Showing posts from March, 2011

Long Missing Letter Questions Fate of Franzese Surveillance Records

A letter written in 1976 by former Nassau County District Attorney Bennett Cullison Jr. to Michael B. Pollack, then attorney for John “Sonny” Franzese, sentenced to 50 years in prison in 1970 for “masterminding” multiple bank robberies, raises questions over the fate of numerous surveillance records allegedly taken by several law enforcement agencies. Pollack, who has since been disbarred, was not available for comment. Given that Franzese's bank robbery trial took place some 40 years ago, it is difficult finding law-enforcement sources to comment. (They're quite old, and many were not blessed with Sonny Franzese's genes.) Long, careful efforts failed to turn up contact information for sources. Still, voicemails were left with the press departments of several agencies. This report will be updated if new information arises.

Biopics About Gangsters Cohen and Capone Planned

Is the mob taking over Hollywood? Joining a slate of mob-related films already anounced is Warner Brothers' latest mobster biopic, Gangster Squad,  focused on 1940s boxer-turned-gangster Mickey Cohen, according to . Based in Los Angeles, Cohen was an associate of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel; this trio were perhaps the most famous (or infamous) of the Jewish racketeers/gangsters who worked with Luciano and the rest of the Italian Mafia in America. Sean Penn is reportedly in talks to play Cohen and Ryan Gosling may co-star as one of the Los Angeles cops determined to bring Cohen down. Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer may direct. This isn't the only gangster biopic in the works at Warner bros, either: Cicero, the Al Capone story, is also being shopped around. These two films, still in the planning stages, join a herd of mob-related films currently in pre-production, among them: Fiore Films biopic, "Gotti: Three Generations," which so far will sta

Lawyers Make Closing Arguments in Genovese Murder/Racketeering Trial

Lawyers for three defendants accused in a mob-related hit and racketeering case in lower Manhattan made closing arguments -- during which they did all they could to tar and feather the prosecution's prime witnesses as murderers and miscreants, according to an article on Mass by Stephanie Barry . Standing trial are jailed Western Massachusetts alleged mob enforcers Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and his brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass., along with Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y., the reputed onetime New York Genovese crime family boss. They stand accused of the 2003 murder plot against Springfield, Mass.,Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, the attempted murder of a union boss the same year and a series of extortion attempts from Springfield to Hartford, Conn., and Manhattan. In his closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig told jurors that the defendants made their marks in the mob world through &qu

Travolta Accepts Gotti Role -- Finally; But What About Kim and James?

Who will play the Junior Don? John Travolta, after much speculation in the press, has agreed to portray John Gotti (Senior) in the Fiore Films biopic, "Gotti: Three Generations," according to a Variety article by Dave McNary , But whether  Kim Kardashian  will play Gotti daughter-in-law Kim Gotti or James Franco will play Junior Gotti has not been addressed. Travolta, John Gotti Jr., director Nick Cassavetes and Fiore Films producer Marc Fiore unveiled the news today and said there will be a press conference in New York on April 12. Travolta has been rumored to be the leading candidate for one of the lead parts for several months. Actor-writer Leo Rossi wrote the screenplay, "described as revealing the relationship of a father who lived and died by the mob code and a son who chose to leave that world behind and redeem himself," according to the article. So who is the third generation Gotti named in the film's title? The film will be shot entirely in

Five Facts About Ex-Fugitive Ponzo

Former stone-cold gangster Enrico M. Ponzo has for the past 17 years been living in hiding in Idaho under the assumed name of Jeffrey John Shaw. Many people thought he had been murdered or otherwise killed during those missing years, but in fact he'd been leading the life of a rancher (apparently not a very good rancher); the FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested him last month. Among the highlights of his pre-rancher career in organized crime: he and three others attempted to whack the former head (now informer for the Feds) of the ruling crime family in New England: the Patriarcas. He and his men shot said former boss "Cadillac" Salemme in 1989 at a Pancake House in Saugus; they were unsuccessful. Residents of Marsing, Idaho, where Ponzo settled down,  said they'd always had a few suspicions about "Jay," who was remarkably skilled with firearms and remarkably bad at ranching. AOL's  Surge Desk , which prides itself on find unique twists on in-demand ne

