The 'Cosy' Nostra? Would-be Mafia wiseguys have to strip for initiation (bathrobe and underpants optional), court hears

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:32 PM on 25th March 2011
The naked truth about life in the Mafia was laid bare in court this week - you have to strip off for the initiation ceremony.
The organized crime gangs are so paranoid about being infiltrated that would-be wiseguys can only wear underpants and a bathrobe.
Anthony 'Bingy' Arillotta, 42, testified in Manhattan Federal Court that fears of FBI surveillance meant no clothing was allowed when he became a 'made' member of the Genovese clan.
Made man: Anthony Arillotta, left in light-coloured sweater, told how wannabe wiseguys had to take their clothes off at initiation ceremonies
Made man: Anthony Arillotta, left in light-coloured sweater, told how wannabe wiseguys had to take their clothes off at initiation ceremonies
The turncoat mobster’s revelation was the first time La Cosa Nostra’s 'no clothes' rule has been made public.
It is thought the rule came into play after the federal agents secretly taped an initiation ceremony in 1989.
However mob expert Jerry Capeci said authorities have been aware of the nude ceremonies since at least 1999, when alleged Genovese mobster Vincent Aparo was recorded telling an informer about his induction.
Arillotta, of Springfield, Massachusetts, told jurors he had long awaited the call that summoned him to the Nebraska Steakhouse in The Bronx at 11am on August 11, 2003 — the day before his daughter’s birth.
He and another man hoping to be 'made' were told to leave their jewelry, beepers and cellphones at the bar, and then were driven to an apartment building.
They were met by reputed Genovese soldier Steve Alfisi, who told Arillotta to wait his turn in a tiny bathroom.
Secret society: Arillotta's court revelations show that the world of Marlon Brando's Godfather is not so far from the truth as one might think
Secret society: Arillotta's court revelations show that the world of Marlon Brando's Godfather is not so far from the truth as one might think
Arillotta said that about 15 minutes later: 'The door opened and Stevie said, "Ant, it’s your turn."
'And he told me to undress, take all my clothes off, and put on a bathrobe,' Arillotta recalled.
'Then, after I was undressed, he said I could leave my underwear on. He gave me the bathrobe.'
prosecutor Mark Lanpher then asked: 'What was your understanding of why you had to undress and put on a bathrobe?'
Gang life: The Manhattan court got an amazing insight into organised crime induction
Gang life: The Manhattan court got an amazing insight into organised crime induction
Arillotta replied: 'Make sure there was no wire — I wasn't wearing a wire or listening devices or any type of something to record anything with.'
He then went to describe a scene that sounds familiar to fans of gangster films.
Arillotta said he was led into a room where reputed Genovese mobsters Arthur Nigro and Pasquale “Scop” DeLuca were seated at a table with a gun on it.
Nigro, a reputed former acting boss of the crime family, allegedly told him that 'they were part of the secret society called La Cosa Nostra.'
Arillotta said he agreed to become a member.
He said: 'And he asked me if — if he asked me to commit murder, would I commit murder for him? I said yes.'
Nigro then allegedly pricked Arillotta’s trigger finger with a pin and smeared the blood on a piece of blank paper that he set ablaze in Arillotta’s cupped hands.
'And then he had me repeat after him that I’m never to divulge this meeting ever took place, never to divulge any secrets or cooperate with any law enforcement,' Arillota said.
'If I do, I’m going to burn like this piece of paper.'
Despite that oath, Arillotta is testifying against gang members in exchange for leniency from a potential life sentence after he was busted last year along with Nigro on murder and racketeering charges, including a 2003 hit on the very person who proposed him for membership: former Springfield mob boss Adolfo 'Big Al' Bruno.
At Nigro's indictment last year, it was alleged in court papers that Bruno, who led the Genovese family's 'Springfield crew,' was killed after he fell out of favour 'because he was not sending sufficient tribute payments to New York.'
Court papers also revealed that Bruno was murdered 'to prevent his communicating to a law enforcement officer and judge of the United States information relating to the commission and possible commission of federal offences.'

