Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gotti Biopic Returns with John Travolta

John Travolta remains attached to Gotti biopic to play John Senior
The two Johns:  Gotti and Travolta

The John Gotti biopic is on again, with a new set of Hollywood backers joining the original producer.

John Travolta remains tied to the project and is ready, once again, to step into the shoes of mob boss John Gotti in the long-gestating film, which Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films, Fiore Films and Herrick Entertainment are together producing.

Travolta met with buyers and glad-handed the press at a Toronto event Sept. 11 where he discussed how the Gotti project had become a family project. His wife, Kelly Preston, and daughter, Ella Bleu Travolta, have signed on to play Gotti’s real-life wife and daughter in the Lionsgate project.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton Held Fundraiser at Castellano's "White House"

Hillary Clinton visited the home of the Gambino crime family's former boss.
Paul Castellano's White House, on Todt Hill.

Buzzfeed, among other newspapers and websites, reported that Hillary Clinton made an unannounced visit yesterday to Staten Island -- specifically to the White House, "a sprawling estate that earned the name during its time as a legendary mob palace in the 1980s."

Clinton was at Gambino boss Paul Castellano's old home to collect checks from supporters.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mob Museum Spotlights John Alite

John Alite recently took to the podium at Las Vegas's Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

He offered an Author Talk spotlighted on his collaboration with acclaimed Philadelphia-based journalist George Anastasia, who wrote Gotti’s Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti and the Demise of the American Mafia. In an even, somber tone, he voiced his experiences and perceptions as an associate of the Gambino crime family during John Gotti's reign.

John Alite speaks at the Las Vegas Mob Museum.
Alite's presentation was provided free of charge with museum admission (and for museum members). A video of the presentation can be viewed on this story's jump page.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Franzese Discusses Adoption, Champagne

Michael Franzese, while still in the bosom of the Colombo family.

Thought this would interest you as I continue researching South Beach's history to finish writing the conclusion to How the Gambinos lost a fortune in Florida (as well as the followup story based on your questions in the comments section of another story.) In this article, Michael Franzese addresses key topics I was hoping to discuss with him....

The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Michael Franzese who addressed a couple of compelling topics, one of which is the murder of Larry "Champagne" Carrozza, supposedly over a married Carrozza having the audacity to date the also-married daughter of Colombo powerhouse John "Sonny" Franzese."

Michael also reveals that he learned in recent years that he was not adopted.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Scarfo Junior Gets 30 Years for FirstPlus Looting

Scarfo Junior faces 360 months in prison over the FirstPlus looting
The judge slammed Scarfo Jr. in court.

EXPANDED, SEE NICKY JR.'s PLANE: Nicodemo Scarfo Junior, a member of the Luchese crime family, was sentenced to serve 360 months in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy and other offenses related to the looting of FirstPlus Financial Group, a Texas-based mortgage company. Scarfo and a partner used the publicly traded company to buy shell companies from which they could steal assets.

FirstPlus is now defunct. He was sentenced in July.

“Nicodemo Scarfo and his associates tried to take La Cosa Nostra corporate, using traditional, strong-arm mob tactics to take over a publicly traded company and loot it like a personal piggy bank,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Justice Department will fight organized crime wherever it may surface—from back alleys to public board rooms—to ensure that crime does not pay.”

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Colombo Crime Family and the "Deep Throat" Murders

Joseph Peraino Sr. was the true target in the "Deep Throat" hit
Peraino Sr. survived the hit, but was paralyzed.

An episode of the now-cancelled television series "Nothing Personal," titled Money Shot highlighted a notorious hit related to the classic porn film Deep Throat.

It's been dubbed "one of the New York underworld's more depraved acts" in that it claimed the life of an innocent bystander who'd previously been a nun.

The Colombo crime family was behind a double murder that went sideways one night in Brooklyn in the early 1980s.

Nothing Personal, an interesting show that profiled two major Colombo hits, used a Colombo turncoat to tell the story. Salvatore "Big Sal" Miciotta was a jailhouse snitch so discredited he can never testify again.

