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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Longtime Toronto mob boss shot dead by son in law

Rocco Zito in the 1980s
Rocco Zito in the 1980s
Rocco Zito, a leading Mafia boss in Toronto until slowed by age and a growing distaste for the self-indulgent glitz of the modern-day underworld, was killed Friday in a violent attack inside the modest house he lived quietly in for decades.
He was 87.
Zito was pronounced dead Friday after suffering a single gunshot wound. Emergency crews were called to the home at dinnertime and police quickly searched for a gunman.
Toronto Police Service
Domenico Scopelliti, 51, is charged with murder in the death of Rocco Zito after surrendering to police.
After investigators publicly named Domenico Scopelliti, 51, of Toronto, as the accused gunman, the suspect — Zito’s son-in-law — surrendered at midnight, ending the manhunt but not the investigation into the death of a figure who, despite being a slight, unassuming man, loomed large in the underworld since the late 1950s.
Zito was at the centre of underworld intrigue at a time when police in Canada were beginning to realize the presence here of the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful Mafia that formed in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
But Zito loathed the flash of the modern Mafia, with its ostentatious displays of wealth meant to show power; true respect, he believed, came from “honour.”
In the years before he was killed, Zito often dismissed the young mobsters who were pushing and preening north of Toronto as “Hollywood.”
Zito said he disliked hanging out with “the people in Hollywood,” meaning Woodbridge, Ont., where many mobsters now call home, and lampooned them as “glamorous,” according to a source who knew him.
“In my day, we didn’t have the big houses, drive the big cars and the suits and all the flash,” Zito said. “But all the guys in Woodbridge have the big houses and drive the big, black SUVs and put on airs.”
He drove a car that was as plain as you could buy — no extras, no options, no flash, no nothing.
Zito lived that philosophy of old-school modesty to the end.
“If you were to look at the guy, you’d never guess he was a Mafia chieftain,” said Larry Tronstad, a retired RCMP Staff Sergeant who led an anti-Mafia unit that probed Zito for years. “He drove a car that was as plain as you could buy — no extras, no options, no flash, no nothing.
“He dressed very plainly, lived quietly as he could.”
Zito officially listed his occupation as a ceramic tile salesmen and he looked the part.
But his position was not in dispute in the underworld.
Police files say he was one of the original six members of the mob’s “Camera di Controllo,” or board of control, formed in Toronto in 1962 to settle disputes between Calabrian Mafia clans. Police sources said he was elevated to chairman of the board in the 1980s.
Thirty years ago, almost exactly, Zito was himself the subject of a police manhunt in a slaying, and was also described as “armed and dangerous.”
Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Police investigate at 160 Playfair Ave, the home of Rocco Zito, in Toronto on Saturday January 30, 2016. 
Zito surrendered to police in January 1986 to face a murder charge after the frozen body of Rosario Sciarrino, a Toronto photo studio owner who owed Zito money, was discovered in the trunk of his own car.
Zito had shot Sciarrino in the head and bashed in his face with an ashtray during an argument over the photographer’s unpaid debt. The judge accepted a plea deal to manslaughter on the grounds the only witness testified that Zito was provoked.
It was an uncharacteristic public lapse.
Zito was born Aug. 19, 1929 in Fiumara, a town of about 1,000 people in the countryside hills of Calabria that is 12 kilometres from the provincial capital of Reggio Calabria and seven kilometres from the coast that overlooks Sicily.
Fiumara’s population was double that at the time Zito immigrated to Canada in the 1950s.
He arrived here already entrenched in the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful Mafia of Calabria.
Zito had been inducted into the mob clan led by his uncle, Giuseppe Zito (nicknamed “the Pope”), and to which Zito’s father, Domenico, was also a member, according to police files.
In 1952 Zito was charged in Italy in a murder but the charge was dismissed. Shortly after he left Italy.
He initially wanted to immigrate to the United States but was twice caught trying to sneak in and was charged with smuggling and deported. In the late 1950s he arrived in Canada through Montreal and became a Canadian citizen in 1971.
Carlo Gambino
Zito made an immediate impact with fellow mobsters in Canada. Police wiretaps secretly listening to conversations of Ontario’s already established Mafia leaders soon picked up talk of Zito and his entrepreneurial urges.
Giacomo Luppino, the powerful senior Mafia boss in Hamilton at the time, said — with a seeming mix of annoyance and admiration — that Zito had suddenly become a major player.
Luppino had “very rarely heard of Rocco Zito in the past,” he was heard telling his son in his wired-up home in 1967, but now he “hears of Zito all the time” and understands he is “in the money.”
Police long believed he earned that money through gambling, loan sharking, drugs, fraud, counterfeiting and other criminal ventures. He also had an early bootlegging conviction.
Zito was first a police target in Canada in 1960 in a fraud investigation. By 1962, he was seen meeting with powerful mob figures, including Luppino.
In 1978, a police investigation of a counterfeiting operation focused on a printing company Zito owned. It led to the seizure of $1.7 million in counterfeit money in Vancouver. The bills originated in Toronto but charges against Zito were never laid.
Police also said at the time he had extensive gambling interests in Toronto, overseen by a relative of the man charged in Zito’s murder.
Zito was inordinately well connected to gangsters around Canada and in other countries.
He had ties with high-ranking members of the American Mafia, including two of the notorious Five Families of the New York City Mafia. When Paolo Gambino — brother of Carlo Gambino, the boss of the Gambino crime family — came to Toronto in 1970 he met for hours with Zito in a Holiday Inn, who entered through a rear service entrance. Zito was also seen meeting members of New York’s Bonanno crime family.
He was tight with mobsters in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto, and colleagues back in Italy, not only in Calabria, Rome and Milan, but also in Naples, where another Mafia organization, the Camorra, ruled.
Zito traveled back to Italy for special occasions.
One such occasion was in February 1975 for the funeral of his brother, Giuseppe, who had been killed during a Mafia power struggle in Reggio Calabria, according to police.
He was an important guy. He was a powerful man who lived through a lot when his contemporaries were being killed.
Perhaps sparked by the mob war at home, Zito’s father, Domenico, tried to join his son in Canada but was refused landing status because of a conviction for Mafia association. He was deported back to Italy.
Domenico Zito died a year later and his wife, Angela — Rocco Zito’s mother — came to live with Zito until her death in 1984. Along with their grieving family and wide circle of friends, a who’s who of the mob attended the funeral out of respect for Zito.
Adrian Humphreys archive
Adrian Humphreys archive Rocco Zito in 1968
In the 1980s, he was one of the top targets of the RCMP-led Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, a joint police unit targeting serious organized crime.
“We had this guy wired from stem to stern back in the day,” said Tronstad. “He was an important guy. He was a powerful man who lived through a lot when his contemporaries were being killed.”
With wiretaps in the kitchen and living room of Zito’s Playfair Ave., home and police staked out in a cockroach infested observation point on the top floor of a high-rise overlooking Zito’s street, investigators watched and listened to him, almost constantly, for three years.
Zito was wily and careful, investigators said.
Zito was even under surveillance the day he killed Sciarrino. Court later heard that Zito and Sciarrino met inside a Brampton meat store over an unpaid debt; Zito grew furious and felt insulted when Sciarrino sought more money instead of making payment.
In a scuffle, Sciarrino was shot in the head and chest.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 4½ years in prison, a sentence many balked at.
The investigation in Canada of Zito and his associates uncovered ties to mobsters in Italy, and information shared by the RCMP with Italian authorities helped bring arrest warrants against 62 people in Italy in 1986. The case included firearm transfers during a mob war between the De Stefano and Imerti clans in Calabria in a feud known as the Second ’Ndrangheta War.
He is retired. He is done. He is away from it all.
And the CFSEU’s probe also led to Zito being charged in 1986 in a high-end theft ring that stole and resold $450,000 worth of backhoes, portable compressors and other expensive construction equipment from constructions sites.
Over the years, however, the police files on Zito grew dusty, as he retired from a leadership role and police moved on to other, more aggressive targets.
“He is retired. He is done. He is away from it all,” said a police investigator in 2008.
Instead of gangland, Zito reveled in his family, especially his five children and at least eight grandchildren, and was well liked in the neighbourhood and community, said a neighbour.
It looked as if he would escape the violence of his underworld life, destined for a natural death from his growing ailments.
Until dinnertime on Friday.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Strikes close Ports of New York and New Jersey

