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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bonanno associate cops plea to running major marijuana trafficking ring

A Bonanno crime family associate charged with joining a Canadian drug lord to become one of New York City's largest marijuana suppliers is scheduled to plea guilty today to narcotics trafficking charges.

John "Big Man" Venizelos, 33, is believed to have secured a plea deal from Brooklyn federal prosecutors that will significantly reduce his time in prison - averting the life sentence he faced if convicted at trial, sources said.

But because Venizelos honored the mob's omerta code of silence and refused to hand over information to the feds, sources said, he's expected to face approximately 10-14 years in prison when sentenced eventually by Brooklyn federal Judge Raymond Dearie.

Bonanno crime family member John Venizelos is seen outside Brooklyn Federal Court as he prepares for a hearing on his role in a multi-million dollar pot ring.

Venizelos - who sports horn-rimmed glasses and wears Ralph Lauren Polo ensembles - held a "straight job" before his arrest managing "Jaguars 3", a Brooklyn nightspot run by Vincent "Vinny Green" Faraci, a Bonanno crime family soldier.

The nightclub, located in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, attracts patrons that have included several cast members of "The Sopranos” — including Tony Sirico, who portrayed the fictional mob family's “Paulie Walnuts”.

It was his sideline as an alleged drug trafficker, however, that attracted attention to Venizelos.

He was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents earlier this year and charged with being one of the biggest New York customers of French Canadian drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer.

Cournoyer - who is awaiting trial in Brooklyn federal court - allegedly lies at the center of $1 billion narcotics ring and operated through alliances he created between the Hells Angels, the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, the Bonanno crime family, and the Montreal Mafia, The Post first reported.

Only weeks after Venizelos' arrest, federal prosecutors accused him of trying to intimidate witnesses who might testify against him.

Prosecutors say Venizelos sent encrypted BlackBerry messages to a colleague explaining that Cournoyer had bankrolled a special "murder fund" to underwrite hits against informants in the high-profile international narcotics case.

Prosecutors also say they seized letters written by an unnamed colleague of Venizelos that discussed the Bonanno associate’s ties to organized crime - including references to sit-downs with captains in various New York La Cosa Nostra families The DEA also utilized informants to secretly record tapes of Venizelos discussing drug deals, officials said, and then seized a number of unlicensed handguns when they searched Venizelos' residence.

John Meringolo, a New York Law School professor who represents Venizelos, initially insisted that the $100,000-plus seized by feds at Venizelos' residence wasn't drug money - it was simply cash for tipping exotic dancers at the "Jaguars 3" club.

Cournoyer's attorney, Gerald McMahon, says he plans to vigorously fight the case against the French Canadian at an upcoming trial this summer.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cleveland mobster dies in federal prison

From his small business in Orange, Joseph Gallo ascended to the top of the Cleveland Mafia family and helped oversee a $15 million-a-year drug ring that killed seven people.

Gallo, a mob captain to boss Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo, died April 3 in a federal prison medical center in Springfield, Mo., a spokesman said. He was 75. A cause of death was not released, and Gallo's immediate family could not be reached.

Thirty years ago, the city's mob wars played out daily on the front page, as bombings, indictments and slayings became routine. Today, the mob's story is written in the obituaries of its soldiers who ordered the executions and demanded payments for shipments of drugs.

"He was a very strong person," said James Willis, an attorney who knew Gallo well but did not represent him. "He was definitely a standup guy. He was very well respected."

Asked if Gallo would ever work for the government as an informant, Willis laughed. "Hell no. It never would have occurred to him."

U.S. District Judge John Manos sentenced Gallo in April 1983 to life in prison without parole, plus more than 100 years, for helping to run the ring that controlled much of Cleveland's drug trade. Besides Gallo, three others were convicted of major charges in the scheme: Lonardo and mob enforcers Kevin McTaggart and Hartmut Graewe.

Donna Congeni Fitzsimmons served as the chief prosecutor in the case. Fitzsimmons, now a judge in Rocky River Municipal Court, recalled Gallo well. She said he rose quickly in the Cleveland mob after the bombing of rival Danny Greene, partly because so many other mob associates were either arrested or linked to the case.

"He was the new up-and-coming guy," Fitzsimmons said. "Joe sat back and ran things, but he didn't do daily things himself. He didn't like to get his hands dirty."

She said Lonardo led the mob in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Lonardo allowed Gallo and Gallo's close friend Tommy Sinito to handle the day-to-day matters, Fitzsimmons said.

They directed and helped finance the drug ring that mobster Carmen Zagaria managed daily and shared in its profits. The criminal enterprise flourished in 1979 and 1980, selling millions of dollars worth of cocaine, methaqualone, LSD, PCP and other drugs.

In his book, "To Kill the Irishman: The War that Crippled the Mafia," author Rick Porrello detailed Cleveland's mob wars. He called Gallo one of Lonardo's top lieutenants and said that Gallo poured his drug profits into gems, "presumably to avoid creating a taxable trail."

During the men's 11-week trial that ended in January 1983, Zagaria cooperated with authorities and described each man's role in testimony that lasted more than two weeks on the witness stand. Besides Zagaria, investigators used wiretaps, physical surveillance and motel and car rental records. They also placed a listening device in Gallo's fruit and flower delivery service in Orange.

Within months of going to prison, Lonardo also turned snitch and worked with the FBI, becoming one of the highest-ranked Mafia turncoats whose detailed cooperation helped take down organized crime figures across the United States. He died in 2006. McTaggart and Graewe remain in prison.

Sinito, Gallo's longtime close friend, died in 1997. Gallo's attorney, Albert Giuliani, could not be reached.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Philly mobster opts to plead guilty to avoid retrial

Mob leader Anthony Staino, awaiting sentencing for his conviction on two counts of extortion, has decided to fold his cards and avoid a retrial on racketeering conspiracy and gambling charges still pending against him.

Staino, 55, is due in court this afternoon to enter guilty pleas to those counts.

"It just makes sense," said Gregory Pagano, Staino's lawyer. "He wants to get this behind him and move on with his life."

Staino, who has no criminal record, will enter a so-called "open" plea to the racketeering conspiracy charge and to two gambling charges linked to his involvement in an illegal video poker machine operation.

