Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lufthansa Crew Darkened Dog Killer's Door

Peter "Bud" Zuccaro

Bud Zuccaro must've had a heart attack that day when he heard pounding on his front door and opened it up, only to see Jimmy the Gent standing there, along with Tommy Two-Guns and others.

They were fuming over something, but Bud probably had no idea over what or why. He was probably more concerned with impending death staring him in the eye.

James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke killed enough people to fill a cemetery under a boccie court (according to Henry Hill, who was probably exaggerating somewhat.). 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Heist's Brutal Reality for Lufthansa Staffers

Lufthansa terminal focus of Vincent Asaro's trial for Lufthansa heist.
Model of Lufthansa cargo terminal at JFK in 1978, exhibited in court. 
A former Lufthansa Airlines worker described what happened on that night in 1978, when masked gunmen infiltrated the Lufthansa cargo area at JFK, committing what was then called the largest robbery in American history. 

The witness took the stand today in Bonanno member Vincent Asaro's trial in Brooklyn Federal Court. The charges Asaro faces include co-masterminding the infamous $6 million Lufthansa heist with James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke. Asaro also is charged with the murder of Paul Katz, a suspected mob snitch strangled with a dog leash. 

Early in the a.m. in 1978, Rolf Rebmann was among the staffers grinding out the hours at the Kennedy Airport terminal targeted by mobsters using inside information, including blueprints.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Day Anastasia Was Murdered in Manhattan's Park Sheraton Hotel


On this date in 1957, New York mob boss Albert Anastasia was shot to death in the Park Sheraton Hotel's barbershop.

Born in Tropea, Calabria, Italy, on Feb. 26, 1902, "Don Umberto" was murdered in New York City after spending more than seven years as boss of one of the Five Families.

Rarely seen photo of a dead Anastasia, sans sheet....

And it wasn't the Gallo brothers or a crew affiliated with Raymond Patriarca or anyone else who killed one of the Mafia's most ruthless members, as has been speculated. According to Michael "Mikie Scars" DiLeonardo, Jerry Capeci was partially correct when he identified the shooters years ago in an exclusive story.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Check Out Cosa Nostra News's eStore

Check out Cosa Nostra News's online store for books, films
and other mob-related items you may find of interest.

(Comments are working now. If anyone has a problem commenting, please shoot me an email. 
(Also the store itself is fixed -- if you already looked at it, you probably noticed the margin problem. That's fixed as well...)
I'd like to invite you all to stroll inside my new eStore. The store is open 24/7 -- that's right, it never closes -- and you can drop by anytime by clicking on the above tab or right here: Cosa Nostra News eStore.

Books, films (on DVD and on-demand) and other products of interest to anyone who reads this blog are available in Cosa Nostra News's estore.

Also feel free to recommend any items I may have left out (if you've written or read a Mafia-related book you think I should include, please feel free to leave me a comment (when you are able if you can't right now). Also, please keep in mind....

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What We Didn't Know About Lufthansa Heist

Vinny Asaro, last man standing, on trial risking a life sentence at 80.

Vincent Asaro sat in a car with James Burke, about a mile away from the Lufthansa cargo terminal on a December night in 1978, when eight mobbed-up gunmen were stealing a haul expected to be around $2 million, only to discover -- first to their joy, then to their horror -- that the crime had netted them three times that amount.

This story has been told before of course, initially in the iconic book Wiseguy, followed by an equally iconic cinematic adaptation, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, not to mention the library of articles and additional books about the vaunted robbery. Once the largest heist in American history, it has been eclipsed. The 1990 Boston Museum robbery, valued at $300 million, currently is considered the largest.

