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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cops found stockpile of guns, cash, drugs and pills after raid at Bonanno mobster's home

Anthony Santoro, Vito Badano, Ernest Aiello
An alleged Staten Island mobster was living like a gangster when cops busted into his home and found him stocked with sex pills, drugs, wads of cash and about a half dozen guns, according to officials.
That was just some of the evidence that connects Anthony "Skinny " Santoro to the Bonanno crime family, prosecutors said during the Great Kills man's trial Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Santoro and his three co-defendants - Nicholas Santora, 73, Vito Badamo, 53, and Ernest Aiello, 36 - are charged with enterprise corruption, including gambling and loansharking.
Santoro, 52, dressed in a beige suit and white-collared shirt, was jovial and easy going listening to testimony about when cops abruptly busted in on him and his girlfriend at 6 a.m. back in February 2012.
He even laughed when his attorney held up a small white T-shirt the prosecution claims he used to clean his guns up against his not so skinny frame.
"I don't think it fits him," joked defense attorney Adam Konta, who represents Santoro.
During the early-morning raid of Santoro's Tanglewood Drive residence, authorities collected seven firearms, several rounds of ammunition, 24 Viagra pills, $45,000 in cash and nine bags of marijuana found in several safes hidden throughout the home, NYPD Det. Shawn Ricker testified.
The 15-man team also searched a black Cadillac sedan, but didn't find anything.
Santoro, Ricker said, was courteous and chivalrous to the detective after the crew had completed the two-hour search.
Santoro shook the detective's hand and told him, " 'No hard feelings. You're just doing your job. I take full responsibility. She has nothing to do with it.'"
The defendant was referring to his girlfriend, Christine Alfieri.
On cross-examination, Konta coaxed the detective into admitting that the Tanglewood home and the Cadillac belonged to Santoro's girlfriend.
"Did you ask to see the deed to the home or did you check the car's registration in the glove compartment," the lawyer said.
"No," the detective replied.
Santoro, the defense claims, owns a home on Eagan Avenue in Annadale, and that's the address on his license where he receives mail.
The detective said he was unaware of that information and only searched the home the search warrant was issued for.
"Did you know the house was mutli-family dwelling," Konta asked.
"It was my understanding it was a single-family home, but I never researched it," Ricker said. "I was executing the address on the warrant."
Except, Ricker testified that one of the guns was found in the nightstand in the basement. However, the basement was rented out to another individual not involved in the sting, Konta pointed out.
The cash, the defense claims, belongs to Alfieri's son, who lives at the Tanglewood home. But, prosecutors said, the girlfriend never claimed any of the items from the seizure.
"You mean she never came down and said, 'These guns and drugs are mine,'" Konta sarcastically asked.
What the defense didn't find funny was that the detective didn't know if any DNA or fingerprint testing was done on any of the guns, and said none of the firearms were traced back to any crimes.
Ricker also said he removed a bullet from one of the guns, but didn't recall if he was wearing gloves.
"You weren't worried you would get your fingerprints on the gun?" another defense attorney asked.
The defendants were busted in July 2013 when authorities dismantled the nine-man Bonanno family crew.
The state claims Santora, the crime family's alleged ringleader, was in charge of an Internet gambling site, sold prescription drugs, like oxycodone and Viagra, on the black market, and the other three defendants were his associates.
Santora, who sat in the courtroom handcuffed to a wheelchair, inspired the character played by the late Bruno Kirby in the 1997 film "Donnie Brasco."
Testimony resumes 11:30 a.m. Monday.
The trial began in early February and is expected to last for at least two months.


