Friday, January 29, 2016

Philly Cosa Nostra Is A-Rockin and A-Rollin...

 Philadelphia is seeing a "resurgence of the local crime family," George Anastasia noted on BigTrial.
Uncle Joe and George Borgese....

Philadelphia is seeing a "resurgence of the local crime family," George Anastasia noted on BigTrial.

Which may be why there's been talk about known members of New York's Gambino crime family showing up in Philly very recently. As we know from the dear departed Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli, the Gambino crime family was known to break bread with the Philly guys. A soldier who flipped and was wired for sound by the FBI for two years, Stefanelli was 69 when he whacked himself in March 2012.

Stefanelli — who operated in New Jersey but reported to jailed New York capo Nicholas "Little Nicky" Corozzo — secretly taped countless cronies after he and his son were nabbed in a drug-dealing operation. Nicky Skins decided to cooperate to get his kid off the hook.

He made lots of tapes, however, and the recordings live on. (He even caught Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino in a conversation, though Merlino, saying afterward that he had sensed something was amiss with Stefanelli, was able to duck the guy without saying anything incriminating.)

Stefanelli recorded that five-hour lunch meeting that occurred on May 2010 at LaGriglia, a restaurant located in Kenilworth, NJ. A contingent of Philly guys, including Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, Anthony Staino and Joe Licata, met with a Gambino crew that consisted of Gambino brothers Joe and John Gambino from New York. Wonder if they told him they'd once planned to murder him?

(Yes, Anastasia kicked off that AARP piece with this meeting.)

Straight-up, here's some interesting details from Anastasia's BigTrial story:

Law enforcement investigators are also aware that back in October there was a mob initiation ceremony in which five associates were formally inducted into the crime family. Traditionally, a making ceremony is overseen by the crime family boss and the initiates are individuals who have sworn a blood oath of allegiance to Cosa Nostra and who have proven that allegiance by having taken part in a murder.
But this is Cosa Nostra 2000 and individuals are often "made" because of their blood relationship to another member or because they are good earners. Money trumps murder in the modern American Mafia, at least in South Philadelphia.

So many guys are back in the City of Brotherly Love, that it seems there was such a growing hankering for a place where old friends could gather and talk over an espresso with a modicum of privacy that a bona fide Mafia social club opened its doors.

Law enforcement and the media were jolted awake once they learned that the Philly mob had taken such a brazen step, as Anastasia notes, referring to Fox29's Dave Schratwieser's special report.

Among the joint's habitues: Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, his nephew, George Borgesi, and others -- all of whom "are frequently spotted" going to the clubhouse, located at 11th and Jackson Streets.

Borgesi and some others also have worked their way into a new business venture that has something to do with the construction and home rehab sectors. They even opened a Passyunk Avenue office. This apparently isn't a racket, according to Anastasia's sources.

"It's all legit," said one such source with knowledge of the new business ventures. "They're not doing anything wrong."

Yet, as Anastasia noted: "It has not been lost on law enforcement... that the ventures into home rehab, construction and mortgage refinancing are exactly what mob informants Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and Anthony Aponick testified about at Borgesi's last two racketeering trials."

And to think it wasn't that long ago that Borgesi was requesting permission to whack someone. He was declined but the supposed target was not an obvious target for him, a source told me. In other words, it was someone in Borgesi's own circle, not one of his supposedly "known" enemies.

Location of infamous Gambino, Philadelphia mobsters' luncheon.

The Mob Clubhouse, Lauded, Lamented, Gone... 
Most Mafia clubhouses in New York -- and it would seem, most of the rest of the U.S. -- have long since closed and disappeared.

So when one seems to open, it tends to attract attention.

"Both the FBI and investigators with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and State Police have been tracking the activities," Anastasia notes. Of course. That's their job.

Said another law enforcement source: "It doesn't bode well for their rehabilitation if they are hanging out with the same people with whom they committed crimes." A retired head of the Organized Crime Strike Force for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, he added that this is definitely one of the things that "bear(s) watching."

