Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New England Crime Family, Kevin Hanrahan cold case mob murder

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Court documents reveal the Federal Bureau of Investigation has received new information in the 1992 gangland slaying of reputed mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan.

The Target 12 Investigators have learned the FBI is now re-examining the murder based on information from two criminal informants.

The new information came to light in court documents filed in February. According to the documents, an FBI informant — described as a Taunton, Mass., bookmaker — said he was being shaken down for protection money by Hanrahan.

In response, the document states the informant and another man pay a visit to a man named Gordon O'Brien to complain about the shake-down. The affidavit describes O'Brien as "a significant organized crime figure in Southeastern Massachusetts."

According to the documents, the informant claims that during that meeting, O'Brien made a phone call to Frank "Cadillac Frank" Salemme in Boston, then-mob boss of the New England Crime Family.

Within days of the call, according to the affidavit, Hanrahan was murdered.

The document does not disclose who pulled the trigger, but it does reveal the FBI is investigating Salemme for allegedly ordering the hit.

Salemme’s attorney, Steven Boozang of Boston, Mass., said the theory is ridiculous.

"Obviously someone has gotten into trouble and they're trying to get themselves out of trouble," said Boozang. "I know one thing, [Salemme] is an old school guy. He wouldn't have a conversation about anything on the telephone. It just simply would not happen."

Salemme, who federal authorities say was the head of the Patriarca crime family in the early '90's, was released from prison last spring. Boozang said at 76 years old, Salemme is trying to leave his former life behind, "riding off into the sunset" in an undisclosed location.

The new information is part of a criminal complaint against reputed mafia captain Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent. St. Laurent is accused by the FBI of shaking down several Taunton bookmakers for protection money from 1988 to 2009. He has not been implicated in the Hanrahan mu
Enrico Ponzo, a reputed Patriarca mobster who allegedly aligned himself with a rival faction in an attempt to prevent the ascension of Francis P. "Cadillac

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mobsters: Coming face-to-face with a hit man

It was a haven for mobsters and corruption beginning in the Strip’s early years through the 1980s. By the time Saturday’s speaker, Frank Cullota, co-author of his autobiography Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster and Government Witness, moved to Las Vegas from Chicago, the Strip was lined with casino/hotels, mostly under the control of the mob. There were a myriad of rackets in the city, and murder was the final payoff for those who didn’t follow the code.

Bugsy Siegel once famously said of Syndicate members, “We only kill each other.” Then he was murdered in 1947.

The Mob Chronicles is a new series of talks featuring real stories from the people who lived them. The subject and design of the show holds a morbid fascination for many, and Las Vegas is a ripe source of personalities and stories. Because there is a certain mystique, a curious romance attached to these things, the general public wants to hear what was behind the glamorized accounts in books and movies.

Those who lived it will tell you that the glitz surrounding such a life had a dark underbelly. The reality could mean being arrested, doing time, even killing lifelong friends or being murdered by them yourself. It was a life that was mostly dangerous, but also had humorous moments.

Frank Cullotta told the audience how he grew up in a life of crime, embarking along the path his father walked when he was only ten. He reeled off the crimes he had committed like a grocery list: 300 burglaries, 50 armed robberies, arson and then the chiller—2 murders and 2 attempted murders. As he spoke in a flat voice, devoid of emotion, it was obvious that to him it was just business.

He said he and Tony “the Ant” Spilotro became boyhood friends in Chicago. After Tony learned who Cullotta’sfather was, an unbreakable bond was created. Apparently Cullotta’s father had once saved Spilotro’s father’s life. Photographs flashed on the screen as he spoke, starting from the time they were boys until Cullotta moved to Las Vegas at Spilotro’s request and became the infamous mobster’s lieutenant. He headed a cartel of swindlers, arsonists and killers known in town as the Hole in the Wall Gang. One of the captions on the screen said it all… Tough guys grow up fast.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

relatives of Montreal Mafia, Vito Rizzuto: win tax case

The tax appeals in respect of the sale of the Olifas Marketing Group shares by the former shareholders were settled in favour of the taxpayers, allowing their tax appeals in full,” said Ian Morris, a partner with Morris & Morris LLP, a Toronto tax law firm.

Christina Ham, a Department of Justice lawyer on the case, confirmed a settlement had been reached but would not comment on its terms.

The case was scheduled for a hearing next month in Toronto, in the Tax Court of Canada, as 10 former OMG shareholders appealed a decision by the Canada Revenue Agency to disallow their claimed tax deductions from the sale of their shares.

The company has since been sold to new owners and operates under a different name.

The case revealed that silent investors in OMG, the company that won government contracts in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, London and Windsor, included Giovanna Rizzuto, who is Rizzuto’s wife, and their three children: Nick, who was killed in an unsolved murder in December, Leonardo and Bettina, all of Montreal. Their shares were bought in the name of Nino Campoli in 1999, soon after Toronto approved a pilot project for OMG to place recycling and garbage bins on its streets.

Other shareholders included Giancarlo Serpe and two of his relatives; company founder Salvatore Oliveti and his wife, Loredana, all of Vaughan; and Toronto businessman Filippo Calabro.

Mr. Campoli is the son of Frank Campoli, who married Mrs. Rizzuto’s cousin and remained close to the powerful Mob boss, who is now in prison in the United States for his role in three gangland murders in New York City.

