Boss (6)

9237140288?profile=originalBy David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.

Martin Scorsese’s latest Mafia epic The Irishman finally hit Netflix this week and gives us 3 and a half hours of tough talking gangsters and countless infamous mob hits. Based on the confessions of Frank Sheeran, the film depicts many real-life mobsters and events. In this piece, we detail a few.

Let’s start with the man himself: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. A tall figure who loomed over many dead bodies – first during his years fighting Nazis and later as a Mafia hitman. From his days boxing kangaroos to his rise alongside mob leader Russell Bufalino and Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, Gangsters Inc. covered it all.

9237140855?profile=originalJimmy Hoffa: Hide and seek champion

Talking about James Hoffa, whatever happened to that guy? And why did he vanish? Gangsters Inc. writer Thom L. Jones wrote extensively about his disappearance and the many theories that surround this “mystery”. On that note, The Mob Museum will host an event about Hoffa’s murder on December 11, featuring journalists who have a lot to say about Sheeran’s confessions.  

9237141259?profile=originalCrazy Joe takes on a boss

The movie also has a side plot involving Colombo crime family soldier “Crazy Joe” Gallo taking on his superior, Joe Colombo. Gallo was seen as a rebel, but was also feared for his unpredictable and violent behavior. He was known for his toughness and loyal crew. Still, that will only get you so far. After the murder of Joseph Colombo, a man who made enemies on multiple fronts, Gallo had to be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

The king of insult comedy

Of course, there was more to Joey Gallo. He hung with artists and the Hollywood crowd. One scene in The Irishman that stands out is the one in which a comedian is making fun of Gallo and other Italian friends of ours. That comedian is the legendary Don Rickles. We detailed his meeting with Gallo and his crew in this piece. For more on Crazy Joe himself or the men behind his murder, just click the blue words.

Chomping cigars

Another New York mobster gracing us with an appearance is Genovese crime family boss “Fat Tony” Salerno. Mostly depicted as a grumpy bear constantly smoking a thick cigar, he was also known for his sense of humor. Like when he sent his troops a Christmas card making fun of fellow boss Vincent “Chin” Gigante’s crazy bathrobe act.

9237140872?profile=originalFrom Philly and Chicago to Las Vegas and Cuba

9237140889?profile=originalAnd let us not forget about Philadelphia mob boss Angelo Bruno, who didn’t say much, but was just as deadly as he was quiet. He ran a tight ship until his murder in 1980. Then there are the mentions of Chicago mob boss “Momo” Giancana, Florida Mafia boss Santo Trafficante Jr. and New Orleans crime boss Carlos Marcello. La Cosa Nostra’s investments in Las Vegas and the various conspiracy stories surrounding the mob’s involvement in Cuba and its dealings with the Kennedy Family.

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9237070278?profile=originalBy David Amoruso

The Chicago Cubs did it! They’ve become World Series champions again after a 108-year drought – the longest in baseball - defeating the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 in Cleveland. One notorious fan would’ve been extremely happy with the win, if he had been alive today that is. Who? Alphonse “Scarface” Capone.

Major League Baseball is a huge sport, attracting millions of television viewers and packing stadiums full with fans. The Chicago Cubs are no different. Despite not having won a World Series since 1908, its loyal supporters still showed up every season.

Even on September 9th 1931, at Comiskey park, when the Cubs played its city rivals, the Chicago White Sox. At that point, the team had been without a World Series win for 23 years. A pretty long time. Still, fans came to see their favorite athletes.

The most infamous figure sitting front row that day, was none other than Chicago crime boss Al Capone. (See photo above.) According to the Al Capone Museum website, “It was a game to raise funds for charity. The Cubs won 3-0.”

On the photo, you can see Al Capone with his son Albert Francis Capone getting an autograph from Cubs player Charles Leo “Gabby” Hartnett. This photo caused him quite some trouble after it was published in newspapers throughout the country. Higher-ups instructed him not to have his picture taken with Capone ever again. “Gabby” wasn’t impressed and replied, via telegram, writing: “OK, but if you don't want me to have my picture taken with Al Capone, you tell him.”

Above Capone and son on the right side, you can see his bodyguard Fred Pacelli also known as Frank “Cowboy” Di Giovanni. Another bodyguard-hitman also seated just outside this photo, sitting on the right of Pacelli, was Vincent Gibaldi better known as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn. Next to Capone’s son is Illinois legislator Roland V. Libonati, a World War I veteran and good friend of Capone.

