Protected: Garbage Racketeering

By The Other Guy | July 24, 2020

A smaller type sanitation truck
A smaller type sanitation truck

One of the more important industries that the underworld, and more specifically Cosa Nostra, has infiltrated over the years has been the rubbish removal industry.

A vital industry at that, garbage hauling or the “carting industry” is a pivotal function of any major city or jurisdiction. An important necessity in the daily lives of both urban and suburban residents, one could not imagine life without the removal of the daily waste and rubbish that every human being steadily creates.

It is an unspoken service that we seldom even think about. But when we do, you quickly realize what a mess we would have on our hands if removal of our daily garbage was not disposed of quickly and properly.

Many municipalities handle their own garbage removal with a city-run sanitation department. For instance, the city of New York has the NYC Sanitation Department, run as a formal department much the same as the NYC Fire Department and NYC Police Department.

It is a civil service job. After 20 years or so, these city employees are entitled to a pension like any other city worker. New York City residents all pay a small annual fee built into their tax bill that goes to pay for this weekly service.

A typical private sanitation truck
A typical private sanitation truck

But we are only talking about the garbage generated by New York City’s private residents. All commercial garbage, the waste that is generated by a million businesses both large and small, throughout Manhattan and its four outer boroughs and outer suburbs have always been privatized.

A bevy of literally hundreds of private garbage removal/carting companies have controlled this segment of the industry since day one. And literally millions of small and large businesses and major corporations depend on this steady, unwavering service.

Many of New York’s suburban areas such as Long Island, Westchester, and other municipalities have contracted out both residential and commercial garbage pickups to private companies for decades. They felt it relieved the financial burden on local governments as well as the complex logistics required to operate such a sprawling, monolithic government department.

Many cities and municipalities in other states have also “privatized” this industry. They outsource this service the same as New York does through an annual bidding procedure where private carters put in secret “bids” to service certain neighborhoods, towns, or sections of the city.

The awarded contract typically goes to the lowest bidder. It could be a contract for one year, two years, or even five years. It depends upon the bylaws put in place by those in local government. For instance, many townships within the counties of Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island have always had private carting firms pick up their trash.

Enter the mob!

The Italian underworld, better known as the Mafia or Cosa Nostra, has always been in the garbage removal business. I believe it’s because many early Italian immigrants gravitated to this industry for whatever reason they did soon after arriving at Ellis Island.

Starting with the “rag trade” way back when, mostly because it was inexpensive and simple to get into, “rag pickers” as they were known, slowly gravitated to hauling away garbage and debris for customers by horse and wagon within the five boroughs back in the early 1920s.

Garbage truck compactor
Garbage truck compactor

Through the decades this eventually morphed into all facets of traditional garbage hauling of both residential and commercial rubbish.

Another tremendous spinoff business of the original rag pickers was one that would evolve into the lucrative “junkyard” business. And a spin-off of that was, of course, the scrap-metals industry.

Collectively, the different facets of these sub-industries have evolved into an almost incalculable multibillion-dollar per year industry.

During the early 1970s, another tremendous spinoff industry took flight. With the constant increase of industrial evolution, the production of toxic wastes became a major ecological concern for not only the United States but the world over.

From this, the toxic waste disposal industry was born and expanded to epic proportions. And with it the costly logistics of proper disposal of these noxious fumes and dangerous, potentially deadly chemicals.

And of course, with an ecology-minded public the government soon encouraged crafty businessmen and carting companies to expand into the “recycling business” which today is paramount to the health of any city, town, or other jurisdiction the world over.

All these combined industries soon became a very valuable commodity for organized crime. And although there have been many varied independents as well as loosely“connected” racketeers of every ethnicity that were drawn to the big profits to be made, no entity or group would become more involved than the mafia.

Cosa Nostra today, as back then, is without a doubt the dominant force in all those sister industries. If they are not directly involved in company ownership as many mafiosi are, then nearly all industry-wide companies and individuals out there operating do owe allegiance to one mafiosi or another, in one way or another, to one borgata or another.

a private garbage truck-compactor
A private garbage truck-compactor

For many decades, it was nearly impossible for carting companies within certain key Mafia dominated cities or states to be in that business without paying homage to the boys.

