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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Firm with history of mob ties chosen to demolish shed on church grounds

The Cathedral of St. John The Divine in Morningside Heights.

They certainly chose a hell of a contractor for this job.

The developer slated to build two apartment buildings alongside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine hired a firm with alleged past mob ties and a deadly safety record to demolish a one-story metal shed on the church grounds in Morningside Heights.

The Brodsky Organization tapped Brooklyn-based Breeze National Inc., a firm formerly headed by alleged Lucchese crime family associate Toby Romano Sr., who was convicted in 1988 of bribing a health inspector to overlook violations at an asbestos removal job.

The firm, which has logged several safety violations and had two of its workers killed on the job, is now headed by Romano’s son, Toby Jr.

"I think it's an inappropriate choice of a demolition company to be working in our neighborhood."

“I think it’s an inappropriate choice of a demolition company to be working in our neighborhood,” said Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell (D-Morningside Heights), whose district includes the site and has not supported the Cathedral’s latest development scheme.

Breeze National was booted off Columbia University’s West Harlem expansion project in 2012 after worker Juan Ruiz was killed and two others were injured during the demolition of a W.131st St. warehouse. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration slapped Breeze National the firm with a $9,800 fine, which the firm settled for $4,900 last September.

The demolition firm hauled Columbia to Manhattan Supreme Court later that year, seeking payment for its work and damages for alleged defamation.

Brodsky Organization tasked with developing two apartment buildings alongside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine tapped Breeze National Inc., a demolition company with mob ties and a deadly safety record.

Residents were shocked to hear about the god-awful choice.

“They couldn’t believe (the developers for) the church would hire a company with that type of reputation,” said Brad Taylor, a Community Board 9 member. “I was disappointed; it didn’t seem like the developer for the Cathedral project did its due diligence and homework.”

Laura Friedman, president of Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, which has opposed the development for years, said hiring of Breeze doesn’t bode well.

Juan Ruiz was crushed to death when construction collapsed on him at a Columbia University site.

“Perhaps it’s reflective of how outrageous this entire project is,” said Friedman. “Who knows what will occur?”

The first fatality occurred in 2010, when a 51-year-old worker fell to his death while demolishing a Columbia-owned building. The city had already required Breeze National one year earlier to hire an anti-corruption monitor. OSHA slapped the firm with a $2,250 fine, which it settled for $1,688.

“It’s very disheartening, but hardly surprising,"O'Donnell said of the choice of Breeze, calling the contractor a "developer that doesn’t care about the safety of its workers.”

Brodsky Organization tasked with developing two apartment buildings alongside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine tapped Breeze National Inc., a demolition company with mob ties and a deadly safety record.

The Brodsky Organization and Breeze did not return requests for comment. The Episcopal Diocese of New York also declined to comment, as did the Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, the chairwoman of Community Board 9.

Despite its checkered past, Breeze has been hired this year to complete at least 17 demolitions, city data shows.

The Cathedral is leasing the Brodsky Organization a stretch of land between W. 110th and W. 113th Sts., along Amsterdam Ave., in hopes the 428-unit apartment complex will generate roughly $1 million a year that can go toward repairs of the cavernous, cash-strapped church. The community board hammered out a compromise that allowed the project to move forward and paved the way for the remainder of the Cathedral grounds to be landmarked.


Five men charged for trying to get union job for son of Colombo underboss

Five men have been charged in the Eastern District of New York with conspiring to defraud the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Union (NMDU) and Hudson News newsstands to obtain a union card and employment at Hudson News newsstands for the son of the alleged underboss of the Colombo family of La Cosa Nostra.

A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Benjamin Castellazzo Jr., Rocco Giangregorio, Glenn LaChance, Rocco Miraglia, aka “Irving,” and Anthony Turzio, aka “the Irish Guy,” with mail fraud conspiracy.   The five men were arrested earlier today, and their initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
In addition, a three-count indictment was unsealed today charging Thomas Leonessa, aka “Tommy Stacks,” with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and theft and embezzlement from employee benefit plans in an unrelated scheme.   The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 6, 2014, and relates to Leonessa’s alleged “no show” job as a delivery driver for the New York Post.
The charges were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and Assistant Director in Charge George C. Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

As alleged in the complaint, the NMDU is an independent union that represents approximately 1,500 employees involved in the newspaper industry in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.   NMDU members deliver newspapers for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and El Diario.   Hudson News, which also employs members of the NMDU, is a retail chain of newsstands mainly located in major transportation hubs, including airports and train stations.

Between June 2009 and October 2009, Miraglia, who was a foreman at the New York Daily News – as well as an associate of the Colombo organized crime family and the son of a deceased soldier in the Colombo family – conspired with officials of the NMDU and with Turzio, an employee of El Diario, to get an NMDU union card for Castellazzo Jr. and place him in a job at Hudson News.   Castellazzo Jr. is the son of Benjamin Castellazzo, the alleged underboss of the Colombo family.   Giangregorio and LaChance, who are business agents for the NMDU, also participated on this scheme.

As alleged in the indictment, Leonessa was employed by the New York Post to deliver newspapers by truck from a New York Post warehouse in the Bronx, N.Y., to New Jersey.   He was also a member of the NMDU, which maintained offices, including offices for its welfare and pension funds, in Queens, N.Y.   From about December 2010 to about September 2011, Leonessa had a “no show job” – a job for which he was paid wages and benefits for services he did not perform – at the New York Post.   When Leonessa did not complete his required deliveries, he was nevertheless, based on his fraudulent representations, paid wages by the New York Post and accorded benefits from employee pension and welfare funds managed by the NMDU.

Leonessa is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The charges in the complaint and indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the FBI, with assistance from the New York City Police Department, the New York County District Attorney’s Office and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes and Allon Lifshitz.


Son of Vinny Gorgeous set to join his brothers and father in prison for weed trafficking

Vincent Basciano Jr., 32, was busted along with his brothers for taking part in an operation that shipped weed from California to New York.

The son of an imprisoned Mafia boss will be joining his father and brothers in the big house.
Vincent Basciano Jr., 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking part in a massive marijuana trafficking enterprise.

His father, the ruthless but well-coiffed Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, a former Bonanno crime family head, is serving a life sentence on murder convictions at a supermax prison in Colorado.

Vincent Jr.’s plea deal with the feds calls for 46 to 57 months in prison.

Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano was convicted of ordering the 2004 murder of Randolph "Randy" Pizzolo.

He was busted last year along with his brothers Stephen Basciano, 29, and Joseph Basciano, 27, who admitted guilt separately in February under similar plea agreements.

The trio ran a Bronx drug route in a ring that shipped weed from California to New York.

Vincent Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced July 18 and is free on bail until then.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Witness describes mob associate's lavish lifestyle

He's been on the witness stand for a week and during that time he's offered the jury a behind-the-scenes look at what authorities allege was the $12 million ripoff of FirstPlus Financial.

He's admitted to falsifying records, padding expense accounts and "moving money around" to make it appear as if it came from or was going to legitimate business deals.

He sailed on the $850,000 yacht that was bought with cash from the scam, he said. He arranged some of the paperwork for the purchase of a $217,000 Bentley Continental GT that also figures in the fraud. He fabricated records to make a $40,000 trip to Europe appear like a business expense. And he set up "sideways accounts" that allowed his boss to funnel money to two mistresses.

Those were just some of the things that he saw and did while working for Salvatore Pelullo before, during and after the takeover of FirstPlus, a troubled Texas-based mortgage company, said Cory Leshner, who described himself as Pelullo's "personal assistant."

