Ex-Colombo boss Victor Orena doomed to die in prison after judge denies compassionate release

Ex-Colombo boss Victor Orena doomed to die in prison after judge denies compassionate release

The federal appeals court on Wednesday denied the compassionate release of a legendary Colombo mob boss who is now critically ill with dementia, thereby ensuring his death in prison. Three judges on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied Victor “Little Vic” Orena’s compassionate release request, agreeing with a lower-court jurist who upheld his life sentence.

In the early 1990s, the Colombos’ acting boss, Orena, was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted in a federal court in Brooklyn of murder, racketeering, and several other crimes.

In light of his failing health and fresh evidence uncovered by his lawyer, the now 87-year-old had asked a federal judge in Brooklyn to release him in 2021.

The appeals panel concluded on Wednesday that despite his health challenges being “extraordinary and compelling” the district court judge firmly ruled that this wasn’t enough to overturn his life sentence.

Victor Orena in handcuffs leaves 26 Federal Plaza with FBI agent R. Lindley DeVecchio (r) on April 1, 1992. (Jack Smith / New York Daily News)

If fresh evidence is found proving Orena’s innocence in the future, it would need to be apart of a separate appeal, not in conjunction with a compassionate release appeal.

Orena’s crimes, which landed him in prison for the rest of his life, were rooted in a mafia civil war between Orena  and Carmine “Junior” Persico loyalists. The conflict resulted in over 10 deaths.

Currently, Orena is being held at FMC Devens, a federal medical center with a minimum-security jail nearby.

According to Orena’s lawyer, David Schoen, the decision is “very disappointing” and that the prosecution is the most corrupt in the history of the Department of Justice.

“It is absurd and completely unfair to deny a trial court judge the discretion to at least consider whether new evidence since the trial ought to be relevant to the appropriateness of a terminally ill defendant,” he stated.

source: NY Post

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‘Go f–k yourself’: How a NY restaurateur survived his tangles with the mob

When Stratis Morfogen opened his first Manhattan diner in the 1990s, he had no intention of one day telling a member of John Gotti Jr.’s crew to “go f–k themselves.”

But for “The Golden Greek” — a nickname Morfogen earned from his mob contacts for his money-making ways — standing up to the mafia became a way of life as an NYC-based restaurateur. Now, the owner of Brooklyn Chop House in lower Manhattan is naming names in his new book, “Be a Disruptor: Streetwise Lessons for Entrepreneurs ― from the Mob to Mandates,” out Tuesday.

Morfogen opened Gotham City Diner on the Upper East Side in 1993. Soon after, the mob made their presence known.

“I had a head of promotions, his name was Noel Ashman … one night Noel comes in with a black eye, I said, ‘What’s going on?’” Morfogen told The Post in an exclusive interview.

“Some gangster said we have to pay them every month or they’re going to continuously start beating us up,” Morfogen recalled him saying. “[Ashman] pointed out some names to me and I recognized that these are Gambino guys.”

Wise in wiseguys

Stratis Morfogen knew Carlo Gambino at an early age. Gambino would slip him $20 bills while eating at his family's restaurant.
Morfogen knew Carlo Gambino at an early age. Gambino would slip him $20 bills while eating at his family’s restaurant.
Bettmann Archive

Morfogen wasn’t naive about the Cosa Nostra. He grew up on Long Island in the 1970s and his family had owned a Howard Beach restaurant where mob don Carlo Gambino was a regular. Gambino would slip the eager 6-year-old Morfogen $20 bills and ask him about school.

After he opened his own spot, Morfogen enjoyed frequent visits from the Genovese crime family’s Ralph Coppola and Bobby “Bucky” Carbone.

Underboss Coppola got so close that he called Morfogen “nephew,” and Carbone entertained him with tales from the other side. One night, Carbone even told him the story of the first man he killed, Morfogen said. It was at a bar, in a debt collection gone awry.

But Gotti Jr.’s crew was different.

Gambino died on Long Island in 1976 and John Gotti was behind bars thanks to testimony from Sammy “the Bull” Gravano. In his absence, his son, Gotti Jr., was running the show — and intimidating restaurateurs — in the 1990s.

John Gotti Jr's people demanded protection from Morfogen's diner, he said.
John Gotti Jr.’s people demanded protection from Morfogen’s diner, he said.
New York Post

“John Gotti, Jr. and his crew, that’s what they lived on. They would shake down every restaurant from the Upper East Side to Midtown,” Morfogen said.

