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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Newly released FBI files reveal Frank Cali's rise from Soldier to Boss of the Gambino family



A trove of long-hidden FBI files shed light on how slain Gambino boss Frank “Franky Boy” Cali ascended from a family soldier in the 1990s to head of the powerful crime syndicate until his shocking killing in 2019.

The heavily redacted files, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, offer to date perhaps the most revealing look into Cali’s rise to power — as the mafia kingpin was known as a “ghost” who kept an extremely low profile to avoid federal prosecution.

Cali — who was gunned down outside his Staten Island mansion at 53 — was arrested just once in a 2008 extortion conspiracy, despite years of being eyed by the FBI and surveilled by agents in Brooklyn, a testament to his ability to stay off the radar.

After he was shot dead by an apparent QAnon devotee in the Todt Hill neighborhood, one law enforcement official told the New York Times that Cali was the polar opposite of flashy Gambino boss, John “Dapper Don” Gotti. 

“He’s basically a ghost,” the official said. 

But according to the FBI files, Cali fell on the bureau’s radar in the spring of 1996, when he was about 30 years old, for helping to skipper a phone card fraud scheme for the Gambinos from a Park Avenue office building. 

By November of that year, FBI agents in New York believed several Gambinos were involved in the “production and distribution of telephone travel cards” — and that they committed a number of federal crimes as part of the scheme, including money laundering, income tax violation, mail fraud and wire fraud. 

“It goes without saying that the telephone card industry is one of the most important sources of illegal income for the Gambino LCN Family,” one FBI official wrote. 

At the time, Cali was listed in the FBI file as a “proposed soldier” for the Gambino family — and the feds believed he had not yet been “made,” or taken a blood oath of loyalty to the syndicate he would later lead. 

In October 1997, FBI special agents in New York contacted the bureau’s Atlanta field office to appraise them of an apparent $94 million phone card “bust-out scheme” led by the Gambinos that targeted Georgia-based Worldcom. 

“The method was to sell as many phone cards as possible on the street by charging the best price per country and offering the best discount to the distributors,” one of the FBI reports states. “[Redacted] paid Worldcom only a small percentage of his outstanding balance throughout the ten-month scheme.” 

It adds: “Gambino members such as [redacted] Frank Cali and others lined their pockets with millions in cash from the aforementioned scheme.”

Cali, along with Gambino members John D’Amico and Joseph Watts, allegedly created a company called CNC to distribute the phone cards, flooding the market with the cards that would later be billed by Worldcom.

“Due to the flood of cards, the debt owed to Worldcom grew exponentially. In the beginning, CNC paid their debt and was considered trustworthy by Worldcom. However, CNC did not continue to pay their debt,” a March 7, 1997, FBI document states. 

Around that time, the feds appeared to take an increased interest in Cali, according to the documents.

They began tailing him in Brooklyn, photographing him with associates on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst, and interviewing confidential sources about the Gambino soldier. 

In one October 1997 report, an FBI agent recorded doing a “spot check” on a location on 18th Avenue between 72nd and 75th Streets in Bensonhurst, according to the files. The agent recorded an unidentified mark walking with Cali before entering the “Point After Sports Bar and Grill.”

In July of that year, an agent drew up a report titled, “Surveillance of Frank Cali on 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY,” which included photographs of Cali and several other people as they visited Tony’s Luncheonette in the neighborhood. 

The FBI also listed him as a “recently made member in the Gambino Family” in a March 1997 communication. 

A federal grand jury related to Cali was convened in 1998 in the Eastern District of New York, but charges against him were never brought, the documents show.

Federal charges for a phone card scam were later filed against John Gotti Jr., the reputed leader of the Gambino family at the time, but later dropped by prosecutors. 

“I was a victim. I lost a lot of money on that deal,” Junior told The Post at the time. 

After his one arrest in 2008, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn highlighted Cali’s involvement in the phone card scheme in arguing he be locked up pending trial. 

At a detention hearing, prosecutor Joey Lipton told the judge Cali — who had risen to the rank of captain at the time — had been a successful criminal because of his ability to hide from the spotlight. 

“Cali, like other members of the family, has sworn a blood oath to the organization to commit criminal activity,” Lipton said. “Cali has been successful in fulfilling that oath, in large part because he’s been careful.”

Lipton also alleged Cali had significant ties to mafia members in Italy, telling the judge that a number of people in his crew at the time had been born in the old country.

Lipton said investigators recorded two Italian mafiosos speaking about Cali in Palermo.

“He’s everything over there,” one of the Italian made men said to the other, Lipton said at the hearing.

In the 2008 case, Cali pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

After his release, he continued his meteoric rise in the family, reportedly rising to the boss in 2015 after the acting don Domenico Cefalu stepped down. 

Cali’s hidden image exploded into international headlines when he was shot and killed outside of his home in March 2019. 

The alleged gunman, Anthony Comello, an apparent QAnon conspiracy theorist, lured Cali outside of his home in Todt Hill on March 13, 2019 by crashing into the mobster’s parked car, police said at the time.

After a brief conversation between the two, Comello allegedly shot Cali multiple times in the chest, fatally wounding him.

After a number of bizarre court appearances – including one where he scrawled the letter “Q” on his hand – Comello was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in 2020.

A spokesperson for the Staten Island District Attorney’s office said in an email Wednesday that they could not provide any information about the case.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/21/fbi-files-reveal-slain-gambino-boss-frank-calis-rise-to-power/

Sunday, September 18, 2022

John Gotti's grandson to make professional boxing debut



These hits will be perfectly legal.

The grandson of fabled New York mob boss John Gotti is pivoting from the octagon to the squared circle.

John Gotti III, 29, who went 5-1 as a mixed martial arts fighter, is set to make his professional boxing debut Oct. 1 on home turf — the 1,000-seat Paramount in Huntington, LI.

The brawler from Oyster Bay — son of John “Junior” Gotti — will be fighting in a four-round light heavyweight bout against an opponent not yet announced.

“He’s rough and tough. He’s got great fighting instinct,” promoter Joe DeGuardia told the Post.

DeGuardia said the 6-foot tall Gotti will fight at a ripped 175 pounds for the bout, part of “Rockin’ Fights 43.” The promoter believes young John has the skillset to make the transition from MMA to boxing — and whack his ring opponent.

“In boxing, you have to measure an opponent a little more [than MMA]. You have to set up your punches. … It’s very much a mind game as it is a physical game,” DeGuardia said.

Junior Gotti could not be reached for comment. But he previously told The Post he and young John bonded by watching boxing and MMA. The Gotti family has tried to stay “under the radar” throughout the pugilist’s career, according to another promoter.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/17/john-gotti-iii-to-make-professional-boxing-debut-in-october/

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

While testifying on the stand in federal court witness declares he is not a rat



A star witness for the prosecution declared “I’m not a rat” from the witness stand in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday.

Ron Cabey who is testifying as part of a cooperation agreement with the feds in the murder-for-hire case against Anthony Zottola maintained that he wasn’t a snitch.

“I’m not a rat,” Cabey, 32, said. “I’m a cooperator.” 

On Tuesday, Cabey told jurors how he tried – and failed – at least six times to rub out Mafia-associate Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola, 71, and his other son, Salvatore, 45. 

Prosecutors allege Anthony hired a Bloods gang leader to orchestrate his father’s hit and the attempted murder of older brother Salvatore in an effort to seize control of the family’s $45 million Bronx real estate empire.

Anthony, 44, is on trial with two co-defendants, Alfred Lopez and Himen Ross, who were allegedly hired by the Bloods to take out Sylvester at a Bronx McDonald’s drive thru in 2018. 

Cabey declared he was not a “rat” while responding to a series of sharp questions from defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio about an alleged interaction he had with Ross in a holding cell at the Brooklyn courthouse.

During a break in the trial Tuesday, Cabey and Ross allegedly hurled insults and threats at one another when they were placed near each other in the back room. 

“Suck my d–k. I’ll f–k your baby mother when I’m out. Your daughter could suck my d–k too,” Cabey yelled at Ross, he testified. 

“You claimed he called you a rat,” Macedonio, who represents Ross, asked. “You are a rat, right?” 

“I’m not a rat,” Cabey said. “I’m a cooperator,”  

On Wednesday, Cabey explained in detail his lengthy criminal career, which included a plot to kidnap a young child and taking part in too many armed robberies to count while working as part of a Harlem stick-up crew. 

During his time in the crew – and in the failed Zottola “mission” – Cabey said his co-conspirators provided him with “homework” about the marks, or identifying details he could use to carry out the crimes. 

He later claimed on the stand that he wanted to find a job after his prison term – and floated the idea of working with children when he gets out. 

Macedonio jumped on that line.

“Do you plan to kidnap those children?” she asked. “Are you going to help them with their homework, sir? Are you going to teach them what homework is, sir?” 

