Tag Archives: Gambino

Ariel Hernandez

Mob affiliate pleads guilty in gruesome Sunny Isles murder of exotic dancer

Ariel Hernandez, an affiliate of South Florida’s Gambino organized crime family, will serve 30 years in prison for the 1999 murder of an exotic dancer whose body was dumped in the Everglades.

Thursday’s guilty plea to second-degree murder means Hernandez, 47, will be spared the death penalty.

Hernandez was part of a South Florida-based Gambino crew that was arrested in a sweeping federal crackdown in 2000.

He is already serving a life prison term — in 2002, a federal jury convicted him of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, passing counterfeit checks and bank fraud.

A Miami-Dade grand jury in 2004 indicted him for the strangulation murder of Jeanette Smith, 22, of Pembroke Pines, who performed under the stage name “Jade” at Thee Doll House in Sunny Isles Beach.

Prosecutor Michael Von Zamft told a judge Thursday that the state only agreed to waive the death penalty because Hernandez is serving life in federal prison for essentially the same crime. And Smith’s family agreed to the deal to avoid “torture by going through another trial,” Von Zamft said.

Hernandez also pleaded guilty to sexual battery.

According to investigators, the mob members mistakenly believed Smith was a FBI informant.

Hernandez killed Smith in a motel room, then stuffed her in a cardboard box that was discovered near Alligator Alley in West Broward County. He claimed Smith died during rough sex.

The federal investigation also targeted Frederick J. Massaro, of Hollywood, and the “made” man he reported to in the Gambino family, Anthony “Tony Pep” Trentacosta, of suburban Atlanta.

Investigators said Massaro’s crew operated out of the Beachside Mario’s restaurant in Sunny Isles Beach.

Massaro, and others, would offer struggling businessmen, gamblers and others short-term loans at illegal high interest rates. When borrowers fell behind, Massaro would send musclemen like Hernandez and others to collect the debts.

A task force of federal, state and local organized crime agents also discovered an elaborate counterfeit check-cashing scheme.

Massaro and Trentacosta died in federal prison.



John Gotti: The Rise and fall of the Teflon Don

Time Magazine had him on its cover, but the law seemed totally incapable of putting him in jail, where he belonged, until…

Folks meet John Gotti, the last of the great Godfathers, arguably of Little Italy in New York’s borough of Brooklyn and Cosa Nostra’s boss there and southern Italy’s and Sicily’s perpetuated nation, which, unlike such Italian terms as gorgonzola, pasta, malocchio, parmiggiano and, of course, the great Rudolfo Valentino, is now upstaged into the ‘American’ vernacular with minchia, caporegime, decina, consigliere, cosa nostra and, of course, mafia not forgetting Chicago’s Al Capone.

According to two biographers, Terry Capeci and Gene Mustaint, the prologue of their latest lurid chef d’oeuvre, Gotti – The Rise And Fall, (Random House Group ISBN 9780091943172UK), of the most feared and celebrated hoodlum since Al Capone, quotes the dramatis persona with some pseudo comments, thus, “people loved me, I coulda been President if I wasn’t having so much fun doin’ what I was doin’. I didn’t dodge the draft, as President Clinton did, ha ha! Smoke pot, and didn’t poke girls that wasn’t married, went to Cambridge, was it Massachusetts somewhere (I left at 7th Grade, I went to Green Raven, takes balls to get there, that’s for sure), … yeah I was even on Time cover like Roosevelt, or was it Churchill or maybe somebody equally famous, so there … “

Back in post-war America Cosa Nostra had already reared its ugly head in Organised Crime the length and breadth of Continental United States, as did indeed the nefarious shenanigans of the Teamsters Unions headed by one Jimmy Hoffa, who ultimately wound up embedded in the bottom of New York’s East River. But John Gotti’s realm was Besonhurst, just as if Palermo had been transplanted lock, stock and fig tree to Brooklyn, initially that Broken-Land of an old Dutch colony, to eventually become an integral unit of one of New York’s residential boroughs.

This John Gotti Biography is essentially a criminal’s ‘balance sheet’, wherein both Capeci and Mustain record in consummate detail Gotti’ s mercurial rise, (and, ultimately, fall), to the backdrop of suffused automatic fire, auto bombings, of somebody’s throat gasp and gurgle as the victim’s life is terminated. Also included are innumerable playbacks of both Police and FBI hidden spy tapes in Gotti’s headquarters/lair, and mitigated by Gotti’s, (and et als), dexterity and temerity in rigging (and bribing) scared jurors to return a NOT GUILTY plea for the prosecution, and an equally embittered judge, to such sweet-sounding “expletive” the ‘Teflon Don’, an urban Robin Hood and a Lothario ladies’ man par excellence.

This was notably so when instituted by a clever young criminal attorney Deanne Ciacalone. Not a very fortunate lady, she was visibly ‘mentally’ tormented by the modus operandi the likes of the personae of thugs adopted by John Gotti, which leading case she lost through juror bribery and collusion with a very corrupt defence. Eventually, Counsel Bruce Cutler would be charged with criminal contempt of Court for violating the learned Judge’s prohibition against out-of-court statements that tended to prejudice a fair trial, tantamount to the end of his legal ‘career’. Indeed, on September 26, 1994, in the same Courtroom, Sammy, one of Gotti’s turncoats and FBI informer, pointed a damning finger where Gotti’s last piece of criminal business in the United States was made final.

Despite his conviction and, (this time), being jailed for life in New York’s maximum security prison, Gotti still retained his words in his customary crude and gruff manner. But as time went by, his phraseology began to reveal an increasingly bitter sound full of doom and delusion.

In 1998, six years after his conviction and with no chance of parole, he was heard saying, “Right now, I feel cursed. I’m stuck in this joint and that’s the end of it”. He was now confined to 23 hours a day in a closed-sized cell with just a 13 inch black and white television set for company.

More retribution was to follow as his health deteriorated. After that draconian conversation he had with his visiting relatives in June of 1998, he was diagnosed with malignant throat cancer and underwent treatment which included surgery and post-surgical chemotherapy. However, by the new millennium his prognosis deteriorated further, which demanded additional surgery, leaving him – horror of horrors – speechless, and in June 2002 Gotti died at the age of 61.

Sic Gloria Transit Mundi AMEN

Christopher Colon

Mafia enforcer Christopher Colon took along infant son in beatdown

It was bring your baby to work day — Mafia-style.

Mob enforcer Christopher Colon took his 2-month-old son along when he went to collect a debt, a federal prosecutor said Monday.

The Gambino family goon used a bat to threaten both the debtor and a neighbor who had tried to intervene, prosecutor Elie Honig said. Then he hit the neighbor with his car, breaking the man’s ankle and clavicle.

“The fact that he had his son in the car at the time speaks to an alarming lack of control,” Honig said of Colon.

Honig rolled out that mobster/son bonding tale shortly before a Manhattan federal judge sentenced Colon to eight years in prison for assault and other charges.

Colon told the judge that holding his son in his arms for the first time after he was born on Sept. 7, 2010, was a turning point in his life.

Tall and skinny and not especially menacing-looking in his prison scrubs, Colon admitted he “made bad decisions” in his life.

Colon also told the judge that his dad, Lee Colon, a retired Transit Authority cop, has terminal cancer.

“I pray that when I come home he is still alive,” Colon said as his dad looked on.

Colon finished with a plea for leniency. “I won’t let you down,” he told the judge.

Judge Richard Berman was unmoved and gave Colon the max to “protect the public from the future crimes of Mr. Colon.”

Colon, a 38-year-old Gambino mob associate from Ozone Park, pleaded guilty in February to racketeering conspiracy, distribution of ecstasy, operation of illegal gambling business, extortion and three assaults in connection with racketeering activity.

Prosecutors say Colon ran with the crew of Gambino capo Alphonse Trucchio, who has also pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion and awaits sentencing.

