Monday, September 29, 2014

"There Were Bullets Flying," the Woman Testified...

Galati's auto body shop.
Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog reports that closing arguments are scheduled for today in the murder-for-hire trial of South Philadelphia auto body shop owner Ron Galati.

Galati is charged with hiring hitmen to kill Tiffany's boyfriend Andrew Tuono back in November.  The 64-year-old Galati faces 30 years in prison if convicted. Galati, often described as a mob wannabe, has two other cases pending in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia; he's been held without bail since his arrest late last Christmas.

As previously reported last week regarding Tiffany's testimony:

...Her testimony, which included her eyewitness account of the shooting, covered a dysfunctional family dynamic that stretched back several years and that Tiffany Galati said shattered her relationship with her father, her mother Vicky and brother Ron Jr. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Calabria's Unbelievable Measure to End Mafia: Exile

Riccardo Cordi was exiled from his family.
A story published on MSN News describes the Cordi family whose men are part of the powerful Calabrian Mafia, the Ndrangheta, and also highlights a new measure the state is taking to stop that secret society from perpetuating itself.

"... Cosimo — husband, father and reputed clan boss — [was] gunned down on a bicycle during a turf war. And Salvatore, the eldest son, [was] recently ordered into solitary confinement while serving a 30-year murder sentence. ... [As for two other sons] Domenico... [is] jailed for Mafia crimes, and Antonio... [is] battling depression in a prison psychiatric ward."
Then there's Riccardo, the youngest, still a boy with melancholy eyes. Antonia Spano', the family matriarch, pauses before his portrait. 
By age 16, Riccardo seemed destined to go the way of his brothers; that's the rule of blood in Calabria's powerful 'ndrangheta clans, a global force in the cocaine trade. But his mother is tired of making prison pilgrimages up and down Italy, and wishes for him a different fate. And even in the 'ndrangheta, there's a chance for destiny to be derailed. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Other Most Powerful Figure in the Mafia

We occasionally run quotes and little anecdotes in the sidebar, but decided to move these items here and call them "Wiseguy Wisdom," as part of an ongoing series. 

We did away with the "Wiseguy Wisdom" part...

And apropos of nothing: Why is it that encyclopedias are acceptable sources of information (yes, I know the Encyclopedia is now called "Google" but I am old enough to have a bookcase full of them) in nearly every field except when it comes to Mafia research?

Fat Tony

“They are really much better for you, Mr. Salerno. Better than all that chocolate," an FBI agent told Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno during the Commission Trial, offering the elderly gangster a nutritious granola bar.

“Who the fuck cares. I’m gonna die in the fucking can anyway,” Salerno replied.

He did, on July 27, 1992.

Salerno had a hell of a run.

During the 1980s, he ostensibly became boss of the Genovese family. He had reached the pinnacle of his power--and spent almost all his remaining life behind bars.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mobster Who Convicted Half the Mafia

It is well known that Greg Scarpa Senior had been a turncoat since 1960 and that he provided law enforcement with all the dope he could muster on his enemies, rivals and even friends -- basically anyone but himself.

Greg Scarpa did deep and lasting damage to most of
the Five Families, as well as other crime families.
We've written here, more than once, about his missions for the FBI, one of which involved him sallying south to help extinguish the Mississippi Burning problem.

He went on other missions, too.

Such complex duplicity requires a sharp mind and probably an intelligence level well above average.

Junior Pagan Slated for 2020 Prison Release

Pagan should be out of prison
in about six years
Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson doled out to Hector "Junior" Pagan an 11-year prison term for a criminal career overflowing with drug dealing and the violence of armed robberies and kidnapping.

Pagan also was the shooter who killed Luchese associate James Donovan during a street heist for which two of Pagan's former cohorts have gone away for 36 years each, due in part to Pagan's own testimony.

According to Gangland News: "Sources say he didn't expect to be hit with a double-digit stretch behind bars because he had testified against his cohorts in the Donovan slaying and had worn a wire against top Bonanno family mobsters."

Donovan's family made the same presentation for the judge that they did last month at the sentencing of Richard Riccardi and Luigi Grasso.

