Tag: Genovese Crime Family
Greene famously taunted the powerful Italian American mobsters who ran his native Cleveland.
The Irishman in this week’s story, however, seemed very much to enjoy his role within the Genovese crime family hierarchy.
It got him sent to prison. And, perhaps even worse, it got him linked to Anthony Weiner.
Weiner, the disgraced former member of the House of Representatives who is still apparently mulling a run for New York City mayor, has had to endure a lot of shots from late night comics and many not-so-subtle penis jokes in tabloid headlines. Weiner, after all, was busted for tweeting photos of his anatomy out into cyberspace.
Did we mention his name is Weiner?
Anyway, the New York Post reported on some non-anatomical news involving Weiner this week.
“Hedge-fund brothers David and Eugene Grin helped Weiner with consulting work after he resigned from Congress following his sexting scandal,” the Post reported.
“The Grins also assisted his mayoral and congressional races, raising nearly $50,000 for Weiner, who is now considering a mayoral run. Through two hedge funds, the Grins control Parabel, a company that claims to harvest an algae-like crop.”
The Post continues, “Weiner touted Parabel as one of his clients in a recent news article outlining his success as a business consultant … What Weiner failed to mention was that on January 13, Parabel transferred nearly all of its assets to a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands — on the same day a United Arab Emirates firm pumped $15 million into Parabel, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission document.”
Weiner told the Post he knew nothing about Parabel’s offshore move.
The Brothers Grin “have also been associated with shady characters,” the Post adds.
That’s where Francis O’Donnell comes in. O’Donnell once received a $6 million loan from the Grin brothers. O’Donnell ran a limousine manufacturing business called Coach Industries, based in Florida.
But that’s not the only business O’Donnell was part of. In 2007, O’Donnell, who received an MBA degree from New York’s Columbia University, pleaded guilty to numerous charges, with prosecutors labeling him an associate of the Genovese crime family.
As a 2007 Forbes magazine article about O’Donnell and his mob ties put it, “On January 5  O’Donnell pleaded guilty to being an associate of the Genovese crime family. The indictment also claimed that an FBI agent posing as a drug dealer was asked to launder proceeds through Coach in exchange for a fee. In addition O’Donnell is accused of luring a victim to his office, where Clement (Clemmie) Santoro allegedly held a gun to his head and demanded a $1.5 million payment.”
A prosecutor in the case against O’Donnell added that he “enjoyed the power that came from his association with organized crime and twice lured individuals to his office who were then assaulted by other defendants,” according to a Sun Sentinel newspaper article.
The paper added, “During the first alleged assault in June 2003, O’Donnell remained outside the office when the beating took place. In October 2003, O’Donnell witnessed the assault, Kaplan said.”
O’Donnell’s attorney claimed his client tried to stop that attack. In May 2007, O’Donnell was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Either way, in recent years, much has been said about the decline of the Mafia in American life. But not only does it stubbornly manage to stick around, its ties to Irish America remain strong as well.
Back in January an Irish American with ties to the infamous Westies gang was hit with numerous charges, including ties to Gambino crime family associates. Anthony “Tony O” O’Donnell, also with Gambino ties, faced new charges earlier this year as well. A few years back, Gambino associate Joseph O’Kane was killed in prison.
On a brighter note, Long Island-born Michael Finnerty convinced a judge he’d changed since his days as an enforcer for John “Junior” Gotti and managed to avoid prison.
Now he’s just got to make sure he steers clear of Anthony Weiner.
New York gangster John Bologna was FBI informant for nearly two decades in midst of the Al Bruno murder plotSPRINGFIELD – Both castigating and in defense of New York gangster John Bologna, an admitted co-conspirator in the 2003 mob murder of Adolfo Bruno, federal prosecutors have offered a conflicted presentencing memo in advance of his sentencing.
The 34-page summary — filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where the case ultimately landed — offers a fascinating picture of a mobster whom investigators have previously gone to great lengths to protect.
Bologna is a Westchester, N.Y.-based wiseguy and onetime “right hand” of former Genovese mob boss Arthur “Artie” Nigro, according to court records. He is among eight gangsters in Western Massachusetts and New York convicted in connection with conspiring to kill Bruno, longtime boss of the crime family here.
Two trials in New York City in 2011 and 2012 featured a handful of “made men” from Greater Springfield who provided a rare, public and detailed glimpse of the inner workings of the Mafia.
Bologna is set to be sentenced on May 7 in federal court in Manhattan on charges of murder, extortion and racketeering conspiracies to which he pleaded guilty in late 2009. These include the Bruno murder plot.According to testimony, Bruno was targeted as a weak link in a power struggle here as he fell out of favor with New York mob bosses. Bruno was gunned down by a paid hitman in the parking lot of an Italian social club in Springfield’s South End on Nov. 23, 2003. Investigators struggled to piece together a solid case for years, and now say Bologna was a reluctant, but critical, witness who helped put it all together.