It’s a photo filled with historic stories about a long-gone gangland era.

After their first win in 108 years, current Chicago Cubs team president Theo Epstein brought up the club’s history, paying respect to everyone involved with the team. “Our fans just deserve it so much, and all the former Cubs, everyone, this is for so many people -- (the late) Ernie Banks, (the late) Ron Santo, Billy Williams. ... We're bringing the trophy home to you guys. It's been a century in the making.”

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By David Amoruso

The FBI dealt a huge blow to one of the world’s most corrupt “legitimate” organizations, yesterday, when it charged nine officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies after they enriched themselves through the corruption of soccer and its most prestigious tournament, the World Cup. FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, however, managed to escape indictment, for now.

How he achieved this is anyone’s guess. Journalists and officials have compiled plenty of evidence of corrupt behavior by Blatter, but were unable to make anything stick in court. Until now, perhaps.

Blatter enforces a strict code of silence within FIFA and has a large following of loyalists eager for another payday. Unfortunately for him, his underlings are greedier than he thought. One of them, Charles Blazer, the long-serving former general secretary of CONCACAF and former U.S. representative on the FIFA executive committee, was caught by the FBI in an unrelated scheme and was given the choice to cooperate or go to prison. Blazer spilled his guts and taped numerous meetings and conversations with corrupt FIFA members.

And FIFA has many of those corrupt members scheming round the clock.

Several alleged schemes relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential election. That election was won by current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who, a FIFA spokesperson told reporters yesterday, was “relaxed and calm.”

It’s the typical reaction reporters and the public have come to expect from Blatter. After decades of scheming around the world without any crackdown by law enforcement, he grew more arrogant by the minute. Never was this clearer then when he awarded the 2018 World Cup tournament to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Playing soccer in the middle of the summer in the heat of Qatar? Let’s just agree that FIFA officials were blinded by the Qatar sun and millions of dollar bills.

9237045496?profile=originalAnd regarding Russia, well, Blatter had decided on that one somewhere around 2005 when he had a cozy meeting and a few bottles of expensive booze at the trendy China Club in Moscow with Russian Mafia boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov (that's him on the far right toasting with Blatter on the far left.)

Tokhtakhounov was officially there in his role as chairman of the Russian Football Association, but unofficially he was there to get Russia to host the 2018 World Cup. And the one person to see about that, of course, is Sepp Blatter.

Always eager to meet new big spenders with an interest in sports, Blatter saw no problem in hanging out and drinking some booze with Tokhtakhounov. Why would he? How could he have known this was a hardcore Russian mobster?

Well, he could’ve checked the Gangsters Inc. website where a profile of Tokhtakhounov has been up since 2002 or he could have googled his name to find out he was the man who had fixed the figure ice skating competition at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and was wanted by the FBI.

9237045856?profile=originalNot to mention that Tokhtakhounov had been convicted in Italy of money laundering and working with the Italian Mafia and spent one year in prison there before he was released and fled to the safety of Moscow. In Russia he continued his career which revolved around racketeering and sports.

Cheers to that, you can imagine Blatter saying.

You can also imagine what the FBI must’ve been thinking when it saw the FIFA president laughing and boozing at an exclusive Moscow nightclub together with a Russian mob boss they were seeking to arrest.

“[This] should send a message that enough is enough. After decades of what the indictment alleges to be brazen corruption, organized international soccer needs a new start—a new chance for its governing institutions to provide honest oversight and support of a sport that is beloved across the world, increasingly so here in the United States. Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie at a press conference announcing the charges against FIFA.

Let us hope so. Since the capo di tutti capi is still out there. And I’m not talking about Russian Mafia boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Though, technically, he’s still out there as well. 

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By David Amoruso

Davide Vadacca is considered a rising star within Sacra Corona Unita, Italy’s fourth largest criminal group. At the young age of 32 he is one of the organization’s leaders in the city of Lecce. Authorities say he is also the man behind a violent war that is terrorizing the honest, hardworking people of the Italian city.

9237032661?profile=originalVadacca became a boss after his predecessor, Roberto Nisi (right), was arrested in 2012. Known as “il ciccione,” The Fat Man, Vadacca allegedly set up drug deals and went about expanding his territory. All of this was done with the brazenness Sacra Corona Unita is known for.

