Monday, June 30, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
It was a bittersweet sentence for a reputed Genovese mob associate convicted of conspiring to keep a rival union local from organizing workers at a Long Island chocolate factory.
Robert Scalza, 60, the former secretary treasurer of Local 713 of the International Brotherhood of Trade Unions, will serve six months of house arrest at his Manhasset home instead of the one year behind bars that he faced.
But Scalza lost his lucrative $260,000-a-year post and is barred from holding any union position for three years.
“The loss of my life’s work and the humiliation has cost me dearly,” Scalza told Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
Scalza sought the help of powerful Genovese capo Conrad Ianiello when another union local tried to organize the unidentified chocolatier workers. Ianiello sent an emissary to threaten the secretary treasurer of Local 621 to back off from organizing the workers, according to court papers.
“Organized labor protects the rights of hard-working people, and unfortunately, Mr. Scalza, you made a mistake with your associating with someone who did not have those same interests,” Garaufis said.
Scalza was also fined $15,000, but he’s worth a reported $5 million, putting him in a category where union workers are not members.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Mario Velez, 46, agreed to the deal that requires him to do nothing more than stay out of trouble for three months. Velez of Peekskill was set to go to trial June 16 with three reputed mobbed-up associates also accused of making threats of force and fear to extort a trash hauler into turning over his business to them in 2011.
But under last-minute “deferred prosecution agreements” offered with the feds, they’ll avoid jail and future prosecution simply by remaining “law-abiding” citizens, agreeing to restricted local travel and following other terms over the three-month period.
“We feel this was the right and just thing for the government to do, based on his background,” Velez’s lawyer, John Meringolo, told The Post. “He’s a good citizen, a good trooper and a good father.”
Velez was mum about the deal — and his arrest.
“I took a beating, and I just want to get back on my feet,” he said.
Also arrested in 2013 were Pasquale P. Cartalemi Jr., 51, and his son, Pasquale L. Cartalemi 28, both of Cortlandt, at their company AAA Carting in Peekskill.
The trio had faced up to 40 years behind bars on extortion charges.
Another associate who caught a break, Andrew McGuire, 30, of Hawthorne, had faced up to 20 years on an extortion conspiracy charge.
The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
The suspects allegedly shook down and took control of Capital Waste Services in Hawthorne. McGuire is currently listed as the CEO of the carting business, according to state records. They all claim they’re innocent.
Sources said Velez retired under fire as a state trooper in 2012 after the FBI notified his bosses that he was a target of a probe that found rival Mafia families had banded together to circumvent official efforts to clean up the trash business. The state police had been looking separately into Velez’s actions at the same time that the feds were investigating,
An indictment said the suspects used strong-arm tactics to shake down the owners of legitimate companies and secretly assume ownership of their operations.
In January 2013, 32 people were indicted as a result of the probe, including Velez and his crew and alleged ringleader Carmine “Papa Smurf” Franco, 78. Franco was sentenced to a year in jail last month after copping a plea to a separate shakedown scheme.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora, the alleged captain of the gang, appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court with seven co-defedants facing charges of extortion, loan-sharking, gambling and drug dealing, WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell.
The reputed Bonanno members, who were seen laughing together in court, are also accused of using one their associates, Nicholas Bernhard, a president of a local Teamsters union chapter, to support the crime family’s gambling operations. Union members were allegedly recruited to borrow money from the mob loan sharks and then gamble it away.
Matthew “Matty” Guglielmetti – a reputed capo regime in the New England crime family – is now on home confinement.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons confirmed for Target 12 that Guglielmetti was released from Fort Dix Federal Prison in New Jersey last Tuesday.
The 65-year-old Cranston man spent roughly 10 years behind bars after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges. Investigators said Guglielmetti pledged to protect a shipment of cocaine as it moved through Rhode Island.
Guglielmetti was a close associate to former mob boss Raymond “Junior” Patriarca, according to law enforcement officials. As Target 12 first reported, his notoriety even made its way into the informant files of James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.