Bologna, 71, never made it to the witness stand because by the government’s admission – they discovered he was at once an FBI informant, a liar, a bully, an instigator and murderer.
Court records submitted in advance of his sentencing document Bologna was an informant for 17 years while ascending through the ranks of first the Gambino, then the Genovese crime families. He ultimately landed in the latter’s inner circle. Bologna helped plot murders, orchestrated shakedowns and manipulated the entire crime landscape in Greater Springfield from 2001 to 2003, prosecutors say.
In short, he was not the most believable courtroom witness and a potential embarrassment for the FBI.
“Bologna would not present as a credible individual to a jury, given his history of duplicity and repeated withholding of information. Bologna would be easily led, through cross-examination, to say things that were inaccurate; and Bologna still may not be telling the whole truth as to things about which the Government does not know,” a prosecutor wrote in the sentencing memorandum.
Federal prosecutors routinely file so-called 5K1.1 motions in support of government witnesses who offer testimony against their former cohorts. Those motions generally persuade judges to mete out far lower sentences than those called for by federal guidelines.
Cases in point in the Bruno case: Frankie Roche, the shooter whose sentencing stakes plummeted from a possible death penalty to 14 years in prison after he testified at both New York trials; Felix Tranghese, who was sentenced to four years in prison as opposed to a life sentence for his testimony; and Anthony J. Arillotta, Bruno’s successor who spear-headed Bruno’s murder and a series of unsuccessful vendettas against other rivals. Aside from Bologna, Arillotta is the only informant left to be sentenced in the case but may get a single-digit sentence for a string of murder plots.
Because Bologna lied to investigators even after he signed a formal cooperation agreement in 2007, he will face his sentencing before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel with a somewhat tortured sentencing memo by the government. The memo notes that Bologna began loosely cooperating with the FBI in the 1990s and was classified as an informant, but became a “cooperating witness,” a separate classification, in 2007 when he was implicated in a sports-betting operation in New York.
According to the government’s memo, Bologna began his association with the Gambino family four decades ago.
“John Bologna was a long-time associate of the Gambino Organized Crime Family, who from the 1970s to the 1990s ran large-scale bookmaking operations and assisted in the Gambino Family’s corrupt control of the garbage industry throughout the 1990s,” the memo reads.
Bologna switched teams to align with Nigro and the Genovese family in 1999 but no further details about the defection are provided in the memo. Bologna was never “made” but became Nigro’s “right-hand-man” in overseeing rackets in New York and beyond until Nigro was jailed on extortion charges in 2006.
Nigro was “acting boss” of the powerful crime family and is now serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2011 in connection with the Bruno murder and other crimes. Also convicted in the same trial were brothers Fotios “Freddy” and Ty Geas, of West Springfield, and mob enforcers. Emilio Fusco, a made man from Longmeadow, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy in a separate trial in 2012. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison though he was acquitted of the murders of Bruno and low-level associate Gary Westerman.
In 2001, Bologna began shuttling back and forth between New York and Springfield to step up extortion efforts at Nigro’s behest. He became close with Arillotta, while the two swaggered around strip clubs and other businesses they identified as marks, the memo states. The move to edge out Bruno was born.
In previous interviews, Massachusetts state police said they approached the FBI in New York when Bologna was noted in surveillance efforts at the time. Bologna mysteriously and abruptly stopped coming to Springfield. State police said they suspected a leak, but Bologna’s status as an informant was not confirmed until years later. The U.S. attorney’s memo does not address that aspect of the case.
Arillotta, an ambitious gangster, assembled a crew that began asserting themselves through shake-downs, a takeover of an illegal slot machine business, and beat downs and murder plots against anyone who crossed their paths. Most of it took place at Nigro’s urging, with Bologna managing nearly every maneuver, according to court records.
“Although Bologna did not have a direct role in the planning of the (Bruno) murder or in giving the order itself, he knew full well that the order had been given. Indeed, on multiple occasions when Arillotta and Tranghese were slow to carry out Nigro’s order, Bologna told them to ‘do what they had been told to do’ in carrying out the murder,” the memo states.
After formally signing on with the FBI in 2007, Bologna recorded 100 conversations with his associates, according to court records. These included one with Arillotta in 2008. Arillotta was intensely under investigation for the Bruno murder after he was released from state prison on a loan-sharking conviction. Bologna was dispatched to draw incriminating statements from Arillotta about the murder. The effort fell flat. Arillotta did not take the bait, according to the court memorandum.