They described Colon as the “very definition of a Mafia enforcer.” They said they have recordings of Gambino wiseguys saying that Colon would have been a made man had he been born with an Italian name.

Colon and Trucchio were among 20 suspects busted last November in what prosecutors said was a scheme by the Mafia and the Russian mob to import women from Eastern Europe to work as strippers at two clubs in Queens.


two gambinos

Two rising stars in Gambino crime family shipped off to prison

Each pleaded guilty in February

Two rising stars in the Gambino family were shipped off to federal prison Wednesday – one getting tearful waves from his family, the other getting smiles and thumbs up.

Michael ‘Roc’ Roccaforte, 35, gave his family an exaggerated “What can I do?” shrug after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman socked him with a 118-month sentence that was four months harsher than what federal prosecutors sought.

A visibly relieved Anthony Moscatiello, 41, got 43 months from the same judge. He turned to his smiling family and jokingly advised an unidentified grinning man in a loud pin-striped suit to “Spend a few dollars. Buy a new suit.”

Each had pleaded guilty in February to breaking various laws for more than a decade, including racketeering, selling drugs, gambling and loan sharking.

They were among 27 accused mobsters arrested in a 2011 sweep in the Southern District of Manhattan. Of the 27, two dozen have pleaded guilty, including 11 members of the Gambino family. As of yesterday, six Gambino associates have been put behind bars.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig said both men were handpicked by Gambino bosses Ronald and Alphonse Trucchio to be made men in the Gambino gang and predicted that both would come back to the Gambinos when they get out.

He said Roccaforte, a first offender, has promised to change his life after prison, but added: “He’s not leaving the mob. If he wanted to say that, he could do so right now.”

Honig noted that Roccaforte was the only person below the rank of captain in the Gambino family to attend a major mob summit of New York and Philadelphia gangsters in May 2010. “He is a rising star in the mob,” he said.

Roccaforte’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, urged that his client, who had never been arrested before, get the minimum possible sentence of 97 months, but Honig said Roccaforte spent more than a decade breaking laws. “He didn’t have a bad day..a bad week or a bad month. He had a bad 15 years.”

As Roccaforte left the courtroom, the same man in the pinstriped suit that appeared at the Moscatiello sentencing sat with the mobster’s family and waved vigorously. A dejected Roccaforte finally gave a weak wave back.

Source: nydailynews.com


Big-mouth Gotti ruined mob, Gambino informant testifies

John Gotti whacked the mob.

The publicity-loving “Dapper Don’’ — who could never keep his mouth shut — played right into the hands of law enforcement by transforming the Mafia from a secret society into a public spectacle, a fellow mobster said yesterday.

“He ruined everything,” Peter “Bud” Zuccaro lamented in Brooklyn federal court.

“He publicized everything that was going on. He brought everything that was supposed to be a secret society right out to the forefront, right into the press,” said Zuccaro, a longtime Gambino associate who flipped in 2005 to become an FBI informant.

Gotti took the helm of the Gambino family after orchestrating the very public execution of his predecessor, Paul Castellano, outside Sparks Steak House in December 1985.

And after that, nothing was the same. What had been a secret criminal culture, Zuccaro said, was transformed into a swaggering enterprise — with flashy wiseguys ignoring omerta and bragging about their exploits.

Older mob leaders had stayed under the radar, blending into the workaday world by pretending to hold legit jobs while they conducted their criminal business in quiet meetings.

But Gotti was seduced by the celebrity life — and turned into more of a diva than a don.

He loved posing for cameras and thrived in the spotlight — and soon Mafia secrets became public knowledge.

Quiet meetings in small groups at diners became a thing of the past.

Suddenly mob business was conducted by “guys reporting to the [Ravenite Social] Club while the FBI is surveilling you,” Zuccaro said, speaking of the clubhouse in Little Italy where the nattily dressed Gotti held court.

“He just brought everything into public view,” Zuccaro said.

“He let it be a known thing, you know — flash — everybody hanging out together.”

The mobsters under Gotti often took the easy way out — using violence as a quick solution to problems.

