Charges that the ILA is a corrupt, mob-influenced organization are not.
Dozens of ILA officials have been convicted or pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, many of those cases cited as examples in the suit by American Stevedoring. The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was created in the 1950s to keep the mob off the docks, following revelations dramatized in the Marlon Brando film, “On the Waterfont.” The commission is still active, and among several law enforcement agencies, along with the U.S. Attorneys offices in New Jersey and New York, that continue to bring criminal and civil cases against ILA officials and others in recent years.
Harold Daggett himself was indicted on racketeering charges along with two fellow longshoremen and a reputed Genovese Crime Family capo in 2005. Daggett and two others were acquitted, after he broke down on the witness stand and insisted he himself had been the target of mob threats. But a fellow ILA official, Albert Cernadas, pleaded guilty in the case. The reputed mobster, Lawrence Ricci, was acquitted in absentia, before his body was found in the trunk of a car.
The suit by American Stevedoring says Daggett, 66, of Sparta, began pressuring Catucci at least as far back as 2005, while Daggett was still president of ILA Local 1804-1 in North Bergen, six year before he was elected the ILA’s international president.
“In or about March 2005, Defendant Daggett began to openly express his desire for American to cease operations in Waterfront Commerce,” the suit states. “He wanted to see Sabato thrown out of the port sector, as he regarded Sabato to be a ‘troublemaker’ who ‘did not know how to give the ILA what it wanted.’”
A spokesman for the union, Jim McNamara, declined to comment on that or any other assertion in the suit, which was filed Feb. 7 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan under federal anti-racketeering law.
American Stevedoring did eventually leave the port and the terminal operating business, signing “concession agreement” on Sept. 26, 2011, which turned over control of its Port Newark and Red Hook, Brooklyn terminals to a company known as Red Hook Container Terminal LLC. But the suit said the agreement was only signed under pressure from the ILA, which had staged a walk-out against the company three days earlier, and vowed to continue the strike until American bowed to its demands.
The suit, which was first reported by the Journal of Commerce, charges that Red Hook Container Terminal was acceptable to the ILA as a successor because it was open to the kind of no-show jobs and other corrupt practices the union demanded. The president of Brooklyn-based RHCT, Michael Stamatis, declined to comment on the allegation.
“I have not seen the complaint,” Stamatis said when reached by phone.
American Stevedoring is no longer in the terminal operating business, though it still exists and has plans to launch another venture soon, said Matt Yates, a company official. Yates said it took the company and its lawyers 17 months to file the suit after signing away its terminal operations because of the complexity of the case. He said company officials did not fear retaliation for finally taking the union to court.
“Obviously, we’re mindful that we’ve taken a significant action,” Yates said. “But we cannot and will not be deterred from the appropriate course of action because of concerns like that.”


New York mobster ran Colombo crime family from Boston

FOX 25's Bob Ward opened his crime files on Wednesday night to bring us inside the eye opening story of a top New York mob boss who reportedly ran New York mob business out of Boston.

In late 2009, some of the biggest names in the New England mafia gathered at an East Boston restaurant after a wake to talk business. According to a federal indictment, as the men broke bread they discussed a number of family matters, including how exactly to split money extorted out of Rhode Island strip bars.

There was one mafia leader who was only a few miles away from the meeting, but probably wasn't invited. His name is Ralph DeLeo and there is a simple reason he wasn't in East Boston that night: the feds say Ralph DeLeo was a made member and a street boss of the New York Colombo crime family.

"This is the first time I have ever seen the acting street boss of a NY crime family in another area," says FBI Special Agent Todd Richards.

Richards says he has never seen this happen in his three decades of law enforcement. The special agent revealed for the first time during his interview with FOX 25's Bob Ward that the unassuming 70-year-old man, who lived in a basement apartment in Somerville, was not only a powerful mob figure, he was conducting New York crime family business in Boston.

"Mr. DeLeo was responsible for all of the daily criminal activity for the Colombo crime family which is based in New York, but he is doing it in Boston," Richards explains. "He is doing it in the Boston area, under the radar screen."

In the past, working on another family's turf could mean big trouble, but Special Agent Richards tells FOX 25 that DeLeo was different. He was the lifetime friend of a top aide to the late New England mob boss Gennaro Angiulo. While in prison years ago, DeLeo forged ties with the Colombo crime family.