“In general, however, Bologna continually and dependably recorded conversations during this period,” prosecutors said, while adding that he sometimes resisted his FBI handlers’ instructions to meet with certain individuals.
When Bologna entered a nine-count guilty plea on charges brought in connection with the Bruno murder, he was allowed release with no bail, as he continued to cooperate. His deal only began to unravel in earnest when Arillotta was arrested in early 2010. Arillotta was convinced Bologna’s cooperation was enough to seal any number of life sentences against him even though the evidence, in truth, was spotty by trial standards.
Arillotta, on the other hand, was a dream witness for investigators. He shared every detail of his criminal history while Bologna was evasive and left out critical details of his own involvement in several schemes.
“In essence, Arillotta described Bologna as the instigator for a good deal of the tension that arose in Springfield prior to Bruno’s murder. As Arillotta described it, when Bologna started coming up to Springfield, it was as though dollar signs flashed before Bologna’s eyes and saw a city ripe for the taking. In addition, Arillotta explained that Bologna was always pitting mobsters against each other, and creating strife where none had previously existed,” the memo states.
Arillotta stunned investigators when he confessed involvement in the attempted murder of New York union boss Frank Dadabo in 2003. They had no idea it had been Arillotta and the Geas brothers who had shot Dadabo several times at Nigro’s behest, prosecutors wrote. Even Arillotta was confused during his early debriefings with federal investigators, because he assumed Bologna had already clued them in.
“I have no idea why I’m not already charged with this,” Arillotta said during one meeting, according to the memo.
But, Bologna had hedged and withheld information in many instances. He also neglected to tell investigators he supplied Arillotta with AK-47 weapons. He was warned multiple times by the government to “come clean,” the memo says. The government finally bailed out of its agreement with him in 2010.
“Bologna’s withholding of information was repeated, and it was significant. More to the point, given the seriousness of Bologna’s underlying conduct and the importance of his information in charging others with serious crimes, it was inexcusable,” the memo states.
The government did some hedging of its own, concluding that Bologna was both a villain and a savior for the case and expanding the investigation far beyond the early suspects.
Prosecutors calculate Bologna’s sentencing guidelines call for around 30 years in prison, although they concede they would support a sentence “somewhere below” given the “value of his cooperation.”
“For approximately ten years, beginning in 1996, Bologna led a double life, as a mobster committing crimes with the Genovese Family on the one hand and providing the FBI confidential source information about certain Gambino Family members and associates on the other,” the report says.
Prosecutors concluded that Bologna was a lost cause when he was considered a potential defense witness in the New York trials. They asked why he was unconcerned about Arillotta blowing the whistle on the Dadabo shooting and Bologna responded that he “thought more of the kid” and believed he would lie to save others in the Mafia.
“Even though Bologna had been through the cooperation process, he still somehow did not accept that he and others were truly obligated to tell the whole truth,” the memo concludes.
His lawyer, Andrew G. Patel, concedes Bologna never had the “come-to-Jesus” moment prosecutors require from a totally compliant cooperator. He also states in his own memo that his client is deaf in one ear, walks with a cane, as had been “passed from prosecutor to prosecutor” over his years of cooperation and never had the chance to develop a trusting relationship with any single investigator.
The feds stole Christmas from the Genovese crime family.
And here’s how: For years, the longshoremen under their control on the New Jersey docks have been forced to fork over cash to the gangsters.
Federal agents fighting to tear control of the waterfront from the mob intercepted $51,900 – a cash Christmas present from a union local to the crime family – that was buried in a longshoreman’s backyard.
Robert Ruiz, a delegate for Local 1235 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, was busted Wednesday and charged with extorting union members, according to court papers unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
The accused bagman for the mob was released on $500,000 bond.
“He’s a hardworking, well-regarded union official,” defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo told the Daily News yesterday.
“In terms of using force to get money from someone, it just didn’t happen,” Agnifilo added.
Two longshoremen informed the feds that Ruiz collected “envelopes” from union members stuffed with money for the Genovese crime family, which controls the New Jersey waterfront.
The Gambino crime family controls the piers in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
“[The informant's] understanding was that he could lose his job … or could be killed if he did not make a payment every year at approximately Christmastime,” Department of Labor special agent Jonathan Mellone stated in an affidavit.
Ruiz, 51, a union member since 1979, made a big boo-boo that must have him crying boo-hoo.
He gave the whole pot of money to the informant to hold.
The informant put the cash in an ice cooler, buried it in a black garbage bag and notified the FBI.
That’s exactly where agents dug up the money that belongs to the hardworking longshoremen.
Most likely, the Genovese wiseguys’ hearts shriveled three sizes when they heard they weren’t getting their present this year.
Before the feds even seized the money, the gangland thugs knew the heat was on months ago.