Big Ang from Mob Wives receives large farewell

Memorial Service Held For Angela "Big Ang" Raiola - Funeral
There were tears, kisses — and “family” galore — at Monday’s emotional send-off for Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, star of the reality-TV show “Mob Wives.”
Raiola — the brash-talking, big-bosomed, big-lipped doyenne of the VH1 show — was laid to rest after a morning Mass inside the Basilica of Regina Pacis Church on 65th Street in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
Among the mourners were her castmates, including: Karen Gravano, the daughter of mob turncoat Sammy “Bull” Gravano; Drita D’Avanzo, wife of mobster Lee D’Avanzo, and Carla Facciolo, the daughter of Gambino crime family associate Louis Facciolo.
Carla Facciolo’s uncle, Bruno, worked under Lucchese capo Paul Vario, who was played in the movie “Goodfellas” by Paul Sorvino. His character’s name was changed to Paul Cicero.
Raiola, who died Thursday at age 55 from complications of cancer, went out in a style befitting her larger-than-life character. She was remembered in a flower-crammed church, with white pigeons released after the ceremony.
After a Mass led by Monsignor David L. Cassato, mourners congregated in the street as a large crowd — including many of them fans of the show — also gathered to gape.
Big Ang’s ties to the mob came through her uncle, Salvatore Lombardi, who was known as Sally Dogs, a low-key capo of the Genovese crime family.
Her big personality made her the most popular character on the show, which is now in its sixth and final season.
Those also on hand to say goodbye to her included: her estranged husband, Neil Murphy, a city sanitation worker; brothers, Louis and Stephen; her sister Janine Detore, and her kids, Anthony and Raquel.
The venue for her funeral was appropriate.
Precious jewels were twice stolen from the church — only to be returned after the purported intercession of Mafia kingpins.
In May 1952, the jewels, which were used to adorn a painting of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, were stolen several months after they’d been flown to Rome to be blessed by Pope Pius XII.
Eight days after they were discovered missing, they were mysteriously mailed back to the rectory, supposedly after the personal intercession of Joseph Profaci, the head of a local mob family who had personal ties to the church.
In January 1973, the same jewels, valued at more than $100,000, were again stolen and then returned after the FBI made contact with organized-crime figures, a federal official said at the time.
The mobster who helped return them was later identified as Gregory Scarpa Jr., a powerful Colombo family capo.


Brother of Montreal mafia leader busted for cocaine in Arizona

A specially trained German shepherd in Arizona might be named Amigo but he is no friend to a Montrealer recently arrested with a large quantity of cocaine.
The brother of an influential leader in the Mafia in Montreal was recently arrested in Arizona after the specially trained police dog sniffed out 62 kilograms of cocaine in the vehicle he was riding in.
Girolamo Del Balso is the younger brother of Francesco, 45, a Mafia leader who was one of six men who took control of the Mafia in Montreal — roughly between 2003 and 2006 — after Vito Rizzuto was arrested and later jailed in the U.S. for having taken part in a conspiracy to murder three mobsters in Brooklyn in 1981.
Francesco “Chit” Del Balso was the more aggressive of the six men on the committee and his penchant for talking on a cellphone provided police with tons of evidence in Project Colisée, a major investigation into the Mafia in Montreal that produced dozens of arrests in 2006. One man involved with the Rizzuto organization later sarcastically referred to Francesco Del Balso, in court, as “the CEO of Bell” for how chatty he was found to be on police wiretaps. For example, a chilling recording of him warning an off-island contractor that he shouldn’t work in Montreal raised eyebrows when it was played during the Charbonneau Commission. His nickname, “Chit,” is an apparent reference to Del Balso’s fondness for gambling. While he was investigated in Colisée he was frequently seen at the Montreal Casino and police believed he was laundering his drug trafficking profits there.
According to a statement issued by the Arizona Police Department on Facebook, Girolamo Del Balso, 41, was arrested on Feb. 17 after a state trooper pulled over his vehicle for a moving violation.
“Due to suspicious circumstances, the trooper requested the assistance of” a specially trained police dog named Amigo, the police noted in the statement. “A resulting search of the vehicle yielded approximately 62 kilograms of cocaine destined for Canada. The cocaine has a street value of $3.7 million Canadian dollars.”

Girolamo Del Balso remains detained in the case in Arizona.
He also was arrested in Project Colisée, in 2008, in a second part of the investigation. He later admitted to being part of an illegal gaming house the Mafia had set up in an office building in St-Léonard and was sentenced to pay a $10,000 in 2012. In December, he pleaded guilty at the Montreal courthouse to threatening someone and was sentenced to pay a $750 fine.
News of the arrest in Arizona comes just a few weeks after Francesco Del Balso had conditions imposed, by the Parole Board of Canada, on his statutory release after having reached the two-thirds mark of the 11-year sentence he was left with in Project Colisée when he pleaded guilty to several charges in 2008. In a written summary of a decision made on Feb. 2, the parole board describes him as a “high-ranking member of (the Mafia in Montreal).”
While Del Balso obviously took orders from older members of the six member committee, in particular Vito Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo, he had considerable decision-making abilities on his own and controlled a satellite organization based out of a café in Laval.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Two mob wives banned from Big Ang's memorial services because of their fathers cooperation with the feds

Karen Gravano was one of the "Mob Wives" stars banned from a memorial service held for Big Ang on Saturday.
"Mob Wives" stars Brittany Fogarty and Karen Gravano were banned from Angela "Big Ang" Raiola's visitation service on Saturday due to the past actions of their crime boss fathers.

