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

Monday, December 6, 2010

UPDATE: NLR alderman’s trial on weapons charges to start Tuesday

Colombo crime familyImage via Wikipedia A North Little Rock alderman goes to trial this week on federal weapons charges related to his dealings with a reputed mobster who is also charged in an alleged scheme with a former city council member to rig bids for public works projects.
Alderman Sam Baggett’s trial with George Wylie Thompson begins Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Baggett is charged with six counts in a federal indictment that accuses him of illegally selling guns and ammunition to a known felon, and of lying to federal agents investigating the case.
He could face up to 40 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if convicted.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Authorities say Thompson has connections with the Colombo crime family.
Federal prosecutors plan to use recordings from court-approved wiretaps to established what the government contends was an ongoing conspiracy involving Baggett and Thompson.
UPDATE: The electronic surveillance also yielded evidence federal authorities had planned to use later in Thompson’s separate trial with former North Little Rock alderman Cary Gaines before Gaines pleaded guilty today in a kickback scheme related to city public works projects.
Gaines said during a federal court hearing that he conspired with Thompson to defraud the city of North Little Rock to pay off gambling debts. Gaines said before today’s hearing that he expects to testify at Baggett’s trial.
In a federal court filing Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Hoey said the government plans to introduce taped conversations between Baggett, a former licensed weapons dealer, and Thompson that show they worked together on a straw purchase of a handgun in 2007 in which a Thompson employee picked up a gun at Baggett’s North Little Rock barbershop and no money was exchanged.
Hoey also writes that Baggett “conspired to get ammunition for Thompson” from December 2008 through May 2009.
It was in May 2009 that federal agents seized 147 firearms and 87,911 rounds of ammunition in a search of Thompson’s Cabot home and other properties in northern Pulaski County. Authorities say boxes of ammunition with Baggett’s shipping address were found at Thompson’s property.
Although ammunition sales are not regulated like guns, selling ammunition to a felon is still a crime.
During a November evidence suppression hearing, Baggett acknowledged that he had dealings with Thompson. In a statement to federal agents in June 2009, Baggett said, “They asked me if I sold ammunition to George. I said ‘yes’ and tried to explain.”
Baggett maintains he was not aware of Thompson’s felony convictions at the time he made the deal.
Baggett’s lawyer, John Wesley Hall of Little Rock, would not discuss a possible defense strategy for the trial, but said, “Notice, we haven’t pled guilty.”
Last month, a federal jury convicted Thompson and another reputed mobster, Ralph Francis Deleo of the Boston suburb of Somerville, Mass., on conspiracy and drug trafficking counts.
Thompson could face up to life in prison and Deleo from five to 40 years at sentencing early next year.



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