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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Son of Kansas City mob boss sentenced to prison

A member of one of Kansas City’s most infamous alleged organized-crime families was sentenced Wednesday to 21 months in federal prison.
Nicholas A. Civella, 59, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Kansas City for being a drug user in possession of a firearm.
The charge stemmed from the February 2012 police search of Civella’s Kansas City, North, home. In addition to a 9mm handgun, officers discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.
Civella is the son of Anthony Civella, who authorities said had been an organized-crime leader before his 2006 death. Anthony Civella was the son of Carl Civella and nephew of Nick Civella, whom authorities long alleged to be Kansas City mob leaders.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Jailed Colombo associate conspires to oust Karen Gravano from new season of Mob Wives

Jailed Garofalo wants star ousted from ‘Mob Wives’
One of the new stars of “Mob Wives” won’t be seen on camera next season.
Viewers of the VH1 reality show will only get to hear the voice of Edward “Tall Guy” Garofalo from federal prison as he talks on the phone to his wife, Alicia DiMichele, a sexy mother of three.
Gangland News blogger Jerry Capeci reports that Garofalo negotiated the couple’s roles with the show’s creator/executive producer Jennifer Graziano, the daughter of Bonanno crime family mobster Anthony “TG” Graziano.
Tall Guy — whose father was whacked in 1990 by a hit squad led by Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano — pleaded guilty last year to murder conspiracy. Now he’s conspired to get Sammy’s daughter Karen Gravano ousted from the show on which she appeared for three seasons.
Garofalo, a member of the Colombo mob, can be very persuasive. Capeci quotes a law enforcement official as saying, “One time, after [Garofalo] used a broom handle to beat up one of his [trucking company] workers, he warned him that the next time he’d use a pipe.”
“Mob Wives” is slated to make its return in January.


Little Tony found guilty in South Florida Gambino murder

Little Tony is going to the Big House.

Tony, aka Anthony Ferrari, was convicted Friday of the 2001 murder of Gus Boulis, former owner of the Miami Subs chain and SunCruz, a $147-million line of casino cruise ships.

A Broward sheriff’s deputy clicked Ferrari’s hands with cuffs just seconds after the verdict was read. Boulis’ family members, who attended every day of the three-week trial, burst into tears.

More than 12 years after Boulis was gunned down, and more than eight years after Ferrari and two others were arrested for orchestrating the hit, Boulis’ family has found some semblance of justice.

Boulis’ sister, Mersina, was assisted outside the courtroom as she wailed uncontrollably.

Spiro Naos, Boulis’ nephew, said the family was relieved.

“Twelve and half years is a long time, but we never lost faith because we talked a lot with the detectives and the state attorney’s office and they just never let it go,’’ he said.

The 12-member jury will now consider whether Ferrari will serve a life sentence or whether he should be put to death. Broward County Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes set the penalty phase of the trial to begin Dec. 16.

The jury, which was sequestered for the duration of the trial, reached its verdict after seven hours of deliberations.

“Justice has been done,’’ said lead prosecutor Brian Cavanagh, who tried the case with Assistant State Attorney Gregg Rossman.

Ferrari, 56 — who took the witness stand against his attorney’s advice — appeared resigned, in stark contrast to his combative appearance two days earlier, when he called prosecutors “pimps.’’

Ferrari’s new accommodations will be a long way from the lavish Miami Beach life that he once led. Prosecutors allege he was head of the Gambino crime family’s South Florida operation.

Ferrari and his boss, Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello, 75, a reputed mob captain, were accused of orchestrating the Feb. 6, 2001, murder — one of the most sensational crimes in Broward history.

At one time, the broader list of possible culprits included a professional hit man who was gunned down two years later, crime boss John Gotti’s former bookkeeper, a Mafia mistress, a Dial-a-Mattress pitchman and a smooth-talking Washington lobbyist.

Ferrari, Moscatiello and James “Pudgy” Fiorillo were arrested in 2005 on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder. Fiorillo later copped a plea in exchange for testifying against his cohorts. Moscatiello will be tried separately.

Boulis, a Greek immigrant who came to this country as a 16-year-old stowaway, sailed his way to fortune on a submarine sandwich, founding a string of eateries across South Florida, including the Miami Subs chain, Stan’s in Fort Lauderdale, Martha’s in Hollywood and the Italian Fisherman in the Keys. His empire later included interests in resorts, waterfront properties and marinas throughout Broward.

In 1994, Boulis took some Miami Subs executives on a “cruise to nowhere’’ out of Port Everglades, and the very next day he began negotiating to buy a $2 million dinner boat that he transformed into a floating casino. The enterprise was so successful that it grew to include 10 additional ships. He eventually moved the business to Hollywood.

But he ran into trouble with the federal government and was forced to sell the fleet in 2000 after he was investigated for violating an obscure 82-year-old maritime law that prohibited foreigners from owning ships. Boulis was not a U.S. citizen.

In September 2000, a group of investors, led by powerful Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the owner of the Washington-based Dial-a-Mattress franchise, Adam Kidan, purchased the company for $147 million. At the time, the business was grossing $20 million annually.

The deal quickly fell apart, running aground after investors began suspecting the two partners had swindled them out of $60 million. The brilliant-but-difficult Boulis threatened to expose Kidan and made plans to regain control of the company.

Kidan testified during trial that he hired Moscatiello and Ferrari for two reasons: to protect the company from Boulis — and to scare Boulis into believing he was connected with the Gambinos.

At the time, he was paying the gangsters tens of thousands of dollars for “security,’’ Kidan said, adding that he feared Boulis would harm him or the fleet.

Prosecutors alleged that Moscatiello and Ferrari, concerned that the purchase would crumble, decided to execute Boulis to protect Gambino interests in the deal.

On Feb. 6, 2001, Boulis was driving his green BMW along dimly lit Miami Avenue after an evening meeting at his Fort Lauderdale office. Suddenly, a Mazda Miata cut him off, blocking his path. Then a black Mustang pulled up beside him in the opposite direction and opened fire. Boulis died a short time later at the hospital. A motorist behind Boulis said he saw a red Volkswagen Jetta speed past. Ferrari owned a red Jetta.

In the weeks and months that followed, Moscatiello and Ferrari worked to cover their tracks. Witnesses testified that Ferrari made several attempts to hire hit men to kill others involved in the plot, including his own mistress, Pina Diminno, who is suspected of driving the Miata. He also wanted to rub out the lookout that evening, Fiorillo, and Dwayne Nicholson, a mob wannabe who knew about the hit.

Diminno fled to Canada while Nicholson went into the witness protection program. Fiorillo remains in jail awaiting trial.

Abramoff later got tangled in a vast Washington political scandal. Kidan and Abramoff eventually pleaded guilty to an array of corruption and fraud charges in exchange for a reduced sentence. As part of the deal, they helped authorities with both the Washington scandal and the Boulis murder. Cavanagh maintained throughout that there was no evidence that Kidan or Abramoff had any knowledge of the murder until after it happened.

Both of them served shortened prison terms for their cooperation.


Gambino gangsters sentenced to federal prison for illegal gambling in Connecticut

Two alleged members of the Gambino organized crime family were sentenced to federal prison on Thursday for their involvement in illegal gambling in Connecticut, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office.

Richard Uva, 45, of Trumbull, was sentenced to 3 years, 10 months in prison, followed by three years of probation, the release states. Victor Amereno, 43, of Stamford, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, followed by three years of probation.

Uva was also ordered to forfeit $250,000. Amereno was ordered to forfeit $15,000.

A total of 20 people were charged in connection with this investigation, according to the release.

Uva assisted with the operation of a large-scale sports bookmaking business and supervised a network of bookmakers, including Amereno, the release states. Uva also operated illegal card gambling clubs in Stamford and Hamden.