Several mobsters have returned home and are on the streets; some are considered, essentially, unconvicted murderers.

"None of the murder or attempted murder charges that were part of a 2001 racketeering case against mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, Borgesi and five other defendants were proven," as Anastasia noted.

Those unsolved murders may overlap with the three homicides that Philly lawmen were seeking to link to Uncle Joe and some of his top associates. Last year Anthony Nicodemo pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, conspiracy, and weapons charges in the 2012 shooting death of Gino DiPietro, for which he was sentenced to 25 years minimum, was identified as a suspect in the 2003 murder of John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto.

That hit is among several allegedly linked to "Uncle Joe" Ligambi. The other murder victims are Ronnie Turchi, who was hit in 1999, and Raymond “Long John” Martorano, who reached the end of the road in 2002.

Ligambi is one of the more successful modern bosses. He is credited with cooling down the Philly underworld following decades of unrest. Departing jail after being held without bail during the time it took two mistrials to run their course, Ligambi started talking about retirement. It looks like he's still around the streets and was last considered to be a sort of co-consiglieri.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Boss Deftly Eluded High-risk Hit Order

Joseph Cammarano Jr. is the new acting boss for the Bonanno crime family.
Cammarano Junior's "modest" house on Long Island's Glen Cove section.

Joseph Cammarano Jr. is "the top banana on the street for the beleaguered Bonanno crime family — or what’s left of it," as the Daily News reported.

(A source pointed out the odd timing of the new Bonanno boss story, arriving about a month or so following this blog's own story about New York having only three operational Mafia families, the Bonannos not being one of them. "... It seems that the families able to ... show power on the street ... are helmed by powerful and accessible bosses -- meaning they are out of prison," as we noted.)

Cammarano, meanwhile, is around to hold the top slot because of his ability to diplomatically get out of an order from Vinny Basciano to whack a Genovese associate, Cosa Nostra News learned. Cammarano did this by reminding Vinny B of another more-pressing hit the Bonanno boss had wanted done at the time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bonanno's New Acting Boss Played Santa Too....

All happy Mafia crime families are alike; each unhappy crime family is unhappy in its own way.*

While I don't know whether that saying holds true, I can say that it certainly seems that, whatever else they have in common, crime families develop their own personalities over time.

The Bonannos have a new acting boss. John Cammarano Junior was named acting underboss, as well as street boss.
Bonanno members at recent holiday gathering at Staten Island restaurant
Here's an overly simplistic analysis: The Gambinos were the high-profile guys, the mobsters with flash and dash and lots of drug cash. The Genoveses (aka The West Side) are viewed as the silent but deadly ones who live far off the radar screen while accruing vast fortunes. The Luchese family is somewhat difficult to characterize. I think of junkyards and auto repair shops (aka "chop shops"), though under Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso they were basically killers of rats (and anyone unlucky enough to be viewed by Casso with disfavor). The Colombos, thrice in "declared" wars, killed their own; and over their lifespan, anyone else, including cops. They're also considered the family most closely aligned based on true familial ties.

The Bonannos make me think of one thing in particular: their great renown for Christmas parties.

Revisiting New York's Albanian Mafia

In January 2014, Bajram Lajqi was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court to six years in prison; he'd plead guilty on June 27, 2013, to drug trafficking and firearm use.

Lajqi was a "member" of an Albanian organized crime group that operated in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

On June 4, 2011, Lajqi attempted to murder another member of the gang.

Bajram Lajqi under arrest in 2013.

“... Lajqi in particular exemplifies the violence tied to large-scale narcotics trafficking, as his drug-fueled quest for revenge led him to gun down a rival outside a Bronx restaurant,” the U.S. Attorney said in a press release.

Now the U.S. Attorney is doing an injustice to Lajqi right there, by making him sound, at the very least, like a competent hit man. The truth is, he's not.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lee D'Avanzo Angered Carmine Agnello: Source

When wiseguys are in prison, does rank matter?

