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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Joey Cigars gets four years in Florida timeshare fraud case

The convicted felon nicknamed "Joey Cigars" knew he had to go to prison, but first he wanted some more time to taper down his methadone treatment — and he also had some concerns about his personal safety behind bars.

Joseph Crapella, 47, of Fort Lauderdale, was already being rewarded for testifying against his co-defendants in a Fort Lauderdale timeshare resale company that ripped off more than $5 million from 3,000 customers.

Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to a fraud and money-laundering conspiracy charge in a deal with federal prosecutors that called for him to testify against his former business partner, Pasquale "Posh" Pappalardo, who authorities said boasted about having organized crime ties.

In exchange for Crapella's cooperation in the Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group case, and for spending a few days testifying in the trial of Pasquale and another defendant, prosecutors agreed to recommend that Crapella spend no more than five years in federal prison for his crimes. Without the deal, Crapella, who previously served seven years for racketeering, could have faced 14 to 17.5 years in prison.

Crapella came prepared to surrender at his sentencing Wednesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, but hoping for a short reprieve.

"I'm very concerned about my client going into custody today," his lawyer, Kristi Kassebaum, told U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas.

Crapella was taking prescription doses of methadone to treat his addiction to oxycodone pain pills, she said, but his efforts to gradually reduce his dosage had hit a roadblock partly, it seemed, because of the stress of testifying.

Crapella also believed he could be in physical danger from his codefendants and others, Kassebaum told the judge.

"There could be countless unknown people out there that they [prison officials] can't protect my client from," Kassebaum said.

Dimitrouleas took Crapella's concerns seriously and held extensive discussions about his safety at a sidebar with the lawyers and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Crapella clearly hadn't lost his sense of humor. As he went to the restroom, he nodded at Peter Patanzo, the lawyer for one of the men Crapella helped to convict, and asked: "How you doin'?"

When Patanzo returned the pleasantry, Crapella replied: "I'm doin' better than the others."

Crapella also discreetly took a swig of methadone during a break despite his lawyer telling him: "I'm not sure that's a good idea."

The judge eventually decided Crapella's cooperation deserved more of a break and sentenced him to four years and three months in prison, also ordering him to pay almost $950,000 in restitution.

Dimitrouleas rejected Crapella's request to delay going to prison but the marshals made it clear that – for his safety – he would be imprisoned outside of Broward or Miami-Dade counties.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bunch of Genovese mobsters cop plea deals for racketeering and extortion

Mobsters plead guilty to racketeering, extortion Hey, the gang’s all here.
A parade of Genovese wiseguys and associates — including an elderly captain and a burly union leader —  pleaded guilty to a range of classic mob crimes Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court.
Genovese captain Conrad Ianniello, soldiers Salvester Zarzana and James Bernardone and two others copped to a slew of mafia misdeeds in front of Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
The crime quintet was among 11 Genovese hoods who were swept up in an April 2012 bust and charged with everything from shaking down vendors at the annual San Gennaro festival in Little Italy to extorting contractors on major construction projects to union wrangling.
In addition to his San Gennaro activities, the elderly Ianniello was also charged with running illegal gambling enterprises and union fixing. He copped to gambling and extortion raps.
Bernardone serves as the Secretary Treasurer of Local 124 of the International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades and Zarzana formerly headed the Local 926 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.
“I along with others, conspired to steal property through the threat of economic harm,” Bernardone said meekly in a scripted statement to the court.
Bernardone was smacked with racketeering raps related to his shakedowns of contractors performing work throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens from 2006 to 2009 including the construction of a Hampton Inn on Ditmars Boulevard.
The Bronx resident is out on $750,000 bond but nearly had it revoked in June after he attended a mobster-laden wake that was attended by more than two-dozen known hoods who were paying respects to a neighborhood fixture in March.
A pair of other Genovese associates, Paul Gasparrini and Ryan Ellis, also copped pleas Wednesday.
The gangsters will all remain out on bail until their March 14 sentencing.


Engineer claims he was fired due to falsely assisting his mobster cousins

A former chief engineer at a Brooklyn federal building — who happens to have relatives in the Mafia — is claiming he was fired after a co-worker falsely accused him of assisting criminals.

Robert Trucchio, 44, who worked at 271 Cadman Plaza, which houses the offices of federal prosecutors, blamed onetime friend Kevin Smith, 51, for getting him canned in March.

Smith told the FBI that his boss took cell-phone photos of witnesses inside the U.S. Attorney offices and transmitted them to members of organized crime, according to Trucchio’s $4 million lawsuit filed last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

“Each and every one of the defendant’s accusations against plaintiff was completely, knowingly and intentionally false,” court papers said.

Trucchio admitted he has second and third cousins in La Cosa Nostra but claimed he “had no relationship whatsoever with either of these convicted criminals.”

The relatives are Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio, who’s serving a life sentence for racketeering, and his son Alphonse Trucchio, a captain with the Gambinos who was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in prison, sources said.

According to the suit, a seven-month FBI investigation failed to substantiate Smith’s claims but the engineer was fired anyway. The court papers allege that Smith — who’s described as “an angry and jealous man” — was retaliating for a longstanding feud with his former boss. “I’m gonna have his job,” Smith allegedly said, referring to Trucchio, at the end of 2012, weeks before lodging the report.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Joe Waverly found not guilty of ordering murder of NYPD cop