Mob Boss To Get Second Hardcover Edition

The first printing of Mob Boss: The Life Of Little Al D'Arco, The Man Who Brought Down The Mafia has sold out, Jerry Capeci reports today.

"Because of the heavy demand, Thomas Dunne Books went to the well again for a second printing of Mob Boss, the book that The New York Times called a "gripping, novelistic biography – a bulls-eye," Capeci notes.

The mass market, paperback version is due out in March.

Mob Boss was given high praise by such crime writers as Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, Nicholas Pileggi, and District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Organized Crime Crackdown Called Europe's Largest Ever

The Hague: where the intel is coordinated.
The biggest organized crime crackdown ever reportedly ended this week, with law enforcement agencies across the European Union (as well as some from non-EU countries, including the U.S.) arresting more than 1,000 people in a closely coordinated nine-day sweep that ended two days ago.

And, for once, the Mafia didn't warrant a single mention! Don't know which news is bigger!

Operation Archimedes targeted crimes ranging from drug trafficking to illegal immigration, tax fraud, counterfeiting and theft, Europol director Rob Wainwright told reporters.

The Daily Mail Online noted, however: "Arrests were concentrated on criminal middlemen and go-betweens, as crime kingpins are not typically caught in sweeps but in operations designed to ensnare them."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Is San Gennaro Feast Sans Mafia Really Better Off Now?

San Gennaro sans Mafia: Is it better off now???
REVISED AND EXPANDED: The New York Daily News: The charity running one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city — the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy — gave away only a tiny fraction of the more than $4 million it raised from 2007 to 2012, a Daily News investigation has found.

Over those years, the group Figli di San Gennaro took in $4.4 million in gross revenue, but gave up only $210,500 of that to charity. That’s about 4.7% — just slightly better than when the Mafia was running the feast.

Back in 1996, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani kicked out the previous charity, saying it was giving out only 3% of what it took in to charitable causes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Galati Disliked Daughter's Beau So He Ordered His Death

Galati murder-for-hire trial under way....
This is taken from several press reports, particularly BigTrial, as noted in the story.

The murder-for-hire trial of Ronald Galati, owner of a South Philadelphia-based auto body shop known for having ties to Philadelphia organized crime (none of which are to be mentioned during the trial) commenced last week.

Galati, 63, is charged with hiring three men last year to whack Andrew Tuono, who was dating Galati's daughter, Tiffany.

Tuono survived gunshots to the stomach, back and hand. He and Tiffany may testify during the expected two-week trial. Tiffany's behaviour during the shooting, as noted in testimony, is odd, we have to say....Rather than call 911, she got into a BMW parked at the crime scene and drove away.

Fox Asks Franzese: You Weren't a Rat?

Fox News talking head Diane
Falzone, who appeared in the
magazine Maxim.
This Fox News Video sort of asks Michael Franzese the main question regarding the former Colombo capo who quit the mob and continues living openly. 

If he didn't rat anyone out, how did he get out of the mob alive?

They kind of skipped the natural first question though, just to pin down the answer: Did he rat anyone out? There are conflicting stories out there that we wanted to give Michael the opportunity to answer here on this blog.

The Fox Video blurb is titled: Ex-Mafia boss: Hoffa not in Meadowlands, body won't be found.

Fox isn't the sharing type so you will have to click the link to watch the video, under which is noted: "Former mobster Michael Franzese is subject of new film 'God the Father'."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

At Galati Trial for Attempted Hit, Judge Decrees: No Mafia

Galati's daughter, who is testifying
against him at trial.
As in the aborted trial of Anthony Nicodemo, organized crime will not play a role in this trial (which may be why Galati outsourced the job in the first place, to distance the Philadelphia crime family ... or he didn't have enough juice?) An alleged mob associate went on trial in Camden federal court earlier this week on charges that he tried to have his daughter’s boyfriend murdered in Atlantic City.

Ronald Galati Sr., 63, faces four counts, including murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder for hire in the Nov. 30, shooting in Atlantic City.