Reputed Genovese soldier Stephen DePiro was overheard in a Long Island steakhouse lamenting to late capo Tino Fiumara that “Christmas is long gone.”
He was referring to the future of extortion payments, according to court papers.
And he was right.
|Rita Gigante, whose dad was dubbed ‘The Oddfather,’ says she regularly communicates with her deceased wiseguy father, and has his blessing to wed Bobbi Sterchele.|
|The FBI might want to arrange for surveillance of a supernatural sort when the daughter of late Genovese crime family boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante gets hitched to her longtime girlfriend later this month.
The legendary mafioso, who breathed his last in 2006, will be there in spirit, says his daughter, Rita Gigante. And the dearly departed wiseguy — dubbed “The Oddfather” for parading around Greenwich Village in a ratty-looking bathrobe — will be dressed to impress.
“He’s showing up in a suit and tie,” Gigante told the Daily News.
Gigante, 45, and fiancé Bobbi Sterchele are crazy-in-love partners in spiritual healing. They regularly communicate with their deceased fathers, both of whom have blessed the same-sex union, Gigante says.
|“He’s fine with it. He loves Bobbi,” Gigante said of The Oddfather, who was steeped in a clandestine crime culture where omerta was king and gay marriage was one big fuhgeddaboudit!
As one would expect, The Oddfather and Sterchele will be at the big table during the reception, to be held at a Rockland County restaurant on May 26.
“We’re putting out chairs at a table for both of them,” Sterchele, 47, said.
|Gigante never had a conversation with her father about her sexuality, but says he understood she was gay. And, not to mention, his own love life was unconventional: The Oddfather’s wife, Olympia, bore him five children — Rita is the youngest — and maintained a second household on the upper East Side with his mistress — who, oddly enough, was also named Olympia — and three children.
Last year, Gigante released a memoir, “The Godfather’s Daughter,” that recounted how she was something of a black sheep in a family headed by one of the country’s most powerful mobsters.
|Gigante and Sterchele both attended Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, N.J. While in school, Sterchele said, she had heard Gigante’s father was “head of the ‘Commission’; her own father was “in construction.”
“Not the kind of construction my father was in!” Gigante quipped.
But their paths didn’t really cross until they met in 2007 at a “crossing over” session where spiritualists discuss their contact with the spirit world. The couple made a soul connection, and were soon on their way. Last year, on their fifth anniversary, Gigante got down on bended knee and popped the question.
“When I was growing up I didn’t want to get married,” Gigante said at their cozy ranch home in Tappan, N.Y., which they share with their three-legged dog, Angel.
When they stepped out of the car into the cold night air, Bari’s father guided him through the glare of lights from police cars on the scene toward a Cadillac he recognized as the one his grandfather, Anthony Carfano, owned.
Inside the car, his grandfather – a Genovese family capo also known as Little Augie Pisano – lay slumped against his girlfriend, Janice Drake, both dead from gunshot wounds.
“You see, that’s what happens when you’re not careful,” his father told him.
It was a life lesson that Bari, a 60-year-old attorney and Vietnam veteran who now lives in Mineola, has carried with him since that night.
Bari, a member of the Nassau County Bar Association, has lived in Mineola with his wife for the past eight years.
“I knew Mineola. It’s very convenient,” said Bari, who spends much of his time in city courtrooms.
Bari did not include the anecdote about seeing his grandfather dead in his memoir, “Under the Williamsburg Bridge, the story of an American family,” that he published two years ago.
But Bari’s book, written with the help of Mark Gribben, does includes details about growing up in a Mafia family and seeks to set the record straight about his grandfather’s death.
“It is important that history be written accurately, even if it is the history of a mob hit,” he says in the narrative told in the first person.
Bari seeks to debunk the story that Pisano was killed by Meyer Lansky ally Joey Adonis.
Pisano, a member of the Genovese crime family, had received a phone call while eating dinner that night from Lansky, who wanted a meeting to sort out a territorial struggle the two men were engaged in over gambling rights in Florida. Bari is sure that his grandfather was caught “temporarily off-guard” when he saw two of his Genovese associates approaching the car.
But then Pisano quickly realized that “his number was up.”
“He probably was not surprised that he knew the men who were going to kill him,” Bari continued. “After all, that’s always the way it happens.”
The unique insight Bari’s book offers into the underworld life he grew up with is at once disarming and refreshingly frank. It’s neither an apology for the life or a rationalization of the business his grandfather and his father engaged in. And Bari has maintained ties to that life as a lawyer who has frequently represented Mafia members over the years because of his family background.
“They want somebody who’s going to give them a fair fight in court,” he said, adding, “I was related and they trusted me.”