Mobster accused in cop killing not guilty
A high-ranking Colombo gangster has been acquitted of ordering the 1997 killing of an NYPD cop who had married his ex-wife.
The federal jury took only four hours to clear Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace of murder in aid of racketeering in the killing of Police Officer Ralph Dols.
Cacace smiled, nodded his head and hugged defense lawyer David Stern. Then he touched his fingers to his lips and blew a kiss to family members in the court.
"The truth prevailed," Cacace's son Steve said outside court.
"It's the best day of my life!" added Cacace's sister Kathy Vandina.
Dols' mother and sister left Brooklyn Federal Court accompanied by somber FBI agents.
Last year, a different jury cleared Colombo gangster Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli of carrying out Cacace's alleged lethal order, along with hit man Dino Saracino, who allegedly shot Dols in front of the cop's Sheepshead Bay building.
Cacace, 72, is serving a 20-year sentence for racketeering after admitting to carrying out an order to kill a federal prosecutor and is not due to be released from prison until 2020.
Federal prosecutors argued that Cacace felt disrespected because his ex-wife, Kim Kennaugh, had married a cop and had a baby with him.
Kennaugh, dubbed "The Black Widow" by detectives because her second husband, a Colombo killer, was also whacked, did not take the stand in last year's trial, but she had received a subpoena to testify in Cacace's trial, the Daily News has learned.
But Kim told the feds she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not answer questions under oath.
“I lawyered up,” Kennaugh told The News. "I don't like the way I was treated (by law enforcement) the last 16 years."
Kennaugh said she refused to testify not because she had anything to hide but because she feared the feds did not believe her and might bring criminal charges against her for perjury.
"I was never threatened (by Cacace); he never threatened Ralph," she said. "I just can't say something that wasn't true.
"(Dols' death) was a shock to me as to everyone else," Kennaugh said. "I know the truth. Ralph knows the truth. God knows the truth."
The anonymous jury rejected the testimony of cooperating witnesses Dino Calabro and Joseph Competiello, who were part of the hit team that killed Dols.
They pleaded guilty to the cop killing and are hoping they will receive a reduced sentence in return for their cooperation.
Dols' mother attended every day of the three week trial.
“It’s very upsetting,” she said on her way out of the courthouse.


Jury deliberates Colombo gangster's fate in NYPD cop killing case

An undated photo of Colombo boss Joel Cacace.
A defense lawyer urged jurors in the cop-killing trial of Long Island mobster Joel Cacace to reject as "pure speculation" the prosecution theory that he acted out of jealousy over the NYPD officer's marriage to his ex-wife, in summations Monday.
"That is made up out of whole cloth," lawyer Susan Kellman argued. "They have no evidence."
Cacace, 72, of Deer Park, a ponytailed former Colombo family consigliere, is accused of ordering the 1997 ambush of Officer Ralph Dols outside his Brooklyn apartment just after he and Cacace's ex-wife Kim Kennaugh had a baby girl.
Prosecutors in the two-week trial in federal court in Brooklyn relied on testimony from two informants, Dino Calabro and Joe Competiello, who said they carried out the hit after their boss, Colombo captain Tommy Gioeli of Farmingdale, told them Cacace ordered it.
But there was no direct evidence of Cacace's involvement, no witness who heard him complain about the marriage and no testimony about any arguments with his ex-wife, said Kellman, who argued prosecutors hoped an anti-mob bias would fill the gaps.
"The government wants you to go back and say, 'Organized crime, organized crime, organized crime, Colombo family, Colombo family, consigliere,' " she said. "There's a different standard of proof for these guys."
But Competiello and Calabro didn't know Dols and had no reason to kill him except for an order, said prosecutors, who argued that Cacace's motive was a reasonable surmise based on his age, his status in the crime family and mob hostility to police.
"There is no other explanation for why Ralph Dols was killed by men who did not even know who he was," prosecutor James Gatta said. "Doesn't it make sense that a man like Joel Cacace would find it unacceptable that his ex-wife married a man in his 20s, started a family with a police officer?"
Gatta also told the jury that men who rose to Cacace's rank got there by being careful, and said it was unreasonable for the defense to suggest the government needed to have Cacace explicitly acknowledging guilt on tape or to a witness.
"You know that's not the way these guys operate," he said. "They're secretive."
Calabro and Competiello testified last year against Gioeli and Dino Saracino, a third alleged member of the team that executed Dols. The jury returned racketeering convictions, but found that their claims about the Dols killing were not proven.
Kellman said they were falsely implicating Cacace to improve their chance of leniency.
"Nobody is saying these guys weren't involved in the shooting of Dols," she said. "But they had every reason to point the finger at a figure higher up in the Colombo crime family."
Jury deliberations are expected to begin Tuesday.


How can Philadelphia's consigliere in jail for 13 years be involved in a racketeering conspiracy?

Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joe Ligambi, left, and his nephew, George Borgesi, right, are charged with bookmaking and illegal video gambling. (File photos)
GEORGE BORGESI'S defense boils down to a simple question:

If he's been imprisoned and under constant surveillance for the past 13 years, how could the onetime Philly mob consigliere simultaneously be involved in a long-running racketeering conspiracy, as prosecutors claim?

The government's star witness, mob turncoat Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, claims to have the answer. He attempted yesterday to explain it to a jury - again - during the retrial of Borgesi and Borgesi's uncle, reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi.

Decked out in a dark three-piece suit with his black hair slicked back, the Andy Garcia wannabe answered prosecutor John Han's questions without the braggadocio that may have marred his credibility in the first trial.

Monacello, 47, a former mob associate, testified that he was Borgesi's man on the street for years, collecting gambling and loan-sharking proceeds and funneling them to Borgesi while he was doing time on a 2001 racketeering conviction.

"He wants things done yesterday," Monacello said, adding that Borgesi, 50, would "relentlessly hound me" from prison to handle mob activities.

"He's a gangster until he dies," Monacello said.

Monacello said he would pay Borgesi through Borgesi's now-wife Alyson by putting money in the glove compartment of her car. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, that's the way we did it," he said. Asked if Alyson knew where the money was coming from, Monacello said, "She knew exactly where it was coming from."

At one point yesterday, Alyson Borgesi muttered "fuckin' liar" while Monacello was testifying.