He allegedly agreed to pay Ronald Walker and Alvin Matthews $20,000 each to carry out the killing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sinatra Once Proposed for "Honorary" Mob Membership

Frank Sinatra with Mafia members
Frank with a bunch of unknown blokes?
We had to retitle our story after we received some news from one of our ever-reliable sources (the anonymous kind).

Anyway, turns out, Ol' Blue Eyes was actually proposed to get a button -- he didn't get it, but he was put up for it. That's formal induction into one of the Five Mafia Families of New York, for you general-reader types.

"Very few people know he was purposed to be made," our source told us, adding that it was a "sort of honorary member button." However, "a few of the bosses on the Commission shot it down. I got that story right from the mouth of a boss who sat on the Commission."

Now, we certainly don't mean to imply that Sinatra "made his bones" or took over a union or hijacked trucks or anything like that. "He wasn't involved in anything criminal. He just soaked up the friendship and loved being around [wiseguys]," our source told us.

"At the end, which is no secret, [Sinatra] was around a guy named Louie Dome," our source added , noting that he had gotten his information about Sinatra's proposed button from a former big shot with the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante crime family who hated Sinatra. "He told me they put him up for membership and it was knocked down. I heard this story from a few people."

We lazily avoided the details of the larger story here -- but after speaking with our source, we reconsidered.

Louis "Louie Dome" Pacella (Oct. 28, 1921- Dec. 3, 1996) was a New York restaurateur, a capo in the Genovese borgata and a large scale distributor of heroin. He also found time to dabble in the infamous Westchester Premier Theatre scam in the 1970s. (It was in Sinatra's dressing room at the theater that the above infamous picture was taken. Louie Dome is not in it, however.)

An entertainment complex built in Westchester County atop what had been swampland, the theater was positioned to attract affluent suburbanites. The Gambino and Genovese families put up the initial funding using front men, then sold off the stock.

The story goes that Sinatra was enticed to play at the Westchester by none other than Louis Dome, who skimmed enough cash from the joint to pay Sinatra $30,000 per night for a 12-night run, netting Sinatra $360,000. According to Philly mob turncoat Philip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti: After Sam Giancana was whacked, Louis Dome "took over control" of Sinatra.

The photo haunted Sinatra a couple of years later when he was facing down the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which had questions about some of the gentlemen posing backstage with the crooner.

Sinatra basically responded with the same blather that Roger Moore writes in his memoir about not knowing the backgrounds of fans wanting photographs. I don't know nothin!

A mountain of evidence said otherwise. Turncoat mobster Jimmy the Weasel Fratianno claimed that it sure looked like Sinatra knew Carlo Gambino, given how he had hugged and kissed the man -- who had been only one of the most powerful Cosa Nostra boss in the history of the American Mafia, with 1,000 made members (including associates; I stand corrected) in his crime family at the time of Vito Genovese's death, with whom Gambino had plotted the high-profile assassination of the much feared mob boss Albert Anastasia in 1957. The FBI also had wiretap evidence of Sinatra speaking with then-Gambino associate Gregory DePalma.

So, yes, take with a moutfull of salt the Huffington Post story we link to that noted: Frank Sinatra’s supposed links with the Mafia have been very much exaggerated and misrepresented, according to his good friend Sir Roger Moore.
The former Bond star reveals in his latest memoir that, although Sinatra secretly enjoyed the idea that he had these connections with the underworld, a lot of it was trumped up by the press as a result of strangers visiting the legendary crooner’s dressing room and asking for a photograph. 
“Frank told me that six blokes he didn’t know would appear in his dressing room, five of them would ask for a photo with Ol’ Blue Eyes, and then 10 years later these photos would be revealed as evidence of his Mafia ties. These were his Mafia ‘selfies’. And he didn’t have a clue who they were.”
Sir Roger’s book ‘Last Man Standing’ is a film fan’s delight – a walk down memory lane of half a century of movie-making, from the leafy avenues of Pinewood and Shepperton Studios, to the hills of Hollywood and parties in Palm Springs, to the swimming pools and film sets of the South of France.

