Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

October 2019
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: Genovese

FBI’s Tainted Key Witness Creates Big Problems in Mobster Case for NY U.S. Attorney’s Office

This piece originally appeared in Gang Land News on June 26 and is being reprinted with permission. It’s the most recent story Gang Land News has published about the case since disclosing that prosecutors gave sweet plea deals to two Gambino family gangsters on the eve of trial in January rather than allow their lawyers to question the FBI’s key witness about the reason he agreed to cooperate.The witness was arrested on charges of soliciting sex from a person he believed was a 15-year-old girl, a charge that normally carries a mandatory-minimum penalty of 10 years to life.

U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara/doj photo

By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara quietly announced last month that it was dismissing charges against the last three defendants in the snake-bitten labor racketeering case that the FBI made against Genovese gangster Carmine (Papa) Smurf Franco and 28 others. All told, prosecutors have dropped the charges against 10 of the 29 defendants in the indictment.

Throwing in the towel before trial against more than a third of the defendants in the 16-count indictment wasn’t the way things were supposed to turn out. When the arrests were announced, the case was hailed by Bharara and New York FBI boss George Venizelos as a major blow against the Mafia’s control over the waste hauling industry in New York and New Jersey. Instead, this foray against the mob rivals the losing ways of the luckless Mets.

In a two paragraph court filing, prosecutors told Manhattan Federal Judge P. Kevin Castel they were deferring the prosecution of the owner of a Jersey City garbage company and two truck drivers charged with stealing about 130 tons of cardboard between March and July of 2012. The trio, Thomas Giordano, 43, the owner of Galaxy Carting of New Jersey, Michael Russo, 51, and Louis Dontis, 59, were set for trial next month. The charges are slated to be officially dismissed later this summer.

The three men were tape recorded by FBI informer Charles Hughes in dozens of conversations in which they allegedly discussed truckloads of stolen cardboard, and a surprisingly simple, relatively lucrative mob scam. Drivers snatched the cardboard from sites in Brooklyn, Bayonne and beyond. It was then put up for sale by Giordano at a market price that ranged between $106 and $125 a ton, according to an FBI summary of talks that Hughes recorded from March of 2009 until January 8, 2013 – a week before the indictment was unsealed.

But in an apparent effort to keep their key witness, undercover operative Hughes, off the stand, prosecutors have decided to drop the charges. A major concern is that Hughes would have to admit that he became a government witness only after he was arrested for soliciting sex with a girl he believed was 15 years old.

In January, prosecutors gave super sweet plea deals to Gambino mobster Anthony Bazzini and mob associate Scott Fappiano, who faced 20 years if convicted, rather than subject Hughes to a biting cross-examination about that by their lawyers.

But prosecutors had no leverage to wangle guilty pleas from the alleged cardboard thieves.  “They rejected plea deals of zero-to-six months early on,” said one source.

“There was no way they were going to plead to anything,” said one defense attorney whose client accepted a plea offer before it became known that Hughes was a convicted sex pervert. “My guy got a really nice disposition, but he’s not happy. And there’s one other guy I know who’s upset that he didn’t hold out until the end,” the lawyer added.

Sources say that following his arrest in August, 2008, Hughes, now 44, was detained until March of 2009, when he was released on bail and wired up by the FBI to see if he could deliver on a claim that he had worked in the waste hauling industry in his teens and could make cases for the feds. News that his cooperation stemmed from a sex-solicitation arrest surfaced five months ago.

Law enforcement sources say the primary reason the government decided to give Fappiano and Bazzini — who received a year and a day sentence on June 24 — much better plea offers was a “real fear” that jurors would be so outraged by Hughes’s conduct that they would hold it against the government for making a deal with him, ignore the law and acquit, no matter what.

Whether the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office should have entered a cooperation agreement with Hughes in the first place is a bone of contention for some law enforcers. But that issue is difficult to assess since his case is still under seal as are the specifics of his deal with the feds.

But there is agreement by several law enforcement officials, and virtually every defense lawyer Gang Land spoke to, that the decision by Judge Castel to permit defense lawyers to question Hughes about lies he told both his wife and the “teenager” he thought he was seducing convinced prosecutors to give deals to Bazzini and Fappiano in January.

Prosecutors Bruce Baird and Patrick Egan had tried to limit the cross examination, but when Castel indicated during a pretrial session that he was going to grant defense lawyers Raymond Perini and Lee Ginsberg some leeway in their questioning of Hughes, the prosecutors gave the gangsters a plea offer they couldn’t refuse.