"I thought of Mr. Pelullo as a father figure," Leshner told the jury. "And he thought of me as a son." And that, he said at another point, "made me feel proud...I was willing to do whatever he asked."

Leshner, who has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and faces up to five years in prison, is due
back on the stand when the trial resumes tomorrow.

Dressed in a suit and tie, his voice clear, his comments concise, the burly 31-year-old first took the stand on Feb. 26 and quickly emerged as a key witness in the now two-month-old trial; the first "insider" to provide details about what the FBI and federal prosecutors allege was a blatant money grab orchestrated by Pelullo, 46, and Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 48, the son of jailed Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo.

The two are charged with secretly taking control of FirstPlus Financial in June of 2007 and siphoning $12 million out of the company to support their lavish lifestyles.

Leshner told the jury he landed a part-time job with a Pelullo company while still an undergraduate at West Chester University (where, ironically, he would earn a degree in criminal justice). He went to work fulltime for the Elkins Park wheeler dealer after graduating in 2006. One of 13 defendants originally indicted in the case, he pleaded guilty last year and agreed to cooperate. Five other defendants, including Scarfo's wife Lisa Murray-Scarfo, also have pleaded guilty but have not become witnesses for the government.

In addition to Pelullo and Scarfo, the defendants on trial include John Maxwell, the former CEO of First Plus, Maxwell's brother, William, who was special counsel to the company, and three other lawyers, David Adler, Gary McCarthy and Donald Manno.

From the witness stand, Leshner has fleshed out the allegations contained in a 107-page, 24-count indictment handed up in November 2011. The indictment capped a five-year federal investigation. The government alleges that in the summer of 2007 Pelullo and Scarfo orchestrated the takeover of FirstPlus Financial, a foundering Texas-based mortgage company, and exercised behind-the-scenes control, setting up business deals from which they reaped staggering benefits.

By October of that year, Leshner told the jury, they had gotten $7 million out of the company. Most of the money came from the purchase -- at grossly inflated and overvalued prices -- of companies that Pelullo and Scarfo had set up in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area and through "consulting fees" paid to Pelullo and Scarfo through front companies they secretly controlled.

He said that while there was paperwork and a labyrinth of companies through which the cash sometimes traveled, the marching orders were simple. "It was," he said, "how much money can we get to Mr. Pelullo and how fast."

Leshner said he was first introduced to Scarfo at a barbecue on Memorial Day 2006 in Ventnor. At the time, he said Pelullo introduced him as "Nick Promo." Leshner said he quickly learned who Scarfo really was and knew of his mob connections.

"I grew up in the Philadelphia area," he said.

He also told the jury that most of his dealings were with Pelullo who, through evidence and testimony, has been portrayed as more of a gangster than Scarfo. Brash, arrogant and quick to threaten and intimidate, Pelullo is the one whose wiretapped rants have provided the government with the foundation for many of its allegations.

Leshner said he saw a different side of Pelullo at first, describing him as a hard charging and determined businessman who rightly boasted of having become a millionaire in his mid 20s without having a high school degree. Scarfo, on the other hand, fit the image of a "computer nerd" that others have also applied to him.

Leshner told the jury that the money taken out of FirstPlus was used to finance Pelullo's lavish lifestyle, a lifestyle, he said, that Pelullo was already living before the move on the Texas mortgage company.

But, he added, "it became more lavish after June 2007."

Leshner said his father went to work for Pelullo around 2005 when Pelullo owned a company that cleaned and maintained buildings. Leshner said he was hired while still in college and that he rose from being a laborer and gofer to personal assistant and, eventually, the vice president of Seven Hills Management, one of the Pelullo companies tied to the FirstPlus fraud.

One of his first jobs after graduating from West Chester in December 2006, he said, was to maintain Pelullo's condo in Miami and to serve as a gofer and assistant there. The jury saw photos of the condo which overlooked a marina. There was a pool table in one room, art work on most of the walls and rooms decorated with thick, rich furniture and brassy chandeliers. There also was a Ferrari parked in the condo garage, he said.

Pelullo, according to Leshner, moved between Philadelphia, Miami and Dallas once the FirstPlus scheme was launched. Originally, he said, Pelullo thought he could finance the takeover through the
purchase of company stock, but when that proved impossible -- there was a "poison pill" provision in the company by-laws that would thwart any hostile takeover, Leshner said Pelullo told him -- the plan changed to getting control of the board of directors.

By June 2007, Leshner said, Pelullo and Scarfo had behind-the-scenes control of the board and the money started to flow out to them. Evidence introduced earlier in the trial also indicates that both Pelullo and Scarfo communicated by telephone with jailed mob boss "Little Nicky" Scarfo and visited him in a federal prison in Atlanta where he is serving a 55-year sentence for racketeering and murder.

Scarfo, 84, and Vittorio "Vic" Amuso, 80, the boss of the Lucchese crime family, were inmates together in Atlanta. Both are named as unindicted co-conspirators in the FirstPlus fraud indictment.

The layered scheming that Leshner described involved, among other things, a $100,000-a-month consulting contract for Seven Hills that was arranged by William Maxwell, then special counsel to FirstPlus. Leshner said Pelullo frequently referred to himself as "the consultant" and frankly admitted that while he was calling the shots, he could never appear as an officer or a member of the board of directors of FirstPlus because he had two prior fraud convictions.

Seven Hills in turn arranged to funnel $33,000-a-monthy to Learned Associates, a Scarfo front, Leshner said. He said he did not know of any consulting work Scarfo did and said that Pelullo, rather than consulting, was actually running FirstPlus.

Leshner's testimony also focused on the lifestyles that the money bought.

"Trips to Europe, dinners, casinos, just kind of whatever he wanted to do, he did" on the FirstPlus dime, Leshner said of Pelullo.

Pelullo bought a Bentley, he said, at F.C. Kerbeck in Palmyra, and drove it to a Fourth of July party in Ventnor. He then had the car, a black, 2006 Continental GT model, shipped to Florida. On another occasion, he said, Pelullo showed up one day and told him, "I'm buying a boat."

It turned out to be an 83-foot pleasure yacht named "Priceless." While arranging a loan proved impossible, Leshner said, the purchase was eventually negotiated for cash that came from FirstPlus. The boat cost $850,000. With taxes, the total was $901,125, he added.

The listed owner was P.S. Charters and while their names never showed up on any documents, the yacht belonged to Pelullo and Scarfo, he said.

Leshner was on board for the maiden voyage that in retrospect might have been an omen of what was to come. He said he, Pelullo and William Maxwell, along with their girlfriends and two other FirstPlus employees, Cole Maxwell, the 20-something son of John Maxwell, and Todd Stark, described as head of security and entertainment for Pelullo, were on board for what was to be a six-hour cruise from Miami to the Bahamas.

But one of the yacht's two engines blew out and 21 hours later the yacht limped into port in Nassau with its electricity malfunctioning and its plumbing not working. The group, with the exception of Cole Maxwell who didn't have his passport and had to stay on the boat, spent several nights at the Atlantis Hotel -- the bill was $12,300, Leshner said -- then flew back to Miami. Maxwell stayed till the boat was repaired and sailed back with the yacht's captain.

One thing the younger Maxwell did bring along, said Leshner, was an arsenal of weapons. One of the charges in the indictment focuses on the possession of guns by Scarfo and Pelullo, both convicted felons who are prohibited from owning firearms.