A defense lawyer for one of three men accused of being Mafia killers

NEW YORK - A defense lawyer for one of three men accused of being Mafia killers needled the prosecution's star witness, Anthony J. Arillotta, about a growing list of broken oaths during cross-examination on an ongoing mob murder trial in lower Manhattan.
On trial for the 2003 Springfield, Mass., murder of former Genovese crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and other crimes are Arillotta's onetime alleged hit men Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, and reputed New York Genovese crime family underboss Arthur "Artie" Nigro.
Arillotta, 42, of Springfield, testified over three days about Bruno's murder and how he helped in the shooting and bludgeoning death of his brother-in-law, Gary D. Westerman, who was buried in an eight-foot grave in Agawam, Mass., that Arillotta dug months before for another mob hit that never happened.
Frederick Cohn, a defense lawyer for Freddy Geas, was the second defense lawyer to take a crack at Arillotta on the witness stand on Tuesday, with a third attorney still poised to try to erode Arillotta's credibility with jurors.
Al Bruno Murder Case
Enlarge 05.22.1993 | Republican file photo | Springfield, MA, May 3, 1993, Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno (center) talks with attorneys in the hallway of the Hampden County Superior Court during a recess in his trial for attempted murder. Al Bruno Murder Case gallery (15 photos)

"You have taken at least three important oaths, Mr. Arillotta?" Cohn asked, citing his oath of silence to the Mafia when he was "made" in a secret ceremony in the Bronx in 2003 after carrying out the attempted murder of union boss Frank Dadabo. "Can you repeat that to us?"
Arillotta readily admitted he swore allegiance to the Genovese crime family and imperiled his own life and that of his wife and three children by turning informant, plus conceding he broke his oath to his soon-to-be-divorced wife.
"You violated that oath, right? And you took an oath to tell the truth in this court," Cohn said, leaving the obvious conclusion dangling.
During direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher, Arillotta coolly recounted his "life of crimes." He came across as a onetime budding mob mastermind who once threatened the owner of a gambling machine business Arillotta was hoping to extort, saying that the the owner would be "runned over 85 time with a car" if he didn't comply.
Cohn also attempted to distance his client from the inner circle of the New York mob, which Arillotta previously testified he and the Geases were part of through Nigro.
"He was not a made guy, and there was no possibility he ever would be because he's Greek, right?" Cohn asked Arillotta.
"Correct," Arillotta answered.
Cohn also offered into evidence a tape-recorded conversation between Nigro's former right hand, New York gangster John Bologna, who was an FBI informant for years, court records show. It is unclear if he was an active informant while orchestrating Bruno's murder and a list of other crimes.
Bologna, who had been a dormant informant before being revived to reel in Arillotta in 2008, wore a wire on Arillotta in October of that year. The two discussed a then-pending federal case against Freddy Geas, who was originally charged alone with the Bruno murder in federal court in Springfield. The case was transferred to New York with new charges and new defendants last year.
The conversation focused on Geas' chances at acquittal and featured Arillotta as a skeptical participant during a meeting at a Friendly's restaurant in Lee, Mass.:
Bologna: "It's just, things gotta get cleared up a little bit."
Arillotta: "It's gotta get cleared up a lot, cuz ... Freddy's gonna beat this case, cuz that other kid ..." he said, referring to Bruno's admitted shooter, Frankie A. Roche, who pleaded guilty to shooting Bruno at the behest of Arillotta, Geas and others.
Arillotta: "I mean ... this kid is a liar, this kid. He had a personal beef with (Bruno) ... He even said he shot him ... that came right out in the newspaper. You understand, this kid is just one of them nuts that acted like a, an idiot, you know and um, did something stupid."
Roche indisputably wrecked a bar in Springfield's South End in which Bruno had an interest, whether financially or through a friend. Bruno demanded Roche pay restitution, which he resisted. Roche admitted threatening to kill Bruno over the dispute the night before gunning him down in a parking lot on Nov. 23, 2003.
When Roche pleaded guilty to murder in 2007, he said he was paid close to $10,000 by Freddy Geas to kill Bruno amid a power play by Arillotta and other local mobsters. Arillotta has corroborated the general outline of that story on the witness stand, testifying that Freddy Geas met Roche in prison and called in his "crash dummy" when other attempts to set Bruno up for a hit failed.
Roche, formerly of Westfield, Mass., is scheduled to testify in U.S. District Court this week. The trial is expected to last at least through early April. The defendants face life in prison if convicted.
Bologna, Roche and Arillotta are now all fellow members of the federal Witness Protection Program. Bologna is not expected to testify at trial.

Mafia Mug shots, John Alite

Ex mob boss says "commission" no longer exists

Associated Press
NEW YORK — A former mob boss has testified that the infamous Mafia "commission" glamourized in Hollywood films hasn't had a meeting in 25 years.
Ex-Bonanno crime family chieftain Joseph Massino made the claim this week while testifying for the prosecution in a murder trial in Brooklyn.
For decades during the mob's heyday, the leaders of New York City's five major crime families held occasional summits to lay down rules and settle disputes.
But Massino says these commission meetings stopped happening after Gambino boss Paul Castellano was assassinated outside a Manhattan restaurant in 1985, and the heads of the other families went to prison for racketeering.
"There ain't no commission," Massino told a jury, although he acknowledged that top leaders of the crime rings do get together to talk shop now and again.

