Thursday, March 31, 2011

Missing Letter Describes Fate of Franzese Surveillance Records From Storied Bank Robbery Trial

A letter from 1976 written by former District Attorney Bennett Cullison Jr. to Michael B. Pollack, attorney for John “Sonny” Franzese following his 50-year conviction in 1970 for “masterminding” a series of bank robberies, raises questions regarding the fate of surveillance records of the legendary gangster taken by several law enforcement agencies.

Pollack, who has since been disbarred, was not available for comment. As the trial took place about 40 years ago, it has been difficult finding law-enforcement sources to comment. Some key figures involved in the trial have died and long and careful searching failed to turn up any sources' contact info. A voicemail has been left with the press departments of some agencies. This report will be updated if new information arises.

The letter admits that surveillance records were, as of then, either “destroyed” or in storage in the D.A.’s office, which Cullison had departed to pursue private practice before writing the letter to Pollack.

Franzese was convicted and sentenced to 50 years for managing a series of bank robberies across the nation which were committed in the mid-1960s by John Cordero, Jimmy Smith, Richie Parks and Charles Zaher.

Over the years, high-profile journalists have come forward and expressed doubt regarding the strength of the case against Franzese, whether he was really guilty or a convenient scapegoat, and whether the FBI had overstepped its bounds.

Biopics About Gangsters Cohen and Capone Planned

Is the mob taking over Hollywood?

Joining a slate of mob-related films already anounced is Warner Brothers' latest mobster biopic, Gangster Squad,  focused on 1940s boxer-turned-gangster Mickey Cohen, according to Based in Los Angeles, Cohen was an associate of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel; this trio were perhaps the most famous (or infamous) of the Jewish racketeers/gangsters who worked with Luciano and the rest of the Italian Mafia in America.

Sean Penn is reportedly in talks to play Cohen and Ryan Gosling may co-star as one of the Los Angeles cops determined to bring Cohen down. Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer may direct. This isn't the only gangster biopic in the works at Warner bros, either: Cicero, the Al Capone story, is also being shopped around.

These two films, still in the planning stages, join a herd of mob-related films currently in pre-production, among them:
  • Fiore Films biopic, "Gotti: Three Generations," which so far will star John Travolta as John Gotti; directing will be Nick Cassavetes, actor-writer Leo Rossi wrote the screenplay, and Marc Fiore, an owner of Fiore Films, is a producer.
  • Bobby Brown -- R&B singer-songwriter, occasional rapper, and dancer -- is in talks with mobster-rapper Tony Testa to commence production of a film based on Testa's Brooklyn family connection to notorious Gambino crime-family members, the DeMeo Crew. The story will be based on Testa's Uncle Patty, who transferred to the Lucchese family and was murdered in 1992. Brown was spotted dining at Trattoria Dopo Teatro with Testa, Sopranos star Joe Gannascoli and Chuck Zito about a possible role in the movie, which also may star Armand Assante.
  • Robert De Niro will play Frank Sheeran -- the alleged hit man behind two of the most storied slayings in gangland: Jimmy Hoffa and Joe Gallo -- in the Martin Scorsese film, expected to be titled The Irishman. Based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses, by Sheeran's former attorney, Charles Brand, it is based on extensive interviews Brandt conducted in the years before Sheeran's death in 2003. Steve Zallian, writer of Gangs of New York, penned the script, and Scorsese has said that filming could start later this year. Also set to star in the film are Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.
  • Mob documentaries based on Sam Giancanna and the controversial conviction of John "Sonny" Franzese also are slated, though the directors of these films are seeking an episodic television format rather than a big-screen release.
  • There are three scripts out there for Lucky Luciano films, a little birdie told me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lawyers Make Closing Arguments in Genovese Murder/Racketeering Trial

Lawyers for three defendants accused in a mob-related hit and racketeering case in lower Manhattan made closing arguments -- during which they did all they could to tar and feather the prosecution's prime witnesses as murderers and miscreants, according to an article on Mass by Stephanie Barry.

Standing trial are jailed Western Massachusetts alleged mob enforcers Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and his brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass., along with Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y., the reputed onetime New York Genovese crime family boss.

They stand accused of the 2003 murder plot against Springfield, Mass.,Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, the attempted murder of a union boss the same year and a series of extortion attempts from Springfield to Hartford, Conn., and Manhattan.

In his closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig told jurors that the defendants made their marks in the mob world through "an epic spasm of violence" that peaked in 2003, when the Geases and two other mobsters shot, bludgeoned and buried street criminal Gary D. Westerman in an eight-foot grave in Agawam, Mass., the article said.

Travolta Accepts Gotti Role -- Finally; But What About Kim and James?

Who will play the Junior Don?
John Travolta, after much speculation in the press, has agreed to portray John Gotti (Senior) in the Fiore Films biopic, "Gotti: Three Generations," according to a Variety article by Dave McNary,

But whether Kim Kardashian will play Gotti daughter-in-law Kim Gotti or James Franco will play Junior Gotti has not been addressed.

Travolta, John Gotti Jr., director Nick Cassavetes and Fiore Films producer Marc Fiore unveiled the news today and said there will be a press conference in New York on April 12.

Travolta has been rumored to be the leading candidate for one of the lead parts for several months. Actor-writer Leo Rossi wrote the screenplay, "described as revealing the relationship of a father who lived and died by the mob code and a son who chose to leave that world behind and redeem himself," according to the article.

So who is the third generation Gotti named in the film's title?

The film will be shot entirely in New York. Marty Ingels is an exec producer.

Fiore announced the project this fall after securing the rights to Gotti's story (Daily Variety, Sept. 22).

There has been no word about speculation that "Kardashian is on the verge of scoring the role ... as John Gotti's daughter-in-law in the new biopic about the mafioso's life," TMZ reported.

Kim met with executive producers on the film to discuss the possibility of playing Kim Gotti in the movie, producers told the website.

Franco's name has repeatedly been mentioned as the actor who will play Junior, though no confirmation has been reported.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Five Facts About Ex-Fugitive Ponzo

Former stone-cold gangster Enrico M. Ponzo has for the past 17 years been living in hiding in Idaho under the assumed name of Jeffrey John Shaw. Many people thought he had been murdered or otherwise killed during those missing years, but in fact he'd been leading the life of a rancher (apparently not a very good rancher); the FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested him last month.

