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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Former Philadelphia mob lawyer dishes on representing turncoat underboss

"Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas - Only in America" by Oscar Goodman, with George Anastasia
"Being Oscar: From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas - Only in America" (Weinstein Books), by Philadelphia native Oscar Goodman, with former Inquirer staff writer George Anastasia, arrived in bookstores Tuesday. This is the second of of two excerpts.

Chapter Ten

The FBI and the New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Police had been building cases against the Philadelphia mob for a number of years, and it all came to a head in the mid-1980s. Two murder cases were pending in Philadelphia's Common Pleas Court, and a drug case and a racketeering case were pending in federal court. [Nicky Scarfo's lawyer] Bobby Simone and I got along very well during the Rouse extortion trial, and he asked me to get involved in the other cases.
[Nicky] Scarfo's nephew, a handsome young man named Philip Leonetti, was a co-defendant in three of those cases, and Bobby asked me to represent him. He was an easygoing man who was thirty-six at the time. I met his mother Nancy, who was Scarfo's sister. She was very nice, and I felt sorry for Philip. I thought he had been targeted in part because of who the feds said his uncle was.
Scarfo was portrayed in government motions as a psychopath. The media, naturally, ate it all up. You would think this was the second coming of Al Capone or the Philadelphia version of Murder, Inc. . . .
The [racketeering] case ended with all sixteen defendants, including Scarfo and Leonetti, being convicted. . . . To my amazement, Leonetti joined the choir shortly after he was sentenced. He turned into a rat and became a government witness in cases up and down the East Coast. Many in law enforcement circles say that he was the reason Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano turned. Leonetti was ready to testify about Gravano's involvement in a mob murder in Philadelphia.
I couldn't believe it when I heard that Leonetti had flipped. I really thought we had a chance on appeal to overturn his convictions. But I was informed that he was replacing me with another attorney, one who worked out his cooperating agreement. I couldn't believe that a guy with his reputation . . . would become a rat. I couldn't believe he was such a weakling. The first time he faced any kind of adversity, he turned on his family. And I don't mean crime family; he turned on his own uncle, his mother's brother, the man who had raised him after his father left. As far as I was concerned, the government made a deal with the devil.
They said Leonetti had committed ten murders. After testifying at a number of trials, he went in for a sentence reduction hearing. Instead of forty-five years, his sentence was reduced to five years, five months, and five days, which was the time he had served when the hearing was held. He walked out of the courtroom and into the Witness Protection Program. Five years for ten murders? Not a bad deal.
I love Philadelphia. It's a great city. And going back there to try all those cases was a wonderful experience. I only wished my father had still been alive so that he could have come to court and watch me practice law. I think he would have been proud of me, and that makes me feel good.
The only sour taste I have from the whole experience was Leonetti. I don't represent rats, and I think he's a liar. I know he lied about me after he began cooperating, claiming that he had paid me thousands of dollars in cash and implying that I had taken the money under the table and had not declared it as income. Any payment I ever received for those Philadelphia trials came in the form of a check written by Bobby Simone, Scarfo's lawyer.
Don't get me wrong - I was paid well. And while we're on the subject, let me point out that I always charged a flat fee. I'd quote a price to a client based on what I thought was involved, how much time, how much research, how complicated the issues in the case were. Other lawyers might charge by the hour, but that wasn't the way I did it.
It usually worked out fine. If, for some reason, a case settled quickly or a trial took less time and effort than I had anticipated, I made out really well. On the other hand, I once quoted a client a fee for what I thought was going to be a six-week trial. I hadn't factored in that this was one of the judge's first cases. He was a "virgin" and was feeling his way along. The trial lasted six months.
I never gave a fee back if a case wrapped up quickly, and in this instance, I never asked for more money. I just had to take my losses. That's the economics of practicing criminal law. Overall I did very well and, as a result, my family and I lived very well.
I was a high-profile criminal defense attorney, a go-to guy in a world that people wrote books and movies about. It was a heady experience and I loved almost every minute of it. The strategy, the battles, the clash of wit - all were an adrenaline rush. I loved being center stage and that's what a courtroom was. The stakes were high, and that made it all the more exciting. . . .
But at the same time, I don't want to glamorize organized crime figures. The criminal underworld can be a dark, uncaring, and inhumane place. Some of my clients lived and died there. But when I could, I tried to look at my clients from a different perspective.
First, under the law they were entitled to legal representation, and I was going to give them that. Second - and not everyone might agree with this - they lived by a certain morality that you and I might not be a part of. But I respected the fact that they had a code.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Early morning raid nets over twenty Montreal mobsters

Police swept up at least 25 people in and around Montreal early Wednesday in a drug bust targeting members of the city’s Mafia.

As early as 4:30 a.m., dozens of cops descended on homes in east-end Montreal, Laval and Terrebonne, arresting at least 20 people and executing about 40 search warrants. Police say the raid has dismantled a cocaine-trafficking network that operated out of Italian cafés in St-Leonard alongside establishments in Montreal North and Anjou.

The raids continued as of 8:30 a.m., with more arrests expected before noon Wednesday.

Reports from La Presse suggest the arrests are linked to the associates of alleged mobster Raynald Desjardins, the former right-hand man of mobster Vito Rizutto. The investigation, dubbed operation Argot, is spearheaded by the Montreal police. Argot targets cocaine and marijuana distribution rings and involves officers from the Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP.

“Right now I can confirm that this was mainly the Italian mob but there could be other gangs involved,” said Sgt. Jean-Bruno Latour of Montreal police. “It’s still early, we’ll have a lot more to report later in the day.”

Police have centred their efforts on an apartment building in Anjou believed to be the network’s stash house. Montreal’s SWAT team was on hand for the search and seizure in the Jean Latour St. building.

Montreal’s mob has been embroiled in a violent power struggle for the past several years, causing bloodshed at the highest levels of the city’s organized crime. It’s believed that street gangs in the city’s north end have been enlisted to carry out several killings on behalf of rival mob factions, with several street gang leaders themselves being caught in the crossfire.

Last week, four men believed to be associated with the Bo-Gars gang were arrested in connection with the shooting death of Gaétan Gosselin, a business associate of Desjardins.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Would be Al-Qaeda NYC subway bomber sent to same prison as Vinny Gorgeous

Subway plotter Adis Medunjanin will be imprisoned with the worst of the worst. The 2009 attack, planned to coincide with the Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary, was disrupted days before its execution.  
Subway plotter Adis Medunjanin will be imprisoned with the worst of the worst. The 2009 attack, planned to coincide with the Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary, was disrupted days before its execution.

The newest resident in Colorado’s bombers row is an Al Qaeda-trained terrorist who hoped to blow up a New York subway station, the Daily News has learned.
Adis Medunjanin, once of Queens, joins a rogues’ gallery of criminals as he serves his life sentence in the Florence supermax — the last stop for the nation’s most dangerous evildoers.

Guard towers at the maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., which a former warden dubbed a 'cleaner version of hell.' Inmates live in near-total isolation, locked down 23 hours a day in a 7-by-11-foot cell. There is no physical contact with other inmates, and communication is closely monitored. 
Guard towers at the maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., which a former warden dubbed a 'cleaner version of hell.' Inmates live in near-total isolation, locked down 23 hours a day in a 7-by-11-foot cell. There is no physical contact with other inmates, and communication is closely monitored. 
Eric Rudolph, the 1996 Olympics bomber, is there, as is Faisal Shahzad, who in 2010 planted a homemade bomb in an SUV parked in Times Square.
Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, too, will live out his life in the maximum-security federal jail, which a former warden dubbed a “cleaner version of hell.”

Eric Rudolph bombed the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. 
Eric Rudolph bombed the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. 
There’s also Bonnano crime boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who planned to kill a federal judge and prosecutor; 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef; and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
They are each locked down 23 hours a day in a 7-by-11-foot cell that features a sink, bunk and shower made of immovable poured concrete.