Cabey is in prison and is detained in a jail that houses cooperating witnesses. He said he is testifying in the hope to earn a letter from prosecutors for a lenient sentence. 

Salvatore and Anthony’s sister, Debbie Zottola, said Cabey should spend the rest of his life in prison. 

“He is a disgusting monster. He should never be allowed back on the streets again,” she said.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/14/would-be-hitman-declares-im-not-a-rat-from-federal-witness-stand/

Lucchese mobsters busted for running 15 year old online illegal gambling ring


Five men face federal charges for allegedly running an illegal gambling ring for over 15 years with the protection of the Lucchese crime family, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Lucchese crime family soldier Anthony Villani, 57, of Elmsford, and associates Louis “Tooch” Tucci, Jr., 59, of Tuckahoe, Dennis Filizzola, 58, of Cortland Manor, and James “Quick” Coumoutsos, 59, of the Bronx, were arrested at their residences in the New York for allegedly overseeing and operating a large-scale illegal, online gambling business under the protection of the Lucchese organized crime family. They are due to be arraigned before the federal court in Brooklyn on Sept. 14.

A fifth defendant, 44-year-old bookmaker Michael “Platinum” Praino, was arrested in West Palm Beach, Florida. Though he is a Bronx resident, Praino will make his initial appearance in federal court in West Palm Beach on Sept. 15.

“As alleged, this conduct demonstrates how members of La Cosa Nostra continue to engage in illegal gambling operations and money laundering money-marking schemes that lead to threats of violence against anyone who stands in their way and has resulted in millions of dollars in profits to the Lucchese crime family,” stated United States Attorney Breon Peace. “These charges illustrate this Office’s continued commitment to rooting La Cosa Nostra out of New York.” 

According to court documents, Villani allegedly oversaw a large-scale illegal gambling business called Rhino Sports, which was in business from at least 2004 through December 2020. During this time, the business was allegedly hosted online using offshore servers in Costa Rica and employed local bookmakers to pay and collect winnings in cash.  

Records from the Rhino Sports website allegedly indicated that Villani’s gambling operation regularly took bets from between 400 and 1,300 bettors each week, most of whom were based in New York City and the metropolitan area, and the bookmakers allegedly regularly included members and associates of the Lucchese crime family and other La Cosa Nostra families.

Charges say that Villani allegedly employed Tucci and Filizzola as runners to assist in operating the business and received over $1 million annually from the business. Law enforcement searches in December 2020 allegedly uncovered $407,000 in cash from one of Villani’s residences, as well as brass knuckles and gambling ledgers.

Villani has been charged with racketeering in connection with the alleged participation in various criminal schemes, including illegal gambling, money laundering and attempted extortion. Regarding the money laundering charge, Villani and Filizzola allegedly used gambling proceeds to U.S. Postal Service money orders disguised as rent payments to a property owned by Villani. For the extortion charge, Villani allegedly attempted to extort an individual identified as John Doe between April and October 2020, telling him “I’m telling you right now, you don’t get this money – [expletive] run away.” 

“Members of the mafia are not giving up the tried and true methods of criminal behavior, even in the face of the burgeoning world of legal gambling. As we allege, a Lucchese soldier and other family members ran an illegal gambling operation and offered their clientele the same twisted customer service: do what they say or face terrifying consequences. One thing these criminals can bet on – the FBI will continue our pursuit,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll.

https://www.amny.com/police-fire/new-york-mobsters-illegal-online-gambling-ring/

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Bumbling hitman testifies about multiple murder attempts on mob associate


 

They’re not Murder Inc. 

A bumbling would-be assassin described a series of botched hits against a New York mob associate during testimony in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday.

The failed triggerman, Ron Cabey, took the stand as a cooperating witness in the murder-for-hire case against Anthony Zottola, who is accused of enlisting two Bloods gang member to kill his dad Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola.

Cabey told jurors he agreed to kill the elder Zottola — — a reputed associate of the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families — for $10,000, touching off a series of bloopers that culminated with his arrest in 2018.

The family patriarch was ultimately fatally shot by another crook on Oct. 4, 2018 while waiting for a cup of takeout coffee at a drive-thru McDonald’s restaurant window in The Bronx.

But Cabey had tried — and failed — to rub out Sally Daz and his older son, Salvatore Zottola, at least six times, with four separate getaway drivers, earlier in 2018, he testified.

The stoolie told jurors he got roped into the murder plot through a meeting with a Bloods gang leader named Bushawn Shelton soon after he was released from jail in a separate case.  

Noting he “wasn’t comfortable with his driving skills,” Cabey said he requested Shelton hook him up with a getaway driver and a pistol to carry out the murders in The Bronx. 

In one would-be attempt on Salvatore, Cabey met with a driver – a Bloods gang member named “Dot” – in Brooklyn to set up for the shooting and wipe down the gun he planned to use, he testified. 

When the pair walked out of the Dot’s Bedford-Stuyvesant house, they were immediately noticed and pursued by undercover police officers in a car, he testified. 

Cabey threw his gun under a parked car and ran off — but Dot was arrested by the cops, he told jurors. Dot beat the case at the grand jury stage, Cabey said on the stand. 

In a second attempt with Dot, the pair loaded into a “horrible tan van” that was “a piece of junk” and drove to the Locust Point neighborhood where Salvatore lived. 

Shelton planned to meet them there to give Cabey a hunting knife – and the blundering duo smoked pot in the van as they waited for the Bloods gangbanger. 

A stoned Cabey then set off to kill Salvatore – but got spooked away when he thought someone at the house noticed him enter the wrong combination on a keypad to get into the home. 

In a final June 12, 2018 attempt, Cabey rode with defendant Himen Ross to one of Sylvester Zottola’s properties in the Bronx and finally got family patriarch in his gun sights. 

As he approached Sylvester on the street, the aging mobster shouted, “don’t come any closer!” Cabey told jurors. 

Sylvester then pulled his own pistol and fired at least one shot at Cabey, he said. Cabey tried to return fire, but his gun jammed, he testified. 

Police arrested Cabey later that day when they tried to pull over the car he and Ross were driving in, he said. 

Prosecutors allege the plot to kill Sally Daz was hatched by his son, Anthony, who wanted control over his father’s sprawling real estate empire. 

Anthony’s brother Salvatore Zotolla survived a brazen, daylight hit attempt outside of his house in Locust Point. 

https://nypost.com/2022/09/13/would-be-hitman-describes-series-of-botched-hits-on-zottolas/

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Older brother testifies against younger brother accused of ordering murder of mobster dad



The Cain and Abel of the Mafia’s “Five Families” faced off in court Wednesday as the eldest son of a slain mobster testified against his younger brother — who‘s accused of orchestrating the 2018 hit on their dad.

Black sheep Anthony Zottola, 44, also allegedly enlisted Bloods gang members to take out his older brother Salvatore Zottola, 45, who described in chilling detail how he was repeatedly shot outside their family’s waterfront residential compound in The Bronx.


Salvatore said he stopped counting after the fifth shot, but believed he may have been struck by seven rounds during the July 11, 2018, assassination attempt.

One bullet even grazed his head but miraculously didn’t penetrate his skull.

“It was like, lights out,” Salvatore told jurors in Brooklyn federal court.

The incident took place less than three months before family patriarch Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola was fatally shot while waiting for a cup of takeout coffee at a drive-thru McDonald’s restaurant window in The Bronx.

Prosecutors allege that Anthony paid a Bloods gang member, Bushawn “Shelz” Shelton, $200,000 to rub out his 71-year-old dad so he could seize control of the older man’s $45 million real estate empire.

His slaying was initially suspected to have been mob-related because Sally Daz — a reputed associate of the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families — was suspected of operating a string of illegal “Joker Poker” gambling machines.

His sons repeatedly stole glances at each other throughout Salvatore’s testimony Wednesday, with Anthony looking impassively at his brother while taking notes at the defense table.

But they never appeared to lock eyes.

Salvatore — who was granted immunity after invoking the Fifth Amendment when called to the witness stand Tuesday — testified that he was knocked to the ground by a shot to his chest that was fired by a man in a car with a New Jersey license plate.

“I tried standing. I fell to the curb. I couldn’t run. Rolling was the best thing I could do,” he said.

A friend and a relative who witnessed the attack “started yelling and screaming at me,” he said.

“They told me to stay down.”


Salvatore said he drifted “in and out of consciousness” but remembered telling the witnesses to take $1,200 stashed in his sock so the attackers wouldn’t get it.

He also asked them to pass along what he feared would be his final message.

“I said, ‘Tell my wife and my kids and my father that I love them,’” he testified.

Following the attack, Salvatore said, Anthony “never came” to visit him in the hospital.

“He said he had to go to a soccer game with his kids,” Salvatore said.

