Anthony Accetturo's Wife Nearly Killed Him in a Car Crash, And That Was Only the Beginning

REVISED to include reference to Miami Memo about Joseph(Skinny Joey) Merlino, reputed boss of Philadelphia Mafia....

This is not the kind of item I'd usually cover but August is the slowest of news months and this is just too whacky to let go....

Elena Accetturo is 29. And dangerous! 

A Broward County woman married to a man with a historic Mafia name was arrested on a Friday late last month. She's married to the son of the onetime top Luchese crime family leader in New Jersey.

Elena Accetturo, 29, faces charges of DUI with property damage, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, battery on an officer and driving with a suspended license. She was released from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting a $12,000 bond


She "caused a crash in suburban West Palm Beach that left her husband with a shattered leg," reported the Palm Beach Post. 

She was not finished, however. She then punched a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy in the stomach, according to an arrest report.  She wasn't too successful with the punch, however.

As the Post noted:

The crash took place at North Jog Road and 62nd Drive North and involved a second car. When a deputy asked a paramedic at the scene if it appeared Accetturo was intoxicated, he answered, “Definitely.”

The deputy found Accetturo “muttering incoherently” and unable to answer questions, the report said. 

She declined to submit to a breath test. Accetturo also didn’t submit to a breath test after she was arrested for DUI in December, causing her license to be suspended, the report said.

After she was told at Wellington Regional Medical Center that she was being arrested, Accetturo allegedly attempted to punch a deputy in the stomach. Accetturo’s right hand hit the deputy’s body armor hard plate, causing her “a great deal of pain,” the report said.

Deputies recovered a small plastic bag containing cocaine that was confiscated by a nurse after Accetturo allegedly brought it into the hospital with her.

Accetturo’s husband, Anthony, had his leg shattered in several places and was likely to result in a permanent disfiguring injury, the report said.


Find Me Guilty producer Bob DeBrino "has found a new mobster worthy of screen stardom — Anthony Accetturo Jr.," as Page Six reported in April.

Anthony Jr., 55, is the son of former ex-Luchese boss Tumac, nicknamed after the caveman of the 1940 film One Million B.C (which starred a very hot Raquel Welch). Born in 1938, Tumac is reportedly still kicking....




Anthony Jr., Page Six also noted, said he survived 11 assassination attempts, including one on his wedding day -- which would be around 30 years ago, in the Garden State.... we assume it was a previous marriage. (And we found this courtesy of the Five Families news site.)

Three men with AK-47s shot at the limo he and his bride were in, Anthony Jr. told DeBrino, but the couple declined to cancel their reception and arrived unscathed. Accetturo said to the 300 guests, “It was just a minor inconvenience.”

DeBrino, a former NYPD officer, met with Accetturo at Frank Talerico’s Ocean Manor Resort Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where Vin Diesel, Usher and Dennis Rodman were also hanging out.

DeBrino — who produced Find Me Guilty, in which Diesel starred as Jackie DiNorscio, who defended himself in the longest Mafia trial in US history — is now in talks with Accetturo for a book and film deal.


The Miami Memo

In 2012, Anthony Jr. was named in a leaked FBI document that allegedly outlined how Joey Merlino was putting a crew together in Florida, where he moved after his release from prison.

As Philly.com noted, "The FBI issued a confidential alert warning law-enforcement officials that the former Philadelphia mob boss might try to set up shop in the Miami area with some of his old associates.

'The memo was contained in the first batch of some five million emails being released by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks - including several FBI alerts obtained by a Texas-based private-intelligence firm on topics ranging from biker gangs to al Qaeda's English-language website."

"As of March 2011, former Philadelphia (La Cosa Nostra) crime family boss, Joseph 'Skinny Joe' Merlino, appears to be restoring and developing significant relationships for a potential South Florida crew," read the Situational Information Report put out by the FBI's Miami office last June.

"Reportedly, he may become involved in illicit gambling/bookmaking activities again."

The alert also speculated that Merlino "may reach out to" Anthony Accetturo Jr. - a soldier in the Luchese crime family's New Jersey crew - for "muscle."

There was a problem with this report, however, from the get go. The Mami memo apparently wasn't shared with Philadelphia law-enforcement. One of these Philadelphia officials then cast doubt as to the memo's authenticity.

"I would expect (Merlino) to reconnect, but those names strike me as not very fruitful," the official said. "The whole thing sounds off base."


When Tumac flipped, it was a different world entirely....


A young Tumac....

Accetturo, who was not straightened out while still a teenager (beware of that claim floating around the web about him being the youngest ever-made Mafia member. It's total crap), defected in the 1990s. He'd been the "top Lucchese crime family leader in New Jersey to become a Government witness because, he says, the Mafia's current bosses have discarded the secret society's traditional principles," as Selwyn Raab reported for the New York Times.