“The mobsters were charged with extortion but it’s really stealing garbage stops and bid-rigging,” said one source. “That’s pretty tame stuff for jurors to deal with compared to having sex with little girls who but for the grace of God could be their daughters or granddaughters. The chance of jury nullification was very real.”

The decision to toss the charges against the alleged cardboard thieves was presumably even easier to make: The total value of the stolen cardboard was about $16,000, an amount not likely to sway jurors versus a sex-scheming witness.

Nor was playing the dozens of tapes Hughes made without having him testify to authenticate them a good option. Some conversations appear to back up the notion that the men knew they were dealing in stolen cardboard. For instance, according to the indictment, on May 29, 2012, Giordano was recorded saying “he did not care where the cardboard came from as long as it went to him.”

But others, like one a few days earlier, according to an FBI summary obtained by Gang Land, appear to tilt the other way. In one such conversation, Dontis is heard telling Hughes that “he doesn’t want to do anything wrong. He’s not a brokester, he’s just a hard working Greek who just wants to make money.”

Even if convicted, the trio could have received non jail terms, or sentences of less than a year behind bars.

Giordano’s attorney, Michael Bachner, the only lawyer who responded to a Gang Land request for comment, said he and his client were pleased by the deferred prosecution decision. “From the get go,” said Bachner, “we have taken the position that Mr. Giordano should not be prosecuted. And while it took longer than we would have wished, we’re gratified with the result.”

Neither Bharara, nor the FBI, would comment about this week’s deferred prosecution, or the embarrassing decision to drop the charges against a third of the defendants in the case. They also declined to discuss the status of Hughes, including whether he is behind bars, or if, as prosecutors indicated last week, he is free on bail, and what type of supervision he has now.

In court papers, prosecutors wrote that Hughes “remains in virtual hiding, fearful for his safety and the safety of his close family members.” His “ability to earn a living and to support his family is essentially non-existent,” they wrote, adding that his “life will never return to the way it was prior to his arrest.”

Prosecutors also wrote that different accounts they gave defense lawyers about how roll-off containers belonging to a Bazzini-connected carting company ended up in a Giordano company storage lot were caused by “miscommunication or misunderstanding” between Hughes and his supervising FBI agents, “rather than a deliberate effort by (Hughes) to mislead the government.”

Gang Land News, which is run by Jerry Capeci, a noted mobster expert, is a subscription site, but well worth it.

Rev. Al Sharpton Worked As FBI Informant After Getting Caught Talking to Kingpin About Cocaine

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist and former presidential candidate, began working as a confidential FBI informant in the 1980s after he was caught on tape discussing cocaine deals with a drug kingpin, the New York Post reports.

Sharpton cooperated with authorities and helped the feds bring down the notorious Genovese crime family, according to hundreds of pages of court filings and FBI memos.
Sharpton, who denied in an interview that he was an informant, acknowledged he helped the FBI beginning in 1983.
Records indicate Sharpton used a customized Hartmann briefcase outfield with a recorder, which he used during 10 face-to-face meetings with Joseph (Joe Bana) Buonanno, a Gambino family member.

Sharpton, who was referred to as CI-7 in the reports, also was paid for his help, according to the records.

The information led to wiretaps to bug two Genovese family social clubs, three cars used by mobsters and many of their phones.
Sharpton responded with surprise when reached by the New York Post.

“I was never told I was an informant or I had a number or none of that,” he said. “Whether or not they used some of the other information they got during that period for other purposes, I don’t know.”

A Big Goof By the Feds Resulted in Mobster’s Murder, Gang Land News Reports


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A goof by federal law enforcement resulted in the murder of Genovese family mobster Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno in 2003, Gang Land News reports.

The website on the Mafia reported that a federal probation officer mentioned in a pre-sentence report to a Massachusetts federal judge that Bruno, who ran the Springfield, Mass. rackets for the crime family,  had cooperated with the FBI. The pre-sentence report was for mobster Emilio Fusco.

When Fusco,  who is entitled to see the report, read the passage about Bruno snitching, he told other mobsters, Gang Land reported. Eventually, then-acting mob boss Arthur (The Little Guy) Nigro put a hit out on Bruno, one mobster testified in court.

The information about the pre-sentence report surfaced in an a federal trial for  Nigro and two associates,  Fotios Geas and Ty Geas. All three were convicted Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in Bruno’s murder and other crimes.