Whether it was by joining an industry “trade association” that a mob guy started or a mobbed-up labor union that controlled the drivers and helpers who operate the garbage trucks, rubbish weight scales and depots, or garbage dumps and landfills, Cosa Nostra’s hand was nearly always in the pot.

But aside from assessorial services and associations, many mob guys actually own or have investments in garbage carting firms, scrap metal companies, and even the landfills that are so pivotal to the industry for dumping and legal disposal of the rubbish and waste products collected.

Even on its own, when completely operated on the “up and up”, the carting business has always been a highly lucrative industry to be in.

Additionally, with their shark-like business acumen and ability to “cut corners” to gain an edge, the soldiers and associates of Cosa Nostra have created a veritable goldmine for themselves throughout the decades. This is true not only in New York City and its outer environs, counties and jurisdictions, but many other states as well.

Law enforcement in the neighboring states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have all repeatedly investigated the deep penetration that Italian organized crime has made over time into their states.

All of these states have witnessed first hand the stranglehold Cosa Nostra and it’s loyal minions have achieved in this industry over its citizenry. This absolute control that has been demonstrated by the Mafia has generated riches for organized crime to the tune of untold billions (not millions) in garbage dollars over the years.

For many decades now, they have exhibited a monolithic stranglehold and dominion over this entire industry that has virtually smothered and “aced out” any potential competition as only Cosa Nostra can do.

What I have complied below, although very extensive, is but a short list of the literally hundreds of mob-connected carting firms that have operated throughout New York City, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut for decades.

Additionally, this expose names many of the more prominent garbage racketeers and mafiosi who have controlled things in the business from the inception of this industry.

A pivotal control unlike anything ever witnessed before. That even for the Mafia has been a monumental achievement.

Here is their story!—

Back in the early 1950s, the fledgling New York City suburbs of Nassau and Suffolk Counties were just first starting to grow.

They were expanding with a young and very enthusiastic population of newly returned WWII ex-GI’s who had just arrived home to America’s shores after fighting the longest, most deadly and protracted battle the world has ever known.

Business and commerce were matching them neck and neck to try and accommodate this new surge of young blood. It became the single greatest catalyst for Long Island to grow at such an enormous pace. A fast and steady pace that many times resembled a sprint, allowing Long Island to grow in 40 to 50 years time a total population of over 3,000,000 residents.

With this population boom came many businesses to service these new residents, and of course with this commerce came the need for garbage pickup, from both these new small businesses and the many tract homes being put up in towns like Levittown, Elmont, Franklin Square, New Hyde Park, and a hundred other neighborhoods like them.

Many garbage carters who were already in the business back in the five boroughs expanded into Long Island. Similar situations developed in both Westchester County, as well as varied townships in Northern New Jersey.

With these new garbage carters came the competition among them to see who was going to “rule the roost”, and dominate the carting industry landscape.

This soon led to what Newsday, The NY Daily News, and other tabloids referred to as “garbage wars” between rival carting companies. Territory takeovers, smashed windshields, punctured garbage truck tires, truck bombings and arsons, beatings, sugared gas tanks, and other terror tactics were soon employed by mob-connected rubbish removal firms in an attempt to drive out the legitimate companies, and stifle any competition.

Even among themselves, various hoodlum garbage operators went to war against one another in a bid to win “contracts” and score “stops”. It often turned violent, and the mob warfare soon came to the attention of the local district attorneys of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Side Note: A “stop” is industry lingo for a commercial garbage hauling customer. Carting firms look to place “containers”, various sized garbage collection “bins”, at different retail locations which are used by local businesses to load the debris generated by their business. It is typically a weekly service provided by the garbage carter for a set monthly fee.

Angelo (Fat Angelo) Garofalo
Angelo (Fat Angelo) Garofalo

The first of these “garbage wars” erupted in the mid to late 1950s between rival mobbed-up garbage disposal companies in Western Suffolk County.

Two of the prime antagonists in these conflicts were the Garofalo brothers. Hoodlum associates connected to the Colombo Family, Vincent and the rotund Angelo (Fat Angelo) Garofalo operated several interrelated carting companies.

Among their main companies were Garofalo & Son Carting Co., ABC Sanitation Co., Royal Sanitation Co., all of Commack. V. Garofalo Inc., of Wantagh, and V. & D. Carting Corp., of Holbrook. They ran several other garbage companies as well, but regardless of the names, all roads led back to the Garofalo’s.

