Category: News

Convicted felon with family mob ties accused of defrauding investors

Federal officials say a convicted felon with mob ties and his wife fraudulently raised more than half a billion dollars from investors for their company, which loaned cash to small businesses at interest rates as high as 400 percent.

Convicted felon Joseph LaForte, who goes by the name Joe Mack, and his wife Lisa McElhone founded Par Funding in 2011 — the same year he was released from prison for stealing $14 million in a real estate scam and, in a separate case, for running an illegal gambling operation.

Par Funding issued $600 million in loans to small businesses across the U.S. since its inception, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission’s complaint filed July 24 in a Florida federal court.

The company raised the funds from more than 1,200 investors by “scheming and lying” — including making the false claim that their loans had a default rate of less than one percent when it was actually more than 10 percent, the complaint alleges.

“The fraudulent scheme operates behind multiple veils of secrecy built on the defendants’ lies,” the complaint charges.

The couple, based in Philadelphia, used unregistered sales agents to raise cash for which they were investigated by Pennsylvania securities regulators in 2018.

LaForte, whose grandfather, nicknamed “Joe the Cat,” and his uncle “Buddy,” were made men in the Gambino crime family, went to great lengths to hide his criminal past from potential investors using several aliases, according to Bloomberg and court papers.

The complaint accuses the couple and their agents of violating federal securities law and wants the court to freeze their assets, impose civil fines and appoint a receiver to protect investors.

LaForte and McElhone couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Original Post

Hoffa Hysteria: How I Teamed With Dan Moldea To Try & Unmask The Greatest True-Crime Mystery Ever

July 31, 2020 — Back in the fall of 2019, as a mentor of mine out east closed in on where Jimmy Hoffa’s body was very possibly buried, I was at Ground Zero for the storied Hoffa case in Detroit running down a tip pointing to where his body dropped. The two locations might be the final pieces of the puzzle that finally solve the most famous and speculated-upon murder mystery in American history.

In October 2019, Dan Moldea, the Godfather of Hoffa research and the preeminent expert on the case in the world, traced Hoffa’s remains to the site of a former mobbed-up trash dump in Jersey City, New Jersey. Just weeks later, I was approached by a source with deep connections in organized crime in Southeast Michigan and was told that Hoffa was murdered at the residence of Leonard (Little Lenny) Schultz, a Jewish racketeer and old-time Purple Gang affiliate Hoffa had been friendly with for decades.

The two scenarios fit together instantly. My source gave information that directly tied to Dan’s theory and reporting.

When I was a young reporter beginning my quest into hallowed halls of “Hoffaology” in the 2000s, Dan took me under his wing. Our research hasn’t always synced, we have had differing views on a small number of things in pockets of the case. But our respect for each other and passionate love of the endeavor have made us a determined tandem (determined to get to the bottom of the case Dan proudly and rightly refers to as his “white whale”).

Right now, on the 45th anniversary of Hoffa’s kidnapping and murder, our reporting syncs perfectly.

The 62-year old Hoffa, the face of the American labor movement in the mid-to-late 20th Century, vanished on his way to a sit-down with a trio of mob figures in Bloomfield Township, Michigan 45 years ago this week. The iconic firebrand of a Teamster boss, who clashed with his former allies in organized crime regarding a potential return to the goliath trucker union’s presidency, was last seen in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant on the afternoon of July 30, 1975 getting into a maroon-colored Mercury Marquis owned by the son of fearsome Detroit mafia street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone.

Hoffa’s datebook indicated a lunch meeting with “Tony G, Tony P and Lenny S,” at the Red Fox, a popular fine-dining establishment 20 miles away from Hoffa’s summer cottage on Lake Orion and 7 miles north of Detroit’s city limits. Tony G was Tony Giacalone, Hoffa’s longtime handler for the mafia. Tony P was New Jersey mob capo and Teamsters power Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, a one-time close friend of Hoffa’s turned bitter enemy. Lenny S was Little Lenny Schultz, a high-ranking mob associate, labor consultant and Tony Jack’s liaison to Hoffa and buffer for all his union affairs.

I grew up down the street from the Machus Red Fox and was always fascinated by the mythology surrounding his disappearance and how, especially in Metro Detroit, the question of whatever happened to Jimmy Hoffa, is embedded in the fabric of pop culture. I’ve been reporting on the case for 15 years and I’m credited with breaking a number of major stories related to the investigation.

The dapper and diminutive Lenny Schultz owned Tony Giacalone’s headquarters, the Southfield Athletic Club and was a fixture in the Detroit area’s Jewish community until he died at the age of 96 in 2013. His days in the rackets began as a teenager running errands for the headline-grabbing Purple Gang, the city’s notorious Jewish mob of the 1920s and 30s. He was a driver for Purple Gang lieutenant, Abe (Abie the Agent) Zussman and learned the labor-union consulting business from Purples like Jack (Babe) Bushkin and Joseph (Monkey Joe) Holtzman, two of his early mentors.

Schultz was a deal maker and a diplomat, someone who connected a lot of dots for people of varying personalities in an array of business sectors. It was a skill that served him well.

Through his background with the Purples, Schultz met both Hoffa and Tony Giacalone.

According to FBI documents, Schultz helped Giacalone and Tony Jack’s younger brother, Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone, a very-respected and capable mob capo in his own right, arrange for Hoffa to meet Tony Provenzano at the Red Fox the day he disappeared. Hoffa was feuding with Tony Pro over bad blood from a stay at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. He needed Provenzano’s support though to reclaim the Teamsters and requested assistance from Schultz and the Giacalones, who were related to Tony Pro via marriage, in squashing their beef, per the documents.

Tony Giacalone and Lenny Schultz didn’t leave each other’s sides all day on July 30, 1975, holding court at the Southfield Athletic Club, a little less than five miles south of the Red Fox where they were supposed to be meeting Hoffa. Tony Pro was playing cards in his union hall in New Jersey. Billy Giacalone didn’t have an alibi for the day Hoffa went missing and was unaccounted for by both his FBI and Michigan State Police surveillance units the entire afternoon.

I was contacted by a source in November 2019 and asked to meet with him about the Hoffa case. This source had worked for Lenny Schultz and acted as a collector for the Giacalone brothers. He didn’t want his name to be released, but he told me I could report what he told me: Jimmy Hoffa was killed at Lenny Schultz’s house in Franklin Village, Michigan.