Gang Land quoted a former fed prosecutor as saying: “Obviously, Bruno’s name should not have been in the (pre-sentence report) as the source of the information. It’s like putting a bulls-eye on the guy’s chest.”

Gang Land reported that another former law enforcement source said: “To me, it looks like everyone messed up. The agent shouldn’t have given Bruno’s name to the prosecutor; the prosecutor shouldn’t have repeated it to the probation department, and the probation officer shouldn’t have included it in his report.”

Gangland reported that the FBI declined comment.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

127 Busted in Largest Mafia Roundup in FBI History

FBI's Janet Fedarcyk at Brooklyn press conference/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

Federal authorities Thursday announced what they called the largest mob roundup in FBI history: the indictment of 127 people, including key Mafia figures from the New York, New Jersey and New England crime families, on charges ranging from murder and racketeering to gambling, extortion and loan-sharking.

About 800 law enforcement members from the FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Labor Department, and state and local law enforcement Thursday arrested 121 people who were named in 16 indictments filed in different jurisdictions. Four others were already in custody, and one member of the Colombo family was arrested in Italy.

The indictments were aimed at all five New York crime families — the Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno and Luchese families — along with the New England Patriarca family and the New Jersey Decavalcante family.

“Today’s arrests mark an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra operations,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference this morning in Brooklyn, N.Y. “But the reality is that our battle against organized-crime enterprises is far from over.”

Authorities said the indictments resulted from years of investigations, including the use of wiretaps and cooperating informants.

“These cases are the cumulative results of years of investigative work, including the development of key cooperating witnesses, a trend that has definitely been tilting in law enforcement’s favor,” said Janice Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI. “The vow of silence that is part of the oath Omerta is more myth than reality today.”

To read more click here.

Read indictments

Acting Genovese Capo Pleads to Plotting to Kill Hitman for Russian Mob

hitman-gun1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The acting capo of the Genovese organized crime family pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in New York to taking part in a conspiracy to commit murder of a hitman for the Russian mob, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities say that Anthony Palumbo, a soldier and Acting Capo in the Genovese Organized Crime Family and operated crews in Brooklyn and New Jersey and oversaw various rackets including including gambling, loansharking and extortion.

Around 1990, when capo Daniel Pagano went to prison, Palumbo was placed in charge of overseeing the Genovese Crime Family’s interests in an illegal mob cartel, which extorted petroleum companies affiliated with the Russian mob.

The Russian mob ran a fraudulent motor fuel bootlegging scheme, in which the petroleum companies evaded the payment of federal and state motor fuel excise taxes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The Genovese and other Organized Crime Families extorted a share of the illegal proceeds, authorities charged.

In about late 1992 or early 1993, a member of the Russian mob asked Palumbo to murder a hitman who worked for him.

Palumbo and his co-conspirators agreed to murder the Russian hitman, but Genovese Crime Family’s higher ups refused to authorize the murder, and the Russian hitman never was killed, authorities said.

Mobster Who Was FBI Informant For 18 Years Acquitted in Murder Plot

mafia33By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Who says wiseguys aren’t sensitive?

The New York Daily News reports that Genovese mobster Joseph “JB” Barone, 49, who was an FBI informant for 18 years, cried late last week after he was acquitted by a federal jury in Manhattan of in a $1 million murder-for-hire plot.

But it may not be over. The jury was hung on a conspiracy count against Barone and co-defendant Anthony Piliero and a mistrial on that count was declared.

The Daily News said the U.S. Attorney declined to say whether it would retry the two on that charge. He might cry again if prosecutors go after him on that count.

Barone had been jailed for 16 months before the trial, the Daily News reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Feds Say NY Jeweler Murdered For Disprespecting Genovese Family Mobster

mafia33By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Respect comes in different forms. In the mob world, it often comes in the form of $$$.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors on Wednesday said mobbed up Staten Island jeweler Louis Antonelli was murdered because he disrespected Genovese capo Anthony Antico, 74, by failing to pay him cash kickbacks for selling gems at Antico’s social club, the N.Y. Daily News reported.

The paper reported that Antonelli, 43, was fatally shot April 29, 2008, in West Brighton in Staten Island.

Defense lawyer Gerald McMahon called one of the government’s witnesses “a chain saw murderer” and another “a mass murderer.”

For full story click here.

In other mob news, the Daily News reports that “ruthless, toothless former Colombo crime boss Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli” has been accused in federal court of killing off-duty NYPD cop Ralphy Dols in Brooklyn in 1997.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST