After Serving Six Years, Mobster Receives His Sentence


The mob boss had been at the federal jail in Brooklyn longer than any other inmate: four years awaiting trial and, after his conviction in 2012 on racketeering charges, nearly two more waiting to be sentenced. By the time his sentencing date arrived on Wednesday, the mobster, Thomas Gioeli, had been considered for the death penalty, convicted of conspiring to murder three mobsters and acquitted of killing a police officer; he had multiple angioplasties and, with the help of his family, even became an avid blogger and user of Twitter who taunted prosecutors and two mayors.
The measure of those six years behind bars for Mr. Gioeli — highly unusual for someone who has not yet been sentenced — were central to arguments in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Wednesday over how much prison time Mr. Gioeli should get: the maximum 20 years, or something less.
One of Mr. Gioeli’s lawyers, Adam D. Perlmutter, said the six years had taken an especially hard toll. “He is now the senior-most person at the M.D.C.,” Mr. Perlmutter said, referring to the Metropolitan Detention Center. He named a host of medical conditions that Mr. Gioeli, 61, is living with, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. “People who suffer from chronic health conditions do harder time in prison than people who are healthy,” Mr. Perlmutter said. “A 20-year sentence for Thomas Gioeli is, in fact, a life sentence.”
The judge, Brian M. Cogan, said that with a 20-year sentence, credit for time served and good behavior, Mr. Gioeli would be out by his early 70s. “He’s not going to live to his early 70s?” Judge Cogan asked.
“I don’t think so,” Mr. Perlmutter answered.
A prosecutor, James Gatta, said, “Such time should not count against the sentence that the defendant should receive for his criminal conduct.”
As the argument unfolded, Mr. Gioeli, who since his conviction last year grew a giant tuft of white hair on his chin, leaned back in his chair, twisting his white mustache, waving warmly and making baby faces at his family in the courtroom. It was odd behavior that would have been more at home at a child’s birthday party than at a sentencing for gangland murders.
Judge Cogan knocked 16 months off the 20-year maximum and ordered Mr. Gioeli to pay $360,000 in restitution.
At the murder and racketeering trial, prosecutors said Mr. Gioeli, whom they called the former acting boss of the Colombo family, ordered the ambush and murder of an off-duty police officer, Ralph C. Dols, and ordered the killings of several other men in the 1990s. Prosecutors called admitted mob killers to testify against Mr. Gioeli (they described surprise shootings in basements, dissolving dead bodies with lye and burying them on Long Island), but the jury acquitted Mr. Gioeli of many charges, including the murder of Officer Dols. He was found guilty of one count of racketeering for conspiring to kill three mobsters.
The acts that the prosecutors described hardly meshed with Mr. Perlmutter’s portrayal of Mr. Gioeli as a family man, or “Tommy, the person,” as he called him in a long argument that roused sniffles among two or three dozen family members who showed up. “I look at their marriage and I’m jealous,” Mr. Perlmutter said of Mr. Gioeli’s relationship with his wife. It was an image that Mr. Gioeli also put forth on his blog during his years in jail, that of a family man who was wronged by zealous prosecutors.
His Twitter messages and blog posts, which family members posted after he wrote them using his prison email account, espoused a liberal vision of society, coming to the defense of the working poor, speaking out against sexism, when he was not opining on current events.
Last month, Mr. Gioeli wrote on Twitter, “The FBI arrests old Italians for decades old robberies while allowing bankers to steal billions everyday. TSG #FBI #America #wallstreet,” signing his initials, T.S.G.
Judge Cogan, who said the evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Gioeli was a manager of the crime family and found it was more likely than not he had participated in other murders, said Mr. Gioeli was like many mobsters who are “absolutely schizophrenic in their personalities.” Judge Cogan said, “They go out there and they do things to get people murdered, and at the same time they are wonderful to their families and their communities.”
“They are vicious crimes, and they take a vicious person to do them. I recognize that’s not all there is to Mr. Gioeli.”
Judge Cogan said that Mr. Gioeli’s time served and the “wonderful” way he treated his family were mitigating factors. But he also said: “I haven’t seen any remorse. I’ve just seen self-righteousness.”
Whether he will live to make it out after more than 18 years in prison, the judge said, “only God knows.”

Mob rat says Ivy League business partner tried to whack him

By Julia Marsh

A Mafia-associate-turned-informant is deathly afraid of an Ivy League-educated business partner who claims the mob rat cheated him on a land deal.
Now, canary Salvatore Lauria has filed a $5 million Manhattan suit claiming his ex-business partner became a wiseguy wannabe in his quest to nail him over the dough.
Seemingly “squeaky-clean’’ Wharton Law School graduate Jody Kriss “used mob tactics’’ — nearly getting him killed — to try to get his half of the $2.5 million payday, Lauria claims in his bombshell civil lawsuit, which was obtained by The Post.
For example, a vengeful Kriss disclosed sealed government information to a famous mob lawyer who represented the very people Lauria informed against, prompting a mob beatdown of Lauria, the court papers say.
In July 2012 a Mafioso “tracked down Lauria in a restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn ... and beat Lauria in broad daylight, menacingly telling Lauria, Youre dead. Im going to kill you. Youre a rat. I did two years because of you, the suit says.
Kriss, 36, of the Upper West Side, who worked with Lauria at the real-estate conglomerate the Bayrock Group, took on a mob persona, according to the papers.
Russian pals started calling him “Vor-ton,” a play on his alma mater Wharton,’’ the suit says. In Russia, mobsters are referred to as vor-in-laws, or thief-in-laws.
Kriss was so enamored of the criminal underworld that he also “would routinely ask to see Lauria’s court-mandated ankle monitor and referred to it as ‘federal jewelry,’ ” according to the papers.
Lauria, 51, turned federal informant in the 1990s to dodge a racketeering charge as part of a $40 million Wall Street pump-and-dump scheme.
A former Gambino and Genovese associate, his testimony helped put away the relatives of Carmine “the Snake’’ Persico and Sammy “Bull’’ Gravano.
Lauria began consulting for Bayrock, whose projects include the Trump Soho hotel/condominiums on Spring Street, with Kriss as the front man, the lawsuit says.
But Kriss grew furious when Lauria brokered an $85 million real-estate deal with the FL Group of Iceland in 2007 and took the entire $2.5 million commission, the lawsuit says.
“Our client is not a saint,” admitted Lauria’s lawyer, Michael Beys.
Kriss responded in a statement: “This is merely the latest in a string of increasingly desperate attempts to pressure me and other victims … to stop lawsuits they are losing. None of the bullying tactics will have any effect.”

5 Fascinating Facts About the Japanese Yakuza That May Surprise You

Those who follow Japanese culture have probably heard of the Yakuza, Japan's organized crime syndicates, but did you know that the finger-cutting origin tied to its members stems from the traditional way of holding a Japanese sword? The bottom three fingers of each hand are used to grip the sword tightly, with the thumb and index fingers slightly loose. The removal of digits starting with the little finger moving up the hand to the index finger progressively weakens a person's sword grip. Continue reading for more.

Designed by Masayuki Uemura, the designer of the original Famicom, the Super Famicom was released in Japan on Wednesday, November 21, 1990 for Y25,000 (US$210). It was an instant success; Nintendo's initial shipment of 300,000 units sold out within hours, and the resulting social disturbance led the Japanese government to ask video game manufacturers to schedule future console releases on weekends. The system's release also gained the attention of the Yakuza, leading to a decision to ship the devices at night to avoid robbery.

When being exported to Japan, it was reported that characters of Bob the Builder would be doctored to have five fingers instead of the original four. This was because of a practice among the Yakuza, the famed Japanese mafia, where members would "cut off their little fingers as a sign they can be trusted and have strength of character, and will stay through." In fact, Bob the Builder aired in Japan without such edits, as did other series including Postman Pat and The Simpsons.

Under the Organized Crime Countermeasures Law, the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions have registered 22 syndicates as the designated boryokudan groups. Fukuoka Prefecture has the largest number of designated boryokudan groups among all of the prefectures, at 5; the Kudo-kai, the Taishu-kai, the Fukuhaku-kai, the Dojin-kai and the Kyushu Seido-kai. The Yamaguchi-gumi are among the world's wealthiest gangsters, bringing in billions of dollars a year from extortion, gambling, arms and drug trafficking, and real estate and construction kickback schemes.

Japanese police investigating the Yamaguchi-gumi found a 12-question exam paper that members are expected to take. The test outlines the responsibilities of members and details "activities" that are permitted or banned. The test checks knowledge of Japan's revised Anti-Organized Crime Law holds high ranking gangsters financially responsible for the actions of subordinates. By ensuring a sound knowledge of the law, the leadership is likely hoping that they will be able to discourage junior members from being involved in activities that could lead to high-ranking members being sued.

The investigation into Olympus is ongoing, and could lead to criminal charges. There have even been rumors, reported in the Japanese press, of a connection to the yakuza, Japan's organized crime syndicates. Brokers who were involved in the fraudulent acquisitions might have had ties to organized crime, meaning that payments from Olympus could have wound up in the pockets of "antisocial forces" (as Japanese media outlets call the yakuza).

Corporate users crowd police websites for names of arrested gangsters


Seeking to sever business ties with gangsters, companies are increasingly using police websites that offer the real names of arrested crime syndicate members.
The Fukuoka prefectural police department in April 2010 was the first to release such information. Three other police departments have followed suit.
The number of page views on the Fukuoka website soared sixfold from 29,114 in 2010 to 178,199 last year.
The websites offer the names of arrested gangsters, the charges they face, and the dates and times of their arrests.
The information, which is available for only a week, covers arrests that have been announced by police but have not necessarily been reported by the media.
Fukuoka police officials said they believe many visitors to the website are from companies in the financial and insurance sectors.
“Information on crime syndicate members is indispensable for preventing businesses from having transactions with anti-social elements,” said lawyer Kiyoshi Hikita, who previously headed the Committee on Anti-Racketeering under the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. “The central and local governments should disclose more information if they are to move further against organized crime.”
The police departments in Hokkaido and Okayama Prefecture set up similar websites in April 2011, saying they wanted to raise awareness against organized crime and to make gangster information available in greater detail.
The Yamaguchi prefectural police department opened its website in August 2011, and the Tottori prefectural police department told The Asahi Shimbun it was weighing a similar plan.
All prefectures have adopted anti-yakuza ordinances, effectively banning payoffs that support gang activities.
Many companies have begun compiling their own yakuza databases so they can end business relations with people later identified as gangsters.
To set up their website, Fukuoka police obtained the approval of a prefectural panel on the protection of personal information, whose members include lawyers and law professors.
However, one expert well-versed in the protection of personal information called for a certain level of restraint.

“There should be national standards on what relief measures to take in case of errors and how to control information once it has gone online,” the expert said.

