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The Persicos:
Father and Son

Carmine (Junior) Persico has been the boss of the Colombo family for more than 20 years. He was  the focus of many Daily News Gang Land columns, including three items about letters that the jailed-for life Mafia boss wrote from prison -- a good-natured one to Gang Land, a legal one to a federal judge, and a testy one to Gang Land. It hasn't gone smoothly for Carmine (above left) and his son Alphonse, (above right) but for a long while it looked like Carmine was going to get his way, and that his college educated son, Alphonse, would take over the reigns of the crime family. But Carmine's best laid plans may have gone awry.

Father and son went to trial together in 1986 on federal racketeering charges - and were both convicted. Looking to his legacy, Carmine took his 39-year sentence with a smile, and pleaded for leniency for Alphonse, who got 12 years and was due get out in May, 1993. His release was delayed however when the feds charged Alphonse with complicity in a bloody two year long Colombo family war that left 12 dead and dozens more injured from 1991 to 1993. But Alphonse was acquitted in August, 1994, and sources on both sides of the law said that the prison-hardened mobster was biding his time and would eventually assume the top spot.

In 1996, Carmine's cousin, Andrew Russo, a longtime capo who had also gotten out of federal prison in 1994, took over as the family's acting boss. Carmine, who also was sentenced to 100 years for a conviction in the Commission case and has virtually no chance of getting out of prison alive, meant it as a holding pattern, with son Alphonse, a longtime capo in the crime family, his father's choice to take over the crime family eventually. In early 1999, Russo was convicted of jury tampering, and pleaded guilty to racketeering. And about the same time Russo was going down on the two federal raps, Alphonse was nailed on federal gun charges for possessing loaded weapons while cruising the Florida Keys on his boat "Lookin' Good." In October, 1999, Alphonse, by then the family's acting boss, pleaded guilty to the gun charges in Florida and was arrested on federal loansharking charges in Brooklyn.

On Feb. 10, 2000, Alphonse was sentenced to 18 months on the gun charges. On Jan. 24, 2001, the day he was scheduled to be released, he was indicted on loansharking charges and detained without bail as the feds labelled him a suspect in the May 26, 1999 slaying of Colombo underboss William (Wild Bill) Cutolo. A week later, Alphonse, underboss John (Jackie) DeRoss and nine Colombo associates were hit with racketeering and other federal charges.

Things are not lookin' good for Alphonse. In 2001, he threw in the towel, pleading guilty to a racketeering, loansharking and money laundering indictment in a plea bargain that called for him to forfeit $1 million to the U.S government and get 13 years in prison, meaning he's not due out until 2012. By time he had psyched himself up for the long haul, in 2004, he was indicted for orchestrating the murder of Cutolo, a charge that carries a life sentence upon conviction. Two years later, Alphonse dodged that bullet when a jury hung 10-2 for conviction. He was convicted at his re-trial in late 2007 and was later sentenced to life in prison.  

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Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo

Nick Corozzo 1996 arrest by Florida FBI Nicholas (Little Nick) Corozzo, a powerful Gambino capo who was set to succeed John Gotti as family boss was hit with federal racketeering charges and arrested by the FBI on a sunny beach in Key Biscayne two days before Christmas in 1996. He was ordered held without bail.

The FBI says Corozzo was pushed for the position of boss by Gotti's imprisoned, younger brother Gene, and that Little Nick reluctantly agreed to accept it when Gotti's older brother Peter also backed him for the job. On Jan. 23, 1997 he was snared again, this time in a New York-based FBI sting, and it began to look like he would follow the Gotti brothers to the joint for a long stretch.

 Corozzo pleaded guilty to both indictments and was sentenced to eight years. He began his prison stretch in Fort Dix, N.J.. He was later transferred to a federal prison in McKean, Pennsylvania, finally settling down at a facility in Ashland, Kentucky. He was due to be released on June 11, 2004, but let out a day early when his release date was made a federal holiday in honor of the late President Reagan.

Three years later, after strict supervised release restrictions ended, Little Nick began meeting with family wiseguys and asserting himself in family affairs. As the holiday season approached in late 2007, Little Nick was said to be flexing his mob muscles and vying for the top spot that had eluded him a decade earlier. Corozzo's brother Joseph, who had served for a time as Gotti's bodyguard-chauffeur during the Dapper Don's reign, was the family's consigliere. Another brother, Blaise is a family soldier, and Blaise's twin, Anthony, is a family associate, according to knowledgeable Gang Land sources.

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gaspipe2.jpg (4794 bytes)Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso

Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, onetime underboss of the Luchese crime family, began  cooperating with federal prosecutors and the FBI in early 1994, a little more than a year after he was caught with his pants down while hiding out with an old girlfriend in central New Jersey.  Prior to his capture, he had been a fugitive more than 30 months. After becoming a turncoat, he admitted a role in 36 gangland style slayings, including the spectacular 1986 bombing death of former Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco.

When Casso defected, he gave the feds chapter and verse about two corrupt NYPD detectives who were on his payroll and who had tipped him off to pending indictments and done much worse. They tipped him off about informants -- whom Casso then had murdered -- and even took part in a gangland-style slaying.

The feds had hoped Casso would help bring the corrupt detectives to justice, and had also planned to use him as a witness at the racketeering and murder trial of Genovese boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante. But Casso committed crimes while in a special prison unit for cooperating witnesses, got caught in a lie or two, and never testified at any trial. In the summer of 1998, Gaspipe was sentenced to life without parole.

In late 2004, however, Burt Kaplan the mob associate who was a go-between for Casso and the detectives, so-called Mafia Cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, took up where Casso had left off. In early 2005, the ex-detectives were hit with racketeering charges that included complicity in eight murders from 1986 through 1990, including two in which they fired the fatal shots. On April 6, 2006, they were found guilty of all charges, and like Casso, will likely remain in prison for the rest of their lives .  

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"Frankie Loc"


Gambino family consigliere Frank (Frankie Loc) LoCascio was convicted of murder and racketeering charges along with Gotti in 1992. Like Gotti, Locascio will spend the rest of his life in a federal prison.

LoCascio was present during many tape recorded conversations with Gotti that were played at trial - discussions that had taken place in a bugged apartment above the crime family's Little Italy base of operations, the Ravenite Social Club. LoCascio didn't say much, but he was a good listener as Gotti uttered the most damning evidence against himself, admissions that he ordered the killings of three mobsters who had fallen out of favor.

"When DeeBee got whacked, they told me a story," said Gotti in a reference to the murder of Robert DiBernardo. "I was in jail when I whacked him. I knew why it was being done. I done it anyway. I allowed it to be done."

Louie Milito was killed, said Gotti, because Gravano reported that Milito had badmouthed Gotti: "I took Sammy's word that he talked behind my back. I took Sammy's word."

About Louie DiBono, Gotti explained: "He didn't rob nothing. Know why he's dying? He's gonna die because he refused to come in when I called."

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Leonard DiMaria

Gambino capo Leonard DiMaria, a tough Brooklyn gangster, has served as the  right-hand-man-in-crime for Gambino capo Nicholas (Little Nick) Corozzo for three decades. A codefendant along with Little Nick in the 1987 racketeering case that catapulted Gotti to celebrity status and the cover of Time Magazine, DiMaria provided much comic relief during the often contentious courtroom battles between Gotti's ouspoken lawyer Bruce Cutler and lead prosecutor Diane Giacalone during the contentious seven-month trial. Acquitted along with Little Nick, Gotti and four others, DiMaria was charged with racketeering in a Florida case with Corozzo in December, 1996, and released on bail. A month later, however, he was hit with another racketeering charge, this one in New York, based in part on a three year sting operation in which an FBI agent posed as a fence, whom Lenny quickly befriended.

After six weeks of house arrest, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn convinced a judge that DiMaria was a danger to the community and he joined Corozzo in a federal lockup in Brooklyn to await trials in New York and Florida. While housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center, he and Little Nick got snared in another sting, this one run by the Bureau of Prisons, that snared both wiseguys as well as corrupt correction officers.

