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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Whitey Bulger's brother worries about his health

Former state Senate President William Bulger told the Herald he and his imprisoned mobster brother, James “Whitey” Bulger, chat often, and he called the accused mass killer’s “lot” — rotting in a Plymouth jail cell — “a tragic situation.”
“I think he welcomes the opportunity to speak, because he doesn’t have anyone with whom he can speak,” William Bulger said last night at a fundraiser for Council President Stephen J. Murphy at Anthony’s Pier 4. “So he can run a pretty good monologue and so the visit is, it’s always friendly. It’s not a rant. It’s measured. He inquires about people. He’s hopeful about various things and so generally, it’s in a certain sense, a tragic situation.”
When asked what specifically is tragic about his once-fugitive brother’s imprisonment, the former power broker politician said, “I think in a very obvious way. His prospects are limited.”
He said his brother passes his days behind bars with his nose in a book.
“That’s all he can do is read,” William Bulger said. “But he’s a good reader. He’s always read. So he takes that seriously. I think he’s just finished a David McCullough book. Is that ‘John Adams?’ It might be ‘John 
Adams.’ ”
Whitey Bulger is being held at the Plymouth County House of Correction while he awaits a June federal trial on 19 murder charges. He has been hospitalized for heart issues during his stay. William Bulger said he is worried about his brother’s health deteriorating.
“Well, there are signs of that. He’s under some stress,” William Bulger said. “It’s, I don’t like to use the word solitary confinement, but that’s his lot right now. At his age, according to those who, they know better than I, but they tell me that’s very, very tough.”
Whitey Bulger’s lawyers said the accused South Boston crime kingpin and FBI informant will take the stand at his own trial, where they will prove he was granted immunity for the crimes he’s accused of committing.
William Bulger said he is not sure how his brother will fare at trial.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I know this doesn’t seem possible, but I never read any of the books and I very seldom even read press on the whole matter. I don’t. … He makes many protestations about his innocence. I think it’s for him to make the utterances, and not me.”
Whitey Bulger spent 16 years on the run — mainly living in Santa Monica, Calif., under an assumed name with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. The former University of Massachusetts president was questioned by a congressional panel 10 years ago about his brother’s whereabouts, but he denied any knowledge at that time.


Bonanno captain turned rat set free by federal judge

A Bonanno capo who became an FBI informant and helped convict mob boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison.
Generoso “Jimmy the General” Barbieri already has spent that time behind bars, so now he’s a free man living under a new identity far from New York in the witness-protection program.
“I’ve started a new life,” Barbieri told Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis after apologizing for decades of criminal activity.
The ex-wiseguy previously had pleaded guilty to helping murder Bonanno mobster Russell Mauro, and also admitted committing other crimes, such as racketeering, murder conspiracy, extortion and illegal gambling.
The judge praised Barbieri’s “fortitude” for alerting authorities that Basciano, boss of the Bonanno crime family, was plotting several years ago to murder federal prosecutor Greg Andres.
“He demonstrated a lot of courage to step forward,” Garaufis said.
Assistant US Attorney Jack Dennehy lauded Barbieri for taking the stand on three separate occasions to testify about different Mafia murders.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Mobster turned rat gave stock broker beating after losing money in the market

This mobster has his own ideas about how to regulate Wall Street.
Bonanno wiseguy Giuseppe “Joey” Gambina pummeled his financial adviser when he lost thousands of dollars in a penny stock that Gambina demanded he invest in — against the broker’s advice, according to testimony during a Brooklyn federal court trial yesterday.
Broker Mark Zagotti said he ended up in Gambina’s Elmhurst basement with one man holding him while the mobster administered a savage beating.
“They were punching and kicking,” Zagotti said.
Gambina threatened to kill him, mentioned getting his shotgun, and demanded $80,000 from the broker — even though that was far more than the penny-stock losses, Zagotti said.
JOEY GAMBINA Allegedly had broker beaten.
JOEY GAMBINA Allegedly had broker beaten.
On another occasion, two menacing men approached Zagotti on the street — one with a towel wrapped around his arm, suggesting a concealed pistol — and told him to call Gambina.
On the phone, Gambina referred to the ominous visitors, warning, “Next time, they’re not going to come to talk,” Zagotti testified.
In the end, Zagotti was urged by another client to seek help from Bartholomeo Vernace, a Gambino crime family capo.
Vernace — now on trial on unrelated double-murder charges — was understanding and said, “Everyone knows there’s risk in the market,” according to Zagotti.
Vernace squashed the problem, Zagotti said, and now prosecutors are using his testimony to prove he associated with mobsters and has ties to racketeering.


Two men plead guilty to gambling charges

One was a bag man, the other a deliveryman.
Both are now convicted felons.
Domenico Manchisi, 65, of Shelton, and Angelo Antolino, 32, of Port Chester, N.Y., became the latest to plead guilty to gambling charges stemming from what the FBI calls a multi-million-dollar betting operation in Fairfield and New Haven counties run by the Gambino crime family.
Manchisi, who is represented by Guy Soares, and Antolino, who is represented by Frank Riccio II, both pleaded guilty to participating in an illegal gambling operation during proceedings Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen said the pair faces up to a year in prison and both must forfeit $20,000 as part of their scheduled June sentences. They are free on bond.
Chen said the gambling operation, which brought in $1.7 million in an eight-month period, included more than 300 gamblers and others who placed wagers with 25 bookmakers, all of whom had to pay a fee for taking bets. There was also an online website based in Costa Rica and three all-night card houses, two of which were in Stamford and the other in Hamden.
Chen accused Dean DePreta, of Stamford, of heading up the operation, which he said was managed on a daily basis by Richard Uva, of Trumbull.
Both DePreta and Uva pleaded not guilty to charges and are awaiting trial before U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford.
The guilty pleas by Manchisi and Antolino now mean nine of the 20 arrested last June have admitted their roles.
In this case, Chen said Manchisi delivered thousands of dollars paid by gamblers in New Haven and Hamden to Uva in Stamford. The prosecutor accused Antolino of being a bookie who collected losses and brought them to Uva.
Chen said if the case went to trial he would produce wiretap recordings and video surveillance to prove his case.
Additional guilty pleas are expected in the coming weeks.