Man sues police after being locked in with a member of yakuza group he was trying to leave

Little kids sometimes get into trouble with bullies, and when they do, they feel reluctant to go to their parents, imagining that they’ll only offer some mature advice to deal with the situation like openly asking the bully to stop. While the direct approach works well in adult situations like break-ups and quitting your job at Fabricland, it doesn’t quite transfer over to the Lord of the Flies mentality that goes on in school playgrounds every day.
And apparently for some people these problems even stick around into adulthood. For example, a man recently went to Yamanashi police looking for protection when he decided to quit his organized crime group. However, according to reports it seemed as if the officers thought he just needed to talk it out and locked him in a room with a member of the gang he was trying to leave, resulting in the gang member demanding a finger as compensation.
According to the ensuing court case, in April of 2011 the man had gone into the Kofu Station of the Yamanashi Prefectural Police looking for protection after deciding to escape the gang he was a part of.
Shortly before that, he went to his boss and requested to leave. Since criminal bosses aren’t bound by modern labor laws he simply declined the request. Not too long after the denial, the man “just happened” to get into a car collision with someone else from the gang.
Understandably concerned for his well-being, the man went to the police who then persuaded him to have a face-to-face with a member of the gang. The meeting was held in an interrogation room with an officer present. However, during the conversation the gang member reportedly said, “Just be a man and give us your finger or something.” The officer who witnessed the exchange was later reprimanded for not issuing a cease and desist order as police are obliged to do by the Anti-Organized Crime Act.
And yet it was too little too late as the man had sued Yamanashi Prefecture for 1.13 million yen (US$11,000). The Tokyo District court on 24 March of this year sided with the man, ruling that the actions of the police on that day caused the man unnecessary mental anguish and awarded him a scaled down compensation of 250,000 yen ($2,400).

And so it goes, if you’re a parent dealing with a bullied child, or an officer of the law dealing with the Yak… um, Yakov Smirnoff, you simply can’t play by the rules of regular society.

Anthony Arillotta Sentenced in Bruno Shooting

By Stephanie Kraft

 It could have been Dodge City, not Springfield, when mafioso Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno was gunned down in the parking lot at the Mt. Carmel Social Club in the South End late in 2003. The redoubtable gangster who engaged in loansharking and other illegitimate activities in the Springfield and Hartford area was actually blown away by Frankie Roche, who was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison for the killing, but the shooting was organized by Anthony Arillotta, according to federal prosecutors in New York. New York is the locus of the proceedings because Bruno, Arillotta and the others involved were members of the New York Genovese crime family.
Last week Arillotta was sentenced to 99 months in federal prison for his role in Bruno’s murder, the murder of another Springfield organized crime figure, Gary Westerman, and the attempted murder of a New York union boss, Frank Dadabo. The sentence was extremely short given prosecutors’ statements that Arillotta “spent his entire adult life until his arrest in February 2010 committing a vast assortment of crimes, many of them violent. He will be the first to explain that he was a menace to the city of Springfield, and that he used violence, intimidation and his association with Organized Crime to terrorize the city and line his own pockets with money from his various criminal activities.” Arillotta pleaded guilty to loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling, narcotics trafficking and possession of illegal weapons such as machine guns, as well as arranging the Bruno shooting.
But according to federal investigators, Arillotta’s cooperation with investigations of other murders and of the operations run by organized crime in the Springfield area had enabled cold cases to be solved and given law enforcement a wealth of indispensable information.
Court documents provide salient though fragmentary information about the influence of organized crime on Springfield. At one point early in the millennium, according to court documents, “Arillotta and others began to extort (or increase their take from) numerous bars and restaurants, including most prominently the Mardi Gras strip club, owned by James Santaniello.”
Late in August, 2003, prosecutors say, “Arillotta and his crew were involved in a violent altercation—including several gun shots—outside the Civic Pub in Springfield, Massachusetts. Two nights after that altercation, Arillotta’s house was shot 20 times while his wife and children were home.” It was in November of that year that Arillotta, acting on orders from Genovese bosses in New York who believed Bruno had given information about their activities to the FBI, assigned Roche to kill Bruno.
The following year, prosecutors allege, Arillotta “continued to deal marijuana, engage in loansharking and extortion activities, and operate an illegal sports betting business.” Under orders from New York, they charge, “Arillotta increased the extortions of individuals in the vending machine business in Springfield, including James Santaniello and Carlo and Genaro Sarno. Arillotta began receiving (by implicit threat of force) $12,000 per month from Santaniello, and $1,000 per month from the Sarnos in extortion payments.”
Arillotta was in prison from 2005 to 2008 for loansharking and running an illegal gambling business, and was arrested again in 2010 on charges related to the offenses for which he has now been sentenced. He quickly offered to cooperate and is now in the Witness Security Program.
The day before the sentencing, Victor Bruno, son of Al Bruno and administrator of his father’s estate, filed a wrongful death suit in Hampden Superior Court for “$25,000+” against Arillotta for his role in his father’s murder. Bruno, who called Arillotta “an ineffective and sloppy boss,” asked the court to send him to prison for life.•

Hamilton’s changing face(s) of organized crime

These days, it ‘looks like your next-door neighbour’