Opinions vary. On the inside all made guys are equal, some say, while others have said rank is less of an issue. Still, supposedly there are official Cosa Nostra bosses serving life sentences: Vic Amuso, Peter Gotti and Carmine Persico. So rank must matter, but it seems to depend on the place, the time and possibly the dynamic of those inside the unit.

I recently heard about something that happened involving Lee D'Avanzo when he was a resident of MDC Brooklyn. The source was there at the time, but on a different floor.

Carmine Agnello allegedly held his own against three.
What happened made Carmine Agnello so furious with Lee, supposedly a sit down or two took place over the matter. (Agnello was made; Lee wasn't (or isn't.))

Saturday, January 23, 2016

ISIS, Fear Rome As Well...

The hate manual, titled The Black Flags from Rome, ranks several of Italy's Mafias as ISIS militants' most feared adversaries.

The book mentioned in this story, which is the source of the allegations mentioned below, probably is a hoax. I'd like to know: Who published it? It seems too consumer-friendly, and in my mind appears more like the fraudulent efforts of a savvy marketer, assisted by attention-seeking newspapers. Perhaps ISIS itself is perpetuating a hoax. These suicidal murderers have an affinity for propaganda. So let us move under the pretext that this "manual of hate" truly exists....and accept this at face value....

New ISIS propganda details a "brutal plan to march through western Europe and take control of Italy" claim new reports.

The hate manual, titled The Black Flags from Rome, ranks several of Italy's Mafias as ISIS militants' most feared adversaries -- yet the group seems unaware of Rome's own homegrown Mafia.

Friday, January 22, 2016

George Anastasia's Oldfellas AARP Story Online

Called When Mobsters Refuse to Retire, George Anastasia's story, which I read in the AARP magazine (don't ask how I got a copy), is online, I noticed.

Amusingly enough, the publication placed it in theWork Life Balance section. 

Here's a teaser to whet your appetite if you haven't already read it....

From AARP's online page
They shared a long lunch of filet mignon, yellowfin tuna, and chicken with broccoli rabe, washing it down with four bottles of expensive Tuscan red. Ten wiseguys sat at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey, laughing and joking and talking. It could have been a scene from TV's The Sopranos. The men, from New York, Philadelphia and Newark, dressed the part — open-collared shirts, pinkie rings and Rolexes. Outside on that May afternoon in 2010, the FBI had set up surveillance cameras. Inside, at the table, a federal informant wore a body wire.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fugitive Mob "Rancher" to Return to Idaho

Boston mobster Enrico Ponzo, 47, after participating in a failed hit that was part of the New England Mafia war, fled Massachusetts in 1994, with law enforcement in hot pursuit.

Following years on the run, Ponzo finally settled in a small Idaho town under an alias. And for the next 10 years, the Boston wiseguy successfully played the part of a rancher named Jay Shaw.

A mobster named Jay Shaw? Or a rancher named Enrico Ponzo?
In 2011, he was recaptured -- and two years later, following a trial in which he faced attempted murder and other alleged charges, Ponzo was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Nevertheless, next month, on Feb. 2, he'll return to his former adopted home state of Idaho to a courtroom to face 16 felonious counts involving unlawful possession of a firearm, aggravated identity theft, and possession of documents for intended fraudulent use.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mobster Once Hot for Mob Wife Seeks Reduction

Joseph Sclafani, a Gambino soldier, is trying to catch another break by getting his drug trafficking sentence further reduced.
Joseph Sclafani was initially sentenced to 15 years for drug trafficking.

Gambino soldier Joseph Sclafani caught a break a year ago, when he successfully got his prison sentence reduced.

Now, according to a motion filed Monday, Jan. 18, in Brooklyn federal court, he's trying to get more time whacked off his sentence, perhaps as much as three years. 

