Wild West Breaks Out In West Bloomfield: Shootout In The Suburbs Tied To Detroit Dope Game

June 21, 2020 – According to sources, a drug beef led to Omar Coney and Demetrius Sanders trying to kill Tony Yasso last week as he arrived home at his residence in West Bloomfield, Michigan, an affluent suburb of Detroit.

The botched hit turned into a shootout and Yasso killed Sanders on his front lawn instead. Coney, a convicted felon sporting a long rap sheet, was arrested in the minutes after the shooting due to a 911 tip identifying his black-colored Dodge Charger fleeing from the scene. Yasso and Coney were both wounded in the incident. A piece of paper with Yasso’s name and address on it was found in Coney’s vehicle.

The attempted murder and home invasion were a result of a marijuana deal gone bad between Yasso and members of a Detroit drug crew, per sources. Coney, 47, is being held on a 1.5 million-dollar bond. Sanders was 37. Brandishing weapons, they had accosted the 31-year old Yasso as he walked from his garage to his front door. Yasso was armed and starting blasting. He was treated for his gun shot wound at a local hospital and released.

Yasso, who is an Iraqi Christian, owns two Happy’s Pizza franchises in Detroit. Happy’s Pizza was founded by Happy Asker in the 1990s and today has dozens of outlets all throughout the Midwest. Asker’s cousin, Sal, was a member of the Iraqi mob in Detroit in the 1980s and acted a driver for then-street boss Harry (The Blonde) Kalasho.

Shortly after Kalasho was slain in a gangland hit in 1989, Sal Asker entered the Witness Protection Program and went on to become the star witness at a big forthcoming trial. The Iraqi mob controlled drug and gambling activity in Northwest Detroit and the surrounding suburbs at that time. In April 1997, Asker was lured back to Detroit and killed in the hours following giving a taped recantation of his testimony at an attorney’s office.

The DEA has investigated the Happy’s Pizza franchise for drug links. Happy was nailed for tax fraud and sent to prison for three years (2015-2018). One federal document from 2016 contended that the majority of Happy’s Pizza 54 franchisees had criminal backgrounds and were either convicted or suspect narcotics dealers.

Original Post https://gangsterreport.com/wild-west-breaks-out-in-west-bloomfield-shootout-in-the-suburbs-tied-to-detroit-dope-game/

Gaetano C. Ocera – “The Good Hearted Goodfella”

By The Other Guy | June 21, 2020

Tommy Ocera
Tommy Ocera

Gaetano C. (Tommy) Ocera – aka “T.O.”, “Beansie”, “Thomas Nocera” – was born on June 18, 1931 in South Brooklyn to Francesco (Frank) and Angelina (Angie) Ocera, and grew up at 2832 W. 15th Street.

He had two legitimate brothers, Charlie and Robert, who would later join him in several businesses he operated. And as a good older brother should, Tommy always watched out for them in life.

(on right) Tommy as a young Marine
(on right) Tommy as a young Marine

Ocera stood about 5-feet 8-inches tall and weighed a lean and muscular 150 lbs. He had dark brown eyes and wavy hair. He also had a quiet and pleasant demeanor and was a good looking man who was widely liked by all who met him.

He married young to a childhood sweetheart named Theresa (Terrie), and together they raised a family of five beautiful baby girls. Tommy kept on making babies hoping for a boy, but alas it was not to be. Still, he was a fabulous father and loved his girls devoutly.

By the early-1960s he had relocated with his wife and young family out to Nassau County on Long Island. They bought a beautiful waterfront splanch-style home at 3294 Hewlett Avenue in tony Merrick that backed the canals of the Great South Bay leading to the Atlantic Ocean. It is where he would reside for the remainder of his life.

He also later purchased a sprawling horse farm up at New Paltz, in Upstate New York, that he would visit quite often as a getaway.

In his youth, Ocera grew up with many future members of the Profaci/Colombo Family, as well as future mob guys of other Families.

1950 - Tommy (w/horse sweater) arrested with his young gang
1950 – Tommy (w/horse sweater) arrested with his young gang

He ran with several 1950s street gangs of that era and was very close to such future notorious mafiosi as Ferdinand (Freddy Red) DeLucia, Salvatore (Sally Dee) D’Ambrosio and his twin brother Alphonse (Funzi Dee), and Dominick (Mimi) Scialo among many others.

Side Note: As a 19-year old teenager in 1950, Ocera was arrested one evening along with sixteen other young gang members as they were on their way to a major “rubble” with an opposing street gang. It was the stuff of “West Side Story and was reported on in the local newspapers at the time.

Arrested along with Tommy were several future mob guys; Colombo members Freddy (No-Nose) DeLucia, Bernard Dolcemaschio, Johnny (Tarzan) Lusterino, and DeCavalcante soldier Louie Telese.

As a kid Tommy was athletically inclined and took to boxing. He trained in local gyms and fought in the Golden Gloves. During a stint in the U.S. Marines as a young man, he became one of the Marine Corps top fighters on their boxing team.

Fighting as a welterweight, Ocera compiled an envious record in the ring. He was widely listed as one of the toughest boxers in the Corp. It was a skill that would serve him well in later life, and the “profession” he would chose for himself.

(kneeling 2nd from left) posing on the Marine’s Boxing Team
(Kneeling 2nd from left) posing on the Marine’s Boxing Team

Side Note: It was said that although Tommy could be devastating with his hands, he was not an inherently vicious or violent person. In fact, Ocera enjoyed the widely held reputation as that of a warm, engaging and friendly guy. And although he could be characterized as a mafioso, that he was indeed a friend to many, and had a heart of gold…a rarity in the underworld.

Back home in Brooklyn after his time in the Marines, Ocera worked a series of odd jobs but eventually gravitated to the food industry for which he found he had a knack.

Side Note: Probably Ocera’s first exposure to the food industry was as a teenager. He was one of many neighborhood boys who worked part-time after school for Family boss Giuseppe (Joe) Profaci at his Mamma-Mia Tomato Packing Company plant in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The kids either worked in Profaci’s warehouse, on a packing assembly, or on delivery trucks.

He first started as a supplier of Italian-style food products to restaurants, delis and pizzerias throughout Kings County, and later expanded into Queens and Long Island. He and his younger brother Charlie operated under several names; Ocera Cheese Corp., Pizza Boy, and others.

It brought him into contact with several men whom he would later associate within a fledgling wholesale cheese and mozzarella manufacturing business named Falcone Dairies, and still later in the partnership of an Alburg cheese manufacturing plant up in Alburg, New York.

Family boss - Giuseppe (Joe) Profaci
Family boss – Giuseppe (Joe) Profaci

This would end up being a major swindle against a dairy farmers cooperative that was bilked of over $1,000,000 in mozzarella products over a years time in a complex scheme they operated.

Side Note: Ocera would actually testify under oath in court for the defense, on behalf of his partners, the brothers Salvatore and Vincent Falcone and Joe Curreri, after they were federally indicted for bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy charges in relation to the Alburg Creamery swindle.

Tommy Ocera was considered a very sharp and astute businessman, as well as a hoodlum.

Over the years he either started, bought, or developed a number of very successful businesses, not the least of which was a major catering hall in Massapequa he named The Manor East, located at the corner of Broadway and Jersusalem Avenue. It was situated on a large plot of land that he later purchased as well.


Side Story: There is a little known, but true story bantered around among Colombo guys through the years about the time in the early 1970s that FBI Agent Bernard Welsh had gone to The Manor East in Massapequa, Long Island and was at the bar drinking and started to harass the owner, future Colombo soldier Tommy Ocera, manager Joe Black and several other mob guys.Known as a big boozer, Welsh was getting drunk and very nasty toward them, calling them dumb guineas, greaseballs, and cheap hoodlums.

