Showing posts from November, 2016

Fidel Castro, Pain in Mob's Collective Ass, Finally Dead

Meyer Lansky supposedly was the first to realize the possibilities Cuba afforded the mob. Santo Trafficante Junior was close behind him.

The offshore tropical island was the perfect platform for smuggling, among other things.

Cuba also made an excellent vacation destination, where a gambling industry to match Las Vegas could thrive -- minus the attention U.S. operators tended to attract from certain federal agencies, like the FBI.

Unlike in Vegas, the mob could invest its gambling proceeds into entities like corporations and financial institutions, thus laundering it and profiteering from what wouldn't be classified as illicit earnings.

Charlie (Lucky) Luciano: American Mafia's Founding Godfather

Charles (Lucky) Luciano was born Salvatore Lucania, today, Nov. 24, in 1897 in Lercara Friddi, Sicily.

He's considered the father of organized crime in the United States. Historians in recent years have worked to put the iconic mob boss into proper perspective, as his personal impact on America's Cosa Nostra had been appreciably exaggerated for the greater part of the 20th century. The bogus Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, by Martin Gosch and Richard Hammer, certainly didn't help matters. (As unbelievable as it sounds, some of today's foremost organized crime writers still reference it.)

Consequently, we compiled this "updated" Luciano sketch. It's certainly not comprehensive, but it's substantial enough.

Christian Cipollini, an award-winning author and comic book creator, has written two books about Luciano, Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend and LUCKY (with Evgeny Frantsev as illustrator), along with two other works, Murder Inc. a…

Has the Mafia Resurged Post-9/11?

It's been 10 years since Selwyn Raab, now 82, published his seminal work on American organized crime:  Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires.

And, according to Rolling Stone magazine, he's updating it.

But you wouldn't know it based on the title Rolling Stone hid this news nugget under, Is the American Mafia on the Rise?

The Mafia's obituary seem to be written every few years....

The fact is, the American Cosa Nostra was organized specifically to perpetuate itself. No matter how many single individuals are knocked out of the box by death or prison, the structured institution itself, currently pegged at about 8,000-strong (including inducted members and associates), continues. And learns.
The key factor now is anti-terrorism, which is benefiting the Mafia in New York the same way it was able to hide in Communism's shadow for the greater part of the 20th century.

Genovese Family's Springfield Crew Prospered Under Skyball

In 1961, from a telephone booth at Providence Hospital, a Roman Catholic nun dropped the proverbial dime on Francesco "Skyball" Scibelli, then a young hoodlum whom she apparently earmarked for redemption, at least so it seems, based on the good sister's actions.

The more immediate prompt for the call was that the nun knew that Scibelli was running an illegal gambling ring.

Apparently, divine intervention and the related jail time weren’t enough to dissuade him from running the rackets for the Genovese crime family in Springfield, Mass., which included parts of two bordering states as well.

Scibelli was a low-profile gangster who ran the Genovese crime family's outpost quietly during a time of relative peace and prosperity, neither of which lasted very long after the old-school Cosa Nostra boss died.

Feds Hold Genovese's Springfield Chief Indefinitely in Brooklyn

Five reputed members of the Genovese crime family's "Springfield Crew" were arrested in August as part of the "East Coast LCN Enterprise" case that alleges wide-ranging Mafia-related activity in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida (and New Jersey, supposedly).

Four of the five Springfield Crew members have been released on bail; the one Genovese associate still being held is Ralph Santaniello, 49. Believed to be running the Springfield Crew for the Genovese crime family, he was transported in October to New York City for a hearing that is not slated to occur anytime soon. He is the only mobster arrested in August who wasn't granted bail. Others being held were already imprisoned when the indictment came down.

Santaniello is running Springfield reportedly with the backing of his father, Amedeo Santaniello, a longtime Springfield mobster and a former confidante of Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, now deceased.  Also backing the you…

8th Gangland Hit in 18 Months -- What's Going On In Aussie Underworld?

Pasquale "Tim" Barbaro was running for his life when a bullet dropped him flat. And dead.

Barbaro -- an Aussie who belonged to a fierce Ndrangheta clan known in Italy for drug trafficking, weapons dealing, and murder -- was gunned down this past Monday in Sydney at around 9:40 pm local time.

At the time of his death, Barbaro reportedly wasn't active in the Ndrangheta. He allegedly was more of a freelance gangster focused on drug dealing and extortion. (He also may have been a high-echelon informant, which possibly could be the motive for his shooting death, though motives are not in short supply in this case.)