Reality show mobster squashed beef between stock broker and another gangster

Robert (Big Head) Iovane appeared on weight-loss reality show ‘The Biggest Loser’ in 2006. Iovane allegedly helped broker Mark Zagotti get out debt and mobster harassment when he brokered his own deal with Bartolomeo Vernace, who is on trial for the murders of two bar owners in 1981. 
Robert "Big Head" Iovane appeared on weight-loss reality show ‘The Biggest Loser’ in 2006. Iovane allegedly helped broker Mark Zagotti get out debt and mobster harassment when he brokered his own deal with Bartolomeo Vernace, who is on trial for the murders of two bar owners in 1981.

The fatso mobster “Big Head” has a big heart, too.
Reputed Gambino associate Robert Iovane, who took a shot at shedding flab on the reality TV diet show “The Biggest Loser,” came to the rescue of a beleaguered stockbroker who was being threatened by another gangster.
Iovane was also a client of broker Mark Zagotti, and didn’t like the way he was being roughed up by Queens pizza maker Joseph Gambina, who was irate over losing all his dough.
Gambina beat up the broker in the basement of his Polo Pizzeria in Elmhurst, demanding that the broker make good on the $20,000 he had lost.
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Robert Iovane (left) appeared on 'The Biggest Loser' in 2006.

“(Iovane) basically stated, ‘You shouldn’t take this; we all understand there are risks in the market. He’s taking advantage of you,’” Zagotti testified Thursday at the trial of Gambino capo Bartolomeo Vernace, who is charged with the 1981 murders of two bar owners killed over a spilled drink.
So the gentle giant introduced Zagotti to Vernace, and presto, the 1997 beef was squashed.
Zagotti gave Vernace a couple thousand dollars as a “gift” for his intervention.
But Gambina may have gotten the last laugh — he turned rat and testified Wednesday that Iovane was a gangster in Vernace’s crew before becoming a fledgling TV contestant.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Retired FBI agent doesnt believe the Philadelphia mob was connected to famous Boston art heist

The bottom line is that the Philadelphia mob has always been a bottom-line kind of outfit.

So if mob boss Joe Ligambi or any of his associates had information about the art work  stolen from a Boston museum 23 years ago, they would have cashed that info in for the $5 million reward.

That, at least, is the view of Robert Wittman, a retired FBI agent who specialized in art theft and who spent the bulk of his career working out of the FBI’s Philadelphia office.

“I sat next to the organized crime squad guys,” Wittman said in a telephone interview from his suburban Philadelphia office this week. “If they had heard anything, I would have known about it. We didn’t hear a thing.”

The FBI in Boston announced last week that it now knew who was behind the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum back in 1990. But authorities did not disclose the names of the suspects.

Instead, they hinted at mob connections to both the heist and attempts to move the $500 million in priceless art work that was stolen. The take included  a Vermeer, a Manet, three Rembrandts and five works by Degas.

The FBI announcement included speculation that the art was being “shopped” in the Philadelphia area 10 years ago and that some local mobsters were trying to expedite the sale.

Wittman said he’s “skeptical.”

“I can’t said it didn’t happen,” said the veteran investigator who during his career was credited with recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen art works. “But it doesn’t make sense.”

Ten years ago, Wittman points out, the statute of limitation for the theft of the art work had expired and anyone who could lead authorities to the stolen booty could have claimed a $5 million reward.

“No questions asked,” said Wittman who now heads his own art security firm. 

If Ligambi or other members of his crew had a shot to cash in, he believes they would have jumped at the chance.

They could have done it through one of their lawyers, Wittman said. Or anonymously through a lawyer that had no clear connection to mob clients.

“There would have been nothing illegal about it at all,” he said. “If the art had shown up in their territory and they led us to it, it was free money for them. You know those guys. What do you think?”
Ligambi was just tried on racketeering and gambling charges that included allegations that he and two top associates took over a video poker machine distribution network that involved about 30 poker machines. Some of the machines, according to testimony, generated $1,000-a-week. Others a few hundred.
A $5 million reward makes that operation look like peanuts and, given Ligambi's bottom line, let's-make-money approach, it would appear Wittman has a point.
The jury hung on a racketeering conspiracy charge against Ligambi and two others. The case is to be retried in October. There has been some talk that the mob boss doesn't have -- or isn't willing to spend -- the cash needed to hire Edwin Jacobs Jr. to represent him again.
Joe Ligambi as a secret patron of the arts makes for a good story, Wittman said. But Joe Ligambi, the mob boss out to make a buck, is a more realistic profile.

“The whole Philly thing just doesn’t make sense,” Wittman said. “If you had the art works and were looking to sell them to someone in Philadelphia, would you go to the trouble and risk of bringing the art to Philadelphia or would you just tell a potential buyer to hop on a plane and fly to Boston. It’s less than an hour.. What would be the purpose of bringing the art to Philadelphia?”
Was the Philadelphia mob involved in trying to find a buyer? Perhaps.
But did local wiseguy ever have their hands on the art works or know where they had been stashed? Unlikely, says Wittman, whose life as an undercover FBI agent tracking stolen treasure around the world is recounted in "Priceless," a book he co-authored with reporter John Shiffman. 

