Monday, August 31, 2015

Shrewd Sicilian Helms Gambinos, Says Mikie Scars

Frank Cali had ascended to the role of street boss of the Gambino crime family, though now it appears that, yet again, there's uncertainty.

Whether he's street boss or not, one thing seems clear: Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì would bring the New York-based crime family, one of the fabled five, back where it belongs: in the grip of a shrewd Sicilian who likely will strengthen its ranks and magnify its fortunes.

Yes, "Italian Dom" is Sicilian but in terms of boss material, there are more suitable candidates, according to Michael "Mikie Scars" DiLeonardo, with whom we spoke for this story.
Whose the boss? Frank Cali, maybe.

His rise would also have an historical significance. It brings the Gambinos, once the largest and most powerful Mafia family in the country, full circle.

If Cali is street boss, "the Gambino family is where it's supposed to be," DiLeonardo told me, "back in the hands of Sicilians. If you look to the beginning, it started out Sicilian" and remained so until 1951, when Vincent Mangano disappeared from the face of the earth by Albert Anastasia, who took over. "In 1957, the Calabrian is dead.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Greg Scarpa Jr "Transitioning, Yeah"

Greg Scarpa Jr., left, Senior, right....

A long-time friend of Cosa Nostra News telephoned the facility today and recorded the discussion, emailing the MPEG to yours truly.

Apparently, her feminine voice worked its magic on him and within seconds he gave her what we needed and couldn't get -- recorded confirmation.

Greg Scarpa Junior is "transitioning, yeah," the man on the phone finally admits after she asks what an RRM is. Specifically, she'd said "I thought it was a place for people getting out soon, who were...." And he said it (and you will soon hear it) -- "Transitioning, yeah."

Monday, August 24, 2015

What's Going on with Greg Scarpa Jr?

Gregory Scarpa Junior, sentenced to 40 years to life for assorted mob mayhem (a law enforcement source told us he's been linked to 24 homicides alone), has been transferred from the same Supermax that Vinny Basciano was in.
Scarpa Junior at Colorado's ADX.

Only Scarpa Junior has been moved -- we're not sure when -- to something called a Residential Reentry Management Field Office based in Kansas City, Kansas.

"He's never getting out," the source told us. "They might have moved him to make him more comfortable now that everything has settled down." But still -- a a Residential Reentry Management Field Office?

Vinny Gorgeous Sprung -- from Supermax Housing

Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano won his freedom... from Colorado's Supermax prison, that is.

He's not moving far. His new digs are located within a high-security facility on the same compound as the Administrative Maximum Security or ADX, according to an exclusive New York Post report.

"Better than the hellhole Supermax prison in Colorado... where ex-Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano had been rotting since 2011 after he was convicted of racketeering and murder. Basciano, 55, was recently sprung from the most infamous jail in the nation to a high-security facility located on the same 31-acre compound in Florence, Colo., the Daily News has learned. The exact date of the transfer is unclear," the Post noted.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How the Gambinos Lost a Fortune in Florida

John Gotti 2.0

John "Junior" Gotti did have something in common with his father after all.  It took us a while to find it -- but it's there, and to our surprise, nobody has commented on it before.

The list of what he didn't have in common is quite long. Junior didn't position himself to be a modern-day capo de tutti capi. He didn't take out a boss and take over a crime family. He didn't kill guys for refusing to come when he called (and no other reason). In fact, he didn't come close to meeting his father's body count, and as we noted previously, he implemented a ban on killing that lasted for a pretty good time (though he didn't reach that decision to ban murder alone, as we also previously noted).

John Junior wasn't as popular within his family (or has hated without); he didn't dress like a million bucks and didn't have his father's innate charm and natural ease among anyone, whether a female newscaster at the courthouse door or some punk whose head he was ready to sever.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Say Hello to the Gambino Family's New Acting Boss

Revised, updated: The Gambino crime family is reportedly now under the auspices of  Staten Island-based Frank Cali, 49, who'd been serving on a ruling panel for several years, according to's Jerry Capeci.

Domenico Cefalu stepped down as acting boss, allowing Cali's advance.

