Top yakuza group shrank 40% after last year’s split: NPA

The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest yakuza group, had about 6,000 members at the end of 2015, down 40 percent from a year ago, the National Police Agency said in a report Thursday.
The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, a new group born from the breakup of the main group last August, had about 2,800 members, making it the third-largest underworld group after the Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai, the report said.
Yamaguchi-gumi, based in Kobe, and Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, based in nearby Awaji, are increasing efforts to weaken each other, a senior NPA official said.
Although the two groups have yet to enter a full-blown war, police are stepping up surveillance in view of the many altercations and incidents involving their members nationwide, the official noted.
The NPA survey also found the new yakuza group claims 22 subgroup leaders, with its influence spreading to 36 of the 47 prefectures.
Yamaguchi-gumi retains influence in 44 prefectures, but its subgroup leaders have fallen to 56 from 73 before the breakup.
Yamaguchi-gumi members now make up 29.9 percent of all yakuza in the nation, down from 46.2 percent.
As some members chose to go straight as a result of the breakup, the combined membership of the two groups dropped by some 1,500 to around 8,800.
The combined figure shows that Yamaguchi-gumi’s roster has nearly halved since the end of 2010, with the drop accelerated by local enforcement of a new ordinance for breaking corporate ties with yakuza. The anti-yakuza ordinances had taken effect in all 47 prefectures by October 2011.
The senior NPA official said the drop can be credited to improved efforts by police and anti-yakuza campaigns and the group’s aging membership.
At the end of last year, the there were some 20,100 yakuza, down about 2,200 from the previous year.
About 70 percent belonged to the top four groups, with the Sumiyoshi-kai accounting for around 3,200 and the Inagawa-kai, also based in Tokyo, accounting for about 2,700.
The NPA report also said the Kitakyushu-based Kudo-kai, whose senior members have been arrested one after another on murder and other charges, saw 49 members exit, marking its biggest annual loss.

This reduced its roster to about 470.

Japan's mafia are being squeezed by the steepest economic downturn in decades.

"They're going to have to find a way to use these people. And they're going to have to find a way to remove this stigma of being an ex-yakuza," Adelstein says. "These guys, when they leave, they are going to petty crime, going to jail, or killing themselves. A lot of them commit suicides. Because, Japan isn't a very friendly place to people who have missing fingers and covered with tattoos and who've never worked in honest ways in a lot of days in their life."
In his new role as sensei, Shindo has baptized about 100 people including his mother, Yoshimi Shindo, who proudly watches her son preach each Sunday.
"When he came back [from prison], he apologized and said, 'I survived for you, mother.' When I heard those words, I decided to forget everything that happened in the past. And now, I'm very happy," she says.
When her son needed a space for Sunday service, she gladly offered June Bride, the bar she owned and ran for a quarter century. In the early years, fewer than 10 people attended Sunday service. Now, the room is routinely filled with dozens of people each weekend.
"I think this place has significance that God provided here for us. I believe it was God's intention," she says.
She laughs that her son is called sensei, considering the tumultuous path that brought him here. June Bride is no longer a place for cocktails and karaoke, but the room is filled music each weekend as dozens of voices sing upbeat Christian songs.
"I believe my son's life portrays God's surprise ending," she adds.