The jury heard a December 2003 recorded phone conversation between Borgesi, who was in a federal prison in West Virginia, and Monacello, who was enjoying mussels and wine at Ralph's Italian Restaurant at 9th and Catharine streets. They spoke in code and discussed mob business, Monacello said.

"He's a narcissistic sociopath with delusions of grandeur," Borgesi's mother, Manny, said of Monacello. She questioned whether his unusually calm demeanor was pharmaceutically assisted.

As for Ligambi, Monacello said "Uncle Joe" ran the Philadelphia faction of La Cosa Nostra and had the final say on all mob-related decisions.

"Joe's the boss," Monacello said. "He calls the shots."

Ligambi, 74, who has been held without bail since May 2011, maintained the uncanny ability to take the federal-racketeering indictment in stride.

As court adjourned yesterday, Ligambi wished his relatives a happy Thanksgiving, then turned to Alyson Borgesi and Angelo Lutz, a chef and ex-mob associate, and asked them a question out of earshot of the prosecutors.

"Who makes a better gravy?" he asked. "Be honest."


Monday, November 25, 2013

Jailed Bonanno captain dies in federal prison

Patrick DeFilippo, the Bonanno captain who squired Vincent Basciano into the crime family, has died in federal prison, according to the Bureau of Prisons.  DeFilippo, who was serving what amounted to a life sentence, died at the age of 74 although it isn't clear whether he died in a prison hospital facility or in a cell.  DeFilippo was convicted in 2006 of five counts of a ten count indictment. The jury found him guilty of racketeering conspiracy involving illegal gambling and a conspiracy to commit to collect a debt by extortion.  However, the jury found him not guilty of two counts of extortionate collection of credit and couldn't reach a verdict on whether he was involved in the 1999 of Gerlando "George From Canada" Sciascia.  Still, he got a 40 year sentence.  DeFilippo was on trial with Basciano, who government officials said wanted to kill DeFilippo at one point while both were mobsters on the street.  In prison, DeFilippo suffered from artherosclerosis and had a pacemaker implanted after he suffered from congestive heart failure, court records show.  He had suffered from fainting spells and was said to have once"died" in hospital before medical intervention brought him back, sometime in 2012. Trial testimony and law enforcement officials said DeFilippo was heavily involved in running Bronx gambling operations for the crime family over the years.  According to witness Sal Vitale, DeFilippo was was on a list of Bonanno family members who were required to make ten percent payments to former boss Joseph Massino from Joker Poker profits.  As noted in the book "Vinny Gorgeous," Patty From The Bronx had long ties to the crime family, beginning with his father's close friendship with the late Joseph Bonanno.  Funeral arrangements and burial information were not yet known.


Mob associate calls porn star girlfriend nearly 70 times from jail

MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 31 : Trista Geyer poses at Exxxotica Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center on March 31, 2007  in Miami , Florida.  (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)  
Trista Geyer, shown in 2007 at Exxxotica Miami Beach, received almost 70 telephone calls from boyfriend Thomas Geraldo trying to get her to recant allegations of violence.

A short-tempered ex-con called his porn star gal pal from a New York  jail nearly 70 times in less than two weeks — defying court orders — asking the busty babe to recant her story, it was revealed last week.
Beefy 30-year-old Thomas Gelardo is in jail awaiting trial on a slew of charges after allegedly roughing up bottle-blond bombshell Trista Geyer, violating restraining orders and trying to break into an upper East Side pad where she lived.
Thomas Gelardo appears Oct. 16 in Manhattan Supreme Court at his arraignment on charges of domestic violence against girlfriend Trista Geyer. 
Thomas Gelardo appears Oct. 16 in Manhattan Supreme Court at his arraignment on charges of domestic violence against girlfriend Trista Geyer. 

Geyer “is engaged in a cycle of violence with this defendant” who tried to sweet talk her out of going forward, prosecutor Megan McDonald said at his Manhattan Supreme Court bail hearing Friday.
“We have two people in love who want to be together, but there is an order of protection in place that prevents this and makes further contact between them criminal,” Gelardo lawyer Bruno Gioffre said.


Colombo consigliere ordered NYPD cop's murder out of jealousy

Joel Cacace, 72, is on trial allegedly ordering the murder of NYPD police officer Ralph Dols in 1997 because the cop married his former wife.

A Colombo mobster felt so disrespected by his ex-wife marrying an NYPD Police Officer Ralph Dols and bearing his baby, he ordered the cop's murder, a federal prosecutor told jurors Monday.

Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace showed no reaction as Assistant U.S. Attorney Allon Lifshitz argued that the 72-year-old mobster was so consumed by jealousy he violated the Mafia's code against killing a member of law enforcement.

Kim Kennaugh, ex-wife of Joel Carace, who allegedly put a hit out on her next nusband, NYPD cop Ralph Dols.

"The defendant simply could not accept that Ralph Dols, a young man, a police officer, had married his ex-wife and had a baby with her," Lifshitz said in Brooklyn federal court. "He could not accept that especially as a leader of organized crime and especially because Ralph Dols was a police officer."

Dols was gunned down by a hit team waiting to ambush him outside his Sheepshead Bay apartment building Aug. 25, 1997.

Ralph Dols, the NYPD cop who allegedly incurred the wrath of Joel Cacace by marrying the mobster's former wife.

Two of the killers, Dino Calabro and Joseph Competiello, testified for the government that they were carrying out the orders of then-consigliere Cacace to kill a "Mexican guy," and that they were not told the victim was a cop.

Kim Kennaugh married her fourth husband, NYPD cop Ralph Dols, pictured here at their wedding. Her ex-husband Joel Cacace allegedly didn't take kindly to the nuptials, and the mobster is on trial for arranging the policeman's murder.

Calabro, Competiello and a third alleged killer, Dino Saracino, were later rewarded for the rubout with induction as made men.