By Bill Dunphy
Hamilton's old Mob didn't die with the passing this week of Daniel Gasbarrini, a developer and a reputed key player in La Cosa Nostra's southern Ontario operations.
Nor was the broad daylight parking lot execution of his childhood friend Johnny "Pops" Papalia some kind of final nail in the coffin of traditional organized crime back in 1997.
Ditto for the 2009 peaceful passing of Vincenzo "Gimi" Luppino and the equally peaceful death 22 years earlier of his father, Giacomo Luppino, heralded as the last of Canada's old-style Mafia godfathers.
The truth is, organized crime is a lot like any other successful entrepreneurial enterprise: opportunistic and nimble, flowing with the times rather than standing against them.
Rocco Perri's gang ran rum, but they also traded in counterfeit bonds. His successors shook down bakeries, but also planned stock scams and mortgage frauds. And these days, their minions may mule horse and crack across the borders, but they launder the profits through real estate flips, construction projects and food services.
"Organized crime has become very fluid and agile," RCMP Inspector Steve Martin says.
"Because of that fluidity, they can go to where the best return on investment is going to be. They're not restricted by ethnicity or economic cast (anymore) — they will hook up with anyone."
Martin, the officer in charge of the Mounties Hamilton/Niagara Regional Detachment, says the region's proximity to the border and its access to major markets makes this attractive territory for organized crime of all types — drugs, financial crimes, human trafficking, fraud and tax evasion.
When police say "organized crime," most of us think of the Mob, or maybe bikers. But the legal definition is much broader: any crime committed by any group of at least three people co-operating to commit a serious crime for profit.
By that measure, Hamilton has its share: from the Gravelle crime family's repeated plots to import, grow and sell marijuana (and it's byproducts) to the multipronged abuses of immigrants arranged by human traffickers like the Domotor-Kolompar organization, to the small Latin American-based Stoney Creek cocaine importation ring busted last October.
Organized crime, Martin says, "looks like your next-door neighbour."
"Look at that human trafficking ring (the Domotor-Kolompar group)," says Martin. "Who would have thought that would be happening in the 'sleepy hollow' of Ancaster? People lived right next door and had no idea.
"It's not just mobsters and cocaine cowboys."
But, the mobsters and cowboys are here as well. The Hells Angels proudly fly their insignia on Barton Street and there are reports that the rival Outlaws are making a renewed effort here, recruiting via their Black Pistons "farm team."
And longtime Mob-watcher and crime reporter Rob Lamberti warns that we'd be foolish to discount the various Mafia branches.
"The Italian authorities consider (the Calabrian Mafia, the 'Ndrangheta) to be the No. 1 organized crime group in the word — they seized billions of euros in assets from just one clan, the Commissos, recently. They have incredible wealth."
And while internecine warfare has weakened the Montreal-based Rizzuto clan and its allies, he feels we'd be foolish to ignore them.

Pointing to Rizzuto's infiltration and corruption of Quebec's construction industry, uncovered by the Charbonneau Commission, Lamberti says "if anybody thinks this is only happening in Quebec, they're dreaming in technicolour." 

The Little Boy Mowed Down By The Mafia

Barbie Latza Nadeau

Tiny Domenico Petruzzelli got only three years of life on earth before mafia hitmen riddled his body with bullets this week, in an attack that also killed his mother and her boyfriend.
While three-year-old Domenico Petruzzelli was being riddled with bullets in the front seat of a car next to his 30-year-old mother, Carla Maria Fornari, and her 44-year-old boyfriend, Cosimo Orlando, his older brothers were “playing dead,” huddled down in the back seat.  The horrific massacre happened Monday night on a lonely state highway in Puglia.  When police first arrived on the scene, they told reporters they thought it was a bloody car accident. Then they saw the bullet holes. The assassins apparently first bashed the car Fornari was driving several times, finally pushing it into a guardrail. Then they sprayed the front seat with bullets.  Orlando was able to open the passenger door and fall to the ground. He died as police arrived.  Fornari and her son died immediately from their bullet wounds. “They were shooting at us and we heard screams and we saw Cosimo collapse,” one of the surviving children reportedly told police, according to the Italian press.  “We were scared to death.”
The two young brothers, aged six and seven, described how they ducked down in the back seat when the bullets started to fly.  They are now in protective custody as the only material witnesses to the latest mafia-style murder involving a toddler. In January, three-year-old Nicola “Coco” Campolongo was shot in the head at point-blank range with his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion.  Their bodies were found singed in the burnt-out car in which they were killed.
The heinous crimes may sound similar, but they involve two very different powerful organized crime syndicates, with two very different motives.  Campolongo was killed in Calabria by the ‘Ndrangheta, one of the most powerful drug-trafficking crime syndicates in the world.  The assassins, who have still not been apprehended, left a shiny 50-cent coin on the roof of the burnt-out car, a clear sign of a debt-inspired hit.   Petruzzelli was killed in Puglia, home of the Sacra Corona Unita, a powerful criminal group who are also involved in international drug trafficking, as well as gun running, cigarette smuggling and human trafficking.
The motives for the killing that took little Domenico’s life are still unclear, but given his family tree, it was certainly mob-related.  The investigating magistrate, Remo Epifani, told reporters in Puglia that the likeliest scenario was that the Orlando was the intended victim.  Orlando, who was on day release from prison after serving 13 years for a double-homicide committed in 1989, had apparently started easing back into the drug trade he left nearly 15 years earlier. Investigators are working on the theory that he was perhaps “in the way” and had to be removed.  Fornari was driving Orlando back to prison for the night when the hit took place.
Investigators told Pugliese journalists that the hit could have also been against Domenico’s mother, also a mob widow.  Police note she had testified against the assassins of her own husband in a mob-related hit in 2011 when she was pregnant with young Domenico.  The three men who were convicted of her husband’s murder have sent people to threaten her from prison.
Intentional child victims are rare in Italy’s long history of organized crime hits.  Until now, criminals had abided by the common rule that children should be spared.  Prior to these killings, the most famous child victim was Giuseppe Di Matteo, an 11-year-old whose father was a Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia turncoat.  The child was kidnapped and held for two years while various extortion attempts kept him alive. Eventually he was strangled to death and his body was dissolved in acid.
On Friday, Pope Francis will meet to pray with 700 families who have lost loved ones to mob violence across Italy, no doubt making special mention of Domenico.  On Saturday, the anti-mafia group Libera will read the names of 900 victims of organized crime at a ceremony to mark the annual Day of Remembrance for innocent victims.  Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, who has three young children, said he felt “a father’s grief” over the hit, calling it “an awful pain, as a father as well as premier.”
The mayor of Bari, Michele Emiliano, has called for children to be removed from known organized crime families, whom he says know no other way but to pass down their twisted “mafia pedagogy”.  One of the last videos of young Domenico uploaded to his mother’s Facebook site and downloaded by Pugliese press shows the child destroying a wall with a pickaxe while unseen adults cheer him on. 
“The Mafiosi can not have possession of good things,” Emiliano said at a press conference after the killings in Puglia.  “There is nothing left to do but remove these children doomed to a life of crime. This child had known nothing other than that life until he died.  With all the warning signs, it should have been an emergency situation to remove the children.  Now his brothers might have a chance to escape. But Domenico could have been saved, too. We all failed him.”