The International Longshoremen’s Union staged a walkout Friday at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the most significant labor action at the facility in recent memory, shuttering all six terminals at the East Coast's busiest commercial seaport.
“Right now the entire economy of the port is shut down,” said Jeff Bader, president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, speaking to media early Friday. “We’ve missed hundreds and hundreds of exports. Containers are sitting there unmoved.”
The Port of New York and New Jersey said this morning that no additional trucks would be permitted to queue up on port roadways, and asked companies to stop sending further vehicles.
The strike appeared to come suddenly; the port authority issued procedural notices only on Friday morning until 10:45 AM, when they warned of heavy congestion and a union walkout. Terminal operators and truckers reported that they had no prior warning.
At 3 PM local time, the port issued an update thanking affected parties for “your patience & cooperation as we safely & efficiently cleared the marine terminals.”
The walkout is said to be related to tensions between the ILA and the bi-state agency responsible for its regulation and oversight, an assertion confirmed by ILA spokesman Jim McNamara. McNamara said that the union was making a “unified action against the Waterfront Commission [of New York Harbor],” or WCNYH, which was created in the 1950s to fight corruption and organized crime on the waterfront.
While legal actions against specific members are not necessarily reflective of the ILA as a whole, WCNYH has participated in recent investigations of union members for alleged prohibited or unlawful activity, including extortion, distribution of narcotics, and associating with members of the Genovese organized crime family. WCNYH is also said to have recently tightened the required commissioning and licensing procedures for longshoremen.
The New York Shipping Association (NYSA) told media in New York that the labor action was a violation of the ILA's contract, and that NYSA intended to file for a court injunction to force the resumption of port activities. “We don’t have a reason for why they’re doing this,” a NYSA representative said.
Separately, strikes by the Greek Seamen's Union shuttered ports and ferry terminals across Greece for a third day on Friday. The strike, which began January 27, coincides with actions by truckers and farmers to block roads and border crossings. It was originally intended for two days but has been extended another 48 hours, through Sunday morning.
According to a client advisory from Inchcape Shipping Services, the Towage and Salvage Crew Union of Piraeus will stage a four-hour stoppage Saturday morning, following a similar action Friday. Vessels will not be able to berth, shift or sail from affected ports during the strike; Thessaloniki will not be affected.
The strike is the latest in a series of labor actions protesting state pension and benefit modifications and privatization of state assets, moves required by Greece's foreign creditors under a debt restructuring plan.