In January of 2015, Sclafani's original 2013 sentence of 15 years for drug trafficking was reduced by about a year. This was a result of changes made to sentencing guidelines. Now, however, his lawyer is arguing that Sclafani still was improperly sentenced last year and deserves more time off his sentence.

Monday, January 18, 2016

What the F---k Is Up on Staten Island?

The NYPD was probing the Bulls Head shooting of a 30-year-old man this past Friday morning.
Blood, from Friday early morning shooting, all over car's interior console....
The NYPD was probing the Bulls Head shooting of a 30-year-old man that occurred early last Friday morning. A confidential source said this was mob-related, although there's no confirmation. The victim is not cooperating with law enforcement.

And considering what else has happened on Staten Island the past few days -- the fatal stabbings and supposed suicides -- the would-be mob-hit victim appears to be the lucky one.

The man (his name hasn't been disclosed) had been shot in the shoulder but reportedly is in stable condition. He privately made his way to Staten Island University Hospital around 1 a.m. Friday, said an NYPD spokesman.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fed's Use Force Against Louie's "Skywalker"

Look: Skywalker

Louis J. DiNunzio, 29, of Medford, and his co-defendants pleaded guilty to selling "Skywalker,” a forceful strain of marijuana. He's out on bail.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the force of a 21-month prison sentence for the reputed made member  of the ailing New England Mafia and his cohorts.

In US District Court in Boston, the Fed's filed a sentencing request on Wednesday; DiNunzio pleaded guilty in September to marijuana distribution conspiracy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What the Mafia's Been Doing Lately....

New York’s mob families are truly living undercover these days, in a manner that almost seems to hearken back to the pre-Apalachin years.

New York’s mob families are truly living undercover these days, in a manner that almost seems to hearken back to the pre-Apalachin years.

An interesting report was quietly published following Vincent Asaro's startling acquittal that took a look at how the mob is trying to "invisibly" earn today.

“They don’t want the notoriety they once had," Inspector John Desenopolis, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, known as OCID, told the PIX report.  “These are secret societies that have learned,” Desenopolis added. “We were able to put people away for long periods of time. They realized, and learned how to adapt.”

Jimmy Lanza: West Coast's Preeminent Mobster

Preorder by clicking book cover.

James "Jimmy the Hat" Lanza certainly earned his place among the pantheon of Cosa Nostra's wiliest bosses as will be revealed in Lanza's Mob by Christina Ann-Marie DiEdoardo, Esq., a criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco (who lived for years in Queens, New York). Available for pre-order now, the book will be released on July 31, 2016.

Lanza truly knew the old-school ways of hiding in plain sight. While there's much evidence that he was one of the attendees of the doomed 1957 Apalachin summit, he successfully avoided arrest unlike so many others. "It would have been child’s play for Lanza to evade the New York state police, as he apparently did," as the author writes below.

The book is based on extensive research by the author (who knows her stuff, folks!) and includes how major events such as the Castellammarese War impacted the Lanza crime family. The book details some lucrative and probably generally unknown scams from which the Lanza's reaped huge profits -- such as from the highly profitable black market item olive oil during World War II. The Lanzas also had a largely undisclosed connection to the Los Angeles crime family.

NOTE: "John" is not Lanza's first name -- and he lived until the ripe old age of 103; reports that say differently are incorrect.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Nine New Charges Filed Against Mafia Boss

Leonardo Rizzuto

Nine new criminal charges were filed against Leonardo Rizzuto today at the Montreal courthouse, right before his bail hearing was to commence.

Rizzuto was identified by law enforcement as one of two bosses of the Montreal Mafia family previously run by his father, Vito, who died in December 2013. Leonardo was arrested on Nov. 19 as part of Projects Magot and Mastiff, a joint investigation into drug trafficking in the city.

Rizzuto was charged with drug trafficking and gangsterism, which was introduced into Canada's Criminal Code in 1997 as a way to apply longer sentences against organized crime members. Specifically it was designed following the bloody street battles between the Hells Angels and The Rock Machine MCs for dominance over Quebec.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Twist in $500M Mob-Linked Boston Art Heist

Museum with empty frame awaits stolen painting's return.

