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

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Chicago Outfit Soldier turned informant dies at 80

Former Chicago mob hitman Nicholas Calabrese has died, a source said Monday.

A source confirmed to CBS 2's John Drummond that Calabrese had died. Calabrese was 80.

Calabrese was infamous as a top assassin for the Mafia in Chicago. Among the 14 murders in which Calabrese told federal prosecutors he took part were those of brothers Tony "the Ant" and Mike Spilotro. Tony Spilotro was the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas and the inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in the 1995 movie "Casino."

Calabrese later became known for turning on his brother, Frank Calabrese Sr., in the Operation Family Secrets probe that took down several prominent organized crime figures.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was known as a brutal loan shark. During the Operation Family Secrets mob trial in 2008, he was charged with 13 murders.

During that trial, Nick Calabrese gave graphic details about how his brother strangled his victims and then slit their throats.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was convicted of seven murders and, two years later, was sentenced to life in prison. Frank Calabrese Sr. died in prison in 2012.

In addition to Frank Calabrese Sr., fellow Outfit figures James Marcello, Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo, Paul "The Indian" Schiro, and Anthony "Twan" Doyle were the main defendants at the trial, and were convicted on conspiracy and racketeering charges. A jury also found Frank Calabrese Sr., Marcello, and Lombardo responsible for 18 murders in all.  

Meanwhile, Nick Calabrese was sentenced to 12 years and four months in prison in 2009 for the 14 murders to which he admitted. 

Nick Calabrese was most recently said to be in the federal witness protection program.


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

New FBI records reveal deceased top Chicago mobster worked as an informant

James "Jimmy I" Inendino has always been known as a devoted Outfit member and lately known as one of the top leaders of the Chicago Mob. Now, the I-Team is revealing what has been unknown to most.

Inendino is listed in FBI records obtained by the I-Team as Informant Number 6931-C. Documents show his FBI connection dates back in the late 1960s and mid-1970s. This information did not appear to be common knowledge all the way up to Inendino's death of natural causes at age 80 this past week.

Inendino was rarely pictured in Outfit stories, despite being a rising star and eventually running the powerful Cicero street crew, according to mobologists.

Inendino's organized crime career spanned decades. His wake was held Monday after he died this past Thursday at age 80.

Now, an FBI record obtained tonight by the I-Team may come as a surprise to those who knew Jimmy "The I" Inendino. Some suspect "The I" stood for ice pick.

According to the FBI, Inendino was carried as an informant of the Chicago office under symbol number 6931-C from March 1965 until May 1969 and from May 1974 until March 1975.

Inendino was furnishing FBI information about truck cargo thefts, an area that authorities say was his specialty back in the day.

"I doubt that the Outfit knew that he was an informant for the FBI for two clear periods of time and I think what you have is clear on incontrovertible proof that he was in fact an informant. There it is in an FBI memo," said Outfit expert and author John Binder.

Binder told the I-Team that Inendino as an informant raises many questions for his mob associates.

"Did he get jammed up on something related to current stuff and did he agree to therefore cooperate with them? And, if he cooperated with the FBI, did he really cooperate big time?" asked Binder.

Binder says Inendino was eventually a made, blood-oath member of the mob and would have been lately reporting only to Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis, considered by law enforcement to be the Outfit's current leader. DeLaurentis apparently signed Inendino's funeral book online: "thank you so much for what you did for my boys. I am having three trees planted in memory of you."

Now, the lingering question is: how long did Inendino cooperate?

"I would guess there's some shaking of heads and some maybe some concern. If he was cooperating later, when he was a full member and really knew stuff, that could cause quite a bit of concern," Binder said.

The two attorneys most recently listed on Inendino's federal cases did not immediately return requests for comment by the I-Team.