Exotic dancers sue man linked to Genovese crime family over low pay

Keepers Gentlemen's Club on Woodmont Rd. in Milford, Conn. Six exotic dancers at the strip club will have their claims of unfair pay reviewed by an arbitrator. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media / Connecticut Post
Six dancers at a local strip club say they are just looking for a fair shake.
But they claim the owner of Keepers Gentlemen’s Club, former Genovese family crime figure Gus Curcio, is denying them a piece of the action.
In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court, the dancers, Sugeily Ortiz of Stratford, Crystal Horrocks of New Haven, Zuleyma Bella Lopez of Branford, Jacquelyne Green of Bristol, Dina Danielle Caviello of Wolcott and Yaritza Reyes of New York, claim they are not being paid a living wage.
“Defendants have unjustly and unlawfully enriched themselves at the expense of their employees by denying the named plaintiffs and other similarly situated class members their earned minimum wages, overtime pay and full retention of their gratuities ... and by charging the plaintiffs fees to work and arbitrarily and impermissably subjecting them to various fines in violation of their lawful employment contracts and applicable statutory and common law,” the lawsuit states.
The dancers’ lawyer did not return calls and emails for comment Tuesday. The dancers claim Keepers has annual gross sales of $500,000, that they have worked at least 40 hours a week at the club for several years and have to pay a “house fee” and a separate fee to the disc jockey from each paycheck.
They also argue in their suit they are not paid overtime after working 40 hours in any week, and are fined for breaking any of the club rules.
Lawyer Stephen Bellis, who represents the director and president of Keepers, Joseph Regensburger, argued Tuesday that the dancers are independent contractors and therefore not entitled to the same benefits as employees. He said they signed a contract to that effect.
“The issue in the lawsuit is really about whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor,” said Bellis, who also teaches business law. “This is not anything different than we see in any other business. They get tips and come and go as they want.”
A judge recently agreed to let an independent arbitrator hear the dispute.
“The judge ruled there is an arbitrator clause in their contract, so we will let an arbitrator decide the case,“ Bellis said.
Keepers is the first storefront in a commercial strip on busy Woodmont Road. Much of the inside resembles many of the sports bars in the area, with numerous large-screen TVs mounted on the walls.
But the handful of men bellying up to the bar Tuesday were not paying attention to the TVs. Their eyes were fixed on a young woman, lying on her back on a small stage with her feet in the air.
“I’m just here for a beer, I don’t know anything about that,” said one male patron when asked about the dancers’ lawsuit. He declined to give his name.
Regensburger is a longtime associate of Curcio and runs his businesses, including strip bars, restaurants and a development company. Curcio, of Stratford, has long been linked by federal prosecutors to the Genovese crime family. He has served federal prison time for loan sharking, extortion and obstruction of justice. Both men list a small house on Light Street in Stratford as their address. Neither could be reached for comment.


Former informant faces new allegations

A Glen Rock man who is awaiting sentencing for bilking upwards of $3 million from more than a dozen investors is at it again, federal authorities allege, using a phony alias to scam new victims.

Paul Mancuso (center) in court Dec. 2, 2004 with defense attorney Robert Galantucci (left), and Frank Lagano (right).
Paul Mancuso (center) in court Dec. 2, 2004 with defense attorney Robert Galantucci (left), and Frank Lagano (right).
The new allegations against Paul Mancuso, 49, were leveled in a letter that a federal prosecutor sent last week to U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark requesting that his $250,000 bail be revoked and that he be detained pending sentencing.
“Despite having pled guilty [in September] to defrauding numerous victims over a three-year period of more than $3 million, Mancuso is continuing to hold himself out as a real estate entrepreneur — using a phony alias —  in a brazen attempt to lure additional victims into fraudulent real estate transactions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Mahajan wrote in his letter to the judge.

Earlier this month, Mancuso, posing as Anthony Morino, a purported “administrator” of an estate in Tenafly, visited a potential victim to solicit a $30,000 investment “in a fraudulent real estate transaction,” Mahajan said.
Mancuso, who authorities say has ties to organized crime, allegedly claimed the estate was being developed into condominiums and other real estate projects with an overall value of $8.8 million, but that he had exclusive rights to offer the property for $5.5 million, the prosecutor said.
The $30,000 investment was solicited to purportedly cover the remaining cost of engineering plans. Mancuso also asked the victim to provide him with the names of other potential investors, Mahajan said.
When the victim responded that he was going to investigate who, in fact, was listed as the administrator, Mancuso changed his story, admitting he was not the administrator but insisting he held the exclusive offering rights, the prosecutor said. The victim did not make any payments to Mancuso.
The incident shows that Mancuso “continues to commit the very same type of frauds to which he pleaded guilty just four months ago,” and that he should be jailed pending his sentencing, Mahajan said.
Martini was expected to conduct a hearing on the request on Wednesday.
When he pleaded guilty in September to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Mancuso admitted that he conspired with Pasquale Stiso, 53, a disbarred New York lawyer, to defraud 15 victims of $3.4 million, often by getting them to invest in projects that did not exist or in which they had no actual involvement.
Authorities said he promised unsuspecting clients lucrative returns on investments including a casino on “the last oceanfront property in Atlantic City,” a pizzeria in the Bahamas and a Florida apartment community.
Court records show Mancuso was a confidential informant for the FBI in Newark from 2008 until 2011, when the FBI terminated the relationship because it became aware of his illegal activities.
In a letter to the judge last year, prosecutors provided details about Mancuso’s connections to organized crime, noting that he had ties to the Bonanno crime family of La Cosa Nostra, one of the five New York families, and that he was intercepted on wiretaps speaking with a member of the Bonanno mob on multiple occasions.
Mancuso’s attorney, Stacy Biancamano, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.


Former NYPD detective could turn up in movie about infamous Colombo family enforcer

New York private eye turned Hollywood actor Bo Dietl is booking more roles after his appearance in Martin Scorsese’s HBO series “Vinyl.”

Spies said Dietl could pop up next in a biopic of Gregory Scarpa, the Colombo crime family enforcer, starring Sylvester Stallone and written by “Goodfellas” scribe Nicholas Pileggi.

Dietl was at the “Vinyl” premiere on Friday with stars Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano, as well as his fiancée, Margo Urban.

“Scorsese taught me how to act,” said Dietl, who has appeared in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Carlito’s Way.” “I didn’t go to acting school.”

He added the director originally wanted him to read for a different role in “Vinyl,” set in the music biz of 1973.

But when the gumshoe saw the script, he realized he was meant to play Joe Corso, a radio promotions guy.

“I read for this other guy then I looked at the camera and said, ‘Marty, I am Joe Corso,’ and read that part.”


Turncoat Gambino underboss Sammy the Bull in talks for TV show upon release from prison this year

Sammy "The Bull'' Gravano at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Investigations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in 1993.

Confidenti@l is told that notorious mobster Salvatore "Sammy The Bull" Gravano is in talks with production companies about making his own TV show when he comes out of jail this year.

