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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Turncoat Gambino associate is cooperating against Bonanno captain busted in 1978 Lufthansa heist case

 Mugshot of Peter Zuccaro.
There are two other cooperating witnesses, in addition to Joe Massino and Salvatore Vitale, in the latest Bonanno indictment which brings up the old Lufthansa Height of 1978.  CW-1 is a relative of Vincent Asaro, a cousin, who took a plea in Brooklyn federal court recently and went on to tape Vincent for the FBI.  CW-4 is a former Gambino family associate who also took a federal plea.  Based on what the federal court filings say about him, and comparing the known histories, CW-4 is likely Peter Zuccaro.  It was Zuccaro who testified against Charles Carneglia in 2009 in Brooklyn and later at one of the retrials of John Gotti Jr in Manhattan.  Zuccaro had been an acquaintance in the 1970s with Thomas DeSimone, one of close associates of Jimmy Burke, the mastermind of the Lufthansa caper.  DeSimone, whose character was played by actor Joe Pesci in the movie Goodfellas, was killed by the mob for murdering a made member of the Gambino family and other transgressions.


Feds request leniency for Colombo captain who turned rat

A Colombo crime family rat who wore a Dick Tracy-style watch to record his Mafia brethren is about to get his hunk of government cheese.
Mob capo Reynold Maragni was arrested on an avalanche of racketeering and other charges in January 2011 and quickly agreed to turn federal witness in exchange for a lighter sentence, court papers say.
Citing his testimony in a slew of high-profile mob trials, government prosecutors submitted a recommendation that he be sentenced to less than what federal guidelines call for.
The feds are lobbying for leniency despite Maragni’s choppy tenure as a government rat. He sang in two murder trials that ended in acquittals.
He took the stand in the murder trial of Dino “Little Dino” Saracino and Tommy “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, and both men beat the rap.
He also sang in court in another unsuccessful murder case against Colombo associate Francis Guerra.
Despite those setbacks, the feds argue that Maragni should catch a break for the information he provided in prosecuting Colombo cases.
“Maragni has provided substantial cooperation in the government’s longstanding and continuing investigation into the Colombo family,” the court filing states.
Prosecutors note that Maragni’s cooperation was cut short after he was busted for turning off his recording device during mob sitdowns without permission.
He pleaded guilty to racketeering raps in 2011.


Sentencing is delayed for Bayonne man with ties to the Genovese family

kbaran (1).JPG
The sentencing of a Bayonne man who pleaded guilty to participating in an illegal online gambling operation has been postponed until March, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Ken Baran, 51, was scheduled to be sentenced this week, but the sentencing hearing has been reset for March 4, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson Rebekah Carmichael said. No reason was given for the postponement.
Baran, who authorities say has ties to the Genovese organized crime family, pleaded guilty in September to his involvement in the Costa Rica-hosted sports betting site Beteagle.com.
Baran faces up to two years in prison and could be ordered to pay up to $250,000 in restitution, according to court documents.
In 2010, officials investigated the site and charged 14 men, including Baran and three other Bayonne residents -- Eric Patten, 35, Mark Sanzo, 53, and Robert “Worm” Scerbo, 54, officials said, saying they were members or associates of the Genovese "LaScala Crew."
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the group of men used the site to run an illegal gambling ring across northern New Jersey in a scheme that also involved extortion, theft, interstate transportation of stolen property and illegal gambling.


Stamford man gets sentenced for role in Gambino family gambling ring

An illegal gambling operation which included a club for card players at 514 Glenbrook Rd. made $1.7 million in an eight-month period, and those who organized it had connections to the Gambino Mafia crime family.

The U.S. District Attorney's Office for Connecticut issued this news release late Wednesday afternoon about one member of the gambling ring who was sentenced the same day:

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Douglas Corbin, 52, of Stamford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 21 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his involvement in organized crime-controlled illegal gambling businesses.

Corbin was also ordered to forfeit $100,000.

According to court documents and statements made in court, after a long-term investigation led by the FBI Fairfield County Organized Crime Task Force, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Stamford Police Department, Corbin, Dean DePreta, Richard Uva and 17 other individuals were charged with various offenses related to their involvement in an illegal Internet sports bookmaking operation and illegal card gambling clubs.

