Mobster might be cleared by '96 boxing brawl



One of the more infamous moments in modern boxing’s checkered past now may help clear a mobster of murder. A free-for-all brawl that erupted among spectators in Madison Square Garden during a July 1996 match between Brooklyn native Riddick Bowe and Polish pugilist Andrew Golata took a central role today at the trial of a Gambino crime family wiseguy. John Burke is charged with the murder of John Gebert, who was gunned down in a bloody Mafia hit elsewhere in the city at the same time as the boxing match. Defense attorneys Richard Jasper and Ying Stafford say that Burke wasn’t involved in the Gebert rub-out - he was at home watching the boxing match on television with the woman who eventually became his wife.

Fire puts off alleged mob drug ring leader's plea

Fire puts off alleged mob drug ring leader's plea

BOSTON — A Massachusetts man authorities say was a leading member of the New York Colombo crime family tried for the third time to plead guilty to racketeering charges Thursday, but a transformer fire in the federal courthouse forced postponement of the proceeding.

Ralph DeLeo, 69, of Somerville had just admitted conspiring with others to run a drug ring that sold cocaine and marijuana in Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and New York when the hearing came to an abrupt end. The lights went out briefly and fire alarms sounded in U.S. District Court. The building was evacuated. There were no reports of injuries.

DeLeo's lawyer said the hearing would be rescheduled. No date was immediately set.

Twice over the last month, DeLeo's change-of-plea hearing has been postponed, once because of DeLeo's health problems and once because of a scheduling conflict.

Before the interruption Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Moran outlined what prosecutors said they would have proven if DeLeo had chosen to go to trial rather than plead guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon.

Moran said DeLeo was a made member of the Colombo crime family and was "acting street boss" for most of 2009. Moran said DeLeo led a group known as the "DeLeo Crew" that ran drug trafficking, extortion and loan-sharking operations.

In response to questions from U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, DeLeo said he did not disagree with the prosecutor's description of his crimes.

"Is that what happened?" Woodlock asked.

"Yes," DeLeo replied.

The hearing ended before DeLeo formally entered the plea to the charges.


Teddy Colombo wants to represent himself at his own murder trial


 Teddy Colombo wants to represent himself at his own murder trial

A violent Colombo capo who prosecutors say vowed to exterminate mob rats announced Friday that he will represent himself at his upcoming racketeering and murder trial.

Theodore (Teddy) Persico Jr., thinks he’s mastered the facts of the case better than any lawyer, so he’s going it alone, just like his uncle Carmine (The Snake) Persico did in the 1986 Mafia Commission trial.

Carmine Persico, 78, still the official boss of the Colombo crime family, was convicted and is serving a life sentence at a federal prison hospital in North Carolina.

While the elder Persico earned praise from the federal judge for his courtroom style, expectations are much lower for Teddy, who has a reputation for being more of a hothead than a scholar.

Next month, the jury will hear from turncoats that Persico Jr. wanted a list drawn up in 2010 of people suspected of cooperating so they could be rubbed out.

“Teddy said to give him the list . . . there is no doubt he is going out in a blaze,” prosecutors said in court papers.

One can only imagine how Persico Jr. will explain to the jury this ominous rant, captured on a secret tape recording: “I can get physical all day long. I got nothing to lose, I can get crazy, I don’t give a f---.

What are you going to do, put me in jail? I don't own nothing. I got no wife, I got no kids. I can act like a fool. . . . ”

The prospect of Persico Jr. acting as his own lawyer raises the reality TV show quotient of the trial. Prosecutors have alleged that his cousin and co-defendant, Michael Persico, may be romantically involved with his lawyer, Sarita Kedia.

Federal Judge Sandra Townes said the defendant has the absolute right to act as his own lawyer but questioned his motives.

“I could be wrong, but you want to handle your case because you want to cross-examine cooperating witnesses and you’re angry with them,” Townes said.

“You’re right on the first part,” Persico Jr. replied, “but I’m not angry with them; I’m just disappointed they’re lying.”

Persico Jr. 48, has spent most of his adult life in prison. He is charged with passing the order to kill a rival gangster while attending his grandmother’s funeral while on a prison furlough.