Cali, Sicilian-born, is related by marriage to Gambino members as well as members of a Sicilian Cosa Nostra family. Cali's wife's uncle is Gambino capo John Gambino, and his brother Joseph and brother-in-law Peter Inzerillo are both allegedly soldiers in the Gambino crime family.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Inside Dope on Colombo Family's Michael Persico

Michael Persico

This arrives directly from Kenji Gallo's Breakshot Blog:

This Tuesday another man who has lived the mafia life will face a judge and be sentenced for his crimes: Michael Persico.

This so called “mafia prince” never had to get in the trenches to get his hands dirty. He was born into power and ordered others (who were not born into the ruling class) to do his work for him. He lived the life of privilege, wealth and power that comes with being mafia royalty. A position he never earned. He was able to live the way he did because of the murderous reign of his father Carmine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Drinking with the Mob in "Cocktail Noir"

When I add a link to the "link section," (unique title!) I usually first ask permission from the new addition.

Sometimes, I forget to ask. (This is a one hell of a story so far, isn't it?)

Which reminds me, I didn't really ask Scott Deitche if I could link to his personal website and the Tampa Mafia site that all along I thought he owned but doesn't. (A quite lovely woman named Lisa Figueredo owns it.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ranking Systems and Things Esoteric

Whimsical story to go with this bizarre pic.... I have never ever seen this image before,
of Joseph Goebbels looking like he's ready to do something comical for the photographer,
something for which Hitler probably would've ordered his execution....

I was going to delete this story but revised and expanded it instead.
This blog's Alexa ranking shot up to 136,000, 107,761 103,627 (it's  79,965 today, but has been hovering around 80k for a while) in the U.S.. The lower the number, the better the ranking.

What the hell is Alexa?

Well, it offers insights into a website's popularity. You visit, paste an http address in the included search box -- and then view estimates of that site's ranking in both the site's native country and the world.

Friday, August 14, 2015

John Riggi, Mafia's "Last Legitimate Boss"

Giovanni Riggi (February 1, 1925 – August 3, 2015), aka John the Eagle, died on Monday of natural causes. He was 90 and outlived what law enforcement officials no doubt considered a life sentence.

A member of the New Jersey-based crime family since the 1940s (before it was given its historic name, the DeCavalcante crime family), Riggi served as the Elizabeth crew's captain and was named acting boss in the 1970s.

Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi (February 1, 1925 – August 3, 2015) died of natural causes.
John Riggi, at the height of power.

Riggi's rise was slow and deliberate. Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante named Riggi as his successor in 1980. Riggi in fact held the official boss title up until his death a week ago.  He's been described as well-spoken, extremely polite and extremely ruthless.

Toward the end of his life he'd been incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Devens, Massachusetts. He was released on November 27, 2012.

The funeral at the Corsentino Home for Funerals in Elizabeth, N.J., held on Friday, Aug. 7, was well-attended, with mourners going around the block. Riggi was entombed at Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, N.J.

"He was the last legitimate boss and there will never be another guy like him," said a source who'd been close to Riggi for many years. "If you met him, he had almost like a presidential bearing."

John Alite, the subject of George Anastasia's Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia, told us: "John Riggi had a sense of honor. The difference between him and John Gotti was that he would take the fall for his guys."

"I'm the father of my family," was something Riggi said. He indeed viewed himself as a father, versus as a boss. This was something he had in common with "Sam the Plumber," who was known to tell his men to "shake hands" after he ordered them to reconcile after arguing.

Riggi was more than willing to go to prison to take the heat off his guys, the rank-and-file members who served in his crime family. This doesn't mean that Riggi tolerated informants. Quite the opposite, the DeCavalcantes was known for ruthlessly killing their fair share of informants/suspected informants, among other threats to the family.

"Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (who preferred "The Count" moniker based on claims of Italian royal lineage) had a tight relationship with Riggi. Early during Simone's reign, he picked Riggi from the choir.

At the time, "John had had a beef with someone in the family. John told [DeCavalcante], 'If I'm lying, kill me. If he's lying I'm gonna kill him right now....'

"It didn't come to that, but [DeCavalcante] saw what John was made of."