“Lenny and I were driving on Telegraph (the street the Red Fox was on) one day, I was taking him to an appointment, this is years after Hoffa was gone……and he just said it,” the source recalled. “He said, Jimmy bit the dust at his place and it wasn’t a shooting……He said, Tony Jack had the house keys and they choked him out in the living room. Then, they gave the body to Rolland McMaster to get rid of it. He was real quiet the rest of the drive that day. It seemed like he just wanted to get it off his chest. He never said another word about it to me.”

This is where things dovetailed with Dan’s reporting. Dan has always placed “Big Mac” McMaster in the murder plot. McMaster was a legendary Teamster goon, labor muscle for the mob for years with a reputation for violence that stretched coast-to-coast. Him and Hoffa were once tight, at the time of his disappearance, however, they were rivals. McMaster had led a campaign of intimidation (beatings, bombings, bully tactics) against Hoffa and his allies in the year preceding Hoffa’s slaying in an attempt to get Hoffa to drop out of the union presidential election.

The FBI searched McMaster’s Hidden Dreams Ranch in Commerce, Michigan in 2006 looking for Hoffa’s body, but came up empty. When Dan developed New Jersey mob figure Phil (Brother) Moscato as a source late in Moscato’s life, Moscato, a confidant of Tony Pro’s and one of the biggest loan sharks in the Garden State during his gangland prime, told Dan that Hoffa’s body was transported from Detroit to New Jersey in a Gateway Transportation truck and laid to rest at his PJP Landfill underneath the Pulaski Freeway. McMaster owned Gateway Transportation.

Schultz’s house was a 5-minute drive west of the Red Fox and a straight shot up Maple Road to Hidden Dreams Ranch. Per FBI informants and grand jury testimony, the Giacalones felt comfortable using Schultz’s house for “wet work,” and had killed furniture mogul Harvey Leach at Schultz’s residence 16 months before in the spring of 1974. Another one of Dan’s sources, claims he witnessed unusual activity at the ranch late in the evening of July 30, 1975, cars speeding in and away from the property in the dark of night.

Full disclosure, for the last dozen years I’ve been espousing another theory regarding the spot Hoffa was murdered at. I’ve reported and been on national television discussing my belief that Hoffa was killed at Detroit mob soldier Carlo Licata’s house, a five-minute drive north from the Red Fox and a residence Hoffa had met the Giacalone brothers at before for several meetings and sit-downs. Licata was the brother-in-law of the Detroit mafia’s acting boss at the time, Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, and died under suspicious circumstances at the residence, known as the “house on the hill,” off Long Lake Drive in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, on the 6-year anniversary of Hoffa’s disappearance on the afternoon of July 30, 1981.

I am not abandoning my Licata theory. Too many people on both sides of the law have confirmed for me that is where he was taken and bumped off at. That said, I am an investigative reporter and I have to go where the facts lead me.

This makes new theory makes a lot sense. I find it completely plausible and possible that Hoffa was killed at Lenny Schultz’s house, not Licata’s.

Around the same time that I was rethinking my own research, Dan was hitting paydirt in New Jersey. Literally.

Although Brother Moscato admitted to Dan that he was in charge of burying Hoffa’s body at the PJP Landfill, he never filled Dan in on exactly where his remains rested on the property before dying of cancer in 2014. That part of the equation came from Frank Cappola last fall.

Cappola’s dad, Paul, was Brother Moscato’s partner in the PJP dump, and Paul spilled the beans to his son on his deathbed back in 2008. Last October, an ailing Frank Cappola, a former wiseguy himself, took Dan to the precise spot – now part of a state park and nature preserve – his father told him he had buried Hoffa’s body in a 50-gallon industrial drum the night after Hoffa disappeared. Cappola died of a respiratory ailment on March 16.  

Acting on a tip from Tony Provenzano’s driver, the Feds searched the PJP Landfill for Hoffa’s body in the months after he went missing, but didn’t find anything. They didn’t have the specifics that Dan does now though and I think they’ll be searching there again soon.

If anyone in this crazy, surreal and quite well-documented near half-century journey of tracking down leads in the Hoffa disappearance deserves to be the man who can finally say he found the holy grail that is Hoffa’s tomb, it’s Dan.

This man is an institution in the world of hard-nosed, unrelenting reporting, much in the same way Hoffa was in labor union politics. Investigative journalists everywhere owe him a great debt. When it comes to Hoffa research, reporting and knowledge, he’s the trailblazer, he’s the truth.

That’s real. That’s authentic. No matter if we ever find Hoffa or not.  

The Detroit FBI office continues to actively pursue cracking the Hoffa case. The feds strongly subscribe to the belief that the Hoffa homicide conspiracy was put into motion by Black Jack Tocco and Tony Giacalone (on the orders of Tocco’s uncle and Tony Jack’s mentor, Godfather Joe Zerilli) in Michigan and the hit team consisted of Billy Giacalone, Detroit mob soldier Anthony (Tony Pal) Palazzolo and New Jersey mobster Salvatore (Sally Bugs) Briguglio, Tony Provenzano’s right-hand man and top enforcer.

Palazzolo bragged of involvement in the Hoffa hit on an FBI wire in the 1990s and an informant told the FBI in 2012 that Tony Pal beat and strangled Hoffa to death. Many in the FBI working the case today believe Tony Pal did the deed. Brother Moscato told Dan that Billy Giacalone kidnapped Hoffa from the Red Fox parking lot in his nephew, Joey’s car, and Sally Briguglio shot him in the back of the head at a nearby residence.

That residence could very well have been Schultz’s house in tony Franklin Village, a small, exclusive community reminiscent of the New England countryside but a 10-minute drive from the Giacalone crew nerve center at the Southfield Athletic Club and less than a half-hour’s drive to downtown Detroit and Hoffa’s Teamsters HQ on Trumbull Avenue around the corner from historic Tiger’s Stadium. The Giacalones are thought to have handled a similar problem at Schultz’s house the year prior.

Blood washes blood, they’ve been known to say in mob circles.

