Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Mafia Lives On

One of the things that makes the Mafia so dangerous when compared to drug trafficking groups or other criminal groups is their ability to keep doing business no matter what.   The Bonanno family has been hit hard in the recent years.  The FBI went after them with a vengeance and they took down the administration.  The Bonanno family had been the only one of the five families in New York that had never had a made guy turn rat.  That all changed when underboss Sal Vitale flipped on the family and his brother in law the boss Joey Massino.  Then Joey Massino did the unthinkable: he flipped.  Joey not only flipped, he also wore a wire on acting boss Vinny Basciano and took him down.  One of the guys caught up in the prosecution was John Palazzolo.

Palazzolo was inducted into the Bonanno family in 1977 just like Massino, during that time it was under the leadership of boss Rusty Rastelli.    Palazzolo was tasked with killing another made guy named Anthony Coglitore, who was involved in blowing up another member.  

In 1991 Palazzolo was called again to take part in another murder.  This time it was another made guy, Russell Mauro.  Mauro had been involved in selling drugs, but when everyone else went down and he did not, the Bonannos figured he was cooperating.  They decided to murder him and Palazzolo was the guy to lure him to the murder site.  Mauro was killed, stuffed into a body bag and placed in the trunk of a 1985 Lincoln that was left on a street in Queens.
The body was badly decomposed by the time the cops found it and there were few clues.

Palazzolo, as you can see, has a long criminal history that included fraud, theft of interstate shipments, loansharking and extortion.  When he was picked up in the big Bonanno family take down, he had just finished parole.  He ended up pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder Mauro in aid of racketeering in April of 2006, and he was sentenced to 10 years.  

Palazzolo was released in 2012 at the age of 80, and he was right back to work with the Bonanno family. He was on parole and was not supposed to associate with felons.  Palazzolo was soon the street boss of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno family. Things were not going well and the Bronx faction was losing power to the others in Queens, so Palazzolo decided to make his move.

He started meeting with various men in the family.  One of those he met with was Fat Anthony Rabito. Fat Anthony is the Consigliore of the family and is a long time member of the family.  Fat Anthony had taken part in the murder of the three Capos during the internal war and had pleaded guilty to Racketeering.    

The problem is the FBI was watching when Palazzo and Fat Anthony had a lengthy meeting outside a Bayside Queens Diner parking lot.   Palazzo then met with another family man who was close to the boss Mikey “Nose” Mancuso.

The FBI decided they needed to make a move because they believed that Palazzo was going to make a move and it would cause more violence in the family.

Last week they took him down, which is surprising because the last time Palazzo was sentenced, back in 2006, he claimed that he had prostate cancer, Crohns disease and that he had to take 12 pills a day.  Today he is 82 years old and a veteran of the mafia.  Guys like him are the most dangerous because they have the years of knowledge.

The judge who was on his last case back in 2006 was the same judge on his case this week. The judge asked the US Attorney. “Is there still a leadership of the Bonanno family?” and she replied  “Unfortunately, yes.”  No matter who is locked up, or who dies, there is always someone else willing to step up and take the role.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

RIP Pasquale Amato

This past week, on March 19th, a man forgotten by his crime family passed away at the Coleman Federal Penitentiary outside of Orlando, Florida.  The man was Pasquale “Patty” Amato; a former Capo in the Colombo Family.  Patty had become a Capo in 1988 and his crew pulled down a lot of cash from their Shylocking business.  Patty would capitalize his guys with cash and they would kick up a percentage to him every week.  Thomas Ocera was a made guy in Patty’s crew, and besides shylocking he also owned a restaurant in Long Island called the Manor Merrick.

In October of 1989 the police raided his restaurant and seized his shylock pay/owe book.
Ocera started drinking heavily and told others that he was going to be killed soon.  You have to wonder what else was in that book, but he knew he was living on borrowed time.  Vic Orena ordered his murder in November because he was skimming money from the shylock business.   

Patty, along with a crew member named Jack Leale, used to have early morning meetings at the Manor with Ocera.  After the police seized the shylock book, the meeting stopped.  Jack Leale convinced Ocera to meet at Patty’s house and when he walked inside Jack and Patty used a garrott to kill him.  They placed Ocera’s body in the trunk of a car Leale borrowed from his brother-in-law and he drove away with other crew members.   Leale and his brother-in-law Bonfiglio assisted by others buried Ocera in Forest Park Queens.  The next day Leale took over two underground gambling clubs that Ocera had owned as a reward for the murder.

The FBI was led to Ocera’s final resting place by another crew member on October 3, 1991.  They quickly issued a warrant for Jack Leale’s arrest. It proved too late because Leale would be found 4 weeks later shot to death in a Long Island parking lot.  In January of 1992 the FBI raided Patty’s home where they found a Davis Industries 380 caliber pistol that was from the same lot as others that had been found on Colombo family members.  

The Colombos were in the middle of their civil war and Patty had gone with Vic Orena against the Persico Faction.  He was acting Underboss for a time while Orena was locked up and then he was back to being a Capo.  The FBI had enough evidence by April 1992 to take down Patty and Orena hoping to put a stop to the war.  They had nothing on Patty for the war but they had enough to charge both with RICO crimes that covered the war and the crimes committed for the Orena faction.

Patty was able to get his case severed from Orena and the rest of the guys, but he was convicted of racketeering in January of 1993.  

The Colombo war had a huge impact on the family and its ability to make money.  Most of the normal business that both sides were doing before the war began stopped.  My friends in Wild Bill’s crew went from pulling down big money to getting $200 a week. Shylocking stopped and the customers went away.  

Patty had loaned his crew members cash to put on the street at 1 percent a week interest and they in turn loaned it out for more.  The war stopped all of that and destroyed their bookmaking and gambling clubs.

Patty had lost his appeals and settled into life in Federal Prison when Greg Scarpa Jr.  (who was also incarcerated) came forward with a story.  The story was that his father, Greg Scarpa Sr., also known as the Grim Reaper, had worked with a rogue FBI Agent and set up Vic Orena and Patty Amato.  

Greg Scarpa did work as an informant and how far the FBI Agent went was never proven.  Patty’s appeal was denied and he died last week; all but forgotten by the crime family he pledged undying loyalty to when he was inducted.