Cryan, Lesniak Have Ties To Alleged Organized Crime Figures

ELIZABETH – A reputed organized crime associate made political campaign contributions to Assemblyman Joe Cryan, whose legislative partner, state Sen. Ray Lesniak, wants to disband the commission created to drive the mob out of the waterfront in the Port of New York-New Jersey.
At least one alleged organized crime figure arrested by federal authorities as part of a nationwide round up was repeatedly among Cryan’s campaign contributors, Albert Cernadas Sr. of Union.

Cryan accepted $750 from Cernadas Sr. in 2004 and another $150 in 2005, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). Cernadas Sr. is a former president of International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) Local 1235, which from 2001 to 2009, gave $18,725 to New Jersey politicians.

The alleged mobster’s son, Albert Cernadas Jr., is the first assistant to Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow and a friend of Jon Deutsch, who obtained a Waterfront Commission job through political influence and was later fired for inappropriate conduct.
As the agency’s General Counsel, Deutsch leaked information to Cernadas Jr. concerning an investigation and fashioned a scheme to allow a convicted felon to operate a business in violation of the Waterfront Commission Act.
After Deutsch was fired, Lesniak introduced a controversial bill to remove the docks from the oversight of the Waterfront Commission and give that authority instead to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Thomas Leonardis, the president of ILA Local 1235 and one of those indicted last week, testified in support of Lesniak’s bill last fall. Leonardis called the Waterfront Commission one of the biggest obstacles to growth in the port business and said it had “outdone its usefulness.”
On Jan. 10, three people were indicted on charges of loansharking and money laundering following a Waterfront Commission investigation into the shakedown of longshoremen on Newark and Elizabeth piers.
Then on Jan. 20, nearly 800 FBI and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers pulled off the biggest one-day Mafia roundup in history, bringing in 127 suspected members and associates from all five of New York’s Mafia families as well as New Jersey’s DeCavalcante family pursuant to 16 indictments in four federal jurisdictions.
Among the 18 New Jerseyans arrested and indicted were six from the legislative district represented by Lesniak and Cryan: Cernadas Sr., 75; Anthony Alfano, 76, of Union; Stephen Depiro, 55, of Kenilworth; Tonino Colantonio, 32, of Kenilworth; John Hartmann, 41, of Kenilworth, and Guiseppe Pugliese, 32, of Kenilworth.
Five years ago Cernadas Sr. was sentenced to only two years probation after pleading guilty to funneling thousands of dollars in union funds to a pharmaceutical company controlled by organized crime.
In that case U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser received from the NJ political establishment “292 letters asking for leniency” as reported by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure in their book The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption.
“Our battle against organized crime enterprises is far from over,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country.”

Quiet Kenilworth neighborhood sees arrest of soldier in the Genovese crime family, three others in organized crime sweep

January 20, 2011 by
KENILWORTH — In the pre-dawn hours on a quiet residential street, just blocks from a high school and Catholic church, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents arrested a borough man accused of being a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family as part of what is being hailed as one of the largest single-day crackdowns.
In the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 20, agents arrested 127 people accused of being members or associates of five crime families in the La Cosa Nostra, including 55-year-old Stephen “Beach” Depiro of Kenilworth and three other Kenilworth residents. A total of 15 New Jersey residents were arrested in the sweeping crackdown, accused of charges ranging from extorting dock workers to being part of an illegal gambling ring.
FBI agents arrested Depiro at a residential property on North 20th Street, and later released information that identified the man as a borough resident. A resident in the neighborhood who did not want to be identified said agents surrounded the area early this morning.
Depiro is charged with racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of conspiring to extort International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) members on the New Jersey piers, bookmaking, extortionate collection of credit, and illegal gambling.
Also charged in the massive roundup of supposed mafia associates was 41-year-old John “Lumpy” Hartmann, 32-year-old Guiseppe “Pepe” Pugliese, 32-year-old Tonino “Tony” Colantonio, all identified as Kenilworth residents.
Pugliese and Colantonio were both charged with illegal gambling conspiracy and illegal gambling. Hartmann was charged with bookmaking as part of an illegal gambling conspiracy and bookmaking in illegal gambling. FBI agents arrested Hartmann and Pugliese at residential properties in the borough while Colantonio was arrested in Roselle Park.
Documents released by the FBI and the Department of Justice today, Depiro managed the Genovese family’s illegal activities on the New Jersey piers. The documents further claim that Depiro oversaw the Genovese family’s long-standing conspiracy to extort ILA members each year during Christmas, when the longshoremen annually receive a portion of royalty payments paid by shipping companies using the ports of New York and New Jersey.
Depiro is also charged with racketeering conspiracy involving the collection of unlawful debt and charges relating to bookmaking and gambling.
Richard Dehmer, 75, of Springfield was also arrested during the sweep, charged with racketeering conspiracy, bookmaking, extortionate collection of credit, and illegal gambling. Court documents contend that Dehmer threatened physical violence against individuals to collect outstanding debts for Depiro and allegedly operated an illegal poker club in Kenilworth.
Charges against Depiro carry a combined total of 90 years in prison if he convicted and each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.
Charges against Hartmann, Pugliese, and Colantonio carry a five-year prison sentence if convicted and a $250,000 maximum fine for each charge.
All four suspects were arraigned in federal court in Newark today
In a statement released after the arrests, Michael B. Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the Newark Division of the FBI said the charges were a reminder of existence of organized crime in New Jersey.
“It’s become almost cliché to link organized crime to New Jersey, with oft-repeated comments about the ‘Soprano State’ and bodies allegedly being buried in the Meadowlands. Today’s arrests will serve as a stark reminder that organized crime continues to operate in New Jersey through corruption, extortion, racketeering, and violence. Organized crime is not to be romanticized, but rather is now being targeted anew by the FBI in New Jersey by agents whose attention is focused on these groups 24/7.”

Why San Francisco Was Never Much of a Mafia Town, or Was It?

You heard about that big mob bust late last week on the East Coast? Well, NBC went to local crime author and retired policeman Kevin J. Mullen to find out why we haven't had any real, juicy mob activity out here. Mullen says that Al Capone sent emissaries out to San Francisco in 1931 to case the joint, but decided it was "too tough" a town to crack. That may just be a proud cop talking, but Mullen says it's an easier town to police, given its size and geography, and the transcontinental railroad terminated in Oakland, after all.

NBC and Mullen neglect to mention that the mafia's historic stronghold out here was Emeryville, where they set up shop with a figurehead mayor, a chief of police, and their very own little harbor, ultimately headed up by mob boss Elmer "Big Bones" Remmer, who worked for Lucky Luciano. Remmer controlled a number of after-hours joints, gambling parlors (the Oaks Card Club in Emeryville is a latter day remnant, grandfathered in under city law since it's been there since the 1890s), brothels, and loan-sharking operations around Oakland, Emeryville, and S.F. Remmer's S.F. headquarters was the Menlo Club, and at least one source credits Jerry Brown's dad, "San Francisco Attorney Edmund Pat Brown [with helping to] incorporate Bone’s La Costa Nosta operation." So maybe it's just that the mob was better connected and operated in relative quiet out in crazy S.F.? In Emeryville, a reported hangout back in the mid-twentieth century was The Town House Bar, so named in part because it's where the "mayor" sat and drank all day while Remmer had free reign.
The Alameda County D.A.'s office prosecuted a bunch of cases against noted mob figures in the 40s and 50s. Also, reportedly, Jack Ruby (Lee Harvey Oswald's assassin) once worked in the Menlo Club in S.F. for a gambler named Eugene Shriber, an employee of Remmer's. (And this blogger guy claims to be the son of one of Remmer's prostitutes.)
So what's that again about the mafia never being in San Francisco?

