Mob associate Mario Fortunato gets $300K in settlement after being released from prison for participation in 1994 murder

Fortunato was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering and second degree murder for the killing of loanshark Tino Lombardi, but both verdicts were overturned by appeals courts. Fortunato spent 22 months in prison in total, after facing a life sentence.

Alleged mob guy and bakery co-owner Mario Fortunato settled lawsuit over what he claimed was unjust conviction in 1994 gangland slay.Jesse Ward/for New York Daily NewsAlleged mob guy and bakery co-owner Mario Fortunato settled lawsuit over what he claimed was unjust conviction in 1994 gangland slay.
A Brooklyn baker — and alleged mob associate — is rolling in the cannolis after pocketing $300,000 to settle a lawsuit charging he was unjustly convicted and jailed for participating in a gangland rubout, the Daily News has learned.
Mario Fortunato, a co-owner of the Fortunato Brothers Bakery in Williamsburg, was convicted in federal court and later in state court of the 1994 murder, but both verdicts were later overturned by appeals courts.
Fortunato is getting the dough for the 22 months he spent in state prison after the second degree murder conviction in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He did not file a lawsuit against the feds for the first conviction of murder in aid of racketeering.
A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman confirmed that Fortunato's suit was settled in the Court of Claims on Dec. 19. Fortunato's lawyer Irving Cohen declined to comment.
Fortunato — who federal prosecutors alleged was an associate of the Genovese crime family — was charged with luring loanshark Tino Lombardi to the San Giuseppe Social Club on Graham Ave., where he was whacked by a hit team as the men played an Italian card game called Ladder 40.
Mario Fortunato, defendant charged with murder, outside State Supreme Court in Brooklyn during his trial. Fortunato will get $300K for the 22 months he spent in jaril after the convictions were overturned.Ward, Jesse, Freelance NYDN/Jesse Ward Freelance NYDNMario Fortunato, defendant charged with murder, outside State Supreme Court in Brooklyn during his trial. Fortunato will get $300K for the 22 months he spent in jaril after the convictions were overturned.
Lombardi's cousin, mob associate Michael D'Urso, was also wounded in the ambush and subsequently became a government informant.
D'Urso, who still carries bullet fragments in his neck from the shooting, was astonished by the payday.
“I'm shocked. It's a complete disgrace,” D'Urso told The News on Monday. “I lived, my cousin died. My cousin Tino's wife, his mother, his children, they went through torture. For them to have to see (Fortunato) on the street every day, my heart bleeds for them.”
“Me, I don't give a f--- about him, but for my family it's heartbreaking,” D'Urso said.
Signage at Fortunato brothers bakery, which Mario co-owns.Digital2Signage at Fortunato brothers bakery, which Mario co-owns.
D'Urso wore a hidden recording device in his Rolex watch for the feds to gather devastating evidence against Genovese gangsters, which led to more than 70 arrests including the late crime family boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante.
D'Urso testified at Fortunato's trial that they were targeted because Fortunato's alleged co-conspirator Carmine (Carmine Pizza) Polito wanted to get out of paying a $60,000 debt. Polito's federal conviction was also overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals and when he was retried on state murder charges a jury found him not guilty.
Fortunato was convicted after a bench trial in state court but the verdict was thrown out by a panel of Appellate Division judges who found “the verdict was against the weight of the credible evidence.”
There was bad blood between Fortunato and D'Urso for years, according to D'Urso.
Mario Fortunato accompanied by his wife leaves Brooklyn Federal Court after reversal of his murder convictions.Costanza, SamMario Fortunato accompanied by his wife leaves Brooklyn Federal Court after reversal of his murder convictions.
"Since I was a kid I used to watch Mario abuse my father, he'd belittle him at the card table," D'Urso testified at the second trial. "He'd put a chair next to my father, get on the chair and fart on his head."
D'Urso made two failed attempts to kill Polito in revenge for the shooting.
Fortunato was sentenced in both cases to life in prison before his extraordinary good fortune kicked in and he was freed.
“He got away with murder and now he's won the lottery,” said a source involved in the prosecution.

Brooklyn judge allows reputed Genovese gangster, 71, to spend Christmas Eve with his family

Conrad Ianniello has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for extorting a union official, but Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis allowed him out of house arrest between 6:30 to 11 p.m. to eat dinner at Da Nico restaurant in Staten Island.

