New Genovese Street Boss Comes From Mafia's Most Powerful Crew

When last identified by the Fed's, Liborio (Barney) Bellomo's street boss, Michael Ragusa, was notched as a soldier in the Genovese family's East Harlem/Bronx crew.
Pasquale Falcetti

Some of the Genovese family's most storied and powerful wiseguys also are/were from the East Harlem/Bronx crew, and many of them were nabbed around the same time in 2001-2002 in a complex, multifaceted case involving rackets and frauds and schemings revolving around the International Longshoremen’s Association, which controlled the docks on the East Coast. The case itself was only a part of law enforcement's ongoing (for decades) efforts to wrest control of the New York-area ports the hell away from the gangsters.

Genovese Turncoats
The case saw the emergence of landmark testimony from hardcore wiseguy George Barone, who flipped. Barone was an "aging, ailing, battle-weary Hell's Kitchen gangster" who "was a powerful waterfront racketeer in the days when the mob ruled supreme on the city’s docks," as Gang Land News reported.

Barone had been the consummate labor racketeer, and was tapped to oversee the ILA. Barone rose to the rank of vice president of the union and ran locals in New York and Miami.

Barone had been an intimate confident of Vito Genovese when fending off the non-union efforts of mob capo Carmine (The Doctor) Lombardozzi, who worked for Albert Anastasia, who Genovese viewed as a fierce rival.

Barone and a pal founded the Jets, the street gang later immortalized in West Side Story.

1954 mugshot of Barone.

One of the crime family's most significant turncoats, Vincent (Fish) Cafaro, who flipped in 1986, also provided testimony.

Special mention also must go to Michael (Cookie) Durso, he of the funny Rolex watch, who wired up and helped the Feds nail more than 70 (seventy) key Genovese mobsters as part of the long-simmering effort, which also netted many Gambino wiseguys and helped end the reign of Gambino boss Peter Gotti.

Law enforcement sources called Durso an "informant extraordinaire," who recorded 500 tapes -- literally thousands of hours of conversations.

During the case, the feds proved that Vincent "Chin" Gigante was still controlling the crime family from a faraway prison through his son, Andrew. Gigante was three years into a 12-year hitch, when he was hit with additional charges, courtesy of Durso's Rolex, that assured he'd die behind bars.

See NEW PAGE: Vincent Cafaro's Declaration On Genovese Family's Control of New York Carpenters District Council

The "waterfront" conceit perfectly aligns with the iconic, American-as-Apple-pie notion of the lone tough guy taking on the "man," or the system, or in this (seemingly unlikely) case, the Mafia. The 1954 movie On the Waterfront tells the story of Terry Malloy, a gruff longshoreman who stands up to the treacherous racketeers ruling the waterfront (in this case, the Hoboken piers in New York harbor) and pilfering endlessly. Malloy was based on (or certainly could have been) Brooklyn longshoreman Peter Panto who fought gangster rule for better working conditions on Brooklyn's piers.

The Panto story basically goes like this: Panto poses a threat to the mob, they kill him, they quick-lime him down in Jersey.

Panto fought literally to his last breath, supposedly biting down to the bone on one of killer Mendy Weiss's fingers while the Murder Inc. employee garroted him in a vehicle one night in 1940. Weiss faced the ultimate punishment for his crimes, though the murder of Panto wasn't among his specific charges. Weiss, Louis (Lepke) Buchalter, and Louis Capone all met the executioner one after the other at Sing Sing prison on the same night in March 1944. Albert Anastasia, who had ordered the Panto murder, did not. In fact 12 years after Panto was killed, in 1952, Anastasia, having become the Mafia waterfront czar and pre-Gambino family boss, attended hearings on waterfront corruption and was targeted by no less than Time magazine, which double-barreled him in the face:

"The murderous slob in clubman's clothes, dropped in at the New York State Crime Commission hearings on waterfront corruption one afternoon last week. It was a most dramatic moment. As "Lord High Executioner" of Brooklyn's old Murder, Inc., Anastasia superintended the assassinations of 63 of his fellowmen; as a tycoon of crime, today he is the very epitome of these violent, callous and imperious criminals whose word is the only law on Greater New York's 770 miles of piers. Crowds lined the corridors of New York County Courthouse and murmured..."