There's also this.
The Philadelphia mob has a less than stellar track record in dealing with valuable stolen property. Back in the 1990s, then mob boss Ralph Natale had a connection with a Cleveland mobster who had stolen a $110,000 Lamborghini but was unable to find a buyer for the automobile.
Like the stolen art work at the Gardner, the Lamborghini was difficult to move because it was so easily recognizable. The stolen vehicle was a 1988 fuel-injected 500S model, anniversary edition, with gold wheels and only five thousand miles on the odometer. Several years after it was stolen, the mobster in Cleveland, unable to find a buyer, gave the car to Natale.
The car was shipped to Philadelphia and stored in a South Philadelphia garage. Natale told mob associates Martin Angelina and Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino that it was theirs to sell. Angelina made a "connection" who offered $20,000. Angelina and Merlino took the deal, not knowing the "buyer" was an undercover FBI agent who had been tracking the stolen vehicle for several years. 
But there was more.
Angelina boasted that he could get fake papers -- title and tags -- for the car. He failed to do so. He also got spooked and thought the garage was under surveillance so he and an associate tried to move the car.

The battery was dead, so they rented a Ryder panel truck. Problem was, there was no ramp on that truck. They got two wooden planks, fashioned a makeshift ramp and tried to push the $110,000, limited edition Lamborghini into the panel truck.
The car slipped off the ramp and crashed to the floor of the garage. Front end and bumper damage further reduced the sale price of the six-figure piece of priceless automotive machinery. Angelina eventually agreed to take $5,300 for the car.
The transaction became part of the racketeering case that landed him, Merlino and five others in jail in 2001.
If the FBI in Boston is correct, it would have been shortly after that racketeering trial that the Philadelphia mob got involved in the art heist case.
There are some facts to support that supposition. In the late 1990s, both Merlino and George Borgesi had become close associates of a crew of Boston wiseguys headed by Robert Luisi Jr. Borgesi, who is Ligambi's nephew, was convicted in the 2001 case and is a co-defendant with Ligambi in the pending case.
Like his uncle, Borgesi is not one to pass on a deal where money could to be made. No dummy, he also would have been smart enough to realize the upside of merely turning the priceless Boston art work in for the reward -- no questions asked.
So while it may have made for an interesting story and while it certainly got the FBI the media attention it was looking for, a Philadelphia mob connection to one of the most famous art thefts in American history may be little more than idle speculation.
Two men posing as police officers gained entry to the Gardner Museum on March 19, 1990, and made off with the treasured art work. The FBI now says it knows the identify of those men, but won't say who they are.
Wittman said he believed the robbers weren't working on assignment -- that is, he doesn't believe they had been commissioned by a collector to take the work. Several paintings were cut out of their frames, a procedure that puts the art work at risk in both the short- and long-term. No collector would have sent anyone in to do that, Wittman said.
Instead, the heist looks like a grab-and-run by thieves who were attracted by the value of the property, but who didn't realize how difficult it would be to find buyers for their stash.
In that regard, they were not unlike the mobster from Cleveland who grabbed a priceless Lamborghini and then didn't know what to do with it. That treasure did, in fact, end up in Philadelphia. And some local wiseguys ended up in jail.


Federal judge tosses lawsuit against prosecutor for outing mobster as a rat which led to his murder

An alleged leak that led to the murder of a mafia informant cannot sustain claims against a prosecutor's office in Bergen County, N.J., a federal judge ruled.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office executed a search warrant on Frank Lagano's home in 2004 and seized $50,000.
After this seizure, a former employee of the Bergen County Division of Criminal Justice, James Sweeney, persuaded Lagano to become an informant.
Sometime later, the county's chief of detectives, Michael Mordaga, a former friend of Lagano, allegedly told members of certain crime families that Lagano was working for the government.
Lagano, 71, was shot in the head in April 2007 outside of a diner he co-owned in East Brunswick, N.J.
Sweeney summarized the details of the case in a September 2010 retaliation complaint that acccused his boss of violating state anti-racketeering law by squashing an investigation into "wrongdoing and potential corruption of high-ranking members" of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office. This action named the allegedly corrupt employee by his initials "MM."
Nearly two years later, Lagano's estate claimed in court that the county's failure to protect its confidential informant led to the murder.
U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg dismissed the claims against the prosecutor's office Friday, finding that the agency is immune from prosecution when acting in its investigative role.
"So long as a county prosecutor's office acts within its classic duties, that office is a state agency," the ruling states. "In the instant case, the BCPO was acting within its classical function of investigating criminal activities and conducting criminal prosecutions with respect to Mr. Lagano. Accordingly, the BCPO is a state agency, and as such, is not a 'person' under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985."
The statute of limitations also bars claims that the 2004 search and seizure were improper, Hochberg added.
Claims against Michael Mordaga and various John Doe defendants remain pending.


Overweight Gambino gangster appeared in The Biggest Loser reality show

 Robert "Bighead" Iovane
Robert "Big Head" Iovane appeared on weight-loss reality show ‘The Biggest Loser’ in 2006. Joseph Gambina testified that Iovane engaged in illegal sports gambling and loansharking.

A fatso who appeared on the reality TV diet show “The Biggest Loser” has been outed as a reputed Gambino gangster.
Robert "Big Head" Iovane, 45, appeared in a special edition of the series in 2006 teamed with hefty relatives who owned an Italian restaurant in the Bronx — a brush with fame that didn’t go unnoticed in Mob Land.
Two turncoat witnesses have testified at the racketeering and murder trial of Gambino capo Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace that Iovane was a member of Vernace’s crime crew that operated out of a Queens café.

Former Bonanno mobster Joseph "Giuseppe" Gambina recounted his criminal dealings with Iovane included illegal sports betting and loansharking.
“Did you ever see him on TV?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris asked.
“Yes,” Gambina said Wednesday. “I was watching TV at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and I saw him on that show, ‘The Big Fat Loser.’ ”
Bonanno associate Joseph Gambina, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and Gambino associate Ralph Sciulla. Gambina testified against Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace in his racketeering trial. 

Gambina did not say how often the 276-pound Iovane would sample the pastries behind the counter at the café, but said he was “close” to Vernace, who’s charged with the 1981 murders of two bar owners killed over a spilled drink.
Another mob rat, Howard Santos, had testified previously that Iovane was a “flashy guy” who ran an illegal poker game called Squeeze.
“I mean he would whip out stacks of money like this thick and show off,” Santos said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amir Toossi asked him how Iovane got his nickname.
“Because he’s got a big head,” Santos said.
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Robert "Big Head" Iovane (left) starred on 2006 'Biggest Loser' show titled 'Italian vs. Diner.' 
He could also throw his weight around.
Iovane and another Gambino associate allegedly tuned up a guy named Frank the Mechanic in 1999 but Santos couldn’t recall why.
Iovane’s alleged criminal activities occurred in the 1990s, but a source said he hasn’t been around Vernace’s place in years and dropped out of sight until appearing in the TV show.
He worked in the relatives’ restaurant and also operated landscaping businesses in Queens and Long Island.
“He doesn’t want to talk to nobody,” a man identifying himself as Iovane’s brother told The News before hanging up the phone.
In an interview for the NBC reality show, Iovane said his battle with a “band of heart-attack fat strapped to his waist” once led him to handcuff himself to a treadmill.
“My client has never been involved in any criminal activity, or had knowledge of any criminal activity, at any time,” said lawyer Robert Jannuzzi.
“Whatever these witnesses are saying is completely fictitious. They’re liars,” he said.


Sixth man arrested in 2011 murder of Bonanno crime boss in Canada

One of six men arrested in connection with the murder of mafioso Salvatore Montagna will see his charges upgraded to first-degree murder.
The Sûreté du Québec announced Wednesday they rearrested Pietro Magistrale, 61, as part of the same investigation that saw him charged, in December 2011, with 19 counts related to four firearms seized during the investigation into Montagna’s Nov. 24, 2011, murder.
Until now, Magistrale had been the only one among the six arrested in the death not charged with first-degree murder. He was granted bail in March 2012 and was scheduled to have a court date on April 3 at the Joliette courthouse. Now, he is expected to make an appearance at the same courthouse Thursday morning.
According to a release issued by the police, Magistrale was arrested Wednesday morning in Côte-des-Neiges, and his Laval home was searched by investigators armed with a warrant.
The release did not offer an explanation for why the case against Magistrale has changed so dramatically. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.
“Note that following different events that have touched organized crime during the past few years, the Sûreté du Québec, RCMP, as well as their partners, have intensified their efforts to fight against Italian organized crime. This partnership has permitted police to continue to progress in this investigation and to proceed in (Magistrale’s) arrest (Wednesday). Other arrests may follow,” the SQ said in the release.
The first set of charges filed against Magistrale involved firearms seized during the SQ’s investigation into Montagna’s death. The charges included careless storage of a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm and tampering with serial numbers on a firearm.
Raynald Desjardins, 59, the alleged ringleader of the plot to kill Montagna, who was seeking to assume control over the Mafia in Montreal in 2011, is seeking to be released while his case is pending. Desjardins’s bail hearing is scheduled to resume Thursday.


Picture of U.S. Senator with mobsters surfaces during murder trial

FRIEND IN HIGH PLACES: Mafia wiseguys Giuseppe Gambina (left) and Ralph Sciulla (right) smile the night away with then-Sen. Al D’Amato in the early 1990s. Sciulla’s body was found on Long Island in a car trunk.
FRIEND IN HIGH PLACES: Mafia wiseguys Giuseppe Gambina (left) and Ralph Sciulla (right) smile the night away with then-Sen. Al D’Amato in the early 1990s. Sciulla’s body was found on Long Island in a car trunk.
It was a dusty old photograph capturing the moment when three strange bedfellows came together — and yesterday, it surfaced as evidence at a Brooklyn Mafia murder trial.
The photo shows then-US Sen. Alfonse D’Amato flanked by two smiling mobsters, and Brooklyn federal prosecutors unveiled it as they built a racketeering case against a ranking Gambino crime-family capo.
Bartolomeo Vernace — one of three senior mobsters sitting on the crime family’s ruling panel — is accused of gunning down two bar owners in 1981 after a spilled drink splashed a wiseguy’s girlfriend.
While D’Amato’s photo has no connection to the murder, prosecutors hope it will help prove that Vernace’s actions were part of a pattern of Mafia racketeering and document his connections to other wiseguys.
In the photo, D’Amato stands between Gambino associate Ralph Sciulla and Bonanno associate Giuseppe Gambina.
Sciulla was a member of Vernace’s mob crew, the feds say, but just months after the photo was taken he was dead, his body stuffed into car trunk and discovered on Long Island on Aug. 7, 1992.
But the prized photo lived on, hanging for years in a mob social club in Queens run by Vernace.
“It was on the opposite side of the counter, against the wall in the middle,” Gambina told a jury yesterday.
Gambina, now an FBI informant, took the stand at Vernace’s trial and looked at a poster-sized reproduction of the photo displayed for the jury.
He explained that the picture was snapped at Giannini’s, a restaurant in Queens where people gathered to support the Republican senator.
“It was a fund-raiser for Senator D’Amato,” Gambina recalled.
The political mixer in the early ’90s was not the first time that D’Amato had crossed paths publicly with New York gangsters.
In the 1980s, he took the stand as a character witness for a Lucchese family associate.
On another occasion, D’Amato rallied unsuccessfully to persuade then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani to reduce charges against Genovese mobster Mario Gigante.
D’Amato also intervened on behalf of Paul Castellano, who at the time was the boss of the Gambino crime family.
In the past, D’Amato characterized these controversies as nothing more than efforts to support constituents.