Shortly before they set sail from Miami, Leshner testified, Cole Maxwell showed up with a "bag of guns." Later, Leshner said, he was with Pelullo in Pelullo's master bedroom on the yacht as he sorted out the weaponry and gave a gun to each man on board.

The indictment lists the arsenal which included two rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, a Taurus .38 caliber revolver, a Taurus .22 caliber pistol, approximately 2,500 rounds of ammunition for the rifles and seventeen additional boxes of bullets.

While the guns were never fired, Leshner said it was all hands -- armed -- on deck as the yacht struggled through open waters with a dead engine and another boat approaching. Leshner offered no further details, but another source familiar with the incident said Pelullo and the others feared pirates
and believed their show of force scared off a possible intruder that night.

Leshner also described how he doctored expense account items so that a trip to Europe taken by Pelullo could be paid for through his FirstPlus consulting arrangement. The sham, he said, was that Pelullo was researching possible investment opportunities in the cosmetics trade.

"I researched on line different places in the areas which Sal visited and said that he was there to research cosmetics at these different places," Leshner explained.

When Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D'Aguanno, the lead prosecutor in the case, asked if Pelullo in fact that been to any of those locations, Leshner said, "No." When he was asked who told him to come up with the false information, Leshner replied, "Sal."

Pelullo was nearly cited for contempt while laughing at Leshner when he first took the stand on Feb. 26 and John Maxwell was, in fact, cited and jailed for laughing at Leshner on March 6.

Leshner also said that on Pelullo's orders he set up "sideways accounts" through which thousands of dollars in cash were funneled to two women, identified as Cajmoun and Nadjmer. The women, one whom worked in the FirstPlus office in Irving, Tx, were Pelullo's mistresses, Leshner said. Pelullo later divorced his wife and married Nadjmer, who was also known as Sabrina, he added.

The relationships were rocky, he told the jury.

"Mr. Pelullo would often get fed up with the two of them for any number of reasons and would break if off with them only to start it back up soon thereafter," he said.

Scarfo also had a direct line into the FirstPlus cash stream, Leshner told the jury. He said Scarfo leased an Audi S6 for $1,200-a-month as a company expense. And Pelullo and others helped arrange the down payment and mortgage for a $715,000 home Scarfo and his second wife purchased in Egg Harbor Township after the FirstPlus takeover.

Leshner attended law school at night while working for FirstPlus and continued after the FirstPlus financial bubble burst following a raid by the FBI in May 2008 that targeted dozens of locations and individuals. When the FBI came to his door, Leshner said, "I was scared to death...I was deathly afraid."

But he said that for the next five years, through the indictment and up until the eve of the trial, he espoused the same "party line" that Pelullo and his co-defendants are basing their defense on: the collapse of FirstPlus was simply a business deal gone bad and the money spent buying companies and paying for consulting fees were legitimate expenses that were part of a failed venture.

Leshner said he earned his law degree from Widener University Law School and passed the bar in Pennsylvania. His law career was short lived, however. He voluntarily agreed to be disbarred after cutting his deal with the government and pleading guilty last year. Under the terms of that plea agreement, he said, he faces five years in prison, substantially less, the defense has pointed out, than the 20 years he was facing if convicted at trial.

During cross-examination, Michael Farrell, the more boisterous of Pelullo's two court-appointed defense attorneys, hammered away at Leshner's motivation and credibility. He alleged that Leshner and his girlfriend, who subsequently became his wife, falsified information on a mortgage application for a home in Reading in 2007.

Wasn't that the same thing Leshner was accusing Pelullo and Scarfo of doing, Farrell asked?

Farrell also repeatedly asked Leshner about his reasons for joining the prosecution "team" and adopting the government's "party line," implying that Leshner was saying whatever the government wanted to hear in order to live up to a plea deal he negotiated to cut his own criminal liability.

"I didn't join anybody's team," Leshner said, adding, "I couldn't deal with the party line of Mr. Pelullo. My conscience caught up to me."

Married and with a young daughter, Leshner said he expects to be sentenced to jail.

"I pleaded guilty because I am guilty," he said in response to a question from D'Aguanno. "I couldn't keep up the explanation and the party line that I had been fed from the time I worked for Mr. Pelullo...I'm going to have to look my daughter in the eye and explain to her that when you do something wrong you stand up and face the consequences and you learn from it."


Friday, March 21, 2014

Two mobsters found guilty of murder after testimony from Hector Pagan Jr of Mob Wives fame

The daughter (right) of James Donovan and an unidentified male companion leave Brooklyn Federal Court on Thursday after the conviction of Richard Riccardi and Luigi Grasso in Donovan's 2010 murder.

A pair of fatso Mafia wannabes were convicted Thursday of murder largely on the turncoat testimony of “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano’s ex-husband.

Richard Riccardi and Luigi Grasso were fingered in the fatal robbery of a Brooklyn check casher by mob rat Hector Pagan, who shot and killed the victim in Gravesend on July 2, 2010.

“Hector Pagan was not lying to make these defendants look more guilty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri told the jury in her closing statement. “He told you he was the shooter and there is absolutely no other evidence in this case that Hector Pagan was the shooter, none.”

There was no mention of the reality TV show in which Pagan actually appeared around the same time he was wearing a hidden wire for the feds to nail top Bonanno gangsters, including his father-in-law Anthony "TG" Graziano.

The trio had targeted victim James Donovan, a reputed Luchese associate himself, for a stick-up because Riccardi knew he carried a large amount of cash.

The ex-husband of 'Mob Wives' TV personality Renee Graziano ratted out the pair of gangsters.

Donovan was ambushed outside an automotive repair show and tried to flee after Grasso grabbed him by the hand.

“Who the f--- are you?” were Donovan's last words, according to a witness, before Pagan shot him in the leg. Donovan’s femoral artery was shredded and he bled to death.

“The jury saw through their attempts to shift responsibility for their actions and held them accountable for Mr. Donovan's senseless death,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

In addition to Pagan’s cooperation, NYPD Det. Peter McMahon broke the case by recovering cigarette butts from a parking lot where Riccardi was surveilling the victim. Riccardi’s DNA was found on the butts.

Richard Riccardi is one of the Mafia wannabes convicted on Thursday in the murder of James Donovan.

Earlier this week, Grasso did some squealing of his own — to the judge — complaining that the feds weren't feeding him enough lunchtime grub.

Grasso was furious that Federal Judge John Gleeson had cut off his catered lunches from a downtown Brooklyn delicatessen and that he was back on bologna sandwich rations.

“We're starving!” Grasso wailed, although co-defendant Richard Riccardi wisely kept his mouth shut.

Tough luck, Gleeson shot back, reminding Grasso that he had abused the privilege when family members sneaked extra bottles of iced tea in with the order.

The government provides each defendant a sandwich, an apple and a container of milk for lunch while they are in court, but Grasso and Riccardi appear to tip the scales at 300 pounds apiece and complained they were famished before the end of the trial day.

The defendants face life in prison. Pagan testified that he recently told family members that he'll be home soon.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Judge sentences former Colombo family boss Tommy Shots to 18 years in federal prison

The mob boss had been at the federal jail in Brooklyn longer than any other inmate: four years awaiting trial and, after his conviction in 2012 on racketeering charges, nearly two more waiting to be sentenced. By the time his sentencing date arrived on Wednesday, the mobster, Thomas Gioeli, had been considered for the death penalty, convicted of conspiring to murder three mobsters and acquitted of killing a police officer; he had multiple angioplasties and, with the help of his family, even became an avid blogger and user of Twitter who taunted prosecutors and two mayors.