He ultimately pleaded guilty in both New York and Florida and was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison - one more than Little Nick. Released in March of 2005, he will be under strict supervised release restrictions until 2008, and hasn't yet begun traveling in the same circles as Little Nick, whose supervised release ended in June of 2007.

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Liborio "Barney" Bellomo

Liborio (Barney) Bellomo was a young, up-and-coming Genovese capo in his early 30s when he was selected as acting family boss following the 1990 racketeering indictment of legendary Mafia boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante. Six years later he was in federal prison, where he's been ever since.

In June, 1996, federal prosecutors in Manhattan hit Bellomo with murder and extortion charges in a racketeering indictment that grew out of an investigation into the family's 70-year-long control of the annual San Gennaro Festival. He passed three lie detector tests about the murder he was charged with, and in 1997, took a plea deal in which he agreed to accept a ten year sentence for extortion charges.

Four years later, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn took their shot at Barney, charging him, Gigante, and six other Genovese wiseguys and associates with labour racketeering stemming from the family's control over the New York and Miami docks. Once again, Bellomo agreed to a plea deal, one that called for an additional four year stretch.

In 2006, two years before Barney was due to be released, federal prosecutors in Manhattan came at him again, hitting him hard again, this time for racketeering and murder in the 1998 slaying of Genovese capo Ralph Coppola, a onetime pal of Barney's whose body has never been found.

After steadfastly maintaining his innocence of the murder for 18 months, on the eve of trial, Barney caved in again, and agreed to a plea bargain. It was originally panned as too lenient by the judge in the case. But several tense, highly charged  proceedings later, after prosecutors conceded that their case had fallen apart, and after an emotional plea by Bellomo's daughter, an attorney whose only case since passing the state bar has been her father's, the judge changed his view and gave him a year and a day.

Barney was due to be released in December, 2008, when he will still be relatively young, 52. His status in the crime family at that time, is an open question. 

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Gangland: Book 'Em


The Canary That Couldn't Fly

Canary Book JacketFor the better part of seven decades, mob aficionados and just plain folk have debated the mysterious demise of Abe (Kid Twist) Reles, who plunged to his death from a sixth floor window of a Coney Island hotel where police were guarding him for a potential court appearance against murderous mob boss Albert Anastasia. 

Most people on both sides of the law have long disputed the official findings by authorities – in 1941 and again in 1951 by a special grand jury – that Reles had been trying to escape from the fortress-like Half Moon Hotel “squealer’s suite” where he had been housed for nearly two years. 

Joe Cago Valachi “I never met anybody who thought Abe went out that window because he wanted to,” said Joe Valachi when he broke his vow of omerta. On the other side of the aisle, prosecutor Burt Turkus, who used Reles as a witness to send killers to the electric chair, wrote in his 1951 book, “Murder Inc.,” that the escape theory made no sense and that foul play was involved. 

Surely, too many years have passed for any positive definitive answer to emerge now to all the questions surrounding Reles’ death to emerge now.  

But, after 10 years of dogged research, a history buff who was born in Brooklyn and settled in Chicago in 1983 has penned a fascinating book that examines all the political machinations and blood and guts violence of the era to some up with a very plausible solution to what may be the most undying unsolved mystery in the history of organized crime in America. 

In “The Canary Sang But Couldn’t Fly,” unknown author Edmund Elmaleh – who became intrigued by the Reles (left) case after first looking into some of his own family’s possible ties to legendary Jewish gangster Lepke Buchalter – not only does an excellent job of relating and analyzing the case’s compelling facts and unanswered questions; he makes it interesting too! 

Through previously classified FBI reports, Elmaleh discloses that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI worked closely with former Brooklyn DA William O’Dwyer to keep Reles alive as he traveled around the country testifying in grand juries from Chicago to Los Angeles. Contrary to his public pronouncements, O’Dwyer, who would later ride Reles’s testimony to two elections as Mayor, “did fear losing Reles to a mob bullet.” 

Sadly, however, just as Elmaleh completed his book last November 6, he died at age 49 of a sudden, massive heart attack.  

“Eddie had just finished doing the flap copy for the book jacket, and had hit the send button,” recalled Kathi Kapell, a medical editor who lived with Elmaleh for 18 years. “One minute he was talking and the next minute he wasn’t.”

Edmund ElmalehWhen Elmaleh began his project, Kapell told Gang Land, “he had an aunt still living in Brooklyn who told him not to get involved. ‘It won’t come to any good,’ she said.”

Five months after his death, Kapell still misses her longtime lover, but has only a little difficulty speaking about his long term project.

“Eddie was an intellectually curious person who loved history, the mob and mafia lore. He was really looking forward to seeing it in print. His first book. But it’s really not painful talking about it. I’m so proud of him,” she said.


FBI's Mr. Big Rips FBI Bosses

Now that the FBI’s super undercover agent has made his network bones on 60 Minutes regarding his astounding secret missions, Gang Land is free to discuss what the ex-G-man has to say about some of his old bosses.  

Warning: It ain’t pretty. 

Joaquin (Jack) Garcia, who took down the leadership of the Gambino crime family in an elaborate sting operation says that “shortsighted” FBI bureaucrats blew a golden opportunity to decimate the “five families” by ending the investigation soon after he was proposed to become a “made man.” 

Garcia also says that a double-dealing supervisor who was the driving force to shut down the 27-month probe took vindictive actions against him that could have blown his cover and gotten him killed because he questioned the decision to end the investigation in early 2005.

Garcia, who was lauded by New York FBI boss Mark Mershon as one of the best undercover agents in the 100-year history of the FBI, levels his accusations in “Making Jack Falcone,” his book that tells the inside story of the agent’s infiltration into the Gambino family. 

The blockbuster book touches on several roles that the burly, 390-pound Cuban-born émigré used during his 26 years on the job, almost all as an undercover agent. But the tell-all tome focuses primarily on his role as “Big Jack Falcone,” a jewel thief and wannabe wiseguy whose work led to the Arnold (Zeke) SquitieriAnthony Megaleconvictions of 32 mobsters and associates, including the family’s two top gangsters in 2005 – acting boss Arnold(Zeke) Squitieri (left) and underboss Anthony (The Genius) Megale. (right) 

In the book, Garcia praises and thanks by name hundreds of agents, prosecutors and other federal, state and local law enforcers who helped him pull off the Falcone sting and scores of other undercover roles he played to nail numerous drug dealers and corrupt cops during his long career.  

But Garcia charges that the actions of three top FBI officials, including the White Plains based supervisor who headed the investigation, David Velazquez, to shut down the case before its time “enabled the entire institution of organized crime (to) dodge a bullet.”

If the probe had continued, and Garcia had been “made,” as wiseguy Jack Falcone he could have vouched for other undercover agents and the FBI could have made serious inroads into the Bonanno, Genovese, Colombo and Luchese families, he writes. 

Gregory DePalmaThe end came in March, 2005, even though on several occasions, mobster Gregory DePalma (left) was overheard telling “Jack Falcone,” who had worked his way up to becoming the aging capo’s bodyguard-chauffeur, that he was going to propose him to be made. 

“There is only one thing I’m pushing to do, ASAP, is you. That would be the second guy (I sponsored.) I mean you want it, right?” DePalma said in one tape recorded talk. 

Joe Pistone circa 1981It’s not unusual for an undercover agent to disagree with superiors about ending a risky, time-consuming, and costly undercover investigation: Joe Pistone, (right) who played the role of an up-and-coming  mob associate for five years, wanted to continue his foray into the underbelly of the Bonanno crime family when FBI bosses pulled the plug on him back in 1981. 

But current and former FBI agents tell Gang Land that they agreed with Garcia’s position to keep the case going, and that even if it didn't lead to the monumental achievement of Garcia being inducted into the Gambino family, there were other goals that could have been attained.