As a young boxer back in Brooklyn
As a young boxer back in Brooklyn

He commented that he didn’t think Ocera was as tough as everybody made him out to be (Tommy was a former professional boxer). Pretty soon Ocera had had enough. He told Bernie in no uncertain terms that if Welsh didn’t have that FBI badge on, he’d show him just how tough he was. Welsh agreed to take the badge off and then proceeded to challenge Ocera to go a round or two, out in the catering hall parking lot…lol.

Well, they went outside, with everybody else tagging along behind… As gentlemen, they both agreed that no matter who won, there would be no repercussions. That this would stay “off the record” so to speak. [FBI agent Welsh, who stood about 6’-3” tall and weighed in at a solid 260lbs., vs. Colombo soldier Ocera, who weighed no more than 150lbs soaked and wet, and was a modest 5’-8” at best]…hardly a contest right?

Welsh took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves, ready to show this Brooklyn hoodlum just who was the boss. He threw a left hook, and swung a heavy right hand…Ocera ducked, blocked, and hit Bernie right on the button…it was over in a matter of seconds.

The FBI agent collapsed like an accordion right to the ground. Out like a light, unconscious!… “and that was that” as they say in the vernacular! Needless to say, the hulking Irishman had a lot more respect for Brooklyn’s Italian hoodlums after that one.
…and now, back to the main story.


Previous to that venture, Ocera had owned another large restaurant-bar and club called the Merrick Manor in Bellmore. It was a bustling eatery that served over 500 to 700 diners on a busy evening. By 1966, he went ahead and also purchased the building and property that the business sat on.

Tommy in the “Winners Circle” with one his horses
Tommy in the “Winners Circle” with one his horses

He also held ownership, or a partnership interest in several other pizzerias, restaurants, delis, as well as real estate and income properties in Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore, and Massapequa. A natural gas company, stocks and securities deals, and breeding racehorses over the years.

T.O. was nobody’s fool. And in time he became known as a “money maker”, and a very sharp business guy.

He was widely known and accepted by the general Long Island business community and local politicians and became somewhat of a public figure in successfully promoting his various business ventures over the years.

But the flip side of Ocera was a bit darker.

He held longtime friendships since boyhood and was partnered with some of the most notorious of Brooklyn’s hoodlums through his lifetime.

Salvatore (Sally D) D’Ambrosio as a boxer
Salvatore (Sally D) D’Ambrosio as a boxer

During his early years on the Island, he also befriended the likes of boss Carlo Gambino himself, who often attended affairs at Ocera’s catering hall with several of his key aides such as Ettore (Terry) Zappi and his son Anthony Zappi, Frank (Frankie Dap) Dapolito and others.

But it was Ocera’s old Brooklyn friends, many of whom had become top members of the Colombo Family, that brought Tommy into the “fold” so to speak, of Cosa Nostra.

Side Note: As a young hood, his closest ally, and the man who would groom Tommy for the future was Profaci soldier Salvatore D’Ambrosio. It was this friendship above all others that Ocera reveled in. He loved Sally like a brother.

Colombo soldier Salvatore D’Ambrosio
Colombo soldier Salvatore D’Ambrosio

Tommy was officially “with” D’Ambrosio, and in later years after D’Ambrosio’s death Ocera would gravitate to Sally’s twin brother Funzi, who was also a soldier in that borgata.

As time went on, Tommy would serve as a top “associate member” under several soldiers and captains of the Family until his day finally came to also take the “oath” of membership and become a “soldato”, or soldier within their group. That day came in the early-1980s. It was thought that approximately 1982-83 was the date of his “baptism” into the Colombo borgata.

Among his friendships of top mafiosi and racketeers besides the D’Ambrosio brothers were: Joseph Colombo Sr; John (Sonny) Franzese; Alphonse (Allie Lamont) Giannatasio; the Persico brothers – Carmine (Junior), Alphonse (Allie Boy), and Theodore (Teddy); Vito (Little Vic) Orena Sr and his sons; Benedetto (Benny) Aloi; Pasquale (Big Patty) Amato; and Thomas Petrizzo…among others not listed.


SIDE STORY

In 1969, soldiers Salvatore D’Ambrosio and Ferdinand DeLucia disappeared off the face of the earth one afternoon.

Tommy as a Champion Marine boxer
Tommy as a Champion Marine boxer

Only hours after their double murder, an unsuspecting Ocera was lured to a hotel room, where he barely survived a vicious beating with blackjacks and fists, at the hands of a half-dozen Colombo soldiers under orders by the boss himself, who had suspected Ocera of plotting a coup in cahoots with DeLucia and D’Ambrosio to overthrow Joe Colombo and seize the Family throne. 

Only Tommy’s tremendous skills as a former boxer helped him survive the attack which left him gravely injured, unconscious, and requiring extensive reconstructive surgery to his face (it wasn’t intended that he survive).

After several months in the hospital recuperating, Joe Colombo invited Tommy to his home on a Sunday afternoon. Italian readers will know that Sunday is a sacred day to the Italian people and typically spent home with the immediate family. 

Boss - Joseph Colombo Sr.
Boss – Joseph Colombo Sr.

Scared to death to go, but also scared to death not to show up, Ocera nonetheless made the fateful decision and proceeded to the boss’ Brooklyn home.

Upon walking through the front door, Tommy immediately saw one of Joe’s small grandchildren scurry through the foyer bouncing a ball.

He breathed a deep sigh of relief, instantly realizing that Joe would never allow a mob murder to take place in the presence of his precious grandchildren. 

After having a candid heart-to-heart talk over espresso, with Tommy swearing his ignorance to whatever might have been plotted by the deceased Family soldiers, Boss Joe Colombo gave Ocera a pass, swearing on his grandchildren’s eyes that no further retribution would be forthcoming against Ocera.

…and now, back to our main story.


Ocera’s restaurants and lounges became a magnet for wiseguys, and in time nearly everybody who was anybody in the mob ended up frequenting his establishments. It was a very good thing…And it was a very bad thing.

His watering holes and eateries did a booming business, but it eventually brought him to the attention of both local and federal law enforcement. Especially after his close associate and sometime partner Little Vic Orena was tapped to become the “acting boss” over the entire Colombo borgata.

Orena soon made his buddy Tommy’s newest venture, The Manor Restaurant & Lounge along Sunrise Highway in Merrick, his favorite new daily hangout. Opened in 1988, The Manor served some of the very best Italian cuisine Long Island had to offer. He put his brother Robert as the executive chef in the kitchen.

Side Note: Tommy himself was an accomplished chef, who knew his way around the kitchen almost as well as he knew his way around the inside of a boxing ring.

Tommy and mgr. Joe Black with food display at The Manor East Caterers
Tommy and mgr. Joe Black with food display at The Manor East Caterers

Over the next year, nearly every member and important associate of their borgata would repeatedly visit that restaurant. In addition, many mafiosi of the other four New York crews also came to either dine, or hold “sitdowns” with the Colombo hierarchy over various deals, “beefs”, or discrepancies between the Families.

It put a bullseye like never before directly on Tommy Ocera’s back as it were, and it would also spell the beginning of the end for the quiet, now middle-aged mafioso.

By mid-1989, agents from both the Nassau and Suffolk County Rackets Squad and the FBI were surveilling The Manor daily. They would sit in unmarked cars in the parking lot of the Long Island Railroad, located directly across the street on Sunrise Highway with cameras.

The Manor Restaurant had become the hottest show in town to see wiseguys. The FBI didn’t even have to scour New York City or the Island anymore, visiting the various mob social clubs and watering holes to track their mob subjects.

