The Mafia Was Wrong: You Can’t Quickly Dissolve a Body in Acid

It’s a sad day for aspiring kingpins and Mafia godfathers–it turns out that you can’t dissolve a corpse within minutes by dunking it in sulfuric acid. If that’s not bad enough, scientists have also shown that even if you wait days, acid alone cannot fully destroy “the evidence.”
This Mafia technique of disintegrating human flesh is known as a “white shotgun” (or “lupara bianca”) murder, a term that entered public parlance in the early 1980s when police in Palermo, Sicily, discovered vats of acid in a Mafia boss’s digs. The crime leader,  Filippo Marchese, had his goons kill their victims and dissolve the bodies in a room known as “the chamber of death.” But violent people tend to meet violent deaths, and Marchese was himself dissolved in acid sometime in 1982.
At this week’s meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, researchers explained that they wanted to find out whether the Mafia’s claims about sulfuric acid’s extraordinary effectiveness were true. As the forensic researchers told Science News, Mafia informants make some big claims, such as: “We put the people in acid. In 15, 20 minutes they were no more — they became a liquid.”
So to test this idea, the scientists placed pieces of pig carcasses into vats of sulfuric acid, and discovered that it took several days to dissolve the flesh. However, they did notice a difference when they added water to the sulfuric acid: In this case, it took a mere 12 hours for the muscle and cartilage to disintegrate. And by day two, even the bones had turned into dust. But according to Science News, the researchers say their results still put the lie to Mafia accounts.
“[I]t is impossible that they completely destroyed a corpse with acid,” said study coauthor Massimo Grillo of the University of Palermo in Italy.
Naysayers may suggest that the research is flawed because the scientists used a pig corpse in place of a human body–but pigs are widely used as replacements for human flesh in scientific experiments. And even though the Mafia seems to have overstated its claims about acid’s abilities, the scientists do give them some credit. From Science News:
“[T]hey are smarter than some Georgia criminals,” said Michael Heninger, an associate medical examiner in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located. “People think they will destroy a body, but they’ll do things that preserve it. These guys are more experienced,” he said of the Palermo killings.

Four charged in US mafia probe

(AFP) – Mar 1, 2011

NEW YORK — Four alleged members of an Italian-American organized crime ring, including an alleged ex-boss, were charged with racketeering, extortion and other crimes in an indictment unsealed Tuesday, a prosecutor said.
Alleged New England La Cosa Nostra boss Luigi Manocchio, 83, also known as "Louie," "Baby Shacks," "the Professor," and "the Old Man," was charged along with Thomas Iafrate, 61; Richard Bonafiglia, 57; and Theodore Cardillo, 67, with racketeering conspiracy and extortion conspiracy, according to an indictment unsealed in Rhode Island, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
Manocchio and Iafrate, who were charged previously in an indictment unsealed on January 20, 2011, also face extortion charges.
On January 20, the Justice department announced charges against 127 individuals, including 91 alleged leaders, members and associates -- including Manocchio and Iafrate -- of LCN families in four districts.
"Today's arrests and charges are among a series of recent blows to organized crime across the country, including in Rhode Island," said Breuer.
"This indictment comes on the heels of last month's takedown of over 100 defendants associated with Armenian Power and other transnational organized crime groups, and of our historic enforcement action in January against nearly 100 La Cosa Nostra members and associates.
"If the mafia thought they could operate in the shadows and get away with it, they now know better," Breuer said.
The "Five Families" that have dominated organized crime in New York City since the 1930s are the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo and Bonanno.
The Five Families have seen a sharp decline in fortunes over the last decade conviction of many leaders.