Zacarias Moussaoui was the so-called 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 
Zacarias Moussaoui was the so-called 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 
They eat their meals in the cement tomb, which has a small window with a view only of the sky. There is no physical contact with other inmates, and their communications are closely monitored.
Medunjanin is only 29, so he’ll be in almost total isolation for decades.

Ted J. Kaczynski aka 'The Unabomber' went on a bombing spree killing 3 and injuring 23. 
Ted J. Kaczynski aka 'The Unabomber' went on a bombing spree killing 3 and injuring 23. 
Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson had recommended to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that Medunjanin be placed in a penitentiary “as close as possible” to New York so his “loving family” could visit him more easily.
But the Bureau of Prisons didn’t agree.

In 2010, Faisal Shahzad planted a homemade bomb in an SUV parked in Times Square. 
In 2010, Faisal Shahzad planted a homemade bomb in an SUV parked in Times Square. 
“Putting him there is their decision,” Medunjanin’s lawyer Robert Gottlieb told The News.
“We are very disappointed,” Gottlieb added. “There is no reason to throw him away without the ability to communicate with his attorneys. He is absolutely not a threat while he is in prison.”

Richard C. Reid attempted to ignite explosives in his sneakers aboard an American Airlines flight. 
Richard C. Reid attempted to ignite explosives in his sneakers aboard an American Airlines flight.
According to the Bureau of Prisons policy manual, the level of security that an inmate requires is determined by a number of factors, including the severity of the crime, length of sentence and the danger he may pose to other inmates, prison staff or the public.
Medunjanin was convicted of participating in a scheme with two pals from Flushing High School to join the Taliban so they could kill servicemen in Afghanistan. But as their plans evolved, the radicalized trio traveled to Pakistan, where all three were recruited by Al Qaeda, received paramilitary training and got assigned to carry out the subway bombing.
The attack was days from being carried out — potentially killing scores of innocent straphangers during the week of the Sept. 11 anniversary in 2009 — before the FBI and NYPD interrupted the plot.
Attorney General Eric Holder called the plot the most serious terrorist threat against New York City since 9/11.
Medunjanin’s co-conspirators, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, testified against their fellow jihadist. They have not been sentenced.
Not every terrorist gets a one-way ticket to the Colorado supermax. Shahawar Matin Siraj of Brooklyn, who was convicted of plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station, is doing time in upstate Otisville, while four men nabbed for plotting to blow up fuel lines at Kennedy Airport are also scattered in other federal prisons.
Medunjanin may have helped the Bureau of Prisons make its decision with his bizarre behavior at sentencing last November in Brooklyn Federal Court, when he ranted about the abuse of detainees at notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He also declined to express remorse, choosing instead to recite verses from the Koran, condemn the U.S. and ask Allah “to release me from prison.”
He claimed to the end he was innocent.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Girlfriend of lawyer linked to the Philadelphia mob found dead in bathtub

Julia Law began working for A. Charles Peruto Jr.’s Philadelphia law firm in July 2011 as a paralegal. According to reports, the two were dating.
Julia Law began working for A. Charles Peruto Jr.’s Philadelphia law firm in July 2011 as a paralegal. According to reports, the two were dating.
The body of a 26-year-old paralegal was discovered Saturday in the Philadelphia home of a prominent criminal defense attorney.
The victim — identified as Julia Law — was found naked and face down in the bathtub inside of lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr.’s Center City condo, reported CBS affiliate KYW-TV.
Sources said Peruto, 58, was in Avalon on the Jersey Shore when Law's body was found around 10 a.m. Peruto and the beautiful brunette were dating, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A maintenance man discovered Law in a third-floor bathroom.
Criminal defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. wasn’t home Saturday morning when Law’s body was found, according to reports.
Criminal defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. wasn’t home Saturday morning when Law’s body was found, according to reports.
“The first thing I did was call 911 and police showed up. I then went to homicide to give my accounts of what happened,” the unidentified man told NBC affiliate WCAU-TV.
The Medical Examiner’s Office was set to perform an autopsy Saturday night. A spokesman declined to comment Sunday.

Philadelphia police couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Police interviewed Peruto and weren’t investigating Law’s death as suspicious, according to reports.
Police interviewed Peruto and weren’t investigating Law’s death as suspicious, according to reports.
Since the exact cause of death wasn’t known Saturday, homicide detectives interviewed Peruto, sources told The Inquirer. He is not considered a suspect.
Law began working as a paralgegal at Peruto’s office in July 2011 after graduating from Drexel University, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Peruto has gained notoriety defending mobsters, including Joey Merlino and Nicodemo Scarfo.
“As can be seen on this website under ‘Past Cases,’ he has been called a ‘ferocious cross examiner,’ ‘gives a supreme closing argument to a Jury’, and ‘very entertaining on an otherwise boring case,’” touts Peruto’s website.
The audacious attorney also represented his friend, former Philadelphia TV weatherman John Bolaris, who claimed two beautiful Eastern European “bar girls” drugged him during a trip to Miami in 2010 and stole tens of thousands of dollars.


Actors from The Sopranos reunite for Nicky Deuce

 Steve Schirripa (l.) and Noah Munck star in Nickelodeon’s “Nicky Deuce,” based on Schirripa’s novel. Photo by Mar Vista Entertainment
Steve Schirripa (l.) and Noah Munck star in Nickelodeon’s “Nicky Deuce,” based on Schirripa’s novel.
Steve Schirripa owes everything to Brooklyn.
Whether he’s writing about his real-life role of raising two daughters or portraying the world’s most tranquil dad on ABC’s “The Secret Life of an American Teenager,” a mobster on “The Sopranos” or an uncle to a geeky kid visiting Brooklyn in Nickelodeon’s “Nicky Deuce,” Schirripa plays it all by old-fashioned Brooklyn rules.
“Look, I’m just a regular guy from Brooklyn with some strong ideas on things and some stories to tell,” says Schirripa, a Brooklyn College communications graduate.
He sure is.
The best-selling author of “A Goomba’s Guide to Life,” who rose to fame as Bobby Bacala in “The Sopranos,” has a new nonfiction book out called “Big Daddy’s Rules: Raising Daughters Is Tougher Than I Look,” in which he tears into modern child rearing.
When you talk to Schirripa, the dad of daughters who are 17 and 21, he sounds just like his book.
“Look, I don’t buy this idea that my daughters are my best friends,” he says. “No, they’re not. They’re my kids. And what I say goes because I know what’s best for them. No other guy on this planet or in cyberspace is ever gonna love them more than me. No boyfriend, no Facebook friend, no husband. Me, I’m their father, and I’ll love them and be there for them for life.”
Schirripa wants his kids to be confident enough to try almost anything. But he sets limits.
“I’m not one of these parents who wanna be so down with their kids that they buy them a keg of beer for a Sweet 16 party,” says Schirripa. “My kids do what I say. If they back-talk and ask, ‘Why?’ my answer is simple: ‘Because I said so!’ That’s the most underrated sentence in a dad’s vocabulary.”
Schirripa (l.) got pals (from l.) James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli and Tony Sirico to appear in “Nicky Deuce.”
Schirripa (l.) got pals (from l.) James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli and Tony Sirico to appear in “Nicky Deuce.”
On Monday night, “Nicky Deuce” — based on Schirripa’s novel — premieres on Nickelodeon. Daily News TV critic David Hinckley gave it four stars.
“It took me six years to get this movie made,” says Schirripa. “It’s set in the present, but it’s really based on the Brooklyn of my childhood in the ’60s and ’70s.”
Schirripa, who now lives in lower Manhattan, says that there is never going to be a “Sopranos” movie or sequel.
“‘Nicky Deuce’ is the closest thing to a ‘Sopranos’ cast reunion you’ll ever see,” he says. “A bunch of the old gang was gracious enough to be in my movie, including Jimmy Gandolfni, Tony Sirico, Mike Imperioli and Vince Curatola. And me. We’re all in it. We had a blast making it. Like old times.”
The story is about Nicky Borelli (Noah Munck), a sheltered suburban teen who gets sent by his father to stay with his brother, Uncle Frankie (Schirripa) in Bensonhurst for the summer.
Uncle Frankie starts showing Nicky Deuce the Brooklyn ropes, introducing him to neighborhood goombas played by the noted “Sopranos” actors, learning vital street smarts as the story blossoms into a coming of age romance on the stoops and streets of a nearly vanished Brooklyn.
“It’s meant to be good family fun with lots of Brooklyn laughs,” says Schirripa. “We even re-created all the old Bath Ave. storefronts of the long-gone mom-and-pop shops of my youth. Walking onto the set was like entering a nostalgic time warp for me. This was important because the movie is more than a few laughs. It’s also about something. Something we’ve lost. A sense of living by a code of honor and respect that I learned in that Brooklyn as a kid. The same values that influence my writing and acting career and my most important role in life as a father.”
Schirripa has a simple goal as a parent.
“In the end, all I want my girls to be are good people and to be safe,” he says. “If I succeed at that, then I succeeded as a father. I want my kids to be good people and to be safe. That’s all I want for Father’s Day, which for me is every day.”
With Brooklyn rules.