They’d gather up the traditional tools of their trade: cameras, pens and pad, thermoses of coffee, donuts, and sandwiches, and just sit tight out front Ocera’s joint to see what amounted to a “who’s who” of Cosa Nostra figures on parade, coming and going daily.

Although he was now a “wiseguy”, Tommy would continue to operate in the low-key manner that was always his style. It served him well in that he made plenty of money, but avoided the dreaded scrutiny of law enforcement that usually came along with the title.

Dominick (Mimi) Scialo
Dominick (Mimi) Scialo

But his continued success did indeed come along with a heavy price. Many in his own Family, as well as others, became jealous over time, of Ocera’s growing wealth and seemingly unending success.

Tommy seemed to have the “goldentouch”, in that everything he involved himself with, soon turned to gold…and it broke some hoodlums balls. Especially guys who had no street savvy or business talent, and were “brokesters” as we call them in the business.

In years to come, this “jealousy” and envy would come home to hurt Ocera in ways he couldn’t have foreseen.

By mid-1989, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office had enough evidence to get a court-authorized wiretap on The Manor.

In a blackbag job late one evening, detectives installed several strategically placed “bugs” in, and around the inside of the restaurant including Tommy’s personal office, the bar, several back dining tables that Little Vic and his disciples were known to eat at, and a hallway leading to the men’s room…they then waited and listened.

Whatever they heard or didn’t hear, within a month or two after the listening devices were installed, Rackets Squad detectives ended up raiding the eatery.

They seized various checkbooks, record and ledger books, handwritten papers, and an address book that police would later claim held semi-coded notations in reference to a large shylock racket that Ocera allegedly headed for the Family.

Authorities claimed that Ocera was the “banker” of a far-flung loan shark operation with an estimated $750,000 “on the streets” in outstanding usurious loans.

Ferdinand (Freddy Red) DeLucia
Ferdinand (Freddy Red) DeLucia

Unbeknownst to Ocera, Vic Orena, and the rest of their membership, it was the start of a multi-pronged law enforcement effort to break the back of the Colombo Family’s growing influence and racket operations on the Island, and their Queens and Brooklyn factions as well.

Additionally, police and their federal partners started looking into a variety of schemes and rackets run by the Long Island contingent of the Family.

Soon the investigation expanded. Ocera was now being probed as the “boss” of the loansharking ring, and for the continuing extortion of a major Suffolk County garbage-carting firm run by the Garofalo brothers.

The Garofalo’s were the son and nephew of two Colombo associated brothers from back in the 1960s and 70s who ran garbage rackets under the auspices of captain Carmine Persico at the time. They later both turned rat against several soldiers in the borgata, testifying in trials that convicted those members of hijacking trucks.

Their kids were now still locked into the Colombo’s, only now were treated like the pariahs and rats they’d become. They paid a monthly shakedown stipend, or “tribute” for the right to even exist.

Authorities also became aware of Tommy overseeing several Nassau County-based gambling clubs run by associates in his personal crew that offered high-stakes card games, video slot machines, and the occasional dice game to both Italian and Greek nationals.

Another part of the probe focused on a crew of mob associates Ocera personally headed, including one or two of whom he had “put up”, or “proposed” for membership into the borgata. All of them became targets of intense law enforcement scrutiny.

As summer turned to fall in 1989, all seemed quiet with the probe. Nothing much was happening, and Ocera’s daily life went on as usual.

Then on November 13, 1989, Tommy failed to show up at his place of business, and also missed an important appointment later that day, he previously had scheduled with his lawyer.

Carmine (Junior) Persico
Carmine (Junior) Persico

As day turned into night Ocera was still a no-show. He typically would spend his early day, and later evenings glad-handing and greeting guests at his popular eatery.

By nighttime his immediate family, as well as his close friends started to worry. It was very uncharacteristic of Ocera not to stay in touch with his daughters, brothers, and close associates daily.

He never came home that night, or any other night…In fact, he was never seen again.

Side Note: Months later, in May of 1990, Ocera and eight of his crew members were named in an indictment on loansharking, forgery, credit card fraud, and obstruction of justice charges by the Suffolk District Attorney’s office. They were accused of charging from 104%, up to 208% annual interest on multiple loans totaling over $750,000. Ocera was named as the head of the operation. But for Tommy it didn’t matter anyway.

It would take several years for the story to unfold of what actually had happened to Tommy that day. But as these type things sometimes do, the truth would come out after several longtime informants were arrested on other charges, and made a deal for their freedom with the FBI.

It seems that early on that fateful chilly November morning, Tommy had driven to the nearby Merrick home of his “capo”, Pasquale (Big Patty) Amato, for a prearranged meeting.

As Ocera entered through the front door and proceeded down the hallway into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a discussion with Amato, he was jumped by several fellow Colombo hoods who were lurking, hidden behind a wall.

Ocera arrested for gang war. Cops misspell his name “Nocera”
Ocera arrested for gang war. Cops misspell his name “Nocera”

And despite his abilities as a former professional boxer, able to defend himself against the best of them, the 155-pound Ocera was sucker punched and knocked to the kitchen floor by the hulking six foot-230 pound Amato, and quickly held down by several others, while soldier Gioacchino (Jackie) Leale and Amato pulled at opposite ends of a piano wire, tugging until the killers drained the life out of their former buddy and current victim.

Ocera’s body was then rolled up in a small carpet and placed into the trunk of a car that Leale had borrowed from his brother-in-law Harry Bonfiglio, a half-assed, loose associate of Leale (and unbeknownst at the time, also an active police informant).

Under Leale’s orders, Bonfiglio drove the car back to Queens, where Ocera’s body was later removed and buried in a shallow, makeshift grave by Leale and his bungling band of ne’er-do-well associates.

And that was that…or so his killers hoped and thought.

The FBI immediately started a deep probe into Ocera’s disappearance, as well as that of acting consigliere Vincent (Jimmy) Angellino, who had vanished only a year or so before Ocera in 1988.

Additionally, within months of the Ocera killing, the seeds of further discontentment and betrayal started churning within the belly of the beast itself.

The “acting powers” that be within the temporary Family hierarchy, boss Vic Orena and underboss Benny Aloi, as well as a few of their key caporegimes, liked the view from the top of the Colombo castle a bit too much.

They decided that they didn’t wanna be “acting”, or seat warmers for imprisoned formal boss Carmine Persico’s son Alphonse (Little Allie Boy), who was due to be paroled within a few short years, and would assume the formal leadership role of new “boss” of the borgata…and they started plotting against the Persico faction to “seize” the throne out from underneath them.

The result was the brewing of a bloody gangland war, the likes of which New York City, and the rest of the country for that matter, hadn’t seen since at least the early 1960s.

Many killings and shootings between the Orena and Persico factions would turn the Big Apple’s streets into a daily shooting gallery.

The FBI ended up making a full-court press against the Colombo’s to stop the bloodshed. The results were the wholesale arrests, convictions, and jailings of dozens upon dozens of Colombo hoods and mafiosi.

During this intense law enforcement offensive is when enough evidence was finally gathered by the FBI to indict Vic Orena and his current underboss Patty Amato for the Thomas Ocera homicide, as well as Colombo “war” crimes such as conspiracy to murder members of the opposition, possession of dangerous weapons, loansharking, extortion, and obstruction of justice charges.

Alphonse (Little Ally) Persico
Alphonse (Little Ally) Persico

Gioacchino Leale would have been indicted as well. But sensing that the authorities were closing in, its alleged that Little Vic gave the order to have Leale, who was always considered an idiot and a scurvy character to begin with, killed.

Side Note: In October, 1991, after learning of his pending indictment, Leale went “on the lam”, both from authorities seeking his arrest for the Ocera murder, and from his own “friends”, who he was now leery of because of their dissatisfaction over his bungling of the Ocera homicide.