According to the release, Uva also admitted to extortion. He said he collected "tribute" payments from independent sports bookmakers in Connecticut, a portion of which were delivered to Gambino family associates in New York.

An FBI analysis of the sports-betting website determined the total revenue to be nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011, the release states.

The 18 defendants who have pleaded guilty thus far in the case have agreed to forfeit approximately $1.4 million, according to the release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen previously said that Uva was second-in-command to his longtime friend and co-defendant Dean DePreta who was "the titular head of the Gambino crime family" in southern Connecticut.

DePreta was sentenced earlier this month to 71 months for his role in the operation as reported by Edmund H. Mahony for The Hartford Courant: "authorities running wire taps recorded DePreta numerous times discussing the gambling operation, including his collection of 'street taxes' by extorting or 'shaking down' independent bookmakers who were not paying criminal organizations for protection."


Mob Wives bartender sentenced to six months for selling cocaine

Anthony Cracciolo (second from l.) with Angela "Big Ang" Raiola (from l.), A.J. Graziano and Renee Graziano, stars of "Mob Wives."

A Staten Island pizza maker who moonlighted slinging drinks at the Drunken Monkey bar on "Mob Wives" further burnished his street cred Wednesday with a prison term for peddling cocaine.

Anthony Cracchiolo, 33, the nephew of former Bonanno crime boss Vincent "Vinny TV" Badalamenti, was sentenced to six months in jail for selling dope to an informant working a bigger case for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Cracchiolo was also slapped with an 8 p.m. curfew for six months after he’s done his time, which will almost certainly interfere with him socializing with his “Mob Wives” pal Angela Raiola and her reality TV show crew of mob wanna-bes.

Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson perused Cracchiolo’s rap sheet, which included a recent arrest for driving drunk at 98 mph on the Long Island Expressway, and told him it was time to grow up.

“You’re a little too old for this nonsense,” Gleeson said.

Cracchiolo’s pizzeria called “Anthony’s Pizza Pasta Perfect” was located on the same block as Raiola's beauty salon "Big Ang's Secret." Last year he attended the VH-1 party for Big Ang and has appeared on her new reality show "Big Ang."

The pizzeria was washed out of business by Hurricane Sandy, but Cracchiolo has reinvented himself as the "general manager" of Dough Boys pizza restaurant in midtown.

Anthony Cracchiolo, who owned Anthony's Pizza Pasta Perfect in Staten Island and was featured in the TV show "Mob Wives," was sentenced in Brooklyn Federal Court to 6 months in prison for selling cocaine.


Monday, October 21, 2013

The New York Mob's Florida Operations On Trial

With a mix of swagger and candor, the witness airily acknowledged committing a fistful of felonies years ago as a member of New York’s Gambino crime family.

Anthony Ferrari, left, and Anthony Moscatiello are accused of orchestrating the murder of a rival.

Peter Zuccaro, an admitted mob killer, says he refused to carry out the killing.

“When I was in that life, I was in it thoroughly,” the burly 57-year-old mob enforcer told jurors last week in Broward County Circuit Court. “I was no good. I was a killer. I was a drug dealer. I was a hijacker. I beat people half to death. I did a lot of bad things — very bad things.”

Identified in court by the alias Nick DiMaggio, the witness was in fact Peter "Bud" Zuccaro, a seven-time convict from the Howard Beach section of Queens, who under a deal with prosecutors has turned against former Gambino associates in several trials. He testified against one of two defendants accused of orchestrating the murder here in 2001 of a sandwich-shop mogul and casino owner, Konstantinos (Gus) Boulis, a business associate of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced former Washington lobbyist.

The trial of Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello and Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, who prosecutors say arranged Mr. Boulis’s killing to end a dispute over his gambling interests, vividly illustrates the close connections between mob operatives and their endeavors in Florida, New York and elsewhere. Florida has had a heavy mob presence since the days when Al Capone bought a mansion on Palm Island in Miami in 1928.

Rife with details of internecine mob warfare, the trial has also included references to Mr. Abramoff, whose botched $147 million deal to buy Mr. Boulis’s SunCruz Casinos led in part to his incarceration in 2006. Mr. Abramoff, who was convicted of defrauding lenders in the deal but was not thought by prosecutors to have had a hand in the Boulis murder, is expected to testify soon from his lawyer’s office in Washington.

After years of delays, the trial began last month and could last several more weeks. But it almost fell apart Thursday when Mr. Moscatiello’s lawyer, David Bogenschutz, withdrew because of illness. Judge Ilona M. Holmes declared a mistrial for Mr. Moscatiello, 75, who is free on bail and will be tried later. The current trial will continue for Mr. Ferrari, 56, Mr. Moscatiello’s underling, who prosecutors say tried to persuade one of his bodyguards to kill Mr. Boulis and whom a witness described as having been near the shooting site. Mr. Ferrari remains in custody.

On Friday, Mr. Abramoff’s business partner in the casinos deal, Adam Kidan, testified that shortly after Mr. Boulis was shot outside his office here on Feb. 6, 2001, Mr. Ferrari admitted to him that he had been involved. Then came a warning: “If you ever tell anyone about what happened, I will kill you and I’ll kill your family,” Mr. Kidan said the defendant told him, according to The Associated Press.

In his testimony earlier in the week, Mr. Zuccaro said he went to Mr. Moscatiello’s home in Howard Beach in 2000 to discuss another matter when, “out of the blue,” Mr. Moscatiello asked him to go to Florida “to kill Gus Boulis” for $100,000.

“The guy was making a lot of problems with the gambling situation in Florida,” he went on, referring to Mr. Boulis, whose customers played roulette, blackjack and other diversions on ships offshore. “The guy needed to be taken care of right away.”

Payment for the killing, Mr. Zuccaro said he was told, was to be provided by Mr. Kidan, who had made millions with Dial-a-Mattress and who witnesses said had gotten into a physical altercation with Mr. Boulis as the casino deal went sour. Mr. Kidan was not charged in the killing but served prison time for his role in the fraud.

Mr. Zuccaro said that he told Mr. Moscatiello he would get back to him about the killing, but that he ultimately decided the proposal had been “insulting.”

“You didn’t kill people for money,” he said. “If it was principle, you killed them. If you killed people for money, it was cursed. I didn’t kill people for money. Principle, yes. Money, no.”

So he told Mr. Moscatiello he “wanted nothing to do with it,” Mr. Zuccaro recalled, and Mr. Boulis was murdered by someone else “maybe a couple of months later.” Mr. Zuccaro added that the next time he ran into Mr. Moscatiello, the older man told him, “I took care of that.”

Mr. Boulis, 51, died when his BMW was ambushed by gunmen in two other cars and he was struck by three bullets. Born in Greece, he was a self-made millionaire who had begun his working life as a fisherman. In 1980, he founded the Miami Subs Grill restaurant chain. Later, he bought a fleet of yachts and transformed them into floating gambling halls.

In cross-examining Mr. Zuccaro, Mr. Bogenschutz tried to paint him as anything but principled, prompting him to enunciate every crime he had admitted to but had been allowed to “take a walk” on as part of his plea arrangement in 2006. He served about eight years in prison.

The triggerman in Mr. Boulis’s killing is thought to have been another Queens mobster, John Gurino, who was himself gunned down in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2003. Mr. Zuccaro described him as his best friend, and readily conceded in court that he had felt a “really bad” urge to execute Ralph Liotta, who was convicted of manslaughter in Mr. Gurino’s death and is serving a 12-year term.

“I didn’t get to kill him,” Mr. Zuccaro said.

“Oh, too bad,” Mr. Bogenschutz replied. “Does that rankle a bit?”

“Yeah,” came the answer.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bonanno associate set to testify at retrial of Philadelphia mobsters

It looks like there's going to be at least one new witness in the retrial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew, George Borgesi.

New York mobster-turned-informant Anthony Aponick, an inmate with Borgesi in a federal prison in West Virginia back in 2002 and 2003, is apparently going to be called to testify this time around.