The measure of those six years behind bars for Mr. Gioeli — highly unusual for someone who has not yet been sentenced — were central to arguments in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Wednesday over how much prison time Mr. Gioeli should get: the maximum 20 years, or something less.

One of Mr. Gioeli’s lawyers, Adam D. Perlmutter, said the six years had taken an especially hard toll. “He is now the senior-most person at the M.D.C.,” Mr. Perlmutter said, referring to the Metropolitan Detention Center. He named a host of medical conditions that Mr. Gioeli, 61, is living with, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. “People who suffer from chronic health conditions do harder time in prison than people who are healthy,” Mr. Perlmutter said. “A 20-year sentence for Thomas Gioeli is, in fact, a life sentence.”

The maximum of 20 years that Thomas Gioeli could have received was reduced by 16 months.

The judge, Brian M. Cogan, said that with a 20-year sentence, credit for time served and good behavior, Mr. Gioeli would be out by his early 70s. “He’s not going to live to his early 70s?” Judge Cogan asked.

“I don’t think so,” Mr. Perlmutter answered.

A prosecutor, James Gatta, said, “Such time should not count against the sentence that the defendant should receive for his criminal conduct.”

As the argument unfolded, Mr. Gioeli, who since his conviction last year grew a giant tuft of white hair on his chin, leaned back in his chair, twisting his white mustache, waving warmly and making baby faces at his family in the courtroom. It was odd behavior that would have been more at home at a child’s birthday party than at a sentencing for gangland murders.

Judge Cogan knocked 16 months off the 20-year maximum and ordered Mr. Gioeli to pay $360,000 in restitution.

At the murder and racketeering trial, prosecutors said Mr. Gioeli, whom they called the former acting boss of the Colombo family, ordered the ambush and murder of an off-duty police officer, Ralph C. Dols, and ordered the killings of several other men in the 1990s. Prosecutors called admitted mob killers to testify against Mr. Gioeli (they described surprise shootings in basements, dissolving dead bodies with lye and burying them on Long Island), but the jury acquitted Mr. Gioeli of many charges, including the murder of Officer Dols. He was found guilty of one count of racketeering for conspiring to kill three mobsters.

Mr. Gioeli’s wife, Maureen, second from right, leaving court after his sentencing Wednesday.

The acts that the prosecutors described hardly meshed with Mr. Perlmutter’s portrayal of Mr. Gioeli as a family man, or “Tommy, the person,” as he called him in a long argument that roused sniffles among two or three dozen family members who showed up. “I look at their marriage and I’m jealous,” Mr. Perlmutter said of Mr. Gioeli’s relationship with his wife. It was an image that Mr. Gioeli also put forth on his blog during his years in jail, that of a family man who was wronged by zealous prosecutors.

His Twitter messages and blog posts, which family members posted after he wrote them using his prison email account, espoused a liberal vision of society, coming to the defense of the working poor, speaking out against sexism, when he was not opining on current events.

Last month, Mr. Gioeli wrote on Twitter, “The FBI arrests old Italians for decades old robberies while allowing bankers to steal billions everyday. TSG #FBI #America #wallstreet,” signing his initials, T.S.G.

Judge Cogan, who said the evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Gioeli was a manager of the crime family and found it was more likely than not he had participated in other murders, said Mr. Gioeli was like many mobsters who are “absolutely schizophrenic in their personalities.” Judge Cogan said, “They go out there and they do things to get people murdered, and at the same time they are wonderful to their families and their communities.”

“They are vicious crimes, and they take a vicious person to do them. I recognize that’s not all there is to Mr. Gioeli.”

Judge Cogan said that Mr. Gioeli’s time served and the “wonderful” way he treated his family were mitigating factors. But he also said: “I haven’t seen any remorse. I’ve just seen self-righteousness.”

Whether he will live to make it out after more than 18 years in prison, the judge said, “only God knows.”


Monday, March 17, 2014

Legendary mobster breaking all the rules at assisted living facility in Florida

Mob hitman Harold Konigsberg, 88, was released from prison two years ago and has surfaced at an assisted living home in Florida.

Legendary mob hitman Harold "Kayo" Konigsberg, released from an upstate prison two years ago, has resurfaced at an assisted living facility in Florida, where the octogenarian flouts the rules and bullies his neighbors, sources told the Daily News.

"To say he was pushy is putting it mildly — he didn't get along with anybody," said Sandra Fiebert, 83. "He told me to shut up more than once."

Fiebert, originally from Queens, was removed from the Westchester of Sunrise assisted living community by her son after he learned she was neighboring the convicted hit man — suspected in up to 20 additional hits.

Some of Konigsberg's neighbors at the Westchester assisted living facility in Sunrise, Fla., tell the Daily News that the 88-year-old former hitman breaks the rules and bothers his fellow residents.

Konigsberg ruffled feathers by acting like he ran the place, Fiebert said. When she complained about him blasting the volume on his TV in the middle of the night, Konigsberg's response to the staffer could be heard through the wall: "Is it the lady next door? Tell her to drop dead!" he shouted.

Fiebert accused Konigsberg of greasing staffers' palms so they’d give him the run of the place. Unlike all of the other residents, Fiebert griped that Konigsberg gets to ignore the assigned seating in the dining room, use a spare room to conduct mysterious business, access the kitchen, and cook in his room with a hot plate.

Konigsberg went to jail with a sentence of 20 to life for strangling Teamsters official Anthony (Three Fingers) Castellito with a Venetian blind cord.

"He had the staff jumping at his command. Running back and forth to the kitchen to get his juice or tea," railed Fiebert.

Last month Sunrise cops issued him a warning for trespassing at the local Walmart, but a police spokesman gave no further details about the incident.

Konigsberg was serving 20 to life for strangling Teamsters official Anthony (Three Fingers) Castellito with a Venetian blind cord, when parole officials sprung the ailing killer for humanitarian reasons. Konigsberg had been living with his daughter in a gated community in Weston, Fla, until he showed up at Westchester in the fall.

Konigsberg is suspected in up to 20 additional mob hits.

The facility's newsletter provided residents with only this information about him: "He worked for the family business of industrial wrecking of building sites. He enjoys reading in his spare time."

The newsletter did not mention Konigsberg, 88, was a ruthless enforcer for Abner (Longy) Zwillman, who was known as the "Al Capone of New Jersey."

'I don't want to be bothered,' Konigsberg told a reporter at the facility.

A spokesman for the Sunrise chain refused to say if they knew about Konigsberg's past when he was accepted as a $3,000-a-month resident.

"He's not always so nice, and loud sometimes, but it doesn't bother me,” said resident James Daly, 89.

Last week Konigsberg was sitting calmly in the Westchester lobby listening to a woman play the piano. Asked by a reporter why he was there, Konigsberg waved his hand.

"My daughter," he said shaking his head. "She did it."

Asked if anyone was giving him a hard time, Konigsberg smiled. "Nobody's gonna give me a hard time," he said. "Please, I'm 89 years old and I've had enough trouble now. I don't want to be bothered ... and you're only destroying me."

Doris Tucker, 88, said she had no idea about Konigsberg's bloody past. "He doesn't look like a mobster," she said. "He's just cranky."