As part of the conspiracy, DePreta and Uva were involved in the collection and payment of “tribute” payments to Gambino organized crime family associates in New York.

The investigation, which included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, revealed that Corbin was involved in a large-scale sports bookmaking operation in which gamblers placed bets with offshore Internet sports-gambling websites, particularly http://www.44wager.com based in Costa Rica.

FBI analysis of the sports-betting web site utilized by the defendants determined that the total gross revenues of the Stamford-based gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011.

In addition, Corbin and others, operated a card gambling club at 514 Glenbrook Rd. in Stamford, where a house percentage, commonly referred to as a “rake,” was collected from every hand played.

On June 20, 2013, Corbin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

DePreta and Uva pleaded guilty to the same charge. On October 9, 2013, DePreta was sentenced to 71 months of imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $300,000.

On Oct. 24, 2013, Uva was sentenced to 46 months of imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $250,000.This matter is being investigated by the FBI Fairfield County Organized Crime Task Force, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Stamford Police Department, the Bridgeport Police Department and the Connecticut State Police.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hal Chen and Peter Jongbloed.


Big Tony gets new trial date in Florida murder case

Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, who, along with Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, had been accused of having Miami Subs founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis rubbed out in a Mob-style hit, has been given a new trial date after his original trial was granted a mistrial.

Big Tony's defense lawyer had comedown with an illness back in October, forcing the mistrial.

His alleged accomplice in the murder, Little Tony, was found guilty of murder and murder conspiracy, and was sentenced to life in prison.

The new trial for Big Tony has been set for October 13.

In September, prosecutors and defense lawyers are set to select a jury. The challenge for Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes will be whether or not to have the new jury sequestered, as this is a high-profile case that has been, and will continue to be, all over the news.

The previous jury was sequestered in a hotel for 25 days for this reason. Things came to an end and a mistrial was granted after Big Tony's attorney David Bogenschutz became ill. The trial was delayed for five days before mistrial was granted.

Big Tony and Little Tony were accused of putting together the plot to have Boulis killed on the night of February 6, 2001.

On the night of his death, Boulis, who was also the owner of SunCruz Casinos, pulled out of his Fort Lauderdale office in his car when two cars approached him. A person in the car that appeared in the opposite direction shot Boulis before screeching off.

According to investigators, Boulis drove a mile toward Federal Highway and SE 18th Street, where he crashed into a tree on the side of the road and died from his gunshot wounds.

The killing was motivated by a deal between Boulis and a businessman named Adam Kidan that went sour.

Kidan brokered a deal to purchase SunCruz Casinos from Boulis for $147.5 million in 2000. However, the deal would be deemed fraudulent. Boulis accused Kidan of falsifying the wire transfer, and things came to a head when the two got into a fistfight in December 2000.

Fearful of Boulis, prosecutors told jurors that Kidan hired Big Tony for protection; Moscatiello brought Little Tony along.

During the trial, witnesses testified that Big Tony was a captain in the infamous Gambino organized crime family.