"While in prison, Mr. DeLeo becomes a confident of Allyboy Persico, who is the acting boss of the family at the time, because his father, Carmine "The Snake" Persico, is also incarcerated. Because of that association, Mr. DeLeo is well-respected," Richards explains. "And upon his release from prison at some point, he becomes a made member of the Colombo crime family of New York."

The feds say Ralph DeLeo was mostly a telecommuting crime boss, but he would travel from Boston to New York to conduct business two or three times a month by car or plane. Back at home near Boston, DeLeo played it cool.

"He was actually a hard worker. He was a maintenance man for a local company. He put in a full days' work, then he got home, got on his computer, and read about the Colombo family and was very much involved in the daily activities of the Colombo family," says Richards.

On Hanover Street in Boston's North End, those political ties to two crime families gave Ralph DeLeo enormous respect and allowed him to run New York from Boston. In recent years, high level New England mob busts have left the local La Cosa Nostra reeling, creating a leadership vacuum. The mob might be down, but it's not out. The question that remains is who will lead the next Boston mob, a local guy or a New Yorker?

"I don't believe the Colombo family is here. I have not heard of another member of the Colombo family here, but we have looked at that with more scrutiny after we found Mr. DeLeo was operating in this area of operations," says Richards.


Prosecutors wants judge to keep Uncle Joe in jail until his retrial

Prosecutors want a judge to keep reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi in jail pending a retrial, arguing that the mixed verdicts this month against him and others only bolster their claims about the crime family and its leaders.

Brushing aside the jury's acquittals on 46 counts and deadlock on 11 others, the trial team from the U.S. Attorney's Office noted that 10 of the original 15 defendants in the case have pleaded to or been found guilty of felonies. And that the evidence that led to the convictions showed the mob and its leaders ran bookmaking, loan-sharking, and other rackets.

"The government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt, by numerous guilty verdicts and guilty pleas, the existence and operation of the racketeering enterprise known as the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra," assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Labor, Suzanne Ercole and John Han wrote in a motion to U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno.

After a four-month trial, jurors acquitted Ligambi, 73, on five counts of loansharking, theft and bookmaking but were undecided on four other charges, including racketeering conspiracy, which accused him of leading the criminal enterprise.

Three of his six codefendants, including reputed underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, were convicted on that count. The jury acquitted one defendant entirely of racketeering and declared itself "undecided" against two others, including Ligambi's nephew and reputed capo, George "Georgie" Borgesi.

Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, said Friday that the office will retry the case. Robreno has tentatively scheduled the retrial for April, but that date is expected to change.

Ligambi's lawyers contend that the verdicts "obliterated 90 percent" of the government case, including many of the same accusations used to hold Ligambi without bail since his May 2011 arrest. They have asked the judge to free Ligambi on bail and say he has been promised a job by the CEO of a "respected Philadelphia-based corporation."

The prosecutors said they will press Ligambi's lawyers to identify the company when Robreno holds a hearing Monday on the bail motion.

They also said that Ligambi's age should not be a factor in the decision.

"In the world of organized crime, advancing age is an indicia of dangerousness," their motion says. "Only a cunning and vicious gangster can survive the many snares and dangers an LCN member encounters, from law enforcement and the LCN itself, in a life of crime in the mob, and which tend to cut a gangster's run short."


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Philly district attorney uses indicting grand jury in mafia murder case