Japan begins probe against Yakuza, banks

"My boss was killed. People were killed in power struggles. People's legs were shot. A guy who was doing drugs with me died of intoxication. Suicides happened. Sudden deaths. I've seen many deaths," Shindo says. "I saw my henchmen get stabbed to death."
Shindo's body bears the scars of his old life. His chest and arms are covered in intricate tattoos, the telltale symbol of mafia membership in Japan. In an effort to exclude yakuza members from society, visible tattoos are forbidden in most public places. He often removes his shirt when baptizing other tattooed ex-gangsters.
He became addicted to crystal meth. He drove under the influence and crashed his boss's car. He shows off his missing pinkie, which was cut off with a chisel in a yakuza ritual of atonement for the transgression.
Shindo was arrested seven times. He went to prison three times, beginning at 22. By the time he was 32, he had been excommunicated by the yakuza after spending about 8 of 10 years as an inmate. He says he found God while reading the bible in solitary confinement. He studied and became a preacher after his release more than a decade ago.
New life
Today, Shindo leads a growing congregation from all walks of life.
"A lot of people with different backgrounds come here. Those who are divorced, bankrupt and cast away. There are also parents who have missing children, those whose sons are put into jail, or those who've been abandoned after prison. This is a place to restart your life," he says. "A yakuza returning to society is indeed extraordinary."
One of the newest members of the congregation is former yakuza member named Hiro, who ran away from Japan's largest crime syndicate the Yamaguchi Gumi after after five years.
"It's really hard to get back to normal society," he says.
The 37-year old has been shunned by his family and lays down a thin mat each night to sleep on the church floor. A fellow worshipper hired him as a painter.
"The life I had in the past, I never woke up in the morning as early as I do now. I lived just to earn money. To get money, I did bad things and sold drugs as well. But my new life is the important phase for me to become a better person. I changed a lot after coming to this church," he says.
Hiro believes if he didn't have the church, he'd already be back in jail. He says this is a rare chance to transform his life, in a society that doesn't easily give second chances to people like him.
Yakuza shrinking
Ex-mobsters don't have many options in Japan. Their secretive underworld is shrinking and profits are drying up from years of government crackdowns. Today, police estimate there are around 50,000 yakuza -- down dramatically from just a few years ago.

Jake Adelstein, an author and journalist in Tokyo who has written extensively about the yakuza, says the Japanese mafia keeps thugs in check. He says if the yakuza lose influence, street crime could surge in Tokyo, considered the world's safest city.

Mobster turned pastor preaches to former yakuza in Japan

By Will Ripley, CNN
•           Tatsuya Shindo became a gangster at the age of 17
•           Like many other young men, he was lured by the intoxicating illusion of an easy life of crime
•           With his gangster tattoos he now preaches to other reformed ex-yakusa
Kawaguchi, Japan (CNN)It's a rainy Sunday morning in Kawaguchi, a city of around half a million people on the outskirts of Tokyo. Men and women toting Japan's ubiquitous clear plastic umbrellas file into the entrance of a nondescript corner bar.
The sign above the door reads June Bride. For 25 years, it was a popular watering hole in this quiet residential neighborhood in Saitama Prefecture.
Tucked on a street corner, the exterior of June Bride has changed little over the years. But inside, the place has undergone a drastic transformation. The old bar and karaoke stage are gone, replaced by a pulpit adorned with a large cross. Neat rows of chairs slowly fill with damp but mostly smiling faces. They chat silently amongst themselves.
While some faces in the crowd are longtime bar patrons, they no longer come here to drink. This is, without a doubt, a place of worship.
One of the last people to enter the room is the man everyone calls teacher, Sensei Tatsuya Shindo.
From the moment he walks through the door, parishioners forget the dreary weather as electricity fills the room. Shindo takes command of the pulpit -- raising his arms, nodding his head, and preaching with intensity as if he is pulsating with "energy from above."
Shindo is 44 but looks much younger, partially because of his long hair and also because he seems to have a permanent grin. He laughs often, even when speaking about the dark past he shares with many members of his congregation of around 100 people.
"Before, we were in rival gangs, firing guns," he exclaims from the pulpit. "Now, we're praising the same God."
Inside Japan's murky criminal underworld
The pastor, like some of his parishioners, is an ex-gangster. Most of them were teenagers when they joined the Japanese mafia, known as the yakuza. Shindo was 17.
"I was a child. I didn't think too deeply," he says. "And I admired the yakuza for what was visible only on the surface. They have lots of money, spend their money lavishly, and play glamorously. The bad guys looked so cool in my eyes."
Payment in blood
The intoxicating illusion of an easy life of crime has lured tens of thousands of Japanese teenagers to join the yakuza. Shindo says most of his fellow gangsters came from dysfunctional families. The yakuza fostered a sense of loyalty and brotherhood. But as Shindo fell deeper into the Japanese underworld, he learned the price of belonging was often paid in blood.