The two stars, along with Fogarty's mother Andrea Giovino, were told not to come to any of Big Ang's memorial events this week, including Monday's funeral, because their fathers each infamously cooperated with authorities to turn in other mobsters more than 20 years ago, Giovino tells Confidenti@l.

Fogarty's dad, John Fogarty, is currently in witness protection nearly 25 years after he turned in evidence to police regarding other mobsters. Meanwhile, Gravano's father, Sammy "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, was a notorious crime boss who teamed up with the FBI to bring down another infamous mob leader, John Gotti.

"There are going to be some people going to the service whose fathers may have been killed, or put away by their cooperation (with authorities)," Giovino said.

Their daughters are often referred to as "baby rats" within the organized crime ring due to their fathers' willingness to work with authorities, which often made for contentious relationships between them and other members of "Mob Wives" cast.

Big Ang, however, was one of the few people willing to look past Brittany Fogarty's family history and accept her after she joined the show last year, which is why the 25-year-old reality star was particularly distraught that she was banned.

"She's very upset," Giovino said. "She can't even talk on the phone. She's just been crying."

"They had a great relationship," she added. "Big Ang treated her like a daughter."

Brittany Fogarty (left) and her mother Andrea Giovino were also banned.

Fogarty and Giovino were on their way to Saturday's visitation when "Mob Wives" producer Jennifer Graziano called to tell them that Big Ang's ex-husband said they weren't welcome, largely because many of the other attendees had been afflicted by their fathers' past actions. Giovino didn't believe it at first, but "Mob Wives" star D'rita D'avanzo told her in a seperate phone call that it was true.

Giovino, who said Big Ang's ex was likely pushed by others to implement the ban, said she understands why they weren't welcome, but she felt bad for her daughter, who doesn't have a relationship with her father whatsoever. Fogarty just wanted to bid farewell to Big Ang, who died last Thursday at 55 after a battle with brain cancer.

Even still, the disappointed Fogarty told her mother she shouldn't be pitied after being banned. They both just feld bad they weren't able to say goodbye at the service.

Gravano (left) and Big Ang (right) starred together on "Mob Wives."

"It's about Ang," Giovino said. "It's the respect for her. I feel bad (we) couldn't respect her and her family by going."

Giovino says they have no intention of crashing any of the memorial services for the larger-than-life reality star in the coming days. Instead, they'll say goodbye to Big Ang by visiting her grave site later this week.

Despite their willingness to move on from the unexpected funeral ban, a source close to the situation says the incident is proof that these longtime feuds don't just disappear.

"It's a bigger story than just them not going to funeral, as it's a higher-up mob order from the mafia code of a blood feud," the source said. "Brit and Karen are being rejected because of the sins of their fathers that ratted out other mobsters."


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Genovese associate pleads guilty to burning down his own restaurant for the insurance money

A reputed mob bookmaker and associate of the Genovese crime family with Springfield ties pleaded guilty in federal court to burning down his own restaurant for $190,000 in insurance money.
John A. Barile, 52, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Friday to arson, insurance fraud, gambling and extortion offenses.
Prosecutors said that when Barile's Middleton eatery, Enzo's, fell on hard times, he hatched a plan to burn it to the ground. He and other began plotting to torch the restaurant in 2009, court records state.
"Barile informed his (unnamed) co-owner of the plan and sought information from at least one individual on how to start the fire to make it look like an accident," according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut.
On Jan. 9, 2010, Barile positioned greasy rags around a deep-fryer and greased up the walls, prosecutors said. Later that night after the restaurant was closed, he made sure multiple rags had caught fire and left the restaurant without calling the fire department.
Barile waltzed out, but left his co-owner inside, according to prosecutors.
"The Middletown Fire Department arrived a short time later, forced entry, rescued the co-owner and put out the fire," prosecutors said.
"The Middletown Fire Department arrived a short time later, forced entry and rescued the co-owner." - Feds
After the fire, the defendant sought money from an insurance company, concealing his role in the fire from the insurance company and law enforcement. The insurance company ultimately paid $189,787.69 to Barile to settle the his claims.
Also, from 2010 to 2014, Barile operated a $2000-per-day illegal sports-betting ring, prosecutors contend. On Nov. 8, 2011, he hit one perennial bettor who owed him $50,000 with a Taser in a Hartford parking lot.
Barile was arrested on Jan. 5, and released on $350,000 bail. Prosecutors say he is staying with a family member in Enfield.

