Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cold Blooded Killer

Even wiseguys got hinky around Richard Kuklinski.By his own account, “The Iceman” shot, stabbed, strangled, and poisoned many of his victims. One was blown to bits by a grenade; another was stuffed into a barrel of quick-drying cement in a garage right next to my grandparents’ house.
Then there was the corpse Kuklinski kept frozen for two years in a Mister Softee warehouse down the hill from us in Hudson County to mask the time of death. It’s how he got his nickname.State investigators were stumped, though. They couldn’t even raise an assault charge against the Bergen County hit man. So they turned to Dominick Polifrone. My longtime friend knew a thing or two about coldblooded killers. With his chiseled Italianate features, bandido mustache, and speech peppered with unprintable adjectives, Polifrone had convinced countless made guys that he was one of them, while he taped conversations that sent many of them up the river.He also had the one thing ya can’t teach at the academy: a huge set o’ stones.“I used to think it was a game,” Dom told me soon after we’d met nearly two decades ago. “But as you get older, you get wiser.
A guy could blow your [expletive] brains out, just like that.“This isn’t a tennis match,” he said, during a formal interview for a North Jersey newspaper. “Bad guys today have counter-surveillance, high-tech equipment. You turn your back and you could wind up in a box.”Fortunately, the street kid from Hackensack knew how to watch his back—no matter where he was.In their silk suits and diamond pinkie rings, the ham-fisted men who lingered over demitasse along Brooklyn’s Bay Street and Bath Avenue swaggered like gentry. Many were descended from immigrants who settled there between the world wars. They belonged to—or, more precisely, worked for—families with names like Gambino, Luchese, and Genovese.Few had legit jobs. Instead, they smuggled smack and guns, harvested tribute from underlings and favor-seekers, and loaned cash at more than 300 percent interest.Into this testosterone-teeming world, driving a long black Lincoln, came Dom.A short time earlier, Polifrone had joined a 1980s meeting of investigators who were quizzing mob informant “Kenny the Rat” O’Donnell on the type of undercover agent they could plant.“Don’t look no further,” the Rat said, nodding toward Polifrone. “There’s your man.”“Kenny introduced me to a lot of people,” said Dom, who took the name Sonny Provenzano. “He must’ve known every wiseguy in New York.“He taught me how to come across - when to back off, when to hold your ground.“I used to wear a black shirt and corduroys. Kenny busted my balls about it. So I bought the Italian knit shirts, the suits, the gold.
”It worked.Although he grew up in Bergen County and attended college in the Midwest, Polifrone passed for a Brooklyn wiseguy. A former college linebacker and amateur boxer, he ingratiated himself with some of the East Coast’s nastiest mobsters.“One of ‘em took this 80-year-old guy who wasn’t making his loan payments and burnt him with an acetylene torch,” he said. “Everybody got the point.”These same goombahs brought “Sonny” home to meet their families. After dinner, the men ushered him into a garage or basement to survey the inventory.“I bought enough guns to start a [expletive] war,” he told me during a talk we had for a story that appeared in The Bergen Record.In one case, Dom bought dozens of sawed-off shotguns from a man later convicted of scheming to rob the Hummel figurine maker. In another, he copped 3,000 silencers. All the time he wore a microphone under his shirt.One time, a group of gunrunners yanked down a corrugated metal door and started all the vehicles in a Brooklyn body shop.“At first, I didn’t know what was goin’ on,” Dom recalled. “They’re gunnin’ the engines on these things, makin’ all kinds of [expletive] noise.“Then I realize what they’re doin’: They’re gonna test the guns. They start firin’ these things and it’s brrrr everywhere,” he said, spraying an arc of imaginary bullets. “Shots are bouncin’: ping, ping, ping.”You can actually hear the barrage on the wire.Then you hear Dom saying: “Holy shit! I gotta get outta here.’”Because he was with the ATF at the time, his trade was illegal weapons. But during his undercover assignment, Dom bought kilos of heroin and was hired by the makers of a Sinatra film to bust a crew member who was selling coke.The new lifestyle was straight out of Hollywood, in fact: mounds of pasta, strains of tarantella, merchandise “falling off trucks.”“One guy took me in. His wife would cook for me: steak, sausage ‘n peppers, you name it,” Dom remembers. “He showed me how he cut heroin. You get 2.2 pounds in a kilo, so you sell the two and keep the point-two. ‘There’s your profit,’ he’d say.“I’d be drinking espresso with this guy, knowing he was going down.”On Halloween Eve 1980, more than 200 federal agents and city cops arrested 47 people, seizing dynamite, submachine guns, rifles, and silencers — the largest Mafia roundup since the 60s.One of those snagged was the heroin dealer who considered himself Polifrone’s surrogate father
.Led from the courtroom in handcuffs and shackles, the old man stopped.“I loved you like a son,” he told Polifrone, sobbing.Hands clasped, standing straight as a sentry, Dom remained impassive.“Sorry, pal.”I didn’t need others to tell me Dom was a stand-up guy. He was the very first person to show up at my mom’s wake. My family nearly jumped back when he came striding down the aisle. You’d think Elvis himself had just walked in.Every time I picked up the phone at work and heard “Jerry D!” I knew there was a good story coming.The oldest of three children, Polifrone grew up in a lower-middle-class Italian enclave. As a boy, he ran numbers for a neighborhood bookie. Later, he became the family’s first college graduate.“My father worked construction seven days a week. He used to take me out to the job and say, ‘Is this what you want to do? Then get an education.’”A defensive end, Dom played on two state championship football teams at Hackensack High School, earning a scholarship to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In 1969, he made first-team NAIAA All-America at outside linebacker. He also boxed in the Golden Gloves, winning a title despite breaking his hand during a semifinal bout.He also got into more than his share of brawls outside the ring.A police sergeant saw something, though. He dressed Dom down, then suggested he switch his major from physical education to law enforcement. Dom figured it beat a one-way trip back home.Once he was back in New Jersey, Dom became an ace at undercover work. But he also looked after his wife, Ellen, and three kids.
When someone put out a contract on him after the mob roundup, Dom convinced his bosses not to relocate him.“It’s like a rope - you keep letting it out and letting it out,” he confided one day. “I kept wondering: Where is the give? When’s my turn? But I’ve been very fortunate. My rope never gave out.”A series of assignments after the mob case included sinking a conspiracy to ship 10 kilos of cocaine and 10,000 machine guns from Santo Domingo to Puerto Rico, and heading a task force that took guns off the streets of Washington, D.C.But these were tuneups for the biggest—and longest —case of his career.It was the mid-Eighties. State police were focusing on a string of murders in Passaic and Hudson counties. At the same time, investigators at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office were trying to piece together three local killings that bore an assassin’s signature.A former Gambino family enforcer, the 6-foot-4-inch, 270-pound Kuklinski killed for cash—only it was the victims’ money. He’d find ways of threatening to extort them, convince them to bring huge sums with them, and then kill them.“It was clear only one person stood a chance of getting close to this guy,” said then-State Police Detective Paul Smith. “Kuklinski was smart enough that he didn’t trust anybody. But he looked at Dominick as someone on his par, someone comparable. That was the attraction to him.”Posing as an arms dealer, Dom elbowed his way into the right circle. For months, he hung out in a Paterson storefront, where a few pieces of window-dressing merchandise masked back-room prostitution, joker-poker, and who knows what else.It took more than a year, but the Iceman finally called.“Can you get the white stuff (cyanide)?” he asked Dom during their first meeting. “I need to take care of a couple of rats.”Sure, Dom said, over coffee and danish at a Paterson Dunkin’ Donuts.He was surprised when Kuklinski called the next day.“That’s when I knew I was over the hump,” Dom said. “I could feel it in my bones. I told the guys, ‘I’m in.’”Somehow, Dom got The Iceman to talk, on tape, without ever having to produce “the white stuff.”“I’ve done it on a busy street where they thought the guy had a heart attack,” Kuklinski says on one recording. “I walked right up to him, made like I was sneezing into my handkerchief to protect myself, and sprayed him in the face.”Once investigators had enough to make their case, they devised a robbery-murder sting involving a “rich kid” drug buyer. Kuklinski would give the fictitious victim a cyanide-laced egg sandwich, then take $85,000 in cash he was supposed to be carrying.Kuklinski bought it.During a December 1986 meeting at the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in Ridgefield, Dom gave Kuklinski the egg sandwich and the “poison” - actually quinine prepared in a state police lab.Later that day, a squadron of police vehicles converged on Kuklinski’s house as he and his wife pulled from their driveway. In the trunk, they found the sandwich.The Iceman, as many know, made a cottage industry out of giving a series of interviews with HBO before he died in March 2006 while serving two life sentences.“I hope he rots in hell,” Dom said at the time.Now in his early 60s, The ex-cop who brought the Iceman down does humbler work, work that’s closer to his heart—and to the streets: He heads a drop-in center for troubled youth in Bergen County.
It’s not as demanding or dangerous as matching wits with wiseguys, but it can be just as effective.Now and then, he also grabs a glass of Chianti and a Cuban cigar, stretches out, and reminisces. There are few who can tell a story like Dom does. The guy’s still got the stones, something that may have come to him by inheritance.At Dominick’s going-away party nearly 10 years ago, I elbowed my way through hundreds of guests and sidled up to his mom at the hot buffet.“Hi, Mrs. Polifrone. How you doin’?”“I’m OK,” she said.Then she pointed her fork at me.“When you gonna do another story about my son?”Here ya go, Mrs. P., wherever you are.A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy steps!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