High-profile hits, as well as Gotti’s performance in the spotlight, brought more and more attention from the FBI.

And when the heat was turned up, made men began to flip to save their own hides and became turncoats, like Zuccaro himself.

Zuccaro was testifying at the trial of John Burke, a Gambino associate accused of several mob-related drug murders.

The 56-year-old, who is in the witness protection program, also admitted that in 1986 he lied on the stand as a defense witness at a Gotti trial, where the Don was acquitted.

“I testified as a defense witness for John Gotti Sr.,” Zuccaro said.

“I lied to protect the [Gambino] family. I can’t put a number on how many lies. I lied,’’ he said.

“But I told the truth, too.”

This was not the first time Gotti’s former colleagues piled on him.

Ranking mobsters from New York’s four other crime families have often cited Gotti’s larger-than-life approach to Mafia life as factors that helped authorities bring down the mob.


Source: nypost.com


Too tough to fuggedabout: Notable Mafia nicknames

Former New England Mafia boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio was sentenced Friday to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in the shakedown of Providence, R.I., strip clubs. AP takes a look at some of the more notable nicknames associated with the mob and tries to shed light on their sometimes murky origins:

– Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, owned a beauty salon in the Bronx called “Hello Gorgeous” and was known for being obsessed with his personal appearance; serving life on racketeering and murder charges.

-Anthony “Tony Bagels” Cavezza, an accused Gambino family mobster known for his affection for New York bagels. He was indicted in Jan. 2011 as part of a sweep in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island and awaits trial on charges including running an illegal gambling business scheduled later this month; has pleaded not guilty.

-Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo, a New York City mobster and boss of the Lucchese crime family, earned his nickname because of his ability to duck subpoenas and convictions during his long criminal career. Died in a prison hospital in 2000.

-Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio, former underboss of the New England mob, got his nickname because he was the portly owner of a cheese shop in Boston’s North End; now serving a 6-year prison sentence for bribing an undercover FBI agent posing as a state official to try to win a $6 million contract on Boston’s Big Dig highway project.

-Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, headed the Genovese organized crime family, known for faking mental illness for decades to hide his position. His nickname apparently came from his mother’s pronunciation of “Cincenzo,” a variation of his name in Italian, and his childhood friends shortened that to “Chin”; died in prison in 2005 at age 77.

– Manocchio is also sometimes called “Baby Shanks.” The nickname “Baby Shacks” is said to have been given to him because he had an older relative nicknamed “Shacks,” which was bestowed because of that man’s relationships with numerous women.

-Carmine “The Snake” Persico, de-facto boss of the Colombo crime family, earned his nickname for switching sides in a mob faction battle. Persico has been serving a 139-year sentence since 1987 on racketeering charges.

-Harry “The Hunchback” Riccobene, a Philadelphia mobster. At 4-foot 11-inches, he was known as “little Harry” until a police officer dubbed him “Hunchback” for his short, bent stature. He died in prison in 2000 while serving a life sentence for murder.

-Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, former boss of the New England mob, so named because he owned a bunch of auto body garages in Boston. Salemme later became a government witness. Released from prison in 2009, he is now believed to be in the witness protection program.

-Philip “Chicken Man” Testa, briefly led the Scarfo crime family in Philadelphia. Testa’s nickname is believed to have come from his involvement in a poultry business. He had a heavily pockmarked face, caused by a bad case of chicken pox, which is also thought to be one of the reasons for his nickname. Testa was killed by a bomb in a mob assassination.


Sources: AP, newspaper archives, FBI.

Pray God

Mafia ‘hit man’ finds God

He used to be a Gambino thug and drug dealer — now he’s a saint.

The lawyer for accused Mafia triple murderer John Burke yesterday insisted at the start of the reputed wiseguy’s Brooklyn trial that his client had renounced crime, conquered substance abuse and found the word of God.

“Unfortunately, his awakening came in jail,” Burke’s lawyer, Richard Jasper, told a federal-court jury.

Federal prosecutors say Burke murdered men who ran afoul of the New York crime family.


Source: nypost.com