At some point afterward, Salvatore said, he asked Anthony if he knew anything about the origin of the violence directed toward him.

Anthony answered that “he didn’t know where it was coming from, either,” Salvatore said.

The attack on Salvatore was caught on surveillance video that showed him getting shot in a drive-by shooting that took place as he stepped out of a minivan.

Salvatore tried to crawl to safety behind the minivan but the shooter got out of the car and circled around, repeatedly firing as he chased Salvatore, who rolled around in the street.

Prosecutors didn’t show the video during Salvatore’s direct testimony, which concluded late Wednesday afternoon, and it was unclear if it would be entered into evidence later in the trial.

The attack took place in front of a fortified compound of homes dubbed “Zottola’s Court” next to the Locust Point Yacht Club.

In an ironic twist, plaques hanging on the homes there said, “Our foundation is built from love — our strength keeps us together” and “Our walls are built thick — our love for each is thicker.”

Another Zottola sibling, teacher Debbie Zottola, took notes in the courtroom gallery during Salvatore’s testimony and repeatedly broke down in tears.

“This is a traumatizing experience. We were a very, very close family — my brothers, my father and I,” she said outside court.

“We were an indestructible team. I love both of my brothers and will forever treasure what we have as a family.”

A total of 10 men were charged with murder for hire conspiracy in the case, with most, including Shelton, having previously pleaded guilty.

Anthony and his co-defendants faced the possibility of the death penalty in the alleged plot until Attorney General Merrick Garland “authorized and directed” prosecutors to not seek capital punishment in December.

Following that move, Anthony — who was ordered locked up following his June 18, 2019 arrest — sought to be released to electronically monitored house arrest on a $4 million bond secured by seven properties.

The bond was to be signed by Anthony, as well as his wife, sister and brother-in-law, mother-in-law, wife’s uncle and “lifelong friends,” according to court papers.

But Judge Raymond Dearie rejected the request, writing, “While the circumstances have changed for the better for Mr. Zottola, as counsel strongly argues, the realistic prospect of a sentence of life without parole following conviction after trial makes it impossible to alter the Court’s earlier findings and order.”

https://nypost.com/2022/09/07/trial-over-slaying-of-sally-daz-zottola-underway/

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Feds say son ordered his mobster dad murdered so he can take over his real estate empire



The man accused of having his mob-associate dad rubbed out at a Bronx McDonald’s drive-through was hoping to take over his father’s $45 million real estate empire, federal prosecutors charged Tuesday. 

Anthony Zottola planned to seize control of some 90 properties throughout the borough after the 2018 drive-through assassination of dad, Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola. 

“The defendant wanted that control,” Assistant US Attorney Devon Lash told jurors Tuesday at the start of his trial in Brooklyn federal court. 


Prosecutors also painted the younger Zottola as a callous fiend — who cracked jokes with his buddies just minutes after hearing that his $200,000 murder for hire plot has been successful.

According to text messages, Zottola made a quip to Bushawn Shelton, an alleged Bloods member who earlier pleaded guilty to helping in the murder plot, Lash said.

“Can we party today or tomorrow,” Shelton texted the younger Zottola after the hit.

“Tomorrow. It’s my little man’s bday. I’m taking him to his favorite place, McDonald’s. Then to a movie. LOL like I eat that stuff,” Anthony replied with apparent sarcasm.

Shelton allegedly texted back that it was like his “birthday” that day, Lash said. 


The younger Zottola is on trial with two other alleged co-conspirators, Himan Ross and Alfred Lopez, who were allegedly hired by Shelton to kill the 71-year-old Sally Daz for $200,000 as he was getting Mickey D’s coffee. 

The elder Zottola ran two businesses in the Bronx, an illegal poker machine vending operation and the sprawling real estate business, where the majority of his income came from. 

The real estate business drew more than $1 million per year in rental income and was worth a total of about $45 million, Salvatore Zottola, Sally Daz’s eldest son testified. 

In her opening statement, Lash told jurors that the elder Zottola was “hunted” in the year leading up to his murder at the fast food joint in the Claremont section of the borough. 

In a series of botched hits, would-be assassins stabbed and beat the elder Zottola, but the mob associate, who paid dues to both the Lucchese and Bonanno families, survived each attempt. 

In another attempted whacking, Salvatore Zottola – Sally Daz’s eldest son and Anthony’s older brother – was ambushed by gunmen outside of his home in the Bronx and shot numerous times. 

In three separate opening statements, attorneys for each of the defendants repeatedly told jurors that there were holes in the prosecution’s case that were so great they could not convict the trio of alleged murderers.

“Not guilty!” attorney John Burke, who is representing Lopez, exclaimed to jurors at the beginning of his spiel. 

All three of the defense attorneys argued cooperating witnesses that the prosecutors intend to call are not credible – and members of a violent street gang who will lie to get a lenient sentence.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/06/anthony-zottola-son-accused-of-whacking-mobster-dad-joked-about-mcdonalds-after-hit/

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Compassionate release request denied for ailing former Acting Colombo Boss


 

Alzheimer’s-stricken ex-Colombo crime family boss Victor Orena’s latest appeal for compassionate release was shot down by a federal appeals court.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in its 11-page decision, found no grounds for freeing the mob veteran once involved in a bloody internal battle for control of the crime family. Orena, who turned 88 this month, is serving a mandatory life sentence for federal racketeering and murder convictions tied to the Mafia war.

“We have considered Orena’s remaining arguments and find in them no basis for reversal,” the decision concluded. “The district court’s order denying compassionate release is confirmed.”

His lawyer previously said Orena was confined to a wheelchair and battling dementia that left the former gangster convinced he was the president of the United States. The ailing mobster was behind bars in the Federal Medical Center Devers in Massachusetts.

Orena headed one of two warring factions for control of the Colombo family in the early 1990s, taking on supporters of imprisoned family boss Carmine Persico in a bloody fight in which 12 people were killed and another 28 injured, authorities said.

The lethal conflict ended with Orena’s Brooklyn Federal Court conviction three days before Christmas 1992, when he was slapped with three life sentences plus 85 years in federal prison. The mobster is patriarch to a large extended family, with five sons and 20 grandkids.

Messages left with his attorney and one of his sons for comment on the decision were not returned Wednesday.

Orena’s compassionate release motion dates to July 2021, an appeal that was rejected when a judge ruled his “undeniably serious” medical problems did not outweigh the factors favoring his continued imprisonment.

The 2nd Circuit echoed the lower court rejection of Orena’s argument that his life sentence created a disparity with the jail terms given to other organized crime defendants, noting most of the cases cited involved mobsters turned cooperating witnesses.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-colombo-mobster-orena-denied-compassionate-release-20220831-ypr6h4swo5e4rjay5qaocao3tm-story.html

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Inmates knew Whitey Bulger was coming to their prison before he was murdered


Inmates at the West Virginia prison where James “Whitey” Bulger was battered to death were tipped off that he was coming — allowing Mafia hitmen to corner the known snitch just six minutes after his cell was unlocked on his first morning there, according to a startling new timeline.

Hours before the once-feared Boston gang leader arrived at USP Hazelton on Oct. 29, 2018, accused lookout Sean McKinnon bragged about it in a call to his mom, according to new court testimony.

“You should know the name . . . Whitey Bulger,” he allegedly bragged in the call recorded by prison officials, according to the Boston Globe.

“Oh Jesus … Stay away from him please,” McKinnon’s mom, Cheryl Prevost, reportedly replied about Bulger, saying she hoped the murderous mob boss would be kept away from other inmates.

“Ah, I can’t,” said McKinnon said, detailing how his cellmate was “a henchman for a mob family out of New York and Boston” — and that everyone in their unit knew Bulger, 89, was coming.

That call was at 3:30 p.m., five hours before Bulger arrived at the troubled prison that is widely known as “Misery Mountain,” according to a new, detailed timeline provided at a 70-minute Florida court hearing Monday that ended with McKinnon back behind bars.

Despite being a known FBI “snitch,” Bulger had answered “no” when asked if there were any reasons he should be kept out of the general population, according to an intake screening form he signed.

He was escorted in his wheelchair to cell 132 soon after 8:30 p.m., according to the Globe’s timeline. It was not clear if other prisoners saw him that night.

However, at 5 a.m. the next morning, McKinnon had a meeting with his cellmate, Mafia hitman Fotios “Freddy” Geas, as well as another inmate, Paul DeCologero, whose uncle heads a Massachusetts’ organized crime gang.

All the unit’s cell doors were opened at 6 a.m., allowing inmates to walk free.

Just six minutes later, Geas and DeCologero were filmed entering Bulger’s cell, where they stayed for at least seven minutes, the court testimony said.