It was his representation of Mafiosi that provided some of the material for his book, perhaps most notably the real reason that the notorious Dutch Schultz was killed. The conventional story is that Schultz intended to hit New York City District Attorney Thomas Dewey and the syndicate of the five New York Mafia families knocked off Schultz to prevent that.
Bari said that Charlie “The Bug” Workman, a top hit man for Albert Anastasia’s Murder Inc., told him Schultz was whacked for moving in on the New Jersey rackets of Longy Zwillman. The job was given to a group of Jewish gunmen – including Workman, according to Bari – because Schultz would have been suspicious of Italian gangsters walking in on him.
Bari’s book is equally remarkable for some details it omits, including his father’s name. Although he knew his father was his grandfather’s son, his true identity eluded him because his father had several aliases.
He knew that his father had close relationships with Anastasia and Charles “Lucky” Luciano, among others. But when his father died from natural causes several years ago, Bari also discovered that he’d had seven birth certificates.
“It was a different time. They took any names,” Bari said. “Everybody knew who they were. They took care of the neighborhood.”
It was a neighborhood in south Brooklyn that was home to many Mafiosi. Growing up in that environment, and knowing what his family’s business was, Bari wasn’t surprised to see his grandfather in that car that night.
“I knew he was living that kind of life,” he said.
He remembers the day he was sitting in the OK Cafeteria on Church Street with his father when someone in a passing car dumped the jacket of Genovese hit man Joe “Jelly” Gioelli with a dead fish wrapped in it. It was Sicilian short-hand for saying Gioelli was sleeping with the fish, an incident Mario Puzo transmuted in “The Godfather,” according to Bari.
His father’s life was a mysterious one. Changing identities was a common underworld ploy, but it also enabled him to serve in the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Army Air Force and as a member of the legendary Merrill’s Marauders in Burma during World War II.
Bari served in the Vietnam War, although when he joined the U.S. Coast Guard under a draft-induced enlistment, he was expecting a soft ride.
“I thought I was going to Jones Beach” and getting the ladies, he recalled, laughing.
He was promptly shipped to Subic Bay in the Phillipines on his way to service on a Patrol Boat River craft in the Mekong Delta. The Viet Cong were using sampans to transport and stash arms on islands there and the heavily armored patrol boats, manned by Coast Guard crews, were tasked with stopping the arms traffic. The boats had double 50-millimeter machine guns mounted fore and aft with 60-millimeter guns mounted on each side. Another 50-millimeter gun mounted on the patrol boat bridge was topped by an 81-mm mortar launcher.
Bari said he used his .45 sidearm to shoot the first Vietnamese he killed at point-blank range when the man tried to attack him as he boarded a sampan for an inspection – one of 50 to 100 such inspections his patrol boat crew carried out daily.
The toughest part of that duty was laying in wait for Viet Cong to make anticipated river crossings at night, and engaging in firefights to stop them.
“It was terrifying,” he said.
He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans Association and the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association. He is the assistant editor for Quarter Deck Log, the monthly journal of Coast Guard Combat organization.
Bari said he returned from Vietnam with post-traumatic stress syndrome and medical problems from exposure to Agency Orange, which, ironically, was intended to aid the patrol boat missions by defoliating the jungle along water routes in the country.
When he came back from the war, he learned his godfather had died – presumably killed – because he observes that the event prompted him to conclude that “Organized crime was a one-way ticket to oblivion.”
So he went back to school and eventually earned a law degree at St. John’s University. He became a public defender, and then an attorney for clients ineligible for clients ineligible to have representation by public defenders. He represented the criminally insane, indigents and members of Asian gangs.
His family background and his Vietnam experience informed his approach.
“I started fighting my cases as though I was fighting the war and for those who did not come back,” he wrote.
Today, he’s still fighting legal battles for the disenfranchised and for members of the Mafia. And he retains a sense of the code his father and grandfather lived by – the code of “omerta” that traditionally committed them to silence or death – and said he disrespects those who testify against their mob associates.
“I find it very hypocritical. Wear one hat, don’t wear two hats,” he said. “You never know who you’re talking to anymore. The world has changed.”
On most days I would meet with gangsters from North Jersey and New York, many of whom came to Atlantic City with an envelope that usually contained several thousand dollars in cash as a tribute payment to my uncle and our family resulting from business they were involved in either Atlantic City or Philadelphia.
On more than one occassion I met with gangsters from the Patriarca crime family, an organization based primarily out of the Boston area, but with a heavy presence in and around Providence, Rhode Island.
During one of these meetings, a guy I knew as a mob associate who was affiliated with the Genovese crime family in New York introduced me to another mob associate from Providence. The two of them wanted to buy an old hotel in Atlantic City and re-develop it into a caberet style nightclub and restaurant and wanted the blessing of our family. After several meetings and after getting the green light to proceed from my uncle who was in jail, I arranged to meet with caporegimes from both the Genovese and Patriarca crime families to ensure that everything was done in accordance with the rules of La Cosa Nostra, i.e., that everyone knew where the money was to be sent.