A court-appointed lawyer, Elizabeth Macedonio, will assist Persico Jr. on evidentiary matters.

The judge asked Persico Jr. how studying the federal rules of evidence was coming along. “Pretty well,” he said confidently.

Big-mouth Gotti ruined mob, Gambino informant testifies


By MITCHEL MADDUX



John Gotti whacked the mob.

The publicity-loving “Dapper Don’’ — who could never keep his mouth shut — played right into the hands of law enforcement by transforming the Mafia from a secret society into a public spectacle, a fellow mobster said yesterday.

“He ruined everything,” Peter “Bud” Zuccaro lamented in Brooklyn federal court.

“He publicized everything that was going on. He brought everything that was supposed to be a secret society right out to the forefront, right into the press,” said Zuccaro, a longtime Gambino associate who flipped in 2005 to become an FBI informant.

Gotti took the helm of the Gambino family after orchestrating the very public execution of his predecessor, Paul Castellano, outside Sparks Steak House in December 1985.

And after that, nothing was the same. What had been a secret criminal culture, Zuccaro said, was transformed into a swaggering enterprise — with flashy wiseguys ignoring omerta and bragging about their exploits.

Older mob leaders had stayed under the radar, blending into the workaday world by pretending to hold legit jobs while they conducted their criminal business in quiet meetings.

But Gotti was seduced by the celebrity life — and turned into more of a diva than a don.

He loved posing for cameras and thrived in the spotlight — and soon Mafia secrets became public knowledge.

Quiet meetings in small groups at diners became a thing of the past.

Suddenly mob business was conducted by “guys reporting to the [Ravenite Social] Club while the FBI is surveilling you,” Zuccaro said, speaking of the clubhouse in Little Italy where the nattily dressed Gotti held court.

“He just brought everything into public view,” Zuccaro said.

“He let it be a known thing, you know — flash — everybody hanging out together.”

The mobsters under Gotti often took the easy way out — using violence as a quick solution to problems.

High-profile hits, as well as Gotti’s performance in the spotlight, brought more and more attention from the FBI.

And when the heat was turned up, made men began to flip to save their own hides and became turncoats, like Zuccaro himself.

Zuccaro was testifying at the trial of John Burke, a Gambino associate accused of several mob-related drug murders.

The 56-year-old, who is in the witness protection program, also admitted that in 1986 he lied on the stand as a defense witness at a Gotti trial, where the Don was acquitted.

“I testified as a defense witness for John Gotti Sr.,” Zuccaro said.

“I lied to protect the [Gambino] family. I can’t put a number on how many lies. I lied,’’ he said.

“But I told the truth, too.”

This was not the first time Gotti’s former colleagues piled on him.

Ranking mobsters from New York’s four other crime families have often cited Gotti’s larger-than-life approach to Mafia life as factors that helped authorities bring down the mob.

Long-Kept Family Secret May Finally Explain Infamous Mobster's Murder


Warren Hull says his family felt no compunction to reveal Bugsy Siegel's triggerman because the killer himself died only three months after Siegel.


Sometimes only someone close to a killer can recognize them, unless that person comes forward -- and without DNA evidence – unsolved murders become cold cases that never leave the deep freeze.

Consider the notorious killing of the "Black Dahlia," Elizabeth Short, whose remains were found dismembered with gruesome precision. There was speculation at the time the killer had to have possessed the skill of a surgeon.

But which one?

Years later, former LAPD detective Steve Hodel wrote a book identifying the most likely surgeon: his own late father George Hodel, MD.

Another infamous 1947 murder also has long remained a cold case: the assassination of notorious gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, remembered for opening the Las Vegas Flamingo, the first postwar mega-casino on the Strip.

From the beginning it was assumed to be a mob-on-mob hit, but by whom?

Investigators never could say for sure, even after one mob associate, Eddie Cannizzaro, told several people during his final years that he did it.

NBC4News included that information while revisiting the Siegel murder for a segment of Hollywood cold cases last February.

Then came a phone call from Warren Hull, the executive assistant at a Nevada law enforcement agency.