Mafia nicknames: Are you calling me 'baby shacks'?

In the latest Mafia bust, one thing became clear: 'Don' is just too plain a title. Guy Adams sheds light on mobsters' exotic nicknames

You probably don't want to mess with Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, an 83-year-old Italian gentleman with puppy-dog eyes who has just pleaded not guilty to charges of extorting cash "protection" payments from New England's strip clubs for the past two decades.
Mr Manocchio, who owes his nickname to his taste in women (he likes them young and skinny) is the reputed head of the Patriarca family, an underworld organisation which controls much of Rhode Island. He was arrested on Thursday as part of an FBI "bust" that saw 119 alleged Mafia dons taken into custody.
Also now speaking to lawyers are such figures as "Vinny Carwash", "Jack the Whack", "Junior Lollipops", "Tony Bagels" and Benjamin Castellazzo, a rotund New Yorker charged with running illegal loan-sharking and gambling operations, who answers to the name of "The Claw".

The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, described their round-up as bad news for people who carry out "classic mob hits," and "senseless murders," telling reporters: "Today's arrests mark an important, and encouraging, step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's operations."
Mr Holder believes last week's operation will reduce mob crime. That remains to be seen. But whatever the eventual outcome, one thing's for sure: the 119 arrests are sure to reacquaint us with the grand old Mafia tradition of elaborate aliases.
America's mobsters have always used dark nicknames. Al Capone was known as "Scarface". Some were proud of their aliases. Capone christened his successor, Tony Accardo, "Joe Batters" after watching him smash a rival's skull with a baseball bat ("this kid's a regular Joe Batters", he chuckled). Others, of a more sensitive disposition, have nicknames one shouldn't use to their face. Last week's detainees include John "Fatty" Hartmann and "Fat Dennis" Delucia, while those who called Las Vegas boss Benjamin Siegel "Bugsy" (meaning "bonkers") slept with the fishes.
But Mafiosi do not use nicknames to hide their identities. For most, a threatening moniker is part and parcel of creating a profile. "Nicknames are good for getting you known locally and in the media, and since a lot of these guys have complicated real names, they are convenient," says Chris Cecot, the in-house historian at the Las Vegas Mob Experience.
"The Mafia is like a fraternity. One or two events happen while you're becoming a made man and – boom! – you're stuck with a name for life. It makes you part of an old boy club."
While the finest days of the US Mafia may be behind it, Mr Cecot is adamant that exotic criminal nicknames have a bright future. The rising leaders in organised crime are Mexican drug cartels, who with stars such as "El Chapo" and "Boss of Bosses" have turned the acquisition of an exotic alias into an art form.
Aliases and alibis: who is called what – and why

Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio
The 83 year-old former boss of New England's Patriarca crime family is said to have been given his nickname because of his penchant for young, slim women. However, some argue that his main mob moniker is actually "Baby Shanks", a decades-old nickname which refers to his short legs. Also known as "Louie", "The Professor", and "The Old Man", Manocchio has a criminal record that stretches more than 60 years.

Benjamin "The Fang" Castellazzo
It might seem like an oddly brutal nickname for a 73-year-old, but Castellazzo was reportedly seen brandishing a gun to intimidate a target in eastern New York just weeks before his arrest. The acting under-boss of the Colombo family is also known as "The Claw" and – a little incongruously – "Benji".

Vincenzo "Vinny Carwash" Frogiero
Despite the infinite frog-related options his surname provides, Frogiero was thought to have got his nickname after running car washes for the mob in his younger days. The FBI describes him as a "soldier" for New York's infamous Gambino crime family.

Anthony "Tony Bagels" Cavezza
One of the smaller fish in the FBI's haul last week, the Gambino family mobster is said to be known among New York's mobsters for his fondness for the city's signature deli delicacy – the humble bagel. Often seen wearing hoodies instead of the mob's signature sharp suits, the The New York Post newspaper has criticised him for "crimes of fashion".

Michael "Jello" Kuhtenia
The mob can be cruel. Many of the monikers given to the portlier gangsters arrested last week are are weight-related (the FBI lists the suspect mobster John Hartman's nicknames as "Fats", "Fatty" and "Lumpy") and it seems that this member of New York's notorious Gambino family may be no exception. Or, in the spirit of "Tony Bagels", maybe he just eats a lot of jelly.

John "Dapper Don" Gotti
The infamous former head of New York's Gambino crime family, which saw many of it's top bosses arrested last week, was dubbed "Dapper Don" by the press because of his suave suits and charming public image. The media later named him "Teflon Don" for his ability to slip out of the hands of the law, but Gotti was said to be proud that the mob never knew him by any nickname. They simply called him John.

Al "Scarface" Capone
No mob list would be complete without Al Capone. He is said to have got the scars that earned his ominous nickname when he worked in a Manhattan mob bar as a bouncer and bartender, before generating millions from illegal bootlegging, among other, rackets in the 1920s. Finally jailed for tax evasion in 1931, Capone is said to have been attacked by a bar patron after insulting his sister. Whether the patron lived long enough to regret it is unknown.