Local whiz-kid entrepreneur Harvey Leach was last seen alive heading to a meeting at the Schultz residence with Schultz and Tony Jack on the morning of March 15, 1974. Leach, 34, was found dead in the trunk of his car the following afternoon hours before he was supposed to be getting married. According to FBI records, Leach was being muscled out of his trendy Joshua Doore furniture store chain by the Giacalone brothers after Schultz had brokered a loan for Leach to expand the business and the Giacalones robbed the place blind instead. Rumors were also floating around that the debonair and sophisticated Leach had angered Billy Giacalone for bedding one of his girlfriends while Billy Jack was out of town serving a state prison term in the early 1970s.

Just five months before Hoffa’s kidnapping and execution, Lenny Schultz’s home was burglarized. Schultz accused the FBI of staging the break-in to illegally search for evidence linking the property to the Leach murder in interviews with the press. A source once told Dan that the same gun used to kill Hoffa was used to kill Leach.

Schultz and the Giacalone brothers were each called to testify in grand juries investigating both the Hoffa and Leach homicides. Nobody has ever been charged in either case.

The Giacalones and Schultz did subsequent prison sentences for unrelated felony convictions. Tony Jack died of kidney failure in 2001 under indictment in a RICO prosecution. Billy Jack died of natural causes in 2012. Together, they had ran day-to-day operations in the Detroit mafia since the late 1950s.

Rolland McMaster died in 2007 of heart failure. Tony Provenzano dropped dead of a heart attack in prison in 1988. Stomach cancer took out Tony Palazzolo, who had risen to consigliere of the Tocco-Zerilli crime family by the end of his gangland career, last winter. Sally Bugs didn’t make it out of the disco era, getting gunned down walking out of a Manhattan social club in 1978.

Joey Giacalone’s car, his then-brand new champaign-tinted Mercury Marquis, is the only piece of physical evidence ever recovered in the investigation. Hoffa’s DNA was found in the vehicle’s trunk and backseat.

Lenny Schultz did a few years in the joint for cocaine dealing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but mostly lived his final years off the map in retirement, quietly shuffling between Michigan and Miami Beach and enjoying his last days in the sun, wealthy and healthy well into his 90s. He had a knack for sidestepping landmines, a valuable resource in his line of work. People said he could talk his way out of anything.

He once admitted in open court that he had given information to the government as an informant. Under most any other circumstances, the Giacalones would have slit his throat and stuffed him down a drainpipe. These are two men allegedly responsible for two dozen gangland slayings apiece, minimum. But Lenny got a pass. That’s got to say something about the man.

I met Lenny when I was in college at a family weekend where he was visiting his grandson, who was a classmate of mine at Indiana University. Our fathers had attended law school together. We were all at a bar, eating, drinking, watching football. And I remember my dad taking me over to the side and whispering in my ear that Lenny was supposed to be with Jimmy Hoffa and Tony Giacalone the day he vanished into thin air.

Maybe I should have just gone straight to the horse’s mouth and asked him what happened myself?

Scott M. Burnstein, July 2020

Original Post

Lucchese Family Acting Boss, Matthew Madonna, 84, Sentenced to Life in Prison

Former acting Lucchese family boss Matthew Madonna and two associates, Christopher Londonio, 46, and Terrence Caldwell, were sentenced to life in prison on Monday. They were found guilty of murdering Michael Meldish, a gang member who refused to help them collect business ‘debts’.

On November 15, 2013, Madonna, 84, ordered a hit on Meldish who was the leader of a notoriously ruthless and violent group called the Purple Gang, a bunch of drug dealers and hitmen working in the Bronx and Upper Manhatten during the 1970s and 80s.

Christopher Londonio was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the murder of Michael Meldish.

Christopher Londonio was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the murder of Michael Meldish.

Londonio was easily able to set up an ambush to kill Meldish as the two were friends. Caldwell shot Meldish in the head while he was sitting in his car on a residential street in the Throgs Neck area of the Bronx. Caldwell immediately fled the scene in a car driven by Londonio.

A statement from Andy Strauss, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York reads:

“Matty Madonna, Christopher Londonio, and Terrence Caldwell – respectively, the Acting Boss, a soldier, and an associate of the Lucchese Family – were responsible for the execution-style murder of Michael Meldish seven years ago. Madonna ordered it, Londonio set it up, and Caldwell pulled the trigger. Now all three have been sentenced to serve the rest of their lives in federal prison”.

Terrence Caldwell was sentenced to life in prison for the 2013 murder of Michael Meldish.

Terrence Caldwell was sentenced to life in prison for the 2013 murder of Michael Meldish.

White Plains Federal Judge Cathy Seibel said about Madonna, “This defendant was the acting head of a murderous organization that terrorized its community. He profited from that. He led that. He knew perfectly well what the members of the enterprise were up to and that the money flowing up to him was not lawfully obtained. This would be a heinous offense even if nobody died. But somebody did die. And this defendant agreed that should happen.”

The judge also expressed regret that the Mafia is still romanticized in popular culture.

One of the five families of La Cosa Nostra, the Lucchese family story reaches back decades starting with their involvement with Harlem street gangs during the 1920s. At the Havana conference in 1951, they were recognized as one of New York City’s “five families”, and the “Commission” was established to oversee the running of the mafia in America.

"The Commission" chart, La Cosa Nostra, 1963. The Lucchese crime family can trace it's American roots back to the 1920s.

“The Commission” chart, La Cosa Nostra, 1963. The Lucchese crime family can trace it’s American roots back to the 1920s.

Madonna took over leadership of the family in 2009. By this time it had expanded its territory beyond the Bronx and Harlem and its clothing and trucking industries. These days, the family is known in New York more for racketeering and illegal gambling.

This article was originally posted “here

The Cigarette Bootlegging Racket

by The Other Guy | July 29,2020

Old-fashioned type cigarette machine
Old-fashioned type cigarette machine

This was a racket scheme that started way back in the 1960s in New York City and a few other northeastern states that had started taxing cigarette sales heavier.

Under the guise of dissuading the public from the newly discovered unhealthy consumption of tobacco, certain states began to levy a heavy tax on retail cigarette sales.

It also became a good excuse as another major revenue producing source for New York State. By heavily taxing the sale of tobacco, the state coffers swelled with many additional millions that they wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

Collectively between the federal, state, and city taxes imposed, racketeers soon saw the potential for big profits by smuggling cartons of cigarettes up from several southern states where the tax levy was negligible.

