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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Turncoat mafia captain turned pastor has clues about Gardner museum heist

Alonso Esposito, a former Boston mobster, reflected on the spiritual conversion he experienced that led him to establish his ministry. He was photographed in his Memphis, Tenn., home on June 27.
A notorious Boston mobster who disappeared into the federal witness protection program has resurfaced in Tennessee with a new identity, a new life, and a tantalizing clue involving the world’s largest art heist.

In this city on the Mississippi, he’s known as Alonso Esposito, a tall, charismatic man with graying hair and a Boston accent who self-published a paperback about the Bible and volunteers as a pastor at a nondenominational church.

But in the 1990s, as Mafia capo Robert “Bobby” Luisi Jr., he ran a crew of wiseguys, based in Greater Boston, that included two men suspected by the FBI of stashing $500 million worth of masterworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.

In a series of interviews from his Memphis home, the 55-year-old Luisi revealed that one of those associates, Robert “Unc” Guarente, told him years ago that the stolen Gardner paintings were buried beneath a home in Florida.

The two were alone in the late 1990s at a Waltham apartment they used as a “safehouse,” watching a television segment about the Gardner theft, according to Luisi, when Guarente confided that he knew where the artwork was. In Florida, he said, under a concrete floor.

“He wanted to know if I knew where we could sell it,” Luisi said.

Luisi, who was running a lucrative cocaine trafficking ring at the time and involved in a bloody turf war with rival mobsters, said he told Guarente that he didn’t know anybody who could fence stolen artwork.“I knew I couldn’t move it,” Luisi said. “I didn’t want to get involved in it.”

Guarente, who died in 2004 at age 64, never offered the precise Florida location where the masterworks were supposedly buried, according to Luisi, and the pair never discussed it again.

Luisi said he told FBI agents about Guarente’s claim in 2012 when they visited him in prison, where he was serving 15 years for cocaine trafficking. He said they questioned him about the possibility that Guarente and another mobster, Robert “The Cook” Gentile, tried to sell the stolen artwork in Philadelphia years earlier.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on Luisi’s account or whether it prompted any digging in Florida for the stolen masterpieces, citing the ongoing investigation focused on recovering the artwork. A year after the FBI interview, Luisi finished his prison term and entered witness protection in exchange for testifying against a former Boston mob associate.

The Gardner theft remains unsolved decades after two men dressed as police officers talked their way into the elegant museum on the Fenway shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, tied up two guards and disappeared with 13 masterworks. None have been recovered, despite a $5 million reward and promises of immunity. They include three Rembrandts — including his only seascape, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” — and a Vermeer.

In 2013, the FBI announced it was confident it had identified the two thieves, both now deceased, but declined to name them, citing the ongoing investigation. Gentile, 80, is in jail while awaiting trial on federal gun charges.

Authorities said they believed some of the artwork changed hands through organized crime circles, and moved from Boston to Connecticut and Philadelphia, where the trail went cold in 2003.

‘I am certain that we’d have noticed if we’d come across anything valuable, like paintings by Rembrandt.’

Sitting in the kitchen of his ranch-style home on a quiet street with manicured lawns, Luisi, who was affiliated with the Philadelphia mob family, spoke freely in late June about his notorious past and about the dream of a new life that prompted him to leave the safe haven of the witness protection program.

“I’m just not afraid,” said Luisi, who said he wanted to come out of hiding so he could promote his ministry and religious book, The Last Generation. “My faith is so strong in God.”

Luisi, who grew up in Boston’s North End and East Boston, has his own website, alonsoesposito.com, and is on YouTube and Facebook. He’s also working on an autobiography, “From Capo to Christian,” and said he hopes his transformation might inspire others.

Luisi’s path from Mafioso to government witness was a tortured one. After his 1999 arrest on drug charges, he agreed to cooperate against mobsters from Boston to Philadelphia and confessed to ordering the 1997 murder of a rival Boston gangster.

But Luisi changed his mind about cooperating and was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison for cocaine trafficking.

Luisi said he was, nevertheless, happy to talk to the FBI about the Gardner. He said he told them that Gentile, of Manchester, Conn., never discussed the stolen artwork with him, but as a soldier in the Philadelphia family, Gentile would have had the authority to negotiate a deal with organized crime figures in that city.

The FBI has searched Guarente’s property in Maine, and Gentile’s property in Connecticut, repeatedly.