cesare "The Tall Guy" bonventre

Cesare "The Tall Guy" Bonventre (January 1, 1951 - April 16, 1984) was a Sicilian mobster who was a bodyguard and drug trafficker for the New York Bonanno crime family.
Early life
Born in Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily, Bonventre was brought to the United States by mobster Carmine Galante. Bonventre soon was appointed underboss of the "Zips." He appeared to be of German-Dutch descent, and not to be of Sicilian or Italian descent. "Zips" was a derogatory term for the young Sicilian men brought to the U.S. by the five New York crime families to serve as soldiers and hitmen. Bonventre was a relative of Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Bonanno and many other important family members. Soon Galante was using Bonventre as his bodyguard. His mob monicker "The Tall Guy" was given to him for standing close to six feet tall and not the 1988 film by the same title
Galante assassination
On July 12 1979, Galante was dropped off for lunch at an Italian restaurant in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. After a short while, Bonventre and another Sicilian bodyguard, Baldo Amato, joined Galante's party. Suddenly three men in ski masks appeared and opened fire on Galante and two other family members. Bonventre and Amato allegedly joined in the attack, then fled the scene after the three hitmen. Galante died on the scene. Bonventre was arrested by federal agents a week later, then released. It was later rumored that the Mafia Commission, which oversaw all the crime families, had sanctioned Galante's murder and arranged for Bonventre and Baldi to betray him. Philip Rastelli succeeded Galante as boss of the family and Joseph Massino became underboss (although some believed Massino was the real power in the family). After Galante's death, Bonventre joined the Brooklyn "crew" of caporegime Salvatore Catalano. Bonventre soon became involved in the importation and drug trafficking of heroin from Sicily into New York pizza parlors, known as the "Pizza Connection
The ascension of Rastelli as boss triggered a period of discontent and rivalry in the Bonanno family. As a result, Rastelli and Massino started purging their opponents in the family. In 1984, Massino decided that Bonventre represented a threat to the Bonanno leadership and should be eliminated. In April 1984, Bonanno mobsters Salvatore Vitale and Louis Attanasio picked up Bonventre one day to bring him to a meeting with Rastelli. As Vitale drove into a garage, Attanasio shot Bonventre twice in the head. Surprisingly, Bonventre still struggled, forcing the two hitmen to stop the car. Bonventre crawled out of the car onto the concrete before Attanasio finished him off with two more shots. Bonventre's body was hacked into two pieces and dumped into two 55-gallon glue drums in a Garfield, New Jersey warehouse. After the body was recovered, it took forensic technicians three months to
No arrests were ever made in the Bonventre murder. A government informant later claimed that one of the killers was mobster Cossimo Aiello. However, Aiello was never questioned as he turned up dead five weeks after the discovery of Bonventre's body.identify it. One month later, federal agents broke up the Pizza Connection with a series of arrests.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Liborio Bellomo

