Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mob Rat Departs Jail Early for 'Courageous' Move

Jimmy the General
NY Daily News: "Former Bonanno capo Generoso (Jimmy the General) Barbieri, pictured, learned of Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano's plan to assassinate Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Andres and went to the feds. As a reward, he got out of jail more than two decades early.

A Mafia rat who faced 30 years in prison for racketeering and murder conspiracy was sentenced to time served and praised by a federal judge for his “courageous” decision to come forward with information about a plot to kill a federal prosecutor.

Former Bonanno capo Generoso (Jimmy the General) Barbieri was in jail when he learned then-boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano was planning to assassinate Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Andres."

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Roy DeMeo Taped Other Mobsters Near End

Roy DeMeo was a ruthless killer -- not a nice guy, not a guy worthy of admiration in any way -- but in the context of Cosa Nostra he is an endlessly fascinating portrait of a mobster who had a great business sense.

Paulie Castellano didn't want to make Roy, but eventually was too greedy not to--Roy was bringing in too much cash to not notice, combined with a blood lust that enabled him to commit torture murders not common even for mobsters.

Roy had a crew of young wannabes, many of whom would eventually get their buttons, such as Gemini Twins Anthony Senter and Joey Testa, who hooked up with the Lucchese's after leaving Roy.

DeMeo mugshot 

As reported, an FBI bug installed in the home of Gambino family soldier Angelo Ruggiero picked up an intriguing conversation between Angelo and Gene Gotti, a brother of John Gotti.

In the conversation, it is revealed Paul Castellano had put out a hit on DeMeo, but was having difficulty finding someone willing to do the job. Gene Gotti said his brother John was wary of taking the contract because Roy had an "army of killers" around him. It is also mentioned in this same secretly recorded conversation that, at that time, John had killed fewer than 10 people, while DeMeo had killed at least 38.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some Mobsters Are All Talk....

William Cutolo dances with daughter BJ. (CNNews; Cutolos)

Cosa Nostra News Exclusive
Thanks to the American public's ongoing obsession with La Cosa Nostra – duly noted by the constant airing of shows like Mob Wives, I Married a Mobster, Mobsters, Bill Kurtis, Biography and even National Geographic (as well as the increasingly competitive blog landscape) – those formerly connected to “the life” but now out can still find ways to earn off the mob, lending their insight and perspective to the aforementioned television shows, as well as consulting with filmmakers (lot of money there).

The types of people who make money off mob involvement, and their reasons for doing so, are as varied as the people doing it. As the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir famously said: "Everybody has their reasons" -- and those in the audience can react however they like, spanning the full range of emotion, from incredulity to apathy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Porn Star Harry Reems RIP; Was Jailed as a Goodfella

Reems was just one of the boys back then.
The, among hundreds of other newspapers, ran an obit on Harry Reems, who supposedly was America’s first male porn star following his taking part in the 1972 porn classic “Deep Throat.”

In true porn star fashion, he died last Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Utah, at age 65 -- with the cause of undetermined. "Mr. Reems had been in declining health for some years, his wife, Jeanne, said," in the Times article.

Interestingly, the release this July of “Lovelace,” a biographical film about the female lead of the hit skin flick, will star Adam Brody as Reems.

What I never knew was that Reems had been arrested for organized crime activity related to the film, which many know today was financed by the Colombo crime family.

He was convicted "on federal conspiracy charges," the article relates.

Reems’s was originally hired to be the lighting director of the film -- but then the original male lead -- his name seems lost to history -- had to pull out, and Reems stepped right in.

The film was widely reported to have grossed more than $600 million -- though it was probably far more than that.But Reems, and other key players involved with the film, which was a "mob" production, were lucky to receive anything. Reems was paid about $250, the article reports.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Judge Will Preside Over Bulger Trial

"Whitey" Bulger, age 82. reports that a new judge has been named to preside over the trial of gangster/federal informant James J. “Whitey” Bulger.

Denise J. Casper, a federal judge in Boston since December 2010, is "a relatively young judge in her mid-40s [and] is the first black woman to sit as a federal judge in Massachusetts," the article reported.

Her inexperience is an asset in this case, due to the history Bulger has with the Justice Department, including the judge who had initially been chosen for the trial.

A federal appeals court ordered Judge Richard G. Stearns to step aside because of his ties to the US Justice Department, which go back to the days when Bulger was robbing, killing and tattling.

"Stearns was a top prosecutor in the US attorney’s office in the 1980s, when, Bulger claims, another prosecutor promised the crime boss immunity for his alleged crimes, including murder."

Bulger defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. declined to comment about the decision.