Barile has been on the FBI's radar since 1994 when he was arrested with members of the Genovese crime family's western New England branch during a gambling crack-down in Hartford. Arrested with Barile were the late Francesco "Skyball" Scibelli and Carmine "Carlo" Mastrototaro, the Genovese capos in Springfield and Worcester, Mass.
Barile was charged with racketeering using threats of violence to collect street debts. FBI officials have said he worked for Tony Volpe, the Hartford lounge owner who ran Hartford for the Genovese family. Barile and an associate from Springfield, a 250-pound former pro wrestler known as "Big Pat" Poland, were given 30-month sentences after pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
In the current case, he faces up to 65 years in prison at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for May 6.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Rowhouse of murdered Philly mob boss nominated to be a city landmark

Bruno is back, baby!
Angelo Bruno, whose reign as Philadelphia mob boss ended with a shotgun blast to his head in 1980, is experiencing a posthumous resurgence.
The "Gentle Don," as Bruno is sometimes known, surfaced on the big screen last year, played by actor Chazz Palminteri in Legend, the British gangster film starring Tom Hardy.
Philadelphia filmmaker Tigre Hill is wrapping up his appropriately titled organized-crime documentary, The Corrupt and the Dead, that will feature Bruno and other mob bosses.
And now Bruno's old Snyder Avenue rowhouse - where he was murdered at age 69 - has been nominated for official landmark status with the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
Before you ask, yes, it certainly would be unusual for a city to recognize a building associated with a major La Cosa Nostra figure who was part of a crime syndicate that President Reagan called a "stain" on American history.
But this is Philadelphia. Sometimes we wear our stains on our sleeves.
"We're crazy enough to do it. Why not?" asked historian and South Philly mob watcher Celeste Morello.
Morello, herself a relative of New York mafiosi, said she nominated Bruno's three-bedroom home at 934 Snyder for a spot on the city's Register of Historic Places because his criminal activity helped shape federal laws and strategies for fighting organized crime.
"If Bruno didn't do things to make law enforcement notice him, I doubt that Philadelphia would have been one of the first organized-crime law enforcement units with a 'strike force' in the country," Morello said.
The nomination is expected to be taken up next month by a committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
"I assume it is our first historical property nomination related to Mafia history in Philadelphia. I can't think that there is another one," said Kim Broadbent, historic preservation planner on the staff of the Historical Commission. "It's certainly a unique story about Philadelphia's history that we don't typically come across at the office."
Reaction to the nomination has been . . . mixed.
David Fritchey, the recently retired chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force in the U.S. Attorney's Office, burst out in laughter last week when the Daily News informed him that Bruno's house could become a landmark.
"That's a little unorthodox," he said. "It's not like he was William Penn or Ben Franklin."
Bruno, who ran the Philadelphia mob through the 1960s and 1970s, was a shrewd businessman with a reputation for preferring diplomacy over violence - at least compared with bloodthirsty Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, who took over as mob boss in 1981.
"That's sort of like saying the Visigoths were nicer than the Huns," Fritchey said of Bruno. "He had his share of bodies."
Morello, who wrote the 2005 biography Before Bruno and How He Became Boss, said the nomination of a mobster's home might be a national first.
Damaris Olivo, spokeswoman for New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission, said the city has some landmarks associated with unsavory characters "but that's not the reason why they were designated."
Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, said its city council had given landmark status to buildings affiliated with gangsters such as Al Capone (the Lexington Hotel) and John Dillinger (the Biograph Theater). But, as in New York, those mob ties didn't play a role in the designation, he said.
"A person's affiliation with the underworld is not considered a significant contribution to the development of the city," Strazzabosco said.
Fritchey said Bruno's reputation as a peacemaker is sometimes exaggerated. He wasn't always so gentle.
"He was more discreet about murders than Scarfo. Scarfo was an in-your-face killer. He wanted the bodies to be found so people would know he was killing people right and left," Fritchey said. "Bruno had the confidence, as lord of the underworld, that people would be afraid of him without it being so obvious."
But disc jockey Jerry Blavat (a.k.a. the Geator and the "Boss with the Hot Sauce"), said he spent "many wonderful evenings" on Snyder Avenue with Bruno and his wife, Sue, and considered it "just another Italian home," with family streaming in and out.
"That house was very warm and I have a lot of great memories, having coffee with Angelo and Sue. Christmas dinner, Christmas Eve nights, it was basically an open house," Blavat said. "That's the way that home was."
As for criminal activity - organized or otherwise - the Geator says he never saw anything.
"There was no activity, other than just family and friends and neighbors," Blavat said. "That's all I saw."
On the night of March 21, 1980, Bruno was shot and killed while sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked in front of his house. His last meal was chicken Sicilian and rigatoni marinara at what was then Cous' Little Italy at 11th and Christian.
Bruno's driver, John Stanfa, was slightly injured by shotgun pellets. He went on to become mob boss around 1989 and is widely believed to have conspired in the Bruno hit.
Stanfa, 75, is serving a life sentence for a 1995 federal racketeering conviction that included murder, gambling, and extortion. But he was also a stonemason and did some of the brickwork at 934 Snyder, as Morello noted in her nomination.
Bruno's daughter, Jean, still lives in the house, where she recalls family New Year's parties in the basement bar and singing with her father as he played piano. In a 2010 interview, when the house was first placed on the market, Jean Bruno told the Daily News: "Every time I come out of this house, I see the very spot where he was killed."
It hasn't sold.
Yesterday, Jean Bruno said those memories have faded.
"I realized my father wouldn't want me to have those bad feelings. That helped me," she said. "Now I don't think of it."
She supports Morello's effort to have the house made a landmark.
"I think it could only increase the value of it," she said.
As for her father's day job, Bruno is sticking to her story.
"He was never convicted of a felony. He kept the drugs out, for crying out loud," she said. "He would put flags out and say, 'This is the greatest country in the world. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.' "
Of course, the neighborhood has changed over the years. The local economy is mostly auto-body repair, cheap cellphones, corner bodegas, and check-cashing. And the Bruno house is a fixer-upper, to put it mildly.
Fritchey, the former mob prosecutor, didn't sound particularly enthused about the idea of a crime boss getting his own landmark.
"I don't know. Look, he was a capable guy. There are lots of capable people. He happened to be a criminal," Fritchey said.
And if Bruno had lived another year, he might have died in jail instead of in his car. The feds were preparing a racketeering indictment at the time.
The indictment came down in February 1981. It referred to Bruno as "the boss."
"The indictment didn't charge him," Fritchey said, "because he was killed."