William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, a powerful, charismatic Colombo capo later named underboss (only to be murdered in 1999) and five Colombo gangsters were freed because of Miciotta's false testimony, which also destroyed an honest man's career in the NYPD, among other things.

Colombo shooters lured a father and son into a trap to kill them. Their crime was skimming from the proceeds generated by Deep Throat for New York's smallest, youngest and most violent crime family.

The porno film, one of the most successful of all time, had been bankrolled by the Colombos, who were not pleased when they learned that family soldier Joseph Peraino, Jr., and his father, Joseph, Sr., had stolen from them. The twist is another Peraino had tipped Carmine Persico off to the theft.

Accidentally marked for death that night was a former nun who lived in the Gravesend, Brooklyn house used to lure the Perainos. The large front porch offered a means to trap the two men when Colombo shooters opened fire.

Veronica Zuraw, 53 when murdered, was a social worker with the Italian Board of Guardians, though she'd been a nun for the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese before she married her husband in 1974. Zuraw, who was known as Sister Mary Adelaide, had run a Bensonhurst outlet that provided assistance to Italian immigrants.

(When a Deep Throat producer was asked by investigators if he'd known about the Peraino's affiliation, he'd replied, "They were Roman-Catholics.")

Veronica and Louis Zuraw had moved into the house, their first as a married couple, only 10 weeks prior to the hit.

It's not known who actually fired the blast that killed Zuraw, but it bothered Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli to the extent that he implicated himself in the shooting, telling his confederates that he was going to hell for her death.

Miciotta said he'd been ordered to hit the Perainos, who for years had been stealing from the Colombo administration's share of the growing piles of cash accumulating from Deep Throat, the x-rated classic that went from porno theaters to main street cinemas.

Big Sal told lies while on the witness stand, and the feds would never be able to use him again. "He was worth nothing to them."

The story of Gioeli's involvement is primarily based on his confession to an informant as has been widely published, including by the U.K.'s Mail Online.

According to an FBI debriefing report, Miciotta, when he originally told law enforcement about the 1982 hit, named as members of the hit team Joseph "Jo Jo" Russo, John Minerva, Vincent "Jimmy" Angellino, Frank Sparaco, and Anthony "Chucky" Russo.

The murders were planned at Joseph "Joe T" Tomasello's Avenue U social club, where a pair of sawed-off shotguns had been delivered for use by Miciotta and Angellino.

Miciotta stated that Carmine Persico approved the hit on the father and son smut peddlers.

Tommy Shots and several others weren't mentioned on the program.

By the time Miciotta flipped and was debriefing, likely fellow shooter Angellino was dead, whacked in a Colombo dispute. Minerva, a getaway driver, was murdered in 1992 during the Colombo war. And while Miciotta admitted to Peraino Jr.'s murder, he wouldn't cop to Zuraw's killing.

As a law enforcement source told us, Sal selectively told the truth. His reputation was so badly impugned, in fact, he was deemed unable to ever testify again. He is apparently living in Canada, telling reporters "All the guys in Brooklyn are nickel-and-dime guys...." The For Nothing story doesn't mention any details about Big Sal wreaking havoc via his ruthless manipulation of the US legal system.

Big Sal worried that the Colombo bosses would take the hit team out due to unwanted media attention. He took solace in the fact he was too difficult to kill, in his opinion.

"He was worth nothing to them," the source, a Brooklyn homicide detective, told Cosa Nostra News.

That was far from the case in April 1993 when the 350-pound Miciotta initially flipped. He was touted by the Fed's as a prize witness whose words led to the arrest of 17 alleged Colombo gangsters.

(Big Sal was also behind the storied Larry "Champagne" Carrozza hit (video), also profiled on the short-lived ID Discovery series. Ironically, Big Sal's theory about why Carrozza was murdered, that it was in a dispute over a massive gasoline racket and not because of Larry's affair with Sonny Franzese's daughter, is compelling. It'll never be known with any certainty whether Michael or his father or another member of the Colombo crime family was behind the murder, and precisely why.)

