Mobster's Grandson Elected Mayor of New York Village

Sunday, 26 Apr 2015 10:56 PM

By Greg McDonald

Philip Gigante, grandson of Genovese crime-family godfather Vincent "The Chin" Gigante is the new mayor of Airmont, New York, and not all the townsfolk are happy about it, the New York Post reports.
"It’s frightening for not just me but all village residents aware of his background," one businessman told the Post, but said he didn't want his name used, fearing "retribution."
"If you were a resident living a couple of blocks from Village Hall, would you want to be named?" the man told the paper. "I’m not sure what he’s capable of, considering his family’s background."
But Gigante says residents have nothing to fear and that his concerns lie only with the well-being of Airmont. The 41-year-old is a real estate lawyer and also owns a trucking business with his father Salvatore.
The business is legitimate and was built from the ground up by his parents, Gigante said.
"People are free to believe what they wish. My actions and accomplishments should speak for themselves," the Republican mayor said.
In the March 18 election, Gigante beat Planning Board member Thomas Gulla and Trustee Ralph Bracco. Gigante received 904 votes, to Gulla's 689 and Bracco's 261.
The Rockland County Times reported on Gigante's family background just days before the election, noting that Vincent Gigante did not induct his children into the crime family, but set them up in legitimate businesses.
Neither of Gigante's opponents made an issue of his infamous grandfather during the race.
"I wouldn’t do that to another candidate," Gulla said. "Whatever his grandfather did for a living is not a reflection on him."
Bracco concurred, saying, "I didn’t want to get in using negatives."
Vincent Gigante ordered a hit on Gambino crime boss John Gotti in 1986 that failed. After Gotti was sent to prison, Gigante became the most powerful mobster in the United States.
He was also known for his act of pretending to insane. He earned the nickname "The Oddfather" for walking the streets near his mother's apartment in a bathrobe, pajamas and slippers while muttering to himself in an effort to conceal his leadership role in the crime family.

He eventually was convicted of running rackets and conspiring to kill Gotti and anther mobster. He died in federal prison in 2005.

5 Little-Known Historic Mob Locations In Kansas City


Many Kansas Citians have heard of the Union Station Massacre or the River Quay explosion — two of the more infamous episodes in KC's mobster history. But what about the lesser-known mob landmarks?
Gary Jenkins, a retired KCMO police officer, created a new app that reveals the history behind all of those spots. He talked to Central Standard's Gina Kaufmann about Kansas City Mob Tour.
Here is Jenkins's list of the five little-known historic mob locations in town:
•           Last Chance Saloon: Located near State Line Road and Southwest Boulevard (where the QuickTrip now stands). The Last Chance Saloon was run by a mobster named Goulding in the 1950s before there were zoning laws. Half of the club was on the Missouri side, and the other was on the Kansas side. Legend states that when cops would show up to the saloon, all of the staff and patrons would simply walk over to the other side of the saloon and therefore across the state line, thereby avoiding prosecution.
•           First Ward Democratic Club: It stood at the corner of Truman and Charlotte (which is now a parking lot). On April 5, 1950, the "2 Charlies" — Charles Binaggio and his underboss, Charles "Mad Dog" Gargotta —  left the Last Chance Saloon to meet some mob associates at another mob-run establishment, the First Ward Democratic Club. They told other mobsters at the Last Chance Saloon they would return in a few minutes. They never did. The next morning, employees of the First Ward Democratic Club found the bodies of the two Charlies in a pool of blood. Strangely, their bodies were lying below a large poster of a smiling Harry Truman. The crime remains unsolved.
•           1423 Baltimore: In the 1950s, the building was home to the Downtown "Bridge” Club. Bridge was not played there — illegal gambling was. It was a notorious mobster hotspot run by Nick Civella, who would later go on to be a mob boss.
•           The Coates House Hotel: Now Quality Hill Apartments, located on the southeast corner of 10th and Broadway. The Coates House Hotel was a hotspot of mob activity in the 1940s and 1950s. There was a convenience store that sold newspapers, tobacco, bubble gum etc. out of the first floor lobby that was a front for mob activities.
•           Tallman's Grill: Now the popular jazz club the Phoenix, located at 8th and Central. Tallman’s Grill was the place to eat for mobsters in the 1930s and 1940s. It also was where mobsters would get their race results.
Other interesting locations, according to Jenkins:
•           The Trap (or Northview Social Club) at 5th and Troost. All the mob guys socialized in its card room.
•           Villa Capri: The most important spot in the 1970s. Part of the block has been torn down, including the actual address of the Villa.This was a nightclub where plans were discussed to murder people and to skim money from Las Vegas. The famous scene in the film Casino showed a guy talking about the Vegas skim in the back of a store.The actual conversation took place at the Villa Capri.
•           The Virginia Inn at the corner of Admiral and Virginia. This building is gone, but this is where three masked men entered the crowded tavern and shot the three Spero brothers (Mike was killed; Joe and Carl were wounded).
•           The Park Central apartment at 300 East Armour is where mob boss Johnny Lazia was killed in the 1930s.
Ed. note: The name of prominent Kansas City mobster Nick Civella was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

US Treasury Freezes Assets of Japanese Yakuza


The U.S. Treasury Department says it has taken action against a major affiliate of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest and most prominent "yakuza" crime syndicate.
Treasury says it has targeted the Kodo-kai and its chairman Teruaki Takeuchi, with designations as "significant transnational criminal operations." The designation freezes any assets held in the United States by the organization and its chairman. It also prohibits U.S. firms and individuals from doing business with them.
John E. Smith, the acting director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, says the new sanctions build on the agency's efforts to undermine the yakuza financially and protect the U.S. financial system from the crime syndicate's illicit activities.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2011 targeting the yakuza and authorizing sanctions against members and supporters.