Eight months after Pennsylvania's Supreme Court revived use of indicting grand juries by county prosecutors, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office has opted to use one in the case of reputed mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo.
Nicodemo, 41, was arrested Dec. 13 in the daytime slaying of Gino DePietro outside his South Philadelphia home.
The slaying occurred as a federal court jury was hearing evidence in the racketeering trial of seven alleged Philadelphia mobsters. Some trial observers speculated about a possible connection between trial and killing and lawyers feared the news might taint the jury.
Nicodemo's preliminary hearing on murder and related charges was supposed to have been held today before a Municipal Court judge.
Instead, the hearing was canceled and defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle confirmed that prosecutors chose to take their case to an indicting grand jury rather than the public forum of a preliminary hearing.
McMonagle said Nicodemo is next set for a status hearing on March 11 before a Common Pleas Court judge.
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, the prosecutor in the Nicodemo case, was not immediately available for comment.
Court records involving the Nicodemo case show two orders, filed Feb. 12 and 14, by Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart that refer to an "indicting grand jury." The documents are sealed.
The Supreme Court announced last June that it was reviving the statewide the use of county indicting grand juries, giving prosecutors the option of an indictment to bring criminal charges, or use a public preliminary hearing.
Though the impact of the high court's action was statewide, it was directed at Philadelphia where threats against victims and witnesses are widespread.
The intimidation problem is especially critical at a preliminary hearing where a Municipal Court judge decides if the prosecution's evidence is sufficient to justify a criminal trial.
The Supreme Court action followed a 2009 Inquirer investigative series, "Justice: Delayed, Dismissed, Denied," which documented witness intimidation and other problems crippling Philadelphia's justice system.
Preliminary hearings are typically held several weeks after a crime has been committed when witness memories of an event are believed to be sharper.
So too are feelings of emotion and fear and prosecutors complain that allies of criminal suspects can threaten or intimidate and cause a witness to refuse to testify or claim not to remember.
In other cases, no intimidation is needed; in some crime-plagued neighborhoods a "no snitching" culture has taken hold.
Prosecutors contend that using indicting grand juries in cases involving violent crimes gives witnesses and victims a chance to testify outside the public's view. Later, the witnesses may be called to testify in public if the criminal defendant goes to trial.
Unlike trial juries of 12 people, grand juries have 23 members. Grand juries meet in secret and generally hear only evidence presented by a prosecutor.
Defense attorneys say the secrecy guarantees prosecutors an indictment, or criminal charges, against the target of the investigation.
But defense lawyers also say a grand jury may mask weaknesses in a prosecution case that might have been evident sooner at a public preliminary hearing.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Calvin Klein model claims Mob Wife threatened to kill him with a screwdriver


Calvin Klein's ex-boy toy Nick Gruber says he fears for his life ... after a star of "Mob Wives: Chicago" allegedly threatened to kill him with a screwdriver ... this according to court docs obtained by TMZ. 

23-year-old Nick requested a restraining order against "Mob Wife" Nora Schweihs in Los Angeles Superior Court on January 22. 

In the docs, Nick says he and Nora have been living together for two months -- they share the same entertainment manager -- but things have taken a turn for the worse. 

Specifically Nick claims Nora is "psychotic" ... drinks heavily ... stole his $10,000 Rolex ... threatened to sic her mob connections on him -- and threatened to kill Nick herself with a screwdriver. 


In the docs, Nick says, "I am afraid for my life. She is hostile and I am afraid if she doesn't leave she might do something terrible to me." 

Nick is asking that Nora be kept at least 100 yards away from him and his home at all times. 

A hearing is set for Feb. 5th. A judge has ordered Nora not to harass, attack or threaten Nick until then. We reached out to Nora ... so far no word back.

9:50 AM PT -- Nick failed to show up to court today so the judge dismissed his request for a restraining order. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Elderly Detroit mobster tells FBI about location of Jimmy Hoffa's body

Jimmy Hoffa would have been 100 years old on Thursday.

His disappearance took place over 3 decades ago, but now The Defenders have learned the FBI has had three secret meetings in the past few weeks with a mobster they think may solve the case

Tony Zerilli is the best lead federal investigators have ever had in the Hoffa investigation.

The aging mobster tells The Defenders’ Kevin Dietz that he has now met with the U.S Attorneys Office and the FBI on 3 separate occasions to explain how he knows where Hoffa is buried,

“I think they are trying to extract as much info as they could possibly get I don’t think they need any more than they have got already for a search warrant.”

“I’ve answered everything they have asked me I’ve answered, I haven’t refused to answer one thing that they ask,” said Zerilli.

It’s practically unheard of for law enforcement to get a chance to pull information from the head of a crime family, Tony Zerilli led the Detroit mafia for a few years in the early 70's before going to prison.

When he got out, he was number two in command. Zerilli told the feds and Local 4 Defenders that Hoffa's body is a field along Buell Road in northern Oakland County.