Without a stipulation between the prosecution and the defense on a plea deal, it will be up to Judge Eduardo Robreno to determine how much time Staino is to receive. Sentencing will likely take place next month.

According to several individuals familiar with the sentencing guideline formula used in federal cases, Staino is facing about five years for the extortion convictions. His plea to the additional charges could add some time to his total sentence, but his decision to plead guilty and avoid trial would be a factor in his favor when the actual guidelines are established.

Pagano said Staino had considered a guilty plea prior to the start of the trial last year, but he said prosecutors wanted Staino to plead guilty to all 29 counts he faced. In fact, a jury found him not guilty of 24 of those counts, most related to gambling and loansharking.

Staino has been described by authorities as a top associate of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi. In a conversation secretly recorded by an FBI agent posing as a corrupt gambler and financier, Staino described himself as the "CFO" of the crime family and a member of the organization's "board of directors."

The tapes made by the FBI agent were considered the most damaging to Staino. The extortion convictions were linked to a loan he had made to the agent.

The trial, which lasted nearly three months, resulted in a convoluted series of findings by the anonymously chosen jury. The jury deliberated for a staggering three weeks after 10 weeks of testimony and at one point Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor, one of the prosecutors in the case, suggested that the panel was wandering "in the desert."

In fact, the verdicts would suggest that the group had trouble discerning both the charges and the laws that applied. Of the 62 counts in the case, the jury delivered not guilty verdicts on 46 of the charges. The panel was hung -- undecided -- on 11 others. It delivered only five guilty verdicts.

While defense attorneys claimed a major victory in what they had described as an poorly drafted and overcharged case, the defendants themselves have had little to celebrate.

Only mob capo Joseph "Scoops" Licata has been able to walk away. The 71-year-old North Jersey mobster was found not guilty of racketeering conspiracy, the one central charge against all seven defendants.

While mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, 62, Damion Canalichio, 44, and Gary Battaglini, 51, beat many of the gambling charges they faced, all three were convicted of conspiracy and are to be sentenced next month.

Massimino and Canalichio, a mob soldier with two prior convictions for drug dealing, could each face more than 10 years in prison.

Ligambi, 73,  was found not guilty of five of the nine charges against him, but is scheduled to be retried on the racketeering conspiracy count, two gambling counts and an obstruction of justice count on which the jury hung. His nephew, mob leader George Borgesi, 50, was found not guilty of 13 of the 14 counts he faced, but the jury also was hung on the racketeering conspiracy charge against him.

Borgesi's lawyer is expected to file a motion seeking to have the remaining charge dropped, arguing that the not guilty verdicts on gambling and related charges undermine the broader conspiracy count.

"What was the conspiracy if the jury found him not guilty of all the substantive counts?" an associate of Borgesi's asked recently. 

Like Ligambi, Borgesi and the other defandants are being held without bail.

Staino's decision to plead guilty could result in a racketeering conspiracy trial in October that is literally and figuratively a "family" affair. Authorities have described Ligambi and Borgesi as leaders of the Philadelphia crime family.

Borgesi was finishing a 14-year sentence for a 2001 racketeering conviction when he was indicted in the current case. He was considered the consigliere of the mob family headed by Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.

Merlino, 51, who was also sentenced to 14 years, relocated to Florida after his release to a halfway house over a year ago. He has said he has no intention of returning to Philadelphia despite some law enforcement intelligence reports that continue to list him as the head of the crime family.

Ligambi is considered the "acting boss" in those reports. Ligambi's sister is Borgesi's mother.

Two minor defendants, Eric Espositio and Robert Ranieri, are scheduled to be tried along with Ligambi and Borgesi in October, but neither faces a racketeering conspiracy charge and several sources have said both are expected to enter guilty pleas and avoid trial.


Colombo captain gets 34 months for extortion

Dennis Delucia is going away for 34 months.

A Colombo capo convicted of extortion but praised by his gay daughter for staunchly supporting same-sex marriage was sentenced to 34 months in prison — a year less than the maximum he faced.

Dennis Delucia, 71, apparently convinced Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto that he had some redeeming qualities even though she noted that a decade spent in prison did not deter him from committing new crimes.

Matsumoto referred to the “moving” letter written by daughter Donna Delucia about her “traditional Italian” father and credited the mobster’s contributions to a charity for children of female inmates.

Delucia was arrested in 2011 and with credit for good behavior could be sprung in two months.


Federal jury convicts Gambino consigliere on 32 year old double murder

Justice is finally served as Gambino capo Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace is convicted in 1981 murders of Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese.

A Gambino capo who eluded justice for more than three decades in the murder of the hardworking owners of a Queens bar was convicted in the killings Wednesday by a federal jury.

Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace, 64, merely shrugged after the verdict. The widow and two daughters of victim Richard Godkin wept tears of joy.

“I am totally devoted to St. Theresa, and I said a novena to her this morning,” said Catherine Godkin, who attended every day of the five-week trial.

“I am so grateful to the jury, they got it right, 32 years and six days later,” Godkin added, referring to the April 11, 1981, date of the senseless killings.

A photo of Richard Godkin taken in January 1981, just months before he was killed.

Vernace beat a state murder rap in 1998 for killing Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese to avenge a drink accidentally spilled on the dress of Gambino mobster Frank Riccardi’s girlfriend in the Shamrock Bar on Jamaica Ave.

Riccardi was tried separately in state court and acquitted. He died in 2007. A state indictment against the third alleged gunman, Ronald "Ronnie the Jew" Barlin, was dismissed in 1981.

Those prosecutions were hindered by lack of cooperation from two key witnesses — Linda Gotti, the niece of the late Mafia boss John Gotti, and bartender Joseph Patrick Sullivan.

After the passage of three decades, both were finally ready to tell the truth, but only Sullivan took the stand, and his haunting testimony about his fear of the mob sealed Vernace’s fate.

Law enforcement sources said Vernace rejected a plea deal calling for only 12 years in prison. He reconsidered on the eve of the trial, but the deal was off the table.

“I never question a jury’s verdict,” said Vernace’s defense lawyer Charles Carnesi. “We’ll review the record and review all our options.”


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Movie actor Steven Seagal's testimony against the Gambino crime family

What follows is an excerpt from ' Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge,' a book where I try to explain life on the bench and the unknown parts of our legal system.