Ex-crime boss Anthony J. Arillotta details rise in mob family during trial for 3 defendents in Adolfo Bruno's murder

NEW YORK – Imprisoned former Springfield organized crime boss Anthony J. Arillotta began absorbing the underworld at a young age.

According to testimony in an ongoing mob murder trial in federal court in Manhattan, Arillotta was surrounded by mobsters at his father’s Springfield fruit and vegetable business as a boy. While his uncle was a driver for a local boss, he eased into a life of crime as a young man.

Standing trial for the 2003 murder of Arillotta’s predecessor,
Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, and a laundry list of other crimes, are Arillotta’s onetime enforcers and closest friends, Fotios “Freddy” Geas, of West Springfield, his brother Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, and reputed former acting boss of the New York-based Genovese crime family, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, of
In an earlier plea agreement, Arillotta has admitted his role in Bruno’s murder as did the man who pulled the trigger, Frankie Roche, of Westfield.

According to investigators and Arillotta’s own testimony, which began Wednesday afternoon just before 3 p.m. in U.S. District Court, the street-savvy, violent Geases helped him ascend to a position of power in the local rackets in 2003, while Nigro gave the go-ahead for Arillotta to take Bruno out of the mob hierarchy.

Referring to John Bologna, a New York emissary for Nigro who traveled to Springfield every weekend for nearly two years, Arillotta testified that the Geases once dazzled the out-of-towner by beating several people to a pulp outside a downtown Springfield bar in 2002.

“He seen Freddy and Ty fighting and beating kids. He actually seen it with his eyes and he liked it. He said: ‘Keep them close,’” Arillotta told jurors under direct questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher, who methodically led Arillotta through his ascension through the ranks of the Genovese hierarchy.

In addition to being charged with the 2003 murder-for-hire of Bruno, the Geases are charged with the gruesome shooting and burial of drug dealer Gary D. Westerman (also Arillotta’s brother-in-law) who was killed the same year and dumped in an eight-foot grave in a wooded lot in Agawam. The trio also faces charges of racketeering, extortion and attempted murder.

Arillotta, who also has admitted his role in Westerman’s murder, will surely be the gem of the prosecution’s case, considering he was at the heart of nearly every crime charged in the indictment and will offer a rare, candid glimpse at being a “made guy” in one of New York’s most feared of five crime families.

The 42-year-old Springfield man calmly took the stand in drab khakis and was careful not to look at Nigro or the Geas brothers after he was forced to point them out for the jury. After telling the jury about his current living arrangements – “prison” – he recounted the tides of the organized crime landscape in Springfield since the late 1980s. Bosses came and went. Gaming, loan-sharking and drug-dealing were status quo. He survived a two-year falling out with Bruno after a drug arrest, which angered Bruno since drugs were taboo among Italian mobsters.

He revived his image with Bruno, his former mentor, in the late 1990s, when drug charges were dismissed and he was summonsed to the basement of Bruno’s former restaurant, Cara Mia, for a meeting.

“He was just coming home from jail himself. He wanted to know if I was done dealing in drugs and I said I was. He asked if I wanted to be with him, to be ‘on record’ with him as part of his crew. I said I did,” Arillotta said, although he admitted he just “tightened up” the drug-dealing aspect of his annual revenues afterward.

Arillotta soon became Bruno’s go-to person to bring pricey booze and homemade wine to higher-ups in New York at Christmastime, traveled with him, and ultimately became an usher of sorts to squire New Yorkers around Springfield. This ultimately led to Bruno’s demise, it seems.

Out-of-towners thought Bruno wasn’t “kicking enough (revenue) upstairs” although he had his hand in everything, Arillotta testified.

“You should reach out to these guys (in New York) more because when you’re in trouble, you’re going to need them,” Arillotta recounted, referring to advice passed on to Bruno by other New Yorkers.

Bruno was shot six times by Roche, a paid gunman, on the eve of his 58th birthday outside the Italian-American club he frequented in Springfield’s South End.