Frank Cullotta, the Hitman Turned Vegas Tour Guide

By John L. Smith

Former Chicago hit man Frank Cullotta now makes an honest living leading tours of his old mob haunts in Las Vegas.
Retired Chicago mobster Frank Cullotta comes from a family of wheelmen. Making a clean getaway is in his blood.
Back when Frank was just a boy, his father was killed steering a car for the Outfit with the cops in hot pursuit. Frank was a loyal driver during a long criminal career as Chicago mob enforcer Tony Spilotro’s loyal lieutenant. Cullotta was along on plenty of capers.
When Cullotta was compelled turn on Spilotro, the reputed killer who was depicted by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, the loyal underling was marked for death. A consummate survivor, Cullotta cooperated with the FBI, endured threats and epithets, and emerged a winner in a death-defying game of chance. Spilotro and younger brother Michael were murdered in 1986. Their bodies were uncovered from an Indiana cornfield.
Less than a decade later, Nicholas Pileggi captured the Las Vegas mob zeitgeist in his nonfiction bestseller Casino, which became a star-studded blockbuster that entertained the masses and helped slap a coda on the mob era on the clean-shaven and corporate Las Vegas as the new century approached.
These days Cullotta faces a dilemma almost as great as getting a death sentence from his old pal Tony: how does a lifelong wise guy earn an honest living in Las Vegas, the town that used to be an open city for the mob?
In a way, he went back to his roots and what he knows best: making a clean getaway. Only this time Cullotta isn’t behind the wheel of a tricked-up sedan.
Instead, he’s giving customized bus tours in Las Vegas, the town whose casino racket he once helped manipulate on behalf of Spilotro and the crafty and craven Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, the fellow depicted by Robert DeNiro in “Casino.”
Cullotta moved from an undisclosed location in California back to Las Vegas in recent months to participate in the sales of the memoirs he’s written with Las Vegas-based mob aficionado Dennis Griffin. In addition to the DVDs and posters Cullotta signs and sells to organized crime buffs, he also plays the gracious and gravel-throated host of a bus tour of Las Vegas haunts from his days running the streets with Spilotro’s “Hole in the Wall” gang of killers, thieves and burglars. (Although no jury ever convicted him of homicide, during his violent reign in Las Vegas, Spilotro is said to have been good for nearly two dozen murders. Cullotta is an admitted killer whose dirty work was depicted in Casino.)
Leading tours and selling copies of his paperback isn’t an easy score, he says. But it’s a legal living. And the G doesn’t breathe down his neck as long as he remembers to pay his taxes.
“It is a challenge to do things on the legal side,” Cullotta says, admitting he doesn’t have a lot of practice. “Sometimes the legal side isn’t that legal, you know what I’m trying to say? There’s graft in anything you do, even on the legal side. ... It’s difficult to be legit, and I am legit. But I’m always having to fight the system for some reason. It seems like nobody wants me to be legit.”
Cullotta, 75, gets assistance from his literary sidekick Griffin and from businessman Robert Allen, who has had to negotiate with state authorities to get the tours approved. Together they not only started cashing in on the fascination with the mob in Las Vegas in the wake of “Casino,” for which Cullotta served as a paid consultant, but now have added a bus tour of the Outfit’s greatest Vegas hits as well as “Mob-Con,” an annual convention featuring a variety of members and associates of the hoodlum element from Chicago, New York, and elsewhere.
It's called, “The Real Story Behind ‘Casino’ Told in Frank Cullotta’s Own Words.” For a C-note fans will get a tour, interview with Cullotta, autographed copy of his book, a photocopied sheet of autographs from the cast of “Casino,” and a pizza party. Fans of the mob subculture will find it an offer they can’t refuse, but Cullotta acknowledges there are only so many legal ways for a retired hit man to earn a legal score.
Truth told, he passes by spots in Las Vegas that he would have considered easy money back in his days on the street. One place he’s agreed to pass on during his tour: the former Las Vegas home of Sherwin “Jerry” Lisner, a small-time con man whom he killed in 1979 on Spilotro’s orders.
One of the challenges of going from connected guy to square citizen, Cullotta says, is making a living without using his old juice contacts.
“It’s very difficult when you don’t have the clout and the connections to get things done,” he says. “Out there I’m like a book salesman going in and out of places. It’s really rough, really hard to earn a living like that.”
Despite Cullotta’s certified reputation as a killer and convict with connections in Chicago and Las Vegas, a New York publisher has yet to discover Cullotta’s potential as a storyteller. It’s something Metro and the FBI appreciated back in the 1980s, when he was compelled by a keen sense of survival instinct to turn against Spilotro and his gang. Although Cullotta’s testimony didn’t convict Spilotro in court back in 1986, the heat he put on his old pal was great enough to melt the tenuous confidence Tough Tony’s supervisors in Chicago had in him. Spilotro and brother Michael were murdered on orders of Joe Ferriola, who was then the Outfit’s acting boss.  Evidence of the crimes were detailed during the “Operation Family Secrets” trial in Chicago.
When Cullotta looks back on his life, he acknowledges his deadly sins and shrugs when folks ask him about the prison time he did. Sometimes he thinks about his old man, who tried to resist the pull of the Outfit without a lot of success. “What did I know?” he asks. “I was eight or nine years old at the time. I loved my father. He was good to me. I didn’t even know he was a criminal.”
Although Cullotta played a bit role as a hit man in Casino, “type casting” some would say, he remembers the movie gig he turned down years ago when he was approached to be a consultant on the film The Thief. He could have taught the cast and crew plenty about burglaries and gun heists, but to share such information in those days would have marked him as a snitch. That would have meant a bullet in the head, he laughs.
Nowadays, such a cinematic offer would be hard to turn down. The mob, such as it is, went Hollywood years ago.
Until that big break comes his way, former hit man Frank Cullotta is earning a living on the square in Vegas, one busload at a time.