The land was once owned by Zerilli’s cousin Jack Tocco who took over as the Detroit mob boss when Zerilli went to prison... that alone could be enough to get a search warrant to dig... but now Zerilli is giving up the name of the person who told him what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

“I heard that initial plan that that was what they had talked about I heard that from Tony Gicaloni. They talked about putting him there in a shallow grave and taking him to Rogers City. Jack had a hunting lodge at Rogers City and they were going to bury him”, said Zerilli.

Zerilli added, “The fact that they didn’t do it makes sense to me to do something like that and then to have that additional exposure is craziness.”

Keith Corbett is a formal federal prosecutor who convicted multiple local mob members on unrelated charges. He says if Tony Giaciloni gave Zerilli his information, they should be able to get a search warrant immediately.

Zerilli says the feds tell him they are following up on his information. He says he is ill, broke, and looking for the mystery to be solved now while he is still alive, even if that means a private dig by the property owner or asking the county sheriff or state police to do it.

“Anybody if you want to go dig, I would be happy tickled to death. I would just like to know if he was there.”

Zerilli says he believes the feds have the technology to get it done now, “they have equipment and they can x-ray and they can see if there is a disturbance in the ground wherever a particular place they can actually x-ray and see if there was any disturbance in the ground and if that is true why haven’t they done it.”

Zerilli says the FBI may be willing to wait to solve one of the countries’ biggest mysteries, but he isn't. “If he is there, I get everything if he is not there, I got nothing.”

It is almost a certainty the FBI will dig, Dietz reported, “Half the office wants to go today, the other half wants to wait a few weeks for better weather. No one is saying digging would be a waste of time.”


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bonanno captain took my kids after becoming a rat

INNOCENCE: Patricia Pisciotti with P.J., who turned out to be a Bonanno.
She lived with a killer for almost a decade and hardly suspected a thing.
Patricia Pisciotti knew her husband, Nicholas “P.J.” Pisciotti, had his share of run-ins with the law while growing up in Little Italy, but when they moved in together, she thought he had reformed.
“He’d jump out of bed at 6 a.m. Sometimes he’d make breakfast,” Patricia recalled. “I was happy. I had babies, I had young children. My attention was totally focused on them.”
Now the mother of three is battling her ex — a Bonanno capo-turned-rat — for custody of the kids, who live with dad in central New Jersey.
The children — a boy who’s 13 and two girls, ages 11 and 8 — are in danger, according to their mother, who worries they could get caught in the crossfire whenever the inevitable vengeance against her ex is meted out.
“He refused witness protection,” she said. “He said he’s the toughest guy and nobody’s going to do anything to him. Then he had a bulletproof vest on one night when he came to meet me.”
Patricia Pisciotti lived with her kids immediately following her 2006 divorce, but Monmouth County Judge Paul Escandon awarded her ex-husband primary custody in January 2012 after she yanked her children from school in Marlboro and moved to a new home in northern Jersey without court permission.
“This is something that’s being done to estrange the children from the other party,” Escandon said before giving temporary custody to their father. “She attempted to get as far away from the defendant as she could without leaving the state.”
Patricia contends she moved because she couldn’t afford the mortgage, thanks to her ex-husband’s failure to fork over $4,200 in monthly child-support payments and $3,000 per month in alimony. At one point, her husband owed her almost $15,000, according to court documents.
She blames Escandon, who no longer hears cases in Family Court, and Judge Leslie-Ann Justus, who denied her emergency request last month to regain custody of her children. She claims her case, which was under court-ordered seal until last month, should never have been hidden from public view.
But most of all, she blames “P.J.”
“He’s just a natural liar,” she said. “He was leading this double life, and he thought he could pull it off.”
At first — when she was still a 16-year-old Greenwich Village girl and falling for her future husband — the petty crime in which he was involved seemed small-time.
“He had gotten in trouble when he was 19 — it was for selling coke,” she remembered. “It was downplayed to me. I grew up in the city. Kids did stuff.”
They dated off and on. Patricia went to college, and when she was finished, P.J. seemed like a new man. A legit guy who worked in a restaurant and had a construction job — he wanted a family.
“He was pressuring me to get married,” she said. “I didn’t know he was up to shady stuff. He convinced me he was staying out of trouble.”
But it didn’t take long for her to get a whiff of what was really going on.
“He had a fight with one of the guys from his neighborhood who was a made man,” she said. “His uncle stepped in to protect him, because he would have got killed for defending himself.
“Where I grew up, everybody had some kind of connection. But he never told me he got made.”
One of Nicholas Pisciotti’s biggest deceptions occurred in 1997, while his wife was at a wedding. He was in bar fight that left a man, Richard Guiga, dead.
“He told me the police were questioning everybody,” Patricia said. “He said, ‘I wish they would hurry up and find out who did it and leave me alone.’ ”
The Pisciottis moved to a well-heeled Jersey suburb, where Patricia lived in style — financed, she thought, by her husband’s legitimate businesses.
Their house was a white-brick, five-bedroom, 2,855-square-foot McMansion at the end of a Marlboro Township cul de sac. She drove an Acura, but toward the end of their time there, he was trading up the family car every few months.
The facade cracked in September 2005, when P.J. helped beat Joseph “Joe Clams” Caruso into a coma after an altercation over smoking in Caruso’s Little Italy bistro, Odea. P.J. admitted to the assault at the scene.
“F--k it, I did it,” he told responding cops, according to a published report.
The night before, his wife claims, he also choked her, and let go only after she bit his finger.
She filed for divorce. A year later, P.J. was charged with Guiga’s murder. He admitted to the slaying in his star turn as a mob canary in 2007. He claimed Guiga was slashing at him and another mobster, and they acted in self-defense.
“Richie wound up dropping the knife,” P.J. said. “He wound up dying.”
The prosecutor asked who actually killed Guiga, and P.J. replied, “Probably both of us.”
Pisciotti also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy after being arrested in February 2007. He testified in July of that year that he sold pot for ex-Bonanno crime boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano. In November, Pisciotti began a stint in a federal facility that lasted until May 2009, according to a court transcript.
When P.J. got out, he had visitation rights with the children, until the court awarded him custody. His lawyer, Amy Sara Cores, declined to discuss her client.
Patricia Pisciotti, who is filing new court motions to get her children back, says she’s trying to protect them from the dark side of her marriage.
“My kids were exposed to many things I wish they weren’t exposed to,” she said. “He was just crazy.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jailed Philly mob boss Uncle Joe Ligambi wants to go home