As the new kid on the block, it was Morfogen’s turn to pony up. Or at least that’s what two of Gotti Jr.’s “top honchos” thought.

“I said, ‘What do you guys want?’” Morfogen recalled. They told him, “‘We want $5,000 a month or we’re going to break your windows every week.’”

“I said, ‘Let me give you the quick answer: Go f–k yourself.’ That’s how I was, I had no fear at all.”

Taking care of business

After Gotti Jr's, crew made their threats, black paint was repeatedly thrown on Morfogen's diner windows, he said.
After Gotti Jr.’s crew made their threats, black paint was repeatedly thrown on Morfogen’s diner windows, he said.

Soon after, someone started throwing black paint on the diner’s windows every night. Morfogen would scrub them down each morning.

Coppola noticed this was happening and told Morfogen to “sit tight.”

Two days later, Morfogen got a call from one of Coppola’s guys, telling him to come by the now-defunct restaurant Ferrier Bistro at 10 p.m.

“When I got there, Ralph was there with Bucky and all the Gambino capos were in the back, sitting … so I sat down with Ralph, Bobby and the five heads of the Gambino family,” he said.

“Ralph basically says, ‘Listen, this kid is with us and you tell [Gotti] Jr. to back off and if he doesn’t back off, this thing is gonna escalate.’

“And my head just spun … just like that, the guys turned around and said, ‘Hey, we like this kid, he’s a good kid. Don’t worry, we’ll talk to Jr. and we’ll squash this.’ And lo and behold, it was squashed.”

Just like that, Morfogen was under the protection of the Genovese boys. Carbone even put an ice pick into the thigh of an employee whom he believed stole $30,000 from the diner. He said they never asked for anything in return: “It was true friendship,” Morfogen said.

A friend of ours — and a new enemy

Ralph Coppola, who Morfogen called the "underboss" of the Genovese family had become a silent business partner of his.
Ralph Coppola, who Morfogen called the “underboss” of the Genovese family had become a silent business partner of his.

Following the then-uninterrupted success of Gotham City, Morfogen opened a club called Rouge with silent backing from Coppola.

Things were fantastic. The club quickly became famous when New York Rangers captain Mark Messier brought in the Stanley Cup. One night, Morfogen accidentally turned away Madonna and Tupac at the door because he didn’t recognize them.

But it also caught the attention of a West Coast mafioso who wanted to “buy” his way into the nightlife.

A “Jewish gangster from LA” once sat Morfogen down inside his own club and tried making him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“He takes out a pen, he writes on a napkin ‘$10K’ and then he pulls out a 9 millimeter, pops out a bullet and puts it on the table.” He told Morfogen: “It’s this or that.”

But Morfogen wasn’t worried. “He didn’t get the memo,” he said. “He didn’t know the most powerful people in the world were already protecting me.”

Morfogen immediately brought the issue to Coppola and Carbone. They couldn’t stop laughing.

Funny how?

Stratis Morfogen learned what mob partners can do for a business first hand.
Morfogen learned firsthand what mob partners can do for a business.
Stratis Morfogen went from being leaned on by the mob to becoming a friend of theirs.
Morfogen went from being leaned on by the mob to becoming a friend of theirs.

“I walk into the club at 1 a.m. one Saturday night and [Coppola, Carbone and the LA gangster are] all sitting in the back, in the VIP room having a great time, drinking Champagne.”

Morfogen wasn’t amused.

“By around 4:30 in the morning they’re still drinking. I walked up to the table and I said, ‘You guys having a good time?’ I was kind of pissed. Ralph, I’ll never forget, he says, ‘Nephew, we’re having a great time,’ and he eyed me to go away.”

Morfogen got the message. “As I was walking away I heard Ralph say, ‘Let’s get down to business. I heard your offer and here’s my counter offer,’ and he took a 60-pound candelabra and hit him over the head. Then Bucky came running to me to get me out of the nightclub and put me in a taxi as this fight was going on.

“When I got to Rouge nightclub the day after, there was no blood on the floor, no blood on the walls. But I did notice the area carpet was gone.”

Going clean

Stratis Morfogen paints a very candid picture of life with mob ties in his upcoming book.
Morfogen paints a very candid picture of life with mob ties in his upcoming book.

That sort of drop-of-a-hat loyalty was shown to Morfogen for years to come. He knew Coppola would always have his back — which is why he was shocked when he didn’t show up to his wedding in 1998.

