Kanagawa cops arrest Inagawa-kai member in shooting of rival yakuza boss

An Inagawa-kai member allegedly shot a Yamaguchi-gumi boss in the abdomen near JR Fujisawa Station

KANAGAWA (TR) – Kanagawa Prefectural Police on Sunday announced the arrest of an organized crime member in the shooting of a boss of a rival gang in Fujisawa City the day before, reports TBS News (March 22).
On Saturday at 4:00 p.m., Jun Nakajima, 46, arrived at the Fujisawa Police Station and admitted to shooting Hideaki Mizushima, a 48-year-old upper-level executive of the Yamaguchi-gumi. He was subsequently taken into custody on charges of attempted murder.
At approximately 12:50 a.m. that same day, Nakajima, a member of the rival Inagawa-kai, is alleged to have shot Mizushima in the abdomen with a pistol on a road in a business district near JR Fujisawa Station.
“I shot him but I did not intend to kill him,” said Nakajima in partially admitting to the allegations.
The victim was transported to a nearby hospital. His injuries are expected to require two months to heal.
Police are now investigating whether the two gang members were involved in a dispute.

Gambino betting ring leads to guilty plea

Posted on March 26, 2015 | By Michael P. Mayko

STAMFORD-A New York City bookmaker’s involvement in a mob-controlled gambling operation here now faces a year in prison and a loss of $160,988.
Salvatore Ferraioli, 33, of Staten Island, N.Y. pleaded guilty to failing to file a wagering tax return in 2011 during proceedings Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in the Hartford federal courthouse.
Bryant set sentencing for June 17. At that time, Ferraioli faces not only a year in prison but an order to pay back taxes, penalties and interest.
Court documents disclose that Ferraioli was part of a multi-million dollar gambling operation headed by Dean DePreta of Stamford and Richard Uva formerly of Trumbull.
DePreta has been described as the “titular head” of the Gambino crime family’s operation in southwestern Connecticut. He was sentenced to 71 months in prison for his role in the operation. Uva, DePreta’s long time friend who federal prosecutors described as “the chief operating officer” for the Gambino betting ring was sentenced to 46 months in prison for his role.
The gambling operation involved an internet website in Costa Rica and gambling houses in Stamford and Hamden.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hal Chen and Peter Jongbloed. The FBI and IRS Criminal Division along with the Bridgeport, Stamford and State police.

Judge won't bar 'mob' references in Sanzari suit


NEWARK - A federal judge has denied a bid by attorneys for Joseph M. Sanzari for an order that would have barred his opponents in a civil lawsuit from making public any statements linking the prominent public works contractor to alleged criminal conduct or Mafia-related activities.
Sanzari and two of his companies are accused of dumping 6,000 cubic meters of hazardous waste on a leased property in North Bergen, according to a 2013 lawsuit filed by the landlord, AMA Realty of Allendale. It alleged the waste came from an asphalt-recycling operation next door that the defendants owned.
Sanzari's lawyers - who have denied any wrongdoing by their client or his companies - argued that Sanzari was being defamed by references to such terms as "Mafia," "organized crime," "mob" and "crime scene" made by the plaintiff in pursuit of its lawsuit, which is based in part on the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The law, a key weapon for federal prosecutors battling organized crime, may also be used by private parties in civil cases who claim they have been damaged by an ongoing "enterprise" or racket. Successful claimants are allowed to collect triple damages.
Judge Steven C. Mannion wrote, in an opinion dated March 23, that there is usually another means for addressing claims of defamation other than an injunction, also pointing out that he had not been provided sufficient information to determine that Sanzari had indeed been defamed.
The judge then reminded both parties that they are to handle themselves properly during litigation and, citing prior case law, reminded them that the court has the authority to sanction individuals "who fail to meet minimum standards of conduct."
"This litigation is still in its discovery stage and the disputes between the parties and counsel have likely only begun," Mannion wrote. "Each should also be tempered in their conduct and understand that litigation immunity has its limits."
John Daniels, an attorney for AMA, said Thursday that they were pleased with the judge's opinion.
"It enables Plaintiff to prosecute his case in an open manner," Daniels said. "But Plaintiff is also sensitive to Judge Mannion's comments and is guided accordingly."
When reached for a comment Thursday, Henry Klingeman, attorney for Sanzari, said, "We will continue to pursue the case in court."
Email: tat@northjersey.com