Anti-mafia prosecutor urges Italians to inform on mobsters

An anti-mafia prosecutor has called on Italians to denounce mobsters after police arrested 26 people Thursday in a drug sting that revealed the grip southern crime groups have on the country's rich north.
Police seized hundreds of kilograms of drugs including marijuana from Albania, cocaine from Romania and hashish from Spain, all destined to be peddled in the south of the country by the powerful 'Ndrangheta organisation.
Prosecutor Alessandra Dolci said that the immensely wealthy group, credited with controlling much of the world's cocaine trade, was thriving because "sadly in very few cases the victims denounce its presence in the north".
Police commander Canio Giuseppe La Gala in Milan joined Dolci in calling on "citizens to collaborate and help us by informing, so that the anti-mafia pool in Milan can immediately investigate and destroy the phenomenon".
Of those arrested, 11 are accused of belonging to the 'Ndrangheta, with some having already spent years behind bars after being locked up in the 1990s under Italy's notoriously strict mafia prison regime.
As well as drug trafficking, the suspects are accused of extortion, usury and armed robbery.
Police said they busted the gang thanks to information provided by a businessman from Calabria who had initially thought to make a deal with the 'Ndrangheta when the crime group first attempted to illicit protection money from him.
"The testimony from Francomanno, the businessman, is very rare. His story shows that making deals with members of organised crime, with the hope of profiting, ends instead with being slowly swallowed up by the system," Dolci said.
"In his case, he had decided to accept as a minority shareholder a convict who, from the inside and with mafia methods, managed to gnaw away at his company," finally forcing him to sell for next to nothing, she said.
Over 140 people were ordered to stand trial at the end of last year for helping the group infiltrate the affluent north, including gangster bosses, businessmen and an ex-footballer who played for Italy when it won the World Cup in 2006.
Police believe the group -- which they describe as the most active, richest and most powerful syndicate in Europe -- uses legitimate activities in the north to recycle the huge amounts of cash their drugs business generates.

Mafia arrests: Italian police swoop on dozens of mobsters from women-run drug clan

Italian police have swooped on a Mafia clan in Sicily, arresting dozens in an international operation to dismember a powerful crime group run by women.
More than 500 officers took part in the raid on the Laudani clan in Catania, nicknamed "Mussi di ficurinia" ("Prickly Pear Lips"), in a sting that involved forces in Germany and the Netherlands, Italian police said.
Three women, known as the "three queens of Caltagirone" — a town near the Sicilian port of Catania — had ruled the group with an iron grip, but were brought down by the heir to the clan who began helping police.
The suspects were all wanted for Mafia association, extortion, drug trafficking and possessing illegal arms.
Of 109 arrest warrants issued on Wednesday, 80 people were detained, 23 were already serving time in prison and six are still eluding capture, police said.
Giuseppe Laudani was selected to run the clan when he was 17, after his Mafia boss father was killed.
He turned to the police and told how the three women, Maria Scuderi, 51, Concetta Scalisi, 60, and Paola Torrisi, 52, had raised him.
Known as "the prince", he described a world of violence and vendettas.
Torrisi, daughter of a mobster boss who used to manage the clan's international drug trading, was still young when she began to organise couriers in the area around Mount Etna, the active volcano which dominates Catania.
Mr Laudani was also a police informer on his brother Pippo and half-brother Alberto Caruso, as well as his grandfather Sebastiano Laudini, 90, who had served time between 1986 and 2012 and is now back under house arrest.
According to prosecutor Michelangelo Patane, the clan, which had sought ties with the cocaine-running 'Ndrangheta mafia in Calabria, had a huge arsenal of weapons, including two bazookas.
The rocket launchers were intended for use in hits on several Sicilian magistrates, but the plan was foiled when another informer told police the weapons were hidden in a garage on the slopes of Mount Etna.
The Laudanis are believed to be behind a string of violent attacks in the 1990s, including the murder of a prison warden and a lawyer.
Police said they had been hampered in their investigations by local business owners, who either lied about being the victims of attempts to extort money from them or admitted the extortion but refused to help identify those responsible.
The Sicilian Mafia, known as "Cosa Nostra" or "Our Thing", was Italy's most powerful organised crime syndicate in the 1980s and 1990s, but has seen its power diminish following years of probes and mass arrests.
It also faces fierce underworld competition from the increasingly powerful Naples-based Camorra and Calabria's 'Ndrangheta.