They left at 6:13 a.m., but prison authorities did not discover the brutally beaten body of their high-profile new arrival for nearly two hours, Monday’s hearing was told.

Geas and DeCologero readily admitted to another inmate that they were the killers, Assistant US Attorney Hannah Nowalk told the hearing.

DeCologero “told him that Bulger was a snitch … Pauly said as soon as they saw Bulger come into the unit, they planned to kill him,” Nowalk said.

They “used a belt with a lock attached to it and beat Mr. Bulger to death.” the prosecutor said.

Officials have yet to explain how the inmates knew of Bulger’s arrival, nor why the known FBI informant was put in general population.

McKinnon is accused of being the hitmen’s lookout. He had been on supervised release when he was arrested last week in Florida on charges including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He is charged separately with making false statements to a federal agent.

An attorney for McKinnon insisted that his call to his mom just showed he knew Bulger was coming, not that he was connected to his murder.

“The fact that his roommate was a henchman has nothing to do with him. He didn’t select his roommate,” defense attorney Christine Bird insisted.

The call to his mom “doesn’t really tell the Court that he was involved in the conspiracy” because “the entire unit was alerted that Whitey Bulger was coming,” Bird insisted.

Judge Philip Lammens ordered McKinnon to remain locked up until trial, calling him a risk of flight and danger to the community.

Geas and DeCologero were charged in West Virginia federal court with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Geas faces a separate charge of murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence. Both were already behind bars.

Gea is a convicted Mafia hitman. He and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 killing of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a Genovese crime family boss in Springfield, Massachusetts.

DeCologero was in his uncle’s organized crime gang. He was convicted of buying heroin that was used to try to kill a teenage girl his uncle wanted dead because he feared she would betray the crew to police.

The heroin didn’t kill her, so another man broke her neck, dismembered her and buried her remains in the woods, court records say.

Bulger, who ran the largely Irish mob in Boston in the 1970s and ’80s, served as an FBI informant who ratted on his gang’s main rival, according to the bureau. He later became one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/24/whitey-bulgers-prison-killers-knew-he-was-coming/

Monday, August 22, 2022

Bloods gang leader pleads guilty in mafia tied murder for hire plot in the Bronx



A Bloods leader who helped mob scion Anthony Zottola Sr. whack his own father pleaded guilty Monday to his role in the for-hire Bronx rub-out to avoid spending life in prison.

Bushawn Shelton was paid to plan the assassination of Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola and the botched hit on the slain Lucchese associate’s other son, Salvatore.

Shelton traded coded texts with mobster Anthony Zottola Sr. that described the planning as a movie, the victim as an “actor,” and the killing as the “final scene.”

But with the real show — a trial in Brooklyn Federal Court — just days away, Shelton decided he wasn’t ready for his close-up and pleaded guilty in exchange for 35 to 40 years behind bars.

His plea agreement does not include any requirement that he cooperates with prosecutors.

Jury selection in Anthony Zottola Sr.’s trial continues this week. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Sylvester Zottola, 71, was executed while sitting behind the wheel of his car waiting for coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx on Oct. 4, 2018. Prosecutors said a conspirator texted Shelton a one-word message, ”Done,” after the shooting.

Zottola Sr.’s older brother, Salvatore, survived a July 11, 2018, hit outside his waterfront Bronx mansion.

“I agreed with others to commit murder for hire against Salvatore and Sylvester Zottola,” Shelton told Judge Raymond Dearie on Monday. “I received money in exchange for my participation. ... At the time of the incidents I knew what I did was wrong and I am deeply sorry for my actions and the pain that I caused.

If Dearie decides at his Dec. 15 sentencing that Shelton’s crimes deserves more than 40 years behind bars, the gang leader can withdraw his guilty plea.


The planning for both hits began in 2017, with Zottola Sr., 44, scheming in texts on Christmas Day of that year, prosecutors said.

Shelton, 38, a high-ranking leader of Brooklyn’s Murderous Maddawg set of the Bloods, enlisted members of the Gorilla Stone set along with other Bloods members to undertake the violence on Shelton’s behalf.

“Can we get a doubleheader at all,” Zottola Sr. asked in a text message, according to prosecutors. “My business is all messed up by both of them especially the MF captain (his father) the worst. Everyday (it) gets harder for me.”

Jury selection in Zottola Sr.’s trial continues this week. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-gang-member-guilty-mob-family-rubout-20220822-lujkmdz4ojhn5pvf3lce5p5b4i-story.html

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Three men indicted for murder of infamous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger


 Fotios "Freddy" Geas

Three men have been indicted in connection with the brutal killing of James “Whitey” Bulger in prison.

The 89-year-old Boston gangster was bludgeoned to death with a padlock stuffed in a sock Oct. 30, 2018, hours after being transferred to United States Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, W.Va. — a maximum-security prison.

Fotios Geas, 55, Paul DeCologero, 48, and Sean McKinnon, 36, each were charged Wednesday with conspiracy to commit first degree murder, federal prosecutors announced.

Geas and DeCologero, both of whom are accused of hitting Bulger in the head, have also been charged with aiding and abetting first degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Geas additionally faces a separate charge for murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence and McKinnon faces a separate charge of lying to a federal agent.

Geas remains incarcerated at USP Hazelton. DeCologero, while no longer at Hazelton, remains housed in a federal prison.  McKinnon, who was out on federal supervised release at the time of the indictment, was arrested on Thursday in Florida.

Geas, a former Mafia hitman, may have been seeking revenge on behalf of Frederick Weichel, a man he befriended during their stint behind bars in Shirley, Massachusetts and who claimed Bulger framed him for a slaying 38 years ago, the Boston Globe reported.

Bulger ran lucrative criminal rackets for Boston’s vicious Winter Hill Gang from the 1970s through ’90s under the protection of crooked FBI agents.

Bulger, the inspiration behind Jack Nicholson’s character in Martin Scorsese’s  Oscar-winning movie “The Departed,” went on the run in 1995 after getting tipped that he was about to be arrested.

He spent 16 years on the lam with his girlfriends before he was arrested in California in 2011.

In 2013, he was convicted of dozens of felonies, including taking part in 11 murders, and was sentenced to two life sentences plus five years.

In Sept. 2019, the Bulger family sued the Department of Justice for $200 million, claiming it deliberately put the gangster in harm’s way. 

“There is simply no other explanation for the transfer of someone in his condition and inmate status to be placed in the general population of one of the country’s most violent federal penitentiaries,”  family attorney Hank Brennan told ABC News. The suit was dismissed by a judge earlier this year.

In Nov. 2020, Bulger’s family sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons over his murder. The lawsuit claimed the criminal was “perhaps the most infamous and well-known inmate” since Al Capone, according to the Boston Globe, and sued the bureau for transferring a well-known “snitch” to a West Virginia prison known for inmate violence. That suit was also dismissed this January.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/18/three-men-indicted-in-murder-of-notorious-boston-gangster-james-whitey-bulger/

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Scrapyard owned by the Gotti family sued by New York State for spewing pollution and toxic waste


 LSM Auto Parts is accused of releasing toxic waste.

Firms owned by the Gotti family have been sued by state officials for allegedly releasing dangerous chemicals and toxic ooze from a scrapyard they operate in Queens.

The case was filed by state Attorney General Letitia James and environmental officials named LSM Auto Parts & Recycling, Liberty Scrap Metal Inc., BGN  Real Estate LLC and Three Sons Real Estate Group as defendants.

Carmine Gotti Agnello Jr., the grandson of the late Gambino mob boss John Gotti, is one of the owners of the Jamaica-based LSM Auto Parts & Recycling at 155-11 Liberty Avenue, the AG’s office said.

BGN Real Estate and Three Sons Real Estate Group, which owns the property of the scrapyard, is owned by Victoria Gotti, John Gotti’s daughter and mother of Carmine, according to the 34-page suit filed by the AG’s office in State Supreme Court, Queens.

“If you make a mess, you clean it up. Most learn this old adage before they speak their first words, but it’s clear LSM never did. Instead, LSM flouted our environmental protection laws and mismanaged toxic chemicals and pollutants which pose a serious, long-term threat,” James said in a statement. 

State Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos claimed the Gotti-owned firms ignored repeated requests to clean up the pollutants and violated a slew of laws in what is considered an “environmental justice” area populated by disadvantaged New Yorkers.

“Violations of New York state’s environmental laws and regulations are serious offenses that not only threaten our natural resources but also put a heavy burden on communities near non-compliant businesses,” said Seggos, a plaintiff in the case.

“The daily operations at LSM Auto Parts and its unremedied oil spills led to contaminated runoff that threatens the environment and the community. Despite DEC’s ongoing outreach to take proper steps for cleanup, the owners are unresponsive and continue to operate with blatant disregard for the environment and the local community.” 