Friday, May 24, 2013

John Gotti's widow Victoria limited by paralysis after third stroke

Victoria Gotti exits Manhattan Federal Court following her son John Gotti Jr.'s retrial at Manhattan Federal Court. The jury is in deliberations as John Gotti Jr. is charged with racketeering and plotting the 1992 attack on Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, who was abducted and shot by two members of the Gambino Crime Family. 
Victoria Gotti exits Manhattan Federal Court following her son John Gotti Jr.'s retrial at Manhattan Federal Court in March 2007. She has now suffered three strokes since that year.

Victoria Gotti’s latest stroke has left her with some paralysis and difficulty speaking, but her family is hopeful she will make a full recovery after physical therapy, sources said.
The widow of Gambino boss John "Dapper Don" Gotti suffered her third stroke since 2006 last week at her longtime home in Howard Beach, Queens, and was taken to the hospital by her son Peter.

Officials said there was no record of a 911 call requesting a city Emergency Medical Service ambulance.
Gotti, 70, will be transferred to a rehab facility for treatment in the next few days, sources said. “It’s not life-threatening,” a source said.


Informant claims jailed Colombo boss is innocent of murder conspiracy as sentencing is postponed

Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli has beat the rap for eight gangland murders and new information could possibly clear him of his ninth.
Colombo boss Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli may be getting another shot at beating a murder rap.
Gioeli’s sentencing next week on racketeering charges has been postponed indefinitely after federal prosecutors informed Brooklyn Judge Brian Cogan that new information has surfaced implicating someone other than Gioeli in a 1991 murder conspiracy he was convicted of last year.

The judge has ordered both sides to appear in his courtroom May 28 to figure out the next move, sources said.
Gioeli had beat the rap for eight gangland murders, but the jury convicted him of conspiracy in the killing of Frank "Chestnut" Marasa.

Although he dodged a life sentence, Gioeli still faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.
After the stunning verdict, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration snitch secretly recorded a conversation with someone claiming that Gioeli was not involved in the Marasa hit after all, sources said.

Shockingly, the information was not passed on to the FBI or the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's office until recently, sources said.
"The whole thing stinks," one source said.

Gioeli could ask the judge to throw out the verdict and seek a new trial or demand that he be released on bail while defense lawyers and the government hash out the fiasco.
The revelation does not appear to affect Gioeli's co-defendant Dino Saracino who was not involved in Marasa's murder.

"We have always maintained he (Gioeli) is innocent of all the charges," defense lawyer Adam Perlmutter told The Daily News.
If the alternate theory is proven true which it hasn't yet it could call into question the testimony of star witness Dino Calabro who ratted about Gioeli's role in the murder.
"Tommy always said, 'Shoot him in the body first. Then walk up and cap him,'” Calabro said.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rizzuto associate pleads guilty to massive drug traffickiing conspiracy

A New York based mobster has pleaded guilty in an American court to taking part in a massive drug trafficking conspiracy that has deep ties to Montreal.
According to a statement issued Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Alessandro Taloni, described by authorities as an alleged “associate of the Rizzuto organized crime family,” entered the plea in a courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. He admitted to trafficking in more than 80 kilograms of cocaine and laundering millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds.
As part of the plea agreement, Taloni is expected to forfeit more than $2 million when sentenced and faces a prison term of at least 10 years. The charges brought against Taloni are part of a case that involves several men from the Montreal area, including alleged ring leader Jimmy Cournoyer, who is expected to have his trial in New York soon. Cournoyer, who is detained in the U.S., grew up in the Laurentians and lived north of Montreal while investigated. He has generated many headlines in the Big Apple for his lavish lifestyle and ties to many celebrities. When he was arrested, he was found to be in possession of a telephone number for Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of the Mafia in Montreal, as well as several other major organized crime figures in Montreal.
“Taloni was charged with narcotics and money laundering offences as a part of an indictment in which 10 members of a Montreal-based drug distribution organization affiliated with the Rizzuto and Bonanno crime families, the Hells Angels, and the (Mexican-based) Sinaloa Cartel have been charged with trafficking over $1 billion worth of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy into the United States between 1998 and 2012,” the attorney’s office said through the statement.
The attorney’s office credited several police forces for the investigation, including the Laval police.
Taloni, part of the Bonanno crime family, was alleged to have acted as Cournoyer’s distributor in the U.S. and “was personally sent from Montreal to Los Angeles to receive those drug proceeds (from the sale of marijuana) and to purchase cocaine from the Mexican sources.”
Police seized approximately $1 million and 49 kilograms of cocaine found during searches of Taloni’s Mercedes-Benz, his residence in Beverly Hills and a stash house in the same city in California.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

John Gotti's wife Victoria hospitalized after suffering stroke

 A smiling Victoria Gotti says "Is this for Playboy Magazine" as she leaves her home in Howard Beach this afternoon.
A smiling Victoria Gotti says "Is this for Playboy Magazine" as she leaves her home in Howard Beach this afternoon.

MOB MATRIARCH Victoria Gotti has been hospitalized after suffering her third stroke since 2006.
Gotti, 70, was stricken last week and her four children — Angel, Victoria, John "Junior" and Peter — are requesting privacy about her medical condition, a source told the Daily News.
The stroke was very serious, another source said.

She underwent surgery in March 2007 to treat a blockage found in her brain after suffering a second stroke.
Victoria Gotti, mother of John A. Gotti Jr., has been hospitalized. 
Victoria Gotti, mother of John A. Gotti Jr., has been hospitalized. 
The feisty widow of John "Dapper Don" Gotti still resides in a modest Howard Beach, Queens, home where she and the late Gambino boss raised their brood.
In March, she was ready to take the witness stand in Brooklyn Federal Court if necessary to shred claims by her niece Linda Gotti that Victoria had advised her that she did not have to cooperate with authorities about a 1981 double slaying at a Queens bar.

“It never, never happened. I never ever had any conversation with her in regard to this tragic situation,” Victoria Gotti told The News.
In the end, Linda Gotti was not called as a witness in the murder trial of capo Bartolomeo Vernace who was convicted of the murders.
ADVANCE FOR FRIDAY, NOV. 24--Reputed mob boss John Gotti sits in New York state Supreme Court in New York, in this Jan. 20, 1990, file photo, listening to opening arguments in his trial. In the new millennium, colorful mob trials are disappearing, much like the mob families whose members once filled dockets around the country.  
Reputed mob boss John Gotti sits in New York state Supreme Court in New York, in this Jan. 20, 1990, file photo, listening to opening arguments in his trial. In the new millennium, colorful mob trials are disappearing, much like the mob families whose members once filled dockets around the country.  
Daughter Victoria Gotti could not be reached Wednesday.

