Spoiled by mobsters, Meyer Lansky's daughter recalls family men, not killers



By BEN MONTGOMERY  Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA, Florida — The daughter sits on the front porch of a little bungalow in Seminole Heights, her new home since her husband died a few months ago down south. She misses him, but she's making do.
At 76, she has her health, and friends. And her son, Gary. And she has the memories.
Like the time Frank Sinatra came over to say hello to her father and spilled a champagne bucket of ice in her lap and looked as though he had made a fatal mistake. Or the time her father took her to the Majestic Theatre to see "Carousel," the hottest ticket on Broadway, and he bought all the seats in front of them so their view was unimpeded. Or the time she went ice skating on the terrace of her family's 19th-floor apartment at the Beresford at 211 Central Park West. Or the time, later, when she made love to Dean Martin six times in one night.
Central to them all — her charmed childhood, the company she kept, her astonishing life — was her father, Meyer Lansky.
If that doesn't ring a bell, pull up a seat on the porch and let Sandra Lansky ring it for you.
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She always assumed her father was a jukebox salesman because he had shown her a showroom full of Wurlitzers at his office at Emby Distributing Company near Times Square.
And his group of friends, the men with whom he broke bread most often at Dinty Moore's on West 46th Street, were all her uncles. Family.
There was Uncle Frank Costello, and Uncle Abe Zwillman, the kings of New York and New Jersey. There was Uncle Joe Adonis, and Uncle Willie Moretti. There were her father's closest associates, men with whom he'd bonded as a boy: Uncle Benny and Uncle Charlie.
The FBI knew these men as "Bugsy" Siegel and "Lucky" Luciano. And they said her uncles formed the mafia, what the papers called the National Crime Syndicate, and later Murder Incorporated.
In the seat of honor at Dinty Moore's was Meyer Lansky, a stoic, well-dressed Jew, husband and father of two boys and a little girl upon whom he doted. When it was time to talk business, Sandra could see it in her father's face. She'd take her cue and go pal around with the hat-check girl, who gave her candies and let her sort mink stoles and topcoats.
Lansky was the architect of the mob, the brains, the little man in the middle, at home with both the Jews and Italians. He'd had a tough upbringing on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He teamed up with Siegel in his teens, forming the Bugs and Meyer Mob. The mob ran bootlegging operations and gambling rings and the cops would eventually start investigating them for racketeering, theft, extortion, even murder. The Bugs and Meyer Mob, the Feds believed, helped "Lucky" Luciano take control of New York by offing mob kings Joe Masseria, who was found with an ace of spades in his lifeless hand, and Salvatore Maranzano, the "boss of the bosses."
For all the tales of bloodshed and bootlegging in the press linked to her father and uncles, Sandra Lansky has a hundred more about how much they loved her.
They hugged her. Kissed her. Cut her steak.
"They spoiled me rotten," she said.
For the mascot of the mob, ignorance was bliss. The men she knew were not in the business of murder. They were in business. Casinos and night clubs. Tailored suits and penthouse suites. Vacations in Miami Beach and Vegas.
The rubouts and warfare of their youths seemed to be in the past, Sandra said. They found opportunity in America, and as a way of saying thanks, Sandra said, they helped their new country win World War II.
She remembers the day Lansky took her to view the French luxury liner Normandie, which had been sabotaged and was burning on the West Side docks. Then the two went to Dinty Moore's, where Lansky met with Uncle Joe — Joseph Lanza, head of the seafood workers' union and one of the most powerful men on the waterfront — to cook up a patriotic plan to secure the docks and root out traitors who might destroy other ships. All in return for freeing Luciano, who had been sent to prison on prostitution charges.
Sandra's first hint that her father was a made man came when she was 13. She stopped at the news stand and saw her father's picture on a magazine. She secreted it home and read that her father and uncles were the most powerful criminals in the world.
There was no mention of the money the mob raised for orphans or the work they did during WW II. These guys were evil, nothing more.
"But they did a lot of good," said the daughter.
"These guys came to this country with nothing — little education and no opportunity," said her son, Gary Rapoport, sitting nearby. "The boatloads that had come prior to them would beat them up on a daily basis and belittle them. So they just tried to stick together and make money any way they could."
"At the end of the war, he was given a copy of the signing of the surrender, from the Navy department," Sandra Lansky said. "He was very proud of that."