The jury listened to a tape of a conversation between Cacace in jail speaking on the phone to his son Steve the day after Calabro was arrested in 2008.

NYPD brass leave the crime scene where police officer Ralph Dols was shot dead in Brooklyn.

"The bicycle [a code name for Calabro]) broke down," Steve Cacace told his father.

Kim Kennaugh, former wife of murder defendant Joel Cacace and widow of the mobster's alleged victim Ralph Dols.

"Ah s---," Joel Cacace said wearily. "Everything's over. Ah s---."

Defense lawyer Susan Kellman urged the jury to focus on the lack of evidence to support the government's claim as to motive. She suggested no one knows why Dols was killed and that prosecutors invented the jealousy angle.

The family of slain police officer Ralph Dols outside Brooklyn federal court on April 12, 2012. The man who allegedly arranged the hit on Dols, Joel Cacace, is currently on trial.

"If Mr. Lifshitz had been married to Mr. Cacace, he might have known those things," Kellman scoffed. "Maybe Tony Soprano wouldn't want his wife married to a police officer, but this is real life."

The jury will begin deliberating murder in aid of racketeering charges Tuesday.


Bent Finger Lou details the ins and outs of the Philadelphia crime family

To hear Louie Monacello tell it, his 20 years of dealing with the Philadelphia mob were part Godfather and part Family Feud.

On the witness stand for a second day in the racketeering retrial of mob boss "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and Ligambi's nephew George Borgesi, Monacello continued to offer the jury a picture of organized crime built around fear, violence, threats and extortion.

But he also spent much of today deconstructing the Ligambi-Borgesi family, portraying the gangsters as part of a dysfunctional family where greed and power trumped bloodlines and loyalty.

"Don't be fooled," he told the jury. "Him and his uncle were always at odds. They can't stand each other."

Described by authorities as a top associate who was chosen by Borgesi to run his gambling and loansharking operations in 2000 after Borgesi was jailed in an unrelated racketeering case, Monacello, 47, said he constantly found himself caught in the middle.

And, he added, the tension heightened when Anthony Borgesi, George's brother, began to undermine him with both his brother and his uncle.

"I always had problems with the brother because he felt he had been passed over when George Borgesi chose me to run things," Monacello said. He then recounted a conversation he had had with Borgesi in prison where Borgesi was serving a 14-year sentence following his conviction in 2001 on racketeering.

Moncello said he visited Borgesi about twice a year and that the visits included conversations about the gambling and loansharking businesses. He said Borgesi also called him from prison, but that those conversations were often in coded language because the phone calls were monitored and tape-recorded by prison officials. Finally, he said, Borgesi passed information on to him through his wife Alyson.

During a prison visit, he said, Borgesi told him what he already knew, that his brother Anthony "was jealous of me." He said Borgesi described his brother as "an incompetent, an idiot" who "was not capable of making money legally or illegally."

And making money, Monacello said, was what the mob was all about. He told the jury that he ran sports betting and loansharking operations for Borgesi in Philadelphia and Delaware County while Borgesi was serving his federal prison sentence. And he estimated that at one point he was providing Borgesi with $3,000-a-month. He gave the cash to Alyson Borgesi each month, usually by leaving an envelope stuffed with cash in the glove compartment of her car.

The payoff came after a coded phone conversation in which he would ask her what days she was working in a given week. On those days, he said, she would leave her car door unlocked and parked outside the office where she worked. He would circle the block several times to be sure he wasn't being followed or surveilled. He then would approach the car, open the door, place the envelope in the glove compartment and lock the door as he left.

On one secretly recorded conversation, Monacello is heard referring to Alyson Borgesi as "Alyson Corleone." Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han what he meant by that, Monacello said "for a female she got involved in a lot of mob business...Her husband was constantly calling her for prison" and using her to relay messages to him and others.

Family dynamics and money were recurring themes throughout the day-long testimony.

Monacello said Borgesi, 50, told him repeatedly not to tell his uncle what kind of business he was conducting or how much money he was making. Ligambi, 74, showed little reaction to any of the testimony. Borgesi occasionally whispered in his lawyer's ear and at the end of the day, after the jury had left the courtroom, he boldly predicted that defense attorneys would destroy Monacello during cross-examination.

The comment was in keeping with the picture of Borgesi that has emerged during the trial -- a wiseguy who has to have the last word and who cannot keep his mouth shut, even when he is talking on a prison phone that he knows is being tapped. 

"George Borgesi said, `Don't tell my uncle,'" Monacello said after detailing a loansharking operation he had set up in Delaware County with Nicholas "Nicky the Hat" Cimino, another mob associate who was funneling money through Monacello to Borgesi.

Later the prosecution played a taped phone conversation from prison in which Borgesi repeated that admonition.

"Don't tell people your business," Borgesi said on the tape. "I know for a fact...everyone wants to score points...From here on out, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...I just wish all this stuff would go the fuck away....And don't tell no one that I called ya."

That, Monacello said, was an example of the treachery and deceit that were daily occurrences within the crime family. At another point, he said, Ligambi complained about Borgesi's inability to keep his own counsel. As soon as he walks about of prison, "they're gonna put the cuffs back on him," he said Ligambi said of his nephew's inability to keep quiet.

And then, he said, Ligambi told him, "I hope he gets a hundred years."

"He just can't control himself," Monacello said of Borgesi's constant badgering and questioning. He said he was reluctant to visit Borgesi in prison because he knew Borgesi was being closely watched.

"I wasn't even on the radar then," Monacello said, explaining that his role as a top Borgesi's associate was not well know. But, he said, Borgesi insisted he come to the prison.

"Don't worry about it," he said Borgesi told him. "It's bullshit. It's bullshit."

With that, Monacello paused, looked at the jury, then looked at Borgesi.

