Feds Find Mafia “Infamnia” in Home of Vincent (Chin) Gigante's Son

Five members and associates of the Genovese crime family were arrested last week, including a son of Vincent (Chin) Gigante, the legendary Mafia Don known for the crazy act.
Vincent Esposito walks his father, Vincent Gigante, outside Manhattan townhouse
Gigante with son Vincent Esposito outside townhouse at 77th St. in 1997.

The five were indicted for crimes related to a racketeering scheme that included extortion and other crimes from 2001 up until recently.




Esposito--along with capo Steven (Mad Dog) Arena, 60; Frank Giovinco, 50; Frank Cognetta, 42; and Vincent D’Acunto, Jr.--"knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together to violate the racketeering laws of the United States." Or so says the federal indictment filed in New York's Southern District Court. (Download indictment as a PDF here).

The heart of the indictment charges that Esposito, Arena, and associate D'Acunto Jr. extorted a union official for more than 15 years. And there's a snitch: a cooperating witness who’s “very close with the defendant, who’s part of his family who will be expected to testify against him at trial."

NOTE: It's Chin's nephew. Gang Land News today identified the informant as Vincent Fyfe, who wire a wire on "his uncle's mob pals." Also, he "supplied key evidence that prosecutors used to indict Gigante's youngest son, Vincent Esposito, on labor racketeering charges earlier this month."



When arrested, Esposito (who received the lion's share of the loot) was living in the same Upper East Side townhouse where his father once lived. Vincent Esposito owns it with his mother and two sisters. Along with the list of names, the feds reportedly found two unlicensed guns, brass knuckles, and more than $1 million in cash inside the $12 million E. 77th St. townhouse. (The townhouse's address on Manhattan's Upper East Side is one of the most desirable places to live in the world.)

Esposito was the star, the indictment's marquee name. That said, what had sources buzzing recently were the items the Fed's found when they arrested Vincent at the Upper East Side townhouse: weapons, a million in cash, and a tantalizing list.

We asked Gambino capo Mikie Scars, who we interviewed for this story, how much space a million in cash would take up. He said that, if the stash were comprised of only hundred-dollar bills, $10,000 would stack up at about an inch and a half.

Esposito, 50, is the son of legendary Mafia boss Gigante and Olympia Esposito, the Olympia who wasn't the Chin's wife (Chin had two separate families with two women both named Olympia. Knowing how cautious Chin was, it's difficult to believe that's a coincidence. He was never at risk of inadvertently calling his wife or mistress by the wrong name.)

Vincent Gigante was such a force, he impacted American pop culture; the HBO series The Sopranos based a character on him. (John Gotti was mentioned by name on an episode in a scene set on a golf course when Tony Soprano shared a cryptic anecdote about an ice cream truck (see clip, below).

As for the list, the New York Post reported that "the feds... found a real mafia no-no in his basement, what old-time wiseguys might have called an “infamnia” — an actual list of “made members of La Cosa Nostra, ” the prosecutor said.

Vincent Esposito in 2002.

"The dumb-fella move harks back to the hand-written, two-page list of mobsters kept by fellow mob scion John “Junior” Gotti, who carefully recorded how much cash each one gave him at his lavish 1990 wedding.

It never hurts to be prudent, even in Cosa Nostra, said former Gambino capo Michael DiLeonardo when asked to reflect on the items found in Esposito's townhouse.

"You never leave large sums of money in your house. You never leave guns in your house." Today, the feds have equipment that automatically detects cash; it's not very difficult for them to find a stash of green.




Wiseguys Don't Need Guns...
Michael was amazed that Vincent kept the guns, brass knuckles, and million in cash in his home, noting that in all his years on the street, he never kept anything like that in his own house. From early on in "the life," DiLeonardo made it known that he didn't keep anything in his house, which is why, he speculated, law enforcement never raided his house when they came to arrest him. They knew they'd find nothing because that was the word that went around.

"I am stunned," he said of Esposito. "It doesn't make sense. Who is going to shoot him? There's no war going on. A lot of guys keep guns in their house. I don't know why."

John Gotti also never kept anything in his house, Michael explained. John Gotti's 1990 arrest happened, DiLeonardo reminded me, at the Ravenite social club in lower Manhattan. Not his house. "Because the feds knew John kept nothing, absolutely nothing in his house."

Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno was a front boss in the Genovese crime family
Fat Tony outside court in 1985.

Unfortunately, the apple fell quite a distance from the tree when it came to "recordkeeping theory" as John A. (Junior) Gotti did keep money and weapons, not in his house, but in a building he owned.

The Fed's had the warrant to search it though and found money and a derringer. One thing they didn't find: the machine gun hidden in the same building. Junior ordered Gambino mobsters to burgle the crime scene, which they did successfully. The weapon was safely snatched and hidden away.

Bet you didn't know that one. Source, Mikie Scars.....

John Gotti Senior expressed befuddlement and amazement over what he seemed to deem Junior's bizarre proclivity. In the infamous prison tapes, he pontificated at length: "All I know is one thing. I don't think I'll ever find myself in a position where I'll put my wedding money, 380 thous ... whatever it is, in the basement near a broken safe, with a bunch of old jewelry."

Wiseguys certainly have an abundance of valuable information begging to be committed to paper. Lists of names of loanshark clients, etc. The problem is that such material in mob investigations tends to be inherently incriminating, the proverbial smoking gun. (Remember the scene in Martin Scorsese's 1995 classic Casino, when an older wiseguy drops dead when confronted with his "expense reports," for which an FBI agent thanked him profusely.)

Some wiseguys, knowing that the odds mean they'll inevitably take a big fall one day, have been known to hedge their bets. Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, for example, went on the lam, taking the trouble to first prepare and bring "on the run" with him detailed construction business records, DiLeonardo recalled. This was a telltale sign that he had been contemplating flipping, Michael said.

"You're going on the lam, you take your toothbrush. You don't take records of your construction business."

John Gotti kept nothing incriminating in his home while boss
John Gotti


John Gotti Senior "never had anything in his house -- and they went to his house a couple of times," Michael said. "They knew they'd never find guns in his house. There's no need for him to have a gun. Wiseguys shouldn't carry guns. It's against the rules to carry a gun." Michael always kept a loaded (and perfectly legal in New York) shotgun around for protection in his home. (Once, when he was given machine guns to store, DiLeonardo didn't bring them home for even one night; he sent them to the aunt of an acquaintance.)

In fact, Michael said the most valuable item he kept in his house in his street days was the jewelry he wore, a couple of pieces. Anything the Fed's find when they arrive with the warrant, they keep. Wiseguys who want their million in cash back need to hire an attorney to file records, a seemingly endless process. Detailed records of where the money came from is mandatory.

As for the list, DiLeonardo said that "every family has a list of their own family and everyone else's." He said it's possible the feds got their hands on what could amount to a literal directory -- a phonebook of every made Mafia member in New York (and possibly beyond).

"That would be really stupid if he had that list there," DiLeonardo said.

A source connected to law enforcement told Cosa Nostra News. "I can see the government subpoenaing all those guys. They're going to target every person on that list." The list could contain all made members of the Genovese crime family throughout the country, the source said.

The source corroborated DiLeonardo, noting that there are known to be lists of every made member of every crime family. (The film Rob the Mob probably didn't know how factually accurate it was about the "plot point" list it included.)

Esposito, Arena, and D’Acunto Jr. were specifically accused of extorting annual payments from a union official between 2001 and 2015.


DEFENDANT
AGE
CHARGES
MAXIMUM PENALTY
VINCENT ESPOSITO

50

RICO Conspiracy; Extortion Conspiracy



 40 years in prison
STEVEN ARENA
60

RICO Conspiracy; Extortion Conspiracy



 40 years in prison
FRANK GIOVINCO
50

RICO Conspiracy

 20 years in prison
FRANK COGNETTA
42

RICO Conspiracy; Six Counts of Honest Services Fraud; Two Counts of Bribery in Connection with Employee Benefit Plans



 126 years in prison
VINCENT D’ACUNTO, JR.
49

RICO Conspiracy; Extortion Conspiracy



 40 years in prison


The feds also have about six months ’ worth of wiretap evidence and a cooperating witness who’s “very close with the defendant, who’s part of his family who will be expected to testify against him at trial,” the Post wrote.