Former GTA mob killer speaks out from Italian prison

‘There’s a way into the ’Ndrangheta, but no exit,’ says Guiseppe Costa, who was convicted of 10 murders.
By: Peter Edwards
In happier times — before he was sent to an Italian prison for 10 underworld murders and 14 attempted murders — Giuseppe Costa sold tasty Italian pastries at a bakery on Toronto’s Dundas St. W.
That was in the late 1960s, before a deadly feud between his family and the rival Commisso clan that killed four of his brothers, including one on a residential Thornhill street.
Now in his 60s, the one-time mob boss appeared bright-eyed and grandfatherly as he spoke recently to a Radio-Canada crew from an undisclosed maximum-security Italian prison, where he is serving a life term.
Costa was also convicted of Mafia association.
He told of life in the ’Ndrangheta, an international criminal group that’s distinct from the Sicilian Mafia.
“The Sicilian Mafia once led in Canada,” Costa said in the interview, which will be broadcast on the Enquête program on Thursday. “Now, the ’Ndrangheta has the power.”
Costa’s face is digitally altered in the Enquête video to make him less of a target for would-be killers. The Star viewed an unaltered version of the interview.
He smiled and calmly spoke of tightening links between the ’Ndrangheta in Italy and itsCanadian counterpart, much of which is based in the GTA.
“Someone in the ’Ndrangheta in Canada feels like he’s at home,” Costa said. “He moves around. He has his place. He does his business.”
The ultimate power still lies in southern Italy, he said.
“The ones in Canada must always answer to headquarters, which is in Calabria,” Costa said.
While he was once a feared ’Ndrangheta boss, he’s now a pentiti, or former mobster who now co-operates with the state.
He said he eventually decided to help prosecutors fight the closed criminal culture for a variety of reasons.
There’s his sick wife, and his hopes to be allowed to spend some time with her.
There’s also frustration that the rival Commissos seemed to be getting out of prison more quickly.
And there’s the matter of someone in prison who seemed bent on killing him.
That said, Costa appeared in good spirits as he recounted life — and death — in the ’Ndrangheta in the GTA and Calabria.
He said the organization structures itself the same way in the GTA as in Italy.
“They are able to reproduce exactly the same structure, like a cancer,” Costa said. “ . . . That means Canada is ill.”
The organization thrives in Canada, in part, because the country lacks strong anti-Mafia legislation, unlike Italy and much of Europe, Costa said.
The ’Ndrangheta’s strict structure also extends to the U.S., Australia and Germany, as well as in prison life, he said.
“There is a hierarchy in relationships, and that always includes me,” he said of his time in prison.
He noted that he has stabbed another inmate in Spoleto prison in defense of an ’Ndrangheta boss.
He also spoke of how members of ’Ndrangheta families often shuffle between Canada and Italy, with residences in both countries.
There are also secret tunnels, like one discovered under the hills of the town of Plati, Calabria, with electricity, running water and a plaster Madonna.
Back when he lived in Toronto, the Costa and Commisso ’Ndrangheta families got along well moving drugs, he said.
Then came the split and the feud, as the Costas and Commissos each sought to control heroin and cocaine trafficking routes around the southern Italian city of Siderno.
Costa’s younger brother Giovanni, 38, was gunned down in his car near his home on White Blvd. in Thornhill in 1991, the fourth brother killed in the feud.
Earlier that year, Costa’s deaf-mute brother Vincenzo was murdered while cycling in Calabria.
Neither Giovanni nor Vincenzo Costa were considered criminals.
Giovanni, a father-of-three, was a wrought-iron worker in Concord.
Costa’s brothers Giuliano and Luciano were both players in the ’Ndrangheta. They both also lived for a time in the GTA.
Both of them were slain in southern Italy, Giuliano on July 31, 1989 and Luciano on Jan. 21, 1987.
The feud began with Luciano’s murder, after he was suspected of breaking into the home of the leader of the Commissos, stealing weapons, and then urinating on his bed as a final insult, according to Italian court documents.
At the time of Giovanni’s murder, Giuseppe was on the run from Italian police, who wanted him on various organized crime charges, including drug trafficking.
The feud killed 50 people, as blood called for blood, and Canada became a new battleground as Italian family members took cover.
Giuseppe Costa said that his old organization and its rivals remain active and strong in Canada, including the GTA.
He noted that Carmelo Bruzzese, 66, of Vaughan was deported in November to face ’Ndrangheta-related charges in Italy.
Bruzzese, who’s also a grandfather, divided his time between Vaughan and a villa in Calabria, which was equipped with what Italian police called a “sophisticated” secret bunker.
An Italian judge described him as “deeply imbedded in Canadian and Italian organized crime,” with connections that included ties to friends and enemies of the late Vito Rizzuto of Montreal.
“He had a very important role in this operation,” Costa said, “and is certainly a very important person for the Italian justice and prosecutor in Reggio Calabria.”
Long gone are the days when Costa had the power of life and death over other men and the hope of millions in drug profits.
Nowadays, his biggest dream is to be allowed to spend some time with his ailing wife.
While he yearns for peaceful family time, he harbours no illusions he can ever fully ditch his old life.
“There’s a way into the ’Ndrangheta, but no exit,” Costa said.