Gambino associate gets 20 years in prison for Florida timeshare fraud

They were two Broward County men who met in federal prison, became buddies and later started a get-rich-quick business in Fort Lauderdale that made about $5.5 million.
But theirs is no tale of redemption — the business was a telemarketing fraud scheme that has now sent both of them right back to federal prison.
Pasquale "Posh" Pappalardo, 61, of Coral Springs, and Joseph Crapella, who was known as "Joey Cigars," 47, of Fort Lauderdale, fleeced customers who were tricked into believing they were reselling their ownership of timeshare properties. Both men claimed they had ties to organized crime, court records show.
Their friendship ended right around the time they were caught: Crapella quickly decided he was going to cooperate with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office and testify against Pappalardo and other co-defendants, knowing it was his best chance of getting a lighter punishment.
Pappalardo rejected plea offers that included a promise from prosecutors that they'd recommend seven or eight years in prison. He went to trial and, in November, the jury that heard testimony from Crapella and dozens of other witnesses found him guilty of conspiring to commit money laundering, mail and wire fraud.
Shortly after, Crapella was sentenced to four years and three months in prison and ordered to pay almost $950,000 in restitution for his role in the Fort Lauderdale-based Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group case.
On Wednesday, it was Pappalardo's turn.
More than 20 people — including his wife Linda, former pro boxer Marc Randazzo, and a homeless man who had been treated kindly by Pappalardo — came to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale to show support.
Federal sentencing guidelines suggested a sentence of between 19 1/2 to more than 24 years in prison.
Defense attorney Neil Taylor told U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas that Pappalardo should go back to prison for his crimes – but that he did not deserve a punishment that was several times harsher than the one doled out to Crapella.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Kaplan compared that suggestion to a gambler who goes to Las Vegas, bets $1 million on red, loses and then asks for his money back.
Pappalardo was a longtime associate of the Gambino organized crime family and served more than six years in federal prison in the mid-1990s on drug, firearms and counterfeit money charges, authorities said.
Some of the more colorful incidents from Pappalardo's criminal history that Kaplan recounted include the time that Pappalardo got into a dispute with a gas station employee over the price of gas and threw a crowbar at the victim. The victim locked himself inside the gas station.
"[Pappalardo] then took out a gun, pointed it at the victim, and fled," Kaplan said.
Witnesses told prosecutors that Pappalardo bragged that he threw a man through a plate-glass window because he thought he was flirting with Pappalardo's girlfriend, Kaplan said.
In other incidents over the years, Pappalardo and some associates were caught on video — wearing paper bags over their heads with cutout eyeholes — attempting a home invasion robbery, the prosecution said.
Pappalardo "was feared in the in the telemarketing room," Kaplan said. He had various ways of intimidating workers, including locking the salesroom doors and pounding a hammer. One worker was surrounded by men and was only released because Pappalardo thought he might be an FBI informant, authorities said.
Even during his trial, Pappalardo was caught heckling some witnesses in court and telling others they were lying, Kaplan said.
Pappalardo's supporters painted a different picture of him as they begged the judge for mercy.
Randazzo, the former boxer who was known as "Shaker" and who now runs Randazzo's Little Italy restaurant in Coral Gables, told the judge that Pappalardo was his "surrogate father" and best friend.
Randazzo said he spent time tracking down the homeless man, whom he did not name but who waved to the judge and smiled as Randazzo detailed some of Pappalardo's good deeds.
Randazzo told the judge that a long prison sentence would destroy Pappalardo and his family.
"I'd rather see him get the electric chair," Randazzo told the judge.
Pappalardo's wife, Linda, told the judge that her husband is remorseful: "He has been humbled by this."
She said Pappalardo, a grandfather who has heart disease and skin cancer, told her he wouldn't let her stay married to him because his absence would leave her lonely. She reminded him their wedding vows were "until death do us part," she told the judge, not "until prison do us part."
Pappalardo apologized in court and said he'd never have believed that he'd go back to prison in his 60s.
Dimitrouleas told him that his crimes fleeced innocent victims, at least one of whom was in his 90s. Though Pappalardo may now regret his decision to go to trial, the judge told him that Crapella got his lighter prison sentence as a reward for his cooperation and testimony and that Pappalardo had put himself in a very different situation.
Dimitrouleas sentenced Pappalardo to 20 years in federal prison and ordered him to pay $1.06 million in restitution and forfeit another $3.5 million.
Though Florida was once the center of the nation's timeshare resale fraud epidemic, the Timeshare Mega Media case stood out because such a large number of people were arrested — 41 in all.
Authorities said the company preyed on timeshare owners who were desperate to unload costly vacation rentals. Telemarketers told customers they had found buyers for their timeshares, pressuring them to send several thousand dollars at a time to secure deals that never existed.


Judge rules longtime Philadelphia mob reporter can cover Scarfo Jr trial


A veteran reporter who has covered organized crime in Philadelphia and South Jersey for more than 40 years will be permitted to watch a white-collar mob trial, despite his name appearing on the witness list, a judge ruled Thursday.

George Anastasia, who wrote for the Inquirer until October 2012, was put on the defense's witness list in State vs. Scarfo et al, a federal case alleging reputed mobster Nicodemo Scarfo (son of jailed Philadelphia mob boss Nicky Scarfo Jr.) and an associate, Salvatore Pelullo, along with several attorneys, orchestrated a massive racketeering scheme netting them millions.

