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

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Chicago mobster requests early prison release due to coronavirus fears

Reputed mob boss Michael “the Large Guy” Sarno says 10 years behind bars has reduced him to “a senior citizen with severe medical issues,” and he wants out of federal prison early because of the “deadly risk” of the pandemic.

A petition filed Monday seeks compassionate release for the 62-year-old Sarno, who was sentenced to 25 years in 2012 for ordering the bombing of a rival business in Berwyn to protect his illegal and lucrative video poker operation.

“Mr. Sarno poses no danger to any person or to his community,” the petition argues. “Between his multitude of medical issues and confinement to a wheel chair, he is no longer the Michael Sarno of the past.”

“For anybody to suggest that Mr. Sarno belongs in jail and that he is a violent offender — it’s wrong, it’s misplaced,” Sarno’s lawyer, John Chwarzynski, told the Tribune Tuesday. “Mr. Sarno should be back at home. He should be with his family.”

When he was sentenced, a federal judge noted that the bombing took place on a public street in Berwyn and that Sarno was willing to endanger people who might have been nearby. “The need to protect the public is very high,” the judge said.

Sarno’s crew also engaged in smash-and-grab robberies in which hundreds of thousands of dollars in gems were stolen from jewelry stores and then fenced at a Cicero pawnshop operated by the Outlaws motorcycle gang, according to prosecutors.

The petition argues that the 25-year sentence was overly harsh, contending the evidence against Sarno was not strong and the judge wrongly considered him a career criminal. “By keeping Mr. Sarno in jail, they are now essentially changing his sentence to the death penalty, and that’s not right,” Chwarzynski said.

The petition details a host of medical problems: “Empyema of the lungs, chronic obstructive asthma, iron deficiency anemia, benign hypertrophy of prostate, an enlarged gallbladder, renal failure, an elevated white blood cell count, he is 100% incontinent, hypertension, osteoarthritis of the knees requiring two total knee replacements, and is unable to walk and ambulates with a wheel chair.”


Friday, July 31, 2020

Man with links to Gambino family accused of defrauding investors


Federal officials say a convicted felon with mob ties and his wife fraudulently raised more than half a billion dollars from investors for their company, which loaned cash to small businesses at interest rates as high as 400 percent.

Convicted felon Joseph LaForte, who goes by the name Joe Mack, and his wife Lisa McElhone founded Par Funding in 2011 — the same year he was released from prison for stealing $14 million in a real estate scam and, in a separate case, for running an illegal gambling operation.

Par Funding issued $600 million in loans to small businesses across the U.S. since its inception, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission’s complaint filed July 24 in a Florida federal court.

The company raised the funds from more than 1,200 investors by “scheming and lying” — including making the false claim that their loans had a default rate of less than one percent when it was actually more than 10 percent, the complaint alleges.

“The fraudulent scheme operates behind multiple veils of secrecy built on the defendants’ lies,” the complaint charges.

The couple, based in Philadelphia, used unregistered sales agents to raise cash for which they were investigated by Pennsylvania securities regulators in 2018.

LaForte, whose grandfather, nicknamed “Joe the Cat,” and his uncle “Buddy,” were made men in the Gambino crime family, went to great lengths to hide his criminal past from potential investors using several aliases, according to Bloomberg and court papers.

The complaint accuses the couple and their agents of violating federal securities law and wants the court to freeze their assets, impose civil fines and appoint a receiver to protect investors.

LaForte and McElhone couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Lucchese mobsters sentenced to life in prison for murder of Purple Gang leader

A trio of reputed New York mobsters — including one who was accused of plotting to break out of jail by losing weight — were sentenced to life in prison Monday for carrying out a Bronx hit in 2013.
A slimmed-down Christopher Londonio, Matthew Madonna and Terrence Caldwell were all given life in federal court in White Plains for the slaying of former Purple Gang leader Michael Meldish in Throggs Neck in 2013.
Madonna, the former acting boss of the Lucchese family, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy for ordering the hit over an unpaid gambling debt.
At his sentencing Monday, an elderly Madonna continued to plead his innocence.
“I am innocent. I had absolutely nothing to do with the tragic death of Michael Meldish. I conspired with no one,” he said.
Londonio, a friend of Meldish’s, was convicted of luring him out of his house and driving him to the scene of the hit, where Caldwell blasted him.
While awaiting trial for the slaying, prosecutors accused Londonio of plotting to escape the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn by losing a huge amount of weight and using braided dental floss to begin “perforating the glass” at the lockup.
The alleged crash-diet prison break plan landed Londonio on the front page of The Post with the headline “The Veal Shank Redemption,” but he was later acquitted of the escape charge.
A lawyer for Londonio previously said he intends to appeal his conviction.