During a brief telephone conversation, Guarente’s widow, Elene, said she was unaware of any Florida property connected to her husband, “but he was always traveling one place or another without telling me where he was going.”

Maine State Police records indicate that Guarente listed a lakeside home in Orlando as his residence for several years in the early 1990s. The single-family home, built on a concrete slab in 1980, was torn down in 2007.

“I am certain that we’d have noticed if we’d come across anything valuable, like paintings by Rembrandt,” said Robert Thornley, whose company did the demolition.

A developer, John Gigliotti, who removed an underground pool from the property last year, said he didn’t turn up anything memorable during the excavation.

Federal authorities have been focusing on Gentile since 2010, when Elene Guarente told the FBI that her husband gave two of the stolen paintings to Gentile during a rendezvous in Maine before his death.

Gentile, 80, was ensnared in an FBI sting last year and is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13 in Hartford on the gun charges. He insists he doesn’t know anything about the stolen artwork, though he acknowledged in a 2014 Globe interview that he and Guarente talked about trying to recover the paintings so they could collect the reward.

But, a federal prosecutor revealed in court that Gentile last year offered to sell the paintings for $500,000 each to an undercover FBI agent. He also flunked a polygraph exam when he denied that he knew about plans to rob the Gardner museum beforehand and when he denied that he had the paintings or knew where they were, according to the prosecutor.

“He is a sick old man and in my opinion showing signs of dementia,” said Gentile’s attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan. “He sincerely wishes the paintings to be returned to the museum, but he simply had no information as to their whereabouts.”

Brian T. Kelly, a former federal prosecutor who worked on the Gardner theft investigation until 2013 and is now a partner at Nixon Peabody, declined to comment on information provided by Luisi, but said, “He certainly would be in a good position to know about the Guarente crew, as well as the Philly mob.”

The New England Mafia was in disarray in the 1990s, battered by prosecutions and a violent power struggle between warring factions. Luisi was even feuding with his own father, Robert Luisi Sr., who was shot to death by two rivals in 1995 in the infamous 99 Restaurant massacre in Charlestown, along with Luisi’s brother, cousin and another man.

Luisi said his bid to become a “made man” in the New England Mafia was blocked by a capo. In a rare and bold move, Luisi asked to join the Philadelphia family, which made him a capo in 1998 and let him operate his cocaine trafficking business out of Boston in exchange for tribute.

Luisi’s goal was to create his own family in Boston, with Guarente as his underboss and Gentile as his consigliere.

Luisi said he was staying at the Waltham “safehouse” with Guarente on weekdays in the late 1990s, when he introduced him to Gentile, and that Gentile frequently stayed there and did the cooking. Guarente and Luisi used the two-story townhouse to hide from their mob rivals before going home for weekends.

When Luisi was released from prison in 2013, he was placed in the witness protection program in exchange for testifying later that year against Enrico Ponzo, a former Boston mob associate.

Luisi described himself at the trial as a man who had found God in March 1998, but said he felt he couldn't shed his mob ties at that time.

“How could you go out and say, ‘I’m with Christ,’” Luisi said in an interview. “They’ll kill me.”

Luisi credits God with leading him to his new life in Tennessee, where he settled three years ago. He has a new wife, Julie, a mother of three who works as an IT manager. She said she was flabbergasted, but undaunted when Luisi revealed his past on their second date. She married him 21 months ago and calls him the love of her life.

Prophet Gerald Coleman Sr., the bishop at Faith Keepers Ministries in Memphis, which has about 300 members, said he has known Luisi for more than a year and felt comfortable making him a pastor at the church several months ago.

“He’s told me something of his past but I know I don’t know everything bad that happened with him,” Coleman said. “But I do know that he is a man of God who has studied God’s word.”

Coleman, who was impressed by Luisi’s 210-page book, “The Last Generation,” said, “I consider myself a good judge of character, and everything I see with Alonso tells me he wants to serve this church and its members and he has our interests closest to his heart.”

Luisi said he began working on the book when he was still in prison, earning his theology diploma online and teaching Bible courses to fellow inmates.

And even though Luisi said he wants his past identity to be known, so people understand his journey, he plans on keeping his new name.

“I like Alonso a lot better than I like Bobby,” he said. “He’s a much better person.”