The Garofalo brothers were also active in truck hijackings, shylocking, burglaries, gun running, and fencing stolen goods.

By the mid to late 1960s both Garofalo’s had turned federal informant. They testified in several criminal trials, one of which was against their Colombo Family hijacking codefendants, soldier Anthony (The Gawk) Augello and his partner Frank (The Bug) Sciortino.

Another important mafia connected garbage firm was Riteway Carting Co., of Terryville. This company was owned and operated by the Carione brothers. Mob associates Frank, Anthony, and Joseph Carione were allegedly backed by Colombo soldier Andrew T. Russo, an important member who also happened to be the first cousin of captain Carmine (The Snake) Persico.

Vincent Garofalo
Vincent Garofalo

Frank Carione was also the president of the Suffolk Cartmen’s Assn., the dominant industry trade group and “whip” used by the Colombo mob to control Long Island’s garbage industry.

Carione’s Gambino Family contemporary was Gennaro (Jerry) Mancuso, who was president of the Nassau Intercounty Cartmen’s Assn. Mancuso, a soldier under Carlo Gambino, was also the brother of mob soldier and garbage rackets figure Aniello (Wahoo) Mancuso and the nephew of top garbage rackets boss Vincent (Jimmy Jerome) Squillante and his brother Nunzio Squillante.

Mancuso also worked in tandem with an old-time mafioso from Elmont, Long Island, named Pasquale (Patsy) Crapanzano, who was secretary-treasurer and business agent of Teamsters Local #27, which organized several garbage carting firms and had “sweetheart contracts” with them.

Over the years, the Mancuso’s, Squillante, and Crapanzano used their leverage to offer protection to garbage carters in order to shake them down for regular extortion payoffs.

Gennaro (Jerry) Mancuso
Gennaro (Jerry) Mancuso

Several other Anastasia/Gambino mafiosi involved in garbage carting extortion include Bronx-based capo Rocco Mazzie and policy racket kingpin Samuel (Sammy Schlitz) Schlitten who were involved in a department store garbage-shakedown case.

There were many other mob affiliates in the carting business in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, most of whom were tied to the Colombo Family.

Good examples of these mobbed-up individuals were Vincent (Jimmy Brown) Muce Jr., a quiet, low-keyed Colombo soldier who lived in Franklin Square. He was the son of veteran Sicilian-born mafioso Vincenzo Muce of Brooklyn, a contemporary of Mafia boss Giuseppe Profaci.

Jimmy Muce, a convicted truck hijacker, was the owner-operator of Jim’s Sweeping Service, A. & J. Rubbish Removal Co., and the Shore Sanitation Co., all based out of a truck depot in Franklin Square.

Andrew T (Andy Mush) Russo, a Farmingdale resident who was mentioned above, was a “sleeper” soldier of the old Profaci/Colombo Family. He was the owner-operator of A. & S. Carting Co. of Valley Stream. Russo was also the overseer of the Long Island garbage rackets for his cousin Carmine Persico who would later go on to become the overall boss of the Colombo Family.

Vincent (Jimmy Brown) Muce
Vincent (Jimmy Brown) Muce

Side Note: From time to time deadly violence would sometimes erupt in the Long Island carting business. One incident took place in 1981 with the shooting death of 49-year old garbage company owner John Montesano who had become an informer some years earlier with his testimony, sending several mob figures to jail. He owned the Taurus Waste Disposal Company.

Montesano was shot in the head and neck with a .22 caliber automatic as he emerged from his Sayville home early one morning as he walked to his car to drive to work.

His brother was Anthony (Tony Monte) Montesano, also a carter and the owner of Bellmore based East Meadow Sanitation Co., Tony Monty Carting Corp., and Colombo mob affiliate. Anthony continued his association with mob guys after his brother’s killing. He understood that his brother John had “gone bad” and done the wrong thing.

During the 1960s and 1970s era, other important names were Colombo associate Salvatore Spatarella, who later led the Suffolk garbage association and got himself indicted, as well as Joseph (Joe Mooney) Petrizzo.

Petrizzo was an associate of both the Colombo’s and Wahoo Mancuso. He was another top garbage racketeer for years until he fell on loanshark and related extortion charges during a probe into industry corruption, bid rigging, collusion, coercion and extortion.