Turncoat Philly underboss suggested killing Whitey Bulger 30 years ago

When my uncle Nicodemo Scarfo was in La Tuna federal prison in 1983, he placed me in charge of running the day-to-day operations of our crime family in New Jersey from our headquarters just two and a half blocks from the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Two other men from our family, Salvatore “Chuckie” Merlino and Salvie Testa, were running our street operation in South Philadelphia and even though we were in the throws of a bloody mob war with a 4’10 old-school gangster known as “The Hunchback,” things were going pretty good for us, especially in Atlantic City.
On most days I would meet with gangsters from North Jersey and New York, many of whom came to Atlantic City with an envelope that usually contained several thousand dollars in cash as a tribute payment to my uncle and our family resulting from business they were involved in either Atlantic City or Philadelphia.
On more than one occassion I met with gangsters from the Patriarca crime family, an organization based primarily out of the Boston area, but with a heavy presence in and around Providence, Rhode Island.
During one of these meetings, a guy I knew as a mob associate who was affiliated with the Genovese crime family in New York introduced me to another mob associate from Providence. The two of them wanted to buy an old hotel in Atlantic City and re-develop it into a caberet style nightclub and restaurant and wanted the blessing of our family. After several meetings and after getting the green light to proceed from my uncle who was in jail, I arranged to meet with caporegimes from both the Genovese and Patriarca crime families to ensure that everything was done in accordance with the rules of La Cosa Nostra, i.e., that everyone knew where the money was to be sent.
In this case, monthly envelopes would be sent to Vincent “Chin” Gigante, boss of the Genovese, through his underboss Venero “Benny Eggs” Mangano, Raymond Patriarca, boss of the Patriarca’s, through his underboss Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, and my uncle, Nicky Scarfo, boss of the Philadelphia/Atlantic City mob, through me.
As things progressed with our proposed joint venture, I first heard the name “Jimmy Bulger” from one of the Boston guys during a dinner meeting. Bulger I would learn, was an Irish drug-dealer and low-life punk from South Boston who was paying the Patriarca’s tribute money to stay in business. The problem with Bulger was that he wasn’t paying enough and was balking at efforts to pay more.
What’s worse I would learn, was that Bulger had reportedly murdered a woman, had once been charged with rape, and may have worked as a male prostitute when he was younger.
The kicker was, he was also suspected of being an informant.
“You gotta kill em,” I told the Boston guy, “Immediately. You can’t do business with someone like him. I’m disgusted just hearing you talk about him.”
A few weeks later I sent word to New York that my uncle and our family wanted nothing to do with the proposed venture and that the Patriarca’s were forbidden from conducting any business in Atlantic City.
“They are not our kind of people,” I told the Genovese guys from New York and that was the end of it.
Fast forward 30 years to 2013 and I am back in New York promoting my book, Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Crime Family & The Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra, and I overhear a conversation between my co-author Christopher Graziano and another gentlemen we were dining with near our hotel in downtown Brooklyn and I hear Chris say, “I can’t believe Johnny Depp’s gonna play Whitey Bulger, I thought it was going to be Mark Wahlberg.”
I entered the conversation late and when I was asked by one of the reporters that we were eating with if I ever came across Whitey Bulger when I was in the mob, I said, “I never met him and never heard of him until a couple years ago when I saw he had gotten arrested. But there was another Bulger from Boston I had heard about, a guy named Jimmy Bulger. He was a low-life Irish drug dealer I had heard about from one of the mob guys in Boston.”
I then went on to tell the story repeated above and ended it with, “I can’t believe they kept this guy around. I told them they should kill him immediately. Maybe he was a cousin of Whitey’s, who knows.”
Everyone at the table looked at me in stunned silence and Chris said, “Philip, Whitey Bulger and Jimmy Bulger are the same guy. The guy you just described is Whitey Bulger. Whitey’s real name is James Bulger.”
I told them, “No way. The guy I’m talking about, Jimmy Bulger, he wasn’t a gangster, he was a drug-dealer paying tribute to the Italian’s in Boston’s North End. It’s definitely not the same guy.”
After arguing my point for most of the evening, I went back to the hotel and did some research and realized that Chris was right.
The low-life Irish drug dealer that I said should be killed in 1983 was in fact the infamous Whitey Bulger.
Thirty years later I stand by that.
Bulger should have been killed by the Patriarca’s, plain and simple.
How they could do business with someone like him is unfathomable. To call him a gangster is a joke.
He was a psychopathic, drug-dealing serial killer, not a gangster.
I’m glad its Johnny Depp playing Bulger in the movie about his life and not Mark Wahlberg. No disrespect to Johnny Depp, but I like Wahlberg and how he carries himself. Seeing him portray a lowlife like Bulger would have been disappointing.

Philip Leonetti is the former underboss of the Philadelphia/Atlantic City mob and the nephew of imprisoned mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky Scarfo. He was the youngest underboss in the history of the modern day La Cosa Nostra and in 1989 was the highest ranking mafioso to break omerta and cooperate with the federal government. In 2012 he wrote the book Mafia Prince: Inside America's Most Violent Crime Family and The Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra. He lives in seclusion under an assumed name with a $500,000.00 bounty placed on his head from his jailed uncle Nicky Scarfo.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Poll Results: What will Philadelphia mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo do after being arrested?

Go to trial on the murder charges: 29 (15%)
Cooperate with the government before trial: 91 (48%)
Negotiate a plea before trial: 66 (35%)
Total Votes: 186

Almost half (48%) of our readers who voted in our most recent monthly believe that Philadelphia mob solder Anthony Nicodemo will cooperate with the government to escape first degree murder charges in the slaying of Gino DiPietro. Stay tunes to our site as we will keep you updated on this case.

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FBI suspects Philadelphia crime family tried to sell paintings from Gardner Museum heist

 (From left) Ralph Abbruzzi, George Borgesi, the late Frank Gambino, Joey Merlino and "Uncle Joe" Ligambi

Is jailed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi or any other member of his organization a secret "patron of the arts?"

That question surfaced this week as the FBI in Boston said it was close to solving a $500 million art heist that may have had a Philadelphia underworld connection.

In a week full of wild speculation, rumor and innuendo about the 1990 robbery -- one bizarre and unfounded report had some of the masterpieces stashed in the backroom of a South Philadelphia bar -- the story of mobsters and stolen masterworks was getting lots of traction.