BY  John Marzulli 
Reputed Genovese mobster Conrad Ianniello got a furlough from house arrest  to eat Christmas Eve dinner with his family. The 71-year-old was sentenced to 36 months in prison for extortion.Kevin C. Downs/for New York Daily NewsReputed Genovese mobster Conrad Ianniello got a furlough from house arrest  to eat Christmas Eve dinner with his family. The 71-year-old was sentenced to 36 months in prison for extortion.
A Brooklyn judge granted a Christmas Eve wish to a 71-year-old gangster bound for prison.
Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis lambasted reputed Genovese capo Conrad Ianniello at his sentencing earlier this month, making it clear that the gangster disgusts him.
But Ianniello took the verbal beatdown like a man, pleading through his lawyer this week and “respectfully requesting” a furlough from house arrest so he could attend a Christmas Eve family dinner at Da Nico restaurant in Staten Island.
Ianniello, 71, will miss at least the next two Christmas holidays with his wife as he serves a 36-month sentence for extorting a union official.
Ianniello did not sound particularly remorseful about dispatching a mob goon to threaten the president of a rival union to make him stop trying to organize workers at a Long Island chocolate factory, leading to the judge’s epic tongue lashing.
“You’re bad for America,” Garaufis said on Dec. 11 in Brooklyn Federal Court with about 10 members of Ianniello’s family looking on.
“Your behavior disgusts me! You need to apologize to America. I have no sympathy for you. None. I don’t want to hear he’s sorry for his family. I want to talk about what he’s done to our country, he and his fellow mobsters!”
Ianniello, nephew of late Genovese underboss Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianniello, said Wednesday he is grateful to the judge. His lawyer did not return a call.
Ianniello was allowed out of the house from 6:30 to 11 p.m. and is monitored by an electronic bracelet. The wiseguy surrenders next month to begin serving his term at a federal prison.
“I definitely appreciate it,” Ianniello told the Daily News. “My daughter and my sister will be there and I’ll miss them. I’m not getting any younger.”
Asked if he would partake in the Italian tradition of the feast of the seven fishes, Ianniello was noncommittal. “I’ll look at the menu and see what specials they have.”
Ianniello hesitated to reveal where he would be dining. “I don’t want a crowd showing up,” he said mysteriously.

Italian police seize Mafia boss's assets worth millions of euros: Is this the end of the line for Matteo Messina Denaro?

  He’s been on the run for more than 20 years. But, as police seize millions of euros worth of his assets, it looks like time is finally running out for vicious Cosa Nostra leader Matteo Messina Denaro. Michael Day reports from Rome

Michael Day  

The noose tightens around the last great Cosa Nostra kingpin to evade justice. Yesterday, after investigators seized prized olive groves in Sicily worth €20m (£15.9m), it was hoped the “Boss of Bosses” could finally be brought to book.
 Matteo Messina Denaro has been on the run for more than 20 years and was convicted in his absence for the 1993 bomb attacks that killed 10 people in Rome, Florence and Milan.
But after leading the raid on the Fountain of Gold olive business in Trapani, Palermo’s financial police said they were getting closer to the last big fish of Cosa Nostra still on the run. “Seizing assets remains the main way to fight the Mafia,” said provincial commander Giancarlo Trotta. “We do this by using all the expertise we’ve gained in recent years.”
Wire taps obtained by prosecutors suggest the profits from this olive oil producer have been used to directly fund Messina Denaro while he hides out from the authorities – probably using some of the money to buy the complicity of malleable public officials.
Nominally, the olive business is owned by two brothers from the village of Campobello di Mazara. But investigators were able to establish  its links to one of Messina Denaro’s right-hand men, the jailed mobster Françesco Luppino, the Italian press reported.
Messina Denaro, 52, the nearest thing the Sicily Mafia has left to a Boss of Bosses, has defied the best efforts of police and magistrates to hunt him down. But experts say he is watching closely as investigators inch ever closer and dismantle his financial empire. Many believe he is he is holed up in Western Sicily, quite possibly in his home town of Castelvetrano,
In April last year a court in Trapani ordered record assets of €1.3bn to be seized from Sicily’s “king of wind (power)” Vito Nicastri. But it was Matteo Messina Denaro, who loomed large behind the vast wealth, including 43 companies and 98 properties, say police and magistrates.
In 2010 it emerged the Cosa Nostra was attempting to cream off millions of euros from both the Italian government and the European Union, by snatching the generous grants on offer for investment in wind power – and move into respectable green business.
Over the past decade, thanks to generous subsidies, wind farms in Italy have proliferated at a rate of 20 per cent per year, and the Sicilian Mafia soon plugged into this new source of income.
Italian investigators say that Nicastri had built up the huge alternative energy business on the behest of the Cosa Nostra boss Messina Denaro.
In addition to halting the giant eco-scam, Italian prosecutors said the seizure in 2013 of 66 bank accounts, as well as property and businesses, was another body blow to Cosa Nostra’s leadership, which was already reeling from dozens of high-profile arrests in the past 10 years. The assets grab was part of investigators’ “scorched earth” policy,  which was aimed at draining Messina Denaro’s resources and exposing him. Assets linked to the Sicilian Mafia’s most-wanted fugitive have also been seized in Lazio Calabria and Lombardy.
Messina Denaro, nicknamed “Diabolik” after a cult Italian comic strip criminal, earned a reputation for brutality by murdering a rival Trapani boss and strangling his girlfriend who was three months pregnant.
He was born in to a high-ranking Cosa Nostra family and began using fire arms at the age of 14. Four years later he committed his first murder. He is believed to have told a friend: “With the people I’ve killed, you could fill a graveyard.” He is also reputed to be a lover of fast cars and beautiful women, and in his younger years a fan of Versace clothes and Rolex watches.
He became the No 1 boss following the capture of Palermo mobster Salvatore Lo Piccolo in November 2007.
Investigators believe, however, that following the backlash prompted by the Mafia’s bombing campaign in the early 1990s, and due to internal divisions between clans in Palermo and those in the West of Sicily, Messina Denaro has probably never had the reach and authority of his predecessor and mentor Totó Riina.
And like so many Mafia bosses, his most-wanted status has severely limited his ability to spend his ill-gotten gains and indulge his passions. In March this year, the Italian authorities launched a new photokit image of Messina Denaro assuming him to be heavier set than before and now with a receding hairline, to step up the pressure.
The magistrates themselves have been accused of errors, however, which it is alleged, have helped Messina Denaro evade capture.
In June 2013, the judiciary’s CSM self-governing body slated Palermo’s chief prosecutor Francesco Messineo for not allowing the circulation of information within the prosecutor’s office and said this “lack of coordination was behind the failure to capture the fugitive”.
But December last year police in Sicily made a series of key arrests, including the mobster’s sister. Patrizia Messina Denaro was led away after investigators claimed wire taps showed she had been in contact with her fugitive brother, and played a key role in transmitting his directives to other mobsters.
This led Giuseppe D’Agata, the head of the Palermo outpost of the Italian interior ministry-run anti-Mafia task force, the DIA, to say: “Soon, Messina Denaro will have nothing left around him.”
In 2014, the Italian mob is bigger than ever. But business models are changing and emerging crime syndicates and new alliances are redrawing the map of organised crime.