Joseph Ligambi: Denied bail.
Jailed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi wants to go home

What's more, his lawyer says there is a job at a "respected Philadelphia-based corporation" waiting for the 73-year-old mob leader if he is freed to await retrial on a racketeering conspiracy charge.

A motion for bail was filed by Ligambi's lawyer this week. He has requested a Feb. 25 hearing.

Ligambi has been in the Federal Detention Center since his indictment and arrest in May 2011. But attorney Edwin Jacobs Jr. argued that his client's situation has changed substantially since prosecutors successfully argued to deny him bail after his arrest.

Jacobs argued at the time, and now contends that this month's jury verdict confirms, that Ligambi is not the violent organized crime leader that prosecutors say he is. Jacobs said a jury rejected the bulk of the government's case against his client and six co-defendants when it delivered a split verdict in the racketeering conspiracy case earlier this month.

Ligambi was found not guilty of five charges. The jury was undecided -- hung -- on four others. More important, Jacobs argued, the not guilty verdicts applied to two counts of extortion, the only alleged violent crimes for which Ligambi faced trial.

"The jury rejected more than ninety percent of the allegations constituting a `pattern of racketeering' alleged by the government," Jacobs wrote in a 13-page bail motion, adding that despite the government's claim that the evidence against (Ligambi) was `strong,' the jury failed to convicted him on any of the nine counts for which he was charged."

Among other things, Jacobs contended the jury verdicts raised questions about the government's claim that Ligambi was, in fact, the boss of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra family.

In asking for bail, Jacobs also restated arguments he had made after Ligambi's arrest, including the fact that Ligambi has a minimal criminal record with only a gambling conviction from 1988.

Ligambi was convicted of a mob murder in 1987, but that conviction was overturned on appeal and he was acquitted at a retrial.

Jacobs wrote that the "CEO of a respected Philadelphia-based corporation" has offered Ligambi a job. He did not identify the company. That, coupled with Ligambi's "advanced age" undermines the government claim that if released Ligambi would be a danger to the community, he said.