According to the source, Riggi was hesitant about getting involved with Cosa Nostra but that his father, Manny, "an old-school Sicilian" soldier in the New Jersey crime family, had pressured him into joining.

"He pushed John into the crime family."

Riggi graduated from Linden High School in 1942 as its class president. He then enlisted in the United States Army in 1943, serving as an aircraft and engine mechanic. His obit described him as an "Army Air Corps veteran."

After he returned from World War II, he drifted toward the Mafia.

In 1969, DeCavalcante was convicted of extortion-conspiracy and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 1976, when he named Riggi acting boss of the family. DeCavalcante then moved to Florida to begin the process of pulling away from the day-to-day affairs of the Mafia.

In 1980 after serving his final prison stint (five years), DeCavalcante officially retired to a high-rise condo in Florida and passed control to Riggi.

"The Count" largely stayed out of Mafia business, though the FBI alleged he continued to assist Riggi into the early 1990s, dispensing advice through Simone Junior, his son.

According to our source, when Simone passed Riggi the torch he made one request in particular.  "'Promise me you'll keep these guys working.' That's what this was all about," the source told us.

Riggi reaped the enormous rewards of large labor and construction racketeering, as well as the mob's historic standbys of loansharking, illegal gambling and extortion.

He reinstated some of the crime family's old traditions, which DeCavalcante had deemed unnecessary. (Years later, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino followed the precedent set by "Sam the Plumber," doing away with conceits like having a gun and knife on the table during induction ceremonies in case of a law enforcement raid amid the ceremony.)

Historically, while the DeCavalcante crime family engaged in traditional Mafia rackets, its strength (and perhaps ability to maintain its independence from New York's Five Families, as well as the Philadelphia criminal organization) stemmed from its immense influence over unions – specifically, Local 394 of the International Brotherhood of Laborers and Hod Carriers in Elizabeth and Laborers International Union District Council 30 in Millburn.

"Sam the Plumber" told Riggi to keep the guys working.....

Riggi was an expert in labor racketeering and wielded immense power for years over New Jersey's construction trade due to his involvement with labor unions. Riggi served as a business agent for Local 394 from 1965 to 1986, and was then named president of District Council 30 in 1986. He supposedly retired shortly thereafter, though he continued to serve as a consultant to the local.

Today, New Jersey's only homegrown crime family (despite the mob's relentless exploitation of the Garden State) operates closely with New York's Gambino crime family, according to the FBI. Both crime families are run by Sicilians, according to a recorded conversation between a member and an undercover agent.

It was a very different story in Riggi's day.

"The Eagle" had been virtually untouchable. Riggi and his associates were known to be an extremely tight-knit group that held important meetings in or near Elizabeth's Peterstown section at the Ribera Club and the Cafe Italia. The Holiday Inn in East Orange and Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel at Newark International Airport also were key meeting places for the group.

Although Riggi, like his predecessor, was known not to have a lust for violence, he didn't hesitate to issue the ultimate order when he deemed it necessary.

Riggi sanctioned the 1978 murder of John Suarato, the uncle of a made member. A low-level street hustler, Suarato engaged in an ongoing dispute with his sister over an inheritance. Riggi's approval of the hit, while he was still officially capo, raised his profile and popularity level with the rank and file.

Other key murders attributed to Riggi include the 1980s hit on Vincenzo Sorce, a local construction company owner whose body was found under the Goethal's Bridge between Elizabeth and Staten Island. His murder followed an altercation between himself and member at the Ribera Club. It also happened a few weeks following an FBI/local law enforcement Local 394's Elizabeth headquarters. Some 14 other business locations were searched in connection with a federal investigation of the mob's influence in the construction industry in New Jersey.

In January of 1988, Vincent "Jimmy" Rotondo, once underboss of the DeCavalcante family, was found dead inside his Lincoln Continental, which has been parked in front of Rotondo's Brooklyn home. Inside the vehicle with his bullet riddled body was a jar of rotting fish. It's alleged that Riggi approved the hit owing to Rotundo having brought into the family a criminal associate later identified as an informant who testified against Riggi. John Gotti also allegedly approved the hit. (Years later, Anthony Rotondo, Vincent's son, who'd been promoted to capo, turned informant.)