1) Cosa Nostra (Sicily)
The Cosa Nostra, is the original and best-known Italian crime syndicate, with origins in the 19th century. But in the 1990s its assassination of the popular anti-Mafia judges Falcone and Borsellino caused a backlash that weakened it and saw it concede ground to rival groups in Calabria and Naples. As a result Matteo Messina Denaro has never wielded the power of predecessors such as Totó Riina or Bernardo Provenzano.

2) ‘Ndrangheta (Calabria)
The Calabrian outfit is thought to have been formed by Sicilians displaced from their nearby island home in the 19th century. Largely on the back of the cocaine trade it’s believed to have passed Cosa Nostra as the biggest grossing crime group in Italy.

3) Camorra (Naples)
It is often seen as the most anarchic and unstructured of the Mafia groups. It makes billions from cigarette and drug smuggling as well as counterfeiting and illegal waste dumping.

4) Sacra Corona Unita (Puglia)
Though the smallest and least known of Italy’s four main Mafia groups, Puglia’s Sacra Corona Unita still has a multi-billion pound turnover. Having emerged in only 1981, it has quickly learnt the tactics of the other crime syndicates.

5) Mafia Capitale (Rome)
But the big four are being joined by powerful new crime syndicates, police and prosecutors warn, and all are looking to big business rather than violence to make money.
Recently, evidence has emerged of a major new Mafia-type organisation in the Rome seaside suburb of Ostia. While in the city itself, Rome’s chief prosecutor this month ordered 37 arrests in a bid to decapitate what he called the Mafia Capitale, a group of Roman gangsters, businessmen, public officials and politicians, that has been skimming hundreds of millions of euros off public services, from contracts for refuse disposal to immigration holding centres.
Significantly, after years in which factions of the established Mafia groups have fought Roman turf wars, Mafia Capitale appears to have cooperated with ‘Ndrangheta, and the group’s leader, an ex-member of a far-right terror group was in the past linked to the city’s own Magliana gang of hoodlums – made famous by the TV drama Romanzo Criminale.

But in addition to new and shifting national alliances, Mafia groups are becoming more international in outlook. ‘Ndrangheta, however, has taken this approach to new levels with its domination of Europe’s cocaine trade. This year, a report written by 20 anti-Mafia experts, including senior prosecutors, said that lax EC regulations against money laundering meant that Mafia groups were benefiting from globalisation while “in contrast, EU states are suffering the consequences”.