Note: I checked with Philly mob expert George Anastasia for confirmation: there's no historical knowledge regarding a New England branch of a Philadelphia mafia family.

Robert Gentile, "an aging, unremarkable wiseguy from Hartford [Connecticut]" grew from obscurity into infamy after the widowed wife of a dead longtime associate told the FBI that Gentile was linked to a half-billion-dollar heist that occurred some 25 years ago.

He'd been an off-the-radar mobster with a criminal history stretching back to the 1950s when he was suddenly publicly identified as the FBI's chief suspect in one of the world's most perplexing crimes, the "officially unsolved" robbery of Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in March of 1990. Experts to this day puzzle over why the robbers took certain artworks and not other more-valuable pieces. The Hartford Courier ran a story breaking the news.

A new wrinkle in this story was recently revealed, when a published report detailed how the FBI accumulated additional incriminating information about Gentile -- namely, his own words, recorded by two snitches.

Mob Corruption on Staten Island Circa 1969

The Staten Island Advance posted an archive page from a story it published on April 20, 1969.

The story names Paul Castellano as an "underboss" of the Gambino crime family.

"An Advance study shows numerous Staten Island real estate dealings are being investigated to see the potential role taken by various organized crime figures. These include Paul Castellano, underboss of the Gambino Cosa Nostra family, the largest Mafia organization on the East Coast."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

NJ Luchese Capo, Sons Get 8-, 10-Year Sentences

Ralph M. Perna, the Luchese crime family's top capo in the Garden State and two of his sons were slammed with nearly a decade in prison each
From left: Ralph Perna and sons,  Joseph Perna, John Perna
Ralph Perna, the Luchese crime family's top capo in the Garden State and two of his sons were slammed with nearly a decade in prison each. Meanwhile, one of the North Jersey Luchese crew's leaders was sentenced to about half the amount of time in prison.

Matthew "Matty" Madonna, considered a close associate of the family's street boss, Bronx-based Stevie Crea, was a suspect in the the last Mafia hit (clarification: last in this case, meaning until the next one).

This past Thursday Ralph Perna, 69, of East Hanover, was given eight years in state prison; John G. Perna, 38, of West Caldwell,  and Joseph M. Perna, 46, of Wyckoff., were given 10 years apiece in state prison. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

FBI Agent "Got People Killed," Judge Says

A Daily News Exclusive today noted that a federal judge, in a moment of extreme candor, voiced his belief that a former FBI agent who was Greg Scarpa Senior's handler had indeed passed on intel that led to murders.

"Judge Edward Korman’s damning words were buried in a transcript of a 2012 court case for mob informant Gregory Scarpa Jr.," the News noted. The murders were part of the early 1990s Colombo crime family war.

"“It was my view and remains my view that Lin DeVecchio provided information to Scarpa that got people killed,” Korman said, according to the transcript.
Lin DeVecchio
"Scarpa was seeking a reduction of his racketeering sentence as a reward for helping the feds find explosives hidden in the home of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols." This blog noted back in August that Scarpa Junior had been moved to a reentry facility in Kansas City, Kansas. See judge's ruling on Scarpa's sentence reduction.

An Offer You Won't Want to Refuse

Join Amazon Prime now and get a 30-Day free trial
Watch this and other films for free...

Well, today's my birthday -- and I'm giving you all a gift. Join Amazon Prime now and get a 30-Day free trial -- then you can view over 40,000 movies and TV episodes via the program, borrow Kindle ebooks, and enjoy unlimited FREE two-day shipping on purchases, with no minimum order size.

But this deal includes a deadline -- you must join by Friday, January 10, to take advantage. (On jump page I present a list of Mafia- related films you can watch for FREE....but it's not only crime films -- films and tv shows in every genre are included. See list here. I'm a horror fan and you'll have access to an especially larger number of horror flix via Prime, including a recently made Giallo-style film from Italy, Sonno Profondo (Deep Sleep) Limited Edition .