Judge Eduardo Robreno has already denied bail requests from three other defendants in the case, including George Borgesi who like Ligambi was found not guilty of most of the charges he faced. The jury hung on the racketeering conspiracy charge against Borgesi, 49, but found him not guilty of 13 other charges.

Paul Hetznecker, Borgesi's court-appointed attorney, has filed notice that he intends to appeal the bail denial to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

In all, after 21 days of deliberation following a 10-week trial, the jury delivered 46 not guilty verdicts, hung on 11 others and issued guilty verdicts on just five charges.

Robreno has tentatively set a retrial date for April 16. Federal prosecutors, however, have not yet announced whether they intend to retry the 11 counts on which the jury hung.

Judge orders Gambino associate to help Hurricane Sandy victims

There’s more help on the way to Hurricane Sandy victims - from the mob.
A reputed Gambino associate convicted of extortion was sentenced Thursday to no jail time and 200 hours of community service related to the superstorm. He faced up to two years in prison.
Thomas Frangiapane is the second reputed mobster that Brooklyn Federal Judge Dora Irizarry has ordered to help with recovery efforts as part of their sentence.
Last month the judge sentenced reputed Gambino associate, Emmanuel Garofalo, to 300 hours of community service to repairing storm damage in his beachfront community of Sea Gate, Brooklyn.
Frangiapane and Garofalo both work in the construction industry.
Irizarry did not specify where or how Frangiapane should dedicate his efforts, but Sea Gate would be off-limits because he is barred from associating with Garofalo.
In seeking a lenient sentence, Frangiapane did not raise Hurricane Sandy relief - he argued that putting him jail would jeopardize the jobs of 75 workers he supervises at DeGraw Construction Group.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitman Knapp objected, pointing out that Frangiapane pleaded guilty to threatening to shut down the construction of a Brooklyn condo being developed by Sitt Asset Management, which jeopardized the jobs of those workers.


Brothers of murdered man confront Bonanno gangster outside court

Two brothers of a man murdered during a Mafia-engineered home invasion robbery angrily confronted a Bonanno wiseguy outside a courthouse today and FBI agents intervened to prevent them from assaulting the mobster.
The incident came minutes after Bonanno crime-family associate Neil Messina pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to mob racketeering charges for conspiring to commit the home-invasion robbery back in August 1992.
Joseph Pistone was murdered when the robbery went bad, as mobsters hunted for a haul of cash they believed was stashed inside the house.
After the court hearing, Pistone's brothers approached Messina and his fiance outside the federal courthouse, shouted insults, and threatened Messina, several sources told The Post.
One of the brothers yelled at Messina - asking him who was responsible for telling the wiseguys they would find a sizable amount of cash during the residential robbery, sources said.
As the sidewalk confrontation escalated, agents from the New York FBI office's Bonanno-Colombo squad pushed Pistone's brothers back and held them - as US Marshals' security officers sprinted towards the heated clash.
No one was injured in the incident.
At the earlier court hearing - which Pistone's brothers attended - Messina admitted to helping plan the home invasion robbery and knowing that a gun would be used in the heist - but he steadfastly denied being present at the robbery.
A dog was also killed during the aborted home-invasion heist, records show.
When he is eventually sentenced on the mob racketeering charges, Messina could get up to 20 years in prison. But prosecutors say they plan to ask the judge for a 10-year prison stint.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ramona from Mob Wives gets engaged to jailed Gambino soldier

“Mob Wives” princess Ramona Rizzo is engaged to be married, even though her betrothed is behind bars, Page Six can exclusively reveal. The VH1 star and granddaughter of Benjamin “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero says she’ll tie the knot with Joseph “Joe Boy” Sclafani — a reputed Gambino family soldier currently cooling his heels at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.Romantic Rizzo says her future husband faces more than a decade in prison, but she’s planning a 500-guest June wedding even though she’s not expecting the groom to be present.“We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Rizzo told us. “It’s not the normal love story because he’s incarcerated. But if you’re in love, you can make it work.” The union would bring together Rizzo, a Bonanno family descendant, with an alleged Gambino man, but Rizzo says, “My family’s just happy he’s Italian.” (Her former hubby was Jordanian.)
Ramona Rizzo