Though they are organized, many members of Puglia’s Sacra Corona Unita lack the discipline members of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta, and, to a lesser extent than the first two, Campania’s Camorra exhibit.

As Vadacca went about his business bullets started flying on the streets of Lecce. Most of those bullets had Vadacca’s name on them. In October of 2012 he was shot in the legs in what has been labeled a warning message.

If The Fat Man was that easily persuaded to back off he would not have joined the tumultuous world of Sacra Corona Unita. So he soldiered on. And more warnings followed. During a walk through Lecce he discovered funeral posters announcing his death. Thugs shot up the home of his mother-in-law as well.

As written before, discipline and rules are wasted on members of Sacra Corona Unita. They are more Mexican drug cartel mixed with Tony “Scarface” Montana than Vito Corleone.

It is no surprise that Vadacca needed a vacation. In October of 2013 he went to Pompeii, near Naples. There he relaxed and took tours together with the other tourists. Finally some well-deserved R&R.

Until agents of the Anti-Mafia squad raided his hotel room and slapped handcuffs on him. Back home three of his henchmen were arrested as well. All of them were charged with drug trafficking and Mafia association. After a short run as boss he was now looking at the inside of a cell.

9237033261?profile=originalVadacca (right) did not do well behind bars. While awaiting trial the man nicknamed The Fat Man had fallen ill and lost an enormous amount of weight. His lawyers argued he should be released so he could receive treatment for his mysterious health problems they claimed were being caused by prison. Yesterday, ANSA reported, a court agreed and granted the alleged crime boss house arrest.

When they locked him up following his abruptly cut short holiday in Naples, he weighed about 130 kilograms, or 287 pounds. Since then, Vadacca lost 60 kilograms, about 132 pounds.

Depending on your perspective one could call that win win, no? You go in fat you come out thin. Not to mention that you come out at all. When authorities consider you the leader of a violent criminal organization involved in shootings, murders, and drug dealing you should be very thankful being a prisoner in your own home.

Of course, we’ve seen this before. We all know about the “Sicilian flu,” that disease that crops up during stressful times in court, during a trial, or in prison but disappears as soon as there are no curious eyes in sight.

Vadacca could really be ill. But with his criminal track record and upcoming trial don’t be surprised if he suddenly flees his home and goes on the run.

After all, he never got to finish that holiday in Pompeii.

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By David Amoruso
Posted February 5, 2007 (updated in December 2012)
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Until December 1999, Macau was under Portugese rule. During that time gambling was legalized, making it a casino state in Asia. It became known as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient". The gambling industry yields big profits and so there are loopholes for loan sharking, prostitution and other kinds of organized crime. The Triads saw the possibilities, and got involved. Two years before the change from Portugese to Chinese rule several Triads were fighting for control of the Macau rackets.

One of the most notorious, and famous, participants in that fight for Macau was Wan Kuok-koi, a.k.a. “Broken Tooth.” Wan Kuok-koi is a leader, or Shan Chu, of the 14K triad. In 1987 Ng Wai came to Macau. Wai was a senior 14K member and together with Kuok-koi, he ousted their leader Ping Mo-ding. As time passed Kuok-koi’s power and influence grew, and Wai considered him a threat. The two men fell out, and Wai ordered an attack on Kuok-koi’s men. Kuok-koi hit back, and an internal war errupted. Kuok-koi had ammassed enough influence and won, taking over Wai’s rackets, which earned him an estimated $6 million a month.

In May 1998 Kuok-koi was arrested. When police came to arrest him, Kuok-koi was watching a movie he himself had produced, titled Casino. Kuok-koi was involved in every level of production of the gangster film. The lead role is played by Simon Yam Tat-wah whos brother is head of the Hong Kong Police Tactical Unit and one-time commander of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau.

Kuok-koi pleaded not guilty. He said he was just another businessman who had nothing to do with the 14K Triad. He declared himself a bona fide gaming chip trader, a high-stakes gambler and real estate investor. The prosecution lined up some 50 witnesses against Kuok-koi. It also cited a string of media interviews Wan gave in the mid-1990s, in which he allegedly declared himself a leader of the main 14K triad gang.

In November 1999 Kuok-koi, his brother, and seven others were found guilty of criminal association, loan-sharking and illegal gambling. Kuok-koi was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Upon hearing the verdict all men shouted out curses, also accusing police of corruption.