Tokyo cops arrest yakuza for extortion in Shibuya

By Tokyo Reporter o

A Yamaguchi-gumi allegedly demanded payment from a restaurant's street tout
 Shibuya, Tokyo
TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Saturday announced the arrest of an organized crimemember for extorting a restaurant in Shibuya Ward, reports TV Asahi (April 11).
Officers took Motohiko Suzuki, a 32-year-old member of the Yamaguchi-gumi, into custody for demanding payment — specifically mikajimeryo, or protection money — from a tout for the establishment’s street tout in a business district near the Shibuya Mark City complex on Thursday evening.
According to police, Suzuki had previously to offer “problem-solving” services for the restaurant.
Suzuki has reportedly denied the allegations. “I didn’t make a verbal request for money,” the suspect is quoted by police.

Photos Allegedly Linking an Olympic Official to the Yakuza Keep Causing Him Problems

By Jake Adelstein

For months, people have seen photos circulating online that allegedly show Japan Olympic Committee Vice Chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka hobnobbing with Japanese yakuza bosses. But on Tuesday, Japan saw its first significant official response to the photos.
At a House of Representatives committee hearing, Diet member Yoshio Maki demanded an independent investigation into the allegations surrounding Tanaka. Maki did so while displaying paper copies of several news reports, including a story published by VICE News in November. That story marked the first time the above photo was published, showing a smiling Tanaka sitting to the right of Shinobu Tsukasa, the head of Japan's largest yakuza syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Tanaka also serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Japan University [Nihon Daigaku], which has reportedly received more than $100 million in subsidies from the Japanese government. The 2020 Olympics are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, as is Japan University. But Minister of Education Hakubun Shimomura told Maki at the committee meeting that he had been unaware of the problem.
Despite making several attempts, VICE News was unable to reach Tanaka after the meeting.
Last September, reporters for the Keiten Newspaper obtained the photo of Tanaka and the Yamaguchi-gumi supreme boss. But before the newspaper could publish the photo, its reporters were attacked and severely injured. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Organized Crime Control Division is still investigating the case, and no arrests have been made yet. (VICE News obtained the photo independently.)
Related: This may be the most dangerous — and most costly — photo in Japan
Yakuza is a term encapsulating Japan's 21 organized crime groups that boast an estimated 60,000 members. They exist as semi-legal entities with offices, business cards, and fan magazines, and make their money from racketeering, loan sharking, fraud, extortion, stock market manipulation, adult entertainment, and construction.
The estimated cost of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is more than $50 billion, which means there's a lot of money to be made in building and refurbishing Olympic facilities. The yakuza are said to collect about 5 percent of all construction revenue in Japan.
 Maki holds up a January VICE News story about Tanaka at the committee meeting on Tuesday.
At Tuesday's meeting, Maki addressed his concerns about Tanaka and questioned the Ministry of Education about its response to the articles in the English press.
"We asked the JOC (Japan Olympic Committee) and the university about these allegations," a ministry official said, "and were told that there was no problem."
Maki called the ministry's response "extremely lax," and said that when he spoke to "key figures" at Japan University, they told him that they were aware of Tanaka's ties to the yakuza — and afraid for their lives if they went public.
When contacted by VICE News last year, a spokesperson at Japan University said: "The university received these photos of Tanaka with the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi along with a written threat in early September and have filed a report with the police on charges of intimidation. Mr. Tanaka has no memory of ever meeting these individuals, and we consider the photos to be fakes."
Several sources, including police, told VICE News that the photos are authentic.
At the committee meeting, Maki asked a National Police Agency official to clarify whether a criminal complaint had been filed or not, but the police official twice refused to comment.
After he finished his questioning, Maki told VICE News: "I have spoken to officials at the university who said that they were shown the photographs of Tanaka with a yakuza boss by Tanaka himself, who used the photos to intimidate them and warn them of the consequences of opposing him. They are very afraid for their lives and afraid to oppose Tanaka for fear of what will happen to them. I believe the photos are real."
Maki suggested at the meeting that the Ministry of Education create an independent investigation committee and look into the matter.
"This is the first time I've heard of the problem," Shimomura told Maki. "We will consider creating an investigative panel in the ministry or having the university create a third-party investigative committee. I personally would like to conduct an inquiry."
It was a surprisingly enthusiastic answer from Shimomura, who has received donations from a Yamaguchi-gumi front company and has recently been under scrutiny for his alleged association with a Yamaguchi-gumi associate named Masahiro Toyokawa, who donated money to Shimomura and helped create a political support group for him.
 The US Government has blacklisted two of the yakuza bosses allegedly photographed with Tanaka and forbidden association with them and their organization. Under an executive order from President Barak Obama, the Department of Treasury has frozen about $55,000 of yakuza holdings, according to Bloomberg. It is illegal in Japan to pay off the yakuza or work with them.
Tanaka, according to a university spokesman, has admitted to meeting Yamaguchi-gumi consigliere Kyo Eichu in the late 1990s, but said that it was not a close relationship. The meeting was reportedly to seek help in getting Sumo made an official Olympic sport.
Nevertheless, neither Japan's Olympic Committee nor the body that oversees it, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), appear to be especially troubled by the allegations. In an email, an IOC spokesman told VICE News that it not their job to keep criminal elements out of the Japan 2020 Olympics, and that the IOC has not investigated.
"The IOC, as a sports organization, does not have any law enforcement power or jurisdiction," the spokesman said. "If there is any proof or evidence of an individual's involvement in criminal activities, it would be up to the Japanese public prosecution and criminal court to prosecute and to sanction such an individual."
The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which made the successful bid for the 2020 Olympics, has been dogged by allegations of organized crime connections. Eriko Yamatani, whom Abe appointed to be the head of the Public Safety Commission — it oversees the National Police Agency — had a history of association with the yakuza-backed right wing group Zaitokukai. The group has been labeled a public security risk by the National Police Agency. According to police sources, the group was created with the backing of the Yamaguchi-gumi and until recently also had close ties to the Sumiyoshi-kai, Japan's 2nd largest crime group.
Prime Minister Abe himself has been photographed with a major financier of the Yamaguchi-gumi and members of the Zaitokukai, but has denied knowing them.
The alleged yakuza ties are not the only scandal plaguing Tanaka. According to an article published in February in the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, Tanaka allegedly received a kickback of about $42,000 related to a construction project connected to the university.