Anastasia had planned to report on the case for BigTrial.net but has been blocked from entering the courtroom since the beginning of the month because his name was on the potential witness list. The defense had requested that potential witnesses be sequestered.

On Thursday, Judge Robert Kugler granted a motion to end Anastasia's sequestration.

"Frankly, I'm not convinced at all that Mr. Anastasia has any admissible evidence," Kugler said.

In 40 years, Anastasia said, he's never been put on a witness list.

"It's a First Amendment issue; it sets a precedent," Anastasia said. "It could mean for any trial, an attorney or a defendant knows a reporter who, for whatever reason, they don't want to report on a case, they can just put them on the witness list."

The case charges Scarfo, Pelullo and lawyers Gary McCarthy, David Adler, Donald Manno, and John and William Maxwell in a 25-count indictment alleging that they defrauded shareholders of the Texas-based FirstPlus financial mortgage company out of $12 million.

Defense attorneys have argued that the company was ill-fated from the start and there was no financial impropriety. They also say references to the mafia are a distraction technique used by the government.

Pelullo's attorney J. Michael Farrell said he wanted Anastasia to testify that he never linked Pelullo to organized crime in a published article until the indictment in the FirstPlus case came out.

Farrell, whose voice rose to a shout at some points during his motion, said such testimony would help refute the government's claim that Pelullo was a mob associate.

"The fact that he did not (mention him prior to 2006) makes the fact that he is not an associate more likely," Farrell said.

"How do you know any of that?" Kulger asked. "How do you know that Mr. Anastasia has never before received information linking your client to organized crime?"

"I'll take that risk," Farrell said.

"You're not going to get to take that risk," Kulger said.

Anastasia's attorney, Maxwell Kennerly, said a database search of articles could easily produce the same information Farrell was seeking and was not grounds for Anastasia's testimony.

"Any information that Mr. Anastasia possesses is the result of his news-gathering activities," Kennerly said, adding that he would likely oppose any subpoenas under First Amendment privilege rights granted to journalists.

Courts have long upheld a reporter's right to cover legal proceedings, and in New Jersey, shield laws protect journalists from revealing confidential sources.

The trial, which is expected to last up to three months, is in its fourth week.

On Thursday, David Roberts, who worked with Pellulo to acquire FirstPlus, testified about how Pelullo, in conjunction with attorney William Maxwell, sent threatening letters to board members asking them to step down.

The initial strategy was to purchase enough stock to acquire the bankrupt company, Roberts said, but when the group couldn't come up with the money, Pelullo and others turned to threats and blackmail.

The letters, drafted four days before the takeover in June 2007, included allegations of sexual assault, financial impropriety, and threats of calling federal authorities to report them.

At a celebratory dinner after the old board had been dismantled and a new one taken the helm, Roberts - who was made a new board member - said Pelullo took him outside and told him, "I just made you a millionaire."

Roberts said that a few weeks later, Pelullo's tone changed dramatically when he threatened him, as well as John and William Maxwell, also defendants in the case.

"He said that if we ever rat, our wives will be (expletive) by (expletive), and our children will be sold off as prostitutes," Roberts said.

For Roberts, who thoughts went to his daughters, who were 3 and 5 at the time, it was a jarring statement.

"I was upset and terrified but my decisions were, I was following whatever needed to be done" for the company, he said.


Secret informant in 1978 Lufthansa heist is cousin of busted Bonanno family captain

Vincent Asaro is walked out of Manhattan Federal Court after being charged in infamous $6 million 1978 Lufthansa heist.

He has turned on the Bonanno family — and now his family has turned on him.

The mob informant who brought down the last suspected conspirator in the infamous 1978 Lufthansa heist is a 66-year-old former Long Islander, the Daily News learned Wednesday.

Gaspare "Gary" Valenti was a confidant of his cousin, jailed Bonanno family capo Vincent Asaro, busted last week after his relative implicated him in the $6 million Kennedy Airport robbery — and a 1969 murder.

