Law360, New York (March 27, 2013, 4:26 PM ET) -- A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that six attorneys representing members of the Lucchese crime family indicted in connection with a $2.2 billion gambling enterprise must comply with grand jury subpoenas for their billing records, but not until their clients' underlying charges are resolved.
Michael P. Mayko
BRIDGEPORT -- One was a bag man, the other a deliveryman.
Both are now convicted felons.
Domenico Manchisi, 65, of Shelton, and Angelo Antolino, 32, of Port Chester, N.Y., became the latest to plead guilty to gambling charges stemming from what the FBI calls a multi-million-dollar betting operation in Fairfield and New Haven counties run by the Gambino crime family.
Manchisi, who is represented by Guy Soares, and Antolino, who is represented by Frank Riccio II, both pleaded guilty to participating in an illegal gambling operation during proceedings Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen said the pair faces up to a year in prison and both must forfeit $20,000 as part of their scheduled June sentences. They are free on bond.
Chen said the gambling operation, which brought in $1.7 million in an eight-month period, included more than 300 gamblers and others who placed wagers with 25 bookmakers, all of whom had to pay a fee for taking bets. There was also an online website based in Costa Rica and three all-night card houses, two of which were in Stamford and the other in Hamden.
Chen accused Dean DePreta, of Stamford, of heading up the operation, which he said was managed on a daily basis by Richard Uva, of Trumbull.
Both DePreta and Uva pleaded not guilty to charges and are awaiting trial before U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford.
The guilty pleas by Manchisi and Antolino now mean nine of the 20 arrested last June have admitted their roles.
In this case, Chen said Manchisi delivered thousands of dollars paid by gamblers in New Haven and Hamden to Uva in Stamford. The prosecutor accused Antolino of being a bookie who collected losses and brought them to Uva.
Chen said if the case went to trial he would produce wiretap recordings and video surveillance to prove his case.
Additional guilty pleas are expected in the coming weeks.
The second most powerful gangster in Japan, and for several years the de facto head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest mafia group (39,000 members), was sentenced to six years in prison for extortion, according to the Japanese media and police sources. The Kyoto District Court handed down the verdict on March 22. The defense is expected to appeal the sentence, which came years after an initial investigation initiated by the Kyoto Police in late 2009.
Members of Japan's largest organized crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi are patted down by police during a gathering at a funeral in Kobe, western Japan, April 17, 2007.
Kiyoshi Takayama, 65, chairman of the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai faction and the second in command of the Yamaguchi-gumi itself, was convicted of extorting cash totaling more than 40,000,000 yen (approximately $422,000) from a 67-year-old president of a construction industry in Kyoto under the pretext of "protection money."
Takayama has a reputation of being a cunning and ruthless leader. He is a well-known figure in the country and on the cover of numerous publications about the yakuza. He was injured in his youth, allegedly in a sword fight, which resulted in his right eye being half-closed and giving him a frightening appearance. While feared and respected by many in the underworld, his unusually antagonistic attitude toward the police gained him criticism within and outside his own group. For decades the police and the yakuza had semi-cordial relationships; cops would visit yakuza at their offices and they would casually talk to each other. The third-generation leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi once served as the Honorary Police Chief of the Day in the Kobe area in the ’60s. When yakuza were caught for a crime they committed, they would quickly confess. If there was a gang war, those who committed violent acts of retaliation in the conflict would turn themselves into the police. Under Takayama, Yamaguchi-gumi members became more adversarial toward law enforcement and would not generally allow detectives into their offices, nor cooperate with investigations, nor confess to crimes.
In Japan, while there are several laws regulating the activities of the yakuza, the groups themselves are not illegal. They maintain offices, have business cards, and run a network of front companies. There are even fan magazines and comic books published about the yakuza’s exploits.
According to this court ruling, Kiyoshi Takayama teamed up with Yoshiyuki Takayama (no relation), 56, head of the Yamaguchi-gumi Omi group based in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, to blackmail the Kyoto businessman on three separate occasions between 2005 and 2006.
The court concluded that Kiyoshi Takayama implicitly demanded the victim become a corporate associate of the gang when they dined together in October 2005. Kiyoshi Takayama allegedly told the Kyoto businessman, "I want you to be on good terms (with Yoshiyuki Takayama) and work together," while Yoshiyuki Takayama was present at the dinner. “Good terms” in the yakuza world usually means paying protection money or giving in to yakuza demands.
Part of the disputed evidence in the trial was a recording where a gang member from the Yamaguchi-gumi Omi group demanded money be paid to "Nagoya,” the name of the area where the Kodo-kai gang is based. The conclusion of the court was that “Nagoya” was a code name for Kiyoshi Takayama. The defense for Kiyoshi Takayama argued that he merely happened to be present at the dinner and had no part in demanding the protection money, and had never received any of the money collected.
“We take the runaways, the Japanese Koreans, the outcasts of Japan, those who are discriminated against, and we give them a home … We teach them discipline.”