It’s not the first time the Gottis have been in hot water for illegal actions at the scrapyard. 

https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/gotti-scrapyard-sued-179.jpg

Carmine Gotti Agnello Jr. — who, along with his two brothers, starred in the reality show “Growing Up Gotti’’ 14 years ago — was busted in 2018 on charges of crushing cars without a license and falsifying business records. 

Like his grandfather, he had a touch of Teflon. Carmine copped a plea to reduced misdemeanor charges — dodging prison time — in exchange for a $1,000 fine and a forfeiture of $4,605 in ill-gotten gains.

The 34-page suit released Tuesday said state and city environmental officials received complaints about runoff of contaminants oozing into the street from the Gotti scrapyard, while inspections from 2018 to 2021 found a sheen of engine and oil fluids throughout the property.

In June of 2021, DEC officials reported receiving a phone call from Victoria Gotti, who is listed on records as the owner or contact for the property, admitting that the salvage yard was in “poor shape” and that it may need to be paved over with concrete, the suit said.

But DEC officials warned not to pave over the yard without first cleaning up pollutants.

The Gottis had no immediate comment.

 https://nypost.com/2022/08/16/gotti-family-scrapyard-sued-for-spewing-pollution-toxic-waste/

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Feds round up nine members of the Genovese and Bonanno families along with Long Island cop in racketeering and illegal gambling scheme


Anthony Pipitone

For nearly a decade, families visited a small coffee shop in suburban Long Island for pastries and gelato. Many were unaware of the longstanding operation playing out just feet away from them: Mafia members were running a secret underground gambling den in the store.

The business was one of several across the island and in Queens that served as a front for two of New York’s oldest crime families and their illegal moneymaking schemes, according to two federal indictments unsealed Tuesday. When other gambling clubs threatened their fortunes, a Nassau County detective offered to conduct police raids on the rival clubs in exchange for payments, prosecutors said.

On Tuesday, nine reputed members and associates of the Genovese and Bonanno clans — including the detective — were charged in a racketeering case brought by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn that centered on the illegal parlors and the money laundering and extortion schemes.

Seven of the men, who appeared in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday, pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were expected to be released on differing bail packages.

Federal prosecutors said that for 10 years, the gambling activities brought in “substantial revenue” for the two families as they hid under the cover of businesses like a soccer club and a shoe repair store. The Long Island coffee shop alone typically earned them more than $10,000 per week, funds that were laundered up to the crime families’ leaders.

Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement Tuesday that the arrests “demonstrate that the Mafia continues to pollute our communities with illegal gambling, extortion and violence while using our financial system in service to their criminal schemes.”

He added: “Even more disturbing is the shameful conduct of a detective who betrayed his oath of office.”

Patrick Ryder, the Nassau County police commissioner, said in a statement that the detective, Hector Rosario, 49, of Mineola, N.Y., had been working on a restricted assignment and did not interact with the public while the investigation was continuing. Mr. Rosario has now been suspended without pay until his administrative hearing in the department.

He has worked for the Nassau County Police Department for more than 15 years, according to his LinkedIn page.

“The Nassau County Police Department continues to have a zero-tolerance approach toward any member of the department who is involved in criminal activity,” Commissioner Ryder said.

The power of the city’s five fabled Mafia clans began to decline in the 1980s and 1990s, as aggressive prosecutions disrupted their leadership and the authorities targeted their grip on unions. The Bonanno family in particular saw a string of damaging convictions and defections through the 2000s. Even the family’s longtime boss began cooperating with the authorities after a 2004 conviction for a series of murders.

The families still exist, but with far less widespread control.

In recent years, they have faced charges for similar types of organized crime — extortion, illegal gambling, fraud — in smaller cases with a few defendants as well as large-scale conspiracy cases. In 2016, for example, 46 members of a crime network that featured four of the city’s Mafia families — including the Genoveses and Bonannos — were charged in a racketeering scheme that extended from Massachusetts to South Florida and involved extortion, health care fraud and arson.

In the Brooklyn case, the Genovese and Bonanno crime families began to run the Long Island coffee shop — the Gran Caffe in the Lynbrook area — around May 2012, according to the indictments.

Members of the two clans agreed on a profit split for the gambling facility, and each helped maintain the operation: High-ranking members of both families “relied on their underlings” to collect the profits and hand off money in “clandestine meetings,” prosecutors said.

The pattern was similar at the other businesses, which included Sal’s Shoe Repair in Merrick, N.Y., and La Nazionale Soccer Club in the Glendale section of Queens. Prosecutors said the evidence in the case includes recordings of telephone calls made through wiretaps, accounts from several witnesses and a host of other evidence.

In a memo to the judge, prosecutors argued that the “seriousness of the danger posed by the defendants’ release should not be underestimated” and that the men represented a significant flight risk.

Eight of the men charged were recently arrested in New York and Florida, while the whereabouts of one remained unknown. U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Cho approved bail packages for the seven who appeared in court in Brooklyn, which included bonds ranging from $150,000 to $2 million, travel restrictions and other monitoring.

Mr. Rosario, the Nassau County police detective, was set to be released on a $500,000 secured bond. The indictment did not specify how much money he had received for arranging police raids on rival gambling locations. But prosecutors said that in a 2020 interview with F.B.I. special agents, he lied about his knowledge of the operations.

His lawyer, Lou Freeman, and the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, the county’s largest police union, did not immediately return a request for comment.

One of the defendants, Carmelo Polito, 63, of Whitestone in Queens was also accused of operating an illegal online gambling website. Prosecutors said that Mr. Polito — who is suspected of being a captain in the Genovese family — threatened and extorted money from a man who lost several thousand dollars in bets, saying he would “break” the man’s “face” in an October 2019 call. Mr. Polito later directed a message to be sent to the patron, warning that he would “put him under” a bridge, using an expletive.

Prosecutors depicted Mr. Polito as a threatening captain in the family who had been convicted of murder 19 years ago and was unable to stray from his violent life afterward.

But Gerald McMahon, a lawyer for Mr. Polito, said in court that the portrayal was misguided, emphasizing that the conviction was later overturned and that Mr. Polito was at work when the authorities arrived at his home to arrest him — and that he returned to be taken into custody.

“The story they’ve given you, it’s just complete hogwash,” Mr. McMahon said to the judge. “The case is a gambling case. It’s a gambling case.”

The case was prompted by a multiyear joint investigation by several agencies, including federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, the F.B.I. and the Nassau County district attorney’s office.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/16/nyregion/new-york-mob-families-racketeering-charges.html

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Judge denies compassionate release request for aging Bonanno family hitman linked to Tommy Karate



An aging Bonanno crime family hit man was denied compassionate release from prison by a Brooklyn federal judge, who said the murders he participated in were too “heinous” to allow him to go free.

Vincent Giattino was part of Thomas “Tommy Karate” Pitera’s murderous crew in the late 1980s. He’s serving life in prison for a pair of grisly slayings — including using a silenced handgun to help Pitera kill Phyllis Burdi in September 1987.

Pitera thought Burdi was responsible for his wife’s fatal overdose, and after her death, Pitera dismembered Burdi and buried her on Staten Island, prosecutors said.

Giattino, 70, was also convicted of fatally shooting FBI informant Wilfred Johnson in Brooklyn in 1988. He did so, “in order to please Gambino crime family boss John Gotti,” prosecutors wrote.

In a February letter to Brooklyn Federal Court Chief Judge Margo Brodie, Giattino’s lawyer Anthony Cecutti asked that the mobster get “the chance to live out the remainder of his life with his family and not die in prison.” Giattino, convicted in 1992, has served 30 years of his life sentence.

Cecutti described his client as a “changed man.” He’s a mentor to younger inmates at the medium-security federal prison in Allenwood, Pa., and is as active as he can be in his daughter Brigitte’s life, the lawyer said.

“Presently, Mr. Giattino is fighting to keep his hope alive. He has an ever-growing fear that he may die in prison if he becomes infected with COVID-19, or, suffer serious health complications. Or, that he may simply succumb to ‘death by incarceration,’ and never again be a father to Brigitte outside of prison,” Cecutti wrote.

Brodie said that despite the strides he’s made, the murders were too horrific to allow his early release. This is the mafioso’s second denied request to be sprung.