Jack "Jack the Whack" Rizzocascio

Mafia is like a chronic disease, never cured

Is the bust the end of the mafia? Or is it just another p.r. splash for the feds in a meaningless ritual dance between cops and mobsters?
Viewed from a historical perspective, it is clear that neither conclusion is true. Rather, last week’s announcement reminds us that organized crime is like a chronic disease. If it is not managed and controlled, it will kill us. We must be honest with ourselves that it will always be there, and we must be willing to devote the resources necessary to keep it in check.
Most people think of the heyday of organized crime as the Prohibition Era, when “Murder Incorporated,” Al Capone and violent gang wars captured headlines. But you don’t have to look that far into the past to understand the price we pay for ignoring the presence of the mob in society. By the 1970s, organized crime had reached a level of power in New York and New Jersey where it controlled entire industries. In those days, you could not put up a building, hire a garbage collector, import goods or engage in many other businesses without paying tribute to the mob. Political institutions and the people who ran them were corrupted with organized-crime values. Law enforcement itself was infiltrated by mob associates.
Starting in the ’70s, we, legitimate society, reacted with force and intensity. Laws were enacted to permit legal wiretapping and bugging. The FBI began to coordinate its investigations with state and local police. Specialized prosecutors devised new strategies to break down the code of silence that prevented Mafia members from testifying. Prosecutions were directed at enterprises rather than individuals. Layers of insulation that had existed for generations to protect corrupt politicians, law-enforcement officers, businessmen and mob leaders were penetrated by law enforcers. Big-name racketeers — Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, John Gotti and many more — were sent to prison.
The Mafia was pushed out of its position of power, became less visible, and we began to believe that the war had been won. But it did not go away.
First, the mob adapts. It is all about making money by any means possible. If large-scale corporate extortion is no longer viable, illegal gambling, hijacking, loan-sharking and even petty larceny will do. New leadership takes over and consolidates its power to control another generation of street thugs who fill in the ranks of the mob.
The second legacy of the 1970s is that organizations and industries that had been dominated by mobsters for generations had internalized organized-crime values and practices that did not change when the racketeers were removed. Although prosecutors have used civil RICO suits to seek the appointment of trustees and monitors to bring about cultural change in some unions and industries, the results have been spotty. Many pockets of vulnerability remain. A glance at the headlines over the past several years shows that corruption continues to be a serious problem in New York’s construction industry, many trade unions and the waterfront, despite the fact that the mob is no longer in tight control.
The Department of Justice consolidated a number of organized-crime-related cases and made the recent mass arrest to make a point; that is, the mob is still with us and capable of functioning as a powerful force if we ignore it. Although the names of many of the defendants may not be instantly recognizable and the offenses with which they have been charged may seem disconnected from one another, it is clear that the infrastructure of organized crime remains.
The arrests are indeed important, but a lot of work remains to be done to keep organized crime from returning to its former position of power. For example, the federal government must renew its emphasis on labor corruption. Unions have been essential tools used by organized crime to wield power and to skim vast profits. Many honest workers remain captives of corrupt leadership who use the power of the union to extort payoffs and steal from pension and welfare funds.
Over time, law-enforcement priorities shift. After Sept. 11, 2001, organized-crime enforcement rightfully took a back seat to terrorism as our No. 1 concern. But we can never permit ourselves to become complacent or assume that the threat of organized crime has been eliminated. The mob’s regenerative powers are remarkable. Mobsters move quickly to exploit opportunities for corruption, and they are attracted to the centers of political power as a means of self-protection.
We now know that the feds have been watching and that they recognize their responsibility to prevent a resurrection of the mob that once was. We should be thankful that their vigilance continues.
Edwin Stier is a partner with Thacher Associates, the former chief of the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office for New Jersey and the founder of the federal New Jersey Organized Crime and Corruption unit.

Herhold: The story of a mob-related murder in San Jose

By Scott Herhold
Mercury News Columnist

Posted: 01/23/2011 12:00:00 AM PST

A month before I arrived at the Mercury News in 1977, our fair city was convulsed with a killing that shined klieg lights on what had been an open secret: the existence of the Mafia in San Jose. It went down in history as the "cheese case."
For the next decade and a half, in a fight fueled by deep pockets, the courts wrestled with what happened on the night of Oct. 11 at the California Cheese Co. offices, a 10-acre industrial plant near Highway 101 and Interstate 280.
At bottom, the tale turned on the fiery emotions of two fathers and two sons, each son more volatile than his older-line Italian father. Because of its strange sequence, the slaying never deserved the name of organized crime: It was anything but organized.
As you read accusations of errant, coldblooded killings by modern gangs -- a trial involving San Jose's El Hoyo Palmas crew has just opened in Superior Court -- it's worth recalling a time when a mob-related murder was deeply personal.
What made the cheese case so striking -- and, ultimately, so embarrassing for the mobsters -- was that the father of the dead man lived to tell the story, having survived a bullet to his head as he muttered a prayer over his slain son.
The story, drawn from court records, began with a madman's idea: Peter Catelli, 24, an unemployed wannabe-informant for the FBI, thought he could extort cheese company owner Angelo Marino, 53, a man identified by state prosecutors as a
high-level member of the Mafia in San Jose.
After Marino rejected Catelli for a $10-per-hour job, the 6-foot-8 younger man angrily sent an extortion note to the cheese boss, vowing to kill him and his family unless he paid $100,000. "I must be crazy," he wrote, "but it's not everybody who takes on the Mafia.''
Seeking help
No mobster could let this pass: And so Marino called his friend, real estate salesman Joseph Piazza, for help. Piazza in turn called another man, Thomas Napolitano, to arrange a meeting with Catelli's father, Orlando, and discuss how to handle Peter. The four men met and agreed they should scare the errant young man.
Napolitano, a Contra Costa County rancher related to the Catellis by marriage, brought Peter to the cheese company's offices at 1491 Sunny Court, a three-room mobile home. Marino's son, Salvatore, 29, who had not been part of the planning, pistol-whipped Peter, forcing him to the floor.
Orlando Catelli, 49, pleaded for his son's life, saying, "I know he's stupid and everything, but don't kill him." He testified that Angelo Marino then asked for a Mafia-style vote on whether Peter should be killed.
As it happened, the killing of Peter may have stemmed from a misunderstanding. As part of a ruse, the elder Catelli was led into the next room, where Piazza allegedly fired a gun into a box of mozzarella cheese. Playing along, Orlando grunted.
Almost immediately, a gunshot sounded from the other room. According to the version pieced together by police, Salvatore Marino had killed Peter with a .38-caliber gun.
Orlando testified that someone asked Sal Marino, "What did you kill the kid for?" Sal reportedly replied, "I thought you killed the old man. I had to kill the kid." (The defense insisted later that Sal had fired only after Peter went for a gun.)
The elder Catelli, told to pick up his son's body, knelt down and started to pray. By Orlando's account, Sal Marino then fired a .38 slug into the back of his head, a shot that miraculously glanced off his skull. Orlando played dead.
Comedy of errors
From there, an already-rich comedy of errors intensified in a way that might satisfy fans of "The Sopranos." Angelo Marino returned to his home on tony University Avenue, where he got ready for a dinner with his wife at the Garden City Casino.
The two Catellis were loaded into the trunk of Orlando's 1972 Cadillac, where they had to share space with a set of golf clubs and two bowling balls. A wheelman identified as "Andy" was ordered to drive the car to the Oakland Airport.
Instead, the driver got lost and drove through a toll booth on the Bay Bridge, eventually abandoning the car on Harrison Street in San Francisco's Mission District. The elder Catelli was found alive after a young woman heard him banging on the trunk lid with a garden shovel.
Because of widespread attention to the Mafia, the trial was ordered moved to Los Angeles. The proceedings cost Santa Clara County more than $1 million. The case took 14 years and included four trials.
Marino conviction
Ultimately, in a 1991 retrial, Sal Marino was convicted of second-degree murder and the attempted murder of Orlando Catelli. With an additional four-year weapons charge stemming from guns found at his home, he served a total of nine years in prison.
Angelo Marino was convicted of second-degree murder, but the conviction was overturned. While awaiting a second trial, he died in 1983 of a heart attack at age 58. Piazza served three years in prison on a false imprisonment charge; he died in 2006.
Napolitano was acquitted, as was the alleged wheelman. Orlando Catelli, now 82, reportedly lives under an assumed name in Florida.
The cheese company -- famous for "Precious" cheese, named after Angelo's first wife -- was sold in 1986 to Sorrento, the cheese producer. The plant was closed in 2002. A housing development now occupies the site.
The Italian Mafia hasn't departed from San Jose. But the cheese case weakened the mob and helped open the door for Asian and Mexican gangs. It delivered a blow more serious than any racketeering conviction: The cheese case made our local Mafia seem, well, cheesy.