John Gotti's "Adopted Son" Files Legal Malpractice Suit

By Bob Norman, Fri., Mar. 4 2011 @ 3:44PM

Lewis Kasman, who for years was the right-hand man and "adopted son" to crime boss John Gotti, says the Mafia has nothing on Florida when it comes to stealing money.
Now Kasman, who turned government witness and helped indict dozens of organized crime figures, is looking to get payback from his divorce attorney, Fort Lauderdale's Barry Roderman, claiming he had a personal conflict of interest with his wife's female attorney. The lawsuit alleges "extortion of fees, legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract" and is asking for damages in excess of $2 million.
"The lawyers are the best extortionists of all," Kasman told me today. "They beat the Mafia any day of the week, especially in Florida." 
The most explosive charge contained in the lawsuit filed on Kasman's behalf by Coral Springs attorney Nicholas Steffens is that Roderman was involved in an "inappropriate personal relationship" with the opposing counsel in the divorce, Carol Kartagener, of the Weiss Handler law firm in Palm Beach County.
Also representing Kasman is prominent Palm Beach divorce attorney Joel Weissman, whom Kasman refers to as his "consigliere."
"Plaintiff Kasman saw Defendant Roderman taking part in a compromising physical embrace with Kartagener in the parking lot of the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, Florida," Steffens wrote in the lawsuit.
Kasman, who worked in New York's garment industry when he teamed up with Gotti, has a more direct way of putting it. "I was walking out in the parking lot after a court hearing when I saw them together and he had his tongue down her mouth," he says.
Roderman denies the allegation, calling it "disgusting" and "absurd." He denies there was any parking lot encounter at all and says that while he and Kartagener have a professional relationship and had worked cases together, they are both happily married and never had any kind of romantic relationship.
"Check the source," said Roderman. "This guy's a pathological liar. He's been convicted of perjury in the past. Right now, he calls himself indigent, lives in a million-dollar house with his mother, drives an expensive car, and bashes
judges and lawyers all day."
In addition to the perjury conviction, Kasman pleaded guilty last year to fraud but was given no jail time because of his extensive cooperation with the federal government, which began as early as 1996. He admits that he committed crimes with the Gambino crime family but says that the problems with his divorce case should shine a light not on him but on a deeply flawed legal system. 
Kasman says that during his divorce trial in October 2009, he testified that he saw the two lawyers in the embrace, prompting what he calls an hysterical -- and tell-tale -- response from Kartagener.
Kasman, who paid for Gotti's funeral and gave his eulogy, is no stranger to the press
"She stormed out of the courtroom in tears with her client in tow," said Kasman. "She ran into the bathroom and laid on the floor kicking and screaming. My ex-wife had to compose her and bring her back into the courtroom. There were many witnesses, including the judge and my lawyer. It's a fact."
Kartagener didn't return a call for comment left on her office phone at Weiss Handler.
Kasman, who was indeed convicted of perjury and served a prison term after lying on the stand in defense of Gotti in the early 1990s, says he blames Roderman for the only other time he ever went to jail.
That happened in 2008 when Judge Martin Colin jailed him for contempt of court in the divorce case for failing to pay his wife $10,000 a month. He would spend nine days in jail despite the fact that, according to the lawsuit, there was never a written order that he pay the $10,000 a month.
Roderman "stood silent when I was sentenced to jail," says Kasman. "He did nothing."
Roderman counters that he was "totally shocked" when Colin sent Kasman to jail and that he did everything he could to keep it from happening. He also insists that the order did exist (though there is evidence to the contrary).
"I did not think the judge would do that," said Roderman. "I argued like crazy but the judge made up his mind that Kasman was in contempt and that he took the kids' trust money and he didn't pay the support. I was in shock. I never lost a guy to jail in a divorce case before. I've lost them to jail in criminal cases, but not divorce cases."
Kasman, who was in the protective custody of the U.S. government during much of the divorce proceedings due to his cooperation with the FBI against his former associates, spent nine days in jail that he claims was totally unlawful.
Colin, it turned out, also had a conflict of interest with the Weiss Handler firm -- his girlfriend (and current wife) was represented by the firm in her divorce and Colin took professional calls at the firm as well. Colin recused himself from the case after Kasman exposed the conflict.
"It's unbelievable what is going on in that courthouse," said Kasman. "The behavior of these judges and lawyers speaks volumes."
Roderman acknowledges that he and Kartagener have worked together on cases in the past, including one in 1993 that landed an $11.5 million judgment (which Kartagener still touts her bio on the Weiss Handler website). He said that he told Kasman about his professional relationship with Kartagener and that one of the reasons Kasman hired him was that he knew about his closeness with Kartagener and her boss, Henry Handler.
"She is a brilliant academic lawyer," Roderman says of Kartagener. "I'm not. I'm a good trial lawyer. I have great respect for her but at the time of the divorce I was opposed to her. I thought she was over-litigating the case. But she did nothing but a brilliant job for her client."
In reality, says Kasman, Kartagener took hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from his ex-wife, Eileen, only to lose at trial. She was awarded only one dollar a year in alimony and a small amount in child support. "Kartagener left my ex-wife destitute," he says.
In the lawsuit, Kasman claims that Roderman failed him on several counts:

-- Failed to warn him about Colin's conflict of interest, which he should have known about.
-- Failed to disclose his own conflict of interest with Kartagener and the Weiss Handler firm
-- Failed to protect him from being sentenced to jail on a motion that never existed

Roderman says it is he who is the victim of Kasman rather than the other way around.