Film producer Marc Fiore, the force behind a much-delayed biopic based on the story of Junior Gotti, told The News that he is not a spokesman for the Gottis and declined comment.
“This is a personal family crisis,” Fiore said.
If filming of “Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father” gets under way this fall, actress Kelly Preston is slated to play the role of Victoria alongside John Travolta as the crime lord in the mob film.
Victoria has led a very private life in recent years, keeping busy as a painter and voracious news junkie, but she is always ready to defend her son.
In 2006, she told The News she felt “betrayed” by her husband when she learned her son was in the mob.
“I pretty much raised my children alone with Johnny being away for years at a time, so it broke my heart. I felt betrayed, the worst betrayal. I would rather have dealt with other women.”


Monday, May 20, 2013

Robert DeNiro set to play infamous New Orleans mob boss in new movie

Robert De Niro is in talks to join David O Russell's conspiracy thriller, Legacy Of Secrecy.

The Oscar-winning star is tipped to play Mafia kingpin Carlos Marcello in the big-screen adaptation of Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann's book of the same name, reported Showbiz411.com.

Leonardo DiCaprio is already on board to produce the film (through his Appian Way company) and star as FBI informant Jack Van Laningham. He becomes the confidant of Robert's character in a secret undercover operation, leading to his confession about ordering the assassination of then US President John F Kennedy.

Jack Van Laningham's son Craig also revealed at the Cannes Film Festival that David is attached to write and direct the movie.

David has already reunited with De Niro's Silver Linings Playbook co-stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence for his next film American Hustle, which is filming in Boston.

He is also considering taking the reins on drama The Ends Of The Earth with Jennifer.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Iceman movie review

In “The Iceman” Michael Shannon’s mesmerizing portrayal of Richard Kuklinski, a notorious contract killer, has the paradoxical quality, peculiar to many great screen performances, of being unreadable and transparent. You can’t really see through Richard, whose pale-blue eyes take in the world from a face as expressionless as a sphinx. But in its tiniest tremors you can sense explosive forces roiling below the mask and grasp the duality with a visceral feeling of dread. It is a performance that has the same life-or-death gravity Mr. Shannon brought to the role of a man driven half-mad by apocalyptic portents in “Take Shelter.”
Richard operates in the treacherous milieu of Tony Soprano, but in an earlier era: the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He is a seething loner, and although not as bright, sociable or complicated as James Gandolfini’s Tony, the two have one crucial similarity: Both are fiercely devoted family men who go to great lengths to shield their loved ones from the dirty reality of their work. Richard is so secretive that late in the movie when mobsters pay him an unannounced house call, he is dismayed to discover that they know the exact location of his home in suburban New Jersey.
Where “The Sopranos” and its close cinematic equivalent, “Goodfellas,” are warmblooded explorations of violent men bonding, “The Iceman,” directed by Ariel Vromen from a screenplay he wrote with Morgan Land, is as cold as the nickname of its title character. Its story is based on Anthony Bruno’s novel, “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer,” and the 1992 HBO documentary, “The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer.”
The real-life Kuklinski claimed to have committed his first murder as a young teenager. He was convicted of many contract killings for various New York-area crime organizations in 1988. He died in 2006. Estimates of the number of his victims range from 100 to 250. The movie was shot in Shreveport, La., which convincingly doubles for New York and New Jersey.
Richard is bootlegging pornographic movies for the Mafia when he marries Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder), whom he meets in the early 1960s and woos by telling her she “is prettier than Natalie Wood.” She thinks that he makes his living dubbing Disney cartoons.
The first sign of his terrifying possessiveness and rage is his murder of a bar patron who makes a crude remark about Deborah. Playing a slavishly devoted wife who refuses to face the truth even when it stares her in the face, Ms. Ryder gives her deepest screen performance in years.
Richard’s opportunities expand when Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), a crime lord flanked by two minions, Josh Rosenthal (David Schwimmer) and Mickey Scicoli (John Ventimiglia), visits his shabby studio and threatens his life for being late on a delivery. Impressed by Richard’s composure with a gun pointed at him, Roy enlists him as his personal hit man. Richard’s fortunes quickly rise (he tells Deborah he is working on Wall Street), and the Kuklinskis move to a comfortable home in the suburbs and have two daughters.
When mob politics interrupt the relationship with Roy, Richard teams up with another contract killer, Robert Pronge, a k a Mr. Freezy (an unrecognizable Chris Evans), who drives an ice cream truck and freezes the bodies of his victims before disposing of them. The two experiment with using cyanide spray as an undetectable murder weapon inside a nightclub. Roy ultimately discovers that Richard is working without his permission and comes calling.
“The Iceman” knows what it is and what it’s not. It doesn’t strive for the operatic grandeur of the “Godfather” movies or for the tragicomic flair of Martin Scorsese’s mobster movies. Its bleak, ominous atmosphere derives from its central character. The movie’s cool desaturated color lends it the look and feel of a television documentary, but there is a difference. Bobby Bukowski’s cinematography and Nathan Amondson’s production design sustain a look of deep grunge in which the characters are almost swallowed up in darkness.
Cameo performances from Stephen Dorff as Richard’s violent brother Joey, incarcerated in a New Jersey prison, and James Franco as one of Richard’s victims illuminate this extremely well-acted film like struck matches. The scene in which Richard visits Joey and they both explode with murderous rage triggers a flashback of a vicious childhood beating. When Mr. Franco’s doomed character prays to God to save his life, Richard cruelly grants him a half-hour grace period for God to intervene.
If the narrow biographical focus of “The Iceman” prevents it from being a great crime movie, on its own more modest terms it is an indelible film that clinches Mr. Shannon’s status as a major screen actor. 


Captain America director will helm new Gotti movie

About a year and a half ago, a developing biopic about Gambino crime family head John Gotti Sr. was developing with John Travolta playing the mob mastermind nicknamed the "Dapper Don." Nick Cassavetes was once directing, but ended up being replaced with Barry Levinson, and names like Al Pacino, Ben Foster, Chazz Palminteri and even Lindsay Lohan (who later fell away) were circling roles. But the film hit a wall when financing fell through in October of 2011, and the film was dead in the water. Now THR reports the project is back with Travolta still attached and Joe Johnston in the director's chair. Read on!
The film has been called Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father and Gotti: Three Generations, but now has been simplified to just Gotti with producer Marc Fiore still involved along with Radar Pictures' Ted Field and Relativity Media handling U.S. distribution. Last we heard, the film followed three generations of the Gotti family with an emphasis on the relationship between Gotti Sr. and his son, who chooses to turn his back on the mob code he grew up around. Regarding his inheritance of the project, Johnston says:
"I think we’ve always been fascinated with the idea of the romantic outlaw. John Gotti could be in one instance a charismatic, kind and loving family man, and in another, deadly to his enemies. The opportunity to tell the true story of Gotti with John Travolta is a director’s dream.”
Travolta has long wanted to make this film a reality, and it sounds like his patience has paid off. The actor says, "I'm looking forward to portraying John Gotti -- it's been a long time coming. And I think that Johnson is an exciting and fresh addition to the vision of the film. We are all looking forward to starting production." Maybe Johnston and Travolta's work together can result in an awards worthy drama, even after the debacle the film went through before. It's an interesting choice for Johnston coming off Captain America: The First Avenger and The Wolfman before that. But will any of the previously announced talent get rounded back up, or will a whole new cast be put together? Stay tuned.