Kiyoshi Takayama was in de facto control of the Yamaguchi-gumi after its boss Kenichi Shinoda (also known as Shinobu Tsukasa) was imprisoned in 2005, on violations of gun control laws. Shinoda was released in 2011. Upon his release, Shinoda made efforts to return discipline to the Yamaguchi-gumi and abide by the unspoken social contract the yakuza traditionally followed in Japan. In an interview with Sankei newspaper in October the same year, he defended the role of the Yamaguchi-gumi saying, “We take the runaways, the Japanese Koreans, the outcasts of Japan, those who are discriminated against, and we give them a home ... We teach them discipline. We teach them the humanitarian way (ninkyodo) and not to cause trouble to civilians. Keeping the Yamaguchi-gumi together prevents violent gangs from taking over the streets.” The argument Shinoda makes is one that some Japanese people still agree with: the only thing worse than organized crime is disorganized crime: robbery, theft, muggings, and other street crime.
Kiyoshi Takayama’s bail was set at a record high of 1.5 billion yen during his trial. Takayama was known for his antagonistic polices toward the authorities and allegedly authorizing the use of private detectives by the Kodo-kai to gather information, including phone records, on police, lawyers, activists, and other enemies of the groups. This information was then later used to threaten detectives and their families, according to police sources. This did not sit well with the cops.
By September 2009, the acting head of Japan’s National Police Agency announced that all the police in Japan needed to focus on destroying the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai—not the entire Yamaguchi-gumi per se, but specifically the Kodo-kai faction. At its peak, the Kodo-kai had 4,000 members, making one out of every 10 Yamaguchi-gumi members a Kodo-kai soldier. It is now below 2,000 members, according to police sources.
Japanese government sources say the Kyoto Police investigation into Kiyoshi Takayama was aided by information from the local Kyoto mafia, the Aizukotetsu-kai, one of the oldest yakuza groups in Japan. It was established in Kyoto in the 1860s according to the yakuza history book Ninkyojuku. Yoshiyuki Takayama, who is still on trial for extortion charges, is coincidentally the son of the fourth-generation leader of the Aizukotetsu-kai.
A Kyoto police officer, speaking on background said, “Kiyoshi Takayama and the Yamaguchi-gumi made a mistake by trying to take over Kyoto. They weren’t welcome by the local yakuza, or local business owners, or us. We were given good leads on the case by people on all levels of Kyoto society and that’s all I can say.”
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Jake Adelstein was a reporter for the Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, from 1993 to 2005. From 2006 to 2007 he was the chief investigator for a U.S. State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. Considered one of the foremost experts on organized crime in Japan, he works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States. He is also the public relations director for the Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project Japan, which combats human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children in the sex trade. He is the author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan (Vintange).
Mar. 28, 2013 — A new study conducted by The Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, N.M., shows that neuroimaging data can predict the likelihood of whether a criminal will reoffend following release from prison.
The paper, which is to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied impulsive and antisocial behavior and centered on the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that deals with regulating behavior and impulsivity.
The study demonstrated that inmates with relatively low anterior cingulate activity were twice as likely to reoffend than inmates with high-brain activity in this region.
"These findings have incredibly significant ramifications for the future of how our society deals with criminal justice and offenders," said Dr. Kent A. Kiehl, who was senior author on the study and is director of mobile imaging at MRN and an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico. "Not only does this study give us a tool to predict which criminals may reoffend and which ones will not reoffend, it also provides a path forward for steering offenders into more effective targeted therapies to reduce the risk of future criminal activity."
The study looked at 96 adult male criminal offenders aged 20-52 who volunteered to participate in research studies. This study population was followed over a period of up to four years after inmates were released from prison.
"These results point the way toward a promising method of neuroprediction with great practical potential in the legal system," said Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, who collaborated on the study. "Much more work needs to be done, but this line of research could help to make our criminal justice system more effective."
The study used the Mind Research Network's Mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) System to collect neuroimaging data as the inmate volunteers completed a series of mental tests.
"People who reoffended were much more likely to have lower activity in the anterior cingulate cortices than those who had higher functioning ACCs," Kiehl said. "This means we can see on an MRI a part of the brain that might not be working correctly -- giving us a look into who is more likely to demonstrate impulsive and anti-social behavior that leads to re-arrest."
The anterior cingulate cortex of the brain is "associated with error processing, conflict monitoring, response selection, and avoidance learning," according to the paper. People who have this area of the brain damaged have been "shown to produce changes in disinhibition, apathy, and aggressiveness. Indeed, ACC-damaged patients have been classed in the 'acquired psychopathic personality' genre."
Kiehl says he is working on developing treatments that increase activity within the ACC to attempt to treat the high-risk offenders.
The four-year study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and pilot funds by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project. The study was conducted in collaboration with the New Mexico Corrections Department.
'Your poppy will be home soon,' Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto told the granddaughter of mob honcho Andrew Russo following a sentence of two months longer than time served for racketeering.
A Brooklyn judge received a round of applause from relatives of Colombo crime boss Andrew Russo after she sentenced the longtime gangster to serve only two months longer in prison for racketeering.
"Your poppy will be home soon," Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto assured Russo's granddaughter, using the child's nickname for the 78-year-old Mafia boss.
Matsumoto said the mobster had a great family — referring to the relatives in the courtroom — prompting them to start clapping.