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Six mobsters tied to the Genovese family plead guilty to racketeering

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty pleas of four members and two associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family to racketeering conspiracy.  Genovese Family associate THOMAS POLI pled guilty before United States District Judge John G. Koeltl on September 29, 2022, and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Koeltl on April 13, 2023.  Genovese Family Captain NICHOLAS CALISI, Solider JOHN CAMPANELLA, and associate MICHAEL POLI pled guilty before Judge Koeltl on February 8, 2023, and are scheduled to be sentenced by him on June 27, 2023.  Genovese Family Captain RALPH BALSAMO and Soldier MICHAEL MESSINA pled guilty before Judge Koeltl earlier today and are scheduled to be sentenced by him on June 28, 2023.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “We remain committed to protecting the people of the Southern District of New York from being preyed on by organized crime.  Today’s pleas demonstrate that those who swear a lifetime allegiance to criminal organizations will be prosecuted, no matter their efforts to insulate themselves.”

According to the Superseding Indictment, the defendants’ statements when pleading guilty, and statements made in related court filings and proceedings:

The Genovese Organized Crime Family is part of a nationwide criminal organization known by various names, including “La Cosa Nostra” (“LCN”) and the “Mafia,” which operates through entities known as “Families.”

Like other LCN Families, the Genovese Organized Crime Family operates through groups of individuals known as “crews.”  Each “crew” has as its leader a person known as a “Captain” and consists of “made” members, known as “Soldiers.”  Soldiers are aided in their criminal endeavors by other trusted individuals, known as “associates,” who sometimes are referred to as “connected” or identified as “with” a Soldier or other member of the Family.  Associates participate in the various activities of the crew and its members.  In order for an associate to become a made member of the Family, the associate typically needs to demonstrate the ability to generate income for the Family and/or that the associate is capable of committing acts of violence.

A Captain is responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew, resolving disputes between and among members of the Family, resolving disputes between members of the Family and members of other Families and other criminal organizations, and providing Soldiers and associates with support and protection.  In return, the Captain typically receives a share of the illegal earnings of each of his crew’s Soldiers and associates.

At times relevant to the charges in the Superseding Indictment, NICHOLAS CALISI and RALPH BALSAMO were Captains in the Genovese Family, MICHAEL MESSINA and JOHN CAMPANELLA were Soldiers in the Genovese Family, and MICHAEL POLI and THOMAS POLI were associates of the Genovese Family.

Members of the Genovese Family, including CALISI, BALSAMO, MESSINA, and CAMPANELLA, and associates MICHAEL POLI and THOMAS POLI, engaged in extortionate extensions of credit, financing extortionate extensions of credit, collecting extensions of credit by extortion, extortion, operating illegal gambling businesses, and the transmission of gambling information.

*                *                *

A chart containing the ages, residency information, and the charges to which the defendants pled guilty, as well as the maximum penalties they face, is attached.  

The maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Office of the New York Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its assistance in this investigation.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Celia V. Cohen, Rushmi Bhaskaran, and Justin Rodriguez, as well as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Murray, are in charge of the prosecution. 


Judge sends Bonanno turncoat turned podcaster to six months behind bars for parole violation

A Brooklyn federal judge sentenced Bonanno crime family turncoat Gene Borrello to six months behind bars for violating conditions of his supervised release Wednesday.

Borrello, 38, breached the terms of his release when he participated in organized crime podcasts and associated with other criminals, prosecutors said.

After helping the feds put more than a dozen members of his former crime family behind bars and serving five years, a judge sentenced him to time served and probation in 2019.

Instead of getting on the straight and narrow, Borrello kicked off a pattern of criminal behavior, prosecutors said, including taking to YouTube to discuss his violent past for entertainment purposes.

“Glorifying the mob is one thing. We’ve watched ‘Godfather’ 1, 2, 3, maybe this is 5,” Judge Frederic Block said at a Wednesday sentencing hearing. “But there comes a time when we need to stop.”

Borrello also violated the rules of his release by associating with felons through his podcast.

He once hosted “The Johnny and Gene Show” podcast with another former gangster who flipped, Johnny Alite. Another mob deserter, John Rubeo, nearly landed back in prison after making an appearance on their show.

“You want to know [why] I went out there?” Borrello said of his YouTube antics. “I’ll be honest with you. Every other cooperator is on there and I’m not allowed to. Sammy Gravano is on there talking about killing people.”