Bulger went on a 16-year run from law enforcement in 1994.

The ruling to switch judges "was a major victory for Bulger and raised questions whether his trial would have to be delayed," reported.

Bulger, who is 83 and once ruled Boston’s underworld, is charged in a racketeering indictment that includes participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s. The wily gangster was finally caught and arrested in June 2011 in California.

The trial is set to begin June 6.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bookie for 'Rossetti Organization' Gets 2-4 Years

From the Malden Observer: A North Andover man who worked as a top loan shark and bookkeeper for an eastern Massachusetts crime ring is now behind bars.

Joseph Giallanella, 64, also know as Jason Peters, was sentenced on March 11 to two to four years in state prison followed by two years of probation by Judge Maynard Kirpalani in Salem Superior Court. Giallanella had pled guilty on Jan. 18 to managing a gaming enterprise, use of a telephone for gaming, criminal usury, two counts of conspiracy, and two counts to accessory after the fact of larceny. ...

According to previous statements by the Essex district attorney, a cross-department investigation was launched into the suspected illegal activities of Giallanella in late 2009. The investigation ultimately expanded into an entire organized crime ring.

Giallanella employed an “enforcer” who collected money from gamblers that fell behind on their debts. ... Investigators eventually discovered Giallanella was part of a crime ring previously headed by Mark Rossetti of East Boston. ...

Since initial arrests, 18 individuals pled or have been found guilty by trial in Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk and Plymouth counties. Rossetti himself reports that Rossetti, a reputed Patriarca mob capo who was secretly working as an FBI informant, was sentenced on Jan. 22 to 12 years in state prison after pleading guilty in Essex Superior Court in Salem to trafficking heroin.

'Nervous Wreck' Pia Denies Leaking Nude Photos

From the The Daily Sizzle:

Racy photos of "Mob Wives Chicago" cast member Pia Rizza surfaced on the celebrity gossip website TMZ early Monday with the headline "I'm leaking my own NAKED PICS!"

Rizza, reached by phone Monday morning, insists she didn't leak the two photos and she has no idea who did.

"I'm a nervous wreck," Rizza said. "I just want my side of the story out there: I did not send them these photos. I don't know who did."

Rizza, a former dancer at Vip's "gentlemen's club," does know who took the photos: She did. She snapped them last year and texted them to a Chicago ex-boyfriend to get his opinion on whether she was fit to run in the pages of Playboy magazine -- an idea she toyed with while shooting the VH1 show.

She says she dropped the idea of trying to get into Playboy because of all the flak she got from her fellow "Mob Wives" about being an exotic dancer.

"The girls were being terrible to me about dancing," she said. "I figured why do more?"

The TMZ story says Rizza learned someone was trying to sell the photos "to various media outlets" so she decided to make a pre-emptive strike and release the photos herself. Reads the story: "Pia tells us...the pics somehow got into the wrong hands -- and someone was trying to sell them without her permission. Pia says she wanted us to post the pics for two reasons: 1) She doesn't want anyone making money off HER image. 2) Yeah, she wants Playboy to notice."

Read complete story

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Peek Inside Montreal Mob Boss Rizzuto's Home

A picture of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto's five-bedroom home, which is for sale
on Antoine Berthelet St., which has been dubbed "Mafia row." It's been valued at $1 million.

From the Montreal Gazette: After nearly two years on the market, the sumptuous Montreal residence belonging to Vito Rizzuto and his wife may be changing hands.

A buyer has made a conditional promise to purchase the five-bedroom, Tudor-style home of the reputed Montreal crime boss, which was first put up for sale in 2011with a $2 million price tag. The accepted offer on the home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, now listed at $1.5 million, hinges on the buyer being able to obtain financing, and the results of a home inspection – both of which must be done by March 23, according to a copy of the listing.

“So far so good,” listing broker Leon Derestepanian tells me. “When they built it (during the 1980s) they used all high quality materials.”

Derestepanian couldn’t disclose the price offered for the home, nor the identity of the prospective buyer, whom he said comes from Montreal and has no links to organized crime.

“The potential buyer is a large Montreal family who appreciates the area,” he said.

The home, on a 14,000 square foot site, is located on Antoine Berthelet Ave., a street often dubbed “Mafia row” because of the notoriety of some of its inhabitants. Four homes are believed to have served as the hub of Montreal’s Cosa Nostra, according to media reports, including the residence of Vito Rizzuto, his brother-in-law Paulo Renda who was kidnapped in 2010 and never found and relative Giuseppe (Joe) Lo Presti. And of course, there’s Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., who was shot and killed in his house in 2010 by an assassin hiding in the woods behind the home.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Italy, 'the Life' Is Much Different Than in America

Charles DeLucca is a reader of this blog who kept emailing me interesting stories about the Camorra, as well as his take on the American Mafia. I noticed a quality to the writing and asked him how about he write these "emails" as stories for me to post on my blog?