“At my wedding I noticed two empty chairs. Ralph and his wife never showed up. I was blown away by that. Ralph really was like my uncle and I wouldn’t go a week without talking to him,” Morfogen said.

“Bucky came up to me that night and said, ‘Ralph’s gone.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Ralph’s gone. Don’t ask anymore.’”

Years later, Morfogen was informed that Coppola “went to a meeting in Harlem and never came out of the house.” That’s all he knows, even now.

Coppola’s disappearance shook him. With his silent partner gone, he took it as a sign. “I really wanted no part of it anymore,” he said of the mob life.

And, he felt like the mob wasn’t the friend to him it had once been.

“In 2005 I was really struggling — divorced, I lost my [old] business and I didn’t get any calls from any of those guys to see if I needed anything … [Ralph] would have been calling me every day,” he said.

But a few years and business ventures later, the mafia came knocking once again in 2006 by way of a Genovese associate.

The associate came on behalf of two capos who wanted “an envelope” from Morfogen, who had just gotten back on his feet.

The answer was the same he gave Gotti’s crew a few years back when he was just starting out: “Tell them to go f–k themselves’,” Morfogen said.

“I said, ‘Don’t make me into a rat … I’m done with you guys’ … they never came back or bothered me again.”

This article was originally posted here

Las Vegas; Mafia’s crimes are submerged in Lake Mead

Las Vegas; Mafia’s crimes are submerged in Lake Mead

Two sisters from Henderson, Nevada, were paddle boarding on the lake near a former marina resort, when they shockingly found bones on a newly uncovered sand bar. During the weekend that followed, boaters discovered a man’s decaying body in a rusted-out barrel covered in muck.

The body has not been recognized, but based on the shoes discovered at the scene, he was shot somewhere between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s. The death has been treated as a homicide investigation. On April 25, the falling lake level revealed Las Vegas’ uppermost drinking water intake, prompting the local water authority to convert to a deep-lake intake. Over 2.4 million inhabitants as well as 40 million tourists now rely on this intake system every year.

Lindsey Melvin, who photographed the site, said they initially mistook it for the skeleton of a local bighorn sheep. With a closer look, a human jaw with protruding teeth was visible. They contacted park authorities, and the National Park Service confirmed that the bones were originating from a human in a statement.

Bodies Found In Barrels at Lake Mead (The New York Times)

Las Vegas police stated that there was no immediate indication of foul play so they’re not investigating. If the Clark County coroner believes the death was unusual, a homicide investigation will be launched, according to the agency.

Geoff Schumacher, vice president of The Mob Museum, a refurbished historic downtown Las Vegas post office and federal facility that debuted in 2012 as The National Museum, anticipated that more bodies would be unearthed.

After a second set of human remains discovered in a week from the depths of a drought-stricken Colorado River reservoir within a 30-minute drive from the reputedly mob-founded Strip, Las Vegas is flooded with legend about organized crime.

Former Las Vegas Mayor, and lawyer for Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro, Oscar Goodman, stated on Monday, “There’s no knowing what we’ll find in Lake Mead… It’s not a bad spot for a body to be dumped.”

He wouldn’t say who might be found in the massive reservoir created by the Hoover Dam, which spans Nevada and Arizona.

“I’m relatively sure it was not Jimmy Hoffa,” he joked. However, he said that many of his former clients appeared to be interested in “climate control,” AKA keeping the lake level up above any bodies that may lurk below.

After offering a $5,000 reward for qualified divers to search for more barrels, David Kohlmeier, a former police officer and current co-host of “The Problem Solver Show” podcast, said he received calls from people in San Diego and Florida willing to make an attempt.

Officials with the National Park Service stated that Kohlmeier is not authorized to organize that operation, and that there are hundreds of barrels in the depths dating back to the 1930s when Hoover Dam was built.

Kohlmeier said he also received information from the families of missing people, including a man accused of murdering two family members in 1987, a parent from Utah who vanished in the 1980s, and a 1992 disappearance of a hotel employee.

“You’ll probably find remains all throughout Lake Mead,” Kohlmeier added, referring to Native Americans who were among the region’s first settlers.

“I wouldn’t bet the mortgage that we’re going to solve who killed Bugsy Siegel,” said Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, alluding to the iconic criminal who established the Flamingo on the Strip in 1944. In 1947, Siegel was assassinated in Beverly Hills, California by an assailant still unknown to this day.

People are talking about the discovery not only about mob strikes, but also about delivering relief and closure to mourning families, according to Green.

Source: New York Post

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