"It's not bullshit," he said, spreading his arms wide. "Where are we?"

Monacello said there was constant friction within the organization and that "people were constantly telling him (George Borgesi) things to make me look bad." Anthony Borgesi was the biggest offender, he said, adding that the younger brother often played his uncle against his brother, sharing information with both and "causing trouble."

Anthony Borgesi. who has been at the trial nearly every day since it began three weeks ago, was not in the courtroom today. Nor was he present on Friday when Monacello first took the stand and began to mention his role in the organization.

One mob associate who did show up unexpectedly for today's session was Angelo Lutz, now a successful restaurateur in nearby a Collingswood, NJ. Monacello had testified in gruesome detail on Friday about instances where Borgesi had abused and assaulted the 5-foot-4, 400-pouund Lutz, threatening to kill him, splitting his head open with a rod from an artificial Christmas tree, biting him in the forehead and smacking him in the face with a blackjack.

Lutz, who was convicted with Borgesi, Joey Merlino and several others in the 2001 racketgeering case, said little as he came and left the courtroom. He spent the day seated by Alyson Borgesi and Borgesi's mother Manny, ironically the spot usually occupied by the tough-talking Anthony Borgesi who was a no-show. When Lutz, 50, was referred to on another tape played for the jury today, Monacello pointed him out.

"He's sitting right there," the witness told the jury, pointing to Lutz.

Lutz smiled and casually waved at the defendant.

Monacello is expected to conclude his direct testimony when the trail resumes on Monday, Dec. 2, Court will be in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday until then. He will then face what is expected to be a lengthy and grueling cross-examination in which the defense will allege, among other things, that he has fabricated much of his testimony and that he was using Borgesi's name to enhance and expand his own criminal operations.

Before the session ended today, Monacello recounted several disputes he had had with mob capo Marty Angelina over money and gambling operations and acknowledged that he had considered killing Angelina, but settled on a plan to have him badly beaten.

That plot was detailed to Frank "Frankie the Fixer" DiGiacomo, an underworld associate who had secretly begun cooperating with the Pennsylvania State Police in 2007. The assault never took place, but Monacello was tapped making two $1,000 payments to DiGiacomo who claimed he had hired two thugs who brutally beat Angelina.

Several other DiGiacomo tapes, including a conversation in which Monacello and DiGiacomo met with Ligambi to discuss a disputed loansharking debt, were played for the jury. It was during that conversation, recorded on May 21, 2008, that Ligambi joked about George Borgesi's big mouth and how he would be "cuffed" again as soon as he got out of prison.

Borgesi, in fact, never made it out of prison. He was finishing his 14-year sentence in May 2011 when he, Ligambi, Monacello and nearly a dozen others were indicted in the current racketeering case. Monacello cut a deal and began cooperating with the government two months later.

Monacello testified at the first trial in which Borgesi was acquitted of 13 gambling and loansharking charges. The jury, however, hung on the conspiracy count against Borgesi and Ligambi, resulting in the retrial. Four other defendants were convicted. One was acquitted.

At the close of his testimony today, Monacello said he never intended to be a cooperator. He said  when he was arrested in the Delaware County investigation in 2008, he turned down offers by the State Police to cooperate and was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

But when the federal indictment came in 2011, he had a change of heart. The reason, he said, was the lack of honor and loyalty that he had seen first hand and that he felt had put his life in jeopardy.

'I don't believe in cooperating," he told the jury as the trial wrapped up for the day. "The only reason I'm sitting here (in the witness stand) and not there (pointing to the defense table) is because they were going to kill me."

Monacello is expected to expand on that story when the trial resumes. At the first trial he said his dispute with Angelina and his decision to assault a "made" member of the organization was tantamount to a death sentence. And, he said, he believed Ligambi intended to have Borgesi carry out that sentence


Colombo associate busted for shoplifting from Home Depot

 Angelo Spata, associate and son in law of jailed Colombo boss Carmine Persico. One of over a hundred suspects in a massive roundup of mafia suspects.
The mob’s Thanksgiving turkey award goes to Angelo “Little Angelo” Spata of the Colombo crime family.
Spata, the son-in-law of Colombo crime boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico, was busted this month for shoplifting lighting equipment valued at $164 from a Home Depot in Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned.
The reputed mob associate was caught Nov. 8 making off with a dimmer switch and LED recessed lights from the Coney Island store without paying, according to a court complaint.
“How pathetic,” said a law enforcement source.
Spata was charged with petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Both charges are misdemeanors that carry a maximum jail sentence of one year.
The arrest couldn’t come at a worse time for Spata, who married into mob royalty.
Spata is free on $1 million bail in a separate federal racketeering case and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. Federal prosecutors are expected to seek revocation of his bail because of the shoplifting arrest, sources said.
Defense lawyer Sarita Kedia did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bent Finger Lou gets another shot to help convict his former Philadelphia mob pals

Defendant George Borgesi (middle) and govt. witness Lou Monacello (right)
Now it's personal.

When Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello took the witness stand this afternoon in the racketeering conspiracy trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew, George Borgesi, the tone of the three-week-old trial shifted.

This was no longer an expert gambling witness or a beleaguered bar owner with a poker machine or an FBI agent interpreting secretly recorded conversations. This was Borgesi's one-time friend and, if the government is to believed, his chief partner in crime.

Monacello and Borgesi go back 30 years. They know a lot about one another. And much of it will get laid out for the jury. As he did at the first trial, Monacello, 47, began to paint a verbal portrait of his underworld involvement with both defendants.

It is not a pretty picture.

He identified Ligambi, 74, as the kingpin of the local crime family.

"Joe Ligambi told me on several occasions, "'I'm the boss,'" Monacello said, affecting a belligerent tone as he repeated the phrase. "`I'm the boss.'"