The infamous Mafioso - who got a free pass for 19 murders in exchange for ratting on his boss John Gotti - is negotiating with execs with the help of his reality TV star daughter, Karen.

"There are production companies out there that are very interested in producing something on his life story," Karen told us, "They have contacted me and we're in - I don't want to say we're in any kind of deal-making situations yet - but we're into bouncing around a couple of ideas."

"He's very infamous and famous and now I'm famous," Karen - who is currently starring in the sixth and final season of VH1's "Mob Wives," a reality show about the female relatives of Made Men - tells Confidenti@l. "I don't think we're just going to fade off into Nevernever Land and nobody's going to hear from us again."

"Publicly, at this point he can stand up for what he did and be accountable and maybe he could set the record straight on a lot of what happened between him and John Gotti," said Karen.

However, we're told Gravano Sr. won't be following his daughter into the reality TV business.

Sammy “The Bull” Gravano during his sentencing on October 30, 2002 in Phoenix. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison for masterminding an Ecstasy drug ring.

"I think we're open for discussion on a lot of things, but no," said Karen, "he doesn't want to make a mockery of himself and go out every day and be followed and fight and argue. That's not who he is."

"There are a couple of ideas that have been thrown out to him that I really can't speak of that have been thrown out to him," she added, "Possibly even doing a television series about his life that I would be producing."

While a lieutenant in the Gambino crime family in the 1990s, Salvatore cooperated with the government to bring down Gotti, the family boss. Though dodged jail for the murders he committed while working for Gotti, he was jailed in 2002 for his part in an Ecstasy-dealing ring in Arizona in 2002.

Gotti's daughter, Victoria, and grandchildren Frank, Carmine and John, famously starred in the reality show "Growing Up Gotti."


Bookie linked to Gambino crime family found dead two days after Brooklyn District Sttorney raids home

 Bookie Patrick Deluise was found dead in a car on Friday, two days after the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office executed a search warrant on his home for running an illegal gambling operation.

A New Jersey bookie who suffered "panic attacks" over a loan he took from a Gambino crime family associate to help pay for his wife’s cancer treatment was found dead days after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office searched his home, law enforcement sources said.
The body of bookie Patrick Deluise was found with a gunshot wound in a car in Holmdel, N.J., at 2 a.m. Friday, according to sources.
The Holmdel Township Police Department declined to comment on Deluise’s death, stating that it was an open investigation. However, sources said his death appears to be a suicide that occurred sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning.
Two days before Deluise's body was found, Brooklyn DA investigators had executed a search warrant on his property — the culmination of a 17-month probe of interstate gambling operations that also involved the Gambino associate, Anthony Vallario, according to court documents obtained by DNAinfo.
Deluise was expected to be indicted on felony charges for running a $10 million gambling ring, according to the court documents, which are connected to a civil forfeiture proceeding.
Brooklyn prosecutors said in the documents filed Monday that within the next 120 days, they plan on arresting Deluise’s two sons and three of his associates for their involvement in the ring.
Vallario and an associate, Joseph Mancuso, will also face charges within the next 120 days for running two illegal betting rings that took in nearly $5 million in proceeds, the court documents say.
Brooklyn prosecutors said in the court documents that Vallario, his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law face felony loan-sharking charges for forcing Deluise to pay $2,400 a month in interest on a $50,000 loan.
Vallario, 76, of Staten Island, is the brother of Louis Vallario, a reputed Gambino captain and a onetime aide to the family's former boss, John Gotti.
Vallario's loan to Deluise funded experimental cancer treatment for Deluise’s terminally ill wife in Germany.
Deluise is believed to have paid $129,600 in interest on the loan to Vallario in the past four-and-a-half years, prosecutors said in the court documents.
The bookie was so distraught after years of paying the interest without making a dent in the principal that he desperately asked friends to float him money and sought advice on securing a legitimate second mortgage to cover the debt, the court documents say.
The documents include transcripts of wiretaps in which Brooklyn DA investigators caught Deluise complaining to a friend about Vallario.
“I just can’t pay it anymore. I can’t. The f------ guy. He don’t want to give me a break and I can’t catch up,” Deluise told the friend in a Jan. 25, 2015, phone conversation.
During the conversation, the friend asked Deluise if Vallario was a buddy he could reason with about the excessive payments.
“I don’t know. I thought he was, I, but, you know, he’s, he’s a f------ wiseguy,” Deluise responded.
Vallario’s lawyer, James J. DiPietro, declined to comment on the Brooklyn DA’s allegations because he had not yet received the civil forfeiture court documents.
But DiPietro said Vallario gave money to Deluise when he was desperately trying to save his wife.
“My client, being the good soul that he is, tried to accommodate that man,” the lawyer said. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA's office declined to comment on the gambling probe, but acknowledged the death of Deluise.
"We are aware of the death Mr. Deluise in New Jersey and that incident is being investigated by the local police," the spokesman said.
Deluise's sons did not respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors filed the civil forfeiture documents on Monday in Brooklyn Supreme Court in order to freeze property and financial assets connected to Deluise, Vallario and the nine other suspects.
Deluise’s ring took in $10 million in proceeds and involved using online gambling sites set up offshore, including one called Wagerspot.com, the court documents say. But Deluise, who lives in Hazlet, N.J., and his associates are accused of taking wagers from local bettors over the phone and via text.
Deluise and his associates would collect payments and drop off winnings at Bay Ridge bars and in the parking lot of a Nathan’s restaurant in Dyker Heights, the court documents say.
One of Deluise’s associates, Pasquale Marrone of Bay Ridge, is accused of running a similar illegal-gambling ring connected to Deluise that took in more than $2 million in proceeds.
Vallario, who drives a Cadillac and lives in the Charleston neighborhood of Staten Island, has a history of loan-sharking and mob ties, according to prosecutors.
The Brooklyn DA’s court documents describe Vallario as an associate of the Gambino family.
DA investigators said in the documents that, to avoid detection from law enforcement, Vallario had his son-in-law Stephen Cucich collect payments on the loan from Deluise.
Vallario’s wife, Rosanne, and daughter, Joan Cucich, are accused of facilitating the administrative side of the loan-shark scheme.
Aside from shaking down Deluise, Vallario is believed to have lent money at exorbitant sums to other unnamed victims, according to the court documents.
In 2005, Anthony pleaded guilty to one count of making extortionate extensions of credit in Brooklyn Federal Court. He received two years of probation, court records show.
Before his sentencing in 2005, Anthony asked a judge for leniency, claiming he had a heart condition. At the time, Stephen Cucich wrote a letter to the judge also asking for leniency for his father-in-law.
“In a time where family values seem to be a lost part of society, he has made it a priority that his family will always be together,” Cucich wrote.
Deluise isn't the first person to end up dead after the Brooklyn DA's Office executed a search warrant.