The state commission hearing was part of a larger 1950s cleanup campaign that prompted the establishment of a Waterfront Commission empowered to regulate and license employees and companies and ban ex-cons with serious records from working on the New York-New Jersey piers. The Waterfront Commission most significantly abolished the “shape-up,” a system in which employees did not have steady jobs but had to show up every day and usually give a piece of their wages to get hired by whichever ILA dock boss.

The New York/New Jersey waterfront is composed of several separate ports, including the Port of New York and the Port of New Jersey, occupying a common harbor and encompassing some 1,500 square miles and 234 municipalities. The waterfront harbor plays a critical role in the movement of manufactured, agricultural, and other goods throughout the Eastern seaboard and poses a major impact on this nation's commerce. The waterfront also consists of the unions, including the ILA and its locals, that are involved in commerce in the Port. The waterfront also encompasses all businesses operating in the port, including container repair and storage businesses, chassis repair and storage businesses, trucking businesses, trucking dispatching businesses, shipping lines, and terminals.

In the 1930s, the Genovese and Gambino families (or the Luciano and Mangano families then) infiltrated the New York-New Jersey area ports and generated revenue primarily via employee payoffs and from defrauding waterfront-linked unions. They relied on actual and threatened violence, including by way of the killers associated with Murder Inc., to exert their will. In the late 1950s, apparently after bosses Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia were no longer in the game, the two families formalized an agreement to share control of the waterfront. As per the feds, the crime families have exercised criminal control over ILA locals and businesses operating in the Port of Miami in Florida.

The rest of this is based on court filings from 2003 by the Feds related to US v. Bellomo. The material, which was condensed and edited to make more readable, gives a vivid snapshot of some Genovese wiseguys, including Ragusa, in action. It also provides some insight into the fall of longtime legendary wiseguy George Barone, an old-school tough guy who suddenly found himself on the outs with the management of his crime family....

The Genovese family primarily exercised its influence at commercial shipping terminals in Manhattan, New Jersey and the Port of Miami. The Gambino family has primarily exercised its influence at commercial shipping terminals in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The ILA has facilitated the influence of the Genovese and Gambino families over the Waterfront and in the Port of Miami. While the ILA's motto is " Sobriety, Truth, Justice and Morality, " its actions and inaction establish that it has been a complicit partner in the pervasive corruption that has prevailed on the docks for so many decades.

In a number of instances, members and associates of the Gambino and Genovese families have been ILA officials. These and other members and associates of the Gambino and Genovese families have had positions as trustees of various ILA benefit funds, or they have been paid advisors to the funds.

Friends and relatives of LCN members and associates have been given well-paying union jobs at the expense of the ILA membership.

The ILA is a national labor union that represents longshoremen and other laborers working at ports around the United States. The ILA is governed by an Executive Council, and it is divided into two geographic districts, the Atlantic Coast District and the South Atlantic & Gulf Coast District. Local union chapters exist within the districts.

The following members and associates of the Genovese family, among others, conspired with one or more of the racketeering defendants to violate RICO as alleged in the Complaint:

  • George Barone, a soldier in a powerful Genovese family crew based in East Harlem and the Bronx, a former ILA Vice-President, Organizer of the ILA Atlantic Coast District Council, Business Agent for ILA Local 1804-1, and President of Miami, Florida Local 1922. Barone was convicted of, among other things, RICO and RICO conspiracy
  • Liborio Bellomo, also known as " Barney, " who, between approximately 1988 and 1996, was acting boss of the Genovese family. Prior to that time, Bellomo was the captain of the Harlem/Bronx crew of the Genovese family
  • Thomas Cafaro, an associate of the Genovese family. Between approximately the 1970s and 1996, Cafaro was in the Harlem/Bronx crew of the Genovese family. After approximately 1996, Cafaro was in the Genovese family crew of Charles Tuzzo
  • Pasquale Falcetti, also known as " Patty, " a soldier in the Genovese family in the Harlem/Bronx crew
  • Andrew Gigante, an associate of the Genovese family. Andrew Gigante is the son of deceased Genovese family boss, Vincent " Chin " Gigante
  • Vincent Gigante, also known as " Chin, " the boss of the Genovese family from the 1980s
  • Alan Longo, a captain in the Genovese family
  • Ernest Muscarella, also known as " Ernie, " who, between approximately the fall of 2000 and the date of the filing of this action, was acting boss of the Genovese family. Prior to becoming acting boss, Muscarella was the captain in the Harlem/Bronx crew of the Genovese family
  • Michael Ragusa, also known as " Mickey, " a soldier in the Harlem/Bronx crew of the Genovese family
  • Lawrence " Larry " Ricci, a captain in the Genovese family. Ricci failed to appear in Court midway through trial in United States v. Coffey, et al., in which he was a defendant. His body was found in the trunk of a car approximately two weeks after the trial concluded
  • Charles Tuzzo, also known as " Chuckie, " a captain in the Genovese family. 

In United States v. Bellomo, Gigante, Ernest Muscarella, Liborio Bellomo, Charles Tuzzo, Pasquale Falcetti, Michael Ragusa, Thomas Cafaro, and Andrew Gigante were charged with engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of RICO.

On April 7, 2003, each of the Bellomo Defendants pleaded guilty to one or more crimes. Bellomo, Cafaro, Falcetti, Muscarella and Ragusa pleaded guilty to violating RICO, and Tuzzo and Andrew Gigante pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy.

George Barone's testimony highlighted the Genovese family's ties to Metro, the trade association prosecutors described as the fruit of a joint-venture of the Genovese and Gambino family.

Genovese family soldier Pasquale Falcetti was a Trustee of the METRO-ILA Funds, and Genovese family soldier Michael Ragusa was Executive Director of the METRO-ILA Fringe Benefit Fund. Jerome Brancato, son of Gambino family soldier Defendant Jerome Brancato, was the Executive Director of the METRO-ILA Pension Fund. Joseph Ragusa, brother of Michael Ragusa, was the METRO Funds Admin

According to Barone, Ragusa and others were placed in these positions by the Genovese family.

Specifically, Bellomo placed Ragusa's brother in METRO.

Falcetti was, until his conviction, an officer of METRO, a management trustee of the Welfare Fund, and alternative trustee of the IAR Fund.

Jerome Brancato, the son of Gambino family soldier was the METRO-ILA Funds Director. Brancato ensured the Funds' compliance with various reporting obligations, track, monitor, and forecast investment trends, performance, and benefit levels, and administer the pension application process.

Additionally, a proposed organization chart from 2002 emphasized the cozy relationship between METRO and its Funds and illustrates how very high ranking the positions held by Ragusa and Brancato are.

These are plum positions for LCN.

METRO was a near perfect expression of the crime families' shared control over the ILA and the waterfront.

According to Barone, convicted Genovese soldier Falcetti, though on METRO's payroll, did nothing. "He (Falcetti] hardly ever showed up like any of the rest of them, they were all a bunch of no shows. We put them there and nobody bothered them. They didn' t do any work. "

That said, according to documents produced by the METRO Defendants in discovery, Ragusa, Brancato, and Falcetti did attend fund meetings, presumably as the funds provide a rich source of potential scams and lucrative contracts. The organization chart also notes that Brancato and Ragusa were "elevated from [their] previous position[s]."