Once the Amazon Prime Video 30-Day Free Trial is over, you can decide whether or not to sign on as a member for $9.99 a month or for one annual $99 payment (for me, this is a no-brainer, I've belonged to Prime since they created it). But either way, you get to enjoy FREE AMAZON PRIME FOR 30 DAYS!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

10 Years Off Scarpa Junior's Sentence

a Brooklyn federal judge deleted 10 years from the 40-year sentence that Gregory Scarpa Jr., 64, was given in 1999
Greg Scarpa Junior

For assisting the FBI's anti-terrorism efforts, a Brooklyn federal judge deleted 10 years from the 40-year sentence that Gregory Scarpa Jr., 64, was given in 1999, though Scarpa will most likely die before his release date.

According to reports, the Daily News and Post stories highlighted only the iceberg's tip in terms of the degree to which Scarpa Junior cooperated as well as the amount and ramifications of the information he provided. Scarpa -- today given a 2025 release date -- has nasopharyngeal squamous cell cancer, which gives him a lifespan of possibly five years. The cancer "will probably kill him within the next five years" before he will ever benefit from the ruling, Justice Edward Korman noted in his decision.

Scarpa Junior, a former Colombo soldier, tipped off the FBI about a hidden stash of explosives, which the FBI initially had missed following a 1995 search of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols's basement.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Major Twist in Greg Scarpa Jr. Story

In a story posted here on August 24, 2015, What's Going on with Greg Scarpa Jr? we noted:

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

Mafia Exposed Website Shuttering "For Now"

Buy Carl Russo's book...
It's with regret that I write this post based on a recent announcement that the Mafia Exposed website is closing down, "at least for a while," noted founder/blogger Carl Russo.

But on the bright side, he's keeping the blog alive on social media, where he plans to probably more actively post than he did on his blog.

There are different theories but the prevailing wisdom is that there's no such thing as competition between blogs. In fact, the more blogs covering a given topic, the better it is for all of them. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Junior Lends Film His Father's Jewelry, Car

John A. Gotti aka Junior is lending Travolta his father's personal items for a film about John Gotti Senior.

John Gotti, former Gambino crime family boss, died in prison of cancer in 2002 at the age of 61. His son, former Gambino crime family boss John A. Gotti (aka "Junior"), says he left Cosa Nostra life in the dust many years ago.

If John Junior is eyeing any kind of mob these days, it's the one based on the West Coast, aka Hollywood. High-caliber star John Travolta will play the Dapper Don in the upcoming production based on Junior's self-published book Shadow of My Father.

Junior claims he wrote the manuscript in response to the release of another book, George Anastasia's Gotti's Rules, based on the life and prodigious crimes of former Gambino enforcer John Alite.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Who Filled Rizzuto Power Vacuum?

Vito Rizzuto went down fighting. In the end cancer "allegedly" killed him.

The 2013 death of Montreal Cosa Nostra boss Vito Rizzuto at age 67 (supposedly of natural causes) didn't mark an abrupt end to the mob war between the Sicilian Mafia and a united group of factions consisting of former Rizzuto loyalists and Calabrian Ndrangheta members based in Southern Ontario. (Unlike in the U.S., Canada has two homegrown Mafias: the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Calabrian Ndrangheta, based in Southern Italy.)

However as of January 2016, things seem to have quieted down, for the moment anyway, and we now have a grasp of how the leadership void created following Rizzuto's sudden death from cancer was filled. We also know a great deal more about the dynamics behind the Montreal mob war owing to published reports and the book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War(Though I am troubled by the number of factual errors I am encountering in the book. George Sciascia aka "George from Canada" wasn't killed by the Gambinos, for example, he was killed by the Bonnano crime family. The Sciascia murder is a focus of my book written with former Bonanno capo Dominick Cicale. Buy it while you can -- Dom and I may be taking it off the market.)