Mafia Associates Strip During Induction Ceremony

Let's get made! They prick your trigger finger. Make you cup your hands around a blood-smeared mass card with a picture of a saint on it, and set it afire. You take the burn like a man -- a made man -- slowly grinding your palms together, putting the flames out, the ashes blackening your singed skin. You speak the oath. But hold it -- there was a new step added, according to new information, back when the first Bush was still President. Since then, at some point, probably before you are asked the obligatory question "Do you know why you are here?" (And God help you if you answer, "Yeah."), you are now required to strip down almost to your bare ass so the organization can make certain you are not wired for sound and/or video. The Mafia these days is "so paranoid about being infiltrated that would-be wiseguys can only wear underpants and a bathrobe," said  an article on the U.K.'s Daily Mail website . Anthony 'Bingy' Arillotta, 42,

Mob Fugitive Ponzo Arraigned After Years in Hiding

Enrico M. Ponzo, 14 years  ago. Enrico M. Ponzo was once a tough-guy gangster who was part of a faction seeking to wrest control of New England from the ruling Patriarca family. But for the last 17 years he's been living in hiding in Idaho under the assumed name of Jeffrey John Shaw; he was arraigned today in U.S. District Court. Many people thought he had been murdered or otherwise killed these many years, but in fact he'd been leading the life of a rancher in Idaho; the FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested him last month. "Mr. Ponzo, 42, was indicted with 14 others in April 1997 ... While the others were arraigned, Mr. Ponzo had been a fugitive from state drug trafficking charges since 1994," read an article by Lee Hammel in the Telegram & Gazette . In 1997, Ponzo was charged, along with 14 others, in a 40-count federal indictment with, among other things, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and plotting to murder and attempting to murder individuals who

Hotshot Boston Attorney Set Up By Two Government Moles

Remember that old saying that a lawyer with a briefcase can steal more money than a Mafioso with a pistol -- and not get arrested for it? Well, a lawyer with a briefcase allegedly added drug-money laundering to his job description -- and did get arrested. "Cadillac Frank," one of George's clients. This well-known Boston defense lawyer was arrested on Wednesday, "a day after a top Justice Department official pledged to target attorneys, accountants and bankers who help criminal organizations fund their activities," reported Joe Palazzolo in a Wall Street Journal blog called Corruption Currents : Commentary and news about money laundering, bribery, terrorism finance and sanctions. The lawyer, Robert A. George, has represented Francis P. “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme, former boss of the Patriarca crime family who turned informant, and Christopher M. McCowen, the trash collector who was convicted of the rape and murder of Cape Cod fashion writer Christa Worthingt

Patriarca Mobster Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder for Hire

Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent Sr. Anthony St. Laurent Sr. pleaded guilty today in federal court in Providence, R.I., to an attempted murder-for-hire, and acknowledged in a written plea agreement his participation in an extortion conspiracy outlined in a previous criminal complaint, the U.S. D.O.J. reported today. The extortion conspiracy involved St. Laurent, wife Dorothy St. Laurent, and son Anthony St. Laurent Jr. and others -- who are said to have extorted protection money from bookmakers in the Taunton, Mass.-area under the threat of violence. St. Laurent Sr. acknowledged in his plea agreement that he is a “made” member of the New England Patriarca crime family. St. Laurent Sr.’s guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William E. Smith was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha for the District of Rhode Island and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office

Why Made Men Kiss

Why do made men kiss? Traditionally, I believe it's just slightly more than the "air kiss," popular among the Social Registry types -- a lip brush on both cheeks, not a full lip-to-lip smack. (That would be the kiss of death, according to either Mario Puzo or Mafia tradition; who can tell the difference?) Jimmy Breslin, in his great book The Good Rat, explains exactly how this tradition started: It involves a chance meet between Sonny Franzese and  Joey Brancato on Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue, right near where I recently was visiting a new apartment building for a real estate story I was writing. The rest of this post, apocryphal or true, is excerpted from the prologue to Breslin's book, The Good Rat: What I'm doing, I'm kissing the mirror, and I'm doing it so I can see myself kissing and get it exactly right. ... This way I can go into the club house and kiss them on the cheeks the way I'm supposed to. That's the Mafia. We kiss he

Defense Paints Turncoat as Untrustworthy for Having Broken 'Omerta'