The alleged Bonanno crime family associate has been debriefed at length by the FBI. Among other things, he has said that he came to Philadelphia in 2003 and met with a top Borgesi associate at Borgesi's behest in order to establish himself in the local underworld. He did that, he has said, despite the fact that a New York mob leader cautioned him about the danger, referring to the Philadelphia mob that Borgesi and Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino once controlled as "kill crazy."

"They're Mad Hatters," Aponick said he was warned. "Stick with the devil you know."

Aponick opted to ignore that advice. The fact that he was cooperating with the government at the time might have been the reason.

"We look forward to questioning Mr. Aponick at length during cross-examination" was all Borgesi's lawyer, Christopher Warren, would say when asked about the potential new witness who has prior convictions for armed robbery and bank robbery and who will also be painted as a drug abuser by the defense.

Aponick's credibility is an issue.

The fact that the government opted not to use him as a witness in the first trial raises questions about both his effectiveness and the prosecution's strategy. Is this the government trying to fine tune and narrowly focus the racketeering conspiracy charge at the heart of the retrial? Or is it a desperate attempt by prosecutors to throw everything -- even evidence from a witness they thought better of using at the first trial -- against the wall in a last ditch attempt to make something stick?

Aponick appeared before a grand jury in 2010 and has given a number of statements to the FBI.

In one he apparently boasted that he could help them get "Georgie boy."

After his release from prison in 2003, Aponick showed up in South Philadelphia.

Evidence includes a video and photos of Aponick meeting in October 2003 with Borgesi's brother Anthony and the late Mauro Goffredo, then the owner of a trash company that employed Ligambi. Around that same time he had a dinner meeting at Ralph's, a restaurant on Ninth Street, with Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, a mob associate who authorities said was then overseeing Borgesi's gambling and loansharking operations.

The government played a tape of a phone call Borgesi made to the restaurant that night, a phone call that the prosecution said was set up in advance and that the government will argue helps support the allegation that Aponick and Monacello were working for Borgesi in an underworld enterprise.

But the conversation from that call, played for the jury at the first trial, is vague and makes no specific references to criminal activity.

Monacello, 46, was a key government witness in the first trial, but his credibility also was suspect. The fact that Borgesi was found not guilty of 13 gambling and loansharking counts tied to Monacello's admitted underworld activities was a major victory of the defense.

The jury in that trial, however, hung on the racketeering conspiracy charge against Borgesi, forcing a retrial. Ligambi, who was acquitted of five counts, is also facing a retrial on four counts -- racketeering conspiracy charge, two charges related to the operation of an illegal video poker machine business and one charge of witness tampering.

Whether the tandem of Monacello and Aponick enhances the government's position or further undermines it is key unanswered question as the case moves forward. Jury selection begins on Oct. 31. Opening statements are likely early in November. The case is once again being presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno.

While many of the details surrounding Aponick's deal with the government are contained in sealed documents that are not available to the public, it is clear the one-time New York mob figure has benefitted from a relationship with law enforcement.

He was originally sentenced in 1998 to eight years in prison after his conviction for armed robbery and weapons offenses. Documents indicate that sentence was reduced to six years in 2003 after he apparently had begun cooperating against Borgesi, a fellow inmate at the federal prison in Beckley, West Virginia.

Among other things, Aponick alleged that Borgesi continued to discuss mob business with his uncle who visited him in prison. Authorities used that allegation to win court approval to bug the visiting room conversations between the mob boss and his nephew.

The tapes, which were never played at trial, turned up no evidence of criminality, the defense contends.

Aponick also provided federal authorities with information about a fractured relationship between Borgesi and his uncle, allegations that supported underworld rumors at the time that there was friction inside the "family."

"Georgie felt his uncle was greedy and was taking away all his earnings," Aponick said. He also said that Borgesi described his uncle as merely the caretaker of the crime family while Borgesi, Merlino and others completed their sentences for racketeering convictions in 2001.

"`We fought for this,'" he said Borgesi told him. "`This is our family My uncle is just keeping the seat warm.'"

Monacello also testified about friction between uncle and nephew, but said he believed Borgesi, who was due to be released in the summer of 2011, would have killed him on his uncle's orders once he came out of prison.

Monacello said he agreed to cooperate for that reason.

Ligambi, Borgesi, Monacello and 10 others were indicted in May 2011. Instead of being released to a halfway house to finish his 2001 sentence, Borgesi was detained on the new racketeering charges and has remained in prison. Both he and Ligambi have been denied bail repeatedly.

Monacello's feelings for Borgesi and Ligambi were clearly on display when he testified. He mocked both defendants. Borgesi, in turn, has referred to Monacello as "Rat Finger Lou" and "Fuck Finger Lou."

Animosity toward Aponick will add another bit of tension to the pending courtroom face-off.

In June 2005 a posting on the Internet website "Who's A Rat" blistered Aponick. Posted by someone identified only as "Philly22," sources believe the post came from a member of Borgesi's family.

"For anyone from NY that reads this," the post read in part, "Anthony Aponick from Brooklyn, NY, is a federal informant....He was doing his sentence in FBI-Beckley, WV, and was planted in a cell with an `Alleged' high ranking Philadelphia mob figure. He had a wired FBI-Agent come to the prison to visit while this person was on a visit to try to set him up. He is a heavy heroin user and tried continuously to do illegal activity such as drugs with this person. This person wanted nothing to do with it, especially drugs...After he was released he robbed 5 banks in Brooklyn&Queens. He was a Serial Bank Robber."

Aponick's background will figure prominently in his courtroom appearance, with each side trying to spin it in their favor. Aponick contends he was once a key associate of former Bonanno crime family boss Joseph "Big Joey" Massino. It was Massino, he has said, who warned him about the "Mad Hatters" in Philadelphia.

Ironically Massino also cut a deal with the government, becoming a cooperator in 2004. Jailed for life on a murder charge, his cooperation earned him a sentence reduction to 10 years. He was released earlier this year.

Aponick apparently cut his first deal with the government in order to win a sentence reduction in the armed robbery case from 1998. And while he clearly did make at least one stop -- and perhaps two -- in Philadelphia after winning his release in 2003, he eventually made his way back to New York City where in February 2004 he was arrested for bank robbery.

He was eventually linked to eight bank robberies and charged for those offenses in New York state court. He also was cited by the federal government for violating the terms of his supervised release at the time he committed the bank robberies.

The defense contends that Aponick wormed his way back into the federal fold while facing those bank robbery charges. It was at that time, according to sources, that he wrote a letter to the FBI promising to help make the case against Borgesi, referring to him as "Georgie boy."

The details of Aponick's current agreement with the government have not been made public. Two documents, one filed in September 2005 and another in May 2006, are under seal, according to court records.

Whatever his arrangement, it will be presented to the jury if he is called to the witness stand. Aponick brings a lot of baggage and his reasons for testifying -- past cash payments from the government and help in winning a reduced sentence in the bank robbery cases -- will further undermine his credibility.

"In this life...it's all about making money," he once said.

The defense will contend that he used that philosophy in his dealings with the government, fabricating stories and telling prosecutors and FBI agents what they wanted to hear in order to work his deals.

Prosecutors, however, hope to argue that whatever his background and his motivation, the fact remains that Anthony Aponick came to Philadelphia in 2003 and met with Louis Monacello. The meeting, they will argue, did not occur by chance. A New York mob associate does not just show up in South Philadelphia and meet with a local mob figure.

Borgesi, prosecutors will contend, set that meeting in motion. And that, the prosecution will argue, supports the racketeering conspiracy charge at the heart of the case.


Ontario mobsters fearful of murder by the Rizzuto crime family are on the run

Mobsters in southern Ontario are on the run or in hiding out of fear a war with Montreal foes will lead to more murders, a police source says.

