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September 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Tag: Mob

A Mob Tape, an FBI Gaffe and Some Murders

By Allan Lengel

On the big screen and on TV, sometimes we forget the twisted plots aren’t simply made up, but actually come from real situations in the wiseguy world.

Here’s a real story worthy of the big screen involving a mob hit and a secret recording in which an FBI audio expert accidentally taped over it for about 18 seconds.

Mob expert Jerry Capeci of Gang Land News reports that the feds plan to use that the tape recording to help try and convict  mob associate Christian Tarantino in the killing in 2003 of his business partner Vincent Gargiulo in Manhattan.

It was Garagiulo who made the secret recording in 2000 in which Tarantino admits killing two people in 1994, Gang Land News reports.  Gargiulo allegedly had tried to blackmail Tarantino and wanted him to pay $500,000 for the cassette tape, Gang Land reported. Instead, he ended up dead.

In 2008, the feds used the tape to help charge Tarantino with the two murders in 1994 and the one involving Gargiulo in 2003. Prosecutors used it last year at the first trial, but while they were able to convict Tarantino of the 1994 murders at that trial, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the killing of Gargiulo, Gang Land reported.

Capeci reports that the judge in the upcoming retrial in the murder of Garigiulo is allowing the tape to be used again.

Interestingly, the FBI audio expert mistakenly recorded his own voice over the tape for 18 second.   Despite arguments from the defense, the judge has ruled that the tape can be introduced as evidence.

Gang Land News reports that the tape mysteriously surfaced after someone mailed it in 2004 to the New York cops, who turned it over to the FBI.


Mob Museum Opens in Appropriate Setting: Las Vegas

By Danny Fenster

The nicknames have become legendary: The Chin, The Dapper Don, Bugsy.

Now, there’s a place for them, all under one roof.

The New York Times reported on Monday of a $42 million museum in Las Vegas dedicated to the Mob, three stories of a 41,000-square-foot landmark building with 17,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum opened on Tuesday, Valentines Day.

How romantic.

“With artifacts, clever interactive displays, atmospheric exhibits and photographs and videos, … We see how the mob maneuvered into businesses of pleasure, not releasing its hold until late in the 20th century, when corporate casinos trumped their almost quaint predecessors,” reports the Times.

The museum will also teach how immigrants of a Italian and Jewish backgrounds built what they could in the “land of opportunity” until the Feds brought them down by wiretaps and informants, according to the Times.

To read more click here.

Mob Expert Picks Top Mob Stories of 2011

Joseph Massino/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

As New York mobster stories go, there seemed to be no shortage in 2011. Mob expert Jerry Capeci should know.

Capeci, a former New York Daily News reporter, runs the website Gang Land News. On Thursday, he picked the top mob stories of 2011.

Hands down, he writes, the top story was the Mafia Takedown arrests of 127 wiseguys and “various  cohorts.”

Runner up story, Capeci writes, was the appearance in April in fed court in Brooklyn of ex-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino on the witness stand at the capital murder trial of successor boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano.  Massino made history, becoming the first mob boss from one of the 5 New York crime families to take the witness stand for the feds.

Though Capeci  picks the massive takedown in January as the top mob story of the year, he is not without some skepticism.

On the day of the announcement, Capeci writes that the “feds put on an overblown dog and pony show at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn in a pretty transparent effort to send a message to mobsters that they were still a top priority of the federal government.”

“Six weeks later, as Gang Land reported on March 3, the priority claims went down several notches when it was learned that FBI bosses had combined the five squads that had been investigating the Five Families into three, and cut the number of mob-busting agents by 25%, to about 45, the lowest number since the days of J. Edgar Hoover.”

Gang Land News website

Weekend Series on Crime: The Real Sopranos — The DeCavalcante Family

Sen. Grassley Writes FBI Director; Concerned About Boston FBI’s Mobster Informant Mark Rossetti

Robert Mueller

 By Allan Lengel

Shades of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger?

A letter from Sen. Charles Grassley to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III seems to suggest so.

If you recall, the Boston FBI caught hell for letting Bulger run wild and commit crimes while he acted as informant and snitched on his rivals back in the day. Bulger, who was captured in June,   is a suspect in 19 murders.

Now comes mobster Mark Rossetti, a “capo” and “acting consigliore” who worked as a confidential informant for the FBI all while committing his fair share of serious crimes. There are concerns by some inside and outside law enforcement that the FBI should have cut off Rossetti as an informant when it became clear how dangerous a criminal he was.

