Committee Rejects Philly Mob Boss' Home As Historical Landmark


Angelo Bruno, Philadelphia's mob boss in the 1960s and 1970s, was killed by a shotgun blast in 1980 as he sat in a car in front of his house on 934 Snyder Avenue.
The grisly story is no doubt a point of fascination for Mafia aficionados, but it wasn't enough to land the address on Philadelphia's list of historical designations.
On Thursday, a historical landmark advisory board committee said the home of the mobster known as the "Gentle Don" was not significant enough to merit the landmark status, reports Bobby Allyn with NPR member station WHYY.
Author Celeste Morello nominated the home for inclusion on the designated list last month, positing that Bruno was an important historical figure, whose underworld dealing helped shape the way police tracked and prosecuted organized crime.
"And it's an interesting story, and the history affects all of us," Morello said, according to Allyn's February feature on the home.
"If Bruno didn't do things to make law enforcement notice him, I doubt that Philadelphia would have been one of the first organized-crime law enforcement units with a 'strike force' in the country," she said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
The logic sounds like a joke to David Fritchey, the recently retired chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force in the U.S. Attorney's Office. The newspaper wrote:
"[He] burst out in laughter last week when the Daily News informed him that Bruno's house could become a landmark.
" 'That's a little unorthodox,' he said. 'It's not like he was William Penn or Ben Franklin.'
"Bruno, who ran the Philadelphia mob through the 1960s and 1970s, was a shrewd businessman with a reputation for preferring diplomacy over violence - at least compared with bloodthirsty Nicodemo 'Little Nicky' Scarfo, who took over as mob boss in 1981.
" 'That's sort of like saying the Visigoths were nicer than the Huns,' Fritchey said of Bruno. 'He had his share of bodies.' "
At the hearing, Morello said Bruno's FBI file is part of the John F. Kennedy assassination record, and includes transcripts of conversations in which Bruno says he wanted the president killed.
"That's big. That is very significant," Morello said, according to Allyn, who reported that the committee was skeptical of Morello's reasoning:
"Committee member John Farnham said the nomination presented 'a serious of temporal coincidences involving Bruno and law enforcement developments, but doesn't really ever provide any direct link between Bruno and those developments.'
"Farnham further contended, 'Bruno may be notorious and infamous, but he is not necessarily a person of significance.'
"To that, Bruno's daughter, Jeanne Bruno, sitting in the front row of public seating, objected with an interruption.
" 'Excuse me,' Bruno said. 'I don't like the word infamous, not with my father. They could never prove murder or anything. He was against that.' "
The Mafia chief's 74-year-old daughter who still lives in the family home, said she would consider the designation "an honor" and wondered if it would warrant any tax breaks, according to The Associated Press.
The Daily News writes that other cities have historically designated buildings with certain shady histories, but not to honor criminals:
"Damaris Olivo, spokeswoman for New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission, said the city has some landmarks associated with unsavory characters 'but that's not the reason why they were designated.'
"Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, said its city council had given landmark status to buildings affiliated with gangsters such as Al Capone (the Lexington Hotel) and John Dillinger (the Biograph Theater). But, as in New York, those mob ties didn't play a role in the designation, he said.
" 'A person's affiliation with the underworld is not considered a significant contribution to the development of the city,' Strazzabosco said."
Morello, who wrote a biography of Bruno in 2005 called Before Bruno and How He Became Boss, is undeterred in her quest for recognition for the late gangster and his former home.
Allyn says Morello asked if she could "resubmit the application" with a stronger argument.
Committee member Jeffrey Cohen, a Bryn Mawr College professor of architectural history, said "I don't think you see a lot of encouragement here."

‘Adopted son’ of crime boss John Gotti claims credit for FBI raid on ex-deputy’s home

