Tuesday, February 28, 2012

15 Things You Didn't Know About Donnie Brasco Production

 In 1976, Pistone was chosen to go undercover as purported jewel thief Donnie Brasco partly because he spoke fluent Italian,

"Donnie Brasco" [is] based on a true story, that of FBI undercover agent Joseph D. Pistone, who spent years infiltrating New York's Bonnano crime family... Its hero, who never fires a gun except on the FBI firing range, was played by Johnny Depp (then best known for quirky, vulnerable man-child roles) and his mentor was played by Al Pacino (as a tired, rumpled mafioso, about a million miles from his Michael Corleone or Tony Montana).

As the film marks its 15th anniversary (it was released on February 28, 1997), here are true tales of what went on behind the scenes, including one star's impulsive wedding, and how the real Pistone braved a contract on his head to ensure that the movie portrayed accurately the mob world he uncovered.

1. In 1976, Pistone was chosen to go undercover as purported jewel thief Donnie Brasco because he spoke fluent Italian, was familiar with the mob (having grown up in Paterson, N.J.), and because he claimed the ability not to perspire under pressure. The undercover operation was supposed to last six months; it lasted almost six years.

Monday, February 27, 2012

'Secret Judge' Was True Underworld Boss: NY Post

UPDATED: Did you now there was a secret judge who quietly ruled the underworld for decades, directing the bosses of a criminal organization made up of loosely connected street gangs? That the "Mafia" was a media invention and did not exist as we know it?

That there were never any "families," and no "Five Families" in New York, with all-powerful bosses at the top? Oh, sure -- these street crews did have bosses, like a man named Carlo Gambino, but he was just middle management, and not the criminal mastermind he is known as today.

The man who really gave the orders was Paulie "Lefty" Della Universita, who ran this Italian entity of non-organized crime crews from the McCarthy 1950s to Reagan 1980s. Among other things, the "Judge," which is only one of the many names he went by, supposedly saved Vito Genovese's life.

Did Catholic Church Give Gotti Raw Deal in Death?

Did the Catholic church give John Gotti
a raw deal by denying him a proper funeral?

Far be it from me to shed a tear for a murderous scoundrel whose various scams increased the price of everything in my adopted hometown. 
But did John Gotti get a raw deal when the Catholic Church denied him a funeral mass?  
A scholar makes the case here (PDF), arguing that the Church broke its own rules regarding how to deal with Mafiosi.

AllAboutTRH Blog: Ramona’s Dad a Gambino Capo?

Doing a little research, I stumbled upon this blog, which is running an interesting piece about Ramona Rizzo's past. The story says, among other things, that she has a more direct connection to the Mafia: her father is a Gambino capo named Johnny Rizzo, and Ramona's husband ripped off both her own father and Joe Watts...

Check it out story below, from the website AllAboutTRH Exclusive: ‘Mob Wives’ Star Ramona Rizzo’s Past Revealed! | All About The Real Housewives:

AllAboutTRH Part II: More on Ramona, Including Her 'Mystery' Drug Dealing Jailed Boyfriend

Another interesting post that finally includes info we have been hunting for -- who is Ramona's boyfriend, who was arrested for drugs and whose name was beeped out of tonight's episode. We think we know who Mr. Mystery is, and that we have already covered the story of Ramona's boyfriend's arrest, whose name the below blogger, we think, spells incorrectly as "Scalfini."

Check out our post, from last summer about the arrest of who we believe may be the mysterious boyfriend: http://cosa-nostra-news.blogspot.com/2011/08/staten-island-marijuana-cocaine-bust.html

Once again we present AllAboutTRH Exclusive: Ramona Is A Liar! Plus Find Out The Real Reason Carla Doesn’t Care For Ramona Or Karen | All About The Real Housewives:

A few days ago I read an interesting comment that related to a post I was going to make regarding Mob Wives. It was about Ramona and something that I’ve already heard. I thought I’d share it with you all so you can see yourself.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Julius Bernstein -- the Last Jewish Mobster

Julius Bernstein, dubbed the last Jewish Mobster.

Julius Bernstein was a relic of a different era: Raised in the Depression, a genuine World War II hero — and the last of New York’s great Jewish gangsters.

While the Brooklyn native connived for decades in anonymity, his once-secret FBI file — obtained by the Daily News — exposes for the first time a life devoted to earning crooked cash with the Genovese family.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When Women and Children in "the Life" Lose Someone

Louie Milito, whacked by long-time friend Sammy Bull.
Don't know if many of you watched the video clip I posted of Diane Sawyer interviewing Sammy Bull back in 1992. I viewed it -- well, listened to it -- several times, and listened closely. I must admit I thought Sammy made some good points about a lot of topics, not just John Gotti.

Some of the families of his victims were also on the show -- the Militos most prominently. They rode the "Sammy is a rat who killed my father/husband" train all the way to the station, and I found myself oddly unmoved by them.

John Gotti's Early "Image Problem"

John Gotti became a mob icon in the New York media.
John Gotti, as New Yorkers remember him. This one, anyway.

John Gotti was once the focus of so much media attention, it's difficult to truly comprehend the magnitude, as well as the full ramifications if you didn't live within New York's boroughs.

Yes, Gotti's fame is international. But it's in New York where he truly was first a household name, where the pre-Internet media couldn't get its fill of the man. Most New Yorkers weren't sure what to make of him.