Follow Jake Adelstein on Twitter: @jakeadelstein

London Mafia Mobster's Sentence 'Extinguished'

Domenico Rancadore, known as "The Professor", spent two decades hiding out in Britain before his arrest.
A mafia gangster who was due to be extradited to Italy from the UK has been told he no longer has to serve his sentence.
Domenico Rancadore, known as "The Professor", hid out in Britain for more than 20 years until he was discovered living in west London in 2013.
Italian authorities wanted the 65-year-old returned to his native country because they said should spend time in jail for being head of an organised crime group.
He lost his battle against extradition in February but it emerged on Wednesday that the punishment he was due to serve has been "extinguished" since last October.
His solicitor Karen Todner said: "Domenico Rancadore's sentence in Italy extinguished due to age of conviction.
"I have sent a consent order for the discharge of Rancadore to the Crown Prosecution Service to sign."
Before his arrest, Rancadore was living in Uxbridge with his family under the name Marc Skinner.
After a year-and-a-half long extradition battle, the Sicilian was told he must return to Italy to serve his seven-year sentence.
He was never convicted of murder but was tried in his absence in 1999 for "association with the Mafia" because he was a member of the Cosa Nostra.
The mobster claimed he came to England out of fear in 1995 as he wanted to give his "children a good life" and that he felt "their life wasn't secure" in Italy.
He was first arrested on a European arrest warrant at his semi-detached London home in August 2013.
His lawyers initially defeated an attempt to extradite him on human rights grounds in March 2014 but they failed at a second attempt this year.
It is understood that under Italian law, although a conviction stands, a sentence expires once a period of more than double the time of the penalty has passed.
With a seven-year sentence, the 14-year period would have elapsed some time last year.

Florham Park man gets prison time for role in mafia

Staff report 1

A Florham Park resident was sentenced Wednesday to 28 months in prison for his role in the affairs of the Genovese organized crime family.
Nunzio LaGrasso, 64, engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity by extorting tribute payments at Christmas time from members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), according to a press release from New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
LaGrasso, who had been vice president of ILA Local 1478, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to racketeering conspiracy. LaGrasso admitted to conspiracy to commit extortion and extortion.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since at least 2005, co-defendant Stephen Depiro, 59, of Kenilworth, has managed the Genovese family’s control over the New Jersey waterfront—including the nearly three-decades-long extortion of port workers in local unions.
Members of the Genovese family, including Depiro, are charged with conspiring to collect tribute payments from New Jersey port workers at Christmas each year through their corrupt influence over union officials, including the last three presidents of Local 1235 and vice president of ILA Local 1478.
During their guilty plea proceedings, LaGrasso, Depiro and co-defendant Albert Cernadas, 79, of Union, former president of ILA Local 1235 and former ILA executive vice president, 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.
LaGrasso and Cernadas 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.
In addition to the prison term, Cecchi sentenced LaGrasso to two years of supervised release and fined him $25,000. Cernadas was previously sentenced to probation and DePiro is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

Mob-connected matriach Eleonora Gigliotti ordered held without bail after she allegedly orders beatdown


She's one rough mama.
The matriarch of a mob-connected family charged with using their Italian restaurant in Queens to facilitate drug trafficking schooled her husband on the art of a beatdown, the feds said.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Sandra Townes ordered Eleonora Gigliotti held without bail Friday and appeared shocked by the woman’s chilling instructions.
In the secretly recorded phone call, Eleonora is allegedly discussing a planned assault on a relative who supposedly stole money from them.
“Hurting him in front of his kids, Grego, we’re going to look bad,” she allegedly said.
“Have someone grab him at night and he’ll learn.”
Then she allegedly added, “Bring him here and bang him up over here.”
The judge said she initially thought Eleonora was trying to dissuade her husband from violence.
“But as I read the transcript, she was actually advocating violence,” Townes said.
Townes overruled an earlier decision by a magistrate judge to release the 54-year-old woman on $4 million bail. Eleonora faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life, and the judge believed she may have been plotting to flee to Italy before her arrest.
The Gigliotttis and their son, Angelo, are charged with conspiring to import 55 kilos of cocaine from Costa Rica, concealed in containers of yucca.
They own the Cucino a Modo restaurant on 108th St. in Corona, and also have reputed ties to Genovese crime family figures and the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime group in Italy, according to court papers.
“Gotta be strong,” Eleonora Gigliotti said to family members in the courtroom as she was led out, giving them a thumbs-up sign.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri described the defendant as a sophisticated drug trafficker. “She is not a mule,” the prosecutor said, referring to a low-level smuggler of drugs.