“They (Ontario mobsters) know there are going to be a couple more murders,” the source told the Toronto Sun. “It’s quite an interesting time.

“It’s a chess game,” he added. ”Everybody’s waiting for the Valentine Day’s Massacre, but I don’t see it.”

Making themselves scarce are members of a Mafia and ‘Ndrangheta co-operative – with Toronto links – that attempted to take out the powerful Rizzuto family in Montreal.

Disputes within the co-operative ended in deadly violence, allowing reputed Mob boss Vito Rizzuto to muscle his way back into power his release from prison, Mob experts say.

As a result, the source said, police investigators expect there will be more murders in the GTA area of specific ‘Ndrangheta members as the Montreal Mob works to strengthen its grip in southern Ontario.

The signs of Rizzuto’s ascension resonanted throughout southern Ontario with the July 2013 assassination of Greater Toronto Area Mob hitman Salvatore “Sam” Calautti outside a Woodbridge banquet hall.

Police believe Calautti’s slaying was another surgical strike against ‘Ndrangheta clans in the GTA, southern Ontario and Mafia members in Quebec who challenged Rizzuto.

Calautti, suspected by police in five Mob-related murders, including the sniper slaying of Rizzuto’s father, was close to members of the ‘Ndrangheta’s ruling board the Camera di Controlo.

Rizzuto’s father, notorious crime boss Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., was gunned down in his kitchen in November 2010. Calautti was one of two suspects in the case and also the prime suspect in the murder of Vito Rizzuto’s Ontario strongman Gaetano “Guy” Panepinto in 2000. He was never charged in either case.

“It was significant and profound,” a police source said of Calautti’s murder. “It affects everybody.”

Calautti’s murder showed “it doesn’t matter who you are,” he said.

Whether a hitman or the boss, the murder “brought people into line. They know there are going to be a couple more murders” in Ontario.

The police source said some southern Ontario Calabrian mobsters haven’t been seen for a while and are believed to have gone into hiding, knowing they could be among the next targets.

It’s also true “there are people lurking in the bushes” waiting for an opportunity to strike against Rizzuto, he added.

The attempt to oust Rizzuto by a co-operative of Quebec and Ontario mobsters — including leader Salvatore “Bambino Boss” Montagna — that began in 2009 has apparently failed.

The co-operative fizzled in part because of an internal squabble that led to Montagna’s murder and charges against six people in his shooting death.

That fallout, and other key murders, helped put Rizzuto back in charge, sources said.

“Yes, he’s back in power,” said Mob expert and author Antonio Nicaso. “I think, to understand what happened in the past, we have to consider Montagna was a challenger of Rizzuto.

“Everything starts when Montagna came to Canada” in 2009 after he agreed to leave the United States before deportation proceedings were launched, Nicaso said.

Rizzuto at the time was in a Colorado jail, serving a sentence for his role in the 1981 murders of three Bonanno crime family members.

Nicaso said the people who targeted Rizzuto turned on themselves and neutralized any attempt to dethrone him. Montagna tried but failed to kill Raynard Desjardins, who was among the six charged in Montagna’s 2011 slaying.

Despite that, Rizzuto remains a target.

He has regained much of the power his family lost since returning home last year from Colorado. While in prison, his kingdom was threatened.

Assassins killed Rizzuto’s son, Nicolo, in 2009 and his dad Nicolo Sr. a year later. Rizzuto’s brother-in-law, Paolo Renda, vanished in 2010 and is presumed dead. Police believe the hits were, in part, vendettas for the murders of the brothers Violi – Francesco in 1977, Paolo in 1978 and Rocco in 1980 in a violent power grab by Nicolo Sr.

The tide has since turned in Rizzuto’s favour.

“Rizzuto is back, but I believe the criminal landscape is totally different in Montreal, because he lost many people, many relatives, and it’s not the same as it used to be,” said Nicaso. “For the first time, he suffered some losses.

“I think, with him, vengeance is on his mind,” said a police source. “He wants the life he had back.

“The sooner he regains his role and eliminates his opponents ... he knows they’re out to get him.”

The source said Rizzuto was protective of his son and father and the loss of both has been difficult for him to bear. While vengeance may be a driving force, the source stressed it’s also about money, power and control.

“There has to be order, there have to be messages,” the source said. “With each murder, it sends a message; it’s symbolic.

“But what’s the message? Murder is part of the business of the Mob,” he said.

“The rhetoric is the same,” the source explained. “One side wants Vito Rizzuto to go and the other side wants some of the Calabrian leadership to go.”

Nicaso, meanwhile, said Rizzuto continues to have “strong contacts in Ontario.

“Rizzuto is definitely too strong, and too charismatic,” Nicaso said. “If you have to deal with Rizzuto, you are dealing with a giant.”

Rizzuto has money and since his return, numerous mobsters returned to the fold, he said.

“His main goal is revenge,” Nicaso added.

Rizzuto’s return has been complicated by the Charbonneau Commission in Quebec delving into corruption into the construction industry. It has raised concerns about infiltration into Ontario.

“That’s the power,” Nicaso said. “If we (only) consider the mafia as a violent organization, then we miss the entire picture. The mafia is about power; it is about relationships with politicians.”

For years, businesses have been paying “pizzo” (slang for protection payments or street tax) to the Mob, the police source said.

If pizzo payments continue — and cash from the construction industry has dried up — what is the source of the money?

“There are many things a lot of people haven’t considered,” the source said. “What other industries are paying the pizzo? No one is asking that. No one asks about the other industries.

“Think like him,” the police source challenged.



Nicolo Rizzuto Sr.

The patriarch of the Montreal crime family was murdered in 2010 by a sniper’s bullet as he sat down to eat with his family. The killing was eerily similar to the 1980 murder of Rocco Violi who was also killed by a sniper’s bullet at his dinner table. With Violi out of the way, Rizzuto Sr. took over the crime family’s power. He was born into the Mafia in Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily. His father, Vito, was murdered in New York City in 1933. At Nicolo’s funeral in Montreal, his killers left a message for the Rizzuto clan, indicating it was a vendetta slaying.

Nicolo Rizzuto Jr.

The son of Montreal Mob boss, Vito, was shot and killed on Dec. 28, 2009. His bullet-riddled body was left near his parked car in Montreal’s NDG district. It was a precise hit as the killers waited for him to emerge from an address. He had taken control of his father Vito’s operations after Vito was imprisoned.

Paolo Renda

The married father of two was the family’s consigliere and was third on the power chart, behind brother-in-law Vito and father-in-law Nicolo. The 73-year-old’s SUV was found abandoned near his home shortly after he mysteriously disappeared in May 2010. Renda, who was on probation at the time, was heading home after playing golf and buying steaks for a family meal. His family appeared before a Superior Court judge in Montreal earlier this year seeking an order declaring the missing man dead.

Agostino Cuntrera

He was in charge of the day-to-day operations while Vito Rizzuto was in a Colorado jail. He was killed in June 2010 during a daylight shootout in front of his food supply business in Montreal. Police had warned him that he was a target. Cuntrera had enlisted drug trafficker Liborio Sciascia to be his driver and bodyguard. Sciascia was also killed during the shootout. Cuntrera was sentenced in the 1970s to five years jail for conspiring to kill mobster Paolo Violi.

Salvatore Montagna

The Montreal-born Mob boss of the Bonanno crime family agreed to leave New York City in 2009 before American authorities began deportation proceedings. Shortly after arriving in Canada, the assault on the Rizzuto family began. There was a co-operative effort by Mafia and ‘Ndrangheta clans in Ontario and mafia members in Quebec, including Montagna, “to pick up the pieces of a leaderless crime family (but) it couldn’t work together,” said a police source. Montagna was murdered in 2011. Six people were charged in the slaying, including Raynald Desjardins, who was believed to be part of a group challenging Rizzuto.