Russo, who was nabbed during the big Mafia Takedown of 2011 with 127 other mobsters, faced up to 41 months in prison, but like the gaggle of geezer gangsters who came before him, he sought leniency for his various medical ailments.
Matsumoto gave him 33 months, and with credit for time served, he will be a free man by May.
Russo’s lawyer had claimed his client is a peaceful man despite secretly recorded tapes of Russo vowing to put the shattered Colombo crime family back together.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes destroyed that argument. "It (the Colombos) doesn't serve as a community service organization," Geddes said. "There is no other purpose than to make money through crime."
Matsumoto is apparently still stung by criticism from a law enforcement source, quoted in a Daily News article earlier this year commenting that consigliere Richard Fusco left her courtroom laughing after feigning deafness at his sentencing.
"If Mr. Fusco made a fool out of me, then shame on me," Matsumoto said Thursday
The acting boss of the Colombo crime family was sentenced yesterday to 33 months in prison on racketeering and gambling charges as part of the biggest Mafia takedown in New York mob history.
Andrew “Mush” Russo, 78, has been locked up since the 2011 FBI sweep — so with time served and good behavior he’ll be back on the streets in two months.
Brooklyn federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said that despite Russo’s formidable intellect, he still hasn’t learned his lesson about crime.
Russo has spent two decades in prison, “25 percent of his life,” the judge noted.
Prosecutors say that Russo, awaiting trial, performed a Mafia induction ceremony inside Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
It was a dusty old photograph capturing the moment when three strange bedfellows came together — and yesterday, it surfaced as evidence at a Brooklyn Mafia murder trial.
The photo shows then-US Sen. Alfonse D’Amato flanked by two smiling mobsters, and Brooklyn federal prosecutors unveiled it as they built a racketeering case against a ranking Gambino crime-family capo.
Bartolomeo Vernace — one of three senior mobsters sitting on the crime family’s ruling panel — is accused of gunning down two bar owners in 1981 after a spilled drink splashed a wiseguy’s girlfriend.
While D’Amato’s photo has no connection to the murder, prosecutors hope it will help prove that Vernace’s actions were part of a pattern of Mafia racketeering and document his connections to other wiseguys.
In the photo, D’Amato stands between Gambino associate Ralph Sciulla and Bonanno associate Giuseppe Gambina.
Sciulla was a member of Vernace’s mob crew, the feds say, but just months after the photo was taken he was dead, his body stuffed into car trunk and discovered on Long Island on Aug. 7, 1992.
But the prized photo lived on, hanging for years in a mob social club in Queens run by Vernace.
“It was on the opposite side of the counter, against the wall in the middle,” Gambina told a jury yesterday.
Gambina, now an FBI informant, took the stand at Vernace’s trial and looked at a poster-sized reproduction of the photo displayed for the jury.
He explained that the picture was snapped at Giannini’s, a restaurant in Queens where people gathered to support the Republican senator.
“It was a fund-raiser for Senator D’Amato,” Gambina recalled.
The political mixer in the early ’90s was not the first time that D’Amato had crossed paths publicly with New York gangsters.
In the 1980s, he took the stand as a character witness for a Luchese family associate.
On another occasion, D’Amato rallied unsuccessfully to persuade then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani to reduce charges against Genovese mobster Mario Gigante.
D’Amato also intervened on behalf of Paul Castellano, who at the time was the boss of the Gambino crime family.
In the past, D’Amato characterized these controversies as nothing more than efforts to support constituents.
KYOTO – Kiyoshi Takayama, the No. 2 man in the top underworld syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi, was sentenced to six years in prison Friday for extorting ¥40 million from a construction business operator.
Takayama, 65, who heads the Nagoya-based Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate Kodo-kai, was given the sentence by a three-judge panel at the Kyoto District Court.
He had pleaded not guilty and denied he had any intention of extorting cash from the 67-year-old businessman.
Takayama, in conspiracy with other Yamaguchi-gumi gangsters, was charged with carrying out the extortion in 2005 and 2006.
During the trial, the victim testified that Takayama had forced him to work under the influence of the mob. Presiding Judge Akihiro Ogura, in handing down the decision, said the victim’s testimony was reliable.
Among the conspirators was Yoshiyuki Takayama, 56, who heads Omi-Ikka, another Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate, based in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. Yoshiyuki Takayama is also standing trial for extortion.
As of the end of 2011, Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi’s ranks numbered about 31,000, or 44 percent of the country’s gangster population of 70,300, according to police data.
Federal and museum officials released new developments in the half-billion-dollar robbery, one of the largest art heists in history. They believe the art was smuggled into Connecticut and eventually made its way into Philadelphia.
FBI officials announced today they know who committed one of the biggest art heists in history, but they still need the public's help to locate the 13 missing pieces of art.
“The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence in the years after the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft,” said Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI office. “With that same confidence we have identified the thieves who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England.”
Officials believe the art was smuggled into Connecticut and eventually made its way into Philadelphia. At that point, the trail for the missing masterpieces goes cold. The FBI believes an organized-crime organization based in the mid-Atlantic states coordinated the crime.
Because the investigation is still ongoing, the FBI noted they could not release further details into the identities of the suspects.