By 1965, it had become a somewhat steady racket for organized crime. And by 1967, it had become the rage for certain mafia “crews” and individual mob guys to specialize in “cigarette bootlegging”, or “butt-legging” as it was now being called.

Many states became subject to cigarette smuggling but with their heavy tax levies, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts were among the top states losing the most tax revenue because of the bootlegging.

Side Note: Cigarette smuggling is a pervasive problem not only in the United States but in Europe and other countries as well.

For instance, in Italy, illegal cigarette smuggling has been a major multimillion-dollar racket for the Italian Mafia for many decades since at least the late 1940s. Only with their entrance into narcotics manufacturing (heroin) and international smuggling in the early-mid 1950s did the Mafia’s interest in cigarette smuggling somewhat subside.

But even with that shift in focus, there were some mafia crews who continued solely with the cigarette racket. The Neopolitano Camorra were firsts among equals when it came to the cigarette trade.

Map of state to state tax disparity
Map of state to state tax disparity

At that time, the tax in North Carolina was only .2 cents per pack, while New York State’s tax was .15 cents per pack. New York City excise taxes were another .4 cents per pack, plus a special nicotine tax of another .4 cents per pack totaled .23 per pack. Smuggled by the truckload, big profits could be had by the smugglers.

In 1967, it was estimated that nearly half of all cigarette sales in New York City were “bootlegged.” State authorities estimated the loss of tax revenue to the state exceeded well over $400,000,000 a year.

Depending upon who was doing the smuggling, the bootleggers could run up anywhere from a car trunk full to a truckload into the city. Cars, panel vans, 16’ footers, 24’ straight trucks, and even tractor-trailer loads was not uncommon.

As the problem became more pervasive and law enforcement started to crack down, other methods had to be employed by the smugglers to evade the state troopers or various task forces that had been formed to specifically try and combat this growing problem.

Soon, specially designed trucks with elaborate camouflage were made so as to trick investigators. These designs ran the gamut from having a tractor-trailer loaded front to back with legitimate products such as a load of foodstuffs or pallets loaded with boxes (several pallets of which would contain the cigarettes), to 40-foot moving vans full of household goods that had the front of the trailer loaded top to bottom with cases of cigarettes.

The wealthier and more sophisticated racket guys built even more elaborate designs. Some had trucks built with false bottoms or fake walls that shortened the length of the inside of the truck. Behind the false front wall would be stacked top to bottom with butts, the rest of the inside would be filled with regular merchandise. It was hard to tell that the inside was shortened.

One police stop along the interstate of a seemingly normal flatbed truck carrying a full load of lumber was discovered to actually be a hollowed-out facade. When the cops got up close they sensed something was wrong.

The lumber (although actual wood) was not loose individual pieces but all connected together as one. Upon playing with various switches and release levers, they soon discovered the lumber was not full-length pieces as it would seem.

It was a huge boxed out hatch that popped open, revealing hundreds of cases of cigarettes. This single load was worth well over several hundred thousand dollars once sold on the streets of New York…whoever was behind the scheme were very creative wiseguys indeed!

Butt-Smuggling was big business!
Butt-Smuggling was big business!

Remember, that back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, cigarettes were still a tremendous rage among the general public. Most people smoked. It was considered normal and few thought twice about the potential health risks involved.

That made for a tremendous market for racketeers by which to dispose of their “product.” Men, women, and teenagers across the larger spectrum of society thought nothing of lighting up. In fact, it was often considered very “en vogue” to smoke.

Just check out any old movie and you’ll see all your favorite old movie stars and leading men and women smoking their heads off. From Frank Sinatra in “Tony Rome”, to Sean Connery in “James Bond” and Dean Martin in “Matt Helm”, it was considered “cool” to smoke.

Free advertising for the mob as it were. Wiseguys couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Once the cigarettes had reached the city it was as easy as pie to distribute them. Everybody likes to save money…Everybody!

I don’t care if the customer was a housewife, a postal employee, blue-collar construction worker on a job site, or a white-collar button-down executive on Park Avenue, they all wanted to save money on a product they consumed daily.

Hell, even some cops, judges and the judiciary would quietly buy the bootlegs…it was no big thing!

Side Note: Because smuggling cigarettes seemed like a harmless activity, albeit criminal, many policemen and others in law enforcement often took a very lax approach to investigating and arresting those involved.

Wiseguys and racketeer smugglers were also often able to bribe many cops because of this innocent Damon Runyon perception of those engaged in the racket.

These untaxed cigarettes would often be sold by hustlers and others streets guys out of car trunks or sold wholesale to the owners of neighborhood candy stores, groceries and bodegas, area taverns and coffee shops, dry cleaners, etc.

And at each level of sales, everybody made money along the chain of distribution.

There were even some mob guys who handled the racket from top to bottom, from smuggling them up into the Northeast from wholesalers down in North Carolina to the actual street distribution and final sales.

But the more common method for the bigger operators, at least, was to lay out the financing for the initial purchase of a truckload. Then have several “overseers” handle the actual logistics of purchasing and smuggling the cigarettes into the city, and then quickly distributing the whole load out to prearranged “wholesalers” who bought in bulk.

These distributors would then dispose of their loads by breaking down the shipment into a smaller amount of cases and selling through their own established network of “salesmen” to the public. Individual cartons of 10 packs per carton which was very common to buy.

Confiscated smuggled cigarettes
Confiscated smuggled cigarettes

Another major outlet for Italian organized crime was through the individual sale of single packs of cigarettes. They were able to accomplish this through their almost ironclad control of the vending machine business. An old, dependable standby and a time-honored underworld racket.

Along with the mob’s control over, and their supplying, to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other retail establishments jukeboxes and pinball games they also commonly distributed cigarette machines.

In fact, cigarette machines were one of the more lucrative type vending machines they handled. As I discussed earlier in this expose, the sheer popularity of smoking cigarettes demanded that type of wide distribution.

The smoking public wanted the convenience of throwing a few coins into a nearby machine and having their favorite brand drop down through the slot for a quick and easy nicotine fix as it were. Whether it be a pack of Marlboro, Parliament, Camel, or any other number of brands these machines carried, cigarette machines became a major outlet for bootleggers.