Pope Francis Condemns Mafia

Added by Leigh Haugh

Pope Francis issued a stern condemnation of mafia mobsters on Friday during a prayer vigil at the church of San Gregorio VII in Rome for families of innocent people murdered by the mafia. This is the first time a pontiff has attended the ceremony, during which the names of 842 victims killed in Italy by the mafia since 1893 were read aloud. The pope warned mobsters to repent and change their ways or risk going to hell.
The pontiff addressed a crowd of nearly 1,000 attendees and after voicing his solidarity with the family members, Francis said he could not leave the service without speaking to those responsible–the ‘protagonists’ of mafia violence. “This life that you live will not give you joy or happiness,” Francis warned. He went on to implore mafia members to examine their lives and change their ways or face eternal damnation in hell. Moreover,  Francis singled out three-year-old Domenico Petruzzelli, who was shot dead with his mother and her partner in a car near Taranto in southern Italy on Monday by mafia gunmen.“You have a father and a mother – think of them and convert.”
The ceremony at which Pope Francis issued his condemnation of mafia mobsters has been organized by the anti-mafia group Libera for the past 19 years. Father Don Ciotti, who is the head of the Libera organization, which combats organized crime and has organized the prayer vigil on an annual basis, called Francis’ presence a blessing and gift. Additionally, Ciotti stated that the pope’s presence was supporting “all of humanity which is fragile and injured, as well as drawing attention to the mafia, corruption, and the many forms of injustice.”
Francis has spoken out frequently about the evils of corruption and wrote a short booklet on corruption and sin in 2005 when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Francis’ stern warning to mafiosi to convert recalled Pope John Paul II’s famous condemnation of the mafia in 1993. During a trip to Sicily, the Pope Emeritus condemned the mob’s “culture of death” and warned bosses that God’s judgment awaits them unless they converted. In response, the mafia bombed two churches in Rome a short while later.
Following his speech, Francis outfitted himself in the ceremonial dress of a colleague and friend who was murdered by mafia members in Naples in 1994. Family members whom also spoke at the prayer vigil imploded the pontiff to see their pain and use his influence to help halt the violence that has claimed their family members and affected their lives.
Pope Francis’ condemnation of mafia mobsters and presence at the prayer vigil goes beyond the perpetrators themselves and was also intended as a message to the Church ranks, as well as organized crime. Some priests in southern Italy are still accused of turning a blind eye to the crimes of devout Roman Catholic mobsters, who contribute handsomely to Church coffers for the maintenance of churches and often place themselves at the head of religious parades in small towns. Father Ciotti stated that the Roman Catholic Church has not always given attention to the victims of the mafia and the presence of organized crime. However, many perceive the pontiff’s presence at the ceremony and stern warning as an extraordinary message to his priests in the south of Italy in encouraging them to choose a courageous path of opposition to the mafia.

Mob figure from Farmingdale sentenced in racketeering case


In this June, 4, 2008 photo, reputed acting boss of the Colombo crime family Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli is led by FBI agents from Federal Plaza for arraignment in Manhattan. (Credit: AP)
The former reputed acting boss of the Colombo crime family was sentenced Wednesday to more than 18 years in prison for his role in a murderous racketeering conspiracy after a federal judge agreed he was seriously ill and had already done hard time in jail. It was less than the 20 years prosecutors sought.
Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, 61, of Farmingdale, was convicted in May 2012 by a Brooklyn federal jury of being part of the conspiracy involving three murder plots, two of which ultimately resulted in the deaths of two reputed mob associates in a 1990s conflict known as the "Colombo Wars."
But in a major setback for prosecutors, the same jury acquitted Gioeli of involvement in six other murder plots, including the killing of NYPD officer Ralph Dols in Brooklyn and the assassination of Colombo family underboss William "Will Bill" Cutolo in 1999.
Cutolo's body was found buried in Farmingdale in October 2008.
Judge Brian Cogan said Wednesday that although the jury acquitted Gioeli of the Cutolo murder as a racketeering act, the "preponderance of the evidence" convinced him it was more likely than not the defendant was involved in the hit plot. Cogan said he wasn't considering the Dols homicide in fashioning a sentence.
"These are vicious crimes and they take a vicious person to do them," Cogan said.
Gioeli didn't comment before he was sentenced but defense attorney Adam Perlmutter said his client was ailing with heart problems, diabetes and recovering from a broken knee sustained during a fall he suffered at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center.
Gioeli, sporting a new beard, appeared in court in a wheelchair.
Perlmutter also stressed that because he is sick, the six years Gioeli has spent at the detention center is harder time than a healthy inmate would experience.
Cogan said that Gioeli seemed to be a dual personality: loving and charitable to friends and family on Long Island while at the same time being part of an organized crime family spreading murder and mayhem.
Yet Cogan also was swayed by the fact that Gioeli was ill and had been laboring under hardships during his confinement, something the judge said was lengthened by the time it took the federal government to decide it wasn't going to seek the death penalty.
In addition to the 224-month prison sentence, Cogan hit Gioeli with a $360,000 forfeiture and restitution amount, money that was the proceeds of two robberies.
Gioeli's family members who were in court declined to comment.

Lucchese Associates Can't Duck Fraud, Racketeering Case

A New Jersey federal judge on Monday declined to dismiss a case against two members of the Lucchese crime family for their alleged roles in an extortionate board takeover and forced bankruptcy of a Texas mortgage lender.
In a brief order, U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler said Nicodemo Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo had failed to prove that prosecutors withheld evidence that might have proved their innocence and violated the scope of warrants when they seized various electronic records during a May 2008 raid.