Salvatore Calautti

A Mob enforcer prolific in inflicting pain and committing murder, he was shot to death as he sat in his car in Vaughan in July 2013. Many in the Mob world described him as being “a hot head.” Police believe he was involved in the murders of Gaetano Panepinto, a Rizzuto strongman in Ontario, and Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. Police believe Panepinto was killed in retaliation for the murders of two of Calautti’s close friends and associates, Domenic Napoli and Antonio Oppedisano. Both Napoli and Oppedisano were muscling in on Panepinto’s illegal gaming machine business. It’s believed the two were murdered in the basement of Panepinto’s casket shop on St. Clair Ave. W. Their bodies have never been found.


Mysterious mistress emerges at Gambino murder trial

The crime had all the ingredients of a messy mob hit, and the trial, which continues this week, has all the trappings of New York’s mafia underworld: money, power and betrayal.

Only one thing was missing: sex. That changed this past week, when the identity of a mysterious woman surfaced in the murder trial of Miami Subs magnate Gus Boulis. Her name is Pina Diminno, and she was the mistress of Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari, one of two mobsters accused of arranging Boulis’ Feb. 6, 2001, slaying.

Diminno, a hairdresser who now lives in Canada, may have witnessed — and possibly even participated in — the plot to kill Boulis, according to witness testimony.

She has not been charged in the case and has refused to talk to prosecutors. But it was clear that she played a role, based on statements made in open court this past week.

James “Pudgy” Fiorillo, the prosecution’s star witness, testified last week that he saw Diminno’s Mazda and Ferrari’s red Volkswagen Jetta right before Boulis was shot.

Fiorillo, who was the lookout that night, said in court that he did not see the shooting and did not know who was in the Mazda.

A motorist who witnessed the shooting, however, said he saw the Mazda stop in front of Boulis’ BMW right before a black Mustang pulled up beside him and a gunman opened fire. The witness said the red Jetta sped past after the shooting.

Chief homicide prosecutor Brian Cavanagh declined to elaborate on the testimony, citing a court-imposed gag order prohibiting lawyers from discussing the case.

But Diminno, whom Ferrari had set up in a hairdressing business, fled to Canada with Fiorillo after the murder, Fiorillo said.

Later, Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes said that Diminno is now a Canadian citizen and the country was not willing to produce her as a witness in a death penalty case.

Ferrari’s wife Jessie also figured into court testimony, with defense attorneys trying to suggest that she may have had a romantic relationship with Fiorillo. Fiorillo admitted that he spoke to her almost every day — and sometimes twice a day — during the six years he was in prison awaiting trial.


Ferrari is one of two New York gangsters facing possible death sentences on charges they orchestrated Boulis’ murder. Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello, the onetime reputed bookkeeper for late crime boss John Gotti, and Ferrari come to court each day clad in crisp suits, accompanied by David Bogenschutz and Christopher Grillo, two of the toughest criminal defense lawyers in South Florida.

A small group of Boulis’ loved ones are in the courtroom most every day as well, patiently waiting for justice.

The trial has presented all sorts of challenges more than 12 years after the murder.

There are witnesses who have been killed, others who have disappeared and some who are too terrified to testify. A few who have taken the stand have been tripped up by failing memories — or, as defense attorneys would like the jury to believe — caught in lies concocted to save their own skins.

For the first time in Broward County in 30 years, a jury has been sequestered for the duration of the trial. The last time Big Tony was on trial he and a slew of other Gambino crime family members were cut loose after the case ended in a mistrial because of jury tampering.

Moscatiello, a bald, rotund 75-year-old onetime caterer who grew up in Queens, has managed to be free on bond since his 2005 arrest, as two of his cronies linked to the hit stewed in jail awaiting trial.

Fiorillo, 35, turned snitch in 2011 and was finally released, while Ferrari remained behind bars, unable to post bond.

Fiorillo worked for Moscatiello and for Ferrari, who ran a security business. He also slept on the couch of Ferrari’s Miami Beach condo. Fiorillo said Ferrari attempted to hire him to kill Boulis but he refused.

The complicated case involves business fraud as well as mob ties. Moscatiello, the alleged mastermind behind the crime, was friends with Adam Kidan, who together with former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, were in the midst of purchasing a casino fleet from Boulis at the time of the murder. Both Kidan and Abramoff were indicted and served jail time in federal prison on wire-fraud charges in connection with the $147.5 million sale of Boulis’ SunCruz business.


Kidan pleaded guilty in late 2005, and his 70-month sentence was cut in half after he began helping state and federal investigators with the Boulis case and the federal fraud case against Abramoff.

Kidan was fighting with Boulis for control of SunCruz when Boulis was killed.

He has previously testified that he hired Moscatiello as a food and beverage consultant, and he paid Ferrari, who owned a security company, to watch the boats and to protect him after Boulis allegedly tried to kill him by stabbing him in the neck with a pen.

Prosecutors contend Moscatiello and Ferrari had Boulis killed without Kidan’s knowledge, then forced Kidan to continue paying protection money.

Moscatiello’s attorney, Bogenschutz, has tried to distance his client from Ferrari, alleging that Ferrari knocked off Boulis without Moscatiello’s knowledge.

Moscatiello, who was a federal snitch at the time of Boulis’ murder, has claimed it was Kidan who ordered the hit.

The alleged gunman, John Gurino — another Gambino crime family associate — was killed in 2003 by a Boca Raton deli owner who said he shot Gurino in self defense after Gurino threatened him.

Thus far, court testimony has shed little light on the relationship between Boulis and the two men on trial for his murder. The only link appears to be Kidan, who met Moscatiello in the early 1990s when he needed some advice about his struggling bagel business in the Hamptons.

Kidan’s life had been touched by organized crime before.

His mother, Judith Shemtov, was murdered in her Staten Island home in 1993 by a crew connected to the Bonanno crime family. The thugs raided the home on a tip that Kidan’s stepfather had $200,000 stashed in the safe.

The trial continues Monday.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lucchese associate busted for breaking into home of porn star

Hottie Trista Geyer has been repeatedly harassed by hothead Gelardo at her upper East Side and downtown apartments, prosecutors said.

A HOT-HEADED mob goon was busted for allegedly breaking into his porn star ex-gal pal’s upper East Side apartment last month, the Daily News has learned.

Ex-con Thomas Gelardo, 30, believed to be a Luchese associate, was ordered held without bail at his Wednesday arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court on burglary and criminal contempt charges.

He has a history of roughing up and harassing Trista Geyer, a porn star from Miami — with at least three arrests dating to June 9 at her Water St. and E. 83rd St. apartments, prosecutors said.

Thomas Gelardo is arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday and was held without bail on burglary and criminal contempt charges.

Gelardo called the X-rated actress "upward of 60 times a day," despite two restraining orders, prosecutors said.

The most recent arrest came after Geyer called 911 when Gelardo "pushed through into her apartment" sometime in September.

On an earlier occasion he threw her into a wall, injuring her, prosecutors said.

And in another incident at her E. 83rd St. apartment, Gelardo "showed up with another individual, kicked the door and told (the victim) that he thought there was a guy (in there) and he was willing to stab the guy," prosecutors said at his arraignment.


Colombo captain given time served for ratting out the crime family

Anthony Russo was given 35 months of time already served for his part in the murder of Colombo crime family underboss Joseph Scopo.

Mob blabbermouth Anthony Russo begged to be rewarded for cooperating against the Colombo crime family — and his wish was granted.

“I’m totally scared to death,” Russo, 49, cried Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court. “I’ve made my own choices,” he said. “Was it low self-esteem? Did I look up to the wrong people? Growing up in a certain neighborhood?”

Russo was sentenced to time served — 35 months — for driving a getaway car in the 1993 murder of underboss Joseph Scopo during the Colombo civil war.

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto also ordered him to pay the government $110,000 in criminal forfeiture.