Friday, July 10, 2020

New Jersey based Lucchese soldier pleads not guilty to assaulting husband of reality show star

The ex-husband of a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member and a reputed mobster have pleaded not guilty to plotting to assault the star’s current husband.
Tommy Manzo, 55, of Franklin Lakes, NJ, allegedly hired John Perna, 43, a purported soldier in the Lucchese crime family, to attack the new beau of Manza’s ex-wife, Real Housewives star Dina Manzo, in July 2015.
Both men pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges Wednesday during an arraignment hearing conducted through videoconferencing in New Jersey federal court.
Perna, of Cedar Grove, used a slap jack to beat David Cantin, the TV star’s current husband, in a strip-mall parking lot in Passaic County, the federal indictment said.
In return for the attack, Tommy Manzo allegedly gave Perna a hefty discount to throw a large wedding reception the following month at a Paterson catering hall that Tommy co-owned.
Perna threw a “lavish wedding reception at Manzo’s restaurant for a fraction of the price.” More than 330 people attended the soiree, including scores of Lucchese mobsters, prosecutors said.
Tommy Manzo, 55, and Perna, 43, both face charges for committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity, as well as fraud and other charges.
Tommy and Dina were married for 11 years before their divorce was finalized in 2016.
Perna, 43, has also pleaded not guilty to beating up Cantin, who was dating Dina Manzo at the time. Cantin and Manzo later tied the knot in 2019.
He was also hit with a count of insurance fraud for falsely reporting his Mercedes Benz was destroyed in 2016 after setting it on fire with other Lucchese mobsters.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Two recently released Lucchese mobsters test positive for coronavirus during home confinement

Baldy and Boobsie got the bug.
Two convicted Lucchese mobsters who got sprung from federal jails early over fears they would catch coronavirus promptly tested positive as soon as they got into home confinement.
It’s not clear how or when Michael "Baldy Mike" Spinelli, 66, and Eugene "Boobsie" Castelle, 60, contracted the potentially deadly disease.
Castelle began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on April 16 while living at home -- roughly 17 days after a judge let him out of his federal lock up in Danbury, Conn.
An asymptomatic Spinelli -- who was supposed to be living 24/7 at his house -- tested positive on June 22, nearly two months after his May 5 release from Manhattan federal jail. Spinelli only learned he had the disease when he got swabbed before a colonoscopy.
The two ex-Lucchese crime family soldiers have now used their coronavirus-positive state to delay next steps in their criminal sentences.
Spinelli is supposed to be locked up until 2029 for his role in the brutal 1992 attempted murder of innocent mom Patricia Capozzalo — whose only crime was being the sister of a mob snitch. Spinelli, who stalked her for weeks before the hit, was the getaway driver who ferried the triggerman to the place where Capozzalo was to be murdered. Capozzalo was hit in the neck, ear and back, but somehow survived the attempt on her life.
Castelle was convicted of racketeering in 2019 for his role in helping run an illegal sports betting website for the crime family and threatening violence to collect mob debts.
Spinelli, who wants to become a yoga teacher, was released in early May by federal judge Raymond Dearie pending a resentencing in his case. He was ordered to surrender himself into federal custody later that month after his hearing, but got the date pushed back because of his positive COVID-19 test.
On Friday, his lawyer submitted papwork asking that Spinelli’s return to prison be delayed yet again.
“Certainly, it is in no one’s interest for Mr. Spinelli to bring the virus into any prison,” attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg wrote.
The judge allowed Spinelli to remain out until July 31 and ordered him two get tested every two weeks.
Castelle’s positive test caused federal prosecutors to request a delay in installing his electronic ankle monitor so he could continue to quarantine.
Hundreds of federal inmates in New York City have applied for release from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic, but only a few dozen have been let out. 