I generally give his stories a light edit -- every writer born of this earth needs at least one editor, if not two or three; I leave in the Italian phrases and terms he uses -- we both agree not to offer a translation; everyone should know how to find

Sometimes I "Americanize" his prose a little more than I prefer; this is for reasons of clarity. You may notice how the "voice" of the writing may sometimes change: this is a U.S. editor editing stories written by an Italian writer using the English language.

Here in his latest piece, DeLucca describes the differences among the various crime rings in Italy. I have written about this, too; my story is much more basic than Mr. DeLucca's, and the key takeaway is: "In addition to [the American and Sicilian] Cosa Nostra, there is the Camorra, which is based in the Campania region around Naples; the 'Ndrangheta, based in Calabria, and the little-known Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot.

"Together they were estimated in 2009 to have had a turnover of 135 billion euros – almost nine per cent of Italy's gross domestic product."

I want to thank Mr. DeLucca for making such a key contribution to Cosa Nostra News.

Salvatore "Toto" Riina 

Readers of this blog -- whether you are a goodfella or not -- probably don't know much about the various organized crime groups based in Italy. You may have heard of the Camorra, Ndràngheta and Sacra Corona Unitá -- but do they mean anything to you?

Although they are all southern Italian, they are extremely different from the Sicilian Mafia, which of course many of you are no doubt more familiar with.

The original Sicilian Mafia suffered a lot as a result of Salvatore Riina's ego: the former boss of a small family in Corleonessi took over the Palermo family. Strong bosses like Tano Badalmenti simply had to move away. But even after a bloody war against the Italian-State, Sicilian families did not change that much in structure and rituals. It is true that nowadays they do recruit via FaceBook, and they still make a huge living out of "pizzo," constructions (like in Aquilla after the earthquake of 2009) and drug dealing. Drug dealing allows the Sicilians to interact with other ethnic groups, although they always require that the other party is known to somebody. But for the past 30 years, the Sicilian have kept a pretty much very rigid structure. Since everybody is looking at the Sicilians and the "Sicilians in America," less attention is paid to other groups.

Fore example, the Ndràngheta of Calabria (also known as Onorata Società or Picciotteria) has become a strong organization in drug trafficking. They are still "off the radar" (in fact the more movies and books about an organized crime group the lesser its power). But we do know they have rituals and they recruit from local areas of Calabria. It is an imperative to "make your bones" by either killing (taking part in a hit or simply shooting a bystander) or proving that you are not afraid in jail.

Guys of the Ndràngheta are strong in drugs. In the late '90s I met some of them working side by side with the Gulf Cartel (a powerful Mexican Cartel that dates back to 1930). These two groups enjoyed one similar hobby: shooting dogs, street dogs, in the park. Some of the Ndrángheta guys I met actually, tattoo themselves after spending time in jail just to show that they are "quality members with a future in the group." Just like with certain latino gangs, the tattoos have meaning: they are meant to show how tough and how cruel you are.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bodies Found in Murder Inc. Graveyard

Two bodies were found in the marshland beside the Belt Parkway on Wednesday, March 6, 2013
A law enforcement officer walks through the lonely stretch
of marshland that served as an old mob dumping ground.

The swath of marshland beside the Belt Parkway along Jamaica Bay's northern edge is a wasteland, a place I have driven through my whole life, either as a child in the backseat or the driver at the wheel.

Having the imagination that I have, that desolate stretch sparked all kinds of thoughts that involved everything from monsters rising up out of the tall reeds to dead bodies decomposing under them...
It turns out I was half correct: In the 1930s, Murder Incorporated, the mob's infamous hit squad, used this very place to dispose of victims.  And, as it turns out, Gambino mobster Roy DeMeo also dumped bodies there.

UK Show Compares Sopranos With DeCavalcantes

I have never seen this UK-made documentary which compares the Sopranos with the crime family upon which many believe the fictional family was based -- the DeCavalcantes, an organized crime family that operates in Elizabeth, N.J., and surrounding areas.

Fictional mob boss Tony Soprano.

It includes actual wiretaps of the mobsters speaking and offers some pretty good insight -- it is actually more savvy than a lot of the mob shows made available in the U.S. And it includes some interesting commentators as well.

So sit back and enjoy the show... for those more interested in the background, read on:

Like the Sopranos, the family founded by Sam "The Plumber" did suffer many of the same indignities from New York.