But the momentum had shifted. Sandra watched the Kefauver hearings in 1951 on television, saw her uncles nervously testifying before the Tennessee senator and crusader against organized crime. She worried that the Feds would be coming for her father.
"Don't believe any of this stuff," she recalls her mother saying. "It's all lies."
Meyer Lansky, the man in the middle, was never called to testify. His daughter says she knows why.
Lansky met privately with Kefauver. He knew something few others did. Connections in Hot Springs, Arkansas, gave Lansky log books from the race track that showed Kefauver had a gambling problem and had run up debt, she said.
"He went in there and pulled out of his pocket an IOU," Sandra said. "Kefauver was a big gambler. And that was that."
Even so, Meyer Lanksy had become a household name. But the man who didn't like being recognized still did business at Dinty Moore's. Sandra recalls one of those meetings in 1951. Her father was talking business with Uncle Willie Moretti when Moretti made an offensive comment.
"Willie, you talk too much," Meyer Lansky said. Then he called for the check.
The next day at school, Sandra recalls, she saw one of the janitors reading the newspaper. There was Uncle Willie in a pool of blood on the floor at Joe's Elbow Room in New Jersey.
"Mob Boss Exterminated in N.J." the headline read.
Moretti was the second uncle she had lost to bullets. A few years before, someone had gunned down her Uncle Benny "Bugsy" Siegel in Beverly Hills. He was accused of squandering mob money building The Flamingo in Vegas.
Sandra Lansky bottled her curiosity. Meyer Lansky had his daughter trained. Never complain, never explain. And never ask to be explained to.
One of the few times she recalls her father explaining his business was in 1953, before he went to jail on gambling charges in upstate New York. He had opted to do a few months time to avoid trial.
"He said to me that he had two choices," Sandra said. "He could walk down one road or the other road. But my brother" — Buddy — "was handicapped and he had no choice which road to take."
Lansky moved to Florida upon his release. Life didn't get easier for the daughter of the mob. The government had cranked up its investigations as the mob's casino ambitions grew. The FBI was watching his gambling operations in Vegas and South Florida and Havana, Cuba, where Cuban President Gen. Fulgencio Batista, had rolled out the welcome mat. Lansky invested big in Cuba. That cost him two years later, when the Cuban revolution brought Fidel Castro to power. Revolutionaries smashed slot machines and shuttered casinos.
Meanwhile, Sandra's uncles were falling. Someone rubbed out Albert Anastasia in the barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel. Then her Uncle Abe Zwillman was said to have hanged himself in his basement in West Orange.
Soon Sandra, who had given birth to a son, Gary, got caught up in the mess. She befriended a man who turned out to be an FBI spy. She fearfully told her father, who brainstormed a way to use the daughter's new relationship to keep the FBI off his trail. Sandra began feeding the man bad information.
She'd been betrayed, but she was a Lansky, and Lansky blood was thick.
"I got my vendetta," she said.
In 1964, Sandra married Vince Lombardo, a mobster, who promised her father he'd get out and stay out as long as he was with Sandra.
The FBI tightened its noose on Meyer Lansky. Agents tracked his every move and overheard him boast that organized crime was "bigger than U.S. Steel." That line that would be repeated by Hyman Roth, a character based on Lansky in The Godfather.
Lansky sought asylum in Israel, but was forced back to Miami. When the plane touched down in November 1972, he was arrested on charges of tax evasion, conspiracy and skimming casino profits. But nothing stuck.
Lansky was celebrated in Miami, his daughter said, even if the papers called him Public Enemy No. 1. She remembers getting letters addressed to the "Mayor of Miami Beach."
Meyer Lansky died on Jan. 15, 1983, after fighting lung cancer. Forbes had estimated his wealth at $300 million, but there was very little money in the will. His family still wonders where it went.
Lansky was buried in Mt. Nebo Cemetery in Miami. His daughter visited often, until she relocated to Tampa. Her only connection to Tampa, she said, was "Santo," meaning Santo Trafficante Jr., one of the last of the old-time bosses.
She said her father never betrayed remorse.
"Why should he have remorse for anything?"
After years refusing to talk about her upbringing, the writers Nick Pileggi and Norah Ephron convinced her to tell her story and matched her up with a writer. "Daughter of the King: Growing up in Gangland," was published earlier this year. She doesn't love the book. She wanted it to go deeper into the good side of the mob, to tell an American story that brought balance to the Lansky legacy. There's more to the story.
She still mourns her father.
"I adore my dad," she said. "I wish he was here right now."
"It's hard for her to get past his death," Gary said. "But our life moves on."
"You still have the loyalty," Sandra said.
________________________________________
Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida),