Frank (Frankie the Bug) Sciortino of the Colombo Family owned Star Carting Corp., of New Hyde Park. He was arrested in 1969 for coercion and attempted extortion after a diner owner made a complaint to the Nassau District Attorney’s office that Sciortino had threatened to burn down his restaurant unless the man switched rubbish removal companies and gave Star Carting the “stop” to haul his garbage.

As the decades passed, the Colombo Family’s dominant hold over Long Island’ carting industry loosened, and by the early 1980s forward the Gambino and Lucchese Families became the more dominant mob forces ruling the roost.

Lucchese soldier Salvatore Avellino, aka “Sal the Golfer”, had become overseer for Lucchese boss Antonio (Tony Ducks) Corallo.

A Saint James resident, Avellino was installed by Corallo. He was entrusted to control both a garbage carters association, and the monthly “shake” of over 50 association member companies of “dues” and the resulting “skim” off rubbish removal contracts that the association had helped put in place.

Avellino had also established several major private carting firms that he and his family members owned and operated throughout Suffolk County. One of the largest being the SSC Carting Corp., and Salem Sanitation.

Collectively, Avellino’s series of companies were worth many millions of dollars. They generated upwards of $20,000,000 a year in gross revenue. He and the firms he controlled were a major force within the Island’s carting business.

Everybody knew it too, including both federal and local investigators.

The monthly envelopes he brought into the borgata were a major source of income to both the Lucchese hierarchy and several top Gambino Family bosses including Paul Castellano as well. This two-borgata partnership had been in place for years.

It had made Sal Avellino and several Lucchese associates wealthy men in the process as well.

Over the last 50 years, many criminal investigations into garbage industry corruption and racketeering have been initiated at both the county and federal level. Each probe produced some arrests, indictments, and subsequent jailings of guilty mob figures and corrupt businessmen alike.

Yet, the underworld seemed to never skip a beat. The mob collected its tithe, and the industry stayed knuckled under its thumb. It was the way it has always been, and the way it seemed it would always be.

But by the early-1980s, a small blood family of legitimate garbage operators, who ran a “mom and pop” rubbish removal company out of an East Northport truck base, decided that they didn’t wanna maintain the status quo and didn’t wanna play ball with the mob. The Kubecka family were “rebels” so to speak, intent on bucking a well-oiled system that had been in place for decades.

Richard Kubecka and his brother-in-law Donald Barstow just didn’t understand and just didn’t care how things worked. And they weren’t gonna play by the “old boys network” thing as they were expected to.

In truth, the Kubecka family, whose father had originally started the small family-owned business, had been providing tidbits of information to local police authorities for years. But they had seen no real change accomplished.

So, by the early 1980s, his son and son-in-law decided to contact the FBI and would soon become top informants for both the Suffolk Rackets Squad and federal prosecutors who were hoping to build a major case against the mob.

In hindsight, the men were very altruistic but also extremely naive and ignorant to think that they could get away with something this bold against the Long Island Mafia, right in the mob’s own backyard.

The rest was almost predictable. After repeated offers to join the association which the Kubecka’s spurned, a long series of many warning and veiled threats to stop going after other garbage firms’ established customers and “stops” were initiated by the mob and various association carting members, which the Kubecka’s mostly ignored.

Their continued habit of disrespecting mobbed-up association members by constantly underbidding the competition in order to grow Kubecka Carting at the expense of the association’s dues-paying members was really getting out of hand now and eventually became more than any self-respecting mafioso could take.

Even after repeated vandalism to their trucks, arsons, and other property damage in several attempts to try and dissuade the Kubecka’s from their pigheaded and uncooperative ways, the men still wouldn’t listen to reason.

Then word trickled down from several sources that indeed the Kubeckas were “rats”. So, on top of all their other transgressions, now they were police informers as well. They were providing a steady stream of sensitive information to law enforcement authorities and tried their best to put the association in hot water and get nice people arrested.

There seemed to be nothing left to talk about. The rebel Kubecka’s had “placed the last straw on the camel’s back” as the old saying goes. The camel’s back was now broke!

After a high-level sitdown with Family boss Vittorio (Little Vic) Amuso and underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, the decision was now made at the highest level…Therebel carters had to go. The Kubecka’s were gonna get clipped!