A witness who broke omerta has his reputation impugned in open court by defense attorneys. Vinny Gorgeous Basciano may have had a guy killed, but, heck, that guy joined the mob and knew what risks he was taking. And Junior Gotti just explained -- four times -- "Hey, lemme alone, I retired, don't you know." Well, that last one actually worked! Somehow, we don't think Salvatore Lucania and his associates would have ever thought such intimate aspects of their "secret society" would ever be made so public when they put LCN together in the 1930s, picking up the pieces left over from the Masseria-Maranzano war and turning them into a well-oiled money machine that still runs today, though battered and not firing all its cylinders, the hard shell of loyalty that once provided protection steadily eroding away. But if Junior Gotti can retire and beat a RICO case, maybe there are other creative, out-of-the-box ways to beat that massive club that G. Robert Blakey whi

The Bull's Daughter Writing Book About Mafia Life

A man who needs no introduction. Karen Gravano, the daughter of infamous mob turncoat Sammy (The Bull) Gravano, has inked a book deal to pen a tell-all about her life growing up in a Mafia family, according to the New York Post . The deal with St. Martin's Press is for six figures, according to the report. Karen, 38, will write about growing up in a Mafia enclave on Staten Island as the daughter of one of the mob's "most feared executioners," including how her life changed after Sammy testified and entered the witness protection program, and "went to prison in order to protect Karen and her brother," St. Martin's told the Post. [Is that before or after they were all selling the E? --Edit. note.] Sammy Gravano received leniency for testifying against mob boss John Gotti: He served five years in prison before moving to Arizona in 1995 under the federal witness protection program. In 2000, the elder Gravano was busted again for running a multimil

Fat Tony: A Mobster's Mobster to the End

Much has been written about Mafiosi making their peace with God before shuffling off this mortal coil. Carlo Gambino, the unofficial Boss of Bosses for decades when he ruled the underworld, made a deathbed confession and died in a "state of grace," washed of probably the most violent and horrible sins of which a human being is capable.  His successor, Paul Castellano, was not so lucky. John Gotti might have robbed him of a lot more than his life and position in the Mafia. Mobsters like Stephen "Beach" DePiro think nothing of parading their religion before the judge when they are seeking parole, but the true test of a believer is how he acts when the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking. Russel Bufalino also got religion waiting to meet his maker while dying at the Springfield prison hospital. These were men who, at least the smarter ones, left little to chance; otherwise, they would have ended up dead in the streets much, much earlier in their careers; it take

Basciano's Attorneys Take Their Defense From 'The Godfather'

Michael Corleone's second victim in a one-two hit; he's readying to fire another round into the corrupt detective's face. Attorneys for former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano's upcoming death-penalty case have formed a defense we call: "The Captain McCluskey defense,"  Fans of The Godfather will understand. But we will explain, just in case....Remember the scene where Michael (Al), Sonny (Jimmy) and Tom (Robbie) are trying to figure out how to kill arch-enemy Virgil Sollozzo before he can take another shot--literally--at their father, who is recuperating in a hospital protected by legal bodyguards licensed to carry firearms? "The Turk," proposes dinner with Michael; Michael proposes to Sonny and Tom, through clenched teeth held together by wire -- the result of a busted jaw from, who else, Captain McCluskey --  that he actually go ahead and meet Sollozzo for this dinner and whack him there in the rest

Sheeran's Daughter: 'My Father Killed Jimmy Hoffa'

Frank Sheeran once claimed that, when he got the order to assassinate his mentor, Jimmy Hoffa, he knew he had no choice but to do what he was told....  It was kill on command or die for disobedience. Frank The Irishman' Sheeran (right) with union boss Hoffa. The disappearance of Teamsters union leader Hoffa 36 years ago remains one of America's most enduring mysteries. To this day, no one knows where his body ended up or what was done to it. And if not for Sheeran's Catholic guilt at the end of his life and a tenacious former prosecutor turned crime writer, the story of how Hoffa died would never have been known either. So posits I Heard You Paint Houses , a true-crime memoir about Sheeran, aka The Irishman. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are set to bring Sheeran's extraordinary life to the big screen. The Irishman initially was also to cover Sheeran's alleged role in the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. For Sheeran's daughter Dolore