The Philadelphia mob is back in business

Ron Galati won't be taking part in the underworld renaissance currently unfolding in South Philadelphia.

Instead, the wannabe wiseguy and auto body shop owner, who is already serving a 23-year federal sentence for a murder conspiracy conviction, is due in Common Pleas in September to answer fraud and murder-for-hire charges.

A trial date of Sept. 7 was set this morning at a status conference hearing before Judge Jeffrey Minehart. Galati, his wife Vicki and his son, Ron Jr., are slated to be at the defense table along with several other defendants if that trial goes off as planned.
Galati has been off the streets for the past two years and has missed out on what law enforcement sources are describing as the resurgence of the local crime family. At his bail hearing two years ago, Galati, now 65, was described by Assistant District Attorney Dawn Holtz as having a "close personal relationship" with then mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and Ligambi's nephew, mobster George Borgesi.

Both Ligambi and Borgesi were back in the news this week. On Monday, reporter Dave Schratwieser on a Fox 29 television special report, offered an update on the local mob, noting that Ligambi, Borgesi and others are frequently spotted at a recently opened clubhouse at 11th and Jackson Streets and that Borgesi and others have branched out into the construction and home rehab business with an office on Passyunk Avenue.

"It's all legit," said one source familiar with the new business ventures. "They're not doing anything wrong."

The television report said as much, but that hasn't stopped some of the wiseguys, wannabes and sycophants now hanging out at the clubhouse from complaining about media coverage.

"You have to admire their resilience," said one state investigator who, like several others, has been surprised at how quickly and easily the mobsters have fallen back into their old routines, hanging with the same individuals, congregating at a clubhouse to socialize and branching out into the business world.

The FBI and investigators with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and State Police have been tracking the activities.

David Fritchey, the recently retired head of the Organized Crime Strike Force for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, said the business ventures and associations bear watching and that he is confident law enforcement is doing just that.

"They have a long and successful business model" that involves "violence and intimidation," Fritchey said while dismissing the argument that the one-time convicts have paid their debt to society and ought to be left alone. "If they're not doing anything wrong, then they shouldn't be worried about who's looking at them."

No one is claiming any criminality in the current activities. But Fritchey noted that, "it doesn't bode well for their rehabilitation if they are hanging out with the same people with whom they committed crimes."

That, the ex-prosecutor said, is a formula for "recidivism."

Law enforcement investigators are also aware that back in October there was a mob initiation ceremony in which five associates were formally inducted into the crime family. Traditionally, a making ceremony is overseen by the crime family boss and the initiates are individuals who have sworn a blood oath of allegiance to Cosa Nostra and who have proven that allegiance by having taken part in a murder.

But this is Cosa Nostra 2000 and individuals are often "made" because of their blood relationship to another member or because they are good earners. Money trumps murder in the modern American Mafia, at least in South Philadelphia.

For now, at least, the greed, treachery and violence that once were the hallmarks of the organization are on hold. It has not been lost on law enforcement, however, that the ventures into home rehab, construction and mortgage refinancing are exactly what mob informants Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and Anthony Aponick testified about at Borgesi's last two racketeering trials.

Both said Borgesi, from prison, was planning a foray into those fields once he was released. Borgesi's first trial ended with his acquittal on all but one charge on which the jury hung. At the second trial he was found not guilty of that as well.

Monacello and Aponick were vilified by the defense camp as "lying rats" who were fabricating information to curry favor with federal prosecutors. While the jury rejected the bulk of their testimony, it appears that at least in terms of what Borgesi's future plans were, they were telling the truth.

Part of the reason for the continued monitoring of the local crime family is the belief in law enforcement circles that several of the mobsters who have returned from prison and are back out on the streets have literally gotten away with murder. None of the murder or attempted murder charges that were part of a 2001 racketeering case against mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, Borgesi and five other defendants were proven, however.

What's more, there are those who believe that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia no longer has the mob as a top priority. Terrorism, political corruption and narcotics trafficking are the topics of primary concern. The FBI's organized crime unit, which once boasted nearly a dozen investigators, currently has four or five members.

Still, local, state and federal investigators continue to work on the unsolved murders of Raymond "Long John" Martorano, John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto and Ron Turchi. The hope in investigative circles is that pressure can be put on someone who knows enough to help make one of those cases.

George Borgesi and Stevie Mazzone
To date, that hasn't happened. In fact, part of the resilience of the local organization stems from the fact that the most recent mob informants -- like Monacello -- haven proven to be ineffective witnesses. Monacello came across as arrogant and vindictive on the witness stand and what he said was often overshadowed or undermined by his tone and demeanor.

Still, Fritchey said, "there are a lot of people in law enforcement who believe he was telling the truth" when he described the roles Ligambi and Borgesi played in the mob, its penchant for violence and its deceit and treachery.

Among other things, Monacello testified that he, Borgesi and others helped Galati carry out insurance fraud scams in the 1990s by deliberately crashing into and wrecking cars. Galati was convicted and sentenced to 38 months in prison in 1994 for insurance fraud.