"Forget Cannizzaro," Hull said, dismissing him as a suspect.

Hull said members of his family learned the identity of the actual killer shortly after the Siegel hit, but kept it a "family secret," feeling no compunction to reveal it because the killer himself died only three months after Siegel.

The killer, according to Hull, was a troubled World War II veteran who happened to marry the cousin and best friend of Hull's mother. His name: Robert MacDonald.

"My parents both knew," Hull said. "On his deathbed, my dad asked me to research and tell the story."

The mission has consumed countless hours of investigation and preparation of a 400-plus page Powerpoint presentation that Hull uses to make his case.

Hull acknowledges the consensus conclusion that other mobsters wanted to get rid of Siegel.
The Bug skimmed Flamingo construction costs and attracted too much attention, and mob higher-ups did not like him.

Consensus is, the arrangements to take him out were made by the then-capo of organized crime in Los Angeles, Jack Dragna.

Dragna had met MacDonald's mother-in-law, Gaynell Rockwell, during the years she worked in Los Angeles City Hall.

Her daughter Betty Ann made it known she was in an unhappy marriage with a troubled and sometimes violent husband.

"He's just out of control," said Hull, who said relatives knew that MacDonald was abusing drugs and alcohol, and perhaps worse, running up gambling debts to the mob.

Dragna knew that during World War II, Army Lt. MacDonald had become an expert marksman with a number of weapons, including the .30 caliber carbine.

"Dragna gets him involved. He says, 'Look, here's what's going to happen. Either do this and we wipe the slate clean, or you're going to pay me the $30,000 that you owe me,’" Hull said.

On June 20, 1947, Siegel was fatally wounded by a barrage of shots through a window of his Beverly Hills mansion on north Linden Drive as Siegel read a newspaper while sitting on the couch.

Beverly Hills and Los Angeles Police, as well as the FBI, worked the case. They concluded the weapon likely was a 30 caliber carbine, but never officially identified the triggerman.

MacDonald revealed to Hull's parents that he killed Siegel, Hull said.

During his research into the law enforcement investigation after Siegel's death, Hull obtained an FBI memo that observed: "the killer obviously was a good shot."

A witness at the time described hearing a car speeding north toward Sunset Boulevard. Hull believes MacDonald took a different getaway route.

The mansion where Siegel died is only a few hundred feet from the edge of the Los Angeles Country Club. Hull's theory is that the former infantryman escaped on foot, crossing the golf course under the cover of darkness.

Conveniently enough, the MacDonald house on Warner Avenue lay a short distance on the other side of the country club, and less than a mile from the Siegel house.

But MacDonald's life was still in crisis.

He sought psychiatric care. His wife filed for divorce. Three months after the Siegel murder, MacDonald used his Army spec .30 caliber carbine to kill Betty Ann and then himself.

It made the papers, and Hull has a yellowed clipping.

Reviewing the public record, Hull can find no evidence the investigators working the Siegel murder ever followed up the possibility MacDonald was Siegel's killer.

So far as Hull can determine, ballistics never were run on MacDonald's carbine to determine if it was used for the Siegel hit that was so close in both time and distance.

"It was worthy of investigation. They did not do it, because they did not have to," Hull said.

Hull suspects there was pressure not to follow up, and that it came, directly or indirectly, from the legendary Howard Hughes, with whom MacDonald's father Archie had worked closely.

The then-chief of Beverly Hills police testified to a grand jury. Afterwards, the foreman publicly described the need for a secret investigation into the Siegel death.

"It had to be something of such importance," Hull infers. "Like the son of a wealthy businessman with ties to Howard Hughes, and whose mother in law had ties to city hall."

If that's not enough of a theory, Hull has another: about the paternity of John Armstrong, who was conceived before the marriage of Betty Ann to Robert Armstrong.

Betty Ann had revealed to confidantes she was not certain Armstrong was the father, Hull said. What's more, she had spent some time with the legendary lothario Howard Hughes.

As a tagline to his PowerPoint presentation on the Siegel murder, Hull presents side-by-side photos of John MacDonald as he appears today and Hughes as he appeared in his later years.