Reputed Bonanno Crime Family Members Lose Bid To Toss Out Indictments


Judge Rejects Request To Dismiss Indictments Against Reputed Bonanno Crime Family Members
Prosecutors say the case proves that traditional organized crime persists and that the illegal activities have even branched out to include online crimes. For example, the crew operated a Costa Rica-based online gambling operation that took in $7 million in illegal bets over six months, according to prosecutors.
The reputed Bonanno members, who were seen laughing together in court, are also accused of using one their associates, Nicholas Bernhard, a president of a local Teamsters union chapter, to support the crime family’s gambling operations. Union members were allegedly recruited to borrow money from the mob loan sharks and then gamble it away.



Bonanno's claims


By Robert Cox

From time to time, we here at Talk of the Sound document various forms of malfeasance going on in the City School District of New Rochelle under Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration John Quinn and John Gallagher of Aramark. Mostly we save it up for various reasons which I am not going to explain here.

As the board considers the question of whether to renew John Quinn's contract and keep the management team at Aramark, we thought we would share a sample from our voluminous archive.

The video above is based on surveillance of Vincent James "Jimmy" Bonanno obtained during a stakeout which began at Ronalds Lane in New Rochelle at 6:30 AM on February 28, 2014 and ran until about 9:40 AM on the same day. Bonanno is a supervisor in the Buildings & Grounds Department working under John Gallagher and John Quinn respectively.

In theory, Bonanno's work day begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with 30 minutes for lunch.

In the video, Bonanno does not leave his house until shortly after 8 AM and arrives at the Cliff Street yard, where he is assigned to report to work, at about 8:10 AM. He then proceeds to the Dunkin' Donuts on East Main Street where he sits with Phil Rosetti, a district employee reporting to Bonanno, and Anthony Raffa, a plumber working for the district. Raffa reports to James Purdie at the B&G offices at 88 Grove Street.

The three District employees remain at the Dunkin's Donuts until about 9:30 AM. Bonanno then drives them all to City Hall where Rosetti exits the vehicle and goes inside to...wait for it...pick up his paycheck!

At the point I had to break off surveillance but suffice to say, for 2 and a half hours, not a lick of work was done by either of the three.

Below are time sheets for February 28, 2014 for Vincent James Bonanno and Phil Rosetti, both signed by John Gallagher, the Aramark consultant who works under John Quinn.

Phil Rosetti 2 23 to 3 1 2014

Vincent James Bonanno 2 23 to 3 1 2014

The records indicate that Bonanno and Rosetti falsified these business records. If this were proven in court it would be a criminal offense.

Throughout the surveillance, Bonanno drove his personal Dodge Ram truck. B&G employees have been repeatedly admonished by Gallagher on district policy prohibiting the use of personal vehicles while on the clock. GPS tracking systems were installed on all district vehicles a system easily circumvented if supervisors use their personal vehicles and assign an employee to drive the vehicle assigned to them.

Regular readers will know that Jimmy Bonanno and his son, "Little Jimmy" Bonanno filed a criminal complaint against me in April 2012 with the New Rochelle Police Department claiming harassment and a civil lawsuit in June 2012 in New York State Supreme Court claiming defamation.

The NRPD dismissed the complaint as unfounded.

The Bonanno's lawsuit has not gone so well for them either.

The pair repeatedly contradicted themselves over four days of depositions. The father testified under oath that he did not say what is written in the police complaint he filed alleging harassment. The Detective on the case, testifying under oath, described Bonanno as a liar, several times. The son was unwilling to answer when asked why his defamation claim does not mention the claim of harassment he made to the police regarding his visit to a methadone clinic in New Rochelle and the claim that he is a heroin addict.