At the beginning of the fourth week of the trial, Steven Seagal took the witness stand, raised his right hand, and swore to tell the truth. The courtroom was packed. There were reporters all over the place -- many from L.A. -- who were champing at the bit to write about Seagal's involvement with the Gambino family. The 58th count of the indictment charged Cassarino and Ciccone of conspiring to extort money from the movie star, and the 59th count charged them with actually attempting to do that. They were not the most important charges in the case--and had nothing to do with Peter Gotti or the Gambino family's control of the waterfront--but they certainly brought out the crowd.

Conscious of his public persona, Seagal -- with his painted hairline and red bracelets dangling from his neck -- was clad in a chocolate-brown silk kimono, jeans, and construction boots. He testified that he was licensed to carry a gun and always carried one when he was in New York. I made sure that he did not have one with him in court. He had just flown back from Thailand--where he was making his latest movie, Belly of the Beast--for his court appearance. He described himself as an "actor, producer, director, musician, songwriter." At first he was very combative, befitting a self-proclaimed martial arts expert. However, under aggressive cross-examination his testimony started to get shaky and evasive. I told him that he had to be more responsive: "Listen to me, I don't have any experience in martial arts but I have other powers here. Just listen to the question and answer it." I then took an early lunch break "so people can cool off a little bit." When he came back into the courtroom for continued cross-examination, his tough-guy image was totally shattered. He brought two red shawls with him and asked me if he could place them over his lap to warm his chilly knees. The audience laughed.

In his testimony, Seagal told the jury that he had had a sit-down with Cassarino and Ciccone in a private room at Gage and Toliber, a popular restaurant in downtown Brooklyn. His onetime best friend and former producer, Jules Nasso, was with him. Nasso had ties to the Mafia and enlisted Ciccone to resolve an ongoing dispute that he had with Seagal over money which Nasso claimed that the movie star owed him. Seagal told the jurors that Ciccone began talking to him about "monies that I owed Jules," and "went into the fact that he wanted me to work with Jules." Seagal told Ciccone, "I'm trying," at which point Ciccone ordered him to "look at me when you are talking." Ciccone then said: "Look, we're proud people and work with Jules ... Jules is going to get a little and the pot will be split up ... We'll take a little." The meeting ended with Seagal stating that "he would try to work with Jules." Seagal testified that as he walked out of the restaurant, Jules started walking with him and said, "You know, it's a good thing you said this and didn't say that because if you would have said the wrong thing, they were going to kill you." Seagal told the jurors that he had broken up his relationship with Nasso because Nasso was using mood-elevating drugs and "going into psychotic rages." Nonetheless, he testified that he paid Nasso between $500,000 and $700,000 -- he was not too good with numbers -- after he had escaped with his life.

As Seagal recounted his real life adventure, he seemed to regain his composure and warm to the audience. He began making dramatic faces -- complete with his famous furrowed brow -- in response to questions. He grinned at a juror. When he finished his testimony and I told him that he could step down, he bowed twice to the crowd and said, "Thank you all." The media event was over. It was time to get back to the rest of the trial.

Frederic Block has practiced law for 34 years. He was appointed to the federal district court as a judge in 1994 by President Clinton. Block is the author of Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feds drop death penalty against Joe Waverly for murder of NYPD cop

Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace, 61, reputed acting boss of the Colombo crime family, won't face death penalty at trial for 1990s murder of NYPD cop Ralph Dols. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered federal prosecutors in Brooklyn not to pursue Cacace's execution in the case.

The feds will no longer seek the death penalty against a former Colombo mob boss for ordering the 1997 murder of NYPD cop Ralph Dols, it was disclosed Monday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered prosecutors in Brooklyn to withdraw its intention for the ultimate punishment against former acting boss Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace, who is still awaiting trial in the case.

Last year two of Cacace’s underlings, Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli and alleged shooter Dino Saracino, were cleared by a Brooklyn jury of the off-duty cop’s killing. Prosecutors contend that Cacace marked the cop for death because he had married the mobster’s ex-wife, Kim Kennaugh.

Officer Ralph Dols, 28, was shot to death in August 1997. Authorities allege that Cacace ordered a hit on him because Dols was dating his old flame.

“Nobody should face the death penalty in a case when there is no forensic evidence and only two witnesses whose mothers don’t even believe them,” said defense lawyer Susan Kellman who had asked the attorney general to reconsider the death penalty issue after last year’s acquittals.

A spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association could not be reached for comment Monday.

Dols was ambushed by a hit team outside his Sheepshead Bay apartment building.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Dozens of pictures of Bobby Glasses snapped at Gambino family funerals

Dozens of surveillance photos showing New York mobsters hobnobbing at a succession of funerals spanning two decades are key evidence in the Mafia double-murder trial of a Gambino capo in Brooklyn federal court.

The “15 Funerals and Two Stiffs” twist in the trial of Bartolomeo “Bobby Glasses” Vernace is intended to convince jurors the mob boss was not merely paying his respects — but also actively engaged in Mafia business when he consorted with other wiseguys at the send-offs.

The feds are trying to prove that the 1981 murder of Queens tavern owners Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese was part of the Gambinos’ racketeering activities — and not just a barroom shooting that began with a spilled drink.

COMMON MAN: Bartolomeo Vernace (at left in each photo) was snapped at multiple Mafia funerals. The pix are evidence in his Brooklyn double-murder trial.



Assistant US Attorney Amir Toossi highlighted one particular photo for the jury — which resumes deliberations today — showing Vernace walking 150 feet away from a wake for a chat with mobster Domenico “Italian Dom” Cefalu.

The meeting between Vernace, then a rising star who later sat on the Gambino family’s three-member ruling panel, and Cefalu, who reputedly was made Gambino boss in 2011 — along with an earlier 1999 meeting between the two at Romanelli’s Funeral Home in Queens — showcases Vernace’s ranking status in the crime family, officials say.

Another snapshot shows Vernace, now 63, with Gambino capo Louis Mastrangelo at a 2009 wake at Leone’s Funeral Home in Brooklyn, also underscoring Vernace’s senior position in the mob, the feds say.

More pictures record Vernace attending a wake with Gambino mobster Ronald “Ronnie the Jew” Barlin, who prosecutors say joined Vernace in committing the 1981 double murder that helped raise Vernace’s stature in the family.

Prosecutors gave jurors photos from at least 12 other Vernace-attended funerals and wakes to chew over in considering the racketeering case.

Attending funerals to remember loved ones or friends allows mobsters to argue that they’re just participating in community events that are integral to daily life.

But the feds counter that these gatherings give wiseguys “cover,” because meeting in an abandoned warehouse or on a decaying waterfront pier would help the feds accuse them of racketeering.

The surveillance photos also capture imagery stereotypically associated with mob life: hard-looking men, cigarettes dangling from their mouths, plenty of black leather jackets and the occasional woman in leopard print.


FBI agent stumbles on high level Gambino family meeting while strolling through the park

Bartolemeo Vernace, pictured in 1998, is accused of operating a criminal enterprise with fellow known wiseguys Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo and Alphonse Trucchio.

After 32 years and two trials, bringing a top Gambino mobster to justice for killing two men in a Queens bar may be a walk in the park after all.

The feds obtained crucial evidence for the racketeering case against Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace when an FBI agent strolling in Forest Park in Queens luckily stumbled upon a meeting between Vernace and two supporting characters in the case.

FBI agent Gerard Conrad was simply taking a break from his work supervising 15 agents who investigate the Gambino crime family, he testified.

And then, he got a stroke of good luck on that warm 2006 day: “I saw three made members of the Gambino family and two associates of the family in the park,” he said.

Alphonse Trucchi, son of Gambino crime family henchman Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, met with Bobby Vernace at a playground in Forest Park, Queens.

It was Vernace, Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo and Alphonse Trucchio, the son of Gambino thug Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, in the woods near a playground.

Conrad called for backup agents with a camera — and the resulting photos are a crucial piece of evidence because, prosecutors argued, they keep Vernace in a mob timeline that dates back to a 1981 killing in Corozzo’s Ozone Park social club.

Vernace had beaten the murder charge in 1998 — but the photos show that eight years later, the wiseguy, who is now a member of a panel running the crime family, is still with Corozzo and capo Alphonse Trucchio in a criminal enterprise and worthy of a racketeering conviction, prosecutors argue.

Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo was one of the mobsters who met Bobby Vernace at a Forest Park playground.

The case begins on April 11, 1981, when Vernace, then a low-level hood, was hanging out at Corozzo’s club when another mob associate called on him to go to the Shamrock Bar to exact revenge over a spilled drink, authorities say.

The bar owners were shot in cold blood and a key witness, bartender Joseph Patrick Sullivan, was scared into silence for three decades by Ronnie One Arm Trucchio, authorities say.

But last month, Sullivan admitted he lied to cops and jurors for more than three decades about who was responsible for the senseless murders of Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese by Gambino gangsters.

This week, as the jury resumes deliberating the charges against Vernace, agent Conrad’s walk in the park may seal the deal.

“That was certainly fortuitous,” widow Catherine Godkin said of Conrad’s stroll. “He’s my hero.”


Saturday, April 13, 2013

New England mob associate pleads guilty and gets 3 years of supervised release

Admitted mob associate Richard Bonafiglia pleaded guilty for his role in an illegal prescription drug ring.
The former strip club manager was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
The sentence will be imposed after Bonafiglia is released from federal prison for a separate crime, which is scheduled for 2017.
He is currently serving for helping the reputed former leader of New England's Patriarca crime family, Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, in a scheme to shake down Providence strip clubs for protection money.


Gambino soldier avoids jail and gets community service for Hurricane Sandy victims

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi 
Gambino soldier Vincent Dragonetti hiding after he was sentenced to probation and community service for mob extortion.

Hurricane Sandy has been good for the Gambino crime family.
Reputed soldier Vincent Dragonetti is the third mobster convicted of extortion to be sentenced to perform community service for victims of last year’s weather disaster instead of jail time.

Federal Judge Dora Irizarry could have sent Dragonetti away for up to 51 months for his extortion of Brooklyn developer Sitt Asset Management, but he gave him 200 hours of service instead.
Irizarry previously sentenced Gambino associates Emmanuel Garofalo and Thomas Frangiapane to Sandy-related relief.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Skinny Joey Merlino discusses life after the Philadelphia mob

They met in a Dunkin’ Donuts near the beach in Boca Raton.

Nicholas Stefanelli, a 60-something mobster from North Jersey, was full of propositions and ideas for “business” ventures.

Joey Merlino, recently turned 50 and out of jail for about a year, was all ears.

Merlino was looking for a fresh start in Florida, or so he said. Stefanelli had come recommended from a defense attorney in Newark who had worked on one of Joey’s cases. 

They talked for about an hour. At first, Stefanelli focused on ideas for bars and restaurants, businesses he knew Joey was interested in. Money and backers were available, he said. They could make something happen, he promised. Then he steered the conversation to past events in the world in which they both operated.

Stefanelli, known as “Nicky Skins,” was a soldier in the Gambino crime family.

Merlino, who everyone knew as “Skinny Joey,” had been or was (depending on your frame of reference) the boss of the Philadelphia mob. He had just finished a 14-year stint in a federal prison. He had no desire to go back. So when Stefanelli started asking about some of the guys up north and talking about pending criminal cases, Merlino pulled back.

There are certain things you don’t talk about, especially with someone you’ve just met.  

“He  asked me about Joe (Ligambi, one of several prominent Philadelphia mob figures then awaiting trial on racketeering conspiracy charges),”  Merlino recalled. “I said he was a nice guy and I hoped he beat the case.”

Then Stefanelli asked about Nicky Scarfo Jr., who was in federal prison awaiting trial on charges that he and an associate had looted a Texas-based mortgage company, siphoning out more than $12 million through bogus business deals and phony consulting contracts.

“When he asked me about Scarfo, I said it was a shame what happened to that kid,” Merlino said. “I said his father (jailed mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, an unindicted co-conspirator in the fraud case) was going to get him 100 years … And I meant it.”

The meeting at the Dunkin' Donuts was in December 2010. A year later, Merlino learned that Stefanelli was recording everything they said when they sat down over coffee that day.

“The fuckin’ guy was wired,” Merlino said. “I got the tape. In fact, I got two from Joe Ligambi’s lawyer. He thought I had talked to the guy twice. But we had only met once."

"There were two tapes because the guy was wearing two wires, one on his body and one in his watch," Merlino said. "He shoulda fuckin’ been electrocuted.  The feds sent him down here to set me up. I told him I’m legitimate. I don’t want nothing to do with any of that other stuff … What else could I say?”