The Post reported last year that Sclafani was implicated in coordinating a cocaine-trafficking scheme, and also faced earlier charges of running a syndicate that sold marijuana grown in Staten Island greenhouses. He was also once convicted of helping Costabile “Gus” Farace evade a federal manhunt.“He didn’t want to begrudge me a wedding,” says Rizzo of her devoted groom. “He said, ‘Even if I can’t be there, have a party. I’ll be there in spirit.’ ” They’ll have the bash at Butch Yamali’s lavish Coral House on Long Island.Rizzo says they’ll “pass around the phone” at the wedding for Sclafani to speak to her and friends. She says her “Mob Wives” co-stars Karen Gravano and Renee Graziano will be there, and her four kids have been supportive of the relationship.
“People should find their own way of love. I hope this inspires other people. We are praying for the best,” Rizzo told us yesterday. “If you love somebody before they got kicked down, why wouldn’t you love them after?”She added, “Maybe the key to a happy marriage is not having a husband in your face all the time.”


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feds cant seize mob cops pension

The pension of a former NYPD detective who doubled as a Mafia hit man cannot be seized by the feds because it’s an accident-disability pension that’s legally exempt, officials said yesterday.
Brooklyn federal prosecutors wanted to attach the monthly NYPD retirement pension the city pays to Stephen Caracappa, 71, a former detective convicted of a range of mob-related convictions, including murder.
But the feds told a judge yesterday that they recently learned the former officer’s pension cannot be confiscated because of laws that prohibit the seizure of pensions for people on accident-disability retirement.
The feds hit Caracappa, who served as hit man for the Lucchese crime family, with a forfeiture order after his conviction, and he still owes more than $4.2 million, prosecutors say.
Caracappa currently receives more than $5,600 a month from the city.
Caracappa is serving a life term behind bars and is housed currently in a federal prison in central Florid


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Former New Jersey cop and Genovese associate busted for threats to debtor

A former Passaic police officer turned mob enforcer who served more than a decade in prison for stabbing and beating a debtor was arrested Friday by the FBI on charges of using threats of violence to collect a $30,000 debt.

Stefano Mazzola, 68, of Rockaway, was accused of threatening to physically harm the victim if he did not repay the loan, which had been transferred to Mazzola, authorities said.

The arrest complaint detailed two telephone conversations recorded last month in which Mazzola allegedly used extortionate means to try to collect the debt.

"Let me explain something to ya … and I don't care who is listening to my phone or not, if I want to do something to ya, I don't give a [expletive] if you give me a million dollars," Mazzola allegedly said in the first call, on Jan. 17. "If I'm looking to hurt ya, I'll take the money and still hurt ya."

During the second call, on Jan. 23, the victim told Mazzola, "You know you're going to get paid."

In response, Mazzola said: "I don't believe nothing. But listen, I know what I'm gonna do. 'Cause it doesn't matter to me. It don't matter whether it's now or 10 years from now. It don't matter. You don't understand. You just don't know me. I don't give a [expletive] if an agent is listening."

Wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans, the bald-headed Mazzola was brought in shackles before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark on Thursday afternoon to be advised of the charges and his rights.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Colone told the defendant he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the extortion charge.

She said the government was seeking detention on grounds that no combination of conditions could guarantee his future appearances and the safety of the community.

Mazzola's attorney, Miles R. Feinstein, said he would submit a bail package next week.

Outside the courtroom, Feinstein said his client "absolutely denies that he did anything wrong."

"There's no doubt that there's a defense in the case and we're confident that he'll be vindicated," Feinstein added.

"Since he's been out of prison, he's been leading an exemplary life," Feinstein said. "It's our position that he has paid his debt to society and there's no justification for this particular charge."

Mazzola, who once boasted on a wiretap that he opened a victim's head "like a cantaloupe," was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison in 1999 for assaulting a debtor in a Passaic store as part of a plot to collect an $80,000 loan-sharking debt.

Mazzola, a reputed Genovese crime family associate, has also previously served time on state armed robbery charges and a federal extortion charge stemming from his involvement with the Genovese crew once headed by Louis "Streaky" Gatto.


New date given for retrial of Philadelphia mob boss

Judge Eduardo Robreno has set April 16 as the date for the retrial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and three co-defendants.