Things have gotten so bad for the Bonannos that their own lawyers have filed a motion with the Judge in the case asking to be relieved of representing the Bonannos.

At a recent court appearance on that motion, Big Jimmy told the judge that he never wanted to file a lawsuit and alleged that the lawyers effectively duped him into the lawsuit, that he never wanted any money from anyone (the lawsuit indicates otherwise) and that he never thought things would get so far. He claims that all he has is his good name and that he (meaning me) said Jimmy was in the mafia.

His own lawyer rebutted Bonanno's claims.

In fact, I have never said or written or even thought that the mafia would accept someone like Jimmy Bonanno as a member. What I did say, write and think is that Jimmy Bonanno is connected to the mafia through is family, which he is. In particular, through his mother who is the sister of Frank Fiumara.

Fiumara, who died several years ago, is described in this 1990 AP wire story as a "made member" of the Gambino crime family.

The murder of Joe Petrosino solved

NEW YORK — It was not long after the turn of the 20th century when Lt. Giuseppe Petrosino, the New York Police Department’s most effective weapon against organized crime, was sent to Italy to attack the problem’s roots.
He stayed in hotels under an assumed name and grew a beard to alter his appearance. But his reputation and purpose had preceded him.
On the day of his murder, March 12, 1909, Petrosino left his revolver in his hotel room. And as he waited for a trolley in downtown Palermo, Sicily, two assassins approached.


Four shots. Three bullet wounds. The only New York City police officer ever killed in the line of duty on foreign soil.
The killing would never be solved, the U.S. authorities said at the time. There was a code of silence, the “omerta.” No one would talk.
But on Monday, the Italian authorities said, someone finally did.
A 28-year-old man, Domenico Palazzotto, was heard on a police wiretap bragging to an associate that his great-uncle, Paolo Palazzotto, carried out the killing on behalf of a local mafia leader, Don Vito Cascio Ferro.
The claim, reported by the Italian news agency ANSA, was not included among the charges against the younger Palazzotto, who was among some 90 suspected members of the mafia arrested Monday in Palermo. Nor did it amount to proof of his elder’s responsibility.
What it showed, instead, was the lasting notoriety of the killing that holds currency in the criminal underworld 105 years later.
“That guy could just be running his mouth, thinking that if I say my family killed Joe Petrosino, that will give him some cred in the local prison or something,” said Joseph A. Petrosino, a grandnephew of the lieutenant and a retired Brooklyn prosecutor. “Obviously this guy has followed in the family tradition.”
Then, reflecting on his own work in law enforcement and that of his son Joseph, a New York City detective, he added, “It’s a more honorable tradition, I think.”
Giuseppe Petrosino left Padula, in the province of Salerno, Italy, for the United States as a boy and went by the name Joseph. He helped to transform the Police Department soon after joining in 1883. Known for being good with his fists, despite being 5-foot-3, he took on the organized crime that then plagued the city, catching cases involving crime in the Italian-American community.
His career intersected the lives of two presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, who as a New York City police commissioner promoted Petrosino to the top of the homicide division in 1895; and William McKinley, whose 1901 assassination Petrosino warned of.
He helped create the canine unit and the bomb squad, which grew out of what was then known as the Italian Squad.
“Who was throwing the bombs in those days?” said Thomas Reppetto, a historian of the Police Department who dedicated his book on the U.S. mafia to Giuseppe Petrosino. The answer, as Petrosino knew, was mostly anarchists and Black Hand extortionists, both largely made up of immigrants from Italy like himself.
So when the Police Department decided to send one officer to Italy to attack the crime problem in New York City at what it believed was the source, the choice of Petrosino was obvious.
When his body was returned to the city in a coffin, as many as 250,000 New Yorkers were said to have come to pay respects.
“He was a shining star,” said James C. Lisa, president of the Petrosino Association in America.