They're dead ringers.

Fire puts off alleged mob drug ring leader's plea


By Denise Lavoie

Bottom of Form


Sending your article

Your article has been sent.


BOSTON—A Massachusetts man authorities say was a leading member of the New York Colombo crime family tried for the third time to plead guilty to racketeering charges Thursday, but a transformer fire in the federal courthouse forced postponement of the proceeding.

Ralph DeLeo, 69, of Somerville had just admitted conspiring with others to run a drug ring that sold cocaine and marijuana in Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and New York when the hearing came to an abrupt end. The lights went out briefly and fire alarms sounded in U.S. District Court. The building was evacuated. There were no reports of injuries.

DeLeo's lawyer said the hearing would be rescheduled. No date was immediately set.

Twice over the last month, DeLeo's change-of-plea hearing has been postponed, once because of DeLeo's health problems and once because of a scheduling conflict.

Before the interruption Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Moran outlined what prosecutors said they would have proven if DeLeo had chosen to go to trial rather than plead guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon.

Moran said DeLeo was a made member of the Colombo crime family and was "acting street boss" for most of 2009. Moran said DeLeo led a group known as the "DeLeo Crew" that ran drug trafficking, extortion and loan-sharking operations.

In response to questions from U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, DeLeo said he did not disagree with the prosecutor's description of his crimes.

"Is that what happened?" Woodlock asked.

"Yes," DeLeo replied.

The hearing ended before DeLeo formally entered the plea to the charges.


Vincent 'The Chin' Gigante's Daughter Pens Memoir of Family Life with International Crime Boss


NEW YORK, May 24, 2012 / Notorious crime boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante was not your "average" mobster; he was, in fact, the Capo di tutti capi -- the head of all five New York crime families: the Bonannos, Colombos, Gambinos, Genoveses, and Luccheses. In an effort to protect himself and his family, Gigante created a facade of a mentally unstable person, complete with public theatrics, often wearing his infamous Golden Nugget bathrobe around town. His story is most intriguing for the level of secretiveness it has maintained. Finally, six years after his death, Vincent's youngest daughter Rita pens a tell-all of her life growing up with the most powerful mafia leader of that time.

The Godfather's Daughter: An Unlikely Story of Love, Healing and Redemption, releasing September 18th by Hay House publishing, is a never-before-heard account of what it was like to live a life of deceit, secrecy, oppression, and violence. In this breakthrough true story of the turmoil that permeated within the mafia lifestyle, Rita delves deep into the adversities she had to overcome as a young gay woman in a strict Italian Catholic family. She recounts being misunderstood and bullied by her own family members for resisting the life that was expected of her. Forced to live a lie to protect her family and her father's ego ultimately created an unstable environment filled with frustration, confusion, and fear. After years of deception Rita finally hit rock bottom and realized she could no longer bear the anguish of her demons; she had to live a life true to herself. Throughout Rita's personal growth, the bond with her father evolved as well. It was upon her father's passing that she was finally able to achieve the improbable relationship with him that she had longed for her entire life -- a relationship where they could share an uninhibited exchange of love and an understanding for who they really were.

"The inspiration to write the book began about 13 years ago. I started to see the changes in myself as I began to speak up about who I was and began to live my life as authentically as possible. I started to share that with people so that they could also stand in their truth and do the same. I knew I couldn't write it while my father was alive ... and after he passed, I knew I had to give my family time to grieve. The timing is right now," says Rita Gigante.

The Godfather's Daughter uncovers the truths a crime boss's daughter must face to shed family secrets and accept what cannot be changed. Complete with an insider view of the mafia world, Rita's story tells of the importance of forgiveness in an unforgiving world and shows the eventual transformation from a troubled girl into a more fulfilled woman.




Mafia’s ‘Meatball’ won’t fuhgeddabout 10G


By BRUCE GOLDING

Trust him. He says he’s good for it.

 A convicted mobster tried to weasel out of handing over $10,000 in ill-gotten gains that he promised to pay back to the feds at his scheduled sentencing yesterday.

