Showing posts from February, 2016

Ndrangheta 101: Italian-Mafia Scholar's Insight

Supporters protest 2010 arrest of Ndrangheta boss. John Dickie on The 'Ndrangheta By Diego Scarabelli Why is the history of the ‘Ndrangheta in the 19th Century still largely neglected? It isn’t just the history of the ‘Ndrangheta in the nineteenth century that has been neglected: it is the ‘Ndrangheta tout court. It’s sometimes said that the ‘Ndrangheta has been covered by a ‘cono d’ombra’: a deep media shadow. The main reason for this is simply that Calabria is not remotely as politically important as are Naples and Palermo (where the camorra and mafia are most visible). Calabria can be safely ignored, by comparison. Once you start to research the history of the ‘Ndrangheta, you find that there are lots of sources because the police and magistrature knew all about it.

1981: A Most Violent Year for New York's Mafia

After finishing The Stone Killer (1973), Charles Bronson and Michael Winner wanted to make another film together. They discussed further projects. "What do we do next?" asked Bronson. "The best script I've got is 'Death Wish'. It's about a man whose wife and daughter are mugged and he goes out and shoots muggers," said Winner. "I'd like to do that," Bronson said. "The film?" asked Winner. "No . . . shoot muggers," Bronson replied, A Most Violent Year:  "A crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built." The above statistic is true. The film is fiction, but the backdrop against which it wa

No! Whitey Bulger Was Not Caught J--king Off! ... Was He?

An ignoble man caught in a most ignoble way.... Because he didn't extinguish a simple light, the former Irishman who ran South Boston's Winter Hill Gang while serving double-duty as a high-echelon snitch, 85-year-old James "Whitey" Bulge r was caught literally with his pants down. According to court documents unearthed by the Boston Globe, a correction's officer spied Bulger masturbating in his cell at 3 a.m. last June at the US Penitentiary Coleman II in Florida Since Federal inmates are prohibited from all sexual activity, Bulger was punished for the wee infraction, reported. He was placed in solitary confinement for 30 days; his commissary and email privileges were stopped for 120 days.

Old Mob Business Mars Big Ang's Memorial

Big Ang is making drinks at that big bar in the sky.... It was the kind of thing Big Ang wouldn't have condoned.... Mob Wives cast members Brittany Fogarty and Karen Gravano were asked not to attend Angela "Big Ang" Raiola's funeral yesterday. A source with friends who attended the memorial service and funeral have said that a third  Mob Wife, Drita D'Avanzo, who showed up with two bodyguards, was asked to leave one of the memorial services. However she can plainly be seen crying (accompanied by two big burly bodyguards wearing ear pieces) at the funeral.

Made Guys Who Flip Are Still Made

At the Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora trial, a former Bonanno capo offered testimony regarding his current mob status, noting that even if a made man flips and testifies for the government, he's still an inducted member of the Mafia. James Tartaglione Anyone who is officially made a “soldier” keeps that title for life no matter what. Even if he flips, he's still a member, only he's considered "shelved," said James "Big Louie" Tartaglione at Santora's enterprise corruption trial. Former Gambino capo Michael "Mikie Scars" DiLeonardo  said the same during his own testimony. "The family can not make another person to take your spot until you are dead," he told Cosa Nostra News. The 78-year-old key witness for the prosecution, " Big Louie" Tartaglione, debuted this past week in the enterprise corruption trial of Vito Badamo, Ernest Aiello, Anthony “Skinny” Santoro and “Nicky Mouth” Santora, nullifying my th

Gravano in Talks with Production Companies

Sammy Gravano's mugshot. Salvatore "Sammy The Bull" Gravano is talking with production companies about debuting his own television show when he departs prison. The former Gambino mobster pleaded guilty to 19 murders in an agreement to testify against John Gotti. And his reality star daughter Karen is helping him negotiate with television executives. (Last week I slated this story for today; it was not my intention to publish this on the day Karen's co-star, Big Ang, died of cancer.)

Mob Wives Star Big Ang, 55, Died While Fighting Cancer

Big Ang prior to plastic surgery, pre-Mob Wives.... Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, star of the VH1 reality series "Mob Wives,"  died early Thursday morning as she was fighting lung and brain cancer. She was 55. Widely known for her raspy voice, larger-than-life personality (plus humongous bustline), and of course her apparent propensity for plastic surgery, she was one of the very few Mob Wives stars to be universally loved by fans. This blog often referred to her as the show's conscience, as well as its raspy voice of reason.