But all that came later. The Don from central casting had forgotten to assemble a press kit to be distributed immediately following his seizure of power on Dec. 16, 1985.

Staten Island Godmother Meets Marilyn Monroe

From Next Magazine, with our apologies:

... The more you learn about [Big Ang] Raiola, the more apparent it seems that she was born to become a local folk hero. After all, this is the mob we are talking about, perhaps America’s most beloved subject of film and television.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Bull's Victims Eye Royalties from 'Mob Wives' Gravano's Book

From SILive.com:

When Karen Gravano’s tell-all about her life growing up in a fast-living mob family on Staten Island is published on Valentine’s Day, it will be nothing short of heartbreaking for the families of the victims of her father, the notorious hit man and turncoat Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano.

At least two families of the 19 people Gravano was accused of murdering during his mob reign of terror are asking the office of the Arizona attorney general to go after the royalties from “Mob Daughter.”

Investigation Discovery Debuts Season Two of Nothing Personal, Schirripa Again Hosts

The broken relationships featured on season two of Investigation Discovery's Nothing Personal: Murder for Hire are in vital need of professional services, though it isn't the temporary kind from therapists or love gurus.

Rather, the quick fix for these rejected lovers and partners is the more permanent solution provided by a hired hit man. Actor and true-crime aficionado, Steve Schirripa, returns to guide viewers through the twists and turns of each betrayal. The six-episode second season premieres Wednesday, March 7 at 9 PM ET on Investigation Discovery.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vito Giacalone, Suspect in Hoffa Slaying, Dies at 88

Vito Giacalone, a reputed mob enforcer in Detroit and suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of Jimmy Hoffa, has died at 88.

Giacalone, nicknamed "Billy Jack," was the younger brother of Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone, who died in 2001, The Detroit News reported Wednesday. The elder Giacalone was to have met with Hoffa on the day the former Teamsters president vanished in 1975.

Giacalone died Sunday. A funeral mass was held Tuesday at St. Thecla Church in Clinton, Mich., where he lived.

Paramount Sues to Stop More 'Godfather' Books

Mario Puzo

The movie studio that controls the rights to "The Godfather" has sued the estate of its creator Mario Puzo, accusing his heirs of wrongfully authorizing new book sequels to the fictional mafia family's story.

Paramount Pictures studio, in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court on February 17, accused the estate of Puzo, who wrote 1969 bestseller "The Godfather," of approving sequels to the Oscar-winning movies without the studio's permission and in violation of copyright agreements.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blast from the Past: Sammy Bull's First Interview After the Gotti Trial

Since I am on a video kick, here is the first interview with Sammy Gravano on ABC's PrimeTime Live after he helped put John Gotti away. (Yeah, the quality isn't the greatest but it does smooth out a little ways into it.) Watching this 1990 discussion some 22 years later, it is indeed difficult not to admit Sammy did score a few points against Gotti, saying if not for the audiotapes of Gotti talking mob business, the Feds wouldn't have gotten him -- and Sammy and Frankie Lo as well. 
And a few anecdotes we missed or have forgotten: When the agents burst into the Ravenite prior to Gotti's last arrest, the "Dapper-soon-to-be-Velcro Don" told them he and his guys weren't going anywhere until they had a cup of black coffee (which is what old Italians call espresso). The agents stood there waiting. Also, Sammy noted that one night at dinner Gotti had Joe Watts tell the restaurateur to jack up the price of a $50 bottle of wine to $200 -- because it was widely known to be Gotti's favorite wine (in Gotti's mind, anyway). And before turning, Sammy -- and supposedly Frankie Lo -- had decided if they ever beat the case and got out - they'd kill Gotti for the way he'd been treating them in lockup. Sammy says when he saw the "death list" with the names of people he'd also have to kill to avoid retaliation -- "When I thought about killing his son [John Jr.] I got sick" -- he flushed the list and asked for Uncle Sam. I don't say these are true; I say he says them during the video.

Did the Feds even need Sammy to make their case? I bet there was a lot of second guessing about that once it was learned that Sammy was using his "second chance" to become a major drug dealer -- making his blood family complicit in his crimes. And since his daughter is publishing a book about him, I thought now is a good time to take another look at The Bull(shitter). It is eerie how prescient one of Gotti's lawyers was towards the end, when he predicted how Gravano would turn out. He was 100% on the money. Also note how Sammy demeans the drug business as "not for him."

Interesting Show About Donnie Brasco

This includes interesting footage and recordings of Lefty Ruggiero and Donnie Brasco speaking privately. Go to YouTube for part 2, if you're interested... Of note: It has been proven since, Galante was not boss of the Bonanno family; Pistone's view of the family was not 100% spot-on, probably due to his being a lower-level associate mainly kept out of direct family politics, subsequent cases have since proven.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Beautiful Moll Distances Herself from Mob Rat BF

From the NY Daily News:
  Kim Juliano, ex-girlfriend of mob rat Reynold Maragni. -- Image taken from her Facebook profile
Kim Juiliano knows how to deal with a
wiseguy boyfriend who flips.

The beautiful moll of an indicted Colombo gangster bailed on her beau’s $2.5 million bond after she learned he turned rat.

Kim Juliano, 49, filed notice in Brooklyn Federal Court last month, begging out of the financial arrangement that helped spring her made man, Reynold Maragni, from jail.

The change of heart came after prosecutors revealed the high-ranking capo had secretly begun wearing a wire to record other mobsters while he was free on bail.