Liborio Bellomo
Liborio "Barney" Salvatore Bellomo (born January 8, 1957) is a high ranking caporegime, or captain, and one time acting boss of the Genovese crime family of New York City. Originally from Corleone, Sicily he is one of the fastest rising mafia members in the U.S today, becoming a Capo in his mid twenties. He was considered Vincent Gigante's logical successor as boss of the Genovese family until he was sent to prison in 1996, now out on parole his current status in the Genovese family is yet to be determined. He currently has a residence in Pelham Manor, New York Bellomo stands at 6'4". Bellomo can speak both Italian and English languages. He spent a year studying at Monsignor Scanlon's Business School in the Bronx, and then a year studying mortuary science but later attended University of Paris. It is unknown if he graduated with a diploma or certificate at this university. However, in 1977, at the age of 20 Bellomo was inducted into the powerful "West Side Mob"/Genovese crime family. The induction ceremony took place above an East Harlem pizzeria. Bellomo's father was a powerful Sicilian heroin trafficker that was connected with the Genoveses of East Harlem.Vincent Cafaro sponsored Bellomo into the Genovese family, and Bellomo became a made member of Saverio Santora's East Harlem 116th Street Crew. The crew was involved in gambling and labor racketeering, specifically in the NYC District Council of Carpenters.In or around 1982, before he turned 30, Bellomo took over the Santora 116th Street Crew, and with fellow Harlem captain Vincent DiNapoli became the pre-eminent racketeer in the New York City District Council of Carpenters and extremely influential in the New York City construction industry. During the late 1980s, Bellomo moved the crew's center base to the Bronx, where it has always maintained important rackets up until Bellomo's most recent indictment.Bellomo was the exact opposite of the flashy John Gotti of the Gambino Bellomo was the exact opposite of the flashy John Gotti of the Gambino crime family. He dressed in jeans and sweatshirts, and only met fellow wiseguys late at night in odd places, avoiding the Manhattan limelight, but steadily building his power and helping to maintain the Genovese family's dominance over New York's La Cosa Nostra.[edit] "Legitimate" businessBellomo owned several Bronx-based businesses, including a waste hauling company. Carpenters union racketeer and the Jacob K. Javits CenterIn or about 1993, Bellomo won a jurisdictional dispute against Genovese Little Italy captain Anthony Cipollo, in which consigliere Louis Manna awarded Bellomo exclusive control over Bronx Carpenters Local 17, removing all of Cipollo's influence. Furthermore, Bellomo became dominant in the rackets at the Jacob K. Javits Center on the West Side of Manhattan by installing crew members in important union positions at the center, including soldier Ralph Coppola and his Genovese associate brother-in-law and Carpenters Local 257 shop steward Anthony Fiorino. Bellomo was also close to Genovese associate Attilio Bitondo who was Local 257's Vice-President, and involved in kickbacks from NYC contractors and businesses operating at the Javits Center. around this time Genovese boss Vincent Gigante began mentoring Liborio Bellomo to take over as boss of the Genovese crime family.A report by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force indicated that an alarmingly high number of the 100 carpenters that worked at the Javits Center had ties to organized crime, some of whom were made members of one of the Five Families. These carpenters made $100,000 salaries, and 60 of the 100 had criminal records. One of whom, Vincent Gigante, was the nephew of the Genovese family's Godfather. The Javits was controlled through affiliations with labor bosses Frederick Devine, Martin Forde, Attilio Bitondo, Eugene Hanley, Anthony Fiorino, Leonard Simon, Fabian Palomino, Carmine Fiore, and Ralph Coppola.To maintain control, Anthony Fiorino, the Local 257 steward in charge of the Javits, once threatening a man's life at a Local 257 meeting in 1984, telling him his kids could be hurt if he "steps on people's toes." Fiorino was also responsible for funneling tribute payments the Genovese and the Irish Westies Mob received from contractors operating in the Javits to the labor bosses and Barney Bellomo.[edit] Acting boss and indictmentIn 1990, after Vincent Gigante's indictment in the Windows Scam, Bellomo was appointed acting boss of the Genovese family. In 1996, after serving effectively as Gigante's acting boss while Gigante was dodging indictments by faking mental illness, Bellomo was indicted on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges, including the murder of Ralph DeSimone, cousin of Thomas DeSimone who was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Goodfellas, extortion and labor racketeering. He took and passed three lie detector tests about a murder he has steadfastly denied, had his head shaved by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents looking to find evidence that Bellomo had used drugs to beat the polygraph machines, and was left sitting in prison even though no evidence of drugs was found in his system. In late 1997, Bellomo pleaded guilty to lesser charges and accepted a 10-year prison sentence.[edit] Imprisoned and second indictmentIn 2001, while Bellomo was due out of prison in 2004, he was indicted on money laundering charges related to the Genovese family's involvement in the waterfront rackets and control of the ILA. Bellomo was accused of hiding money stolen from the ILA's members pension fund account. Bellomo pleaded guilty to lesser charges pushing back his scheduled release date. While in prison, on February 23, 2006, Bellomo and over 30 other Genovese crime family members and associates, including nearly 90-year old Bronx captain John Ardito and Bellomo's attorney Peter Peluso who decided to cooperate with federal investigators, were indicted. Bellomo was charged with ordering the 1998 murder of Ralph Coppola, the acting captain that ran Bellomo's crew in his absence. Peluso pleaded guilty to his role in the murder, specifically, he admitted to passing the murder decree from Bellomo the Genovese mobsters who actually carried out the hit. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. He maintains a residence in Pelham Manor, New York [
Released from prisonIn July 2008, after serving 12 years, former acting Genovese boss Barney Bellomo was released from prison. Bellomo's main rival to become boss will probably be Tino Fiumara, the purported leader of the New Jersey faction of the Genoveses and a long time capo and supporter of Vincent Gigante