Russo was arrested in the Justice Department’s historic Mafia takedown of more than 100 gangsters in January 2011. The former mob enforcer immediately began ratting out scores of co-defendants, including Colombo family leadership.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Colombo soldier dodges jail sentence after dying of liver and heart failure

Colombo goon Ralph Scopo Jr. (center) died at 63, avoiding conviction on extortion charges..

Feds 110, Colombo crime family 1.

That’s the scorecard for the government in its historic takedown of the city’s five Mafia families in January 2011.

Reputed Colombo soldier Ralph Scopo Jr. died last week of liver and heart failure, making him the only gangster from the massive sweep to escape conviction.

“He has to answer to a higher judge,” said a law enforcement source.

Scopo, 63, had been filing letters to Brooklyn Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto for nearly two years detailing his deteriorating medical condition, as wiseguy after wiseguy pleaded guilty to charges in more than a dozen separate indictments in New York.

Charged with extorting coffee errand-runners of the Cement and Concrete Workers Local 6A, Scopo was confined to his Long Island home under electronic monitoring with leave for doctor visits and to exercise in a swimming pool at the gated community where he lived.

When last convicted of racketeering, Scopo claimed at his 2006 sentencing that he had less than two years to live, according to court papers.

Scopo’s father, Ralph Sr., was a gangster who died in prison and his brother, Joseph Scopo, was whacked during the Colombo family civil war.

While Scopo beat the rap by going to the big social club in the sky, the feds’ impressive convictions include Gambino capo Bartolomeo "Bobby" Vernace for killing two men in a Queens bar over a spilled drink in 1981; Colombo acting boss Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo and underboss Benjamin Castellazzo, and Gambino consigliere Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo.

Scopo’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Former Lucchese associate turned rat indicted in string of New Jersey burglaries

Over a period of less than a month and a half, a Garfield mob associate who turned on the Lucchese crime family either attempted or succeeded in burglarizing 10 different restaurants, pizzerias and mini marts in town and in neighboring Lodi, an indictment returned by a grand jury in Hackensack alleges.
Gianni Iacavo, who once helped authorities take down a mob-run gambling ring, was arrested by two Garfield police officers on March 7, moments after they said he smashed a glass door at the Golden Eagle Deli on Lanza Avenue before an inside lock kept him out.
He was carrying a BB gun and cocaine, the 16-count indictment returned last week says.
The arrest ended a spree that began with the burglary of Chinatown Gourmet on Washington Street in Lodi on Jan. 28, the indictment charges.
In between, it says, Iacavo either committed or tried to commit eight other burglaries – including two in one day three different times:
2/11/13: Attempted burglary of T&J Pizza, 120 Kipp Avenue, and attempted break-in at Vic’s Bagel Shop, 29 S. Main St., both in Lodi
2/12/13: Burglary of Pizza Mania, 392 Midland Ave., Garfield
2/18/13: Burglary of Paul’s Mini Market, 49 Plauderville Ave., Garfield
2/25/13: Burglary of Wicania Mini Market, 175 Shaw St., and attempted break-in at Pazza Luna, 52 Chestnut St., both in Garfield
3/5/13: Burglary of Bobs Market, 206 Palisade Ave., and attempted burglary of Polish Kitchen, 324 River St., both in Garfield
3/7/2013: Attempted break-in at Golden Eagle.
Four other counts involve possession of cocaine, eluding police and two weapons counts, including being a felon in possession of a weapon — a Daisy l840 .177-caliber BB gun that police said he used to smash a glass door during at least one break-in or attempt.
Iacavo, who turns 38 later that month, has been free on $27,500 bail, posted hours after his arrest.
Two years ago, a Morris County judge promised Iacavo probation in exchange for a guilty plea to promoting gambling. As part of his plea, Iacavo agreed to fully cooperate with prosecutors by providing sworn statements “detailing his actions, those of his co-conspirators and those of other individuals who may have factual information or knowledge of the illegal activities covered by this agreement.”


Little Italy restaurants and the Five Families of New York City

Does Little Italy still have Mafia restaurants, those establishments where tourists might be served an excellent fettuccine in the front of the house while nefarious discussions are going on in back?

"The way to tell is on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, if you see a group with big necks with no wives around, enjoying a conversation," explained Jerry Capeci, one of the authors of "Mob Boss: The Life of Little Al D'Arco, the Man Who Brought Down the Mafia"

"The answer is yes," added his co-author, Tom Robbins, a longtime investigate reporter for the Daily News and the Village Voice. "There's more than a few."

I mentioned the name of a restaurant on Mulberry Street that I've patronized for several decades, and where I always order the same thing: an excellent spedini (a loaf of mozzarella baked in a tomato anchovy sauce). For obvious reasons—among them, that I prize my kneecaps—the restaurant will remain anonymous.

"That would qualify," Mr. Capeci said of the place, though he added cautiously that he knew it only "by reputation."

Alfonso D'Arco, a former acting boss of the Lucchese crime family, was the highest-ranked member of the Mafia to turn government witness when he "flipped" in 1991 after he was slated for execution himself. Since then, he's testified against his former colleagues in 15 trials, sending more than 50 gangsters to prison.

Mr. Capeci is an expert on organized crime who has written six books on the mob and runs Ganglandnews.com, a weekly online column about all things Mafia. He said what made Mr. D'Arco, whose stories and secrets double as an anecdotal history of the Mafia in recent times, such a superb witness wasn't just that the Brooklyn native knew all the players, sat in more than a few meetings with them and had his fair share of blood on his hands; it was that he possessed a Proustian memory.

Among those he testified against was Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, the Genovese crime family boss who took to walking the streets in a bathrobe and slippers while trying, ultimately unsuccessfully, to persuade the feds he was insane.

"He was the greatest witness I ever saw," said Mr. Robbins, who these days is the investigative journalist in residence at CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism. "Phenomenal memory, great sense of humor. Reporters loved him. He was such a quotable gangster. He wasn't just a thug."

"He didn't 'yes' and 'no' answer," Mr. Capeci added. "'There was a dog outside barking. Joe was to my left. It was a red tablecloth.'"

The authors spent days debriefing Mr. D'Arco at an undisclosed location.

By the way, Mr. Capeci asserted that the "Five Families"—Lucchese, Gambino, Bonanno, Genovese and Colombo—still exist in the New York area, each with a boss at the top. And they still meet to resolve issues, such as labor racketeering, more or less peacefully. "One rule the commission put in place was to outlaw the killings that put so many gangsters in prison for the rest of their lives," Mr. Capeci explained, "and that helped the government create informants because people were looking at so much time in prison they flipped."

I'm as interested in the Mafia as the next person, in guys with their own proactive code of honor. I've encouraged my kids to read "The Godfather." But I was also eager to get answers to a few questions that occur whenever I stroll through Little Italy, or what's left of it: As I said, how many of the restaurants in the neighborhood are Mafia fronts? Where's the Ravenite Social Club, where mobster John Gotti held court? And do those little old ladies who served as lookouts still exist?

Messrs. Capeci and Robbins suggested a walking tour, our first stop Mexican Radio, a restaurant facing Petrosino Square (formerly Kenmare Square). That's a small triangular park bordered by Lafayette Street and just south of Spring Street. It's named in honor of Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino, a decorated NYPD officer from the early years of the last century who put hundreds of organized-crime members behind bars before he was killed on assignment in Sicily.

Between 1987 and 1991, Al D'Arco owned a restaurant, La Donna Rosa, on the site now occupied by Mexican Radio. "He got a hoot it was right across the street from the park named after Joe Petrosino," Mr. Capeci said. "They'd have walk talks right around the park."

"Walk talks" are ambulatory business meetings popular with gangsters because they make it harder for the feds to bug the conversations. Another walk talk practitioner, though imperfectly, was John Gotti. "They used to come out this door," Mr. Capeci explained.

