Showing posts from August, 2016

Book "Lanza's Mob" a Myth-Shattering Landmark Work About Bay City Boss

James "Jimmy the Hat" Lanza, one of the most successful mob bosses you've never heard of, is brought to vivid life in Lanza's Mob: The Mafia and San Francisco, written by Christina Ann-Marie DiEdoardo, Esq., a criminal defense lawyer from the Bay Area originally from Queens, New York.
Lanza's Mob, the first detailed biography of Jimmy the Hat is a solid, well-researched addition to the Mafia library.

The book, however, details much more than Lanza and his crime family. It provides an insightful history of San Francisco itself, as well its colorful, evolving underworld, initially populated by the Barbary Pirates. The book includes an overview of the formation of the Mafia in Sicily and in America, as well as how and when it first planted roots in the Bay City.

Written in a wry, witty highly absorbing voice, the book is rock-solid in terms of its scholarship, which traces the Lanza family's roots from Sicily to America, uncovering missing facts while highlighti…

Dreading Violation, Reputed Mobsters Seek Parole Specifics

This has been quite a news-filled period for the New York Mafia.

We were counting on writing an entirely different slate of stories, but then the barrage of busts, sentencing hearings and what not interrupted.

That trio of mob-linked bank burglars was busted. Law enforcement hinted strongly that the arrests were only the beginning, and that there would be more to come. (And they were correct, just not the way we thought.)

A few days later and Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and more than 40 made members and associates of four of New York's Five Families were arrested in a massive Cosa Nostra takedown. The federal indictment alleges the existence of a unique criminal operation dubbed the "East Coast Syndicate" in the indictment. (On the same day, we were all shocked to learn about the other, unrelated bust of a small drug ring in Queens.)

Gangsters Out: Exclusive Interview with Former Hells Angels President

From Gangsters Out, an exclusive interview with a former Hells Angels president who was accused of cooperating with law enforcement, charges he denies....George Christie, a founder and president of the Hells Angels' Ventura Chapter (in California) wrote a book in response to those allegations. It will be released next month...
I recently found out that George Christie, long time President of the Hells Angels Ventura Chapter, was out in bad so I reached out to him and asked if he would do an interview. I can tell you one thing - this guy is the real deal. There have been other fly by night flashes in the pan that I refused to endorse. This guy I do endorse. Completely. He is what they meant when they made up the term old school. These new kids on the block have no idea what old school is simply because they've never been to school. We look forward to hearing more from him. 

Sopranos Based on Which Crime Family? Not DeCavalcantes...

David Chase: "90 percent of [The Sopranos] is made up (and the rest is) patterned after this [crime family]..."
If you’ve ever wondered where David Chase got all those fantastical ideas for “The Sopranos,” maybe he, like the feds, had his own mob informants. Or maybe the feds were his informants.

Tonight’s special episode of “American Greed,” titled “Mob Money,” is the story of the rise and fall of New Jersey’s DeCavalcante crime family, New Jersey gangsters who bear more than a passing resemblance to “The Sops.”

The DeCavalcantes were always, by mob standards anyway, minor players in the estimated $50 to 90-billion-a-year, ah (what the hell do you call it?), industry. In fact, the five families of New York called them “the farmers” and thought of them as country bumpkins.....

The Sopranos is based on New Jersey's DeCavalcante crime family.... that has been written so many times, most viewers of the show probably agree. Yours truly even wrote: "Many crime families and …

Mob "Banker" Film, Federico Castellucio's Directorial Debut, Is a Gem

The Brooklyn Banker review By Nick Christophers
Federico Castelluccio may be better known as "Furio," the name of the character he played on the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos, but he has come a long way since then.

He can now add to his resume the role of director of The Brooklyn Banker, a gem of a film that premiered last week at Manhattan's Cinema Village to a sold-out crowd. A national campaign also kicked off.

The project, first released as a trailer titled Lilly of The Feast, came together last year, and is the brainchild of Federico and Michael Ricigliano, a prolific writer who penned the screenplay. The title was changed when the film was completed.

"Really Big Cars" on Manhattan's "Itty Bitty Streets"

In 2003, Winter Hill turncoat Steve Flemmi told federal and state authorities that he had walked in on the May 10, 1993, murder of South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. DiSarro at the Sharon home of Francis Salemme’s former wife, according to a DEA report filed in Boston federal court. Flemmi said Francis Salemme and two others watched as Salemme’s son, Frank, strangled DiSarro to death. Flemmi named the two other witnesses as Frank Salemme’s younger brother, John, and a friend named Paul Weadick.