Vincent Asaro at Brooklyn Federal Court in 1966.

The informant’s children were “totally outraged” to learn their father had flipped to work for the feds, a source familiar with Valenti told The News.

But a source indicated his decision was influenced by Asaro’s harsh treatment of Valenti across their decades in organized crime.

Valenti also saved another relative from an Asaro murder plot in the mid-'80s, court papers said.

John "Bazoo" Ragano was one of the five people arrested last week in 1978 heist.

Valenti’s criminal past indicates he’s worked as a con man with involvement in welfare fraud, insurance fraud and trying to peddle phony artwork in Las Vegas to a law enforcement undercover.

During a 1995 Las Vegas court appearance, Valenti said he never advanced beyond the 12th grade. His father was in construction, helping to build homes in Ozone Park — including the one where the body of murder victim Paul Katz was buried.

Valenti implicated Asaro and Jimmy "The Gent" Burke, the mastermind of the Lufthansa heist, in the 1969 strangulation of Katz. Burke thought Katz was an informant.

Jerome Asaro has been implicated as conspirator in Lufthansa heist.

Gerald McMahon, a lawyer for the jailed Asaro, declined comment on Valenti.

The mob informant was cited repeatedly throughout the court documents charging Asaro, and apparently wore a wire to record some conversations with his 78-year-old cousin.

Court documents last week said Valenti had pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

Valenti hopes to follow fellow Lufthansa informant Henry Hill into the federal witness protection program.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Turncoat Philadelphia gangster has parting words for his former mob buddies after their second acquittal

He said he has no regrets and would do it all over again.

He also said he's glad the U.S. Attorney's Office has opted not to retry Joe Ligambi. Not that he has any great concern for the mob boss. But he does have a personal stake in the matter.

What the decision to drop the remaining charges against Ligambi means, said Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, "is that I never have to testify again."

In a pointed telephone conversation this afternoon, Monacello looked back on the two trials in which he testified for the federal government and looked forward to life beyond the South Philadelphia mob.

Commenting publicly for the first time, the one-time mob associate displayed the same bravado -- some would call it arrogance -- that he brought to the witness stand in two trials that ended without convictions for either Ligambi or his co-defendant and nephew George Borgesi.

"Tell'em I'm relaxing on the beach," said Monacello, 46, who relocated to the South Jersey shore after he decided to become a cooperating witness. Whether he stays there or moves is an issue that will be decided later, he said.

He still has to be sentenced by Judge Eduardo Robreno, probably sometime in the spring, on a racketeering charge to which he pleaded guilty as part of his cooperating agreement.

Monacello said he's not concerned about going to jail. Jail, he insisted, was never the issue. He cooperated, he said, because Ligambi and Borgesi "screwed me over." And while his testimony didn't result in convictions -- the defense in both cases hammered away at the credibility and motivation of the government's key witness, especially Monacello -- he said he believed his decision to cooperate and help make the case landed both Ligambi and Borgesi in jail.

Both were denied bail after the indictment was handed up in May 2011.

"These two guys screwed me over," he said, "so I guess I gave them 30 months to sit."

Returning to the same points he had made from the witness stand -- and that two juries had largely rejected -- Monacello said he cooperated not because he feared going to jail, but because "I wasn't going to do time for Joe Ligambi and Marty Angelina."

Monacello testified that while running a bookmaking and loansharking operation for Borgesi, who was in jail on a 2001 racketeering conviction, Ligambi and Angelina were constantly horning in on and undermining his business, business that he claimed was generating cash to support Borgesi.

He also took another verbal shot at Borgesi's brother Anthony who, he said, was always "stabbing me in the back even though I was supporting his brother." He referred to Anthony Borgesi as Fredo, the weak-willed Corleone brother in The Godfather saga.

Monacello's take on the Philadelphia mob headed by Ligambi and Borgesi is hardly the stuff of the Mario Puzo novel. It's not about honor and loyalty, he said, but rather money, greed and treachery.

And he admits he was right in the middle of it, making money, busting heads and doing whatever was necessary to survive.

Among other things, Monacello acknowledged, as he had on the witness stand, that he plotted with an associate, Frank "Frankie the Fixer" DiGiacomo to assault Angelina. Monacello was unaware that DiGiacomo was wearing a body wire and cooperating with authorities at the time.