Bonanno snitch says he didn’t actually kill anyone

By Chris Perez

Bonanno capo-turned-canary James “Louie” Tartaglione shot down claims Tuesday that he murdered seven people during his time in the mob, saying he simply asked his bosses to “whack” the victims —and didn’t actually pull the trigger—as he testified against four mobsters on trial for loansharking, drug dealing and running illegal gambling operations.
The 78-year-old wise guy is the prosecution’s key witness in their trial against Vito Badamo, Ernest Aiello, Anthony “Skinny” Santoro and Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora, who inspired the character played by the late Bruno Kirby in the 1997 film “Donnie Brasco.”
“Did you yourself ever commit the act of killing?” asked Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Gary Galperin, as he referred to the defense’s claims that Tartaglione was not a reliable witness and that he was responsible for the deaths of several “made men” in the Bonanno crime family, including Cesare Bonventre in 1984 and the infamous “Three Capos murders” in 1981.
“No,” replied Tartaglione. “I was there, that’s it.”
Describing one incident from the mid-90s, Tartaglione said he put the word in to have Charles “Crazy Charlie” Tervella murdered, but he later changed his mind.
“Sal, I think I’d like to whack him out,” he recalled asking Salvatore Vitale, an underboss in the Bonnano crime family.
But Tartaglione claimed he didn’t send “Crazy Charlie” to sleep with the fishes after discovering he was stealing money from a Joker Poker slot machine they were running together in Queens— and instead called off the hit.
“After awhile, the anger goes away,” he said.
After shooting down the defense’s murder claims, Tartaglione described how he knew Santora and Badamo from their time in the Bonanno family in the late 90s and early 2000s.
“Vito said his father was a made man,” he explained, describing their first meeting in 1998.
“He said he would like to get straightened out,” which according to Tartaglione, meant being inducted into the mob.
Describing how he knew Santora, and his involvement in the Bonanno crime family, Tartaglione said, “I was there when he was inducted. I was at the ceremony.”
He added, “Sal gave him things to be concerned about, and then we all held hands and said a prayer.”
In addition to describing his relationship with the Bonanno family, Tartaglione also opened up about the inner workings of the mafia—even going as far as giving meanings to terms heard in famous mob movies such as “Goodfellas” and “Casino.”
“A ‘walk and talk’ is when you walk around and talk business,” he said, adding that there is “no discussing things in the house or club.”
A “wise guy,” “button man” or “Goodfella” is a soldier; a “friend of ours” is considered to be any other made member of the crime family; and a “friend of mine” is known as any associate or friend of a member, Tartaglione said.
He also explained how he ultimately chose to become a federal informant after Vitale was arrested in 2003, saying he was “worried he would tell all my mortal sins.”
“I’m considered to be on the shelf,” Tartaglione said of his current status with the Bonanno family.
He added that anyone who is made a “soldier” keeps that title for life.
“Do you take responsibility for what you did?” Galperin later asked.
“Yes,” replied Tartaglione.
“Are you proud?” asked Galperin.
“No,” Tartaglione said solemnly. “Of course not.”
The former capo is expected to be back on the witness stand on Wednesday for the defense’s cross-examination.