In more mundane courtroom developments, meanwhile, two major players from the crime family, underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino and mob soldier Damion Canalichio are scheduled to be sentenced in May following their convictions last month on racketeering conspiracy charges. Each faces a potential double-digit prison term, given the nature of the charge and their lengthy criminal records.

Canalichio, 41, has two prior federal drug convictions. Massimino, 62, has been jailed on drug dealing and racketeering charges.

Ligambi, 73, his nephew George Borgesi, 49, and his top associate, Anthony Staino, 55, are to be retried on those same racketeering conspiracy charges in October after the jury hung on those counts at the earlier trial. Staino was convicted of two counts of extortion for which he is to be sentenced, but that has been put off until after the retrial.

There has been some speculation that Staino might be willing to cut a deal and plead guilty to the conspiracy count if the sentence for that crime would not bring more prison time than he is already facing for the extortion charges.

Several other prominent players in the Philadelphia mob, including Marty Angelina and Gaeton Lucibello, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges prior to the start of the trial and are serving prison sentences. In all, nine of the original 13 defendants have either been convicted or have pleaded guilty.

Skinny Joey Merlino and Damion Canalichio

While the Ligambi racketeering case continues to wind its way through the court system, there is a different buzz on the streets. Media reports out of Boston have speculated that members of the Ligambi organization may have information about the infamous heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in which an estimated half-billion dollars in art was stolen.

Media reports have mentioned both Ligambi and Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino as potential Philadelphia connections in the investigation into the missing paintings which include 13 masterworks stolen 23 years ago by two men posing as police officers.

A report in the Boston Herald earlier this week said the FBI believes the heist was orchestrated by "members of an East Coast crime organization" and that some of the art work was being offered for sale in the Philadelphia area a decade ago.

Rembrandt's Stolen Storm On the Sea of Galilee

Ligambi was the boss of the crime family at that point. Merlino, jailed in 1999, was serving a 14-year sentence for racketeering. Before he was jailed, however, Merlino had established contacts in Boston with a group of organized figures headed by Robert Luisi Jr., who according to some law enforcement and underworld sources, was formally initiated into the Philadelphia mob by Merlino.
Luisi, later convicted of drug dealing, began cooperating with authorities, but reneged on that deal, claiming among other things that he had "found Jesus" and had turned away from the gangster life. Luisi's father, brother and cousin were killed in an infamous mob hit at a suburban Boston restaurant in 1995.

Manet's Chez Tortoni
In the mid 1990s, Luisi surfaced as a close associate of Borgesi's, then Merlino's crime family consigliere. Luisi's name has also been mentioned in media reports about the art heist investigation.
The stolen art included Rembrandt's "Storm on the Sea of Galilee" and Manet's "Chez Tortoni." In a statement released earlier this week, the FBI in Boston said, "We have identified the thieves who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England."
While the statute of limitations has run on the theft charge, possessing the stolen works would still be a criminal offense. A $5 million reward has been offered for the recovery of the art work which in addition to paintings, includes drawings, a sculpture and a beaker.
The heist occurred on the night of March 18, 1990, when two men dressed as Boston Police officers gained entry to the museum and overpowered a security guard.

Marty Angelina and Damion Canalichio

The Philadelphia connection to the notorious art heist comes amid reports that federal authorities hope to build yet another case against Ligambi and his top associates around three unsolved murders. Anthony Nicodemo, a mob soldier who is to be arraigned next month on first degree murder charges for the December slaying of Gino DiPietro, has been identified as a suspect in one of those homicides, the gangland hit on John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto in 2003.

Damion Canalichio, who is to be sentenced in May in the racketeering conspiracy case, has also been mentioned in connection with the Casasanto investigation. No one has ever been charged with that murder. The two other gangland hits that authorities would like to place on Ligambi's doorstep are the 1999 slaying of Ronald Turchi and the 2002 shooting of Raymond "Long John" Martorano.

George Borgesi and Damion Canalichio
Ligambi, who ran the crime family from 1999 until his arrest in May 2011 in the racketeering case, is generally credited with taking the organization back into the shadows. His approach was to make money, not headlines.

Missing masterworks and unsolved mob murders, however, are now shining two large spotlights on the mob boss and his beleaguered organization.


Man tied to Rhode Island mob burglary ring arrested

A Cranston man who was once part of what state police called the biggest mob related burglary ring in Rhode Island history, is in custody again, accused of a new string of crimes.

43-year-old Louis Marchetti led Cranston police on a brief chase Saturday before officers say he jumped out of his vehicle on Olive Avenue and ran. Police tell Target 12 that a Warwick police dog picked up Marchetti’s scent, leading investigators to the back door of his Nomandy Drive home.

Cranston Police Chief Marco Palombo says the department’s Crisis Negotiators were able to get Marchetti’s wife and her children out of the home safely but when they went inside, Marchetti was not there.

He turned himself into Cranston police Monday morning and according to Colonel Palombo, Marchetti is suspected to be “a major player in a crew responsible” for a series of break-ins in Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich and Scituate.

Police say the most recent case was in Scituate on Saturday, with the details of that crime putting investigator’s on Marchetti’s trail.

“This has been a regional effort with our local partners,” Colonel Palombo said of Marchetti’s arrest and the task force assigned to the break-in cases. “He is a lifelong criminal that gained no benefit from a lengthy incarceration.”


It was 17 years ago when Marchetti was swept up as part of what state police called “the nugget group” burglary ring. 44 suspects were indicted in the summer of ’96 in connection with 900 crimes throughout New England. Almost half of those cases were break-ins.

Among the others arrested in that summer time sweep was mob boss Luigi ‘ Baby Shacks ’ Manocchio. Video recorded on that July day in 1996, shows a hand-cuffed Manocchio, escorted by a dark-haired Lieutenant Brendan Doherty.