“I am very uncomfortable having this bond attached to me on a personal level,” Juliano wrote to Brooklyn Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.
  Fifteen people, including Alphonse "Allie Boy" T. Persico, Reynolds Maragni, and Joseph "Joey Flowers" Rotunno, were arrested Thursday, June 22, 2000, on charges of running the Colombo crime family's gambling, extortion and money laundering operations in South Florida. The South Florida "crew" of the New York Mafia family has pulled in as much as $2,000 a day in gambling and bookmaking since 1997, according to a federal racketeering indictment unsealed Wednesday. (AP Photo/Broward County Sheriff's Office via Miami Herald) “I have not heard from Mr. Maragni, nor have I been able to get through to him in over a month,” Juliano’s letter states. “Mr. Maragni is now cooperating as an informant. I have legally signed my name to something that I have been mislead (sic) to believe.”

The letter was sent Jan. 30, about a month after prosecutors revealed Maragni was a government informant.

Matsumoto granted Juliano’s request on Friday. Maragni’s bond was no longer necessary anyway because he’s in the government’s witness protection program.

When contacted by the Daily News, Juliano was reluctant to discuss the letter — or Maragni, whom she referred to in the past tense.

“To be honest, I had a great relationship with this man,” she said. “He was somebody I cared about. I have no comment on the situation as it is. It is what it is.”

Juliano’s Facebook status changed to “single” last month.

The Westies Back -- Reports NY Post

The below is from NYPOST.com:

The Westies are back — with a twist.

Manhattan’s former “Irish Mafia’’ gang — long infamous for running loan-sharking and extortion rackets out of the tenements of Hell’s Kitchen through the early 1990s — has suddenly resurfaced with a highly sophisticated scheme using a fleet of superfast private jets to smuggle high-grade marijuana from California to cities across the country, authorities said.

“It’s rare to run into an organization that’s wealthy enough and sophisticated enough to pull it off” — but they’re doing it, one law-enforcement source said.  At the helm of the gang’s Manhattan operation is John Bokun, whose uncles, Billy and namesake John, were Westies before the neighborhood became gentrified by pricey co-ops and wine bars, authorities said.

The younger Bokun lives in what is now known as the West Side’s Clinton neighborhood and is accused of teaming up with a California drug organization to use his Dassault Falcon executive jet to distribute top-grade hydroponic marijuana across the country, records show.

He was recently indicted by Long Island federal prosecutors on marijuana-trafficking charges.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents said they secretly observed Bokun loading his Falcon at an airport near the so-called “Emerald Triangle” — the green, vast pot-growing region nestled in northern California’s Coast Mountains, 100 miles north of San Francisco, an official report says.

$6 Trillion in Fake Bonds Seized from Mafia in Switzerland

World affairs | Italian police seize $6 trillion in fake US bonds:

The Italian police have had a busy weekend making arrests after they found $6 trillion of fake US bonds in a Swiss bank account.

It’s not every day that you stumble across six trillion dollars worth of fake bonds hidden in the secret compartments of a Swiss bank account. The investigation into the fake bonds has actually been a pretty big one. Italian, Swiss and American authorities carried out the sting over a year-long period, according to Italian police officials.

Initially, it started off as just a mafia loan shark sting. However, after tapping, intercepting phone calls and fine combing emails, the police realised the mess was a lot bigger then that originally thought.

Six trillion dollars might seem like a stupid amount to print, but just remember it’s only about one third of the US debt.

The bonds were actually seized back in January but we’re only hearing about it now. They were found in three large trunks on the grounds of a Swiss trust company.

What’s worrying is that rumours are suggesting that the mafia were actually looking to buy some plutonium with the fake cash, however, we’re not too sure that’s the type of racket that they’re into. It’s more likely that they we just using them to pay deposits and the likes.

Eight men were arrested and are accused of counterfeiting bonds, credit card forgery, and loan-sharking in the Italian regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio and Basilicata, police said.

'Mob Wives' Recap: Angry Birds: SILive.com

Our weekly update of "Mob Wives," this one courtesy of  SILive.com:

Though the 'Mob Wives' had heftier family issues to confront, the chirping between Drita's camp and Karen's continued.

Drita went on a mission to tame her aggressiveness, so naturally she went to Evolution Boxing to improve her high-flying right hooks. She reminisced to the camera about the first time she let her fists go in kindergarten. The taunts from a bad haircut and parents' fashion choices did not go unpunished. When her daughter later asked her, "do you fight?" on the heels of a police officer's visit at school, Drita froze. Her eyes bulged as she struggled for the right answer while VH1 aired clips from the last two seasons. With the hair tugging, fist punching and yelling swirling in her memory, she was saved by the telephone.

Renee Junior 2.20.12.jpgView full sizeRenee Graziano sees a therapist with ex-husband Junior Pagan to work on their relationship.
Her soon to be ex-husband Lee called from prison to acknowledge the pain he caused by cheating and apologized. Leaving him in the dust may not be the clean getaway Drita had once envisioned.

Karen and Ramona hit up their old stomping ground, Mike's Unicorn Diner, to discuss making good with Carla. She's not a bad person, she's just loyal and gullible. According to Ramona it's, "Double D. No Drita, no drama."

Read rest of article, 'Mob Wives' recap: Angry birds | SILive.com

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gotti Pic a Go -- As Is Gotti Grandkids Reality Show

From the NYPOST.com: "Fiore Films — the production outfit behind the in-the-works John Gotti biopic for director Barry Levinson — is getting further into the Gotti business. Sources say the company is developing a reality TV series based on the lives of Gotti’s grandchildren, with Radar Pictures and Compelling Entertainment. The Gotti grandkids — John, Carmine and Frank Agnello, sons of Victoria Gotti — were featured in A&E’s “Growing Up Gotti.” After delays, the feature “Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father,” is to shoot this fall, sources say. The script is by James Toback. John Travolta and Al Pacino are starring, and Lindsay Lohan has been rumored to be in the mix."

Related links:

Cosa Nostra News: Gotti biopic 'coming together'

Cosa Nostra News: Update: Gotti Biopic Obtains Backing of a ...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Boss "Baby Shacks," Associates Plead Guilty to Racketeering

Five alleged mobsters -- including Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio -- accused of terrorizing and extorting protection payments from strip clubs around Providence, Rhode Island, have agreed to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges, officials said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Two others are going to stand trial, and an eighth defendant already plead guilty and was sentenced to 30 months; he admitted he was part of the mafia, which probably is why his sentence was so lenient; the other five men can be sentenced for up to two decades in prison.

Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio (AP)
Plea deals were reached with the accused former godfather of the New England mafia, Manocchio, 84; capo Edward "Leddy" Lato, 64; and associate Alfred "Chippy" Scivola, 70, Peter Neronha, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, says in a statement.

Two other men, Richard Bonafiglia, 58, and Raymond R. Jenkins, 47, have also agreed to plead guilty in the case, authorities said in a statement, reports The Boston Globe.

The  Globe also reports that Theodore Cardillo, 68, and Albino “Albie” Folcarelli, 53, also named in an indictment, are awaiting trial, slated to begin April 23. An eighth defendant, Thomas Iafrate, pleaded guilty in July, admitting to being an associate of the mafia. He was sentenced in December to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, authorities said.
The other men face sentences of up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

The organized crime family members were accused of extorting thousands of dollars in cash payments each month from strip club operators since the mid-1980s. Violence and threats were part of the monthly routine "to promote a climate of fear, preserve its power, and enrich its members and associates through extortion," prosecutors said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feds: Reputed Philly Mobster had Home Arsenal

Boston.com: "Federal prosecutors say a 75-year-old Manchester man charged in a probe of illegal prescription drug trafficking is a "made member" of the mafia who had a large arsenal of explosives, guns and other weapons at his home.

Federal agents say they searched Robert Gentile's home on Friday in the drug investigation and found sticks of dynamite, several guns, ammunition, homemade silencers and brass knuckles.

Gentile and an associate, 75-year-old Andrew Parente of Hartford, were charged after the search with illegal possession and distribution of prescription painkillers including Oxycontin and Percocet. A federal magistrate judge in Hartford on Tuesday called Gentile a danger to society and ordered him detained without bail.

Prosecutors say Gentile is a member of a Philadelphia crime family. His lawyer denies the mob allegation."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vinny TV's Bail Hearing Hijinks

Reputed acting Bonanno street boss "Vinny TV" Badalamenti.
A bail hearing for the reputed Mafia boss known as “Vinny TV” degenerated into a raucous episode that would have been home on the “Jerry Springer Show” Monday, reports the New York Daily News.

Vincent Badalamenti remained in jail when it was all over, but seemed to enjoy his lawyer Ronald Fischetti’s ferocious jabs at the government.

“I don’t know where U.S. attorneys come from today, this is ridiculous,” Fischetti said over a claim that Badalamenti had weighed going on the lam.

The racketeering case had already veered into the bizarre because the main cooperating witness — Bonanno turncoat Hector Pagan — is the ex-husband of “Mob Wives” reality show star Renee Graziano.

Vinny TV, who is actually the reputed acting street boss of New York’s Bonanno crime family, had reportedly dispatched three tough guys to “chat” with a reality-show mobster who failed to pay back a $5,000 loan, the feds said, The New York Post reports.

He allegedly sent the hoods to shake down Pagan.

The gritty details of the extortion could be laid bare in court if Pagan — a former Bonanno associate — takes the stand against Badalamenti, the Post reports.

The reputed mobster’s attorneys said, however, that they plan to portray Pagan as a self-serving turncoat who will say anything to save his own skin.

At yesterday’s hearing in Brooklyn federal court, Fischetti told the judge that Pagan was recently linked publicly to the Mafia murder of a Luchese family associate in July 2010, the Post reports.

Read the articles:
New York Daily News

The New York Post

Famous Mob Hits in Las Vegas

Meyer Lansky, who was never
as powerful has history contends,
was brought in to run some mob-
owned casinos based in his 
experience at running casinos in
Havana and elsewhere.
From 8 NewsNow.com, TIMELINE: Mob Hits in Las Vegas:

Although the state legalized gambling in 1931 it wasn't until a decade later, when mobsters Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky rolled into town, that organized crime took root in Las Vegas. Here are many of the seminal events that helped Las Vegas establish its mob connections.

1946 -- Siegel, an associate of the Genovese crime family, opened the Flamingo hotel with financial backing from Lansky. The following year Siegel was shot to death in his girlfriend's home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

1950 -- Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver, heading a Senate committee investigating organized crime, conducted a hearing in Las Vegas. Among those who gave testimony was Clark County Alderman Moe Sedway, an associate of Lansky and the Genovese crime family.

Read the rest:  TIMELINE

Monday, February 13, 2012

ABC's 20/20 Talks to Karen Gravano

ABC’s 20/20: Sins of the Father -- "Mob Wives" star Karen Gravano, daughter of Sammy “Bull” Gravano, discusses life with dad. Her book Mob Daughter is due in bookstores today, Valentine's Day.

video platform video management video solutions video player

Ms. Gravano, in part of her layout
in 'Mob Candy' magazine, the one
with Renee on the cover (it is
actually available with four covers,
one of which is Karen herself).
From Amazon, the book you have been waiting for -- or not:

Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Me!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

'Mob Wives' Renee and Ramona Go at It, Clip from Tonight's Show

From Hollywoodlife.com:

Are the Mob Wives teams about to be compromised? During the Feb. 12 episode, Karen Gravano‘s allies Renee Graziano and Ramona Rizzo get into a massive, verbal blowout that leaves Renee in tears.

“You wanted to make peace, I’m willing to make peace,” Ramona tells Renee during a preview video.

But Renee can’t get it out of her mind what Carla Facciolo and Drita D’avanzo told her about the rumors that Ramona was allegedly spreading about her. “I’m trying my hardest not to express what’s really on my mind about Ramona saying Junior [Pagan] married me for my father,” she confesses to the cameras. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold my tongue.”...

Read rest of article: Mob Wives Renee Graziano Feels Disloyal To Karen Gravano, Ramona Rizzo

Preview video of tonight's episode:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mobster Joke Book Will Just Kill You (with Laughter)

A book review by Al Lewis for MarketWatch:

When Malcolm Kushner didn’t call me back right away, I was afraid he’d been whacked.

I didn’t think it was such a good idea when Kushner came out with his mafia joke book earlier this month, telling hilarious tales of “Not so wise guys” and “dumbfellas.”

Some of his jokes go like this: “Why was the stupid hit man hospitalized? He was sent to blow up a car and burned his lips on the tailpipe.”

Kushner, 59, is quick to note that this isn’t really a mafia joke book. It’s a mob humor book. No disrespect intended.
Author Malcolm Kushner
pokes fun at the mob.

 It includes a compendium of mobster movies going back to the 1930s. And it features real-life headlines, like this one from a 2003 New York Post story about a mob boss gunned down because he was gay: “Mobster Sleeps with the Swishes.”

Lucky for Kushner, at least some mobsters have a sense of humor. Former Gambino family associate Louis Ferrante contributed this blurb for Kushner’s book jacket: “When the judge threw the book at me, I wish it had been “The Official Book of Mob Humor.’”

At least one joke highlights a fundamental flaw that this book struggles to overcome: “What’s the problem with mobster jokes? Mobsters don’t think they’re funny, and everyone else thinks they’re not jokes.”

The Bull's Victims Haunt Karen Gravano's Book

The day after "Mob Wives" debuts and the big brawl that followed the premiere last night in New York sent at least one person to the hospital, and one of the new cast members was in court watching Federal Judge Sandra Townes sentence her husband Edward "Tall Guy" Garofalo to seven years in prison for murder conspiracy, extortion and witness tampering. (We still say we have information that the couple has split up; we wonder if perhaps they got back together for dramatic purposes for "Mob Wives" -- the incentive being the paycheck they are both earning for being on the show.)

Next month the judge will sentence Alicia DiMichele, 40, for embezzling union funds from a trucking company she and her husband once owned. The figure has been placed at $40,000.

Alicia was actually arrested over these charges and has already plead guilty to the embezzlement charge.

“I’ve already plead guilty to embezzlement last year, so I’m actually just waiting for the judge to sentence me, so that’s what’s going to happen on that day,” Garofalo told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview a few days ago, referring to her sentencing date of Jan. 6.

“Yes I am very nervous,” she confessed. “But I’m a very positive person and I’m just thinking completely positive... "

According to sentencing guidelines, she can get up to six months, but told RadarOnline that the government will not oppose if the judge only gives her house arrest. “But the reality is the judge could give me whatever she feels. If she feels I deserve two years in jail, she could give me that.”

If the judge can sentence Alicia to whatever she wants -- despite the guidelines (which doesn't make a lot of sentence to us) -- then Alicia may be deep in the hurt locker.

Readers of this blog may remember Judge Sandra Townes. In a story about the sentencing of Francis “BF” Guerra, a long-time associate of the Colombo crime family, the same family Alicia's husband belongs to, we wrote about how the gangster had been sentenced to 14 years in prison for selling his own prescription drugs.

But at trial, Guerra had been charged with comitting two murders -- but the jury had acquitted him. Yet the judge sentenced him to 14 years anyway for the selling of prescription drugs.

Read how the Daily News reported on the judge's reaction to the jury's verdict on July 11, 2012: "Federal Judge Sandra Townes seemed puzzled by the result, sending the panel back into the jury room so she could re-read the verdict sheet before it was announced publicly."

Townes is the judge, if you recall, who booted Guerra's 2-year-old boy from the courtroom "because he was talking loudly."

According to a press release, as we also reported: "During the sentencing proceeding, United States District Judge Sandra L. Townes found that, in addition to the crimes of conviction, the government proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant had committed numerous additional crimes, including the 1992 murder of Michael Devine and the 1993 murder of Joseph Scopo...

“Years ago, the defendant Guerra chose a life of crime, with murder as his criminal stock in trade. Organized crime has always been about money rather than honor, and recent years saw Guerra move into the equally deadly business of illegal trafficking in prescription drugs,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This sentence is a harsh warning to anyone considering introducing these addictive, deadly drugs into our community. This sentence also sends an important message to members and associates of organized crime. We will never stop investigating and prosecuting the murders and other violent crimes they commit..."

We still say that that was frightening -- the ramifications of a judge ignoring a jury's verdict when sentencing someone. Guerra was found guilty of selling prescription pills; the judge sentenced him for committing a double homicide by hitting him with the most years she possibly could via those sentencing guidelines they probably found overseas down in the rubble of the bunker in 1945.

And now Alicia is at the mercy of this same judge. Alicia who had the temerity to appear on Mob Wives -- God knows what she'll be doing and saying on the show, but I bet the judge'll know.

Plus, Alicia owns two boutiques: Addiction Boutique, located in South Jersey and in Philadelphia.
She'd been selling baby clothes and accessories -- and managed to again get herself in trouble after she posted photos of knockoff products from her assortment online.

As the New York Post reported in September: "TV’s newest “Mob Wife” has been selling counterfeit designer goods at two clothing stores she owns, The Post has learned.

"[DiMichele is peddling baby clothes and accessories emblazoned with logos and fabrics associated with Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Burberry at her Addiction Boutiques in South Jersey and Philadelphia."

She is apparently in litigation with Gucci, meaning she's being sued at least in civil court -- no word about anything happening in criminal court about this. And what about the two other designer companies?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Mafia, Philip Carlo, and the Quacking Duck

Here is the first post I ever wrote for this site; I in fact created this site to have a place to put it!

Despite my obvious criticism of writer Philip Carlo, who sadly died of a horrible disease, I still love his work and have read all his books...

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I recently read a hardcover book by organized-crime specialist scribe Philip Carlo about Anthony Gaspipe Casso, a fascinating, psychotic Luchese mobster, who I think is the first mobster in history to flip for the police, then flip back, only once you flip, you really can't flip back. So he is a mafiosi who was thrown out of the mob for deciding to turn state's evidence, only the state decided the evidence he provided wasn't strong enough to outweigh his crimes, which included the torture/murders of a lot of people.

Mashable.com: Former Zynga Engineer Says One Player Spent $100,000 on Mafia Wars

zynga-mafia-wars-600I'll admit it, I was addicted to Mafia Wars a few years back when it first rolled out onto Facebook. I loved it! Not enough to spend money like those jackasses you'll read about below, but I played it every free moment. I grew a crime family that was over a thousand strong. I always took on "hits," not so much for the "cash" (think of it as Monopoly money -- or better yet, Mafia money, worthless outside the game) but to up my kill stats. I relentlessly robbed everyone I could, too.

I kept earning fortunes, then rolling them over to upgrade my weapons, armor and real estate. I must've had a massive fleet of every kind of vehicle you could imagine at my disposal. Soon, everyone was giving me high level posts in their families and I was a "virtual" mob boss sitting on an empire, my stats at such eye-popping levels, no one was strong enough to kill me or rob me. Members of my family, newer at the game or not very good players would come to me for help if they'd managed to get put on a hit list. I'd wipe out all their enemies fast as a whip. Speed is key, you wanna kill as many enemies as you can before they even know someone is gunning for them.

I even built alliances with other families. Only trouble was, when I shut the PC off, I was back to being the schnook that I am in real life. I got tired of the game's model, and the Zynga-fellas kept expanding it in too many directions, and also started to really focus on making us reach for our credit cards. By paying real money, you could buy special weapons and other tools that allowed you to take shortcuts up the ladder.

Bottom line, it wasn't worth the aggravation, anymore, so I simply stopped playing. But for a while, I was having fun -- probably almost as much fun as a real mob boss in his heyday!

Anyway, that was my little intro to the interesting piece below. OK, folks, from Mashable Entertainment we have here an interesting article that would almost seem to represent a business opportunity for Cosa Nostra; problem is, none of the families has an IT department -- yet!

Have at it --
"An anonymous user, claiming to be a former Zynga engineer, has been posting allegedly internal information about the company to Reddit.

"Among other things, the ex-employee says some customers spent outlandish sums on virtual goods and services in many games — including one user who spent $100,000 on Mafia Wars.

Monday, February 6, 2012

'Geriatric' Gangster Duo Launches Crime Spree

Marlborough diamond thieves Scalise (far left) and Rachel are

now 73; Chicago Tribune-MCT-Landov 
From The Daily Beast: At a time when even Mafia bosses turn informant, two slippery-fingered septuagenarians from Chicago are proving as rare as the famed diamond they stole more than three decades ago.

Back when Joseph “Jerry” Scalise and Arthur “the Genius” Rachel were nabbed for heisting the Marlborough diamond from ritzy Graff jewelers in London, they refused to give up the 45-carat stone. They shunned all offers of leniency during 13 hard years in a British prison, and the owners never recovered the $980,000 jewel.

“If Lloyd’s [of London] wanted to pay enough money, maybe they could,” Scalise joked.

In 1993, Scalise and Rachel returned to a life of crime in Chicago, unchanged save for a slight Irish brogue from their years with IRA prisoners. But the underworld had become a place where everybody was turning rat—including the son and brother of mob capo Frank Calabrese Sr., resulting in the 2005 “Family Secrets” trial, which largely finished the Outfit in the city once ruled by Al Capone.

Scalise capitalized on the public fascination with the mob by becoming a consultant to director Michael Mann on the movie Public Enemies and the HBO series Luck. Mann would have been wrong to assume that Scalise had retired from a life of crime... [Read the full article: Diamond Thieves, Now 73, on a New Crime Spree - The Daily Beast]

Here is one of the first newspaper reports to be written about the crime, before Scalise and Rachel were nabbed by the law and extradited right back to London within 12 hours of committing the crime.

A report from the BBC; 1980:

Famous gem grabbed in armed raid

The Marlborough diamond has been stolen from a London jewellers in a bold £1m robbery.

The stone - worth £400,000 - was part of a window display at the Graff jewellery shop in Knightsbridge.

The two robbers, armed with a revolver and a hand grenade, got away in less than a minute with a total of £1,429,000 worth of diamonds.

No one was hurt during the raid, and customers on the other two floors of the three-storey shop were unaware of anything taking place.

Full Episode of 'Old Friends, New Archenemies' from Mob Wives 2

"Old Friends, New Archenemies" ( Ep. 205 ) from Mob Wives 2 | Full Episode | VH1.com:

VHI.com keeps copies of all "Mob Wives" episodes -- among other shows -- on its website, so if you miss an episode or want to watch one again, you can by simply going to the site and finding the one you want to watch. Since there was no episode tonight -- I don't know why -- I am attaching the video of the complete show from last week to compensate any "Wives" junkies who need a quick fix... check it out:

Lee Cheated on "Junior" Pagan's Mistress, Says Renee

Renee Graziano dishes up the dirt on Power 105.1 radio.
Renee, riding out her celebrity (you go, girl!), seems to be all over the place these days, doing photo shoots or interviews with print/online sites and on radio.

VH1.com highlights a recent radio interview Renee did with the Breakfast Club, where she discussed a range of subjects, including her plastic surgery nightmare, her connection to Drita D’Avanzo’s husband Lee, and for the first time, offered some insight into the latest with ex-husband Junior Pagan, who was exposed as working undercover for a unique team of DEA/FBI agents.

Pagan helped put Renee's father back in jail by putting on his own radio show -- for the government, with Renee's father the unwitting guest star.

Here's What's Wrong with Mafia-related Journalism

Ever hear of the Blogger News Network?

Neither have I, but I came across the website when a story it was running caught my eye, namely FBI Busts 5 Bonanno Crime Family Members, Plus A Gambino.

The News said this guy was
Hector Pagan. He's not. I
viewed a pic that named him Vinny TV.
I named him that in the caption.
A reader straightened me out,
pointedly telling me I was wrong.
So who the hell is this guy?

(April, 2017: This isn't a story I'd bother writing these days but back then it was the "passion to blog" that fueled me. This is the kind of story that allowed me to build whatever traction I have these days....)

It represents much of what's wrong with how the media covers the Mafia today.

Former Boss Holds No Grudge Against Mob Wives Daughters

Since this story was written, it became known that TG Graziano had been put on the shelf by his mob family because of his daughters' creation of "Mob Wives."

TG Graziano made the mistake
of trusting Junior Pagan.
One cover story has collapsed, but another one may be in place. [Or perhaps speculating on the machinations of a reality TV show that blurs the line between La Cosa Nostra, a members'-only secret society built on stealing money, and the rest of the world is a fool's game.]

I just don't know -- but I do know that I dig immersing myself in this stuff and writing about it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

CNNews Evokes 'Barroom Rules' Regarding Comments

I just deleted I believe more than a dozen comments; and I know who wrote at least one of them. I have to apologize to you and however many others contributed to a certain discussion that went on earlier on this blog; I was out all day so I couldn't nip this in the bud. My general policy is, please, please, please comment as much as you can! All feedback, input, criticism is appreciated.

But at the same time I realize I have to evoke "barroom rules," which means talk about anything (stuff that is MAFIA-related would be quite appreciated), but keep opinions on two things to yourselves: Religion and Politics (meaning U.S. politics; you can post all you want about mob politics! I mean no Democrat vs. Republican-type debates.) Those hot-button issues are the most divisive there are, and as much as I believe in free speech, you have to choose your battles...

This is not a platform for those agendas. This is Cosa Nostra News; please keep comments focused somehow, someway on the Mafia -- other topics are allowed, but if I see another debate like the one I saw today, I will delete it, too. I think I am speaking for a lot of readers, too, who don't wish to come here and read about murder and assorted mob mayhem, only to be splashed with ice water in the face by sudden mention of sins, God, hell.... This isn't the place for that, guys. I apologize, sincerely, and I am dedicating an entire post to this subject out of respect to the posters whose opinions I consigned to oblivion. Find another site more appropriate for your discussion. Try this one.

Again, sorry, but I am sincere about this. I hope I don't sound like a power-mad prick, here, but I can't have people attempting to change this site's personality. If you'd like to email me to discuss this further, my address is in the "about me" type box on the top right-hand side of the homepage.


"Fast Eddie"

Shameless Self Promotion -- One-year-old Cosa Nostra News Surpasses Quarter Million Hits!