Idaho Rancher Revealed as Gangster From Boston

MARSING, Idaho — Enrico Ponzo was never a proper mobster, a “made man” in the vernacular of the underworld. He was a renegade, prosecutors say, part of a violent faction intent on ousting the bosses of the powerful Patriarca crime family in Boston in the early 1990s. .
When a wide-ranging indictment came up against him and 14 others in 1997, Mr. Ponzo was charged with crimes that included attempted murder and extortion. But he was also listed as the target of a contract killing planned by one of the other defendants.
While most everyone else in the case went to prison, Mr. Ponzo was not arrested — he had been missing since 1994.
Jeffrey John Shaw, known as Jay, was never a natural rancher. The accent from back East and his inexperience with cattle gave him away quickly as another newcomer reinventing himself in the West. “He wore bib overalls and straw hats,” said Brodie Clapier, a neighbor and a longtime rancher. “People did wear bib overalls here — in the 1930s.”
But no one pried. After all, Mr. Shaw was quick to help move your furniture or fix your computer. He was trusted to manage the irrigation system people depended on for water, and he was responsible with the money they paid him to do it. In time, as he began raising two children and 12 cows on his 12 acres, prosecutors say Jay earned a stature no mob boss could ever confer on Enrico.
He became a remade man.
After tracking him down in a manner they declined to describe, and watching him for more than a week, federal marshals arrested Mr. Ponzo on Feb. 7 as he drove down the rural road where he has lived for the past decade. Soon after, Jay Shaw’s friends were stunned to see him in court in Boise, his ever-present hat and goatee gone, admitting he was Mr. Ponzo, someone they had never heard of, someone living on the lam, living a lie, for nearly two decades.
Now he is being extradited to Massachusetts. “I don’t know whether he really was a fugitive,” said Norman S. Zalkind, a Boston lawyer who represented Mr. Ponzo two decades ago. “If you look at the indictment, he was also one of the victims.”
He has called friends in Marsing to say he is sorry — and to tell them which pipes in the irrigation system need fixing. He asked them feed his dogs and his cows.
“I asked him, ‘It must be a weight off your chest that you don’t have to hide this anymore,’ ” said Kelly Verceles, a friend from Idaho who recently visited Mr. Ponzo while he was behind bars there. “He said, ‘Dude, I might be going to jail forever.’ ”
Investigators have not said what finally led them to Mr. Ponzo, 42, but his new life had been fraying in the months before they found him. Cara Lyn Pace, his girlfriend since before he arrived in Marsing and the mother of his two children, left him last summer and later took the children, a boy, 7, and a girl, 6. The couple were locked in a custody dispute.
In court papers, Ms. Pace complained about his drinking and “aggression,” saying she was “fearful for my life.”
“Jeff has little respect for the rules of law,” Ms. Pace wrote.
It was Mr. Ponzo, acting as Mr. Shaw, who filed the custody suit. In perhaps his boldest act with his new identity, he demanded that the birth certificates of the children be amended “to reflect that Jeffrey John Shaw is the natural father of our children.”
Friends say only Ms. Pace’s name is listed on the children’s birth certificates. Mr. Ponzo was arrested before the case went to a hearing.
Ms. Pace, who is now living in Utah, did not respond to requests for comment. Did she turn him in? Did something happen during the custody fight that prompted law enforcement to take a closer look at him?
She has told friends that she did not report Mr. Ponzo, and that she will struggle explaining his past to their children.
Mr. Verceles, who sells construction equipment, said that he has made a point of not passing judgment on anyone involved, that he is determined to view Mr. Ponzo only as the person he knew in Marsing.
In recent weeks, Mr. Verceles has enjoyed talking on the phone with Mr. Ponzo’s family from back East. He has sent family members photographs and even a video clip of Mr. Ponzo dancing along with a video game on New Year’s Eve.
“They’re so interested in his life,” he said. “They thought he was dead.”
Mr. Ponzo has told friends he has a teenage son with a former girlfriend from Boston, but no one would confirm knowing them. Mr. Ponzo’s father was a postal service employee for 30 years and a longtime manager at Dom’s, an Italian restaurant in the North End of Boston. Both of his parents have died. A sister who has been involved in Girl Scouts said in Idaho court via telephone that she would welcome her brother back. A cousin is active in Republican politics in New Jersey. No one would comment for this article.
“I really don’t want my name out there,” one family member said.
The most high-profile crime Mr. Ponzo is accused of is the attempted murder of Francis Salemme, a k a Cadillac Frank, who eventually took charge of the fractured Patriarca crime family amid a power struggle. Mr. Salemme survived being shot by masked gunmen — prosecutors say Mr. Ponzo was one of them — outside an International House of Pancakes in Saugus, Mass., in 1989. He is now believed to be under federal witness protection.
Years later, prosecutors say, Mr. Ponzo became a target of another mobster after the mobster’s son was fatally shot shortly after Mr. Ponzo and another man left him to change a flat tire alone.
Here in Marsing, investigators say they found 38 guns, $15,000 in cash and a 100-ounce bar of silver in Mr. Ponzo’s modest house. They also found dozens of books about changing identities.
Mr. Verceles has since moved into the house.
“It’s not for sale,” he said. “He’s planning on coming back to Idaho. We sold his cows for him, but he told me to keep his fishing boat ready.
“He realizes that he wasn’t the best citizen back then, and he knows he’s got to do what he’s got to do,” he added. “But when he comes back, he’s going to be Enrico Ponzo the rancher, not Jay Shaw. He’s kind of excited about that.”