Sunday, March 16, 2014

The real life story of the NY mob's version of Bonnie and Clyde

‘Rob the Mob’ traces story of real-life Bonnie & Clyde
As crimes go, this one probably lacked something in the smarts department.
Back in 1992, young Queens couple Thomas and Rosemarie Uva were in need of money, so they hit upon a not-so-brilliant plan: They stick up Mafia-friendly social clubs, robbing whomever they found inside of cash and jewelry.
Nina Arianda as “Rosie,” and Michael Pitt as “Tommy.”
Arianda with Ray Romano as Jerry Cardozo
They hit about a dozen joints, including the Hawaiian Moonlighters in Little Italy and an unnamed hangout on Brooklyn’s 86th Street. The couple’s story is now the basis for Friday’s “Rob the Mob,” starring Michael Pitt as Tommy and Nina Arianda as Rosie.
“It would have been too silly if you made up a story like this,” says director Raymond De Felitta.
The Uvas worked at a Manhattan collection agency and lived in Ozone Park, Queens, once the stomping ground of John Gotti. Thomas, then 28, was an ex-con who had done time for robbery.
Rosie was 31 and devoted to her husband.
In May, the two hatched a plan: Thomas would storm into the club and order the men inside to empty their valuables. Rosie would wait outside in the getaway car.
“He was a kid who was obsessed with the Mafia, and she grew up in the neighborhood and knew all those guys,” says “Rob the Mob” screenwriter Jonathan Fernandez.
The doors to the social clubs were almost always open, and the patrons inside were generally unarmed — and carrying a sizable amount of cash. Most important, the victims were unlikely to call the police.
The duo were quickly dubbed “Bonnie and Clyde” and evidently knew that what they were doing would probably lead to disaster.
After one of his victims warned Thomas that the Mafia would eventually kill him, Tommy reportedly replied with a shrug, “Everybody dies.”
He probably meant, “Everybody dies — eventually,” but Tommy’s end came much sooner than he might have expected.
On Christmas Eve 1992, he and Rosie set out in their Mercury Topaz at 8:30 a.m. While waiting at a light at 103rd Avenue and 91st Street in Ozone Park, gunmen shot them each three times in the head.
Rosemarie Uva
Thomas Uva

The two fell victim to an “open contract” issued by the Gambino and Bonanno gang families. The Uvas were an especially attractive target because of the way they had violated and humiliated the made men. (In one robbery, Tommy made his elderly Italian victims strip to their underwear.)
On federal wire taps, members from rival crime families the Bonannos and Gambinos can even be heard arguing over who should get credit for the Uvas’ executions.
The cops fingered Dominick “Skinny Dom” Pizzonia, a reputed Gambino capo who ran one of the social clubs the Uvas knocked over. Pizzonia was convicted in 2007 for participating in the murders, despite his claim that he was scaling fish with his mistress at the time.
The killings of Rosie and Tommy are still something of a point of pride in certain New York communities.
“We filmed in real social clubs, and [the members] were fine with it,” Fernandez says.
“From their point of view, Tommy and Rosie got their comeuppance.”


Mob rat files suit against his former Ivy League educated business partner

Mob rat says business partner tried to nail him over $2.5M: suit
A Mafia-associate-turned-informant is deathly afraid of an Ivy League-educated business partner who claims the mob rat cheated him on a land deal.
Now, canary Salvatore Lauria has filed a $5 million Manhattan suit claiming his ex-business partner became a wiseguy wannabe in his quest to nail him over the dough.
Seemingly “squeaky-clean’’ Wharton Law School graduate Jody Kriss “used mob tactics’’ — nearly getting him killed — to try to get his half of the $2.5 million payday, Lauria claims in his bombshell civil lawsuit, which was obtained by The Post.
For example, a vengeful Kriss disclosed sealed government information to a famous mob lawyer who represented the very people Lauria informed against, prompting a mob beatdown of Lauria, the court papers say.
In July 2012 a Mafioso “tracked down Lauria in a restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn . . . and beat Lauria in broad daylight, menacingly telling Lauria, “You’re dead. I’m going to kill you. You’re a rat. I did two years because of you,” the suit says.
Kriss, 36, of the Upper West Side, who worked with Lauria at the real-estate conglomerate the Bayrock Group, took on a mob persona, according to the papers.
Russian pals started calling him “Vor-ton,” a play on his alma mater Wharton,’’ the suit says. In Russia, mobsters are referred to as vor-in-laws, or thief-in-laws.
Kriss was so enamored of the criminal underworld that he also “would routinely ask to see Lauria’s court-mandated ankle monitor and referred to it as ‘federal jewelry,’ ” according to the papers.
Lauria, 51, turned federal informant in the 1990s to dodge a racketeering charge as part of a $40 million Wall Street pump-and-dump scheme.
A former Gambino and Genovese associate, his testimony helped put away the relatives of Carmine “the Snake’’ Persico and Sammy “Bull’’ Gravano.
Lauria began consulting for Bayrock, whose projects include the Trump Soho hotel/condominiums on Spring Street, with Kriss as the front man, the lawsuit says.
But Kriss grew furious when Lauria brokered an $85 million real-estate deal with the FL Group of Iceland in 2007 and took the entire $2.5 million commission, the lawsuit says.
“Our client is not a saint,” admitted Lauria’s lawyer, Michael Beys.
Kriss responded in a statement: “This is merely the latest in a string of increasingly desperate attempts to pressure me and other victims … to stop lawsuits they are losing. None of the bullying tactics will have any effect.”.


Genovese rat sentenced to 99 months in federal prison after cooperating against the crime family

Anthony J. Arillotta on Wednesday bought himself out of a life sentence in prison for two murders, three attempted murders, six-figure extortions and other crimes with 10 days on a witness stand, eight years in prison and an $2 million fine.
He was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan for crimes including the 2003 deaths of Western Masschusetts mob boss Adolfo Bruno and his associate Gary Westerman.
With time served, he will serve up to another four years in prison.
012308 anthony arillotta.JPGAnthony Arillotta, seen in a file photo in Hampden Superior Court, was sentenced on Wednesday to 99 months in federal prison for the 2003 slayings of late crime boss Adolfo Bruno and police informant and criminal associate Gary D. Westerman
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel also slapped a $2 million forfeiture order as part of the sentence handed down in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court.
Arillotta’s sentencing effectively closes a sensational chapter in the history of the mob in Western Massachusetts, with federal prosecutors here lauding him as one of the best Mafia informants ever.
"He is well aware he was a menace to the city of Springfield," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel s. Goldman, the lead prosecutor in the case.
Arillotta, father of three, 47, of Springfield, Mass., shot to the top of Springfield’s rackets by cozying up to mob power brokers in New York. He was formally inducted into the Genovese crime family in 2003 after hatching a murder plot against Bruno, his onetime mentor; participating in the gruesome murder of his brother-in-law, Westerman; attempting to kill union boss Frank Dadabo outside Dadabo’s home in Bronx, N.Y.; and strong-arming businessmen for increased “tribute.”
He also committed myriad other crimes with his “Springfield Crew” to advance a power play, and still collected illegal profits while he served state prison time for gambling and loan-sharking offenses.
Arillotta in 2010 was arrested and pleaded guilty to the murders of Bruno and Westerman, the attempted killing of Dadabo, illegal gun possession, drug trafficking and other crimes. Under a plea deal, he testified in two trials against his former cohorts and bosses, sending two of the cohorts to prison for life as well as the onetime acting boss of the New York-based crime syndicate, Arthur “Artie” Nigro. He also helped send former Longmeadow loan shark Emilio Fusco to prison for 25 years after a trial in 2012.
Court filings indicate Arillotta began cooperating “almost immediately” in March of 2010 to avoid capital punishment or a life sentence. He led investigators to Westerman’s remains in a wooded area in Agawam, Mass., surprised them with the Dadabo shooting details and essentially blew the murder plot against Bruno wide open.
Arillotta was among a parade of local gangsters who turned government witnesses many years after the Bruno and Westerman murders.
While Arillotta seemed to have few immediate family in the courtroom, one of Bruno’s sons, Victor C. Bruno, of Springfield, urged Castel to sentence Arillotta to life in prison despite his widespread testimony.
“Now you’re executing your back-up plan because you’re not man enough or tough enough to take responsibility for your own actions. It was too much for you to handle. You were an ineffective and sloppy boss; and most notably, your 15 minutes of fame is over,” Victor Bruno said in an impact statement.
Bruno lambasted Arillotta, a childhood friend, during a statement in court, glaring and pointing throughout the monologue. Arillotta remained impassive.
"This guy: I grew up with him. I know him like the back of my hand. Your middle name should not be 'Jude' it should be Judas," Bruno said, referring to the Biblical turncoat. "You ran to the government right away because you knew you were dead in the water. You became a rat ... something you knew my father wasn't."
Defense lawyer Thomas Butters asked for five years in prison and told Castel that Arillotta suffered from being in the U.S. Witness Security Program and had not seen his children in three years.
For his part, Arillotta apologized to the Bruno, Westerman and Dadabo families,and appeared to become silenced by emotion while rendering his address to the court.
"I joined the Mafia and chose the Genovese family over my own flesh and blood," he said, emotionally.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials had no comment after the hearing in U.S. District Court in southern Manhattan.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Secret wiretaps of dead godfather Vito Rizzuto paint him as a man of compromise