Mob boss, 93, is jailed for eight years over strip joint extortion

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:30 PM on 23rd January

A Mafia boss who rubbed shoulders with legendary stars including Frank Sinatra has been jailed for eight years - at the age of 93.

But New York mobster John 'Sonny' Franzese was told by a judge that he could be out for his 100th birthday - if he behaves himself.
The Colombo underboss was jailed for extortion and and ordered to pay $116,000 in restitution having been accused of extorting money from two Manhattan strip clubs, Hustler and Penthouse.
Franzese's wife had begged the judge to go easy on her husband, telling of her love for her him.
Franzese, who was dubbed The Nodfather for snoozing at his trial for extorting money from strip joints last year, is almost certain to die behind bars.
To the dismay of supporters who insist the frail nonagenarian is a decrepit shadow of his former self, the government had asked a judge in federal court in Brooklyn to sentence him to 12 years or more in prison.
'In all this tragedy, we are in love,' Cristina Capobianco-Franzese wrote to Judge Brian Cogan.
'I would want to see him home. I would be responsible for him and his actions.'
However, prosecutors claimed that the reputed underboss of the Colombo organised crime family remains a remorseless criminal who deserves no mercy, 'having denied so many of his victims the opportunity to live out their lives safely and securely with their families'.
The defence said Franzese, who suffers from an array of ailments, should be allowed to 'live out the remaining few years or months with his family'.
 Franzese's lawyer sought to portray the elderly man as a harmless relic from 'the age of Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson and maybe the age of George Washington'.
According to Mafia lore, he was a regular at the Copacabana nightclub, where he hobnobbed with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and boxing legend Jake LaMotta. It was also claimed he once had a stake in the classic porn Deep Throat.
But the government says Franzese's true legacy is something more akin to Goodfellas.
Franzese's life of crime began in 1938, while he was still a teenager, with an assault arrest. Prosecutors say he was kicked out of the Army four years later after displaying 'homicidal tendencies'.
In 1947, court papers say, he raped a waitress in a garage. In 1966, he beat a murder charge accusing him of killing a rival and dumping the body - cement blocks chained to the feet - into a bay.
Franzese was convicted in 1967 in a bank robbery, sent to prison and paroled in the late 1970s. Though never convicted of another crime, authorities say he rose to second in command of the Colombos, one of New York's five Italian crime families.
Prosecutors say one reason Franzese dodged arrest in other murders is that he became good at making bodies disappear. Investigators caught him on tape in 2006 describing his favourite recipe for that: Dismember victim in kiddie pool. Cook body parts in microwave. Stuff parts in garbage disposal. Be patient.
'Today, you can't have a body no more,' the latest court papers quote him saying. 'It's better to take that half an hour, an hour, to get rid of the body than it is just to leave the body in the street.'
The FBI arrested Franzese in a mob takedown in 2008 on charges he shook down Manhattan strip clubs and a Long Island pizzeria.
At trial last summer, prosecutors used John Franzese Jr., a former Colombo associate-turned-paid informant, to help convince jurors that his father's frail appearance was deceiving. The defendant, who used a wheelchair in court, briefly dozed off when his son began testifying.
'I'm not talking about my father as a man,' Franzese Jr. testified. 'I'm talking about the life he chose. ... This life absorbs you. You only see one way.'
Junior testified that he tried to follow in the footsteps of his father, who used him to pass messages to other mobsters.
But after developing a crack cocaine addiction, he wanted 'to make up for what I had done in my life' by becoming a government cooperator.
A jury convicted the elder Franzese in July after five days of deliberations. A judge revoked his bail and threw him in jail.
In letters to the judge since then, Franzese's doctors catalogued what lawyers call his 'serious maladies', including gout, high blood pressure and kidney disease. His family also wrote to say they saw a domesticated don while he was out on bail awaiting trial at his daughter's home.
'The Sonny Franzese I know as my grandfather is kind considerate, warm, and funny,' wrote one granddaughter.
'When he is around family he just loves to tell jokes, watch baseball on television, nap, and tell stories about the past.'
Franzese, however, is ambivalent to where he spends his latter years.
'Who cares? I gotta die some place,' he told Daily News last year.
Leading figures from the Mafia were arrested days ago in New York, New Jersey and New England.
Among them are street boss Andrew Russo and acting underboss Benjamin Castellazzo from the Colombo family, and Bartolemeo Vernace and Joseph Corozzo from the Gambino family.
Along with high ranking members of the some of the most feared families, union officials and two former police officers were also arrested.
It is the FBI's biggest ever raid on New York's organised crime families.
Most of the 127 arrests were made in New York City, New Jersey and New England on charges of murder, extortion and drug trafficking. One arrest was made in Italy.
Powerful leaders of the Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Bonanno and Colombo families, along with the DeCavalcante of New Jersey, were among those arrested.
They were being held at Fort Hamilton, an U.S. Army base in Brooklyn because there was no police station big enough to hold them.

Not yet sleeping with the fishes: Where the Mafia goes from here


Last week's round-up of about 120 suspected members of the Mafia in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island on allegations ranging from murder to racketeering came as a shock to the public, which had written off the mob as little more than the stuff of movies. I suspect that the bust was equally shocking to the mobsters themselves, who had grown overconfident that a cash-strapped government occupied with preventing terrorism had forgotten about them.
In the old days, mob families had little to fear from law enforcement. With their wealth and influence, it was relatively easy for organized crime syndicates - like the famed Five Families of New York - to buy protection, intimidate witnesses and fix criminal cases. If a mob boss was jailed, it was usually for a white-collar crime like tax evasion - most famously, in the case of Al Capone.
In the 1980s, when the federal government mounted an all-out national drive against the Mafia, the criminals faced a much tougher legal system. In courts, threats to witnesses or attempts to bribe judges often resulted in additional charges.
Convictions were much more likely, and under tough racketeering laws, sentences could be severe. Faced with 40 years or more in prison, even veteran gangsters such as Sammy (The Bull) Gravano began cutting deals, and the code of silence known as omerta became a virtual dead letter.
For the next two decades, the Mafia was so battered by law enforcement that, by 2000, it became common to characterize the once-influential mob families as "melting icebergs" that were regressing from sophisticated criminal enterprises to crude gangs.
Not only were the gangsters being jailed wholesale, but the organizations were losing their base. The traditional industrial city, with its distinctive European immigrant neighborhoods that retained Old World cultural values, and its politics dominated by a powerful local political machine, was fast disappearing.
But the Mafia's death has been greatly exaggerated, as Thursday's arrests show. In 2005, I interviewed a number of organized crime experts about the future of the Mafia. The consensus was that while mob strongholds like New York and Chicago were not what they used to be, they were not entirely free of organized crime. In fact, as the most recent allegations show, they remained active in industries like construction and sanitation while continuing the practices of extortion, gambling and loansharking. Despite problems in recruiting members, there were plenty who were attracted to a "Sopranos" lifestyle. As one FBI official put it, some young gangsters "have not been through the wars and feel they can become big shots."
Experts were concerned that if the government ignored the Mafia, it would become powerful once again, expanding into other cities. But Thursday's events proved that law enforcement never lost sight of organized crime.
What will be the Mafia's reaction to the mass round-up? Some bosses will probably opt to lay low for a while. An alternative scenario, already present in some cities, such as Chicago, is that gangsters will pull back from operating enterprises like business scams in favor of franchising these activities out to associates who have no criminal records while they concentrate on providing financing and laundering money.
There may even be a role for the American Mafia in the growing world of international organized crime - a role that could be facilitated by the ease of moving money and the difficulty of tracking digital communications.
In the 21st century, the Mafia, like many an American corporation, may become a subsidiary of an international conglomerate seeking to establish a presence in the United States.
But whatever course the mob chooses, it will not succeed as long as the government continues to vigorously pursue it - as it has done for three decades.