Parents of ‘murdered mob victim’ suing crime-family turncoats

By Kathianne Boniello

The parents of an apparent mob murder victim have filed a $10 million wrongful-death claim against two crime-family turncoats.
Carmine and Rosa Gargano say wiseguys Dino Calabro and Joseph Competiello should pay up for the death of their son, Carmine Jr., who disappeared in 1994, according to papers they filed last month in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
The younger Gargano’s body has never been found.
In 2012, Calabro testified that Competiello confessed to murdering Gargano Jr. because he “felt like it,” according to court records.
Competiello, who was sentenced in December to 12 years on racketeering and murder charges, was not charged in Gargano’s death.
The two snitches were part of a sprawling federal case against Colombo crime boss Thomas Gioeli, during which Calabro testified in Brooklyn federal court.
Competiello allegedly admitted to shooting Gargano Jr. twice, including once in the eye, and then crushing his head with a sledgehammer for good measure, ¬Calabro said on the stand.

1 WTC contractor charged with money laundering, fraud

Man allegedly hid ties to Bonanno crime family from company with $11M contract
A Queens man who is allegedly affiliated with the Bonanno crime family was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of channeling funds from his construction company’s $11.4 million 1 World Trade Center contract for his own use.
Vincent Vertuccio, 59, has longstanding relationships with past Bonanno bosses including  Joseph Massino, Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, and current boss Michael (Mikey Nose) Mancuso, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Mace.
Vertuccio is accused of hiding these connections and taking $700,000 from the World Trade Center contract for his own use and renovations to his daughter’s home, the New York Daily News reported.

He pleaded not guilty, along with his lawyer and accountant, who were also accused of fraud in relation to Vertuccio’s company, Crimson Construction Corp. [NYDN] — Tess Hofmann

Genovese Crime Family ally gets 28 months

By Politicker Staff | 04/15/15 4:33pm
A North Jersey man was sentenced today to 28 months in prison for his role in the affairs of the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Genovese family”), including engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity by extorting Christmastime tribute payments from members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch announced.
Nunzio LaGrasso, 64, of Florham Park, former vice president of ILA Local 1478 and ILA representative – previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to Count One of the second superseding indictment, charging him with racketeering conspiracy. LaGrasso admitted to predicate acts involving conspiracy to commit extortion and multiple extortions.

Pros from 51 countries examine transnational organized crime

George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies
Story by Christine June  
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – During his welcoming remarks, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (retired) Keith Dayton, director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, listed headlines from the past 24 hours to show 71 participants the relevance of their studies on the first day of the Countering Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking course April 9 at the Marshall Center here.
These headlines were: "Brazil Probes Alleged Corruption Among Tax Officials;" "Drug Gang Kills 15 Officers in Mexico;" "Police Kill 20 Loggers Suspected of Smuggling in shootout;" "Russian’s Hack White House, Steal Obama Data;" "Kenya Struggles Over Best Response to University Attack;" "International Criminal Court Says ISIS Out of Its Jurisdiction;" "Al Qaeda Capitalizing on Yemen’s Disorder;" "Italian Police Detail Fraud in Public Contracts;" and, "Homicides in El Salvador reach record as gang violence grows."
“In a very real sense you are pioneers in a field of security study that we have just begun as a security course,” Dayton continued in his remarks. “The program you are about to begin represents years of work by members of the staff and faculty here and policy makers in Washington as the Marshall Center increasingly tackles issues of a transnational nature from a global perspective.”
Marshall Center’s CNIT is a two-and-a-half week resident program that focuses on 21st century national security threats as a result of illicit trafficking and other criminal activities. It ends April 24.
Day one also included welcoming remarks by Dr. Robert Brannon, dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the Marshall Center.
“We have worked very hard to develop this program and to bring it to you today. We think it’s a solid piece of academic work, and I know you will find it challenging,” Brannon said. “The course not only requires you to read and think, but it also requires you to work with each other. I must emphasize to you now, we think that’s the very best part of what lies ahead for you in this course.”
Brannon is referring to the more than 10,000 Marshall Center alumni who form a worldwide network of professionals, practitioners of public policy and keepers of the public trust.
Professor Steve Monaco, CNIT course director, then gave the participants an overview of transnational organized crime.
“There is a growing recognition that transnational organized crime is growing in size and influence in a world increasingly marked with globalization and diminishing importance of borders,” said Monaco said. “Transnational organized crime surges into gaps of opportunities and is, frankly, threatening governments.”
During his presentation, Monaco discussed definition of transnational organized crime, primary activities associated with transnational organized crime, typology of transnational criminal organizations, transnational organized crime as a national and international security threat, main instruments against transnational organized crime, overview of convergence, and best practices and institutional responses.
Course design includes guest lecturers from national and international law enforcement and security organizations, course seminar activities discussing the range of government countermeasures to combat criminal activity, and strategy development exercises that focus on best practices and international approaches to combating these growing threats against national security.
This year’s CNIT participants hail from 51 countries: Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Azerbaijan; Bahamas; Belize; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Colombia; Czech Republic; Dominican Republic; Egypt; El Salvador; Fiji Islands; Georgia; Greece; Guatemala; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kosovo; Malaysia; Maldives; Mauritania; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; New Zealand; Nigeria; Oman; Peru; Philippines; Romania; Serbia; Slovenia; South Africa: Tanzania; Thailand; Turkey; Ukraine, United States; and, Uzbekistan.
This CNIT course has a good mixture of participants who work at defense, interior and justice ministries, and law enforcement and other government agencies.
The course is designed for government officials and practitioners who are engaged in policy development, law enforcement, intelligence, and interdiction activities aimed at countering illicit narcotics trafficking, terrorist involvement in criminal activity, and the associated elements of transnational crime and corruption. It examines the major methods by which transnational criminal and terrorist organizations engage in illegal narcotics trafficking and other criminal activities for profit.
The mission of the Marshall Center, as a vital instrument of German-American cooperation, is to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic institutions and relationships; promoting active, peaceful, whole-of-government approaches to address transnational and regional security challenges; and creating and enhancing enduring partnerships worldwide.
The Marshall Center offers eight resident programs that examine complex transnational, regional and international security issues: Program on Terrorism and Security Studies; Program on Applied Security Studies; Program on Security Sector Capacity Building; Seminar on Regional Security; Seminar on Transnational Civil Security; CNIT; Program on Cyber Security Studies; and, Senior Executive Seminar.
More information on these and other Marshall Center activities is available at