Wiretaps heard Wednesday at Quebec’s corruption inquiry, the Charbonneau Commission, unveiled damning conversations between leading members of the Rizzuto Mafia family and construction kingpin Tony Magi, along with a number of other players involved in transforming a former Montreal industrial building at 1000 de la Commune into luxury condominiums.
At the time, contractor Tony Magi was experiencing serious financial difficulties with the 1000 de la Commune project. With only 60 days to pay a sizable private investment loan, Vito Rizzuto entered the picture, offering his help on making sure the project came through.
Charbonneau Commission investigator Éric Vecchio walked the commissioners through hours of wiretapped conversations dating as far back as 2002 in which Rizzuto is heard negotiating relations between known associate Magi, businessman John Norman “Jonathan” Myette and other players.
However, Vecchio said that even as Rizzuto got involved in ensuring the completion of 1000 de la Commune project, he never invested his own money. Instead, Vecchio said, Rizzuto pulled the strings on financing to gain control of Magi.
The 1000 de la Commune condos have been in the spotlight at the commission before. Last year, alleged links were made between several unit owners and organized crime.
Vecchio, a Montreal police detective and former national coordinator on Italian organized crime for the Canadian government’s Criminal Intelligence Service Canada department, has appeared at the inquiry before. He worked on Projet Colisée, the RCMP-led crackdown on the Mafia.

Rizzuto 'man of compromise': Vecchio

In tape gathered under Projet Colisée from Jan. 4, 2003, Rizzuto and Michel Argento of Paramount Paving are heard discussing that Terry Pomerantz of TRAMS Property Management and a certain Giorgio Tartaglino would finance Magi’s project. In return, Magi was required to give up 18 per cent of the shares, split evenly among Rizzuto, Argento and Tony Renda, a business partner of Tartaglino’s.
Vito's son, Nick Jr. (Nicolo), is heard on later wiretaps.
Vecchio is the final witness this week before the commission breaks until April 8 — the day after the Quebec election.
Vecchio called Rizzuto a "man of compromise" who was more interested in mediating and playing referee than relying only on violence.
The investigator says Rizzuto's ability to keep everyone happy explains his long reign in local organized crime.
Screen shots from the wiretapped conversations:
View image on Twitter 
View image on Twitter