Still, there remains information about the Lufthansa Heist that only now is being revealed. That is if you believe Gaspare Valenti who claims he flipped in 2008 because he was broke. Prosecutors say Valenti voluntarily came forward and agreed to testify against Asaro. Valenti, 68, first described how he started committing robberies, arson and other crimes for the 80-year-old defendant in the 1960s as a Bonanno family associate.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Vinny Asaro, Lufthansa Heist's Last Loose End

In a Brooklyn courtroom this week commenced the trial of an 80-year-old Bonanno family gangster, Vincent Asaro, who allegedly was involved in the notorious 1978 Lufthansa Heist.
Vincent Asaro at Brooklyn Federal Court in 1966.

In a Brooklyn courtroom this week commenced the trial of an 80-year-old Bonanno family gangster, Vincent Asaro, who allegedly was involved in the notorious 1978 Lufthansa Heist. Not only was he supposedly the Bonanno family's overseer at JFK airport, the prosecution charged, noting that Asaro himself played a direct role in the heist.

Ex-underboss Salvatore Vitale testified yesterday, providing a window into events surrounding the notorious robbery at JFK airport. Asaro supposedly was heard muttering "motherfucker" constantly under his breath during testimony, trying all the while to stare Vitale in the eye.

Asaro personally handed off a case stuffed with jewelry from the infamous 1978 Lufthansa heist to future Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, Vitale said Monday at the first ever mob-related trial over the historic "unsolved" crime. Massino himself also is slated to testify, among others.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Gorilla Convict: Lufthansa Heist Story Twist

Seth Ferranti's blog, Gorilla Convict, features an interview with Daniel Simone, author of The Lufthansa Heist: Behind the Six-Million-Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World.

The interview is comprehensive and intriguing.

Ferranti himself is intriguing...

He earned a master’s degree, got married, launched a writing career and founded a publishing house, all from behind bars. He's accomplished more inside than I ever will outside! But seriously, Seth did over 20 years on a bullshit rap.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lefty Rosenthal's Hidden Las Vegas Agenda?

Geri, on Lefty's left, looks a lot like Sharon Stone, who played a character
based on her in the film Casino.

"Nevada owes a debt of gratitude to Frank Schreck," a Las Vegas Sun editorial recently noted.

Schreck was named this year's International Association of Gaming Advisors honoree and in recognition gave quite a speech. It included a head-turning revelation about a major Mafia figure notorious for his stint working in the Stardust hotel and casino (among other places), which once occupied a prime slot on the fabled Las Vegas strip.

Schreck, considered a premier gaming attorney in Nevada and elsewhere, recounted his personal take on Las Vegas history, including the enduring legacy of oddball billionaire Howard Hughes.

Schreck's rise commenced in 1971 when then-governor Mike O’Callaghan’s appointed the then-27-year-old lawyer to the Nevada Gaming Commission, setting a record. Schreck remains the youngest commissioner ever appointed to that regulatory body, which was charged with policing whether someone could purchase a gaming license and join Nevada’s bedrock industry.

The operative word is "someone." Schreck was there when Hughes came into town and bought most of it via his corporations, a no-no at the time. The town, however, eyeing Hugh's billions when the word "billionaire" was not commonly part of the lexicon, sought to make some serious changes to permit the aviator, filmmaker, engineer, loner, etc., to sink fortunes into the strip.

The Sun article described Schreck as instrumental in terms of his "leadership in writing the rules and regulations that allowed public companies, banks and Wall Street investment firms to become owners of Nevada’s regulated casinos."

"Before Hughes moved to Las Vegas, each gaming hotel and casino was licensed to individuals only. Corporations were not allowed and, of course, in those days Wall Street and the insurance companies wanted no part of “gambling." 
"All this was happening toward the end of the 1960s, when Las Vegas was in a slump and its potentially rosy and exciting future was, well, questionable. That is when Hughes, a recent Nevada transplant, decided he wanted in the gambling business and swept up six casino-hotels in practically the blink of an eye. 
"That brought two challenges to the fore: how to license Hughes, who refused to go out in public, and how to license corporations (which Hughes used to hold his assets), which violated the Nevada mindset of holding individuals accountable and not the legal fiction of a corporation for their conduct in the industry. 
"That’s about when Frank was appointed to the commission and handed the job of writing the rules that govern — to this day — the entrance of public companies, Wall Street and every other form of financial involvement into Nevada’s primary industry. It is those rules that have proved invaluable in the growth of gaming in Nevada over the past 40 years. ..." 
"Hughes made it safe for the big boys to look at and consider investing in Las Vegas. If Las Vegas was good enough for the richest man in the country, they figured it was good enough for them. It was as simple as that!"