FBI officials also noted that the statue of limitations has passed on the original crime, the thefts of the painting, but there is still potential criminal liability for concelaning the paintings or possessing stolen property. However, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz noted that immunity is on the table for anyone who contributes information leading to the discovery of the paintings.
To help keep the public in the process, the bureau launched a new Gardner heist website. The site features sketches of the thieves, images of the lost art, background on the crime and information for anyone who want to contact the FBI with new information about the crime.
Monday was the 23rd anniversary of the heist, which took place in 1990. According to the Museum's own history of the theft, the robbers dressed as police officers and asked a security guard to let them in.
"Once inside, the thieves asked that the guard come around from behind the desk, claiming that they recognized him and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. The guard walked away from the desk and away from the only alarm button," wrote the museum on its website.
The thieves then had the guard, Richard Abath, call the second guard on duty and the two were separated and bound.
The thieves took 13 pieces of art, including works by Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Govaert Flinck, Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet.
In recent months, however, the security guard, once thought a hapless victim, has come under closer scrutiny, according to The Boston Globe. Richard Abath was found bound by duct tape and handcuffs in the aftermath of the robbery.
"Why, they ask, were Abath’s footsteps the only ones picked up on motion detectors in a first floor gallery where one of the stolen paintings, by French impressionist Edouard Manet, was taken? And why did he open the side entrance to the museum minutes before the robbers rang the buzzer to get in? Was he signaling to them that he was prepared for the robbery to begin?" wrote Globe reporter Stephen Kurkjian in a March 9 article.
Abath maintained his innocence to the Globe and in a manuscript he's written. He pointed to two separate lie detector tests as proof he was telling the truth in the case.
The Gardner theft was back in the news last year when a reputed Connecticut mobster's home was searched for weapons and the missing artwork. Federal officers used ground-penetrating radar to search for items in Richard Gentile's backyard, but came up empty.
The museum has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the return of the lost artwork. Several media outlets have placed the value of the lost art at $500 million.
“Mob Wives” princess Ramona Rizzo is engaged to be married, even though her betrothed is behind bars, Page Six can exclusively reveal. The VH1 star and granddaughter of Benjamin “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero says she’ll tie the knot with Joseph “Joe Boy” Sclafani — a reputed Gambino family soldier currently cooling his heels at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
Romantic Rizzo says her future husband faces more than a decade in prison, but she’s planning a 500-guest June wedding even though she’s not expecting the groom to be present.
“We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Rizzo told us. “It’s not the normal love story because he’s incarcerated. But if you’re in love, you can make it work.” The union would bring together Rizzo, a Bonanno family descendant, with an alleged Gambino man, but Rizzo says, “My family’s just happy he’s Italian.” (Her former hubby was Jordanian.)
The Post reported last year that Sclafani was implicated in coordinating a cocaine-trafficking scheme, and also faced earlier charges of running a syndicate that sold marijuana grown in Staten Island greenhouses. He was also once convicted of helping Costabile “Gus” Farace evade a federal manhunt.
“He didn’t want to begrudge me a wedding,” says Rizzo of her devoted groom. “He said, ‘Even if I can’t be there, have a party. I’ll be there in spirit.’ ” They’ll have the bash at Butch Yamali’s lavish Coral House on Long Island.
Rizzo says they’ll “pass around the phone” at the wedding for Sclafani to speak to her and friends. She says her “Mob Wives” co-stars Karen Gravano and Renee Graziano will be there, and her four kids have been supportive of the relationship.
“People should find their own way of love. I hope this inspires other people. We are praying for the best,” Rizzo told us yesterday. “If you love somebody before they got kicked down, why wouldn’t you love them after?”
She added, “Maybe the key to a happy marriage is not having a husband in your face all the time.”
Two brothers of a man murdered during a Mafia-engineered home invasion robbery angrily confronted a Bonanno wiseguy outside a courthouse today and FBI agents intervened to prevent them from assaulting the mobster.
The incident came minutes after Bonanno crime-family associate Neil Messina pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to mob racketeering charges for conspiring to commit the home-invasion robbery back in August 1992.
Joseph Pistone was murdered when the robbery went bad, as mobsters hunted for a haul of cash they believed was stashed inside the house.
After the court hearing, Pistone's brothers approached Messina and his fiance outside the federal courthouse, shouted insults, and threatened Messina, several sources told The Post.
One of the brothers yelled at Messina - asking him who was responsible for telling the wiseguys they would find a sizable amount of cash during the residential robbery, sources said.
As the sidewalk confrontation escalated, agents from the New York FBI office's Bonanno-Colombo squad pushed Pistone's brothers back and held them - as US Marshals' security officers sprinted towards the heated clash.
No one was injured in the incident.
At the earlier court hearing - which Pistone's brothers attended - Messina admitted to helping plan the home invasion robbery and knowing that a gun would be used in the heist - but he steadfastly denied being present at the robbery.
A dog was also killed during the aborted home-invasion heist, records show.
When he is eventually sentenced on the mob racketeering charges, Messina could get up to 20 years in prison. But prosecutors say they plan to ask the judge for a 10-year prison stint.
A senior Gambino mobster who sits on the crime family’s ruling panel helped execute two men decades ago because of a simple spilled drink in a smoky Queens tavern, prosecutors said today.