Among the highlights of his pre-rancher career in organized crime: he and three others attempted to whack the former head (now informer for the Feds) of the ruling crime family in New England: the Patriarcas. He and his men shot said former boss "Cadillac" Salemme in 1989 at a Pancake House in Saugus; they were unsuccessful.

Residents of Marsing, Idaho, where Ponzo settled down,  said they'd always had a few suspicions about "Jay," who was remarkably skilled with firearms and remarkably bad at ranching.

AOL's Surge Desk, which prides itself on find unique twists on in-demand news stories, has focused on Ponzo, compiling five facts about "the man who didn't get away." Nothing earth-shattering here, but some of it's kind of interesting. I'd like to dive into the Idaho Statesman story and find out more about his life as a rancher who sucked at ranching.

1. He's charged with attempted murder

Ponzo was allegedly involved with the New England mafia in the 1980s. Authorities say he was involved in the 1989 attempted murder of "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, former head of the Patriarca family.

2. He has a lengthy rap sheet

In 1994, Ponzo was arrested on drug charges, and additional warrants were issued when he failed to appear in court. Authorities believe he went on the lam around this time. Two years later he was charged with aggravated assault in Everett, Mass., and a federal jury subsequently indicted him on a number of charges related to these and other incidents, including conspiracy to commit murder.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mafia Associates Strip During Induction Ceremony

Let's get made!

They prick your trigger finger. Make you cup your hands around a blood-smeared mass card with a picture of a saint on it, and set it afire. You take the burn like a man -- a made man -- slowly grinding your palms together, putting the flames out, the ashes blackening your singed skin. You speak the oath.

But hold it -- there was a new step added, according to new information, back when the first Bush was still President.

Since then, at some point, probably before you are asked the obligatory question "Do you know why you are here?" (And God help you if you answer, "Yeah."), you are now required to strip down almost to your bare ass so the organization can make certain you are not wired for sound and/or video.

The Mafia these days is "so paranoid about being infiltrated that would-be wiseguys can only wear underpants and a bathrobe," said an article on the U.K.'s Daily Mail website.

Anthony 'Bingy' Arillotta, 42, served this morsel up in Manhattan Federal Court, blaming it on fear of FBI surveillance, though it is not known if this new twist is exclusive to the Genovese clan or the Mafia at large.

This supposedly started happening more than 20 years ago -- after federal agents secretly taped an initiation ceremony in 1989. I don't know what's more interesting -- the stripping or the fact that they could actually keep a secret for a couple of decades.

Arillotta said he was led into a room where Genovese mobsters Arthur Nigro, former acting boss of the family, and Pasquale “Scop” DeLuca were seated at a table with a gun on it. (Isn't there supposed to be a sword there, too, though where you'd get a sword these days I have no clue.)

Mob Fugitive Ponzo Arraigned After Years in Hiding

Enrico M. Ponzo, 14 years 
Enrico M. Ponzo was once a tough-guy gangster who was part of a faction seeking to wrest control of New England from the ruling Patriarca family.

But for the last 17 years he's been living in hiding in Idaho under the assumed name of Jeffrey John Shaw; he was arraigned today in U.S. District Court.

Many people thought he had been murdered or otherwise killed these many years, but in fact he'd been leading the life of a rancher in Idaho; the FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested him last month.

"Mr. Ponzo, 42, was indicted with 14 others in April 1997 ... While the others were arraigned, Mr. Ponzo had been a fugitive from state drug trafficking charges since 1994," read an article by Lee Hammel in the Telegram & Gazette.

In 1997, Ponzo was charged, along with 14 others, in a 40-count federal indictment with, among other things, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and plotting to murder and attempting to murder individuals who were loyal to a rival faction of the Patriarca Family headed at the time by Francis P. Salemme, and others whom the defendants viewed as rivals in their efforts to control organized criminal activity in greater Boston.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hotshot Boston Attorney Set Up By Two Government Moles

Remember that old saying that a lawyer with a briefcase can steal more money than a Mafioso with a pistol -- and not get arrested for it? Well, a lawyer with a briefcase allegedly added drug-money laundering to his job description -- and did get arrested.
"Cadillac Frank," one of
George's clients.

This well-known Boston defense lawyer was arrested on Wednesday, "a day after a top Justice Department official pledged to target attorneys, accountants and bankers who help criminal organizations fund their activities," reported Joe Palazzolo in a Wall Street Journal blog called Corruption Currents: Commentary and news about money laundering, bribery, terrorism finance and sanctions.

The lawyer, Robert A. George, has represented Francis P. “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme, former boss of the Patriarca crime family who turned informant, and Christopher M. McCowen, the trash collector who was convicted of the rape and murder of Cape Cod fashion writer Christa Worthington. He was sentenced to life in prison.

George is accused of helping a former client launder $200,000 and of structuring deposits for another client to avoid bank reporting requirements.

The rub is that the "former" client was working with the government -- and the client in the structuring deal was an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer from the Dominican Republic. So Georgie got it at both ends.

He was arrested at his home this morning and appeared in US District Court in Boston this afternoon, pleading "not guilty" to all charges; he was expected to be released on $50,000 unsecured bond.

George will be represented by Boston attorney Rosemary C. Scapicchio and Brockton attorney Kevin J. Reddington, it was disclosed in court today, according to

Patriarca Mobster Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder for Hire

Anthony "The Saint"
St. Laurent Sr.
Anthony St. Laurent Sr. pleaded guilty today in federal court in Providence, R.I., to an attempted murder-for-hire, and acknowledged in a written plea agreement his participation in an extortion conspiracy outlined in a previous criminal complaint, the U.S. D.O.J. reported today.

The extortion conspiracy involved St. Laurent, wife Dorothy St. Laurent, and son Anthony St. Laurent Jr. and others -- who are said to have extorted protection money from bookmakers in the Taunton, Mass.-area under the threat of violence.

St. Laurent Sr. acknowledged in his plea agreement that he is a “made” member of the New England Patriarca crime family.

St. Laurent Sr.’s guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William E. Smith was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha for the District of Rhode Island and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office.

According to information presented in court, in 2006 and in 2007, St. Laurent Sr. offered money to individuals, including some known to be violent criminals, to murder Robert “Bobby” DeLuca, another “made” member, in retaliation for Deluca having publicly accused St. Laurent Sr. of being a government informant.