John Gotti must be spinning in his coffin.
The late Gambino crime boss’ so-called “adopted son” Lewis Kasman is claiming credit for the FBI raiding the Florida home of a former deputy sheriff on Monday.
A spokesman for the Miami office of the FBI confirmed a search warrant was executed, but declined further comment.
But Kasman, 59, bragged to The Daily News that he had secretly recorded the ex-deputy, Mark Dougan, for the authorities in Florida.
“I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Kasman said, claiming that he suspected Dougan might be planning to harm the current sheriff and deputy sheriff of Palm Beach.
Dougan laughed off Kasman’s assertions.
“He’s a f-----g wack job,” Dougan told The News. “I knew he was recording me. That was seven months ago. He kept setting his phone on the table with the microphone toward me. He's a moron.”
Dougan said the feds and the local authorities are after him because someone hacked the personal information of law enforcement officers and dumped it on a website he previously owned.
“Kasman doesn’t know what he’s talking about," he said.
Several years ago, the feds revealed that Kasman had been a deep undercover mole, passing along information to the FBI about the Gambino family and wearing a wire that picked up Gotti’s widow Victoria, his daughter Victoria, Jeffrey Lichtman, the lawyer for Gotti’s son John, and assorted mobsters.
Licthman was amused by Kasman's latest claim of fame.
“Lewis Kasman is the kind of guy who takes credit for the sun rising every morning," Lichtman said. “He’s also the kind of guy who secretly taped and attempted to entrap me, his own lawyer, at a courthouse urinal in the middle of a trial. ... My only regret in even providing this comment is that I'll be forced to decline ten of his phone calls tomorrow."
Kasman said he helped the Florida feds to "save lives," just as he did in the past when he heard the Gambinos were going after journalists and the warden of the prison where John Gotti was serving a life sentence.

“John Gotti wouldn't be spinning in his grave for me,” Kasman insisted. “He would be spinning because of his children and their behavior.”

Bonanno mobster Ronald Giallanzo back in prison after violating release terms with appearance at Staten Island mafia Christmas bash


 The party's over for a Bonanno gangster who was caught mingling with mobsters in violation of his supervised release.
Ronald Giallanzo, a made man and the nephew of acquitted Lufthansa airport robber Vincent Asaro, was sentenced Friday to a year and one day behind bars.
The jail term was an early Christmas present for Giallanzo, 45, who was caught on surveillance camera attending the Bonanno crime family's holiday party at Bocelli's restaurant on Staten Island in December as well as three other prohibited meetings with fellow gangsters, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes.
Giallanzo, convicted of racketeering and extortion in 2007, admitted that he was meeting with people on his "do not associate list" under the terms of his prison release.
Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who has presided over the criminal cases against scores of Bonannos, said he understands full well what goes on at mob get-togethers.
"Doesn't everyone have parties in December where they pass around envelopes of money?" he said sarcastically. "You think I just got off the boat from the South Sea islands and I don't know what's going on?"
Giallanzo and his infamous Uncle Vinnie both sport the same "Death Before Dishonor" tattoos.

The prosecutors were seeking a two year term while Giallanzo's lawyer argued for the same year-and-a-day sentence that capo John Palazzolo got last year for a similar violation. But Palazzolo got a break from Garaufis because the 77-year-old mobster was afflicted with a medical condition that rendered him unable to stop urinating.