‘Capital Mafia’: Rome mobster probe spreads across Italy

A massive investigation into collusion between a mafia-like gang – led by a one-eyed former fascist – and corrupt politicians in Rome has widened to other parts of the country, underscoring the pervasiveness of Italy’s crime syndicates.
Italian police arrested two suspected mobsters on Thursday as part of a sprawling investigation into a Roman criminal network that allegedly bribed senior city officials to obtain lucrative contracts.
The arrests for suspected mafia conspiracy are part of a probe showing links between businesses run by the gang and alleged members of the powerful Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta.
Last week, prosecutors in Rome said they had arrested 37 people and placed scores more under investigation, including suspected mobsters, neo-fascist militants, a former right-wing mayor of Rome, and members of the current centre-left administration.
All are suspected of involvement in a system of corruption allegedly run by Massimo Carminati, a notorious far-right extremist who lost an eye in a shoot-out with police in the 1980s and is sometimes referred to as “the last King of Rome”.
The widening investigation, dubbed “Capital Mafia”, has revealed a web of dirty deals between political figures and Carminati’s middlemen and cast light on the clout of Rome’s underworld.
Politicians are suspected of helping the mob’s businesses win lucrative public contracts, including to operate and service refugee centres and Roma camps.
According to wiretapped conversations, Carminati’s right-hand man Salvatore Buzzi – who bears an uncanny resemblance to veteran Hollywood mobster Joe Pesci – has boasted of “making more money with migrants than with drugs”.
Indigenous mafia
“Rome had long been regarded as a place where southern mafias could invest their money, but the latest investigations point to the development of an indigenous mafia specific to the capital,” says Mauro Favale of Italian daily La Repubblica.
The expansion of the investigation to include the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy's traditional mafia organisations, helps magistrates demonstrate that the Rome gang is itself an organised crime syndicate and can be prosecuted as such, allowing stiffer sentencing.
It also underscores the growing reach of the southern mafia, which has invested its profits from the cocaine trade by penetrating more respectable industries across Italy.
According to a statement from the paramilitary Carabinieri police, the two criminal groups traded favours regarding business interests in Rome and Calabria.
Police said the Roman mob handed a contract for daily cleaning at an open-air market on the capital’s Esquiline Hill to the Calabrian syndicate, who in turn agreed to allow businesses tied to the Roman gang to manage immigration and refugee centres in their territory in southern Italy.
“It’s unlikely the migrant centres are more lucrative than drugs, but they certainly give access to credits handed out by the government,” Favale told FRANCE 24.
Hotels and migrant centres receive about €30 euros a day per adult migrant, and up to €50 for minors, in return for providing shelter and a range of services such as Italian lessons and legal assistance. But aid organizations warn that criminal groups are exploiting the system and providing substandard services.
Umbrian haven
The mounting evidence of links between Roman and Calabrian clans comes a day after the Carabinieri carried out a rare mafia-related swoop in central Umbria, arresting 61 suspected mobsters linked to the ‘Ndrangheta.
A lush region famed for its rolling countryside and Renaissance art, Umbria had long been regarded as a “happy island” immune from the mafia.
But investigators say the southern crime syndicate has infiltrated the local solar panel industry and other businesses in the renewable energy sector, a frequent target of mobsters eager to cash in on state subsidies and launder profits made from drug trafficking.
Officials praised local businesses for cooperating in the investigation, noting that elsewhere in Italy people preyed on by the mafia are reluctant to do so for fear of retaliation.
Police said the mob had used arson and threats to force its way into Umbrian businesses, in some cases leaving petrol and severed lambs’ heads outside shops and private homes. Others were reminded of the ‘Ndrangheta’s habit of “burying opponents in cement”.
Test for Renzi
By Thursday, the string of mafia-related arrests had extended to Sardinia, where the owners of a waste-processing plant were detained in connection with the Roman probe.
Reports of the latest mafia swoops have dominated Italian newspaper headlines for days, putting pressure on Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to come up with a suitable response.
Renzi, 39, has vowed to stiffen penalties for wrongdoers, speed up legal proceedings, and evict the bad apples from his ruling Democratic Party (PD).
Analysts have warned that he will need to act fast to stem the scandal, which has undermined his efforts to break the mould of Italian politics. But few Italians expect to see a breakthrough in the battle against organised crime.
“Capital Mafia” has prompted yet another bout of soul-searching in a country accustomed to tales of collusion between politicians and the mob, adding to the general sense of impotence.
“Officials like to trumpet the arrest of dozens of mafiosi, but the truth is that criminal networks continue to infiltrate Italy’s economy and political establishment,” said La Repubblica’s Favale. “Clearly something isn’t working in our strategy to combat the mafia.”

Yomiuri Giants win suit against tabloid over claims of bribery, ties to yakuza

By Tokyo Reporter

TOKYO (TR) – The Tokyo District Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the Yomiuri Giants baseball club in a libel suit against a weekly tabloid over articles appearing three years ago that claimed the team bribed young players and maintains ties to organized crime groups, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 17).
Presiding judge Masako Ishikuri ordered Nihon Journal, the Tokyo-based publisher of Shukan Jitsuwa, to pay 2.2 million in compensation to the Giants, which had sought 33 million yen.
“Without any substance in the coverage, it can not be said that (the articles) have a reason to be believed,” said Ishikuri.
The content of the three articles, which ran in the magazine between November of 2011 and April of the following year, indicated that the Giants paid bribes of between 1.8 billion and 3.6 billion yen to top picks in the amateur draft to encourage them to sign with the club. The magazine also claimed that the team holds relationships with gangsters in order to prevent internal scandals from surfacing.
An article appearing in the November 24 issue specifically mentions Tomoyuki Sugano, the number-one pick by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the 2011 draft. The right-handed pitcher sat out the 2012 season and re-entered the draft that November, in which he was selected by Yomiuri.
The same story specifically mentions the involvement of manager Tatsunori Hara, who is Sugano’s uncle. (In 2012, different tabloid alleged that the skipper paid off a gangster to quash a story about an adulterous relationship.)
A representative of the Yomiuri Giants, which is owned by media conglomerate Yomiuri Group, applauded the judgment.
“We do not accept the ruling of the court,” said an editor at Nihon Journal, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Dec. 17).