According to information presented in court, St. Laurent Sr. phoned an individual in Massachusetts to set up a meeting in Rhode Island on April 12, 2006, at which he solicited the individual to kill DeLuca.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Made Men Kiss

Why do made men kiss? Traditionally, I believe it's just slightly more than the "air kiss," popular among the Social Registry types -- a lip brush on both cheeks, not a full lip-to-lip smack. (That would be the kiss of death, according to either Mario Puzo or Mafia tradition; who can tell the difference?)

Jimmy Breslin, in his great book The Good Rat, explains exactly how this tradition started: It involves a chance meet between Sonny Franzese and  Joey Brancato on Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue, right near where I recently was visiting a new apartment building for a real estate story I was writing.

The rest of this post, apocryphal or true, is excerpted from the prologue to Breslin's book, The Good Rat:

What I'm doing, I'm kissing the mirror, and I'm doing it so I can see myself kissing and get it exactly right. ... This way I can go into the club house and kiss them on the cheeks the way I'm supposed to. That's the Mafia. We kiss hello. We don't shake hands. We kiss.

I am at the mirror because I'm afraid of lousing up on kissing. ... This is real Mafia. For years cops and newspaper reporters glorified the swearing- in ceremony with the needle and the holy picture in flames and the old guy asking the new guy questions, like they all knew so much. The whole thing added up to zero. The kissing is different. It comes from strength and meaning. If you kiss, it is a real sign that you're in the outfit. You see a man at the bar, you kiss him. You meet people anyplace, you kiss them. Like a man. It doesn't matter who sees you. They're
supposed to see.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Defense Paints Turncoat as Untrustworthy for Having Broken 'Omerta'

A witness who broke omerta has his reputation impugned in open court by defense attorneys. Vinny Gorgeous Basciano may have had a guy killed, but, heck, that guy joined the mob and knew what risks he was taking. And Junior Gotti just explained -- four times -- "Hey, lemme alone, I retired, don't you know." Well, that last one actually worked!

Somehow, we don't think Salvatore Lucania and his associates would have ever thought such intimate aspects of their "secret society" would ever be made so public when they put LCN together in the 1930s, picking up the pieces left over from the Masseria-Maranzano war and turning them into a well-oiled money machine that still runs today, though battered and not firing all its cylinders, the hard shell of loyalty that once provided protection steadily eroding away.

But if Junior Gotti can retire and beat a RICO case, maybe there are other creative, out-of-the-box ways to beat that massive club that G. Robert Blakey whittled at his desk to hammer the mob into oblivion, giving it an ethnic-slur of a name to add some irony to the proceedings.

As time goes on, I think RICO defenses will become increasingly colorful. Hell, they already are.
Here's the latest one, as mentioned above, in the trial for the 2003 murder of former Genovese crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, who made the mistake of not knowing how to earn enough cash, and other crimes.

A defense lawyer for one of three men accused of being Mafia killers needled the prosecution's star witness, Anthony J. Arillotta, about a growing list of broken oaths during cross-examination in the ongoing mob murder trial in lower Manhattan, as reported in an article on Mass by Stephanie Barry.

The Bull's Daughter Writing Book About Mafia Life

A man who needs no introduction.
Karen Gravano, the daughter of infamous mob turncoat Sammy (The Bull) Gravano, has inked a book deal to pen a tell-all about her life growing up in a Mafia family, according to the New York Post.

The deal with St. Martin's Press is for six figures, according to the report.

Karen, 38, will write about growing up in a Mafia enclave on Staten Island as the daughter of one of the mob's "most feared executioners," including how her life changed after Sammy testified and entered the witness protection program, and "went to prison in order to protect Karen and her brother," St. Martin's told the Post. [Is that before or after they were all selling the E? --Edit. note.]

Sammy Gravano received leniency for testifying against mob boss John Gotti: He served five years in prison before moving to Arizona in 1995 under the federal witness protection program.

In 2000, the elder Gravano was busted again for running a multimillion-dollar ecstasy ring near Phoenix and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Karen Gravano pleaded guilty to charges related to her father's drugs operation and was sentenced to probation.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fat Tony: A Mobster's Mobster to the End

Much has been written about Mafiosi making their peace with God before shuffling off this mortal coil. Carlo Gambino, the unofficial Boss of Bosses for decades when he ruled the underworld, made a deathbed confession and died in a "state of grace," washed of probably the most violent and horrible sins of which a human being is capable. 

Castellano was perhaps first among equals, but Fat Tony would have been the other most powerful figure on the East Coast."

His successor, Paul Castellano, was not so lucky. John Gotti might have robbed him of a lot more than his life and position in the Mafia.

Mobsters like Stephen "Beach" DePiro think nothing of parading their religion before the judge when they are seeking parole, but the true test of a believer is how he acts when the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking.

Russel Bufalino also got religion waiting to meet his maker while dying at the Springfield prison hospital. These were men who, at least the smarter ones, left little to chance; otherwise, they would have ended up dead in the streets much, much earlier in their careers; it takes a certain something -- a special combination of cunning and courage, daring, poise and, to an extent, even fear -- to make it in the life. Pragmatism also plays a role. So if there were the chance of an afterlife, why spend it burning in hell for murdering however many people when all it takes is a little remorse expressed to a priest (a nice, fat donation doesn't hurt either).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Basciano's Attorneys Take Their Defense From 'The Godfather'

Life imitates art in the courtroom when it comes to picking jury for a trial centered on a gangland hit
Michael Corleone's second victim in a one-two hit;
he's readying to fire another round into the corrupt detective's face.

Attorneys for former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano's upcoming death-penalty case have formed a defense we call: "The Captain McCluskey defense," 

Fans of The Godfather will understand. But we will explain, just in case....Remember the scene where Michael (Al), Sonny (Jimmy) and Tom (Robbie) are trying to figure out how to kill arch-enemy Virgil Sollozzo before he can take another shot--literally--at their father, who is recuperating in a hospital protected by legal bodyguards licensed to carry firearms?

"The Turk," proposes dinner with Michael; Michael proposes to Sonny and Tom, through clenched teeth held together by wire -- the result of a busted jaw from, who else, Captain McCluskey --  that he actually go ahead and meet Sollozzo for this dinner and whack him there in the restaurant with a gun pre-planted in the men's room. And since McClusky, who is The Turk's bodyguard, is going to be there, Mikey will blow away the police captain, too.