Mobster U: Even the Mafia benefits from more school

Take a tip from the Mafia: It pays to stay in school.
Mobsters with more education enjoy significantly higher earnings, according to a new paper that digs into the history of Italian American organized crime. Just one extra year in school has typically increased a gangster’s income by about 8 per cent.
The authors of the paper – Nadia Campaniello of the University of Essex, Rowena Gray of the University of California at Merced and Giovanni Mastrobuoni of the University of Essex – want to make it clear that they’re not recommending lives of crime for PhD students. But their research, presented Monday at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference in Brighton, Britain, does shed surprising light on the real-world value of school. Among other things, their findings suggest that hours spent in the classroom do generate tangible benefits later in life. That holds true even if your chosen profession happens to be on the wrong side of the law, where nobody cares if you got an A in calculus.
“The study is really about the payoff from education,” Prof. Mastrobuoni said in an interview. “We found that the extra earnings related to more years of schooling were quite large, especially in more sophisticated areas of crime.” Gangsters who engaged in more cerebral forms of larceny – fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and counterfeiting – enjoyed an income bump of approximately 16 per cent for each additional year of education, according to the new research paper, entitled, “Did going to college help Michael Corleone?”
The starting point for the study were files compiled by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics that contained details about hundreds of Mafioso, or Mafia members, operating in 1960. “The FBN was really the first law-enforcement agency to systematically study mobsters,” Prof. Mastrobuoni said. “Back then, the FBI was busy tracking down Communists.”
The researchers painstakingly matched up the criminals listed in the old FBN files with people listed in the 1940 U.S. census, resulting in a sample of about 300 mobsters. Thanks to the census information, they could compare the criminals’ education levels, declared incomes and home values (or rent paid) against those of their non-Mafioso neighbours as well as against each other.
This rich data set also offered ingenious ways to circumvent gangsters’ propensity for not declaring all their income. The researchers could use both housing quality and neighbours’ incomes as guides to what the Mafioso were probably pulling in.
Over all, the results were clear: An extra year or two of education was linked to higher incomes for mobsters – much more so than for Italian immigrants in the legitimate U.S. economy. However, the payoff from education varied widely depending on what types of crime a mobster specialized in.
The lower-level Mafioso – the knee-cap breakers and hit men in the FBN files – derived relatively low returns to education that were roughly in keeping with those of Italian immigrants in the legal economy. In contrast, so-called business criminals, who engaged in white-collar crimes such as fraud, loan sharking and gambling, enjoyed much higher paybacks.
“These results are very consistent with our narrative that mobsters have surprisingly high returns to education because of the complex nature of the crimes and criminal network they are involved in,” the authors write.
To be sure, the results are based on findings from an era where many people didn’t finish high school. Moreover, they date from a time when ethnic discrimination was rampant, limiting the potential payoff from education in the legal job market.
However, there’s no reason to think that the payoff from education has disappeared for criminals, especially for those who operate in highly centralized hierarchies such as the Mafia, the researchers say.
“Many of the skills students acquire at school are likely to be useful when setting up a racket (i.e. extracting the optimal rent), a loan sharking business (i.e. weighing interest against default risk), a drug dealing system (i.e. setting up supply chains), etc.,” they write.
The bright spot, at least for law-abiding citizens, is that other research indicates more education also reduces a person’s risk of pursuing a life of crime in the first place.
“I like to think that the preventive effect of education is stronger than the effect we’re measuring in this study,” Prof. Mastrobuoni said.

Prosecution claims cash flowed to alleged Bonanno crime boss

By Mira Wassef |

MANHATTAN, N.Y.— The money flowed up to the "old boss."
Any proceeds from gambling and loansharking activities eventually made its way through the Bonanno crime family hierarchy and landed in alleged mob boss Nicholas Santora's hands, the prosecution claimed during the Bonanno mob trial Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Santora, 73, along with three alleged Bonanno associates -- Anthony "Skinny" Santoro, 52, of Great Kills, Vito Badamo, 53, and Ernest Aiello, 36 -- are on trial for enterprise corruption, including loansharking, gambling and drug dealing. They were busted in July 2013.
Detective Angelo Barone testified that Santoro and Badamo would take care of collecting money from the alleged illegal activities before giving it to "Captain Crunch" or "iron boss," which were Santora's nicknames.
"The money goes up," the detective testified. "Santoro collects the money, gives it to Badamo and a piece goes to Santora."
The state claims Santora is the crime family's ringleader. The prosecution says he was in charge of an Internet gambling site, sold prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and Viagra, on the black market, and the other three defendants were his underlings.
In a series of audio recordings, texts and surveillance, Santoro and Badamo were caught either talking about the gambling debt owed to them or exchanging money during their alleged meetings, Barone said.
In one recording, Santoro says he will take Badamo to the house of the man who owes them cash and in another wire tapped call Santoro refers to "iron," which is a mob reference to cash, the prosecution alleges.
In another conversation, Santoro and Badamo discuss taking care of the situation before it got to "front street."
"That means they wanted to take care of it before Santora got involved," Barone said.
Michael Alber, Santora's attorney, questioned Barone's analysis of the evidence and how he determined the money flow went to his client.
"Did you see anyone give Santora money?" Alber asked.
"No," Barone replied.
"When you recovered all materials from all the search warrants at the respective houses, did you see any reference to "Captain Crunch" in any of the documents you recovered?" Alber asked the detective.
"No," Barone said.
Santora, Alber also argued, is not shown in any government surveillance.
Badamo's attorney, Joseph Donatelli, said the state recovered no evidence of gambling activity when they searched his client's home and car.
"You believed you would find evidence?" Donatelli asked Barone.
"I was incorrect," the detective replied.
But, Badamo, nicknamed "Uncle Chap," was recorded talking to another Bonanno associate, Dominick Siano, about the raid.
"Uncle Chap, we got big problems," Siano says on the tape. "They got my computer, It shows I went onto the site (the alleged illegal Internet gambling site the Bonanno's ran.)
"Who else was hit by the search warrants?" Badamo asks.
Badamo's reply, the prosecution says, proves he knew about the illegal gambling site.