He'd escaped a similar fate nearly a year ago to the very date when he miraculously survived a hail of gunfire in Leichhardt, a Sydney suburb.

Barbaro was shot dead as he departed associate George Alex's Earlwood home. He's lost family members prematurely, including his grandfather and a cousin. Both were murdered.

"One of his notorious mates, con…

Philadelphia Mob Boss's Memoir Slated for Big Screen

A film based on the pending memoir of onetime Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Ralph Natale is due to hit your local multiplex, an exclusive Deadline report noted. (The story also noted that Leonardo DiCaprio is going to star in an untitled mob film for Showtime; we are working on getting further details.)

Natale is working with New York Daily News reporter Larry McShane (a 35-year newspaperman who also wrote Chin, a Vincent Gigante biography) and Dan Pearson, who produced I Married a Mobster.

The Last Don Standing (the book is slated to debut on March 31; no date for the film's release has been provided) recounts the story of Natale's life, focusing on his rise and fall in the Philadelphia Costra Nostra. He's earned the sobering sobriquet of being the first Mafia boss to flip and testify as a federal witness.

Rare Photo Captures "Zu Cola" Gentile's 1937 Drug Bust

If ever there were a Zelig in the American Mafia, his name was Nicola "Zu Cola" Gentile.

Gentile is a significant source of information about the American Cosa Nostra's early years. The unique role he played expanded his knowledge. He was a sort of mobile troubleshooter who'd swoop in wherever and whenever needed. Mobsters all over the country frequently required his services.

He published his memoirs, Vita di Capomafia, in Italy in 1963. That year, Joseph "Joe Cago" Valachi appeared before Arkansas Senator John L. McClellan's Permanent Subcommittee, aka the McClellan hearings.

Many view the book as important as most other major sources of the Mafia's early years. It's up there with The Valachi Papers and Joseph Bonanno's Man of Honor memoir.

Born in Siculiana, Sicily, on June 12, 1884, Gentile arrived in the U.S. at age 19. As Mike Dash noted in The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the Amer…

Vinny Basciano Wins His Nickname!

Former (or current) official Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano looks worthy of the nickname he so despised.

Longtime reader/commenter David Gizewski sent us the photo. Thank you, David.

Former (or current) official Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, above, is looking worthy of the nickname he so despised.

Murder Inc. Stoolie "Kid Twist" Reles Met Death 75 Years Ago

The Writers of Wrong is the name of a blog I discovered today; I knew it was a more-than-credible source once I saw the names attached to it...

Christian Cipollini... Thomas Hunt... and Patrick Downey (who authored a book on Legs Diamond I am currently enjoying immensely.

And speaking of books, Cip and Downey both contributed to a fictional short story compendium, Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets.)

Mob historians are invited to contribute, as the blog notes: "Writers of crime history are encouraged to submit news releases; short book excerpts; event announcements; links to videos, images, websites, etc., for publication in this blog using the 'Contact Us' form at the bottom of the page."

On this date in 1941, informant Abe "Kid Twist" Reles fell to his death at the Half Moon Hotel, Coney Island. The thirty-five-year-old Reles, who had been cooperating with authorities in Murder, Inc., prosecutions since early in 1940, was…

Author's First Novel Tells a Mob Tale On the Boston Waterfront

By Cosa Nostra News contributor Nick Christophers
The Last Longshoreman:A Chilling Tale of Crime and Corruption on the Boston Waterfront, Marc Zappulla's new fictional book, catapults us back to a lifestyle that few today are capable of understanding.
Technically his fourth book -- he served as a ghostwriter on the first three -- it also is his debut solo effort, a mob-related fictional book. With The Last Longshoreman, Marc sought to re-create a lost world, one in which most longshoremen had to deal with organized crime on some level. Not since Marlon Brando’s unflinching performance in On The Waterfront has this shadowy world been spotlighted in such detail, Marc believes.

FBI Mob Squad Nabs Man Who Killed Spumoni Gardens Co-Owner

FBI agents yesterday arrested the alleged killer of a famous Brooklyn pizzeria's co-owner.

The suspect, Andres Fernandez, shot Louis Barbati, 61, five times on June 30. Barbati was an owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn's Gravesend.

Fernandez, 41, appeared in Brooklyn federal court to face murder, robbery and weapons charges. He didn't offer a plea. His lawyer didn't comment.