Friday, February 13, 2009


Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson (September 29, 1935 – August 29, 1988) was a United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant from 1969 to 1985. He provided the FBI with information relating to John Gotti and other members of the Gambino family. He was a friend of Gambino crime boss John Gotti even though he was informing on him.

Johnson was born in Canarsie, Brooklyn, one of five children of a Algonquian-speaking Native American father John Johnson who was a descendant of the 17th century tribe known as the Lenape from The Narrows of Staten Island and an Italian-American mother. His Indian father was estranged from their Staten Island Indian reservation and settled in Red Hook, Brooklyn where Wilfred Johnson was raised with his brothers and sisters. His father's ancestors were involved with the Dutch in the fur trade, specifically beaver pelts for European-made goods.

He was known on the streets as "Indian". Johnson's father, John Johnson, was an abusive alcoholic who frequently beat his wife and children. Johnson's father often spent his entire paycheck on alcohol. Johnson's mother would periodically desert her husband and children, only to return later. This dysfunctional and vicious childhood helped mold Johnson into a criminal. He was referred to as a "half breed" in reference to his mixed Italian-Iroquois heritage and Cher's song "Half Breed".Johnson's criminal career began when he was only nine years old; he was arrested for stealing money out of a Helen's Candy Store cash register, a Murder Inc. mob hangout. Johnson's school life was quite traumatic as well. The boy had a hair-trigger temper that frequently got him into trouble. At age 12, Johnson either fell or was pushed off the school roof during a fight. As a result of this accident, Johnson sustained head injuries that would plague him with persistent headaches for the rest of his life.

As a young man, Johnson was 6'6" and weighed close to 300 pounds and had extremely large hands. This led him to become a Mafia enforcer. By 1949, he was running a gang of thugs in East New York who strong armed debtors into paying their mob debts. In 1957, Johnson met John Gotti for the first time. Gotti was a 17 year-old high-school drop-out and Johnson was a street thug perpetually in trouble with the law.When Gotti joined the Gambino family, Johnson came with him. Johnson became known as the "terminator" because of his skill with strong-arm work. Requiring a steady income, Johnson was given a modestly-successful gambling operation. Because Johnson was only half-Italian from the wrong side of the family, he could never become a made man. However, he brought in money as well as anyone else in the family. Johnson married an Italian woman and never had a mistress. In Johnson's mind, he was part of the family. willie boy Johnson

In the late 1960s, Johnson the loyal soldier would turn against his crime family. It started in 1966, when Johnson was imprisoned for armed robbery. His Caporegime, Carmine Fatico, vowed to financially support Johnson's wife and two infant children. However, Fatico soon broke this promise. Johnson's wife, who was to remain loyal to him throughout all his prison terms, was forced to go on welfare. Johnson felt the mob was not living up to its obligations. Almost always, Wilfred did not volunteer information, but would answer direct questions asked by law enforcement officials. His FBI handler Special Agent Martin Boland would submit questions from various organized crime squads inside the FBI and the DEA. In 1967 during an FBI interview, someone spotted Johnson's apparent dissatisfaction with the mob. After his release from prison, the FBI approached him about becoming an informant. Reluctant at first, Johnson finally agreed to talk in return for the government dropping some counterfeiting charges. Johnson also wanted to pay back the Gambinos for their dishonesty. In 1978 Johnson informed Boland about the whereabouts of Lucchese crime family capo Paul Vario's hijacking headquarters which at the time was operating out of a scrapyard owned by Clyde Brooks. Although he was an informant, Wilfred customarily was careful about discussing his friend John Gotti. Johnson had a curious relationship with Gotti, at one point remarking to Boland, "Sometimes I love him, and sometimes I hate him." He did not provide much elaboration except for occasional hints, among them complaints about Gotti's gambling addiction, which often involved, he said, bets of up to $100,000 a week. Some of that action, Johnson complained would be laid off at his modest bookmaking operation, forcing Johnson to absorb the loss. On other occasions, Johnson would say bitterly about Gotti, "You know, he wears these expensive suits now, but he's still a lot of bullshit; he's still a mutt. Don't be fooled by that smooth exterior." Underlying Johnson's bitterness was apparent resentment over his continuing lowly status in the crew of Carmine Fatico, a seemingly state of permanent inferiority, despite all his loyal service. He resented how Fatico and Gotti always treated him like a peon: "They still see me as a gofer and make me handle swag." Except for one hundred dollars John once borrowed from Boland as an "emergency personal loan" which was promptly paid back, Boland declining an offer of "vig" on it, Wilfred did not receive a dime from the FBI. Although he did make some profit, his information solved a number of major hijackings for the FBI, and in cases where insurance companies offered large rewards for recovery of stolen goods, the FBI provided confidential affidavits attesting that Johnson was directly responsible fr recovery of hijacked goods. Johnson collected the rewards, in one case thirty thousand dollars for recovery of a large shipment. As an informant, Johnson did not seek, as many do, intervention by the FBI to get criminal charges reduced or drop

During his 16 years as an informant, Johnson provided information on all the different New York Mafia crews that he worked on and the FBI used that information to make many arrests. However, as his FBI "handler," Special Agent Martin Boland noticed, Johnson refused to discuss his background or childhood in any detail.One of the most significant pieces of information provided by Johnson was how The Vario Crew was avoiding FBI wire taps and bugs. The crew was using a parked trailer in a junkyard owned by Paul Vario in Brooklyn.Johnson provided the FBI with information on a large-scale narcotics ring, run by John Gotti and others, called the "Pleasant Avenue Connection." He revealed that Gotti and Angelo Ruggerio had murdered Florida mobster Anthony Plate. Johnson also had details on the murder of James McBratney, the man who kidnapped Emanuel Gambino.