Climbing the Mafia ladder: Accused Ontario mobster named a wanted fugitive after boss murdered in Sicily

Adrian Humphreys

The vicious cycle of gangland life is perfectly told in the muscular, tattooed form of Daniele Ranieri, named Wednesday by Canadian police as a wanted fugitive: he took his place as a police target after the murder in Sicily of his crime boss, a killer who, in turn, replaced a hulking mobster publicly gunned down in Toronto.
The deadly path to leadership of a mob-backed crew hardly deters men like Ranieri, who was so enamoured of the underworld he had “Cosa Nostra” tattooed on his chest.
“In their world, being killed is not an abnormality. Eventually these guys meet their demise, they play a high stakes game,” said Insp. Dieter Boeheim of York Regional Police intelligence bureau.
“He lives in that world, the world of The Godfather. Some of the guys need to get their hands dirty to progress.”
Tuesday, when police raided six premises in Project Forza, the Italian word for “strength,” their prime target was not found: Ranieri had left for Cuba two weeks before and is believed to still be there. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, and police consider him “armed and dangerous.”
Ranieri, 30, of Bolton, Ont., was featured in a lengthy National Post exposé in October about the murder in Sicily of two mobsters from Canada. It was his visit to Sicily on July 6, 2012, that inadvertently revealed Juan Ramon Fernandez, allegedly Ranieri’s boss, had moved there from Canada, sparking a large anti-Mafia probe.
Ranieri was under surveillance the moment he got off the plane in Palermo, with an officer in Sicily saying he stood out: “Typical of American gangsters — big muscles and tattoos.”
Police say Ranieri took over leadership of the crew from Fernandez, after he was ambushed and his body burned outside Palermo in April 2013. Fernandez, in turn, had seized control from Gaetano “Guy” Panepinto, a mobster who ran a discount coffin business before his own murder in 2000.
The men named alongside him Wednesday add to that colourful, violent cast of characters, described by police as a dangerous crime group that forged bonds in prison.
“They are a sight to behold,” said Insp. Boeheim.
Justin McPolin, 38, of Toronto, is a 6 ft. 2 in. former professional hockey player, recruited into the Ontario Hockey League as an enforcer for the London Knights. His sports claim to fame was tallying 281 penalty minutes in 43 games and being banned for punching a referee. He is charged with extortion, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and attempt to obstruct justice.
Like Ranieri, Lucas Day, 41, of Toronto, was not found when police moved to arrest him and is named as a fugitive. He has a manslaughter conviction and assaulted a prison guard while behind bars. He is considered armed and dangerous.
Danny Rubino, 44, of Vaughan, is both a singer and a longtime subject of interest to York police who was a close friend of Fernandez when the mobster lived in Ontario. He was frequently heard on wiretaps chatting with Fernandez, doing his bidding.
“When you get home put an empty cassette in the machine there for eleven o’clock tonight on channel 271,” Fernandez told him in 2001, recorded on a police wiretap. “It’s the thing on the Mafia. It’s supposed to be really good there. Get it taped.”
“OK,” replied Rubino.
He is charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Also arrested were: Craig Hall, 38, of Toronto, charged with trafficking in cocaine and heroin; and Richard Maciel, 36, of Toronto, and Arkadiusz Bukinski, 38, of Milton, Ont., both charged with parole violation.
I could get killed if he f — ks up because I bring him to the table
Ranieri was Fernandez’s favourite, acting as his eyes and ears in Ontario after Fernandez was deported from Canada and settled in Sicily.
Fernandez even said he was trying to have Ranieri officially inducted into the Mafia, according to wiretaps recorded by police in Italy and obtained by the Post.
“I want to ‘make’ Dani,” Fernandez told a visitor from Canada in March 2013. “I want make Dani a made man.”
“F — k, he’ll cry,” his visitor said. “He will be so happy he’ll cry.”
“Because he’s my guy,” Fernandez continued, “so I am responsible, I could get killed if he f — ks up because I bring him to the table and I vouch for him.”
And Fernandez vowed to protect Ranieri if anyone in Ontario moved against him.
“I go back in a heartbeat; something happens to Dani, they’ll all get it the same day,” he bellowed.
Fernandez’s murder prompted police in Canada to re-evaluate their investigation of the crew. It was always an important link because Fernandez was a key representative for Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto in Ontario.
Is Ranieri less of a threat with Fernandez dead or is he more of a threat? We sat down as a team and assessed it and concluded he was more of a threat and we needed to do something about,” said Supt. Keith Finn of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“Some may see [arrest] as a cost of doing business,” said Supt. Finn. “Is it a deterrent? I would like to think so, but I am not naive enough to think it will stop them from doing what their doing.”
York police Inspector Michael Slack said Ranieri surrounded himself with hardmen with extensive criminal records for guns, drugs and violence.
“Many of Ranieri’s crime-group associates have a high propensity to commit violent crimes and have served time in prison for aggravated assault, forcible confinement and murder,” he said.
Despite Ranieri’s brashness, he may have learned a thing or two from old-school mobsters while visiting Fernandez in Sicily.

Soon after his return, he reportedly had his Cosa Nostra tattoo inked over.

Genovese Organized Crime Family Soldier and Two Crime Family Associates Admit Racketeering Conspiracy