Mafia don’s son stiffs his sisters

Even in death, Joe Balistrieri played favorites. The elder son of Milwaukee mob figure Frank Balistrieri left his entire estate to his brother, John J. Balistrieri, when he died last October at 70. And not one penny to his two sisters.
After his brother, the will listed – or, perhaps, ranked – its only other named beneficiaries:
 “They are in order of their importance to me,” Balistrieri wrote, “(1) Helen Zielinski of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (2) Mary John of Elm Grove, Wisconsin and (3) Laura Cogan of Brookfield, Wisconsin.”
According to the provisions of the will, “I request that my sole beneficiary, John Balistrieri, give and/or dispense to (them), in his sole discretion, such items or monies as he deems just and equitable being guided by his personal knowledge of the love and esteem in which I held such persons in life … I ask him to exercise not only discretion but also commensurate generosity.”
Beyond the four mentioned – three of whom are dependent upon the sole heir for any generosity by him – there are no bequests to charities or to Balistrieri’s remaining sibling. Joe did it his way.
In the will, signed on March 23, 2006, Balistrieri made a provision to “specifically exclude from sharing in my estate in any form or nature whatsoever my two sisters, Benedetta and Catherine. It is my testamentary intention that they take nothing and it is nothing that I will them.”
Benedetta had preceded Joe in death, dying a pauper in California in 2009 after suing her brothers and sister, claiming one-quarter of their parents’ estates. Frank died in 1993, and his wife Antonina died in 1997. Neither left a will.
An August 2009 story in Milwaukee Magazine noted her suit and her unsuccessful attempt to peddle a book to Hollywood about her family. “It’s Martin Scorsese’s wet dream,” she told the magazine of her tell-all tale.
Catherine Balistrieri Busateri had been sued by her brother Joe in Milwaukee County Court in case #04-CV-009113, in which he demanded she return items allegedly taken from their parents’ home after their deaths. The court ordered that “any items of jewelry that defendant has taken without permission or were given to her after the father’s death must be returned to the plaintiff to do with as he pleases.”
Joe Balistrieri’s will also includes this provision: “I request that it not be amended or changed in any way by any Court or Judge because of some arcane or unknown law or judicial innovation or enthusiasm to meddle.”
$7 million in claims against estate
A listing of the estate’s inventory is due to be filed with the court on June 12.
Balistreiri’s will refers expansively to “property of any kind or nature, real and/or personal of whatsoever nature and wherever located,” but there is some question of how much will remain for his sole heir to share with the three others since a number of claims have been filed against the estate.
A relatively minor claim for $29,803 was filed by the Friebert, Finerty & St. John law firm for its representation of Joe Balistrieri in two lawsuits – the one against his sister, and another he filed against his cousin Jeannie Alioto in 2002.
In that case, Joe and John Balistrieri tried to enforce a 10-year old contract to purchase the former Joey’s restaurant at 1601 N. Jackson St. from Alioto for $125,000. The court threw out the contract, ruling the brothers owed a fiduciary duty to Alioto, a blood relative. (John Balistrieri has filed a court objection to the Friebert-Finerty firm’s claim for legal fees.)
A much larger claim, in the amount of more than $6.9 million, was filed against the estate by Westbury Bank, (formerly known as Continental Savings Bank, FSB). The bank’s claim is backed by $6,300,000 in mortgages issued to Joe Balistrieri between 2005 and 2007. The adjustable rate mortgages carried a 6.75 percent initial interest rate for the first 60 months on the Balistrieri-owned Shorecrest Hotel, 1962 N. Prospect Ave., where Joe formerly lived, and where John remains in residence. Since the amount of the claim is nearly 10 percent more than the sum borrowed, it is safe to say the mortgage has been delinquent since some time before the death of Joe Balistrieri. The hotel, reported to be for sale in 2008, is not on any active real estate site at this time.
Given the one-time notoriety of the family, it is perhaps surprising that none of this information has previously been reported by the press. As Busateri complained to Milwaukee Magazine, “with my family, every time we pass gas it makes the news.”