Courtroom drama as Mob Wives snitch Hector Pagan Jr testifies

While the murder trial in Brooklyn Federal court possessed a storyline with all the dramatic trappings of a must-watch reality TV program, the most captivating part was that it wouldn't be publicized.
The mob trial in Brooklyn Federal court channel-hopped from ABC's New York Med to VH1's Mob Wives as two figures from two different reality shows took the stand in as many days.
On Monday, there was Dr. Tara Margarella a trauma resident turned plastic surgeon who was once featured on the show New York Med. She testified about her desperate efforts to save the victim in this murder and robbery conspiracy case.
On Tuesday, it was Hector Pagan, ex-husband of Mob Wives star Renee Graziano. He appeared as the government’s star witness against two alleged accomplices in a killing where he himself had been the triggerman.
The fury and shame that the other people he had ratted out in unrelated cases, included his father-in-law—reputed Mafia capo Anthony Graziano—had actually been a major story line on Mob Wives.
As a result, this is the first trial in history where the government sought to keep the jurors anonymous not only to ensure their physical safety, but also to protect the jury from (God forbid) ending up on a reality TV show.
“Members of the press or the producers of Mob Wives may attempt to contact jurors, if their identities are known, to generate additional stories surrounding the trial and [Pagan’s] testimony,” prosecutors said in court papers.
Prosecutors further worried, “The expected media attention may put significant pressure on jurors to reach a verdict based on considerations other than the evidence presented at trial, for example to either avoid the notoriety associated with the show or to seek it out.”
The situation is all the more unique because the judge, John Gleeson, is a former prosecutor who back in 1987 joined fellow Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Gicalone in being the first to prosecute flamboyant mob boss John Gotti. The two put on a valiant effort in this very same courthouse with Giacalone, in particular, suffering terrific abuse from the defense, only to lose the case after one of the jurors was bribed.
Gleeson now ruled that the jury in the present case against the two accomplices, Richard Riccardi and Luigi “Ronnie” Grasso, would be granted partial anonymity. Their names would be known to the prosecution and to the defense, but not to the media—including reality TV shows.
The jurors were thus dually protected when the government called a former figure from New York Med to the stand on Monday. Dr. Tara Margarella is now a plastic surgeon in Florida, but she was still a trauma resident at Lutheran Medical Center back on July 2, 2010. She had been near the end of her shift when James Donovan was brought in with a gunshot wound he had suffered during a robbery.
“He was bleeding profusely,” Margarella said. “I wasn’t able to bring him back.”
During Margarella’s testimony, and while the bloody crime scene photos were flashed onto the courtroom screen, the reality of the mob was personified by the murdered man’s sobbing daughter. She had a small box of tissues when she returned on Tuesday and she sat in the front row holding it along with a holy card bearing her father’s picture.
In the late morning, 47-year-old Pagan took the stand in tan, prison-issued short-sleeved shirt and pants. More sobs from the victim’s daughter seemed certain as the testimony commenced with the starkest of questions and answers.
“What’s the most serious crime you have committed in your life?” the prosecutor began by asking.
“Murder,” Pagan replied.
“Who did you murder?” the prosecutor asked.
“James Donovan,” Pagan said.
Not a sound came from Donovan’s daughter, as if she had exhausted all her sobs and tears the day before. Pagan proceeded to testify that he had begun committing crimes when he was just 13. He said he had met the defendant Grasso some months before the murder.
“I told him I did scores, sold some pot, gambling stuff like that,” Pagan testified. “He said he had a couple of scores lined up.”
“Can you explain to the members of the jury what a score is?” the prosecutor asked.
“Robbery,” Pagan said.
He reported that he and Grasso subsequently kept in touch via cell phone. Pagan said he had two.
“One for street activity, one for family,” he said. “One was under my name, one was under nobody’s name.”
Pagan said that he subsequently also met the defendant Riccardi, who joined him and Grasso in robbing a pot dealer.
“The plan was to go by the house and wait for the guy and when he goes in, pop his door and rob him,” Pagan testified.
A fortnight later, the three met up at a Brooklyn Dunkin’ Donuts. Pagan climbed into Grasso’s white Toyota and headed for a supermarket parking lot facing an auto body shop. Pagan said Riccardi arrived in his black Mercedes and walked over to the Toyota.
“What did he carry with him?” the prosecutor asked.
“A bag with guns in it,” Pagan said. “We took what we wanted. I had a 9-milimeter. I think the rest were .38s.”
Pagan said he briefly exited the car to buy a bottle at a liquor store.
“Just to cool things off,” he testified.
“Did you drink the liquor?” the prosecutor asked.
“A little bit,” he answered.
Pagan said they soon after saw a luxury car pull up the auto body shop across the street. Grasso was at the wheel.
“Ronnie said, ‘There he is,’” Pagan testified.
Donovan was making one of his regular stops in a business where he cashed checks for a two percent fee. He was just climbing out of his car when Pagan and the others pulled up.
Pagan said that his job was to hold Donovan at gunpoint while Ronnie grabbed the money.
“I put the gun to him and said, ‘Stay right here,’” Pagan told the jury. “He wiggled away from me and started running. I shot him.”
Pagan and the others drove off.
“There really was no getaway plan,” Pagan testified.
He said that one of the others claimed to have shot Donovan.
“I said ‘No, you didn’t, I did,” Pagan recalled.
In a Brooklyn basement, they counted their take and it came to some $200,000.
“Ronnie took the guns,” Pagan testified. “He said he was going to melt mine.”
Pagan reported that Ronnie later told him that Richie had been blabbing about the killing.
“I said, ‘You should kill Richie,”” Pagan said, explaining to the jury, “He’s going around saying things that should not be said.”
The prosecutor then led Pagan through a recounting of his decades-long life of crime. Pagan said he had been an associate of the Lucchese crime family until he became engaged to Renee Graziano. Her father was reputedly a capo in the Bonanno crime family.
“He said, ‘If you’re going to do that we have to transfer you,’” Pagan told the jury.
Pagan was henceforth associated with the Bonanno crime family as he settled into a life of robbery, extortion, beatings, kidnapping and drug dealing.
Pagan said the day then came when, by chance, he saw his wife’s car parked by the side of the road with nobody inside. She then pulled up in a vehicle with another man.
“I started shooting at him,” Pagan testified.
The man survived. Pagan and Renee subsequently separated and reunited several times, once during an episode of Mob Wives, when he told her he had been shaken on hearing she had nearly died while undergoing plastic surgery. She asked if it was because he loved her or because he was in love with her.
“Both,” he told her.
“For years I’ve be in love with you, only you,” she told him.
The final break seems to have come when she learned that he had turned informant, or what he calls “an associate of the government,” rather than face a lengthy prison term for the armed robbery of a card game. He had even worn a wire when speaking with her father, who had subsequently been indicted for extortion.
At one point, Pagan’s handlers instructed him to put on his wire and pump a hoodlum of his acquaintance for information about the Donovan murder. Pagan employed the opposite of a typical reality TV strategy by steering the conversation away from any dramatic revelations. But Pagan figured it was just a question of time before the feds heard his name in connection with the killing.
“There was already an investigation going around,” Pagan testified on Monday. “I figured if I’m in this already, I might as well go all the way.”
Pagan said that he confessed to the shooting and cut a deal. He now testified that there had been one primary requirement on his part.
“Just to, uh…” Pagan began.
Pagan choked up and paused. His voice caught as he continued.
“…just to give information.”
He had shown no emotion at all earlier, when describing how he killed Donovan.
The reality of the mob in the person of the murdered man’s daughter sat there still holding the holy card bearing her father’s picture.
At least the jury was safe from Mob Wives.


Mob Wives rat Hector Pagan Jr details three decades of crime during court testimony

‘Mob Wives’ star’s ex-hubby lays out crime past in murder trial
The Mafia turncoat ex-hubby of “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano laid out his life of mob mayhem Tuesday at a murder trial in Brooklyn federal court.
Admitted killer Hector Pagan was testifying against a pair of former pals accused in the murder of Luchese associate James Donovan outside a Gravesend body shop in 2010.
Pagan has admitted to pulling the trigger in the slaying but agreed to cooperate against reputed Gambino associate Luigi Grasso and reputed Bonanno associate Richard Riccardi to lighten his own sentence for a host of separate crimes.
“I put the gun to him and said, ‘Stay right here,’” said Pagan. “He wiggled away and started running. I turned around and shot him.”
Several of Donovan’s family members were reduced to tears as Pagan recalled the cold-blooded killing.
The mobsters targeted Donovan because he was known to carry around thick wads of cash and they ambushed him as he pulled up to a body shop.
Now 47, Pagan chillingly outlined his more than three decades of violent and criminal behavior that began at the age of 13 for jurors.
Pagan, who told the court that he’s half-Italian and half-Spanish, shifted allegiances between mob families before he settled with the Bonannos after marrying Graziano, whose father was then consigliere of the crime crew.
Pagan admitted to selling hundreds of pounds of pot, committing numerous assaults, loan sharking and illegal gambling.
He coldly recalled one gruesome prison incident where he punched a man who then fell onto a sharp object that popped out his eyeball.
Pagan became a prolific mob rat and wore a wire to record incriminating conversations with his own father-in-law, Anthony Graziano, to save his skin.


Doctor details Lucchese associate's final moments before death

Doctor details dying man’s last moments in mob murder trial
A stunning Brooklyn-born surgeon who parlayed reality show celebrity into a thriving Atlanta plastic surgery career returned to her roots Monday to offer graphic testimony at a mafia murder trial.
Before performing nips and nose jobs at a high end spa down south, Dr. Tara Margarella treated gunshot and stabbing victims in the chaotic emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center in her home borough.
The head-turning physician testified at the murder trial of mobsters Luigi Grasso and Richard Riccardi in Brooklyn federal court Monday where she recalled the dying moments of the man they’re accused of killing.
The Fontbonne Hall Academy valedictorian — who was the featured on the 2012 ABC show “New York Med” and appeared on the Dr. Oz show last year — described treating the “shredded” body of Luchese associate James Donovan on July 2, 2010.
Speaking with a slight Brooklyn accent, the married mom said she was about to finish up an otherwise quiet shift when she was told that a seriously wounded patient was on the way.
“He was bleeding profusely,” Margarella recalled as Donovan’s relatives burst out into sobs in the crowded courtroom gallery.
After his vital signs began to fade, she said the situation was hopeless. “I wasn’t able to bring him back,” she said.
Gambino associate Grasso and Bonanno associate Riccardi are accused of taking part in the botched robbery of Donovan at his Gravesend body shop.
The accused triggerman in the murder, Bonanno associate Hector Pagan, is testifying against them after agreeing to cooperate with the government.
The ex-husband of “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano, Pagan has worn a wire to bust a slew of mobsters.


Hector Pagan Jr from Mob Wives admits to being a snitch since 2006 and 2010 murder during testimony

Hector Pagan became a government informant in 2006 — five years before he agreed to wear a wire against his father-in-law, reputed capo Anthony Graziano, and other Bonanno bigwigs.