Bartolomeo “Bobby Glasses” Vernace — now a 63-year-old Gambino capo who sits on the crime family’s ruling commission — took up arms with colleagues against a pair of bar owners who they “murdered in cold blood” at a Woodhaven tavern in 1981.
”They were killed over a spilled drink” that splashed a wiseguy’s girlfriend, Assistant US Attorney Amir Toossi told the jury at the start of Vernace’s murder racketeering trial in Brooklyn.
Vernace pulled the trigger and shot bar owner Richard Godkin “through the chest,” the prosecutor said, while another Gambino shot co-owner John D’Agnese point-blank in the face.
”I seen him fall. The blood was pretty vivid. I knew that he was in trouble,” tavern patron Douglas Lindberg recalled on the witness stand.
Not long after the shooting, one of the gunmen met Gambino associate Anthony Ruggiano Jr. and confided in him about the double murder.
Ruggiano — a Gambino associate who now is a government informant in witness protection — testified that mob associate Frank Riccardi admitted to participating in the shooting, along with Vernace and Gambino associate Ronald Barlin.
After the double murder at the Shamrock Bar on Jamaica Avenue, Vernace“in Mafia-speak, went on the lam,” Toossi told jurors.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Charles Carnesi reminded jurors that Vernace was acquitted of the same murders in a 2002 state court trial.
“This act — as senseless as it was — had nothing to do with the crime family,” Carnesi told jurors.
The defense attorney also portrayed Ruggiano as a drug addict who had murdered his own brother-in-law.
GARFIELD — Police nabbed a city man with ties to the Lucchese crime family they say is responsible for a spate of commercial burglaries in recent weeks.
According to Capt. Darren Sucorowski, 37-year-old Gianni Iacovo was already a suspect in the break-ins when he was observed walking on Bergen Street at around 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday.
Officers quickly checked area businesses, and found that the door to the Golden Eagle Deli on Lanza Avenue had been smashed in.
Officer Michael Hawroniak, who was tracking Iacovo, attempted to stop him as he made his way back toward his home on Bergen Street. However, Iacavo ignored his commands, walking past Hawroniak and discarding a claw hammer onto a patch of grass, Sucorowski said.
Hawroniak exited his cruiser and arrested Iacovo for obstructing his investigation. A search found that he was also carrying a screwdriver, flashlight and a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine.
Iacovo was charged with seven counts of burglary and various weapons charges and was ordered held on $70,000 bond at the Bergen County Jail.
In 2011, Iacovo pleaded guilty to gambling charges in Morris County.
He and 33 other reputed Lucchese crime family associates were indicted a year earlier for what authorities said were their roles in international gambling and money laundering operations.
As part of his plea deal, he agreed to provide prosecutors with documents related to the case and to provide a sworn statement that could be used against his fellow defendants.
Burglaries, Garfield, Gianni Iavoco, Lucchese Family, Mob Associate, New Jersey
GARFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A reputed Lucchese crime family associate has been charged in connection with a string of burglaries in New Jersey, according to a published report.
Gianni Iacovo, 37, was arrested early Wednesday, according to an NJ.com report. He was already a suspect in several break-ins when police saw him walking down Bergen Street in Garfield early Wednesday morning, the publication reported.
Police discovered that the door to the Golden Eagle Deli had been smashed open, the publication reported. But when officers tried to catch up to Iacovo and told him to stop, he walked right past the officers and hurled a claw hammer onto the grass, police told the publication.
Iacovo was arrested and accused of obstructing the burglary investigation. Police found a screwdriver, a flashlight and suspected cocaine on his person, the publication reported.
He was charged with seven counts of burglary and ordered held at the Bergen County Jail on $70,000 bond, the publication reported.
Iacovo is not a stranger to life on the wrong side of the law. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to promoting gambling and possession of gambling records in a case that involved 35 people, the publication reported.
The case stemmed from a 2007 probe called Operation Heat, and reputed Lucchese mob family leaders Joseph DiNapoli and Matthew Madonna were among the defendants, the publication reported. The operation took down a gambling ring that largely involved sports bets, according to the publication.
The Lucchese family is one of five of the traditional organized crime families in New York City. Its name comes from Tommy Lucchese (1899-1967), who ran the family from 1951 until his death and operated rackets in the Garment District and trucking industries.
BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.co) -- FOX 25's Bob Ward opened his crime files on Wednesday night to bring us inside the eye opening story of a top New York mob boss who reportedly ran New York mob business out of Boston.
In late 2009, some of the biggest names in the New England mafia gathered at an East Boston restaurant after a wake to talk business. According to a federal indictment, as the men broke bread they discussed a number of family matters, including how exactly to split money extorted out of Rhode Island strip bars.
There was one mafia leader who was only a few miles away from the meeting, but probably wasn't invited. His name is Ralph DeLeo and there is a simple reason he wasn't in East Boston that night: the feds say Ralph DeLeo was a made member and a street boss of the New York Columbo crime family.
"This is the first time I have ever seen the acting street boss of a NY crime family in another area," says FBI Special Agent Todd Richards.