Weeks later in November of 1991, he came out of hiding to meet someone he “trusted” in the parking lot of a Plainview, Long Island hotel. His trusted friend shot him repeatedly in the face and chest killing him instantly…leaving Leale massacred on the pavement…”poetic justice” as they say!

The federal chickens “came home to roost” nonetheless shortly thereafter. Orena and Amato were grabbed off the streets within a year of Leale’s murder, during the height and heat of the gangland battle for supremacy.

They were both held without bail as dangers to the community.

After a lengthy, highly publicized, and sometimes contentious federal murder trial, they were found guilty on all counts. Both received a mandatory life in prison sentence.

Amato died a few years back in March of 2015, while serving out his term. He was 80 years old and had served 23 years behind bars.

As of 2020, Orena is still alive and behind bars at 86 years old. He has served almost three decades in jail. Vic has had a lot of time to ponder his bad decision making, three decades in fact.

Vic had been a very well-liked guy, and ostensibly did the right thing by many. But he got blinded somewhere along the line, and should have known better.

He had a responsibility to those who he led and should have considered the possible fallout of his wanton actions. He betrayed his capo Carmine (who by the way was said to have been related to Orena as distant cousins), by attempting to dethrone him after Persico had entrusted him with the mantle of power.

Victor (Little Vic) Orena Sr.
Victor (Little Vic) Orena Sr.

He also betrayed his close friend Ocera, whom he’d known for decades, and was his buddy and business partner. Tommy had trusted Vic, and had been a loyal man to their Family.

Orena also did a major disservice to his own sons by involving them in what turned out to be one of the bloodiest underworld battles for power ever seen in America.

The sons each went to jail for their own part in the conflict. After having fought several court cases, they were extremely lucky to have served only years, and not decades behind bars themselves.

And many other families were ruined besides Orena’s own personal wife and kids. Patty Amato, the Persico’s, Russo’s, Scopo’s, and so many other former friends who were forced to choose up sides in the conflict. Most were either killed in the war, or jailed for long periods…. and for what?

To what end did they all fight one other? As it turned out, it was all for nothing! It was a fool’s errand in futility at best!

As for Tommy Ocera, who was betrayed by his blood brothers and dearest of “friends”, it seems that he was able to get his revenge from the grave.

After a lifetime of being a loyal associate, who ultimately rose to become a multimillionaire and a good “soldier” in the organization, Tommy seems to have been slaughtered over the flimsiest of reasons.

Law enforcement theories have run the gamut from accusations of him having “skimmed” racket profits off the top of the carting company shakedown without his superiors knowledge; talking back to superiors; having unwittingly allowed a “shylock record book” to fall into the hands of the Suffolk police; to something as simple as age-old jealousy and envy, for what Ocera had, and others did not. Which was intelligence, some class, extensive wealth, several highly successful multimillion-dollar businesses, a loving family, and a position in life that he was envied for.

Side Note: It is common underworld practice to denigrate the murder victim after he’s dead. It’s often done to “justify” the killing in the eyes of other mafiosi, and to placate and explain away the killing of a “brother”…He was a rat! He stole money from his friends! He was fooling around with another mafioso’s wife or daughter! Etc. Etc.

But many times, the excuse is a fallacy and ruse, to deflect from the true reason for the hit. More often than not the guy was killed in order to steal his money, or assume his position. Or over envy and petty jealousies.

Many so-called wiseguys are nothing more than “wash women”, who act like jealous schoolgirls. Sometimes deadly schoolgirls, but schoolgirls nonetheless. And that’s a fact!

Whatever the true reasons for his demise are of little consequence. He died at the age of 58, leaving behind a very sickly, crippled wife who suffered from MS, who Tommy personally took care of for over 20 years. Five beautiful, loving daughters and their husbands. A gaggle of grandchildren, two brothers, his elderly mother and father, and other extended family who all looked toward Tommy as the head of their overall family unit. They were lost and struggled after his death.

…May he Rest In Peace.

It is said that those who ignore history, especially mob history, are doomed to repeat it…No truer words have ever been spoken!
This is just another mob tale of the Big Apple!

Until next time… “The Other Guy”


This article was originally posted “here

Dead Man Walking: Prosecutor Played Trick On Lucchese Boss In Lead Up To ’19 Murder Trial

June 20, 2020 — Uncle Sam tried to pull a fast one on Lucchese crime family power Matty Madonna last year, but the New York Times put a wrench in his plans. United States Attorney Scott Hartman included former Harlem heroin boss Nicky (Mr. Untouchable) Barnes on his list of potential witnesses for Madonna’s 2019 murder and racketeering trial. The only problem was, Barnes was dead.

Jerry Capeci wrote of the ethically-questionable prosecutorial tactic in his Gangland News column this week. Capeci is the unofficial dean of American crime writing.

It appears the misdirection in the Lucchese prosecution was being used by Hartman as a means of leveraging some type of plea from Madonna, who was found guilty last fall of ordering the gangland slaying of mob associate Michael Meldish, a close friend and enforcer of his for decades. Meldish and Madonna worked together with Nicky Barnes in the dope game.

In the 1970s, Madonna supplied Barnes the heroin he used to take over the New York drug trade and establish himself as the biggest African-American crime lord of his generation. Barnes founded “The Council,” a ruling body of Black heroin barons inspired by “The Commission,” in the Italian mafia. While in prison in the 1950s and 60s, Barnes was mentored by Madonna and Joseph (Crazy Joe) Gallo of the then-Profaci crime family (today known as the Colombos).

Gallo was killed in 1972 in New York’s Little Italy, gunned down inside a restaurant as he ate a late-night meal for his birthday celebration. The murder was depicted in last year’s smash Netflix film The Irishman with comedian Sebastian Maniscalco playing Gallo in his first serious acting role.

Barnes entered the Witness Protection Program in 1981 after he felt he was betrayed by The Council in the wake of his own federal narcotics conspiracy conviction and imprisonment. Oscar-nominee Will Smith is slated to star in an upcoming film about Barnes’ life.  

Madonna, 85, was acting boss of the Lucchese clan from 2009 through 2017. Attorneys for Madonna were worried at the prospect of Barnes taking the stand and filed a motion to try to block it from happening. It was a moot point. The New York Times blew the lid off Hartman and the U.S. Attorneys Office’s ploy when in June 2019 the paper broke the news Barnes had died of cancer seven years earlier under an assumed name at age 78.

Madonna’s victim, Michael Meldish, was a feared mafia strong arm and hit man for the Lucchese crime family. Meldish was one of the leaders of the New York Purple Gang of the 1970s, which served as a mafia farm club for the Luccheses and the Genovese crime family. The FBI connected him to at least a dozen contract mob hits.

Meldish would often act as a collector for Madonna and the pair frequently socialized together. But their relationship soured when Madonna loaned Meldish $100,000 and Meldish refused to pay him back. At a sitdown to try and resolve the issue, Meldish cursed at Madonna, allegedly telling him to “fuck off.” On November 14, 2013, Meldish, 62, was shot to death in the passenger’s side of a Lincoln sedan in his Throggs Neck neighborhood in the Bronx.

Original Post https://gangsterreport.com/dead-man-walking-prosecutors-played-trick-on-lucchese-boss-in-lead-up-to-19-murder-trial/

Murder Of Detroit Biker Has Highwaymen MC On Edge, Looking For Answers

June 20, 2020 — The Motown biker world was shook last week when Highwaymen Motorcycle Club member Ron (Greedy) Davies was killed in a grisly triple homicide. Davies, 49, and two associates were found dead in Davies’ burned down house on Detroit’s eastside on June 11. Two of the victims had been shot to death.