Three Brooklyn men busted for bank heists

Three Brooklyn men were charged on Tuesday with carrying out a pair of meticulously planned bank heists that authorities likened to a Hollywood script, complete with one suspect who is the son of a slain Gambino crime-family associate.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accused the men, Michael Mazzara, Charles Kerrigan and Anthony Mascuzzio, of scouting out the banks, then returning in the dead of night, disabling alarms and using acetylene blowtorches to tunnel through their roofs to gain access to the vaults.

They made off with more than $5 million in cash and valuables from safe-deposit boxes, including jewelry, diamonds, coins, stock certificates and rare sports trading cards, officials said.

“The thieves stole not just people’s money but their memories, too,” Mr. Bharara said.

The charges the men face include conspiracy to commit bank burglary. They were awaiting court appearances Tuesday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Authorities confirmed that Mr. Mascuzzio is the son of Anthony Mascuzzio, who was fatally shot in a Manhattan discothèque in 1988. The elder Mascuzzio was a friend and associate of John Gotti, former leader of the Gambino family.

The first robbery took place on Friday, April 8, at a south Brooklyn HSBC branch, when the men climbed onto the roof, cut alarm wires and spent the weekend using blowtorches to get inside, authorities said.

“By the time the bank reopened on Monday, the men were long gone,” Mr. Bharara said.

On May 20, the crew carried out a similar scheme at Maspeth Federal Savings Bank in Queens, this time building a plywood structure on the roof that hid their activities and was painted black as camouflage.

Investigators from the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were able to track the men down by combing through surveillance videos, cellphone records and credit-card statements, officials said.

Authorities determined the men used money to buy Jet Skis, boats and cars, along with vacations in Miami and Las Vegas, said Diego Rodriguez, head of the FBI’s New York City field office.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton compared the robberies to one of his favorite movies, “Heat,” in which Al Pacino plays a lieutenant chasing a crew led by Robert De Niro that was “organized, meticulous and elusive to law enforcement.”

Like the three men charged Tuesday, Mr. Bratton said, Mr. De Niro wasn’t “meticulous enough and, quite obviously, not elusive enough.”


Gangster admits beating up old man over unpaid loan for Lucchese captain

Long Island mob goon pleaded guilty Friday to threatening to beat up a 71-year-old man over an unpaid loan at the behest of a Lucchese family captain.
Michael Capra, 52, admitted he tried shaking down the elderly victim in 2010, as he copped to conspiracy to commit extortion charges.
“I did threaten him with physical force if the debt was not paid,” he told Brooklyn federal court Judge Ann Donnelly.
When prosecutors asked if he was collecting money specifically owed to Lucchese capo Carmine Avellino, he said, “I really don’t have any idea.”
Avellino was caught on wiretaps allegedly ordering Capra to assault the old man and another victim over a $100,000 loan. Michael’s lawyer declined to comment.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Former gangster details life growing up in the mafia in new book

Frank DiMatteo witnessed his first mob murder at the age of 5.

It took place on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Union Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 20 feet from where he was standing. In 1961, brownstone Brooklyn was a different place than today.

Carroll Gardens hood Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo kept an actual lion to scare those who owed him debts. The Profaci crime family was famous for loan-sharking. And DiMatteo’s father, Ricky, provided gun-toting enforcement for the ultraviolent Gallo crime family.

DiMatteo learned that killing “is just business.” He tells his story in the memoir “The President Street Boys: Growing Up Mafia,” out Tuesday from Kensington Publishing.

He was raised on Sackett Street in Carroll Gardens, where celebs crossed the East River to rub elbows with thugs. “Lauren [Bacall] would come down to a neighborhood wiseguy place, Ju Ju,” DiMatteo recalls. “She was close to Frank ‘Punchy’ Illiano” — one of Gallo’s lieutenants.

DiMatteo, now 60, worked for Gallo. As a teen, he drove getaway cars for armed robbers — with his father’s blessing.

“We did a diamond heist,” he tells The Post. “Two Hasidic Jews in the shop refused to give up the diamonds. Then one got hit across the mouth and they went along. The score was $100,000 and I got $5,000.”

He got arrested 11 times, for crimes that included assault, gun possession and hijacking, but beat all charges. After breaking from the Gallos — for selling drugs, against their rules — he joined the DeCavalcante family.

“I was supposed to be made by them” in 1999, he recalls. “Then everyone in the family was suddenly in jail for . . . murder and extortion. There was nobody to work with. It was like a snake with no head.”