Testimony resumes Wednesday morning.

Why gangland lawyers sometimes end up a victim of their own success

Troy Lennon

ORGANISED crime gangs have ways to avoid their operations being shut down by police or having gang members locked away. One way is to hire legal minds to defend them in court or to exploit loopholes in the law to make sure their nefarious businesses continue as usual. For this lawyers
are often richly rewarded. However, dealing with the underworld can have fatal consequences.
Like lawyer Joe Acquaro who was gunned down this week in Melbourne. But before he was killed he was warned: “Don’t be a gangster, be a lawyer”.
It is a lesson other mob-connected lawyers learnt the hard way. Although many have avoided a nasty end.
When Chicago mob boss Al Capone needed legal advice he turned to Edward “Easy Eddie” O’Hare. Born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1893 to parents with Irish heritage, O’Hare put himself through law school, passing the bar exam in 1923. He got work at a St Louis law firm, where one of their clients was greyhound racing commissioner Owen P. Smith, who had patented the electric rabbit.
When Smith died in 1927 O’Hare acquired the patent from Smith’s widow and invested in racing tracks, bringing him into contact with the underworld.
Al Capone met with O’Hare to get rights to the rabbit for his track in Illinois, where dog racing was illegal at the time. O’Hare also helped Capone fight legal action against his tracks in the courts. Easy Eddie became Capone’s business partner in race tracks around the country and O’Hare also arranged Capone’s business affairs to avert prosecution. O’Hare was well rewarded, but as authorities began to close in on Capone, O’Hare realised he could be dragged down with the gangster.
In 1930 the lawyer provided evidence against the mobster leading to a trial for tax evasion. Unaware of the betrayal, Capone was confident of getting off lightly, with legal advice from his new lawyers Michael Ahern and Albert Fink. In 1933 Capone was sentenced to 11 years.
Capone’s health deteriorated in prison and on November 16, 1939, he was released. Just a few days earlier, on November 8, O’Hare was shot dead in his car. The killers were never caught.
Easy Eddie’s son Edward “Butch” O’ Hare served in WWII, winning the Medal of Honour and dying in action in 1943. Chicago’s airport was renamed O’Hare in 1949 in his honour.
Another infamous mob lawyer was Frank Ragano. Born in 1923 to Sicilian parents he served as a naval airman in WWII, winning a bronze star. After the war he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1952. In 1954 he was recruited to work on a case concerning mob boss Santo Trafficante’s illegal lottery racket and became friends with Trafficante. He would also later represent Miami boss Carlos Marcello.
When Fidel Castro took over in Cuba in 1959, he closed down mafia casinos and had Trafficante arrested, Ragano negotiated for the gangster’s release. He also represented Jimmy Hoffa when the union boss was on charges of corruption in the ’60s.
But Ragano had problems with tax evasion that saw him disbarred in the ’70s, causing a rift between him and Trafficante. It was later healed and after being readmitted to the bar in the ’80s he successfully defended Trafficante in a racketeering case. But when Trafficante died in 1987 it was his new best friend and legal adviser Henry Gonzalez who announced the death to the media.
Ragano was abandoned by the mob and served time in prison in the ’90s for tax evasion. In 1992 he claimed to have information about the mob’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, claims which he repeated in his autobiography Mob Lawyer, published in 1994. He evaded mob execution and died in his sleep in 1998.
New York lawyer Bruce Cutler also became notorious in the ’80s for defending crime boss John Gotti. But he was disqualified from one trial because of evidence that he had connections with the Cosa Nostra and knew of Gotti’s criminal activities. He was suspended in 1995 but in 1999 returned to the limelight defending Gotti’s son. He is still practising law today.
Melbourne lawyer Mario Rocco Condello, who mas murdered in 2006 during the Melbourne gangland wars.
Not so lucky was Australian lawyer Mario Condello. Born in 1952 to parents from Calabria, Italy, he spent some of his childhood years in Italy, he graduated with a law degree from the University of Melbourne but strayed and instead of making a career in law became a part of the Melbourne underworld.
He was involved in drug trafficking and a range of other crimes with the Calabrian Mafia in Australia. An attempt on his life was thwarted in 2004 but he was gunned down in 2006 during Melbourne’s “Underbelly” gangland wars just before he was due to stand trial for his part in the murder of crime figure Carl Williams.