Richards says he has never seen this happen in his three decades of law enforcement. The special agent revealed for the first time during his interview with FOX 25's Bob Ward that the unassuming 70-year-old man, who lived in a basement apartment in Somerville, was not only a powerful mob figure, he was conducting New York crime family business in Boston.
"Mr. DeLeo was responsible for all of the daily criminal activity for the Columbo crime family which is based in New York, but he is doing it in Boston," Richards explains. "He is doing it in the Boston area, under the radar screen."
In the past, working on another family's turf could mean big trouble, but Special Agent Richards tells FOX 25 that DeLeo was different. He was the lifetime friend of a top aide to the late New England mob boss Gennaro Angiulo. While in prison years ago, DeLeo forged ties with the Columbo crime family.
"While in prison, Mr. DeLeo becomes a confident of Allyboy Persico, who is the acting boss of the family at the time, because his father, Carmine "The Snake" Persico, is also incarcerated. Because of that association, Mr. DeLeo is well-respected," Richards explains. "And upon his release from prison at some point, he becomes a made member of the Columbo crime family of New York."
The feds say Ralph DeLeo was mostly a telecommuting crime boss, but he would travel from Boston to New York to conduct business two or three times a month by car or plane. Back at home near Boston, DeLeo played it cool.
"He was actually a hard worker. He was a maintenance man for a local company. He put in a full days' work, then he got home, got on his computer, and read about the Columbo family and was very much involved in the daily activities of the Columbo family," says Richards.
On Hanover Street in Boston's North End, those political ties to two crime families gave Ralph DeLeo enormous respect and allowed him to run New York from Boston. In recent years, high level New England mob busts have left the local La Cosa Nostra reeling, creating a leadership vacuum. The mob might be down, but it's not out. The question that remains is who will lead the next Boston mob, a local guy or a New Yorker?
"I don't believe the Columbo family is here. I have not heard of another member of the Columbo family here, but we have looked at that with more scrutiny after we found Mr. DeLeo was operating in this area of operations," says Richards.
In a plot involving the late Joe Cahill, a book on the life of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger claims the FBI was soft on the IRA in the 1980s
The FBI agreed to turn a blind eye to the IRA gun-running activities of one of most notorious gangsters in the US in return for his agreement to inform on Italian Mafia families in New England, according to an account of the life of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, due to be published early next month.
The Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy, who have co-authored the book Whitey Bulger, say the deal paved the way for a lengthy relationship between the IRA and Boston-based Irish-American criminals. Their efforts included an ill-fated attempt to smuggle a boat-load of arms and explosives to Ireland in the 1980s.
Central to the plot was the late Joe Cahill, the commander of the Provisional IRA in Belfast, who in recent years has been promoted by Sinn Féin as a key facilitator of the peace process. The authors say Bulger’s associates four times smuggled Cahill into the US. On one occasion Cahill met Bulger in a Boston bar and encouraged him to send weapons to the IRA.
Bulger was deeply involved in criminality with the city’s Irish mob, running protection rackets aimed at drug dealers, loan sharks and those involved in illegal gambling. Bulger is believed to have been the inspiration for the Jack Nicholson character in the movie The Departed.
In 1975, Bulger agreed to become an FBI informer and was largely left alone by the authorities, who were mostly interested in what he knew about rival Mafia gangs. In 1994, his FBI handler tipped him off about an impending indictment and he fled Boston. For 12 of the next 16 years Bulger was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. In June 2011, Bulger, by then 81 years old, was recaptured in Santa Monica, California, and returned to Boston, where he now faces charges of involvement in 19 murders.
His FBI handler, John Connolly, acceded to Bulger’s precondition not to investigate his IRA activity when he signed him up as an informer, but this wasn’t, according to the authors, the only example of the FBI being soft on the IRA.
In the early 1980s, another FBI agent gave Bulger more than 18kg of powerful C-4 plastic explosives for the IRA, which were then smuggled to Ireland in a van.
Bulger, notorious as a gangland killer and operative, idolised few people, “but Joe Cahill was one”, write the authors. “And when Cahill insisted on going to south Boston to meet him, Whitey was flattered. ‘Jimmy really looked up to Cahill,’ said Bulger protege Kevin Weeks. ‘Cahill was a legend.’ ”
US District Court Judge Richard Stearns today delivered a major blow to James “Whitey’’ Bulger’s defense by ruling that no law allows an immunized witness to commit murders after they agree to cooperate with federal law enforcement.
Stearns wrote that Bulger, or other federal informants, may avoid prosecution for crimes they commit prior to becoming an informant or a cooperating witness as part of an agreement with law enforcement.
But no such authority exists for prospective crimes.
“The court concludes that any grant of prospective immunity to commit murder was without authorization and is hence unenforceable under any circumstances,’’ Stearns wrote in a 20-page order released today. “An immunity agreement cannot as a matter of public policy license future criminal conduct.’’
Stearns added: “A license to kill is even further beyond the pale and one unknown even in the earliest formulations of the common law... The government argues, correctly, that the authority to grant immunity from prosecution – and therefore the court’s deference to the decision to issue such grants – does not extend to crimes committed in futuro.’’