Amuso and Casso were nobody to be playing with. They were both well known in the underworld and law enforcement alike as bloodthirsty hoods. Kubecka and Barstow had signed their own death warrants…and death it would be. A gruesome death at that!

One early summer’s morning on August 11, 1989, at the Kubecka Carting company dispatch office, shortly after the last garbage truck had just left the yard to do its daily run, several compact Mediterranean-looking men with unfamiliar faces rushed into the office.

Suffolk County homicide detectives later estimated it was all over in less than a minute. Kubecka and Barstow were repeatedly shot in the face, head and body, killing them both instantly.

With a getaway car at the ready, the killers raced out from the murder scene and disappeared as quickly as they had appeared…police and federal investigators almost immediately determined it was a professional gangland killing all the way!

Almost just as quickly, suspicion fell on the Avellino brothers and their Lucchese Family associates.

It would take several more years to develop the information, but in time, newly minted Mafia defectors explained to the FBI the “whos, whats, wheres, and hows” of why they were killed that fateful day.

Side Note: In 1991, star informant former Lucchese Family “acting boss” Alphonse (Little Al) D’Arco and several other top Family defectors provided a blow-by-blow account of the Kubecka murder plot.

In 1993, with the ammunition now in their hands, authorities brought a sweeping indictment against capo Salvatore Avellino and his kid brother, soldier Carmine Avellino, fellow soldiers Frank (Frankie Pearl) Federico, Rocco Vitulli and others.

In time, all would eventually be tried, convicted and sentenced to long prison sentences. But the Kubecka family was still dead! …so what was the gain?

There have been many, many other incidents and decades-long documentation of the mob’s infiltration and racketeering in Long Island’s private garbage industry.

Suffice it to say, that although the underworld stranglehold on the industry in not nearly what it once was, there are still many mobbed-up players and carting companies today that are owned by “the boys”.

Now to head a bit north…The mobbed up county of Westchester is another suburb well-known for its deep ties to the Italian underworld. Both lower and upper Westchester County as well as Putnam County and beyond have been bastions of Mafia residency and areas of operation alike for many years.

Nicholas (Cockeyed Nick) Rattenni
Nicholas (Cockeyed Nick) Rattenni

Mob guys have always successfully operated a bevy of rackets up that way but certainly, the private garbage disposal business has always been a first among equals and a favorite of theirs as far as racket revenue producers go.

The laundry list of major mafiosi and racketeers who have chosen to have a direct “hands-on” open approach to the business is surprising. Through both documented direct ownership, as well as hidden control, many top bosses of the Genovese and Gambino Families alike have overseen this lucrative market for many decades.

Among the Cosa Nostra luminaries who have graced the area’s underworld stage over the years were none other than top Genovese Family figures Sabato (Bo) Milo, Thomas (Tommy Marlow) Milo, Louis (Babe) Milo, Nicholas (Cockeyed Nick) Rattenni, Mario (The Shadow) Gigante, Tobias (Toby) DeMiccio, Vincent (Jimmy) Angelina, and Matteo (Matty Brown) Fortunato.

Each of whom was named by mafia soldier turned top informer Joseph (Joe Cago) Valachi way back in 1963 during his publicized testimony before Bobby Kennedy’s Senate Rackets Committee.

And of course at its core back within the City of New York’s Five boroughs, the Mafia has dominated the commercial garbage hauling industry with a chokehold for many decades. No other major city has ever been under the Mafia’s grip tighter than Gotham.

From the early 1900s through today, Cosa Nostra has been able to do in New York what no other Mafia borgata has and that is to maintain a strong presence within its given landscape.

New York’s Five Families are not even close to what they once were decades back. But their presence is still felt, especially in certain key business sectors, the garbage industry being one of them.

Joseph (Joe Shep) Schipani
Joseph (Joe Shep) Schipani

Traditionally, the Genovese and Gambino Families had the most clout within the city. The likes of top Genovese figures such as soldiers Joseph (Joe Shep) Schipani, Joseph (Little Joey) Pagano, Ottilio (Frankie the Bug) Caruso and capos Gaetano (Toddo) Marino, Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianniello, and Alphonse (Allie Shades) Malangone were deeply entrenched garbage racketeers to name but a few.

For years, Schipani controlled the “Manhattan Cartmens Association” from his base in the old 4th-Ward. He dictated and divvied up control throughout the city over garbage “stops” and carters alike. In Brooklyn, it was a similar situation under the watchful eye of Marino and Malangone.