Sheeran's Daughter: 'My Father Killed Jimmy Hoffa'

When Frank Sheeran got the order to assassinate his mentor, Jimmy Hoffa, he knew he had no choice, he allegedly once said.

It was a case of kill on command or die for disobedience.

Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran (right) with union boss Hoffa.

The disappearance of Teamsters union leader Hoffa 36 years ago remains one of America's most enduring mysteries. To this day, no one knows where his body ended up or what was done to it.

And if not for Sheeran's Catholic guilt at the end of his life and a tenacious former prosecutor turned crime writer, the story of how Hoffa died would never have been known either. So posits I Heard You Paint Houses, a true-crime memoir about Sheeran, aka The Irishman.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are set to bring Sheeran's extraordinary life to the big screen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

John Gotti Rode the LIRR Three Days a Week

Did you miss John Gotti's self-proclaimed-adopted-son-turned-informer Lewis Kasman speaking on the Curtis Sliwa show? Click here.

You'll hear such unbelievable nuggets as how in the early 1990s John Gotti and Jackie "Nose" D'Amico rode the Long Island Rail Road into the city two-three days a week to show up at no-work jobs in midtown. The company's business? Making zippers.

I rode the railroad every day for 20 years, from 1989 on -- I never saw them!

Additionally, "Kasman, who became a paid FBI informer against the imprisoned-for-life mob boss in 1997, took a few gentle swipes at the man he eulogized at his 2002 funeral. But he also added some good hard shots at other family members, including Gotti’s brother Richard, a family capo," wrote Jerry Capeci in his latest column.

"Richard, he said, kept $50,000 that his brother Peter gave him to pay for the Dapper Don’s funeral, and hurled anti-semitic epithets at Kasman when he questioned it. Then, after Kasman paid the bill, Richard reneged on a pledge to pay $5000 in tips to the funeral workers, he said."

Read the rest, if you are a subscriber. (It's only five bucks a month, and as a Mafia enthusiast, I see it is an absolute bargain -- and no, I am not on Jerry's payroll, I get nothing for this plug.)

Capeci on How Kasman Supposedly Saved the Gangland Writer's Life

Turncoat Lewis Kasman got about
$144,000 a year to betray ex-pal
John (Junior) Gotti, the FBI said.

Lewis Kasman -- remember him? -- says he saved my life so I shouldn't write bad things about him. For all I know, he may be right. So, in that spirit, I will take things down a notch and just report that the self-described "adopted son" of the late John Gotti is back, six months after he quietly slithered out of town free as a bird after double crossing Gotti and the feds, writes Jerry Capeci on the

So Who Runs Brooklyn Today?

Late in January, 2011, some 800 federal agents arrested 127 suspected members of the Italian Mafia in one of the largest-ever operations targeting the organization.

Who filled the vacuum is a question raised in an article by L Magazine.

Attorney General Eric Holder made a trip to Brooklyn to announce the arrests, and the FBI moved processing from its lower Manhattan headquarters to a gym in Fort Hamilton to accommodate the overflow of defendants.

It was perhaps an appropriate shift in venue given the extent to which the Italian mob has dominated the borough's underworld over the years—infiltrating unions, shaking down dockworkers, running gambling rackets, selling drugs—but while indictments from the investigation suggest the Mafia is still plenty active in the area, it's also clear that compared to its midcentury glory days, the current incarnation of La Cosa Nostra is looking a lot less like Michael and a lot more like Fredo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Springfield Mob Shooters Needed "'to Get Better at Head Shots"

Arillotta, turncoat, at "Big Al" Bruno murder trial.

In March 2011, Mafia turncoat Anthony J. Arillotta took the witness stand in an ongoing mob murder trial in federal court in lower Manhattan.

He detailed for jurors two cold-blooded murders and a third attempt, on a union official’s life, in 2003.

Standing trial were New York’s onetime acting boss of the Genovese crime family, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, 66, of the Bronx, N.Y., along with Arillotta associates Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 44, of West Springfield, and brother Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, plus Arillotta, 42, of Springfield.

In 2010 they were hit with a wide-ranging murder and racketeering indictment that includes the 2003 murder-for-hire of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a former Genovese crime family member who ran an organized crime operation in Springfield, Massachusetts, the slaying of low level operator Gary D. Westerman, and the attempted murder of union official Frank Dadabo in New York the same year.

On November 23, 2003, Bruno and Frank Depergola were approached by a man as they prepared to enter their vehicle outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel club. The man called Bruno by name and when Bruno turned to address him, the man shot Bruno six times in the head and groin. Bruno was later pronounced dead at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Depergola, now serving a federal prison sentence for loan sharking, told police a lone gunman fled into the night

According to court records, Genovese leaders and Bruno's crew wanted to eliminate him because he was not earning enough money for the family. Several high ranking mobsters in New York were also misled to believe that Bruno was a government informant.

Arillotta received permission to have Bruno killed.

Arillotta testified he decided to turn prosecution witness almost immediately after his arrest in February 2010, and has pleaded guilty to the murders and attempted murder, plus a laundry list of extortions and drug and gun charges, in the hopes of escaping a life behind bars, according to a report on Mass

On Thursday, Arillotta spent several hours under direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher, calmly recounting first the attempt on Dadabo’s life in May 2003. He told jurors that Nigro ordered the hit on Dadabo over a union beef and gave him two guns fitted with silencers to do the job, which Nigro labeled in mob terms: “a piece of work.” 

After waiting quietly on a city bench in the Bronx early that morning, Arillotta said he and Ty Geas ambushed Dadabo as he headed for his car. Fotios Geas was waiting in a nearby car to whisk the shooters away, according to the witness.

“As soon as we seen him, we jumped up, got our guns and started walking fast ... When we got into the street, the target was opening his car door ... Ty was right up in his window, firing his gun. He started emptying his gun and the window shattered. I went to the left and fired into the car,” Arillotta testified.
Dadabo survived. Lanpher asked how Nigro reacted during a later conversation when the two discussed the failed murder attempt.

“He said we had to get better at head shots,” Arillotta told the jury.

That shooting, however, propelled Arillotta to a secret induction ceremony into the Genovese crime family in August 2003.

For Bruno’s part, his stock had been plummeting and the order came down from Nigro that he had to be taken out, Arillotta told jurors. During dinners at a steakhouse in the Bronx in 2003, Nigro complained to Arillotta that Bruno wasn’t turning in enough crime revenue to his New York superiors and drank too much. The final breach came when Bruno’s name cropped up in a pre-sentencing summary for a fellow gangster, Emilio Fusco, who was readying to be sentenced for racketeering and loan-sharking convictions.