In 1985, Johnson's career as an informant came to an abrupt end. In a public hearing that year, Federal prosecutor, Diane Giacalone inadvertently revealed that Johnson was working for the FBI. Johnson's FBI handlers tried to convince him to enter the Witness Protection Program, but for some reason he refused.On August 29, 1988, Bonanno family hit men, Thomas Pitera ("Tommy Karate") and Vincent "Kojak" Giattino ambushed Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson as he walked to his car and shot him to death. the gunmen fired 19 rounds at him. Johnson was hit once in each thigh, twice in the back, and at least six times in the head. The hit team then dropped jack-like spikes on the street to prevent the possibility of pursuit. Pitera had done this as a favor to Gotti.In 1992, Thomas Pitera and Vincent Giattino were indicted and tried for the murder of Johnson. Giattino was found guilty. Pitera, suspected in as many as 30 killings, was acquitted, but was later convicted of six other murders.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo

Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo (born 1940) was a capo in the Lucchese crime family who later became a government witness.
In 1991, Chiodo was charged with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). At this point, he decided to plea guilty in return for a lighter sentence. Uncertain of Chiodo's loyalty and angry at his guilty plea, Lucchese crime family leaders Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso decided to kill him. They ordered the current acting boss of the family Alphonse 'The Professor' D'Arco, to take him out, D'Arco was surprised by Casso's decision to kill Chiodo as they had been good friends for years. Following Casso's order so he himself did not get whacked D'Arco ordered the hit. On May 8, 1991 three shooters shot Chiodo 12 times, but failed to kill him, doctors credited Chiodo's obesity for saving his life. He is the nephew of Lucchese crime family mobster Frank Signorino and brother to Patricia Capozallo.
Following this assassination attempt, Chiodo decided to become a government witness, it was the only way it seemed he could survive. In an attempt to thwart Chiodo's plans Casso and Amuso had D'Arco get some soldiers to threaten Chiodo's family. Quickly his family were whisked into the Witness Protection programme, his uncle and sister decided to risk life on the street, Amuso and Casso then had Chiodo's uncle killed in an unsuccessful effort to dissuade him and his sister Patricia Capozallo was shot in the arm, back and neck by a masked gunman but it failed to kill her. Chiodo provided valuable evidence that helped convict both Amuso and Casso as well as many other gangsters. He had to be flown around in a special plane while a witness because of his weight. Chiodo is currently in the Witness Protection Program. He was sentenced in September 2007 on racketeering charges but will serve no prison time due to his agreement to testify.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pizzeria Owner Who Pistol-Whipped Customer May Be Mob Informant