Boston marathon bombing suspect being housed with infamous 100 year old Colombo mobster

The federal prison holding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has a haunted history and a colorful cast of alumni — including a mobster nearing age 100, a disgraced hedge fund whiz and a man described by prosecutors as a jihadi who trained with a paintball gun.
Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the attack on the Boston Marathon, was moved Friday from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to the Federal Medical Center Devens, nestled in pleasant woods about 40 miles outside the city.
“There are a lot of heavy hitters in there,” said Lee Siegfried, a former DJ best known as the “Crazy Cabbie” character on Howard Stern’s radio show, who spent five months there in 2006 on a tax-related rap.
“You have cartel guys, serious gang members, mob guys. And a large concentration of pedophiles. I would sit in the yard and guys would tell me, ‘See that guy? He’s here on 55 counts of sodomy involving children.’”
The facility is specially designed for inmates who need medical care. Tsarnaev has gunshot wounds to the neck, leg and hand, and during his first hospital interrogation he was still so badly injured he could only communicate by writing and shaking his head.
Devens also has a dialysis machine — a requirement for its most infamous inmate, former high-flying Wall Street trader Raj Rajaratnam, who has a bad kidney. He was sentenced to 11 years after an insider trading conviction.
“As far as federal prison facilities, it’s not a bad place,” said Cheri Nolan, a former deputy assistant attorney general who is managing director of Federal Prison Consultants, which works with defense lawyers on prison assignments and other matters.
Devens Federal Medical Center is seen in Devens, Mass., in 2011.
The prison handles maximum-security inmates and has a high population of sex offenders, she said. Nolan said Tsarnaev might wind up in the Segregated Housing Unit, which houses troublemaking inmates or those who need special protection.
In that unit, inmates are under close supervision 23 hours a day, and food is passed through a slot in the door, Nolan said. The remaining hour is recreation time, she said, but even then the inmates are only allowed to walk around in a secure yard.
“He won’t see anybody,” Siegfried said. “He’ll be given his one hour when no one else is given theirs. ... I call them puppy kennels because it’s literally what you would keep dogs outside in. It’s an 8-by-10-foot cage with a chain-link fence that’s high and tall, and they let you walk around and get some fresh air.”
Among Tsarnaev’s other neighbors at Devens is a 96-year-old gangster and onetime pal of Frank Sinatra named John Franzese, known as Sonny, who was convicted three years ago of shaking down strip clubs and a pizza parlor.
Franzese was found guilty after his own son testified against him at trial while he struggled to stay awake. He is scheduled for release in 2017, a few months after his 100th birthday.
“I remember meeting some mafiosos,” said Robert Walsh, a former school superintended who did a year at Devens on an embezzlement charge before he was released in May 2010. At recreation time, he said, “You have the Boston mafia on one end and the New York guys on the other end. Everybody kind of sticks to themselves. I didn’t feel unsafe.”
In all, Devens has about 1,200 inmates — 1,055 in its medical facility and 127 in a camp for mostly minimum-security inmates, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman said.
A lawyer who has had clients do time at Devens told The Hartford Courant in 2005 that the prison has an outdoor basketball court. Woodworking, leather work and other crafts are popular, the lawyer told the newspaper.
It is unlikely Tsarnaev will enjoy any of those pursuits. Legal experts have said his interaction with other prisoners and the outside world will probably be sharply restricted.
Stephen Huggard, a former Boston federal prosecutor who worked on the Sept. 11 investigation, said that even Tsarnaev’s parents, who are in Russia and say the brothers were framed, may not be allowed to visit.
For more ordinary inmates, softball is big in the spring and summer, and the commissary offers candy, soup, coffee and chocolate, according to Prison Talk, a message board where past and future inmates swap reviews. Siegfried described the meals as well-balanced but not tasty, “like bad school lunch.”
Work detail includes landscaping, kitchen patrol and housekeeping, the reviews say, and the inmates pass time playing hearts or chess, except for around the holidays, when the prison sponsors a bingo game — top prizes are Gatorade and snacks.
The prison is positioned on an Army base that was decommissioned in 1996. It opened as Camp Devens in the last days of World War I, when 112 landowners sold farmland along the Nashua River to the federal government.
Deep in its history is one of the darker episodes in modern medicine: Camp Devens was a hot zone for the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed tens of millions of people around the world.
An account from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health paints a ghastly picture — piled-up corpses, cots spilling into hallways and onto porches, men with skin turned deep blue from oxygen deprivation.
These days, the town of Devens invites retirees and people who want to get away from the noise of Boston. Some live in old Army officer quarters. Bristol-Myers Squibb, the drug company, just built a plant nearby.
“For people closer to Boston, this is like the middle of nowhere,” said Kara Fossey, executive director of the Fort Devens Museum. “I don’t know if you’d call it rural. But there’s a lake. There are woods and trails.”
Among other inmates at Devens is Sabri Benkahla, who is serving 10 years for lying to authorities about training with militants in Pakistan. Benkahla was accused of being part of an American group that trained with paintball guns. He is scheduled for release in 2016.
Roger Stockham, a Southern California man who was accused in January 2011 of plotting to blow up a mosque outside Detroit, served at Devens and was released late last year. His long criminal history includes holding a psychiatrist hostage, kidnapping his son, trying to hijack a plane and threatening to kill the president.
Regular inmates at Devens have a fairly structured life — breakfast, then a wait in the pill line for those who need medicine, then their jobs, then any classes or programs in which they are enrolled, Nolan said. The ordinary inmates receive visitors.
“The staff there is known as being professional, very business-like,” she said. “It’s known as being one of the better-run institutions.”


Drita D'Avanzo from Mob Wives opens new Staten Island cosmetics business

Just Me Cosmetics by Mob Wives' Drita D' D'Avanzo
Using fame, industry experience and "connections" to top make-up artists in television and film, Drita D'Avanzo of VH1's "Mob Wives" has opened a storefront in West Brighton for her Just Me Cosmetics line.
Having always dreamed of being an entrepreneur, Ms. D'Avanzo, a former model, developed her own make-up line, and recently opened an approximately 500-square-foot Forest Avenue storefront decorated in nothing but old Hollywood glam.
Flashy red walls provide the backdrop to the black leather-clad make-up/hair stations.
And there's no mistaking this shop for anything other than one owned by a "Mob Wives" cast member -- Ms. D'Avanzo's stylists and make-up artists wear black T-shirts that say "Drita's Mob," and there are baseball caps for sale with "Lady Boss" inscribed on them.
"When I was modeling, I used to see how the make-up artists made me look, and I loved it. When I started doing make-up, I had a knack for it," Ms. D'Avanzo said.
"So if I didn't get the modeling job, I got the job as the make-up artist."
Later, Ms. D'Avanzo worked at make-up counters in high-end department stores.
There, she hand-picked all her favorite products -- many of which inspired items that are now part of her Just Me Cosmetics line.
"I loved Armani foundation, so I have something in my make-up line so similar to that. I wear it on the show, the girls (other "Mob Wives" cast members) wear it, too, and it's $20 less," she said, noting her new storefront is conveniently located across the street from fellow cast member Big Ang's bar, the Drunken Monkey.
"I make high-end products that are affordable."
Viewers of the hit reality show were privy to seeing Ms. D'Avanzo's new business endeavor go from idea to reality as it played out on the last season of "Mob Wives."
"I did everything from scratch, from the website to my cosmetics. I never hired anyone to do anything. When you're famous and on television you can easily slap your name on a product that you never even tried, but that's so not the case for me," she said.
Just Me Cosmetics 1224 Forest Ave.
Staten Island, N.Y., 10310

March, 2013
718-689-2733 or

Products and services
Just Me Cosmetics provides one-stop-shopping for high-end makeup products and makeovers.
In addition to selling a full line of Ms. D'Avanzo's own lipsticks, lip glosses, foundations, eye shadows, skin care and more, professional make-up artists and stylists -- many of whom work on the set of "Mob Wives" -- are available via appointment.
Ms. D'Avanzo also offers hair extension products and applications.
The store is set up to showcase Ms. D'Avanzo's makeup line, along with an array of her favorite fashion accessories and jewelry pieces, most of which are replicas of designer jewels worn by her on "Mob Wives."
"The bracelet that may be $4,000 that I wear on the show, I'll sell an exact (replica) for $25 or $30," she said.
Growth strategy
With "free advertising" via being showcased on "Mob Wives," Ms. D'Avanzo hopes to grow her client base.
Five-year goals
Driven to succeed, Ms. D'Avanzo plans to open a larger storefront for her Staten Island home base, and envisions a chain of stores across the country. 