Written by F.B.I. Newark Office

NEWARK, NJ—Three North Jersey men today admitted conspiring to conduct or participate in the affairs of the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese family”) through a pattern of racketeering activity, including a conspiracy to extort members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) for Christmastime tribute payments, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.
Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, New Jersey, a Genovese family soldier, and two other Genovese family associates – Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, New Jersey, former president of ILA Local 1235 and former ILA executive vice president; and Nunzio LaGrasso, 64, of Florham Park, New Jersey, former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and ILA representative – pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court. All three pleaded guilty to Count One of the second superseding indictment charging them with racketeering conspiracy. Depiro admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and bookmaking. Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and multiple extortions.
 According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since at least 2005, Depiro has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront – including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in ILA Local 1, ILA Local 1235 and ILA Local 1478. Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmastime each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235 and vice president of ILA Local 1478. Depiro also controlled a sports betting package that was managed by several others, through the use of an overseas sports betting operation.
During their guilty plea proceedings, Depiro, Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted their involvement in the Genovese family, including conspiring to compel tribute payments from ILA union members, who made the payments based on actual and threatened force, violence and fear. Cernadas and LaGrasso admitted to carrying out multiple extortions of dockworkers. The timing of the extortions typically coincided with the receipt by certain ILA members of “Container Royalty Fund” checks, a form of year-end compensation.
The racketeering charge to which Depiro, Cernadas and LaGrasso pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled as follows: Cernadas, Jan. 16, 2015; LaGrasso, March 9, 2015; and Depiro, March 10, 2015.
U.S. Attorneys Fishman and Lynch credited the FBI in New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and in New York, under the direction of Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos, as well as the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas. They also thanked the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mahajan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.
Defense counsel:
Depiro: Alyssa Cimino Esq., Fairfield, New Jersey
Cernadas: Joseph Hayden Esq., Roseland, New Jersey
LaGrasso: Michael Critchley, Sr., Esq., Roseland

Report: Judge lights into mobster at sentencing; 'You're bad for America,' he says

By Frank Donnelly 
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A federal judge lit into a Genovese organized crime family capo from Tottenville while sentencing him for extortion, telling the defendant he is "bad for America," according to a published report.
"Your behavior disgusts me," District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Brooklyn federal court recently told Conrad Ianniello, 71, before sentencing the mobster to three years in prison, said a report in the Daily News.
Last year, Ianniello pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, federal prosecutors said.
The Genovese captain conspired with other purported wiseguys in 2008 to muscle out a labor union trying to organize workers at a Long Island company, said court papers.
Their goal was to pave the way for an alleged Genovese associate, who was an official at another union, to unionize the company instead, prosecutors charge.
In an April 17, 2008, wiretap, Ianniello allegedly thanked co-defendant and Genovese associate, Ryan Ellis, for delivering a message to the union not to organize the Long Island company.
"You got his (expletive) attention. He called me," court papers quote him as saying. "He says they got nasty. ... I said, 'I got your (expletive) attention now, don't I?'"
Garaufis blew up after Ianniello apologized to his family before the judge imposed sentence, said the report.
"You need to apologize to this country," the report quoted Garaufis as saying. ... "When organized crime figures try to influence the lawful process of organizing a workplace with a labor union, the rights of many people are adversely affected."
"I'm tired of mobsters coming into this courtroom and apologizing to their families when they should apologize to their country," said Garaufis, according to the report.
The mob big's criminal history dates back four decades, court papers said.
He was convicted in November 1972 of felony grand larceny and sentenced to five years' probation.
Later, in October 1986, he was convicted of felony drug possession and misdemeanor weapon possession and sentenced to 100 months to life. Court papers don't say when he was released from prison.
In a pre-sentencing memorandum, his lawyer, Lisa Scolari, had requested a sentence beneath the guideline range of 33 to 41 months in prison.
She said he earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral science while incarcerated for the latter conviction and helped fellow inmates renew their driver's licenses, seek employment and enter post-release programs.
Ms. Scolari said Ianniello had worked his entire life, most recently as a union steamfitter. She submitted a letter from his boss of 10 years who called Ianniello an "exemplary" employee who "does not shirk any task no matter how arduous or dangerous."

Head of FBI's Boston office says he's concerned expansion of casino gaming will increase public corruption cases

By PHILIP MARCELO, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — The head of the FBI's Boston office said Monday he's concerned the expansion of casino gambling might lead to an increase in public corruption and financial and organized crime.
Special Agent Vincent Lisi, whose office covers Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, said the industry's growth provides "fertile ground" for bribery, fraud and abuse. "When you look at legalized gaming, you have a heavy amount of regulation, along with a lucrative business," he said. "Those two factors combined make for pretty fertile grounds for corruption of public officials."
Lisi made the comments Monday as the Boston office announced it will launch a dedicated, toll-free tip line focused on public corruption: 1-844-NOBRIBE (662-7423). It will also launch a billboard advertising campaign called "Stop Corruption Now" and will promote the initiative through Facebook. Tips also can be submitted online at
The American Gaming Association, a casino industry trade group, responded in a statement: "Study after study has shown that fears about increased crime after a new casino opens are unfounded, and gaming operators in Massachusetts and elsewhere are committed to upholding the integrity of our highly-regulated industry."
In Massachusetts, the state licenses and regulates casino operators and assesses state taxes on their gambling profits while cities and towns are charged with issuing local building and zoning permits and assessing local property taxes.
Lisi stressed that the tip line is not a direct response to the burgeoning regional casino industry.
Instead, he said it's prompted by a steady rise in public corruption-related cases the office has dealt with in recent years. Among them: the 2013 sentencing of a Rhode Island man in a kickback scheme that defrauded the U.S. Navy of nearly $18 million and the 2011 conviction of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi on bribery charges.
"If you look at some of the cases we've had in the past, you'd think they'd be deterrents and that there would be a decline in the numbers that we've had," Lisi said. "That's not been the case."
But at least in Massachusetts, potential criminal activity has been a prominent part of the public debate over the casino industry.
For example, three owners of the waterfront land that Wynn Resorts plans to build into a $1.6 billion resort casino in Everett face federal wire fraud charges. They allegedly tried to hide from state regulators and the casino company the fact that a convicted felon and known mob associate named Charles Lightbody would profit from the land deal, in violation of state statutes.
And the state gambling commission is conducting an inquiry after The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the IRS has requested information on Wynn's clients, domestic and overseas marketing offices and internal controls. The newspaper said federal authorities are probing whether the Las Vegas-based gambling giant violated money laundering laws.
Lisi said the federal case dealing with the Everett land sale is ongoing; he declined to comment on the apparent IRS investigation into money laundering.