But it was his description of Borgesi, 50, that offered the most detailed and the most troubling personal insights.

Borgesi, he said, bragged about being a "gangster" and claimed to have been involved in 11 murders. "I'm a professional," he said Borgesi told him.

Describing himself as an enforcer for the mob capo, he told the jury how he had assaulted a contractor who ran afoul of the organization; how he used a baseball bat to split on the head of a member of the 10th and Oregon gang and how he took a group of 12 to 15 men to a bar in Delaware County to intimidate two bookmakers who were scheduled to testify in a 2001 mob trial.

All of that, he said, was carried out on Borgesi's orders.

Dressed in a gray, pinstriped suit, white shirt and tie, Monacello was focused, but decidedly less arrogant as he retold the same stories he had provided in the first trial that ended earlier this year with a hung jury on the conspiracy charge that Ligambi and Borgesi are again fighting.

He said he met Borgesi when Borgesi was 17 and he was 14. He said he became a member of his mob crew about 10 years later and handled bookmaking, loansharking and extortion. He also said he and Borgesi would steal cars together in collaboration with an auto body shop operator who used to make copies of customers' car keys and give them to Borgesi.

Being part of organized crime, Monacello told the jury, was "a license to steal."

"You could stick your hand in anybody's pocket," he said Borgesi told him.

He called Borgesi a "maniac" and a killer who others referred to as "The Fireman."

"Wherever he went, he started fires," Monacello explained. "He caused trouble."

Authorities allege that after Borgesi was jailed on racketeering charges in 2000, Monacello ran his gambling and loansharking operation. Borgesi was convicted in 2001 in that unrelated racketeering case land sentencted to 14 years in prison. The conspiracy charge in the current case is built largely around the allegation that, from prison, Borgesi was continued to operate in the underworld.

Monacello, authorities allege, was Borgesi's street-level operative.

The defense, as it did in the first trial, is expected to argue that Monacello used Borgesi' name and reputation to enhance his own money-making underworld schemes and that Borgesi was unaware of what was going on.

The jury in the first trial acquitted Borgesi of 13 counts of gambling and loansharking that were based primarily on Monacello's testimony. But it hung on a final conspiracy charge, resulting in the retrial that began earlier this month.

Whether Monacello's story plays differently with the current jury could determine Borgesi's fate. Unlike Ligambi, who faces charges built around testimony and secretly recorded conversations, Borgesi's case revolves around Monacello and another government informant, Anthony Aponick, who is expected to testify within the next two weeks.

Monacello spent about two hours on the witness stand and is due back when the trial resumes Monday.

Borgesi, he said, used violence, fear and intimidation to get his way in the underworld and with his associates. "If he found out you were lying to him and making money behind his back, he would beat you up or kill ya." Monacello said. "He was known as a gangster and a very dangerous person."

Prosecutors reinforced that point by questioning Monacello at length about instances when Borgesi assaulted Angelo Lutz, another crime family associate. As he had in the first trial, Monacello described one incident in which, he said, Borgesi split Lutz' head open with the metal rod from an artificial Christmas tree while threatening to kill Lutz in a dispute over money.

Lutz, Monacello said, had forged a check and stolen $4,000 from a company Lutz and Borgesi ran at the time.

Monacello cited three other instances when, he said, Borgesi assaulted the then 5-foot-4, 400-pound mob associate, including one incident where, Monacello said, Borgesi bit Lutz in the forehead and spit his skin out on the sidewalk.

The prosecutor is expected to play a now infamous tape -- played at the racketeering trial in 2001 and again at the first trial in this case -- is which Borgesi is heard on a wiretapped phone laughing and cackling about how he had pummeled Lutz, knocking him out. That incident was separate from the ones described by Monacello today.

In an even more personal note, Moncello talked at length about how he was first ordered by Borgesi to funnel money to Borgesi's wife, Dina, after Borgesi was jailed in 2000. About 18 months later, he said, Borgesi from prison told him the money should go to his then girlfriend Alyson.

"She was his commare," Monacello said. "His girlfriend on the side."

Borgesi divorced his first wife in 2004, Monacello said. And, from prison, married Alyson who has been in the courtroom every day during the trial.

Borgesi showed little reaction to Monacello, but occasionally commented to his lawyer, Christoper Warren seated next to him at the defense table. The defense is expected to attack Monacello in detail when cross-examination begins.

Borgesi, in comments, emails and messages to friends, has been referring to Monacello as "Rat Finger Lou" and "Fuck Finger Lou."

But if this jury buys the story that Monacello is selling, it will be Borgesi who gets the finger.


Former undercover FBI agent gives jurors a history lesson during Philadelphia mob trial

It was Mob History 101, a primer on the wantonly violent and consistently treacherous Philadelphia branch of Cosa Nostra.

Jurors in the racketeering conspiracy trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi got nearly four hours of the murderous and mundane today as the trial entered its third week. With mob expert and former FBI agent Joaquin "Big Jack" Garcia on the stand and Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., conducting a lengthy and detailed cross-examination, the anonymously chosen jury took a trip down a bloody memory lane.

Some highlights (or lowlights depending on your point of view):

-- Mob boss Angelo Bruno was shotgunned to death in March 1980, a hit that destabilized the once smoothly run organization. Bruno's consigliere, Antonio "Tony Bananas" Caponigro, was behind the murder of the so-called Docile Don and thought he had the approval of the New York-based Mafia Commission. He didn't. On that, Garcia and Jacobs agreed.

Caponigro was killed a short later.

"He thought he was going to be knighted as head of the family," Garcia said. "Instead he was tortured and killed and money was left in every orifice of his body."