According to Stearns, Bulger’s defense team, led by Boston attorney J. W. Carney Jr., has provided only general information about the cooperation agreement, including Bulger’s claim that an immunity agreement with Jeremiah O’Sullivan when O’Sullivan ran the New England Organized Crime Strike Force.
O’Sullivan has since died, and Bulger claims an oral immunity agreement was reached with O’Sullivan decades ago.
While dismissing Bulger’s claim he was had a license to kill, Stearns said he wants to decide himself whether jurors in Bulger’s upcoming trial will hear about his alleged agreement with the late O’Sullivan.
“Resolution of the defendant’s immunity claims requires an inquiry into the existence, scope and validity of the alleged agreement [Bulger] made with the New England Organized Crime Strike Force Chief Jeremiah O’Sullivan,’’ Stearns wrote. “It does not require presentation of evidence regarding the commission of any of the nineteen murders or other crimes with which the defendant is charged.’’
Carney has said that Bulger will testify in his own defense during his trial and will lay out the details of his agreement with O’Sullivan.
Stearns said he wants to address the question before then.
“Under these circumstances, it would present a disservice to judicial economy and the orderly administration of justice to sit idly by awaiting the raising of an objection that is now ripe and which defendant has unequivocally indicated his intent to invoke,’’ Stearns wrote.
Stearns has been weighing a request by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office to prohibit Bulger from presenting his immunity defense to jurors when he goes to trial in June. Bulger is charged in a sweeping federal racketeering case with participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.
On Friday, the Justice Department and the FBI said they have been unable to ¬locate any documents that support Bulger’s claim that he was authorized to commit crimes, including murder, according to a government memorandum filed in court Friday.
Bulger, 83, says that former federal prosecutor O’Sullivan, who died in 2009, verbally promised him lifetime immunity decades ago, though he has never provided the date he says it was granted.
The affidavit filed Friday, a Justice Department official who supervised O’Sullivan during much of the time O’Sullivan was head of the New England Organized Crime Strike Force, said O’Sullivan never discussed giving Bulger immunity and would not have had the authority to grant it on his own.
Drug addicts worked the phones at the Fort Lauderdale firm, conning customers out of money. One of the company's founders allegedly threatened to rip off someone's face with a claw hammer. Employees went by nicknames like "Fat Patsy," "Bowling Ball" and "Patty Boy."
According to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday, that's how business was conducted at Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, a timeshare resale company accused of ripping off people nationwide in a $5 million scam.
In a state known as the center of the fraud-riddled timeshare resale industry, the Timeshare Mega Media case stands out because of the sheer number of people arrested so far for their roles in the company. The indictment brings the total number of people charged to 41. Twenty-three people have taken plea deals, two are awaiting trial and one died.
The company's telemarketers preyed on timeshare owners, claiming to have buyers for their unwanted vacation rentals, but demanding up to $10,000 to secure the deals, according to the indictment. Federal authorities have been unable to find a single instance in which Timeshare Mega Media actually lined up the purchase of a timeshare.
FBI agents rounded up seven defendants early Thursday morning, including Pasquale "Posh" Pappalardo, one of the two convicted felons accused of running the company. Pappalardo, 60, was asleep in his Coral Springs home when agents came knocking at about 5:30 a.m., according to his attorney, Neil G. Taylor.
The indictment portrays Pappalardo as the driving force behind the company, knowingly hiring drug addicts and people with criminal backgrounds as telemarketers. According to federal prosecutors, Pappalardo would boast about having ties with organized crime and twice had meetings with a representative of the Gambino organized crime family to discuss timeshare resale operations.
Pappalardo "would use violence or the threats of violence" to intimidate people, including once making the hammer threat, federal prosecutors say. During Timeshare Mega Media's brief life from July 2009 to May 2010, Pappalardo received $300,000 in checks as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, according to the indictment.
Pappalardo's attorney said his client is ready to fight the government's case. Pappalardo is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. A conviction on either charge could carry up to 20 years in prison.
"Mr. Pappalardo is not now or has he ever been a member of organized crime," Taylor said. "He adamantly disputes the allegations. If there is anything about Pasquale Pappalardo anyone will tell you, he will not run from a fight. He would consider it cowardly."
Taylor has argued that Pappalardo was a passive investor who had no role in the day-to-day operations.
In his first court appearance Thursday morning, Pappalardo pleaded not guilty. U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow granted him a $500,000 bond and ordered him to wear an electronic ankle monitor. Pappalardo was out of federal custody within hours.
Pappalardo has done federal prison time before, serving more than six years in the mid-1990s on drug, firearms and counterfeit money charges.
Of the 15 new defendants, nine appeared in court Thursday — the seven who were picked up by FBI agents and two who showed up on their own. The U.S. Attorney's Office said more arrests are expected this week.
The other co-founder of Timeshare Mega Media, Joseph "Joey Cigars" Crapella, had a criminal complaint filed against him last year, accusing him of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Crapella, 47, spent more than seven years in Florida prisons after he was convicted in 2000 of racketeering and grand theft for duping people into paying for vending machines he never delivered.
Timeshare Mega Media operated during the heyday of timeshare resale fraud in Florida. Such scams peaked in 2010 when the Florida Attorney General's Office received 12,257 timeshare resale complaints. Complaints have been on the decline since with a state law cracking down on such fraud as well as criminal prosecutions.