Borrello also visited Florida twice before asking Block if he could visit for a third time.

“I don’t like being made a fool of,” the judge said. “It bothers you, of course — that’s the essence of trust.”

Borrello’s lawyer Nancy Ennis requested that her client be able to turn himself in next week.

“Under the circumstances, I’m not comfortable setting him loose,” said Block.


Monday, February 6, 2023

Feds say Bonanno turncoat turned podcaster belongs behind bars for three years

He’s given up his mob life podcast, but not his life of crime, the feds say.

Bonanno crime family turncoat Gene Borrello, who recently co-hosted a podcast the feds say glorified his time as a mob enforcer, could find himself behind bars again for a string of new crimes in Florida.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn want a judge to toss Borrello, 38, in prison for three years, alleging he spent his time on probation fighting with a girlfriend, bragging about Mafia violence on YouTube videos and using a burner phone to talk about drugs and violence.

As a government witness, Borrello helped lock up more than a dozen members of the Bonanno crime family — and after he was jailed from 2014 to 2019, a judge sentenced him to time served and probation. His own crimes were particularly violent — multiple shootings, home invasions where victims were tied up, arson and beatings.

After his release, he’s been a blight on society, and his actions have been getting worse, federal prosecutors allege.

“He has shown no regard for the orders of this court or the law. He is a danger to the community. He has made no progress towards rehabilitation,” assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Galeotti wrote on Jan. 17, asking Judge Frederic Block to sentence him at a hearing this upcoming Wednesday.

“In fact, since the defendant was permitted to leave for Florida, his conduct has only become increasingly aggressive and dangerous. The defendant has breached this court’s trust over and over and over again.”

Those crimes include a January stalking arrest and a December burglary arrest in Pinellas County, Fla., a September stalking bust where he was accused of calling his girlfriend 58 times, and another September incident in which he allegedly threatened a Tampa Bay area bartender.

They’re the latest in a pattern of criminal activity and probation violations since his release in 2019.

Borrello first started smashing the rules of his release by associating with felons through his podcast, and by threatening an ex-girlfriend in 2021. He used to host “The Johnny and Gene Show” podcast with another former gangster who flipped, Johnny Alite. Another mob turncoat, John Rubeo, nearly landed back in prison after making an appearance on their show.

“In his podcast, Borrello glorified all aspects of organized criminal activities and described in detail various acts of violence in which he and his co-host, John Alite, had participated,” Galeotti wrote.

And in February 2021, Borrello was busted for threatening his ex in audio recordings over Instagram.

“The minute you call the cops on me … I’ll blow your husband’s head right off,” Borrello told his ex, prosecutors said. “Don’t forget about me. Remember what I used to do. I will grab your father right now and beat the dogs--t out of him.”

Borrello did end back in prison, but Block cut him a “break” in March 2021 and sentenced him to only 120 days behind bars, according to court filings.

But his bad behavior continued after he served those 120 days — starting with a YouTube video titled “Getting violated by probation and going back to jail” in which he disparaged his ex’s husband as “fat” and “goofy.” In another video titled “Ronnie do you smell that,” he described how he and Bonanno captain Ronald Giallanzo beat a man so badly the man soiled himself, prosecutors said.

Last May, he was accused of grabbing his girlfriend and smashing her phone during an unauthorized trip to Florida.

He avoided being sent back to prison at a hearing the following month, but immediately ran afoul of probation officers by ginning up two job offer letters with contact numbers that went back to one of his friends, prosecutors said.

His latest stalking and burglary arrests followed that.

When federal agents raided his home in September, they found a cell phone with text messages referring to tricking probation officials, to steroids and other drugs, and to a Sept. 3 confrontation with the Tampa Bay bartender.

“Bro I’m cracking him,” he texted a friend who had a problem with the bartender, according to court filings.

When the pal responded, “I wish you had a [GoPro] when all this went down omg,” Borrello texted back: “Bro he’s a herb he can’t talk tuff no more.”

In a letter filed on Sunday, Borrello’s lawyer, Nancy Ennis, asked the judge for leniency, contending that he “is making significant improvements in his life,” including getting a job as a car valet.