PALM COAST -- Sometimes a good story begins with simple introductions.
Meet Joey Calco, a noted mob informant whose testimony helped federal prosecutors convict multiple members of New York's infamous Bonanno crime family.
Meet Joseph Milano, a Palm Coast pizzeria manager accused of attacking two customers who complained about a calzone they had purchased from his restaurant, Goomba's Pizzeria.
What do Calco and Milano have in common?
For starters, a civil court lawsuit filed last year by a Palm Coast teenager claims Milano sexually harassed her when she was working at his restaurant. In court documents, she says Milano told her he had killed people and is in the federal witness protection program.
Joey Calco is a confessed killer whose testimony and cooperation with federal officials led to the conviction of several ranking members of New York's organized crime world, court records show. Calco also offered key information to international officials about the Sicilian Mafia, court records show.
Records also show Milano and Calco share the same birth date -- March 26, 1968.
There are physical similarities. In fact, an expert on Joey Calco and his mob associates, from what was once known as the "Bath Avenue Crew" in New York, says Calco and Milano appear to her to be the same person.
"That is absolutely, positively him (Calco)," Michele McPhee said in a telephone interview Thursday after seeing a recent jail mug shot of Joseph Milano.
McPhee is an author and journalist who has written books about Calco and his crew after federal officials' takedown of several members of New York's infamous Bonanno crime family several years ago. One of McPhee's books, "Mob Over Miami," gives an inside look into the Bath Avenue Crew and former mobster turned South Florida club informant Chris Paciello.
So is Joseph Milano actually Joey Calco?
That question might never have arisen if not for an 11-year-old with a picky palate.
Milano was arrested Jan. 23 and accused of beating and pistol-whipping two customers after they complained about a calzone they had purchased for one of their daughters earlier in the day and demanded a refund for the botched order.
Video footage of the alleged attack was captured on the restaurant's surveillance system. That video eventually was released by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office and played in the media for the entire world to see.
Meanwhile, numerous court documents, interviews and tips from the community led The News-Journal to investigate Milano's criminal history and personal background, which revealed several additional similarities between Joseph Milano and Joey Calco.
An employee at Milano's restaurant said in a telephone interview after the Jan. 23 attack that Goomba's startup capital and financial backing comes from Milano's mother.
Milano's application for an occupational license and other business documents filed with the state named Guiseppina Calco as the business owner. Guiseppina Calco later removed herself and named Milano as president of the business in May 2008, state business records indicate.
McPhee said a source in the New York Police Department's organized crime unit confirmed to her that Guiseppina and Calogero Calco are the infamous mobster Joey Calco's parents.
Guiseppina Calco is 64, according to voter registration documents.
Joey Calco spoke to the judge at his own sentencing after the conclusion of the federal cases he testified in against his former crime family friends, saying he'd lost a brother and his sister was hurt because of his connection to the mob. His family was forced to flee to Florida because of it, Calco told the judge.
Did Joey Calco eventually join his family in Flagler County as Joseph Milano?
Property records show Guiseppina and Calogero Calco lived in New York and had a home on the corner of Bath Avenue and Bay 13th Street prior to moving to Florida. It's where Joey Calco's climb through the ranks of a New York mob family began when he was just a child, court records show.
Calco's childhood home was just three houses away from Anthony Spero, the Bonanno family's consigliere, and just around the corner from an elite social club where New York's most well-connected mobsters often congregated, court records show.
Records show Guiseppina and Calogero Calco eventually purchased three Palm Coast properties: One in 2003, another in 2004 and the latest in 2007. Joseph Milano and Kristy Leal live in one of the properties and Milano has survivorship rights to that property in the event of Guiseppina and Calogero's deaths, property records state.
Records also indicate Milano married Leal on Jan. 29, just days after the story of the calzone attack appeared in the local media.
Other Calcos, believed to be relatives, live in the Volusia and Flagler area, some on the same Palm Coast street, property records show.
The possibility of a Calco family reunion in Florida didn't surprise McPhee. She said several of the federal witnesses who testified against Spero and other key mob figures years ago are now living "the high life" with families and friends in new cities and states. Often the new locales offer active social scenes and warmer climates.
"It seems that everyone in the Bath Avenue Crew knew exactly how to take advantage of the WitSec (Witness Security) program," the NYPD source told McPhee.
And Calco may not be the only informant having trouble staying hidden and out of trouble since testifying against his former New York crime family. McPhee said other mob-rats-turned-protected-witnesses in Calco's crew have gotten into trouble since they were given new identities.
It also made sense to McPhee's NYPD source that Calco would find himself back in the criminal mix.
"Calco was feared and revered in Brooklyn," he said, adding it was likely Calco could be "lured" into old habits involving power and money.
As of Thursday, Goomba's Pizzeria was still open and serving customers but was no longer delivering food to local schoolchildren after a school district contract expired Monday. Writing on the store's windows announced that the pizzeria was under new ownership. Employees wouldn't say who the new owners are.
One employee did say on Wednesday that Milano had not returned to the restaurant since video and media coverage of the Jan. 23 incident over the calzone was made public.
Milano's home was guarded Thursday by a large dog apparently corralled by an invisible electronic fence. A neighbor said she recently saw Milano working on the eaves of the home. She said it appeared he was installing security cameras.
The United States Marshals Service, which administers the federal Witness Security Program, did not return a call Thursday made by The News-Journal. Flagler County Sheriff Donald Fleming declined to comment.
And State Attorney R.J. Larizza said through a spokesman that his agency has no knowledge Milano might be a federal informant and prosecutors intend to review and move forward with the battery case against him in the same way they would any other case.
One final note: A former Goomba's employee told The News-Journal that three men in a Lincoln Town Car bearing New Jersey license plates showed up at Goomba's the day after the first calzone attack story appeared in the national news.
They asked for "Joey Calco."
Records show Calco's life entwined with New York mob
Joey Calco spent years working as a hit man for the Bonanno crime family, court records show. His nearly lifelong climb through the ranks of the mob family began when he was just a young child.
Calco grew up in a home three houses away from Anthony Spero, a high-ranking mobster, and just around the corner from an elite social club where New York's most connected mob men often congregated, court records state.
Calco later would turn on those criminal leaders he long sought to serve, providing testimony in federal court that led to Spero's conviction for his involvement in multiple murders. It was Spero who ordered Calco to commit at least one of those murders and in the case against Spero, Calco testified as to his compliance.
Calco also provided critical testimony and information to federal investigators about the Sicilian Mafia and a variety of other faces in New York organized crime, court records show.
After the federal cases against Spero and others concluded, Calco faced his own destiny in a courtroom. He was charged with eight criminal counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, drug distribution, murder, being an accessory to crimes, and use of firearms.
All but two of those charges were dismissed by the judge at the request of state and federal prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation and testimony in other cases.
At Calco's sentencing, the mother of a man Calco admittedly killed -- Jack Cherin Jr. -- begged the court to keep a killer off the streets.
"Nothing will change the fact that Joey Calco will always be a murderer who has and always will put his own needs and desires above those of society," said Ms. Cherin, whose first name was not included in court documents.
She went on to tell the court, "we are aware that the law rewards cooperation, but how much of a reward does a repeated murderer merit?"
The judge said he felt compelled to give Calco a light sentence for his crimes in view of his crucial cooperation in the takedown of New York's organized crime problem, court records show. The sentence also was designed to encourage other organized crime members to follow in Calco's footsteps in testifying against other organized crime figures.
At his sentencing, Calco apologized to his victims and family for his misdeeds, saying to the judge, "if you give me another chance, I won't let this court down and I won't let you down, your honor."
A Look Back
1993: Joseph (Joey) Calco fired two bullets into the back of Paul Gulino's head in Gulino's mother's New York home. At the time, Gulino was the acting leader of the Bath Avenue Crew -- an organized gang of criminals that included Calco. Calco later admitted he shot Gulino as he left the room to get Calco something to drink.
1999: Ranking Bonanno crime family member Anthony Spero is indicted for his involvement in three murders, including the murder of Paul Gulino.
2001: Calco testifies against Spero, saying it was Spero who ordered Gulino's murder.
2004: Calco was sentenced for his own criminal dealings. The judge, at the request of state and federal prosecutors, dismissed all but two of the eight charges against him. He was sentenced to serve nine years in prison -- minus 10 months' time served -- and five years of supervised release.
2006-2007: The time period during which a Social Security number was issued for Joseph Milano, who also has the same date of birth as Joseph Calco.
2007: Joseph Milano opens Goomba's Pizzeria in Palm Coast.
2008: Joseph Milano is accused of sexually harassing a female employee and assaulting another a few weeks later. Both incidents reportedly occurred at his restaurant. The State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the case involving sexual harassment and the other case remains in limbo, with the charges not yet formalized or dropped.
2009: Joseph Milano is accused of attacking two customers, pistol-whipping one when he demanded a refund for a botched calzone order. BY HEATHER SCOFIELD
SOURCE: New York federal court records; local court records; News-Journal research
Chris Paciello owned two of Miami's hottest clubs and hung out with Ingrid Casares, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna. A murder charge scattered his A-list pals -- but his gangster vibe is part of what drew them in the first place.
Chris Paciello