One of the richest and most powerful of the Genovese garbage racketeers was Angelo Ponte. He is from a blood family that owns many multimillion-dollar parcels of real estate and the famed Ponte Ristorante based in Downtown Manhattan. He controlled a series of major rubbish removal firms that were key industry players for decades.

Closely tied in to boss Vincent (The Chin) Gigante himself, it is debatable about whether Angelo was actually an “inducted soldier” himself or a high-ranked associate. He nevertheless was a pivotal figure in Manhattan’s trash removal rackets.

Some other iconic mafiosi tied to the garbage removal field were:

Ottilio (Frank the Bug) Caruso
Ottilio (Frank the Bug) Caruso

Family boss Vito (Don Vitone) Genovese. He held partnership in the Colonial Trading Co, and Waste Paper Removal Co., garbage removal, a scrap-paper collection and recycling firm respectively, both located on Manhattan’s Lower West Side.

East Harlem-based soldier Theodore (Teddy the Bum) DeMartino owned Teddy’s Carting Service of 325 E.117th Street, Upper Manhattan.

Downtown Manhattan-based soldier Frankie the Bug Caruso held hidden partnership in the New York Carting Co., of 643 East 13th Street, Manhattan, a large commercial rubbish removal form active in midtown.

A little-known sleeper soldier was Joseph (Joe) Marone, a top narcotics trafficker who owned a part interest in Melrose Salvage Co., a scrap metals firm located at 405 East 107th Street, East Harlem.

Another top figure from the Lower Westside was Capo Peter DeFeo, who operated the Ross Paper Stock Co., at 151 Mercer Street in Manhattan, which was a scrap- paper recycling firm.

Joseph (Joe) Marone
Joseph (Joe) Marone

Low-profile East Harlem mafioso Michael (Slim) Picone was owner and operator of Cancro Ash Removal Corp., located at 428 E. 108th Street.

Not to be outdone, among the early ranking Gambino mobsters who preyed on the industry was none other than the vicious Bronx-based 1950s garbage racketeer Vincent (Jimmy Jerome) Squillante before his untimely disappearance and presumed murder some years later.

Other Gambino figures included capos James (Jimmy Brown) Failla, Joseph (Joe Z) Zingaro, and soldiers Pasquale (Patsy) Crapanzano, and James (Jimmy Surprise) Feola.

They worked in tandem with top Jewish hood and Teamsters Union boss Bernard (Bernie) Adelstein. For many years, he headed Local #813, which was an important Teamsters Local that controlled the drivers and workers in New York’s garbage industry.

Theodore (Teddy the Bum) DeMartino
Theodore (Teddy the Bum) DeMartino

Local #813 was utilized as the tool or “whip” to successfully shakedown and extort many carting firm owners for monthly envelopes. The fear of a crippling labor strike by the union was usually enough to ensure payment.

Side Note: Proof positive of the huge profits connected to the garbage business and the subsequent importance and value placed on it by mobsters was the disappearance and presumed murder of longtime Gambino soldier and garbage racketeer “Joey Surprise” Feola in 1965.

Conversations later “bugged” by the FBI in the offices of New Jersey mob boss Sam DeCavalcante revealed that Feola was “clipped” for trying to muscle in on a lucrative garbage contract at E.J. Corvettes Department store from another mafia Family.

Boss Carlo Gambino ordered his execution to appease the other borgata’s bosses.

In fact, from his own words caught on tape, it seems the “hit contract” had been farmed out to Sam’s crew. DeCavalcante talked in hushed tones and in obscure language about the mechanics of the killing.

Vincent (Jimmy Jerome) Squillante
Vincent (Jimmy Jerome) Squillante

But from what the agents listening in could gather, Feola was shot to death and then put through a garbage disposal to get rid of the evidence. I bet “Joey Surprise” got the surprise of his life (or death as it turned out) with that one!

In more recent years soldier Joseph (Joey Cigars) Francolino Sr. became the top overseer over many carting companies for his borgata, not only in New York but northern New Jersey as well. He was later one of many top wiseguys convicted in 1987 on state garbage racketeering and conspiracy charges.