She also challenged federal prosecutors’ description of his September stalking arrest, and included a letter from his girlfriend in her filing.

“Following a heated argument, Gene perceived that his girlfriend was threatening to commit suicide, as she had previously threatened to do. This prompted Gene to pursue her frantically and call her repeatedly,” Ennis said. “In retaliation, she called the police, and Gene was arrested for stalking her. Thereafter, however, the charges were dismissed in court.”

Ennis didn’t return a message seeking comment, and attempts to reach Borrello were unsuccessful Monday.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

New photo surfaces of former President Donald Trump with turncoat Gambino hitman

A photo taken during the summer of 2022 shows a grinning former president Donald Trump flashing a thumbs up gesture while posing with John Alite, a podcaster and motivational speaker who was once a hitman for the Gambino crime family.

Alite, who confirmed the authenticity of the photo in a phone interview with The Independent, described himself as a political independent who supported Mr Trump’s push for criminal justice reform, and said his support for the ex-president is well known.

Though he described himself as a media figure who “speaks out against the street” and encourages young people to refrain from engaging in crime or violence, he spent years of his life as an associate of the Gambino family, one of the famed “five families” of the American mob. He has confessed to murdering six people and assaulting many more during that period of his life, which ended when he was arrested in Brazil after several years evading capture following an indictment in federal court.

Upon his extradition to the US, he eventually made a deal with prosecutors and testified against former associates who had fingered him for a slew of crimes, including top Gambino family figures such as John Gotti Jr (whose case ended in a mistrial) and Charles Carneglia (who got a life sentence).

Alite’s help to prosecutors got him a 10-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to numerous offenses including including murder and robbery.

Since his release from prison, he says he has changed his life.

“I'm a guy that's does TV, does movies, those talk shows, does talks for kids, works with the FBI, does events and talks with the FBI against the street to save kids lives. I do things with documentaries against drugs, openly against my past. So I'm a different guy,” he said.

Asked whether he believed Mr Trump was aware of his past when he posed for a photo with him, Alite told The Independent: “I assume he knows who I am, but possibly not”.

The Independent was tipped off to the existence of the photograph after reporting that Mr Trump had recently posed for a snapshot with Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, who ran the Philadelphia mafia in the 1990s when Mr Trump was a casino operator in nearby Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Merlino spent more than a decade in federal prison after he was convicted on extortion, bookmaking and receiving stolen property charges following a 2001 trial. After his release he moved to Florida but found himself back in the dock in 2016, when he was arrested on another racketeering indictment and tried in a New York federal court. Following a mistrial on racketeering, fraud and illegal gambling charges, he pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and received a two-year prison sentence.

Alite said Mr Trump’s photograph with Merlino is a good indicator that the ex-president doesn’t have anyone around him who can vet who he comes into contact with.

“I just think he doesn't realise all the people he's taking a picture with because he recently took a picture of someone and I guarantee he doesn’t know who that person is,” he said.

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for Mr Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign denied that the ex-president has any awareness of the identity of people he is photographed with in informal settings.

“President Trump takes countless photos with people. That does not mean he knows every single person he comes into contact with,” the spokesperson said.

The existence of two photographs of the twice-impeached ex-president posing alongside people with strong connections to organised crime raises questions about whether Mr Trump is being adequately staffed as he ramps up his third campaign for the presidency.

In November, Mr Trump was photographed having dinner with antisemitic rapper Kanye West and an associate of his, notorious white nationalist podcast host Nick Fuentes.

Despite the denials from Mr Trump’s campaign, it’s possible that he knew of both Mr Alite and Mr Merlino. Both were active in organised crime circles in the 1980s and 1990s, when Mr Trump was active in New York City real estate development.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Photo of former President Donald Trump and Philadelphia mob boss Joey Merlino surfaces

They share an affinity for golf and an aversion to cooperating witnesses who “flip” to help federal investigators.

But former President Donald Trump and Philly mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino don’t have much to say about how they wound up in a photo together at a South Florida golf course.