Five Individuals Charged with Conspiring to Fraudulently Obtain Union Job for Organized Crime Underboss

Former New York Post Driver Also Charged with Having "No Show" Job
Mar 27, 2014 (Menafn - M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) --Five men have been charged in the Eastern District of New York with conspiring to defraud the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers' Union (NMDU) and Hudson News newsstands to obtain a union card and employment at Hudson News newsstands for the son of the alleged underboss of the Colombo family of La Cosa Nostra.
A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Benjamin Castellazzo Jr., Rocco Giangregorio, Glenn LaChance, Rocco Miraglia, aka "Irving," and Anthony Turzio, aka "the Irish Guy," with mail fraud conspiracy. The five men were arrested earlier today, and their initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
In addition, a three-count indictment was unsealed today charging Thomas Leonessa, aka "Tommy Stacks," with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and theft and embezzlement from employee benefit plans in an unrelated scheme. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 6, 2014, and relates to Leonessa's alleged "no show" job as a delivery driver for the New York Post .
The charges were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O'Neil of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York region of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and Assistant Director in Charge George C. Venizelos of the FBI's New York Field Office.
As alleged in the complaint, the NMDU is an independent union that represents approximately 1,500 employees involved in the newspaper industry in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. NMDU members deliver newspapers for The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal , the New York Daily News , the New York Post and El Diario . Hudson News, which also employs members of the NMDU, is a retail chain of newsstands mainly located in major transportation hubs, including airports and train stations.
Between June 2009 and October 2009, Miraglia, who was a foreman at the New York Daily New s -- as well as an associate of the Colombo organized crime family and the son of a deceased soldier in the Colombo family -- conspired with officials of the NMDU and with Turzio, an employee of El Diario , to get an NMDU union card for Castellazzo Jr. and place him in a job at Hudson News. Castellazzo Jr. is the son of Benjamin Castellazzo, the alleged underboss of the Colombo family. Giangregorio and LaChance, who are business agents for the NMDU, also participated on this scheme.
As alleged in the indictment, Leonessa was employed by the New York Post to deliver newspapers by truck from a New York Post warehouse in the Bronx, N.Y., to New Jersey. He was also a member of the NMDU, which maintained offices, including offices for its welfare and pension funds, in Queens, N.Y. From about December 2010 to about September 2011, Leonessa had a "no show job" -- a job for which he was paid wages and benefits for services he did not perform -- at the New York Post . When Leonessa did not complete his required deliveries, he was nevertheless, based on his fraudulent representations, paid wages by the New York Post and accorded benefits from employee pension and welfare funds managed by the NMDU.
Leonessa is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The charges in the complaint and indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the FBI, with assistance from the New York City Police Department, the New York County District Attorney's Office and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
The government's case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Gangs Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes and Allon Lifshitz.

Suspected street gangster faces murder charge in shooting of Rizzuto rival


MONTREAL - A suspected street gangster is accused of murdering a second Rizzuto crime family rival during a bloody week in early 2013.
Olivier Gay, 31, faces a murder charge in the death of Vincenzo Scuderi, one of two dissident mobsters who were gunned down within days of each other last year.
Scuderi was shot several times on Jan. 29, 2013, at his home in the Montreal borough of Saint-Leonard, the traditional centre of the city's Italian community.
Gay, the alleged gunman, is a suspected associate of the Bo Gars (Cute Guys) street gang.
He was previously arrested and charged in the murder of another Rizzuto rival, Gaetan Gosselin, who was killed a week after Scuderi.
Scuderi and Gosselin were associates of breakaway Mob factions that emerged in the 2000s while crime boss Vito Rizzuto was serving a prison sentence in the U.S.
They were killed a few months after Rizzuto was released from a U.S. prison and returned to Montreal.
Five Rizzuto rivals have been shot and killed in recent years, apparently in retaliation for the murders of Vito Rizzuto's father, son and other top family members.