“Giattino committed two heinous murders using guns equipped with silencers and trafficked narcotics as a devout member of [the Bonanno crime family],” the jurist wrote Tuesday. “While the court appreciates Giattino’s efforts at building relationships with prison staff and counselors, mentoring and supporting other inmates, maintaining cohesive family relationships, and demonstrating remorse for his past actions, the nature and seriousness of Giattino’s crimes support his continued detention.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-bonanno-mobster-denied-compassionate-release-life-sentence-20220727-jal3ajudkvgbpfrqymljiks5qe-story.html

Court upholds 30 year conviction of Lucchese Soldier in $14 million mortgage takeover case


 

A member and associate of the Lucchese organized crime family, along with two Texas brothers, have had their convictions upheld for a criminal takeover that drained over $14 million from a Dallas mortgage firm in less than a year. The four claimed what they did was just "normal, run-of-the-mill" business practices, but it was more like typical Mafia practices.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 57, of Galloway, N.J., a member of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN), and Salvatore Pelullo, 55, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families, were convicted on July 13, 2014, of all counts against them. Two other defendants, William Maxwell, 63, of Houston, Texas, and his brother, John Maxwell, 70, of Irving, Texas, were also convicted.

The four defendants were convicted for their respective roles in the takeover and subsequent looting of FirstPlus Financial Group, a publicly held mortgage company based in Dallas. The defendants used extortionate threats to take control of the company, causing a loss of more than $14 million and leaving more than 1,000 shareholders with investments that had been rendered worthless. Scarfo and Pelullo were each sentenced to 30 years in prison; William Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison; and John Maxwell was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Originally, the four men, according to court filings, sought to legitimately invest in the company. There was just one problem. They didn’t have the money to do so.

Enter Jack Draper, a high-ranking employee at FirstPlus who had been fired. Draper had griped about his firing to Jack Roubinek — the two having become acquainted while employed at FirstPlus — and to William Maxwell. Roubinek was trying to put a group together to purchase FirstPlus.

Those three were joined by David Roberts, a mortgage broker from Staten Island, and Pelullo for a meeting in Dallas, where Draper, “bearing a grudge,” told the group he was willing to “divulge all” and falsely accuse the FirstPlus board and CEO Daniel Phillips of financial and personal improprieties (including a purported sexual assault and impregnation of a personal assistant who was paid off with company funds).

The threats had their intended effect. The appeals court decision said Phillips met with William Maxwell and Pelullo, who indicated the allegations would be dropped if Phillips and the FirstPlus board handed the business over to them.

“Evidently, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse,” the decision author quipped. “Phillips swiftly persuaded the entire board to give up their positions rather than try to engage in what would be a messy and expensive fight with Pelullo’s group.”

The four partners in crime then set about installing associates into key positions as executives and board members. FirstPlus was then used to buy companies tied to Pelullo and hire other companies as consultants for exorbitant fees. The appeals said the four viewed FirstPlus as their own personal retirement fund, but quickly blew through over $14 million.

The quartet’s greed came to light when Scarfo attempted to take over the Philadelphia branch of the Lucchese crime family. The FBI stumbled upon the FirstPlus scheme and seized the four men’s assets (including a yacht, Bentley, and private plane) in May 2008. They would be indicted in October 2011 and convicted in July 2014.

Scarfo’s, Pelullo’s, and William Maxwell’s defenses hinged on the proposition that they had simply been engaged in standard, run-of-the-mill business practices. John Maxwell, for his part, claimed he had been in the dark as to the others’ malfeasance, the appeals court decision said.

The government rebutted those narratives, telling jurors: “Is this how legitimate businessmen conduct themselves? The answer to that is overwhelmingly no. Legitimate businessmen don’t lie, they don’t cheat, they don’t steal.”

In a consolidated appeal, the defendants challenged almost every aspect of their prosecutions, including the investigation, the charges and evidence against them, the pretrial process, the government’s compliance with its disclosure obligations, the trial, the forfeiture proceedings, and their sentences.

The appellate court decision, written by Circuit Judge Kent A. Jordan and joined by Circuit Judges Thomas L. Ambro and Stephanos Bibas, affirmed the jury’s guilty verdicts on all of the underlying crimes, including participating in a Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and firearms offenses. It also affirmed the prison sentences.

https://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news/mafia-mortgage-takeover-convictions-upheld

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Former Bronx County Clerk pleads guilty in case linked to the Genovese crime family


Politically-wired Bronx County Clerk Luis Diaz was convicted Wednesday — after a nearly two-year criminal probe — for engaging in a mob-tied corruption scam, state Attorney General Letitia James announced.

Diaz, 69, a former state assemblyman, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for submitting false information in support of a criminal defendant, Thomas Poli, an alleged associate of the Genovese crime family, the attorney general said.

Diaz, who had deep ties to the Bronx Democratic Party establishment, knowingly defrauded the court by claiming that Poli fulfilled a community service requirement as part of a criminal charge — in exchange for money.

James — whose devastating investigative report released last year found then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed or mistreated multiple women and forced his resignation — said she will fight corruption at all levels of government.

“When we take our oath of office as public servants, we make a promise to our constituents to lead with integrity and uphold the laws of the great state of New York,” James said.

“Mr. Diaz violated that pledge, along with the sanctity of the same county court system he represents. Let this be a warning: we have zero tolerance for public servants who abuse public trust, and we will root out corruption in any and every form in New York.”

As The Post first reported, Diaz was suspended from his clerk’s post in October 2020 amid the AG’s criminal probe.

The Post later learned that Diaz had been moonlighting as a paid consultant for Aguila Inc., a homeless service provider, for six years.

Diaz, who made $210,900 as the county clerk or the court’s chief record keeper, was paid between $20,000 and $60,000 a year by Aguila from 2013 to 2019, records show.

Thomas Pol was a contractor for Aguila.

In order to satisfy the conditions of a plea in a 2019 criminal charge, Poli asked that Diaz draft and submit a letter to the court stating that Poli performed volunteer work for Aguila.

As it turns out,  Poli did not perform any community service for the organization and instead was paid by Aguila for vending, storage and furniture contracts.

In April 2022, Poli was charged with racketeering conspiracy for his role in illegal gambling and related extortions in connection with the Genovese crime family following a joint  investigation by the AG’s Office, the Manhattan U.S Attorney’s Office  and Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

Poli was sentenced in 2019 for a prior, unrelated matter.

Diaz pleaded guilty before Bronx County Supreme Court Judge Poust Lopez Wednesday to one count of offering a false Instrument for filing in the First Degree, a class E felony.

He is barred from ever holding public office or working for nonprofit organizations registered in New York state.

Diaz also must complete 100 hours of community service.

As part of his plea, Diaz received a three-year conditional discharge, assuming he doesn’t get rearrested.

The appointment of county clerk is considered one of the biggest patronage plumbs in politics, made by judges in concert with Democratic Party leaders.

https://nypost.com/2022/07/20/ny-ag-letitia-james-nails-bronx-official-in-mob-tied-corruption-scam/

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Federal judge rules that former Colombo Street Boss Tommy Shots must use lawsuit proceeds to pay restitution to victims



A clumsy Colombo mobster who famously scored a $250,000 settlement for a Brooklyn federal jailhouse Ping-Pong injury won’t be able to keep his slip-and-fall windfall.

A federal judge ruled that Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli will have to use his portion of the lawsuit cash, more than $182,000, to pay restitution to his victims as part of his 18-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Gioeli argued in recent court filings that the federal government was trying to “claw back” the settlement money so it could be “rewarded for the fruits of its own bad behavior.” Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Brian Cogan disagreed.

“The only thing of which defendant is being deprived is the unrestricted decision on how to apply this newly acquired asset,” Cogan wrote in a July 5 ruling. “What defendant really wants to do is stiff the government on his forfeiture obligation and spend the money on something he would prefer. But the law doesn’t permit that.”

The murderous street boss was playing Ping-Pong in an open area at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on Aug. 29, 2013, when the ball got away from him.

He went to retrieve it in an area close to shower stalls and a leaking slop sink, slipped in a puddle and fractured his kneecap. He filed a $10-million lawsuit after the injury.

Cogan had earlier ruled that Gioeli’s $360,000 restitution bill should go to compensate a Chemical Bank branch and a business named Furs by Mina.

Gioeli tried to convince the judge to let him keep the settlement cash to help pay for his cancer treatments after he finishes his prison sentence.

Gioeli, now 70, was convicted at a 2012 federal racketeering trial for conspiring to kill supporters of then-family boss Victor “Little Vic” Orena during a war for control of the Colombo family.

He headed a faction loyal to imprisoned head Carmine “Junior” Persico, and was bumped up to street boss during the bloody conflict, which claimed 13 lives, including a teen bagel shop worker gunned down in a case of mistaken identity.

Cogan has twice denied Gioeli, who suffers from bladder cancer, compassionate release from prison — first in May 2020, when the ailing gangster feared catching COVID at the height of the pandemic, and again in March.

According to court papers, Gioeli was diagnosed last year with a recurrence of bladder cancer followed by surgery and receives weekly hormone injections. The cancer’s return followed an 18-month stretch where Gioeli received no follow-up medical treatment behind bars, court papers said.