Reppetto is the author of "Bringing Down the Mob: The War Against the American Mafia."

Omertà May Be Dead; the Mafia Isn’t

QUITE a coincidence: In January 1961, Robert F. Kennedy, newly appointed as attorney general of the United States, orchestrated the first concentrated attack on the American Mafia. Almost to the day 50 years later, the government swept up more than 120 people in a smorgasbord of racketeering indictments, mainly in the New York area.
It was described as the largest single-day assemblage of Mafiosi defendants in America. The arrests, however, underline a sobering message: despite half a century of law enforcement campaigns, New York’s Cosa Nostra (“Our Thing”) continues to prosper. This is often because some change — usually either shifting priorities for law enforcement or improved strategy on the part of the new criminal bosses — gives the mob breathing space to rebuild.
Since the birth of the American Mafia in 1931, New York has been its crown jewel. While other major cities and regions were limited to one family, or borgata, New York was afflicted with five powerful ones, now known as the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese groups. (There is also a satellite unit, the DeCavalcantes, in New Jersey.)
In the decades after the passage of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations laws of 1970, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department eliminated or severely weakened all 20-odd families in other cities and regions. In New York, the hierarchies of the five families were thought to have been pretty much destroyed by the so-called Commission Case in the mid-1980s and other investigations. By the end of the last century, prosecutors and F.B.I. officials all too frequently proclaimed that even the mob’s sacred stronghold in New York was crushed.
As they did to so many aspects of American life, however, the 9/11 attacks radically transformed things. Until 9/11, the F.B.I. had two top priorities: counterespionage and the mob. But in the early 2000s the Justice Department dropped Cosa Nostra investigations as a priority, reassigning hundreds of agents to antiterrorist units.
In New York, the linchpin in the F.B.I.’s crusade against wise guys, the number of agents and Police Department investigators assigned to battling the five families in combined task forces declined to about 100 from a high point of 450. Last week’s indictments demonstrated how effectively the borgatas had regrouped.
Federal officials, as recently as five years ago, boasted that the New York Mafia had been expelled from its main bastions: private garbage carting, the garment center, the construction industry, waterfront cargo and control of key unions. But the current indictments tell a different tale — most allege that the mob was behind corrupt construction deals and waterfront shakedowns through infiltration of unions.
The sweeping arrests also reflect a major change in Mafia strategy. There were no celebrity names reminiscent of former kingpins like John J. Gotti or Vincent Gigante, known as “Chin.” The alleged bosses are virtually unknown outside of law enforcement circles. Like the dons of the 1930s and 1940s, they maintained low profiles and, unlike the flamboyant Mr. Gotti, were presumably aware they were running secret organizations.
This is not to say the arrests don’t indicate progress. It’s encouraging that law enforcement is still able to overcome the Mafia’s code of silence, or omertà. The racketeering statutes’ threat of severe prison sentences, including life behind bars, is reported to have spurred many low- and middle-ranked mobsters to turn informant.
Nonetheless, even if we drive the criminals out of their traditional corruption rackets, it’s unlikely to be an obituary for the mob. Sports bookmaking and loan-sharking, the Mafia’s symbiotic bread-and-butter staples, will continue to flourish and provide seed money for other criminal endeavors.
There are several reasons for this. High-end gamblers prefer wagering with the mob rather than with state-authorized gambling operations like Off-Track Betting, where you have to pay taxes on your winnings. Moreover, the mob is adept at running bookmaking mills and, even when arrests occur, sentences are rarely harsh.
The timing of the government crackdown, which included some raids on gambling networks, might put a crimp into an exceptionally profitable venture for the mob — the Super Bowl next month. A study by the New York Police Department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau 20 years ago estimated that more than $1 billion was wagered on the Super Bowl with mob-linked bookies in the New York area.
Another huge money-producer, loan-sharking, is customarily a partnership with illegal gambling. Compulsive bettors in debt to a bookie frequently have recourse only to a loan shark for quick cash. Hard economic times can be a bonanza for mob lenders. They learned during the Great Depression that honest business owners will seek usurious loans when banks are reluctant to finance small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Above all, though, the mob’s ability to survive is a legacy from Charles (Lucky) Luciano. He was a brilliant criminal executive who created the framework, culture and ground rules for the American Mafia 80 years ago. Luciano realized that other ethnic gangs were loosely organized, usually involved in just one type of crime and easily obliterated when their leaders were imprisoned. Hence his cardinal principle: the organization — the family — was supreme and not reliant on a single individual or one racket. Whenever a boss or a capo was removed, a replacement would be waiting in the wings to keep the loot flowing.
So, while the unveiling of the indictments last week by Attorney General Eric Holder was a sharp warning that the Mafia was again on the Justice Department’s radar screen, we should bear in mind the mob’s previous Lazarus-like revivals. The removal of the current crop of Mafia barons will probably engender a new generation of mobsters. There have always been, and always will be, ambitious, greedy wise guys who are willing to risk long prison sentences for the power and riches glittering before them. The Mafia is wounded, but not fatally.

