|Joseph Salvatore "Skinny Joey" Merlino||A sprawling indictment was filed by federal prosecutors against 46 alleged members in a massive East Coast bust. Charging the men with a smorgasbord of crimes like gambling, loansharking, extortion, arson, gun- and cigarette-running, and conspiracy to commit assault, the feds are also alleging white-collar offenses like health care fraud, credit card fraud and extortionate extensions of credit.|
Members of the Gambino, Bonanno, Luchese, and Genovese crime families from New York, along with a crew allegedly led by Joseph "Joey" Merlino in Philadelphia, were collectively labeled "the East Coast LCN [La Cosa Nostra] Enterprise."
Joseph Salvatore Merlino
Daniel Leo, Genovese acting boss
|The mob in America might no longer be what it used to be, but it's hardly a thing of the past. The new indictment includes what most think of as "normal" mafia crimes like assault, gun trafficking, and loansharking, but also a few that surprise, like health care fraud and credit card skimming. When did the mob get into white collar crimes? Many of the Italian mafia families sought to diversify their interests into more high-tech, white-collar crimes dating back to the 1980s.|
Anthony 'Tony the Wig' Vazzano
Bradford Wedra faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if he is convicted on racketeering charges
Retired NYPD cop, Michael Rizzi
|A former NYPD officer who married into the mob is expected to plead guilty to money laundering charges in connection with a million dollar prostitution operation he allegedly ran.|
Michael Rizzi, an officer from 1992 to 2000, is slated to appear in Brooklyn Federal Court Wednesday afternoon to admit to profiting from roughly two dozen prostitution businesses for the last four years, including dozens of round-the-clock online operations that provided door-to-door service of women to johns. If convicted, he could face between 2 and 4 years behind bars.
The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that it had taken steps to “restrain” Rizzi's websites.
|Rizzi is married to Jill Juliano, the daughter of Gambino crime family soldier Richard Juliano, whose older brother is Joseph (Sonny) Juliano, a powerful Brooklyn-based captain in that Mafia family overseeing their waterfront operations.|
Authorities had alleged that Rizzi’s operation replaced the shuttered Pure Platinum Models, a Manhattan-based online prostitution site taken down by law enforcement years ago. His Staten Island-based business went under the name MJM/Manhattan Stakes and Entertainment, or BJM. Some of its customers spent as much as $100,000 each, with one spending $25,000 for a single night.
Francesco Paolo Augusto Calì is the boss of the Gambino crime family.
|Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo||Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo (born June 4, 1944) is a former de facto boss of the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family who eventually became a government witness. Fictional mob boss Tony Soprano is based upon Palermo.|
In the early 1960s, Vincent Palermo met and married the niece of mob boss Sam DeCavalcante. DeCavalcante took a liking to his son-in-law and began inviting him to visit his social club in Kenilworth, New Jersey. He worked at the fish markets in the early morning hours and hung out with mobsters on Sunday afternoons.
|James Gandolfini - Sopranos|
Local authorities uncovered the scheme and started investigating Weiss, and the two mob families became nervous. Gambino boss John Gotti requested that the DeCavalcante family murder Weiss.
|On September 11, 1989, Palermo, Anthony Capo, and James "Jimmy" Gallo murdered Fred Weiss, on orders from DeCavalcante boss Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi. Weiss was associated with mobsters from both the DeCavalcante family and the New York Gambino crime family.|
Weiss and his mob partners had purchased a vacant property in Staten Island and illegally dumped large amounts of dangerous medical waste there.
Mob Boss Giovanni Riggi during the trial of the 1989 slaying of Weiss
|Palermo was quickly 'made' and shortly after was appointed caporegime and given his own crew. Riggi was sent to prison in 1989, and he appointed John "Johnny Boy" D'Amato as his acting boss. However, D'Amato's disgruntled girlfriend alleged in 1992 that he was bisexual. Riggi ordered Palermo and Anthony Capo to murder D'Amato in order to avoid embarrassment to the DeCavalcante family. In early 1992, D'Amato disappeared and his body was never found.|
By the mid-90s, Vinny Palermo was the de facto boss of the family, paralleling Tony Soprano in the Sopranos, and John Riggi was the boss in absentia from jail.
|'Vito Spatafore' - Sopranos|
|After testifying for the government, Vincent Palermo and his family entered the federal Witness Protection Program.||In 1998, the FBI recruited DeCavalcante associate Ralph Guarino as a mob informant who devastated the DeCavalcante family. The agency gave him cell phones rigged with surveillance equipment to distribute to other family members. In October 1998, Vincent Palermo's trusted lieutenant Joseph Masella was shot to death, leaving an opening in the family. Guarino was promoted to made man.|
In 1999, the FBI moved in on the DeCavalcante family. Palermo decided to become a government witness. He confessed to killing Weiss and mobster Louis LaRasso and to planning the murders of John D'Amato, Joseph Masella, Charles Majuri, Frank D'Amato, and Tom Salvata. He also implicated other DeCavalcante family members in various crimes.
Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo
|On September 14, 2009, the New York Daily News exposed Vinny Ocean's new life in witness protection as a strip club operator in Houston, Texas. The 'Penthouse Club' and 'All-Star Men's Club' were hotbeds of prostitution and drugs according to police. He also owned a Mexican restaurant and a car wash - all next to one another in a gritty section of Houston.|
On March 4, 2013, Palermo filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Under Chapter 11, a person's assets and debts are not liquidated, but the filer is given court protection from creditors.
Palermo put his $2.45 million home up for sale in September 2015.
Stephen Caracappa (left) and Louis Eppolito.
|Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito were two former New York Police Department (NYPD) police detectives who worked on behalf of the New York Mafia, principally the Lucchese crime family. In 2006, they were convicted of labor racketeering, extortion, narcotics, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, eight counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Both were sentenced to life in federal prison.|
|In the history of the NYPD there have been many corrupt cops. Lt. Charles Becker, electrocuted at Sing Sing in 1915 for killing a snitch; Murder Inc. canary Abe “Kid Twist” Reles who went flying out of a Coney Island hotel window, while being guarded by cops (“Canary Could Sing But Couldn’t Fly”, the tabloids screamed); Frank Serpico and the drug scandals of the 1960s; Officer Michael Dowd who ran a dope empire out of a Brooklyn precinct.|
Caracappa and Eppolito, though, were something altogether different. At $4,000 a month each, they were on permanent retainer for the Lucchese crime family.
Cops by day, hitmen by night they used police data bases to find turncoats, impeded investigations, and at $65,000 a pop, were killers.
|The duo were given the contract to whack diamond dealer Israel Greenwald. He’d been cooperating with the FBI on an investigation and the mob was unhappy. Very unhappy. Caracappa and Eppolito got his address then snatched him off the street and blew his brains out in a Brooklyn warehouse. The body was buried in a garage where it stayed for 20 years until the dirty cops were ratted out.|
Dope dealer and career criminal Burton Kramer dropped the pair in 2005. In court, he laid out a sickening buffet of murder, corruption and betrayal of public trust. Caracappa and Eppolito were both convicted of murder. Eppolito was sentenced to life plus 100 years. Caracappa received life plus 80 years. In April, at a prison hospital in North Carolina, Caracappa died at age 75 after a long fight with cancer. As he was dying he begged to be let out of prison. He was denied.