"The new generation that is running things threw all the old rules out the window," said Mr. Accetturo in an interview Monday in a northern New Jersey prison where he is being held in a witness protection wing. "The key word is greed. All they care about is money, not honor."

The story ran on  March 2, 1994, and went on:

After a lifetime of avoiding Federal convictions on major felonies, Mr. Accetturo, 55, was convicted in August on New Jersey charges that he was the leader of an organized-crime faction and on charges of racketeering and extortion. Two weeks later, while awaiting a minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years, he agreed to cooperate with the New Jersey Attorney General's office, where, not coincidentally, a boyhood friend works.

A Mafia History

Law-enforcement experts on the Mafia say that Mr. Accetturo's 35-year voyage from a $75-a-week apprentice to the highest rungs of the Lucchese family and his ultimate downfall as a mob chief encapsulates the turbulent modern history of most of the nation's Mafia groups.

Although several higher-ranking Mafia members have defected and testified at criminal trials in the last decade, Mr. Accetturo is the first major turncoat from the New York area to be publicly interviewed.

The interview, in the presence of three members of the New Jersey Attorney General's office, was conducted on the condition imposed by prosecutors that The New York Times would not identify the prison in which Mr. Accetturo was being held. The Path of Opportunity

A portly, moon-faced man, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 220 pounds, Mr. Accetturo smiled frequently and responded freely during most of the 80-minute interview. He said that as a young man, growing up in Orange, N.J., and in Newark, he was was drawn to a life in the Mafia because he had few other economic opportunities. He asserted that in the blue-collar Sicilian-American neighborhoods of the 1950's and 1960's, acceptance into the Mafia was viewed by many of his contemporaries as "an honorable and respected thing, like a dream, like some people want to become a doctor."

Sicilian Mafia groups and their parallel organizations in America have long referred to themselves as the honorable or honored society and as Cosa Nostra, Sicilian for Our Thing.

Portraying his leadership role in the Lucchese family as that of a benevolent businessman, Mr. Accetturo claimed that he merely sought to enrich himself and his confederates and that he had avoided violence.

However, on the orders of Melaine B. Campbell, a New Jersey deputy attorney general who observed the interview, he refused to answer questions about murders he had participated in or sanctioned. Law-enforcement officials familiar with information gleaned from Mr. Accetturo said he has admitted knowledge of conspiracies that led to at least 13 slayings.

At his trial on racketeering charges this summer, Mr. Accetturo was acquitted of a charge that he authorized the 1984 murder of Vincent Craparotta, a Lucchese associate suspected of withholding payoffs to family leaders from an extortion plot. No other charge involving a killing has ever been brought against Mr. Accetturo.

Heeding an admonition from Ms. Campbell, Mr. Accetturo also declined to specify the payments he accumulated as a crime boss from secret holdings in companies, how much the Lucchese family made from illicit gambling, loan-sharking, extortion and labor racketeering, and how the money was laundered.

"Let's just say it was multimillion-dollar business," Mr. Accetturo said, his brown eyes twinkling. "In the best times, I had a six-figure income from legal businesses and I never had to apply for food stamps."

Born in 1938, Mr. Accetturo said he dropped out of school after completing the sixth grade. His father, a butcher in Orange, and his mother, a seamstress, placed little value in traditional education, he said.

At the age of 16, Mr. Accetturo began living with relatives in Newark, and he said he became the leader there of a West Side gang of 50 to 60 teen-agers. Because he was a ferocious street fighter, Mr. Accetturo said he acquired the nickname Tumac, based on the caveman hero of the 1940 movie "One Million B.C."

At the age of 17, Anthony (Ham) Dolasco, a Lucchese family soldier, or "made" member, aware of Mr. Accetturo's tough-guy reputation, recruited him to work in an illegal gambling and loan-sharking organization.

"I came up with the old mustaches," Mr. Accetturo said, referring to a Mafia term for guarded, unflamboyant gangsters. "They didn't talk, you had to use your mind and street sense to figure out things. Whatever they told you was only on a need to know basis."

Mr. Dolasco, according to Mr. Accetturo, ran the largest numbers racket in Newark in the 1960's. When he died in the late 1960's, Mr. Accetturo was put in charge of the operation.

According to Mr. Accetturo, the Lucchese family prohibited the induction of new soldiers from the early 1960's until the mid 1970's, trying to maintain secrecy and prevent law-enforcement infiltration. Although he ran several rackets for the family for almost a decade, Mr. Accetturo said it was 1976 when he formally took the Mafia oath of omerta, the swearing of loyalty and secrecy. Saint's Picture Is Burned

He said that Joseph Abate of Margate, N.J., who was the head of the Lucchese family in New Jersey in the 1960's and early 1970's, and Michael Pappadio, a Lucchese soldier, drove him to a house in New York City for a meeting with Anthony (Ducks) Corallo, then the boss of the family. At a simple ceremony, he said, a picture of a saint was burned and he intoned: "May I burn in hell like this saint if I betray my friends."

