Showing posts from 2015

Taboo Topic? Mafiosi and the Church

This is a revise of an old story that I've been sitting on entirely too long.... Italy has exported two global entities -- the Mafia and the Catholic Church. Ironic.

Made men generally are Roman-Catholics. Still, not much has been generally written about Mafiosi making (or not making) peace with the New Testament God before shuffling off this mortal coil.

At the same time, Sicilian or Italian mobsters are very dedicated to their faith. In fact, some of them study the bible. "In Italy, there is not a single Mafioso who isn't religious," Padre Nino Fasullo, an anti-Mafia priest in Italy, once said. "For a phenomenon like the Mafia, which has no intellectual justification at all, religion may represent the only ideological apparatus to which it can refer. ... We're all in the church. Even the Mafia. Unfortunately. The church is embroiled in it. But regrettably not everyone in the church is convinced that opposition to the Mafia is necessary."

Giving Friends of Ours Blog Due Credit

Taking a cue from my good friend over at Friends of Ours, who did this on the appropriate date, I am posting, for posterity's sake, the New York Daily News's original 1957 article on Appalachin. 
The Friends of Ours blogger, Philip Crawford Jr., has an excellent book available now: The Mafia and the Gays. It is an historical analysis of the Mafia's control of gay bars in major U.S. cities, including New York and Chicago.

The unjust illegality of such establishments essentially green-lighted the Mafia to come in and cater to that demand.

New England Mafia "Sleeps with the Fishes?"

EXPANDED, REVISED  Two New England Mafiosi in their 70s, including the alleged acting Patriarca Family boss, are going to prison after copping to a years-long extortion scheme in federal court. 
On December 16, Antonio “Spucky” Spagnolo, 73, and Pryce “Stretch” Quintina, 75, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to affect commerce by extortion, reported
Prosecutors alleged that Spagnolo, of Revere is the acting boss of the New England Mafia. Co-defendant, Quintina, also of Revere, reported to Spagnolo, prosecutors said.

Linda Scarpa's Mafia Daughter Memoir Debuts

By Nick Christophers, guest contributor, editor of Mob Candy (see his website):

We have been inundated with books, films and TV shows on the subject of the Mafia over the years. Wives, girlfriends and daughters have taken to the pen to expose their experiences. Yet many of them have either “sugar-coated” their stories or they really had no knowledge of “the life.”

One of the earliest books that delved deep into the life was “Mafia Marriage” by Rosalie Bonanno, who was married to Salvatore Vincent “Bill” Bonanno, the son of Cosa Nostra boss Joseph Bonanno.

Since then there have been many attempts to expose the true meaning of living in that world, e.g., “This Family of Mine” by Victoria Gotti, daughter of John Gotti, former boss of the Gambino crime family; “The Godfather’s Daughter” by Rita Gigante, daughter of Vincent Louis Gigante, also known as “Chin,” one-time boss of the Genovese crime family; and “Mob Daughter” by Karen Gravano, daughter of Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, …

Anastasia's Home with "Strange Tiled Room" for Sale

In North Jersey's Fort Lee sits a mansion for sale that was once owned by one of the most powerful and feared Cosa Nostra bosses in the American Mafia's history: Albert Anastasia.

Described as a sprawling Mission-style estate, it's located at 75 Bluff Road and, according to a recent published report, it hasn't changed much since Anastasia had it built in 1947. The house was bigger than others in the area back then. In fact, the 25-room luxurious spread ruined the scenic view of Manhattan for at least one family, though they aren't known to have complained.

North Jersey has been described as a gangsters paradise. The list of previous North Jersey residents includes the enigmatic Joe Adonis, Willie Moretti and Longie Zwillman, though the last owner was the "most famous and feared of all, the head of Murder Incorporated, Albert Anastasia," as the New York Times noted. New Jersey itself was and is a key area of activity for many crime families; in fact, as n…

Mobster Left His Life in San Francisco

The American Mafia lost a few members in 1947, some well known, some not so well known.

Among that year's deceased were Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, a New York-based labor racketeer who worked with Louis "Lepke" Buchalter (executed in 1944); Al Capone and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. (On the other side of the legal fence, Fiorello La Guardia, the Mayor of New York who very publicly targeted New York's Mafia, died in 1947.)

Nicholas DeJohn died that year. Ever hear of him? He was a mobster who came up in the Outfit then hauled ass for San Francisco, where he found a role in the local organized crime landscape. He died brutally in 1947; he was strangled to death, in fact. His body fermented in a trunk of a car for two days before it was discovered. The murder was never solved -- but a piece of evidence showed up in a certain pawn shop that puts an interesting twist on DeJohn's story....A hint -- Gurrah, Lepke and Bugsy had all been a part of it.

Insider: John Alite Talks Terror, the Mafia

John Alite, former Gambino crime family associate, offers part two of his discussion centering on "the link between the Italian Mafia, ISIS and how buying drugs lines the pockets of terrorists."

"They both work off the same methods, which is fear and laundering money from drug sales," Alite said.