Thursday, February 18, 2016

The mafia ties of Big Ang from Mob Wives

Angela "Big Ang" Raiola of "Mob Wives" was the niece of the low-key captain of the Genovese crime family, Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi.
"Mob Wives" star "Big Ang" wasn't actually married to the mob — but rather a niece of it.
Brooklyn-born Angela Raiola “Big Ang” tragically lost her battle with cancer early Thursday at age 55.
Raiola, who later moved to Staten Island, was the niece of Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, a deceased captain of the Genovese crime family.
She managed and owned several Mafia hangouts throughout the years. Most recently, she owned the bar "Drunken Monkey" in Staten Island with her cousin, Sally Dogs' daughter, Sallyann Lombardi.
"She is what many consider a 'mob moll.' Owning many Mafia hangouts over the years, she became like "one of the guys" — even catching a case with some high ranking members of the mob. She was loved by them all," Raiola’s VH1 bio reads.
"She is like a character straight from the movie 'Goodfellas' and lives by the lifestyle code."
Salvatore Lombardi was arrested in 1992 at age 51. He was the uncle of "Big Ang" of "Mob Wives" who died on Thursday morning.
Salvatore Lombardi was arrested in 1992 at age 51. He was the uncle of "Big Ang" of "Mob Wives" who died on Thursday morning.
There are no reports of Raiola being married to a Mafia man, but she had said she dated "wiseguys" or crime-connected men in the past. VH1 noted that the larger-than-life personality has dated many gangsters.
Her uncle was a low-key captain of the Genovese family — one of the five families in New York Mafia.
The capo was so low-key that not much information is available about him. His crew operated out of the Gravesend section of Brooklyn and dealt heavy drugs.
Lombardi was first arrested in 1979 for conspiring to manufacture and sell Quaaludes. He was imprisoned in 1992 after wiretap surveillance of his home telephone in Brooklyn led authorities to discover he was planning to obtain a large quantity of heroin.
After serving 22 years in jail, he died in 2009.
Raiola spoke of her uncle on the television show, according got the book "The Men Behind Mob Wives." She recalled fond memories and remembered him as a "good guy."
"Sally Dogs" was close friends with fellow "Mob Wives" cast member Karen Gravano's father Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano.
Gravano was an underboss of the Gambino crime family and is credited with ratting out and bringing down the family's infamous boss, John Gotti.
Alicia DiMichele Garofalo of “Mob Wives” is married to Edward “The Tall Guy” Garofalo of the Colombo crime family. “The Tall Guy’s” father was allegedly killed by Sammy The Bull.
Other mob-connected cast members include Renee Graziano, the daughter of Anthony Graziano — a high ranking member of La Cosa Nostra.
Drita D’Avanzo of “Mob Wives” is married to Lee D’Avanzo — an alleged leader of a Bonanno and Colombo crime family farm team.
Ramona Rizzo appeared in seasons two and three and is the granddaughter of the infamous Benjamin Ruggiero “Lefty Guns.” Her granddad was portrayed by Al Pacino in the movie “Donnie Brasco.”


