Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Junk Mine - Carmine Agnello

Carmine Agnello is the former husband of Victoria Gotti and the father of 3 boys who starred in the reality show, “Growing up Gotti.”  A more appropriate title would have been, “Growing up Agnello,” but the public doesn’t have a fascination with Agnellos.

Carmine had to really love Victoria and/or fear her father, John Gotti.  Legend has it he was beaten and shot in the ass by some guys John Gotti Sr sent after him because of something he did to Victoria.  He ended up marrying her in a wedding that was attended by 1500 of their closest friends like something out of a B movie.

Carmine ran a junk yard in Willets Point, Queens and he virtually dominated the scrap metal business in the area. That was because Carmine's father-in-law, John Gotti Sr, became the boss of the Gambino Family and Carmine was inducted into the family.  

Carmine brought in huge amounts of money for Organized Crime.  In the 1990’s there were over 50,000 cars stolen in and around New York City.  It became such a problem that local law enforcement set up special squads to combat this problem.  They succeeded, but the business itself changed.

Carmine started with Jamaica Auto Salvage at 20 years old where he learned to strip cars of their parts and send the rest to metal dealers who bought the metal from him.

This brought him to where he was.  By the 2000’s New York Shredding was the biggest scrap metal wholesaler in the state.  It brought in over 250k a week.  Carmine was helped along by a deal he had with Caterpillar.  They provided the equipment and purchased his scrap.  
The hitch is Carmine needed a steady supply of scrap metal.  The NYPD set up a fake auto salvage where they paid more than he did per car and it put a dent in his operation.  He threatened them and had their place firebombed. A lot of this was caught on tape.
He would end up taking a 9 year sentence and making a 10 million dollar payment to the Government for his crimes.  During that time he got divorced from Victoria Gotti and his father-in-law John Gotti Sr passed away while incarcerated.

Carmine had a fresh start and while he was in prison he met a new woman named Danielle who he later moved to Cleveland to start a new life with away from Queens and the Gambino Family.

He started a towing company called Charity that hauled autos that were donated to charity.

He started a new scrap business and an auto parts place.  Life seemed to be on the right track for Carmine.

That was until July of this year when Cleveland Ohio District Attorney announced that Carmine was arrested in an operation they called Operation Goodfella where he was the target.  

They claimed that he was injecting racehorses he owned with performance enhancing drugs.  They also claimed that he was up to his old tricks in the salvage business.  
They claim he made upwards of 3 million dollars in a scam where he sold crushed cars full of sand to wholesalers.  They claim he was also buying stolen cars from thieves around town.

Carmine, not one to sit on the sidelines. has already struck back at the locals by filing a lawsuit against the locals that says they seized his property just to put his company's Eagle 1 and Eagle 2 out of business.  He claims in the suit that they raided his businesses for evidence of his doping racehorses and money laundering yet they took car crushers. heavy equipment, forklifts and many other pieces of equipment that he needs to do business.

It is always amazing to me when a guy like Carmine gets a second chance at life outside of the mafia.  A guy who left New York with money and a new wife and a fresh start.  

Well, it appears he fell into his old ways.  Time will tell.   Where there's smoke, there's fire.  

We will see where this will go.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Father

A lot of books and stories available that are written by people who have no idea about the life.  They make “facts” up, based on their “expert opinions.” Who decided they are experts?  And how do you become an expert without living in the life?  All you have to do is turn on any number of these crime shows and the experts will tell you “what Carlo Gambino was thinking.”  

If you grew up in the life or around the life, it is possible you know what is real.  

Imagine for a moment that you are just old enough to realize that your father is not the same as the other fathers.  He dresses differently, he acts different, and people treat him different.  So you ask your father, “Dad what do you do for work?”
He replies,”I'm a Secret Agent.”
“Like James Bond?”
“Yes like James Bond.”

That is what Greg Scarpa told his daughter, Linda, when she was young.  
They loved to watch James Bond movies together as she grew up.

Greg Scarpa has been known as the “Grim Reaper” in the media, but nobody would have called him that to his face.  Scarpa really was a Secret Agent working for the government of the United States.  He was a long time informant for the FBI, who, because of his high rank inside the Colombo Family, was able to provide top notch information.