"Mob Wives" star Renee Graziano was sleeping with a snitch longer than she apparently knew.

The reality TV mob princess’ ex-husband testified Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court that he became a government informant in 2006 — five years before he agreed to wear a wire against his father-in-law, reputed capo Anthony Graziano, and other Bonanno bigwigs.

Luigi Grasso (center) is escorted into Manhattan Supreme Court on Dec. 16. He is on trial for killing check casher James Donovan in a 2010 robbery outside a Brooklyn auto body shop.

Hector Pagan, 47, turned rat “to take the focus off myself” and pocketed $15,000 for information he gave the FBI.

He took the stand Tuesday against two accomplices in a fatal robbery outside a Brooklyn auto body shop in July 2010.

'Mob Wives' star Renee Graziano was sleeping with a mob rat longer than she knew.

Mob wannabes Luigi Grasso and Richard Riccardi are on trial for the killing of check casher James Donovan.

Pagan admitted that he fired the fatal shot during the stickup in Gravesend that netted the thugs $50,000 apiece.

Grasso and Riccardi face life in prison if convicted.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Colombo captain turned rat attempts to get out from 45 day prison sentence

Mob rat Reynold Maragni was sentenced to just 45 days for committing crimes while working undercover for the feds — and then tried to get out of serving the time behind bars.

An ungrateful mob rat caught committing crimes while working undercover for the feds tried to weasel out of serving a lousy 45 days behind bars, even though the judge could have sentenced him Monday to five years.

Ex-Colombo capo Reynold Maragni complained to his lawyer that he might lose his job in the witness protection program if he has to go in the slammer for marijuana trafficking, extortion and money laundering. His lawyer described his position as “manager” of a business, but provided no other details for security reasons.

Maragni, 61, had the gall to ask Brooklyn Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto if he could serve the sentence at home or on weekends.

The judge gave Maragni four months in prison, but with credit for time served it only amounts to 45 days. She said that’s “fairly modest” considering his treacherous behavior of collecting loanshark debts at the same time he was making secret recordings of mobsters for the FBI.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Judge tosses defendant in jail for contempt of court

The judge didn't think it was funny.

But apparently some of the defendants did.

As a result, one of them has ended up in jail. John Maxwell, the former CEO of FirstPlus Financial and a defendant in an ongoing racketeering fraud trial, was cited for contempt of court, had his bail revoked and was carted off to the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia Thursday. He's been a "guest" at the federal facility ever since, joining co-defendants Nicodemo S. Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo who have been denied bail and have been jailed since their arrests in November 2011.

Maxwell was apparently laughing during the cross-examination of Cory Leshner, a former top business associate of Pelullo's who has emerged as a key prosecution witness in the now two-month old trial. Leshner will be back on the stand when the trial resumes Monday.

Maxwell will be back at the defense table along with Scarfo, Pelullo and four other co-defendants, including Maxwell's brother William, a lawyer who was special counsel to FirstPlus while the alleged $12 million fraud took place. The other four defendants are free on bail.

Whether Judge Robert Kugler lifts the contempt order and reinstates bail for John Maxwell is an open question. Maxwell's court-appointed lawyer, Mark Catanzaro said he plans to ask Kugler to reconsider. Catanzaro said his client was "in shock" when Kugler lowered the boom.

The judge, however, said he was tired of warning the defendants about their comportment during the trial.

In a one-page contempt order filed Thursday, Kugler wrote that "Defendant, despite numerous
warnings, caused an audible outburst in the court in the presence of the jury. No lesser sanction than revocation of bail would be sufficient to prevent further violations of the court's order. Defendant is in contempt of court."

The latest dustup occurred Thursday afternoon shortly before the trial recessed for the week. (There have been no Friday trial sessions.). Leshner was being cross-examined by Michael Riley, Scarfo's attorney, who had asked a series of questions about Pelullo and his split personality. Pelullo has been described as full of bravado and arrogance, but also as someone who could be kind and generous.

The trial includes several references to Pelullo making threats and Riley was asking about one in which Pelullo allegedly threatened to choke someone. Leshner said he had heard Pelullo make those kinds of comments, but had never seen him actually assault anyone. It was during that question-and-answer examination that several co-defendants apparently broke  out laughing, according to a transcript of the court session that day.

With that, Kugler ordered the jurors to leave the courtroom. When they had been removed, he looked over at the defense table and asked, "Would you like to spend the next few nights in jail gentlemen because you think it's that funny?"

Since Scarfo and Pelullo are already in jail, the question was obviously addressed to some of the other defendants. Catanzaro said his client was not the only defendant laughing, but was apparently the one that Kugler saw.

While it sounds like something out of a Junior High School home room, the consequence were more severe than after school detention.

"How many more warnings is it going to take to get your attention that I'm not going to put up with this nonsense?" Kugler asked.

On Feb. 26, shortly after Leshner took the stand for the first time, Kugler issued a similar warning to Pelullo who was apparently smirking and laughing as Leshner described how Pelullo had introduced him to Scarfo at a barbecue in Ventnor on Memorial Day in 2006.

Based on the transcript, it's impossible to tell what brought on the laughter. Leshner had told the jury that Pelullo introduced Scarfo as "Nick Promo." Later, Leshner said, he learned Scarfo's real identify. Again, Kugler abruptly ordered the jurors to leave the courtroom.

Then he lit into Pelullo, asking him, "You want to keep laughing, Mr. Pelullo? You think this is funny?"

Kugler said he had warned Pelullo during pre-trial hearings and at the start of the trial that boisterous behavior would not be tolerated. He said Pelullo's conduct, "laughing out loud" at the witness "so that everybody could hear him" was not acceptable. He noted that Pelullo is already in jail and, since his attorney is court-appointed, apparently has no money. A fine, the judge said, would not have any impact.

The only recourse, he said, was to ban him from the courtroom. Presumably Pelullo would follow the proceedings from a closed circuit TV monitor in another room were that to happen.

It didn't come to that, however. After a five-minute recess, one of Pelullo's two court-appointed attorneys, Michael Farrell, apologized for his client, telling the judge there was no "malice" in his actions.

Kugler sounded less than satisfied, but relented on punishing the defendant.

"Mr. Pelullo, if you can't control yourself we have people who will," the judge said. "I will tolerate not another sound out of you...You will be barred and that will be it."

Pelullo then told the judge, "I apologize your honor...Thank you, your honor."

Described as a brash and arrogant businessman prior to his arrest, Pelullo didn't change after he was jailed. He has had a rocky relationship with the judge from the start. Among other things, he has chided Kugler on blog postings from prison, questioning his integrity and honesty, challenging the order that he be held without bail and implying that the judge is a second prosecutor in the case.

Kugler is a no-nonsense jurist who has handled some of the toughest and more complicated cases to come through the federal courthouse in Camden. Among others, he presided over the Fort Dix Five terrorism trial, a marathon proceeding that attracted national attention. Several of the court-appointed attorneys in the FirstPlus case, including Riley, Michael Huff, who represents William Maxwell, and Troy Archie, another Pelullo lawyer, were court-appointed defense attorneys in that proceeding as well.

Leshner's lawyer, Rocco Cipparone Jr., was also in the Fort Dix case.

John Maxwell may have paid a price for the actions of several defendants that brought Kugler to the boiling point.

"I don't think Mr. Maxwell was the only one," Catanzaro said while asking Kugler to reconsider his contempt order and the revocation of bail. But the judge would not budge. And, he added, "a similar fate awaits other people who violate my orders."