In this case, monthly envelopes would be sent to Vincent “Chin” Gigante, boss of the Genovese, through his underboss Venero “Benny Eggs” Mangano, Raymond Patriarca, boss of the Patriarca’s, through his underboss Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, and my uncle, Nicky Scarfo, boss of the Philadelphia/Atlantic City mob, through me.
As things progressed with our proposed joint venture, I first heard the name “Jimmy Bulger” from one of the Boston guys during a dinner meeting. Bulger I would learn, was an Irish drug-dealer and low-life punk from South Boston who was paying the Patriarca’s tribute money to stay in business. The problem with Bulger was that he wasn’t paying enough and was balking at efforts to pay more.
What’s worse I would learn, was that Bulger had reportedly murdered a woman, had once been charged with rape, and may have worked as a male prostitute when he was younger.
The kicker was, he was also suspected of being an informant.
“You gotta kill em,” I told the Boston guy, “Immediately. You can’t do business with someone like him. I’m disgusted just hearing you talk about him.”
A few weeks later I sent word to New York that my uncle and our family wanted nothing to do with the proposed venture and that the Patriarca’s were forbidden from conducting any business in Atlantic City.
“They are not our kind of people,” I told the Genovese guys from New York and that was the end of it.
Fast forward 30 years to 2013 and I am back in New York promoting my book, Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Crime Family & The Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra, and I overhear a conversation between my co-author Christopher Graziano and another gentlemen we were dining with near our hotel in downtown Brooklyn and I hear Chris say, “I can’t believe Johnny Depp’s gonna play Whitey Bulger, I thought it was going to be Mark Wahlberg.”
I entered the conversation late and when I was asked by one of the reporters that we were eating with if I ever came across Whitey Bulger when I was in the mob, I said, “I never met him and never heard of him until a couple years ago when I saw he had gotten arrested. But there was another Bulger from Boston I had heard about, a guy named Jimmy Bulger. He was a low-life Irish drug dealer I had heard about from one of the mob guys in Boston.”
I then went on to tell the story repeated above and ended it with, “I can’t believe they kept this guy around. I told them they should kill him immediately. Maybe he was a cousin of Whitey’s, who knows.”
Everyone at the table looked at me in stunned silence and Chris said, “Philip, Whitey Bulger and Jimmy Bulger are the same guy. The guy you just described is Whitey Bulger. Whitey’s real name is James Bulger.”
I told them, “No way. The guy I’m talking about, Jimmy Bulger, he wasn’t a gangster, he was a drug-dealer paying tribute to the Italian’s in Boston’s North End. It’s definitely not the same guy.”
After arguing my point for most of the evening, I went back to the hotel and did some research and realized that Chris was right.
The low-life Irish drug dealer that I said should be killed in 1983 was in fact the infamous Whitey Bulger.
Thirty years later I stand by that.
Bulger should have been killed by the Patriarca’s, plain and simple.
How they could do business with someone like him is unfathomable. To call him a gangster is a joke.
He was a psychopathic, drug-dealing serial killer, not a gangster.
I’m glad its Johnny Depp playing Bulger in the movie about his life and not Mark Wahlberg. No disrespect to Johnny Depp, but I like Wahlberg and how he carries himself. Seeing him portray a lowlife like Bulger would have been disappointing.
It took Honig just two weeks to take down the 86-year-old mafia captain.
“After the jury convicts him, we take a bathroom break and go into the hall,” Honig said in a recent interview. “Ciro walks by, he was this old-fashioned, stiff-lipped gangster, and he comes to me and he puts out his hand and he goes, ‘Mr. Honig, no hard feelings. You did a good job.’?”
Honig, 37, the state’s new chief of criminal prosecutions, intends to bring his tactics battling the mob to New Jersey to root out public corruption. And friends say his way of sending people to prison while still earning their respect makes him all the more feared in court.
From his fifth-floor office in the justice complex in Trenton, Honig recalled his cases like scenes from his favorite mob movie, “Goodfellas,” with a boyish enthusiasm he hopes will spread among a cast of attorneys that is far younger and less experienced than in the past.
While the state has a “strong core of fundamental cases,” Honig said, he intends to take on more emerging threats — like cybercrimes and prescription painkiller abuse — lead an ongoing offensive against human trafficking and still make locking up corrupt officials a priority.
“We will try anybody, anytime, without hesitation,” he said.
Honig’s talent as a lawyer, former colleagues and courtroom foes said, came to rival anyone at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, the premier post of its kind in the country. The head of that office, Preet Bharara, called him organized crime’s “worst nightmare.”