2010 Daily Mail story noted that Sinatra did have a a couple of real mob connections:
Frank’s uncles, Dominick and Lawrence, his mother Dolly’s brothers, ... dabbled in crime. And in Dolly herself — ambitious, ­abusive, violent and vengeful — he had his own model for a Mafia chief. 
Small wonder that when he met the real thing, he felt an instant pull. Small wonder too that when the real mafiosi met him, they smiled as they shook his hand.

Cosa Nostra News: Top 10 Things That Make Sinatra Cool
Cosa Nostra News: FBI: Mafia Plotted to Smear Kennedys Using Sinatra and Monroe
Cosa Nostra News: Rat's Tapes Debut with Mob Threats Against Sinatra
Caponigro wanted to whack Sinatra, supposedly.

It wasn’t just his celebrity; in their world celebrities were a dime a dozen. They also recognised the part of Dolly that he always carried with him — his own inner godfather. He wanted to be one of them and — in spirit and in part — he really was. As a result, the Mob would be a constant in his life. 
We should not over-emphasise this connection — as many commentators have done — but nor should we underplay it. Some of it came with the territory of being a singer. As many entertainers of his era knew, it was impossible to play the clubs and not come into contact with organised crime. 
The ‘Boys’ backed the clubs, often secretly owning them and hiring front men for a legitimate face. They operated them as glamorous profit centres for their businesses — entertainment, liquor, gambling and prostitution. 
During Sinatra’s early career, organised crime was a vast and dark under-culture — an alternative economy so huge one boss boasted: ‘We’re bigger than General Motors.’ 
It was a complex, vicious business, big fish eating smaller fish and operated by brute power. Frank found the aura of danger alluring as he mixed with the likes of Willie Moretti, the bald, wise-cracking Mafia boss of North Jersey, one of his neighbours. 
When he moved from the east coast to Hollywood to live and work, he encountered one of the most dangerous and violent of them all — west coast boss Benny Siegel, known as Bugsy because he was ‘as crazy as a bedbug’. 

● Daily Mirror excerpt adapted by Tony Rennell from Frank: The Making Of A Legend by James Kaplan, published by Sphere on November 4 at £25. © James Kaplan 2010. To order a copy at £20.99 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Vinny Limo, Victim of Meat Cleaver Attack, Arrested

Vinny Limo
REVISED, MORE DETAILS: Talk of the Sound reported that Vincent "Vinny Limo" Zarcone, 47, a former social club manager (what??), was arrested by New Rochelle Police on August 28, 2014.

He was charged with a misdemeanor: criminal mischief .

Some may recall Zarcone from a couple of earlier incidents -- one of which was the 2009 meat clever attack in which Vinny Limo's right hand was hacked off by Christopher Calise, assisted by Maurice Mann, who held Vinny Limo.

The vicious attack was believed at the time to be possibly connected to the remnants of a Westchester/Bronx Genovese family-run gambling ring busted up years earlier. The victim, Vinny Limo, had been arrested for his involvement in the operation.

In fact, it was reported at the time that the FBI's Organized Crime Task Force was looking into the club in which Zarcone worked. The cleaning lady insisted that he was a "good fellow," telling CBS2, "He works downstairs, the computer."

Good fellow or Goodfella, we wonder....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

If He Didn't Give You a Nickname You Were Dead

Gotti used pet names for
guys in his inner circle.
From the Archives: this story originally ran in July 2012:

Sunday is Mafia day at the New York Post, with reporter Brad Hamilton pumping out a longish feature story a week about goings-on in the mob.

This week's offering centers on Lewis Kasman, John Gotti's self-proclaimed "adopted son" who wore a wire against "dad" -- may have stolen millions from him, according to one source -- and helped destroy the upper echelon of the Gambino family back in the John Gotti days.

On the Curtis Sliwa show -- to listen, click here -- Kasman offered such fables as how in the early 1990s, Gotti and Jackie "Nose" D'Amico rode the Long Island Rail Road into the city two-three days a week to show up at no-work jobs in midtown.