Then, according to the editorial, Schreck in last week's speech swerved into another topic of historical interest, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal who died on Oct. 13, 2008.

As noted: "The Chicago Outfit put Rosenthal in. They used the nickname "Crazy" when they spoke of him," noted Jane Ann Morrison in the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2008. Interestingly, while she knew both Rosenthal and Spilotro, she actually found "the fastidious" Rosenthal scarier than Tony "The Ant":

The few times Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and I spoke, he looked at me as if I were a worm he'd like to step on, except the ensuing goo would dirty the sole of his shoe. Actually, I found the fastidious Rosenthal scarier than mobster Anthony Spilotro, and no one accused Rosenthal of killing dozens of people. 
Now I've been on the receiving end of plenty of cold stares, but Rosenthal really gave it his all and his cold stare did a number on me when I was a federal court reporter between 1978 and 1984. Our first face-to-face encounter was during that period when he was unofficially running the Stardust... 
He had various titles, from food and beverage director to entertainment director, but it was no secret he was concerned with more than how many blueberries were in a blueberry muffin and how tall the show girls were."
A court reporter said she actually found Lefty scarier than Tony "The Ant" Spilotro,
Rosenthal's muscle whose Hole in the Wall crew caused big trouble for the
diminutive, ultra-violent Outfit shooter.

As Lefty's website notes (conveniently overlooking that he was put in Nevada on behalf of the Outfit, which had assumed control of the gambling mecca after the New York Mafia fumbled it... Remember that list found in Frank Costello's pocket after he was shot in the head?)...

Anyway the official Lefty website says:

For much of his professional life, the Chicago-born and casino-bred, Rosenthal has been the country's top handicapper. He was one of a handful of men who literally set the line for thousands of bookmakers from coast to coast. 
During the 1970's, and early eighties, Rosenthal ran four Las Vegas casinos simultaneously, including the world famous Stardust Hotel and Casino.Rosenthal is also credited with creatingthe first Race & Sportsbook (Parlor) in Las Vegas. Despite resistance from the traditional casino bosses, who believed exclusively in terms of table games and slots, Rosenthal had spent decades in and around the sports world to know that it could be the motherlode of casino betting.He created a space-age theater-like Race and Sportsbook at the Stardust Hotel & Casino that was copied by every casino on the strip.

Now back to Shreck's speech, in which he provided the answer to an apparently longtime question that had risen to something akin to folklore status.

Specifically, why did Las Vegas gaming authorities wait so long to call Rosenthal "forward for licensing when everyone knew he was running the Stardust Hotel for his Chicago-based owners (I think you get the picture). If not, try to remember the 1995 film “Casino” with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone. De Niro played the Lefty character."

Schreck, it seems, finally solved this puzzle:

"... It was common for the gaming authorities not to call some casino people forward, but we all knew why. Their pasts couldn’t stand up to modern-day scrutiny, but their present-day activities were exemplary. Hence, they got passes. 
"But Lefty? No one could understand why gaming authorities refused to act. Neither could Frank, who tried to bring Rosenthal forward but found only deaf ears attached to responsible and honest men. 
"Finally, according to Schreck, as he was leaving the commission to enter private practice, he got his wish. The commission would call Lefty Rosenthal forward for suitability — the drama that was played out near the end of “Casino.”