Pope to meet the Mafia



 Vatican brushes off danger warnings as Francis prepares to travel to Mob heartland Calabria and hometown of toddler murdered in drug war

Pope Francis will spend day in hometown of toddler murdered in mob hit
Will also visit a prison, a hospital and a care home in Cassano allo Ionio
Calabria visit comes as Vatican is forced to deny claims Pope Francis is ill
He has abruptly suspended a large number of engagements until September
Pope Francis will travel to the mafia heartland of Calabria for the first time on Saturday to spend a day in the hometown of a toddler who was murdered in a clan drug war.
His tightly packed schedule in one of the poorest regions of Italy will see the pontiff visit a prison, hospital and care home in and around Cassano allo Ionio before celebrating mass with an expected 100,000 pilgrims.
The visit comes as the Vatican was forced to deny claims Francis is ill following an abrupt decision to cancel his popular morning Mass until September, and all general mid-week audiences in July.
During his visit to Calabria, the pope is expected to speak out about two of the region's biggest challenges: towering youth unemployment and the pervasive grip of the immensely powerful and secretive 'Ndrangheta crime group.
'We made love six times in a night that wouldn't stop': The daughter of mobster Meyer Lansky opens up about her passionate affair with Dean Martin and how her father helped win World War II
 Pope Francis says the split between the Catholic Church and the CofE is a 'scandal' that can only be fixed with a gift from God
The Argentine pope has previously denounced Italy's mafia organisations - which also include Sicily's Cosa Nostra and Stidda, Campania's Comorra and Puglia's Sacra Corona Unita  - warning mobsters to relinquish their 'bloodstained money' which 'cannot be taken to heaven'.
Pope Francis will spend Saturday in the villages of Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio in Calabria - a region in southern Italy that is under the pervasive grip of the immensely powerful and secretive 'Ndrangheta mafia
After meeting relatives of mafia victims in May - including the families of butchered children and priests - he told gangsters that they would 'go to hell' if they did not repent.
When John Paul II voiced a similar threat in Sicily in 1993, Cosa Nostra responded by bombing two historic churches in Rome.
Francis's determination to rattle organised crime groups has sparked warnings that he himself could become a target for the mafia.
In November, respected Calabrian state prosecutor Nicola Gratteri said 'Ndrangheta was 'nervous'.
'If the mafia bosses can trip him up, they won't hesitate,' he said.
The Vatican brushed off the warning, insisting there was 'no reason for concern'.
Yesterday they also moved to ease renewed concerns about the pope's health, following his decision to suspend all midweek audiences to cancel his popular morning Mass until September, and all general mid-week audiences in July.
Reverend Thomas Rosica, a consultant to the Vatican press office, told CNN: 'There is no sickness whatsoever... If there was, we would be open about that and asking people to pray for him.'
The town of Cassano allo Ionio, nestled at the bottom of a steep mountain, was home to Nicola 'Coco' Campolongo, a three-year-old shot dead in January along with his grandfather.
The murders were apparent mafia assassinations over money.
The discovery of their bodies in a burnt-out Fiat Punto sent shockwaves through Italy, as did the murder just two months later of another three-year-old in the nearby Puglia region.
During his visit to Castrovillari prison, the 77-year-old pope will meet Coco's father, who was serving time in prison alongside the toddler's mother for drug crimes when their son was killed.
He may also meet the man who murdered priest Lazzaro Longobardi, who was beaten to death with an iron bar the same month after a failed extortion attempt.
The 'Ndrangheta plays a leading role in the global cocaine trade and its bastion, the Calabria region, is a major transit point for drug shipments from Latin America to the rest of Europe.
It has benefitted in the past from historic ties to the Church, with dons claiming to be God-fearing Catholics and priests turning a blind eye to crimes.
But over the past 20 years numerous priests have taken part in the fight against the clans - sometimes paying for their bravery with their lives.
Francis is likely to call on anti-mafia campaigners to continue their struggle, praising the work of organisations like Progetto Sud in Lamezia, which has transformed a gambling arcade and drug-trafficking base into a community for handicapped people.
He may also hail the courage of those who break ranks with the mob despite the clans' stringent code of loyalty, which punishes rebellion by death.
The 'Ndrangheta has been successful in combining elements of archaic tradition with modernity and has proved particularly difficult to infiltrate because of its reliance on a tightly knit network of families.
But a small but growing number of wives and daughters in particular are speaking out against their mobster fathers, brothers or sons.


Scarfo organized crime case goes to jury in New Jersey


By Daniel Kelley
Reuters
PHILADELPHIA—


A federal jury in New Jersey on Wednesday began deliberating the fate of reputed mobster Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. in an alleged organized-crime takeover of a Texas-based mortgage company.