Additionally Kasman, who became a paid FBI informer against the imprisoned-for-life mob boss in 1997, has already taken some potshots at Gotti family members, including Gotti’s brother Richard, a Gambino capo (whom Gotti referred to as "Pee-pee brain." Seriously).

The Murderous Mob Rat....


"He went around for months trying to help them find the murderer when it was him. It's hard to think of a bigger fraud than that. And he was waving to the guys he was taping not to say anything about the murder so the DEA wouldn't know. He is just about as dirty as anyone gets, forget about government witnesses. How do they embrace this guy? Why give this guy an opportunity to walk out of jail to put my guy away for life."

Since his arrest on separate armed robbery charges in November of 2011, he's been in jail. And prosecutors have already agreed to recommend leniency for him when he is sentenced this month. Hector "Junior" Pagan will not be prosecuted for the murder of James Donovan, as well as numerous crimes committed across a string of 30 years.

Wonder who will be lucky enough to be his new neighbor out there in the midwest. Good luck folks, cause this guys is a sociopath with no hope of redemption. We'd love him to prove us wrong....

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Unheard of Is Heard: Some Bonannos Granted Severance in Lufthansa Case

DiFiore has finally earned a victory in court, it would appear.

Vincent Asaro said categorically, "We're going to trial."

He should've said "trials."

A federal judge has granted a motion filed by  Thomas "Tommy D" DiFiore's attorneys that allows for the Bonanno acting street boss and two other Bonannos, Jack Bonventre and John "Bazoo" Ragano, to have a separate trial in the high-profile Lufthansa-related case. Sort of...

The court also vacated a prior ruling denying Ragano's motion for severance. But....

The difficulty is in the language of the judge's order -- or rather how to  interpret it.

"Bonventre, Ragano and DiFiore shall be tried on the extortion counts," Brooklyn Federal Judge Allyne Ross ordered, but "the government should determine whether Vincent and Jerome [Asaro] will be tried on the extortion counts in the same trial as the other defendants or in connection with a later trial" for murder and other charges.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Parole Violation May Send Skinny Joey Back to Prison

Merlino violated parole, Feds charge.

Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino is coming back to Philadelphia -- and may even find himself in prison; the irony is that his court-ordered supervision, which is scheduled to end this coming Thursday, will not -- assuming federal authorities have their way.

This is according to a report.

The 52-year-old "former" Don violated the terms of his release in June with a night on the town with John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini, a captain convicted with Merlino back in 2001.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mob Rat "Junior" Has Reasons to Squirm...

Hector Pagan.
Hector "Junior" Pagan will pay the piper soon. He faces the judge for sentencing this month. And it is quite possible he will go away for life.

In the end, Pagan's punishment, despite his cooperation with the Feds, could fit his crimes.

This is partly because the fetching, determined daughter of the man Pagan killed has caught the attention of the judge.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Baseball Legend Who "Robbed the Mob"

McLain in 1968
Playboy Magazine: Denny McLain, Star Pitcher or Mafia Traitor?
From the story by Matt Birkbeck

Bob Weaver, then head of the Secret Service’s New York Electronic Crimes Task Force, was trying to make sense of the trove of transcripts from the wiretaps, a difficult task since gangsters often spoke in code. Of particular interest were discussions among several men about long-distance phone cards, including this 1996 conversation between Junior Gotti and his driver and lieutenant, Anthony Plomitallo. The gangsters were concerned about the need to have several brands of phone cards lined up to replace the ones that would eventually be shut down once the carrier realized it was never getting paid.

“You never get jammed up,” says Junior on tape. “But if it happens we have several cards, you come right to their stores and you bring the other cards in. Pump them right in. Tell them having a problem with the other card, ‘Here, take this card.’ ”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What Lee D'Avanzo's Doing These Days

Inside Mr. Lee's Sportscards store.
As many who watch "Mob Wives" are aware, Lee D'Avanzo opened a sports memorabilia store on Staten Island.

It apparently opened its doors this past March, with New York Mets Legend Dwight "Doc" Gooden guest starring at the grand opening. (We'd assumed Lee was a Yankees fan for some reason.)

