Tag: philadelphia mafia
HARTFORD – The alleged Mafia figure from Connecticut tied to the notorious Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist was sentenced here in federal court today to 30 months in prison for possessing guns and ammunition and for selling prescription drugs.
Robert Gentile, 76, whose house was searched last year in relation to the Gardner investigation, has been in prison since his arrest in February 2012. He could be released in 10 months under federal prison guidelines. He would then have to serve three months of home confinement and a total of three years of supervised release.
Seated at the edge of his seat, the ailing Gentile made the sign of the cross as the sentence was announced. Gentile, who moments earlier had tearfully pleaded for mercy, responded, “Thank you your honor, thank you very much.”
His lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, later said he welcomed the sentence.
The sentence handed out by US District Judge Robert N. Chatigny was seen as being lenient for a mobster who has a history of crimes. Gentile had faced 46 to 57 months in prison under sentencing guidelines.
Chatigny said that he was considering Gentile’s age, his ailing health, and his wife’s poor health in handing out the sentence.
“It’s significantly punitive for a man your age, and for a man whose wife needs him,” Chatigny said.
Gentile, an alleged “made man” connected with the Philadelphia Mafia, has been linked to the late Robert Guarente, who has become a focus of investigation into the notorious Gardner heist – the largest property theft in US history.
Assistant US Attorney John Durham said in court today that investigators found a Boston Herald article published after the March 20, 1990, theft during the search of Gentile’s home in February 2012. They also found a list of the 13 works of art stolen in the heist, along with their estimated value.
Durham said Gentile later scored poorly on a polygraph test.
Gentile has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the location of the paintings, however.
The Gardner Museum has offered a $5 million reward for their return of the 13 works of art, which include rare paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer.
In March, the FBI said for the first time that investigators had identified the culprits who stole the paintings, and that they had traced some of the art to Philadelphia as recently as a decade ago.
The trail has since gone cold, and the FBI is now hoping a tip from the public will reinvigorate the search, officials have said.
Now 51 Merlino currently working for an advertising agency in Florida claims he is done with the mafia lifestyle and is going into legit business. He said its beautiful down in Boca Raton with great weather, no stress, and people down there live to be 100 and he has no intention of moving back to Philadelphia. He admits that he misses his family as in his blood relatives like his mom and sister who still live in South Philly but mentioned nothing of his other family. Merlino explained why he decided to turn his life around now doing the math on the almost 20 years he has spent behind bars and how many things he missed including his daughters growing up. They still live and attend school in North Jersey along with Merlino’s wife and he didn’t want to disrupt that by moving them to Florida so they visit on holidays and during summer months. Merlino said he plans on being around to see them go off to college.
Merlino tells Anastasia that he is looking into starting his own business down in Florida and is considering things like restaurants , cafes , cigar shops , and even a Philly cheese steak shop. There has also been some talk of a book , a movie, and possibly even a reality tv show. At one point during the interview Merlino said “Anyone can be an actor”. Anastasia says that Skinny Joey still looks and even sounds like the “John Gotti of Passyunk Avenue” and still has those dark eyes that could shoot daggers. But at this point there is no reason not to take Joey at his word and it seems he has a different perspective on life and he says he has seen too much and spent too much time on lockdown.
But law enforcement doesn’t seem to be totally convinced that Skinny Joey has turned things around and is days as a mobster are done. Many believe he may be running the Philly crime family from Florida having orders carried out by guys loyal to him on the streets in Philadelphia. The feds even sent turncoat North Jersey mobster Nicholas “Nicky Skins” Stefanelli a one time Gambino crime family member down to Florida wearing a wire to talk to Merlino about “business ventures” and other mob topics just after his release from prison in hopes he may incriminate himself. But Stefanelli came up empty after Merlino would not go down that road or show any interest into any of what he was pitching. Merlino said Stefanelli asked him about Joe Ligambi and Nicky Scarfo Jr at the 2010 meeting at Dunkin Donuts but Joey knows certain things you simply don’t discuss with someone you have just met. Stefanelli then mentioned having investors ready to put cash into some of Merlino’s business ventures that he was considering but Merlino remained uninterested. Merlino recently learned that Stefanelli was indeed wired and was recording their conversations “the feds sent him down here to set me up. I told him I’m legitimate. I don’t want nothing to do with any of that other stuff … What else could I say?”. Merlino says that he has had enough and he wants no part of the Philly Mafia anymore “Too many rats” he said “I want no part of that”.
