Gangster Papa Smurf Sentenced to One Year, $2.5M Forfeiture

Carmine Franco when arrested.
One year and one day in prison.

That's the fate of Carmine "Papa Smurf" Franco for his role in a scheme to control commercial waste-hauling in the greater New York area.

Franco, 78, pleaded guilty in November to participation in conspiracy for racketeering, to commit mail and wire fraud, and to transport stolen cardboard -- across state lines yet!

Franco, an associate of the Genovese family, had worked with other Genovese mobsters, as well as guys with the Gambino and Luchese families to operate waste disposal businesses in New York City and in several New Jersey counties, engaging in extortion, loansharking, mail and wire fraud and stolen property offenses.

The Feds had grander visions for this case. Genovese capo Tino Fiumara had been running the Lodi crew until his death in September 2010. The Feds started the probe with the powerhouse capo as their target. But then Fiumara died, so the Feds were stuck with an unknown gangster named "Papa Smurf" as the lead figure, until the news broke of the Sopranos-loving gangster who flipped.

Franco admitted to committing mail and wire fraud to overbill customers, as well as transporting with his associates large volumes of stolen cardboard -- across state lines.

U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel also sentenced Franco to two years of supervised release. And, Franco must forfeit $2.5 million (and about $10,000 in fines and restitution).

Franco is one of 32 charged in the waste-hauling scheme; 21 of which have been convicted.

Earlier this month, Genovese crime family associates Dominick Pietranico, 83, and Joseph Sarcinella, 79, got around five months each in the can, it was reported.

The case made huge headlines in early February after Jerry Capeci and his GangLand News website broke the story  that one of the gangsters involved in this case had a link to the protagonist of the HBO show The Sopranos. Anthony Cardinalle, indicted last year, is connected to Satin Dolls, a strip club that served double-duty as the fabled Bad Bing on The Sopranos, a destination near and dear to fans of the show and also the place were Paulie "Walnuts" Gaultieri had a vision of the Virgin Mary and boss Tony Soprano held court.

Cardinalle isn't really the owner of the club (at least not on paper, anyway). His daughter is named as the current owner.

Cardinalle was nailed following a multi-year FBI probe into the mob's control of the private sanitation industry in New York and New Jersey. Cardinalle, a longtime Genovese associate known as "Tony Lodi," began cooperating with the FBI and Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office a week before Christmas, although GangLand News is also reporting that, according to sources, Cardinalle has been talking to the Feds months longer than that.

Last December, he plead guilty to the two counts charged against him, racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit extortion, and also admitted to engaging in a plot to shake down a cooperating witness who owned a waste hauling company.

"Tony Lodi" was allegedly one of nine members of a three-family panel said to have been in control of private garbage collection routes, all of whom pleaded guilty before their racketeering trial could begin; it was scheduled to commence this past January.