 Frank “Meatball” Bellantoni’s lawyer said his client was experiencing a cash crunch because his wife has been their family’s sole breadwinner since he was locked up four months ago.

 Defense lawyer Gerard Marrone also said that Bellantoni, 45, of Bellmore, LI, would pay off the debt once he gets out of prison.

 But Manhattan federal prosecutor Elie Honig refused to cut the burly baldy any slack, noting it would set a “bad precedent.”

 “I’ve spoken to people who know him well, and the guy has money,” Honig added. “He lives in a nice house. He has a pool. He owns a separate tract of land upstate.”

Judge Richard Berman then postponed Bellantoni’s sentencing until June 13 to give him time to come up with the dough.

 Bellantoni, a reputed Gambino crime family associate, faces up to 3 1/2 years in the slammer under terms of plea deal that also requires him to forfeit $60,000. According to the feds, Bellantoni was one of the “most prolific money-makers” in a crew run by reputed Gambino captain Alphonse Trucchio, generating more than $15,000 a week in “criminal profits.”

 Bellantoni pleaded guilty in February to racketeering conspiracy to cover more than a decade’s worth of crimes, including loansharking, bookmaking and running illegal card games.

 He also admitted trying to extort payment of an $82,000 gambling debt with the help of mob crony Howard Santos, who had secretly turned rat.




Colombo mobster’s beautiful wife, Alicia DiMichele, pleads guilty to the stealing $40,000 from union




The sizzling hot wife of a Colombo gangster pleaded guilty Tuesday to cooking the books at their family-owned Staten Island trucking business and embezzling thousands of dollars in union benefit funds.

 Raven-haired beauty Alicia DiMichele barely made a peep as she admitted she conspired with hubby Edward Garafolo Jr. to steal about $40,000 owed to Local 282 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

 “My role was I worked as a bookkeeper,” the soft-spoken DiMichele, 38, told Magistrate Roanne Mann.

 She added that her job duties included submitting to the union false invoices from the couple’s D.M. Trucking that under-reported the number of hours worked by union members.

 The dutiful wife said she “agreed with my husband” to participate in the scheme.

 Federal prosecutors had amassed wiretap evidence against DiMichele discussing her efforts to conceal from the union the actual number of hours worked, according to court papers.

 Mob rats were also prepared to testify that she was “substantially involved” in running the trucking business, court papers say.

 Statuesque in a cream-colored jacket and gray slacks, DiMichele appeared nervous during the legal proceeding. She told the judge that she has suffered from anxiety since she was 7 and had been hospitalized several times for panic attacks.

 Had the couple gone to trial, her chivalrous husband was prepared to testify that DiMichele was not involved in the embezzling.

  But last week Garafolo copped to more serious charges — murder conspiracy. Garafolo has been held without bail since his arrest in 2010 because he was deemed a danger to the community.

 He told the owner of a construction company behind in extortion payments to Garafolo’s trucking company: “You’re spending Christimas in my garage in a f------ trunk,” prosecutors alleged.

 Jailed gangsters have often used their wives to collect loansharking, extortion and illicit mob tribute payments from members of their crew. The wife of former Bonanno crime boss Joseph Massino even passed messages on behalf of her husband to evade surveillance.

The feds rarely would prosecute a mob moll, but in DiMichele’s case, she was so deeply involved in the stealing, they had no choice but to charge her.

 She and Garafolo have three young children and Assistant U.S. Attorney Allon Lifshitz said the government will not oppose a sentence of confining DiMichele to her New Jersey home in lieu of prison.

 She faces zero to six months in prison when she’s sentenced by Federal Judge Sandra Townes.

 DiMichele has been trying to get by running a small clothing boutique, but was forced to accept court-appointed counsel after she could no longer pay her original lawyer. The trucking business is defunct.




John Gott, grandson of Teflon Don John Gotti, was arrested carrying stash of steroids, cops say.


The grandson of John (Teflon Don) Gotti was busted with a stash of steroids in Queens on Tuesday, police sources told the Daily News.

 A team of narcotics cops collared 18-year-old John Gotti — namesake of the notorious Gambino crime family boss — at a house near 92nd St. and 158th Ave. in Howard Beach shortly before 6 p.m., the sources said.