John Gotti Rode the LIRR Three Days a Week

Did you miss John Gotti's self-proclaimed-adopted-son-turned-informer Lewis Kasman speaking on the Curtis Sliwa show? Click here. You'll hear such unbelievable nuggets as how in the early 1990s John Gotti and Jackie "Nose" D'Amico rode the Long Island Rail Road into the city two-three days a week to show up at no-work jobs in midtown. The company's business? Making zippers. I rode the railroad every day for 20 years, from 1989 on -- I never saw them! Additionally, "Kasman, who became a paid FBI informer against the imprisoned-for-life mob boss in 1997, took a few gentle swipes at the man he eulogized at his 2002 funeral. But he also added some good hard shots at other family members, including Gotti’s brother Richard, a family capo," wrote Jerry Capeci in his latest column. "Richard, he said, kept $50,000 that his brother Peter gave him to pay for the Dapper Don’s funeral , and hurled anti-semitic epithets at Kasman w

Capeci on How Kasman Supposedly Saved the Gangland Writer's Life

Turncoat Lewis Kasman got about $144,000 a year to betray ex-pal John (Junior) Gotti, the FBI said. Lewis Kasman -- remember him? -- says he saved my life so I shouldn't write bad things about him. For all I know, he may be right. So, in that spirit, I will take things down a notch and just report that the self-described "adopted son" of the late John Gotti is back, six months after he quietly slithered out of town free as a bird after double crossing Gotti and the feds, writes Jerry Capeci on the . READ THE REST

So Who Runs Brooklyn Today?

Late in January, 2011, some 800 federal agents arrested 127 suspected members of the Italian Mafia in one of the largest-ever operations targeting the organization. Who filled the vacuum on the street? Attorney General Eric Holder made a trip to Brooklyn to announce the arrests, and the FBI moved processing from its lower Manhattan headquarters to a gym in Fort Hamilton to accommodate the overflow of defendants. It was perhaps an appropriate shift in venue given the extent to which the Italian mob has dominated the borough's underworld over the years—infiltrating unions, shaking down dockworkers, running gambling rackets, selling drugs—but while indictments from the investigation suggest the Mafia is still plenty active in the area, it's also clear that compared to its midcentury glory days, the current incarnation of La Cosa Nostra is looking a lot less like Michael and a lot more like Fredo .

Springfield Mob Shooters Needed "'to Get Better at Head Shots"

Arillotta, turncoat, at "Big Al" Bruno murder trial. In March 2011, Mafia turncoat Anthony J. Arillotta took the witness stand in an ongoing mob murder trial in federal court in lower Manhattan. He detailed for jurors two cold-blooded murders and a third attempt, on a union official’s life, in 2003. Standing trial were New York’s onetime acting boss of the Genovese crime family, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, 66, of the Bronx, N.Y., along with Arillotta associates Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 44, of West Springfield, and brother Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, plus Arillotta, 42, of Springfield. In 2010 they were hit with a wide-ranging murder and racketeering indictment that includes the 2003 murder-for-hire of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a former Genovese crime family member who ran an organized crime operation in Springfield, Massachusetts , the slaying of low level operator Gary D. Westerman, and the attempted murder of union official Frank Dadabo in New York the same year. On

Mugshots of New Jersey Wiseguys

"Beach" DePiro Talking Points Memo has constructed an informative and visually pleasing slideshow of mugshots from January's "Biggest Mob Bust Ever," which we noted at the time both for its epic corralling of suspected criminals, but more playfully for its collection of some of the greatest nicknames ever given to overweight Italian-American men , as duly noted in the Village Voice . Vincent Aulisi, also known as "The Vet," squeaked by at number 20 on our Top 20 list . He's looking sad, but like he could handle a barking dog.

Tony Testa Behind DeMeo Crew Film?

Rapper Tony Testa According to a published report on a variety of websites and newspapers, including the New York Post , "Bobby Brown -- R&B singer-songwriter, occasional rapper, and dancer -- is talking about working on a movie with mob-related rapper Tony Testa. Sources say the film is based on Testa's Brooklyn family connection to notorious Gambino crime-family members the DeMeo Crew. The story will be based on Testa's Uncle Patty, who transferred to the Lucchese family and was murdered in 1992. Testa's uncle, Joseph Carmine Testa, is serving life in the same prison as Bernie Madoff. Brown was spotted dining at Trattoria Dopo Teatro with Testa, "Sopranos" star Joe Gannascoli and Chuck Zito about a possible role in the movie, which will also star Armand Assante."