Bruno proved to be a difficult target, ducking proposed trips to New York and dinner parties during which he was supposed to be killed. Ultimately, Freddy Geas recruited his friend and former prisonmate, Frankie A. Roche, of Westfield, a tattooed fringe player whom Geas referred to as his “crash dummy,” due to Roche’s reckless nature.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mugshots of New Jersey Wiseguys

"Beach" DePiro

Talking Points Memo has constructed an informative and visually pleasing slideshow of mugshots from January's "Biggest Mob Bust Ever," which we noted at the time both for its epic corralling of suspected criminals, but more playfully for its collection of some of the greatest nicknames ever given to overweight Italian-American men, as duly noted in the Village Voice.

Vincent Aulisi, also known as "The Vet," squeaked by at number 20 on our Top 20 list. He's looking sad, but like he could handle a barking dog.

Tony Testa Behind DeMeo Crew Film?

Rapper Tony Testa

According to a published report on a variety of websites and newspapers, including the New York Post, "Bobby Brown -- R&B singer-songwriter, occasional rapper, and dancer -- is talking about working on a movie with mob-related rapper Tony Testa.

Sources say the film is based on Testa's Brooklyn family connection to notorious Gambino crime-family members the DeMeo Crew. The story will be based on Testa's Uncle Patty, who transferred to the Lucchese family and was murdered in 1992.

Testa's uncle, Joseph Carmine Testa, is serving life in the same prison as Bernie Madoff. Brown was spotted dining at Trattoria Dopo Teatro with Testa, "Sopranos" star Joe Gannascoli and Chuck Zito about a possible role in the movie, which will also star Armand Assante."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book: Joe Kennedy No Angel--But No Bootlegger Either

From the Irish, by Terry Prone:

ANY student of the Kennedy dynasty knows all about the father figure, Joe Kennedy, who shaped and warped the lives of his children through his determination to live vicariously through them and ensure that each should fulfill his ambitions.

This was the man who became US Ambassador at the Court of St James and, while there, provided his masters with consistently rotten advice. That rotten advice was rooted in his incapacity to understand Hitler’s regime, that incapacity influenced, up to a point, by some covert admiration for the Nazis. This was the man who subjected his emotionally troubled daughter to a lobotomy which institutionalised her for the rest of her life.

This was the man who, while cosying up to the Catholic hierarchy, was at the same time flagrantly unfaithful to his marriage vows with (among others) film star Gloria Swanson. (His wife, according to some biographers, had the most cruel revenge when he was rendered speechless by a stroke in later life. That stroke allowed her to spend his money on constant travel and talk to him in ways he would never have tolerated when in the whole of his health.)

This, finally, was the man who built the legendary Kennedy wealth through rum-running during Prohibition. Bootlegging put him arm-in-arm with the Mafia which grew powerful as a result of Prohibition.

No argument about those details, right? Wrong, according to a history of Prohibition, written by former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent, who points out that in the ten years directly after the Repeal of Prohibition, the much mistrusted Joe Kennedy was proposed for three federal positions considered to be so important as to require Senate confirmation.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Confirmed: DeNiro To Play Sheeran in Scorcese Flick

This week veteran Hollywood actor Robert De Niro confirmed that he will play Frank Sheeran in the Martin Scorsese film, expected to be titled The Irishman and based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses, as noted on this website, as well as elsewhere.

The movie will bring together some of the most respected actors who have ever portrayed brutal mobsters and associates -- primarily in previous Scorsese mob flicks, such as Goodfellas.

Steve Zallian, writer of Gangs of New York, has penned the script, and Scorsese has said that filming could start later this year.

De Niro said this week, "It's about a guy who confessed that he killed Hoffa and also Joe Gallo over here on Hester Street. And so I'm going to play that character; Joe Pesci's gonna be in it and Al Pacino is going to be in it and Marty's going to direct it."

I Heard You Paint Houses is a book written by Sheeran's former attorney, Charles Brandt, and is based on extensive interviews Brandt conducted with the elderly hitman in the years before his death in 2003.

The book is a true-crime biography of Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, a Teamsters official and Mafia associate who on orders from his powerful godfather, Russell Bufalino, killed his friend and mentor Jimmy Hoffa, and 25 to 30 others, including Crazy Joey Gallo, according to assertions in the book.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New York's Original Five Families

The Clutch Hand put pride aside and ended up joining with Masseria, who had the manners of a pig, but was outfighting everyone else.
Joe the Boss Masseria

For most aficionados of America's Cosa Nostra, the starting point is always the war between Joe "The Boss" Masseria, pictured above, and Salvatore Maranzano.

Much about the early Mafia seems open to debate. For instance, we'd thought Maranzano created each crime family's boss, underboss, consiglieri, capo, solder and associate pyramid structure, based on the Roman Legionnaires, though recent research suggests these positions were already in place.

Maranzano, however, named himself Boss of Bosses and it was his doom.

Lucky Luciano did away with that title after doing away with Maranzano. It was agreed no one man would ever hold that title, though over the years, some bosses seemed to fit the bill on an informal basis nevertheless. Carlo Gambino was definitely one of them.
According to First Family: The Birth of the American Mafia by Mike Dash, the Morello family was the first Mafia family -- Mafia as in the criminal organization based in Sicily; men who belonged to the Mafia emigrated to America, usually to escape the clutches of Italian law, and simply brought to America what they were doing in the Old Country. Counterfeiting was big back then, as well as extortion, kidnapping and robbery.

Soon enough, three other families had formed. And they were formal, organized and carried rituals, such as "making" new members -- they weren't a loose net of street gangs.

The three new families were the Schiros and the Mineos, who stayed in Brooklyn, fearing to move in on Morello's Manhattan turf; and the D'Aquilas, led by Salvatore "Toto," who were the most formidable of the new families. Toto staked his claim in Manhattan alongside the Morellos. Fearless and intelligent (and while the Clutch Hand was still in prison) D'Aquila solidified his position and became even more powerful than the Morellos.

The American Mafia soon had a war on its hands: The Camorra, the Neapolitan version of the Mafia, soon moved in and took on the Mafia for control.