Salemme later told Flemmi that Rhode Island mobster Robert P. DeLuca Sr. "was present during the burial" of DiSarro, Flemmi said, adding that Salemme had expressed concern about DiSarro’s friendship with a law enforcement cooperator.

This story is based on notes I took during informal conversation with an old timer who goes by the name of "Charley P."  I call him Charley Partanna, just to call him something. I'm hoping this can be an occasional column but Charley …

When the Mafia Took A&P to War

One of the many myths of the Mafia is that it doesn't kill civilians, meaning "regular people" with no mob ties.

In fact, there are occasions when the mob has killed, or tried to kill innocent people. Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso ordered the murder of a civilian in a case of mistaken identity. Gaspipe also ordered the murder of another citizen in an attempt to convince Peter "Fat Pete Chiodo not to testify; Luchese gunmen, who first tried and failed to kill Fat Pete himself, next tried to kill his sister -- and failed as well. (Ironically, the attempt on his sister's life only emboldened the fence-sitting mobster to testify against his former criminal cohorts.)

And to those who think, "Gaspipe was nuts," there are numerous other examples, such as the murder of an NYPD cop who married the ex-wife of "Joe Waverly" Cacace, a former acting Colombo crime family boss.

All these hits were isolated and carried out for specific reasons, it could…

New Yorker: "Mafia Decline" Caused by Ineffective Communications

This was published on Aug. 18 by the New Yorker magazine under its Daily Shouts rubric with the headline: FBI Report on Mafia Decline Caused by Group Text and E-mail Chains:
INTERNAL/CLASSIFIED After extensive investigation, our specialized team, the F.B.I. New-Media Task Force, has determined that organized-crime syndicates are being increasingly hampered by an inability to communicate effectively through text messages and e-mails. Agents have found that the Mafia and other large criminal groups are having difficulty planning crimes as a result of overly long strings of messages that are derailed by unrelated jokes and gifs. Our investigators are pleased to report that this pattern has led to a decrease in crime and an increase in criminal organizations’ cellular overage charges.
The bulk of this investigation involved the interception and analysis of Mafia members’ text messages. It was observed that poor texting habits led to many issues. For instance, unrecognized abbreviations ofte…

Travolta's Gotti Biopic Started Filming -- in Cincinnati

Filming for The Life and Death of John Gotti, starring John Travolta, reportedly started this month, with the first scene shot on Stone Barn Road in Indian Hill, Fox19 reported.

Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, plays Gotti's wife in the film. Kevin Connolly, who portrays manager Eric Murphy on Entourage, is directing the film, which has been on and off for years. 
As for the surprise filming in Ohio, the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission has stated that filmmakers are taking advantage of Ohio's revised motion picture tax credit, which reimburses filmmakers for certain expenses.

Longtime Luchese Capo Accepts Plea Deal

Turns out, an alleged longtime Luchese capo decided he didn't really want to go to trial this month on an extortion beef, so he copped to a plea agreement this past Friday.

Alleged skipper Carmine Avellino (pic above) loses credit, one point, for indecisiveness. Because he made the Fed's wait by not copping sooner, he faces around four more months in prison as per sentencing guidelines.

Avellino, 72, admitted to conspiring with alleged Luchese associates Daniel and Michael Capra to threatening an individual who owed him $100,000. The victim, in his 70s, was beaten as per the Luchese Man of Honor's bidding.

What So-called "East Coast Crime Syndicate" Case Really Is About

The result of the years-long, multi-state probe was indictments charging 46 alleged mobsters for committing a seemingly prodigious grab-bag of crimes.

But there is a startling absence of factors common in most Mafia indictments. The case lacks specifics, as defense attorneys have noted. Also missing are traditional mob crimes, such as murder and major narcotics trafficking (the pain-alleviating compound lotion is presented as evidence of healthcare fraud). Still, defendants in this case face the possibility of dying in prison.
And save for Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, released on $5 million bail along with most of those arrested as per the East Coast Syndicate case, though two defendants were already in prison on other charges and three lammed it, there's a lack of mobstarpower, all things considered.