According to sources, Davies “patched in” with The Highwaymen in 1999. Those sources say Highwaymen shot callers in the Motor City are huddling to figure out the club’s next move in relation to a response.

The Highwaymen are the state of Michigan’s largest biker gang, founded in Detroit in 1954 by Elburn (Big Max) Burns. The club maintains chapters in Indiana, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, New York and New Jersey. There are eight chapters in Michigan – Downtown Detroit, Eastside Detroit, Westside Detroit, Northwest Detroit, Downriver, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Monroe.

Over the years, the Highwaymen have forged alliances with Detroit’s Italian mafia and Hispanic street gangs operating near the club’s Westside “mothership” chapter. The feds dismantled the club’s national leadership, located out of Southeastern Michigan, with a giant 2007 racketeering indictment. In the 2010s, the Highwaymen underwent a rebuild, per sources, with the club striving for a more business-like approach to affairs and displaying a more polished PR game.

Original Post https://gangsterreport.com/murder-of-detroit-biker-has-highwaymen-mc-on-edge-looking-for-answers/

The Di Cocco Crew of Schenectady, NY

By The Other Guy | June 19, 2020

Aerial view of Schnectady, New York
Aerial view of Schenectady, New York

The quiet city of Schenectady, located in the northeastern part of New York State, is only 11 square miles in size. Yet it still has a current population of approximately 66,000 residents. (It’s 1930s population zenith topped 95,000)

Situated in Schenectady County, it is part of what is referred to as the Capital District. It is in the same greater metropolitan area as the state Capitol of Albany, which is only about 14 miles away.

Schenectady on the map of NYS
Schenectady on the map of NYS

Other well-known cities close by include Troy (14 miles), Cohoes (12 miles), Syracuse (112 miles), all in NYS, North Bennington, VT. (36 miles), and Bridgeport, CT (119 miles).

Schenectady and it’s surrounding areas have always had a very large Italian population.

In fact, the area was a Little Italy of sorts for many decades, starting around the early 1920s. The area was known as “Goose Hill”, one of several heavily populated Italian districts in the city.

Many Italian immigrants migrated up thereafter initially arriving by ship from Italy, sailing through Ellis Island and settling into the teeming, ghetto tenements of New York City.

Amid the cramped existence of big city living, many soon opted to join family and “amici”, who were fast establishing themselves in this Upstate New York area.

The City of Schenectady
The City of Schenectady

Besides familial contacts, often another big drawing card were better employment opportunities.

The General Electric Company (GE) and American Locomotive Company (ALCO), which were nationally influential companies, developed in Schenectady starting back in the early 20th century. It was this fact that gave Schenectady the nickname of “The Electric City.”

These two corporate giants, among several others, became major drawing cards to convince Italian immigrants to settle into the area for the steady work they offered.

With its largely rural, wide-open spaces that reminded them of the homeland they longed for back in Southern Italy and Sicily, it was an easy choice for many.

Downtown Schnectady business area
Downtown Schenectady business area

Schenectady is surrounded by the towns of Scotia, Amsterdam, Niskayuna, Ballston Spa, Glenville, Saratoga Springs, and Rotterdam, nearly all of whom were also very Italianate in flavor. The overall area is a thriving, yet sedate and bucolic landscape.

Schenectady has a small-town feel, where everybody seems to know everybody else, and generation after generation, often reside in the same houses their parents, and their parent’s parents did before them.

Neighboring Counties include Rensselaer, Montgomery, Saratoga, Troy, and Albany.

One of the first professional gamblers to ever live and operate in Schenectady was Antonio (Tony) Bernardi. He resided for years at 462 Twelfth Street, in the heart of town.

Downtown Schenectady
Downtown Schenectady

He was arguably the most prominent “sporting gentleman”, as illegal gamblers and racketeers were so genteelly referred to in the old days by the tabloids, to control the Schenectady area.

He was a well-known, and very well-liked, local gambler and bookmaker. A hometown boy done good as it were.

Although Tony may have been in a business that was “technically” illegal at the time, Bernardi was nonetheless viewed as a very generous and benevolent neighborhood guy, who was quick to reach into his pocket to help his friends, and his fellow townspeople in their time of need.

Whether that meant paying for coal deliveries to help warm their homes in the dead of winter, or Tony buying a bag of groceries to feed those neighbors in need.

It endeared Tony Bernardi to the people of Schenectady, and the surrounding communities.

Schnectady’s business district
Schenectady’s business district

Side Note: Tony was assisted by his brother Joseph Bernardi and other top, established area gamblers like Paul Gay.

Bernardi can also be viewed as a mentor of sorts to many young, future bookmakers, policy operators, and gamblers, some of whom later became notorious, local characters in their own right.

Police said that the Bernardi crew handled heavy numbers action, and ran an interstate “lay-off” ring for out of area bookies who needed to “edge off” action, so they could balance their books in case of a hit.

The Bernardi brothers and Gay also operated horse and sport bet action for the neighborhood.

Schenectady was also a bit of a different animal when it came to the area’s rackets and “racketeers”, if they could even be called that.

Schenectady becomes center of probe

Because despite the city and it’s outer environs being rife with gamblers and street guys, who offered all the prevalent gambling-type activities as so many other cities around the country did, Schenectady and the greater Albany area had very little violence throughout its history, if any at all.

Bookmakers and other varied gamblers thrived for many decades with illegal activities such as policy bets, lotteries, horse and sports betting, dice games and the like.

Yet, I think the number of violent incidents or murders could be counted on one hand.

Nationwide gambling sweeps
Nationwide gambling sweeps

What’s even funnier, and a phenomenon of sorts, is that although several key, area gamblers and racket guys were tied to the Magaddino, Bufalino, and Genovese Families of the Mafia, among other borgatas, everyone seemed to get along quite nicely.

Gambling boss Tony Bernardi dies
Gambling boss Tony Bernardi dies

They all seemed to play well in the underworld sandbox together…an oddity to say the least!

Side Note: I make this observation in contrast to the State of Connecticut which I just recently did another expose on. The Nutmeg State also hosted a variety of Cosa Nostra operatives over the years.

Yet, they were a medley of mayhem. Constant mob conflict, and gangland killings through the years between the varied factions.

Schenectady, and for that matter, all the other cities and territories that surrounded it, never had that problem. The result was that they operated mostly undetected. And even when there were police raids and arrests, things seemed to calm down quickly and it was business back to usual.

Tony Bernardi’s mob pallbearers
Tony Bernardi’s mob pallbearers

On July 15, 1950, Tony Bernardi died suddenly of a heart attack while at his home on Twelfth Street. He was only 50 years of age.

His estate was publicly declared at no more than $5,000 in cash…”Live Fast And Die Young” could have been his mantra.

But considering all the good things said about him, especially Tony’s generosity and good will toward others, a more appropriate epitaph could have been “You Can’t Take It With You!”

Funny Side Story: It was reported by the local newspapers at the time, that there were 26 pallbearers named for Bernardi’s funeral. That is a huge number to begin with, but the funny part is that literally every single pallbearer was either a bookmaker, policy racketeer, or gambler in one form or another. Di Cocco, Gay, Verra, DeBraccio, Iovenelli, Mangino, etc. The list went on and on.

To a man, every single name would hit the local tabloids in years to come with arrests for gambling and related charges.

A young arrest photo of Legs Di Cocco
A young arrest photo of Legs Di Cocco

As I stated above, he associated with, and “broke in” many a future young bookmaker and gambler in his time. But of all his young associates and confederates, none was to become more well known in the City of Schenectady than Paolo Di Cocco.

Paolo Di Cocco, better known as Paul Di Cocco aka “Legs” Di Cocco, was born in 1924, at 1673 Van Vranken Avenue in Schenectady, the town where he was raised, and would live in his entire life.