Are New York politicians the new Mafia?

When state Sen. John Sampson was indicted for embezzlement last week, it marked the 32nd time in the last seven years that a state official has been charged with a criminal offense. What should we do about this endemic corruption?
Note that the reaction to these cases is always the same. Some officeholders declare, with all the credibility of Claude Rains’ Capt. Renault in “Casablanca,” that they’re shocked, shocked to find criminality in Albany.
Others scramble to propose new anti-corruption laws. Yet these, even if enacted, are no more likely to prove effective than the statutes already on the books. I mean, how many times are we going to outlaw crimes like bribery or theft?
Our problem hasn’t been a lack of laws, but the lack of a will to enforce them.
A third popular nostrum is to form some commission to watch over Albany officials. The catch is that commissions must be created by, and answer to, the same public officials they’re expected to police. This is why ethics bodies usually confine their activities to shooting the wounded, i.e. condemning corrupt officials only after they’ve been convicted.
The current two main Albany watchdog groups just spent weeks battling each other over the wording of a report. Create a new one, and we’ll just have a third entity to argue over protocol. (And, surprise, the report, finally issued yesterday, was critical of an Assembly member who’s already expected to leave the body. It is still just words, not action.)
Instead of wasting time on new laws or toothless watchdogs, I propose that we do nothing. Or, rather that we rely on Uncle Sam to deal with criminal officials in the same way he did with the American Mafia.
Throughout most of the 20th century, organized crime syndicates rode roughshod over state and local US governments. In New York City, the mayor elected in 1945 had to obtain the approval of gangster Frank Costello. In 1950, the winning mayoral candidate was backed by mob boss Tommy Lucchese.
Even honest public officials usually ignored the Mafia because they feared political retaliation. The few who did attack it, like Manhattan DAs Frank Hogan and Bob Morgenthau, were frustrated by state laws written to protect criminals and by their lack of jurisdiction beyond New York County.
Finally, the US Department of Justice launched an all-out attack on the Mafia using electronic eavesdropping devices, undercovers and informers within organized crime — and mob bosses around the country finally started to fall.
In the 1980s, the feds began employing the legal equivalent of an atomic bomb — the RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization) statutes, which permitted whole entities, including legitimate ones such as a police department or a court system, to be designated as racketeering organizations.
In Chicago, the FBI installed a bug in a judge’s chambers and the Cook County Circuit Court was cited in a federal indictment as a “criminal enterprise.” When that investigation was done, 20 judges, 57 lawyers and 16 law-enforcement officers had been convicted of criminal offenses.
In New York, US Attorney Rudy Giuliani convicted the entire top leadership of New York’s five families under the RICO law in 1985. All but one were sentenced to 100 years in prison. Today, the mob families exercise only a shadow of their former power.
Today, the same kind of federal assault appears to be under way on the New York political front. Judging from recent news accounts, the investigations seem to be spreading — just as with the anti-Mafia drive. Before it’s all over, it’s likely that many more people will be criminally indicted.
It is sad that we must use the same methods against our officials as we did against the Mafia. But if, as alleged, one of those charged talked of “taking out” witnesses, it seems like the pols already think like godfathers.
The wars against the Mafia demonstrated only the federal government can bring down strongly entrenched criminals. So let’s not worry about cosmetic solutions to corruption at the state and local level.
Instead, let’s throw our full support behind the efforts of US Attorneys Preet Bahara in Manhattan and Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn until they have broken the corrupt politicians in the same way their predecessors broke the mob bosses.
Thomas A. Reppetto is the former president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City and the author of “Bringing Down The Mob: The War Against The American Mafia.”


A Connecticut mobster and a $500 million Boston museum heist

Robert Gentile's connections with Robert Guarante, a bank robber seen above with a shirt over his head after an arrest in Natick, Mass., in 1968, intrigued federal authorities investigating the theft of half a billion dollars in art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in March 1990.

It was a shore dinner in Maine a decade ago that transformed Robert Gentile, an aging, unremarkable wise guy from Hartford, into the best lead in years in one of the world's most baffling crime mysteries, the unsolved robbery of half a billion dollars in art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Gentile disagrees with most of what the government says about him. But he does not dispute that he and his wife drove to Portland, Maine, from their home in Manchester. It was nothing then for the couple to jump into a car and cross New England for a meal. Gentile is said to be passionate about food. His nickname is "The Cook."

Neither is there disagreement that Gentile was meeting Robert Guarente and his wife. Guarente, a bank robber, moved from Boston to Maine in 2002, after his last prison sentence. He was living in the woods, two hours north of Portland. Guarente had been associated for years with three Boston criminals who the FBI believed were involved in or had information about the Gardner heist. One of the three was Guarente's nephew; another was Guarente's driver.

Gentile and Guarente had been friends and partners since the 1980s when they met at a used car auction. Federal prosecutors have said in court: They were inducted into the mafia together. They are believed to have "committed robberies and possibly other violent crimes together." And they roomed together for a while outside Boston while acting as "armed bodyguards" for the mafia capo who was their boss.

No one disputes that Gentile picked up the check in Portland. Or that he continues to complain that Guarente's wife, Elene, ordered an expensive lobster dinner.

What is disputed, hotly, is what happened outside in the parking lot. Elene Guarente has told the Gardner investigators that she believes her husband put one or more of the stolen paintings in their car before they left their home in the woods and that the art was handed off to Gentile in Portland.

Gentile claims that Elene Guarente's account, which she first gave investigators in 2009 or '10, is, as he once muttered in court, "lies, lies, all lies." Through his lawyers, he denies receiving a painting or paintings, denies having knowledge about the robbery and denies knowing what happened to the art afterward. Gentile said he met with Guarente in Portland because his friend, who died in January 2004, was sick, broke and in need of a loan.

Gentile's most emphatic denial may have come earlier this month when a federal judge sentenced him to 21/2 years in prison on what the government called unrelated drug and gun charges. At age 76, overweight, crippled by back injuries and suffering from a heart condition, Gentile pleaded guilty to the charges — knowing that doing so meant a certain prison sentence — in spite of an offer of leniency and a chance at the $5 million reward if he helped recover the art.

Gentile's lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, accused the FBI of concocting the drug case to pressure Gentile to cooperate in the Gardner investigation. The judge brushed aside the argument, concluding that Gentile did not need to be persuaded by an FBI informant to engage in the profitable sale of prescription painkillers. In any event, McGuigan said Gentile had nothing to trade the government for leniency or the reward, no matter how badly he wanted both.

As he settles into prison, Gentile could become another dead end in the succession of dead ends that have characterized the Gardner investigation. But the account of how he became, at least briefly, the best potential lead in the Gardner case offers a glimpse inside a sensational robbery from which the art world may never recover.

Gentile And The Gardner

The FBI will not discuss Gentile in the context of the Gardner robbery. But its interest has become apparent in other ways, including filings in court, a sensational press statement it issued in March, its pursuit of Gentile's Boston associates and a curious price list found in Gentile's home.

Buried among the guns and other odd items in Gentile's basement was a list of the stolen Gardner paintings and accompanying values. An infamous art thief from Massachusetts said recently that he wrote the list and that Gentile probably acquired it, in a transaction not directly related to the robbery that may have been nothing more than an attempted swindle.

There are signs, too, that government investigators are not persuaded by what one described as Gentile's consistent denials. A federal prosecutor said in court that an FBI polygraph examiner concluded there is a 99 percent probability that Gentile was not telling the truth last year when he denied knowing anything about the stolen art. Gentile's lawyer said the results are false because the test was improperly administered.

A year ago, dozens of FBI agents swarmed over Gentile's suburban yard. They found an empty hole someone had dug and apparently tried to conceal beneath a storage shed in his backyard.