He was doing work for the FBI not only against Mafia families but in other places.

The movie “Mississippi Burning” is about the FBI search for bodies of three missing civil rights workers during the summer of 1964.  This happened near the small town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.  The FBI knew the Civil Rights workers were dead, but they could not find the bodies.

In the movie, a man is flown into the town on a small airplane. He kidnaps the town’s mayor and beats  the location of the bodies out of him.   

The man in that case in real life, who was flown in from New York, was Greg Scarpa.  He grabbed a TV Salesman and took him to the remote Camp Shelby Army, base where he got the location of the bodies out of him. Perhaps he just asked him nicely and he gave it up?  

The FBI uncovered the bodies in an earthen dam, and Greg Scarpa flew back to Brooklyn to continue his criminal enterprise. The FBI was happy, J. Edgar Hoover was happy, and the press made a huge deal out of it.  

The FBI may have used Scarpa on a few more of these Civil Rights missions.  Maybe some day the rest of the information will come out.

Scarpa, or Greg Bond, as he jokingly told his daughter one day, was not the typical mobster.  He dressed nice but was never flashy.  He did not go bouncing around clubs like the others.  Scarpa was a family man.  He always wanted his family home for 5pm dinner together. The kids all knew they would be in trouble if they were not home by 5pm.  It seems a little funny that Scarpa knew the importance of family meals in keeping the family bond strong. Today nightly family dinners are all but lost in most of America.

In their younger years the kids would beg their mother to take them down to the club or luncheonette to see their father.  It was a wondrous place where they would emerge with pockets full of cash given to them by everyone.  Joey would walk across the room on his hands from one end to the other to entertain them.  The crew was so amazed they would make bets on how long he could do it.

Scarpa didn't keep his life a secret from his family.  Testimony from other mobsters proves that.  So the fact that Linda has now written a book titled, “The Mafia Hitman's Daughter,” which will be available in December, should not surprise anyone.  Many men in the life did keep their involvement in the Mafia a secret from their wives, kids and grandkids.  Unlike the books by those families members who pretend to know, but were kept in the dark, Linda’s book will have real insight and great stories.  

Linda knew her father well and what he could do.  People would “disappear” or they would end up in the hospital if they crossed Scarpa.  She once stopped by the social club and her father told her she had to leave right then.  Scarpa had a two way mirror where he could see the club and one place you never wanted to be was behind that glass. Nothing good would come of that.

I've written before about a planned hit against Greg Scarpa at the start of the Colombo war in the 1990’s.  I was told about the event from someone who was in on the planning and was there.  Now I’ve also heard it from the other side.

Scarpa was feared by Vic Orena and Bill Cutolo, so after the failed hit on Orena they decided to hit Scarpa.  The main thing about the whole event that people do not understand is that Scarpa was on the outs with the Persicos. He was already very sick with AIDS that he had contracted from a blood transfusion.  The dementia was setting in at the time.

So, when Scarpa was driving away from his home with his daughter and her son behind him, the hit team parked a truck across the street.  They jumped out of a van but one the shooters fired a shot by accident.  Scarpa gunned his car forward.  Linda saw a shot part the hair of one of her father’s men.  Scarpa seemed to be hit as he got around the truck.  The gunmen then turned their guns on the car driven by his daughter.  Luckily she was not hit. She ran back to the house and started beating on the door.  She handed her mother the baby and screamed, “They killed Daddy!”  Her legs were rubber and she sobbed until Scarpa walked in the door.  

Scarpa cried along with his family for what almost happened.  He knew it was a close call and the guys who did it would be back again.  Scarpa was on a mission from that minute forward.  He told his family that every one of the would be assassins would pay. “I’ll kill them all.”

Scarpa was the one the other side feared the most.  It was a big mistake on their part.

Those days are in the past.  The guys from both sides of the Colombo war are gone. Scarpa passed away in June of 1994 in a federal prison hospital.  He had lost his battle with Aids.  

Linda will forever miss the hugs from her father and his voice.  Gone are the family meals, but not the many memories.

The whole mafia life is full of stories.  Every story, every crime, every botched hit, has two sides who can tell the same story from a completely different point of view.