 It was not immediately clear what led police to Gotti, but the teen was later charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, cops said.

 Because it was a small amount, he was released after police gave him a desk appearance ticket.

 It’s not the first time that the son of Peter Gotti, the youngest of mob boss John Gotti’s five children, has been cuffed for breaking the law.

 In 2010, he was arrested for trying to flee in his car after one of his pals fired a pellet gun into a crowd of teens at a Halloween party in an Ozone Park schoolyard.

 Gotti, who was driving the car, was later booked on charges that included criminal possession of a weapon and driving in a car whose windows had been illegally tinted.






13 alleged mob members arrested for running N.J. online gambling ring


13 alleged mob members arrested for running N.J. online gambling ring

While New Jersey’s political leaders tussle over whether to legalize Internet gambling in Atlantic City’s casinos, another group of prominent Garden State residents is apparently taking full advantage of the profits available through online wagering.

A federal racketeering case unveiled today in Newark and a state case pending for more than two years in Morris County make it clear: The mob has discovered the Internet.

Thirteen alleged members of a Hudson County, N.J., crew of the Genovese crime family, including its 80-year-old leader and his 72-year-old top associate, were arrested today on racketeering conspiracy charges that focused on a multimillion-dollar sports-betting operation run through an Internet website and an office in Costa Rica.

While the case is built around traditional mob moneymaking ventures like bookmaking, loan-sharking, and cargo theft, “the new wrinkle here is the use of offshore sites and the Internet for processing bets,” said New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

“The use of Internet gambling and off shore locales demonstrates an evolution and increased sophistication” in what had traditionally been a staple of the mob’s underworld economy, said Michael Ward, the FBI agent in charge of the bureau’s Newark office.

Those arrested include Joseph “Pepe” Lascala, the reputed capo or captain of a Genovese crew operating in the Hudson County area. Lascala, 80, of Monroe, N.J., and Pat “Uncle Patsy” Pirozzi, 72, of Suffern, N.Y., who was described as Lascala’s “right hand man,” were the lead targets named in a 61-page criminal complaint that outlined a four-year federal investigation.

The charges echo a case brought by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office against alleged members and associates of the Lucchese crime family in Morris County, N.J., two years ago. .

Dubbed “Operation Heat,” that investigation focused on an Internet betting ring with a base in Costa Rica that authorities alleged generated $2.2 billionin bets over a 16-month period. The defendants, who are still awaiting trial, included several leaders of the Lucchese organization along with Nicodemo S. Scarfo, son of jailed Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo.

While the criminal complaint made public today did not place a dollar figure on the gambling operation, it included portions of secretly recorded conversations that hinted at the substantial amounts of cash being generated.


Vatican mystery disappearance intensifies with boxes of bones found in exhumed mobster’s grave


ROME — Forensic police swarmed the crypt of a Roman basilica on Monday to exhume the body of a reputed mobster as part of an investigation into one of the Vatican’s most enduring mysteries: the 1983 disappearance of the teenage daughter of one of its employees.

Medical experts took samples from the remains of Enrico De Pedis and also took boxes of old bones from the nearby ossuary, according to a De Pedis family lawyer, as part of the investigation into whether Emanuela Orlandi may have been buried alongside him.

Orlandi was 15 when she disappeared in 1983 after leaving her family’s Vatican City apartment to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.

De Pedis, a member of Rome’s Magliana mob, was killed in 1990. His one-time girlfriend has reportedly told prosecutors that De Pedis kidnapped Orlandi, and an anonymous caller in 2005 told a call-in television show that the answer to Orlandi’s disappearance lay in his tomb.

Amid a new push to resolve the case, the Vatican said last month it had no objections to opening the tomb. On Monday, Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the inspection of the De Pedis tomb was “certainly a positive fact” aimed at carrying out “all possible steps so the investigation could be completed.

“The prosecutors’ office can continue to count on the full collaboration of the church authorities,” Lombardi said in comments to reporters.

The scene Monday outside the Sant’Apollinare basilica was hectic, with television cameras jostling for views inside the chapel and the adjacent courtyard of the Opus Dei-run Pontifical Holy Cross University, where forensic vans came and went.

