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

Monday, August 15, 2011

State probe may touch jailed mob underboss

An ongoing state investigation into a South Philadelphia drug-trafficking and loan-sharking ring may create additional criminal problems for jailed mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino.
Massimino, 61, is suspected of financing part of the operation, according to court documents.
Charges are expected to be filed later this year in the case, which is being handled by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.
In a motion filed in federal court earlier this month, authorities said the investigation was focused on convicted South Philadelphia drug dealer William "Billy" Andrews, whom they described as a "close associate" of Massimino's.
The motion includes allegations that the Andrews organization dealt in the illegal sale of prescription drugs and that an Andrews associate lied to federal authorities to "protect" Massimino, who allegedly had financed at least one major drug buy for the organization.
Much of the information comes from recorded conversations picked up on a wiretap of Andrews' phone and a bug planted in his Mercedes-Benz earlier this year.
Andrews is on supervised release after serving a 12-year federal sentence for drug dealing. He was released from prison in January 2009, according to prison records.
A law enforcement source said last week the state investigation could be turned over to federal authorities for prosecution and that any charges filed against Massimino would then be added to a racketeering case pending against him and several other top mob figures.
Massimino was jailed in May along with reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and 11 others on federal racketeering charges linked to a mob-run gambling and loan-sharking ring.
Andrews, 51, has been described by investigators as a longtime South Philadelphia mob associate. He was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in 1998 after being convicted of dealing in large quantities of methamphetamine.
Andrews' apartment on Passyunk Avenue was one of several locations raided in April by investigators with the state Attorney General's Office. Search warrants indicated the raids were part of an investigation into loan-sharking and the illegal sale of prescription drugs, including oxycodone.
More details about that investigation surfaced at a bail-revocation hearing in U.S. District Court on Wednesday for Robert Cohen, who authorities say worked for Andrews in the drug operation and served as his driver.
Cohen was arrested in May 2010 after trying to buy a large quantity of oxycodone and ecstasy from an undercover federal agent.
He subsequently pleaded guilty and had been free on bail pending sentencing.
Conversations between Cohen and Andrews were cited in a bail-revocation motion filed by federal prosecutors who allege that while out on bail, Cohen worked for Andrews and took part in the drug conspiracy that is now the focus of the state probe.
Authorities allege that Cohen, 24, admitted to Andrews in secretly recorded conversations that he lied to federal authorities after pleading guilty and asking for a lenient sentence in the federal case pending against him.
In one conversation recorded on March 15, Cohen said he offered "minuscule" information and did not provide authorities with anything they didn't already know.
Andrews said he understood, according to the motion, telling Cohen, "They know the answer to the question before they ask you the question."
Cohen also said he did not disclose the name of the person who financed the drug buy that led to his arrest.
"My main thing was protecting, you know who I was trying to protect," Cohen said, according to a transcript that is part of the court record.
Court documents indicate that investigators believe Massimino supplied the $57,925 seized when Cohen was arrested in a drug sting set up at the Hilton Hotel near the airport in May 2010.
At the bail-revocation hearing on Wednesday, federal prosecutors cited Cohen's alleged involvement in the Andrews drug ring and the tapes made by state investigators to support their request to have Cohen's bail revoked.
After a brief hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Maryann McLaughlin agreed, ordering Cohen jailed pending sentencing in the federal drug case.
She set sentencing for sometime in September.
The tapes allegedly include conversations between Andrews and Cohen in which they discuss the drug operation and the state investigation. Two of the tapes were played at Wednesday's hearing.
State investigator Michael McIlmail also testified about a third recorded conversation in Andrews' car in which Cohen allegedly threatened potential witnesses, saying, "They're going to have to deal with me."
Details of conversations recorded on March 3, 14, and 15 and April 29 were also cited in a nine-page bail-revocation motion.
The April 29 conversation occurred one day after state investigators served search warrants at Andrews' apartment and nearly a dozen other locations.
Authorities said documents, cash, and a small amount of prescription pills were seized.
In the conversation, according to the court document, Andrews told Cohen he was not worried about the loan-sharking allegations.
"They ain't got me for sharking," he is quoted as saying, adding that anyone he lent money to would say "I lent them money with no interest."
But Andrews did express concern over the sale of prescription pills, telling Cohen he believed one of his customers was now cooperating with authorities.
"The worst they got me for is drugs," he allegedly said to Cohen. "But how many pills?"
Then, the court document indicates, Andrews answered his own question, telling Cohen he had sold the cooperator "50,000 of them."
In an earlier conversation, Andrews indicated he was making $1.50 on each pill, which would make that one transaction worth $75,000 in profit.
Andrews has long been associated with South Philadelphia organized crime. His 1998 conviction for dealing meth was tied to a drug ring run by the late Louis Turra Jr., a South Philadelphia crime figure who in the late 1990s was involved in a bloody underworld conflict with a faction of the mob headed by Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.
Turra died in prison. His father was killed gangland-style while on trial for federal racketeering and drug-dealing.
Massimino has been described as a career criminal with an arrest record dating back more than 30 years. He has convictions for racketeering, gambling, and drug dealing and has spent about half of his adult life behind bars.
State investigators described Cohen as a "wannabe wiseguy" who talks a better game than he plays. He was arrested on May 25, 2010, trying to buy oxycodone and ecstasy from an undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in a sting set up at the Hilton Hotel near Philadelphia International Airport.
The drugs included 11,000 oxycodone pills and 10,000 ecstasy tablets. Cohen subsequently pleaded guilty to drug charges and had been free on $50,000 bail awaiting sentencing.



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