Boston mob associate found living in Marsing speaks

Bonnie Shelton 7BOISE -- 

For 17 years, Enrico Ponzo lived as a fugitive. The Boston native was wanted by the FBI for his association with the New England mafia and the attempted killing of a rival mobster.
Then in 2011, a break in the case. A phone tip led federal agents to a ranch outside Marsing.
Neighbors knew the man who lived there as Jay Shaw. In reality, the family man and cattle rancher was Ponzo, living a new life under a false
He was arrested and brought back to Massachusetts to face federal charges.
Fast forward to 2016. The 47-year-old has been incarcerated for the last five years in several states. He's currently awaiting sentencing for a federal firearms violation he pleaded guilty to in Boise, stemming from the search of his Marsing home.
For the first time since the story made national headlines, we're hearing about Ponzo's criminal past and his life in Idaho from the man himself.
Ponzo agreed to an exclusive interview with KTVB from the Ada County Jail.
"All my friends in Idaho call me Jay, but uh my real name is Rico," Ponzo said from behind the glass.
Even as a maximum security prisoner in handcuffs, Ponzo can't help but smile when talking about Idaho and the Marsing ranch he called home for more than a decade.
"I could have went anywhere in the country basically except the east coast, and I chose Idaho because it's a great family environment and where I wanted to raise my children," he said. "Seeing the wine country and all that. It was so beautiful."
But while living as Jay Shaw in Owyhee County, Ponzo was harboring a huge secret. After leaving Boston in 1994, he was indicted for his association with a New England crime family. Ponzo was also accused of trying to kill a rival mobster in 1989, Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme.
"Were you involved with the mafia at any time? Did you know Cadillac Frank?," KTVB's Bonnie Shelton asked Ponzo during the jailhouse interview.
"Well, I can't really talk about it, but you know it was a different time back then," he replied. "A different type of community that I grew up in. Back there, those people were like the sheriff in Ada County or Owyhee County, and that's basically the way things were when I was growing up."
Ponzo describes his criminal past in Boston as "youthful stuff" adding, "I'm not the same person as 25 years ago. Who is?"
In the 1997 indictment, Ponzo and Vincent Marino were named as the triggermen who shot at "Cadillac Frank" as he walked into an International House of Pancakes.
That man is a much different person than the one his Marsing neighbors grew to know.
Jay Shaw raised cattle and raised his two children along the Snake River. Ponzo calls it the happiest time of his life.
But it all came to an end in 2011 when federal agents came to arrest him. Ponzo says the phone tip was traced back to his ex-wife. He wasn't surprised.
"She told me she was going to turn me in," said Ponzo. "She basically said you know, you better run, and I said well I can't. I love my children. You know, I can't leave my children.".
A son and a daughter that Ponzo says he hasn't been able to speak to in three years.
"That's the saddest part of all this," he told KTVB.
When federal agents searched Ponzo's Marsing home, they found more than 30 weapons, mostly assault rifles. They also found an assortment of identification cards from different states with different names. Plus, they found hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash.
We asked Ponzo about that.
"This is stuff I'm still going to court on so I'd rather not really speak about it, but basically I was Jay Shaw the whole time I was in Idaho," he said in response.
In addition to being charged with attempted murder in connection to the shooting of "Cadillac Frank," Ponzo also faced drug and gun charges in Boston. He went to trial in 2013.
Prosecutors argued Ponzo fled the state to avoid prosecution.
"Why did you leave and flee?" Shelton asked.
"People tried to kill me," Ponzo replied with a laugh. "I had to leave you know, and uh it was the best thing I ever did."
Ponzo says he was not involved in the attempted murder of "Cadillac Frank."
"Absolutely not. I had nothing to do with it," he said.
During his trial, several New England mafia members testified against Ponzo.
A jury eventually found Ponzo responsible for the attempted murder, as well as racketeering, and dealing cocaine and marijuana.
"When you're convicted of things like attempted murder, racketeering, do you admit to those things? Is that something that you acknowledge yes, happened in my past?" Shelton asked.
"No, I feel I'm innocent," said Ponzo. "I did sell some medical marijuana in Arizona, but I have to say that that is true but the other stuff was mostly make believe," he added.
At his 2014 sentencing, the judge called Ponzo a "career criminal" and sentenced him to 28 years in prison.
"I tried to tell them I was a changed person, and he didn't take that," he said.
The 47-year-old is appealing his Boston convictions and as he did in his Boston sentencing, he plans to represent himself during his upcoming sentencing in Idaho.
Ponzo says he does law work during his free time behind bars.
"I've been researching law for quite a while, and uh it interests me, and I think it's to my benefit, you know," said Ponzo. "I think I can do as good of a job as an attorney."
He told KTVB if and when he gets out of prison, he'd like to come back to Idaho.
"I might be pretty old. Hopefully it will be sooner than later," he added.
During our interview, Ponzo was adamant he's not violent or dangerous, but records obtained from the Ada County Sheriff's Office paint a different picture.
After filing an information request following KTVB's in-person interview at the jail, we learned Ponzo has been disciplined for dozens of behavior violations over the last several months.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's office says on January 30, he punched a jail deputy in the head as he was being searched for illegal contraband.
We're also told he's threatened other inmates with violence, and he's threatened deputies in the past.
The Ada County Sheriff's Office says Ponzo has had 74 write-ups for failure to follow jail rules since September 2014.