An overwhelming stench filled the air as medical personnel in white pantsuits and masks mingled with priests in black clerical garb and ducked into a blue tent where samples of De Pedis’ remains were believed to have been brought.

Lorenzo Radogna, a De Pedis family attorney, told reporters outside that investigators had found some 200 containers with bones near De Pedis’ tomb in the ossuary, and that they would be tested in the coming days and weeks. Initially, the ANSA news agency reported the boxes had been discovered in De Pedis’ casket itself but later said they were found in the nearby ossuary.

Orlandi’s brother, Pietro, who was at the scene, said samples from De Pedis’ body had been taken for further tests and the tomb re-closed. He said the corpse was in relatively good condition, but there was only one body — that of a male — inside the casket.

There had initially been speculation that Emanuela Orlandi’s kidnapping was linked in some way to an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, which had occurred two years earlier, and the jailing of the gunman, Ali Agca.

Doubts have also been cast on whether the Vatican itself had cooperated fully with the investigation.

In 2008, Italian news reports quoted De Pedis’ ex-girlfriend as telling prosecutors that Orlandi had been kidnapped by the Magliana gang on the orders of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the late U.S. prelate who had headed the Vatican bank and was linked to a huge Italian banking scandal in the 1980s. Marcinkus had always asserted his innocence in the scandal and the Vatican at the time of the allegation said the woman’s claims had “extremely doubtful value.”

In a lengthy statement last month, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi insisted the Holy See had done everything possible to try to resolve the case.

Pietro Orlandi said the move to exhume the tomb was a step forward in the investigation, and he hoped it showed a new willingness on the part of the Vatican to cooperate fully and show full transparency about what it knows.

“I think it’s something very positive, both from the point of view of the Vatican and the prosecutors,” he told reporters.

Speculation has long swirled around the location of De Pedis’ tomb, since it is buried in a prominent church alongside important Catholics — an unusual final resting place for a reputed local mobster. Sant’Apollinare is right next to the elegant Piazza Navona in Rome’s historic center. As the exhumation went on in the crypt a priest was solemnly celebrating Mass upstairs in Latin.

Among those in the adjacent courtyard speaking with medical personnel was the rector of the basilica, Msgr. Pedro Huidobro, who oddly enough was a coroner before being ordained a priest.

De Pedis’ casket is expected to be moved to another location for reburial in the near future, Radogna said.

Restaurateur makes mob money discovery


When Terry Cunningham purchased what would become York Street CafĂ© in 1997, he wasn’t expecting former mobsters to show up on his doorstep.

So much for that.

“The very first day I bought the place, two guys came in with hammers in their hands, and they wanted to knock the tops off all my banisters,” said Cunningham.

The men, who appeared to be in their 80s or 90s, said gambling money might have been stuffed inside those banisters long ago, and they wanted to find out.

They said they had worked in the building during the mafia’s heyday in Newport; they’d belonged to the Fraternal Order of Eagles on the third floor, which was known to house an illegal gambling operation.

“They always had a watchman up there so when the cops would come, they would open up the banisters and throw all the money and cards in there and cover it back up,” said Cunningham.

He promptly sent the men away, but he didn’t forget their story. And recently, Cunningham, with help from a buddy in the TV business, went after the long-lost gambling money.

Cunningham had figured that his first guests were telling the truth. The woodwork on the stairs of the four-story building was uniform except for the banister tops, which were mismatched types of wood, colors, and were clearly nailed back on at some point.

Cunningham knew that Newport had been steeped in illegal gambling, prostitution and mob activity. He spoke to George Ciccarone, former Channel 12 features reporter who has also worked for national television shows and networks.

Ciccarone thought it was worth checking into and suggested a live TV event to broadcast the efforts to recover what hidden treasure might lie within the building’s banisters.

“I said, ‘What the hell? Who knows what we’re going to find in there?’” said Ciccarone. “It may be nothing or it may be a lot. So we documented the whole thing.”