"It's a family-friendly place," says the man in the video below, who we believe is Lee.

Available for purchase are a wide range of items, including sports cards, rare sport figurines and autographed jerseys.

Be sure to check out the intriguing YouTube video at the end of the post in which a man we assume is Mr. Lee himself -- sound like dry cleaner! -- tells us in great detail about the store... well, not exactly.

Philly Wiseguy Galati Decides to Take 'Em to Trial

It appears less likely that Ronald Galati, an associate of the Philadelphia Mafia, will flip, according to a recent story on Big Trial Blog by George Anastasia, who reported that the "wannabe wiseguy" is letting the Feds take the case to trial.

What's more, he's even "considering taking the stand in his own defense."

Galati, who was :arrested shortly before last Christmas, faces a long list of people who have betrayed him -- his daughter and the hitmen he'd allegedly hired to murder his daughter's boyfriend.

Galati will square off against three key charges -- the attempted whacking of the boyfriend, Andrew Tuono in Camden, as well as counts related to insurance fraud and witness intimidation in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Was Federal Hill Safer When Mafia Ran It?

Early mugshot of young Raymond Patriarca .
Was Federal Hill really safer back when Ray Patriarca ran all of New England from the Coin-o-Matic on Atwells Avenue?

I raise this question following a recent report that ran the following quote:

"There is a perception that things were less violent on Federal Hill during the Raymond Patriarca era but I disagree since it is only the nature of the violence that has changed,” explained Former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet, who oversaw a major crackdown on mob activity during her tenure as Rhode Island Attorney General from 1984-1986.

Did Deceased Author Belittle Brutal Mafia Killer?

Tommy Pitera, decades in prison.
Tommy "Karate" Pitera was unique in the annals of the American Mafia, or Cosa Nostra.

He is suspected by law enforcement of committing as many as 60 murders. His nickname is derived from his love of martial arts, including karate.

He also had more in common with a serial killer than a mobster in terms of how he killed and dismembered his victims, and kept "trophies." In one case, supposedly he kept the ears of one victim. When threatening someone for whatever reason, Pitera would supposedly throw the ears down on the table and tell his trembling target to: "Talk to him."

But in one of those bizarre quirks of fate, Tommy was not blessed with a deep masculine voice. He didn't sound like the big, bad killer he was.

Rather, he sounded more like Mickey Mouse.

Berlusconi Bans Film About His Cosa Nostra Ties

Silvio prefers his Mafia ties remain
hidden. Not showcased in a film!
SpyGhana: The film Belluscone: Una Storia Siciliana, which was recently screened as part of an experimental film competition, features Palermo street singers, Mafia bosses and top Berlusconi aide Marcello Dell’Utri, who has been jailed for links to Cosa Nostra.

Senator Lucio Malan said it is “right and proper” for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party to ask the judiciary to ban the film because it is offensive to Berlusconi, Italy and “the millions of people who have voted for him.”

Malan, speaking to the Klauscondicio web channel, said Italian filmmakers should focus on positive subjects rather than “indulge excessively on the Mafia and on Mafiosi.”

“They could also talk about what is nice in Italy,” he suggested. What!?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mafia Reality Show a "Bigoted Libel of the Amish"

Levi, a phony "mob boss," and his crew of half wits.
From Philly.comPlain untruth -- Amish Mafia, the Discovery Channel series being shunned by many Pennsylvania politicians, attributes systematic violence to a pacifist community that's among the least likely to produce it - probably because any claim so counterintuitive is bound to attract eyeballs. We're apparently meant to imagine a gang whose threatening horse's head once had a buggy attached, and whose Dutch-country consigliere intones, "Leave the gun. Take the shoofly.

In the absence of a budget for competent writing and acting, the appeal of this thin conceit depends on the notion that the depicted events might have happened. Amish Mafia's producers encourage this idea among the unsuspecting with Orwellian disclaimers noting that "the Amish church denies the existence" of the mob and that "select" scenes are concocted - slyly suggesting truth by acknowledging falsehood.