Two years ago, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office announced a new indictment alleging that Galati was back to his old tricks, orchestrating a $5 million insurance fraud scheme through false and trumped up accident and repair costs. What's more, the indictment alleges, Galati hired two hitmen to kill two rival auto body shop owners who had testified before a grand jury that was investigating him.

All of that is part of the case now set for trial in September.

Authorities say Galati came out of prison in the late 1990s and went right back to doing what landed him in jail in the first place. Both law enforcement and underworld sources say there's a lesson there for the mobsters with whom he has had "close personal relationships."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Judge sentences New England mobster to 18 months for drug conspiracy

A Medford man and alleged member of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra was sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to traffic marijuana, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Louis DiNunzio, 29, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs in September 2015. Between July 2013 and February 2014, DiNunzio and several others bought large amounts of marijuana and had it shipped from California to Massachusetts under fake names, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
DiNunzio also has to forfeit $10,000 as part of the sentence.
DiNunzio is the son of Anthony DiNunzio, an alleged members of the New England Mafia who is currently in federal prison for racketeering and extortion.
Two other co-defendants, Joseph Spagnuolo-Kazonis and John Woodman, were sentenced to 18 months and 12 months and one day, respectively, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Carmine Lepore, an attorney for Louis DiNunzio, told the Globe in an email that she had recommended her client be sentenced to home confinement.
“Although I am disappointed that our [home confinement] recommendation was not followed, I am pleased that the sentence imposed was less than what the government sought, and consistent with the sentence given to” the co-defendants, Lepore wrote.


Three Bonanno mobsters denied bail for violating parole and attending their crime family's Christmas party

Mob minions made a pilgrimage to the mandatory party, which featured giving the boss envelopes stuffed with cash.
Three reputed gangsters who attended the Bonanno crime family Christmas party at Bocelli restaurant in Grasmere were denied bail for going to the event, according to court papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
A federal judge ruled the three defendants — Joseph DeSimone, Ronald Giallanzo and Anthony Pipitone — violated the terms of their federal supervised release by going to reputed Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Cammarano Jr.'s party on Dec. 16, court papers state.
Cammarano has not been charged.
The defendants, papers say, were prohibited from associating with anyone involved in criminal activity and signed contracts to specifically not to associate with the Bonanno crime family.
Federal prosecutors said the defendants' attendance at the six-hour party was mandatory.
The NYPD and FBI, court filings say, collected surveillance evidence, video recordings and photographs showing Giallanzo, De Simone and Pipitone regularly met with members of the crime family and resumed their leadership positions in the organization.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who has presided over many prosecutions of Bonanno mobsters, wasn't surprised by the events, according to the Daily News.
"In the words of the great Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again," Garaufis said in Daily News article. "And that's all I'm going to say about that, in the words of Forrest Gump."


Photos surface of Bonanno crime family members at Christmas party held by new boss

The FBI and NYPD weren't invited to the Bonanno Christmas party at Bocelli's in Staten Island, but they were nearby. They took photos of some of the participants.

A federal judge summed up his feelings about the new Bonanno crime family boss hosting a Christmas party at an Italian restaurant in Staten Island by quoting Yogi Berra and Forrest Gump.

"In the words of the great Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again," Judge Nicholas Garaufis said, somewhat sadly, in Brooklyn Federal Court on Thursday.

"And that's all I'm going to say about that, in the words of Forrest Gump," he added.

Federal Magistrate Nicholas G. Garaufis

Garaufis, has presided over prosecutions of scores of Bonanno gangsters since 2002, including the reputed new street boss Joseph Cammarano, Jr., who was honored by the presence of more than a dozen high-ranking gangsters at the six-hour bash on Dec. 16 at Bocelli's restaurant.

The six-hour Bonanno Christmas party included more than a dozen high-ranking gangsters.
Mob minions made a pilgrimage to the mandatory party, which featured giving the boss envelopes stuffed with cash.

"This was a modern day version of what happened in Apalachin, New York," Garaufis said, referring to the 1957 conclave in upstate New York that proved the existence of the Mafia to doubters at the time.

Federal prosecutors say there was mandatory attendance for the gangsters to pay homage to Cammarano, Jr., who was celebrating his elevation to official underboss and acting street boss.

The judge, meanwhile, refused to release three gangsters on bail who violated their federal supervised release by associating with their fellow mob members. Cammarano has not been charged.


After killing a cop 35 years ago New England mob associate remains on the run

After years working the dangerous streets of Washington D.C. as a police officer – and before that, a U.S. Marine – Gregory Adams decided to take a job in a sleepy town 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

For seven years in the 1970s, Adams worked as one of just two cops in Saxonburg, Pa., a town of just 1,000 people. He eventually became the chief of police.

It was under his tenure the town was rocked by its first-ever homicide: his own.

What has followed in the 35 years since Adams was shot twice in the chest during a routine traffic stop has been an unsuccessful, international manhunt for a man with ties to the New England mob.

Donald Eugene Webb would be 84 years-old now, and rumors about what happened to him – including his death at the hands of the mob he worked for – have circulated for decades.

But the FBI special agent assigned to tracking Webb down believes he’s still alive, and now the feds are offering up $100,000 for any information leading to Webb, dead or alive.

Mob moneymaker

Webb came to New England by way of a dishonorable discharge. Originally from Oklahoma City, Webb made his way east when he was assigned to Otis Airforce Base on Cape Cod, Mass.

Special Agent Thomas MacDonald said Webb decided to stick around and landed in the New Bedford and Fall River area.

“He chose to make a living in a criminal fashion and that way was through conducting burglaries, primarily of jewelry stores,” MacDonald said during an interview at the Boston office of the FBI. “When you steal jewels, at least back in those days, you need to re-sell them in order to make a profit, and the best way at that time to fence those jewels was through the assistance of organized crime.”
Undated mugshot of Donald Eugene Webb.