Book: Joe Kennedy No Angel--But No Bootlegger Either

From the Irish, by Terry Prone: ANY student of the Kennedy dynasty knows all about the father figure, Joe Kennedy, who shaped and warped the lives of his children through his determination to live vicariously through them and ensure that each should fulfill his ambitions. This was the man who became US Ambassador at the Court of St James and, while there, provided his masters with consistently rotten advice. That rotten advice was rooted in his incapacity to understand Hitler’s regime, that incapacity influenced, up to a point, by some covert admiration for the Nazis. This was the man who subjected his emotionally troubled daughter to a lobotomy which institutionalised her for the rest of her life. This was the man who, while cosying up to the Catholic hierarchy, was at the same time flagrantly unfaithful to his marriage vows with (among others) film star Gloria Swanson. (His wife, according to some biographers, had the most cruel revenge when he was rendered speechl

Confirmed: DeNiro To Play Sheeran in Scorcese Flick

This week veteran Hollywood actor Robert De Niro confirmed that he will play Frank Sheeran in the Martin Scorsese film, expected to be titled The Irishman and based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses, as noted on this website , as well as elsewhere. The movie will bring together some of the most respected actors who have ever portrayed brutal mobsters and associates -- primarily in previous Scorsese mob flicks, such as Goodfellas. Steve Zallian, writer of Gangs of New York, has penned the script, and Scorsese has said that filming could start later this year. De Niro said this week, "It's about a guy who confessed that he killed Hoffa and also Joe Gallo over here on Hester Street. And so I'm going to play that character; Joe Pesci 's gonna be in it and Al Pacino is going to be in it and Marty's going to direct it." I Heard You Paint Houses is a book written by Sheeran's former attorney, Charles Brandt, and is based on extensive interviews B

New York's Original Five Families

Joe the Boss Masseria For most aficionados of America's Cosa Nostra, the starting point is always the war between Joe "The Boss" Masseria, pictured above, and Salvatore Maranzano. Much about the early Mafia seems open to debate. For instance, we'd thought Maranzano created each crime family's boss, underboss, consiglieri, capo, solder and associate pyramid structure, based on the Roman Legionnaires, though recent research suggests these positions were already in place. Maranzano, however, named himself Boss of Bosses and it was his doom. Lucky Luciano did away with that title after doing away with Maranzano. It was agreed no one man would ever hold that title, though over the years, some bosses seemed to fit the bill on an informal basis nevertheless. Carlo Gambino was definitely one of them. According to First Family: The Birth of the American Mafia by Mike Dash , the Morello family was the first Mafia family -- Mafia as in the criminal organization based in

Tell-All Tome About Jilly's, Sinatra, Gotti

Entertainer-club proprietor-turned-author Tony Delvecchio's " Sinatra, Gotti and Me: The Rise and Fall of Jilly's Nightclub " was told in his own words to author Rich Herschlag and was recently published, according to the Pocono Record . "Jilly's was one of the most popular, famous and notorious nightclubs in New York City during the 1960s, and then again in the late 1970s when it was revived by Delvecchio and Tony Fusco, and hosted by its namesake, Jilly Rizzo, the best friend of Frank Sinatra. Looking for someone to watch his back, Delvecchio brought in an old friend, John Gotti, a rising captain in the Gambino family," the article read. "The renovated Jilly's once again became the hot spot for A-list celebrities, gangsters, regulars and wannabes. From John Gotti to Sinatra, Jilly's was the place to be — and Delvecchio ran it day and night with the able service of the Jilly Girls, plus a few bartenders provided by Gotti, before his

Mafia, Other Criminal Groups, Blamed For Sluggish Italian Economy

Here, they talk about the death of Cosa Nostra, but overseas they are blaming Italy's criminal organizations -- primarily the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta  --  for wreaking major havoc on the entire peninsula's economy. "The mafia is one of the biggest reasons for the sluggish growth of the European Union's fourth largest economy, Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi said on Friday," as reported by IGN  (Italian Global Nation news service). "Among the most inhibitory mafia infiltration in the structure of productivity, which has increased during the last ten years, at least in how it has spread throughout our national territory," Draghi said during a speech in the northern city of Milan, the centre of Italian business. Draghi's comments followed an annual report by Italy's national anti-mafia directorate (DNA) this week which said the Calabrian Mafia or 'Ndrangheta was continuing to grow in Italy and abroad thanks to &qu