The government’s secret recordings also reveal “numerous references to his high-level position” and “people doing his bidding,” the prosecutor said.

Michael (Mikie Scars) DiLeonardo was a Gambino crime family captain
Mikie Scars kept the jewelry he wore at home. He sent the
machine guns far away from New York.

Vincent Chin Gigante
The so-called Oddfather more than lived up to the nickname. To wit, the time law enforcement found him in the shower, fully clothed and holding an umbrella over his head. What do you say in such circumstances? There was nothing Gigante was afraid to do to further his dementia act. For years he was routinely spied traipsing around Sullivan Street in Lower Manhattan wearing a bathrobe, looking begrimed and vacant and helplessly clutching the arm of a "caregiver," usually son Steven Esposito, the unfortunate man of the moment.

In 1990, Chin was arrested wearing the full costume: blue bathrobe, striped pajamas, golf cap. A famous photograph was snapped; it's on the cover of Larry McShane's book about the Genovese crime family boss, mentioned below. (Last we heard, the Chin's bathrobe was bound for the Museum of the American Gangster in Manhattan.) The 1990 arrest was preceded only by Gigante's much more infamous (and historically significant) 1957 arrest for firing the bullet that grazed then-Genovese boss Frank Costello's skull and sent him into retirement.

He was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial following the 1990 arrest. The Fed's tried again and in 1997 hit paydirt: Gigante was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 12 years. Then, facing new charges in 2003, he finally threw in the bathrobe and slippers, pleading guilty in Brooklyn court and admitting that he'd been conning law enforcement to avoid prosecution. Judge I. Leo Glasser sentenced him to an additional three years (not the 10 additional years he could've got). Chin was due out in 2010.

He never was released, though. Gigante died in 2005, while incarcerated at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. He was 77 and had done his crazy act at least since 1973 when he feigned mental incapacity to avoid a 1973 bribery beef in New Jersey. All things considered, Gigante's 30-year stunt largely kept him out of prison. Which was the point...

Behind the beard-stubbled stupor, The Chin was a formidable mobster, definitely one of the New York Mafia's giant icons. He quietly rose to power in the early 1980s, after the truly enigmatic Philip (Benny Squint) Lombardo stepped down. A slew of Genovese mobsters no doubt went to their graves not knowing Benny Squint was the true official boss of the crime family. The Chin picked up right where Lombardo left off. He ran the family on the sneak when front boss Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno crashed and burned in wake of the Commission Case. (About three years prior, longtime tipster Gregory Scarpa revealed that the real Genovese boss was Vincent "Chin" Gigante.)

Daily News reporter Larry McShane pinpoints the specifics of the transition of power in his much-recommended book about Chin, Chin: The Life and Crimes of Mafia Boss Vincent Gigante:

"In 1981 the cigar-chomping Anthony Salerno was felled by a stroke. As he recuperated at New York University Hospital, a trio of top Genovese recuperated at New York University Hospital, a trio of top Genovese leaders arrived for a visit: Gigante, underboss Saverio “Sammy Black” Santora and consigliere-in-waiting (Bobby) Manna. Oddly enough, an ailing Lombardo was recovering in the same hospital at the time. A decision was reached at the bedside summit: The two older dons would step aside to let the Chin take command of the family. In Mob parlance, Salerno was “pulled down.” And Vito Genovese’s Greenwich Village protégé, nearly two decades after the old man’s death, would finally follow him into the family’s top spot. Gigante assigned Genovese soldier Vincent “Fish” Cafaro to serve as Salerno’s right-hand man in an effort to both ease the transition—and give the Chin eyes on the outgoing boss."

The Chin proved a worthy foil to John Gotti, constituting probably the only significant obstacle to Gotti's realization of his dream to become boss of bosses of the New York Mafia.

Gigante was a sophisticated racketeer and multimillionaire. A denizen of mob protocol, Chin also was exceedingly lethal, ordering a spate of murders over perceived infractions. In one story, we noted how he once proclaimed, "We don't break our capos, we kill them."


Esposito is one of three children Gigante fathered with his longtime mistress.

Esposito was ordered held on $6 million bond, with release conditions including electronically monitored house arrest.

The case was assigned to United States District Judge Victor Marrero.




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