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Listen to him
"FedFella" ex FBI agent Bob Hamer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This partial interview by Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith with retired FBI undercover agent and author Bob Hamer first aired in its entirety Jan. 21 on KNPR-FM, 88.9 “KNPR’s State of Nevada.” A recording of the interview is available online at
JOHN L. SMITH: Thanks to television cop shows and movies such as “Donnie Brasco,” the public has an image of the undercover investigator that borders on caricature. Hard-drinking, wisecracking, two-fisted and ready to shoot first and then start the interrogation.
Bob Hamer shatters the stereotypes.
SMITH: Let’s talk about one of those early stops. This is where our paths cross at some level.
I wrote a book called “The Animal in Hollywood” about a very tough guy in the L.A. mob, Anthony Fiato, and his experience both as a criminal and as a cooperating witness. You worked in the middle of his world. … Can you talk a little bit about working La Cosa Nostra in those days in Los Angeles. L.A. is a very big place, but the mobsters weren’t too hard to find, I assume, they were just hard to catch.
HAMER: The difference between L.A. and a lot of cities is we didn’t have a Little Italy. L.A. had Little Tokyo, they sort of have a Little Saigon. There are a lot of different ethnic communities there, but the Italian family wasn’t maybe as strong as maybe they were in other major cities. And as you well know they were sometimes dubbed as the Mickey Mouse Mafia. But they had some pretty significant key players that were involved. They reported to the Commission. They were legitimate La Cosa Nostra, Mafia guys as most of us refer to them. And Anthony Fiato was a major player in that whole organized crime scene.
I worked it both from a case agent perspective, when we were actually targeting Fiato, sat in on hours and hours of wiretaps when we were actually listening to his conversations. And then eventually, when we put together a pretty significant case, he decided to cooperate with the FBI and it was he and his brother Larry who actually introduced me into the L.A. Mafia family.
SMITH: How did you work African-American gangs when you’re not from that neighborhood?
HAMER: Every FBI agent is a college graduate. Most FBI agents have advanced degrees. Many are lawyers and accountants. Our African-American agents are well-educated. They’re not necessarily people who were brought up in the streets. They were brought up in middle or upper-middle income families. So it was almost as difficult for them to work undercover at a street level as it was for a white guy.
We have a couple agents that we tried to fit in and it just didn’t click. We had an informant that was willing to introduce an undercover agent and things didn’t click the way we would have liked, and one Friday night the informant was actually complaining about the undercover agent. And he said I could take you in and sell you. … I said, “OK, let’s do it.” He actually took me in, made one introduction and that’s all it took. I never worked with that informant again in that investigation. … We took down one guy, actually the head of the Back Street Crips, which if you’re familiar with Los Angeles, we were literally in the shadows of the Watts Towers. … When we finally did arrest him … I said, “You had to suspect a white guy, coming down here to sell drugs.” And he sort of lowered his head and shook his head and said, “I figure the police would be too stupid to send a white guy down here.” So by being so unconventional we were able to succeed in that particular investigation.
SMITH: The supernotes case, for those who aren’t familiar with that term, supernotes are highly developed counterfeit notes, generally as I’m aware $100 bills, created, depending on your source, as far away as North Korea and trafficked out of North Korea. … This is a case with international flavor. Can you talk about the case, how it got started, and how the notes got all the way to Las Vegas with a guy named Wilson Liu shoving them into slot machines at different casinos?
HAMER: The supernotes case is actually a fascinating investigation because again we originally were targeting counterfeit cigarettes and rumors of these supernotes were floating around. … We knew, based upon intelligence, that the money was coming out of North Korea, being manufactured in North Korea. … I came up with a story as why I needed counterfeit money.
At that time I was dealing with five separate kinds of groups in this whole umbrella of Chinese syndicate. So I put out the word with these five individuals that I was dealing with that I was looking for counterfeit hundred-dollar bills. … I ended up getting six or seven different samples of $100 bills. Some of them were pretty good, but it wasn’t the supernotes.
Every time they’d bring me a counterfeit hundred-dollar bill we took it to Secret Service … and Secret Service would say, “Yeah, this is counterfeit, but this is actually made out of Colombia, or this is made somewhere else, but this isn’t the supernote.” … Lo and behold, the supernotes, they did arrive. I had two different people bring me supernotes. When we got them, Secret Service was ecstatic that we finally had hit upon the supernotes.
The first note we got we brought it to one of the top analysts in L.A., and she said that it was real. And I kind of laughed, and I told my case agent, “Hey, we’re paying 30 cents on the dollar. If this is real, I’m glad to hear it because I’m going to mortgage my house and I’m going to buy as much as they’re willing to sell because this is a pretty good return on my investment.” Then they sent the bills back to Secret Service headquarters back in Washington, D.C., and they came back and said, “No, this is the supernote.”
SMITH: (W)hen people talk in broad terms … about international terrorism and propping up foreign governments that are basically gangster governments like, in my opinion, North Korea is, we talk in abstract terms, but you’re right there. The bottom line is that’s how some of these regimes stay in power and actually generate funds inside their own government by creating criminal activity and exporting it to the U.S.
HAMER: John, I give you credit. You were one of the few people to even report on this investigation. It amazed me … the trial took place in federal court at the same time that the O.J. Simpson trial was occurring. Each day I would walk past the state courthouse where the O.J. trial was, and you had Camp O.J. there and all these national news media covering the O.J. trial. Two blocks down, you’re literally dealing with a trial involving an act of war. It is an act of war to counterfeit another nation’s currency.
Eventually, President Bush announced North Korea was counterfeiting our $100 bill. As a result of this investigation the U.S. government came out and acknowledged that North Korea was doing that. This is an act of war. John L. Smith covered it and talked about it in his column and virtually no one else did. Ollie North wrote an article in his weekly column, but you didn’t see anyone else talking about this. We were more concerned with some washed up football player trying to get his memorabilia back. Listen play
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gambino soldier Peter Zucarro paints Mafia's image by the numbahs