As a young adult, he married in 1946. The Di Cocco’s would have five children, moving around the neighborhood as their family grew, to various homes including 505 South Avenue, 1452 Wendell Avenue, and later 556 Florence Street, where they would reside for many years. But he always resided in his home town.

By the early-1970s, the Di Cocco’s later relocated down to Hollywood, Florida, where they bought a home, but still traveled back and forth up to Schenectady regularly.

His arrest record started in 1948:

Paul (Legs) Di Cocco
Paul (Legs) Di Cocco

1948 – disorderly conduct

1950 – keeping a betting and gambling establishment (dice)

1951 – driving with a revoked license

1951 – operating a dice game

1951 – bribery of a policeman

1963 – vagrancy

1974 – held as a material witness

1977 – criminal contempt of court

1985 – felony coercion (5 years probation)

Duilio (Jakey) Di Cocco
Duilio (Jakey) Di Cocco

He had a brother named Duilio Di Cocco, aka “Jake” or “Jakie”. He was also born, raised, and operated from Schenectady his entire life. He later moved his wife and family to nearby Rotterdam.

Partnered with his brother Legs in nearly all they did, Jake had an arrest record starting in 1947 for:

1947 – operating a horseroom

1950 – operating a crap game

1957 – common gambler

1960 – bookmaking

1960 – maintaining a gambling establishment

1963 – no federal gambling tax stamp

1984 – felony possession of gambling records (5 years probation)

Along with his brother Jake, the brothers Di Cocco would later rise to become the most prominent bookmakers and policy racketeers in the City.

Huge gambling rackets sweep
Huge gambling rackets sweep

Over the years Paul Di Cocco held interests in the Rex Paving Corp., and the Midtown Parking Company. The firms were in his wife Mary Ellen’s name, a move Leg’s made to protect against possible government seizure.

They operated for years from a little eatery in town they named Di Cocco’s Luncheonette. Located at 1505 South Avenue, it was a family run operation that served very good food. But it offered a little something extra on the side as well.

From that neighborhood locale, the New York State Police and the FBI claimed they ran a major gambling network, operating on both a local and interstate level.

Schnectady - The Mob & Graft!
Schenectady – The Mob & Graft!

Over the years starting in the 1940s, both Legs and Jakey were arrested numerous times for everything from accepting horse and sports bets, policy and lottery numbers, to running steady high stakes dice games.

In addition, on several occasions both Legs Di Cocco and Jake figured into highly-publicized police corruption scandals.
Intense probes investigated allegations that several criminal cases were fixed on Di Cocco’s behalf over the years.

The results of which were that several policemen and officials in the Schenectady Police Department lost their posts, and were later indicted for bribe-taking.

In one case, a local policeman was singled out as having been on Di Cocco’s steady payroll for $150 a week, to warn the gambler of any impending investigations or subsequent police raids.

Associate Steve Pontillo

In a related incident, local police were directed by higher-ups in the department to quash traffic tickets given to Di Cocco, and purge any record of them from the police files.

Both Tony Bernardi, and the Di Cocco’s worked hand in glove with a host of fellow area bookmakers and gamblers over the years.

They operated out of luncheonettes, newspaper stands, candy stores, and barbershops which they used to take bets.

Bookmaker “Joe Mace” Macerola
Bookmaker “Joe Mace” Macerola

Among this legion of “Nathan Detroit’s” were mostly Italian based gamblers. Boys who they’d known all their lives, from grade school on up.

One of Legs Di Cocco’s closest associates through the years was Patrick (Buckshot) Bianchi. He was also known as “Buck” or “Whitey”.

Bianchi operated as a bookie and numbers operator. He also helped oversee their floating crap games.

Once, when both he and Leg’s were subpoenaed before a state grand jury probing police corruption, he slugged a news photographer who tried taking Di Cocco’s picture for the newspapers.

Buck was immediately arrested for assault and destruction of the newsman’s camera, but he later pled out to reduced charges. Two other close aides were Alfred Iovinella, and Stephen (Ponzi) Pontillo.

Bookmaker - Arthur Verra
Bookmaker – Arthur Verra

Among other close associates and daily visitors to Di Cocco’s Luncheonette were (KG’s) or known gamblers: Arthur Verra and his brother Freddy Verra, Frank Di Sarro, Julie Glick, Sam (Gaga) Feldman, Durando (Danny Durando) Peragnole, Joseph Vetor, Joseph Macri, and Armand Izzo.

Another allied bookie was Evaristo (Joe Mace) Macerola who operated out of a storefront called John’s Newsroom, where he accepted bets.

There were many others. A lot of these gamblers worked directly under the Di Cocco’s within their gambling network as numbers runners, and sub-bookies who worked on “half sheets”. Others helped run the occasional crap games, working as stick men, luggers, doormen and lookouts.

Some others were bookmakers and gamblers who “banked” their own action, and were “independents” so to speak. But they still chose to affiliate with the Di Cocco’s for everyone’s common good.

Among the more prominent of these fellow gamblers and/or subordinates reads like a laundry list:

Named for operating dice games
Named for operating dice games

• George (Garf) Gardina

• Frank Parisi

• Alfred Cornetta

• Joseph Ferraro

• Charles Rohan

• Frank Reger

• John (Scotty) Campbell

• Frank Cassidei

Bribery indictments dismissed

• John De Braccio

• Raymond Iafrate

• Charles Trifilo

• Edward Como

• Adam Kozel

• Angelo Giardino

• Abe Miller

• Frank Diana

• James Maiorano

• William (Wild Bill) Anderson

• Salvatore Giardino

• Joseph Pasinello

• Chester Kotarski

Constant corruption investigations
Constant corruption investigations

• Frank DeLorenzo

• Albert DeCaprio

• John De Caprio

• Eugene D’Attillio

• Albert Mancini

• Arthur Viscusi

• Alexander DeFelice

More Schnectady gambling arrests
More Schenectady gambling arrests

• Frank Coca

• Augustus (Augie) Di Matteo

• Alfred Puglio

• Amelio Cristello

• Michael Russo

• Anthony Mauro

• Anthony Famiano

Paul Di Cocco pleads out
Paul Di Cocco pleads out

• Frank J. Leva

• Charles Ostrander

• Mario (Murph) Battaglia

• Louis Daniels

• William Mehigan

• James (Deitz) DiDonato

…and this was just scratching the surface.

The list of active gamblers in this small city went on and on, and of the area’s knockaround guys. But most of them didn’t necessarily have mob connections, although I’m sure there were a couple that did.

Most of these fellows are what are called “independents”, in that even though they may have been bookies, number guys, and street guys working outside the law, they were not “racket guys” per se.

Three names that did catch my attention were Louis Cordi, Angelo Conte, and Anthony Falange. They were each arrested with the Di Cocco’s, or their men at a large crap game and casino operated in Vermont, or in various local police gambling raids through the years.

There have also been other arrests tied to the above names.

Mobster Lou Cordi nabbed for policy
Mobster Lou Cordi nabbed for policy

Lou Cordi was a Schenectady native, and all three were closely tied to traditional Cosa Nostra Families that operated in Upper New York State.

Cordi was a documented “soldier” in a Bufalino Family regime headed by capo Anthony (Gov) Guarnieri of Binghamton. The boss of which was of course, Rosario (Russ) Bufalino of Pittston, PA.

And both Conte and Falange were at least top ranked, “on record” associates, but most probably formal “soldiers” in the regime headed by Joseph Falcone of Utica. Falcone was a top capo and boss of that city, for the Buffalo Family headed by Stefano Magaddino.

And that would make sense, because Schenectady was right smack dab within the bailiwick of each of these crews.