Side Note: It had been well documented that major racketeers and mafiosi were often at the top of the vending racket. Genovese bosses Tommy Eboli, Gerardo Catena, Mike Miranda, among many others held ownership in Tryan Cigarette Service, Runyon Sales Corp., and Bally Corp., respectively. These companies were among the largest vending machine outfits in the Big Apple.

There were literally hundreds of other mafiosi from all Five Families, as well as other top mafiosi throughout the country who dominated this field. Buttlegging and vending machines went together like “bread and butter.”

Most vending machine racketeers were not smugglers themselves but were allied with mob guys who were. But of the ones who did operate both rackets, it became an extremely lucrative racket field of endeavor.

A “cradle to grave” kind of thing where they were able to buy the smokes down south for a pittance, and then got top dollar up in New York through “retail” sales in vending machines. This provided a huge profit margin to work off of. What could be better, right?

Well, I’ll tell you what could be better! The fact that up until the later 1960s, the smuggling and sales of untaxed cigarettes was only a misdemeanor in New York City and New York State. Other states had the same toothless laws on the books as well.

For many years smuggling was not even considered a priority by law enforcement. Most guys who were even arrested got off with a simple violation or misdemeanor conviction. Ninety-nine percent of those convicted paid only a small fine and received either a clean dismissal or at worst a probation or “suspended” sentence of 60 or 90 days to 6 months.

Of the notorious few who had such a long criminal record of repeat cigarette smuggling arrests and convictions, the most anybody got was a bullet in the can (1 year in jail)…but that was a rare occurrence.

News reports of cigarette smuggling
News reports of cigarette smuggling

A good example of this is when reviewing the arrest statistics for 1970. Of the 141 arrests made for either transporting, possession, or sale of untaxed cigarettes made that year only one person received a jail sentence. Thirty-nine defendants were fined between $5.00 and $250.00 each, charges were dismissed outright against 82 defendants, and the remaining cases were pending.

Now, I ask you, with that kind of potential profit structure built-in and the minor fines and risk involved, is it any wonder cigarette smuggling became a popular racket back then? Of course not! I’m actually surprised that even more mob guys didn’t delve into the racket because of this.

After several major racket probes and empaneled subsequent grand juries, state legislature was finally enacted to make the smuggling, possession, or sale of untaxed cigarettes a felony. But even then the maximum penalty was only four years imprisonment…It changed little.

It was popular enough that each of the Five Families had various soldiers and associates who did indeed dabble in the racket. There were certain crews or individual mobsters who more or less specialized in smuggling. Paramount among the Five Family structure was the Colombo, Lucchese and Genovese Families.

The Colombo Family was probably the most deeply enmeshed in the racket. Their involvement has been well documented over the years. And although many Colombo associates handled untaxed cigarettes, undoubtedly any list of “first among equals” would have to include mob figure Anthony Granata.

Based out of Brooklyn, Granata became a notorious figure to authorities regarding smuggling. He was arrested numerous times on cigarette smuggling related charges. He controlled a huge network of smugglers who handled their own A to Z organization for the wholesale purchase and ultimate disposal of an untold number of truckloads of butts over a series of years.

An example of one of his arrests was in March of 1973. Granata and five in his crew of smugglers were arrested for transporting 11,000 cartons of cigarettes from Weldon, North Carolina into New York. Police arrested the six as they were unloading the truckload of illegal smokes into a Flatbush, Brooklyn warehouse.

The Brooklyn District Attorney estimated that Granata’s ring had cost the city and state $11,000,000 a year in sales and excise taxes. They were all charged with possession of untaxed cigarettes, and Granata was additionally charged with having offered a $7,500 bribe to one of the arresting officers.

Smuggler Anthony Granata nabbed!
Smuggler Anthony Granata nabbed!

It was Granata’s sixth arrest for cigarette smuggling. NYS had previous tax assessments and civil judgments against him for a whopping $2,500,000 related to his smuggling convictions. But because he ostensibly owned no assets, not a red cent had ever been collected from him.

Prosecutors said that Granata’s ring smuggled an average of 100,000 cartons per week into New York, for a steady loss of $230,000 in tax revenue. They would typically sell to consumers for $3.70 per carton as opposed to the normal price of from $4.70 to $5.00. They already had a solid profit built into the $3.70.

As a comparison, in North Carolina, a retail pack sells for .29 cents. In New York, that same pack sells for between .65-70 cents…a huge markup and disparity because of the heavy tax levy imposed. Organized crime worked the spread.

Law enforcement authorities said that Granata controlled a thirty-man organized crime smuggling ring that operated six days a week dispatching truck drivers down to North Carolina on a rotation to haul back 100,000 cartons a week. This went on for many years.

To show the extent of his operation, within one seven-month period from September 1966 thru April 1967, the Granata gang moved over 1,109,920 cartons into New York.

Treasury agents crack down!
Treasury agents crack down!

Another spinoff operation of Granata’s was that of Joseph (Sam) Pontillo. He was a top subordinate of Granata who later handled part of the day-to-day operations once Granata became too “hot.”

Pontillo was nabbed in 1968 with 2,200 cartons of smokes in New Jersey. In 1969 he was arrested again in possession of 3,600 cartons of untaxed cigarettes after leaving a “drop” in New York.

The city of Charlotte, North Carolina was the most popular location to buy the cigarettes. They had the lowest prices because of the low .2 cent taxes there. But other cities and states such as those of Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina were also good sources for smugglers, especially after federal officials began investigating and cracking down on North Carolina’s distributors.

Millions upon millions of dollars in bulk sales that the Sales & Excise Tax-Task Force investigators say cost the city of New York millions in lost revenue.

By the late 1970s, the tide had started to turn with the passage of a new law making it a federal crime and an automatic felony for the possession or transportation of more than three hundred cartons of illicit cigarettes across any state line. A crime now punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine on each count.

With the passage of this new law in November of 1978 to combat the smugglers, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) of the U.S. Treasury Department now had jurisdiction.

The result was an all-out assault like never before by both local, state, and federal authorities on the traffickers. “The Federal Cigarette Bootlegging Contraband Law” slowly but surely started to yield the desired results.

A prime example of this was in 1980. Two top Colombo Family associates were nabbed along with seven other bootleg ring members on federal charges for the transportation and possession of untaxed cigarettes.