Honig, who acts nothing like a tough guy — he’s got a slight smile and brown hair combed to the right — took down Perrone and more than 100 other mobsters and associates as a federal prosecutor before joining the state in September and being named director of criminal justice last month.
“The first time I saw him in court, I was not impressed,” said Ronald Rubinstein, a veteran defense attorney who represented Perrone. “He shot from the hip, and he was excitable. I’m not saying at the end of the day he couldn’t get excited, but he learned to control his emotions.”
Honig was born in Camden. His mother was a social worker, and when he was 2 months old, he attended his father’s graduation from Rutgers School of Law. While while growing up in Voorhees and then Cherry Hill, he and his two younger brothers experienced how taxing the demands of the legal profession could be on a family.
“I went into law school with a less idealistic view than a lot of people going into law school,” said Honig, who lives with his wife and young son and daughter in Metuchen. “I understood that it’s not just ‘A Few Good Men.’?”
Honig, who graduated from Rutgers in 1997 and received his law degree from Harvard University in 2000, was never drawn to the civil matters his father handled, like real estate, tax law and bankruptcy. He craved human drama — like tales of war and fabled deep-sea shipwrecks.
“I’ve had the experience of having a murder victim’s family crying when a verdict comes down,” Honig said. “I’ve had the experience of a mob defendant’s family hiss at me in the courtroom and call me names. I love that. That’s fascinating. Who gets to do that in their regular jobs?”
Honig landed his first gig at Covington & Burling in Washington, whose alumni include Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general; Charles Ruff, who defended President Bill Clinton during impeachment hearings; and Paul Tagliabue, a former commissioner of the National Football League.
After 9/11, Honig and the firm helped the NFL determine how far it could go in searching fans at stadiums, and he wrote the disclaimer on the back of Super Bowl tickets for several years.
In 2004, Honig became a federal prosecutor. His first case, what he thought was a simple gun possession trial, mushroomed into an attempted robbery of a drug dealer and lasted nearly a month.
“If that was my first trial, I would have left,” his supervisor, Richard Sullivan, told him.
Honig eventually snagged a starring role in the organized crime unit, trying mobsters.
“I’d have these moments of like, I’m sitting in a T.G.I. Friday’s in some nondescript Midwestern town; with me, an FBI agent and a guy who’s a cooperator out of the mob who’s killed three people,” Honig said. “You know, and we’re sitting there ordering our chicken tenders.”
His triumphs include Genovese acting boss Matthew “Matty the Horse” Ianniello, who was reported to have been watching “The Godfather: Part III” when he was arrested at his Long Island home by federal agents in 2005. He pleaded guilty to racketeering charges a year later.
Honig also won murder convictions against New Jersey mobster and Genovese captain Angelo Prisco and former Genovese acting boss Arthur Nigro, who were both sentenced to life in prison.
The mafia was a worthy opponent. In 2009, after Honig’s office had failed three times to convict reputed mobster John Gotti Jr., a fourth attempt ended up in his hands. But a hung jury sunk the case again in what he said was the biggest disappointment of his career.
Gotti’s family referred to the prosecutor as “Hotshot Honig.”
He also lost his first crack at Perrone and three others. After a long trial, Honig said, the jury acquitted two of the men and hung on the two others. He later learned from jurors a secret recording played at trial had been hard to understand and drove them crazy.
Honig regrouped and came back at Perrone, who was sentenced to five years in prison.
Rubinstein said Honig was overzealous in putting away such an old man for so long. Perrone was released in 2011, two months before he died at age 90. But Honig said there was no bad blood.
“I told his lawyer. I said, ‘I’m glad he made it out.’?”
A 77-year-old Bloomfield man was charged Wednesday in a widespread federal sweep targeting a mob-run conspiracy to control the trash-hauling industry in New York and New Jersey.
Anthony Pucciarello, known as “Muzzy” and a soldier for the Genovese Crime Family, was one of 32 people in New York and New Jersey charged in an FBI-run takedown that included members of several crime families, US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, Preet Bharara, Assistant Director in Charge of the NY Office of the FBI George Venizelos and Westchester County Police Department Commissioner George Longworth said in a release.
Pucciarello was charged along with Carmine Franco, a 77-year-old Genovese Crime Family associate and allegedly the ring leader of a scheme to control crooked waste management companies, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. Franco also had two prior convictions in connection with organized crime in the trash removal industry.
Franco, known as “Papa Smurf” and “Uncle Sonny,” was allegedly at the center of a scheme involving three well-known mob families: the Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese crime families.
According to the release, Franco and Pucciarello were two of 12 people who controlled crooked waste management companies that were officially owned by people who had no past ties to organized crime, who were known as “controlled members.”