Trump posed for the photo with Merlino earlier this month at Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach. The two, along with an unidentified third man, flash Trump’s customary “thumbs-up” hand signs and smiles while wearing golfing attire.

Does Trump know Merlino? Or at least who he was?

His presidential campaign won’t say

The photo, obtained by The Inquirer, is likely to renew concerns among Trump loyalists eager to help him retake the White House next year that he still lacks the sort of protective political infrastructure that would prevent a candidate for president from taking a picture with a convicted mobster whose last stint in federal prison ended in mid-2020.

“President Trump takes countless photos with people. That does not mean he knows every single person he comes in contact with,” said a Trump spokesperson after The Inquirer shared a copy of the photo with his campaign.

The spokesperson did not respond when asked if Trump knew Merlino, or his background.

Trump sparked outrage when he dined Nov. 22 at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach private club and residence, with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who had shown up with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who was under fire then for a series of antisemitic remarks.

That now-notorious dinner happened just one week after Trump announced his third bid for president.

Trump later complained about the outcry, claiming he didn’t know Fuentes or about his fiercely bigoted ideology. Still, Democrats and Republican critics railed about the dinner, and Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, called on him to apologize.

The fallout prompted Trump’s campaign to enact new protocols for vetting and approving people he met with. Those protocols were not apparently followed at Trump’s golf course this month.

Merlino did not respond to requests for comment.

In the slightly blurry photo, Merlino wears a gray polo shirt, dark shorts, and sneakers. A source who provided the photo and requested anonymity to discuss it, said the third man pictured is a friend of Merlino’s. That man also wears a polo shirt, shorts, and sneakers along with a red “Keep America Great” baseball cap.

Trump is shown wearing a white polo shirt, dark pants, white golf shoes, and a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.

Merlino has made clear in the past that he admires Trump. It is unclear if Trump feels the same.

Trump and Merlino were well-known and on the rise in the Philadelphia region in the 1990s — for very different reasons.

Trump was a prominent New York real estate developer with a growing collection of casinos in Atlantic City in the 1990s.

Merlino was a leader of a violent crew on his way up to being boss of an organized crime operation active in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

Trump’s casino empire was eventually mired in bankruptcy, but his star continued to rise, with increased fame from a reality television series the following decade and then a successful run for president in 2016.

Merlino was convicted in 2001 in a racketeering case and served a decade in federal prison. He had claimed more recently to have left that life behind, moving to Boca Raton in Florida to work as maĆ®tre d’ at an Italian restaurant named after him.

The restaurant closed after Merlino’s most recent run-in with the feds, which led to a two-year sentence in October 2018 when he pleaded guilty to a gambling-related charge. Merlino, after being sentenced, echoed comments from Trump at the time that were critical of witnesses who cooperate with federal investigators.

“President Trump is right — they’ve got to outlaw the flippers,” said Merlino, who was released from prison in July 2020.

Trump in August 2018 said the practice of prosecutors “flipping” people accused of crimes into witnesses who testify against others “almost ought to be illegal” after his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to a campaign finance crime — paying women to keep quiet about affairs they had with Trump —and implicated his former client.

Merlino was pulled into Trump’s orbit in the weeks after the 2020 general election when a website known for trafficking in misinformation falsely claimed he had been paid $3 million to help Joe Biden win Philadelphia with thousands of fake ballots.

Jordan Sekulow, an attorney who had served in late 2019 and early 2020 on Trump’s legal team for his first impeachment, gave that false claim a public boost by tweeting a link to the website.

The claim was swiftly debunked by several media organizations, including Fox News. Even Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, called the claim “far-fetched.”

Still, it caused Merlino some agita.

“Joey is a Trumper and any allegation of fixing this is just completely fiction,” an attorney for Merlino told Fox News at the time, adding that his client “is against cooperating witnesses and against making uncorroborated deals with snitches, which is what the president is against.”