Then, shortly thereafter, as noted in his speech, Schreck learned what the hold up had been.  "It was an answer some of us believed was the case but couldn’t prove," the editorial writer added.

Lefty Rosenthal was a government informant, Schreck reveled, "confirming" what industry insiders long believed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mob Flick Death Collector Was Pesci's Debut

Family Enforcer marked Joe Pesci and Frank Vincent's debut.
Frank Vincent sports a '70s 'fro in Family Enforcer, Joe Pesci's film debut.

Wanna watch Family Enforcer, the film that launched Joe Pesci's career? Robert De Niro allegedly viewed the B-flick and recommended that Martin Scorsese check it out. That's apparently how Pesci (and Frank Vincent, who also starred in the film) wound up in Raging Bull, then Goodfellas.

Family Enforcer was originally named The Death Collector, and versions of the 1976 film can be found under either title. Amazon offers it as part of a double- and even triple-feature DVD for as little as $5 (with free two- day delivery for Amazon Prime members).

Grindhouse Releasing, which focuses on acquiring and distributing "classic" films (ie, shock horror (Cannibal Holocaust) and exploitation films) is preparing a new version of Family Enforcer for release as well.

Or you could watch Family Enforcer for free....

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tommy Karate's "Invisible" Prison Assault

Imprisoned Bonanno crime family member Thomas "Tommy Karate" Pitera.was sanctioned by prison officials for committing the assault
Tommy Pitera, right, with Bonanno boss Spero.

On August 11, 1996, the seemingly impossible happened at the high-security U.S. Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.

An inmate was "serious[ly] assaulted," yet an incident report suggests there was little physical evidence in terms of wounds. Some witnesses said they could see no wounds. The inmate himself, who appeared "nervous," denied that he'd been assaulted. Nevertheless, he'd been beaten repeatedly in the face with a metal object that was never found.

Imprisoned Bonanno crime family member Thomas "Tommy Karate" Pitera was sanctioned by prison officials for committing the assault.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

1st Interview, with National Crime Syndicate Site

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire...

Thanks to NCS for interviewing me and linking to my book. I'm going to include first part here but you should visit the website for the full interview (if you're interested)....

"Joining us in the hot seat today is the journalist and author Ed Scarpo who runs Cosa Nostra News and also has a book available called Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire in which former Mafia Capo Dominick Cicale makes a contribution.

"Ed also runs a Facebook page called Cosa Nostra News which is dedicated to covering the Mafia in America as well as the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, Calabrian Ndrangheta and Neapolitan Camorra."

Friday, October 2, 2015

John Gotti's Grandson Marries

The married couple. John, stupenda sposa ...

The late John Gotti's grandson, John Gotti Agnello, was married this past weekend.

Agnello, the son of Victoria Gotti and Carmine Agnello and one of the stars of A&E's Growing Up Gotti, wed his longtime love Alina Sanchez, a physician’s assistant. According to Page Six, the 500 guests gave gifts of at least $5,000. The couple left the evening with $2.5 million.*

The event took place at the Oheka Castle in Long Island and went from 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, and ended at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

NYPD's Famed Mob-Buster Joe Coffey Dies

NYPD Detective Sgt. Joseph Coffey died this past Sunday. He was 77 and had suffered from cancer.

The high-profile mob buster was known for his frequent media appearances, as well as an organized crime taskforce he led that solved more than 80 gangland hits. Coffey also personally arrested John Gotti three times, earning the deep animosity of  the feared former Gambino boss, who in the early 1990s ordered the beating of the then-retired detective.

NYPD detective Joe Coffey led a distinguished career as a mob buster.
Joe Coffey, the mob buster who John Gotti wanted sent to the hospital.
“He was one of the greatest detectives in the NYPD ever,” Jerry Schmetterer, a former Daily News police bureau chief who coauthored The Coffey Files: One Cop's War Against the Mob, told The Daily News. “He was a larger-than-life guy who always wanted to be involved in the biggest cases."