Ex-mob boss makes history

New York - A jailed former Mafia boss who once ordered a payback killing in the infamous “Donnie Brasco” case made gangland history on Tuesday by becoming the highest-ranking member of the city's five Italian organised crime families to break their sacred vow of silence and testify against one of their own.
Joseph Massino took the witness stand at the Brooklyn trial of Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, who served as one of his captains in the Bonanno crime family.
Prosecutors say that Massino secretly recorded Basciano admitting he ordered a hit on an associate who ran afoul of the secretive Bonannos.
“You will hear the defendant did not tolerate being disrespected or disobeyed and that the penalty for both was death,” Assistant US Attorney Nicole Argentieri said in opening statements.
Moments after being sworn in, Massino pointed across the courtroom and identified Basciano - “the guy sitting in the gray suit” - as the crime family's former acting boss. The defendant stared back at the government's star witness, steadily chewing on a piece of gum.
In clipped tones, Massino gave the anonymous jury a colourful tutorial on the Mafia.
By co-operating, he explained, he was violating a sacred oath he took during a 1977 induction ceremony to protect the secret society. It was understood, he said, that “once a bullet leaves that gun, you never talk about it”.
He testified that when he took control of the family he gave strict orders to never utter his name - a precaution against FBI surveillance. Instead, his soldiers touched their ears to refer to him, earning him the nickname “The Ear”.
Asked about his duties as boss, he replied, “Murder … Making captains. Breaking captains” - lingo for promoting and demoting capos. He said he also had to assess talent.
“It takes all kinds of meat to make a good sauce,” said Massino, the one-time proprietor of a Queens restaurant called CasaBlanca. “Some people, they kill. Some people, they earn, they can't kill.”
Massino, 68, broke ranks and began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos.
The bloodshed included the shotgun slayings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover Brasco in the 1980s. Brasco's story became a movie starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.
While imprisoned together in 2005, the former Bonanno boss agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano.
The understudy “told me that he killed him”, Massino said in recounting a conversation about the 2004 slaying charged in the current case. “He said (the victim) was a scumbag, a rat, a troublemaker, a bad kid.”
In his opening statement, defence attorney George Goltzer told jurors that Basciano took credit for the coldblooded murder to protect the real killer - a friend in the Bonannos who acted without proper permission - “from the wrath of Joseph Massino”. The lawyer described Massino and other turncoats slated to testify for the government as deceitful opportunists.
“The United States government needs to make deals with the devil … You don't have to accept what they say,” Goltzer said.
Prosecutors say Basciano, the one-time owner of the Hello Gorgeous beauty salon, rose to his leadership role after a series of Bonanno defections and successful prosecutions in the 2000s decimated its leadership.
The 50-year-old defendant, known for his explosive temper, could face the death penalty if convicted of racketeering, murder and other charges. He already is serving a life term for a conviction in a separate case in 2007.
Massino is serving two consecutive life terms for eight murders. He testified his cooperation spared his wife from prosecution, allowed her to keep their home and gave him a shot at a reduced sentence.
He said he hoped “one day maybe I'll see a little light at the end of the tunnel”. - Sapa-AP

Feds: 'Shacks' stayed active in the mob

Shocking filing reveals new details on NE Mafia
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - An explosive court filing by federal prosecutors reveals detailed new information on the reputed former boss of the Patriarca crime family, including allegations that he stayed involved with the organization even after he supposedly stepped down as its leader.
Federal prosecutors filed the memorandum “in support for detention” Thursday just hours before Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio is set to appear before a judge on extortion and conspiracy charges.
Prosecutor Scott Lawson asked a judge to deny Manocchio bail because his “past behavior conclusively demonstrates that he poses a serious risk of flight and is a danger to the community.”
The filing is the federal government's most detailed account yet of Manocchio’s alleged life of crime.
It states Manocchio stepped down as boss when he learned the FBI was hot on his heels as part of an investigation that included a 2008 search warrant "resulting in the seizure of $2,900 in 'protection' money extorted from the Cadillac Lounge and delivered to Manocchio by co-defendant Iafrate,” the document states.
Thomas Iafrate, 69, of Johnston, was also charged with extortion and conspiracy in the case. He stands accused of acting as the delivery man for the alleged protection payments.
Prosecutors expect more indictments against Manocchio and additional defendants to come down before the case is finished, according to Thursday's filing. They also claim to have made members of the Patriarca family who are prepared to testify in court against Manocchio.
The document reveals investigators wired the Cadillac Lounge strip club with hidden microphones. One conversation prosecutors say they picked up allegedly reveals Manocchio was collecting thousands of dollars a month from the business.
“During this conversation in the Lounge office, this bouncer asked Iafrate if he had spoken to Richard Shappy, owner of the Cadillac Lounge, about 'the old man' 'going up a dime' to 'five dimes,' " Lawson wrote in the filing.
"Iafrate indicated that he had not had such a discussion. This is a reference to Manocchio (known by the nickname “the old man”) increasing the monthly extortion/protection payment from the Cadillac Lounge by $1,000 to $5,000 per month," Lawson continued.
Prosecutors also reveal for the first time that Manocchio is a shadow partner in the Federal Hill restaurant Euro Bistro, which is located at the far end of Atwells Ave., where Manocchio is often spotted by investigators and has been seen by undercover Target 12 investigators.
Euro Bistro Inc. was incorporated in December 2000, according to records filed with the secretary of state's office. Its president is listed as Kenneth M. Turchetta of Providence. A 2009 Providence Journal review described Euro Bistro as "a smart little restaurant with a cozy bar and good food served in a casual atmosphere."
Despite allegations that Manocchio stepped down as boss in 2009 – which were first reported by Target 12 – prosecutors allege he still has an active role in New England's criminal enterprise.
“In June 2010, [Manocchio] was observed by law enforcement having an extended meeting with then acting [New England La Cosa Nostra] boss Peter Limone and underboss Anthony DiNunzio at a Chinese restaurant in Boston,” the document states.
In attempting to convince a judge that Manocchio is a serious flight risk, Lawson writes that he has access to a private jet owned by a wealthy Rhode Island businessman.
“Jet-A-Way is a company controlled by Frank Zamiello [sic],” the document states, describing him as “a longtime associate of widely recognized LCN figures including Manocchio and one of his predecessors, NELCN boss Raymond J. Patriarca,” the son of patriarch Raymond L.S. Patriarca.
Target 12 reached out to Zammiello after the document was filed Thursday, but he did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Magistrate Judge David L. Martin will decide whether or not Manocchio can be released on bail at a hearing in Providence Thursday afternoon.
The aging reputed former boss arrived back in Rhode Island on a government bus Thursday morning. It was the first time he returned to Rhode Island since his arrested in Florida on Jan. 19 as part of a sweeping national organized crime bust led by the FBI.