Real former mob boss Vinny Palermo.
As Jerry Capeci wrote in 2003 on his PPV website, 

"New Jersey crime family mobsters talk a good game. They claim to be the models for The Sopranos. They once pulled off a hit for John Gotti when his murderous crew couldn’t get it done.

"In Gang Land, however, the Newark-based DeCavalcantes have long been second class wiseguys.

 "Listen to me. They make anybody and everybody over there. And the way that they do it, it's all fucked up. Guys don't get their finger pricked. There's no sword and gun on the table..."

"When the Garden State family wants to induct a worthy candidate into its ranks, it sends his name and credentials across the Hudson for approval. It only takes one New York “nay” to deem him unworthy and veto his ascension.

"And since the late 1980s, wannabe DeCavalcantes from New York – much like Big Apple residents looking for better car insurance rates – have had to rent an apartment in Hoboken or give their mother’s New Jersey address to get around a New York rule that bans the family from inducting non-residents of the Garden State...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Roche, Who Whacked Mob Boss, Gets 14 Years

Frankie A. Roche was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison for the 2003 murder of Genovese family boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno.

Big Al, slain in 2003 by
Nigro and Geas brothers.
The almost decade-long investigation into the hit involved four made members of the Genovese family, as well as several associates, and finally met its conclusion at Roche's sentencing hearing on Friday in U.S. District Court.

Roche was the first to be arrested, in 2004; he pleaded guilty in federal court in 2008 and was a star witness at two racketeering and murder trials conducted in federal court in New York City.

At the hearing last week, Roche spoke without emotion of the Bruno hit, but cried as he addressed Judge Michael A. Ponsor about his sentencing.

"My involvement with and the carrying out of Mr. Bruno's murder came at a time in my life when I had no regard for my life or anyone else's," Roche said.

040207 frankie roche mug.JPG
Frankie Roche
In September 2011, former acting boss of the Genovese family Arthur Nigro and two associates, Fotios Geas and Ty Geas, were sentenced to life in prison in Manhattan federal court for multiple crimes, including the 2003 murder plot against Big Al. Authorities alleged that Nigro ordered the hit to increase his power in the Genovese family, and to punish Bruno for allegedly speaking to the FBI.

During the trial for Big Al's murder, reported that Roche "coolly told jurors of a criminal history that began when he was a boy in Westfield, Mass., with grand theft auto, armed robbery and a prison escape."

"The lanky, tattooed former fringe character" in Springfield's organized crime circles admitted to shooting Bruno six to seven times for $10,000.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In Italy, It’s Divided We Stand, United We War

A Camorra woman.
Charles DeLucca, our “foreign correspondent,” has offered a diverse post that addresses a variety of issues, including how much easier it is for the American Mafia to partner with other crime rings in Italy than it is for the crime rings in Italy to partner among one another. He shows the great value the Italian clans place on their local heritage and independence, and notes how very accurate the fictional show The Sopranos was in certain respects.

According to Italian police wiretaps made public about a decade ago, and the testimony of pentiti, the conversation pretty much went like this:

On a phone call from America to Naples: “Security is tight, we lost the merchandise.”

From the other side, the voice of Antonio Bardellino, the first boss of the Neapolitan Casalesi Clan, answered: “Adesso ne mandiamo il doppio con altri mezzi.”

The story is interesting because the American speaking was, in fact, the former boss of the Gambino Family, John Gotti Sr.

Member of the Di Lauro clan.
Did Gotti speak Italian? That is actually a very good question considering that many Italian-Americans do not speak any Italian at all.Old “Camorristi” who survived the Gotti-Bardellino time would explain to you that it was disappointing to encounter you “American cousins” and realize that it was us, the ones in Europe, who were obligated to speak in English. Therefore, I’m sure that the conversation between Bardellino and Gotti probably included assistance from someone bilingual.

Being of Neapolitan heritage, it is not difficult for me to understand why Gotti would decide to enter into such a partnership with Bardellino. One can argue that Gotti always rejected that he dealt drugs, to keep his Robin Hood image for “his public” – even though he was virtually surrounded by major drug dealers his entire “career”; but the Carabinieri seem to have good evidence. There is simply too much money in drugs for Mafiosi not to get into the business.

In the larger view, it is not uncommon for Italian-American uomo d'onore and their European “cousins” to interact. As we see now, the Gambino Family has very close ties with Sicily as the current leadership includes “real Sicilians,” born in Italy, with direct blood ties. What I wonder is, how much has “American culture” influenced their ways of conducting things?

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