Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gambino Underboss Cali has Strong Ties to Sicily

New underboss, old pic: Cali, in 2008.
Frank Cali, a mobster with strong Sicilian roots, has been named as the Gambino family's new underboss, according to Jerry Capeci's PPV column

Cali, along with Gambino family boss Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalu, who officially named Cali his number two, and Gambino capo Bartolomeo "Baboots" Vernace are believed to all have strong ties to Sicily.

In fact, although all five New York crime families have ties to the old country, the Gambinos are believed by law enforcement to have the strongest.

Cali had been on the Feds' radar. He has been considered to be the Gambino "ambassador to Sicilian mobsters" and he is linked to the Inzerillo Mafia family, from Palermo. "Cali is seen as a man of influence and power by organized crime members in Italy," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Lipton.

Gambino boss Domenico Cefalu.
Salvatore Inzerillo (Palermo, 1944 – Palermo, May 11, 1981) was an Italian drug dealing mafiosi who rose to be a powerful boss of Palermo's Passo di Rigano family. He was killed in May 1981 by the Corleonesi of Totò Riina, who opposed the established Palermo Mafia families, which included Inzerillo.

As Wikipedia notes: "The Inzerillo family had been on the verge of total extermination by the Corleonesi. With the intervention of relatives in New York, including associates of the Gambino crime family, a deal was worked out that allowed the surviving Inzerillos to take refuge in the U.S., with the agreement that none of them, or their offspring, could ever return to Sicily. Many went to the New York area and joined forces with the Gambino family...

"However, after the arrest of Totò Riina and other hardline Corleonesi like Leoluca Bagarella, the Inzerillos started to come back to Sicily. Francesco Inzerillo was allowed to return in 1997 after he was expelled from the U.S."

Cali's promotion marks something of a comeback for the Sicilians in La Cosa Nostra, Capeci reports.

Basciano Son Nabbed for Part in $50M Betting Ring

Bonanno boss Vinny "Gorgeous" Basciano
is imprisoned, serving a life sentence.

From NBC New York:

The son of an infamous mobster was arrested for allegedly helping to run a $50 million sports betting ring that stretched from New York to California

Vincent Basciano Jr, son of Bonnano mafia leader Vinny "Gorgeous" Basciano, was among those charged. Gadoon "Spanky" Kyrollos, 34, of Freehold, N.J., was also arrested.

Fifteen of those charged are accused of being bookmakers who took bets on football, baseball and basketball games as well as horse-racing. The owners of Pinnacle Sports, based in California and Las Vegas, were also charged in connection with what police said is a mob-linked enterprise.

"Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. "Those who participate in these criminal enterprises often use threats, intimidation and even physical force to collect debts."

Inspector Brian O'Neill of the NYPD's Organize Crime division said this group did make threats to collect money although no violence is charged.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When Frank Sinatra Made It Onto the Wrong Hit List....

Caponigro didn't like it when Sinatra told him to shut up....

A Philly mobster wanted to kill Frank Sinatra, or he seemed to want to...

This was one of the hundreds (or thousands?) of conversations caught on tape by Gambino mobster Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli, who committed suicide earlier this year.

He had a lot weighing on him since he flipped for the Feds two years ago and began wearing a wire on his former friends in the New York and Philadelphia Mafia families.

The tapes are making their debut at the trial of Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, reputed head of the Philadelphia mob, which began last Thursday.

One Philly big shot wanted to whack Frank Sinatra.

One conversation took place between 69-year-old Stefanelli and [Joseph "Scoops"] Licata at the American Bistro in New Jersey last April.

Louis Fazzini, 45, and Nicholas Mitarotunda, 74, were also allegedly at the meal.

READ: Sinatra Once Proposed for "Honorary" Mob Membership

The men talked about a Mafia consigliere called Antonio "Tony Bananas" Caponigro who Frank Sinatra once told to 'stop talking' during a performance.

"The mobster was so enraged, he was said to have 'hated' the singer and threatened to kill him.

"The gangsters then begin to discuss their other favorite singers - with Bobby Darin, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley topping the list.

"One suggests that Presley did a better version of 'My Way' than Sinatra."

What? I love Presley and Sinatra -- but nothing beats Frank's "My Way," you ask me.

Skinny Joe's Dad Died in Prison

Convicted mobster Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino (the father of the man believed to be boss of the Philadelphia mob, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino) died at a low-security federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino, father of Joseph,
underboss to Nicodemo Scarfo.

The elder Merlino, 73, had spent the last quarter-century behind bars.

The federal Bureau of Prisons listed his potential release date as August 2016.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rizzuto's Return

Will Rizzuto retire or fight a war?
From About The Mafia:

Seems like reputed Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto has finally returned home to Montreal after being released from a U.S. prison nearly two weeks ago and flying to Toronto. A credible law enforcement source has given information that Rizzuto returned to Montreal during the past week and attended an appointment in St Leonard. It is still unknown as to what the appoint may have pertained to. Rizzuto was said to have met with organized crime figures from NY during his time in Toronto and many wonder if he could be planning to take back control of the Montreal underworld which he ruled before going away.

Rizzuto still owns a luxury home in Montreal on Antoine Berthelet Ave also known as “Mafia Row” in northern Montreal. Montreal has been the base of operations of the Rizzuto Family for decades while Vito and other family members headed the mafia in Montreal. Rizzuto went to prison for his role in the 1991 murders of three captains from New York’s Bonanno Crime Family. While in prison a Montreal mafia war began and his son Nick Rizzuto Jr and father Nicolo Rizzuto were both murdered along with other high ranking members of the crime family.

Many wonder if Rizzuto could be planning to take back control of the Montreal underworld,
 which he ruled before going away.

Now all eyes are on Rizzuto to see what the next step is in his long running criminal career. Most believe that:
  • he will either choose to retire and accept that his reign as head of the Montreal Mafia has ended and others are taking control 
  • or he will look for revenge on those who were responsible for killing his family [members] and try to take back control of Montreal and rebuild his fallen crime family.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Renee Graziano Enters Rehab for 30-day Stint

"Mob Wives" star Renee Graziano is in rehab, joining a long line of reality TV celebrities.

Graziano was admitted to a Miami, Fla., rehab center this past Monday, reports Page Six in the New York Post.

She checked in to "Transitions," reports.

Renee's father, Anthony Graziano, 71, Bonanno family consigliere, was sentenced to a one-and-a-half-year stretch in August due to her ex-husband, Hector Pagan, who, having become an informant for the Feds, recorded evidence against TG and other members of the Bonanno family.

As Philly Trial Begins, Merlino Slams 'J. Shore' at LAX

Bet New England, Skinny Joe replied when asked. today posted video of Joe Merlino, who the camera caught strolling through LAX, where he had just landed and was heading toward the car with friend and driver Johnny Fratto.

The celeb-stalker site described "Skinny Joey," who got out of prison last year following a 14-year stint, as the "ex-Philadelphia Mafia boss," but as we noted in a recent post, Merlino is believed by the Feds to still retain the crown, though he no longer resides in Philly, based on an informant's wiretap recordings of a dinner meeting between some Philly mobsters, including acting boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, and Gambino family members.

The 50-year-old wiseguy at first is as cold as ice toward the cameraman, but when the crew started lobbing softball questions about sports and reality TV, Joey visibly melted under the spotlight and answered questions, though turning his face away.

"Jersey Shore" cast members are a "disgrace to the Italians," said Merlino. Would any of them make it into a crime family? "No, they got no talent," he added.

NBC 10 Philadelphia reported that Merlino moved to glitzy Boca Raton a year after serving his sentence for extortion and illegal gambling.

"It's unclear what he's doing in South Florida or whether his wife and children are with him," the article added.

The Miami Herald reported that Merlino has said he's now in the carpet-installing business. The paper described the mobster, who dodged something like a dozen assassination attempts, like this: "Bare-chested, ripped and clad in nothing but grey skivvies, he looks more like a former Calvin Klein underwear model than one of the most ruthless mobsters of his time." His $400,000 Boca Raton townhouse, the paper noted, is replete with an iron-railed balcony.

TMZ, as would be expected, had to find a Hollywood headline, lighting up Joey by asking what he thought the cast members of MTV's ratings-topper reality show "Jersey Shore" did for the Italians, to which Skinny Joey replied by calling them a "disgrace to the Italians." Would any of them make it into a family? "No, they got no talent," the Philly boss replied.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gyp Rosetti Sharpens Boardwalk Empire's Edge

  • "I'll shit you out like yesterday's sausage, you bog-trotting prick."
  • "Nobody here can take a joke."
  • "What's that? A gun? I got a gun. He got a gun. He got a gun... Everybody got guns!"
  • "Nothing's personal? What the fuck is life, if it's not personal?!" 
  • "You smug kike midget, creeping around like a fucking dentist with the aether."
    -- Gyp Rosetti

Gyp Rosetti: You talkin' to me?
Boardwalk Empire" had been getting pretty boring, although the death of a major character at the end of season two and the introduction of a new one in the current season have injected much-needed vitality into the partly historical-based HBO series about 1920s fortune, power and greed inside Atlantic City and emanating upward to Chicago and New York.

Mockumentary 'Joe Baccala Story' Makes Indy Circuit

Michael Kakely is the star of "The Joe Baccala Story." 
A lecturer on Italian Culture at Western New England University has written and directed a "mockumentary"  titled “The Joe Baccala Story,” which focuses on the doings of a 40-something "self-proclaimed wiseguy" who is unmarried and lives at home with his mother, according to a story on

The film is the creation of Rocco A. Mesiti, who holds "a passion for Italian cinema" and is a "fan of directors Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini and Martin Scorsese."

Joey B is no "Marty" (the 1950s film that made a star out of Ernest Borgnine), though, as he has a nice Italian girl he's been dating forever and who very much wants the ring on her finger.

The thrust of the movie is that everyone, including Baccala himself, thinks he is a made member of the Mafia, but he is not.

“He has internalized that idea so much, he believes it, and that’s what makes (the film) funny,” Mesiti said. "But the mockumentary uses humor to call attention to the bigger issues: 40 years of Hollywood and the mass media’s stereotypical portrayal of Italian Americans, pop culture and society’s acceptance of the Mafioso image and those – like Joe Baccala – who take on that identity."

Mesiti of East Longmeadow added: “It’s really a spoof that poses as a documentary, chronicling the life of supposed Connecticut mobster Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Baccala.”

The film’s cast includes about two dozen actors from Connecticut and Massachusetts. The title role is played by Michael Kakely of Springfield.

Monday, October 15, 2012

First Juror Picked for Philly Mafia Trial; Dead Informant's Recordings to Debut

"Uncle Joe" is acting boss of the Philly mob, a rat's
wiretaps reveal; Merlino is still the boss.

REVISED, UPDATED: The first anonymous juror --  a former Teamsters member who was a crime victim in her teens -- was selected for the big upcoming Philadelphia mob trial  resulting from an extensive FBI investigation involving alleged mob activity that occurred after boss Joey Merlino went to prison in 1999.

Prosecutors say acting boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, an old-school Mafioso known for being a peaceful, reasonable man less prone to violence, has led Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra since then. Bolstering the prosecution's case will be tape recordings made of Ligambi by an informant who has since died by his own hand. These recordings also convinced the Feds that Merlino was still top dog, and that Ligambi was serving as boss on an "acting" basis.

[Editor's Note: The Philly mob is set for the trial of its very  life just as word hit last week that the reality show "Mob Wives" has chosen Philly -- as well as Miami -- as the next venues for extensions of the show, though it is not known if one or both cities will start filming, or when filming will begin.]

According to Philly mob expert George Anastasia, writing on "Unlike his predecessor, the flamboyant Joseph 'Skinny Joey' Merlino, Ligambi, 73, seldom spoke to the media, avoided public displays of bravado, and preferred to spend his nights at home rather than in bars and nightclubs.
Nicky Skins shot himself dead.

"But secretly recorded conversations from a mob meeting at a New Jersey restaurant two years ago offer a rare opportunity to listen in as Ligambi breaks bread in a gossip-filled gabfest with several other mobsters."

Anastasia continued: "A federal judge ruled last week that most of those conversations can be used as evidence in the racketeering trial of Ligambi and seven others scheduled for October.

"A federal prosecutor has likened the restaurant session [at La Griglia] to a meeting of the board of directors of organized crime..."

Overall the case mostly involves illegal gambling and loansharking in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and there's little violence alleged.

The 73-year-old Ligambi and several co-defendants have pleaded not guilty, while others have pleaded guilty but don't have to testify against their associates.

Ligambi is also accused of defrauding the Teamsters by getting health benefits through a no-show job.

Jurors will remain anonymous and be brought to court from a remote location to enhance their security.

Joseph Anthony "Uncle Joe" Ligambi (born August 9, 1939) is known to have a more "old school" management approach, especially compared to his predecessor, Joseph Merlino, who preferred the flamboyant, Gotti-esque style.

As we noted in another post, Ligambi is credited with quietly stabilizing the formerly troubled Philadelphia-South Jersey branch of La Cosa Nostra.

'Robot' to Film Gowanus Canal/Mob Dumping Ground

From Curbed NY:
A team of researchers and students from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University have built a robot intrepid enough to brave the depths of the Gowanus Canal, and then report its findings back to us humans. The robot, named Brooklyn Atlantis I, is equipped with sensors that measure the canal's levels of pH, oxygen, temperature, air quality and salinity, as well as cameras, all of which should provide some interesting data.

The Gowanus is so filled with crap (both literal and figurative) that it's tough to know precisely what resides in its murky sludge. After the jump, we've compiled a list of just a few of the things this brave little robot might capture on video.

The rumor that the Gowanus once functioned as a Mafia dumping ground is a longstanding one, and it probably contains more than a kernel of truth. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a few bodies were found floating in the canal including the president of the local Grain Handlers Union. But the real questions surround the bodies that didn't come to the surface. They may have gone in there dead, but with all the chemicals in that water, by now...who knows?

See complete story

Boss Rizzuto Meets With NY Mobsters in Toronto

From About The Mafia:

Rizzuto's family has been under attack for years.
After serving six years in a Colorado prison for a 1981 mob hit Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto returned to Canada. But he did not return to his longtime home and headquarters of his Mafia family in Montreal instead flying to Toronto last Friday.

The mighty Mafia family that Rizzuto heads in Montreal has been under attack over the last three years including hits on Nick Rizzuto Jr his son and his father Nicolo Rizzuto along with several other associates. The organized crime scene in Montreal has changed a lot over the last few years and the Rizzuto Crime Family and its long time boss Rizzuto may not find the support and networking it once held. It is still unknown as to who is responsible for the attacks on the Rizzuto Family at least to the public.

Read the rest


What Michael Franzese Is Up to These Days

Franzese to speak at Liquid Church of New Jersey.

From Standard Newswire:

This month, nearly 2,500 attendees of Liquid Church of NJ won't hear from their regular pastor on Sunday morning, but rather, a real-life gangster. Michael Franzese, who has generated more money for organized crime than anyone since Al Capone, will share about his decision to quit the Mob and follow Jesus when he speaks at the Morristown-based church on October 21.

Franzese was previously highlighted as number 18 on Fortune magazine's list of "The Fifty Biggest Mafia Bosses," just five behind John Gotti. As the former "Prince of the Mafia," Franzese faced dozens of grand jury appearances, three major racketeering indictments, five criminal trials, seven years in prison and a Mafia death sentence. After converting to Christianity, the former Mob Captain of the Colombo crime faction of La Cosa Nostra is living a free and productive life which includes activities with a youth outreach program.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

‘Mob Wives’ Makeover for Karen Gravano

CBS New York:

Staten Island will never be the same again, thanks to hit series Mob Wives.

Season three is currently filming, but who can forget the dramatic fights from season two?

Karen Gravano, daughter of Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, is celebrating the success of her book, Mob Daughter, and is also showing off a new look.

She says she’s a “shiny” kind of person – but you don’t see that on the show.

She joined The Couch to let us know what other changes we can expect in the show’s upcoming season.

RFK Papers Reveal Mafia Plot to Whack Castro, Che

RFK was involved in a plot to use the mob to whack enemies
of the United States.


(AP): Lined pages with a doodle of the Liberty Bell and a CIA document outlining a Mafia-connected plan to assassinate Fidel Castro for $150,000 are among thousands of Robert F. Kennedy documents made public Thursday.

The National Archives and Records Administration and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston released some 2,700 pages of documents Kennedy compiled as attorney general from 1961 to 1964, offering a glimpse into Cold War decision-making.

Though the documents, released just shy of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, don’t rewrite Cold War history, they do provide insight into the personal thoughts of the era’s key figures, historians say.

Kennedy advised John F. Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis, key moments during his brother’s presidency.

His title as attorney general “disguised his real position, which was the closest adviser to the president and the president’s confidant and the person the president trusted most,” said journalist and historian Michael Dobbs, who blogs for Foreign Policy. “That’s the interesting point of this, that he kind of reflects his brother’s thinking.”

The seven boxes of newly released material include telegrams, reports, meeting transcripts and handwritten notes by Kennedy, some with doodles and quotes in the margins.

“It gives you a sort of insight into what was on his mind, what he doodled,” Dobbs said. “It’s interesting from a human perspective.”

One page, sandwiched between lined pages of notes on the Bay of Pigs invasion, includes a sketch of the Liberty Bell with a summarized quote from a Polish World War II memorial in Italy.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

TODAY: The ‘Big Ang’ theory

TODAY: The ‘Big Ang’ theory:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jen Graziano Confirms New Cast Members, New Cities

Mob Wives New Cast

From VH1 Blog:

Big changes are afoot in the world of Mob Wives. The show’s creator, Jennifer Graziano, recently spoke to The New York Post and confirmed that the New York cast will gain two new women for season three, though Jennifer is not naming names just yet. She says that one of the newbies is an old friend she’s known since she was a teenager, and the other “brings something to the show that I think is needed — someone who is really into her career.”

Jennifer also reveals that she’s working on two more Mob Wives franchises, one in Philadelphia, one in Miami. “Both are cast. It’s now up to VH1 to decide which one to do,” she says. Season three of Mob Wives has already begun filming, but will not premiere until 2013. All of the original cast are set to return.

[Photo: VH1]

Saturday, October 6, 2012

'Mob Wives Miami' Coming Soon? Yes, Indeed...And Philly Too

What's Jenn Graziano cooking up these days
for her hit reality show Mob Wives?
REVISED: In the past year there has been a lot of media speculation about a third expansion of Mob Wives into another region of the U.S., in addition to New York and Chicago (although the show's fate in the Windy City remains difficult to gauge).

One typical report in The Wrap seemed to sum up the general theories, noting there were several potential locales at which former mob wives could enact their drama for Jen Graziano's hit reality show Mob Wives. The Wrap reported: "There are conversations right now going on about a 'Mob Wives' extension, absolutely," [a source from the show's production staff said]. "The mob is everywhere and so are their wives."

As for where it would be set, he added: "I think the iconic locations you would expect are right -- the places that are characterized from all the great films, whether it be Chicago or Las Vegas or Miami."

Just recently, I received confirmation of an assertion I had heard a few months back, that there is indeed a third Mob Wives on the way, and it will be in Florida in Miami. This is according to two separate, independent sources. [Jen Graziano recently confirmed that both Miami and Philadelphia would get their own extensions of Mob Wives.]

One source said he was involved in casting for the show in Florida, but offered no additional info other than to inquire if I knew of any Mob Wives worth interviewing.

Today, the second source told me that she had sought to win a role on the Miami version of the show. I was caught off guard: "What?" And she repeated: the Miami version of Mob Wives, like it was widely announced (turns out, it hadn't been). According to her, casting is complete for Miami Mob Wives. All that remains is for the announcement, she said. "It's kind of a secret," she said, when I asked about the status of an announcement.

On Twitter, I was stopped by the Twitter Police, who gave me a ticket. She/he told me that this was old news. Why, M.O.B. Wives already revealed this last year! They did mention Miami as one of several possible locations, but it was based on speculation, in one story I found called "Mob Wives: What City Is Next?"

I have two sources who have confirmed the location for me. So I will leave it up to you to decide if M.O.B. Wives scooped me. They have a great many scoops and I'd never denigrate the site. I respect its journalistic values, though do take issue with some stories it has written, as I am sure anyone reading this blog has issues with some stories posted here.

But one issue I have and will state right here is this Twitter Police entity-- she/he should be named "Mob Wive Blogspot flack who will actively and aggressively promote the blog in any and all social media situations." Read the "cop's" profile. Or, you can just look here:

C'mon, ladies? What is this crap?


Mob War Ready to Rumble Montreal?

Rizzuto was released from US prison and
is believed to be en route to Montreal.

Vito Rizzuto returns home seeking answers to a long list of questions compiled during the last several years he spent behind bars, police sources say.

The 66-year-old Montrealer, reputed to be the head of the Montreal Mafia when he was extradited to the U.S. in 2006, stepped out of the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo., a little after 9 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) Friday and was immediately turned over to officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who whisked him away to prepare him for a flight to Canada, where he is a citizen.

Officials in the U.S. provided no more information about how Rizzuto was to be removed from the country. But late Friday night reports out of Toronto said he landed at Pearson International Airport just before 11 p.m., and according to passengers on board he had a heavily armed police escort. While there has been some speculation in the media over the past two weeks that Rizzuto would settle in Toronto, police sources in Montreal believed he would transfer to Montreal, the city he has lived in most of his life.

"Everything he has is in Montreal. Everyone he knows" is in Montreal, one police source told The Gazette, regarding the support Rizzuto is believed to still have in the city, even if the organization he controlled for roughly two decades has been significantly weakened by a major police investigation and a subsequent series of murders. "There's no reason for him to live in Toronto."

Most of Rizzuto's closest relatives are believed to still be living in Montreal despite the turmoil that saw Rizzuto's eldest son, Nick, murdered, his brother-in-law Paolo Renda kidnapped and his father, Nicolo, killed all within the space of a year.

While Salvatore Montagna, the man who appeared to be the most aggressive in seeking to take over the leadership of the Mafia in Montreal, was killed late last year, Rizzuto will still want answers.

Another Philly Mobster Pleads Guilty

Louis Fazzini, a member of Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra family, pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy that involved illegal gambling and theft from an employee benefit plan, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced Friday.

The 45-year-old Caldwell, New Jersey resident admitted that as a "made" member of the North Jersey portion of the crime family, he operated a sports bookmaking business, prosecutors said.

Investigators say he also admitted to being a part of the fraudulent scheme to obtain health benefits through a "no-show" job operated by the LCN.

As a "no-show" employee, Fazzini performed no work but did receive health benefits.

He is among 14 other members and associates of the Philly operation who are charged with similar crimes, according to Memeger.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 17.


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