History repeats as mobster murder returns to the streets

Cameron Stewart
Chip Le Grand
“Gotcha.” It was the last word Calabrian fruiterer Alfonso Mura¬tore heard before the gunman wearing a balaclava pumped three bullets into his head outside his Hampton home.
His glamorous, blonde mistress heard the shots from her bed, grabbed a black robe and ran to her dying lover, screaming: “My baby, my baby.”
It was August 1992 and Karen Mansfield suspected she knew who had played what she later called “a very big role” in her boyfriend’s death.
At his inquest the following year, Mansfield took the stand and pointed the finger at a rising 40-year-old Calabrian businessman called Tony Madafferi, who she believed was a hitman and a member of the L’Onorata ¬Societa. Madafferi’s lawyers tried to shut down the show and suppress their client’s name, saying Madafferi was “devastated” by the hearsay allegations.
Almost a quarter of a century on, history has repeated itself for the man who police believe is the Godfather of Melbourne’s feared Honoured Society, the Calabrian mafia. This week, another of Madafferi’s Calabrian rivals was gunned down — a man who, like Muratore, had split from his Italian wife and distanced himself from the mob. And, yet again, Madafferi’s lawyers tried and ¬failed to suppress what they called the “salacious rumours and gossip” sweeping Melbourne.
Now, as was the case then, Madafferi denies any involvement, and no evidence has yet emerged beyond the circumstantial to suggest that he was ¬involved in the murder of gangland lawyer Joe Acquaro.
But one of his lawyers, Geor¬gina Schoff QC, this week admitted that the discovery of Acquaro’s lifeless body in a Melbourne laneway — after, police suspected, Madafferi had put a price on his head — was “an extraordinary coincidence” that would make it hard to fully vindicate her ¬client’s reputation.
“Here we have gunshot wounds. Yes, they could be totally unrelated, but that stark coincidence, that incredible coincidence of, on the one hand, the $200,000 contract … and now the murder of Mr Acquaro, it can’t help but fail to excite the interest of readers,” she told a court in an unsuccessful bid to suppress any reporting linking her client to the lawyer’s murder.
The history of the Calabrian mafia in Melbourne has been rich with “extraordinary coincidences” ever since a series of murders known as the “market wars” in 1964 first exposed the stranglehold of Italian organised crime on the city’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market.
Police say this so-called Honoured Society has been active in Australia since the 1920s, making it the country’s longest continually operating crime organisation. It has used standover tactics, bribery, threats and murder to infiltrate a range of industries, ranging from fruit and vegetables to the illicit drug trade.
The Honoured Society has ¬revolved round a small network of families and has operated within a strict code of secrecy and discipline unique in Melbourne’s underworld. This has consistently foiled police attempts to crush the mob and has led to a string of cold cases, with fathers dying in a hail of bullets and families left wondering why those responsible are never bought to account.
Police hope that the killing of Acquaro in an East Brunswick street in the early hours of Tuesday will break this cycle of failure.
Madafferi is the initial focus of their investigation into Acquaro’s death after police warned the Calabrian businessman in June last year that they knew there was a price on Acquaro’s head and they would know where to look if the lawyer was killed. Madafferi was understood to be furious at Acquaro, whom he suspected of providing information to Nick McKenzie, a Fairfax journalist who had spent several years ¬investigating his suspected links to the mob.
Police have never been able to touch Madafferi. He denies being a member of the Honoured Society or having any connection to organised crime and, at the age of 65, has a clean sheet to prove it.
Despite his business interests being closely scrutinised for more than 20 years by the National Crime Authority, anti-gangland police and investigative journalists, he has never been charged, much less convicted of any crime.
To his many community supporters, he is a hardworking family man unfairly maligned. Gino Gargiulo has cut Madafferi’s hair for the past 15 years. He doesn’t believe what the police suspect.
He doesn’t believe what he reads in the papers about Madafferi’s alleged mafia links. “He gets up early in the morning, he has a lot of commitments, he employs a lot of people. Honestly, I don’t ¬believe he does any wrong.’’