Bookie's Suicide "Blew Up" Brooklyn DA's Mob Probe

Patrick Deluise killed himself. A New Jersey bookie known to suffer from panic attacks was found dead in his car in Holmdel, N.J., at 2 a.m. in late January, as reported last month. Patrick Deluise fatally shot himsef on Jan. 22, two days after Brooklyn DA investigators had executed a search warrant on his property following a 17-month probe of an alleged illegal sports-betting and loan-sharking operations tied to the Gambino crime family, specifically associate Anthony "Butchie" Vallario, Gambino capo Louie Vallario's brother. It was later reported (on Feb. 4) by the New York Post that investigators from the Brooklyn D.A.'s office had approached him with a cooperation deal.

Footage of Drita D'Avanzo Fight, Before & During

In the above video, a woman is clearly taunting Lee and Drita D'Avanzo, with Drita apparently screaming in the background. (Note: we don't see what happened prior to the beginning of the filming.) Then, reportedly a few moments after the above was filmed, the fight took place, with a next-door neighbor filming it. (See fight video on jump page, at end of story.) I, for one, have problems with this scenario. These videos were clearly filmed separately, and in one version, not posted here, they were fused together in the sequence I described, with the above video comprising part one. The problem is the second part doesn't seem like it was filmed immediately following the first. Or to put it another way, what proof is there that the one sequence immediately followed or preceded the other? We have two incidents captured on different cameras -- and I have seen nothing definitive that says which one came first. It's possible and quite likely the two sequences were fi

Longtime Bonanno Santora Faces Trial of His Life

Nicky Mouth's 2012 arrest by federal agents. What is most amazing about reputed capo/former underboss Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora -- whose criminal roots go back to the 1960s and whose mob career included years in Greenpoint's Motion Lounge social club during the FBI's 1970s Donnie Brasco infiltration of the Bonanno crime family -- is the fact that he's still alive and a power in gangland. At least he was a power on the street until his 2012 arrest by federal agents in an unrelated case. In 2013, he copped to a federal extortion charge in Brooklyn and was sentenced to 20 (or 30, reports disagree) months in prison. He was serving that sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pa., when he was indicted in 2013 along with his alleged crew, which consisted of associates and soldiers, by Manhattan's DA, Cyrus Vance. ( See actual indictment , which is 158-pages long and can be saved as a PDF.) Santora didn't bite when he was

Massino to Testify in Manhattan Bonanno Trial? Nope

From Left, Vito Badamo, Anthony Santoro, Ernest Aiello, Nicholas Santora. REVISED: On the heels of longtime Bonanno mobster Vinny Asaro's stunning acquittal in Brooklyn last November , the Manhattan D.A.'s  prosecutors this past week rolled out the long-brewing enterprise corruption trial of Bonanno capo Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora and three crew members in Manhattan Supreme Court. And it seems that Joseph "Big Joey" Massino is not the prosecution's star witness.  The former Bonanno family's official boss faced eight murder charges, not seven as was  originally reported. Nicky Santora, has held a leadership role since the 1970s. Who else would have the institutional knowledge to finally pin enough on Nicky Mouth to possibly put him away for the rest of his life (and also faced seven murder charges)? (The turncoats testifying in this trial haven't been clearly identified in press reports, for reasons unknown to me.) Massino doesn't s

Alleged Mobster "Took Pleasure in Fear of Others"

Alleged mobster Paul Carparelli (see him above in 2010 photo looking all wacky) wants a button in the Chicago Outfit -- probably as much as I want a full-time job with benefits. And most likely Paul will attain his goal before me...  Last week, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, as the Chicago Tribune  reported .

Mob Wife Drita D'Avanzo Arrested for Beating Chef

Drita D'Avanzo UPDATE #2 : Drita D'Avanzo , a cast member of VH1's Mob Wives , was arrested on Tuesday, the NYPD confirmed. Reportedly, she had engaged in a "verbal dispute" with a woman on Staten Island. D'Avanzo "attacked" the woman and punched her repeatedly, then fled, police said. Of course "the woman" -- a former chef on Staten Island -- wants money before she'll even respond to press inquiries....  And it seems she found a buyer! See below for much do they apparently pay, I wonder...