"I spent 40 years to build a great reputation," says Roderman. "This guy is trying to destroy it with all kinds of stupidity. Finally we're in court. I think his lawsuit is frivolous. I think it will be dismissed."

Man nabbed in mob bust faces judge

Thomas Iafrate accused of shaking down strip clubs

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - The man accused of helping Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio shake down strip clubs in Rhode Island for protection money had his day in court Monday morning.
Thomas Iafrate, 69, pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering extortion and conspiracy during his arraignment in Federal Court in Providence.
Iafrate and former reputed mob boss Luigi "Baby Shacks Manocchio" were among 127 people taken into custody in January as part of a multistate raid that targeted seven Mafia families in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.
Court documents described Iafrate as a mob associate and bookkeeper for two Providence strip clubs, the Cadillac Lounge and the Satin Doll. FBI agents have raided the Cadillac Lounge at least twice in recent years, although it's unclear whether that investigation and January's arrests are connected.
Prosecutors allege Iafrate was responsible for setting aside, collecting and delivering payments to Manocchio on behalf of the two strip clubs, as well as other adult-entertainment businesses.
They also accuse Iafrate and Manocchio of using "force, violence and fear" to get $2,900 from the owner of the clubs on at least one specific occasion: Nov. 6, 2008.
Iafrate is a former Marine who has worked at the Cadillac Lounge for 11 years, according to prosecutors. Attorneys said he suffers from health problems, including high blood pressure.
The lead prosecutor in Iafrate's case is William Ferland, who spent two decades as a Rhode Island state prosecutor before joining the U.S. Attorney's office last year. Ferland was lead prosecutor in the Station nightclub trial.
Iafrate's defense attorney is Kevin Salvaggio, a former North Providence police officer who owns an eponymous law firm in Providence.
If convicted, Iafrate faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Former Mafia boss speaks at prayer breakfast

By Lisa Magers/Special to the Times-Review  
Describing himself as the most blessed, fortunate person they would ever meet, Michael Franzese addressed a sanctuary filled with early risers Monday as the keynote speaker of the eighth annual Cleburne Christian Leadership Prayer Breakfast.

“God navigated a course for me that’s 180 degrees from where I was,” the former mob boss told the crowd of 470-plus gathered at Cleburne Bible Church to pray, as a community, for those serving in leadership positions.

Franzese took the crowd from the past to the present as he talked about his childhood as the son of a Mafia leader and the 13 years he spent as a captain in the mob.

“I’m usually the most sinful person in the room,” he said. “But Christ died on the cross and God showed me mercy. If He can do that for me, He can do it for anybody. The night I was initiated into the Mafia, I was told I was being born again. When I look back at that, God reminds me of His power of forgiveness — and freedom in Him.”

During his years in the Mafia, Franzese was indicted for racketeering five times and acquitted each time.

“Had I been convicted, I wouldn’t be here today, as I was facing 100 years in prison,” he said. “It was my wife, Camille, who God used as a catalyst in my life.”

“I wanted to marry her,” he said, “But I realized I had to make a break from the life. My hope was to go to jail and the mob would forget about me. But that was not God’s plan for me. He put me through a process. Once He plants a seed in your heart, He won’t let you go.”

“I renounced the mob, my father disowned me and I had a hit put on me,” he said. “I was offered witness protection, but I didn’t want that. It was a bad time for me.”

With his wife — and now two sons — they stayed on the move, with Franzese facing the chance of a hit every time he walked out a door. He was later indicted on new charges and all his money and assets were confiscated.

“I told myself, ‘I’m done — I’ll lose the girl I did all this for,’” he said. “I had felt grief, hopelessness, but losing everything and knowing there was nothing you could do, was worse.”

“I was angry at God,” Franzese said. “I did not understand complete surrender to God. But your acceptance to Him is made whole in your surrender. One night I asked God to just take me.”

Instead, God sent a guard, concerned with Franzese’s emotional behavior and physical appearance, to his cell with a Bible.