The Fed's wired Big Sal and let him loose on the street. It is among the most shameful blowbacks on the Fed's in the history of its pursuit of the American Mafia.

The New York Daily News analyzed federal documents, with Greg B. Smith reporting, "prosecutors knew Miciotta was a problem almost immediately, and chose to look the other way."

In July 1993, Miciotta beat up a Brooklyn Catholic seminarian he believed had disrespected his daughter. Miciotta copped to the charge but the Fed's allowed him to continue. About a year later, "an FBI agent spotted a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson gun in Miciotta's gym bag, two weeks before he was to testify in two mob cases. But the FBI didn't arrest him, and didn't let defense attorneys know about the gun.

"Instead, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter's office put Miciotta on the stand. His time was well paid: Taxpayers ha[d ]shelled out $94,000..."

Miciotta lied in testimony, saying that NYPD Detective Joseph Simone leaked law enforcement secrets to the Mafia. Simone was acquitted Oct. 20, but lost his pension following a departmental hearing.

 Big Sal beat the daylights out of Gaspipe Casso....

Miciotta testified against Colombo capo "Wild Bill" and five others. All six were acquitted Dec. 20, 1994.

He was slated to testify against former Colombo acting boss Victor Orena and six associates. But as that trial opened, "word of Miciotta's gun exploits leaked out. When defense attorney James La Rossa pressed, the feds confirmed privately that Miciotta would not testify against Orena et al.... "

A law enforcement source told the News, "I wouldn't say it would be death to call him, but I would think twice. Maybe three times. Maybe four times."

The Fed's finally charged Miciotta with gun possession while in the witness protection program. He faced a 40-year sentence for all his admitted crimes but wound up serving 14 years in prison for perjury.

His story doesn't end there, however. He became a jailhouse snitch and got nine years shaved off that sentence.

This was due to Miciotta's help in exposing a bribery scheme involving correction officials and mob turncoats at a special unit of an upstate prison.

In 1997 Brooklyn Federal Judge Eugene Nickerson, the same judge who cited Miciotta's lies as a "major reason" Cutolo and others were acquitted, knocked nine years off his sentence, as Jerry Capeci reported for New York's Daily News.

Miciotta had informed on a fellow cooperating mobster, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

The former Luchese underboss "was a key player in the scheme, in which a prison secretary smuggled food, drugs, cigars, cellular phones and other contraband into the witness unit at Otisville federal prison..."

Big Sal and Gaspipe had brawled the previous New Year's Eve, "when the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Casso learned that the 350-pound Miciotta had implicated him in the bribery scheme... [Casso] attacked him with a magazine rolled into a makeshift billy club.

"Since this was not a very efficient weapon, and Big Sal is a very large man, Big Sal beat the daylights out of Gaspipe," said one prison source. Casso vowed to get even, sources said."

In Gioeli's case, his own confession to another informant put him in the murder, though he wasn't charged for it. (Nor was anyone, ultimately.) He expressed his fear that he'd burn in hell because of the former nun's death.

Tommy Shots was "definitely" at the house when the Peraino's were shotgunned, the source said, adding that Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace was likely to have been onsite as well. Both gangsters rose high in the Colombo hierarchy, reaching the acting boss position. Cacace, a legitimate tough guy with the wounds and reputation to back it up, was even a potential candidate for the death penalty, which was taken off the table in Tommy Shots's case, a racketeering trial including a handful of murders and other things.

Gioeli beat the top-line murder charges in his case but was still slammed on other charges. He is now incarcerated at Butner Low FCI in North Carolina. His projected release date is September 9, 2024.