For those who are interested in attending a Marshall Center resident program, call the registrar’s office at +49 (0)8821-750- 2656/2530/2327 or 314-4402-656/530/327, or email

Montreal mobster mysteriously vanished in 2012, but only now are police talking about the case

 Adrian Humphreys | April 7, 2015

Montreal PoliceGiuseppe “Joe” Renda, who would now be 56, vanished after leaving his Westmount home at lunchtime on May 4, 2012, Montreal police say. His car was later found in Montreal’s Little Italy.
The strange disappearance in 2012 of a Montreal man who was a quiet part of important moments in the history of the Mafia in Canada took an odd twist Tuesday when police suddenly released a public appeal to help solve the mystery.
Giuseppe “Joe” Renda, who would now be 56, vanished after leaving his Westmount home at lunchtime on May 4, 2012, Montreal police say. His car was later found in Montreal’s Little Italy. He spoke English and had a beard and a scar on his right ear.
At the time of his disappearance, a fierce feud for control of the Montreal Mafia led to several murders and kidnappings. Likely in response to that, Renda rarely left his house.
At the time of his disappearance police said little and his family said nothing. On Tuesday, Montreal police issued a photo and a public appeal for information on the case.
“The family didn’t want any press release regarding this missing person case at the time,” said Constable Manuel Couture, a police spokesman. “Now the family agreed to put the disappearance to the public,” he said.
“Every angle is part of the investigation — his criminal past, his friends, his family, everything.”
Renda was linked to the powerful Mafia group in Montreal led at the time by Vito Rizzuto.
Renda shared a name with the more notorious and criminally powerful Renda family, that of Paolo Renda, who was Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto’s brother-in-law and consigliore, the third most powerful position in a mob clan.
His involvement in the family was far less than his distant relative, but he nonetheless played a role in three gangland events that marked the Mafia’s development in Canada.
Renda was named as the representative of the Rizzuto family at an important gangland funeral in New York in 1999. The funeral — or, more precisely, the murder that prompted it — marked a milestone as it led to the virtual breaking of the Montreal Mafia’s close ties to the New York crime family it had long been subservient to.
 On March 18, 1999, the bullet-ridden body of Gerlando Sciascia was tossed from a truck into a Bronx street.
Sciascia was known in New York as “George from Canada,” a nickname noting his position as the Montreal mob’s man in New York’s Bonanno Family, one of the famed Five Mafia Families of New York.
Sciascia’s murder, at the time, was a mystery, and police scrutinized his wake and funeral as dozens of ranking mafiosi paid respects to the Montreal gangster.
Renda was among the mourners, according to testimony from Salvatore “Good-Looking Sal” Vitale, who was the Bonanno Family’s underboss at the time (but who since became a government witness.)
He described Renda as a “goodfellow in our family.” He was also a relative of Sciascia’s.
The significance of the murder, however, as would later be revealed, was that it was secretly ordered by Bonanno boss Joseph “Big Joey” Massino, who asked his inner circle to never let Rizzuto know as he did not want to alienate the powerful clan of mobsters in Montreal.
The murder severed Rizzuto’s link to New York. He largely turned his back on the American gangsters from then on. The regular flow of “tribute” money from Canada to New York also ended.
“He was very hurt by what happened to George,” Vitale said of Rizzuto.
Years later, Renda again was pointed to as a gangster linked to Rizzuto, this time in Ontario.
Police say Renda was sent by Rizzuto to Ontario to help forge a large-scale gambling network in 2001. It signaled the encroachment of the Montreal Mafia into the underworld of Ontario. The gangsters of both provinces had largely remained independent from each other.
Renda was accused of building a sports betting enterprise that used Internet connections and BlackBerries to register bets, an innovation at the time. Police said about $200 million in bets were placed in Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton. At the time, police said it was one of the largest betting rings in Canada. Police made 54 arrests, including of Renda, in Project Oltre.
While some accused accepted guilty pleas, charges were dropped against Renda in return for asset forfeiture, including his expensive Lincoln Navigator.
The case was the strongest evidence at the time that Rizzuto was expanding his influence across Canada and that other mob clans in Ontario, who had resisted such expansion in the past, seemed accepting of his underworld hegemony.
And most recently, Renda was linked to Salvatore “Sal the Ironworker” Montagna, who was the acting boss of the Bonanno Family when he was deported from the United States to Canada in 2009.
Montagna was part of a coalition that then tried to seize control of the Montreal Mafia while Rizzuto was in prison. The move split the crime group in two, with mobsters being asked to chose a side in the gang war. Montagna was shot and killed in 2011.
The timing of late Tuesday’s news release on Renda’s cold case was not explained by Montreal police.
“I don’t know what prompted the release,” said Couture. “Why now? I just don’t know why.”
In other cases, such renewed investigation came prior to a court being asked to officially declare a missing person to be deceased. A judge would want to know that all avenues of finding the person had been exhausted.
National Post