Merlino is sitting in a posh restaurant in the W Hotel on Beach Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, a short drive from the condo in Boca Raton where he has been living with his good friend and former South Philadelphia neighbor Donnie Petullo.

For the first time since his release to a halfway house in Florida over a year ago, Merlino has agreed to talk publicly about himself, about where he is and what he hopes to do with the rest of his life.

“It’s beautiful down here,” he says. “Great weather. No stress. People come here, they live to be 100.”

At 51 (his birthday was in March) he is a little over halfway there. And it’s clear he hopes to make it the rest of the way.  He said repeatedly and emphatically during two days of interviews earlier this week that he has no intention of returning to Philadelphia.

The only things he misses, he said, are his family – and by that he meant blood relatives like his mother Rita, his sister Natalie, and others still living in South Philadelphia – and the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day.

He hardly mentioned the other Family, but that was like the 500-pound gorilla in the room during two days of interviews. Always circumspect and cautious, Merlino is savvy enough to know what to say and how to say it. He also is aware that a return to the streets of South Philadelphia and the clubs and restaurants where his mere presence caused a stir – “Joey’s in the room. It’s Merlino.” – would attract major law enforcement attention and ultimately lead to potential criminal problems.

Joey's life as a wiseguy during the 1990s was Entourage in the Underworld. The popular HBO series about four young, good looking guys making it in the movie business and making it with every beautiful broad they came in contact with was not that much different from Merlino's days as Philadelphia's one and only celebrity wiseguy.

Over lunch at Steak 954 – ironically a restaurant opened in Fort Lauderdale's W Hotel by Stephen Starr, the iconic Philadelphia restaurateur -- Merlino did some quick math to explain how and why he has decided to turn his life in another direction.  By his own count, he has spent close to 19 years behind bars. If you add in the time he’s spent in halfway houses, the number is close to 20. That’s a big chunk of his adult life.

He missed his daughters – both now teenagers – growing but says he wants to be around to see them go off to college. They and his wife live in North Jersey where the girls attend school. He didn’t want to disrupt that, but they’ve visited on holidays and spent about six weeks with him last summer.

He’s working for an advertising agency, but looking to start his own business. He’s talked about restaurants, cafes, a Philly cheese streak shop -- "It's hard to get  rolls down here" -- and a cigar bar. Nothing yet, but everything is still in play. There's also talk about a book, a movie and a reality TV show.

“Anybody can be an actor,” Merlino says at one point.

“Look at Kim Kardashian,” adds Petullo. “What did she ever do?”

Everyone at the table agrees that Kardashian has parlayed her physical attributes into a money-making career. Merlino doesn’t see any reason whey he can’t cash in as well. He may not have a big ass, but he's got a lot of other things going for him. The only stipulation, he said, is that whatever he does has to be legitimate.

“This Stefanelli said he had plenty of investors and said we could do things,” Merlino said over a lunch of lobster bisque and a crab cake.  Then he rolled his eyes.

“When I mentioned the cheese steak shop, he said we should franchise it. Call it Merlino’s and get investors," Merlino said. "He started talking about selling 10 or 12 franchises.  The 'Old’ Joey would have gone for that. But that’s not me now."

“I’m not gonna sell something I don’t have," he said. "If I had opened a cheesesteak place and was in business and somebody wanted to talk about a franchise, then it’s legit. But I’m not gonna sell something that doesn’t exist.”

That’s the 'New’ Joey.

He still looks and sounds like the guy who was the John Gotti of Passyunk Avenue, the reputed mob boss who held Christmas parties for the homeless and gave away turkeys at Thanksgiving in the housing projects.

He still has those same dark eyes that can shoot daggers and the quick, staccato delivery when he’s telling a story or asking a question. But if you take him at his word (and at this point there is no reason not to), he has a different perspective on life.

He’s seen too much.

He’s spent too much time in lockdown.

He’s tired of living a regimented life where others control when you get up, when you eat and when the lights get turned off.


He’s also ultra cautious.

“Too many rats,” he said. “I want no part of that.”

Nicky Skins Stefaneilli is a case in point.

Skins had gotten jammed up in a drug case in Newark two years before he met with Merlino. And to get himself and his son out from under, he agreed to cooperate with the FBI. He had already recorded dozens of conversations in North Jersey, New York and Rhode Island when he headed to Florida.

(Two Stefanelli tapes, but not the Merlino meeting, were played at Ligambi's trial earlier this year.)

The idea was to get Joey to incriminate himself, to admit that he was still part of the crime family back in Philadelphia, to talk about the old days, maybe to brag or boast about how – and this is the fed's position not Merlino’s – he had gotten away with murder.

Talk to anyone who has tracked the Philadelphia mob in the past 30 years and they'll tell you that Skinny Joey was involved in more than a dozen gangland shootings. They have tried, but failed, to link him to ten different murders.

Even over a casual lunch, Merlino won’t go there.

The racketeering case in 2001 that earned him a 14-year sentence, included a half dozen shootings. The jury found the charges “not proven.” Two years later he was tried in federal court in Newark for one of the same murders that was part of the racketeering case. While it seems mind boggling and counter-intuitive to a layman, the racketeering statutes permit what on the face appears to be double jeopardy. In any event, Merlino beat the murder rap in North Jersey as well.

“Not guilty” said the jury.

He’s is content to rest on those jury verdicts, offering very little else about the murder and mayhem that authorities allege he unleashed on the South Philadelphia underworld during the bloody 1990s, a period when, prosecutors alleged, the Merlino faction of the Philadelphia mob went to war with a faction headed by John Stanfa.

“I was found not guilty,” Merlino said. “What else can I say?”

Probably a lot more, but there’s very little chance anyone will ever get Merlino to open up.  Stefanelli, no doubt coached by his FBI handlers, was tap dancing around a volatile subject when he brought up the Scarfo name at  the Dunkin’ Donuts  meeting.

There is a history between the Scarfos and the Merlinos.

Joey’s father Salvatore “Chucky” Merlino was once the elder Scarfo’s top underworld associate and his underboss. But the volatile Scarfo had a fallen out with his one-time best friend and threatened to kill the entire Merlino clan.

