Genovese Wiseguy Cops to Illegal Gambling; Was Once Tied to Fritzy

A reputed Genovese crime family member from Staten Island who was among the 46 alleged wiseguys arrested and charged with racketeering and other crimes in last August's "big bust," has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of running an illegal gambling business.

Alex Conigliaro in 2005 photo.

Alex Conigliaro, 56, was accused of attempting to extort a man who allegedly put him in the hole for nearly a half-million dollars in February 2012. The man, a bookmaker, had accounts with codefendant John (Tugboat) Tognino, who allegedly worked for Conigliaro.

Conigliaro suspected the bookmaker had allowed professional bettors to place wages, which put Conigliaro on the hook for nearly half a million -- the amount he owed the winning bettors, the Feds alleged.

The bookmaker was summoned to a Bronx restaurant (Pasquale’s Rigoletto?), where Conigliaro, a capo, and another alleged mobster confronted him in the basement and threatened him.

Conigliaro ultimately refused to pay the money he owed, officials said.

In pleading guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business, Conigliaro admitted to supervising and financing an illegal gambling operation focused on bookmaking and sports-betting, from 2011 to 2014.

The gambling ring involved at least five people and pulled in $2,000 in a single day.

Conigliaro will find out his sentence on Oct. 26 in Manhattan federal court. He is expected to get 8 to 14 months behind bars. He could get more time -- or less, as the judge has the discretion. The judge already authorized the removal of Conigliaro's electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and removed a curfew imposed on him.

In 2004, a Manhattan federal court jury acquitted Conigliaro of running an illegal gambling business with the help of five others, which also pulled in $2,000 in a single day.

In 1998, though, he was part of a much larger roundup of Genovese mobsters, including the notorious Frederico Giovanelli, who was acquitted of charges that he killed a New York City police detective in 1986 and played a role in the corruption convictions of a former Brooklyn Democratic leader and a Bronx Congressman in 1987.

In that raid on March 1998, a total of 28 were arrested and charged with running a gambling ring. Among the arrested was a New York City police officer. The ring took in more than $50 million a year and stretched across three boroughs.

Richard Sacco, 28, of Maspeth, Queens, was the indicted officer, who worked in Brooklyn Court. His duties in the gambling operation included providing bettors with telephone numbers and access codes to wire rooms in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, prosecutors said. Officer Sacco, whose mob nickname was Pasta, also met with bettors and settled weekly gambling accounts with the ring.

Giovanelli has a history with city and federal law enforcement officials stretching back decades.

Fritzy Giovanelli.

When arrested in 1998, he was on parole for a 1989 racketeering conviction.

The ring took bets on football, basketball, professional baseball, hockey and horse racing and also ran numbers and illegal lotteries, prosecutors said, It was a ''cash cow'' for the Genovese family; the money the ring earned was allegedly used to finance drug trafficking, auto theft, stolen auto parts and illegal labor union operations.

Conigliaro, then 37 -- and a Staten Island resident back then even -- was the bookmaker and also head of the ring. Frank Barbone, of Maspeth, Queens, acted as the ring's controller, conducting day-to-day operations and maintaining account information. The 24 others were alleged to be clerks or runners for the operation and were charged with enterprise corruption, conspiracy and promoting gambling.

Each faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Giovanelli was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. The only charges he faced in the case were parole violation charges, which accused him of controlling the gambling ring and associating with mobsters.

Giovanelli, then of Middle Village, Queens; Steven Maltese; and Carmine 'Buddy' Gualtiere (both are reputed Genovese members) all escaped conviction in three state trials in the late 1980's and early 1990's.The three were charged with killing an undercover police detective and wounding another while the two conducted an organized-crime surveillance in Ridgewood, Queens, on Jan. 21, 1986.

The detective was shot to death in cold blood. If the Genovese mobsters had carried it out, it would go down as one of the mob's most ruthless murders ever. 

The defense successfully argued that Giovanelli was robbed by the real killers. He and the two other alleged wiseguys were convicted on Federal racketeering charges in 1989.

One of the most recent stories I could find that included Giovanelli was a 2014 Daily Beast story about Al Sharpton. Fritzy was reportedly three years out of prison at the time.

Fritzy gave the Daily Beast a quote:

"Poor Sharpton, he cleaned up his life and you want to ruin him," Fritzy said.

Was Giovanelli being ironic?

Giovanelli was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for racketeering, in large measure because of court-approved wiretaps obtained via Sharpton’s information.

READ Rev. Al Sharpton Was Paid FBI Mafia Informant

In another notable case, a 1985 telephone tap on Giovanelli ultimately led to the convictions of Meade H. Esposito, the former Brooklyn Democratic leader, and former Representative Mario Biaggi of the Bronx on influence-peddling and bribery charges.

Biaggi is an interesting politician to ponder in the divisive political climate of today.

Biaggi was one of my heroes growing up... A highly decorated former New York City police officer, he was probably one of the most beloved New York City congressmen ever. He won 10 terms as a Democratic congressman from the Bronx. Many of his wins were landslides, with him winning 90 percent of the vote.

Many elections he ran unopposed -- Republicans often put Biaggi on the Republican ticket.

Mario Biaggi
It all ended in the late 1980s when a wave of corruption scandals finally brought him down and put him in prison. 

He lived until 97 years of age, dying in June 2015 at his home in the Bronx. 

"The rise and fall of Mr. Biaggi was a kaleidoscopic morality tale: a triumph of justice to federal prosecutors like Rudolph W. Giuliani, a tragedy to former fellow police officers, who recalled him as a hero, and a terrible loss to working-class voters, who saw him as their champion in Washington.

"Born in East Harlem to Italian immigrants, he had shined shoes and delivered mail before becoming a police officer. In 23 years on the force, he was wounded 11 times, killed two suspects in self-defense and became a law-enforcement legend, winning dozens of citations for valor and national recognition," reads the New York Times obit -- which you can read here.


  1. Professional gamblers? Lol that's a good one!!

  2. Speaking of Gambling... What's up with the Mob and Saratoga Springs (Saratoga Racetrack, Casino) the week of August 23, 2017? The word around Howard Beach is that Saratoga Racetrack is going to be jam-packed with wiseguys that week, wonder what's up. Scheduled to make appearances include wiseguys awaiting Trial. How'd they ever swing that?

    Great idea! I mean, there's no way the Feds can make a bunch of wiseguys in a crowd of 50,000, right?

    1. Sorry, the comment above was Posted by: RICO


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