It was a day of naming names in Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday. You know: Quack Quack. Johnny One Arm Vinnie Mad Dog. Little Fat Joe.. Could Big Pussy be far behind?
Turncoat Gambino soldier Pete Zuccaro took the stand to testify againstCharles Carneglia who's accused of five murders.
In a tough, gravelly voice he told why the Mafia kills people:- "He cursed at a capo in Italian."
- "He didn't pass on money (a superior) could use for snacks in the jail commissary."
- Vinnie Gotti thought he was sleeping with his wife."
- "He didn't come when he was called."
Zucarro is nicknamed "Bud" for his marijuana business, and prosecutor Evan Norris asked how much he earned for the tons of pot he brought here.
"A lot of people ax me that," he pronounced. "To put a number on the money I made, it's hard. Millions. Lots."
Zucarro, 53, described how a Winnebago would pull into Carneglia's junkyard and they would take the pot and "put it into bales and numbah dem."
The law intercepted too many imports and they turned to homegrown - hydroponics, to be exactCheech and chong "You don't use soil," Zucarro said. "You put the plants in rocks, feed them liquid nutrients under artificial light, create the best climate." He had a warehouse in Brooklyn"It was like the Epcop center.."
He would save some to smoke, no doubt because he was always around scary Carneglia, who, Zucarro claimed, killed teenager Sal Puma with a small stiletto.
"You don't need a big knife," Carneglia told him. "You can use a small one and just wiggle it."
Zucarro said he started "doing robberies" and assaults at the age of 13, when he met Carneglia.
Asked how many assaults, Zucarro threw his body back and said, "You gotta be kiddin' me!" He told of the time John Gotto asked them to "slaughter but not kill Carmine Agnello who beat up Gotti's daughter Victoria, his future wife.
He would do anything Gotti said because "I thought John Gotti was the best thing that walked on this planet."
But when he died, "I didn't feel anything. By then, I thought he ruined it. The way he was so flamboyant. ... It was supposed to be a secret society and now everything was overexposed. How do you say, "Do as I say, not as I do.'"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Memo to Mobsters: Don't "Adopt" Anyone - He May Turn Out to be a Rat

John A. (Junior) Gotti learned that the hard way with "adopted" son Lewis Kasman, who taped Gotti family meetings for the feds.Reputed killer Charles Carneglia is about to get a taste of the same medicine with "adopted" kid brother Kevin McMahon.Both mob turncoats are to testify in Carneglia's ongoing murder trial in Brooklyn Federal Court.Kasman, a former Long Island garment exec who wormed his way into Gotti's inner circle and called himself the adopted son of the late Gambino crime boss, wasn't close to Carneglia.McMahon was as close as you can get without being a relative. "When Kevin walks into that courtroom I would expect Charles will want to jump over the table and strangle him," a law enforcement official said.McMahon was not only a member of Carneglia's crime crew, he was like a member of the Carneglia family.In 1980, McMahon was a 12-year-old Irish kid from Howard Beach "at the beginning of his long and extraordinarily close relationship" with Charles Carneglia and his brother John, court papers show. McMahon is 20 years younger than Charles, 62, and John, 64.On a fateful day in March, McMahon lent his minibike to mob scion Frank Gotti who was accidentally hit and killed by neighbor John Favara as he drove home from work. Favara was slain on Gotti's orders and, prosecutors say, Charles Carneglia dissolved his body in a barrel of acid.Before the incident, McMahon had been "informally adopted" by John and Charles Carneglia. Charles Carneglia promised to protect the lad from retaliation for his role in Frankie's death.McMahon was treated as a member of the Carneglia family, living with them for long stretches, attending family dinners and going on Carneglia family vacations, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Burlingame said.Former capo Michael DiLeonardo has testified that McMahon was a "goofy kid" who taunted FBI agents, running up to them and grabbing his crotch.McMahon had jobs with Local 638 steamfitters union and Local 52 motion pictures mechanics union, but those paid only $40,000 a year, chump change for a wanna-be Gambino associate with an ailing wife and two kids.Prosecutors say he and Carneglia took part in extortions, art fraud and robberies, including the stickup of an armored car at Kennedy Airport in 1990 in which guard Jose Rivera Delgado was shot to death. McMahon dropped a baseball cap at the scene. DNA tests linked him to a strand of hair in the hat.Shortly after he was arrested in 2005 on an indictment charging him with racketeering for the Gambinos in Tampa, McMahon sent a "thank you" letter to Brooklyn Magistrate Robert Levy for releasing him on bail."As I was leaving the courtroom you said to me, 'Don't let me down.' I assure you I have not," he wrote. "As soon as I'm acquitted I'll write you again."McMahon turned on his adoptive mob family after he was convicted and faced 20 years behind bars. He is cooperating in hopes of winning a lesser prison term.Thanks to John Marzulli