Mob Boss Testifies Gotti Plotted to Kill Him

John J. Gotti plotted with the No. 2 figure in the Bonanno crime family to assassinate Joseph C. Massino, the former Bonanno boss, Mr. Massino testified on Monday.
The plot was interrupted in December 1990 when Mr. Gotti, the Gambino boss, was arrested on murder and racketeering charges, Mr. Massino said in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where he is testifying against a former subordinate. Mr. Massino, 68, is the first official boss of one of New York’s five crime families to become a government witness.

“If he wasn’t arrested,” Mr. Massino said of Mr. Gotti, “I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
Salvatore Vitale, Mr. Massino’s onetime underboss and the man Mr. Massino said Mr. Gotti had plotted with, is also his brother-in-law; Mr. Massino is married to Mr. Vitale’s sister, Josephine. Mr. Vitale himself became a government witness in 2003, a year before Mr. Massino.
Mr. Massino and Mr. Gotti, who died in federal prison in 2002, were neighbors in Howard Beach, Queens, and the former Bonanno boss testified about several murders the men committed together.
Mr. Massino told the jury that he did not learn about the aborted plot until 2004, when a captain in the Genovese crime family, Barney Bellomo, told him about it while they were both awaiting trial in separate cases in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Mr. Massino is testifying at the trial of Vincent Basciano, a former Bonanno family acting boss; he is charged with murdering a Bonanno associate.
During cross-examination on Monday, one of Mr. Basciano’s lawyers, Richard Jasper, played a recording of a conversation between Mr. Massino and Mr. Basciano at the same federal jail in Brooklyn where Mr. Massino learned of the plot. Mr. Massino secretly recorded the conversation.
“Well, I found out in here that him and John was plottin’,” he said of Mr. Vitale.
“I believe that,” Mr. Basciano responded.

Gambino Associate Gets 13 Years

    MANHATTAN (CN) - A "longtime associate of the Gambino organized crime family" was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years in prison on murder and assault charges, federal prosecutors said.
     Joseph Watts, 69, pleaded guilty in January to a two-count information charging him with "participating in murder and assault conspiracies in order to maintain and increase his influence in the Gambino Family," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in announcing the sentence.
     At the behest of John Gotti, Watts allegedly put together a hit team that killed Frederick Weiss in 1989.
     Weiss was a defendant in a federal case and fired a lawyer who regularly represented the Gambino family, which aroused Gotti's suspicions that Weiss may have been cooperating with the government, prosecutors said.
     Watts allegedly went to Staten Island to shoot Weiss himself, but Weiss didn't show up that day, so a different team of killers killed him the next day, according to the U.S. attorney.