Multiple organized crime sources interviewed by Target 12 – all of whom asked to not be identified – described Webb as quiet and mild-mannered, but a master at his craft. And he proved to be a moneymaker for the Patriarca crime family as well as an organized crime outfit in the Miami area, where he would also fence his ill-gotten gains.

According to a 1955 article in the Providence Journal, Webb was arrested in Boston after a failed bank robbery there. Going by one of his aliases, Donald Perkins, Webb told a reporter he owed a $1,500 gambling debt to one of mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca’ s bookmakers.

“I was told by a member of the Patriarca mob that I had until Thursday to get the money or else,” Webb told the reporter. “Patriarca is ‘mayor’ of Providence.”

After serving time at Walpole state prison for the botched robbery, investigators say Webb got his criminal act together and began looting jewelry stores and banks outside New England, then liquidating the goods through the Federal Hill mob.

Webb and his gang of thieves – which the FBI unceremoniously dubbed “The Fall River Gang” – hit the road to practice their craft. They would travel up and down the east coast, including Pennsylvania and New York, to rob jewelry stores, banks and hotels.

Peter McCann, a retired FBI agent from Pennsylvania who worked the Webb case in the years following Chief Adams’ murder, said Webb and his gang would do their homework on people staying at high-end hotels.

“They always had an inside guy, like the guy at the desk,” McCann said. “So he gets a high roller in there and they know when the woman has all the jewelry, they tip [Webb] off to what room they’re in.”

Retired Pennsylvania State Police Detective James Poydence said Webb usually ran with an alarm-system expert on his crew, and on at least one occasion, cut a hole in the roof of a jewelry shop when it was closed to clean it out.

All that loot would be returned to Providence, and expertly fenced, with the appropriate cut off the top for the wise guys.
Walpole prison mugshot of Webb from approximately 1995.

While Webb was very good at what he did, he wasn’t perfect. In the mid-seventies, he had a two-year stint at a federal prison in upstate New York for a bank robbery there.

Then in December 1980, Webb was once again a wanted man, this time for a jewelry store job, again in New York. He was driving his rental car with out-of-state plates through Saxonburg when he was pulled over by Chief Adams.

The driver’s license Webb handed to Adams had someone else’s name on it. But whatever the chief did during the stop – or the questions he asked the stranger in his town – spooked Webb, and he reacted violently.

‘He was going to find out all about this guy’

What exactly about the White Mercury with Massachusetts’ plates prompted Chief Adams to pull it over will never be known. Detective Poydence said an elderly woman sitting in her living room knitting and looking out the window saw the white car pull into the parking lot – possibly to avoid being spotted by the cruiser driving toward him from the opposite direction – and was about to leave the lot again when Chief Adams pulled in.
Chief Gregory Adams with his wife Mary Ann and two sons. Photo courtesy: FBI.

Webb handed Adams a New Jersey license with the name Stanley Portas. The real Stanley Portas had died years ago, but the FBI said his widow had remarried Donald Eugene Webb.

“Greg [Adams] was a professional cop, no nonsense,” Poydence said. “He was going to find out all about this guy. He was going to find out Webb was wanted somewhere.”

Special Agent MacDonald said it was likely the prospect of going back to prison that motivated Webb to pull out a gun.

“[Webb] was 49 years old at the time of this car stop,” MacDonald said. “If the small-town police chief was going to identify and learn who he actually was, he was going back to prison and going back to prison for a long time.”

Webb brandished a .25 caliber handgun and tracks in the snow indicate he told Chief Adams to move away from the car and around the side of a building. Poydence said the evidence in the snow then showed a struggle ensued. Adams was beat violently to the face, likely with a handgun. At some point Webb was able to grab Adams’ service revolver.

“There were bloody handprints in the snow where a struggle obviously had occurred,” Poydence said.

Investigators say Adams was shot twice in the chest with Webb’s handgun.

Webb had been hurt too. It’s unclear how, but it is possible he was shot to the leg, either by Webb himself during the struggle, or by Adams getting a round off before his gun was taken away by the much-larger Webb.

“There was a blood trail from the open police cruiser door … to where the door of the Mercury would have been entered,” Poydence said.

The blood was Webbs’.
1980 Crime scene photo of Chief Gregory Adams’ police car

Investigators say he went to the cruiser after shooting Adams to rip out the microphone for the two-way radio, likely in case the chief was still alive and wanted to call for help. The top page of Adam’s notebook was also torn out.

The elderly woman never saw the violent struggle – as it was out of her view – but she watched the white Mercury drive out of the parking lot, alone.

A neighbor nearby said she was vacuuming when her teenage son ran to her saying he thought he heard gunshots. They went outside to find Chief Adams lying in the snow, moaning.

When police arrived, Adams was unable to identify his killer. He died on the way to the hospital in the back of an ambulance.

Detectives later found the driver’s license Webb handed to Adams in the snow and the .25 caliber handgun Adams was shot with, but the chief’s gun was missing.

“Anyone in law enforcement can relate to what happened to Chief Adams on that day,” MacDonald said. “He made a vehicle stop and lost his life.”

Months later, as winter’s grasp started to loosen its grip on Pennsylvania, a group of kids found Adam’s rusting handgun in the melting snow in a field as they walked home from school.
1980 Police photo of car the FBI says Webb drove to Warwick, R.I.

By then, the white Mercury rental car had been recovered in the parking lot of Howard Johnson’s hotel in Warwick, R.I., and Webb’s blood was all over the driver’s side floor.

“He made it back to New England, he made it back to Rhode Island,” MacDonald said. “Now we need to know who knows what happened next.”

Dead or Alive

Police believe Webb wasn’t alone when he returned to Rhode Island. His longtime partner in crime, Frank Lach, originally of Cranston, made the drive back from Pennsylvania with Webb, authorities believe. It’s unclear if he was with Webb at the time of the shooting. He has never been implicated nor charged in the homicide.

Lach certainly had his interactions with law enforcement after the death of Chief Adams: he served time for burglary, stolen goods and conspiracy throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Federal Bureau of Prison records show Lach was released from prison in 2000 and indicate he’s still alive, now 75 years old.