Prosecutors say Scarfo and business partner Salvatore Pelullo used threats of violence and extortion to coerce shareholders in FirstPlus Financial Group Inc into installing a board of directors beholden to the pair.
If convicted in the racketeering case in U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey, the pair face 30 years in prison. Â

According to prosecutors, Scarfo and Pelullo allegedly used fraudulent consulting agreements to loot $12 million from the then-publicly traded company in Irving, Texas. It later filed for bankruptcy.

A 108-page indictment said the pair used the funds to buy luxury cars, a beach house, a yacht and jewelry in a scheme that began in 2007. They were arrested in 2011.

Scarfo Jr. is the son of Nicodemo Scarfo, a reputed mob boss in Philadelphia who has been in prison since the mid-1990s. The son is a member of the Lucchese crime family, according to prosecutors.

  Thirteen people in all, including a former FirstPlus chief executive and lawyers who worked with the company, are charged with crimes ranging from helping to conceal Scarfo's involvement to lying on applications for a mortgage.

The complex trial, in which jurors heard wiretaps and viewed financial documents, has been underway since January.

Law enforcement officials have used the case to claim that organized crime has evolved from back-alley gangsters to sophisticated financial operators.

Defense attorneys have argued that the case did not amount to a criminal conspiracy and at best should have been litigated in a shareholder lawsu


Vaughan shooting kills man; possible ties to mob unrest


ADRIAN HUMPHREYS AND KATRINA CLARKE A double shooting left one man dead and another injured at a café in an area north of Toronto notorious as a stronghold for mob friends of the Mafia leader killed in April just four blocks away, suggesting underworld unrest continues toward war.
Friday’s shootings came as a surprise as it was expected to be a quiet weekend in Toronto’s underworld; many mobsters were in Montreal for the Formula One racing at the Canadian Grand Prix, always a popular event with Mafia figures.
Instead, police received a 911 call about a shooting at 93 Woodstream Blvd. just off Highway 7 at Martin Grove Road at 6:40 p.m. Friday.
“When officers arrived on scene they found two men suffering from gunshot wounds. One was pronounced dead at the scene and the other was transported to hospital with serious injuries,” said Sgt. Clint Whitney of the York Regional Police.
Police are not identifying the two men.
The shooting happened in an industrial area filled with cafés and banquet halls. Homicide detectives were still investigating to see if the incident took place inside the café.
The area has long been home to Ontario’s ’Ndrangheta clans, the proper name of the Mafia that formed in the southern Italian region of Calabria. Many of the mobsters who frequented the area are aligned with the powerful ’Ndrangheta based in the Italian town of Siderno.
Carmine Verduci, shot and killed on April 24, was often in the area. Many of Mr. Verduci’s street crew did business in clubs and cafes in close proximity to the crime scene. The area has historically also hosted high-stakes illicit gambling games.
Because of a lack of buzz about the shooting within the mob community, it suggests the victims are not of high standing within organized crime.
There is much speculation that Mr. Verduci’s murder is related to the war for control of Montreal’s Mafia, which has been led by the mob faction originally from Sicily. Police believe at least some of the victims of Montreal’s Rizzuto crime family fell at the hands of the Calabrian faction.
York police said it was too early to tell what is behind Friday’s shooting.
They are appealing to witnesses to come forward to the police of call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.



White-collar mob case nears closing arguments



CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — The financial fraud trial involving the son of an imprisoned Philadelphia organized crime boss is nearing closing arguments after nearly four months.
Alleged Lucchese crime family member Nicodemo S. Scarfo and several co-defendants are accused of using threats to take over the board of FirstPlus Financial Group, an Irving, Texas-based publicly traded mortgage company. Prosecutors allege they then had the company buy shell companies they owned so they could take out the assets.
The trial in federal court in Camden has been underway since early January. Jurors were expected to hear instructions from the judge on Tuesday, and the panel could hear closing arguments from attorneys as early as Wednesday.
Prosecutors contend Scarfo and the others fleeced FirstPlus of about $12 million in less than a year, by hiring shell companies owned by Scarfo and co-defendant Salvatore Pelullo and by buying other shell companies they formed. The money was used for items including a plane, a $217,000 Bentley, $30,000 in jewelry and an 83-foot, $850,000 yacht they named "Priceless."
Defense attorneys have claimed the companies were legitimate and that the takeover of FirstPlus was part of a business strategy to revive a dormant company.
Other defendants include two executives at FirstPlus, along with lawyers and accountants. Several people have pleaded guilty. The charges include racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, false statements on a loan application and obstruction. Maximum penalties range from five years in prison to decades.
Scarfo's father, Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, led the Philadelphia Mafia during a bloody 1980s mob war. His reign ended in 1988 when he was convicted of racketeering and sent to prison for decades. In 1989, the younger Scarfo was the victim of what authorities have described as an attempted mob hit in a South Philadelphia Italian restaurant. He was shot a half-dozen times.