The problem for law enforcement was that, though recordings were made extensively during meetings when Riggi was in the room, the man never said a single incriminating word.

He also took extensive measures to avoid incriminating himself and anyone else. "John would drive for two hours to have a one-minute conversation with someone" via a payphone, the source told us.

Even during meetings held in public, with the FBI and other law enforcement officials watching, Riggi never said or did anything incriminating.

(Riggi once wrote a letter to a Union County, N.J., businessman advising the well-respected gentleman to take up vegetarianism.)

A local contractor once called the New Jersey Organized Crime Task Force to tell them Riggi had summoned him to a lunch meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Linden. The OCTF, which had been watching Riggi for months by then, leaped at what they thought would be a huge opportunity.

They bugged the table where Riggi and the contractor would sit and set up full surveillance.

They were surprised when the restaurant started filling up with more patrons than was usual.

Riggi showed up, and the receptionist sat him and the contractor at the bugged table, where she'd been instructed to by the OCTF.

The task force expected Riggi to demand an envelope. They thought he'd threaten the contractor with labor disruption or even violence.

They were in for a shock.

"I am John Riggi," the mob boss said as he took his seat in the restaurant across the table from the contractor. "I just want to tell you that New Jersey is a very pro-union state."

Then, union leader after union leader rose from other tables in the restaurant and walked over to Riggi's table. One by one, they shook Riggi's hand, told the contractor what a great guy Riggi was, then returned to their respective seats. These men were the bosses of nearly every single union local in North Jersey.

Law enforcement officials had to admit they were impressed. Riggi was able to let the contractor know exactly how powerful he was without saying or doing anything. He simply introduced himself and allowed the contractor to see the extent of his influence via simple handshakes.

The contractor who'd called the OCTF ultimately did business with Riggi.

Still, Riggi was a mob boss, and he never forgot it. No Paul Castellano, he knew what tended to happen to mob bosses and other powerful mobsters, so he began readying himself for prison about five years before he went in, according to our source.

"He sat in a room alone for hours every day. He also started to get into shape. He wanted to live."

Riggi also sought to help his own family in the event that he was imprisoned.

"I once drove him to meet with a butcher he knew from East Orange," the source said. "He'd saved this guy's life once and had never taken anything from him in return."

"When I go away," Riggi told the butcher, "feed my family." (The butcher did, sending his best cuts of meat to the Riggi household on a weekly basis while Riggi was in prison.)

Law enforcement finally nailed Riggi and his two sons on October 16, 1989, when they were indicted along with two top Riggi associates: capo Girolamo Palermo and soldier Salvatore Timpani. 

All faced federal racketeering charges related to their control of the construction industry through Local 394. Riggi was convicted on July 20, 1990, of extortion and labor law violations, and Timpani of extortion. The other defendants were acquitted.

When they came to arrest Riggi early one morning as part of a larger sweep, the mob boss asked politely if he could shower and dress in a suit.

"All the others we took in that morning put on the arrest suit—sweats and sneakers. But when we brought him into the holding cell and he walked in, they all stood up," said Robert Boccino, a veteran New Jersey organized crime expert and former deputy chief of the State Organized Crime Bureau. Boccino considered Riggi a gentleman.

While at the federal penitentiary in Butner, N.C., Riggi was sentenced in September 2003 to an additional 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to ordering the Sept. 11, 1989, murder of a Staten Island man believed to be cooperating with authorities.

"We agreed that he should be murdered," Riggi said matter-of-factly at his plea hearing. "Pursuant to the agreement, Fred Weiss was murdered. That's it."

NEW MATERIAL: As for why Riggi copped to the Weiss murder, another source not previously included in this story told us:

"The only reason he plead guilty was because they took the other murder counts off the indictment, he had gotten a great plea offer before with coverage for all the murders. The problem was the murder of his lifelong friend, who was also his son's father-in-law and his grandchildren's grandfather.

"The children had stopped talking to his son and John was going to go to trial so his grandchildren would learn the truth, that he had nothing to do with their grandfather's murder.