In a letter to Mueller, Grassley wrote:

“As a Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I write to inquire about recent reports from the Boston area regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) ties with alleged mafia “capo” and “acting consigliore” Mark Rossetti as a confidential informant and reports that the FBI misrepresented Mr. Rossetti’s status as an informant to the Massachusetts State Police.”

“Mr. Rossetti is currently under state indictment for a multitude of crimes including home invasions, heroin and marijuana trafficking, gambling, and loan sharking. Additionally Mr. Rossetti was convicted of armed robbery, beating a Massachusetts State Trooper nearly to death and was a suspect in multiple murders and the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum art heist, the largest in Boston history.”

“Despite all these alleged crimes and the claim that Mr. Rossetti was running a ‘sprawling criminal enterprise,’ it appears that the FBI may have engaged in a long-term relationship with Mr. Rossetti.

“In fact, as early as 1992, an FBI agent’s pager number was found on Mr. Rossetti and former Massachusetts State Detective Bill McGreal stated that an FBI agent declined to pursue a case against Mr. Rossetti saying, ‘we decided to pass on Rossetti” despite strong evidence from a cooperating witness.'”

Read more »

FBI Finds More than Veal Cutlets at Brooklyn Butcher

By Danny Fenster

FBI agents found more than a good cut of veal and pork chops at the Graham Ave. Meats and Deli in Brooklyn, N.Y. neighborhood of Williamsburg this summer. In their arrest of Michael “Mike The Butcher” Virtuoso on extortion charges this past July, agents found a rolodex of Virtuoso’s with the contact information for many of the city’s top crime bosses and mafioso.

Feds hope the rolodex can be used against Virtuoso in the charges, and are arguing not to offer the butcher a shot at bail due to his associations with organized crime. Virtuoso made no attempt to code the names of his contacts, reports the New York Post.

Agents also found a scrapbook of Vituoso’s containing newspaper reports of mob arrests and convictions. Virtuoso was convicted in 2009 of extortion, the Post reported.

To read more click here.



Mobster Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend Catherine Greig Was Loyal til the End

By Katherine Q. Seelye
The New York Times

From an early age, Catherine Elizabeth Greig knew the life of a moll. By about 20, she had married a Boston firefighter named Bobby McGonagle, joining a family with close ties to a gang that was part of the Irish mafia in their South Boston neighborhood. Violence and shootouts were not uncommon as gangs warred for control of the rackets.

Mr. McGonagle and Ms. Greig were divorced within a few years, and she became involved with Mr. Bulger, who is more than 20 years her senior.

It was a sign, perhaps, that if she could overlook his possible involvement in the deaths of her two brothers-in-law, she could overlook a lot more.

To read full story click here.

Big-Time NY Lawyer Has Lost Mob Clients After Cooperating With the Feds

Joseph Tacopina/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel

The headline on the website Gang Land News says it all: “Red Hot NY Lawyer Tacopina Gets Big Chill From Wiseguys.”

The headline was in reference to hotshot lawyer Joseph Tacopina, who was once the go-to guy for a lot of mobsters.

But no more — apparently not since he became a cooperating witness and dished  info to the feds.

“While Tacopina has represented numerous wiseguys and cohorts of at least four New York area crime families in years past, his current roster of clients appears devoid of mob-tied customers, local court databases show,” writes Jerry Capeci, editor of Gang Land News.

Gang Land News reported that Tacopina’s wiseguy clients seemed to vanish after he found himself in the middle of a fee-splitting and tax evasion probe of a prominent New York lawyers  and became a cooperating witness. Gang Land reported that the probe stemmed from an investigation into former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who was a Tacopina client.

Gangland reported that Tacopina became a cooperating witness against Kerik and also told federal investigators that he had funneled about $100,000 to attorney Ronald Fischetti ” from legal fees that he had received from a client whom Fischetti had referred to him in a major state court prosecution.”

Gang Land reported that the fee splitting is not a crime, but could lead to disciplinary action. It can also lead to criminal tax problems. The investigation never lead to any criminal charges.

Still, Gang Land News quoted an unnamed defense attorney as saying:

“It’s an open secret that Tacopina threw Fischetti under the bus four years ago, and that’s a really big issue for wiseguys – and lots of lawyers too.”

Tacopina declined to comment for Gang Land News.  Fischetti told the website that the allegations against him were not true.