Lucchese mobster is son of former head of crime family's New Jersey operations

The alleged Mafioso accused of assaulting the husband of ex-“Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo is a real “family” guy, authorities say.
Suspect John Perna is the son of reputed former longtime Lucchese crime-family capo Ralph V. Perna, who the feds once accused of running the Mafia faction’s New Jersey operations.
Authorities got a serious glimpse into the inner workings of the alleged crime family-within-a-crime family during the massive takedown of a $2 billion-plus illegal online sports-betting operation in 2010 — and it wasn’t pretty.
Ralph V. and two of his sons — John and Joseph “Little Joe” Perna — were convicted in the scheme, which reflected the Perna criminal dynasty’s reliance on bookmaking, an investigator told the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time.
Wiretaps caught the sons once boasting about “Daddy’s” rise to the top.
Federal tapes also revealed how the sons were initiated as Lucchese soldiers at a ceremony at Joseph’s Toms River home in 2007 — with New York City reputed mob bosses Joseph “Big Joe” DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna in attendance, the paper said.
At one point, Joseph was heard griping on tape, “I made $67,000 in the last 10 days and I don’t have a dollar . . . not a dollar. . . . It goes to the house and this and that and bills.”
Both he and his brother were also caught plotting assaults on those who didn’t pay their debts, the paper said.
In 2016, Ralph V. landed an eight-year prison sentence for his role in the gambling scheme, while his sons got 10 years each, all part of plea deals, NJ.com reported at the time.
John got out of state prison in July 2019 — and was cuffed Tuesday for allegedly assaulting Manzo’s then-boyfriend and now-husband in 2015, the year before he was convicted in the gambling operation.
The feds say John Perna was hired by Manzo’s ex, Tommy Manzo — and in exchange for the assault received a steep discount for his wedding reception at Manzo’s catering hall in Paterson the next month.
Both John Perna and Manzo pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Tuesday.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Former husband of reality TV star and Lucchese soldier busted for assualt and other crimes

The ex-husband of one of the stars of the Bravo television show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” and an organized crime soldier were arrested today on charges of planning and carrying out an assault of the Bravo star’s current husband in exchange for a lavish wedding reception, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Thomas Manzo, 55, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and John Perna, 43, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, are each charged by indictment with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering activity. The indictment also charges Perna – identified in the indictment as a soldier in the Lucchese Crime Family – with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to the submission of a false car insurance claim, and Manzo with falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the violent crime. Both defendants will make their initial appearances today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In the spring of 2015, Manzo, one of the owners of the Brownstone Restaurant in Paterson, New Jersey, allegedly hired Perna to assault his ex-wife’s then-boyfriend in exchange for a deeply discounted wedding reception for Perna held at the upscale venue. Perna, who is a “made man” in the Lucchese Crime Family with his own crew, worked with his associates to plan and carry out the assault, which took place in July of 2015. In exchange for committing the assault, Perna held a lavish wedding reception at Manzo’s restaurant for a fraction of the price, which was paid by another Lucchese associate and close friend of Manzo’s. The wedding and reception, held in August 2015, were attended by approximately 330 people, and included many members of the Lucchese Crime Family.
Separately, prior to the date that Perna was scheduled to begin serving a state prison sentence in January 2016, he falsely reported that his Mercedes Benz was stolen and destroyed. Perna filed an insurance claim for the destruction of the Mercedes Benz in order for the balance due on the Mercedes Benz. However, Perna had staged the vehicle theft and arson with other members of the Lucchese Crime Family.
The charge against Manzo for allegedly falsifying and concealing records related to the federal investigation of the July 2015 assault relates to federal grand jury subpoenas that were sent to the Brownstone Restaurant seeking documents related to the August 2015 Perna wedding reception. Manzo failed to turn over relevant documents in response to those subpoenas and deliberately submitted a false document regarding the reception to the government, along with a false certification. In November 2019, agents with the FBI executed a search warrant at the Brownstone Restaurant and seized invoices for the August 2015 Perna wedding reception and other relevant documents that were not previously turned over.
The violent crime in aid of racketeering activity count against both defendants carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit the violent crime in aid of racketeering activity count against both defendants carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud count against Perna carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years of in prison and a $250,000 fine. The falsifying and concealing records related to a federal investigation count against Manzo carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Joe Denahan in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O’Malley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendall Randolph of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Imprisoned Chicago mob boss asks federal court to toss his sentence

The highest ranking Chicago mob boss now in prison, Jimmy "The Man" Marcello, filed a petition Wednesday afternoon in federal court to have his sentence tossed out.