Life in prison for capo of Gambino mob crew


 by Peter C. Mastrosimone

The Mafia captain held responsible for a double homicide committed 33 years ago in Woodhaven will die in prison, just like the man he used to work for, John Gotti.
Bartolomeo “Bobby Glasses” Vernace, 65, was sentenced last week to life in prison plus 10 years, without chance of parole, by U.S. Court Judge Sandra L. Townes.
A longtime mobster who ran with the Gambino crime family since the 1970s, and eventually became one of three people in charge of it, Vernace had been found guilty last year of a racketeering conspiracy that included the killings in Queens, heroin dealing, robbery, loansharking and gambling.
The murders were committed on April 11, 1981, at the Shamrock Bar, located at 86-06 Jamaica Ave. They were prompted by a spilled drink.
The victims, John D’Agnese, 22, and Richard Godkin, 35, owned the bar. When a patron spilled a drink on a woman who was there with one of Vernace’s pals, Frank Riccardi, an argument ensued. D’Agnese asked Riccardi to leave. He did, but returned with Vernace and another reputed mobster. The three then shot D’Agnese and Godkin in front of multiple witnesses.
Vernace went into hiding for years but then returned to Queens and ran his mob crew from a club in Glendale. He eventually was tried in state court but got off. One witness in the federal case said he had lied in the state trial out of fear for retribution from the mob.
Riccardi also beat a state trial and later died, while charges against the third alleged killer were dropped.
The federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, said Bartolomeo “dedicated his life to committing crimes for the Mafia,” while D’Agnese and Godkin were innocent men who also ran the local Boys’ Club


Joey "The Clown" Lombardo files appeal claiming 'bad lawyering'



The infamous Chicago mob boss's new lawyer says that original attorney Rick Halprin
By Chuck Goudie

Chicago mob boss Joey "The Clown" Lombardo is in federal prison because people died. Now he is blaming his conviction on his trial lawyer, who is also dead.
Attorney Rick Halprin died by suicide a year ago, long after losing the Lombardo case which was part of Chicago's infamous "Family Secrets" murder trial. Lombardo now has a new attorney, who has filed a new motion to get the 85-year-old out of prison.
While a gag order seemed fitting in a case where the defendant was known as "The Clown," Lombardo was no easy client for his longtime attorney Rick Halprin.
During his notorious career as a top Chicago hoodlum, Lombardo was known to sport a newspaper mask at the courthouse, and in his heyday he liked to lead news hounds on hide and seek missions, once through a construction site.
But in the "Family Secrets" murder case the stakes couldn't have been higher for Lombardo and other mob bosses. Joey "The Clown" was sentenced to life in prison, and has been in solitary confinement at the federal penitentiary in Butner, N.C.
Now Halprin is being vilified in a Lombardo appeal memo newly obtained by the I-Team. Lombardo says he wants and deserves freedom because Halprin was ineffective, incompetent, deficient and unprofessional.
His new attorney from Florida is claiming Halprin did little or no work investigating the evidence and witness claims used against Lombardo, and that Halprin "ensured his conviction" by calling Lombardo a liar in closing arguments.
Lombardo's current attorney didn't respond to I-Team questions. In legal papers he claims that Halprin received extra money from the court to investigate decades-old evidence, but didn't do so.
In the motion, Halprin's work is described as so inept that Lombardo's conviction should be thrown out or he should be let out on bond.

Bad lawyering claims are not unusual, but with Halprin dead they will go unchallenged. Prosecutors, however, intend to respond in court.