Wearing a white T-shirt, Wan Kuok-koi walked out of Coloane prison in Macau as he smiled at reporters. Now aged 57, he has served over fourteen years there under a maximum security regime and, according to his lawyer, received no special privileges. Kuok-Koi was picked up by two men, one reported to be his brother, in a white Lexus early on Saturday, December 1, 2012.

There is much speculation about what the crime boss will do next. Macau has changed significantly since the days he ruled the island as leader of the 14K Triad. Pedro Leal, one of Kuok-koi's lawyers, told the South China Morning Post: "The only thing he wants is for people to forget him. In recent weeks he's been on the cover of many magazines and they've all talked about his past. All he wants is to be left in peace. He's going to lead a quiet life from now on."

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Colombo Boss: Alphonse Persico

By David Amoruso
Posted on March 19, 2009
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Alphonse Persico is the son of legendary Colombo Family boss Carmine Persico. Alphonse decided to join his father’s business and become a member of the Mafia. His decision would cost him dearly as he would follow his father all the way to a federal prison.

From an early age, Alphonse followed in his father’s footsteps. Carmine Persico (left) was a neighborhood hero and bona fide tough guy. It is no wonder that young Alphonse looked up to his father. But the mob wasn’t his only option in life, he actually was a very good student. The mob, however, was slowly pulling him in. With a powerful mobster as his father, people treated Alphonse with respect as well. And it is no doubt that he liked the perks that ‘the life’ brought with it. After his sophomore year at St. John’s University he dropped out and started working for the mob full time.

With his father at the top of the pyramid, Alphonse quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a Colombo Family capo while he was still in his mid-twenties. In 1983 he was arrested for the first time. But the heroin trafficking charges ended in a dismissal. Three years later, in 1986, Alphonse went to trial together with his father in a big RICO case directed at the Colombo Family. Both men were found guilty and upon sentencing Carmine pleaded to the judge that his son be given a lenient sentence. Alphonse was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

While the two Persico’s were in prison, a fight for control of the Colombo Family broke out on the streets of New York. Carmine Persico had made it clear he wanted to remain in control of the family and that his son would take over as boss upon his release in 1993. But a faction led by Vic Orena (photo right) disagreed and began fighting a bloody war against the Persico loyalists.

The war left many men dead and wounded and caused law enforcement to up its pressure. Dozens of Colombo mobsters were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms because of acts stemming from the war. Alphonse Persico was charged with authorizing plans to murder seven men who were loyal to Orena. During a 1994 trial he was acquitted of the racketeering charges. In 1995 he was released from prison and finally took over as boss of the Colombos.

As a boss Alphonse started spending more and more time in Florida to avoid law enforcement scrutiny. But for a man like Allie Persico the heat does not end by simply moving to a different state. During Labor Day Weekend in 1999, he was enjoying cruising around the Florida Keys on his 50-foot speed boat named “Lookin’ Good” when the US Coast Guard stopped him. While they searched his boat they found two loaded weapons; a Browning .380 semi-automatic pistol and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Alphonse was not allowed to carry any weapons because of his 1986 RICO conviction. The gun charges would eventually sent him back to prison for 18 months.

Allie Boy’s legal problems weren’t over though. In order to strengthen his position as boss of the Colombo Family he had ordered the execution of his underboss William “Wild Bill” Cutolo. Cutolo went missing on May 26, 1999 and was never seen again. To those involved in the Colombo Family business it was clear that Alphonse had just erased a serious threat. Cutolo’s son, William Junior, knew this too, and contacted the FBI several weeks after his father’s disappearance. Cutolo Jr. agreed to wear a wire and give information about the criminal business of Colombo mobsters.

With the information Cutolo Junior supplied, federal agents managed to obtain a search warrant for Alphonse Persico’s daughter’s Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment. They found $25,000 cash and $1 million in alleged loansharking records. They also found false identification papers. Alphonse (photo right) pleaded guilty, agreed to forfeit $1 million, and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

But the murder of “Wild Bill” Cutolo still loomed in the background. All the FBI needed was a body and some witnesses. In 2004 prosecutors felt they had enough evidence to indict Persico and bring him down in court. In September 2006 Alphonse Persico and underboss John “Jackie” DeRoss stood trial for ordering the murder of William Cutolo. While the first trial ended in a hung jury, the second trial saw Persico and DeRoss being found guilty of ordering and plotting the murder of Cutolo.

On February 27, 2009 Alphonse Persico, aged 55, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He will now live the same life as his father. A life behind bars and away from his loved ones.

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