There is more to the story which when told in full sounds like an underworld soap opera. But that’s for another day. Just know that in law enforcement circles, the conventional wisdom is that Skinny Joey tried to settle accounts on Halloween Night, 1989.

On that night,  Nicky Jr. was having dinner in  Dante&Luigi’s, a neighborhood restaurant located on the corner of 10th and Christian Streets in South Philadelphia. The joint  had served up fine but inexpensive Italian dinners to three generations.

In the fall of 1989, the Philadelphia mob was in disarray. The elder Scarfo, along with Chucky Merlino and a dozen others had been convicted of racketeering-murder charges and were serving lengthy federal prison sentences.  “Little Nicky” Scarfo,  a psychopathic mob boss, had driven the organization into the ground. During his bloody reign about 20 mob figures had been killed. With a dozen more behind bars, the organization, which never had more than 60 or 70 members, was in shambles.

Scarfo was trying to maintain control from prison through his son, Nicky Jr. (While they called him Jr., in fact his name was Nicodemo Salvatore and his father was Nicodemo Domenic.)

The younger Scarfo was dining on clams and spaghetti that night, one of his favorites. Two associates, his cousin John Parisi and another man, were eating with him. None of them noticed the guy with the trick-or-treat bag who walked into the restaurant and headed straight for their table. He was wearing a mask, but it was Halloween. It was only after he pulled the Mac-9 machine pistol out of the bag and opened fire that he attracted any attention.

By then it was too late.

Scarfo was hit six times. The gunman turned and headed for the door. As he walked out amid screaming customers who were ducking for cover, he dropped the gun.  A car pulled up. He got in and drove away.

About a week earlier, a Philadelphia police officer had been killed in the line of duty. Some drug dealer with a gun had started firing. The cop was wearing a bullet proof vest, but one of the bullets came in on an angle and ripped into his rib cage from the side. A fraction of an inch one way or the other and the bullet would have hit the vest. Instead, it tore into his heart. The cop died.

None of the bullets that hit Scarfo that night struck a vital organ. Less than a week after the shooting, he was released from the hospital.

“Can you fuckin’ believe it?” a Philadelphia police officer said at the time. “He’s not wearing a vest. He gets hit six times. And he walks away. How’s that fair?”

No one has ever been charged with the attempted murder of Nicky Scarfo Jr.

But Joey Merlino has long been the prime suspect. Underworld informants have fingered him as the triggerman. One, in fact, told the FBI how Merlino had deliberately dropped the gun that night because he wanted to send a message to “Little Nicky” Scarfo, who was serving a 55-year sentence for racketeering at the time.

The elder Scarfo loved gangster movies. One of his favorites, of course, was The Godfather. And one of his favorite scenes was the restaurant shooting where Michael Corleone settles the score after his father was shot and nearly killed. As Michael leaves the restaurant, he drops the gun.

There was a purpose to the gunman doing the same thing at Dante&Luigi’s, or so the informant said.  Joey Merlino was settling a score that night. At least that’s the theory that law enforcement has been working on for the past twenty-five years.

Scarfo Jr. never identified his shooter. But the New Jersey State Police have phone tapes in which he and his father, talking from prison, discuss the hit. On the tape, Little Nicky refers to Merlino as “a snake” and tells his son to “take him to dinner,” code, said investigators, for killing him.

 Over lunch down in Florida, Merlino said he was home the night of the Dante & Luigi shooting. He was under a court-ordered curfew imposed in an unrelated case and had to be in his house by 7 p.m. each night.

He couldn’t have been the shooter, he said.  Hardly a solid alibi, but his position none-the-less.

Several years later, word started to circulate in South Philadelphia that, from prison, Little Nicky had put a $500,000 contract out on Merlino’s life. When Joey was asked about this by TV reporter Dave Schratwieser, Joey calmly looked into the camera and in classic Merlino-style said, “Give me the half million dollars and I’ll shoot myself.”

Merlino has been charged with, but never convicted, of nearly a dozen other shootings. The brother of a witness who was about to take the stand in a mob racketeering  trial, the ambush of a rival mob leader on a busy Philadelphia highway in the midst of the morning rush hour, the slaying of a mob capo who was balking about sending a monthly envelope filled with cash, the drive-by shooting of a video poker machine operator who had refused to pay a street tax.

 The list goes on and on. Even after he was arrested in 1999, authorities believe, Merlino continued to sign off on street violence. Three unsolved murders that occurred while he was in federal prison are also part of the murderous menu that the FBI and police homicide detectives believe Merlino served up in the Philadelphia underworld.

Gambling, loansharking, extortion and robbery have landed him in jail for a big chunk of his life. But talk to any of the authorities who have been tracking him for the past twenty-five years and they’ll tell you Joey Merlino has literally gotten away with murder.

Lunch is over and Merlino is sipping a cup of coffee at 954 Steak. It's a sunny afternoon. The restaurant windows face Beach Boulevard and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.

Merlino is tan and fit and looking forward to his next visit to the gym. From his perspective, it doesn't matter what they say or think back in Philadelphia. Juries have been shown the evidence and heard the witnesses.

Not proven. Not guilty.

"What else can I say?" he asks.

Ramona from Mob Wives Gambino gangster fiance cops 14 year plea to drug charges

Postpone the honeymoon!

A Gambino mobster recently engaged to "Mob Wives" princess Ramona Rizzo pleaded guilty yesterday to drug distribution charges.

Joseph “Joe Boy” Sclafani - a Gambino crime family soldier who's considered a career offender under the law - now is looking at 14-17 years in prison.

Even if Brooklyn federal Judge John Gleeson gives him credit for the two years he's served awaiting trial - and he eventually gets another two-year credit for good behavior in prison - Sclafani still is looking at around a decade before he can stroll along a tropical beach with his intended.

Rizzo is the granddaughter of late Bonanno wiseguy Benjamin “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero, who mentored the young "Donnie Brasco" - not knowing he actually was an undercover FBI agent named Joseph Pistone.

Ruggiero was portrayed by Al Pacino in the film "Donnie Brasco", Hollywood's take on that successful FBI infiltration of the mob.

Sclafani, 47, has a long criminal history. Back in 1989, he was wounded in the mob rub-out of Costabile “Gus” Farace, a suspect in the murder of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

He later was convicted of helping Farace evade a federal manhunt.