Investigators alleged as much as $10 million in jewelry, cash and merchandise was stolen by that 90’s era racket and that most of it was laundered at The Golden Nugget pawn shop in Olneyville.

Marchetti, who was said to be one of the leaders of "the nugget group", received a 50 year sentence with 34 years to serve. ACI spokeswoman Susan Lamkins tells Target 12, records indicate Marchetti was released in September of 2007 into home confinement.


The new charges surfaced as police pinpointed their focus on Marchetti’s home.

“It went on all night,” neighbor Anthony Cardillo said. “Then, on the bull horn, you heard the guy saying, Louis, come out of the house. Your family, let them go. You’re better than that.”

After his family was safely out of the home, police set off a flash grenade and entered but Marchetti was not inside. Investigators are not saying whether or not they know if Marchetti was ever in the home while police were gathering outside.

The search for him continued through the weekend until about 11:30 Monday morning when Marchetti turned himself in. According to court records, the 43-year-old has a criminal history of break-ins that dates back to 1987.

The latest blemishes will involve breaking and entering, reckless driving and eluding police. Colonel Palombo says more charges and more arrests are possible.

"The investigation is continuing," Colonel Palombo said.


Unlicensed waste hauler's mob ties exposed

An unlicensed waste hauler run by a convicted felon flew under the radar of state regulators and got $250,000 in taxpayer-funded cleanup work because another company allowed it to use its decals, state officials said Wednesday.

A state Department of Environmental Protection investigation, spurred by a report in The Record, found that Central Jersey Waste and Recycling, a hauler based in Mercer County, violated state rules by allowing Ace Materials and other companies to use equipment registered under its name. Central Jersey Waste and Recycling received a violation notice earlier this month, the first step in an enforcement process that could involve penalties and fines, officials said.

The investigation into Ace Materials, the unlicensed company that used the decals, is ongoing, officials said.

Ace’s use of another company’s decals gave it access to restricted dumping sites, and a stake in the multi-million-dollar cleanup, without proper registration from the state agency that is charged with keeping companies run by criminals out of the waste hauling industry. The regulations enforced by the state’s environmental agency grew out of New Jersey’s long history of illegal dumping and mob-involvement in the industry.

The investigation was initiated after a Record story focusing on Ace Materials and its owner raised questions about how carefully the state and its primary contractor overseeing the cleanup, AshBritt, Inc., screened more than 100 subcontractors hired to haul three million cubic yards wreckage left by the storm. AshBritt also said at the time that it was conducting an internal audit as a result of the report, but a spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. Neither did Central Jersey Waste and Recycling.

In the Record’s report, the self-described owner of Ace Materials, John Stangle, Jr. gave conflicting accounts of who was behind the company — initially saying he was a partner of a longtime Gambino associate who owned a New Jersey hauling company with a nearly identical name. Stangle later changed his story, saying he didn’t know Anthony O’Donnell, who at one point was part owner of Ace Materials and Trucking Ltd., which federal prosecutors have said was “mob-controlled.”

Stangle also has a criminal record, which includes a conviction for theft conspiracy for coordinating with an employee of a Pennsylvania chemical company to steal a truckload of salt worth $9,000, police records show.

Central Jersey Waste is owned by Frank Fiumefreddo Jr., whose father was “booted from the industry for life by New York authorities” after pleading guilty in the 1990s to corruption charges related to protecting his company’s territory from other firms, according to a 2011 State Commission of Investigation report. The report said that Frank Fiumefreddo Sr. was a onetime business partner with a member of the Gambino crime family and that he controlled Central Jersey Waste after his son purchased it in 2003 through a consulting arrangement that hid his interest in the firm.

In written responses to the SCI report, lawyers for Fiumefreddo and his son said there was never an attempt to hide information about the company’s ownership, and they denied that the elder Fiumefreddo was associated with organized crime. In December 2004, state regulators said that the elder Fiumefreddo could not have any involvement in the company and that the company had to repay money he had loaned it, the SCI said.

A DEP spokesman said the agency had requested additional information from Central Jersey Waste and Recycling when they issued the violation on March 4. “We are awaiting their formal response,” said spokesman Larry Hajna. He said the company has been issued one other violation in recent years, involving failure to properly maintain a roll-off container.

The violation notice says the company allowed Ace Materials, DMS Enterprises, and Organic Soils to use equipment with Central Jersey’s transporter registration. It was unclear Wednesday how DMS and Organic Soils were involved. Hajna declined to answer questions about those two companies, citing the ongoing investigation.


Federal judge receives round of applause for giving Colombo family boss lenient sentence

Andrew "Mush" Russo, acting Colombo mafia boss, arriving at Brooklyn Federal Court. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison for racketeering but will only be jailed until May due to time served.

A Brooklyn judge received a round of applause from relatives of Colombo crime boss Andrew Russo after she sentenced the longtime gangster to serve only two months longer in prison for racketeering.

"Your poppy will be home soon," Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto assured Russo's granddaughter, using the child's nickname for the 78-year-old Mafia boss.

Matsumoto said the mobster had a great family — referring to the relatives in the courtroom — prompting them to start clapping.

Russo, who was nabbed during the big Mafia Takedown of 2011 with 127 other mobsters, faced up to 41 months in prison, but like the gaggle of geezer gangsters who came before him, he sought leniency for his various medical ailments.

Matsumoto gave him 33 months, and with credit for time served, he will be a free man by May.

Russo’s lawyer had claimed his client is a peaceful man despite secretly recorded tapes of Russo vowing to put the shattered Colombo crime family back together.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes destroyed that argument. "It (the Colombos) doesn't serve as a community service organization," Geddes said. "There is no other purpose than to make money through crime."

Matsumoto is apparently still stung by criticism from a law enforcement source, quoted in a Daily News article earlier this year commenting that consigliere Richard Fusco left her courtroom laughing after feigning deafness at his sentencing.

"If Mr. Fusco made a fool out of me, then shame on me," Matsumoto said Thursday.