Another Bufalino Family soldier who came from Schenectady was Louis Marconi. He also served in the Binghamton regime of the Family under capo Anthony Guarnieri, and operated gambling, a large garment trucking firm, and other rackets out of their Schenectady area.

The Genovese mob in Schnectady
The Genovese mob in Schenectady

With both the Utica-Syracuse crew, and the Binghamton-Endicott crew operating within the state, it only makes sense that they would have some influence up that way.

The Di Cocco’s certainly were connected to “nice people”. That’s been well documented over the years. Paul (Legs) Di Cocco in particular has been tied to some very close relationships with many mafia members.

It’s debatable whether or not Di Cocco himself was an actual formal “made” member of any particular Mafia Family.
It seems more likely he was a highly-placed and very respected “associate” who worked in tandem with several Families over the years.

Regardless of his formal status, he was nonetheless “The Man”, and the “go to” guy in the Schenectady area, and more than able to hold his own with the best of them.

The FBI, the Intelligence Unit of the IRS, the NYS Police, and the Police Departments of Schenectady and Saratoga, have all contributed to form a profile on Legs.

The raids seemed to never end!
The raids seemed to never end!

By at least 1955, it was documented that Paul Di Cocco was closely affiliated with:

• Harry (Harry Ship) Shapiro – A top Jewish bookmaker based in Montreal, Canada, who was an affiliate of Bonanno underboss Carmine Galante at the time. Ship served under the auspices of their resident Montreal capo di decina, Vic Cotroni.

• Salvatore Falcone – The Mafia capo of Utica, NY, and a close confidante of Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino

• Rosario (Russ) Mancuso – A Mafia soldier in the regime of Falcone.

• Rocco Marrone – Another top associate of the Falcone regime of Utica. Marrone was a thrice convicted gambler.

• Elmer J. Smith – A top bookmaker in their Upstate area

• Salvatore (Little Solly) Giglio – A documented soldier in the Bonanno Family, and a twice convicted narcotics peddler. Close associate of Lilo Galante. Giglio was suspected of overseeing rackets in Canada for Galante.

Legs bribes a cop
Legs bribes a cop

There was speculation by authorities at the time, that Di Cocco had stepped in to watch over certain rackets after Giglio was deported from Canada.

Di Cocco was surveilled on numerous occasions by Canadian authorities, meeting with Mancuso and Giglio in Montreal at illegal gambling clubs.

• Carl Giardana – A mob-connected gambler with six gaming convictions from Plattsburgh, NY, tied to the Bonanno’s as well.

As they operated in and around the Schenectady area over the years, the local Schenectady Police Department in coordination with the New York State Police made occasional gambling raids and arrests.

Among the more noted of these arrests were:

During a 1940s arrest for disorderly conduct at the Saratoga Racetrack, police charged Di Cocco and some confederates, as known gamblers congregating by the track for nefarious purposes.

Among those arrested were the following close associates and their prior records:

Patrick (Buckshot) Bianchi

Gambler - Patrick (Buckshot) Bianchi
Gambler – Patrick (Buckshot) Bianchi

1936 – assault

1945 – disorderly conduct

1946 – common gambler

1951 – assault

1951 – operating a dice game

1951 – conspiracy

1951 – speeding

Frederick (Bobo) Ciccarelli

Buckshot Bianchi pinched for assault
Buckshot Bianchi pinched for assault

1929 – juvenile delinquent

1934 – petty larceny

1935 – vagrancy

1936 – disorderly conduct

1936 – vagrancy

Joseph Macri

1953 – perjury

Joseph Bucciero

Legs Di Cocco ducked the grand jury
Legs Di Cocco ducked the grand jury

1934 – policy

1951 – policy

Paul (Cardy) Carderopoli

Between 1929 to 1962 he had over 25 prior arrests for larceny, assault and battery (3 times), policy, promoting a lottery (twice) etc.

John (Shamey) Attanasio

1932 – possessing burglary tools and burglary (6 months)

1933 – assault

1933 – grand larceny

1934 – internal revenue laws (2 years – suspended)

1936 – grand larceny (30 days)


At the age of 25 years old in 1950, Legs was nabbed for running a dice game. Police raided an empty house, surprising 23 crap shooters and seizing a crap table and dice. They arrested Di Cocco for “maintenance” of the game. He was later fined $300.

In 1951, Legs and Buckshot Bianchi were again arrested for operating a steady, weekly crap game above a storefront.

Schnectady area gamblers nabbed!
Schenectady area gamblers nabbed!

Di Cocco was later also indicted for bribery after it was alleged that he had patrolman Leo J. Foy on a weekly “pad” of $150 to protect Leg’s gambling operations.

The bribery charge was later dismissed for a lack of corroborating evidence. But both Legs and Buckshot pled guilty to the dice count, and were fined and put on probation.

In September of 1963, the IRS conducted a series of highly publicized, nationwide raids against professional gambling networks. At least 130 arrests were made across the country, with over $35,000 cash seized along with gambling records.

Back in Schenectady, four bookmakers were nabbed. And in Albany, two more gamblers were grabbed in the sweep.

Taken into custody by federal tax agents as they raided the two Schenectady gambling centers:

John’s Newsroom, 155 Clinton Street, and Di Cocco’s Luncheonette, at 511 South Avenue were bookmakers Evaristo (Joe Mace) Macerola, John DeBraccio, Duilio (Jake) Di Cocco, and his aide Stephen Ponzillo. $5,000 in cash was also seized in the raids.

Bookmaker Johnny DeBraccio

The four were charged with failing to buy the $50 gambling tax stamps required, and failing to register as gamblers with the district director of the Internal Revenue.

The raiders noted that at the luncheonette they discovered a two-way mirror separating the front room from a locked back room, that had a sign reading “members only”, an elaborate buzzer and signal light system to warn of impending police raids, and several unregistered telephones with “jump lines”, which allowed for accepting horse bets on these “phantom” telephones without detection.

The suspects all later pled out to reduced counts of promoting gambling and bookmaking. They were fined and received suspended sentences. Nobody went to jail.

In 1964, Legs lost a liquor license for a popular Italian restaurant he ran at 2035 State Street, because of his unsavory reputation. State liquor investigators cited his past criminal record in issuing the revocation.

It was a legitimate Italian eatery named Anthony’s Restaurant, that was said to serve some of the very best Italian cuisine in town.

Anthony’s Italian Restaurant
Anthony’s Italian Restaurant

He subsequently repeatedly refiled applications under various corporate names. Both his wife (who had no criminal record), and several legitimate business associates listed as the principals, were likewise denied.

They finally got approved under a new corporation. But in 1969, again citing Di Cocco’s deep criminal connections and ties to organized crime, the restaurant’s license was pulled for hidden ownership.

He had his wife reapply under a new corporation named Ramars Restaurant Inc., dba “Rosina’s Restaurant, to operate an eatery and licensed premises at the same above address…she was denied by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) on the same grounds because she was his wife.

SLA investigators probe Legs
SLA investigators probe Legs

He was not on the incorporation papers, but the fact that he would occasionally be on the premises, and had been listed as a manager was enough for the SLA.

Then Ralph DeMeo, and later a Frank De Martino and his wife, and others all applied, and were subsequently denied…

The bottom line was that by this stage of the game, Legs was way too well known and notorious for his own good.

By the 1970s Legs was vacationing to Florida on a regular basis. As he aged and started having health problems, the Florida sunshine and warmer weather became more and more attractive to him.

Liquor license revoked
Liquor license revoked

By at least 1973, he and his wife were semi-residing down in the Sunshine State. Those harsh Schenectady winters were starting to get to him.

And after all the hoopla and public exposure of being dragged through the courts in the 1970s, Florida started looking better and better every day.