Federal prosecutors said in court that Gentile was such a fixture in organized crime in Boston by the middle to late 1990s that he, with Guarente, was sworn in as a member of the Boston faction of a Mafia family that is active in Philadelphia. In a dramatic press statement in March 18, the FBI claimed the stolen paintings were moved to Connecticut, at least for a time, and to Pennsylvania. The bureau issued the statement on the 23rd anniversary of the robbery:

"The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence that in the years after the theft, the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region, and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia, where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that same confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England."

Characteristically, the bureau will not elaborate.

Not only does Gentile deny being a member of the mafia, he denies knowingly associating with gangsters. If he is being truthful, people who know him say he is one of the world's most unlucky men because circumstance in which he has become entangled.

Some of the most important art ever created disappeared at about 1:30 a.m. on March 18, 1990, as St. Patrick's Day celebrations wound down across Boston. Two thieves dressed as police officers bluffed their way into the museum, a century-old, Italianate mansion full of uninsured art and protected by an outdated security system

They bound the museum security guards and battered 13 masterworks from the museum walls before driving away in a red car fewer than 90 minutes later.

Among the missing art: a Vermeer, a Manet and five drawings by Degas. Two of the paintings — "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," Rembrandt's only known seascape, and Vermeer's "The Concert" — could be worth substantially more than $100 million, if anyone could find away to unload some of the world's hottest art.

Cooking For The Boys

In Hartford, Gentile seemed to inhabit a different world. He is short and round, with a high forehead. His hair is white and he leans heavily on a cane when he walks. He has penetrating eyes and is a pleasant conversationalist when he chooses.

Over the last eight years, he could be found most days at Clean Country Cars, a garage and used car lot on Franklin Avenue in the Hartford's South End. He put a stove and a refrigerator in a service bay and, as he wrote in a court filing, "cooked lunch for the boys."

"I like to cook," Gentile once said. "Macaronis. Chicken."

The list of attendees at his luncheons in bay No. 1, according to someone familiar with the events, could read like a federal indictment. Among others: Hartford tough guy and mob soldier Anthony Volpe and John "Fast Jack" Farrell, the Patriarca family's card and dice man.

Gentile's arrest record begins during the Eisenhower administration, although most of his involvement with the police occurred in the 1960s. Convictions include aggravated assault, receipt of stolen goods, illegal gun possession, larceny and gambling. He beat a counterfeiting case.

During three searches of his suburban ranch in Manchester last year, FBI agents found explosives, a bullet-proof vest, Tasers, police scanners, a police scanner code book, blackjacks, switch-blade knives, two dozen blank social security cards, a South Carolina drivers license issued under the alias Robert Gino, five silencers, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a California police badge, three sets of handcuffs with the serial numbers ground off, police hats and what a federal magistrate characterized as an "arsenal" of firearms.

There was a surveillance camera trained on the approach to his home. Hanging from a hook inside the front door was a loaded, 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun with a pistol grip, a federal prosecutor said.

Gentile has giving varying explanations for the presence in his home of the weaponry and related paraphernalia. He said some of it had been there so long he forgot about it. Other material probably was dropped off by a friend who is a "dump picker." Gentile's lawyer said he is a hoarder.

He is handicapped by back pain, probably the result, according to multiple sources, of a blow his father delivered with a metal bar when he was 12 years old. He left school two years later to work for his father's masonry business and became the youngest bricklayer and cement mason to join the International Union of Brick Layers and Allied Craft Workers.

He took a stab at the restaurant business in the 1970s, but closed his place, the Italian Villa in Meriden, after two years.

Gentile and his brothers had a reputation as top concrete finishers, according to friends. When union construction slowed in the 1970s, he went to work for a builder of swimming pools in greater Hartford.

Meeting Guarente

Gentile moved from swimming pools to used cars, according to friends and material filed in court. He met Guarente at one of the automobile auctions where dealers buy inventory, said associates of Gentile and a person familiar with the investigation.

A source who claims to have met repeatedly with Guarente beginning in the 1990s said that Guarente was a bank robber whose last arrest and conviction, in the 1990s, was for cocaine trafficking.

"Guarente was Gentile's connection with Boston," said the source. "Until then, Gentile was his own man. He did his own thing, his own way. Guarente was a stone cold criminal and robber. He told me he robbed 30 banks and, toward the end, he was selling huge amounts of drugs."

Said a law enforcement source: "Guarente was the hub of so many people. He is an interesting guy because he is not well known. But he knows everybody."

One of the places Guarente visited, according to a variety of sources, including an FBI report, was TRC Auto Electric, a repair business in Dorchester, Mass., a hangout of reputed Boston mob associate Carmello Merlino.

Gentile met Merlino at least once: He was with Guarente when he stopped by the garage to talk about having work done on his car, according to a source who knows all three men.

Merlino and his crew were on the FBI's list of Gardner suspects in the 1990s, according to filings in federal court. The legal filings and FBI reports show that, by 1997, the FBI had inserted two informants in Merlino's operation. Over the next year, the informants reported that Merlino treated Guarente like a partner. They also reported that Merlino talked as if he might have access to the stolen art.

In one of the FBI reports, an informant said it appeared to him that Merlino "was getting the authorization to do something with the stolen paintings." A lawyer with knowledge of a variety of Gardner cases said the informant reports, collectively, suggest Merlino was trying to take possession of the paintings.

Merlino also was meeting, according to FBI reports and other legal documents, with two younger men: robbery suspect David Turner, who was Guarente's driver; and, less frequently, with Stephen Rossetti, Guarente's nephew. When he was questioned by the FBI, Gentile was asked to identify Turner from photographs, said a source familiar with the investigation.

While looking for the stolen paintings, the FBI learned that Merlino and the two younger men were planning to rob an armored car depot. Agents intercepted and arrested the men on their way to the depot in early 1999. An FBI agent later testified in court that, immediately after the depot arrests, he tried to question the three about the Gardner heist. They refused to talk.

The three robbers argued unsuccessfully that the FBI, through its informants, created a conspiracy to rob the depot to leverage them to talk about the stolen art. Gentile's lawyer failed when making the same claim in court about his drug and gun indictments.

The Philadelphia Connection

Guarente also introduced Gentile to Robert Luisi, the Boston mobster who a federal prosecutor said sponsored Gentile and Guarente for membership in the Philadelphia mafia — a city where the FBI said some of the stolen Gardner art was taken.

Luisi had tried to join, but was not accepted by, the New England mafia, an associate said. Philadelphia agreed to accept him when he reached out through a man he met in prison. He agreed and, according to court filings, became the boss, or capo, of the Philadelphia mob's Boston crew.

Guarente became Luisi's second in command and Gentile became a soldier in his crew, according to a prosecution court filing.

As it turned out, Philadelphia's Boston crew collapsed within months of being created. Within a year, Luisi had been indicted in a cocaine conspiracy. Worse for Gentile, Luisi agreed to cooperate with the government.

Gentile's lawyer said in court that Luisi lied to curry favor with the FBI.

During his interviews with the FBI, Luisi said Gentile and Guarente committed robberies together. He said they lived with him for a while in Waltham, Mass., while acting as his armed bodyguards.

Luisi told the FBI that Gentile always armed himself, usually with a snub nose .38-caliber revolver and a .22-caliber derringer. He said Gentile gave him a silencer for his own handgun.

The FBI found a half dozen silencers in Gentile's cellar, as well as two snub nose, .38-caliber revolvers and a .22-caliber derringer, according to a government legal filing.

Luisi said that, in the late 1990s, Gentile was planning the robbery of an armored car carrying cash from a casino in Ledyard and that Luisi had introduced him to a crew of Charlestown robbers who could help, a federal prosecutor said in court.

It was Luisi who told the FBI that said Gentile's nickname was "The Cook."