Big Ang from Mob Wives dead at 55

Angela Raiola, the formidable but lovable reality star known as “Big Ang” who attracted a cult following on VH1’s “Mob Wives,” died Thursday in New York. She was 55.

Ms. Raiola died from complications of cancer in a hospital after she contracted pneumonia, Jennifer Graziano, the show’s creator and executive producer, said.

Big Ang, whose nickname stemmed from her larger-than-life personality (and her apparent fondness for augmentation by plastic surgery), was a niece of Salvatore Lombardi, known as Sally Dogs, of the Genovese crime family. She had been open not only about her illness, but also about her struggles, including a felony drug conviction.

Even as her health worsened, Ms. Raiola documented her life on “Mob Wives” and “Couples Therapy,” also on VH1. The cameras rolled as she detailed her discovery of Stage 2 throat cancer and, later, the removal of a lemon-size tumor from her throat. She also documented a medical visit in which a doctor told her she had to have a biopsy on her lung. A longtime smoker, she was frank about how difficult it was for her to kick the habit.

Ms. Raiola discussed her condition on the “Dr. Oz” show broadcast Tuesday, revealing that she had Stage 4 lung and brain cancer.

“I was smoking for 40 years,” she said. “I think whoever smokes should quit, and if they didn’t start, don’t start.”

Ms. Raiola is survived by her husband, Neil Murphy; two children, Anthony and Raquel D’Onofrio; and six grandchildren.

“Mob Wives,” which had its premiere in 2011, offered a glimpse inside the lives of women tied to the Mafia — a sisterhood whose hierarchy is determined by its members’ ability to remain silent about the actions of their husbands, fathers or sons.

On the show, minuscule shifts in allegiances could result in expletive-filled showdowns. The feuds often carried over into Twitter, helping to ensure a ratings hit for the network.

But it was Ms. Raiola’s raspy voice; tall, buxom appearance (she was said to stand 5-foot-10; and ability to add comic relief and common sense to tense situations that made her a fan favorite. Catfights, she said, were not her forte.

“I’m in my 50s; they are in the 30s,” she said of the other women. “I’m going to teach them manners.”

She had a short-lived spinoff on VH1 called “Big Ang,” which followed her marriage and her life as a bartender at the Drunken Monkey, a bar on Staten Island. In 2014, a patron died after he was punched outside the establishment.

Last March, the bar was shut down after a New York State Liquor Authority investigation found that Ms. Raiola, who did not hold its liquor license, was acting as owner and operator, The Staten Island Advance reported.

Ms. Graziano said Ms. Raiola’s status as a fan favorite extended to people who worked on the show.

“She would feed the entire cast and crew,” Ms. Graziano said, adding that Ms. Raiola loved “any, any excuse for a party.”


Bonanno rat is confronted by brother of murder victim in courtroom during testimony

The key witness against four mobsters on trial in Manhattan admitted Wednesday that he set up a close pal to get whacked — not realizing the dead man’s brother was sitting in the courtroom ready to vent his rage.

The defense lawyer for reputed wiseguy Vito Badamo — who along with his cohorts is on trial for loansharking, drug dealing and illegal gambling — questioned capo-turned-canary James “Louie” Tartaglione, 78, for his seeming lack of remorse over his role in several hits.