Marcello, 76, is now challenging his sentence based on the U.S. Supreme Court Davis ruling one year ago today. In that Davis decision, the court narrowly held that enhancements for crimes of violence committed with guns are unconstitutionally vague.

Marcello was one of five top hoodlums convicted in the 2007 Family Secrets racketeering case. Authorities said Marcello delivered Tony "Ant" Spilotro to his death -- found with his brother Michael Spilotro in an Indiana cornfield in June 1986.

James Marcello was sentenced to life in 2009 and is imprisoned at the fed's Supermax facility in Colorado.

"It's one of the least appealing cases and sets of facts for a court to consider in giving somebody a break but the analysis is going to be a legal one. Was he convicted under the statute that Davis was talking about, the Supreme Court was talking about, and can it be applied retroactively, and would it make any difference to him anyway because the crimes were so serious they could have easily have yielded a life in prison sentence even without this," said former federal prosecutor and ABC 7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Federal judge grants Chicago mobster compassionate release due to coronavirus concerns

Mario "the Arm" Rainone will be allowed to immediately leave prison after a federal judge granted him compassionate release Monday due to COVID-19 concerns.

U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber reduced Rainone's 15-year sentence on a gun charge to time served.

Although he's not infected with COVID-19, the court warned Rainone's "relatively advanced age and other health problems" could lead to "major complications" if he were to become sick.

Rainone, nicknamed "the Arm" for his skill at muscling those who have irked the Chicago mob, made a career as a gangland enforcer with a long history various mob rackets. He was doing time for a 2013 case in which authorities found him in possession of a .357 revolver, which, as a convicted felon on parole, was illegal.

In the order, Judge Leineweber writes that he believes the career criminal "likely poses no immediate danger to his community" because he "is optimistic that Rainone understands that given his long criminal history and his advancing age, he is likely to spend the rest of his natural life imprisoned if he breaks the law again."

In his motion for release, Rainone's attorney Joe "the Shark" Lopez wrote that Rainone suffers from a long list of health challenges: skin cancer, cataracts, liver disease, prostate cancer, heart and breathing problems, asthma, tinnitus, cataracts and a tortuous aorta in his heart, which can lead to high blood pressure, aortic insufficiency or premature atherosclerosis.

Rainone has been locked up at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Genovese solder sentenced to four years in prison for racketeering

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that FRANK GIOVINCO was sentenced yesterday to 48 months in prison for extortion conspiracy and participating in a racketeering conspiracy in connection with the Genovese Crime Family’s control of two local chapters of a labor union.  GIOVINCO was convicted on December 3, 2019, following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who also sentenced GIOVINCO.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “For years, Frank Giovinco, as a member of the Genovese Crime Family, instilled fear in victims and perpetrated kickback schemes to tighten the Family’s stranglehold over two labor unions.  For committing these crimes, Giovinco will now spend four years in prison.”
According to the Indictment, evidence admitted at trial, court filings, and statements made in open court:
La Cosa Nostra, also known as the “Mob” or the “Mafia,” operates through entities known as “Families.”  The largest of the families operating in the New York City area is the Genovese Crime Family.  In the early 1990s, GIOVINCO was inserted by the Genovese Crime Family into a scheme to control the waste carting industry in New York City, and as far back as the late-1990s, GIOVINCO was a member of the Genovese Crime Family.
In more recent years, and continuing until 2017, GIOVINCO conspired with other members and associates of the Genovese Crime Family to commit a wide range of crimes to enrich themselves and the Genovese Crime Family, including multiple acts of extortion, honest services fraud, and bribery.  GIOVINCO’s activity for the Genovese Crime Family was centered on two local chapters (the “Unions”) of a labor union.  GIOVINCO participated in a host of schemes designed to manipulate and siphon money from the Unions for the benefit of the Genovese Crime Family.  Among other things, GIOVINCO extorted a financial adviser (the “Adviser”) and a labor union official (“Official-1”) for a cut of commissions made from union investments.  Audio recordings captured GIOVINCO planning to “rattle the cage” of a victim, and to have another victim’s “feet held to the fire.”  When Official-1 failed to pay the commissions demanded by GIOVINCO and other members of the Genovese Crime Family, Official-1’s life was threatened by GIOVINCO and his co-conspirators.  GIOVINCO further plotted to profit from union investments by paying kickbacks to Official-1 and others, in exchange for a cut of future commissions.  GIOVINCO also participated in the long-running extortion of a union president (“Official-2”) for annual tribute payments of more than $10,000, and sought a job at the union for the purpose of exerting control over Official-1 on the Genovese Crime Family’s behalf, and threatening to replace Official-1.
*                *                *
In addition to the prison term, GIOVINCO, 52, of Syosset, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards, the New York City Police Department, and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly J. Ravener, Jason A. Richman, and Justin V. Rodriguez are in charge of the prosecution.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Mom of slain gangster doesnt care if Bonanno mobster catches coronavirus in prison