After a massive round of busts and convictions of high-ranking mobsters and associates in 2011, the mob is very different from the one Guglielmetti left a decade earlier.
Jeffrey Sallet – the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the FBI – said organized crime in New England has been “decimated.”
“The environment in the state of RI right now is you have very limited strength from Rhode Island in the ranks of La Cosa Nostra,” said Sallet. “We had our thumb on them, we will not take our thumb off them.”
“This is not a friendly environment for them to do business,” he added.
A plan to hold one trial for the murder of Mob boss Salvatore Montagna beginning in January appears to be in doubt as the alleged head of the plot, Raynald Desjardins, wants to be tried on his own in French.
Three different motions were filed to Quebec’s Superior Court in advance of a hearing held Monday at the Gouin courthouse in northern Montreal. Desjardins, 60, is seeking to have his case severed from those of seven co-accused so it can be held in the language he is more comfortable in.
Another of the accused, Vittorio Mirarchi, 36, has been seeking to have a trial in English since April and, on Monday, lawyers representing the other six men charged in connection with Montagna’s murder said they also want to be tried in English. For its part, the Crown wants one trial to be held before a bilingual jury.
Desjardins and Mirarchi face charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy along with five other men; Calogero Milioto, 43, Steven Fracas, 29, Jack Simpson, 72, Pietro Magistrale, 62, and Steven D’Addario, 36. Felice Racaniello, 29, is only charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder.
Montagna died, on Nov. 24, 2011, after he was shot in Charlemagne, a town just east of Montreal. At the time, the Mafia in Montreal was involved in a complicated internal conflict.
The eight accused were arrested at different points in time following Montagna’s death. They were originally charged in Joliette court but, in January, a Superior Court judge agreed to a change-of-venue request and the case was transferred to the Laval courthouse. For security reasons, Monday’s hearing was held at the Gouin courthouse, which WAS specially designed for cases involving many accused.
Most of what was discussed during Monday’s hearing cannot be reported on because of a publication ban. For the most part, Justice Michael Stober used the pretrial conference hearing to sort through, and update the status of, several legal motions that will be argued before the trial begins.
Under the current timetable, the jury trial would begin on January 5 and could last anywhere between six and 12 months. But Stober said Monday that at the rate the list of motions is growing he might still be hearing legal arguments well into early next year.
Stober was also informed that Desjardins’s lawyer, Marc Labelle, likely won’t even be available for a trial if it is held in January. Labelle is already scheduled to be one of roughly four dozen lawyers who will represent clients in two trials related to Project SharQc, an investigation involving the Hells Angels, which are expected to begin in the coming months. Stober, who was assigned to the Montagna murder case in April, said Monday was the first time he was informed of the major scheduling conflict. Labelle was not available to explain his side of the story Monday morning because he represented Emma Czornobaj, 25, at the Montreal courthouse in her jury trial on charges she caused the death of two people after stopping her car on a highway in Candiac. The jury in Czornobaj’s trial received instructions from the presiding judge, Justice Eliane Perreault, on Monday.
At a status conference hearing late last week, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart scheduled a new pretrial conference for Dec. 1, but the retrial - Nicodemo's first trial ended May 20 in a mistrial amid rumors that someone had approached a juror - did not get a firm date.
Before the mistrial was declared, the jury had already lost two alternates because of exposure to pretrial publicity. When juror No. 8 was dismissed, the panel was reduced to 11. Although a criminal trial may continue with 11 jurors, both sides must agree. That did not happen in the case of the 42-year-old reputed mob soldier.
DiPietro, 50, was gunned down shortly before 3 p.m. Dec. 12, 2012, as he stood by his pickup truck in the 2800 block of South Iseminger Street.
Although DiPietro did time in prison for drug and gun violations, his family denied he had any connections to the mob. Furthermore, authorities have never alleged that he was a member of South Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra crime family.
Before the trial opened, Minehart ruled that prosecutors could not talk about a connection to organized crime unless they could prove that it had been a mob hit.