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Massive indictment unveiled against 24 people and 26 companies in $5 million construction kickback and bribery scheme

Shackled men are led into a police van.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”) Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber, and NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell today announced the indictment of 24 individuals and 26 companies for a wide-ranging construction industry kickback scheme that corrupted the competitive bidding process for dozens of contracts over more than 8 years. Led by ROBERT BASELICE (known professionally as Robert Basilice), 51, in conjunction with associates including LOUIS ASTUTO, 58, PAUL NOTO, 43, and FRANK CAMUSO, 59, the alleged scheme resulted in the theft of more than $5,000,000 from BASELICE’s firm’s clients.

The 83-count New York County Supreme Court indictment charges all 50 defendants with Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. The defendants also face varying charges of Grand Larceny in the First, Second, and Third Degrees, Commercial Bribing in the First Degree, Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree, Donnelly Act violations (bid-rigging), and Money Laundering in the Second and Fourth Degrees.

“When the bidding process is rigged, we all lose,” said District Attorney Bragg. “The market suffers from a lack of quality competition, developers are prevented from hiring the best companies at fair prices, and – importantly – honest, law-abiding companies are pushed out by those that broke the law. I hope this indictment sends a message that the Manhattan D.A.’s Office and our partners at the DOI and NYPD will not tolerate bribery, corruption, or fraud. We will use our combined expertise and resources to ensure free competition and a fair market.”

DOI Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber said, “Bribery and kickbacks should not be costs of doing business in this City. As charged, Robert Baselice and his co-defendants conspired with subcontractors to inflate their bids for work on construction projects, in a pay-to-play scheme that lined the defendants’ pockets at the expense of developers. This Indictment shows that construction firms in this City must operate with honesty and integrity or face the consequences. I want to thank the prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and investigators from the NYPD and DOI who collaborated to bring these important charges.”

“BIC applauds DANY, DOI, and the NYPD for their work on this case,” said BIC Commissioner and Chair Elizabeth Crotty. “This investigation demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement to root out criminality and organized crime in the construction industry, as well as the importance of interagency collaboration to maintain public safety. Fraud and anticompetitive business practices that harm New Yorkers will not be tolerated.”

“Over a period of more than eight years, these defendants stole millions of dollars through their criminal behavior, fraud, and corruption,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “The NYPD and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who seeks to betray the public’s trust for profit, and we will hold them fully accountable for their actions. I want to thank and commend the Office of the Manhattan District Attorney, the New York City Department of Investigation, and everyone who worked on this important case.”

The indictment was the result of a joint investigation by the Manhattan D.A.’s Office’s Rackets Bureau, DOI, and the NYPD Criminal Enterprise Investigative Section.

According to court documents, as a Vice President of a construction management firm, BASELICE had authority over the firm’s subcontractor bidding process. In this position, BASELICE was responsible for providing developers with truthful and accurate information and acting in their best interests on properties that included some of the most significant high-rise construction projects in Manhattan, including: 11 Stone Street (the FiDi Hotel), 12 East 48th Street (Hilton Club The Central at 5th New York), 75 Kenmare Street, 101 West 28th Street (the Remy), 106 West 56th Street (the Six office building), 189 Bowery (the citizenM New York Bowery Hotel), 250 Fifth Avenue (the Fifth Avenue Hotel), and 396 Broadway (the Walker Hotel Tribeca).

Instead, from April 2013 through July 2021, BASELICE used his position to steal from his firm’s developer clients by:

  1. Directing his project team to include specific co-conspirator subcontractors on project bidder lists,
  2. Providing inside information about competitors’ bids to co-conspirator subcontractors, and
  3. Directing the co-conspirator subcontractors to raise their bids to a dollar amount that included a kickback for BASELICE, room to negotiate with the developers, and as much profit as possible within the developers’ budgets.

BASELICE then lobbied developers on behalf of the co-conspirator subcontractors and participated in the final negotiations, including pretending to strong-arm the subcontractors to lower their price – in what he referred to as his “dog and pony show” – in a false display of loyalty to the developers. Developers were unlikely to reject BASELICE’s recommendations for subcontract awards because if they did, they bore the risk of any subsequent cost overrun.