Looking back on it now, he said in a phone conversation this afternoon, "The mistake I made was not cracking Angelina's head open myself" instead of going along with DiGiacomo's suggestion that he, DiGiacomo, hire two thugs to carry out the beating.

Monacello said again that he believed Borgesi was going to kill him "because I broke the rules" by plotting to attack Angelina, a "made" member of the mob.

Angelina, Ligambi, Borgesi, Monacello and 10 others were indicted in the racketeering case. Angelina pleaded guilty prior to the start of the trial and was sentenced to six years. Monacello said his own sentencing guidelines were 60 to 72 months and that he could have done the time.

He refused to cooperate in 2008 when he was charged in a Delaware County case that foreshadowed the federal charges that came three years later.

"I didn't do this to get out of going to jail," he said. "That was never the issue. I just decided I wasn't going to do a day for Joe Ligambi or Marty Angelina."

Now he sits back and waits -- for his own sentencing probably and for what comes next for his former partners-in-crime. He believes there are murders -- Ralph Mazzucca, John Casasanto, Raymond "Long John" Martorano -- that can be tied to his former "friends." Whether the government has the will or the evidence and witnesses to make those cases, however, is another question.
Monacello clearly hopes it happens.

"I'm sitting at the beach waiting to see what (Anthony) Nicodemo and (Ron) Galati do," he said of two potential witnesses who are facing a series of criminal problems (Ed note, see yesterday's story.). "There's a racketeering-murder case waiting to happen, and the best part is it doesn't have anything to do with me."

Monacello believes he is done testifying. He also insists he is done with life in the mob.

"I did a lot of bad things," he said in an earlier conversation, "but I never murdered anybody. You have to draw the line somewhere."


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Feds want secret jury in murder trial linked to Mob Wives tv show

Reputed Bonanno member Luigi Grasso (center) will face accusations from mob triggerman Hector Pagan at trial in February.

Prosecutors fear jurors for an upcoming gangland murder trial with stars in their eyes may become part of the cast of the reality TV show “Mob Wives.”

Hector Pagan, the star witness against reputed mobsters Richard Riccardi and Luigi Grasso, has become a recurring plot line on the popular show because he is the ex-husband of “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano.

Pagan, who admitted to slaying Luchese mobster James Donovan in 2010, sports a tux from his cameo on 'Mob Wives.'

Pagan's so-called "betrayal" of his ex-wife and father-in-law, Bonanno capo Anthony Graziano, will undoubtedly be the subject of further discussion when he takes the stand in Brooklyn Federal Court next month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri stated in papers seeking an anonymous jury.

The feds want the jurors' identities kept secret to prevent anyone from hunting them down "to generate additional stories," Argentieri warns.

'Mob Wives' star Renee Graziano, who was married to Pagan, at Brooklyn Federal Court.

Worse, jurors might ignore the evidence and reach a verdict to "avoid the notoriety associated with the show or seek it out."

Pagan is the actual gunman who fatally shot reputed Lucchese mobter James Donovan during a stickup in Brooklyn in 2010.

He cut a deal with the feds to get out from under the murder in exchange for testifying against Riccardi and Grasso. Pagan, who made a cameo appearance on the show, even helped the feds make a racketeering case against his father-in-law.

The feds want the Brooklyn Federal Court jurors’ identities kept secret to prevent anyone from hunting them down “to generate additional stories,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri wrote in court papers.