“I was so mad, I threw it against the wall,” he said. “Then it dawned on me that all I had was enemies — I didn’t need God as an enemy. I believe God convicted me that night and gave me hope. I picked up the Bible and it opened to Proverbs 16:7. That’s the night I believe He spoke to my heart.”

He served 35 months on a four-year charge. Twenty-seven of those months were in solitary — or as Franzese puts it, “just me and God.”

“I read the Bible, and books by Chuck Colson and anyone else who could bring me closer to God,” he said. “I surrendered, I gave my life to Him. I had no choice. He told me I didn’t get it. But, in that hole, stripped to nothing, I finally listened to Him.”

“I didn’t want this ministry, I didn’t ask for it,” he said. “But it’s what He’s given to me. He’s opened the doors to this ministry — please pray I don’t screw it up.”

The author of several books, including “Blood Covenant,” which chronicles the two blood covenants in his life — one with the mob and the one that set him free — Franzese signs each book with the verse of his life, Proverbs 3:5-6.

“You won’t see my signature without it,” he said.

Famous RI lawyer now on Mafia case

US Rep's dad retained by accused mob associate
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Editor's Note: A previous version of this story listed the wrong co-defendant in the case. This version has been corrected.
One of Rhode Island’s best-known defense attorneys is once again representing a client accused of having ties to organized crime.
On Monday, John F. Cicilline filed in federal court a document notifying the judge that he is representing accused mob associate Theodore Cardillo.
Cardillo was arrested last month in a second round of indictments in a national organized crime bust, charged with extortion conspiracy and racketeering conspiracy. He’s accused of taking part in a scheme to shake down protection money from several Rhode Island strip clubs.
One of Cardillo's co-defendants, Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio , is the accused ringleader in the case and the man investigators say is the former boss of the Patriarca crime family.
Cicilline – the father of U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, D-R.I. – is no stranger to representing clients with the words “accused mobster” before their names.
In the ‘90s, he represented Manocchio, who was identified then as the boss of the family, in a stolen appliance case.
On other occasions, Cicilline has stood in court next to men with names like Robert “Bobby” DeLuca, Anthony “The Saint” St. Laurent, Edward “Buckles” Melise, Matthew “Matty” Guglielmetti, Raymond “Junior” Patriarca, Edward “Eddie” Lato and the crime family's notorious and ruthless former boss, Raymond “L.S.” Patriarca. For many Rhode Island organized crime watchers, it would hardly be a mob case without a “Cicilline” representing at least one defendant.
Cardillo was released and placed on surety bail awaiting trial.
Manocchio, Cardillo and two others accused in the shakedown scheme have all pleaded not guilty.
Both of Cicilline’s sons – John M. Cicilline and Congressman Cicilline – have represented accused mobsters as defense counsel in the past.

Jailed mobsters want iPods to review evidence against them


Last Updated: 5:01 PM, March 16, 2011
A dozen reputed mobsters want prison officials to let them have iPods so they can listen to secret government recordings behind bars.
Defense lawyers complained today that their clients — busted in January’s massive Mafia round-up — can’t properly prepare for trial due to the sheer volume of evidence compiled by two snitches.
The wire-wearing rats furtively recorded about 1,000 of conversations, but the imprisoned defendants only get three hours a week to review them.
At that rate, it will take more than six years just to listen to each recording once, said lawyer Eric Franz, who represents reputed Gambino crime-family capo Louis Mastrangelo.
Franz said the federal Bureau of Prisons denied his request to bring his client a pre-loaded iPod because it "jeopardizes the safety of the institution."
Manhattan federal prosecutor John Zach said officials may be concerned "that some iPods have a recording feature," but defense lawyer Steven Frankel — who represents reputed Gambinio associate John "Johnny Bandana" Brancaccio — countered that older models without that feature were still available and "really inexpensive."
Lawyer Joel Winograd, who represents reputed Gambino soldier Michael "Roc" Roccaforte, also noted a recent case in Brooklyn federal court — reported exclusively by The Post — where prosecutors approved the use of specially prepared iPods by two jailed mob defendants.
Judge Richard Berman told both sides to confer with prison officials and report back to him.