But most courtroom observers say you'd be would be wise to hold off on putting that notice in your "save the date" calendar.

"He's just trying to push the process along," said one veteran of the criminal justice system. "I doubt  the trial will go off that quickly."

In fact, the prosecution hasn't formally announced that it intends to retry Ligambi and the others on  the 11 charges that a jury left "undecided" when it delivered its verdicts earlier this month. That decision is now in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.
Not unexpectedly, Robreno also denied motions by lawyers for six of the defendants seeking to have  all the charges against them dismissed. The judge also set sentencing dates in May for four defendants who were found guilty by the jury in a split verdict that still has defendants, their attorneys and many courtroom observers scatching their heads.

Meanwhile, seven floors below Robreno 15th floor courtroom, another big trial continued to play out as prosecutors laid out the case against drug kingpin Kaboni Savage and three co-defendants. FBI Agent Kevin Lewis, the lead investigator in the case, finished his fifth day on the witness stand early this afternoon.

Two other prosecution witnesses were called later in the day. The first of several cooperating witness who worked the drug underworld with Savage is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes this morning.

The two cases offer different and changing views of the Philadelphia underworld.

Ligambi and his co-defendants were charged with racketeering conspiracy in a case built around allegations of gambling, extortion and loansharking. Testimony focused on video poker machines that generated a few hundreds of dollars a week ( or month) in profits and street-level extortion loans of several thousand dollars.

Defense attorensy derisively referred to the case as "racketeering lite." Others said the case was indicative of the waning days of Cosa Nostra.

Savage and his co-defendants, on the other hand, are charged in a case that includes 12 homicides and that epitomizes the bloody and wantonly violent drug underworld. Testimony thus far has focused on a drug network where a kilo of cocaine costs $27,000 and where the "players" in that game dealt in multi-kilogram shipments and hundred-thousand dollar business deals.

Savage and two of his co-defendants could be sentenced to death if convicted.

The penalties in the Ligambi case are substantially less, but could effectively end the criminal careers of some of the defendants.

Ligambi, 73, his nephew George Borgesi, 49, and a top associate, Anthony Staino, 55, could face retrial on racketeering conspiracy charges. The jury could not decide that count against those three defendants. Ligambi and Staino also face gambling-related chares on which the jury hung.

Mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, 62, potentially faces a retrial on three gambling charges on which the jury hung as well.

But Massimino, mob soldier Damion Canalichio and mob associate Gary Battaglini were convicted of racketeering conspiracy by the same jury. They are scheduled to be sentenced in May. Staino was convicted of two extortion charges for which he also will be sentenced.

Massimino and Canalichio, with prior convictions and criminal records, could be facing 10 to 12 years in prison when they are sentenced.

A retrial, if it happens, is expected to be shorter and more focused than the 10-week trial that led to 21 days of often confusing jury deliberation. Most obsevers say the prosecution has an advantage in any retrial because it is able to reshape its case. Fewer tapes, fewer witnesses and more pointed testimony would likely be part of a new presentation for a prosecution team that believed the jury in the first trial got lost.

Part of that might be attributable to a prosecution presentation that many believed was disjointed and unorganized. The second time around, that probably won't be the case.

The jury had to decide 62 charges against seven defendants in a 52-count indictment. It came back with 46 not guilty decisions. The panel was undecided on 11 charges and delivered just five guilty verdicts.

Nevertheless those convicted face significiant jail time. In addition, Ligambi, Borgesi and Staino run the risk of being convicted of a racketeering conspiracy count that carries a maximum 20-year sentence. At Ligambi's age, a conviction would be tantamount to a life sentence.

For Borgesi the situation is particularly galling. The volatile mobster, who was finishing a 14-year sentence for a 2001 racketeering conviction when he was indicted with Ligambi and the others in May 2011, was found not guilty of 13 of the 14 charges against him by the jury.

But the jury hung -- was undecided -- on the racketeering conspiracy charge, a decison that Borgesi's lawyer, Paul Hetznecker, is expected to challenge as illogical in a post-trial motion.

The decision on whether to retry on the unresolved charges is expected to be announced in the near future. In the meantime, Ligambi, Borgesi and the four other defendants remain in the Federal Detention Center.