Together, these men held sway over a cadre of lesser mob lights and underworld associates throughout Manhattan and its four outer boros that controlled literally hundreds of garbage carting firms, scrap-metal companies, recyclers, and other supporting accessorial business firms. A multi-billion dollar conglomerate that was and is one of New York’s most vital industries.

As recently as 2013 up in the northern suburb of Portchester, New York, 32 people were arrested, including 13 members and associates of three Families on garbage racketeering charges after a three-year federal probe.

Matthew (Slim) Picone
Matthew (Slim) Picone

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George C. Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Commissioner George N. Longworth of the Westchester County Police Department announced charges against 32 individuals as part of a multi-year investigation into organized crime’s continued control over large segments of the commercial waste-hauling industry in the greater New York City metropolitan area and parts of New Jersey. 

The main indictment charged 12 mob defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that asserted illegal and extortionate control over commercial waste-hauling companies and 20 other associate defendants with individual acts of extortion, loansharking, narcotics, and other crimes related to those activities. 

The far sweeping probe also reached into Westchester and Rockland counties along with Nassau County on Long Island and Bergen and Passaic counties in New Jersey.

Joseph (Joey Cigars) Francolino

The indictments contended “that members of the racketeering effort avoided any official connection to the waste disposal businesses they controlled because they were either officially banned from the waste hauling industry or unlikely to be granted the necessary licenses required to do business in the waste hauling industry because of their affiliations with organized crime.

Leaders of the criminal operation concealed themselves behind waste disposal businesses that were officially owned and operated by others who were able to obtain the necessary licenses because they had no known affiliations with organized crime.”

The indictments included five reputed “soldiers” and a number of mob associates of the Genovese, Gambino, and Lucchese Families including top ringleader Carmine (Papa Smurf) Franco, Anthony (Poochy) Pucciarello, Howard Ross, Anthony (Tony Lodi) Cardinalle, Peter Leconte, Frank Oliver, Charles (Charlie Tuna) Giustra, soldier Dominick (Pepe) Pietranico, soldier Joseph (Joe Sass) Sarcinella, William Cali, Scott Fappiano, soldier Anthony Bazzini, Joseph Antico, Vincent Dimino, and Pasquale Carbone.

Charges included RICO conspiracy, restraint of trade, collusion, coercion, extortion, attempted extortion, mail and wire fraud, loansharking, arson, interstate transportation of stolen property, assault, cigarette smuggling and related sales-tax evasion, narcotics conspiracy (cocaine), possession of guns, thefts and business fraud.

The investigation was the latest effort by federal law enforcement authorities to rid the region’s trash industry of organized crime.

Thomas Milo Jr.
Thomas Milo Jr.

Another such probe back in the late 1990s resulted in charges against 7 men and 14 companies. Genovese mob associate Thomas Milo, head of Westchester’s biggest firm, Suburban Carting, was jailed, and the county took significant steps to try and regulate the mob-dominated industry.

Five years after that in the mid-2000s, a similar probe by the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut resulted in 29 arrests in connection with commercial trash routes and affiliated rackets up in Fairfield and Putnam Counties.

A multimillionaire Genovese associate named Jimmy Galante who owned more than 20 carting companies was sentenced to 87 months in prison and forced to give up his 20 companies. Tommy Milo was accused of being Galante’s silent partner in the case and also pleaded guilty, serving another term in federal prison.

Iconic Genovese underboss Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianniello also figured prominently into this investigation. It was alleged by prosecutors that he and the Family hierarchy back in New York City got fat monthly envelopes from the Connecticut trash hauling rackets under Galante’s and Milo’s control for many years.

Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianniello
Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianniello

Side Note: Although prosecutors didn’t publicly mention it at the time, Tommy Milo is directly related to iconic 1960s Genovese soldiers Sabato (Bo) Milo, Louis (Babe) Milo, and their brother, capo Thomas (Tommy Marlow) Milo of Westchester, who I mentioned earlier in our story. The Milo family was still active over 60 years later…nothing changes in gangland!

In New Jersey, the Genovese Family has been the most visible mob entity. From early on they boasted almost total domination over carting in the northern and central parts of the state.

Among that borgata’s members closely connected to the industry was consigliere Louis (Bobby) Manna, and waterfront bosses Tino Fiumara, Michael (Mikey Cigars) Coppola, and Lawrence Ricci. Both Manna and Fiumara doubled as general rackets overseers in the Garden State, with garbage rackets squarely within his bailiwick.