‘I’d rather live among yuppies than wiseguys. With the wiseguys there is too much drama.’ - Frank DiMatteo

It effectively ended his lifelong crime spree, but DiMatteo landed on his feet. He already owned an Italian eatery that doubled as a stash-house for hot jewelry, and he began helping distribute the pornographic newspaper Screw.

“They had trouble getting onto newsstands” because of the content, he says. DiMatteo’s confederates solved that problem by telling retailers, “If you don’t put it on your newsstand today, you won’t have a newsstand tomorrow.”

These days, he lives in Gerritsen Beach with his wife, Emily, the mother of his three children. Life is quiet — though DiMatteo does mention a recent shipment of 100 illicit Cuban cigars that he is looking to move.

Expressing no remorse for his transgressions, he says, “I did not hurt anybody who didn’t deserve to get hurt.”

As for Carroll Gardens’ current stroller-pushing residents, he says, “I’d rather live among yuppies than wiseguys. With the wiseguys there is too much drama.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

Father and son convicted of trafficking over 50 kilos of cocaine

Gregorio Gigliotti, picture here with  his wife Eleonora, was found guilty of trafficking more than 50 kilos of cocaine stuffed inside yuccas.
A father and son were convicted Friday of trafficking more than 50 kilos of cocaine into the U.S. in shipments of yucca using their Italian restaurant in Queens as part of the illicit operation.

Gregorio Gigliotti gave a two-thumbs up sign to family members minutes before the jury entered the courtroom, but the wife of his son Angelo Gigliotti apparently sensed it was going to be bad news and sobbed uncontrollably.

After deliberating three hours, the federal jury in Brooklyn found Gregorio, 60, guilty of all counts including possession of seven guns found in a safe in the basement of his Cucino a Modo Mio restaurant. Angelo, 36, was found not guilty of the gun charges.

Federal prosecutors Keith Edelman and Margaret Gandy argued that the Gigliottis smuggled cocaine to keep their restaurant and other businesses afloat.

The government's case was bolstered by a mountain of wiretap evidence in which the Gigliottis were intercepted discussing drug shipments from Costa Rica referring to the cocaine with absurd code words such as "pineapples" and "kitchens."

Gregorio Gigliotti's wife Eleonara has also been indicted in the case, but she is mentally unfit to stand trial at this time.

Gregorio, 60, was found guilty of all counts including possession of seven guns found in a safe in the basement of his Cucino a Modo Mio restaurant.

The Gigliottis are alleged to have ties to the Calabrian organized crime organization 'Ndrangheta, but that allegation was not disclosed to the jury.

Defense lawyers had allegedly tried to stack the jury with female jurors — a ploy to seek a panel that might be sympathetic to acquitting Angelo Gigliotti, government sources told The Daily News. As expected, Angelo's lawyer Alan Futerfas argued in his closing statement that the Gigliottis were "dominated by a man (Gregorio) engaged in all manner of schemes ... he manipulated his wife, he manipulated Angelo."

Gregorio Gigliotti’s lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio asked for a mistrial based on Futerfas' remarks, but Federal Judge Raymond Dearie shot back: "Were you surprised?" and denied the motion.

The family patriarch faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, and Angelo faces a mandatory 20 years behind bars because of his prior criminal record.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Judge unseals secret case against turncoat New England captain that led to his cooperation

A secret 2011 case against a veteran Rhode Island mobster was quietly unsealed by a federal judge late Friday, revealing never-before-seen details about the case that ultimately led to Robert DeLuca wearing a wire for the FBI.

According to the case file, DeLuca, then 64, was charged with “RICO conspiracy” for his role in a scheme to extort protection payments for Providence strip clubs.

The case outlined against DeLuca said he and former mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio worked together to arrange protection payments from the Satin Doll and Cadillac Lounge strip clubs beginning around 2006.

Manocchio was the head of the New England La Cosa Nostra (NELCN) at the time.

Payments from the strip clubs ranged between $4,000 to $6,000 a month, according to the court document, and DeLuca and Manocchio had two mob associates – Thomas Iafrate and Richard Bonafiglia – working inside each club to manage the payments.