In exchange for manipulating the bidding process to benefit certain subcontractors, the subcontractors paid kickbacks to BASELICE, his company DVA GROUP, LLC, and other companies, including those owned by ASTUTO and NOTO. ASTUTO and NOTO then distributed a portion of the proceeds to companies owned by CAMUSO and his family. In total, the subcontractors paid more than $4,200,000 in kickbacks to BASELICE (and companies and individuals related to him) and more than $2,800,000 in kickbacks to companies controlled by BASELICE’s associates, including ASTUTO and NOTO.

Though this corrupted bidding process, the conspirators stole from the developers by purposefully inflating subcontracts and knowingly charging higher prices. BASELICE also recommended change orders for the co-conspirator subcontractors after they were hired, generating additional income for the subcontractors and additional kickbacks to BASELICE. In total, the defendants stole more than $5,000,000 from the developers over the course of the conspiracy.

As a result, subpar work was sometimes completed by unqualified subcontractors and developers complained. In one instance, HVAC firm TRV Mechanical Contractors, Inc., had only done work on smaller residential jobs and was tasked with installing a heating and cooling system for The Remy, a 32-story condominium tower in Chelsea.

In another project, Earth Structures, Inc., was hired to pour concrete foundations for the Fifth Avenue Hotel and Hilton Club The Central at 5th New York, but had to be taken off both projects when they took payment from developers but failed to pay their vendor bills.    

For a summary of the allegations against the 24 individuals and 26 companies charged within the indictment, please see the Statement of Facts here.

Assistant D.A.s Meredith McGowan, Guy Tardanico, and Jaime Hickey-Mendoza are handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Michael Ohm, Deputy Chief of the Rackets Bureau; Judy Salwen, Principal Deputy Chief of the Rackets Bureau; and Jodie Kane, Chief of the Rackets Bureau; as well as Executive Assistant D.A. Christopher Conroy (Senior Advisor to the Investigation Division). Forensic Accounting Investigator Reginal Lau; Former Assistant D.A. Brian Foley; Trial Preparation Assistants Eleanor Bock, Rachel Broomer, Benjamin Karam, Violet Michel, Shriya Shinde, and Srivatsan Senthilkumar; former Trial Preparation Assistants Annie Bell, Matthew Ender-Silberman, Madeleine Lippey, Emma Olcott, Alex Prior, Morgan Spencer, and Elena Syman; Data Specialist Olivia Savell; High Technology Analysis Unit Director Steven Moran, Supervising Investigator Lawrence Hayes, and Analyst Boris Vestfrid; and retired Financial Investigators William Tamparo and Michael Kelly assisted with the investigation.

D.A. Bragg thanked the New York City Department of Investigation, in particular Assistant Inspector General Dan Taylor, Chief Investigator James McElligot, and Inspector General Gregory Cho; and the NYPD Criminal Enterprise Investigative Section, in particular retired Detectives Nicholas Lagano and Ignazio Conca; Detective Jose Ortiz, Sergeant Joseph Rivera, and Lieutenant Benjamin Nelson for their partnership in the investigation.


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Mansion from Growing Up Gotti show is foreclosed


Victoria Gotti’s mansion featured in the hit reality show “Growing Up Gotti” has been foreclosed on by a bank, real estate records show.

Located in Old Westbury, New York, the estate was auctioned off on Oct. 26, 2022, and received an offer of $2.65 million by JP Morgan Chase National Bank.

The referee’s deed, which transfers ownership from the foreclosed property to the highest bidder, went through to the bank on Dec. 7, 2022, according to the records, obtained by Page Six exclusively.

Gotti, 60, didn’t immediately return our request for comment.

The estate, which was first owned by Gotti’s infamous mob-boss father, John Gotti, has been abandoned since September 2016 when the FBI raided it and an auto parts store in Queens run by her sons with her mobbed-up ex-husband, Carmine Agnello.

The reasons for the searches were not publicly disclosed at the time, but it later came out that the Feds busted in as part of a tax fraud investigation involving Victoria’s three sons, John, Carmine and Frank.

Despite appearances, Victoria told Page Six in 2019 that she didn’t consider herself a mob “princess.”