Pope visits Nales, urges mobsters to repent

By Philip Pullella
NAPLES, Italy — Pope Francis urged members of organized crime to turn away from violence and exploitation and stop the “tears of the mothers of Naples” after visiting one of the city’s most-violent and drug-infested neighborhoods on Saturday.
Francis, on a daylong trip, also spoke out against political corruption in an address to a crowd in the notorious Scampia neighborhood, a stronghold of clans of the Camorra, the Naples version of the Sicilian mafia.
He was speaking in the shadow of a dilapidated housing complex known as Le Vele, so dangerous that police sometimes are afraid to enter, residents say. He urged residents of the area, which has often been the battleground of Camorra clans fighting for control of drug-trafficking and extortion rackets, not to let criminals rob them of their hope.
At a Mass in the city center, Francis urged Neapolitans to “react firmly to organizations that exploit and corrupt young people, that exploit the poor and the weak with cynical drug trafficking and other crimes.”
“To the criminals and all their accomplices, I, today, humbly and as a brother, repeat: convert yourselves to love and justice. It is possible to return to honesty. The tears of the mothers of Naples are asking this of you,” he said.
Since his election two years ago, Francis — who renounced the spacious papal apartments used by his predecessors and lives in a small apartment in a Vatican guest house — has made the defense of the poor and weakest members of society a key plank of his papacy.
He has also said members of organized crime excommunicate themselves from the Roman Catholic Church, and that it would welcome them back if they repent.
After the Mass, the pope shared a meal with about 120 inmates in a city jail, among them several transsexuals and AIDS sufferers chosen to represent those sectors of the local prison population, a church official said.
Earlier, in Scampia, where drugs are sold openly and youth unemployment exceeds 40 percent, Francis listened to a Filipino immigrant woman and an unemployed Italian man tell of their difficulties and a magistrate speak of “juvenile delinquency, desperation and death” in Naples.
The pope defended immigrants, saying they could not be considered “second-class human beings."