-- South Philadelphia steak shop owner and one-time high level bookmaker Danny D'Ambrosio should have been killed, under strict mob rules, for plotting with North Jersey mobster Peter "Pete the Crumb" Caprio (who later became a government witness) to murder Ligambi, his current co-defendant and nephew George Borgesi and then crime family consigliere Steven Manzone in the late 1990s. Caprio had the approval of three of the New York crime families, who supported what was to be his takeover of the Philadelphia organization. (The plot was never carried out because Caprio was arrested.)

But today D'Ambrosio operates his steak shop about two blocks from Ligambi's Packer Park townhouse.

Garcia conceded that under typical mob protocol, D'Ambrosio should be dead.

"He must have gotten a pass," said the burly former FBI agent. "I don't have inside information as to why (he) has a pass, but he does."

-- The attempted murder of Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. in Dante & Luigi's Restaurant on Halloween night 1989 was, after the Bruno murder, the "most notorious hit in the history" of the Philadelphia crime family, Jaocbs said.

"It's right up there," Garcia conceded, adding that Joey Merlino was the shooter that night.

On that Jacobs and Garcia clashed. Garcia said he was repeating what other mobsters had said in tapped conversations. Jacobs said the Florida-based Merlino has never been charged with that crime. Jacobs has represented Merlino in the past and has won acquittals on murder charges in both a racketeering trial and a murder trial.

Garcia also said he believes Merlino, 50, continues to run the Philadelphia family from Florida and that even when Ralph Natale was the titular head of the organization in the mid 1990s, Merlino was in fact the boss.

Natale, Garcia said, was a "straw boss," a boss in name only. "Merlino ran the streets...still does, even as we speak. That's my opinion," Garcia said.

Jacobs and Garcia debated dozens of other issues during the cross-examination with the defense attorney demonstrating detailed recall of events, cases and testimony stretching back more than 20 years. Jacobs is considered one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the Philadelphia - South Jersey area and has represented several major mob figures over the years.

Garcia, who retired after 26 years in the FBI, also had a stellar career working undercover and infiltrating organized crime and drug dealing networks. The two argued about mob protocol, agreed that there is a difference between a racketeer and a gangster (a gangster is more vicious and violent) and disagreed over what has emerged as one of the central issues in the case.

Jacobs has referred repeatedly to a meeting at a North Jersey restaurant in May 2010 as a "social" gathering, a description that also is used in at least one FBI report. Ligambi was one of 10 mobsters who had lunch at LaGriglia, a posh restaurant in Kenilworth, that May afternoon.

The government contends that the session was a meeting of the leaders of the Philadelphia mob and the Gambino crime family and has used conversations secretly recorded by a cooperating witness to build the conspiracy charge against Ligambi.

Jacobs has pointed out that none of the tapes include discussions about crimes being planned or scores being settled. Garcia conceded as much, but he said the meeting in and of itself -- given the attendees -- was a "RICO conspiracy."

"It was a very important meeting," Garcia said. It was, he added, two organized crime families engaged in "relationship building."

The jury has heard snippets of nearly two dozen conversations from meetings at LaGriglia and The American Bistro, a pub in Belleville.

On one tape, Ligambi brings up the D'Ambrosio issue in a joking way. He told those sharing lunch that D'Ambrosio's father "comes over my house about three or four years ago. Said the FBI said you was gonna kill my son. He was telling me this on the step. I said, `What the fuck you talkin' about? Don't ever come around this house again. I don't know what you're talking about.' I mean, that's the kind of nuts you're dealing with. You know what I mean?"

Ligambi's comment underscored a point that was one of the underlying themes in Jacobs' cross-examination.

As he did in Ligambi's first trial, which ended with a hung jury on the conspiracy count, Jacobs appears to be trying to draw a distinction between Ligambi and the mob bosses in Philadelphia who came before him.

At one point he ticked off 15 murders and attempted murders that were part of the racketeering case against Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo in 1988 and nine murders and attempted murders that were part of the 1995 case against John Stanfa.

"In this indictment," he asked Garcia, "there isn't a murder or an attempted murder, is there? Or a gun or a knife or a slap in the face?"

The defense has argued that the prosecution, desperate to make a case after a 12-year investigation turned up precious little, hung a racketeering conspiracy charge around what amounts to second rate gambling activity.

Garcia, responding with what has been the prosecution's theme, said that violence wasn't necessary during Ligambi's reign because the crime family's reputation -- built by Scarfo and Stanfa -- was already well established.

While the lawyer and the witness disagreed on several major issues, there was consensus when they discussed food. Jacobs said that mobsters often meet for breakfast, lunch, dinner and "late night snacks" and asked Garcia if, during the two and one-half years he worked undercover as an associate of Gambino crime family capo Greg DePalma, that was the normal routine.

Garcia said it was.

"In fact," Jacobs said, "you gained 90 pounds in those two and one-half years."

"Yes, I did," the 300-pound ex-agent said with a smile, adding that he has been unable to shed the weight.

Later, when a discussion turned to antipasto, Jacobs and Garcia again shared a laugh. Earlier in his testimony Garcia, who was born in Cuba, said he had to study Siclian food and culture when he posed as a Jack Falcone, a supposed Sicilian, to get close to DePalma.

"You know something about antipasto, then? " Jacobs asked.

"I've had my share of antipasto," Garcia responded.

"You've had everybody's share," said Jacobs.


Gambino gangster charged with John Gotti's last murder is free on $2 million bond

Daniel Fama mug shot
A reputed Gambino mobster charged in the last hit believed ordered by John Gotti is back on the street, thanks to an assist from Gotti underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.

Daniel Fama, 48, a Staten Island ex-con, was released Monday on a $2 million bond after his lawyer said testimony from Gravano will refute the allegation.

Busted in April, Fama is charged with killing an informant to obstruct justice, not conventional murder. But lawyer Seth Ginsberg contends that Fama, whether he participated in the murder of Edward Garafalo in 1990 or not, was unaware the mobster was a rat.