She’s the mom of a murderous mobster, and she can’t forgive another mobster who took out her son.
Thirty years after Antoinette Tuzzio’s son, a Bonanno family associate, was shot dead by fellow Bonannos in an intra-family hit, she’s still fighting to keep one of the men who orchestrated the rubout in the slammer.
“I don’t want this guy to get out,” Tuzzio said about Daniel “Dirty Danny” Mongelli, former acting captain of the Bonanno crime family, who was part of the conspiracy to murder her son Louis Tuzzio in 1990.
Bonanno organized crime family member Daniel Mongelli is pictured in a government handout.
Bonanno organized crime family member Daniel Mongelli is pictured in a government handout.
Mongelli, now 54, recently underwent radiation treatment for prostate cancer at the federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., where he’s serving out his sentence.
Mongelli contracted prostate cancer and underwent radiation treatment for it while serving out his sentence at FCI Fort Dix. He applied for compassionate release based on his weakened immune system and the threat of contracting coronavirus behind bars.
Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis did not immediately rule on Mongelli’s request at a hearing Friday.
“I don’t care if he gets the COVID,” said an upset Antoinette Tuzzio to her granddaughter after defense lawyers, prosecutors and the judge had all left a teleconference hearing on Mongelli’s application.
“Ma, you’re still on the line. Hang up,” responded Louis Tuzzio’s daughter, who was four when her father was killed.
Louis Tuzzio, pictured, was killed in January 1990 in Brooklyn.
Louis Tuzzio, pictured, was killed in January 1990 in Brooklyn.
The outburst came after Garaufis declined to hear from Tuzzio’s sister and mother earlier in the hearing, though he said he didn’t wish to minimize their pain.
“I am extremely aware of the terrible circumstances of Mr. Tuzzio’s death,” said Garaufis, who presided over Mongelli’s guilty plea in the case back in 2004.
Tuzzio’s killing was the final domino to fall in a series of mob shootings in the late 80s and early 90s.
In 1989, a young Tuzzio was tapped by Bonanno leadership to carry out the murder of Costabile “Gus” Farace, who had murdered a DEA agent named Everett Hatcher in Staten Island.
Farace, who evaded federal authorities for months, was causing problems for the Bonannos.
“Law enforcement officials were placing considerable pressure on the five families within La Cosa Nostra to assist in bringing Farace to justice,” wrote federal prosecutors in court papers.
Instead of turning in the killer, the mob decided to off him.
Tuzzio and fellow mobsters carried Farace’s murder — but during the killing they also shot Gambino crime family associate Joseph Scalfani, who was in the car with Farace.
Alleged Bonanno organized crime family associates, including Anthony Canali, Lawrence Mangano, Fank Lino and Daniel Mongelli, are pictured in 1991.
Alleged Bonanno organized crime family associates, including Anthony Canali, Lawrence Mangano, Fank Lino and Daniel Mongelli, are pictured in 1991.
Sclafani’s death greatly angered Gambino mob boss “Teflon Don” John Gotti, according to the feds. To appease Gotti, then-acting Bonanno boss Anthony Spero ordered Tuzzio killed, court papers say.
In 1990, Mongelli lured Tuzzio, 25, to his killing by leading him to believe he was going to a meeting where he might become a made man — or be killed, federal prosecutors say.
“I was there when Louis Tuzzio was murdered and I knew he was going to be murdered,” said Mongelli when he pleaded guilty in 2004. Mongelli was a lookout.
Tuzzio was found slumped over the steering wheel of a stolen Chevy on Ave. L and E. 4th St in Brooklyn. He was shot many times in the head.
Mongelli was arrested in 2003, 13 years after the Tuzzio killing. He is serving a 24-year sentence imposed in 2004.