Colombo associate sentenced to 15 months in prison for racketeering and gambling

Mob guy gets prison for racketeering, gambling raps
The bumbling son-in-law of jailed Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico was slapped with a 15-month prison term for racketeering and gambling raps despite his pleas for probation Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.
Mob associate Angelo Spata, 39, faced up to 31-months behind bars after pleading guilty to extorting vendors at the Santa Rosalia festival in Brooklyn and taking part in illegal gambling.
The miniature mafioso — who used his potent family connections to ascend the Colombo ranks — lobbied Judge Kiyo Matsumoto for a no-jail deal and pointed to his charitable works and family responsibilities as grounds for leniency.
“Hopefully your honor will give me the opportunity to take care of my three young children,” Spata told the court as his tearful brood looked on nervously from the gallery.
Spata brainlessly aggravated prosecutors while out on bail when he allegedly lifted $164 in lighting accessories from a Brooklyn Home Depot. That case is still pending in Brooklyn supreme court.
Federal prosecutor Gina Parlovecchio pushed for incarceration Tuesday and argued that Spata had more juice in the crime crew than he was letting on.
“He is a more powerful member fo the Colombo crime family than he has sought to portray in these proceedings,” she said. “These are serious crimes that warrant serious punishment.”
Matsumoto opted for the lower end of federal sentencing guidelines but made sure Spata tasted prison in handing down the 15-month sentence as well as a $7,500 fine.


Lucchese soldier arrested after being caught with 65 pound of pot

Carlo Taccetta (State Police photo)
The son of a high-ranking member of the Lucchese crime family was arrested Saturday in Montville with 65 pounds of marijuana, State Police said.

Carlo Taccetta, 41, of Whippany, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute following a motor vehicle stop on West Bloomfield Avenue at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Sgt. Brian Polite said in a statement released Sunday.

Taccetta is a soldier in the Lucchese crime family and his father, Michael, is a capo, Polite said. Michael "Mad Dog" Taccetta, 66, is incarcerated in South Woods State Prison on racketeering, extortion and conspiracy charges.

The stop of Carlo Taccetta's Dodge Ram pickup truck was the result of "an ongoing investigation," Polite said. Taccetta granted troopers permission to search his vehicle where they discovered the 65 pounds of marijuana, Polite said.

Taccetta was remanded to the Morris County Correctional Facility on $75,000 bail with no 10 percent option. The Division of Criminal Justice will prosecute the case, Polite said.


Uncle Joe is released from prison after fending off government efforts to convict him a second time

Mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi is being processed out of prison this morning, ending a two
and a half year stay as a "guest" of the government in the Federal Detention Center at 7th and Arch streets.

Judge  Eduardo Robreno dismissed the remaining counts pending against the 74-year-old crime leader after federal prosecutors filed a motion yesterday declaring that they would not retry Ligambi a third time on conspiracy and gambling charges.

Ligambi has been in jail since he and a dozen others were indicted on racketeering conspiracy and related gambling and loansharking charges in May 2011. He was twice denied bail.

But once federal authorities filed a motion to dismiss the remaining counts against him, bail was no longer an issue.

Most observers believe the U.S. Attorney's Office wisely opted to cut its losses and save the fight for another day. Whether that day is close at hand remains an open question. If the government comes again with a mob case, those in both law enforcement and the criminal defense bar believe, it will need a more substantial body of evidence than it had this time around.

A jury on Friday acquitted Ligambi of one count of witness tampering and hung -- voting 10-2 to acquit -- on the three other counts. Earlier this year, in the first trial based on the same indictment, a jury found Ligambi not guilty of five of the nine counts he faced. The four remaining counts were the basis for the trial that ended last week.

The anonymously chosen jury of 11 women and one man was apparently less than overwhelmed by the government's case.

"There was very little physical evidence and the witnesses were convicted criminals," one juror, who asked not to be identified, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "... if the government could have provided us with credible witnesses, maybe things would have been different."

The jury also found Ligambi's co-defendant, George Borgesi, 50,  not guilty of a conspiracy charge. Borgesi was freed on Friday.

The two veteran mobsters returned to an underworld that is at best unsettled. Whether either will attempt to exert control and influence is an open question being asked by both state and federal authorities. Borgesi, who was serving a 14-year sentence in a separate racketeering case when he was indicted in May 2011, will be on supervised release for about 18 months.

Free for the first time since March 2000, he is not permitted to associate with any convicted felons or organized crime figures and his travel is limited to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania unless he receives permission from his probation officer.

Borgesi, a leader in the mob once headed by Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, is one of nearly a dozen mobsters who comprise at least three difference factions in the beleaguered Philadelphia - South Jersey underworld.