About three weeks ago, after the restaurant closed for a night, Cunningham, Ciccarone and a camera crew set out to retrieve what cash may have been hurriedly stashed away during a police raid decades ago.

They used a light and a snake camera to fish inside the banisters. And found nothing — until they got to the third floor, when they spotted some rolled up bills.

“It was like the Titanic when it first comes into view when you push that camera down there,” said Ciccarone. “Your heart skips a beat.”

What they found were some stray bills amounting to $42 in silver certificate currency dating from 1932 to 1957 and part of an old advertisement for nightlife from more than 50 years ago.

They hoped the find would be large enough so they could sell the video to “Inside Edition” or another TV news magazine, but the yield wasn’t enough to pique national interest.

“I don’t regret doing it,” said Ciccarone. “It’s still a very cool story. The thing that fascinates me about Newport is, you go into these old buildings where illegal gambling and prostitution was and there’s still hidden safes and peepholes and things like that.”

Ciccarone said he gave the film to a local producer who is making a documentary about Newport and said that while the haul wasn’t large, it proves that the mafia was a strong force in the area years ago.

Cunningham is thinking about displaying his findings at his restaurant.

“It’s kind of neat that it happened here in my building,” he said, adding with a smile, “I don’t want to go bragging about finding mob money. I’m sure there’s still mobsters around.”

Guilty mobster’s omerta


By BRUCE GOLDING



Mafia? What Mafia?

The reputed consigliere of the Gambino family pleaded guilty yesterday to racketeering — but is sticking to the mob playbook of refusing to admit membership in La Cosa Nostra.

Joseph “JoJo” Corozzo “absolutely denies” allegations that he’s been a made member of the Gambinos since the 1980s and rose to become part of their three-member “administration,” said his son and lawyer, also named Joseph Corozzo.

The younger Corozzo also insisted his dad had nothing to do with narcotics trafficking — traditionally frowned upon by the mob — even though a bunch of co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to drug charges in the case.

Under terms of his plea bargain in Manhattan federal court, the elder Corozzo only admitted committing extortion and bookmaking.

Feds say wiseguy Michael Persico may be canoodling with his counsel Sarita Kedia

Prosecutors tip judge in racketeering and slay case and say that 'romantic relationship' could affect Kedia's 'decision-making'
A PRINCE of the Colombo crime family may have found his princess — but she will have to get him off the hook on murder charges if he wants to live happily ever after.
Federal prosecutors confronted reputed mob associate Michael Persico last week on allegations he’s romantically involved with his defense lawyer, legal eagle knockout Sarita Kedia.
Persico, 55, the suave, soft-spoken scion of Colombo crime boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico, goes on trial next month in Brooklyn Federal Court charged with racketeering, murder and extortion.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Argentieri and Allon Lifshitz filed a letter under seal to Judge Sandra Townes in which they revealed that underworld informants claim Persico and his comely counsel are an item.
“If such a romantic relationship exists between you and your attorney, that relationship could potentially affect her decision-making and her representation in this case,” Townes said, according to a transcript of a May 11 court hearing obtained by the Daily News.
“In other words, her professional judgment, the government argues, could be affected by her emotional feelings for you,” Townes explained.
Townes did not ask the attorney and her client directly if they’re an item — but Kedia didn’t exactly deny it.
“I can absolutely assure the court that I do not have or have I ever had any relationship with Mr. Persico that would in any way compromise my professional responsibility in representing him in his own best interest,” she told the judge.
Persico, a Brooklyn businessman, also told the judge he wants to keep Kedia on his defense team.
Kedia has represented him since his March 2010 arrest and fought all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals to get him released on $5 million bail.
Previously, she defended Michael’s older brother, former Colombo acting boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, who was convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence.
Sources told The News the feds do not have proof the couple are lovers, but wanted to deal with the issue before trial so it does not become an appealable issue if Persico is convicted of the 1992 gangland killing of then-underboss Joseph Scopo.
Kedia fired back at the government, calling its actions “unprofessional” and “reprehensible.”
“Michael Persico is a client and a friend. But the government’s allegation that I have a personal relationship or concern that could affect my representation is not only false, it’s desperate,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.