The judge ruled in March that Gioeli’s Mafia resume was so “heinous” that it outweighed any request for compassionate release.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-mobster-loses-fight-ping-pong-settlement-thomas-gioeli-tommy-shots-20220712-j7tn2cyktfdh7abknzo5nk6y7q-story.html

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Beloved Sopranos actor and former Colombo associate Tony Sirico aka Paulie Walnuts dead at 79


 

Actor Tony Sirico — best known for his role as mobster Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos” — is dead, his brother, Robert, announced on Facebook on Friday. He was 79.

​”It is with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and a whole lot of fond memories, that the family of Gennaro Anthony ‘Tony’ Sirico wishes to inform you of his death on the morning of July 8, 2022,” wrote Robert, who is a priest.

“Tony is survived by his two beloved children, Joanne Sirico Bello and Richard Sirico, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and many other relatives.

“The family is deeply grateful for the many expressions of love, prayer and condolences and requests that the public respect its privacy in this time of bereavement.”

His “Sopranos” co-star Michael Imperioli — who played Christopher Moltisanti, protégé to Tony Soprano, portrayed by the late James Gandolfini — also posted a remembrance on Instagram, saying in part: “Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone i’ve ever known.”

Another co-star, Steven Van Zandt, who played tough guy Silvio Dante, tweeted his condolences to the actor’s family.

“A larger-than-life character on and off-screen. Gonna miss you a lot my friend,” he wrote. 

Their “heartbroken” co-star Jamie Lynn Sigler also posted to social media about the special bond she felt for her colleague and friend.

“I loved you so much. I have never been able to walk into a room that you were in without you giving me an enormous hug, drenching me in your cologne, and making sure I knew any man that came near me would have to answer to you first,” she wrote, sharing a photo of them together.

Sources told TMZ that he had been living in an assisted living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a few years due his declining health.

The Post has reached out to Sirico’s representatives for confirmation.

When he was 55, Sirico was sleeping on a cot in his mother’s living room in Brooklyn when he was cast as Walnuts. He originally auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior — who would be played by Dominic Chianese.

Sirico and Walnuts’ lives had many parallels. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 29, 1942, the late actor was just 7 years old the first time he got arrested for stealing nickels from a newspaper stand. He would be arrested 28 more times and would and two trips to the slammer.

In 1971, he even spent 20 months at the notorious Sing Sing prison for felony weapons possession.

“The first time I went away to prison, they searched me to see if I had a gun — and I had three of ’em on me,” he told the LA Times in 1990.

“In our neighborhood, if you weren’t carrying a gun, it was like you were the rabbit during rabbit-hunting season.”

The hit HBO crime drama ran from 1999 to 2007.  He won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for his ensemble role: one in 2000 and another in 2008.

In a 2020 interview, Sirico praised his former “Sopranos” co-star Gandolfini, who died in 2013 at age 51, calling the actor his “right f–king arm” and saying he was “so f–king happy to be as close” as the two were.

In his decades-long career, Sirico appeared in numerous guest roles on other shows including “Kojak,” “Miami Vice,” “Chuck,” “Medium,” “Lilyhammer” and “American Dad.”

Sirico played gangsters in over a dozen movies, including “Goodfellas,” “Mob Queen,” “Mighty Aphrodite” and “Gotti.”

“I make a pretty good living because I die well. I get hired to get killed,” he once told the LA Times, estimating that he died in 13 of his then-27 films. 

Additionally, he temporarily lent his voice to “Family Guy” character Vinny Griffin — who was the family’s dog for three episodes in 2013.

Sirico and former “Sopranos” actors Federico Castelluccio and Vincent Pastore reunited in the 2018 film “Sarah Q.”

His brother’s posting asked that memorial donations be made in his honor to Wounded Warriors, St. Jude’s Hospital and the Acton Institute.

https://nypost.com/2022/07/08/sopranos-actor-tony-sirico-dead-at-79/

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Panel rejects compassionate release for former Acting Boss of the Colombo Family assuring his death behind bars


 

A one-time notorious Colombo family mob boss who is now gravely ill with dementia was denied release from prison by a federal appeals court Wednesday — all but assuring he’ll die behind bars. 

Victor “Little Vic” Orena’s appeal for compassionate release was slapped down by a three-judge panel from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with a lower-court jurist in affirming his life sentence. 

Orena, once the acting boss of the Colombos, was sentenced to life in prison in the early 1990s after his conviction in Brooklyn federal court on murder, racketeering and other Mafia-related crimes. 

The former shot-caller, now 87, asked a Brooklyn federal judge to free him in 2021 because of his deteriorating health — and because his lawyer discovered new evidence that allegedly casts doubt on his conviction. 

On Wednesday, the appeals court panel wrote that while even federal prosecutors agree his health issues are “extraordinary and compelling,” the district court judge correctly ruled they do not outweigh the need for a life sentence.

The judges also ruled that if there is indeed new evidence that proves Orena’s innocence, it should be raised in a separate appeal — not one for compassionate release. 

The wiseguy’s crimes that put him away for life related to a murderous, intra-family Colombo war that pitted factions loyal to Orena against those who backed the late Carmine “Junior” Persico. More than a dozen people were killed in the beef. 

“The five Families’ criminal activities and the war between the competing Colombo factions resulted in multiple assassinations and attempted assassinations and billions of dollars of economic impact on the city,” the appeals court panel wrote in the decision Wednesday. 

Orena is serving time in FMC Devens, a federal medical center with an attached minimum-security prison. 

In an email, Orena’s attorney, David Schoen, called the decision “very disappointing” – and blasted the prosecution as the most corrupt in the history of the DOJ. 

“It is absurd and completely unfair to deny a trial court judge the discretion to at least consider whether new evidence since the trial ought to be relevant to the appropriateness of a terminally ill defendant,” he said.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/15/colombo-family-boss-victor-orena-denied-compassionate-release/

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Jury convicts Gambino associate in under an hour for murdering his friend over $750K debt


Arraignment of Anthony Pandrella

A Gambino crime family associate was convicted of murder Tuesday for shooting his mob-tied loan shark friend twice in the back of the head at his Brooklyn home.

Anthony Pandrella, 62, was found guilty in the Oct. 26, 2018 execution-style death of 77-year-old Vincent Zito following a half-week trial in Brooklyn federal court.

The jury deliberated for just an hour and a half before convicting Pandrella on all three counts, robbery, murder and unlawful use of a firearm.

Prosecutors said the cold-blooded killer had been holding $750,000 for Zito, who asked for the money back after finding out his illegal business was under investigation by law enforcement.

But Pandrella, who had warned Zito about the probe, refused to return the cash.

He allegedly met the older man at his Sheepshead Bay home, put two bullets in the back of his head at close range and swiped his loansharking assets — as well as pricey foreign watches that Zito was holding as collateral.

Prosecutors said Pandrella attempted to cover up evidence of the slay, but his DNA was found on a gun recovered at Zito’s home.

He was also captured on surveillance footage entering and leaving Zito’s. When Pandrella later returned to his own home, his neighbor’s security cameras caught him changing his shoes and clothes and taking out the driver’s side floor mat in his car to clean it, prosecutors said.

Zito’s body was found by his 11-year-old grandson when he returned home from school, prosecutors say. 

“Today’s verdict has found that the defendant is a cold-blooded killer who shot his elderly friend in his home, execution-style with a bullet in the back of the head, to avoid returning a large sum of money he was holding for the victim,” Brooklyn US Attorney Peace said in a statement. “In addition to the brutal betrayal, the defendant also robbed luxury watches from the victim’s loan business.”

Pandrella faces up to life in prison at his sentencing on Sept. 16.

His lawyers didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/14/gambino-associate-anthony-pandrella-murdered-vincent-zito-in-nyc/

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Feds say Gambino associate killed loan shark because he feared death over a debt



It’s a kill or be killed world.

A reputed Gambino mob associate gunned down his long-time friend, a mafia-connected loan shark, because he feared the older man wanted to whack him over a debt, federal prosecutors say.

Anthony Pandrella, 62, is headed to trial next Tuesday for the 2018 murder of Vincent Zito, 78.

In two sets of court papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, prosecutors revealed there are witnesses who said Zito was murderously mad at Pandrella over a missing $750,000 that Pandrella was holding for him.

One witness is expected to testify that weeks before the slaying Pandrella heard Zito loudly tell someone at a Brooklyn restaurant that he was going to kill him over the debt.

Pandrella was holding the illicit funds for Zito because Zito was worried that the feds were eyeing his business, prosecutors said. It was Pandrella who advised Zito that he was “hot,” according to the feds.

But when Zito requested the money back, Pandrella said the cash mysteriously disappeared from his basement, authorities said.

“I gave him $750,000 and he said it’s gone,” Zito allegedly told another man expected to testify at the upcoming two-week trial, according to court papers. “The fat f--k stole my money.”

The Brooklyn restaurant dinner was not the only time Zito suggested he might use violence to resolve the debt Pandrella owed him, prosecutors said.