Italy "Ends" Sicily's Corleone Municipality

The municipality of Corleone, Sicily, is no more. And it's the Mafia's fault, the Italian government proclaimed.
Other local administrations tied to the Camorra and Ndrangheta -- Arzano, near Naples, and Calabria's Bovalino and Tropea -- also were done away with.
The towns will be administered by a government-appointed commissioner until new elections are held, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government revealed on August 10.

Philly, Bloody Philly: from Docile Don Bruno to Little Nicky Scarfo

Follow-up to recent story. Detailed account of the Machiavellian maneuvering that occurred prior to Little Nicky Scarfo's reign, plus book excerpt.

The volatility for which the Philadelphia Mafia is historically so well-known didn't begin with Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo.

But it certainly reached a crescendo during Scarfo's blood-soaked reign as Commission-backed boss of the Philadelphia Mafia, once known as the Bruno crime family. And there was still a street war between factions that erupted after Scarfo went away for the long haul.
Perhaps the greatest irony here is that the crime family known as the most violent of all was once run by a notoriously peaceful boss, who preferred making deals to ordering murders. Called "The Gentle Don," Angelo Bruno (born Angelo Annaloro) ran the Philly mob during what's considered its golden age, from 1959 until his 1980 murder, which happened owing to the duplicity of New York's Genovese street boss "…

"Cadillac Frank" Yanked from Witness Protection, Arrested for Murder

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, a former top-level member of the New England Mafia who flipped to testify against notorious Irish mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, was yanked out of Witness Protection and arrested today, having been charged with murdering a witness.

Salemme is to appear today at 3 p.m. before a Boston-based U.S. District Court, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office said.

Salemme is charged with the May 10, 1993 murder of South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. DiSarro. Salemme and his son, who has since died, were long suspected of being behind the murder.

Nicky Scarfo, 87, Will Walk Out of Prison, Retired Prison Guard Quips

Steve Bouye recently retired from his post as a decorated corrections officer who worked at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta.
The father of Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye served in that role for 25 years.

In a recent interview with The Chronicle, he noted that he'd guarded, as well as transported, two mob bosses: Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and John A. "Junior" Gotti, among a host of high-profile celebrity criminals, including former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Gotti Grandson Makes Bizarre References to Last Week's Howard Beach Murder

UPDATED In an exclusive interview with the New York Daily News on Saturday, John Gotti (grandson of the notorious former Gambino crime family boss) detailed some of the dynamics that he believes led to his arrest two days prior to his discussion with two journalists.

His own decision to allegedly mastermind the selling of Oxycodone and other diverted prescription drugs didn't figure once in the interview. And, disturbingly, for reasons of his own, he referenced the brutal rape and murder of a young woman last Tuesday in Howard Beach, one of two Queens neighborhoods in which Gotti and six others allegedly sold illegal prescription drugs. The murder remains unsolved.

Calling Karina Vetrano "drop-dead gorgeous" as well as a "sweetheart" whom he personally knew, Gotti also made a bizarre reference to her father, who found her body, calling him a "man's man."

Daily News Missed Major Sopranos' Cue

The New York Daily News doesn't know a good lede when it sees one...

(With apologies to "Chin" author Larry McShane, who had nothing to do with this Confidential article published today.)

The newspaper, in a piece that highlights newly released book Big Blue Wrecking Crew, notes how the championship-winning 1986 New York Giants played hard but partied even harder.

"Drugs, sex and all-night partying were key parts of the game plan for some of the players, according to a new book about Big Blue's run-up to its Super Bowl win," as the New writes.

Philly Connection to "East Coast" Case? (And What's Compound Cream, Anyway?)

The "massive" federal racketeering conspiracy indictment that broke this past Thursday named 46 mobsters, of which 39 were arrested.

Among the arrested was Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, whom the Feds say still runs the Philadelphia mob family, which was also named in the indictment (though not a single mobster was yanked off the streets of Philly by the Feds during the "East Coast LCN Enterprise" bust, as it's been dubbed.)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unveiled the indictment, which depicts a seemingly immense, sprawling collaboration involving four of New York's Five Families: the Gambino, Genovese, Luchese, and Bonannos -- and Philadelphia.

The Mob's Grip on New York's Nightlife

The Friends of Ours blogger is offering for 99 cents a Kindle ebook that is such a worthy addition to your library of books about the Mafia, I feel dutified to promote it. (Did I just invent a word?)