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Learning valuable lessons from the yakuza?

by Jake Adelstein

Special To The Japan Times

 “He had connections and interactions with individuals related to the yakuza. Why on earth would he be appointed a (Cabinet) minister? The responsibility of the prime minister for appointing him to this position is tremendously weighty.”
These angry words were said by a New Komeito Diet member in 2012. The Cabinet minister in question was Keishu Tanaka, a Democratic Party of Japan member appointed as the minister of justice.
In contrast, Komeito and the Liberal Democratic Party have remained remarkably silent about the yakuza allegations surrounding Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura.
Shimomura lobbied hard for his position in 2012 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP and Komeito coalition government seized power. He also spearheaded Abe’s program to bring back “moral education” in schools. If you have any ethical sensibilities he appears to be the quintessential hanmen kyōshi — “someone who teaches by setting a poor example.” Even without an education in morality, most people know that it’s wrong to take money from the yakuza or accept campaign contributions that may be possibly illegal.
The scandal began in January, when the Akahata Shimbun reported that a front company for the country’s largest crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, had donated ¥180,000 over two years to a branch of the LDP — the Tokyo No. 11 district — headed by Shimomura. The company is banned from accepting public works and recognized by the police in Osaka as a yakuza operation, specifically a Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai operation. (Remember that name — it comes up again.)
The scandal didn’t attract a great deal of attention and interest in it waned after a short time. In February, however, the Shukan Bunshun reported that Shimomura had received illegal political funds, including contributions from another individual connected to — surprise, surprise — the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai. He quickly denied the allegations.
The Shukan Bunshun and Sankei Shimbun have reported that regional support groups acting on Shimomura’s behalf had not been registered as political organizations and had improperly and, possibly, illegally collected funds on his behalf. These support groups, operating under regional organizations called hakuyūkai, were consortiums of private school and cram school owners. One might suspect a conflict of interest in them funding the man in charge of public education, but let’s put that issue aside for a second.
The Political Funds Control Law obliges entities that support a politician or nominate a political candidate to register as a political group and submit reports on their income and expenditure of political funding. The groups run by Shimomura’s regional hakuyūkai failed to do this.
When he appeared before the Lower House Budget Committee on Feb. 26, Shimomura said he had never received a donation from the regional groups, nor had he ever received money for “taxi fares” or “travel expenses.” He also described the political groups as voluntary organizations set up by friends in the education industry.
At first, Shimomura said he planned to protest over the magazine’s report. He also denied receiving a ¥100,000 donation in 2009 from Masahiro Toyokawa, a yakuza associate and former cram school operator.
Police sources say Toyokawa is a longtime associate member of the Yamaguchi-gumi — specifically, the Kodo-kai — and that Toyokawa and Shimomura had known each other for several years. They believe that Toyokawa may still be running cram schools from behind the scenes.
Toyokawa also reportedly loaned roughly $6 million to a chain of massage parlors known to be paying protection money to the Yamaguchi-gumi, according to several reports. Toyokawa is important because he was also a central figure in creating the Chubu Hakuyūkai, one of the main political groups collecting funds for Shimomura.
Shimomura has changed his story several times and even admitted that his secretary had urged regional support groups not to speak to reporters about allegations of financial irregularities. He has also admitted to receiving the ¥100,000 donation from Toyokawa, reversing previous denials.
A former executive member of a hakuyūkai support group held a news conference last month, during which she admitted giving Shimomura an additional ¥100,000 in cash for a lecture, saying the money had come from Toyokawa. Shimomura has denied this.
Although the jury is still out on how the country’s “moral education” is working out, it’s hard to imagine that voters condone taking money from criminals or lying while in public office. Since Oct. 1, 2011, it is also illegal to accept money of any kind from “anti-social forces” — including members of the yakuza and its associates.
In the same way the government’s new education policy places importance on tradition, domestic politics has long had ties to gangsters. The LDP itself was founded with money provided by notorious underworld power broker Yoshio Kodama.
Even Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, respected the yakuza, particularly the Yamaguchi-gumi. In 1971, Kishi paid the bail of a Yamaguchi-gumi leader who was later convicted of murder.
Abe himself has been photographed in 2008 with Yamaguchi-gumi associate Icchu Nagamoto, but has denied any knowledge of the man.
On the other hand, Nagamoto told his yakuza connections that he helped gather local votes for Abe to be elected top dog of the LDP in 2006, thereby ensuring Abe became prime minister in his first time at bat. That said, it’s hard to take a gangster’s words at face value.
The law says that accepting money from anti-social forces, asking them to set up your political support group and supporting yakuza-backed groups is illegal.
National Police Agency chief Eriko Yamatani also has a history of association with Zaitokukai, a yakuza-linked group that has been identified as being a security threat and is responsible for hate crimes. How much could and should be read into this?
Abe has not apologized for the questionable connections of his handpicked Cabinet members. In fact, he has said nothing — I can’t find a record of him condemning the yakuza or those who kowtow to them. The Japanese word for this is mokunin, or admission by silence.
Silence, sometimes, speaks louder than words.