“Approximately $125 a day was set aside from the proceeds of the Cadillac Lounge by delivery to the NELCN,” the criminal information document states. “This amount was kept in a safe in the manager’s office of the Cadillac Lounge, and covered the protection payments to the NELCN from the Satin Doll, Cadillac Lounge and the owner’s other adult entertainment businesses.”

Iafrate and Bonafiglia later pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme.

DeLuca was officially charged on July 8, 2011, the same day he signed a plea agreement with the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office where he pledged to cooperate with federal investigators.

“Defendant will meet with government representatives as often as necessary and provide complete and truthful information to them,” the plea agreement states. 

It also called on DeLuca to testify against his underworld colleagues if any of the cases went to trial. None of them did; each defendant eventually pleaded guilty under the threat of lengthy prison time.

For agreeing to cooperate, prosecutors said they would recommend a lower sentence for DeLuca, who already had a criminal record.

Oddly, there is no docket entry for Deluca’s Feb. 2, 2012, sentencing hearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William Smith. But an indictment against DeLuca out of Massachusetts, unsealed Monday, reveals DeLuca only served one day of incarceration: the day he was arrested.

Federal prosecutors acknowledge DeLuca was putting himself at risk by cooperating in a case against his longtime employer – and its outfit of mobsters and associates – and that they offered to give him protection.

“It is understood that defendant’s truthful cooperation with the United States is likely to reveal activities of individuals who might use violence, force, and intimidation against his family and loved one,” the plea deal states. “Should defendant’s cooperation present a significant risk of physical harm the United States, upon written request of defendant, will take steps that it determines to be reasonable and necessary to attempt to ensure his safety and that of his family and loved one.”

Those steps included the possibility of putting DeLuca into the U.S. Marshals’ Witness Protection Program or the FBI’s “relocation program.”

DeLuca vanished from the streets of Providence around 2011 and did not reappear on the public radar until his arrest in Broward County, Florida, on Monday.

It is unclear if DeLuca had been relocated by the FBI or in the Witness Protection Program at the time. Rhode Island U.S. Marshal Jamie Hainsworth referred questions to the FBI. Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI, declined comment, citing the pending case against DeLuca, and referred questions to the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office. Jim Martin, a spokesman there, also declined comment.

Reached by email, DeLuca’s attorney, Marshall Dore Louis, declined to comment.

Piecing together documents previously released in the case, DeLuca’s cooperation with the FBI included wearing a wire to secretly record other members of the NELCN so prosecutors could build a case against them.

Following DeLuca’s cooperation in July of 2011, a flurry of additional indictments in the case came down that year and into 2012. In all, nine mobsters and associates were snared. Along with Manocchio – who faced additional charges in the new indictments – were then-underboss Anthony DiNunzio of Boston and Mafia capo regime Edward “Eddie” Lato.

On June 28 this year, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ferland asked Judge Smith to unseal the 2011 case against DeLuca. Ferland said the reasons to seal the case, including “security interests,” were “overcome by more recent developments, not limited to the defendant’s indictment in [Massachusetts].”

“Therefore, the interests of justice dictate that an unsealing of this information occur,” Ferland wrote.

The new case against DeLuca alleges he wasn’t “truthful” with the government, despite his pledge to be in the 2011 plea agreement.

DeLuca was arrested Monday morning in Florida after he was indicted on charges that he lied to federal investigators about what he knew of the 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub manager Steven DiSarro.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office booking photo of Robert DeLuca

The indictment alleges DeLuca claimed he knew nothing of DiSarro’s disappearance when he was questioned by investigators in 2011.

But prosecutors say not only did DeLuca know what happened to DiSarro, he helped coordinate where to bury the body: behind a Providence mill building owned by his friend William Ricci.

DeLuca, now 70, faces a three-count indictment including obstruction of justice and making false statements.

In March, the FBI and Rhode Island Medical Examiners Office exhumed the body of DiSarro after a week of digging behind the Branch Avenue building.

Ricci, 69, was charged in a separate drug and firearms case and struck a plea deal with prosecutors; he is set to be sentenced in October. The Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to comment if there is a connection between the two cases.

On Friday, DeLuca waived his right to be released on bail, meaning he will eventually be transported to Massachusetts to face charges in federal court in Boston.

According to court documents, federal prosecutors are recommending Ricci receive 45 months in prison.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

NYPD closes in on killer of Brooklyn pizzeria owner

Detectives believe they have identified the suspect seen on video near the home of the co-owner of a renowned Brooklyn pizza joint when he was shot to death in an apparent botched robbery, the Daily News has learned.