The author raises questions some mobsters most likely are uncomfortable discussing publicly. Which is putting it mildly.

It should come as no surprise that mobsters were killed over mere allegations of homosexuality. According to what one Mafia capo said in testimony, the mob has a law that goes something like:  If you're found to be gay, you die. Interestingly, the capo said that during his induction ceremony, he'd been instructed about many rules, though that specific one was never mentioned.

Alleged Drug-Dealing Grandson Broke John Gotti's Cardinal Rule

John Gotti, Gambino crime family boss, never, ever conducted mob business in his home.

The reason was simple: he never wanted what happened yesterday to happen to him. The legendary mob boss sought to protect his family from anything related to that other world.

Yesterday was the first time ever that anyone entered the late John Gotti's Howard Beach home uninvited. And it was NYPD cops armed with a search warrant who gained entry and reportedly ransacked the place as per Operation Beach Party.

Latest Indictment Shows Mafia Has Fallen

The Italian-American Mafia is still something of a force in New York City, if nowhere else. 
But despite American law enforcement's efforts to depict it as otherwise, it's clear the mob is nowhere near the menace it once actually was. Even the nicknames suck.

It's difficult to read this latest indictment and believe this entity was once a mighty, highly structured criminal organization known for committing murders and spinning rackets anywhere and everywhere possible, that it was once considered powerful enough to be a second government.

Gotti Grandson, Others Charged with Running Queens-based Drug Ring

Former Gambino boss John Gotti's grandson and namesake appears to be facing a long, uphill legal battle, at the end of which a possible 25-year prison stretch may await him.
And in an ironic twist, it may be his own words that do him in.
Gotti, who was arrested with six others today, is alleged to have sold drugs to undercover officers -- and most of the buys were allegedly videotaped. In addition, numerous incriminating conversations were recorded as part of the year-long operation led by elements of the NYPD and the Queens DA.

Today, as 46 mobsters were busted up and down the East Coast for a host of mob-related crimes, the grandson of the former Gambino crime family boss and six others were charged with selling Oxycodone and other controlled substances in the Queens neighborhoods of Howard Beach and Ozone Park over the past year.
The New York City Police Department’s Narcotics Borough and the Queens District Attorney’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau were the two key law enforc…

Merlino, Dozens of New York Mobsters Arrested; Gotti Grandson, Six Nabbed in Queens Drug Probe

Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and more than 40 made members and associates from four of New York's Five Families were arrested this morning in a massive Cosa Nostra takedown. (Looks like I was more accurate than I thought with that headline about 2016 not coming up aces for Merlino.)

The federal indictment alleges this unique criminal operation spanned from New York and the Northeast to Florida (and Costa Rica, even), according to the indictment. No one in Philadelphia other than Merlino was arrested, George Anastasia reported for Philly Voice.
Merlino and many of those arrested today were targets of an FBI undercover investigation that involved cooperating witnesses wearing audio and video recorders who infiltrated the various involved mob circles, Anastasia reported. Hundreds of hours of tapes were made.

Kenji Gallo's Breakshot Reissued; Sequel Due

Kenny "Kenji" Gallo is back with a reissued updated version of Breakshot: A Life in the 21st Century American Mafia, his story about serving as a Colombo crime family associate. (He also had ties to the Luchese and Los Angeles crime families, when the latter still existed.)

Seeing the dead-end nature of "the life" he was living, Gallo, an Asian-American, flipped, wore a wire and testified against all three crime families, which resulted in him writing and publishing what easily is among the top must-reads in the American-Mafia nonfiction genre.

Kenji's story didn't end there, however. He still wore a wire, for years.

Bank Burglary Crew Mobbed-up to the Hilt

The Brooklyn-based bank burglary crew busted this week and facing charges related to the alleged theft of about $5 million in cash, jewelry and diamonds is about as mobbed up as it gets.

The trio, who range in age from the mid-30s to mid-40s, were arrested last Tuesday and reputedly robbed at least two banks: Maspeth Federal in May and a Brooklyn-based HSBC branch in April.

Alleged mastermind Michael Mazzara is "a longtime Colombo associate who robbed banks with violent members of the Bath Avenue Crew... in the 1990s," as Gangland News's Jerry Capeci recently reported (the site requires paid subscription).

He also was shot in the face once.