Madafferi first came to police attention in June 1991 after the body of Sicilian-born fruiterer Tony Peluso was found outside his Glen Waverly home. The father of four had been shot by two masked gunmen at 4.30am as he left for work.
Madafferi had come to Australia as a teenager from Calabria, a poor region in the ¬extreme south of Italy. Like many Italian immigrants in Melbourne, he soon established himself as a fruit and vegetable seller. He is related by marriage to a prominent Calabrian mafia family, the Benvenutos.
Police told an inquest into ¬Peluso’s death that Madafferi ran a rival fruit shop in the same street and that the two were involved in a price war at the time of Peluso’s death. Madafferi said he was home at the time of Peluso’s death and told police: “I don’t know anything about his death or who may have killed him.’’
Madafferi’s name was again linked to Peluso during a 1993 ¬inquest into the death of Alfonso Muratore, who had been gunned down outside his home in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Hampton. He was killed despite carrying a gun in his sock after he had been warned that the mob was out to get him. His sin was to separate from the daughter of the alleged Godfather of the Calabrian mafia, Liborio Benvenuto, who died in 1988. He had brought dishonour to L’Onorata Societa and its late boss. Ironically, Muratore’s own father was murdered, allegedly by the Benvenuto family during the 1964 market wars.
Muratore’s mistress, Mansfield, told the inquest that after Muratore’s murder, she and her sister were warned by an Italian funeral director not to talk to police about the killing “if they loved their family’’. Mansfield testified regardless. She told the ¬inquest that she believed Madafferi had played “a big, big role” in Muratore’s murder. She also said that her Muratore had told her that Madafferi was ¬responsible for Peluso’s murder. She said Muratore had told her Madafferi was “one of the men who wanted to be the next godfather’’.
“Fonse (Muratore) had on many occasions told me that Mr Madafferi was a man that you feared greatly — that you didn’t cause any trouble to, and that you made sure that you kept a very healthy respect for him,” Mansfield told the inquest.
The inquest heard claims that Madafferi was known as a Calabrian hitman. However, the claims were nothing but hearsay; no tangible evidence was ever provided to a court and no charges were ever bought against Madafferi. That remains the case today.
The lawyer for Madafferi at that inquest, George Defteros — who would go on to represent gangland clients including Alphonse Gangitano, Tony Mokbel and Mick Gatto — told The Weekend Australian it was no surprise that Madafferi was never charged.
“There was no evidence whatsoever that linked (Madafferi) to the allegations being made by ¬Muratore’s girlfriend,” he said.
He said he found his client to be “very forthcoming and willing to listen to good legal advice’’.
Two years before Peluso’s death, Madafferi’s brother Frank had arrived in Australia from ¬Calabria. Recently released from an Italian jail after serving a stint for extortion, drug charges and ¬assault, he was wanted by police investigating a prison stabbing and the theft of car parts.
Frank arrived on a six-month tourist visa and did not disclose a string of prior offences in Calabria.
His brother Tony helped set him up in Melbourne’s fruit and vegetable trade where Tony was already making his presence felt. He married an Australian and had a family.
But Frank Madafferi’s past caught up with him in 1996 when he was arrested by immigration officials for overstaying his visa. He applied for a spouse visa but the Department of Immigration, armed with information about his criminal history in Italy and false statements he had given to officials, refused him on character grounds. That decision began an eight-year legal and political campaign by the Madafferi family and their influential supporters for Frank to be allowed to stay. It also revealed the extent of police suspicions about Tony Madafferi and his alleged links to murder.
Victoria Police sergeant Wayne Bastin, then a senior intelligence manager with the Organised Crime Squad, provided a statement to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal detailing his “belief’’ that Tony Madafferi was the head of an organised crime syndicate operating out of the Melbourne markets.
The statement cited intelligence provided by two unnamed informants. One informant linked Madafferi to the murder of Peluso, the other to the murder of Muratore. It concluded that Frank Madafferi belonged to a “crime family’’ involved in blackmail, extortion and murder.
In a June 2000 decision, AAT deputy president Alan Blow agreed that Frank Madafferi was not of good character. However, he overturned the department’s decision to refuse him a visa, finding instead that the rights of Madafferi’s young children and wife, who didn’t want to live in Italy, should be prioritised.