Velazquez is not identified by name in the book. He declined to discuss the case with Gang Land. In the book, he is quoted as stating that he decided “to shut the case down because it met and exceeded all of its objectives. It was the right time to close it out.”  

That opinion was repeated by several FBI officials who spoke to Gang Land, including David Cardona, the head of New York’s criminal division. Cardona said Garcia’s work was “outstanding,” but he backed the official determination, echoing comments from other officials that Garcia was “too close” to the case to make a truly objective decision. 

But neither Cardona nor any of the other officials would dispute, or explain, the actions that Garcia lays on Velazquez after the agent asked for a meeting with New York organized crime superiors and Washington officials who oversee undercover operations to review Velazquez’s decision and air out the differing positions. 

The meeting was scheduled to take place at 26 Federal Plaza, the Downtown Manhattan office building that houses FBI headquarters. Garcia did not want to risk blowing his cover – and perhaps his life – by using the main entrance, so two agents agreed to pick him up in a Bureau car and drive him into the underground garage so he could attend without being made as an FBI agent in the lobby of the building. 

A few minutes later, the agents called and told Garcia that Velazquez had prohibited them from picking him up. They also said Velazquez had told them that he was going to have Garcia “fired for insubordination for calling in headquarters.” 

Big Jack GarciaGarcia (left) could live with being fired, but was concerned about living if he were recognized as an agent. He appealed that ruling, and a New York organized crime supervisor, who recognized the obvious danger of making an undercover agent walk into the lobby of the FBI building and flash his badge to enter, quickly rescinded that decision. 

Garcia uses tough words to describe those on his side of the law with whom he clashed. He says there was “ineptness, idiocy, incompetence and inexperience” by FBI managers who investigated reports of a mob contract on his life.

Still, Garcia is unsure whether he has been marked for death. He doesn’t really think that someone “will come and whack me” in retaliation. But his home is fully wired, he starts his car with a remote, and he always carries a gun. 

“I’m not just blowing off steam when I say that the investigation into the alleged hit was poorly handled. The outcome in fact remains open,” he writes. In a final word about the uncertainty ahead, he alerts the bureaucrats who bungled that probe: “So if you and I ever meet, don’t walk too close!”


The Good Rat A Great Read

The Good RatWatching Jimmy Breslin covering the Mafia Cops trial had Gang Land looking down the line for an intriguing, always unique, fun-filled, yet riveting read by the irascible Pulitzer Prize winning columnist-author. 

The Good Rat is all that, and more. 

In addition to his word pictures and insights about Good Rat Burt Kaplan and murderous detectives Lou Eppolito (big, brazen and brawling) and Steve Caracappa (slender, stealthy, silent), Breslin gives breadth to many so-called minor players in the compelling saga. 

There’s the illiterate auto mechanic who feared for his life as he dug a grave for the dirty duo’s first murder victim and lived with that fear for 19 more years, and the sister of a 26-year-old hoodlum they kidnapped and sent to his death. Before trial, when she found out Caracappa was living around the corner from her mom on Staten Island, she rang his bell and told him: “You motherfucker. I want to see you when they put handcuffs on you and take you away for the rest of your life.” 

Breslin discloses, as only he can, that the mob tradition of respectful kissing began when Sonny Franzese met Joe Brancato on the corner of Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and that after losing the last race at Aqueduct one day, jockey Con (Scamp) Errico rode his mount right into nearby Pep McGuires, “the greatest bar in the history of the city,” and the horse proceeded to drink water from a bucket that legendary gangster Jimmy Burke had placed on the bar. 

Jimmy BreslinFor the purists, there are countless pages of Kaplan’s spell-binding trial testimony that sunk the rogue cops. For the rest of us there are Breslin’s personal dealings with Tony Pro, Fat Tony and Tony Café as well as his account of how U Couraga, an Italian pit bull bested a challenger from The Bronx in a memorable battle at a mob graveyard near the Brooklyn-Queens border. 

For everyone, there’s Chapter Nine. It's a riveting, terrifying account of a $4000 dispute between the money-hungry Mafia Cops and a cheapskate mob psychopath and how it led to the tragic wrong man execution of a loved and loving, hard-working Brooklyn man with the same name as a mob hood who had been marked for murder.


Mafia is a treasure trove of information about wiseguys who operated during the golden age of the mob. A MUST for mob buffs. A phone book-sized directory of mug shots and minutiae on more than 800 wiseguys that was compiled in the early 1960s by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. 

The book is said to be a reprint of an actual top secret dossier that the agency put together. Each gangster in the “just the facts” book – it’s #31 of 50 copies that were produced – is relegated to a single page that lists his nicknames, haunts, associates, criminal and business interests in a brusque but colorful report. 

Joe Batters Accardo, a "former member of the old Capone mob to be a salesman for Premium Beer Sales Inc., 2555 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, Ill.” Another Chicago wiseguy, Leonard Calamia, “frequents the Poodle Dog Restaurant at 1121 Polk Street …when in San Francisco.” 

Francisco Castiglia, a.k.a. Frank Costello, “resides 115 Central Park West” and “frequents Biltmore and Waldorf Astoria hotels.” Richie The Boot Boiardo has “bullet scar on left cheek” and “frequents Newark, N.Y.C., & gambling houses in Havana.” 

The BNDD database includes one-page reports on virtually all the gangsters you’d expect to see, and countless more you wouldn’t. There’s one on Luigi Fratto, of Des Moines, “the most influential member of the Mafia in the state of Iowa,” and other reports about Benny (The Blimp) Barone, the Mafia leader of Omaha, Nebraska, and his crew of four Omaha-born and raised Biase brothers, Anthony, Louis, Bernard and Samuel.

Notorious New Jersey

In Notorious New Jersey: 100 True Tales of Murders and Mobsters, Scandals and Scoundrels, author Jon Blackwell makes a decent case that, when it comes to powerful gangsters and mob rubouts, New Jersey mobsters often rise to the level – or sink to the same depths – as their Big Apple cousins across the Hudson River. 

Until a heroin dealing conviction sent him to die in prison, Vito Genovese lived in splendor in the Garden State. So did Richie The Boot Boiardo, whose 17-acre estate was adorned with a statue of The Boot astride a white horse. Blackwell recounts the murders of beer baron gangster Dutch Schultz and Genovese underboss Willie Moretti and the bugged conversations that made mob boss Sam the Plumber DeCavalcante a household name decades before Tony Soprano arrived on the scene. 

All told, 17 of Blackwell’s 100 true crime stories involved gangsters, including transplanted New York mobster Giuseppe (Joe Adonis) Doto, who when asked why he re-located to the Garden State by a Senate Committee, said: “I liked the climate better.”

Tears & Tiers

Tears & Tiers:The Life and Times of Joseph "Mad Dog" Sullivan, The Only Man To Escape From Attica, is a scary, disturbing book about Sullivan, a convicted bank robber, mob hitman and escape artist. Sullivan, 68, has spent about 45 years of his life in prison, and is serving a life sentence.

It is also a compelling, and touching read.

In the last paragraph of the preface, the author, his wife, Gail Sullivan, probably says it best: “The story isn’t always pretty but I believe it’s an important and interesting story that should be told. Just as importantly, no one will be hurt in its telling. This is a step into the life of the man I married, the man that I love with all of my heart, the man that gave me two fine sons that we both are very proud of, the man who law enforcement speculates might have murdered as many as thirty people.” 

               The Mafia Cops

Gang Land readers interested in learning more details about the scandalous Mafia Cops saga of murderous ex-detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa have two other books to choose from.

The Brotherhoods, The True Story Of Two Cops Who Murdered For The Mafia is a 509-page hardcover book co-authored by Willam Oldham, a retired NYPD detective who began investigating the murderous duo as a criminal investigator for the feds, and writer Guy Lawson.

Mob Cops, The Shocking Rise and Fall of New York’s Mafia Cops,” is a 386-page soft cover publication written by Daily News reporter Greg B. Smith, who previously authored “Made Men, The True Rise-and-Fall Story of a New Jersey Mob Family.