The video does not capture the actual June 30 murder of L&B Spumoni Gardens boss Louis Barbati, 61, as he arrived at his Dyker Heights home from work carrying a loaf of bread for dinner and about $15,000 in cash, sources and police said.

Police have released surveillance footage of a suspect believed to be involved in the shooting death of Spumoni pizza restaurant owner Louis Barbati.

So cops are trying to connect the suspect to the murder by tracing his phone calls and trying to figure out who if anyone tipped him that Barbati would be carrying that much cash that night.

NYPD personnel investigate the scene around 7601 12th Ave, Brooklyn, where Louis Barbati, co-owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens was shot to death on June 30, 2016.

Barbati only carried home that much money about six times a year, his wife has told detectives.

The home of Louis Barbati, co-owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens pizzeria in Brooklyn, who was gunned down early Thursday evening. July 1, 2016.

"It's not clear how he knows [Barbati]," a source said of the suspect.

Louis Barbati was shot in the back while he was in the yard of his 12th Ave., Brooklyn home.

"We don't think he was acting on his own. The thinking is somebody had to know [Barbati] was going to have that money on him that day. Someone knew his schedule. That's the pieces they are trying to put together."

A hooded gunman pumped two shots into Barbati’s back while he was in the yard of his home on 12th Ave. near 76th St.

His wife, another woman and his two sons were in the home at the time of the shooting, sources said.


Mobsters from four of the five New York crime families busted in cross country pot operation

A Parisi Bakery scion and an elderly Gambino family captain are among a crew busted in a $15 million cross-country pot-distribution operation, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Massive loads of high-end prescription reefer were shipped from legal farms in California to New York City, where ringleaders John Kelly, 52, and Richard Sinde, 51, oversaw distribution to sellers, authorities said.

The conspiracy used shipping lines, FedEx parcels and cars to import high-end prescription pot, grown by legal farms in the "Emerald Triangle" in Northern California, cops said.

“They were overgrowing during their natural harvest season. They also used hydroponics inside, and also they grew this marijuana inside of greenhouses,” said Inspector John Denesopolis of the NYPD's Criminal Enterprise Investigation Unit. “They were doing it in excess of the amount they were allowed."

Sinde previously pleaded guilty in a Bonanno enterprise corruption case in Manhattan and is serving a two- to six-year prison sentence upstate, records show.

About two-dozen defendants were indicted on charges relating to a pot-peddling conspiracy, an Oxycodone business, tax fraud and an online gambling enterprise.

Frank Parisi is arraigned in State Supreme Court on Tuesday in New York for his involvement in a $15 million cross-country pot distribution operation.

Frank Parisi, 60, is accused of possessing more than 20 pounds of marijuana. He had packing supplies in an apartment that shares a building with the iconic Italian bakery in Nolita, according to an indictment.

“Mr. Parisi's role was to distribute that on the streets of New York,” Assistant District Attorney Brian Foley said at Parisi's arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Parisi's attorney described him as a “fourth generation” member of the family that famously runs an old world bread shop and deli a few blocks from the courthouse where Parisi sat in handcuffs.

“He works every day, every hour, every week in that bakery,” said lawyer Jeremy Schneider.

Bail was set at $50,000 for Parisi.

Massive loads of high-end prescription pot were shipped from legal farms in California to New York City. About two-dozen defendants were indicted on charges related to the pot-peddling ring.

Parisi is also accused of participating in a $1 million gambling racket based at Bklynsportscenter.com, along with co-defendants Frank Galesi, 50, Carl Muraco, 52, and Stephen Gallo, 64.

Several defendants hail from four of the city's five Mafia families, police said. Reputed mobster Michael "Mickey Boy" Paradiso, 76, of Staten Island, faces a conspiracy count in the marijuana case. He has not yet seen a judge.

Larwrence Dentico of La Jolla, Calif., the 33-year-old grandson of Genovese capo Lawrence Dentico, was also busted, as were two Colombo associates and a Gambino associate.

Arraignments will continue in front of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Neil Ross. Six of the nearly two dozen people arrested in the various indictments were charged with tax fraud for failing to report illegal profits. Four were also charged in an Oxycodone distribution ring.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Pizzeria owner linked to cocaine ring threatened business partner

The son who’s on trial with his father for allegedly smuggling $1 million worth of cocaine into the US in yucca boxes while using the family’s Queens pizzeria as a front threatened to kill a business partner if he snitched, according to testimony Thursday.