Fight Over Giancana Memorabilia in Vegas


     LAS VEGAS (CN) - A defunct Mafia museum claims an auction house sold dozens of articles once owned by Sam Giancana, though the museum owns them - having bought them from the late Chicago boss's daughter.
     The Mafia Collection LLC sued Munari Auctions and William Woolery on Monday, in Clark County Court.
     The Mafia Collection claims that it warned Munari that it owned the Giancana collection, but Munari auctioned them off on Nov. 22 anyway.
     It's a rather tangled tale.
     The Mafia Collection claims in the lawsuit that it paid $23,300 to buy the artifacts from Giancana's daughter, Antoinette McDonnell, in 2009, and that has the bill of sale. It bought the articles for the now-closed Las Vegas Mob Experience, which featured artifacts from many prominent gangsters.
     The artifacts include photographs, court documents, furnishings and personal effects once owned by Giancana and passed on to his daughter.
     McDonnell initially was a paid consultant for the Las Vegas Mob Experience, which was owned and operated by Murder Inc., according to a Las Vegas Review article on a previous lawsuit 2011.
     The Las Vegas Mob Experience was an interactive exhibit housed in the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel and casino from 2011 to 2013. It featured artifacts from Giancana, Bugsy Siegel, Anthony Spilotro and others.
     Before that exhibit opened, McDonnell sued Murder Inc. and the Mafia Collection in Clark County Court. McDonnell claimed the Mafia Collection never paid her for Giancana's items and that the selling price was too low.
     In the present lawsuit, the Mafia Collection calls that lawsuit "frivolous," and says that a judge ruled against McDonnell in July this year and ordered her not to get rid of the artifacts in question.
     But McDonnell turned over the stuff to Munari Auctions, according to the lawsuit, and Munari sold some or all of them in November.
     The Sam Giancana Estate Auction featured 152 "lots," including photos, documents, furniture and police and coroner reports about the mobster's 1975 murder in his Chicago home, according to the auction catalogue.
     The Mafia Collection claims that Munari's auction was "reckless and done in circumvention of the law, court order and the directive of the artifacts' owner" and done "for the gain and profit of both McDonnell and itself."
     Some or all of the artifacts are housed and controlled by McDonnell's "appointed agent in fact," William R. Woolery, according to the lawsuit.
     Mafia Collection seeks declaratory judgment that it owns the articles, possession of it, and damages for conversion.
     Giancana was boss of the Chicago mob from 1957 to 1966. His alleged ties to President John F. Kennedy and the CIA are the stuff of legend. The CIA allegedly sought his help to assassinate Fidel Castro. Giancana was shot in the head in his Chicago home in 1975. He was 67. 

Mafia in the middle

Italian mobsters have spread from the south northward

IN THE crime movie “The Italian Job” Charlie, played by Michael Caine, upsets a mafia boss by trespassing on his turf to steal gold. The plot is entertaining, but absurd: the film is set in Turin in 1969, when organised crime in Italy was confined to the downtrodden south.
No longer. On December 10th police arrested 61 people in an operation against the ’Ndrangheta, the mafia from Calabria, the toe of Italy. Such dragnets are common. But this one was launched from Perugia, the capital of Umbria, a region famed for beautiful hilltop towns and Renaissance art—not for mobsters.
Operation Fourth Step was the most startling sign yet of the pervasiveness of Italy’s traditional mafias. Police found evidence that Calabrian gangsters settled in Umbria had planned a murder and violently intimidated shopkeepers, builders and others.
Of all Italy’s main organised-crime groups, the ’Ndrangheta has the deepest roots outside the south. A six-year investigation culminating in 2010 found that its presence in the industrial north was extensive. More than 150 people were arrested.
There are two causes of the spread of Italy’s mafias. One is that richer parts of the country offer more possibilities for laundering the proceeds of crime. The other is a 1956 law that allowed mafiosi to be uprooted from their normal surroundings and sent north. In Umbria investigators point to a third factor: two high-security prisons, which mean that relatives of jailed mobsters have bought houses in the area so they can visit their loved ones more easily.
Operation Fourth Step shifted attention away from another organised-crime scandal, in Rome. Arrests on December 2nd highlighted a gang that has established close links with local officials and politicians of left and right. Prosecutors call the gang, which is led by a one-eyed former far-right terrorist, Mafia Capitale. Its bosses are known to have had links with established crime syndicates. But it is unclear whether they aspired, like genuine mafiosi, to replace the authorities by asserting territorial control of a specific area.
What is most alarming is the ease with which they suborned officials to win contracts for firms in their sway. Among those accused of taking the gang’s money are a former head of Rome’s waste-management company and a former boss of a big municipal property scheme. Most skulduggery took place while Gianni Alemanno, a former neo-fascist, was mayor. But the mobsters also had good relations with several leading members from the centre-left Democratic party (PD). One was arrested.
The PD’s leader (and prime minister), Matteo Renzi, has moved swiftly to limit the damage by announcing a bill to stiffen the penalties for corruption. If it survives its passage through parliament it will be a welcome step in the right direction for a country that earlier this month slipped to joint last place in the European Union in Transparency International’s corruption-perceptions index.