For Mr. Accetturo, the induction "was the greatest honor of my life."

Reflecting on his activities in the Lucchese family, Mr. Accetturo said that like most Mafia members and their associates, he flourished in the 1960's and 1970's. Many law-enforcement officials acknowledge that feeble law-enforcement efforts from the 1930's through the 1970's generally failed to check the growth of the nation's 20 or so crime families.

The nation's five largest organized-crime groups -- the Lucchese, Gambino, Genovese, Colombo and Bonanno families -- originated in New York City and operate throughout the metropolitan region. The Lucchese family is the only one, law-enforcement experts say, that had three semi-independent factions: Brooklyn-Queens and Long Island, Manhattan-Bronx and New Jersey.

Mr. Accetturo, who had a home in Livingston, N.J., moved to Hollywood, Fla., in 1970 to avoid testifying before the New Jersey State Investigation Commission.

He said that Mr. Corallo had effectively put him in charge of the New Jersey faction in the early 1970's even before his formal induction and that he was named a capo soon after taking the oath of omerta. At most, he said, the "made" members of the Lucchese group in New Jersey numbered 20, but more than 100 associates worked for him. He used a trusted aide, Michael Taccetta, as his street boss in New Jersey, communicating with him by telephone and at meetings in New York City. Juror Was Bribed

"In them days, we were disciplined and coordinated," he said. "The other guys weren't," he added, referring to law-enforcement agencies.

The equations began to change in the 1980's and the indictments came thick and fast, Mr. Accetturo said. In 1985 he and 19 other Lucchese members and associates were indicted in Newark on Federal racketeering and narcotics trafficking charges.

All 20 defendants were acquitted in 1988 but last September, Mr. Taccetta admitted bribing a juror in the trial. Mr. Accetturo, in the interview, declined to say if had known about the bribe and possible jury tampering.

After the 1988 acquittal, Mr. Accetturo was imprisoned for 20 months for refusing to testify before the New Jersey Investigation Commission.

Further trouble for Mr. Accetturo emerged when a life sentence was imposed on Mr. Corallo after his conviction in New York on Federal racketeering charges in 1987. In 1988, Vittorio Amuso replaced Mr. Corallo as boss of the Lucchese family and he named Anthony Casso as underboss.

Mr. Amuso and Mr. Casso, Mr. Accetturo said, began cutting into his independence and demanded larger shares of the loot than Mr. Corallo had taken. Mr. Corallo, he insisted, rarely asked for more than $10,000 a year while the new bosses wanted almost every penny raked in by the New Jersey faction.

He said that when he resisted, Mr. Amuso and Mr. Casso also put out a contract to kill him and his son, Anthony Jr., falsely claiming that he "was a rat."

"They had no training, no honor," Mr. Accetturo said of Mr. Amuso and Mr. Casso. "All they want to do is, kill, kill, get what you can, even if you didn't earn it."

Mr. Amuso, 58, was convicted in 1992 on Federal racketeering and murder charges and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mr. Casso, 52, will go on trial later this month in Brooklyn on Federal racketeering and murder charges.

Mr. Accetturo said state prosecutors had made no promises of a possible reduced sentence for his cooperation and possible testimony at criminal trials. But his sentencing has been postponed and prosecutors said that the extent of his cooperation would be made known to the sentencing judge. (New Jersey law-enforcement officials, who spoke when granted anonymity, said that Mr. Accetturo had given them a wealth of information, including details of secret Lucchese family holdings in construction companies and real-estate development projects in New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida.)

Switching sides, Mr. Accetturo said, was eased somewhat by the presence of Robert T. Buccino, deputy chief of a unit in the attorney general's office that has been on his trail for last eight years. Mr. Accetturo and Mr. Buccino were boyhood friends in Orange.

Claiming he was remorseful about his criminal activities, Mr. Accetturo said he wanted to warn potential Mafia recruits that the organization "is no longer an honorable secret society, there is no glamour like in the movies and most of the families are becoming street gangs."

"Either you wind up in the can, your life finished like me, or dead," he said.




Comments

  1. Great story Ed, keep 'em comin!

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  2. Good stuff as always Ed, haven't thought about the whole Lucchese Jersey Faction fiasco in a long, long time. Find Me Guilty is a great movie; hilarious, well acted, and I found that I actually had respect for Vin Diesel as an actor after that movie. And you can never go wrong with Peter Dinklage as the main Defense Attorney. Matter of fact, gonna watch it again tonight, haha! Allie Shades

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks -- great flick totally underrated

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