Due to Franco’s previous convictions, he would not have been able to obtain a waste-hauling license in NY and was barred from the industry in New Jersey, the release said.
Franco and Pucciarello, along with the 10 other “enterprise members,” controlled the waste disposal businesses by dictating hauling routes, demanding extortion payments for protection and using the company to commit other crimes.
“Enterprise members… [dictated] which trash pick-up stops that a particular hauling company could use and [extorted] payments in exchange for protection by individuals associated with organized crime,” the release said. “By asserting and enforcing purported “property rights” over the trash pick-up routes, the Enterprise members excluded any competitor that might offer lower prices or better service, in effect imposing a criminal tax on businesses and communities.”
The, “tactics [Franco and his accomplices] used to exert and maintain their control come right out of the mafia playbook – extortion, intimidation, and threats of violence,” Bharara said in the release. “And while these accused mobsters may have hidden themselves behind seemingly legitimate owners of waste disposal businesses, law enforcement was able to pierce that veil through its painstaking, multi-year investigation.”
The investigation included a controlled owner who was cooperating with law enforcement, but acting as an affiliate of the crime scheme, the release said. At times, Franco allegedly controlled the Cooperating Witness’s company.
“Organized crime has many victims – in this case small business owners who pay for waste removal, potential competitors, and the communities infected by this corruption and its cost,” Bharara said.
Pucciarello is charged with one count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and six counts of extortion. The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 50 years.
Franco is charged with one count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, two counts of extortion, three counts of mail and wire fraud conspiracy, and nine counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, the release said. Together, the charges carry a maximum sentence of 195 years in prison.
The charges against the group of 32 alleged criminals are contained in three indictments, United States v. Franco, et al., United States v. Giustra, et al., and United States v. Lopez. An initial hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan.
The PDF attached shows the charges against all of the alleged mobsters involved, the maximum sentences they face, their ages and where they are from.
The arrests include at least seven from Westchester County, two from Rockland and one from Putnam.
Mario Velez, 44, the trooper who was among those arrested this morning under federal indictment, retired within the last couple months as the investigation by FBI agents, Westchester County and New York City police was underway. A former school resource officer at Hendrick Hudson High School, he is facing two extortion charges with Pasquale P. Cartalemi Jr., 50, and Pasquale L. Cartalemi Jr., 27, of Cortlandt Manor for allegedly forcing a trash hauler to turn over his business to them in the fall of 2011.
“His alleged acts are while he was still working as a trooper,” a source close to the investigation told The Journal News today.
Local residents charged also include Dominick Pietranico, 82, of Mahopac; Joseph Sarcinella, 78, of Greenburgh; Pasquale Carbone Sr., 70, of White Plains; Robert Franco, 50, of Hartsdale; Andrew McGuire, 29, of Hawthorne; Dominick Rao, 76, of Suffern; and Stephen Moscatello, 52, of Piermont.
Pietranico and Pasquale P. Cartalemi have not yet been arrested but are expected to surrender this week, authorities said.
The arrests involve members and associates of the Genovese, Gambino and Luchese crime families. They are expected to make initial appearances this afternoon in federal court in Manhattan on multiple indictments that include charges of racketeering, extortion and loan sharking.
Carmine Franco, 77, a former West Nyack resident now living in Ramsey, N.J., once ran the beleaguered Ramapo Landfill and was banned from the trash business in New Jersey in the late 1990s after pleading guilty to illegally transferring garbage from Bergen County out of state. He was sentenced to nine months in jail.
Twelve are charged with participating in a racketeering enterprise in which they worked together to control various waste disposal businesses in the New York city metro area and several counties in New Jersey, in what the feds call the Waste Disposal Enterprise. Its members engaged in extortion, loansharking, mail and wire fraud, and stolen property offenses.
Franco, Anthony Pucciarello, Howard Ross, Anthony Cardinalle, Peter Leconte, Frank Oliver, Charles Giustra, Pietranico, Sarcinella, William Cali, Scott Fappiano and Anthony Bazzini were allegedly leaders and members of the enterprise who committed crimes to enhance its power, enrich members and keep victims and citizens in fear by threatening economic and physical harm, according to the feds.
In addition to the 12, 17 other defendants are charged with carrying out various illegal activities in the waste hauling industry, including extortion, mail and wire fraud conspiracy, and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Westchester County Police detectives participated with the FBI in the probe.
“The long-term partnership between the Westchester County police and federal law enforcement is an important means of combating organized crime and ensuring that businesses in Westchester are free to operate without fear of extortion or undue influence,” said Westchester County police commissioner George Longworth.
Arrests also were made in New York City and New Jersey.
Check back for more details as they become available.