Mob Killer Meldish Not Yet Sentenced; Accomplice Gets 25-to-Life

Joseph Meldish, alleged mob hit man. A former drug-addicted prostitute convicted of fingering the wrong target for a mob hit man in a Bronx tavern in 1999 was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, There is no word regarding the sentencing of the hit man, Joseph Meldish. Prosecutors charge that Meldish — a reputed member of the Purple Gang, a drug-dealing group tied to the Gennovese, Luchese and Bonanno crime families — had meant to wipe out Brown’s brother, Thomas Brown, in the mistaken identity attack. Kim Hanzlick, now 45, walked into Frenchy's Tavern in Throggs Neck on March 21, 1999, and, according to another accomplice, identified a man sitting inside as Thomas Brown but the man she pointed out was actually Thomas' look-alike brother, Joseph Brown. Meldish walked in and calmly shot Brown right in front of his wife -- nine times. After a career in crime that spans more than two decades, Meldish faces life in prison when he's sentenced, which was supposed

Larry "Champagne" Carrozza Hit Haunted Michael Franzese

Investigation Discovery's Nothing Personal, a six-part series profiling hit men, debuted in March 2011. One of nine new series ID launched in 2011's first quarter, each one-hour episode was hosted by Steve Schirripa, who played the doomed Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos. Michael Franzese, ex-Colombo crime family capo Nothing Personal was doomed as well, the short-lived series lasted two seasons. The premiere episode spotlighted the 1983 murder of would-be Mafioso Larry "Champagne" Carrozza, who was shot by a Colombo crime family hit man/known charlatan. Or Michael Franzese, the ex-Colombo crime family capo who left the life, trading in the Godfather for the Christian God the father. At least that's what federal agents and other law enforcement experts believed in April of 1992, when The Los Angeles Times noted that the Carrozza hit was "one case in which some experts believe that Franzese may have pulled the trigger."

Breakdown of Italy's Several Major Mafias

When you think of Italian organized crime, you think of the Mafia. In fact, you're likely thinking of Cosa Nostra, the name of America's Mafia, as well as the older Sicilian variation. Bernard Provenzano, Cosa Nostra boss. The term Mafia essentially refers to several separate organized crime entities. The Sicilian Cosa Nostra successfully transitioned to America in the early 19th century and firmly planted its roots. The Morello family was the first American Mafia family, reaching its pinnacle in around 1908, when Little Italy was still a huge component of lower Manhattan. In Italy, aside from Sicily's Cosa Nostra, there is the Camorra, based in the Campania region near Naples; the 'Ndrangheta, based in Calabria; and the Sacra Corona Unita in Apulia, the heel of the Italian boot. (There are additional groups, including a Cosa Nostra offshoot.) They were estimated to have generated 135 billion euros in 2009, which is almost 9% of Italy's gross d

As Feds Downsize Mob Focus, Scotland Debuts Elite Unite Against Organized Crime

While the Feds have consolidated their focus on organized crime in New York City, the heart of America's Costra Nostra, law enforcement "across the pond" is taking a very different approach to the problem. An elite unit aimed at tackling organised crime, human trafficking and serious fraud has been officially opened -- in Scotland -- by the justice secretary, according to an article on the BBC News website . The Scottish Intelligence Co-ordination Unit (SICU) would gather information about top gangsters in a bid to "take them down." It is part of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).The unit will be housed in Livingston until the new Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, opens in 2012. "It was created to act as the "brain" of law enforcement in Scotland, bringing together intelligence and finance specialists. They will work closely with the country's eight police forces and co-ordinate and assess knowledge abo

'Beach' Depiro, the Praying Mobster, Gets Bail

Fiumara, here, who died in 2010, used Depiro as acting capo on the Jersey waterfront. Stephen "Beach" Depiro, the man at the top of a New Jersey federal indictment that was part of the big January roundup of alleged Mafia members, will be released on bail, according to the My Central Jersey website . He'll be under home incarceration with electronic monitoring. A federal judge in Newark ruled Tuesday that Depiro is to be released on a $1.2 million bond secured by four properties. The 55-year-old Kenilworth resident has been described by prosecutors as a soldier in the Genovese crime family. He allegedly ran a racketeering enterprise connected to the waterfront that engaged in extortion and illegal bookmaking. Depiro has pleaded not guilty. According to published reports , since the 1990s,  Tino Fiumara 's influence in New Jersey was so strong that the Genovese family was considering him as a candidate for boss of the entire family. He controlled unions f