Witness Andrew Tabarovski testified that he and his father, Mauricio, went into business in 2012 with pizza patriarch Gregorio Gigliotti and son Angelo in their international drug-trafficking operation.

Tabarovski recalled to jurors how his now-late father was allegedly threatened by Angelo one night during a poker game.

The son said his father told him, “If I opened my mouth, [Angelo] said he would kill me, my family and my kids. He said he doesn’t care about jail. He said he loved jail.” Modal Trigger
Angelo Gigliotti leaving the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn.

Andrew, who testified under a non-prosecution agreement with feds, also said Angelo once threatened to find a different business partner “a good resting place” for swiping a $7,000 payment that was never delivered to drug dealers in Costa Rica.

Gregorio and Angelo are charged with shipping 55 kilos of cocaine from the Central American country to their produce warehouse in The Bronx and storing a cache of guns in their Corona restaurant Cucino a Modo Mio.

Gregorio – a reputed associate of Genovese capo Anthony Federicci — once allegedly flashed a gun hidden in his desk in the basement of the pizzeria, telling Andrew and Mauricio, “You need to protect the merchandise.”

Andrew testified that Gregorio allegedly showed him a half-kilo of cocaine stored in a restaurant freezer while complaining about the quality of the drugs.

On cross-examination, Andrew admitted that despite the threats, he and his dad continued to do business with the Gigliottis.

The trial continues Friday.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jailed Cosa Nostra boss Provenzano dead at 83

Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano has died, a lawyer said.
Convicted Cosa Nostra “boss of bosses” Bernardo Provenzano, who reputedly led the Mafia’s powerful Corleone clan, died on Wednesday, a decade after his capture in Sicily following decades of hiding in the countryside, a lawyer said.

In recent years, Provenzano, 83, had been held under strict security measures at a Milan hospital. The lawyer, Rosalba Di Gregorio had cited Provenzano’s increasing physical frailty and mental infirmity in several failed attempts to persuade anti-Mafia prosecutors to ease the prison conditions intended to prevent mobsters from wielding power from behind bars.

The reputed “capo dei capi” (top boss) was arrested in 2006 after 43 years as a fugitive. He had been convicted in absentia of more than a dozen murders, as well as being part of the Mafia’s leadership who ordered the 1992 bombings that, in separate attacks, killed Sicily’s top two anti-Mafia investigators, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. He was also convicted of being a mastermind behind Mafia bombings in 1993 in Rome, Milan and Florence, including one attack near the Uffizi art gallery.

Provenzano was also convicted of being among those giving the order for the 1982 murder in Palermo of Carabinieri Gen. Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, who had been dispatched to the Sicilian capital by the Italian government to lead the state’s uphill war against the Mafia.

While young, Provenzano received the nickname “The Tractor” for determination displayed in a mob career that began as a hitman. He was believed to have taken over the leadership of the Sicilian crime syndicate after the 1993 arrest of a fellow longtime fugitive boss, Salvatore “Toto” Riina.

While in charge, investigator say Provenzano helped the Mafia dig its tentacles deeper into the lucrative world of public works contracts in Sicily, turning the mob into more of a white-collar industry of illegal activity, lessening its dependence on traditional money-makers like drug trafficking and extortion.

He essentially thumbed his nose at authorities, who were trying to hunt down a man whose last photo was a confident-looking young man, in a jacket and tie, hair brushed back from a broad forehead, taken decades earlier.

This April 12, 2006 file photo shows the house where Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano was arrested.

The man who had for years been Italy’s No. 1 fugitive was betrayed not by an informer or a rival mobster, but by clean laundry. Police had tracked a package of clothes to a farmhouse on the outskirts of Corleone, the hilltop town that had inspired the fictional crime family name in “The Godfather.”

Police had noticed the package leave his wife’s house in Corleone, then be delivered to a series of addresses until it finally was driven to the farmhouse. When someone put a hand through the door to take in the laundry, police swept in, nabbing Provenzano, who had been living in the farmhouse with a shepherd who doubled as his housekeeper.