“The preconceived notions about my life that I’d like to change or make people more aware of — correct — is that I think the whole aura that life was just so easy and I was this princess my whole life. It was anything but that,” she shared with us.

“Through the grace of God, I’ve had a great chance to live an amazing life — an amazing, an amazing life,” Victoria added. “I grew up dirt-poor. I don’t know what this whole princess thing is about and was about.”

Known as “Teflon Don” or “Dapper Don,” John became famous in the 1980s after he took over the Gambino crime family, which was one of the most powerful mobs in America. He was convicted on 14 accounts of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering and sentence to multiple life terms.

He died of throat cancer on June 10, 2002. He was 61.


Monday, January 16, 2023

Infamous and powerful Italian mafia boss arrested after 30 years on the run


The Italian police on Monday arrested the country’s most wanted fugitive, Matteo Messina Denaro, a mafia boss who had eluded the authorities for three decades and was convicted in absentia of murder and other crimes.

Mr. Messina Denaro, 60, was arrested in a hospital in Palermo, in his native Sicily, where he was undergoing treatment, according to Pasquale Angelosanto, a general with the Italian national police.

Law enforcement had considered Mr. Messina Denaro the heir to Salvatore Riina, the “boss of bosses” who was responsible for a series of brutal killings of Italian prosecutors and police officers in the 1990s. Mr. Riina was captured in 1993, also in Palermo, and spent the rest of his life in prison. He died in 2017.

The Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, flew to Sicily to congratulate the police and prosecutors for the arrest of the “most significant representative of mafia syndicates,” her office said in a statement.

“We didn’t win the war, we didn’t defeat the mafia, but this was a fundamental battle to win,” Ms. Meloni told reporters in impromptu remarks at the main Palermo courthouse. “This is a hard blow to organized crime.” 

“Italy has never thrown in the towel,” she said. “It is stronger than the mafia.”

President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, whose brother, Piersanti Mattarella, was murdered by the mafia in 1980 while serving as Sicily’s governor, phoned the police and prosecutors on Monday to congratulate them on the arrest.

Mr. Messina Denaro maintained power even while in hiding, mostly managing assets and infiltrating legal economic enterprises including solar energy companies and large-scale distribution, investigators said. In 2020, he was sentenced to a life term in absentia for his role in the 1992 murders of two anti-mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and bombings in 1993 in Florence, Milan and Rome that left 10 people dead.

Prosecutors say that he was also involved in the 1993 kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, to pressure his father to stop revealing mafia secrets to the authorities. The boy’s remains were later found dissolved in acid.

Police officials say that Mr. Messina Denaro was linked to dozens of murders in the 1990s, including the strangulation of a pregnant woman whose partner was seen as a threat to his clan, and had been killed days earlier.

“One of the most dramatic seasons of the republic’s history closes today,” Carlo Nordio, the Italian justice minister, said in a statement on Monday. “The work of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and all the state’s servants who gave their life to defend democratic values, has continued.”

The police had tried several times to apprehend Mr. Messina Denaro after he went underground in June 1993, but officials said that a network of collaborators in Sicily, especially in the western Trapani region, helped him evade arrest.

Mr. Messina Denaro was born to a mafia-affiliated family, and his own father died in hiding in 1998. He disappeared from public life at the age of 31, soon after the arrest of Mr. Riina. The Cosa Nostra syndicate — the mafia based in Sicily — was led at the time by Bernardo Provenzano, like Mr. Riina a member of the Corleone family, who pulled back from Mr. Riina’s war against the state and the killings of top investigators and journalists.

Mr. Provenzano was arrested in 2006, after 13 relatively quiet years of criminal activities. His most likely successors appeared to be Mr. Messina Denaro and Salvatore Lo Piccolo, but Mr. Lo Piccolo was arrested a year later.

Only Mr. Messina Denaro remained at large, surrounded by an increasing aura of mystery. Known as a ruthless boss with a penchant for designer clothes and playboy inclinations, he communicated with associates through letters and handwritten messages that he avoided drafting personally. Most of his closest relatives have been arrested over the years for mafia-related crimes, but they never betrayed him.

For decades, the police had little evidence to track him down.