However, they found themselves unable to take over Mafia rackets that easily, especially those belonging to the Morello family (whose leader was still in prison). People outright refused to be extorted by the Camorrists, fearing the wrath of the Clutch Hand when he returned.

But they fought anyway, going into a shooting war with the Mafia, and their ruthlessness and ability to assassinate many key Mafiosi gave them a lead. The Camorra was actually on top briefly, running rackets all over New York and plucking the most fruit of organized crime's rich bounty. But they held sway only for about a year, from 1916 to 1917. Then a turncoat stepped out from their midsts and told the police everything he knew about the Camorra in America, and basically they were finished here. (Neapolitans hereafter who emigrated would join the Mafia if they came to America, no matter what their previous affiliations had been. The Mafia became less select over time, accepting non-Sicilians to beef up their ranks. This later would become a point of contention.)

As Dash wrote, "Without the Barber (the nickname of this informer, Ralph Daniello) the Neapolitans would almost certainly have won their war with the Sicilians, and reduced the Harlem Mafia to a criminal irrelevance, with incalculable consequences for the history of crime."

The Camorra would never again be a force in New York's underworld. And eventually, more Sicilians emigrated and there was soon a Fifth Family, led by Umberto Valenti.

By the time Morello got out of prison in 1910, the world had indeed changed for him.

These original Five Families would soon see their end as well. But the Mafia we know grew from seeds planted in those earlier families that we don't know.

Joe Masseria, for example, emigrated to the United States in 1903 to avoid murder charges in Sicily. He became an enforcer for the Morellos, then set up his own shop in the 1920s when Prohibition had arrived. More families were formed and there was complete chaos. So much money was at stake. The small-change rackets of the Morello family days were nothing compared to the money in bootlegging, which would make millions of dollars for some mobsters, previously unheard of sums in the underworld.

The Morello family gradually disappeared as they were slowly squeezed out, but Morello, the first godfather, was not ready to retire. The Clutch Hand put pride aside and ended up joining with Masseria, who had the manners of a pig, but was outfighting everyone else. Morello became his consiglieri, though I don't know if they called it that back then; he was widely considered the brains of Masseria's outfit. Who had more experience in the American Mafia than the man who had created it and led the first family decades earlier? Guided by Morello's steady, seasoned hand, Masseria knew who to kill, as well as how and when and in what order.

When open war broke out between Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, Maranzano knew who his first target would have to be if he had any hope of winning: Morello. And so it was done. Morello was assassinated in his own office in Italian Harlem on August 15, 1930. The first Godfather lay on the floor, bleeding from holes in his face, jaw and body, just another dead Mafioso. Eventually both Masseria and Maranzano would end up in the same position as a new generation of Mafiosi, whose names are well known today, took over.

As a sidenote: The often-told story of Masseria's end -- his lunch with Lucky -- and slaying by gunmen bursting into the restaurant while Lucky was in the men's room is supposedly fiction. It never happened.

Tell-All Tome About Jilly's, Sinatra, Gotti

Entertainer-club proprietor-turned-author Tony Delvecchio's "Sinatra, Gotti and Me: The Rise and Fall of Jilly's Nightclub" was told in his own words to author Rich Herschlag and was recently published, according to the Pocono Record.

"Jilly's was one of the most popular, famous and notorious nightclubs in New York City during the 1960s, and then again in the late 1970s when it was revived by Delvecchio and Tony Fusco, and hosted by its namesake, Jilly Rizzo, the best friend of Frank Sinatra. Looking for someone to watch his back, Delvecchio brought in an old friend, John Gotti, a rising captain in the Gambino family," the article read.

"The renovated Jilly's once again became the hot spot for A-list celebrities, gangsters, regulars and wannabes. From John Gotti to Sinatra, Jilly's was the place to be — and Delvecchio ran it day and night with the able service of the Jilly Girls, plus a few bartenders provided by Gotti, before his days as the "Teflon Don."

Mafia, Other Criminal Groups, Blamed For Sluggish Italian Economy

Here, they talk about the death of Cosa Nostra, but overseas they are blaming Italy's criminal organizations -- primarily the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta --  for wreaking major havoc on the entire peninsula's economy.

"The mafia is one of the biggest reasons for the sluggish growth of the European Union's fourth largest economy, Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi said on Friday," as reported by IGN (Italian Global Nation news service).

"Among the most inhibitory mafia infiltration in the structure of productivity, which has increased during the last ten years, at least in how it has spread throughout our national territory," Draghi said during a speech in the northern city of Milan, the centre of Italian business.

Draghi's comments followed an annual report by Italy's national anti-mafia directorate (DNA) this week which said the Calabrian Mafia or 'Ndrangheta was continuing to grow in Italy and abroad thanks to "unlimited" financial resources.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mob Killer Meldish Not Yet Sentenced; Accomplice Gets 25-to-Life

Joseph Meldish, alleged mob hit man.
A former drug-addicted prostitute convicted of fingering the wrong target for a mob hit man in a Bronx tavern in 1999 was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, according to an article in the New York Post.

There is no word regarding the sentencing of the hit man, Joseph Meldish. Prosecutors charge that Meldish — a reputed member of the Purple Gang, a drug-dealing group tied to the Gennovese, Luchese and Bonanno crime families — had meant to wipe out Brown’s brother, Thomas Brown, in the mistaken identity attack.

Kim Hanzlick, now 45, walked into Frenchy's Tavern in Throggs Neck on March 21, 1999, and, according to another accomplice, identified a man sitting inside as Thomas Brown but the man she pointed out was actually Thomas' look-alike brother, Joseph Brown.

Meldish walked in and calmly shot Brown right in front of his wife -- nine times.

After a career in crime that spans more than two decades, Meldish faces life in prison when he's sentenced, which was supposed to be this week.

The 54- or 55-year-old (both ages were given in different articles) reputed hitman is suspected of committing close to 40 murders, beginning when he was convicted of manslaughter at 18, though another newspaper article puts the murder number much higher.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Larry "Champagne" Carrozza Hit Haunted Michael Franzese

Investigation Discovery's Nothing Personal, a six-part series profiling hit men, debuted in March 2011.

One of nine new series ID launched in 2011's first quarter, each one-hour episode was hosted by Steve Schirripa, who played the doomed Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos.

Michael Franzese, ex-Colombo crime family capo, swears in
Michael Franzese, ex-Colombo crime family capo

Nothing Personal was doomed as well, the short-lived series lasted two seasons.