Other East Harlem/Bronx crew members highlighted by the feds in related court filings: Artie Nigro, Robert "Bucky" Carbone, James D'Elio, Pasquale "Scoop" DeLuca, Carmine Dellacava, Louis DiNapoli, Joe Pontoriero, Nicholas Auletta, and Salvatore "Sally KO" Larca.

Alan Longo

The Feds biggest target in the contractor’s association was Metro’s longtime, $100,000-a-year vice president, Pasquale “Patty” Falcetti

Described by the FBI as a soldier in the Genovese crime family, Falcetti’s job put him in charge of bargaining with the ILA’s Local 1804-1, based in North Bergen, New Jersey, and Local 1814 in Brooklyn. The contracts are some of the biggest in the industry, covering 1300 workers, according to Department of Labor figures.

Falcetti at the time had no previous criminal record, and Metro’s counsel submitted a letter to the court calling him “a good and valuable employee.” Falcetti’s lawyer, George Santangelo, pointed out that his client has survived at Metro for 19 years without interference from the Waterfront Commission...

But on tapes made over a three-year period by a mob informer for the FBI, Falcetti sounds like a very different kind of business executive.

According to the government, shipping industry executive Falcetti is heard proclaiming on subjects ranging from the problem of dealing with Albanians to handling negotiations with the top echelons of the Genovese family.

“I hate these fuckin’ Albanians, I hate them. If you have a beef with them, you have to kill them right away. There’s no talking to them,” Falcetti is alleged to have said in May 2000.

When a dispute arose between two rival, mob-tied tow-truck firms, Falcetti offered his solution to the problem: “Take a few guys and go and beat the shit out of the kid. That’s what I would do.”

But Falcetti’s most telling, and potentially most damaging, comments came during long, detailed discussions about how to cope with a Genovese family senior citizen named George Barone, who was booted off the docks by the Waterfront Commission in the late 1960s and who then set himself up as a key ILA figure in Florida.

Barone was once a feared enforcer. In 1954—the same year On the Waterfront swept the Academy Awards—Barone was working as a hiring boss on a Lower West Side pier when he was arrested for beating a longshoreman who had had the nerve to complain about not being picked for a work crew.

“Are you looking to make trouble?” Barone allegedly said before he and two others dragged the man into a Ninth Avenue meat market, where Barone proceeded to beat the dissident unconscious with a metal bar.

The felonious assault charge was later knocked down to disorderly conduct, and Barone continued his swagger through the docks, running a downtown ILA local that was renowned as a haven for ex-cons. Called before the Waterfront Commission, he went mum. The agency later lifted his license to work on the docks, and he headed south, where he helped found ILA Local 1922 in Miami. By 1980, Barone was in trouble all over again, convicted on federal charges of selling labor peace and sentenced to 15 years.

After his release from prison, Barone still controlled the Florida docks, law enforcement officials claim, but younger, ambitious Genovese hoods were chafing under his rule and showed the aging gangster little respect.

“He’s a senile old fucking man, this guy,” Falcetti was recorded saying of Barone. In the same conversation, Falcetti described how top Genovese family officials had ordered Barone to “stay away from the international [union], stay away from the fucking big delegates that they put there.”

Barone was free to continue controlling Florida, but he had to “stay away from the Jersey piers, away from guys that have been close to him for years.” Falcetti added, “It was a hairy fucking thing.”

Much of Barone’s problems, Falcetti said, stemmed from a run-in with Andrew Gigante. “He bumped the son,” said Falcetti as he touched his own chin in gangland sign language to indicate crime boss Vincent Gigante.

Andrew Gigante had his own company in Florida, Falcetti said, and Barone allegedly failed to help him. “Whatever the kid says,” said Falcetti referring to Andrew Gigante, “it comes from him,” again patting his chin. “Who’s gonna challenge that?”

One of “Chin” Gigante’s orders, the government says, was to keep Barone “close” and “comfortable” so that when the time came to eliminate him, he would suspect nothing.