Daughter of Sammy Gravano penning book on life in 'Mafia enclave of Staten Island'

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Karen Gravano, the daughter of infamous mob turncoat and former Graniteville resident Sammy (The Bull) Gravano, has landed a book deal to pen a tell-all about "what it was like to grow up in the Mafia enclave of Staten Island," according to the New York Post.
The deal with St. Martin's Press is for six figures, according to the report.
Ms. Gravano, 38, will discuss "what it was like to grow up in the Mafia enclave of Staten Island as the daughter of one of the mob's most feared executioners, how her life changed radically once he testified for the federal government and entered the witness protection program, and went to prison in order to protect Karen and her brother, St. Martin's told the Post.
Sammy Gravano, formerly of Lamberts Lane, a hit man and once-feared underboss of the Gambino family, confessed to killing 19 people, but received leniency for testifying against mob boss John Gotti. He served five years in prison before moving to Arizona in 1995 under the federal witness protection program.
In 2000, the elder Gravano was busted again for running a multimillion-dollar ecstasy ring near Phoenix and sentenced to 19 years in prison.
Karen Gravano pleaded guilty to charges related to her father's drugs operation and was sentenced to probation.

Mafia turncoat Anthony Arillotta to face second day of cross-examination

NEW YORK - Mafia turncoat Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, will continue with a second day of cross-examination by defense lawyers in an ongoing mob murder trial in Manhattan where he has featured as the foundation of the prosecution's case against two of his former enforcers.
Arillotta, 42, testified for nearly three days against Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, and Arillotta's onetime New York-based mob boss, Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, NY.
Arillotta calmly told jurors about the 2003 murders of Genovese captain Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, gunned down amid a power play Arillotta helped orchestrate, and Arillotta's brother-in-law, Gary D. Westerman, whom Arillotta arranged to have shot and buried in a wooded lot in Agawam.
A defense lawyer for Nigro began attempting to tear down the government's star witness Monday afternoon, attacking his motives for testifying under a plea deal.
"Do you consider yourself an honest man, Mr. Arillotta?" defense attorney Lawrence Hochheiser asked during cross-examination.
"At times, yes," he responded.
The Geases and Nigro face life in prison if convicted. Bruno shooter Frankie A. Roche is expected to testify this week, according to lawyers in the case.

Alleged New England mob boss snared in massive sting pleads not guilty

(CNN) -- A reputed former New England mob boss pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court, just over a month after he was among 127 people nabbed in a massive sting targeting organized crime.
Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio pleaded not guilty in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island in Providence, according to court documents. He remains behind bars until a March 1 bond hearing.
Manocchio's attorney, Mary J. Ciresi, told CNN affiliate WPRI that she was optimistic that Manocchio could make bond next week. All pretrial motions must be filed by May 16, and his trial will start no earlier than June 1, an arraignment and pretrial discovery order from U.S. Magistrate Judge David Martin indicated.
The FBI has said that Manocchio, 83, headed the New England branch of La Cosa Nostra from his home of Providence. The investigation also included the arrest of members of New York's so-called "five families" -- the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese organizations -- as well as the alleged DeCavalcante crime syndicate in New Jersey.
The federal indictment alleges Manocchio, also known as "The Professor" and "The Old Man," in 1993 began a nearly two-decade long stretch of extorting cash "protection" payments from strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses in Providence.
He allegedly worked with Thomas Iafrate, a bookkeeper for the Satin Doll, Cadillac Lounge and other businesses. In addition to more regular payments, the indictment claimed the pair got $2,900 in cash on November 6, 2008, "induced by the use of force, violence and fear."
Manocchio was arrested January 19 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by law enforcement officials from several agencies, including the FBI, Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police
It was all part of what authorities described as one of the largest single-day operations against the mafia in FBI history, with law enforcement fanning out across Italy, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Rhode Island to arrest scores of suspects.
"Today's arrests and charges mark an important step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra's illegal activities," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said after the arrests, referring to the criminal organization by its Italian name.
Holder said organized crime is not resurgent and no longer nationwide, but it still subtracts millions of dollars from local businesses by way of a "mob tax," or tribute exacted through corrupt local officials. He described the phenomenon as "a major threat to the economic well-being of this country."
Ciresi, Manocchio's lawyer, urged the media and public to keep an open mind with regards to her client.
"I'm not going to comment on (Thursday's) proceedings, or any of the allegations made by the government, or any of the allegations that are in news reports," she said. "We'll see how this case unfolds."

I-Team: Inside Lefty Rosenthal's Las Vegas Home

I-Team: Inside Lefty Rosenthal's Las Vegas Home: "Organized crime is back in vogue in Las Vegas. Two mob exhibits are slated to open this year and now a home owned by one of the best known mob figures of all is up for sale. Investigative reporter George Knapp finally made it back into the notorious home after 28 years."