"In actuality, [this person] had been murdered to slap John in the face."

Riggi was not perfect, and he made mistakes.He had a knack for picking the wrong street bosses while he was away, for example.

But his larger mistake, some say, was becoming too close to Gambino boss John Gotti. Historically under "Sam the Plumber" the Genovese family had been most closely associated with the New Jersey family.

According to intelligence reports, Riggi and Gotti meet regularly to discuss construction projects in New Jersey. Gotti had an interest in a New York City-based steel erecting company, which was involved in a large construction project in Central New Jersey. Gotti and his associates needed Riggi's laborers but also sought Riggi's advice.

Riggi cooperated with Gotti and approved the hits that Gotti requested of him. Still, in the end, Riggi supposedly harbored some anger at Gotti.

When told Gotti was suffering from a particular ailment that later caused the Dapper Don's death, Riggi allegedly said: "That's because he talked too much."

Riggi was his own man, to the end. He helped build Little League baseball fields in Linden and gave generously to charity, Boccino said.

"The people in Elizabeth loved him. Nobody would cooperate—that was the problem. He was respected."

Another source we spoke with had this to say of Riggi: "Pal, I have nothing to add that's has not already been said. I knew him as a child because he knew my family, then years later I ended up spending a couple of years in a cell with him, which was a great Life lesson. ...

"He was a good man in a world of scumbags."

Also we can now reveal Riggi's role in a previous story we posted about Frank Sinatra, who was once proposed to get an honorary button, as a source told us.

"Very few people know he was purposed to be made," the source said of Sinatra.

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."

That boss, we can now say, was Riggi, who hated Sinatra and was one of the bosses who thumbed-down the honorary button request.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Buy Now: Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire

Now available for purchase on Amazon!

Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files, Volume 1: Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire. Both print and ebook versions are available, priced at $6.99 and $4.99. This is a short-format ebook (equal to around 62 pages, the length of the print edition.)

It reached no. 2 on Amazon Kindle's best-seller list.... It also generated specious negative feedback -- It's a pamphlet! Too many names and dates! Hollywood garbage! -- by idiots who obviously never read the book.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

NYPD Detective Who Infiltrated Mob in 1972 Dies

Detective LeVien was part of a 1972 sting centered on a junkyard in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
 New York’s five families would meet here. Credit Barton Silverman/The New York Times
New York Detective Who Infiltrated the Mafia, Dies at 68 - The New York Times: Douglas A. LeVien Jr., a former undercover police detective who in 1972 infiltrated the meeting ground used by New York’s five Mafia families, a landmark operation that produced scores of convictions, died on July 30 while vacationing in Saratoga, N.Y. He was 68.

The cause was a heart attack, his son Vincent Douglas LeVien said. Except for several months in the late 1970s when, under apparent threat of death from a high-ranking mobster, he was placed in the federal witness protection program, Detective LeVien lived in Brooklyn all his life.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Reformed Mobsters Help Epilepsy Foundation

Jimmy Calandra, far right, John Alite, third from right, Perry Hovater, second from left, and
Minister Glenn Hovater of Goodfellas for God, third from left, at epilepsy fundraiser held recently.

Former mob associates Jimmy Calandra and John Alite both stood at the podium and electrified the audience at a fundraiser for the Epilepsy Foundation held on July 24.

The event was organized by Perry Hovater, in honor of his son Austin, who suffers from epilepsy, as does Alite.

The fundraiser took place in Cleveland at the LaVera Party Center in Willoughby Hills.

Agnello Indicted on Racketeering Charges

Carmine Agnello.

His legendary former father-in-law, John Gotti, may have been unfair when he said those famous words about him ("Does he get in the backseat of the car and think someone has stolen the steering wheel?") but one thing is perfectly clear.

Carmine Agnello likes to steal (at least according to Cleveland's Cuyahoga County Prosecutor).

A source formerly active in the Gambino crime family told us that Agnello is actually a pretty intelligent businessman, only he's beset with certain flaws, the chief one being he has the mindset of a dime-store thug. By this we refer to his predilection for sparking street fights with uniformed police officers over parking tickets....