By now, we were standing outside the Ravenite at 247 Mulberry St. He was referring to the "Teflon Don" and to "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the Gotti underboss who turned informer against him. "They used to walk out the door and make a left on Prince Street."

According to Mr. Capeci, Mr. Gotti's undoing—besides Mr. Gravano's disloyalty—is that walk talks, no matter how efficient, lose their romance come January and February. "In the wintertime, when it would get cold," he explained, "they used an apartment on the third floor where the widow of an old gangster lived. The FBI bugged it and they caught Sam and John."

All that remains of the club is its cracked tiled floor. "People come and kiss the floor," reported Leila Mae Makdissi, the owner of Shoe, the store that now occupies the space. She was referring more to thrill-seekers than nostalgic Mafiosi. Ms. Makdissi, who moved into the neighborhood in 1981, remembers Mr. Gotti and his cronies. "I saw him many times," she said. "I didn't kiss him on the cheek."

She also remembers the little old lady lookouts. She said a few still exist. "If you ever did anything different, they'd note it," she recalled.

We also visited a couple of Mr. D'Arco's former residences, one of them subsidized by the Little Italy Restoration Association at 21 Spring St. "All the wise guys made sure they got apartments," Mr. Capeci said. "As Al told it: 'We built it. It's our neighborhood.' He lived here until he flipped."

After dropping by the Mulberry Street Cigar Company, the former site of the Hawaiian Moonlighters social club at 140 Mulberry, where Mr. Capeci said Mr. Gotti and associates played cards, I had to go. My spedini was calling.

Perhaps it was paranoia after spending the previous hour in the company of Messrs. Capeci and Robbins and the ghosts of mobsters past, but I thought I noticed the maitre d' at my favorite Italian restaurant giving me the evil eye. Then I realized I'd left a copy of "Mob Boss" on the table. I quickly tossed it on a chair out of view.

My spedini tasted as good as ever. And I still felt fine the next day.


Businessman identified as a made member of the New England Mafia

In June 2012, when Joseph Ruggiero Sr. ascended from his relatively obscure role as a Fall River bar owner to sweep onto the city scene as the new owner of the well-known Fall River Ford dealership, he walked the 5½-acre lot and spoke of the future.

He called the $3.2 million deal “a good investment,” predicting further investment in the property of up to $2 million and a restoration of the dwindling work force to a full staff of 55. A Ford Motor Co. executive heralded the purchase as “a great day.”

Less than a year later, Ruggiero was well on his way to cementing his stamp on Fall River. Mayor Will Flanagan credited Ruggiero with “saving” the South End dealership along with “hundreds” of jobs, Ruggiero was unanimously voted onto the board of the Fall River Office of Economic Development and he acquiesced to the mayor’s personal plea to bid on the crumbling Bedford Street police station. Ruggiero’s public persona was indeed celebrated.

Court documents and interviews, however, present a different image of Ruggiero, identified by the head of the Rhode Island State Police as a “made man.”

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island on Feb. 28, 2011, connected to the trial of Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio — a former head of the New England La Cosa Nostra — identifies local businessman Joseph Ruggiero Sr. as a member of the secret criminal organization.

Along with eight other defendants, Manocchio was accused, and later convicted, of leading a scheme to shake down the owners of strip clubs in Providence, dating back to the 1990s.

The court filing was a motion to prohibit Manocchio from obtaining bail before he went to trial. As part of the prosecutor’s argument, Manocchio lied to investigators about not leaving the country since 2001, but in fact had flown to Italy with a person identified as “NELCN member Joseph Ruggiero” in 2009.

According to the document, a confidential FBI informant said the pair went to Italy to purchase property for Manocchio.

In a federal court document filed Dec. 20, 2012, Ruggiero is named again, this time as part of a special condition of probation for Manocchio’s co-defendant Theodore Cardillo.

U.S. District Judge William Smith ordered Cardillo to stay away from five men associated with organized crime, including Ruggiero.

Prior to these events, an FBI agent allegedly observed a heated exchange between Fall River crime ring leader Timothy Mello and La Cosa Nostra members identified as Ruggiero and another during a 1999 Golden Gloves tournament at the Police Athletic League on Franklin Street, according to the court documents.

Three years later, in coverage of Mello’s 2002 racketeering trial, The Herald News reported that court documents indicated the Patriarca La Cosa Nostra family wanted in on Mello’s gang’s action.

Col. Steven O’Donnell, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and a veteran mob investigator, said in a September interview that Mafia investigators have identified Ruggiero as a “made man” in the New England La Cosa Nostra, based on interviews with Mafia associates.

In the initiation to become a made man, O’Donnell said a member must be involved in a mob hit but not necessarily participate as the murderer.

O’Donnell said Ruggiero was close to known mobsters Frank Salemme, Robert DeLuca and Manocchio.

“He and Salemme go way back,” O’Donnell said.

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme was once the head of the New England mob and served several years in prison after being indicted in 1995 on racketeering and other charges along with James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, along with Robert DeLuca.

In 2008, Salemme was sentenced to five more years for lying to authorities investigating the FBI’s connections to organized crime.

At one point, Ruggiero hired Salemme’s son in one of his dealerships, O’Donnell said.
“Overall, when you sleep with dogs you get fleas,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said the Mafia in New England has been decimated, but that doesn’t mean factions would not attempt to rebuild.

“Part of the oath of La Cosa Nostra is the maxim of power, greed and violence,” O’Donnell said.

Mobsters, he said, have different reasons for taking the oath, and some can be financial.
The FBI Boston bureau refused to be interviewed regarding Ruggiero.


Genovese mobster loses bid to quash IRS subpoena

A longtime Genovese crime figure lost his bid to quash an IRS subpoena designed to determine where his money comes from and whether he can pay more than $100,000 in taxes that the government says he owes from 2003 to 2006.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez on Tuesday denied Gus Curcio's motion to block a subpoena issued on Kent Wahlberg, a Stratford certified public accountant. The judge also dismissed Curcio's lawsuit challenging the subpoena.

Wahlberg filed returns for 27 entities -- including Hawley Enterprises, Cummings Enterprises Inc., Regensburger Enterprises Inc., Millionaire Club Inc, and Keepers Inc., a Milford strip bar, -- that the IRS says are associated with Curcio.

The Stratford resident has long been linked by federal prosecutors to the Genovese crime family. He has served federal prison time for loan sharking, extortion and obstruction of justice.

Martinez's recommended ruling must now be approved by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson, to whom the case has been assigned. If Thompson sides with the magistrate, Jeffrey Sklarz, Curcio's lawyer could appeal. Jonathan Shapiro, Wahlberg's lawyer, could file a similar suit on the accountant's behalf. Neither lawyer returned calls for comment Tuesday.

Sklarz maintains in court papers that Curcio's 2011 and 2012 earnings have no impact on the amount of his past tax liabilities, nor is past earned money relevant in determining his ability to pay today. Both Sklarz and Shapiro claim the subpoena violates Curcio's right against unreasonable search and seizure.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hughes says their claims are "ludicrous."

"Income earned as recently as two years ago certainly provides relevant information about an ability to pay today," he advised the magistrate judge.

The IRS is seeking documentation from Wahlberg to determine to whom the 27 entities paid their expenses, particularly consulting and accounting fees, as well as rents and loans.

IRS Revenue Officer Joseph Darragh says Curcio owes more than $100,000 in taxes for the years 2003-2006. But Darragh has been unable to find any bank accounts, wages, income or assets in Curcio's name, according to Hughes. And Curcio has not been issued any 1099 or W-2 income forms or reported any taxable income since 2006, Hughes said.

While Darragh's attempts to find accounts for Curcio have been unsuccessful, the revenue officer discovered that the reputed mobster has several credit cards whose bills in 2011 and 2012 were paid from accounts maintained by Blue Rose LLC, Richard Urban, Regensburger Enterprises and Millennium Group Management, according to court documents.