'Mafia capital': Rome hit by mobster scandal

Mafia gangsters, corrupt politicians and a one-eyed former terrorist made millions in Rome by exploiting migrants and gipsies

By Nick Squires, Rome

A toxic mix of mafia gangsters, corrupt politicians and a one-eyed former terrorist made millions in Rome by exploiting migrants and gipsies, it emerged on Wednesday, in a scandal that has seriously shaken the capital's faith in its leaders.
Mobsters operating in the capital boasted that they made more out of rigging contracts and embezzling money intended for refugee and migrant centres than they did from the drug trade.
Even for a country inured to corruption scandals and the pervasive influence of organised crime, the extent of the alleged collaboration between criminals, politicians and even members of the secret services is shocking.
"Rome, Mafia capital" was the headline in one newspaper, while another publication spoke of a "political-judicial earthquake" rippling through the city.
Police on Tuesday arrested 37 people, charging them with extortion, corruption, fraud, money laundering and embezzlement.
They placed under investigation another 100 prominent politicians and businessmen, including Gianni Alemanno, a former mayor of Rome with far-Right political leanings.
Mr Alemanno, a former political ally of Silvio Berlusconi and mayor of Rome until last year, stepped down on Wednesday from his various posts within the Brothers of Italy political party, which traces its origins to the fascist regime of Mussolini. His home was searched by police looking for evidence of alleged rigging of public contracts.
The city's anti-corruption tsar, Italo Walter, was also named in the investigation.
Prosecutors said they suspected that "elements of the forces of order and the secret services" were caught up in the scandal as well.
Of those arrested, the most high-profile was Massimo Carminati, 56, who lost an eye during a shoot-out with police in the early 1980s.
Dubbed "the last king of Rome" by fellow criminals, he was given a ten-year prison term in 1998 for his involvement with the Magliana Gang, the capital's most notorious and ruthless criminal network, which was at its most powerful in the 1970s and 1980s.
Carminati is a former member of the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei, a far-Right group that was involved in the bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980, in which 85 people died.
While regarded as a ruthless thug by the authorities, Carminati also has an artistic side - when police raided his home, they found art works by Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol adorning the walls and confiscated tens of millions of euros' worth of assets.
In previous wire taps, he boasted of reigning over a "demi-world", a shadowy realm where corrupt members of the establishment encounter criminals, with himself as arbitrator and facilitator. "It's like there are the living above, and the dead below," he said.
In another intercepted conversation, members of his alleged gang discussed the effectiveness of intimidating opponents with their firearm of choice, the Russian-made, semi-automatic Makarov pistol, equipped with a silencer.
On Wednesday the scope of the investigation widened, with prosecutors releasing wire-tapped conversations which suggested that criminal bosses and corrupt politicians conspired to embezzle state money that was supposed to be used to run facilities for immigrants and refugee centres.
"Do you have any idea how much I make on these immigrants?" Salvatore Buzzi, Carminati's right-hand man, was heard saying when police intercepted his phone calls. "Drug trafficking is less profitable".
"We closed this year with turnover of 40 million but ... our profits all came from the gipsies, on the housing emergency and on the immigrants," he said.
Giuseppe Pignatone, the chief prosecutor in the capital, said: "With this operation we have answered the question of whether the mafia exists in Rome. The answer is that it certainly does."
He said the gangsters caught up in the investigation did not belong to Italy's established mafias, such as Cosa Nostra in Sicily or the Camorra around Naples, but rather to a different, Rome-based criminal underworld.
The scale of the corruption and the cynical exploitation of vulnerable people such as refugees and Roma gipsies was condemned across Italy.
"The investigation into Rome as the mafia capital reveals a disgusting, horrifying situation which goes beyond even the darkest hypothesis," Federconsumatori, a consumers' rights group, said in a statement.

Mafia Sweep Nets Reputed Gambino Underboss

(NEW YORK) -- The reputed underboss of New York's Gambino crime family was arrested Thursday in Brooklyn.
Francesco Palmieri is wanted in Italy for extortion. About 30 FBI agents and Italian authorities raided his apartment and arrested him as part of a larger crackdown on the mafia in Milan, Matera and New York, Italian police said.
Palmieri was among eight people arrested, including five in Italy and three in the United States, and charged in a blackmail conspiracy. Italian police said the group tried to extort the owner of a climate control systems company in Basilicata in southern Italy out of more than $1 million.
Another man, John Grillo, described by authorities as a "key figure" in the case, was arrested at the airport in Milan just before he boarded a flight to New York on a one-way ticket.
Italian police linked Thursday’s arrests to an investigation that began over a year ago as a follow up to an operation known as "New Bridge." That case closed last February with the arrest of 26 purported mobsters who operated a drug trafficking route between Calabria, Italy, and the United States.