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

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Genovese Crime Family Remains Mafia Powerhouse

Vincent "Chin" "Gigs" Giga...Former Genovese Boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante
Staten Island jeweler Louis Antonelli didn't know he was being watched when he left El Sabor Tropical restaurant in April 2008.
As he placed containers of takeout food in the back of his GMC Yukon, two hooded men pulled up beside him and demanded the precious stones they knew he always carried on him in two stuffed briefcases.
But instead of simply grabbing the bags, one of the flustered thugs, Charles Santiago, a 26-year-old hothead with a rap sheet a mile long, shot Antonelli, 43, twice in the chest, sources said.
As the jeweler collapsed to the ground in the Staten Island parking lot, the thugs sped off, leaving $260,000 in bling and cash in the jeweler's car.
Strangely, the man Antonelli had hired to protect him from exactly this scenario, retired NYPD Sgt. Jason Aiello, was still in the restaurant, seated at a table, unarmed.
Investigators have now revealed to The Post the motive for the killing, which was first believed to be a mob hit.
Antonelli had stopped paying protection money to the Genoveses, and the crime family wasn't pleased. They wanted their money, and robbing the wholesale jeweler was the easiest way to get it.
They didn't mean for Antonelli to die -- which he did, a few days later -- but in the end, he was just another casualty in the crime family's bloody history.
The FBI last week picked up a sixth man allegedly involved in the botched heist. John "Whiz" Delutro, 32, was charged as an accomplice to the shooting for acting as a lookout that day, and more arrests are expected soon, sources said.
The bloodshed did not end with Antonelli's murder. His trusted friend and sometimes-bodyguard, Aiello, 36, was killed a month later in a shootout with cops.
After being questioned by FBI agents about his involvement in the murder, Aiello had a breakdown and began quoting Scripture and behaving erratically. His family checked him into a psych ward, but he escaped hours later and returned to his Rosebank home.
Clutching a Bible and carrying two 9mm guns, Aiello ushered his wife and pajama-clad kids outside, hoping to get them out of the state.
"Follow me, I am the chosen one," he said, according to a neighbor.
But he was soon surrounded by cops.
"Do you believe in God?" he asked an officer before opening fire.
He died in a hail of bullets as his wife crouched next to him in a cousin's SUV, his children huddling in the family's minivan nearby.
Law-enforcement sources said that if he had lived, it's possible he would have been indicted in the jeweler's death.
While New York's four other crime families wallow in disarray -- the super-secretive Genovese family is still the biggest and the baddest of La Cosa Nostra, according to law-enforcement officials.
"They're the most efficient family because they're so secretive. People within the family don't even know who each other are, or who is in charge," said Dave Shafer, head of the FBI's Organized Crime program.
"They are very disciplined in their criminal plots, and they keep their hit teams small. Infiltration by law enforcement is very difficult," he said.
"They continue to use violence to ensure compliance."
The Gambinos took a major hit when they lost their acting boss, underboss and consigliere in a federal sweep in 2008. The Colombos' street boss, Tommy "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, was picked up on murder charges last year. The Bonannos' 38-year-old Sicilian street boss was deported earlier this year, and the small Luchese family, with only about 100 members, has never recovered from its trigger-happy underboss, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, who went on a paranoid killing spree within the family.
In contrast, the Genoveses are likely ruled by a panel of elder statesmen who divide power and keep low profiles. Investigators are never sure who wields power in the family, sources said.
Current wisdom holds that Liborio "Barney" Bellomo, Ernest "Ernie" Muscarella, Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo, Tino Fiumara and Lawrence "Little Larry" Dentico are all in charge to some degree.
And while the other families are plagued by rats, the Genoveses have very few members who turn government witness. Bonanno boss Joe Massino flipped for the feds in a shocking move, as did his underboss Salvatore Vitale. Two of Gambino don John Gotti Sr.'s right-hand men, Sammy "Bull" Gravano and Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, are trotted out to testify at mob trials on a rotating basis.
Each time a "made" man flips, a crime family takes a huge hit. Agents can take down whole crews and can learn how the family operates and where the power resides.
By remaining tight-lipped, the Genovese family -- the largest crime clan, with anywhere from 250 to 400 members, sources said -- are able to consolidate power, grow and rake in huge amounts of ill-gotten gains.
"We haven't had widespread disruption of the Genoveses like we had with the other families," said Shafer.
While John Gotti Sr. flaunted his status and his power and was seen all over town in flashy suits, legendary Genovese godfather Vincent "Chin" Gigante for decades pretended to be mentally ill -- walking around in a bathrobe, urinating in the street, muttering to himself and generally behaving like a mad man.
He was never picked up on a wiretap, and avoided prosecution for far longer than the other family bosses. In more than 30 years as head of the family, he was able to consolidate the family's power over labor unions, the Javits Convention Center, the Fulton Fish Market and the San Gennaro Festival, among other lucrative rackets.
Made guys who even uttered his name had a death warrant placed on their heads. Instead, they could only point to or rub their chins when they wanted to reference him, said Shafer.
"Gigante's secrecy permeated the ranks -- and it still exists," he said. "If someone in the Genovese family slips up, they're dead before you know it."
The Genovese family has its roots in the Italian criminal gangs run by gangster Joseph Masseria in the 1920s. Masseria started the famous "Castellammarese War" in 1928 but was killed by Charles "Lucky" Luciano, who became the first boss of the Genovese family and set up what is known as the "Commission," or ruling body of the five families.
In 1946, Luciano was deported to Italy and mobster Frank Costello led the family until its namesake, Vito Genovese, took control by sending then-soldier Gigante to murder Costello.
Costello survived the attempted hit but ceded control anyway. When Genovese died in his prison cell in 1969, Gigante became the secret boss of the family, a fact that stayed hidden from the other families and law enforcement for years.
In 1997, The Chin was convicted of racketeering and murder conspiracy and sentenced to 12 years, although he continued to run the family from prison. He died there in 2005.
The family known for its history of brutal efficiency still maintains an iron grip on its members.
In April, another longtime Genovese associate, William Romano, 71, was bludgeoned to death, along with his girlfriend, Elviza Aronova, 37, over a drug deal gone awry.
Romano had been running things on the street for his capo, Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardo, who was cooling his heels in prison. Lombardo was a known heroin dealer who was in constant contact with Romano, even while in the can, sources said.
But Romano had recently borrowed $200,000 from the Bonanno crime family to negotiate a heroin deal, The Post has learned, and apparently didn't pay it back.
A few days later, he and his girlfriend became two more mob fatalities.
No arrests have been made in that case. Lombardo died in prison a few months later.
The Genoveses even reputedly had a family capo, Larry Ricci, killed while he was on trial for extortion in Brooklyn federal court in 2005.
He'd refused to take a plea, and the family was reportedly not happy that he was going to take the stand in his defense, opening up the clan to scrutiny from federal prosecutors.
One day, he didn't show up at the courthouse. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest. It wasn't necessary. A month later, he was found in the trunk of a car outside the Huck Finn Diner in Union, NJ.
The case remains unsolved.



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