Webb’s wife at the time of the murder, Lillian Webb, is still living in the area the New Bedford area. Records from the Bristol County Probate and Family court show she divorced Webb in Sept. 2005. The cause listed in the paperwork is “desertion.”

No one came to the door of her North Dartmouth home when a reporter paid a visit. She later returned a call saying she wasn’t interested in talking about the case.

“I don’t know anything and can’t help you out,” Lillian Webb said just before hanging up.

She has been questioned repeatedly over the last 35 years about the whereabouts of her now-former husband.

Two years after the murder of Chief Adams, Detective Poydence and others flew up from Pennsylvania to question Lillian Webb. She had retained famed criminal defense Attorney John F. Cicilline, whose client list included ruthless mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca.

“We called Cicilline and he said we could come to his office and we could meet with Mrs. Webb,” Poydence said.

They booked a flight and flew to Providence. Poydence said when they arrived at Cicilline’s office, Lillian Webb was there as promised.

“I told her we were there to talk to her about her husband,” Poydence said. “She said ‘Mr. Cicilline has instructed me not to speak to you guys.”

The crew was stunned.

“It was like, wow,” Poydence said. “‘Why didn’t you tell us on the phone?’”

Cicilline has not responded to repeated requests for comment from Target 12.

Several organized crime sources said the rumor on the street was Webb was killed by the very people he made money for: the New England mob.

One of the theories is Webb had a disagreement with a wise guy over a robbery. Another is he was murdered because he brought unwanted attention on La Cosa Nostra by law enforcement for killing a police chief.

McCann, the retired special agent, said it’s entirely possible the mob was involved in Webb’s disappearance.

“If he was a pain in [their] backside, he could have been killed just to stop the heat,” McCann said. “But if they wanted to send a message, we’d find him.”

For McCann’s part, he says its “60/40” Webb is still alive.

‘They’re not over it’

Five months to the day that Chief Adams was murdered, the FBI put Webb on their “Top Ten Most Wanted” list. The case was profiled on the television program “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”
1979 mugshot of Webb from New York

There was a glimmer of hope in 1990 when a letter was sent to then-FBI Director William Sessions penned by someone claiming to be Webb. According to newspaper accounts, the letter apologized for the murder and claimed Webb was considering turning himself in. At the time, the letter was deemed credible, but leads never materialized and now there is doubt that it was written by Webb.

He was removed from the FBI’s most wanted list in 2007, replaced by a new wave of alleged murderers and terrorists.

But the FBI has renewed their efforts, marking the 35th anniversary of the Pennsylvania homicide with a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Webb, or to his remains.

Special Agent MacDonald said his gut tells him Webb is still alive, because a tipster would be more willing to come forward with information about someone who is dead.

“I still think someone out there knows where he is and how we can locate him, which is why the increase in reward to $100,000.” MacDonald said. “Let’s be honest, this case is in the ninth inning here; Mr. Webb is 84 years old and the time we have to locate him and take him into custody diminishes by the week.”

If he is dead, the FBI would use DNA testing to determine the identity of the remains.

This past summer, MacDonald paid a visit to Saxonburg and to the scene of the crime. The murder – even 35 years later – still hangs like a cloud over the small town.

“They’re still not over it I can tell you that,” MacDonald said. “This is a case where to lose a young police chief in small town America is something that a home town has a hard time getting by and they just want this case to be resolved.”

MacDonald said Adams’ wife still lives in the area and his kids are now parents themselves.

“His children and his grandchildren want someone who knows something to do the right thing,” he said.

Susan Elaine Haggerty was an administrative assistant for the district court in Saxonburg when Adams was shot and used to interact with him on a daily basis. The day of the shooting, the court was loaded with police officers handling cases, she said. The building emptied out when the call came in that an officer was hurt.

“We were shocked,” Haggerty said in a phone interview. She is now a magisterial judge in the same courthouse.

“We didn’t expect something like that in a small community,” she said. “Nothing like that had ever happened before around here or anywhere that I know of.”

And nothing since.

Adams was the first homicide Saxonburg was ever rocked with and, 35 years later, it remains the last.

For her part, Haggerty thinks Webb is dead, because detectives and agents worked too hard over the decades and “they would have been able to find him if he was alive.”

“I hope I’m wrong and I hope they ultimately find him… but I don’t know,” she said, pausing. “It would be a wonderful thing to happen.”

Anyone with information regarding Webb’s whereabouts can call the FBI tip line: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bonanno crime family ends 2015 with Staten Island Christmas party

The Staten Island shindig, at Bocelli Restaurant on Hylan Blvd., was mandatory for crime family members.
It was a “family” Christmas.

The newly minted Bonanno boss Joseph Cammarano Jr., hosted the crime family's annual Christmas party at an Italian restaurant on Staten Island that was voted one of the best eateries in the city by the Zagat guide.

The six-hour food fest was held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 at Bocelli Restaurant on Hylan Blvd. under the watchful eyes and cameras of the FBI and the NYPD, according to papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

It was mandatory attendance for the crime family's administration, which included reputed consigliere Anthony Rabito and more than a dozen capos and soldiers, the court filings say.

The Old World-style restaurant is located in a strip mall, but the Zagat guide praised the upscale food at Manhattan prices.

At the Christmas party, underlings gave family boss Joseph Cammarano Jr. envelopes stuffed with cash.

A Mafia family Christmas party is held so the mob minions make a pilgrimage to the boss and give him an envelope stuffed with cash.

Former boss Joseph Massino used to hold the party in his restaurant, Casablanca, in Queens.

Cammarano, 56, controls the family's "day-to-day criminal activities," according to court papers.

Cammarano's promotion to acting underboss and street boss, exclusively reported Monday in The Daily News, is a sign that the beleaguered family is trying to rebuild after the prosecutions and defections of its members in recent years.

Bocelli's owner did not return a call seeking comment about the Christmas party.