Dark Side of the Rising Sun is a monthly column that takes a behind-the-scenes look at news in Japan.

Accused Bonanno mobster turned down promotion to consigliere, lawyer says offer is irrelevant



They made him an offer he refused.
Getting promoted to the powerful position of consigliere in a Mafia crime family apparently isn’t what it was once cracked up to be.
So says the lawyer for reputed Bonanno capo Jack Bonventre, who prosecutors say declined the high-ranking post.
“He (Bonventre) turned it down, he didn’t want it,” Bonanno gangster Vincent Asaro blabbed in a conversation with an associate that was secretly recorded on March 8, 2013. “Jack didn’t want no part of this no more.”
Bonventre is facing 21 to 27 months in prison when he’s sentenced this month for collecting a loanshark debt, and defense lawyer Gordon Mehler argues in court papers that the job offer for consigliere — Italian for counselor — should not be held against his client.
Mehler complains that the feds are exaggerating the relevance of the alleged promotion.
“Assuming that this is even true, traditional organized crime families in New York are now weaker than 20 or 30 years ago and the Bonanno family in particular has been largely decimated by arrests and defections. Being considered for consigliere does not have the same meaning as it once did,” Mehler wrote to Brooklyn Federal Judge Allyne Ross.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Argentieri and Alicyn Cooley disagree, contending that it shows Bonventre holds a powerful and prominent position among the Bonannos.
Bonventre, 46, is described by his lawyer in the sentencing papers as a hardworking owner of an auto body shop in upstate Orange County and submitted letters from two Catholic priests attesting to his good deeds, which included the donation of fuel to his former parish, St. Helen in Howard Beach, Queens, after the area was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
A mob consigliere is a respected and wise member of a crime family who is consulted on various matters and is “devoid of ambition” to take over as boss, according to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia,” by Jerry Capeci. The consigliere is part of the crime family's top hierarchy, along with the boss and the underboss.
Consiglieres operate in the shadows, settling disputes and advising the boss. One of the most famous is the fictional Tom Hagen, portrayed by actor Robert Duvall, who counseled Don Vito Corleone in the classic film “The Godfather.” In real life, Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano was consigliere to the late Gambino boss John Gotti for a time.
The Bonannos’ last publicly identified consigliere, Anthony (Fat Anthony) Rabito, has been dogged by criminal charges in recent years and was recently observed by NYPD detectives doing something not so wise — having a long meeting with the family’s Bronx street boss John Palazzolo in a Queens diner.
Sources say the beleaguered Bonannos are run by a panel that keeps changing as they’re arrested, while the reputed boss, Michael (Mikey Nose) Mancuso, serves a 15-year sentence for his role in the murder of a mob associate.