Police have watched Mr. Serpe meet with several Toronto-area mafiosi over the years.

Most of the shares in OMG were sold three weeks after police in Montreal pulled a Jeep over in 2002 and demanded a breath test from its driver. Officers found Vito Rizzuto behind the wheel and the Jeep registered to OMG.

The company denied any relationship to the mobster and the mobster denied any connection to the company. Nonetheless, each of the Rizzuto family members involved claimed almost $419,000 in proceeds from the sale of OMG shares, according to court filings.

There is no allegation of illegality in the transactions. The issue was whether the government properly disallowed the deductions on their 2003 and 2004 tax returns.

The tax agency claimed the OMG shares did not qualify because too little of the value of the assets were used in an active business in Canada.

Earlier this year, Vito Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo, 85, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in Montreal and paid $209,000 in fines after $5.2-million in unclaimed income was found in Swiss bank accounts held in the name of others.

Similarly, in 2001, Vito Rizzuto settled a dispute over undeclared revenue from shares in a different firm that were in the name of others, including Mr. Campoli. He paid a $400,000 settlement.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Justice Department Won't Appeal $102 Million Verdict In Boston Wrongful-Conviction Case

The tortured legal ordeal of four Boston men wrongly convicted of murder by a cabal of gangsters and corrupt FBI agents apparently ended Friday with a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice not to appeal their record, $100 million wrongful imprisonment verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers involved in the case said Friday.

The government had not appealed by a 5 p.m. deadline Friday, which lets stand an August 2009 decision by the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upholding what is believed to be the largest verdict ever awarded in a wrongful imprisonment case, $101.7 million.

The four men spent decades in prison after FBI agents, in a scheme to cultivate mob informants, permitted the fabrication of evidence that led to their wrongful convictions for a 1965 murder.

The Justice Department's decision not to pursue another challenge of the verdict, awarded in July 2007 in Boston by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner, is the latest in a half-century of legal developments arising in Boston about ruthless mob violence and shocking corruption by key figures in law enforcement. In its opening lines, Gertner's decision spoke of "egregious governmental misconduct," a "bullet-ridden" body, and the FBI's "callous disregard" for the four victims, referred to throughout as "the scapegoats."

Barring unexpected legal developments, the judgment will be divided among Joseph Savati, Peter Limone Sr. and the estates of the two other men, Henry Tameleo and Louis Greco Sr.

Tameleo and Greco died of old age in prison before a sensational series of legal developments beginning in the late 1990s proved that they had been framed by mob turncoats with the knowledge of agents at the highest levels of the FBI.

Three of the victims were reputed organized crime figures in Boston and were believed to have been framed to settle old disputes. Salvati, who had no connection to organized crime, was wrongly implicated in the murder because he had borrowed $400 from one of the turncoats and did not repay it quickly enough.

The FBI agents named in the wrongful imprisonment case were the same figures implicated two decades later in what became a sensational attempt by members of Boston's notorious Winter Hill gang to take over a significant portion of the U.S. parimutuel gambling industry. Oklahoma tycoon Roger Wheeler, whose World Jai Alai company owned the jai alai venue in north Hartford, was one of those shot dead in a conspiracy by then-current and retired FBI agents and mobsters in the takeover attempt.

Salvati's lead attorney in his lawsuit against the federal government was Hartford lawyer Austin J. McGuigan, who was joined in Hartford by his partner Joseph Burns and in Boston by attorney Victor J. Garo, whose early work on the case resulted in Salvati's being freed from prison after more than 30 years in 2001.

McGuigan said Friday that he was encouraged by the government's decision not to appeal. When the 1st Circuit upheld Gertner's damage award, McGuigan called the decision "the greatest experience of my legal career in terms of being able to right a wrong that had been perpetuated for so many years."

The 22-day bench trial before Gertner in 2007 amounted to a painstaking re-creation of events that began with the 1965 murder in Chelsea, Mass., of a nickel-and-dime hoodlum named Edward "Teddy" Deegan.

Salvati and the other victims produced as evidence hundreds of previously secret FBI reports showing that their innocence was widely known in the FBI within minutes of Deegan's murder. Nearly all the reports were routinely forwarded to the office of then-Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Deegan's real killers were the two mob turncoats that the FBI was trying to recruit as informants: Joseph "The Animal" Barboza and James Flemmi. Both were cold-blooded killers. An illegal FBI bug captured Flemmi bragging at about the time of the murder that he wanted to be Boston's most prolific hit man.

After Deegan was riddled with bullets in an unlit alley, FBI agents allowed Barboza to implicate the innocent men on the condition that he become a cooperating witness in a series of late 1960s mob prosecutions. Barboza agreed on the additional condition that his partner be kept out of the Deegan case as well.

In the trial court decision, Gertner wrote that the FBI records, which had been illegally concealed for decades, created a strong case against the bureau: "The FBI agents 'handling' Barboza ... and their superiors — all the way up to the FBI Director — knew that Barboza would perjure himself. They knew this because Barboza, a killer many times over, had told them so — directly and indirectly. Barboza's testimony about the plaintiffs contradicted every shred of evidence in the FBI's possession at the time — and the FBI had extraordinary information."