An early established New Jersey mafioso was Carmine (Big Yak) San Giacomo. Based in Newark, he dated to the days of Willy Moretti and Longy Zwillman. Big Yak owned the San Giacomo Paper Corp., and Cornwall Paper Mill Co., of Newark. These firms were waste paper removal and recycling businesses.

The notorious Genovese soldier John (Johnny D) Digilio was also very involved with waste disposal rackets before his murder in 1988. Likewise, there have been many gangland killings in New Jersey over the years that investigators directly tied to the garbage carting industry.

Just scratching the surface of the many New Jersey gangland killings tied to the industry over the years were the murders of garbage carting executives Alfred DeNardi, Gabriel San Felice, and Crescent Roselle, in 1976, 1978 and 1980 respectively. Each was shot down while competing for business and garbage “stops” at the time of their killings.

Another high profile murder was that of mobbed-up lawyer George Franconero, coincidently the brother of singer Connie Francis, who was also killed during this same period. It was thought that he had turned informant and was providing evidence about underworld involvement in the waste industry.

They join a long list of carters, mob associates and corrupt businessmen alike who fell victim to industry troubles, which included several “garbage wars” to see who would come out on top to dominate the business, the killing of various informants and malcontents, and other semi-related reasons.

Back in 1981, it was exposed by the FBI and other federal investigators that the Vito Genovese Family was behind a massive toxic waste explosion that took place at the storage yard and buildings of Chemical Control Corporation, right over the bridge from Manhattan in the city of Elizabeth.

EPA investigators, fire marshalls, and federal agents later said the fire raged for over 15 hours despite multiple fire departments and engine companies all fighting the monumental explosion and subsequent blaze. Thick black plumes of smoke cascaded up into the sky that evening and for several days there afterward.

It was later discovered that Chemical Control Corp., had illegally stored hundreds and hundreds of full steel drums of deadly toxic waste on their business property, instead of paying to legally truck it away and dispose of it in a licensed and safe, legitimate manner.

To have accumulated this huge volume of drums was a conscious decision made over several years by the company owners so they could save millions of dollars in legitimate EPA dumping fees.

It also later came out that Chemical’s principals accepted toxic waste from other source companies and carting firms in a cost-cutting racket scheme.

Side Note: It was later thought by authorities that either the explosion happened by accident from all the open and unsafe drums being carelessly stored there, or the mob decided to get rid of any evidence by setting the fire themselves. Either way, because of the sheer volume of deadly toxic waste products involved, the damage to the environment was almost incalculable.

Before long deep organized crime ties were exposed. A known New Jersey Genovese associate-member named John Albert was connected to the firm as the day to day mob manager or overseer.

Joseph (Joe Beck) Lapi
Joseph (Joe Beck) Lapi

In a classic mob business infiltration and takeover bid, the wiseguys were thought to have first infiltrated the firm through loansharking, and later taken over complete control.

Further digging revealed that a top Genovese “elder statesman” and capo named Joseph (Joe Beck) Lapi was making regular weekly visits out to the Elizabeth plant. It was thought that Lapi had lent over $100,000 in loan shark money to the business.

Federal agents later traced regular cancelled checks from Chemical Control’s checkbook to a wholesale fish dealer in Downtown Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market.Lapi was known as the “kingpin” and overseer of the Market for his borgata, and was thought to hold a hidden ownership in that business.

Several additional canceled checks had also been endorsed by another soldier within Lapi’s regime named Frank Vispisiano, a well-known hoodlum from Downtown Manhattan. Federal investigators viewed it as yet another tie to Lapi.

Ultimately Albert was subpoenaed, and later indicted on multiple counts related to the explosion and fire, as well as the overall conspiracy. But Lapi escaped any prosecution by passing away in early 1980.

As late as 2019, the New York City legislature was still attempting to draft a proposal to try and give “teeth” to a watchdog committee previously created to oversee and police the private garbage hauling industry, in what is yet another attempt to route out corruption and the mob’s presence.-

The New York underworld are crafty characters to say the least. I think that’s been well proven out through previous decades. And with the prospect of billions of dollars at stake, I don’t imagine that they’ll be dissuaded from the carting and recycling industries anytime soon!

…Until next time, “The Other Guy!”

This article was originally posted “here