I'd like to thank our readers, the New York Daily News (for crucial early support), as well as Mob Candy's Uncle Frank for letting me bolster my credibility as the sole owner/operator of this site by writing articles for his great magazine, which all Mafia aficianados should be reading!

(Hey Frank, how about those contributor's copies for the Massino and Burke stories I wrote?)

My goal is to ramp-up pageviews by providing more exclusive content. Maybe 2012 will be the year I manage to pull off... well, something. We will certainly keep you good people informed. And, please! Keep the comments coming! I only have feedback (and Google Analytics) to make sure I understand the types of stories you all prefer to read.

Thanks again!
or Ed. L.
or maybe I'll dust off my old nickname: "Fast Eddie"
PS: Turns out, I did do a little dusting, as you'll all notice...

‘Mob Wives’ Latest Diva Relishes Her 15 Minutes

OK, for me it is inexplicable. I am talking about the level of media attention and celebrity now showering upon former drug-dealing mob moll Big Ang  Raiola. But since I don't think it is a subject worth a great amount of philosophical introspection, I will pass it by.

From the BostonHerald.com interview below, two things struck me. One is that there is actually a "Mob Wives" fanatic out there in the world who is brainless enough to have actually gotten a tattoo on him- or herself of Big Ang's face. I can't help but wonder where on the body they had that ink inserted.... Two, the Chicago version of the show will debut before the end of the year with an entirely different cast (well, geez, we'd sure hope so!).

Have at it:

Big Ang is on the far right; Drita is in the middle and Renee on the left.
America's newest sweetheart is a chain-smoking Staten Island diva with a passion for plastic surgery. She's Angela 'Big Ang' Raiola, the latest cast member on the VH1 reality show "Mob Wives."

Raiola debuted on the Jan. 1 second-season premiere when she tried — unsuccessfully — to get feuding "Mob Wives" co-stars Karen Gravano and Drita D'Avanzo to settle their differences. [CNNews Editor's Note: This was not a serious attempt to stop a feud by Big Ang; to me, who viewed the episode, it looked like she was just trying to stir the pot, force the women to argue and fight. This is a reality TV show, and this is the kind of stuff viewers eat up, like cats devouring catnip.] The result may have been a massive, punch-throwing fight that disrupted a lavish party for cast mate Renee Graziano, but it also put Raiola on the fast track to fame.

One fan even got a tattoo of Raiola's face — with her trademark collagen-enhanced lips — and the image went viral.

"I'm very overwhelmed at how big I became," Raiola told the Herald. "It's been crazy, out of control. Everywhere I am, people are stopping me. Or they're sending fan mail to my bar."

That's the Drunken Monkey, for those unfamiliar with Staten Island hot spots. "I never thought this would happen," added Raiola, 52, niece of late mob captain Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi. "But it's fun. It's very exciting."

"Big Ang is like the godmother of all of us. She has all the wisdom," D'Avanzo said in a recent episode.

... Raiola said she's friends with all the cast members, but feels closest to Graziano, saying: "I like everything about Renee. I've known her since she was a teenager. She's a good person and has a big heart. She's very sensitive. I really like her."...

See full article here, at BostonHeral.com.

CNNews Poll: Who's the Most Hated Mob Wife of All?

Renee, giving props where due, is the most popular.

Karen Gravano won the dubious distinction.

Ramona Rizzo is not too far behind.

 After only three-four appearances on the show, that is quite a remarkable feat.

Anyone could vote in this, and all, Cosa Nostra News polls; in this one, readers could vote for one or two wives, and they could change their votes up until the final moments before the poll closed.

I am a bit surprised that Renee could be seen as most loved in that the least amount of people "hate" her -- 38 people, or 11% of the voters. I give her kudos for talking about her depression issues on television. Depression is a major problem in the U.S., and the more the "stars" with the bully pulpits address problems such as this one, the better for society, I believe.

Drita and Carla fared much, much better than Gravano and Rizzo, running about neck-and-neck with each other, close behind Renee -- with 18% (61 votes) and 17% (60 votes), respectively.

Now, I'd like to address some comments below: To Anonymous (Feb. 3): Is that the mugshot you mention, now up above in this post? (Do I respond to my readers or what!) What you said is spot on and well put.

Did you notice how not a single tear dripped from Karen's eyes while she basically told her daughter to f---- off, that she was getting shipped home alone no matter how she felt; then we get the tiny "outburst" later, when KG is telling the story - to Ramona and/or Renee. She seemed to not only stick it in the poor daughter, but twist it, too, as if trying to squeeze as much emotion out of the young girl as she could for the cameras.

As for the comment from Anonymous (Jan. 27), I now detect the sarcasm you injected... I admit I missed it at first. Up above in this post, you see that I wrote "Ramona Rizzo should take note: After appearing on only three episodes, she is the second most-hated "wife" though I don't know which mobster she is married to. Or Karen, for that matter."

So Jan. 27 anony's comment was really a dig. Well, it was a pretty stupid comment, anony. Does anyone NOT KNOW that Junior Pagan -- the Bonanno associate once tight with Renee's father, "TG" Graziano, until Pagan flipped -- was married to Renee? (Okay, they are divorced now, but Renee is a Mob Wife, as is Drita, who you also chose to single out.
(Continued after chart)

Which Mob Wife Do You Hate the Most
  153 (45%)
  38 (11%)
  61 (18%)
  60 (17%)
Ramona Rizzo (new 'Wife')
  108 (32%)

Votes so far: 334
Poll closed