Oldham and Lawson begin their account with the arrest last year of Eppolito and Caracappa in Las Vegas. Smith starts his narrative in 1969 on a young Burt Kaplan, who would become the star witness against the rogue cops, as the budding gangster drives to Connecticut to dump the body of a murder victim whose name he never learned.

Both books are current. They end with the convictions of both men for eight murders that were overturned by trial Judge Jack Weinstein, and with the ex-detectives jailed without bail as they wait for a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on the government's appeal of Weinstein's ruling.

The Wiseguy Cookbook"The Wiseguy Cookbook," By Henry Hill and Priscilla Davis is an entertaining and informative read. It's everything you wanted to know about Hill's rituals and recipes for cooking that he learned from his mother, as well as the innovative culinary skills he picked up along the way, whether it was doing time or laying low in the Witness Protection Program.

His mom's Italian heritage couldn't get him made, but the mob couldn't keep him out of her kitchen. She taught him well, although every so often he found a better way. Like with cutlets, for example. This applies to veal, chicken, pork. Eggplant too. His mom dipped them in egg and then in flour and breadcrumbs before frying.

According to Hill, the opposite way, flour and breadcrumbs first, then egg, makes for more mellow cutlets. Also, with his mom's way, "some of the breadcrumbs always fall into the oil and burn, so you have to start over with a new batch of oil after a couple of rounds of frying."

Sprinkled among staples like Pasta e Lenticchie (lentils) and Pasta con Sarde (sardines) are plenty of anecdotes about wiseguys like Paul Vario and Jimmy The Gent Burke, cooking in the Army, and in prison. And for Gang Land readers living in the heartland, Hill tells how to improvise and use substitute ingredients. From his days in the witness program, Hill knows how difficult it is to find arugula, let alone people who know what it is, in places like Omaha, Nebraska and Butte, Montana.Brooklyn: A State Of Mind

"Brooklyn: A State of Mind," edited by Michael W. Robbins & designed by Wendy Palitz, is a must read for anyone who was born or raised in Brooklyn, or spent a few years there, or, like the rest of the world, wishes they had.

Published in 2001, the book is a collection of 125 original stories and a gazillion photos that bring to life people and places that have shaped the Borough of Churches over the last 100 years. Words and pictures of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Norman Mailer, Carmine Persico, Nathan's Famous, Jackie Gleason, Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Paramount, Abe Reles and the Half Moon Hotel, the Poet Laureate of Brooklyn. Interviews of Mel Brooks, Leonard Garment and Spike Lee. And much more.

Of special interest to mob buffs, and Gang Land, is a joint interview of Brooklyn Federal Court Judges I. Leo Glasser and John Gleeson about the 1992 trial of John Gotti. Glasser, the trial judge, and Gleeson, the lead prosecutor, were Sammy Bull Gravano in 1992interviewed – the only out-of-court comments they have uttered – in 1999, a year before star witness Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano was arrested for drug dealing, charges for which he is doing 20 years.

While neither judge said anything outrageous, even in hindsight, Gang Land is sure each wishes they had declined to discuss the case. For example, Gleeson, who was less restrained in his remarks than Glasser, described Gravano as "the best witness of all time .... He looked evil. Then Sammy flipped and I spent a great deal of time with him. Literally hundreds of hours. I got to know him well. I laughed with him. He was smart, engaging and funny."

Glasser, asked to describe the kind of man Gravano was, never gave his view, noting only that jurors and investigators had "found him sincere when he said he Sammy Bull Gravano in 2000was attempting to put the life of organized crime behind him."

Asked about criticism that his five year sentence was too lenient, Glasser acknowledged, " I took a beating for that." But he ducked the real issue, never explaining how he justified it in his mind. Instead, he blamed the media for not  publishing the sentencing memo he had "worked many hours preparing."

Glasser loosened up, however, when asked if there were "occasions for wit" in the Gotti trial. Often described as a grouch or curmudgeon, his response indicates he may also have loosened up at least once during the very tense trial.

"I suppose I had to use my wits one day when I received a note that some of the jurors, who'd been sequestered for weeks, were requesting conjugal visits. I called the only other federal judge I knew who had sequestered a jury. He said, 'What are you going to do, judge?' I said, 'I think I'll allow it.' He said, 'Good for you. I think that's what I would do.'"

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Linda Schiro testifies in sketch by Chris Cornell Not since wannabe Bonanno boss Carmine (Lilo) Galante was being chauffeured around by daughter Nina in the 1970's, has there been any serious talk about women playing key roles in the American Mafia. All talk ended when Galante was shot to death in July 1979 as he dined at an Italian restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

But women are often part of the gangland landscape. In the fall of 2007, for example, mob moll Linda Schiro was the linchpin of a sensational murder trial of an ex-FBI agent that ended midstream when she was discredited by 10-year-old tape recordings that put the lie to her courtroom testimony. Schiro is now being investigated for possible perjury charges.

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The New York Daily News
July 28, 1992

Wife Sits and Waits - - In Jail

RITA BOLOGNA always knew her husband wasn't the most faithful wiseguy a woman could love, but they raised three children who gave them three grandchildren.

So, after a divorce, many years apart and a second marriage that failed, she moved back in with him.

Now, two years later, the 51-year old grandmother is caught in a prosecutorial power play, held in jail, like her former husband -- Salvatore (Sally Dogs) Lombardi, a reputed mob capo -- without bail on major league heroin-trafficking charges that could keep her there for life.

The Manhattan district attorney's office would like her to testify against him, or for him to plead guilty, and it's playing legal hardball against both.

And the judge in the case, a former drug prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office, seems to be pitching particularly high hard ones.

Gang Land is not shilling for Lombardi, a reputed Genovese capo with a number of dead men on his resume, and a federal drug conviction on his rap sheet.

Gang Land also is not shilling for Bologna if - always a big IF - she is convicted of scheming to ship heroin to New York, last year from Spain, this year from Boston.

What's troubling, however, is that Bologna has been remanded without bail, and has spent time hospitalized at Rikers Island, where she has been treated for recurring asthma, while three of her husband's reputed mob co-defendants are free on bail awaiting trial for the same charges.

The men, with ties to the Genovese and Bonanno crime families, allegedly carried heroin here from Spain and raised $120,000 to buy a cache in Boston. They're alleged criminal associates of Lombardi, not his paramour.

One is also awaiting trial on federal heroin charges in Brooklyn. All three were released on $1 million bail that was set by Supreme Court Justice Leslie Snyder over the objections of th Manhattan district attorney's office.

Snyder, an excellent judge, is very tough on crime and declined to dis cuss the case. A few days after the arrests, lawyer Judd Burstein charged the district attorney's office with "seeking some sort of pressure or tactical advantage" by detaining Bologna and pleaded that his client be released on her own recognizance.

"She has aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters in the community. She has serious asthmatic problems. I see no reason to detain a woman with these kinds of roots, this kind of Physical condition, and this weak a case against her," Burstein argued in court.

"It's not a sexist argument, is it?" chided Snyder. "Do you argue that it would be okay to detain a man in this position but not a woman?" "Absolutely not," responded Burstein, adding that, at worst, his client may have been present when illegal activity took place but was unaware of it. "The 'mere presence' defense was perhaps invented for this situation."

After hearing counter-arguments and additional secret arguments later from prosecutors that Bologna was intimately involved in Lombardi's alleged drug dealing and would flee if released, Snyder ordered Bologna held without bail.

Transcripts of the secret proceeding, which Snyder allowed because prosecutors asserted the information could jeopardize ongoing Probes, were recently unsealed. Burstein charges that Snyder was "misled by what can only be characterized as a fraudulent representation" by prosecutor Eric Herschmann.

In court papers, Burstein said an examination of nine boxes of electronic surveillance logs and documents seized by prosecutors showed that Herschmann made many "false claims."

THESE included his statement that Bologna signed "a slew" of $9,000 and $9,500 checks that Lombardi used to pay drug-dealing expenses, that she paid rent and other bills for a Lombardi drug partner, and that they kept $350,000 in their children's names and $150,000 in another account.