Rizzo recently told Page Six that despite Sclafani's current legal woes, she’s still planning a 500-guest wedding in June - even though the jailed wiseguy is not expected to be present.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Colombo captain's gay daughter pleads for mercy during his sentencing

Donna Delucia (left) wrote a letter to Judge Kiyo Matsumoto asking for mercy on her father, Colombo capo Dennis Deluci (right), who is set to be sentenced for extortion. He could face 46 months in prison and his daughter fears he won't be able to see her son.

The openly gay daughter of Colombo gangster Dennis Delucia has outed her father as a supporter of same-sex marriage.

In a moving letter seeking mercy from the judge who will sentence him, Donna Delucia says her father is a family man in the truest sense.

“My dad was the one who told me he would love me no matter what I would do or tell him,” Donna Delucia wrote to Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.

“I finally came out at 22 years old. My mother did not handle it well and pushed me away .... I was scared, frightened and afraid of my dad’s reaction,” she continued in the letter filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

“My dad accepted me, embraced me and has supported me. His love and acceptance helped me through the rough times and growing pains.”

Dennis Delucia, 71, a reputed capo in the crime family, pleaded guilty last year to extortion and faces 46 months in prison. He admitted using a couple of extra-large goons who made him look like a “midget” to intimidate the operator of a rival gambling club in the Bronx.

She conceded her father is a “chauvinist” and recalled his “king of the castle” views that included prohibiting her brothers from cleaning off the dinner table because they were boys.

But after Donna fell in love with her partner and informed him they were planning to have a baby, the mobster cried.

“He made me so proud,” Donna wrote.

Delucia helped pay for Donna and her spouse to move from Philadelphia to New York where same-sex parents pass parental rights to their partner.

Today, they live in Kentucky, “far from the hype of Italian-Americans,” where they are raising their 9-year-old son.

“Please let him come home,” Donna begged the judge. “I want my son to spend long days with his grandfather. I want him to know my dad.”

Donna declined to discuss the letter with a reporter Thursday.

Rita Gigante, the daughter of legendary Genovese boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante revealed recently that she was gay in her autobiography “The Godfather's Daughter: An Unlikely Story of Love, Healing and Redemption.”

“For me, coming out was twofold with my dad,” Gigante told the Daily News. “I didn’t want to bring shame to him and I was worried about my soul going to hell since I was raised Catholic. It took a while for him to get past his traditional views, but ultimately, he was my father and he loved me and wanted me to be happy.”

Last year, the judge granted Delucia a furlough from the Metropolitan Detention Center to walk another daughter, Melissa, down the aisle at her wedding.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reformed Colombo captain to speak at mob museum in Las Vegas

As part of its commitment to educating the public about both sides of the battle between organized crime and law enforcement, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement has invited Colombo crime family Capo Michael Franzese to share his story in its historic courtroom from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Attendees will hear first-hand about his transformation from mob leader to motivational speaker, author and topic of the upcoming History 2 Channel special, "The Definitive Guide to the Mob."

Avoiding traditional mob domains, Franzese masterminded moneymaking scams on the edge of the legitimate business world. From auto dealerships and union kickbacks, to financial services and the sports and entertainment industries, to a multibillion-dollar gasoline tax scheme, he earned millions in cash every week at his peak. Not surprisingly, Franzese quickly became the target of Manhattan's famed federal prosecutor, Rudy Giuliani.

After promising Franzese 100 years behind bars after indicting him on racketeering charges, Giuliani proved unable to convict. Escaping four subsequent indictments, it seemed Franzese might be truly invincible.

Things changed, however, when Franzese met a dancer named Camille Garcia while producing a film in Florida. After the two fell in love and married, Garcia convinced him to take the rap on racketeering charges. Franzese pled guilty, accepted a 10-year prison sentence and vowed to walk away from the mob. Franzese is the only high ranking official of a major crime family to ever walk away, without protective custodies, and survive.

Tickets for Franzese's presentation are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. To make reservations, please call (702) 229-2734 or visit themobmuseum.org.

Florida murder trial postponed until the Fall

Gus Boulis
Trial is off until late summer in the 2001 mob-style slaying of the former owner of the Miami Subs restaurant chain and SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.
A defense attorney's required knee surgery led a Broward County judge on Monday to delay the trial of two men until Aug. 12. The trial had been scheduled to start next week.
Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was killed by a gunman who pulled alongside his car on a Fort Lauderdale street. Facing the death penalty if convicted are Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello and Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say Boulis was killed in a power struggle over SunCruz. Boulis had recently sold the business to former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a partner. They are not implicated in the murder.


Six people arrested for mortgage frauds in New England

The biggest transaction in the mortgage-fraud case involves Frederick Carrozza's 2006 sale of this house at 375 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, for $2.4 million, more than four times the listed price. 

Six people, including one described as a "close confidant" of ex-New England mob boss Raymond Patriarca, were indicted on multiple charges in connection with a series of mortgage frauds in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, state police announced.
Among the six charged was Frederick Carrozza Sr., of Coventry, whom state police said was a close friend of Patriarca when he ran New England organized crime.
The group is accused of using fraudulent information to get mortgages. Part of the case focuses on a 2006 sale by Carrozza of a Narragansett property for four times its listed price.
The Rhode Islanders facing charges were Verna Gauthier, of Providence, and Bryan Tobey, of East Providence. Massachusetts residents charged were Eugene O'Brien, of New Bedford, Kenneth Mollicone and Harlan Shabshelowitz, both of Somerset.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Prosecutors urge jury to convict Bobby Glasses of murder

dnp; nikhil;
A FEDERAL prosecutor urged jurors to "stand up" against fear of the Mafia and convict Gambino capo Bartolomeo Vernace of gunning down two men in a Queens bar more than 30 years ago.

During closing arguments Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Mace reminded the panel that bartender Patrick Sullivan had feared for his life but finally came forward to help the feds to make a murder-in-aid of racketeering case against the longtime gangster.

"Nothing short of terror reigns in a community when three men walk into a bar, shoot two men over a spilled drink then walk out and continue their lives," Mace said. "The defendant believed he could get away with murder."

Vernace's accomplices also beat the rap after witnesses, including Sullivan, recanted their identifications of the killers.

"The violence, the fear, the lies must stop," Mace said Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Defense lawyer Charles Carnesi labeled the feds' case a "do-over" because Vernace was previously acquitted of state murder charges.

