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

Liborio Bellomo, left, Mickey Dimino.

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 mobstar power, all things considered.

As for Merlino bail: "Prosecutors agreed to his release, "a 180-degree turn from documents filed last week that called him a "danger to the community" and requested that he be held without bail. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan couldn't explain the shift... saying it was a decision made in New York" where the investigation is based. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan had no comment, as Reuters reported. Seems Merlino is reopening his restaurant in October, too. So he can work there, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. He also can travel to New York City, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to attend some events such as a family day at the college his two daughters attend.

The East Coast Syndicate indictments might best be understood considering who wasn't indicted.

An undercover agent, posing as a wannabe, successfully infiltrated the most powerful Mafia crime family left in America, the Genovese crime family. In the end, though, the indictments never reached official boss Liborio Bellomo, though not for lack of trying.

In this week's Gangland News story, Undercover G-Man Stings The Powerful Genovese Crime Family, Jerry Capeci writes about the Fed's secret undercover agent who "accomplish(ed) the unthinkable: He has stung the Ivy League of organized crime in New York — the powerful, sophisticated Genovese crime family." However:

Despite his growing acceptance, the ever-wary Genovese leadership still remained out of sight. Sources say the agent "wasn't close" to being proposed for membership, and never met family boss Liborio (Barney) Bellomo, or other top family leaders. But he was a "trusted" associate who drove his immediate mob superiors to the lower Manhattan social club on Market Street run by Peter (Petey Red) DiChiara, whom Gang Land disclosed in February to be a "street boss" for the closeted Bellomo.

Vincent "The Chin" Gigante named Liborio Bellomo to acting boss decades ago, before Barney went to prison for a period that the Fed's incrementally stretched out as long as legally possible. In a previous story we tried to hack a path through the tangled bevy of charges.

As for the lauded undercover agent, he got close enough to record numerous incriminating discussions regarding various Genovese rackets.

Based on Gangland News's sources, the unidentified agent rightfully earned a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of undercover mob busters alongside Joe Pistone and Joaquín "Jack Falcone" García.

Consequently, "(l)aw enforcement sources spoke with awe of the undercover work that led to last week's blockbuster indictment." In fact:

The results of the agent's secret mission were so good, and linked so many defendants to so many crimes, that it took four months longer for prosecutors to obtain racketeering charges than they had originally planned.

Authorities say the agent — and a mob turncoat who vouched for the G-man — recorded "thousands of hours" of discussions to snare the defendants in a laundry list of criminal activity....
Bellomo has long been viewed by sources on both sides of the law as a major force in the Genovese crime family. In early 2016, authoritative law enforcement officials and other knowledgeable sources told Gang Land that Barney had taken over as Genovese boss and that long time Lower East Side capo Peter (Petey Red) DiChiara was serving as Bellomo's "street boss."

The three men who allegedly "supervised and controlled" this mob-linked network were Merlino and Genovese capos Eugene "Rooster" O’Nofrio and Pasquale Parrello.

The agent got close to, and actually drove for, "Rooster" O'Nofrio, a convicted cocaine dealer based in Connecticut. The agent recorded Rooster and others in the last two years of the investigation.

The investigation began in late 2011, when a Bronx-based Parrello cohort flipped after participating in an assault when two mob associates later were recorded discussing the beating of the panhandler outside Patsy's restaurant.

Court papers say the cooperating witness, CW-1, and a now deceased gangster, Ronald (The Beast) Mastrovincenzo had assaulted the victim in the Bronx in a plot with defendants Israel (Buddy) Torres and Anthony (Anthony Boy) Zinzi. On tape, The Beast was heard explaining the assault to Zinzi: "Remember the old days in the neighborhood when we used to play baseball? A ball game like that was done."

Read the rest on Gangland News, which is more than worth the price of the subscription. Jerry Capeci is the best there is at covering the New York Mafia; he leaves the rest of us in the dust.

New Boss of the Mulberry Street Crew

Rooster is the new boss of the "Mulberry Street Crew" in Manhattan's Little Italy. Or at least that's what he told the undercover agent while he was wired for sound.

According to court papers, O'Norfio recounted how the capo told him, "I want you at the helm" of the Mulberry Street Crew while he was in prison.

The new indictment accuses O'Norfio, 74, of East Haven, Connecticut, of loansharking, but it doesn't go into specifics. He has pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges that also accuse him of being in charge of another crew in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Honestly, we're surprised there's enough of Mulberry Street left to warrant a whole crew.

  • The Ravenite is now a boutique for "handcrafted" shoes in a gentrified section of Littler Italy, which has been redesignated as Nolita (North of Little Italy).
  • Art galleries, brunch spots and upscale clothing stores surround the shoestore and spread outward into what was once "the old neighborhood."

Mob investigations into Little Italy and the feast for which it is famous, San Gennaro (which back in the 1980s, 1970s was a virtual ATM machine for the mob), have continued, though, throughout the years, resulting in an embezzlement conviction in 2000 of a former San Gennaro organizer. Also there was testimony at a 2004 trial that claimed a Little Italy "leader" was a made man.

And in 2013, a Genovese capo plead out in a case accusing him of trying to extort the festival.