"In my view the DA's office is attempting to gain some unfair advantage against Mr. Lombardi by unfairly continuing to incarcerate Ms. Bologna," Burrstein said yesterday.

Herschmann has not yet filed his response and could not be reached for comment.

A high-level source in the district attorney's office conceded that Herschmann misspoke about the "slew of checks" but insisted that all of Burstein's other claims "were a matter of interpretation."

"This is standard stuff, attacking the prosecutor when you don't have the facts, but 95% of what (Herschmann) said was accurate and we still think we're on pretty solid ground and that the judge did the right thing," said the source.

Lombardi, after allegedly dragging his former wife into a drug indictment, may have finally done the right thing by her.

IN an affidavit, Lombardi said Bologna had no "knowledge about my business dealings, whether legitimate, or as the government alleges, illicit," and would testify to that effect if she had a separate trial.

If Snyder wished more details, he added, Lombardi would give "the substance of the testimony" at a secret in camera session -- like the one the prosecutors used to keep the mother of his children in jail.


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The New York Daily News
Jan. 12, 1993

Stickup Couple Has A Short Run

Thomas and Rosemarie Uva should have known better.

Both were ex-cons. Both had seen Goodfellas.

And to make matters worse, they lived in an apartment in Ozone Park, Queens, where John Gotti and his brothers became infamous as operators of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club and the Our Friends Social Club.

From last summer to Christmas Eve, however, the Uvas behaved like a very dumb Bonnie and Clyde, holding up mob social clubs like the Hawaiian Moonlighters in Little Italy and the Veterans and Friends in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

These are the private domains of some pretty influential Gambino family capos: Joseph (Joe Butch) Corrao (left) and James (Jimmy Brown) Failla. (right). Just like the banks of the Roaring '20s, before armed guards and video surveillance cameras, the relatively old men in the social clubs on Mulberry St. and 86th St. seemed like easy marks.

So did the men who regularly hang out at two no name clubs on Bath Avenue, two blocks from the Veterans and Friends Social Club.

After all, the patrons usually have thousands of dollars in their pockets and never carry hardware when they conduct their business in the intimacy of their clubs.

And these men, for the most part, are criminals who would never call the cops.

So with Thomas, 28, brandishing an Uzi submachinegun, and his 31 year-old bride/moll working as a wheel-woman, the Uvas began a short career of ripping off mob social clubs shortly after Thomas got out of jail in May.

In almost every case, the doors of the storefront clubs were open, and Thomas walked in with his weapon out and ordered the men to deposit their cash in a bag and gently hand it over.

On one occasion, according sources, an annoyed robbery victim warned Uva that he would eventually be found and killed.

"Everybody dies," shrugged Thomas Uva, like a seasoned revolutionary.

When Thomas hit the club a second time, the robbery victims ran out, gave chase and were impressed by Rosemarie's prowess as a getaway driver.

But as most New Yorkers know, guys like Corrao, Failla, George DeCicco and Anthony Spero have investigative techniques that rival those of the FBI and NYPD.

For the record, Corrao, who faces trial soon on racketeering charges, is proprietor of the Hawaiian Moonlighters; Failla, a former bodyguard/chauffeur to Carlo Gambino, operates the Veterans and Friends; DeCicco, uncle of slain Gotti underboss Frank DeCicco, runs the Bath Ave. no-name near Bay 13th St.; Spero, who owns a nearby car service, operates the no-name near Bay l6th St.

And Corrao, Failla and DeCicco -- all reputed Gambino capos -- and Spero, a reputed Bonanno consigliere, agree with many law enforcement officials about the necessity of the death penalty. But they don't go along with legal niceties like jury trials.

And so, early Christmas Eve, as the Uvas were about to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in Ozone Park, they were executed for the crime of stupidity by assassins who shot them each three times in the head in their Mercury Topaz at the corner of 103d Ave. and 91st St.

Law enforcement officials told Gang Land they believe the killers "got the right guys."

The Queens District Attorney's office "is investigating the shooting," said Eileen Sullivan, chief of the prosecutor's organized crime and rackets bureau.


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The Merry Widow

In 1970, Camille Colucci was the focal point of an historic Mafia love story in which she married a Colombo mob associate after Salvatore (Sammy Bull)  Gravano killed her husband -- the first of his 19 murder victims.

Last week, she was a footnote to the darkest day in American history when her scheduled arraignment for being part of a mob-run chop shop was postponed in the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Sammy Bull TalksIn between -- Gravano (right) remembers Camille as "drop-dead gorgeous" with jet black hair and "great legs" -- she buried another husband, divorced two more, and married her fifth hubby, Genovese associate Ernest (Junior) Varacalli, 58.

Varacalli, who has nine listed aliases in court papers, is charged with running a Brooklyn chop shop which stole and stripped late model cars and sold the parts -- air bags, doors, dashboards, fenders, grills, etc. -- to body shops.

According to court papers, Camille, 57, has five aliases, occasionally answered phones at the chop shop but her "primary responsibility (was) to  launder and secrete the criminal proceeds" of more than $1 million from August 2000 to last May 11.

At that time, sources said, police seized a will and other documents that indicate that Camille fleeced her  second deceased Fritzi Giovanellihusband's estate and cheated his children of their rightful inheritance. The alleged theft occurred too long ago to be prosecuted, sources said.

Genovese capo Federico (Fritzy) Giovanelli, (right) who was indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges last month was a "silent" partner in the operation, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Giovanelli, Varacalli, Camille and 21 others will be arraigned next week.

Camille often carried "significant amounts of cash to the bank, but she had her priorities. On Dec. 12, Varacalli called her cell phone to find out what was taking her so long to get to the office.

"I'm on my way to go to the bank," she said.
"You didn't go to the bank yet?"he asked.
"No, I had to do my nails first," she said.
"Camille," said an exasperated Varacalli, "Don't walk around with all that money, today. It's the holidays, they're robbing everyone."

That same month, she seemed perplexed about a bank transfer, and annoyed Varacalli when she called him at the shop, Angle Auto Group at 5851 Foster Ave. in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and asked him for help.


"What am I .... with this money? Now where am I taking it out of?" she said.
"Well, you gotta use your brain. You take it out of the new account," he said.
"The one that has eighty thousand in it?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, adding sarcastically, "say it a little louder."
"No, but that's how, Junior .... that's how we got our mortgage,"she said.
"Okay, okay," he stammered. "Good enough and just, just, jot it down and then I'll, I'll take it out of, I'll, I'll show you tonight what to do."

In early April, Varacalli began to suspect that car thieves had fingered him and that auto crime cops may have bugged his office. He told Camille about his suspicions as she worked the phones at the chop shop.

He had come up with some "contingency plans and code words" to warn workers to run out the back door if cops with a search warrant came to the front door.

"We have the code. I say, 'They're here,' (and) knock on the speaker. You

know what that means? They drop all the tools, they're out the back and who gets pinched? Me, that's all..."

In court papers, assistant district attorneys Gregory Mitchell charged that from Aug. 13, 2000 until May 11, Auto Crime detectives videotaped 61 late model cars including BMW's, Infinitis and Mercedes being driven or towed into Angle Auto. (Prosecutors Christopher Blank, Eileen Ayvazian and Steven Kramer also worked on the case.) 

Only one of the cars, a heavily damaged Jeep Cherokee, left the shop. The others, which included cars turned over to Varacalli by owners dumping their cars in insurance fraud schemes, were dismantled and sold as parts, said Mitchell.

Detectives Scott Munro and Ralph Grasso saw Varacalli and his son John drive cars into Angle Auto and overheard them make arrangements to return the keys to the car owners. A few days later, the cars were reported stolen, according to the court papers.

The chop shop investigation caught Varacalli joking with Camille and her sister Rose last February about a bankruptcy case involving one of Varacalli's companies. During a court proceeding, Camille "walked in with a mink jacket and jewelry."