Maybe only time will tell if Merlino has indeed gone legit and left the Mafia behind for good !
In the early ’90s, John Veasey was a man with an unusual occupation: He killed people. Veasey was a hit man in the Philadelphia Mafia and found himself smack in the middle of the bloodiest mob war in the city’s history.
As is often the case with hit men, Veasey’s career was a short one. When he learned his own crew might want to kill him, he became a government witness: a rat. His testimony helped send two dozen wise guys to prison, some for the rest of their lives. And the Philly mob would never be the same.
Today, the one-time killer is a free man, living under an assumed name somewhere in America. We have agreed not to divulge exactly where. He’s married, has a good job and says he’s found God.
But back in his old South Philadelphia neighborhood, not everyone believes John Veasey’s story of redemption. They say he’s still the same low-life thug he was 20 years ago when the mob made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Byron Pitts: In 1993, you were an ex-con, a laborer. And a guy walks up to you and offers you $10,000 to do what?
John Veasey: Kill a guy.
Byron Pitts: Were you interested?
John Veasey: I just said, “Yeah, where’s the gun?”
Byron Pitts: That casual?
John Veasey: Yeah. He says, “Take some time to think about it.” Just said, “Take some time to get me the gun. And let’s get it done.”
That’s how it was for John: one bad choice after another. He grew up in the mostly Italian neighborhood of South Philadelphia, home to the city’s underworld. He was the youngest of five. His mother sold crystal meth out of her family’s bakery. By his mid-teens, John was a junkie and the father of two. By his late 20s, he’d been arrested more than 60 times. He says he never aspired to join the mob. But the promise of a big payday got his attention.
John Veasey: I mean, you got $10,000 and you never have no money.
Byron Pitts: They’re offering you money to take somebody’s life.
John Veasey: But my question to that is real simple. How many poor people are being offered 10,000 to kill somebody?
Byron Pitts: But that’s not an economic issue. That’s a moral issue.
John Veasey: No, it’s moral if you have morals.
Byron Pitts: You had no morals?
John Veasey: Correct, none.
In the early ’90s, the Philadelphia mob was at war. Blood and body bags routine. On one side was a group of older, Sicilian-born wise guys led by John Stanfa. On the other: younger American mobsters headed by Joey Merlino. For 30 years, George Anastasia covered the mob for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He says a young, streetwise thug like Veasey was the kind of muscle John Stanfa needed.
George Anastasia: Stanfa was getting an enforcer. Stanfa was getting a guy who wasn’t afraid to go out there and bust heads. He was getting a guy who would go out and collect money, who would go out and intimidate people, and who would go out and kill people if he was ordered to do so.
Read More: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57574760/hit-man-has-a-mobster-found-redemption/
Nicodemo has long been a suspect in a previous mafia murder of John “Johnny Gons” Casasanto and may be able to supply information which could land current members of the Philadelphia crime family in hot water. Some sources close to the case believe the conspiracy charge may indicate authorities believe Nicodemo did not act alone in the mob hit. According to these sources authorities believe Nicodemo may have been the driver and not the actual shooter. The murder was called “the dumbest mob hit in Philly history” by one police source.
A legal source close to the case said “he’s buried” when referring to the evidence against Nicodemo and his chances of beating the case. But Nicodemo has apparently said to friends that he would sit forever before he cut a deal and turned informant. Although having a wife and kids at home may eventually lead him to change his mind and trade off his bravado for a chance to some day get back to them.