The new federal indictment, handed up on Feb. 28, offered a glimpse into the role organized crime may play in the timeshare resale industry.
Federal prosecutors allege Pappalardo took customer files from another timeshare company he had been involved with — Timeshare Market Pro — before forming Timeshare Mega Media. Disputes over Timeshare Market Pro prompted Pappalardo to ask a member of the Gambino crime family to appear with him at a "sit down" with another unidentified crime family, according to the indictment.
At the meeting, Pappalardo was able to convince members of both crime families that the owner of Timeshare Market Pro should not recover any money from him, court records show.
A few months after that meeting, Pappalardo allegedly met with a member of the Gambino crime family to discuss opening a Miami branch of Timeshare Mega Media, according to the indictment
Louis Ferrante turned his back on a violent mob past and is now a respected author
This one, with former Gambino Mafi a mobster Louis Ferrante, was done over the telephone from New York, not least after hearing how persuasive he can be with a baseball bat.
Ferrante, who now has a TV show, Inside The Gangster’s Code, was every bit the thug, as true to such fi lms as The Godfather or Goodfellas as you could get.
Born and raised in Queen’s, New York, he fell into crime as a teenager where his specialism was armed robbery.
I had a list of 300 members of the Gambino family that I was banned from seeing
He would crash a car, or a truck, into his target, seize the goods and share the spoils.
Ferrante, now 43, was so good at his chosen career he not only worked for the Gambinos but other Mafia families.
Incredibly he lived at home and his parents only had their suspicions.
Ferrante is an inveterate talker, with a soft Italian-American accent. “Me and my crew,” Ferrante begins, “were from good families but did really bad things.
“We knocked off some of the biggest heists in American history.
"I would hijack a truck and leave the guy tied up in a truck so I could get home for dinner at 5.30 because my mom liked me to be there.
“My mother died in my arms [when he was 21]. I used to take care of her and I was a hardcore criminal.
"I had this crew of hardcore guys, coming back and forth to my house in fl ash cars. I was home with my mother and they had to meet me.
"My mother would say: ‘What’s going on?’ I would say: ‘These are friends of mine, ma. They do good’.”
After his mother died, his father had a wake-up call.
“Everyone knows John Gotti from the newspapers but he has lots of brothers and a lot of nephews who all share the name.
“So I had a lot of Gottis send cards to the wake for my mother.
“A year after my mother died, my father goes through the cards and comes across a dozen Gotti cards and other mobster names.
"At the time I’d had a car accident and my jaw was broken. All the mobsters were coming to visit me at the house.
"We were talking in the basement with the water turned on and father was observing me, and said: ‘You’re killing me. What’s going on?’”
Louis now visits prisoners to try and convince them to change their ways as he did
His father, 77, has continued to support his son through his arrest for armed robbery (“I kissed my father on the head as he slept and said: ‘I’m going to jail’.”) and trial and imprisonment for 13 years.
Inside, he found books, which turned around this life.
He says: “We were in jail in Brooklyn and you could have put a fence around my whole neighbourhood.
"We were all in there. The snitches were giving us up. Once there is a snitch in the family he can lock up 30 or 40 guys, two can shut down a family.
“First I thought prison was part of growing up in the Mob but I then fell in love with books.
Once, after I got out of solitary, I was given a book about Napoleon, one about Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. I read thousands of books.”
On the outside, it was a struggle to go straight.
He says: “I had a list of 300 members of the Gambino crime family that I was banned from seeing. I couldn’t go to Queen’s or Long Island.
“I saw Richie Gotti in a diner there. He was hugging me, kissing me.
“I said: ‘Rich, I gotta get outta here!’ I couldn’t date a girl either. I had a seven o’clock curfew.”
Hope came from an unlikely source. “I met Dave Black, a writer for TV show Law And Order. He gave me a chance. He looked at me with an open mind. He was a sweetheart in the end.”
Now 10 years out of prison, a published author and visitor to Downing Street, Ferrante charges £13,000 to speak at corporate events or for free to turn around young criminals.
He has a partner but no children. The nightmares about the Mob have now subsided.
He says: “I would wake up in a cold sweat, regrets and stuff, if I had traumatised somebody. I have deep regret but now I’m moving ahead, helping people."
"Do WE glamorise the Mafia too much?
“Oh, my gosh. Are you kidding me? It’s disgusting.
"Definitely. In the movies, with your popcorn, the characters get up and walk away. You know, nobody realises that kids are going to watch that garbage.”
He defends his own life story, Tough Guy, which has been optioned by Lorraine Bracco, the actor who played the psychologist in the Sopranos.
He says: “That story is redemptive and hopefully someone will run with that.
"It’s not Casino, or Goodfellas with blood spilling all over the place and ending on a high note as far as glamorising is concerned.
“Being a gangster was just like a business, as it is for Tony Soprano.
"You go to work and come home, with your wife and kids. Kind of like how me and all my friends were. It’s a double life.
“The Mafi a is still pretty powerful but thankfully it doesn’t have the lucrative rackets that it used to have.”
Inside The Gangsters’ Code, Discovery Channel, Wednesday, 10pm.