"I'm going to jail here," he recalled thinking, as he and Rose laughed aloud.

During the entire time the chop shop was in operation, Angle Auto was "closed" for business and the schemers would tell the general public the place was being renovated and would open for business later.

Despite suspicions that cops were onto him, and that his place was bugged, Varacalli and his wife, who uses the name Camille Serpico, the surname of one of her surviving ex-husbands, continued to discuss illegal dealings. On April 18, according to court papers, Varacalli told her of weekly $8000 payments to "airbag thieves," and Camille reminded him that his son John wanted him to "go legitimate."

That same day, Varacalli told her that his mob supervisor, Fritzy Giovanelli had complimented the way he ran his chop shop. "Fritzy says to me the other day: 'Nobody could do what you do here,'" said Varacalli.

"No, nobody could, you know that," she agreed. "But I told you that a long time ago".



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Department of Justice Press Release
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For Immediate Release
April 22, 2010
United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of New York
Contact: (718) 254-7000

MS-13 Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison
Defendant Participated in Murder of 15-Year-Old Queens Boy on Christmas Eve 2006

Earlier this morning, Luis Bonilla, also known as “Chofre,” a leader of the international MS-13 street gang, was sentenced to life imprisonment by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr., at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Bonilla previously pleaded guilty to racketeering, including predicate acts of murder and attempted murder.

The sentencing was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

As detailed in the superseding indictment and other court filings by the government, Bonilla was the leader the Jamaica, New York, set of MS-13, also known as “La Mara Salvatrucha,” and engaged in a series of violent crimes, including conspiracy to murder and assault members of rival gangs, such as the Crips, the Bloods, and the Latin Kings. At his guilty plea proceeding, Bonilla admitted that, acting upon a request from another gang leader, he instructed two MS-13 soldiers to locate and kill rival gang members. Bonilla also provided them with the murder weapon. A short time later, during the early morning hours of Christmas Eve day 2006, one of the soldiers, Hector Portillo, also known as “Angel,” and a second gang member approached a group of youths whom they suspected to be members of the rival Bloods street gang. Portillo shot Pashad Gray multiple times at close range. Gray died of his wounds.

“Today, another leader of MS-13 was brought to justice for committing senseless acts of violence,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Gangs are on notice: we will continue to prosecute organized street crime to the fullest extent of the law.” Mr. Campbell extended his grateful appreciation to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department, and the New York City Department of Probation for their assistance in this case.

MS-13 is the largest street gang on Long Island. Over the past five years, investigations by the United States Attorney’s Office, ICE, the FBI, and the NYPD have solved multiple murders on Long Island and in New York City, and resulted in felony convictions of more than a dozen MS-13 leaders and 120 MS-13 soldiers.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jason A. Jones, Ali Kazemi, and Marshall L. Miller.

The Defendant:

Name: LUIS BONILLA, also known as “Chofre”
Age: 23

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The Case of the Con Turned Con Artist


Prison cells

He was already in jail for fraud and other crimes, yet he managed to lead a massive, two-year identity theft and bribery scheme that earned him a separate 309-year prison sentence—more than twice that of crooked financier Bernie Madoff, and reportedly the fourth-longest in the history of U.S. white-collar crime.

His name is Robert Thompson, and his story is an eye-opening one for consumers and businesses who take the risk of sharing personal information over the telephone.


It began in a Louisiana state prison, where Thompson started stealing a raft of personal information—dates of birth, social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit cards numbers, etc.—from more than 61 individuals, churches, financial institutions, and businesses. That information enabled him to steal from the victims’ bank accounts and use their credit to buy big-ticket items—like appliances, cell phones, and big-screen TVs. He even attempted to purchase a luxury SUV. Most of these items ended up with his partners in crime—accomplices inside and outside prison.


The ruses: Thompson used various methods to gather personal information, but one of his tried-and-true ploys involved calling a bank and pretending to be an elderly stroke victim who had been hospitalized. “I don’t have my checkbook with me and need access to my bank account,” he would claim. Most banks didn’t fall for it, but some did. Thompson also called individual victims directly—sometimes saying he was a state trooper who needed to verify personal details after an identity theft arrest.

The operation: Thompson initially made his calls on prison phones. Knowing he could only make collect calls—in accordance with prison rules—he had his outside accomplices obtain three-way calling services on their personal phones, accept collect calls from Thompson, and dial whatever number he wanted. Since many of the calls were long-distance, he also contacted phone companies—using a phony identity—and had those calls charged to the accounts of various churches.


Eventually, prison officials got wind from us of what Thompson was doing, and he was transferred to a special lockdown area in order to keep him away from the phones. But he paid a $10,000 bribe to a corrections officer assigned to his cell block to use the officer’s personal cell phone. So his shenanigans continued.

Thompson also had his accomplices—including a former guard he met at another prison—withdraw money from the phony bank accounts he had set up, pick up merchandise he had ordered, and/or let their home addresses be the delivery points. 

The FBI entered the picture in mid-2006 after being contacted by a car dealership that had $50,000 stolen from its bank account. After an extensive investigation, we identified Thompson as the culprit. At least eight of his co-conspirators also have been charged as part of the overall investigation, which was worked closely with state and local law enforcement and corrections officials. 

But old habits die hard—after pleading guilty and expressing remorse for his crimes during a 2009 court appearance, Thompson was back working the phones the very next week. The judge had little sympathy during Thompson’s sentencing.

The case is a lesson for us all.  “Be crime smart” when it comes to sharing personal information—yours or someone else’s. Don’t give it out over the telephone unless you have verified the identity of the caller.


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This Week In Gang LandApril 29, 2010

Junior Gotti Defense Witness
Stabbed To Death In Prison

A Gang Land Exclusive

Joe O'KaneA tough, imprisoned-for-life Queens gangster who was a defense witness for John (Junior) Gotti last Autumn was savagely killed by a fellow inmate at a federal prison in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Joseph O’Kane, who testified through a clenched jaw that had been wired shut following a prison yard scuffle, was stabbed to death late Sunday in his cell block at USP Canaan, a troubled, high security penitentiary at Waymart, Pennsylvania, authorities tell Gang Land. 

O’Kane, 43, was found mortally wounded in his cell block floor by a correction officer. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 12:10 AM, Monday morning, authorities said. He is the seventh Bureau of Prisons inmate to be murdered since October, said BOP spokeswoman Felicia Ponce.

It’s also the seventh fight between inmates at the penitentiary this month, and the third major incident at the facility this year, according to knowledgeable prison sources. The suspected killer was placed in a Segregated Housing Unit (SHU), and the 1392 inmates at the prison about 20 miles east of Scranton were confined to their cells for two days following the killing.

O’Kane’s attorney and family members say prison officials have told family members that the cause of the longtime inmate’s death is still under investigation by the FBI.

“He was well-respected in the facility,” said his attorney Joseph Corozzo, (left) adding that he and members of his client’s family were shocked by the sad turn of events because O’Kane had no reported problems with inmates or with prison officials.

O’Kane will be buried Friday at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, following a one-day wake today (2-to-4 and 7-to-9 PM) at Romanelli James-Stephen Funeral Home at 8901 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park.

Prison sources say O’Kane was stabbed in the face and body as many as 10 times and, remarkably, suffered no defensive wounds. “Even someone who is attacked while sleeping will usually put up some kind of a struggle,” said one forensic expert. 

Kim Straesser, an executive assistant warden at USP Canaan, confirmed only that O’Kane “sustained injuries during an altercation with another inmate.” But she declined to identify the alleged assailant, his status, or whether the murder weapon was recovered.

Junior Gotti The authoritative website of the union that represents 300,000 correction officers and other employees at the BOP’s 113 institutions around the country reported that O’Kane “was stabbed several times” and was found “lying on his cell floor in a pool of blood” shortly after the 9:46 PM assault.

Kay Carden, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals, (AFL-CIO), says all the incident reports on its website come directly from the individual institutions and “are provided to alert our members and the public about what goes on in our work place.”