Consequently, in his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo did not mention organized crime, nor did he offer a motive. Instead, Zarallo said that DiPietro was "executed in the street" by an assailant who was still at large, and that Nicodemo's job was to help the shooter escape and ditch the weapon.
Nicodemo was taken into custody at his home the day of the murder, and a search of his SUV turned up the .357-caliber Magnum revolver used to gun down DiPietro.
Defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle has maintained that Nicodemo was the victim of an aborted carjacking by a masked gunman who apparently stashed the revolver in Nicodemo's vehicle.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
DiFiore’s lawyer, Steve Zissou, went ballistic after he obtained a memo from the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s criminal division chief stating the prosecutor’s office intends to review all emails between inmates and their lawyers that came through the Bureau of Prisons computer system.
Zissou told Federal Judge Allyne Ross last week he plans to file papers arguing the practice is unconstitutional. She granted his request for the feds to avoid the mobster’s electronic messages — at least for now.
“Frankly I had no idea they (prosecutors) were already doing this,” Zissou told the Daily News. “It’s immoral and unprofessional.”
According to the memo, the feds are on firm legal ground because the inmate waives any confidentiality privilege every time the computer system known as TRULINCS is used to send emails.
“Inmates at the (Metropolitan Detention Center) and their counsel are provided with ample notice that their emails are being monitored,” Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney James McGovern says in the memo obtained by The News.
“Thus, no attorney-client privilege attaches to such communications,” the memo says.
That notification is contained in the TRULINCS user agreement page that appears on the computer screen after logging in to the system and includes a “consent to monitoring” condition, McGovern pointed out.
The inmate must consent to “monitoring and information retrieval for law enforcement and other purposes” before using the system.
The Bureau of Prisons does not monitor in-person visits between lawyers and clients.
McGovern declined to comment, but a law enforcement source with knowledge of the memo said it did not signal a new policy but was merely a reminder to defense lawyers that the emails are subject to monitoring and prosecutors intend to do so.
Peter Kirchheimer, chief of the Brooklyn federal defender’s office, said he intends to make a request to each judge presiding over every one of his cases to order the government not to snoop on email communications between him and his jailed client.
Kirchheimer said it is not clear to him that the notification to inmates of monitoring is adequate to waive the confidentiality privilege.
DiFiore was arrested last year on extortion charges and is being held without bail.
Louis Gross avoided a trip up the river as part of a no-jail deal after pleading guilty last April to charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Gross, 29 — who spent one season on the hit HBO show as Tony Soprano’s driver, Perry “Muscles Marinara” Annunziata — was busted last August with eight counterfeit C-notes after buying a burger at a Third Avenue bar.
On Monday, he said he hoped to put his criminal escapades behind him and get back into acting.
“I’m nearly 30,” he said. “I have things career-wise I want to get done, and this is a distraction.”
Gross’ girlfriend declined to watch as Manhattan Supreme Court Justice A. Kirke Bartley handed down the sentence. She instead waited outside with a look on her face that could kill faster than a Mafia hit man’s bullet.
“She’s as supportive as they come, but she’s had to deal with a lot from me,” Gross said. “I love her to death.”
Gross would have faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the felony counts against him.
He initially claimed ignorance about the bills.
“I ordered a hamburger and went to pay at the bar,” he had claimed.
“[The owner] said this is fake. I said I’m really sorry and started walking down the block, and the police jumped out.”
In the past Gross has praised Gandolfini for supporting him and helping his career.
“He was one of the best people I met in the industry,” he said of the beloved actor who died at age 51 of a heart attack last summer.
Donald Manno, Scarfo's former criminal defense attorney and a co-defendants in the case, is expected to complete his closing arguments this morning. Manno, who is representing himself, will be the final defense attorney to address the anonymously chosen jury panel.
A rebuttal closing argument this afternoon from the prosecution will complete the argument phase of the trial, setting the stage for the start of deliberations either late today or tomorrow.