"Joe Waverly" Cacace is imprisoned on murder and racketeering charges and his release date is slated for September 1, 2020.
But that is now; this was then:

Selecting the Hit's Location
In January of 1982, Miciotta claimed he searched for a house with a big enclosed front porch to serve as a death trap for the thieving father and son. (This also seems to disagree with FBI documents stating the Perainos just happened to run up that driveway with Colombo gunmen in hot pursuit. Again Miciotta seems more credible on the show as it is difficult to imagine the Perainos, so obese (Junior was called "The Whale," Senior simply "The Fat Guy") that the hitters required special weaponry, as is noted below, running anywhere.)

The Perainos arrived at the scene believing they were attending another of the countless meetings they regularly had with the Colombo bosses. They had no clue that the administration was setting them up to be killed.

Miciotta selected the house simply because of the porch. The plan called for the use of shotguns. Such artillery was deemed necessary because both father and son were enormously overweight.

The Perainos, this family strain at least, had been bottom feeders trying to eke a living from pushing porno, which Miciotta said was such a low-down business that the "Mafia I joined never would have been involved in it."

The Perainos filled their coffers and passed up a piece of whatever they earned from their production and distribution of cheap adult films, called "loops," which prior to home video, played in seedy, dimly lit theaters, such as those once located at New York's Time's Square.

Deep Throat practically fell onto their prodigious laps thanks to a creative hairdresser who had written the comedic porno script. The director also found the perfect actress, Linda Lovelace.

The hairdresser filmed the entire film in a week with around $20,000 in financing from the Perainos, who decided to fund the production after Lovelace offered both father and son a demo of her special deep-throating skill set.

The hairdresser/filmmaker who wrote and shot the film, which reportedly earned upwards of $600 million, was paid a mere $22,000 for his efforts. Apparently aware of who was really behind the financing, he humbly accepted, thankful to have departed the situation with his life.

As for the Perainos, Deep Throat earned them anywhere from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars (they stopped the hopeless task of counting dollars, opting to weigh the money on a scale instead).  The Colombo bosses were paid by the Perainos, only they weren't paid enough. It ended up costing lives, just not the right ones.

Tommy Shots Gioeli implicated himself in a murder by talking to another Colombo family member who was an informant.
Tommy Shots feared for his soul.

Murder Via Shotgun
Colombo family soldier Joseph Peraino, Jr., and his father Joseph, Sr., earned most of the profits because Joe Sr.'s brother departed the U.S. for Italy just as Deep Throat was evolving into the mega hit it's known as today.

According to Miciotta's statement to the Fed's, Joseph Peraino Sr.'s brother, Anthony Peraino, caused the hit by complaining to the Colombo brass, chiefly Persico, that his own brother and nephew were robbing him.

On Jan. 4, 1982, Big Sal and other mobsters opened up with shotguns on the Perainos. According to The Wiseguy and the Nun in The Village Voice, Zuraw was shot in the head while putting away laundry.

As the Voice noted:

Miciotta's shooting synopsis, contained in an FBI report, is brief and to the point: "Miciotta shot and killed Peraino Jr., who was standing to the right of his father, while Angellino shot and wounded Peraino Sr." The report then notes, "An innocent female bystander living in the house was also killed when she was hit with buckshot from Angellino's shotgun."

Joseph Peraino, Jr., was found dead outside the Lake Street home. Junior's father, however, survived but was paralyzed. This was actually his second survival -- he'd lived through a previous attempt on his life.

Federal prosecutors later claimed alleged former street boss Gioeli had told a government informant that he feared "going to hell" because of the former nun's death, as was widely reported.

Big Sal managed to win his way back into the good graces of the fed's with his jailhouse snitching. In the end, the ex-mobster got nine years whacked off his sentence, and he was able to begin his new life in 1999, the same year Colombo captain Wild Bill, set free due to Miciotta's discredited testimony (which may have been Big Sal's point), disappeared.

Big Sal's credibility, or lack thereof, is something the producers of Nothing Personal should have revealed to the show's viewers. Still, the two-season series was interesting for profiling two intriguing though largely forgotten hits from the Mafia's past, and providing bloggers with an excuse to write about them.

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