Another witness said Zito made a gun gesture with his hand while talking about how he was going to get his money back from Pandrella, court documents state.

Pandrella promised to partly make good on the debt by giving Zito an initial payment of $300,000 by selling property, but that did not satisfy Zito, the feds say.

The day Zito was murdered — Oct. 26, 2018 — Pandrella was supposed to square up the debt.

But instead of returning the money, Pandrella went to Zito’s Sheepshead Bay home, shot the septuagenarian once in the back of the head, swiped some expensive watches, and left, prosecutors say.

Surveillance footage allegedly shows Pandrella entering and leaving the house around the time of the robbery and murder.

The accused killer later returned to the home and spent time with Zito’s mourning family and friends, and even asked about the police homicide investigation, the feds say.

Pandrella’s lawyer, James Froccaro, declined to comment beyond saying his client pleaded not guilty and plans to fight the charges.

Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday morning. Pandrella is charged with Zito’s murder as well as robbery and illegal gun possession.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-murder-trial-mob-associate-brooklyn-loan-shark-vincent-zito-20220531-wxglxdd46fdnrksuxndgqm442y-story.html

Friday, May 27, 2022

Federal judge releases violent ailing Colombo Soldier from prison


A Brooklyn judge sprang a violent mobster from prison because he said the federal Bureau of Prisons did a lousy job taking care of the wiseguy’s medical problems.

Federal Court Judge Raymond Dearie issued a scathing ruling Thursday, saying the feds weren’t competently treating made man Vincent “Chickie” DeMartino’s maladies. The goodfella had more than two years left of his 25-year sentence for an attempted hit on a fellow Colombo family member.

“Mr. DeMartino’s age, the amount of time he has served in prison, his deteriorating health — in particular, complications with his right eye — and the Bureau of Prison’s cavalier attitude in addressing these conditions, present extraordinary and compelling circumstances,” Dearie wrote, ordering DeMartino be released from West Virginia prison FCC Hazelton to home confinement.

DeMartino, 66, was convicted of the 2001 botched hit of Joseph Campanella as he was packing a beach chair into his car in Coney Island. DeMartino fired at least four shots at the rival mobster, hitting him in the arm and foot, but leaving him alive and willing to testify against him.

It wasn’t DeMartino’s first run in with the law. He was convicted of threatening to murder a man in 1983 and breaking every window in the guy’s house with a baseball bat. He was also found guilty of a 1985 armed robbery of a Chase bank branch in Brooklyn.

DeMartino is also a publicly named — though never charged — suspect in the 1999 rubout of William “Wild Bill” Cutolo.

Since his conviction in the Campanella shooting in 2004, DeMartino’s list of medical conditions has grown, and the federal jailers responsible for taking care of his health have failed to do so, Judge Dearie said.

“Mr. DeMartino’s circumstances are made all the more extraordinary and compelling by the BOP’s lack of responsiveness and candor with respect to his medical conditions,” Dearie wrote.

The jurist noted DeMartino’s documented “high blood pressure, high choleterol, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac arrhythmia, obesity, and knee problems,” but said that the “gravest threat” to the mobster’s health is his incredibly serious eye issues.

“The record reflects a consistent pattern on the part of the [Bureau of Prisons] of downplaying Mr. DeMartino’s conditions and delaying treatment. Despite the severity of his ocular conditions, it has been a herculean task for Mr. DeMartino to see an ophthalmologist,” Dearie wrote.

“The [Bureau of Prisons] is not a common jailor. Theirs is a far more challenging and vital responsibility. Human beings are entrusted to their care for decades on end. There is no excuse for inaction or dissembling and, in this Court’s view, no alternative to immediate release,” Dearie concluded.

The feds declined to comment.

“We are grateful to the court for acknowledging what the Federal Bureau of Prisons would not: that Mr. DeMartino suffers from serious health problems that require urgent and ongoing attention and treatment,” said DeMartino’s lawyer, Benjamin Yaster.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-brooklyn-federal-judge-releases-mobster-medical-issues-20220527-2kfdi5hcbfgpnm27umejkcdfo4-story.htm

Friday, May 20, 2022

Escaped Rochester mob hitman later captured by feds pleads guilty



Convicted killer-for-hire Dominic Taddeo pleaded guilty Tuesday to escaping from his federal halfway house.

With less than a year left on his sentence, Taddeo left the Florida home for a scheduled doctor's visit in late March. He didn't come back.

He was captured a week later near Miami.

He will be sentenced in October.

Taddeo was later convicted of killing three men, including Nicholas Mastrodonato in his Gates coin store in May of 1982, in the early 1980s during Rochester's mob wars. His other victims include Gerald Pelusio and Dino Tortatice.

https://13wham.com/news/local/rochester-mob-hitman-pleads-guilty-after-escape-from-feds

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Judge sentences longtime Colombo mobster nicknamed Shrek and the Wig to over two years in prison


 


Despite a criminal history dating back nearly three decades, reputed Colombo crime family mobster Daniel Capaldo insisted he has turned over a new leaf.

“I’m done with the past,” the Staten Island resident told a social worker during a pre-sentencing evaluation earlier this year, according to court documents. “I can’t wait for it to be over. I just want to go back to work, come home to my family, do the right thing, and make my family proud of me.”

With the love and support of his kin, Capaldo, 57, is determined to walk the straight-and-narrow path and deserved to remain out of prison, wrote defense lawyer Peter J. Guadagnino in a pre-sentencing memo to the court.

A sentence of time served with three years’ supervised release was appropriate for the defendant, said the attorney.

Capaldo had previously pleaded guilty to two racketeering acts, which occurred in 2019 and involved or implied threats of violence.

“Mr. Capaldo has an extended loving family who is supportive and would guide him in living a law-abiding life,” Guadagnino wrote. “… This strong support makes it more likely than not that Mr. Capaldo will not commit further crimes.”

Brooklyn federal court Judge Brian M. Cogan disagreed.

On Wednesday, the judge sentenced Capaldo, known as “The Wig” and “Shrek,” to 27 months behind bars and two years’ supervised release.

The defendant is also subject to a $1,500 forfeiture judgment.

Federal guidelines had called for a sentencing range of 27 to 33 months.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors sought a sentence within that range, pointing to Capaldo’s criminal history, his mob ties and the nature of his crimes.

Sentencing guidelines are advisory, and judges are not bound by them. They can impose a harsher or less-severe sentence if they choose.

“Over a period of decades, the defendant has sustained several convictions in connection with his association with and/or membership in the Colombo crime family,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth Geddes and Megan E. Farrell in a pre-sentencing memo. “After serving a lengthy term of incarcerations in the 1990s and 2000s, the defendant was released and rather than reject its criminal means, the defendant was formally inducted as a member of the crime family.”

“A sentence within the guidelines range will at least incapacitate the defendant, thereby protecting the public from further crimes he would otherwise commit during that period of time,” prosecutors said.

Capaldo has at least four prior felony convictions for offenses such as narcotics sale and possession and collecting an unlawful debt, said prosecutors.

In October 2019, Capaldo was among 20 suspects indicted in Brooklyn federal court on wide-ranging charges including racketeering, extortion, loansharking and stalking.

Seventeen defendants were Staten Islanders, and 11 of the suspects are members or associates of the Colombos, officials said.

One defendant was sentenced last year to probation for trying to fix an NCAA men’s college basketball game between Wagner College and St. John’s University in December 2018.

However, as it turned out, no money ever exchanged hands, said prosecutors.

Capaldo was not charged in that scheme.

Prosecutors said Capaldo reported to Joseph Amato Sr., a Colombo capo, and the highest-profile defendant among those arrested.

In November 2020, Capaldo resolved his case by pleading guilty in Brooklyn federal court to two racketeering acts: Extortion conspiracy and financing an extortionate extension of credit.

In the first instance, Capaldo and others relied “on their reputation as inducted members of the Colombo crime family” and threatened two men over an outstanding gambling debt, said prosecutors.

In the other case, Capaldo advanced money to Thomas Scorcia, a loanshark and fellow Colombo family member, said authorities.

Capaldo knew Scorcia was going to loan the money to a third party and violence would be used, if necessary, to collect the debt, authorities said.

Scorcia also was among the suspects arrested in October 2019 and was sentenced last year to 42 months in prison for racketeering.

Capaldo is now the last defendant to be sentenced in the case.

“It’s a guidelines sentence,” said Guadagnino, the defense lawyer. “The judge gave him the lower end based on his health issues. He’s just concentrating now on the future so that he can help out his family, his wife and daughter. That’s all he’s really worried about now.”

https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2022/05/im-done-with-the-past-si-man-called-shrek-says-of-alleged-mob-ties-feds-disagree-judge-decides-on-sentence.html