Gentile acknowledges using the name "The Cook," according to a government court filing. But his lawyer said he denies almost everything else.

He acknowledges working for Luisi, but said he was paid what amounted to small change for cooking and running card games, his lawyer said. Another source who knew Luisi in the late 1990s said "Luisi had apartment where they hung out and Gentile would cook. Gentile was the cook and the bodyguard."

Within a year of Gentile's alleged induction in the mafia, his network in Boston was in disarray.

Guarente was indicted for selling cocaine on April 1998. He was released from prison in December 2000 and died in January 2004.

Merlino and his crew were charged in the Loomis Fargo robbery on February 1999. Merlino died in prison and the others have decades left to serve on their sentences.

Luisi was charged in a cocaine conspiracy on July 1999.

When Guarente's wife told investigators in 2009 or '10 about the meal in Portland, only Gentile was a alive and out of jail.

A Postscript

One of New England's most colorful thieves, Florian "Al" Monday, believes he knows the significance of the list of stolen Gardener paintings — and their black market values — that the FBI found in Gentile's cellar.

He said it is his.

Monday said, in a recent interview, that he has been engaged in the murky business of stolen art at least since 1972, when he and a small group he recruited stole Rembrandt's "St. Bartholomew" from the Worcester Art Museum. In the process, one of them shot and wounded a security guard. The painting was quickly recovered and the gang was arrested. Monday got nine to 20 years in prison.

Because the Gardner thieves carried weapons, Monday said he was an early suspect in the theft of those Gardner paintings.

"Of course, everyone thought that I had stolen them since I'm the guy that invented that methodology, of robbing museums with a gun," Monday said recently.

He got stung in 2002 when he and a partner, a Rhode Island swindler who put up $250,000, tried to buy an etching they had been persuaded was one of the Gardner's Rembrandt pieces. It was a forgery.

Monday said he believes his list of the stolen Gardner art fell into Gentile's hands under similar circumstances.

Monday said he drafted the list for a partner, who knew both Gentile and Guarente. The partner wanted to buy Gardner art because he had lined up a pair of prospective buyers. Gentile was the middleman through whom Guarente and Monday's partner communicated, according to Monday and another source.

Monday said he was putting up the money for the deal, but would not say where he got it. He said he did not know and never met either Gentile or Guarente.

"Guarente? I know nothing about him," Monday said. "I never negotiated any prices for him. I hadn't heard of Gentile until recently. The list ... was a list of the paintings and the prices that I was willing to pay for them. That's what those figures are. It is not their value. It is what I was willing to pay for them."

The deal fell apart, Monday said, when the partner suspected that he was being hustled, and that Guarente had no Gardner art to sell.

Monday said his partner paid Guarente $10,000 when Guarente said he needed the money to travel to Florida to obtain whatever art was involved. Monday said he suspects Guarente never went to Florida.

The partner was next told that he had to pay to see proof that Guarente actually had the Gardner art. The proof was to be a photograph, purportedly of the stolen art.

Guarente mailed the photograph to Gentile. The partner, who carried a jeweler's loupe, recognized it as a photograph of a page in an art book. He left with the money but forgot the list.


Mob linked firm hired by NYC to demolish abandoned housing project

The city has hired Breeze National to demolish a NYCHA's Prospect Plaza Houses, which were vacated starting 12 years ago. 
The city has hired Breeze National to demolish a NYCHA's Prospect Plaza Houses, which were vacated starting 12 years ago.

The city has hired a demolition firm with mob ties and a deadly safety record to finally tear down an abandoned public housing development that's remained vacant for more than a decade, the Daily News has learned.
Some 1,500 tenants of the Prospect Plaza Houses in Crown Heights were relocated starting in 2001 with the promise that they'd be back in by 2005 once everything was renovated.
A decade later, the renovation plans have been abandoned and the city has decided on demolition instead, hiring a company called Breeze National to tear down the four boarded-up, rotting buildings that remain.

The hiring of Breeze, however, has its own set of issues.
Until recently, the company was owned by Toby Romano Sr., an alleged organized crime associate who was convicted 1988 of bribing a health inspector during an asbestos removal job.
In 2006 the city's Business Integrity Commission denied a Breeze affiliate, Breeze Carting, a license to haul trash in the city, citing Romano's record and charging that the company made what it termed "material misrepresentations" aka "lies" in its application. By 2009 the city began requiring that Breeze hire a special anti-corruption monitor to oversee its work but even that didn't necessarily fix the problem.

That year while Breeze was tearing down the old Shea Stadium, the monitor in place discovered that one of Breeze's employees was Herb Pate, a "known associate of the Lucchese crime family." Breeze got rid of Pate and insisted that since then, Romano Sr., the company president, "no longer has an ownership interest.” That's not true of Romano Sr.'s wife, Mary. Breeze says Mary is no longer on the payroll but bid documents obtained by the News show she's still listed as VP/Treasurer and is co-owner with Romano's son, Toby Jr. Breeze officials did not return calls Saturday.
On April 2, 2012, Breeze and four other demolition firms submitted bids to the city Housing Preservation & Development, which has partnered with NYCHA to rip down the high-rise towers and replace them with low-rise townhouses and apartments. Breeze's bids were dramatically different than every other bidders, documents show, totaling just $5.8 million. The next lowest bidder, NASDI LLC, bid $10.5 million for the same work.
Twenty days after the bids were submitted on April 22, 2012, an old garage Breeze was demolishing for Columbia University uptown collapsed, trapping three men. One man died, and federal regulators later alleged Breeze was told of a crack in the structural steel before the accident, but did nothing about it.The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) slapped Breeze with two safety violations and fined the firm $9,800, which Breeze is now fighting.
Breeze is a mobbed-up firm cited in the death of a worker at Columbia University and another during a previous project. The Prospect Plaza Houses were vacated in 2001 and residents were promised that the apartments would be renovated and they could move back in in 2005. 
Breeze is a mobbed-up firm cited in the death of a worker at Columbia University and another during a previous project. The Prospect Plaza Houses were vacated in 2001 and residents were promised that the apartments would be renovated and they could move back in in 2005. 

As it happened, another Breeze worker had died at another Columbia U. job the prior year by falling down an empty elevator shaft. OSHA hit Breeze with $2,250 in fines, which the company settled for $1,688.
Despite the mob ties and safety violations, HPD in December chose Breeze over four other bidders. The city is obligated choose the "lowest responsible bidder," and HPD spokesman Eric Bederman noted that as with the Shea Stadium job Breeze must hire an anti-corruption monitor who will report directly to the city Department of Investigation, and retain an on-site safety inspector.
"By its nature a demolition project of this size and complexity requires the approval of numerous city agencies as part of a comprehensive monitoring effort. Given the demands of the job and City's concerns, we are requiring the contractor to submit to multiple layers of oversight to ensure compliance with all City, State and Federal labor practices, the safety of the workers and public, and the integrity of its business operations."

Bederman noted Breeze's bids "were substantially lower than the next lowest bidder, offering the City the opportunity to save millions of taxpayer dollars that can now be budgeted by NYCHA to aid in other priorities."
Already the job has fallen behind schedule. It was supposed to start April 15, but as of Friday the deteriorating towers remained unscathed, grass growing up through the pavement of a basketball court, a park bench outside one building scrawled with the disturbing street message, "INFESTED WITH BEDBUGS."
Meanwhile, some of the hundreds of tenants who lost their homes so many years ago wonder if they'll be allowed back in. Only 80 of the 365 units will be set aside for NYCHA residents, with the rest going to any family making $55,000 a year or less.
Last Friday, outside one of the buildings set to be demolished in the coming months, one former Prospect Plaza tenant was shocked to hear about the coming demolition crews.
"I can't believe they're tearing that down," said Shirley Ross, who was with her daughter, Latefa Lee, 13, who happened to have been born just a few weeks before the family was relocated from the towers.
"There's a lot of memories in those projects," she said. "People have been waiting a long time to come back."