Charged with operating a major multimillion-dollar a year Mafia-run cigarette smuggling and distribution network, they both were immediately jailed on $250,000 bond by a federal judge.

Future Colombo Family “soldier” Joseph (Joe Legs) Legrano, and Family “associate” Vincent (Jimmy G) Gati, both of Staten Island, were picked up in connection with the alleged $13,000,000 bootlegging operation that NYS Taxation and Finance Commissioner James H. Tully Jr., said had defrauded the State of New York of more than $5,000,000 in taxes over a period of four years.

Now, it could be argued that Granata, Legrano, and those like them were doing the general public a big favor by saving the average person a shitload of money. A “Robin Hood and his Merry Band of Hoodlums” sort of thing… But somehow I don’t think the authorities saw it quite that way. Lol

Another big spinoff racket seemingly created overnight became the hijacking of tractor-trailers coming into the New York and Tristate area carrying loads of legitimate cigarettes from major manufacturers. The Philip Morris Company, the A.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company and other national brands that shipped their products into the region became major targets of professional thieves and mob truck hijackers.

Always a specialty of the mob to begin with, grabbing a tractor-trailer filled with a $300,000 or $400,000 load of legitimate cigarettes became easy pickings. Snatching trailer loads of cigarettes on an almost weekly basis became big business for mob hijackers.

Buttleggers get nabbed!
Buttleggers get nabbed!

Surnames that would later on become well known in gangland were involved in illegal cigarette trafficking almost from the beginning. A few good examples of this were the aforementioned future Colombo soldier Joseph (Joe Legs) Legrano, Joseph(Crazy Joey) Gallo, Gregory Scarpa Sr., Joseph (Joe Lane) Gentile, and Rosario (Black Sam) Nastasa.

Not to be outdone by their mafia contemporaries, Lucchese Family soldier Michael (Big Mike) LaBarbara was a well-known hood who also dabbled in the untaxed-cigarette trade, which he had an arrest for by the mid-1960s.

LaBarbara was tied into the Paul Vario regime, a notorious capo who within a decade would gain infamy with his disciple Jimmy (The Gent) Burke, who was another cigarette hijacker, for their involvement in the $5.8-Million dollar robbery at JFK International Airport in Queens, NY.

Other Vario crew members active in cigarette bootlegging included soldiers Bruno Facciolo and Danny Cutaia from the Canarsie section of Brooklyn who ran distribution rings in that area of Kings County.-Lucchese mobster Savino (Sam) DeBendictus was a convicted mob hijacker and gambler also deeply immersed in the vending machine rackets. He owned two vending firms in Hicksville, Long Island.

The veteran Lucchese soldiers, brothers James and Felice Falco, aka Jimmy and Philly Black, were also engaged in the vending machine racket in Queens and Long Island for decades. They operated in the regime of Tony Ducks Corallo and later Ettore (Eddie) Coco.

In 1971, future Lucchese bigwig Aniello (Neil) Migliore was tied to the cigarette smuggling trade as a “behind the scenes” financier.

In an extensive Newsday expose on the racket, Migliore was said to be the money man behind a multimillion-dollar North Carolina to New York City trafficking ring that ran a steady suitcase filled with $100,000 down to wholesalers on a regular basis in order to purchase and then smuggle back in false bottom trucks full truckloads of smokes.

And of course, if Migliore was involved then his longtime capo and direct superior Joseph (Joey Narrow) Laratro was as well. No doubt Laratro was the real source of funds that fueled the operation.

The wealthy Laratro had relocated down to Hallandale, Florida in 1971. Nonetheless, Neil continued to oversee their rackets and dutifully reported to Laratro on a monthly basis for years thereafter.

Another important facet of the racket was the stealing of state-issued cigarette “tax stamp” machines. By snatching these “official” state-owned machines the bootleg racketeers could now attach a legitimate tax stamp to each pack or cigarettes…that made them “golden.”

In time, the more sophisticated of the gangs even started manufacturing their own machines to produce “counterfeit” tax stamps for the same purpose. It allowed the traffickers to now sell seemingly “legitimate” cigarettes through the thousands of vending machines the mafia controlled throughout New York City, its neighboring territories, and adjoining states.

A tax-stamp counterfeiting machine
A tax-stamp counterfeiting machine

Now, instead of having to surreptitiously sell unstamped cartons of cigarettes out of car trunks, gas stations, candy stores and bars at cut-rate bargain prices, the bootleggers could now get top dollar for their product by selling them right in the open to the public and charging full retail prices for a pack from cigarette vending machines…this was a major score and a half!

For many years cigarette bootlegging became one of the most profitable and low-risk underworld rackets around. It was often likened to what alcohol bootlegging had been for the underworld back in the 1920s.

But as time passed the steady use of the newly enacted “RICO Law” of 1970 (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) would slowly become the deterrent law enforcement had always sought to finally help stem the flow of the illegal cigarette trade.

By the early 1980s, cigarette bootlegging by Cosa Nostra no longer held the same allure as it once did for them.

Between the newly discovered health hazards of smoking, coupled with new national campaigns to dissuade the public from its use, the consumer desire wasn’t there any longer…It became the old law of “supply and demand.”

Regardless of the mob’s desire to continue the racket, the profit was just no longer there for them. When the racketeers considered their vastly reduced consumer base and the now draconian penalties of up to twenty years in prison under the RICO statute, the cigarette bootlegging racket soon faded out.


As a devout mob researcher and historian, I consider the decline of the cigarette bootlegging racket a prime example of the smaller “footprint” that Cosa Nostra in general has today.

The Mafia has always survived and thrived because it was willing and able to provide an eager public with services the American people much desired, but that the United States government denied them.

Harkening all the way back to 1920 with the newly enacted Volstead Act that made the manufacture, possession, or sale of alcoholic beverages illegal. Liquor bootlegging became the catalyst and “cash cow” for over a decade to make many a racketeer very wealthy men while keeping the American public “wet” so to speak.

Likewise, because the pastime of gambling was an illegal activity denied to the public…enter the mob!

Whether it was the policy game (numbers), horse and sports betting or varied casino games, racketeers provided a key service and product that people wanted. The gambling “business” made millionaires out of many racket guys and made for steady and lucrative mob careers.