Before Judges, the Godfathers Become Sick Old Grandfathers


 Not long ago, Thomas DiFiore cut an intimidating figure. For a time, he was the highest-ranking member of the Bonanno organized crime family not behind bars, despite a long record of arrests on charges of kidnapping, assault, promoting gambling and extortion. Even at 70, Mr. DiFiore did not seem to falter when challenging another aging Bonanno leader in 2013 for more than his share of a loan payment, according to prosecutors’ account of a government wiretap.
“ ‘Without me,’ ” the other leader, Vincent Asaro, recalled Mr. DiFiore telling him, “ ‘you wouldn’t a got nothing.’ ” Mr. Asaro, whose words were being recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Mr. DiFiore made a former Bonanno boss “look like St. Anthony.”
Yet now, as he faces sentencing for federal unlawful debt-collection conspiracy, Mr. DiFiore’s swagger has given way to a shuffle, and he is talking about insulin and statins rather than payback.
He is one of the “oldfellas,” Mafiosi whose lives of crime seem to have succumbed as much to the ravages of age as to the relentlessness of federal prosecutors. In courtrooms, they can be found displaying catheter bags or discussing the state of their kidneys in hopes that a judge will agree to a short sentence.
Many of these geriatric gangsters have been sentenced in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, which covers the key territory of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island inhabited by New York’s five major organized crime families.
Mr. DiFiore, 71, who is to be sentenced in Brooklyn on Tuesday, has outlined his drug regimen for the court: Lantus insulin shots every 12 hours; atorvastatin for cholesterol in the morning; amlodipine and lisinopril for blood pressure; and one 325-milligram aspirin a day.
As members of the Mafia seek to avoid lengthy prison terms, informers are becoming more common, said Belle Chen, assistant special agent in charge of organized crime for the F.B.I.’s New York field office.
The prospect that these turncoats will face violent retaliation has dwindled, experts say, because of both the protection afforded by the witness-protection program and the increasing likelihood that a participant in any such retaliation could wind up helping the authorities himself. “There are too many potential cooperators these days,” Ms. Chen said.
This dynamic has allowed investigators to target decades-old crimes and aging Mafia leaders, as has the federal racketeering act, under which old offenses can yield fresh indictments.
As a result, the federal courthouse in Brooklyn has been filled in recent years with tales from an era when the Mafia loomed larger than it does today, when it was linked to conspicuous acts of criminality like the 1978 Lufthansa heist at Kennedy International Airport — a $6 million armed robbery in which Mr. Asaro, 80, is scheduled to go on trial this fall.
Just this month, federal agents arrested reputed Mafia members and associates in their 60s and 70s connected to the New Jersey-based crime family long thought to have inspired “The Sopranos,” the HBO drama that featured its share of aging mobsters.
Given the age of the some of these defendants, court can occasionally sound less like a legal forum and more like a hospital admissions ward.
Consider Bartolomeo Vernace, who was 65 when he was sentenced last year in the 1981 killings of two owners of a Queens bar in a dispute over a spilled drink. Like Mr. DiFiore, Mr. Vernace had detailed his prescriptions for the judge: diltiazem, Accupril, Norvasc, Crestor, Zetia, Actos, Plavix and Amaryl.
Prosecutors have grown familiar with such litanies, and have contended that some defendants appear to be exaggerating their medical problems in bids for leniency.
Nicky Rizzo, a Colombo family soldier who was 86 when he was sentenced for racketeering conspiracy in 2013, said his health conditions included bad hearing, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, poor blood circulation in one leg, 20 medications a day and a need to use a pump with a catheter for urination.
“He stands in the bathroom for five-, ten-, 15-minute time period, he attempts to urinate,” said his lawyer, Joseph Mure Jr. Mr. Rizzo lifted his pant leg to show the catheter and urinary drainage bag to the judge.
Prosecutor Allon Lifshitz responded that Mr. Rizzo’s “behavior in court today, shuffling in from the back and the purported inability to hear, and the groaning, should get zero weight.” He added, “It’s a joke.”
Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto, citing Mr. Rizzo’s health and age, sentenced him to six months in prison, compared to the year and a half to two years sought by prosecutors.
Some judges have questioned the aging defendants’ conditions. Judge Matsumoto, for instance, sentenced Colombo family member Richard Fusco to just four months in prison for extortion conspiracy after he listed ailments that included kidney failure, hearing loss and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, though reporters observed that his condition seemed to improve dramatically after he left court.
“If Mr. Fusco made a fool out of me, then shame on me,” Judge Matsumoto said at a later sentencing.
Thomas Gioeli, a Colombo family member convicted of racketeering conspiracy charges, detailed his health woes at his sentencing last year: back problems, a cardiac episode, diabetes and arthritis. The formerly fearsome mobster was also, literally, toothless.
“I have no teeth,” Mr. Gioeli told the court during his case. “I can’t chew my food. I’m choking more frequently. My back is out, my hips are out, my knee pops out.”
Just 61 when he was sentenced, Mr. Gioeli was “a very old 61 years,” his lawyer, Adam D. Perlmutter, argued.
“These medical conditions are not feigned, they are real,” Judge Brian M. Cogan said. Nonetheless, he sentenced Mr. Gioeli to almost 19 years in prison, saying that the federal prisons system offered decent medical care.
Whether prisons can in fact adequately handle aged and sick inmates is a question that many lawyers and defendants have raised.
Mr. Perlmutter, Mr. Gioeli’s lawyer, complained that the staff at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Mr. Gioeli was held, had not refilled his prescriptions.
The lawyer representing Dennis DeLucia, a Colombo family captain sentenced in 2013 to 34 months in prison for racketeering crimes at age 70, pointed out that a year had passed since a dentist at the Metropolitan Detention Center had recommended that Mr. DeLucia have a tooth removed.
As Mr. DiFiore said while pleading guilty in October, “My health has spiraled downhill, but I’m happy to say I am alive in spite of the stellar medical treatment that I have received at M.D.C.”
Prosecutors have said that the federal prisons do have good medical facilities. Though they concede that Mr. DiFiore’s health is relevant to the sentence he will receive on Tuesday, they are asking for a prison term of roughly two years, as recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.
And while Mr. DiFiore’s age may have contributed to his health problems, prosecutors suggest it worked to his advantage as well, with his many years in crime earning him “formidable” power and profits.

Aging Ex-Mafia Boss Fails in Bid for Leniency on Jail Time


High blood sugar, stress, swelling of kidneys, swelling of skin, lung problems, vision issues: These were some of the medical problems enumerated by lawyers for Thomas DiFiore, a 71-year-old Mafia member, at his sentencing on Tuesday in Brooklyn.
The lawyers were seeking to have Mr. DiFiore sentenced to just the 14 months he has already served in jail since his arrest on a debt collection charge. Judge Allyne R. Ross of Federal District Court instead gave him a 21-month sentence, which means he will be released in seven months.
Judge Ross said that Mr. DiFiore “had experienced some significant health problems, about which we have had numerous conferences and hearings over the past year — I’ve considered those factors.”
“On the other hand,” she added, “I am in agreement with the government that the defendant’s criminal conduct was serious.”
Mr. DiFiore is one of the “oldfellas,” aging Mafia members who have been sentenced in recent years in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. While defendants facing sentencing often focus on a harsh upbringing or good works or family, these men have highlighted their faltering health and advancing age as they seek leniency.
“I want to thank Your Honor for taking such an interest in my medical problems here,” Mr. DiFiore said on Tuesday.
A heavyset man, Mr. DiFiore was dressed in navy prison scrubs and wore his gray hair combed away from his face and glasses. He added that he had missed the previous summer with his grandchildren, and “I really don’t want to miss another summer — I don’t know how many I have left.”
Sally J. M. Butler, one of Mr. DiFiore’s lawyers, argued that the plea agreement allowed Judge Ross to consider Mr. DiFiore’s medical history as she created his sentence. Ms. Butler then detailed Mr. DiFiore’s blood-sugar levels for the judge, explaining that they had “again gone through the roof.”
“It’s just not stabilized, as hard as everyone’s tried,” Ms. Butler said, as Mr. DiFiore shook his head and mouthed “Never.”
Ms. Butler criticized the health care staff at the Metropolitan Detention Center, the federal jail in Brooklyn where Mr. DiFiore is being held. They were late in giving him his insulin shot on Monday, she said. They have given him compression socks for the swelling, but they have not helped. He was supposed to have regular CT scans, and those were not being performed. He still needed a full work-up on his kidneys, and on his eyes.
That criticism made the end of the proceeding all the stranger. After sentencing Mr. DiFiore, Judge Ross offered to recommend a transfer to a medical facility run by the Bureau of Prisons. His lawyers declined.
“To have him moved to a different facility would be counterproductive because of the stress that that takes,” one of the lawyers, Steve Zissou, said, requesting that Mr. DiFiore be kept at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
The sentence was in the range sought by prosecutors — 21 to 27 months.
“He’s getting these illicit earnings off of other people’s backs,” Alicyn L. Cooley, an assistant United States attorney, said.
The charge, of conspiracy to collect unlawful debt, stemmed from a 2013 dispute over a loan. A man affiliated with the Bonanno crime family, for which Mr. DiFiore was the “street boss,” had lent money to a carwash employee who was affiliated with the Gambino crime family. But the Bonanno affiliate did not have clearance from his higher-ups to make the loan, and the loan was not being repaid.
Bonanno members intervened, including Vincent Asaro, 80, who is scheduled to go on trial this fall in Brooklyn in connection with the 1978 Lufthansa heist, among other offenses. “Stab him today,” Mr. Asaro told a friend about the Bonanno affiliate. “Today!”
The Bonannos resolved it by getting a $30,000 payment. Mr. Asaro figured $10,000 for himself, $10,000 for his son, $6,000 for the friend and $4,000 for Mr. DiFiore, though Mr. Asaro said he had taken Mr. DiFiore’s portion.
That apparently did not sit well with Mr. DiFiore, as Mr. Asaro described in a June 2013 conversation with an informer.
“Did you give, what’s his name, Tommy the money?” the informer asked. “Tommy, the $4,000?”
“I had a big fight with him the other day. We had $30,000 coming, he took $15,000 of it. I want to kill” him, Mr. Asaro responded.
“He’s that type of guy?” the informer asked.

Mr. Asaro described Mr. DiFiore in a term unprintable here, and added that he made a former Bonanno boss “look like St. Anthony.”

Is The Yakuza Behind Caroline Kennedy Death Threats?

