Sunday, July 27, 2014

LA and New Orleans - Mafia News

Los Angeles and New Orleans have Mafia news this week.  Last week the Los Angeles County Sheriff arrested Joe Isgro, music & movie producer and Shylock. He was being held on a no bail hold in the Van Nuys jail, which was strange because why not men's central?  Some say it was for running a gambling ring, but time will tell when he has his court date.

I will give you a little background on Joe Isgro.  He has been in the record business for a long time.  He was close to Joey Piney Armone who handled it for the Gambino Family. He was an independent record promoter and he worked on some really big albums like Michael Jackson in his glory days.  He would send his people out to radio stations and make sure his artist got airplay.  How he did that is where he almost ran into trouble.  The Government tried to make a case against him in the late 80's saying that he was involved in Payola.  They said he paid station managers and others to get his artists songs on rotation for a lot of airplay.  The case fell apart because the judge said the Government conduct was outrageous. Brian Ross from NBC news claimed to have followed Joe Isgro to the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York where he had the Presidential Suite and had meetings with John Gotti and Joey Piney Armone. Joe would claim that it never happened.  I do know that Joe used to meet Joe Dente (Genovese Family) at Nicky Blairs on Sunset Blvd.  Joe Dente used to conduct business out of a booth there and Joe was with him a lot. I met Joe at a house in the Valley off Balboa Blvd and he had some questionable people around him.  Uncle Tony, Valentino and Anthony Gambino worked there.  One time he
didn't like a message I was relaying to him from Jimmy Caci (LA Capo) and he jumped up from behind his desk and said,  "I'm a wiseguy, so he cant talk to me that way."   I went back to his Raging Bull records office on Ventura Blvd with Louie Gelfuso (LA Capo) and we all bullshitted for an hour. Joe's luck ran out in September of 2000 when he was sentenced to 50 months in Federal Prison for his Beverly Hills Shylock operation. He is now 66 years old and who knows what this new case will bring.

New Orleans, the Big Easy is the birth place of the American Mafia and was once ruled by one man for decades.  Carlos Marcello ran his family with an iron fist but he did not induct enough people into the family to insure its continued survival after he was locked away. There must still be people down there who operate because the Feds indicted two men for driving around in an assassins van.  This is what went down: the New Orleans police were on routine patrol when their automatic license plate scanner detected a stolen plate on a van.  They pulled over the van and there were two men inside Joseph Gagliano Jr and Dominick Gullo.  Also in the van were two cut down dining room chairs bolted to the floor. They also found a 22cal rifle and a suppressor and 8 inches of cannon fuse.  A scope for the rifle was found in a side panel in the van and it was equipped with custom sliding windows on the side and the rear perfectly in lined with the cut down chairs.This made for a perfect firing position.  In other words, this was a van custom outfitted for murder.

Who were the two guys in the murder van?  Joseph Gagliano is the son of Frank Gagliano, also known as Fat Frank, the underboss of the New Orleans Mafia Family.  Fat Frank passed away in 2006 and the boss of the family Anthony Carollo passed away in 2007.  The FBI and others continue to watch what is left of the organization, but little is known about the membership. Joseph Gagliano once worked with John Vaccaro, an LA Family Soldier in Jimmy Caci's crew. They put together teams of card cheats that had inside help to cheat Louisiana Casino's out of more than 500k!  John Vaccaro was from New Orleans and he knew Carlos Marcello well. Joesph Gagliano was also arrested for participating with Joseph Corrozo and John Gammarano, both high ranking Gambinos in a bid to bring Joker Poker Machines to New Orleans.  This case will take a long time to play out but it will be interesting to follow it and see what there is to learn about New Orleans crime families.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Casella's Restaurant

1987 was a good year for John Gotti.   He was boss of the Gambino Family and he had been acquitted in a high profile case.  He knew that he was on someone's hit list but he thought it was for the killing of his boss Paul Castellano. He did not know that he had really pissed off the Genovese Family, and not just because Chin Gigante was mad about the Castellano murder.  John Gotti had moved in on the rackets that the Philadelphia Family had run until their family was decimated and their boss Nicky Scarfo was put away for life.  This really made the Genovese in New Jersey mad and the number three man in the family, Louis "Bobby" Manna wanted John Gotti and his brother Gene Gotti dead.  Bobby Mana was the Consigliere of the family and he ran the New Jersey faction of the family from Casella's restaurant in Hoboken. What Bobby did not know is that the FBI had a wire inside Casella's and they picked up these words "Wear a disguise, its an open place."  "A Big Hit John Gotti."  The plan was to shoot John Gotti on the corner when he did a walk talk from his Bergin Hunt and Fish Social Club in Queens. They then planned on gunning down his brother Gene who was on trial for running a Heroin ring. The FBI warned John Gotti and the hit never went down.

The wire at Casella's also picked up the planning of another hit.  This time the target was Irwin Schiff, a 350lb millionaire conman who had crossed Bobby Manna.  Irwin had shylock loans on the street and he had also failed to give back cash that belonged to the Genovese Family. It was believed he was laundering money for the family and had skimmed a lot off the top.  On August 8, 1987, Irwin Schiff was having dinner at Bravo Sergio on the Upper East side of Manhattan with a friend's wife when a gunman walked in the rear door and fired two 38cal slugs into his head and then calmly walked out. The NYPD was at a loss as to why or who killed Irwin and very few of the 20 witnesses came forward with any information. The FBI had a wire up in Casella's in Hoboken and they had picked up some talk. On August 5th the FBI had picked up "You want him hit," and "we will do him good at night." They referred to him as CC because he ran Consolidated Construction and one of the guys who partnered with him was a man named Domenico "Dom" RaBuffo.  Dom knew what was going on but that was to come later. The FBI wire picked up the Mobsters in Casella's talking about the hit two days after the hit on August 10th and it was damming.  They would all go on trial and Bobby Mana would get 80 years!

Dom Rabuffo would become a government protected witness and disappear after the trial.   Dom would move on to Florida where he did not get out of his life of crime.  Dom was convicted just last week of stealing 49.5 million in an elaborate mortgage fraud. Dom and his former wife Mae used two straw holding companies to gain control of a purported housing development in Cashiers, North Carolina that they called Hampton Springs. They then recruited straw buyers to apply for loans on parcels and then construction loans. They used an accountant to forge paperwork to inflate the straw buyers on paper. They had a guy in the mortgage company that helped push the fraudulent loans through banks. These
banks would include Bank Of America, Suntrust, Wachovia and Regions. 33 million dollars of this money was for construction loans and they created a number of shell companies that they funneled this cash through. It all blew up and they now face some major time.

All this fraud began in a small Italian restaurant in Hoboken.