Joseph A. Badway: Organized crime sidekick was 81

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Joseph A. Badway, 81, described by Rhode Island law enforcement officials for decades as an "associate" of organized crime, died Saturday at his home in Delray Beach, Fla.
Badway, who also lived in Newport, was the retired proprietor of Dean Auto Body in Providence, which was described by criminal investigators as a meeting place for organized crime figures, a charge that Badway denied.
"I've been painting cars since I was 14," he told a reporter in 1986. "Organized crime guys don't do that, do they? I'm organized crime? Christ! I think the rest of the country should be organized crime like me and go to work."
But it was his relationship with the Patriarca crime family and the late Joseph Bevilacqua, chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, that kept Badway in the public eye for years.
He was best man at the wedding of Raymond J. "Junior" Patriarca, former leader of New England organized crime and the son of the late Raymond L. S. Patriarca, founder of the family.
Badway was frequently described as chauffeur to the elder Patriarca. But he denied that also.
Twenty-five years ago Badway told reporters that, as a favor to the late Charles Curran, a lawyer, he once spent a week driving and doing errands for Curran and a client. The client turned out to be Patriarca, he said, who was then on trial in Boston.
He said he knew the Patriarcas from working on their cars at Dean Auto Body. He said he wound up as best man at Junior's wedding as a result of a casual conversation.
On July 3, 1976, the chief justice kicked off a political storm when he officiated at Badway's wedding. Badway was under indictment for fraud at the time.
Later that year, the state Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline declined to censure Bevilacqua for associating with Badway, a convicted criminal. Bevilacqua later resigned amid an impeachment inquiry.
In 1979 Badway pleaded guilty to charges of income tax evasion and was sentenced to three months in prison.
Badway was the husband of Barbara (Forte) Badway. Other survivors are a son, Shane Cheves of North Providence; a brother, Malcolm Badway of Providence; and two grandchildren.
According to a family obituary published on Wednesday, he was a member of the 43rd Infantry Division of the Rhode Island National Guard and served on active duty as a sergeant in Okinawa during the Korean War. The family said he also was a founding member, with entertainer Danny Thomas, of the Rhode Island Chapter of ALSAC/St. Jude, the fundraising organization of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The funeral is to be held Saturday at 9:45 a.m. from the A. Tarro & Sons Funeral Home, 425 Broadway, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. in St. George's Church at St. Raymond's Church, 1240 N. Main St., Providence. Burial will be in St. Ann Cemetery, Cranston.

Is the Mob Done or Bouncing Back?

'Commission' Convictions in 1986 Delivered a Body Blow to Mafia, but Prosecutors Say
A series of convictions against three leaders of New York's five reputed Mafia families in 1986 signaled the start of what federal officials called the end of mob tyranny.
"Traditional organized crime is never going to be the same again," said William H. Webster, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the time.
The Commission case, as it became known, was the catalyst for the fragmentation of La Cosa Nostra, which was further hobbled by the 1992 conviction of "Dapper Don" John Gotti that put him in prison for life. He died there in 2002.
On Thursday, though, top law-enforcement officials seemed to say the mob was back. "Members of La Cosa Nostra are among the most dangerous criminals in our country," said Attorney General Eric Holder at a news conference announcing the government's latest organized-crime operation.
Janice K. Fedarcyk, the assistant director in charge of New York's FBI office said, "The notion that today's mob families are more genteel and less violent than in the past is put to lie by the charges contained in the indictments unsealed today."
Barry Slotnick, a defense attorney who once represented Joe Colombo, the reputed leader of the Colombo crime family, was among those who asked: "Have I been getting wrong information then or now?"
In recent years, the mob has been viewed mostly as television entertainment. The children and grandchildren of Mr. Gotti, once America's most notorious Mafia figure, became the protagonists of the reality show "Growing Up Gotti." On HBO, "The Sopranos" depicted the travails of a psychologically troubled head of a fictional New Jersey crime family.
Mark Feldman, a former prosecutor who headed the U.S. Attorney's Organized Crime unit in Brooklyn, said the mob has been "severely battered by the cases brought against it over the last two decades, but they're not dead. There's still wherewithal for them to regenerate and there is still a culture and still people who are attracted to the easy money."
Mr. Feldman also noted that some charges in indictments unsealed Thursday were for crimes dating back to the 1980s. He said many of the accused include people who had already served prison sentences, rather than a new wave of foot soldiers.
Katya Jestin, another former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn's Organized Crime unit, said the mob used to have its tentacles in many businesses. These days, Ms. Jestin said, it is "no longer running rackets in major industries that touch everyday lives. It's been relegated to obscurity. But it's still there and it still uses violence and treachery to make money."
Joe Coffey, a former New York City detective who investigated organized-crime cases during the 1980s, said the mob was "nowhere near as powerful as they used to be," primarily because of a lack of access to elected officials and police.
The FBI shifted resources to terrorism and white-collar crime cases after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with good reason, said Bruce Mouw, who served as an FBI agent from 1971 to 1998 and headed the agency's Gambino Squad. But he said he hoped Thursday's arrests signaled renewed interest in fighting organized crime.
"If the mob knew how few agents are assigned they would be heartened," said Mr. Mouw, who led the investigation that sent Mr. Gotti to prison. "If the FBI continues to shift resources away, these guys will regroup and rearm."
—Chad Bray and Chris Herring contributed to this article.

The death of omertà,

The death of omertà, the fabled Mafia vow of silence, signalled the slow demise of the New York Cosa Nostra itself. The FBI arrested more than 127 mobsters on Thursday, largely on the strength of informants. The New York Italian mafia is definitely hurt, but is it dead? Not really. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Omertà, or the code of silence, has protected la Cosa Nostra for more than 100 years. Members of crime families would take the blood oath of never revealing family activities to the authorities when they were sworn into “la familia”, aka becoming “made men”. The code of silence hindered efforts by the authorities to curb mob activities, from the early Black Hand days in the 1890s till the 1950s, when a Senate special committee recognised the existence and threat of the Sicilian crime syndicates, paving the way for the eventual arrest and detainment of mafiosi.
Of late, omertà has been shaken. The FBI arrested 119 organised crime suspects on Thursday, acting on 16 grand jury indictments that charged 127 suspects. “The roundup, conducted with the help of former mobsters-turned-informants, shows the Mafia remains a threat despite decades of crackdowns that have sent its hierarchies to prison, but also that the famed omertà code of silence is largely a myth,” Reuters reported.
The crackdowns were aimed mainly at the Colombo and Gambino families of New York and the DeCalvacante family of New Jersey. High-ranking leaders in the Colombo and Gambino families were detained, including Colombo street boss Andrew Russo, acting underboss Benjamin Castellazzo, “consigliere” Richard Fusco as well as Joseph Corozzo, and ruling panel member Bartolomeo Vernace of the Gambinos. The charges against them include murder, drug trafficking, extortion, gambling, loan-sharking and other crimes going back 30 years, according to US attorney general Eric Holder.
Most of those arrested were foot soldiers of the organisations – the men who carried out murders, extorted money from businesses and so forth. TPM reports the case of arrested Gambino administrator Bartolomeo Vernace. “Also known as ‘Pepe’, ‘Bobby’, ‘Bobby Glasses’ and ‘Robert’, [Vernace] is charged in the double murder of Richard Godkin and John D'Agnese that occurred in 1981 at the Shamrock Bar (in) Queens. The provocation for the murders, according to the AP, was an argument stemming from a spilled drink,” they said.
Helped by the FBI’s shift away from organised crime to counter-terrorism in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Mafia had been regrouping following the devastation of the previous 30 years, brought on mostly by a rewriting of American law to combat organised crime. But la Cosa Nostra’s heyday was before the 1970s.
One of the earliest Mafia-related incidents in America occurred in New Orleans in October 1890, when a police superintendent was executed. It was never proved Italians actually carried out the murder, but they were certainly blamed for it. Anti-immigrant sentiment throbbed like a varicose vein through American society. Nineteen Sicilians were arrested for the murder, but acquitted the following year. Before they could be freed, an enraged New Orleans mob broke into the jail and dragged 11 of the suspects out into the street and lynched them. It remains the single largest mob lynching incident in US history.
Extortion of busineses and individuals by small Sicilian gangs via the Black Hand method occurred in the early parts of the 20th century, but it was only when the Prohibition Act was passed in 1920, preventing the manufacturing, distribution, sale and consumption of alcohol in the US, that Sicilians spread through the USA began to organise into formidable crime outfits. Beating the Prohibition to assuage thirsty Americans made the Mafiosi of various cities very rich. In December 1928, mafia bosses from 23 cities held a convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where despite mutual suspicions the gangs agreed to work together. The “National Crime Syndicate” was born.
The centre of the 26 Families (three were later added to the founding 23) organised crime convention was New York, where the Five Families ruled: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese families. The spiritual father of the American Mafia, and its first capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) was Salvatore Maranzano, who created the Mafia structure of boss-underboss-caporegime-soldiers-associates. He only ruled for six months, before being killed in 1931 by “Lucky” Luciano – the architect of the New York mafia system and eventual head of the Genovese family. After Luciano’s death in 1962, Carlo Gambino became capo di tutti capi, inheriting the syndicate created by Luciano and expanding it to become the most powerful mafia boss the world has ever seen. Mob bosses who followed would not be as powerful, as the 1960s heralded the beginning of serious efforts by law enforcers to curb organised crime.
Laws like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act and organisations like the US Organised Crime Task Force played vital roles in bringing the mob down, but the most effective weapon against the mob was the death of omertà. In 1963 Joe Valachi (immortalised by Charles Bronson in “The Valachi Papers” in 1972) testified before the permanent subcommittee on investigations of the US Senate committee on government operations about the inner workings of the mafia, thus becoming the first American mafia member to break the sacred vow of silence.
The most famous mafia informant was the former Gambino underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, whose testimony in 1991 was instrumental in bringing down Gambino boss John Gotti, who had eluded authorities for years, in 1992. After Gravano’s testimony, the informant floodgates were opened. Omertà was no more.
But that does not mean by any means the American mafia is dead. Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York division, said the mafia was no less violent or dissipated than in the past.
“Arresting and convicting the hierarchies of the five families several times over has not eradicated the problem,” Fedarcyk said.
It is la Cosa Nostra’s power that is dissipated. Other organised crime syndicates have moved in from Russia, Mexico, eastern Europe and Asia and diluting the influence of the Sicilians. For the FBI, their efforts to curb organised crime will never be over