Mob Priest: Heaven Is Full of Made Men

In Italy, the Pope told gangsters that they’re excommunicated. Here in America, they’re not taking the pontiff’s words too literally.
With one edict, Pope Francis may have turned away mobsters from entering the gates of Heaven.
It was last summer when the pope dropped the holy hammer on Italy’s organized crime. During a visit to Calabria, a southern Italian region rife with Mafiosi, and standing before a sea of 250,000 faithful the pontiff’s Mass delivered a devastating blow: “Those who follow the path of evil, like the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated!”
But in North America, some well-known Catholics—including some priests—are attaching a holy asterisk next to Francis’ proclamation.
“Who can judge the individual human being?” Father Louis Gigante asked. “Only God can.”
The retired reverend, now 83 years old, is beloved in his South Bronx neighborhood and known by the shorthand “Father G.” For decades the priest managed to remain faithful to the church and to his brother, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, the Genovese crime family boss.
Gigante adamantly believes the pope is talking only to Italians.
“I’m going to tell you strongly [the Mafia] is not the same thing [as the American Mob],” he told The Daily Beast. “The Mafia when it’s mentioned in Italy is a whole different game.”
To right history, Gigante believes men like his brother have suffered undue shame for no reason. “Did you know my brother was the strongest guy in New York and ran the underworld?” he said. “He was a saint and one of the finest human beings you want to meet.”
And he said he’s witnessed firsthand so-called mobsters find redemption. “I knew guys in the Mob. I treated them, blessed them, served them and forgave them,” he added.
Many mobsters, Father Gigante is certain, have earned a place in the celestial kingdom. “A lot of mob guys are probably in heaven,” he said. “Each had that sense in his life to know that God was the only one he had to answer to and had the grace to tell God, ‘I’m sorry.’”
From the perspective of one retired mobster, the pope is playing with fire.
“I don’t believe Pope Francis—or anyone else for that matter—has the right to tell people in the life that you’re never going to be forgiven or never going to be saved,” Michael Franzese, a former captain in the Colombo crime family, told The Daily Beast. “He should be opening his arms to the Mafia. He should be reaching out to the men, telling them: ‘Come to our church. We want you to hear about Jesus and turn away from your evil ways.’”
Franzese, now 63, is the son of notorious underboss John “Sonny” Franzese. He’s led something of an ordinary life, despite the contract placed on his life when he publicly renounced his Mafia oath in 1987.
Franzese was “introduced to Christ” when he grew up Catholic. But after leaving the Mob to be with his dancer wife, he became an evangelical. He feels that God has had a “veil of protection” over him.
In one pivotal incident two years ago Franzese feared his time had come when three former “friends” dressed in suits visited him at a New Jersey church where he was sharing his testimony.
“I walked right up to them,” Franzese said. “I asked them ‘What are you doing here?’”
They responded they came to see Franzese.
But Franzese thought they came for revenge. “I was leery of that and was looking around,” he said. Within minutes, the mobsters’ wives filed in and Franzese breathed a sigh of relief. “These guys are not going to be there for trouble with their wives. That’s not the mob way.”
They sat on the second row to his left and at the end of his talk Franzese was moved to do an unusual thing; he asked those who wanted to accept Christ to approach the altar. The three mobsters answered.
“They looked down—they couldn’t look up at me,” he said. “Their wives had tears in their eyes. I’m telling you I couldn’t believe it.”
He never heard from the men again. But Franzese believes that day was a start of absolution for the men. “A seed was planted.” he said.
And the moment also brings back a sentiment that the Church must always stand for a place of for sinners of all sorts. “The pope can condemn the life; he can call it evil, for in many ways it is an evil life, but leave the door open for the guys. There’s no situation where it should ever be closed. He should open his arms, his doors, his heart and invite them into the Kingdom of God.”
Yet many of the New York City priests who spoke to The Daily Beast after Pope Francis made his first statements last summer are taking his excommunication literally.
“When you engage in these activities you are not only offending God, but the world community at large,” Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, of the Diocese of Brooklyn, said. “You are being disrespectful to human worth and dignity.”
Father Gerald Fitzsimmons—a pastor at St. Mary’s Gate of Heaven in the notoriously Mob-friendly neighborhood of Ozone Park, Queens—told The Daily Beast that he’s ready to put an end to the practice of “justifying the unjustifiable.”
“All of us have to say it’s time for a moral check,” he said. “Have I been compromising my communion? Have I been deluding myself?”
But Charles Carnesi, the lawyer who made his name representing well-known mobsters, said he found it hard to believe that gangsters would suddenly be turned away at communion time.
“What’s going to be the standard by which the church is going to decide?” asked Carnesi, who successfully defended John “Junior” Gotti against racketeering raps. “Is anybody worrying about going to church and taking communion? No. I dont expect that the church is going to actively go out and say, ‘You’re not welcome.’”
William Donohue—who for two decades has been president of the Catholic League, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization—agreed.
“The priest and the bishop are not mind readers, so when in doubt, they will probably give communion,” he said.
However, Donohue added, there will be more contemplation going into each communion.
“It really puts the priest or the bishop in a very difficult position because the assumption is always that a person, even a person who committed a grave thing, could have reconciled himself with God prior to communion,” he said.
For the Vatican’s part, excommunication takes on many forms. Pope Francis is zeroing in on a specific kind.
“The Pope is speaking from a very pastoral perspective,” Father Thomas Rosica, priest of Congregation St. Basil in Toronto and an English language spokesman for the Vatican, told The Daily Beast. “He’s saying, ‘You no longer have a part with the community. Behavior such as this no longer belongs to this community. Therefore, you are no longer part of the communion.’”
Father Rosica warns to be careful not to make leaps because the Holy Father is Rome’s bishop and his words, although themes may be universal, these are clearly intended for Italy. “You can’t go on murdering people and come to church and ask the church to do weddings,” he said.
John Dickie, a Mafia expert and author who just released a documentary about the Pope Francis taking on the Mob, said this time he drew a line in the sand to wake up both clergy and criminal. “He was talking to the church as much as he was to the Mafia,” Dickie said.
Dickie said the church has had a “de facto alliance” with the Mafia after it suffered from longstanding political alienation. But after the Cold War trailblazing Pope John Paul II came out against the Mafia.
Indeed, Pope Francis is making waves by shouting anti-Mob themes—but he’s certainly not the first. Pope John Paul II came to Sicily and launched a subtler refrain back in 1993. “When the new generations bring these fruits, corruption is defeated, violence is defeated, the Mafia is defeated,” he said at the time.
Members of the Mafia rebelled by planting bombs at Rome’s churches. And four Mob henchmen were ordered by a pair of bosses to gun down a priest named Father Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi. They were all convicted. Showing he doesn’t forget, Pope Francis beatified Father Puglisi in a ceremony two years ago.
Asked whether Pope Francis, who announced he’s coming to America in September, is also condemning mobsters here, Dickie said it’s possible.
“At a local level—yes,” he said. “We’ve known since the Bobby Kennedy investigations [of his Senate  Rackets Committee] that the Mafiosi are endogamous in the States. They marry each other. They make dynasties. Those weddings are very important and take place in a church. Those are political weddings in the Mafia world. As political as the marriages of the European monarchies in the Middle Ages.”
The controversies over gangsters and God don’t always end with the mafiosis’ deaths. In 2002, when “Teflon Don” John Gotti passed away in jail from cancer, there was an uproar after the church refused him a funeral ceremony. Franzese remembers it and was furious. “The Catholic Church refused to allow him in a Catholic church,” he said. “I was disgusted by that.”
To this day, the boss is resting in peace alongside a gamut of godfathers, including Lucky Luciano and Vito Genevese, at St. John’s Cemetery.
Asked about why so many prominent mobsters’ remains wind up in St. John’s Cemetery, sales manager Carlos A. Balcarcel admitted that the final resting place’s admission policy isn’t a matter for mere human beings. “We believe that is for a higher power to decide,” he said. “We don’t sit here and judge what they were or what they did.”