Ponzo is scheduled to be sentenced in Boise on the federal firearms violation in April. He could face up to 10 more years in prison.

Bulger Companion Pleads Guilty to Criminal Contempt Charge

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bulger Companion Pleads Guilty to Criminal Contempt Charge

BOSTON – Catherine Greig, the longtime companion of convicted killer James “Whitey” Bulger, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with her refusal to testify before a federal grand jury.  The investigation centered on whether others assisted her and Bulger during the 16 years they were fugitives from justice.
Ms. Greig, 64, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt.  U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV scheduled sentencing for April 28, 2016.
Greig is currently serving an eight year sentence for her 2012 conviction of identity fraud and harboring James J. Bulger.
The charge of criminal contempt provides for a sentence or no greater than life in prison to be served subsequent to her current eight-year prison sentence and a fine.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary B. Murrane of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated February 4, 201

Goons mistook beating target for son of Melrose Park mayor, feds say


George Brown allegedly boasted his goon had no problem “breakin’ somebody’s legs.”
But when he and Paul Carparelli began to plot a “f—— thorough beating” for used-car dealer R. J. Serpico in Melrose Park, the feds say, Brown had a concern: He thought Serpico was the son of Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico.
Brown was wrong. But he warned Carparelli the mayor might “run” to alleged mob bosses Pete and John DiFronzo, according to records filed in federal court Thursday. Or, as Brown called them, “Uncle Pete and Uncle John.”
“This has just got a special set of circumstances,” Brown allegedly said.
Federal prosecutors revealed that detail in paperwork they filed seeking a prison sentence of as high as six years for Michael “Mickey” Davis. A jury convicted Davis, 58, in June of extortion and attempted extortion. The feds accused him of ordering R.J. Serpico’s “break-both-legs beating” to collect on a $300,000 debt.
Davis is set to be sentenced Tuesday. His attorneys have asked for a sentence of as little as 13 months for a man they claim has a “genuine concern for the well-being of others, willingness to help those in need, and generous spirit.”
R.J. Serpico is the nephew of the Melrose Park mayor. The DiFronzos have business ties in Melrose Park, and a spokesman for the mayor acknowledged the mayor is aware of the brothers. But the spokesman denied there is any connection between the case, the mayor’s relative, the DiFronzos or their business endeavors.
The looming, broad-shouldered Davis approached R.J. Serpico in the office of his Melrose Park used car dealership in January 2013, months after loaning R.J. Serpico and his father $300,000 according to trial testimony.
Davis dropped a sheet of gambling debts owed by R.J. Serpico’s father down on the desk and said, “this wasn’t the f—— agreement,” Serpico testified. R.J. Serpico said Davis leaned back and asked, “how my wife and my kids were, and if I still lived in Park Ridge.” Serpico said he took it as a threat.
R.J. Serpico vomited often because of his fear of Davis, according to prosecutors. They said that fear was fueled not only by that conversation, but by Davis’ alleged association with Pete DiFronzo.
The feds say Davis arranged for Serpico’s beating by contacting Gigi Rovito, who recruited Carparelli, who sought out Brown. Carparelli allegedly told Brown the person seeking the beating was “Mickey,” adding that person was “Solly D’s” — an apparent reference to Chicago Outfit member Salvatore DeLaurentis.
Brown wound up cooperating with the feds. Carparelli pleaded guilty in May to three counts of conspiracy to commit extortion in a separate case, and he is set to be sentenced Dec. 21.