The premiere episode spotlighted the 1983 murder of would-be Mafioso Larry "Champagne" Carrozza, who was shot by a Colombo crime family hit man/known charlatan. Or Michael Franzese, the ex-Colombo crime family capo who left the life, trading in the Godfather for the Christian God the father.

At least that's what federal agents and other law enforcement experts believed in April of 1992, when The Los Angeles Times noted that the Carrozza hit was "one case in which some experts believe that Franzese may have pulled the trigger."

Breakdown of Italy's Four Major Mafias

When you think of Italian organized crime, you think of the Mafia.

You're likely thinking of Cosa Nostra, the name of America's Mafia, as well as the older Sicilian variation.

Bernard Provenzano, Cosa Nostra boss.
The term Mafia essentially refers to several separate organized crime entities.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As Feds Downsize Mob Focus, Scotland Debuts Elite Unite Against Organized Crime

While the Feds have consolidated their focus on organized crime in New York City, the heart of America's Costra Nostra, law enforcement "across the pond" is taking a very different approach to the problem.

An elite unit aimed at tackling organised crime, human trafficking and serious fraud has been officially opened -- in Scotland -- by the justice secretary, according to an article on the BBC News website.

The Scottish Intelligence Co-ordination Unit (SICU) would gather information about top gangsters in a bid to "take them down." It is part of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).The unit will be housed in Livingston until the new Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, opens in 2012.

"It was created to act as the "brain" of law enforcement in Scotland, bringing together intelligence and finance specialists. They will work closely with the country's eight police forces and co-ordinate and assess knowledge about the activities of criminal gangs, to develop more effective ways of preventing, detecting and dismantling serious organised crime."

The unit will also be home to Scotland's first dedicated expert resources for the co-ordination of intelligence on human trafficking, and serious and complex fraud.

'Beach' Depiro, the Praying Mobster, Gets Bail

Fiumara, here, who died in 2010, used Depiro
as acting capo on the Jersey waterfront.
Stephen "Beach" Depiro, the man at the top of a New Jersey federal indictment that was part of the big January roundup of alleged Mafia members, will be released on bail, according to the My Central Jersey website.

He'll be under home incarceration with electronic monitoring.

A federal judge in Newark ruled Tuesday that Depiro is to be released on a $1.2 million bond secured by four properties.

The 55-year-old Kenilworth resident has been described by prosecutors as a soldier in the Genovese crime family. He allegedly ran a racketeering enterprise connected to the waterfront that engaged in extortion and illegal bookmaking.

Depiro has pleaded not guilty.

According to published reports, since the 1990s, Tino Fiumara's influence in New Jersey was so strong that the Genovese family was considering him as a candidate for boss of the entire family. He controlled unions from the Newark/Elizabeth Seaport and had been involved in loansharking, extortion, gambling, union and labor racketeering throughout New Jersey counties of Union, Essex and Bergen.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Joe "the German" Watts Terrified an Informant So Much, Informant Begged to Stay in Prison

" 'I testified against a certain individual who is life-threatening for me,' a pasty-faced, gaunt Brian Greenwald pleaded in court, referring to Joe "The German" Watts
Mentally ill Ciccone took a shot at John Gotti outside his Queens- based social club;
Joe Watts reportedly tortured and killed Ciccone.

A turncoat who informed on Joe Watts, one of the late John Gotti's most ruthless associates, was recently sentenced to time served for engineering a botched FedEx truck hijacking, according to an article in the New York Post.

But Brian Greenwald, who's been in jail for 27 months -- the last seven in solitary confinement -- instead "begged the judge to stay in the slammer rather than risk retribution from a feared gangland gunslinger who was the alleged backup shooter at the 1985 murder of Gambino don Paul Castellano," the article said.

"I testified against a certain individual who is life-threatening for me," a pasty-faced, gaunt Greenwald pleaded in court, referring to Joe "The German" Watts, the reputed assassin who allegedly notched 11 mob hits for Gotti's crew.
" 'I've had to watch my back for organized-crime retaliation. I've learned recently they are trying to find out where I am. I've been in four separate jails and spent the last seven months in segregation,' he told Manhattan federal court Judge Harold Baer.

"The slick-looking, stone-hearted Watts -- who never became a "made" mobster because he wasn't Italian, but who became a trusted capo who'd deliver swift mob justice-- has spent nearly two decades in prison on a variety of charges .... [The writer obviously is mistaken; Watts couldn't be made because he wasn't Italian, so how could he ever be a capo? What the writer might have been trying to say was that Watts was often given the same respect as a capo.]

Joe Watts

Watts, 63, accepted a plea bargain for setting up the slaying of Staten Island sanitation exec/former newspaper editor Fred Weiss, as reported in another Cosa Nostra News post, receiving 13 years behind bars.

The Post article continued that Greenwald, 40, appeared terrified of Watts but Judge Baer still wasn't about to sentence the guy to more time. It makes you wonder: If Greenwald doesn't mind doing time, why'd he turn? Also, what about WITSEC? Is he not eligible for federal protection? Well, that question eventually gets addressed.

"As Greenwald cupped his head in his hands -- his face a picture of grief and fear -- Baer said the crook had two choices: Leave, or spend the next 60 days behind bars until they work out his entering the witness protection program," the Post reported. Greenwald took the latter.

"The feds believe Greenwald -- who was president of Doppelt & Greenwald in the Diamond District -- was the mastermind behind a nearly $5 million gem heist in 2005 by two men in FedEx uniforms, documents show," the article said.

But he was busted in 2008 for a botched $1 million heist by bumbling thugs who couldn't figure out how to offload the gems in a hijacked FedEx truck.

As part of his plea deal in the case, Greenwald admitted laundering a load of cash for Watts, The Post has reported.

He may sound like a pathetic loser, but Greenwald is intelligent to be afraid of Watts, who, as stated, committed at least 10 murders, according to law enforcement, and was no stranger to torture in at least one well-documented example.

As reported on Jerry Capeci's PPV, in November 1996, Watts,"was ordered by Gotti to kill William Ciccone for allegedly shooting at the Gambino crime boss outside his South Ozone Park social club," said then-Staten Island District Attorney William Murphy.

At the time, wrote Capeci, "Gotti and his crew were at the top of their game and openly flaunted their gangster lifestyle at the club. That day, Gotti's pals heard a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot. They chased Ciccone, grabbed him, stuffed him in a car trunk and drove him to Staten Island, where he was "tortured for several hours by Watts," and then shot in the head, Murphy said.