“You said you didn’t apologize for people whose murder you participated in like Russell Mauro,” the lawyer reminded him of his testimony earlier in the day.

“Well his brother is in this courtroom,” attorney Joseph Donatelli said as he turned to point to a man in the gallery.
The brother of Russell Mauro leaving court.

“You want to explain why you killed him?” pressed the lawyer.

From his seat, Mauro’s brother shouted out in front of jurors, “Why? You piece of s–t!”

“Calm down! Calm down!” Justice Mark Dwyer warned the man.

The seething brother, who declined to give his name, replied, “Judge, I waited 20 years to find out why.”

In earlier testimony, Michael Alber, the lawyer for Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora, questioned Tartaglione about his role in luring Mauro to his social club in 1991, where he knew his longtime
pal would be murdered by another mobster. “You said, ‘Hello?’”

“Yes,” answered the FBI informant.

“You walked him in so someone could shoot him and you helped clean up the blood?”

“Yes,” Tartaglione admitted coolly.

Alber also asked the aging ex-wiseguy whether he helped underboss Salvatore Vitale clean up after an infamous hit on three mob captains.
James Tartaglione

“I walked in with Sal and he said, ‘Do me a favor, help me remove the shells on the floor,” Tartaglione testified about the scene of the 1981 “Three Capos murder” at the 20/20 Night Club in

The mobster-turned-snitch continued, “There were three bodies. The last body was being tied up and canvased, it was already wrapped. We put it in the trunk, and I took it to Woodhaven

At one point, the lawyer asked Tartaglione whether he ever said sorry to any of his victims’ families.

“Did I apologize?’’ he asked, looking puzzled. “As a person involved with a crime, if I were to approach a family and say ‘I apologize’ wouldn’t I be indicting myself?”

The defense’s strategy on cross-examination was to undermine Tartaglione’s credibility by highlighting his role in numerous murders.

Although Tartaglione is the case’s star witness, he conceded that he has no direct knowledge of the crimes for which the state has charged defendants Santora, Badamo, Ernest Aiello and Anthony “Skinny” Santoro.

Tartaglione said he has been cooperating with the feds since 2003 to “save myself.”

Santora inspired the character played by the late Bruno Kirby in the 1997 film “Donnie Brasco.”


Pizzeria waiter with mob ties is busted for torching car leased by owner of rival eatery

Gino Gabrielli (r.) leaves Brooklyn Federal Court with his lawyer Joseph DiBenedetto on charges of torching a Mercedes Benz.

It was a pizza war, and the waiter got burned.

A Queens pizzeria waiter with alleged ties to organized crime was busted Wednesday for torching a luxury car leased by the owner of a rival eatery in a dispute over a catering job.

Gino Gabrielli, 22, also set himself on fire in the process and showed up at Jamaica Hospital emergency room Dec. 5 with an incredible story that he had burned his leg by knocking over a pot of chicken and rice cooking on the stove in his house.

 Fire marshals investigating the torching of a 2014 Mercedes Benz only 20 minutes earlier, checked with Gabrielli's mother who told them that there was fire at their home, and not even dirty dishes in the sink, according to the complaint unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

John Gotti (r.) arrives at court on Feb. 9, 1990.

"Hospital officials reported that the defendant's clothing reeked of gasoline when he arrived at the hospital," FBI agent Paul Tambrino stated in the complaint.

Investigators learned that the destroyed vehicle belonged to the owner of Sofia's Pizzeria on Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park who apparently took a $1,300 catering order away from Gabrielli's grandfather, Aldo Calore, who is the longtime owner of Aldo's Pizzeria on Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach.

"That's certainly not true," defense lawyer Joseph DiBenedetto said after Gabrielli was released on $700,000 bail.

Besides his grandfather, the bail bond was signed by Gabrielli's sister Eleanor, who dates John Gotti, Jr., the grandson of the late Gambino boss John Gotti and the son of Peter Gotti.

Prosecutor Nadia Moore said she would provide Gabrielli with a list of organized crime members that he cannot associate with, as a condition of his release.


Turncoat Bonanno captain testifies he never actually killed anyone but requested seven murders from his bosses

Bonanno capo-turned-canary James “Louie” Tartaglione shot down claims Tuesday that he murdered seven people during his time in the mob, saying he simply asked his bosses to “whack” the victims —and didn’t actually pull the trigger—as he testified against four mobsters on trial for loansharking, drug dealing and running illegal gambling operations.