The AAT deputy president was unconvinced by the police intelligence implicating Tony Madafferi in murder. “Sergeant Bastin has produced two hearsay statements, one of them likely to have been the product of guesswork, from two individuals of doubtful reliability, either of whom may have had good reason for lying.’’ Blow added that whatever the sins of Tony Madafferi, they couldn’t be used against his brother.
In October 2000, then immigration minister Philip Ruddock used his ministerial discretion to refuse Frank Madafferi a visa. The Madafferi family, having failed to get what they wanted through the courts, redirected their considerable resources into political persuasion. In the lead up to the 2004 election, Tony Madafferi organised a political fundraiser in Melbourne attended by Liberal MPs Russell Broadbent, Bruce Billson and the now Defence Minister Marise Payne. It was Payne who encouraged her fellow senator, new immigration minister Amanda Vanstone, to fly to Melbourne to attend. All three MPs separately contacted Vanstone about Frank Madafferi’s immigration issues.
Joseph “Pino’’ Acquaro, having helped argue Frank Madafferi’s case before the AAT, was a key figure in the lobbying effort.
Acquaro, aside from being the Madafferi family lawyer, was a figure of rising influence within Melbourne’s Calabrian community. His father Alfredo came to Australia as part of the post-war ¬Italian diaspora. A respected ¬accountant, he would meet immigrants when their ships docked in Port Melbourne and help them fill in the required paperwork.
For his services to the Italian community he was made Cavaliere, a form of Italian knighthood. Now 80, he was this week mourning the death of his son at the family’s Mediterranean-style villa in Altona, in Melbourne’s west.
Joseph Acquaro sought to follow in the steps of his father. Like his father, he served as chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Like his ¬father, he was community-minded. But, increasingly, his choice of profession and, particularly, choice of clients, drew him into the dangerous world of Melbourne’s crime gangs.
In 2006, Vanstone exercised her discretion to issue Frank Madafferi a visa and free him from detention. Within 18 months, Madafferi had abused the goodwill shown to him by the Howard government. In 2007, police discovered 4.4 tonnes, or 15 million tablets, of ecstasy hidden in tomato tins in a shipment on a Melbourne wharf. It was the world’s largest importation of ecstasy, with a street value of nearly $500 million.
Police focused their investigation on Pasquale Barbaro, a man born into a Calabrian mafia clan from Griffith in NSW, the town where local businessman Donald Mackay famously vanished in 1977 after campaigning for action against local marijuana growers. Surveillance of Barbaro in 2008 led police to Frank Madafferi, whom they suspected of trafficking pills for Barbaro. A telephone conversation tapped by police showed Frank Madafferi considered Melbourne to be his fiefdom.
“Don’t f. k around too much with me, understand? You think Melbourne is f. king yours? It’s not f. king yours, understand? Ah? I’m responsible for f. king Melbourne. Melbourne is mine and doesn’t belong to Pasquale (Barbaro).”
Madafferi was eventually charged with drug offences and in late 2014 was sentenced to 10 years’ jail. His earliest release date is August 2021.
He has been notified by immigration officials that his visa has been cancelled. As soon as he gets out of prison, he will be deported to Italy, where he faces another lengthy jail term for convictions in absentia.
Acquaro was the lawyer ¬responsible for Madafferi’s defence. This time, his long-term ¬client was unhappy with his services. He refused to pay his legal fees and, in 2013, while Madafferi was out of jail on remand, the pair came to blows inside the Lygon Street gelati bar and cafe part-owned by Acquaro.
Acquaro won the fight, leaving Madafferi with a bloodied nose, but lost far more. In the months and years that followed, he became increasingly ostracised from the Calabrian community.
Acquaro, a well dressed, affable man who could often be found behind the counter of his gelati bar, liked to call himself consigliere; an Italian word for counsellor. But by the time of his murder, even his three adult sons had stopped taking his advice. He became increasingly indiscreet, meeting regularly with newspaper reporters to talk about the mafia in Australia.
He refused to heed police warnings that someone wanted him dead. At 12.40am on Tuesday, Acquaro was gunned down as he left his shop — yet another extraordinary coincidence in the history of the mob in Melbourne.
Additional reporting: Greg Brown