“Gravano is prepared to testify that John Gotti ordered him to kill Garafalo for a variety of reasons” and not because he was an informant, Ginsberg wrote in a bail application.


Lucchese gangster whines to judge that house arrest is making his life miserable

A Lucchese crime-family goon complained to a Brooklyn federal judge Thursday that home confinement was interfering with his trick-or-treating, PTA-meeting attendance and charitable work.

Michael Capra, accused of threatening to beat a 70-year-old loan-sharking client, told Judge Robert Levy that the restrictions were disrupting nearly all aspects of his lifestyle Capra was first ordered to be fitted with a monitoring anklet because he refused to come out of his Smithtown, LI, home for nearly an hour after agents rapped at his door last month.

His attorney argued it was all a misunderstanding and said home confinement was unnecessary.

Levy took mercy on Capra, who remains free on $500,000 bond, and slapped him with a 10 p.m. curfew instead of electronic monitoring.


Tommy Shots blogs that dead Colombo underboss ordered the murder of NYPD cop

When our justice system deprives targeted citizens of their constitutional rights because the prosecutors feel that they are (or want such persons to be guilty) it is illegal and morally wrong. It is inevitable that innocent men will be targeted and fall victim to this corrupt practice. It has happened before and it is happening now. Let me explain...

Dino (Hemorrhoids) Calabro and Joe (Caves) Competiello murdered NYPD officer Ralph Dols as a contract murder for Bill (Wild Bill) Cutolo.

Following Officer Dols' murder there were rumors of steroids, drugs, gambling, Russians and bad cops. Much later, after I heard a few more rumors, I surmised this murder contract had something to do with Wild Bill's multi-million dollar steroid, drug, and other illegal businesses that he had with some bad cops. I also heard that Calabro may have been involved in the killing.

After my arrest I came into a lot of evidence to support this scenario. Some NYPD officers even came forward with credible evidence that Wild Bill Cutolo had officer Dols killed. By then I already knew that this was a fact. Dino Calabro and Joe Competillo killed Bill Cutolo.

They did it to protect themselves from Bill Cutolo. They feared that he would become a government informant and turn them in for the Dols homicide. Cutolo was the target of a major FBI investigation and Calabro thought that Cutulo was too soft, too weak, and too rich to do serious prison time. Calabro was sure that Cutolo would crack and look to save his own ass by handing over some cop killers (Calabro and Competillo) to the FBI. So, they killed him on the sneak. Just another one of Calabro's loose ends.

There are two innocent men serving life sentences for the slaying of Wild Bill Cutolo. There are another two innocent men serving life sentences for the murder of another of Calabro's victims. And today, they are trying to frame Joel Cacace for the homicide of Ralph Dols as they tried and failed with me.

There are many more innocent men paying with their lives for the crimes of government informants. We must end the tyrannical persecutions based on facts harvested from the movies and the government's prejudice.




Papa Smurf pleads guilty to racketeering charges involving waste hauling in New York and New Jersey

Carmine Franco, a former Bergen County trash-collection baron ultimately banned from the industry in New Jersey, pleaded guilty on Friday to federal racketeering charges stemming from a crackdown on Mafia control over waste-hauling in New York and New Jersey.

Franco, 78, of Ramsey, and Anthony Pucciarello, also 78, of Bloomfield, confessed in federal court in Manhattan to taking part in an illegal scheme to exert control over the commercial waste-hauling industry in the two states.

They were among 32 defendants linked to three organized crime families — Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese — charged in January in connection with the scheme. Sixteen of the defendants have pleaded guilty.

Franco faces a penalty of 45 years in prison when sentenced March 19. He also has agreed to forfeit proceeds of $2.5 million. Pucciarello faces three years in prison when sentenced March 21.

“With today’s guilty pleas, Carmine Franco and Anthony Pucciarello become the latest defendants to be held to account for their roles in a criminal racketeering enterprise that encircled the waste-hauling industry in the New York City area and parts of New Jersey,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a release. “This office will continue working with our law enforcement partners to pry loose the tentacles of organized crime from around the industries it tries to control.”

Franco, an associate of the Genovese crime family also known as “Papa Smurf” and “Uncle Sonny,” pleaded guilty to three separate conspiracy counts. As part of his plea, he acknowledged his membership in a racketeering enterprise that exercised illegal control over waste haulers in the counties of Bergen and Passaic in New Jersey and Westchester, Rockland and Nassau in New York.

He also admitted that he committed mail and wire fraud by overbilling customers of a waste transfer station that he controlled in West Nyack, N.Y. and that he and his associates transported large volumes of stolen cardboard across state lines. Pucciarello, a reputed member of the Genovese crime family, admitted that he was aware that others were conspiring to use extortion to obtain an ownership interest in a business owned by a cooperating witness. He admitted that he failed to report this extortion to authorities and agreed to conceal the percentage of the victim’s business that he would own following the extortion.

Franco has owned or controlled waste-disposal businesses for more than 30 years. Because of convictions in the early 1980s and late 1990s and known associations with organized crime, he was banned from the waste-hauling industry in New Jersey and could not be licensed to operate such businesses in many New York jurisdictions, the indictment said. But, it charged, that didn’t stop Franco from secretly taking control of and operating trash-hauling companies, extorting their owners and orchestrating thefts of their property.

During the four-year investigation, authorities were aided by a cooperating witness whose hauling company was under Franco‘s control and later was taken over by other mob factions.

After wresting control of the company from Franco, a Genovese crew based in Lodi allegedly extorted $500 weekly “protection” payments from the cooperating witness to shield him from other Mafia factions, the indictment said.

Peter Leconte, 42, of Lodi, a reputed Genovese soldier, pleaded guilty on Nov. 15 to conspiring to commit extortion by threatening economic harm if a hauler didn’t turnover a percentage of his company. He faces 20 years in prison when sentenced Apr. 4.