Tokyo police are looking into a political group with ties to the Japanese mob as it investigates death threats made to against Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police are investigating telephoned death threats against U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. The individual or individuals who made the calls are facing charges over “forcible obstruction of business” and “making threats.”
Authorities told The Daily Beast that the bulk of the calls were made to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in February. They said the embassy had received similar calls targeting Alfred Magleby, the consul general based on the southern island of Okinawa, home to about half of the 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan.
The calls to the embassy were made last month by a man who spoke English, but with a possibly Japanese accent. The reports suggested that the threats might have been part of a scheme to blackmail Kennedy or the embassy.
A police officer on background said that among many suspects they were looking at several right-wing groups in Japan backed by the yakuza, Japan’s omnipresent mafia. One group high on the lists of suspects is Daikosha, the political arm of the Inagawa-kai, Japan’s third largest yakuza organization. According to the U.S. Treasury Departement, “under the leadership of Jiro Kiyota (the supreme leader) and Kazuya Uchibori (the chairman of the board), the Inagawa-kai has become increasingly aligned with the (Japan’s largest yakuza organization) the Yamaguchi-gumi.”
Ironically, Daikosha is considered loosely connected to the Abe administration, including Hakubun Shimomura, Japan’s Minister of Education, via its supporters and members. Mr. Shimomura is in trouble for accepting a number of dubious political donations via unofficial political support groups, one of them led by an associate of the Yamaguchi-gumi. Shimomura also allegedly received cash payment from the yakuza associate as well.
Daikosha has recently been protesting and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abe and the repeal of the organized crime control ordinances. They have staged protests near the U.S. embassy several times.
According to several issues of the Daikosha 2012 publication, Taiko, the special advisor to the group is Kazuya Uchibori, the chairman of the Inagawa-kai, who was designated an enemy of the U.S. government by the Department of Treasury in January of 2013.
The yakuza are reputedly the world’s largest criminal organization with over 45,000 members, and are involved in transnational criminal activity, including weapons trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, drug trafficking, fraud, and money laundering.
“When a yakuza group or extremists really targets an individual for death, they don’t send multiple warnings first. They just take action.”
On January 23, 2013 The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Jiro Kiyota, the top Inagawa-kai leader, as well as the Inagawa-kai’s second-in-command, Kazuo Uchibori, for acting for or on behalf of the Inagawa-kai.
The sanctions had some effect, according to reports by Bloomberg, “Uchibori, who is 60 or 61 years old, also had his AmEx card canceled, and American Express froze $42,575 associated with his account, including a bill payment of $41,702.”
One of the vice-chairman of Daikosha is also a former Inagawa-kai member who served time for murder. The Yamaguchi-gumi and The Inagawa-kai are connected by a pledge of brotherhood between Uchibori and a senior member of the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodokai, the ruling chapter of the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Police sources refused to reveal why this organization, Daikosha, has aroused particular interest in the Kennedy case, stating, “There are elements of the threats that only the criminal would know and this information will be used to weed out false confessions as the investigation proceeds.”
Daikosha is a registered political organization in Japan with a declared income of roughly $550,000 last year, from advertising revenue in its magazines and donations. Some advertisers appeared to be large hotels that are “Official Hotels Of Tokyo Disneyland"—although the hotels have denied paying money to the group. Since October 2011, paying money to the yakuza or its associates is a crime. 
According to police sources, Daikosha’s real estimated income is closer to $6 million a year, some of it coming from extortion, with at least a fifth of it being paid to the Inagawa-kai coffers. Because it is a registered political entity and the number of former yakuza in the organization is relatively low, it is not considered officially a yakuza group and escapes many of the sanctions of “designated violent groups” under Japanese law.  Internally, the Japanese police consider it a part of the Inagawa-kai itself. While ostensibly supporting a return to an Emperor based constitution and being extremely nationalist, a large number of its members are Korean-Japanese.
The Inagawa-kai offices are located across from the Ritz Carlton Tokyo and are a few minutes from the U.S. Embassy by car.
It is not the only “anti-social” group being looked at present in the Kennedy case.
The United States Department of State Diplomatic Security Service has special agents assigned to work with the police and protect Ambassador Kennedy but the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department leads all such investigations. U.S. law enforcement officials at the embassy are not allowed to carry firearms, the police say. According to some police sources, this is not the first time that threats have been made to the Ambassador. There was a flurry of them when Ambassador Kennedy tweeted her disapproval of the annual dolphin culling in Taiji.
These kinds of cases aren't unprecedented. In September of 2011, the Tokyo Police arrested a Yamaguchi-gumi-backed right-winger, age 46, for sending a bullet to the Russian embassy with a menacing note and threatening the ambassador and embassy staff. He was angry over Russian refusal to return the northern territories to Japan. However, Japan's right wing has traditionally shown some deference to the U.S.
Japanese police officers were somewhat skeptical of the threat level. “When a yakuza group or extremists really targets an individual for death, they don’t send multiple warnings first. They just take action.”
The threats against Kennedy were made days after Mark Lippert, the U.S. envoy to South Korea, was attacked and injured by a knife-wielding assailant. South Korean police said the attacker had targeted Lippert to protest joint military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.
Ambassador Kennedy is the 57-year-old daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, and took over the Tokyo post in 2013 after being nominated by President Barack Obama.