He notes that terrorists he met while in prison seemed to be "misfits, insecure and vulnerable when brought into" organized terrorism groups.

DISCLOSURE: I write for The Insider Magazine.

Clemenza "Never" Would've Testified, Actor Said

One of the best things about The Godfather was Richard Castellano, aka Peter Clemenza, a caporegime under Don Vito Corleone.

Never mind that the film likely served as one of the mob's greatest recruitment tools ever. And if you're wondering, I did ask a couple of wiseguys what they thought of The Godfather. One, who asked to be referred to as anonymous, told me that Don Vito actually was based on a composite of all five titular family bosses. Also, he revealed, a made guy was murdered as a direct result of the film's release, a story I'll save for another time (it had something to do with the actor who played Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo -- "a top narcotics man," in consiglieri Tom Hagen's words).
Former Gambino capo Micheal "Mikie Scars" DiLeonardo was succinct. "Epic," he described the first two Godfather films.  As for the widely despised third offering: "I walked out of the theater when the helicopters started shootin…

Cop Caliber Slugs in 4 Slain in Waco Biker Brawl

Four of the nine people who died as rival biker gangs began brawling outside a Waco, Texas-based Twin Peaks restaurant were killed with the same caliber used by Waco police rifles.

This is according to a Waco Trib report based on evidence obtained by the AP "that provides the most insight yet into whether authorities were responsible for any of the deaths and injuries."

Two of the four dead had wounds from only that kind of rifle; the other two were shot by other kinds of guns as well. The ballistics reports show that the rest killed were shot by a variety of other guns. It was not clear whether any bikers had similar guns to the police. Twelve long guns, which could include rifles, were seized by law enforcement on that day.

Luchese Boss Matty Madonna's Longtime Criminal Career

Luchese mobster Matthew "Matty" Madonna allegedly ordered what is considered the last bona-fide Mafia murder: the 2013 Michael Meldish murder.

Madonna, 80, of Seldon, N.Y., has been named a "person of interest," by law enforcement officials investigating the murder. The powerful Luchese boss is actually an interesting person for anyone following developments in organized crime in America: Decades back, in 1970s Harlem, while New York's Purple Gang was murdering and dismembering, Matty Madonna was driving a car loaded with heroin to a notorious black drug kingpin.

The alleged murderers of Meldish have been arrested. Madonna copped to 2010's Operation Heat case involving a gambling ring and prison-smuggling operation, then to another case, and is slated to serve five years.

Meldish was offed with one shot to the head in November 2013. His body was found in his car, slumped over in the driver's seat, head back and mouth open.

Vinny "Ocean" Palermo: Life Afterward....

Vincent Palermo, former acting boss of New Jersey's only homegrown crime family, was a major Cosa Nostra player. The field was wide open for him at his ascension.

He and many DeCavalcante members and associates were eventually done in by the Fed's for the murder of a Staten Island businessman.
(What Vinny's been up to is exactly what I hoped to discover, only this interview never reached fruition.)

When last we heard about him, Vinny was set up in Texas rather nicely. He continued in one longtime business of his, running a strip-joint called the Penthouse Club. (See video, below.)

In 2011 newspapers were making hay out of a particular court case involving Vinny Palermo, a former resident of Island Park in Nassau County, one town over from where I live, in the five-towns enclave.

He arrived in Houston while in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Allegedly, the model for the fictional Tony Soprano character defaulted on payments on a $1.3 million promissory note. Vinny …

Mob Boss's Appeal Calls Witness "Bulger"

April 1st, 2011, April Fool's Day, held no jokes for Arthur Nigro, the former Genovese crime family acting boss found guilty of murder and other crimes following a three-week trial in New York, as noted.

Nigro, of the Bronx, N.Y., stood trial with enforcers Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and his brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass. Facing the trio was a litany of crimes that put them in prison for life.

The headline charge was the 2003 murder of Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, the murder of a suspected informant as well as the attempted murder of a union boss, plus and a series of extortion attempts spread across Springfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Manhattan.

New York's Five Crime Families Still Exist

The mob is exposed when law enforcement makes arrests. Then newspapers print stories about men with colorful nicknames and their “alleged” acts of murder and racketeering.

Such stories are in short supply these days. When the newspapers do cover a mob story, it generally details elderly men who committed crimes going back decades. Take the Vincent Asaro trial, which was billed as the big Lufthansa Heist case, which was spotlighted in the cinematic classic Goodfellas film.

The trial ended in a shocking acquittal for the 80-year-old defendant, who was once pals with James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke.

DeCavalcante Associates Cop to Drug Charge

It won’t be a very Merry Christmas for John “Johnny Balls” Capozzi and Mario Galli.

The two DeCavalcante associates admitted they distributed more than 500 grams of cocaine, the FBI’s Newark office reported.

Capozzi, 34, of Union, New Jersey, and Galli, 23, of Toms River, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls to one count of distribution of more than 500 grams of cocaine. The count carries a mandatory prison sentence of between five and 40 years.