Pornography was another major cash cow for the mob. Sex sells whether it’s legal or not. Always has and always will. And for many decades it was a multimillion-dollar racket. Nearly all mob crews had some representation in the skin trade.

Illegal narcotics is another of many other products that was outlawed to a desiring public, which in turn gave many Cosa Nostra figures an opportunity to make big money.

Today, it is a very different story. Between “Lotto”, the Daily Number and a hundred other variations the government runs, the numbers racket is dead. OTB, or the off-track betting business has been legal for upwards of fifty years. So the horse business went out the window. And sports betting is on its way to become legal.

Everywhere you turn there is another legalized casino popping up. Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Upstate New York, Connecticut, Florida, etc….So mob guys who ran illegal floating dice games and underground casinos are like fossils today.

With the advent of the internet and the general legalization of the pornography industry, it went mainstream. The profit in it went out the window. The allure of it being an illicit, underground product provided by the underworld became a thing of the past. Although it’s still somewhat of a seedy trade, today many major legitimate companies and businessmen produce these films and photos. Click on the net and it’s right in front of you…for free no less!

Marijuana is now legal in many states. Pills and other narcotic type drugs are also easily accessible. So even the drug dealers are getting a run for their money.

Between online “Pay-Day” loan companies, credit card companies who beg you to open an account and take one of their cards, banks and so many other legal sources for money, even the neighborhood shylock has stiff competition today.

It is almost comical when you really think about it. What it really comes down to is that when the government wasn’t “in the business”, any of the above named industries were categorized as a “vicious racket” that preyed on an innocent public.

But once the government decided to go into that given “racket”, suddenly it was no longer a “vicious racket that preyed on the public and ruined lives”, but a wonderful “business” now able to generate a new revenue stream of taxes and employ thousands of people.

The narrative soon turned to a dialogue encouraging these activities in order to benefit and fund school budgets, build roads, etc. What happened? The moral abyss that they portrayed the dreaded gambling racket or liquor trade to be is no longer?

It has now somehow become an above board and wholesome activity that is encouraged and advertised nationwide on television, billboards, the internet, newspapers, and a hundred other ways in order to reach the public so they spend their money?

THIS is the duality and hypocritical position of our government. When they are not doing it, those who do are labeled “racketeers and hoodlums”. Once the government jumps into the water, then it’s all good and holy! …Lol, what a crock of shit huh?

Most importantly is that once they legalize a given former “racket”, they make sure to pursue any individual still involved in that activity with a vengeance…. arrest and conviction is the name of the game.

They try and jail people for doing the same exact thing that they do. Under the false pretense of “Law and Order.” I guess the government is like the Mafia in that regard. They wanna dominate the field. They don’t like the competition! 😎

Until next time…”The Other Guy!”

This article was originally posted “here

Mobster Tony “The Beaver” Ascenzia dead at 61

Tony “The Beaver” Ascenzia, one of the few remaining members of the Grasso crew has died at the age of 61. It is reported that this Connecticut Mafioso suffered a sudden heart attack.

During the 1970s and 80s, Ascenzia ran gambling rackets for the New England Patriarca crime family in the New Haven area, but his luck ran out in 2003 when he was arrested by the feds. It was estimated that through his extensive gambling operation, he was profiting close to $10 million per year. He was released in 2007 after spending three years behind bars.

Before he was arrested, Ascenzia was thinking long term regarding his finances. Through bugs and wiretapping, part of the FBI investigation revealed a discussion he had with his co-defendant Frances Gratta. The recordings were of the two men discussing the feasibility of transferring all their wealth offshore so it would still be there for them after they are released from prison.

Ascenzia was heard saying to Gratta, “We’ll scoop everything and send it out to the Cayman Islands. At least, when we come home, we’ll have something to come back to.”

I get the feeling though that when Gratta replied “I quit when I die”, it was not exactly what Ascenzia wanted to hear. Gratta obviously had no intention of putting his life of crime behind him.

Gratta worked closely with Ascenzia along with Anthony “The Dragon Fly” Fry, both of them were his most trusted members. Gratta worked out of a Meriden diner while Fry operated in Monroe County.

Ascenzia operated a large sports betting racket and many video-poker machines according to court records. He also kept things smooth and sorted out any problems with Genovese and Gambino organization members.

Ascenzia climbed the ranks of the mob under the particularly unpredictable New England mafia underboss William “The Wild Guy” Grasso. In 1989, Grasso was killed during a war between the Boston and Providence factions of the Patriarca crime family.

This article was originally posted “here

Hairspray Homicide: Buffalo Salon Owner Ran Afoul Of Magaddino Crime Family, Paid With His Life

July 27, 2020 – The Buffalo Police Department is looking for new tips in the cold-case gangland slaying of celebrity hairstylist and reputed drug dealer Peter (Pixie Stix Pete) Piccolo 41 years ago. The Buffalo News printed a story on the high-profile homicide from the disco era Monday.

Piccolo, who was the hairdresser to the stars in Western New York in the 1970s, was found shot to death in his salon office in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood, on April 19. 1979. Informants told the FBI, that Piccolo had burned the Buffalo mafia in a cocaine deal.

When he was killed, he was in the process of revolutionizing the fashion and beauty industry in the working-class enclave that borders Canada, having become a media darling for the local press all while battling serious debt and drug addiction. Piccolo’s murder was one of five drug-related homicides in Buffalo in the spring of ’79.

At the time of the Piccolo hit, Buffalo’s Magaddino crime family was being lorded over by Sam (The Farmer) Frangimore and Joe Pieri — both long deceased. Including the Piccolo case, there are ten unsolved gangland homicides from the 1970s.

Prior to his death, Piccolo founded the Peter Piccolo School of Hair Design. The school didn’t close until 1994.

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‘Veal shank’ mobster and two other Luccheses get life in prison

A trio of reputed New York mobsters — including one who was accused of plotting to break out of jail by losing weight — were sentenced to life in prison Monday for carrying out a Bronx hit in 2013.

A slimmed-down Christopher Londonio, Matthew Madonna and Terrence Caldwell were all given life in federal court in White Plains for the slaying of former Purple Gang leader Michael Meldish in Throggs Neck in 2013.