In his decades on the run, Provenzano had counted on Sicilians’ centuries-old mistrust of the state to help him, as he slept in islanders’ homes. His children were born in local hospitals. He even sent the national public health care system a bill for prostate treatment he had abroad under a false name.

Investigators said Provenzano gave his henchmen orders with written notes — not trusting phone conversations for fear of being monitored by police. The notes, found at the farmhouse along with a typewriter Provenzano was believed to have used to write them, later became the basis of a book by Sicilian best-selling author Andrea Camilleri.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

99 year old legendary Colombo family mobster is denied compassionate release

John "Sonny" Franzese is blind, deaf and confined to a wheelchair.

The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office is opposing 99-year-old Colombo mobster John Franzese's request for an early release from prison because of his advanced age and medical issues.

Franzese, former underboss of the crime family and holder of the distinction as the oldest inmate in the federal prison system, filled out paperwork last year for "compassionate release consideration," according to documents unsealed Friday. The warden denied his request.

He is due to complete a 96-month jail term for racketeering and extortion of the Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs next June when he will be 100. Franzese is doing his time at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts.

The once fearsome gangster is accused of committting so many murders he couldn't keep track of the body count.

Franzese wrote by hand on the form that he has "little time left in my life" and wants to spend the remainder with his eight children, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The once fearsome gangster who is accused of committting so many murders he couldn't keep track of the body count, is blind, deaf and confined to a wheelchair.

"I present no threat to community," he wrote, noting he spent more than 40 years of his lifetime behind bars for various convictions.

Franzese is due to complete a 96-month jail term for racketeering and extortion of the Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs next June when he will be 100.

The warden rejected Franzese's request so he's appealing to Federal Judge Brian Cogan, who sentenced him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gatta said a compassionate release can only be granted under "extraordinary and compelling" circumstances — which do not apply to Franzese because the prison hospital is fully capable of treating his maladies.

Earlier this year the feds seized $10,000 in Franzese's prison commissary account because he owes $116,000 in forfeiture to the government.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Owner of famous mob linked Brooklyn pizzeria killed

The co-owner of iconic Brooklyn pizzeria L&B Spumoni Gardens was shot to death in a targeted hit outside his Brooklyn home Thursday night.
Police found the slumped body of Louis Barbati, 61, at his home on 12th Avenue in Dyker Heights at about 7 p.m. with gunshot wounds to the head and chest, according to law enforcement sources.
The assassin, described as a white man in his 30s wearing a black hoodie, approached Barbati, who was returning from the Bensonhurst pizzeria, which was once at the center of a Mafia extortion plot over a stolen sauce recipe.
Barbati’s wife and children were home at the time.
He was shot near the side door of the house in what police investigators said looked like an assassination — although the ­motive had not been determined.
L&B was founded by Barbati’s grandfather Ludovico Barbati in 1939.
Modal Trigger

In 2009, Colombo crime family associate Francis “BF” Guerra, related through marriage to another co-owner, was accused of threatening and demanding money from a Staten Island pizzeria owner for allegedly stealing L&B’s pizza sauce recipe. He was cleared in a 2012 trial.
“I’m shocked,” said a neighbor who identified himself only as Peter. “Lou was a good guy. His family is broken up. Everyone knew him here. He was well-liked.”
The pizzeria owner was declared dead in an ambulance en route to the hospital. The gunman remained at large Thursday night.
Residents in the close-knit Italian neighborhood mourned the loss of the owner of their favorite pizza joint. “I’ve been eating at L&B since I was a kid,” said neighbor Frankie Modafferi.
“It’s a big loss for everyone in the neighborhood. Everyone loves L&B and everyone loves Louie.”
The eatery is renowned for its Sicilian pies.
Ludovico began the business selling his product out of a horse-drawn carriage in the neighborhood, and eventually purchased property on 86th Street to sell pies and spumoni ices.

Gotti grandkid busted for drugs

John Gotti (l.) was arrested Friday in Queens.
The grandson of mobster Peter Gotti was busted Thursday night for possessing painkillers and steroids after he was pulled over in Queens, sources said.
John Gotti, 23, was in a car with Shaine Hack, 36, when they were pulled over for having tinted windows, according to law-enforcement sources.
Officers found the drugs in the car and the two were taken to the 106th Precinct station house and charged felony drug possession.
John’s granddad Peter Gotti is the brother of late mob boss John Gotti. The younger Gotti was awaiting arraignment at Queens Criminal Court Thursday night.