No Respect for Merlino: "Corrupt and Dead" Director

This trailer packs a wallop... Tigre Hill's new documentary on organized crime features real-life South Philly wiseguys, including Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and Angelo Bruno. On Feb. 2, the "Shame of a City" and "Barrel of a Gun" director released the trailer for "The Corrupt and The Dead," his latest film. Hill described the forthcoming documentary as focusing on the detrimental effect of organized crime on society, as well as its impact on the economies of its host cities. The film covers the mob's influence in cities across the country, but tightens its focus specifically on the mob's impact on Hill's native city of Philadelphia, noted .

Cop Joined Violent Albanian Crew, Will Pay Piper

Former NYPD officer/Albanian thug Besnik Llakatura during his 2013 arrest. The NYPD Officer who copped to a guilty plea last December over his involvement in an Albanian crime ring focused on shaking down a couple of Queens-based business owners faces sentencing later this month. Besnik Llakatura would have faced life in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines limit his term to anywhere from 12 years and nine months to 14 years and three months. Brooklyn Federal Judge Eric Vitaliano is slated to pronounce the man's fate on Feb. 26. Since his December 2013 arrest on extortion and gun-brandishing charges, Llakatura, 36, has been suspended without pay. "Through his participation in these extortion schemes, Besnik Llakatura turned his back on his badge and his community, choosing [to] break the laws he was sworn to uphold, rather than enforce them, and to thereafter extort members of the community he had sworn to protect," U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a st

Why Was Mob Boss Tommy Eboli Really Killed?

From left, Al Pacino, Genovese capo Patsy Eboli and Al Lettieri. I found the following while researching where in Sicily Al Lettieri 's family arrived from. Lettieri, the great character actor of the 1970s, was noticed for his infamous turn in the Godfather ; my next personal favorite Lettieri character after Virgil (The Turk) Sollozzo has to be the villian in the Steve McQueen flick The Getaway (based on the excellent novel of the same name by Jim Thompson, the blackhearted writer of criminal fictional masterpieces .) I couldn't find a reference regarding from where the actor's family hailed, but I did find interesting information about a former Genovese acting boss murdered gangland style in 1972. (His brother disappeared a few years later.) I got the chills after finding a story that seems to substantiate a claim I'd heard from one of my sources. The source is from Manhattan's Greenwich Village and lived about one block away from the Tr

Considering the Mob's Sartorial Splendor

"This ultra-long and narrow point collar bucks convention and is a total stand-out," as Esquire noted. Clothing is deeply associated with the Mafia for many of us. Films like Goodfellas are acclaimed, in part, due to their attention to detail. That includes the clothing the gangsters wore during the period when the film's events took place. Those shirts with the big-ass, tapered collars worn in Goodfellas were cool; quite dated looking, but cool. Esquire, in an article on clothing the Goodfellas wore, agreed , calling the shirt, simply, The Point Collar Shir t,"a thoroughly old school look we'd love to see come back into fashion." I also liked the camel coa t Ray Liotta as Henry Hill wore in the film, of which Esquire said: "The camel coat has long been a staple of the distinguished man's wardrobe, a luxury item that instantly denotes sophistication and refinement." I read tons of blogs about every conceivable topic. Occasionally I

Note, Request for Your Help

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Sollozzo Profile in Mob Candy's Godfather Issue

Here's a story I wrote for  Mob Candy's  celebration of the  Godfathe r's 40th Anniversary issue, a profile of Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo and the great actor who played him,  Al Lettieri , who died too young. Lettieri knew how to speak Sicilian fluently. You have to see Lettieri in Sam Peckinpah's 1972 violent masterpiece "The Getaway," based on the brisk book written by iconic pulp writer Jim Thompson.  T he Getaway , in which Lettieri plays a hood named Rudy Butler, the film's "heavy," was somehow released with a PG rating; this was quickly corrected and replaced with an R rating. The actor, who spoke Sicilian, put on weight (you won't believe you're looking at the sleek, barrel-chested guy who played the Turk when you see the film).