Structure Keeps Mafia Atop Crime Heap

Strict Hierarchy and Ability to Recruit Have Enabled La Cosa Nostra to Survive Challenges From Other Organizations

Over the past three decades, Russian mobsters, Chinese gangsters, Mexican cartels and a host of other groups have all grabbed slices of the criminal activity traditionally dominated by the mafia.
But none have come close to exerting the kind of wide-ranging influence still enjoyed by La Cosa Nostra, as the Italian-American mob is known.
That is partly because of how the different gangs have organized themselves. The mafia has a strict hierarchical structure, law-enforcement officials said, and it has proven capable of finding new soldiers. Even after imprisonment of senior leadership, it survives, and in some places thrives, though most experts agree that its operations are now largely confined to its traditional bases in the Northeast and Chicago.
This week's round-up of more than 100 suspected mob members and associates is unlikely to stop the mafia's core businesses: extortion, loan-sharking, fraud and theft. Yet the arrests also indicate how difficult it is these days to be a mafia leader—paranoid about informants, afraid of telephones and dreading the early-morning knock on the door.
"We aggressively attack them…and the sentences are very large, but they continue to roll the dice," said David Shafer, who heads the Organized Crime Branch in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York Office, which also has squads dedicated to Russian and Asian gangs.
The mob has evolved in part by outsourcing, contracting out some of its criminal work to motorcycle gangs, according to Howard Abadinsky, a professor at St. John's University who writes about organized crime. The so-called Outlaws gang has done a lot work in recent years with the Chicago mob, while the Hell's Angels are used by New York City's mafia families. Philadelphia mobsters use a gang called the Pagans.
Russian gangsters were once feared as the next criminal superpower. But their looser structure, which helps them avoid detection by law enforcement, has also kept them from growing into an organization able to recruit the number of members needed to challenge the mafia.
The Russian networks tend to come together briefly for particular criminal plots and then disband, according to Michael Vecchione, who heads the rackets division at the Brooklyn district attorney's office.
Mr. Shafer, the FBI official, said some Russian crooks also realized there were great profits to be made in white-collar crime, such as scams involving insurance or medical fraud, "so why do the extortion or gambling?"
Most Asian gangs, meanwhile, tend to victimize only members of their own immigrant group and therefore remain small compared with much larger mafia families, experts who study the groups said.
In the late 1980s, Chinese and Vietnamese gangs such as the Ghost Shadows, Born to Kill and Flying Dragons were operating in New York City's Chinatown, engaging in gambling, drug-trafficking, prostitution, robbery, extortion and other crimes, including murder.
A series of racketeering prosecutions effectively dismantled the most dangerous of those groups, according to Mr. Shafer, reducing them to smaller, less ambitious groups that he said were more akin to "roaming wolf packs" than true street gangs.
But the true breadth and penetration of some ethnic gangs isn't entirely clear. For instance, Russian criminal networks are particularly difficult to crack because of the foreign-language expertise required, experts said.
One area dominated by the newer gangs is the U.S. drug trade, where Mexican cartels are now challenging the Colombians for supremacy, said John Gilbride, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Office.
The shift in power began in the mid-1990s when the Colombian drug lords started paying the Mexican cartels—whose members transported the cocaine and heroin into the U.S. in tractor trailers and vehicles with hidden traps—with drugs instead of money.
But Mr. Abadinsky said the big drug cartels were "one-trick ponies" and didn't participate in non-drug-related crime since nothing else was as profitable.
So while the days of John Gotti—the "Dapper Don" whose swagger and scheming made him the most wanted mobster of his time—are long gone, the Italian-American mob remains the most powerful criminal enterprise in the U.S., mafia observers say.
A former mobster, who first joined a New York crime family 25 years ago, said: "The mob is still around but the education to it ain't there."
But he said the mob always had a comeback. "It will regroup. Everybody will lay low and see what happens. Then all of a sudden, little by little, they'll come out and they'll start regrouping. They gotta. There's too much money, and you gotta remember their egos won't let them walk away."

Junior Lollipops and Tony Bagels: top names of New York's arrested mafia mobsters

The arrest of 127 Mafia suspects in the New York region has provided a trove of colourful aliases, underlining the depth of knowledge established by the FBI before it carried out the largest single raid on organised crime America has seen.
Among those swept up were Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, described as the former crime boss in New England, so named because of his frequent liaisons with women.
Other nicknames suggested they had also been given for favourite activities or responsibilities within the organisation, such as Vinny Carwash, aka Vincenzo Frogiero, described as a foot soldier in the Gambino syndicate; Tony Bagels, aka Anthony Cavezza and Junior Lollipops, aka Joseph Carna, an associate of the Colombo family in New York.
Other monikers which may provide inspiration to writers of future mob dramas included Johnny Cash, Baby Fat Larry and Jack the Whack – Jack Rizzocascio, a Colombo associate.
The operation, dubbed Mafia Takedown by the FBI, was built on inside information from gang members, some already in custody, and extensive wiretaps. Six major players were arrested.
The swoop on Thursday morning involved 800 officers, with the suspects brought to a gym at an army centre in Brooklyn for processing and detention.
In a separate case, a federal judge in Brooklyn yesterday sentenced John "Sonny" Franzese, 93, to eight years in prison for extorting Manhattan strip clubs and a pizzeria on Long Island.
Federal prosecutors had sought at least a 12-year sentence for the underboss of the Colombo crime family. An FBI agent testified that Franzese bragged about killing 60 people over the years and once contemplated putting out a hit on his own son for becoming a government cooperator.