U.S. Senator blasts the Boston FBI's use of undercover informant

A top-ranking U.S. Senator is leveling harsh criticism against the Boston office of the FBI for its handling of local mob informant Mark Rossetti, saying the office needs a major shakeup.

"I thought it was pretty clear after Bulger as an example, now Rossetti coming out and not having learned any lessons. There needs to be big changes. I'm not running the FBI but this has been going on too long. There have to be big changes," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told FOX Undercover.

Grassley launched his own investigation of the FBI's handling of Rossetti after his informant status was publicly revealed in 2011.

Rossetti is a mob captain and suspected murderer who was charged in 2010 with running an organized crime ring including heroin trafficking, loan sharking and extortion. A State Police wiretap on Rossetti that gathered evidence used to indict and ultimately convict him also recorded conversations with his FBI handler, showing he was committing crimes while acting as a paid informant.

"It's very difficult with the use of a Rossetti or a previous person that they wouldn't know it's going on and there wasn't some knowledge of it. And if there isn't knowledge of it there ought to be, otherwise the FBI is not doing its job," Grassley said.

The Boston FBI's office's use of Rossetti is particularly troubling because it was the office where corrupt former agent John Connolly dealt with former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.

"Going back a ways, don't you have an FBI agent that was convicted of some wrongdoing because he was involved in this process as well? Doesn't that tell you something about the local office probably being out of control?" Grassley said.

"Do the guidelines for dealing with informants need to be revised again?" Beaudet asked him.

"First of all, they revised them and then they work with Rossetti, and that's a conflict with the original guidelines. I don't know whether just a revision again is going to make any difference. There's something in the culture of the FBI in this particular part of the country that needs to be dealt with. I don't know whether another revision of guidelines would make much difference," Grassley replied.

The FBI in a statement said the internal review is still underway pending access to some state court documents.

"The review consists of thousands of documents, interviews with those directly involved in the matter, including members of the Massachusetts State Police, FBI, district attorney's office and the U.S. Attorney's Office," the FBI statement said.

The culture of the FBI office in Boston was also part of Grassley's investigation. He found that the FBI's relationship with the State Police organized crime section was still poisoned from the Bulger years.

Court records revealed that, early in the investigation, State Police asked the FBI if Rossetti was an informant, which the FBI denied.

"The FBI never communicated with authorities in Massachusetts, particularly with the State Police, that he was an informant, and there was information that was very clear to the FBI that he was involved in criminal activity," Grassley said.

After Rossetti's informant status was publicly revealed, the FBI and State Police issued a joint statement suggesting their relationship was just fine.

"The FBI cooperated for months with the Massachusetts State Police, assisting their organized crime unit until the investigation was complete," the statement said.

Grassley said the press release "was not true."

"There's a great deal of antagonism between the FBI and the State Police. The State Police does not trust the FBI," he said.

"All law enforcement in this country ought to be working together and the FBI is the granddaddy of them all in a sense of being national and federal and crossing state lines and all that. They should be setting the example for cooperation and see local police and state police as a helping hand rather than seeing them as somewhat of an enemy," he said.

The FBI statement says "(T)he FBI cooperated with the MSP in the manner requested by police officials. The FBI and the MSP work closely together on a day-to-day basis in furtherance of our mutual commitment to public safety."

Rossetti pleaded guilty last week to the last of his charges from the state police investigation. He won't be out of prison until he's in his sixties.

But Grassley says it shouldn't be case closed with the Boston FBI.

"I'm not saying just in this case in Boston, in Massachusetts, and I'm not saying it just with the FBI, I'm saying across government, if heads don't roll you don't get any change of behavior," he said.

But in the statement, FBI headquarters is standing by its Boston office.

"FBI leadership has full confidence in FBI Boston management and employees," the statement says.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Colombo boss promises judge he wont hold mob meetings when he visits his doctor

A Colombo family crime boss won’t be pulling a Tony Soprano when he is released for one day to visit a doctor this week, according to his lawyer.
An attorney for mobster Andrew “Mush” Russo promised a federal judge that his client won’t be re-enacting a scene from HBO’s “The Sopranos,” in which Tony Soprano and Uncle Junior hold secret meetings in a doctor’s office to avoid FBI scrutiny.
“To the extent that Your Honor has ever watched an episode of ‘The Sopranos’ . . . I ask that you do your best to extricate those fictional accounts when imposing a just and appropriate sentence,” defense attorney George Galgano said.
‘MUSH’ RUSSO  - Won’t do a “Tony” at doc’s.
Won’t do a “Tony” at doc’s.
Russo, 78, then won permission to get out of jail on $1 million bond for a single day later this week to consult his personal physicians about a variety of health problems.
Still, Galgano said he is concerned about lingering misconceptions that grow out of pop-culture depictions of the Mafia.
“It dawned on me that even members of the judiciary are not immune from being influenced by stereotypical and fictional accounts of what the government has labeled ‘crime families,’ ” Galgano wrote to Brooklyn federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.
The judge will sentence the wiseguy on mob racketeering charges later this week.
Russo actually does have ties to the legendary HBO mob show. He struck up a real-life friendship with “Sopranos” actor Federico Castelluccio, who played the mob enforcer Furio.
Russo is facing 33 to 41 months in prison.


Turncoat testifies about Bobby Glasses mob promotion

A Gambino capo on trial for the killing of two Queens bar owners over a spilled drink was part of the triumvirate running the crime family before he was arrested in 2011 for the senseless crime, a mob turncoat testified.
Former associate Howard Santos said word spread quickly throughout the Gambino ranks when Bartolomeo "Bobby Glasses" Vernace became a boss.

“It was as if you’re working in an office building and certain people get promotions, you hear about it,” Santos, 46, said in his singing debut on the witness stand in Brooklyn Federal Court. “That’s what we talk about.”
Vernace became a made man in 1999 after he beat state murder charges in the killings of Shamrock Bar owners Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese in 1981.