Jacobs filed a 13 page bail motion last week stating that his client was not convicted on any of the nine counts against him even though the government claimed that the evidence against him was strong. Jacobs also stated that the verdicts handed down by jury last month raises questions about the accuracy of the governments claims that Ligambi was in fact the boss of the Philadelphia mafia. He restated arguements made in previous bail request that Ligambi has a minimal criminal record of a simple 1988 gambling charge. Although Ligambi was convicted of a mafia murder in 1987 his conviction was overturned after he was acquitted at retrial.
Ligambi may also have a legit job waiting for him if he is released on bail according to his lawyer. Jacobs stated that a CEO of a respected Philadelphia company has offered Ligambi a job. Although Jacobs refrained from mentioning the companies name he believes his client should be granted bail and allowed to pursue this oppertunity. Judge Eduardo Robreno has already denied a bail request by co-defendant George Borgesi who is awaiting a retrial along with Ligambi. So odds may be stacked against Ligambi in his bid for his own freedom. A bail hearing has been set for February 25th.
The jury has so far found alleged boss Ligambi not guilty on five of the charges against him and remain undecided on four other charges which includes the main charge of racketeering conspiracy. Judge Eduardo Robreno instructed the jury to resume deliberations on the remaining counts that they were still undecided on. Robreno told the jury early on in the day that they did not have to reach a unanimous verdict on every charge before returning a verdict on some of the charges if they wished or they could wait until end of deliberations and return all of the verdicts at once.
Defense attorneys urged judge Robreno to take a partial verdict and send the jury home or to inform them of this option. They need to know that they have the option to say we’re done said Paul Hetznecker lawyer for George Borgesi. But prosecutors urged the judge to give the jury a little more time and that suggesting to them that quitting is an option would be coercive.
Monacello testified about working under Philly mob captain George Borgesi running illegal gambling and loan sharking operations. Monacellos said Borgesi reveled in his life as a mobster and once boasted about having committed eleven murders. Monacello told jurors about Borgesi “He’s a gangster , he was born a gangster and will die a gangster”. Monacello also testified that he collected “Christmas taxes” for Ligambi every year payment from illegal bookmakers in area to the Philly mob so they could keep running there business. But Monacello denied every committing murder for the Philly crime family but he did testify to some mob ordered beatings he was a part of.
Dave Schratwieser takes a look at the testimony of Monacello and how the case is progressing. Monacello will be back on the stand Tuesday as he faces cross examination.
Rocco Maniscalco, 38, had just watched Wednesday night’s Flyers game at the Wolf Street Cafe when he walked the short block home to his rowhouse on Wolf near Colorado.
Outside his home, an armed man leaped from the shadows and fired at least 10 times, hitting Maniscalco repeatedly, police said. He died on the scene about 1:20 a.m. The gunman, a thin white man in a white shirt, fled in a dark-colored SUV, police said.
Maniscalco owned New Era Collision, an auto-body and towing company housed in a nondescript business park at 25th and Wharton streets.
Yesterday, employees there refused to comment, except to call the slaying “a tragedy.”
Relatives at Maniscalco’s home also declined to comment yesterday “because of the children.” Maniscalco was a father of four.
Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said the motive remained unknown. Capt. Dennis Cullen, of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, declined to comment on the case because it’s an active investigation. Homicide Capt. James Clark couldn’t be reached.
But sources said the FBI was eyeballing the case for possible organized-crime ties.
Further, Angelo Lutz, a “reformed” mobster with convictions for mob-related gambling and extortion, was a close Maniscalco friend. Lutz couldn’t be reached yesterday, but told the Inquirer Thursday that Maniscalco was a “great, good-hearted guy.”
According to South Philadelphia mob historian Celeste Morello, Maniscalco comes from “a very, very long line of Mafiosi.”
His grandfather was “real Mafia stuff,” according to Morello, who authored the three-book series “Before Bruno: The History of the Philadelphia Mafia.”
Riccobene emigrated to the United States as a small child in the 1910s from Enna, Sicily, where his father was in the Mafia, Morello said.
Harry showed such promise for underworld undertakings that he was made a member of the Philadelphia mob at age 17, Morello said.
“Harry was a hit man, but he also was much more,” said Morello, who knew Harry personally. “He was known for dealing a lot of drugs and for bookmaking on a very big scale.”
Although he told Morello that he repeatedly had been asked to become a mob boss, he refused and remained a mob soldier, unwilling to take on the responsibility of a capo.
Still, when Nicodemo Scarfo took over the Philadelphia mob in 1981, tensions immediately erupted between the men as they battled for control of competing criminal enterprises.
The strife exploded into the infamous “Riccobene War,” a bloody few years that mob-watchers say eventually toppled both men, whom authorities nabbed for crimes they committed during that period.
Riccobene died in 2000 of natural causes in an upstate Pennsylvania prison where he had been held for the murder of Scarfo caporegime Frank Monte.
They carried interesting mob nicknames like “Frankie the Fixer” and “Ralphie Head” and were part of the gang dubbed Delco Nostra, but their cases ended quietly with pleas, including one entered Nov. 20 by 43-year-old Louis “Bent Finger Louie” Monacello.
Wednesday, Monacello of South Philadelphia, said to be a Philly mob enforcer, quietly answered, “Yes,” to questions posed by Judge Frank T. Hazel. The defendant admitted guilt to charges of conspiracy corrupt organization and conspiracy to commit perjury.
Monacello was one of more than a dozen people arrested in 2008, most of whom have entered pleas for their participation involving a bookmaking ring as part of Delco Nostra — which authorities said was a lucrative organization operating in southeastern Pennsylvania.
When asked by Hazel if he was admitting what the commonwealth said he did, the defendant answered, “Yes, I do.”
He was among those charged after a five-year Pennsylvania State Police probe ranging from corrupt organization to money laundering.
Monacello admitted he conspired in a “pattern of racketeering activity” between 2002 and February 2008 in what authorities said involved illegal activity encompassing Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
As part of the plea agreement worked out by Chief Deputy State Attorney General Eric Olsen and Philadelphia defense attorney Robert Mozenter and approved by Hazel, Monacello will serve 11-and-a-half to 23 months in Delaware County’s prison.
His term will begin 10 a.m. Jan. 5
Nicholas “Nicky the Hat” Cimino, 49, of Wallingford, the reputed leader of the lucrative bookmaking ring, also entered a guilty plea last February and he was likewise sentenced to an 11-and-a-half- to 23-month sentence.
During the investigation, a state grand jury linked Cimino with the Philadelphia mob, citing his close association with Monacello. The grand jury report alleged that Cimino paid Monacello, an alleged associate and enforcer for the Philadelphia crime family, a regular sum of money every month as a “tax” on his illegal casino in Ridley operated in the rear of a building in the 400 block of MacDade Boulevard.
Mozenter said Monacello operated a trade school and a bar but has lost his businesses and was forced into bankruptcy. He said Monacello is now employed in the construction trade.
Under the terms of the plea, Monacello will be eligible for work release.
The defendant said, “No,” when asked by Hazel if he had any comment.
The conspiracy to commit perjury at the time involved Philadelphia attorney Gregory Quigley, 37, who pleaded guilty last year for his part in the plan.
Olsen had said that Quigley conspired with Monacello to have a witness lie to the grand jury.
That witness, Frankie “The Fixer” DiGiacomo, didn’t carry through with the purported plan to lie, according to authorities. During a preliminary hearing in November for Monacello, authorities said DiGiacomo was among three witnesses ready to take the stand for the prosecution had Monacello gone forward with the hearing instead of waiving the proceedings.
Quigley, 37, of Philadelphia, entered a plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit perjury and was sentenced to five years probation and fined $5,000.
Monacello was scheduled to stand trial Monday, but he — as did the others before him — apparently decided not to gamble on those proceedings and agreed to the plea deal.