Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Check Cashing Murder

The TV Show Mob Wives is like watching a train wreck, and like a wreck, people watch it.  It may have a gotten a Gambino associate beaten up in prison.  It seems his prison mates didn't like what they were hearing about his wife being on Mob Wives.  Never mind that it not been confirmed.  What about Ramona Rizzo’s fiance Joseph Sclafani a Gambino who got 18 years?

Then we have Alicia DiMichele aka Garafalo, the wife of Eddie Garofalo.  She was the person who helped Eddie and Teddy dummy up Union papers, yet she got no time inside, unlike the two men.

Then we have Renee Graziano’s former husband Hector Pagan.  Hector, the great upstanding guy that he was on Staten Island, took part in the robbery of a man named James Donovan. James ran a shady check cashing business.  Hector not only took part in the robbery he is the person who fired a fatal shot into James Donovan’s thigh.  The crew was waiting in ambush outside an Auto Body shop for hours waiting for James Donovan to show up with a large sum of cash.  Hector Pagan not only killed the man, he also wore a wire on his father-in-law Anthony “TG” Graziano, a high ranking Bonanno Family man.  Hector then testified against the two guys in the crew that went with him on the robbery.  I guess it worked out pretty good for Hector Pagan, who made a deal and will have to serve very little time if any.

Who was James Donovan? James Donovan was no angel.  He is listed as a Lucchese Family associate.  He was arrested for threatening a man named John Ferris who claimed he gave James Donovan and Christopher Gargiulo $500,000 to hold for him.  When he asked for it back they refused and they threatened him.  What they did not know was that a little known law enforcement agency known as the Business Integrity Commission was already involved.  There were threats.  Cars and trucks were burned and in 2008 all three men, John, James and Christopher, were all arrested. When James Donovan was arrested they found $62,000 in cash and a ledger book along with checks and deposit slip from auto body businesses.  

This really got the  Business Integrity Commission’s attention and they opened an investigation on James Donovan.  They started to unravel what was a major source of his income.

The agents thought James Donovan was collecting insurance checks from the auto body shops, cashing them for a fee.  He would hand over cash with no paperwork so the shops could hide it from the taxman.  

The agents found that James Donovan was cashing more than a million dollars a year in checks and he was taking home over a $100k.  He was using his connection with check cashing places to get the checks cashed for the auto body shops, and keeping a portion as cash profit.

The law enforcement named the sting Operation Tax Grab.  Then something happened.  The agents had a camera set up that was filming James Donovan outside an auto body shop when four men approached him on July 2, 2010.  They tried to grab him, but he struggled and was shot in the thigh. They stole $90k in cash and $60k in checks from him as they fled and left him to die.  

The agents collected cigarette butts from the scene and were able to extract DNA, but the DNA was not in the system.  They then caught a break when some of the stolen checks were deposited in a bank and that camera picked up a suspect.  While he was in jail he made some calls to a Colombo family guy and then some wiretaps brought them to Hector Pagan, Richard Riccardi and Luigi Grasso.

So Hector Pagan flipped and wore a wire when he was on Mob Wives.

To each his own. If Hector got a good deal then that is what he had to do.  James Donovan was no innocent businessman and if you lay down with dogs you will get fleas.

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