In connection with Blue Rose, Darragh determined that Julie Kish, Curcio's wife, has been signing checks, court documents say. Hughes claims that Urban might be the president, secretary and director of Connecticut Amusements Inc, which provides gaming equipment to area restaurants but uses Curcio's post office box to receive mail. Connecticut Amusements also owes more than $50,000 to the state in unpaid employment taxes, according to Hughes.

In 2011, the 27 entities claimed gross receipts of $1,600,500 and expenses of $1,381,780. Meanwhile, Curcio claimed $218,836 in gross receipts for consulting fees on his return and Kish reported $200,000 in similar fees, according to court documents. But neither was issued a 1099, so the source of income is unknown, according to Hughes.

Hughes said the IRS believes that through Curcio's and Kish's connections to the entities, they were paid by them, and that those payments were deducted on tax returns.

"There is a clear pattern with regard to the expenses associated with the returns filed by the entities listed in the summons," Hughes said. "Almost every entity in question reported a significant loss due to expenses related to another entity. These businesses also used a combination of legal and professional fees, consulting fees, management fees and accounting fees to eliminate any identifiable earnings or secure a loss."

Hughes claims the entities claimed a significant expense for rent, utilities and in some cases vehicles.


A year after his prison release Vito Rizzuto is back on top of the mafia

A year after Vito Rizzuto returned home from a U.S. prison stint, the crime boss has already re-taken the reins of the Mafia, experts tell QMI Agency.

It's a feat few would have thought possible after Rizzuto's father, son and several top associates were murdered in a three-year bloodbath by mysterious rivals.

Mafia expert Pierre de Champlain tells QMI that Vito Rizzuto has been able to re-assert his authority and bring "relative peace between the various factions" in the underworld.

He apparently returned to power with a mix of the olive branch and the gun. His son, Nick Jr., was shot and killed in December 2009 and his father Nicolo was gunned down less than a year later, prompting revenge killings that began as soon as Vito came back to Canada.

The first to fall was former associate Joe Di Maulo, who was felled by two bullets to the head a month after Vito's return.

De Champlain says the settling of accounts was made possible by "associates who were loyal during (Rizzuto's) absence."

Underworld expert Antonio Nicaso says the powerful Ontario Calabrian mob, while rivals of the Sicilians, might be willing to settle for a truce.

And while Rizzuto is 67 years old and recently sold his luxury home in Montreal, news reports suggest he's not yet ready to hang up his hat.

The New York Post, citing American investigators, reported last year that Rizzuto ordered the hit of rival mobster Salvatore Montagna from behind bars in 2011.

Citing a "jailhouse source," the Post said Rizzuto told cellmates that "I don't just want to be godfather of Canada. I want to be godfather of the world."

Rizzuto also scored a victory of sorts against the establishment when officials at the Charbonneau commission into organized crime decided against ordering him to take the stand.

It's believed Rizzuto would have invoked omerta, the Mafia code of silence, had prosecutors grilled him about his business dealings with Sicilian-owned construction firms and corrupt bureaucrats.

But revelations about cash bribes and collusion with construction firms might do as much damage to Rizzuto's empire as a shower of bullets.

Endless revelations at the commission, combined with multiple police investigations, have put a spotlight on the black market that had fattened the Rizzuto family's pockets for 30 years.


Feds hope to reward Colombo captain for his cooperation

Another major mob rat is about to get his slice of government cheese.

Federal prosecutors want leniency for former Colombo capo Anthony “Big Anthony” Russo at his upcoming sentencing as a reward his cooperation with authorities, Brooklyn federal court papers show.

The mafia snitch – who helped to put away former acting Colombo captain Andrew Russo and underboss Benjamin Castellazzo – faces a minimum of five years in prison and a max of more than 30 years behind bars.

The gangster came clean about his decades long career as a vicious hoodlum – and even copped to joining a colleague in cutting off a dead man’s penis and placing it in his mouth as a final humiliation.

Russo will be the latest rat to benefit handsomely from his cooperation with federal prosecutors in their increasingly effective war against organized crime.

A parade of mob turncoats – from former Bonanno boss Joey Massino to captain Richard Cantarella – have shuffled into Brooklyn federal courtrooms in recent months to be rewarded for reneging on their omerta oaths.

Prosecutors credit Russo with spilling critical information about no less than 23 of his former family comrades. “Russo has provided substantial cooperation in the government’s longstanding and continuing investigation into the Colombo crime family,” reads the filing.

The feds were given an inside look into the most sensitive inner workings of the once powerful clan as Russo offered details into their most vicious crimes and key administrative maneuvers.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Defense attorneys grill turncoat New Jersey gangster during murder trial in Florida

James “Pudgy” Fiorillo is a mobster-wannabe from New Jersey.

He’s also a liar, a possible killer, unemployed freeloader — and star witness against two alleged New York mobsters accused of orchestrating the murder of Miami Subs tycoon Gus Boulis.

Fiorillo may not have pulled the trigger that killed the ruthless self-made millionaire — no one so far knows for sure. But the jury may have a hard time figuring out whether to believe a guy who was so much a part of defendant Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari’s “family” that he slept on his couch, drove his splashy cars, ate at his dinner table and was “Uncle Jimmy” to his young daughter.

The hapless thug was painted by criminal defense attorney David Bogenschutz as a conniving liar-turned snitch who betrayed the hand that hired him, paid him and fed him for more than a decade. Fiorillo, whose nickname was given to him as a 250-pound kid growing up in South Amboy, N.J., is trying to pin Boulis’ murder on Ferrari and his alleged boss, Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello.

All to save his own skin, Bogenschutz said.

The veteran criminal lawyer was in top form, methodically poring through court depositions that would have put most juries to sleep. Instead, he turned the chore of discrediting Fiorillo into a cat-and-mouse game, leaving the star witness befuddled by his own testimony.

Bogenschutz represents Big Tony Moscatiello, a 75-year-old bookkeeper, caterer and alleged capo in the Gambino crime family. Prosecutors contend that Ferrari, 56, is an underling he assigned to set up the hit.

Fiorillo contends that he knew very little about the plot. His job, he said was to inform Ferrari when Boulis left his office, the night he was gunned down. Boulis, 52, was executed as he drove his BMW on a dimly lit Fort Lauderdale street about 9 p.m. Feb. 6, 2001. A Ford Mustang pulled up alongside him, and a gunman fired four shots, the last one fatal. The hired New York gunman, John Gurino, was murdered in a mob-style hit in 2003 in Boca Raton.

Fiorillo was arrested, along with Ferrari and Moscatiello in 2005, all charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. All faced the death penalty if convicted.

Six years after his arrest, while still in prison awaiting trial, Fiorillo agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and in 2011, he laid out in detail what he knew and when he knew it.

But after a dozen years, Fiorillo confessed Wednesday, his memory is a little foggy.

Bogenschutz even managed to get him to admit that he lied under oath during a deposition he took just after he entered a plea deal with the state attorney’s office. Prosecutors agreed to a six-year sentence with credit for time served — which meant he was released from jail immediately. But if he fails to tell the truth the deal is void and he could spend up to 30 years in prison.

Assistant State Attorney Brian Cavanagh, showing his growing frustration with Bogenschutz’s line of questioning, at one point stood up and shouted “Objection! Objection! Objection!” That led to a sidebar conference with Broward Circuit Court Judge Ilona Holmes. After the consultation — which was out of the earshot of jurors — she announced “Sustained! sustained! Sustained!”

The no-nonsense judge, however, inserted a little relief into the tense trial by standing behind the bench and asking the jurors — and everyone in the courtroom — to follow her lead as she did a few stretches.

Testimony continues Thursday with yet another surprise: Prosecutors are bringing in a mystery witness who will be addressed by a pseudonym and whose face and hands cannot be photographed or taped for TV.