Several individuals convicted and jailed in the 1980s with mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo are now back on the streets. While Merlino is living in Florida, several key associates, including Borgesi, Steven Mazzone and John Ciancaglini, are in town. And Ligambi and some other veteran mobsters who could line up in either camp, are also now part of the landscape.

Does everyone play nice and get along or does greed and treachery dominate? That's the question several veteran law enforcement investigators are asking.

The situation is further clouded by two pending criminal prosecutions.

Mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo, 42, is awaiting trial for the gangland murder of Gino DiPietro in December 2012. The day light shooting on a South Philadelphia street corner has been described by investigators as one of the "dumbest" mob hits in Philadelphia history.

Nicodemo was arrested 30 minutes after the shooting in his home about five blocks from the murder scene. A gun and other evidence linked to the crime were found in his SUV parked in his driveway.

A year later Ronald Galati, a mob associate and South Philadelphia auto body shop owner, was arrested on witness intimidation and murder-for-hire charges. The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office formalized those charges in an indictment that was unveiled yesterday a few hours before the feds were moving to dismiss the charges against Ligambi.

Galati is charged with hiring hitmen to kill two witnesses against him in a insurance fraud investigation. The 63-year-old wannabe wiseguy did 37 months on similar fraud charges in 1995.

"This time he's turned an insurance fraud case into a murder-for-hire case," said one law enforcement source. And that has raised the stakes considerably.

Galati, who claims he is in poor health (a judge has denied him bail, rejecting the medical argument), is now looking at a possible 30-year prison sentence. In addition, a broader indictment charging him with insurance fraud is expected from the District Attorney's Office within the next two weeks.

And in New Jersey, an ongoing investigation continues into the shooting of Galati's daughter's boyfriend in Atlantic City. The same hitmen tied to the murder-for-hire case in Philadelphia are believed to be those who carried out that shooting. The boyfriend survived. The shooters are said to be cooperating in both cases.

Galati is a target in that shooting and in a separate insurance fraud investigation focusing on the arson of at least one boat, according to sources familiar with the case.

At some point the various agencies handling the investigations are expected to map out a strategy for prosecution that could include the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The unanswered question -- and one that could put a damper on the welcome home festivities for both Ligambi and Borgesi -- is whether Nicodemo and Galati opt to cut deals with authorities in order to get out from under their own criminal problems.

Authorities would like to question both men about a series of unsolved mob murders. For either defendant, that could be their get out of jail card. But as the juror in the Ligambi trial pointed out, the question for prosecutors as they consider building new cases is whether  Nicodemo and Galati would be "credible witnesses" or just two more "convicted criminals" taking the stand in a government deal with the devil.


Feds drop plans for third retrial of Philadelphia mob boss


Federal authorities have decided not to retry Joe Ligambi on conspiracy and gambling charges after two juries soundly rejected the bulk of the government's case against the South Philadelphia mob boss.

In a motion filed this afternoon, the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asked Judge Eduardo Robreno to dismiss the three remaining counts pending against the 74-year-old mob leader.

The move came two days after a jury voted to acquit Ligambi of a witness tampering charge and hung on the conspiracy count and two counts of illegal gambling.

"In this instance I agree with the exercise of judgment by the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Edwin Jacobs Jr., Ligambi's lawyer. "(Federal prosecutors) took their two best shots unsuccessfully."

Jacobs said it would be a waste of taxpayers' money and government resources to try Ligambi a third time. The Atlantic City-based attorney, considered one of the top criminal lawyers in the area, represented Ligambi in both trials.

In the first trial, which lasted  three months and ended in February, a jury found Ligambi not guilty of five of nine counts he faced. A second trial, focusing on the four remaining counts, began in November and ended on Friday with the panel's split decision.

The anonymously chosen jury of 11 women and one man had voted 10-2 in favor of acquitting Ligambi on the three counts on which it hung. Ligambi's nephew and co-defendant, George Borgesi, 50, was acquitted of conspiracy, the one count on which he was being retried.

Borgesi was released immediately.

Jacobs said he hoped to have Ligambi freed within the next 24 hours, or as soon as Judge Robreno signs an order dismissing the remaining charges.

"Hopefuly, my client and I will be having dinner together tomorrow night," he said.

Jacobs said he would be buying.