The 78-year-old wise guy is the prosecution’s key witness in their trial against Vito Badamo, Ernest Aiello, Anthony “Skinny” Santoro and Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora, who inspired the character played by the late Bruno Kirby in the 1997 film “Donnie Brasco.”

“Did you yourself ever commit the act of killing?” asked Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Gary Galperin, as he referred to the defense’s claims that Tartaglione was not a reliable witness and that he was responsible for the deaths of several “made men” in the Bonanno crime family, including Cesare Bonventre in 1984 and the infamous “Three Capos murders” in 1981.

“No,” replied Tartaglione. “I was there, that’s it.”

Describing one incident from the mid-90s, Tartaglione said he put the word in to have Charles “Crazy Charlie” Tervella murdered, but he later changed his mind.

“Sal, I think I’d like to whack him out,” he recalled asking Salvatore Vitale, an underboss in the Bonnano crime family.

But Tartaglione claimed he didn’t send “Crazy Charlie” to sleep with the fishes after discovering he was stealing money from a Joker Poker slot machine they were running together in Queens— and instead called off the hit.

“After awhile, the anger goes away,” he said.

After shooting down the defense’s murder claims, Tartaglione described how he knew Santora and Badamo from their time in the Bonanno family in the late 90s and early 2000s.

“Vito said his father was a made man,” he explained, describing their first meeting in 1998.

“He said he would like to get straightened out,” which according to Tartaglione, meant being inducted into the mob.
James Tartaglione

Describing how he knew Santora, and his involvement in the Bonanno crime family, Tartaglione said, “I was there when he was inducted. I was at the ceremony.”

He added, “Sal gave him things to be concerned about, and then we all held hands and said a prayer.”

In addition to describing his relationship with the Bonanno family, Tartaglione also opened up about the inner workings of the mafia—even going as far as giving meanings to terms heard in famous mob movies such as “Goodfellas” and “Casino.”

“A ‘walk and talk’ is when you walk around and talk business,” he said, adding that there is “no discussing things in the house or club.”

A “wise guy,” “button man” or “Goodfella” is a soldier; a “friend of ours” is considered to be any other made member of the crime family; and a “friend of mine” is known as any associate or friend of a member, Tartaglione said.

He also explained how he ultimately chose to become a federal informant after Vitale was arrested in 2003, saying he was “worried he would tell all my mortal sins.”

“I’m considered to be on the shelf,” Tartaglione said of his current status with the Bonanno family.

He added that anyone who is made a “soldier” keeps that title for life.

“Do you take responsibility for what you did?” Galperin later asked.

“Yes,” replied Tartaglione.

“Are you proud?” asked Galperin.

“No,” Tartaglione said solemnly. “Of course not.”

The former capo is expected to be back on the witness stand on Wednesday for the defense’s cross-examination.


Monday, February 15, 2016

With help from her family Big Ang fights brain and lung cancer

Reality TV star Angela "Big Ang" Raiola says she veers between hope and depression as she fights stage-four brain and lung cancer.
Angela Raiola, part of the VH1 series "Mob Wives" and its spinoffs, said in a tearful interview airing Tuesday on "The Dr. Oz Show" that her family is her support and her reason to keep going.
"I look at my kids and my grandchildren and I know how much they need me," Raiola told Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the syndicated TV series.
The mother of two and grandmother of six has undergone several surgeries since she was diagnosed last year with throat and lung cancer.
She said she was twice declared cancer-free, only to see it return and spread. Radiation and chemotherapy have failed to check it, and her doctors are switching to what Oz called an advanced approach aimed at boosting her body's immune system.
Raiola told Oz she can't help feeling depressed at times.
"Sometimes I feel I'm gonna be fine, and sometimes I just don't think I am," said Raiola, who lives with her daughter, son-in-law and their three children on New York's Staten Island.
Her hair, once long and dark, is now pale and close-shaven, cut in anticipation of losing it to chemo.
Raiola is the niece of the late Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, who was a reputed captain of the Genovese crime family. After gaining celebrity on "Mob Wives," Raiola got her own spinoff series, "Big Ang" and "Miami Monkey."
A cigarette smoker for 40 years, she said she stopped immediately after her first cancer diagnosis last March. Her doctors told her the disease was "positively" caused by smoking, she said, and she called for people to quit the habit or resist picking it up.
Her sister and brother-in-law are part of her support team, said Raiola, but her husband, Neil Murphy, is not part of her life.