Following his appearance as a Gotti IV defense witness, Gang Land asked O’Kane whether he had any regrets – since after the verdict jurors said they had discredited the words of prosecution witness John Alite on their own, without any help. We also asked whether he’d had any problems with fellow inmates over his decision to voluntarily take the stand for Gotti, whose defense strategy was controversial in mob circles.

John AliteIn a letter to Gang Land, O’Kane stressed that he “came on board for the defense to put an end to Alite’s fabrication …in blaming Gotti for his own criminal endeavors.” He said that comments by several jurors at the trial established that “my testimony was credible.”

O’Kane made no bones that he was guilty of federal racketeering and murder charges for which he was serving life. But he said he was bitter that the feds learned from their witnesses at his 2001 trial that he had been wrongly convicted for a 1995 shooting and never sought justice for him in that case.

“No one came forth and said, ‘Hey, we’re sorry you sat in a state prison for five years for a crime you didn’t commit.’”

Spokespeople for the BOP, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and FBI agents in Scranton say they are currently seeking justice for O’Kane.

Vinny Green Back In Bklyn;
But Is Vegas Still In The Cards?

Vinny Green FaraciAfter a decades-long, relatively enjoyable, and very profitable stretch in Las Vegas, longtime Bonanno soldier Vincent (Vinny Green) Faraci has returned to his old haunts in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn to be close to his old man in his time of need.

Faraci is back in town because his dad, John Faraci, the tough, but much-admired wiseguy known as Johnny Green has been suffering some serious medical problems, that, it is nice to report, seem to have dissipated just a bit since Vinny Green arrived back in town recently.

Now 87, Johnny Green is still hospitalized in Brooklyn. But, according to usually reliable sources, as well as his attorney, Vincent Romano, he seems to be on the upswing. “Hopefully, with the proper medical care, he will make a full recovery,” says Romano.

Normally, it is not unusual for a 55-year-old son returns home to visit his ailing dad. But Vinny Green’s return to the Big Apple from Sin City, U.S.A. for what is said to be the first time in nearly 25 years, is a big deal in Gang Land.  

To begin with, say usually reliable sources, Vinny Green was banished in the late 1980s after he threw a punch at a rival family mobster at a hot and heavy, high stakes craps game in Manhattan. That led to an angry sitdown at which Johnny Green secured a pass for his son’s un-wiseguy-like actions with a promise that he would relocate to Vegas – and never come back. 

Gang Land was unable to identify the object of Vinny Green’s anger, or his crime family. But when you consider that the other crime families were then headed by guys named Gigante, Gotti, Persico and Amuso, you get the sense that no matter who he was, Johnny Green (left) had quite a bit of clout in his day.

In any event, say these sources, the ban was so ironclad and set in stone, that it stopped Vinny Green from returning to Brooklyn last year when his mother died.

Nonsense, say other sources, who – while they do not dispute the genesis of Vinny Green’s decision to move to Las Vegas – say that it was the U.S. Probation Department that refused to let him return here for his mother’s funeral. 

Faraci, a former shift manager at the mob-connected Crazy Horse Too topless club in Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges that cost him a $30,000 fine and five months behind bars in 2007. He also has federal supervised release until November of this year, according to court records. 

Vinny Green’s lawyer, and his probation officer, did not return calls from Gang Land. But one source said authorities often refuse to allow wiseguys to attend wakes of family members  because many mobsters who show up to pay their respects also conduct some mob business on the sneak.

John GottiThat must be the case, because back in 2008, shortly after he completed his prison stretch, probation officials gave Faraci permission to spend six days in sunny San Jose del Cabo, Mexico to meet with the president of a local company who wanted to hire him as a consultant.

In any event, it remains to be seen whether Vinny Green, who has a luxurious $1million home in Las Vegas, decides to take up shop here in the Big Apple in the coming months, or return to Sin City, where he can get as much action as he wants, without having to worry – too much – about taking a swing at a rival wiseguy at a mob-run crap game.


FBI 'Captures' Fugitive Who
Walks Into NY HQ & Gives Up

Steven MaiurroLast week the FBI rightly blew its own horn to say it had broken up a mob-run sex trafficking ring that used teenage girls. Later that same day came a second news release announcing a reward for help in nailing a dangerous suspect who escaped an FBI dragnet that snared 13 others in the sex-ring case. So far so good.

But America’s top law enforcement agency made itself look pretty silly last week when it sent out two follow up press releases patting itself on the back for “capturing” the dangerous fugitive two days later. How come? Because the dangerous fugitive walked into the FBI’s Manhattan headquarters and meekly gave himself up.

It was very hard to tell that from the press release. “New York FBI Office Captures Fugitive in Gambino Organized Crime Family Case,” blared the headline on the first release announcing the arrest of Steven Maiurro, over a picture of the sad-eyed mob associate with the word “Captured” emblazoned in a red border at the bottom of the picture.

Later that day, the FBI’s press office outdid itself. It generated a second release – under the same headline – that showed that the advertising folks over at Clear Channel Outdoor had bought into the FBI’s first release, and then some.

On its huge Times Square billboard was Maiurro’s picture under the headline “CAPTURED BY THE FBI.” And just in case readers didn’t understand what the billboard depicted, the FBI placed a caption under the photo stating: “Clear Channel Outdoor billboard in Times Square showing captured fugitive Steven Maiurro.”

Maiurro, 31, of Staten Island, allegedly drove the mob’s young hookers – including a 15-year-old runaway – to trysts with clients in New York and New Jersey in 2008 and 2009. He faces life in prison if convicted of sex trafficking charges s involving the 15-year-old.

(Just in case you’re wondering: Even though Maiurro aided in his own capture, he is not eligible for any reward.)

For its part, the U.S. Attorney’s Office was guilty of some misleading verbiage of its own in three documents that it gave out to news reporters on the day the indictment was unsealed.

That caused numerous media outlets – including three New York newspapers in their same-day, online versions of the story – to mistakenly identify the main mobster in the case, capo Daniel Marino, as the boss of the Gambino family.

He was not referred to as “the boss” in any of the documents. But in what was surely an effort to inflate his perceived mob rank – and his news value – Marino was called “a boss” of the crime family in the news release, the indictment, as well as in court papers that sought to detain Marino and eight other defendants without bail as dangers to the community.

In the “detention memo” though, Gang Land believes that prosecutors also stretched the truth. They stated that Marino “currently ranks as a Boss of the entire Family” and “presently has over 200 made Gambino Family members, and hundreds more associates, under his command and authority.”

Nowhere in the 121 pages of all three documents does it state what the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office actually believe, based on reports from confidential informants: That Marino is one of three family capos who serve on a committee that functions as a ruling panel for Judge Lewis Kaplanthe crime family.

No matter what his exact title, though, Marino, 69, may spend the rest of his life behind bars. This week, Manhattan Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan (right) ruled that he was a danger to the community and ordered him detained without bail while he awaits trial, and a hard-to-beat racketeering case.


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This Week In Gang LandMay 6, 2010

Feds Went Down Low To Make
Mob Sex Trafficking Case

A Gang Land Exclusive

The details on the big Gambino sex-trafficking bust last month are starting to come in, and – no  real surprise here – the picture emerging is not nearly as neat and tidy as the Feds to the Rescue scenario initially offered up by law enforcement.

Jude BuonetoFor one thing, Gang Land has learned that the key informant in the case was a 32-year-old Brooklyn low-life named Jude Buoneto (right, his best Mick Jagger pose) who was intimately involved with the stable of young hookers in the case.

For another, in order to get the goods on the Gambino gangsters, agreed to a cooperation deal with Buoneto, who has an old sex assault charge on his rap sheet, and allowed the prostitution ring to run for at least ten months. That was even after FBI agents and prosecutors learned – or should have learned – that teenage girls, including a 15 year old, were being supplied to gamblers and other clients in New York and New Jersey.

It is unclear exactly when the sex-trafficking began, or how long it lasted.