Manno was detailed and highly effective yesterday afternoon when he spoke to the jury for about an hour. The one-time federal prosecutor, who referred to himself in the third person, told the jury to consider the facts and not the "diversions, distortions and false circumstantial evidence" around which the prosecution has built its case.
"Don Manno was not involved in any conspiracy," he told the jury.
But he made it clear that he couldn't say the same thing for some of his co-defendants. In particular, he singled out Salvatore Pelullo and Scarfo, both of whom, he said, rejected his advice and lied to him. Manno argued that he was kept in the dark about many of the financial dealings involving FirstPlus, a troubled Texas-based mortgage company that authorities allege Pelullo and Scarfo secretly took control of in 2007.
Pelullo, described as the "key figure" in the fraud by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D'Aguanno, used bogus consulting contracts and phony business transactions to siphon $12 million out of the company, the government alleges. Much of the money was used to finance a luxurious lifestyle that included the purchase of a $850,000 yacht, a $207,000 Bentley and a home near Atlantic City for $715,000 for Scarfo and his new wife, Lisa.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
A reputed mobster wants a get-out-of-jail-free card, whining in a new civil lawsuit that a Manhattan criminal judge is unfairly keeping him in the clink as he awaits trial for assaulting his porn star ex-girlfriend.
Attorney Bruno Gioffre Jr. says he argued to Justice Charles H. Solomon that “despite having a prior criminal record” his client Thomas Gelardo was basically a model citizen who has “lifelong ties to the community” and “always returned to court” for past offenses.
Gioffre suggested a $250,000 bail supported by a condo Gelardo, 31, owns with his sister, according to court papers.
But Solomon denied bail, ordering Gelardo to stay in jail because he repeatedly violated a restraining order by obsessively contacting his former gal pal.
Gelardo called his curvaceous actress ex, Trista Geyer, 60 times in one day despite restraining orders, prosecutors said.
He was arrested for roughing up Geyer in November 2013 and later charged with burglary, assault, strangulation, aggravated criminal contempt and tampering with a witness.
Gelardo, who is reportedly connected to the Lucchese crime family, filed a civil suit against the Department of Correction on Wednesday claiming Solomon’s decision to keep him in the clink instead of setting bail is “arbitrary and capricious.”
The buxom bottle blonde has graced the pages of Hustler and Playboy magazines.
But Gioffre says he handed the court a tape of Geyer giving “conflicting statements as to how she was injured.”
He also told Solomon that Geyer “was uncooperative, living in Florida” and “had sent a letter to the court indicating that she did not want to pursue this matter.”
Still Solomon did not budge.
A spokeswoman from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
A mobster nicknamed “Vito Love” wasn’t shown any by a judge in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday.
Judge Sandra Townes denied Gambino associate Vito “Vito Love” Cortesiano’s bid for home confinement to care for his disabled young son.
His crimes — including gambling and loan-sharking — require jail, the judge said in sentencing him to 15 months behind bars.
Stephen Fasano, 23, of Midland Beach, was charged with manslaughter for fatally punching Abdou Cisse, 46, in the Sunday brawl outside the Drunken Monkey, cops said.
Police are still seeking Fasano’s pal for an earlier assault that night on another man inside the bar.
Fasano and his pals had been arguing with another group over a woman, and punches began to fly, police sources said. Fasano and one other man attacked one of the patrons before they were thrown outside, sources added.
That’s when Cisse, who had nothing to do with the dispute, stepped in and tried to put a stop to the two-against-one brawl, the sources explained.
Cisse, a Senegalese immigrant who worked as a machinist and frequented the Drunken Monkey, cracked his skull on the pavement and died at the scene, authorities said.
“We think he tried to calm Fasano down and that’s when he got hit,” a police source added.
Fasano was charged with one count of assault for the alleged attack on the unnamed victim inside the bar. Police have not released the name of his friend whom they’re seeking for that same assault.
Cops do not believe Fasano’s pal played any role in Cisse’s death.
Big Ang, from the reality hit series, lends her name to the Staten Island establishment and said she was heartbroken over the tragic loss of the beloved regular.