"The case lay dormant until former Gambino mobster Dominick (Fat Dom) Borghese began cooperating with authorities and told them" what Watts had done with Ciccone.

In his later years, prior to his last arrest in 2009, Watts reportedly had himself conveyed to Gambino family meetings in a limo driven by an undertaker.

According to court papers, Watts rode in limousines from the John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals. The owner of the funeral home told the New York Post he never heard of Watts.

A reader of this blog mused, "Didnt they say at one time this tough guy watts was going to flip?? how tough is he then??"

Well, as far as I know there was one story about Watts flipping - and never another one. This is a guy who did about 20 years in the can, and has another 13 to look forward to. And he is 69, likely to die in prison.

Neil Dellacroce was a capo under Albert Anastasia, then underboss to both Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano, respectively, as well as John Gotti's mentor. He was universally respected in the mob. Yet, shortly after he died, there was a story describing him as a high-level informer; I think these stories get written when the media is manipulated by higher forces to create disarray within the families. Read last the three paragraphs on the site Seize the Night, which writes a bio of Dellacroce that includes the story that appeared in Time magazine that painted him as a rat. Neil Dellacroce a rat!

Likewise a story in the Daily News pegged Watts an informer, but that story too disappeared. Read this recent one by Tom Robbins about the January FBI bust of mobsters and associates. Formerly of the Village Voice, Robbins is one of the best investigative/organized crime journalists in the country. Watts is a focus of that article, and there is not one word about him being an informant.

It's called disinformation -- manipulation of the press by the government. If Watts was a rat when that story appeared about 15 years ago, he would not have been involved with Gambino acting boss Jackie D'Amico and others in a host of other rackets since then.

He probably would have been in the back of a hearse, not cruising around in a funeral-home limo.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Feds Downsize Mob Squads

The FBI'S New York bureau has downsized its organized-crime squads just two months after its massive gangster takedown, reported The New York Daily News, among others newspapers, though the news was first disclosed by Jerry Capeci on his pay-per-view website,

Heretofore each of the city's five families had its own squad of FBI agents investigating it.

The reorganization involves the merger of the Bonanno and Colombo squads; the Lucchese squad teamed up with a unit investigating Eastern European crime crews.The Genovese and Gambino crime families each still have their own dedicated squads.

As Capeci more bluntly explained it on his site: "Six weeks after the feds loudly proclaimed that they are still pursuing mobsters with a vengeance, the FBI has quietly cut the number of New York squads that investigate the notorious Five Families. There used to be five, one for each. That’s been cut to just three. It’s not just re-organizing either. The total number of mob-busting agents is also cut by some 25 per cent, Gang Land has learned.

"As a result of changes that began this week, sources say the FBI now has only about 45 agents investigating the ongoing criminal activity of some 700 mobsters and an estimated 7,000 associates of New York’s five Mafia families that operate in the city and surrounding suburbs.

"The changes come two years after they were first considered, and rejected, as unwise."

Some law enforcement officials fear this downsizing could lead to a resurgence of the Mafia, with the News article noting, that the Bonanno family rose from "ashes a generation ago after it was decimated by undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone," aka Donnie Brasco.

French Connection Gangster: Wrong Man Convicted in Decades-Old Murder

Jean-Pierre Hernandez, 75, said his conscience finally forced him to break a gangland secret over who murdered Agnès Le Roux, whose mother owned one of Nice's most prestigious casinos - the Palais de la Méditerraneé, according to an article in the U.K.'s The Telegraph.

Miss Le Roux, 29, disappeared at the wheel of her white Range Rover in 1977. Her ex-lover, Jean-Maurice Agnelet, 72, a former playboy lawyer is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for her murder.

However, in his book, Confessions of a Gang Leader, Hernandez said the "tears of Mr Agnelet's sons drove him to reveal the 'true' culprit - his 'best friend' Jeannot Lucchesi, another well-known figure from the Marseille underworld.

The pair had been instrumental in the French Connection, the lucrative heroine trade between Marseille and New York and the subject of a Hollywood film.

According to Mr Hernandez, shortly before his 1987 death, Mr Lucchesi had confessed: "I went up to Nice to bump her off."

He and unspecified accomplices abducted Miss Le Roux and dumped her body into the sea in the rocky inlets off Marseille. They had her car squashed into scrap metal by a mafia-run garage.


Mickey Rourke Plays Tour Guide At Vegas Mafia Tribute

Mickey Rourke has has agreed to film segments that will be used to guide tourists through the Tropicana hotel's new Mob Experience attraction, according to

"Fascinated by all things Mafia related, Rourke admits he jumped at the chance to take fans back to Sin City's darker days," the article says.

According to an AP news article the Experience features possessions and home movies from some of organized crime's most famous figures, including Meyer Lansky's diary and cars belonging to Bugsy Siegel.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana hotel and casino opened on March 1.

The daughter of famed gangster Sam Giancana has sued the Las Vegas Mob Experience, saying the Las Vegas Strip attraction owes her money.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper reported that Antoinette Giancana McDonnell is suing the attraction for at least $70,000 in damages.The lawsuit says the attraction's managing partner Jay Bloom agreed to pay McDonnell nearly $332,000 over five years, and buy $22,300 worth of furniture that belonged to her father.

Johnston says McDonnell violated the terms of her contract, so it was canceled.

Giancana was a gangster who was assassinated in his home in 1975.

Milwaukee Mobster Balistrieri's Sisters Cut from Will

Will, page one

When Joe Balistrieri, elder son of Milwaukee mob figure Frank Balistrieri, died last year he left it all to his brother--and gave his two sisters the proverbial shaft.

"Even in death, Joe Balistrieri played favorites. [He] ... left his entire estate to his brother, John J. Balistrieri, when he died last October at 70. And not one penny to his two sisters," according to an article on Milwaukee Magazine's News Buzz website.

After his brother, the only other named beneficiaries were three women, none of which were sisters.

The article continues: according to the provisions of the will, “I request that my sole beneficiary, John Balistrieri, give and/or dispense to (them), in his sole discretion, such items or monies as he deems just and equitable being guided by his personal knowledge of the love and esteem in which I held such persons in life … I ask him to exercise not only discretion but also commensurate generosity.”