What is clear, say knowledgeable sources on both sides of the case, is that in October 2008, the feds wired up Buoneto, and sent him out to tape record his cohorts, using a stable of young prostitutes as important props.

Defense sources say Buoneto was the young prostitute’s pimp, and – as is the norm with pimps – he had sexual relations with his hookers, including the 15-year-old runaway. Law enforcement sources emphatically deny that. The prostitutes allegedly serviced customers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey, for between 10 and 12 months.

Thomas OreficeLaw enforcement sources reiterate what prosecutors Elie Honig and Steve Kwok have said in court and in the detention memo they filed: that Gambino soldier Thomas Orefice (left) was the leader and driving force behind the sex-trafficking caper, and that the 150 to 200 hours of tape recorded conversation they have will back that up.

 “We can’t comment on whether or not there was a cooperator in the case,” said FBI spokesman Jim Margolin, “but rest assured that this office would not – and did not – approve of any criminal activity involving a minor, much less the sexual exploitation of a minor.

The U.S. Attorney’s office would not comment, declining to discuss whether their witness pleaded guilty to statutory rape charges before he began cooperating.

Said one former federal prosecutor: “There was a screwup here. I do not believe that agents and prosecutors would knowingly allow prostitution involving a minor to go on. But since they had a cooperator in the middle of the action, they sure as hell should have known about it.”

Several defense lawyers, as well as one law enforcement source, have fingered Buoneto as the stool pigeon in the sex-trafficking aspect of the multi-count racketeering indictment.

“I am confident,” said Orefice’s lawyer, Seth Ginsberg, “that the evidence will show that it was the cooperating witness who orchestrated and carried out the sex trafficking that is charged in the indictment. The government’s claims to the contrary are belied by the fact that nowhere in the detention memo or at the bail hearing do they make a specific reference to anything in the recorded conversations that implicate my client in these crimes.”

Buoneto was charged with felony sexual assault charges involving a minor back in 1997 but later copped a no-jail plea to misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child. Earlier this year he suddenly disappeared from his usual Bensonhurst, Brooklyn haunts.

Susan PorcelliHe left just as the feds were getting ready to scoop up six men and one woman, a 43-year-old single mom named Suzanne Porcelli, on sex trafficking charges involving a minor. Attorney Vincent Romano, who represents Porcelli hopes that Buoneto recorded the intense discussion that he had with his client in August, on the last day of what the lawyer described as a tumultuous and terrifying two-week ordeal for Porcelli, who has a 19-year-long history of anxiety and depression, according to the attorney.

The ordeal began when Buoneto, who knew Porcelli from the neighborhood, rang her bell and told her he had fired his personal assistant in his construction company and wanted to hire her on a tryout basis, gave her a mobile phone, and instructed her to “make and set up appointments for his customers,” said Romano.

“A couple of days later, she realizes this is not for her and she calls him up and says, ‘Come pick up your phone,’ but he refuses,” said Romano. The attorney declined to cite specific reasons for Porcelli’s quitting, or to say whether or not she was handling customers seeking carpentry work or hookers. But over the next few days, says Romano, his client “called Jude repeatedly to come get his phone.” Buoneto didnt respond, said Romano, so “she just stopped answering the phone. Then he calls her up (on her phone) threatening her and screaming at her for not answering the phone.”

Following several screaming telephone sessions in which “Jude tells her she’s ruining his business and has got to answer the phone, it comes to a head.” Buoneto arrives at Porcelli’s home, forces her into the back seat of his car, a gray BMW, and proceeds to terrify her during a scream-filled hour-long ride through the streets of Bensonhurst, according to Romano.

“He threatens her using very colorful, terrible language,” said Romano. “She was terrified. He was driving at high speeds, stopping short, swerving, yelling and screaming at her, doing everything he can do to frighten her. She still refuses, gives him the phone back.”

The hellacious ride took a surreal turn, said Romano, when “the phone started ringing and she wouldn’t answer it. Jude answers the phone, disguising his voice like a female, with a high pitched voice. He makes the appointment, and then takes Suzanne home.”

Romano said that during the two weeks in question, his client, who has been receiving regular psychiatric counseling at a mental health clinic for more than two years, never accepted any money from Buoneto.

“My client has been unfairly portrayed in the newspapers, on television and on the internet. She has been villainized as a madam,” said Roman. “The bottom line is that because of her mental condition she was manipulated, used and victimized by a sexual predator who is now a cooperating witness. When Jude Buonetoall the facts are known, I am sure she will be exonerated.”

Buoneto was a few days short of his 20th birthday when he was charged with sexually abusing a young girl at a local swimming pool in Bensonhurst. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to three years probation on May 7, 1988, according to court records in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

Bronx DA Nabs Driver In 1992
Mob Murder Under The El

Doc GaccioneIt’s taken nearly two decades, but a once-feared Genovese family enforcer based in New Jersey returned to the Bronx this week to face charges for the 1992 execution murder of a mob associate who engaged in the risky business of sticking up mob social clubs.

Paul (Doc) Gaccione, who was held without bail at his arraignment Tuesday, is the third mob suspect charged with the murder of Angelo Sangiuolo. But it doesn’t close the book on the slaying, which was sanctioned by then-boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante.

Law enforcement officials tell Gang Land they still have one more suspect in their sights – Anthony (Tony D) Palumbo, a powerful family capo whose social clubs Sangiuolo robbed back in the early 1990s. Palumbo, 61, is currently awaiting trial on unrelated racketeering charges in Manhattan.

Angelo PriscoAccording to court testimony, Gaccione, 62, drove the murder van in which Sangiuolo was sitting when he was shot to death; Palumbo, whose social clubs Sangiuolo had robbed, had triggered the slaying that was carried out on Westchester Avenue as a Number 6 train roared by overhead on the elevated Pelham Bay Line.

Genovese capo Angelo Prisco, (right) who oversaw the slaying and drove the getaway car, was convicted of the murder in Manhattan Federal Court last year and sentenced to life. The gunman, John (Johnny Balls) Leto, who cooperated with the feds, is slated to be a key witness for assistant district attorney Robert Caliendo when Gaccione’s case goes to trial in Bronx Supreme Court.

According to Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, the case was referred to his office by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office after it decided that the racketeering statutes it used against Prisco were not available to bring Gaccione to justice.Anthony (Tony D) Palumbo

In his testimony last year, Leto said that a few months after the killing, Tony D Palumbo (left) “hugged and kissed” him in appreciation when Tony D learned that Leto was the “shooter in the situation” when they met at a Russian nightclub in Brooklyn.

Palumbo, who allegedly oversees the crime family’s New Jersey rackets, is slated to go to trial in Manhattan Federal Court for racketeering charges including loansharking, gambling and extortion later this year.


Aging Wiseguy Takes Life
Rather Than Go To Prison

With the help of glowing letters about him from 95 relatives and friends, Gambino mobster Anthony (Todo) Anastasio won a sweet 30 month sentence for violent crimes that called for 20 years – but the lenient prison term was apparently not good enough for the aging wiseguy.

Anastasio, 81, fired two bullets into his heart last Friday morning in the kitchen of his Dyker Heights, Brooklyn home, just ten days before he was scheduled to report to prison to begin this stretch behind bars.

In October, he was found guilty of racketeering charges including extortion and an arson in which a family of four escaped by jumping out of a second story window. In meting out the sentence, Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan said a major reason for his lenient prison term was that he did not wish Anastasio to die in prison.

Todo, a former longshoreman’s union official who was convicted of labour racketeering on the waterfront along with legendary docks boss Anthony Scotto 30 years ago, spent about 18 months behind bars for that conviction.

Police found a .22 caliber handgun, two spent shell casings, along with a suicide note that Anastasio wrote when they responded to his home. In the note, sources say Anastasio indicated that he was suffering a lot of pain.

Following a funeral mass at St. Bernadette R.C. Church in Brooklyn, Anastasio was buried yesterday at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, L.I. He is survived by Dolores, his wife of 49 years, five children and nine grandchildren.

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".
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