The Yakuza Code Is Fading

The NPA reportedly explained the decline in yakuza membership as due to the police crackdown on organized crime syndicates. However it is unclear where all the former yakuza members and associates have gone. It is also possible that some defected to join groups less well known to the police. Experts say petty crime rate in Japan may possibly increase when organized crime members go underground and unregulated. Traditionally, most yakuza groups followed a primitive code of ethics, which forbid theft, robbery, sexual assault, dealing in and/or using drugs, & fraud. Blackmail, extortion, and racketeering were considered acceptable. As one former yakuza boss says, “If you’ve done something so bad that we are blackmailing you, you probably deserve to be paying. That’s social justice.”
“The numbers are definitely down but the yakuza are also moving underground. We can’t just go and have tea with the bosses and get a list of members like we used to years ago.
According to the Ministry of Justice over the last ten years, the numbers of yakuza arrested for traditionally frowned up crimes such as theft, robbery and fraud have continued to rise by year.
The Yakuza Corporate Logo Has Lost Its Brand Power
According to the NPA figures, the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest yakuza group lost 2,000 members in 2013 from 25,700 the previous year, and its rival gang, the Sumiyoshi-kai, lost 1,100 members in 2013 from 9,500. Tougher laws throughout the years increasingly made it difficult for Japanese mobsters to stay in business. Collecting protection money used to be a stable yakuza business until the boryokudan haijojorei  (暴力団排除条例) or organized crime exclusionary laws that went into effect in 2011 criminalized sharing profits with the yakuza or paying them off. The increasing involvement of organized crime in Japan’s financial system forced the police, and abroad, the U.S. Treasury Department to blacklist certain senior members within the largest Japanese criminal network.
Most of the modern yakuza have bakuto (gambler) roots. The exclusionary ordinances have most impacted the tekiya (street merchants), who contributed and still play an important cultural role in Japan’s Shinto and Buddhist festivals. The exclusionary laws also target them. Officials in Buddhist temples & shrines increasingly refuse to admit the tekiya in doing business inside their temples’ territory. Street food and toy stands are being replaced by professional entertainment companies’ stands. Japanese street festivals and cherry blossom scenery may come closer to resembling Disney Land in the near future, rather than a quaint gathering of tattooed merchants and traditional Japanese food and wares.
Japanese law enforcement uses all the laws available to crack down on the yakuza. Most banks, real estate, insurance, and even golf club contracts have an organized crime exclusionary clause built into them. If an organized crime member signs the contract, perhaps say to open a bank account, the financial institution can unilaterally close the account if they confirm organized crime connections with the police. The yakuza member can then be arrested on fraud charges. A mid-level yakuza member, A. Kobayashi, left his organization in 2013. “I couldn’t get insurance, have a bank account, or join a sports gym. It was like being a non-person. My girlfriend dumped me; I couldn’t pay my association dues. I couldn’t collect protection money. I got out. It’s hard to find a job. The Centers for The Elimination Of Organized Crime are supposed to help us re-enter society, but there aren’t any good jobs.”
Crime Doesn’t Pay; In Civil Court
The other factor that has contributed to a decline in membership and increasing departures are laws on “employer liability” which make the yakuza bosses responsible for any damages committed by lower members. Revisions made to Japan's Organized Crime Countermeasures Law, boryokudan taisakuho, (暴力団対策法) in 2008 now hold organized crime bosses responsible for the actions of their underlings in civil court.
In October of 2012, Tadamasa Goto, former boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi crime group, agreed to pay ¥110 million, or $1.2 million, to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Kazuoki Nozaki, who was murdered by members of Goto’s organization in 2006 over a real estate dispute. Goto has never faced criminal charges for the killing.
While the yakuza fan magazines still exist, the numbers have dwindled from three monthly magazines to two and the yakuza comic books such “The Yamaguchi-Kodo-Kai Versus The National Police Agency: Never Ending Battle To The Death Without Victory” and manga biographies of living yakuza bosses are now rarely sold in convenience stores or even regular bookstores.
There is increasing dissatisfaction among lower ranking yakuza bosses who pay anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 dollars a month in tribute to the organization above, in the yakuza pyramid.
One boss based in the Kanto area has seen his organization drop from 120 people to 20 full-time members since 2008. He explains his frustration as follows:
“Can you imagine running a McDonald’s without being able to use the golden arches? The yakuza are like a franchise of fear. You pay your dues, you get to use the name, the symbol, and the force that comes with it—you make money. That’s how it used to be. It’s a dishonest living—but it used to be a good dishonest living. You shake down some assholes, you loan money, you collect protection fees from the local bars, love hotels, car dealers. And you could do that when you had your badge and your business card. But since 2012 or so, you can’t even carry a business card. You know, it’s not very intimidating to be a nameless yakuza. So what are you paying for? You don’t even get to wear the badge anymore. You might as well just be a common criminal.”
Fading out or just turning invisible
A veteran organized crime detective says, “The numbers are definitely down but the yakuza are also moving underground. We can’t just go and have tea with the bosses and get a list of members like we used to years ago. There are increasing fake expulsions, giso hamon, (偽装破門), where a yakuza member is technically kicked out of a group but continues to do business with them. The tattoos, the missing fingers, they are becoming cultural anachronisms. There are fewer yakuza on the bottom end of the underworld economy. But in the entertainment industry, sports, construction, real estate and nuclear business, they are still very much a real presence. In politics as well.”
The yakuza numbers are going down but how much of it is real and how much of it is a failure to track them as they adapt is the great unknown. And they are not all going quietly. In Kyushu, where the yakuza are deeply rooted, they are not leaving with a whimper, they are leaving with a bang. Gang war there continues on a frightening scale. The yakuza are dwindling from public view: it will be a long time before they are really gone---if ever.

Where Have Japan’s Yakuza Gone?

By Jake Adelstein and Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky

Japan’s feared and resilient crime syndicates the yakuza have seen their numbers decline for the first time in years, but is that because of stricter laws or are they just going underground? By Jake Adelstein and Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky
The number of yakuza, Japan’s organized crime group members, hit its lowest record since the country’s first anti-organized crime laws passed in 1992, the National Police Agency announced this week. The number of yakuza had hovered around 80,000 for almost 18 years up to 2011 but the nationwide criminalization of paying the yakuza or doing business with them has dealt a blow to these quasi-legal organizations. However, like many things in Japan, the statistics and the reality are always slightly askew.
According to the National Police Agency, yakuza membership peaked in 1963, at approximately 184,100 members. Since the implementation of the anti-organized crime laws in 1992, the number of active members “has been approximately at the same level” of roughly 80,000. But by the end of 2011 membership was starting to seriously decline down to 70,300 members. (32,700 regular members and 37,600 associates.)
The NPA says about 4,600 members retired from regulated organized crime activities within a year, bringing the total numbers of registered members and associates to about 58,600 in 2013 down from 63,200 in 2012. Unlike most organized crime groups in the world, the Japanese mafia is recognized and regulated by the police under the organized crime control laws, but not outlawed. The groups still have offices and fort-like headquarters, business cards, corporate logos, badges and fan magazines. The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest organized crime group even has their own internal newspaper and has a website in development, perhaps hoping to recruit younger members and shore up PR.

Their primary sources of revenue are extortion, racketeering, financial fraud, blackmail, stock market manipulation, drugs, the entertainment business, sports industry, film and television production, and providing labor and security to the nuclear industry. The yakuza were traditionally federations of gamblers (bakuto) and street merchants (tekiya). They acted as a second police force in the chaos after the Second World War, gaining some legitimacy. They are called boryokudan, 暴力団 (violent groups) by the police but they refer themselves “yakuza” “gokudo” and as ninkyodantai 仁侠団体 (humanitarian groups) and claim that they contribute to preserving peace in Japan, and emergency aid when natural catastrophes hit the country.