Carnesi pounded away at inconsistencies in Sullivan's account of the April 1981 carnage in the Shamrock Bar on Jamaica Ave.

The government must prove that the murders of bar owners Richard Godkin and John D'Agnese helped Vernace climb the mob ladder from lowly associate to a spot on the Gambino family's ruling panel in 2011.

Carnesi argued that the mob doesn't condone "stupid" and "senseless" slayings of innocent people because it's "bad for business."


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gambino gangster who claims hes turned his life around gets off with just probation

A Gambino crime associate, who claims he’s a new man now thanks to Tony Soprano-style psychiatric treatment, got off with just probation Friday for racketeering and extortion.

Anthony Scibelli was a troubled mobster, given to fits of rage, screaming and name-dropping of powerful gangsters — bad conduct that could have landed him in prison for two years.

Gambino associate Anthony Scibelli leaving Brooklyn Federal Court after he was sentenced to no jail time for extortion

Prosecutors charged Scibelli was a “sidekick and subordinate” of Gambino soldier Vincent Dragonetti, but defense lawyer Gerald Shargel attributed his client’s anti-social behavior to a lifelong struggle with bipolar, anxiety and panic disorders.

But Scibelli, 42, said therapy and medication have turned his life around.

Now instead of hanging out with mobsters, he makes breakfast for his young children in the morning and puts them to bed at night, Scibelli said.

“I’m not the same person,” he said. “I would never allow myself to act like that anymore. I have cut off all connections to people (in the racketeering indictment).”

“I have become a better person,” Scibelli said. “Although I’m a work in progress, I would never go back.”

He even apologized to the Brooklyn development company Sitt Asset Management, against whom he pleaded guilty to extorting a $55,000 payment in a 2007 business dispute. He also extorted $10,000 on top of the money another contractor owed him, court papers say.

An informant had secretly taped Scibelli’s tough talk. “Does he (the person who crossed us) know what the f--k we are capable of?” Scibelli ranted, according to a transcript. “You don’t see the newspapers every day? What do they think, that this is make-believe?”

Scibelli also threatened to convene a sit-down with capo Nicholas Corozzo to settle the beef, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitman Knapp.

The judge could have given Scibelli up to two years in prison, but she expressed concern that incarceration would jeopardize the jobs of 200 employees at his firm.

Instead, she ordered him to continue his mental health treatment.


Gambino associate indicted for taking part in the last murder ordered by John Gotti

A reputed Gambino crime-family associate was charged yesterday with taking part in the last rubout believed ordered by the late mob boss John Gotti.

Ex-con Daniel Fama, 48, was allegedly part of the hit team that gunned down demolition contractor Edward Garofalo in August 1990 outside his home in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.

Fama’s murder indictment says Garofalo, known as “Eddie the Chink,” was killed to keep him from cooperating with authorities.

The Manhattan federal court filing also says that the slaying was orchestrated by Gotti henchman Salvatore “Sammy Bull” Gravano, who infamously turned rat and helped convict the “Dapper Don,” who later died in prison.

The feds wouldn’t reveal what new evidence prompted Fama’s indictment more than two decades after the fact.

BODY OF WORK: Cops (top) surround the corpse of Edward Garofalo, killed allegedly with the help of Daniel Fama on John Gotti’s orders.

But Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara noted, “Any attack against someone working with, or suspected of working with, law enforcement will be strongly answered, and no matter how long it takes we will bring alleged criminals to justice.”

Fama, who was busted Thursday evening, sported a clean-shaven head, a blue, V-neck Lacoste T-shirt and jeans during his arraignment yesterday.

He pleaded not guilty in a gravelly voice and agreed to remain in jail pending a bail application. He spent nearly 15 years in the slammer for racketeering before being sprung in 2009.

Defense lawyer Fred Sosinksy said Fama “turned his life around” after his prison stretch and is now part-owner of a quarry company.

“He’s been working hard,” Sosinksy said.

In 2011, Fama’s late mom, Barbara, appeared on the first season of the “I Married a Mobster” TV series, recounting how her husband, Gambino associate Joe Fama, started dealing heroin to pay off $1 million in gambling losses.

He then used drug money to treat his family to a lavish lifestyle “beyond anything I could have imagined,” she said.

But the couple was busted — along with four of their kids — when the feds raided their home in 1984, seizing 13 pounds of heroin, 2 1/2 pounds of cocaine, almost 100 pounds of pot and more than $3.4 million in cash.

Barbara was convicted of various crimes and imprisoned until 1992. She died last year.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

John Gotti's niece gets pulled as witness by defense in murder trial

dnp; nikhil;  
Gambino captain Bartolomeo Vernace is led out of 105th Precinct for transport to central booking in this News file. He is currently on trial for racketeering and murder.

Mafia princess Linda Gotti has been dumped for the second time as a star witness in the racketeering and murder trial of a reputed Gambino capo, the Daily News has learned.
Gotti was sent packing Tuesday from Brooklyn Federal Court by lawyers representing defendant Bartolomeo Vernace, who is on trial for racketeering and murder.
Linda, who apparently harbors some animosity toward the Gotti clan and had hoped that by testifying she could put that part of her life behind her, appeared overly interested in talking to the court, said a source familiar with her thinking.
Three weeks ago, federal prosecutors also had Gotti on standby in the courthouse, but decided against putting her on the stand after a bartender who witnessed the double murder testified and appeared to hit a home run for the government, sources said.
The late reputed mob boss John Gotti sits in New York state Supreme Court Jan. 20, 1990 listening to opening arguments in his trial. His niece, Linda Gotti, has been pulled from testifying against one of Gotti's former captains, Bartolomeo Vernace. 
More than three decades ago, Linda had also witnessed the fatal shooting of her boyfriend John D’Agnese, who was gunned down with co-owner Richard Godkin over a spilled drink in the Shamrock Bar.
But she later recanted her identifications of the killers.
Linda is the niece of the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti and the daughter of John’s brother, former boss Peter Gotti, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence.
Recently she told the feds that shortly after the murders, John Gotti’s wife, Victoria, had advised her that she did not have to testify if she did not want to, sources said.
She also claimed to have no knowledge of her father’s ties to the Mafia until the late 1980s, which seemed incredible, the source added.