FBI nabs Kearny man, members of Genovese crime family in mafia sweep

Published: Friday, January 21, 2011, 9:50 AM
Officials said a massive FBI mob sweep has lead to 127 arrests, including that of a Kearny man and an alleged member of the Genovese organized crime family, as reported by the Jersey Journal.
The individuals were charged with extortion yesterday in New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, the Journal reported.
Michael Trueba, 75, the Kearny resident, is charged with nine others, including three former International Longshoreman's Association officials, with continuing a three-decade old practice of extorting money from ILA members at Christmastime, Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey said.
Trueba is charged with eight counts of extorting money from ILA workers and conspiracy to commit extortion from longshoremen "induced by wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence and fear," according to the indictment.
Among the key figures charged in the 53-count New Jersey indictment are Genovese family soldier Stephen Depiro, and Genovese family associates Albert Cernadas, a former president of ILA Local 1235, Nunzio LaGrasso, an ILA Local 1478 vice president, and Richard Dehmer, officials said.
At a press conference in Brooklyn, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that yesterday's 110 arrests made it one of the largest single-day operations against the Mafia in the FBI's history.

Alleged New England mobster arrested in federal crackdown

By Staff Reporter | January 20, 2011 11:00 AM EST
It is ironic that on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s first (and only) inaugural speech, the FBI rounds up more than 100 mobsters in a sweep of arrests on the East Coast.
The relationship between organized crime and the Kennedy Family remain a permanent fixture in any discussion of the famous – some would say, infamous – Massachusetts Irish clan.
The connections between the Mafia and JFK have been well-detailed, although much of the analyses is mere speculation and some assertions are downright ludicrous.
Not only was the mob credited with helping JFK reach the White House (after Joe Kennedy called in a few favors and somehow got Chicago boss Sam Giancana to deliver key votes in West Virginia), the President’s downfall (i.e, assassination) has also been blamed on the Mafia by many observers.
Joseph Kennedy, the grand old patriarch of the family, was well acquainted with mobsters through his bootlegging activities in the 1920s as well as through his experiences as a Hollywood producer.
His son John not only frequented Mafia-controlled casinos in Havana and Las Vegas during the 1950s, but he even shared a lover (Judith Campbell Exner) with Giancana, one of the most brutal mob killers in history.
Among the many, many conspiracy theories behind the Nov. 22, 1963 murder of the President is the supposition that top mobsters had Kennedy killed because his younger brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, waged an unremitting campaign to arrest, try, convict and jail mobsters all over the country.
New Orleans Mafia chieftain Carlos Marcello was identified in a 1979 report by the House Assassinations Committee as the most likely conspirator behind the assassination.
If so, Marcello was responsible for the crime of the century and perhaps one of the most famous criminal acts in world history.
However, the motives for Marcello would seem rather petty – the little man of New Orleans was arrested and deported a few months after Kennedy’s inauguration as an undesirable alien. After returning to the U.S. (with the help of well-connected lawyers) Marcello reportedly threatened to kill the president as a form of revenge.
While he was certainly capable of violence (and ordering others to kill for him), it’s hard to believe that a man as shrewd and business-minded as Marcello (who ran New Orleans with an iron fist for decades) would be foolhardy enough to try to murder a sitting president.
If Lee Harvey Oswald was indeed a Mafia assassin (as some have claimed), he certainly never received any kind of payment for his services.
But questions remain and some legitimate theories point directly to Mafia involvement.
In a book written by Frank Ragano, the lawyer who represented teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa (a prominent Kennedy enemy) and the Mafia boss of Florida, Santo Trafficante Jr., among many others, he claimed that Trafficante confessed to him that the mob had killed John F. Kennedy, but that they made a mistake – they should’ve killed Bobby instead.
Tragically, Robert Kennedy himself was murdered less than five years after his brother -- and that killing has prompted even more waves of conspiracy theories over the past forty years.
The alleged inter-relationships between the Kennedys, the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover and mobsters (as well as Hollywood entertainers like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe) have seemingly entered the realm of American myth and legend. Sort of like our own "Greek myths."
The answers and explanations to these tragic acts will likely never be fully known – and perhaps the eternal questions, doubts and mysteries surrounding them is what keeps us endlessly fascinated by the cross-currents of fame, wealth, power, violence and death.

The 20 Best Nicknames in the Big Mafia Bust

News came down this morning about the FBI's largest organized crime bust in New York history, in which raids resulted in the arrest of over 100 alleged mobsters from all five crime families including the Gambinos, Genoveses, Luccheses, Bonannos and Colombos. Charges run the gamut from murder to gambling and the ol' standby, racketeering, and now WNYC has the full list of indictments. Digitally thumbing through the documents, two things are initially clear: this thing is huge (16 indictments in all) and none of them share my last name. The other thing that jumps out is that these dudes have great nicknames. Here are 20 of our favorites:
20. VINCENT AULISI, also known as "The Vet"
19. GIOVANNI VELLA, also known as "John Vella," "Mousey" and "Little John"
18. STEPHEN DEPIRO, also known as "Beach"
17. ANTHONY CAVEZZA, also known as "Tony Bagels"
16. JOHN BRANCACCIO, also known as"Johnny Bandana"
15. ANTHINO RUSSO, also known as "Hootie"
14. FRANK BELLANTONI, also known as "Meatball"
13. CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, also known as "Burger"
12. VINCENZO FROGIERO, also known as "Vinny Carwash"
11. JOSEPH CARNA, also known as "Junior Lollipops"
10. DENNIS DELUCIA, also known as "Fat Dennis," "Little Dennis" and "the Beard"
9. LUIGI MANOCCHIO, also known as "Baby Shacks," "The Old Man," and "the Professor"
8. ANTHONY DURSO, also known as "Baby Fat Larry" and "BFL"
7. GIUSEPPE DESTEFANO, also known as "Pooch"
6. JOHN AZZARELLI, also known as "Johnny Cash"
5. ANDREW RUSSO, also known as "Mush"
4. VINCENT FEBBRARO, also known as "Jimmy Gooch"
3. BENJAMIN CASTELLAZZO, also known as "Benji," "The Claw" and "the Fang"
2. ANTHONY LICATA, also known as "Cheeks," "Anthony Firehawk," "Anthony Nighthawk," "Nighthawk" and "Firehawk"
1. JOHN HARTMANN, also known as "Lumpy," "Fatty" and "Fats"