Mob boss's murderer testifies

Thursday, March 24, 2011
NEW YORK - The admitted hit man in the 2003 murder of mob boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno in Springfield, Mass., Frankie Roche, began testifying late Wednesday afternoon during an ongoing trial in federal court, telling jurors that fresh out of prison, he slipped into a crew with murderous intentions.
Standing trial are Roche's onetime friends and alleged co-conspirators in the Bruno murder, Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass., along with the reputed former acting boss of the New York-based Genovese crime family, Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y.
The gem of the prosecution's case, Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, a "made man" in the Genovese family, concluded days of testimony for the government earlier on Wednesday. Arillotta, who turned informant within days of his arrest in the case in 2010, told the panel he sought Nigro's permission for the hit amid a power play and because he and other gangsters suspected Bruno, the then-regional boss, of feeding information to law enforcement.
 After several failed attempts to kill Bruno, Arillotta said Freddy Geas, who befriended Roche in 2000 while the two were in a Massachusetts state prison, recruited his "crash dummy" jail buddy to do the job.
Roche, 38, formerly of Westfield, Mass., is now in the federal Witness Protection Program since pleading guilty to Bruno's murder in U.S. District Court in Springfield in 2008. He appeared in public to testify for the first time since his guilty plea that year, dressed in prison khakis and escorted by U.S. marshals.
Roche did not testify long enough to begin recounting the night he shot Bruno six times in a dark parking lot on Nov. 23, 2003, but did tell jurors about a lifetime of arrests dating back to when he was 12 years old and continuing with adult incarcerations until he met Freddy Geas while doing a six-year term for robbing a liquor store because it was closed and he wanted a drink.
"Did you have conversations about your future together while you were in jail?," Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. Goldman asked Roche on direct examination.
"We talked mainly about scores ... robberies," Roche responded.
In the spring 2003, Roche said he reconnected with Geas and became friendly with his younger brother and fell into a life of drinking, bar-hopping and mulling potential "scores" with the brothers, which turned to mulling potential murders as the months wore on.
Two of his crew's intended targets were bookmaker Louis "Lou the Shoe" Santos, of Longmeadow, whom Roche was told was a police informant, and Guiseppe Manzi, a restaurant owner and marijuana dealer from East Longmeadow with whom the Geases had a protracted feud.
Roche and Ty Geas staked out Santos' physical therapy office on Main Street in Springfield and plotted to kill him in the parking lot as he went to his car, according to Roche. That never happened, because the crew became consumed with planning to kill Manzi, whom they considered a more aggressive thorn in their sides.
"He's a headache, he's gotta go. We've had enough of him. We gotta kill him," Roche said of the Geases' attitude toward Manzi. "(Freddy) asked if I would kill him ... I said yes."
Roche testified that he was offered $10,000 apiece to participate in both murders, but neither happened. Arillotta told jurors previously that was because the so-called Springfield Crew then became fixated on Bruno.
Roche will continue his testimony today in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan. He told jurors he hopes to avoid a life sentence by testifying for the government, as did Arillotta and scheduled witness Felix Tranghese, another East Longmeadow gangster who participated in the Bruno murder and is scheduled to testify in this tria

‘The Saint’ confesses to role in Taunton Mafia extortion ring, hiring Taunton man to murder rival

Taunton —
Mobster Anthony “The Saint” St. Laurent Sr. has pleaded guilty in federal court that he attempted to solicit a hit on a rival and acknowledged his role in a Mafia extortion ring in Taunton, a scheme that landed his son in prison.
St. Laurent Sr., 69, who admitted to being a “made” man in the Rhode Island-based Patriarca crime family, attempted to hire an unidentified Taunton man to murder rival mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca.
A sentencing date has not been set for St. Laurent Sr., who is currently incarcerated and faces maximum penalties of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release following his prison term.
Angered that DeLuca has accused him of being a government informant, St. Laurent Sr. approached multiple potential hitmen, including the Taunton man, and told them he had permission from New England La Cosa Nostra boss Luigi “Louie” Manocchio to carry out the murder, according to the court filing.
In 2006 St. Laurent  arranged to meet with the unidentified Taunton man, to whom he offered a payment to kill DeLuca, the court document states. Later in the day, prosecutors said, the two drove into Providence, where St. Laurent pointed out a restaurant DeLuca was known to frequent.
Once his rival was killed, St. Laurent expected to take over an Attleboro extortion operation DeLuca had been running, according to the court document. As compensation for killing DeLuca, St. Laurent offered the Taunton man a cut of the “protection” payments he expected to extort from an unidentified illegal bookmaker, the document said. A portion of that money would also have to go to Manocchio, St. Laurent allegedly told the Taunton man.
St. Laurent Sr.’s wife and son were sentenced late last year after pleading guilty to federal charges that they helped run a Mafia extortion scheme that shook down Taunton area bookies for protection payments.
Anthony St. Laurent Jr. was sentenced to 78 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Dorothy St. Laurent was sentenced to three years of probation, the first six months of which will be served in home confinement. Each was also sentenced to perform 500 hours of community service during each year of supervised release.
Contact Gerry Tuoti at