Madonna, the former acting boss of the Lucchese family, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy for ordering the hit over an unpaid gambling debt.

At his sentencing Monday, an elderly Madonna continued to plead his innocence.

“I am innocent. I had absolutely nothing to do with the tragic death of Michael Meldish. I conspired with no one,” he said.

Londonio, a friend of Meldish’s, was convicted of luring him out of his house and driving him to the scene of the hit, where Caldwell blasted him.

While awaiting trial for the slaying, prosecutors accused Londonio of plotting to escape the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn by losing a huge amount of weight and using braided dental floss to begin “perforating the glass” at the lockup.

The alleged crash-diet prison break plan landed Londonio on the front page of The Post with the headline “The Veal Shank Redemption,” but he was later acquitted of the escape charge.

A lawyer for Londonio previously said he intends to appeal his conviction.

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Death In Connecticut: New England Mobster “Beaver” Ascenzia Drops Dead Of A Heart Attack

July 27, 2020 – The Reaper took the Beaver.

Connecticut mafia figure Tony (The Beaver) Ascenzia died of a sudden heart attack last week at 61. He was one of the last remaining members of the old Grasso crew.

Ascenzia ran gambling affairs for New England’s Patriarca crime family in the New Haven area, the heart of Grasso crew turf throughout the 1970s and 80s. When he was busted by the feds in 2004, it was estimated the beefy wiseguy’s gambling rackets were clearing close to $10,000,000 per year. He did three years in prison and was released in August 2007.

Per court records, Ascenzia ran sizeable sports betting and numbers businesses for the Patriarca’s Connecticut branch. Tony the Beaver came up in the mob under notoriously erratic New England mafia underboss Billy (The Wild Man) Grasso, who was killed in the summer of 1989 amid a shooting war pitting the Patriarca’s Boston and Providence wings against each other. Since Grasso’s murder, the Connecticut regime of the Patriarca clan has reported to Providence.

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BMF’s Head Of Security P.J. Buford Won’t Be Coming Home Early, Judge 86s Plea For Compassionate Release

July 26, 2020 – A federal judge in Detroit rejected Black Mafia Family soldier Paul (P.J.) Buford’s compassionate release motion last week, undeterred by the fact that the 50-year old former head of security for both BMF and the then-fledgling  rap label, Bad Boy Records, battled the Coronavirus and won. U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson denied Buford’s motion in a July 17 ruling.

Lawson is currently mulling a compassionate release for BMF founder Demetrius (Big Meech) Flenory. He sprung Big Meech’s baby brother and BMF co-boss, Terry (Southwest T) Flenory back in May on a compassionate release order in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, letting Southwest T go free six years early to home confinement at his mother’s house in Ecorse, Michigan.

Without judicial intervention, Big Meech Flenory won’t be eligible for parole until 2032. As of right now, P.J. Buford’s scheduled out-date is in 2025. Buford is serving his time in a federal correctional institute in California.

According to DEA records, Buford was one of the Flenory brothers top enforcers from early on in their rise to meteoric heights in the dope game all the way until the end when BMF was crushed by the historic Operation Motor City Mafia bust in 2005. The Flenorys founded BMF in Detroit in 1990 and quickly grew the organization to the point where they had franchises spread across the country and were making hundreds of millions of dollars profiting from wholesale cocaine trafficking.

Big Meech moved to Atlanta. Southwest T took off to Los Angeles with Buford. Per court filings, Buford was Terry Flenory’s bodyguard and head-of-security for BMF affairs on the west coast. More than one DEA informant alleges the Flenorys provided hip-hop mogul Sean (Puff Daddy) Combs the money to start Bad Boys Records in 1993. Bad Boy Records, featuring a star-studded roster of rap powerhouses like Notorious B.I.G., Mase, Lil’ Kim and Jadakiss, proved to be the bedrock of Puff Daddy’s music and fashion empire.

Buford soon became Combs’ personal bodyguard and the iconic New York label’s security chief. Combs’ first cousin, Darryl (Poppa D) Taylor, was a BMF soldier as well. Buford and Taylor were both nailed in the Operation Motor City Mafia case and Buford went on the run for four years making his way on to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. He was apprehended during a routine traffic stop in 2009 in Mississippi.

The story of the Flenorys and BMF is being turned into content for cable television in a highly-anticipated upcoming scripted series produced by rapper 50 Cent at the Starz network. 50 Cent sent Southwest T a Rolls Royce as a welcome home present last month.

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Throwing Hands In Honolulu: The Night The NFL Pro Bowler Brawled With The Big Island Mob Boss

July 25, 2020 – NFL star offensive lineman Trent Williams went toe-to-toe with alleged Hawaiian crime boss Michael (Brother Mike) Miske and ended up in the emergency room and then on the sidelines for his first Pro Bowl back in 2013.

Williams, 32, is arguably the best right tackle in the game and has made seven straight Pro Bowls. Squaring off with Miske in a nightclub brawl probably wasn’t the best idea though and Williams had to be taken to the hospital for doctors to stich up his head after Miske, a career criminal with 10 convictions on his rap sheet, allegedly cracked him square in the forehead with a champaign bottle.

At the time of the altercation, Williams, a first-round NFL Draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2010, played for the Washington Redskins. He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in April.

The 46-year old Miske and 10 co-defendants were indicted in a bulging federal RICO case last week filed in Honolulu, charged with murder, kidnapping, drug dealing, robbery and bank fraud. Two of those co-defendants, his half-brother and reputed No. 2 man John (Johnny Flat Top) Stancil and his bodyguard Michael (Mike B) Buntenbah, were arrested with him in the Williams assault.

According to police report and NFL security records, Williams was in a group of Pro Bowlers partying in the VIP section of the M nightclub in the early hours of January 26, 2013 that were asked to leave because of unruly behavior. Williams and others were spraying champaign and scuffled with the nightclub’s bouncers when approached about stopping. In the midst of the commotion, Miske hit Williams over the head with a bottle of Don Perignon and a bouncer tasered a member of the NFL entourage.

Staying true to the code of the streets, Williams refused to testify against Brother Mike Miske and his crew and the case was eventually dismissed in June of that year. Miske’s M nightclub was shut down in 2016 after numerous run-ins with the state’s liquor commission. Miske faces the death penalty if convicted in his RICO case.

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