The Di Cocco’s had previously purchased a home down south in Broward County that they soon started utilizing more.

In fact, authorities say his catalyst to register himself as a permanent Florida resident came in 1974, almost simultaneously with the Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) seeking his appearance before a special rackets grand jury investigating his involvement in a labor rackets and official corruption probe of Schenectady County.

Around 1977, it was alleged by authorities that Di Cocco had had several face-to-face meetings with Bonanno boss Carmine Galante.

He previously was connected to Eugenio (Gene) Campo, a reputed Genovese soldier and major gambling figure in his own right, who happened to originally come from Schenectady. Campo was supposedly a regular patron of the Di Cocco brothers luncheonette.

Paul Di Cocco also figured into a labor racketeering probe with Nicholas Robilotto, a mob-tied labor leader based in Albany. Robilotto was president of Teamsters Union – Local # 294 at the time.

Vice probe nets mob guys and cops
Vice probe nets mob guys and cops

It was a probe into price-fixing and bid-rigging to win construction jobs by the men. But nothing would come of this federal investigation.

Some years later, another serious contender for the Schenectady area rackets was the Springfield, Massachusetts regime headed by Frank (Frankie Skyball) Scibelli and his men.

In fact, during the mid-1980s, Scibelli soldier/acting capo Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno made a play to takeover, and dominate the area.

In a concerted effort with Di Cocco, Bruno and his crew of fellow soldiers and associates attempted to move into the Schenectady and Albany area by strong-arming all the independent operators: policy runners, bookmakers, card and dice game operators, etc.

They soon demanded a piece of every illegal gambling business for the right to operate in what they considered to be their territory.

Legs Di Cocco was thought to have helped ease the Scibelli crew’s way by pointing them in the right direction and identifying all the independent bookies and gamblers in the city, and the adjoining towns in the area that was ripe for the shakedown.

Legs was said to have used coercion and extortion tactics to further the Springfield crew’s objectives.

In any event, the entire mob scheme became a major headache. Because it eventually came to the attention of the FBI, and a federal probe was started.

It later led to the indictments of Al Bruno, and thirteen of his closest associates in December of 1984.

Those named besides Bruno included: Anthony Liquori, Amedeo Santaniello, Frank Marchese, Joseph London, Michael Agresta, John Renna, Paul Di Cocco, Duilio Di Cocco, Paul Di Cocco Jr., and Peter Di Cocco.

Bufalino soldier Lou Cordi indicted
Bufalino soldier Lou Cordi indicted

All defendants later took pleas to dispose of the case. Big Al Bruno and his Springfield crew ended up copping to usury, attempted extortion, gambling and conspiracy. Each received five-year terms of probation and fines.

Paul Di Cocco copped out to a 1st degree felony coercion charge, and also received five years probation and a $500 fine.

His brother Duilio, sons Paul (Fat Paulie) Di Cocco Jr., and Peter Di Cocco all pled to gambling offenses.

They each copped out to one count of possession of gambling records – a 1st-degree felony, and each received five years probation and a fine…it was a sweet plea deal all around. And all involved were happy nobody went to jail.

Paul (Legs) Di Cocco died on July 30, 1989. He had suffered from a weak heart for years, and died shortly after receiving a heart transplant…Legs was 65 years old.

POSTSCRIPT

When Legs died in 1989, Federal investigators watched incredulously as nearly the entire City of Schenectady came out to pay their last respects to their resident racketeer.

The FBI noted that the entire political elite of the city also turned out for the funeral. Di Cocco’s funeral was noted as being “the nearest Schenectady has come in recent years to a real community event,” with thousands visiting the funeral home and traffic snarled when his body was transported to the cemetery.

At least one observer was amazed that although “everyone in Schenectady knew that Legs Di Cocco was a mobster, the politicians who joined in the mourning acted like they didn’t know anything about it.”

He also compared the funeral to “the great Chicago gangster funerals of the 1920s and 1930s,” when mob leaders were buried with style.

Observers noted that Di Cocco’s sendoff eclipsed that of even the area’s politicians and community leaders.

In this regard, it’s worth recalling the words of the great Mark Twain who quoted “In order to know a community, one must observe the style of its funerals and know what manner of men they bury with the most ceremony.”…Touché!

Until the next time – The Other Guy!


This article was originally posted “here

Sicilian town that inspired ‘The Godfather’ has a deep mafia history


A picture-perfect Italian town in the foothills of Sicily’s picturesque countryside, Corleone has a ruthless past.

Corleone consists of bell towers, ornate churches, and a breathtaking view of the valley below. A maze of narrow cobblestone streets leads to small family-run cafes and bakeries.

Corleone, A picture-perfect Italian town in the foothills of Sicily’s picturesque countryside, hides a notorious past

Corleone, a picture-perfect Italian town in the foothills of Sicily’s picturesque countryside, hides a notorious past


Some of Cosa Nostra’s most notorious bosses were born in this sleepy little town. Over 30 years ago they went on to unleash horrific violence which immediately gained the attention of the authorities in Rome.


Walking around the streets there are plenty of references to Mario Puzo’s fictional mafia boss, Don Vito Corleone, from his 1969 novel The Godfather.

A Godfather poster on the wall of a store in Corleone, Italy

Walking around the streets there are plenty of references to Mario Puzo’s fictional mafia boss, Don Vito Corleone, from his 1969 novel The Godfather.

If you visit Corleone, you will have no trouble finding all sorts of Godfather merchandise. Many businesses also have Godfather posters on the wall as they pay tribute to Marlon Brando’s character.

As peaceful as Corleone is now, it was not always like that. It used to be the headquarters of the Corleonesi crime family ran by Toto Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. As teenagers, they got an early start to their organized crime careers and quickly rose through the ranks. Eventually, they took control of the extremely lucrative trans-Atlantic drug trade by killing members of rival mafia families.

Toto Riina in 1993 after being arrested

Toto Riina in 1993 after being arrested

Known for his vicious temper and psychopathic behavior, Riina, appropriately nicknamed “The Beast”, ordered bombings, shootings, and killing of at least 150 people. The real number is said to be much higher.

It is also alleged that Riina ordered his then 17-year old son to kidnap a businessman and strangle him to death so that he could be inducted into the mafia.

Bernardo Provenzano after his arrest in 2006 near his hometown of Corleone

Bernardo Provenzano after his arrest in 2006 near his hometown of Corleone

The people of Corleone have tried hard to shake their beloved town of this violent reputation. Only a small few celebrate its ties to the mafia which go back over 100 years. In fact, it’s the mafia who the locals blame for high unemployment and systemic corruption over the past few decades.


Linda Vetrano is a local activist who also offers walking tours of Corleone. She does not like the stereotype of the Godfather saying that what she tries to do is the complete opposite. “We try to show the real face of the mafia and take away the romantic side”.

One word summed up the local people’s anger and frustration – ‘pizzo’. This is the name given to protection money that local businesses must pay to the mafia. Failure to do so WILL have dire consequences including arson, vandalism, and death.

A street in old town Corleone

A street in old town Corleone

The mafia is nowhere near as strong as it used to be which has enabled the local businesses to not feel as much pressure to pay. Despite this lower threat level, many businesses still do pay their protection money, just in case.

Unfortunately, the high unemployment rate in the area makes recruitment easy. Many young, impressionable men join the mafia because they have nowhere else to turn as it becomes the only way for them to make money and earn some respect.

In the 1980s there was a huge government crackdown on the mafia which prompted Riina to order assassinations in Sicily and on the Italian mainland.

Then, in 1992, the country was shocked and appalled about the murder of Sicily’s chief anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone and his wife. They were killed when their car exploded just outside of Palermo.

Giovanni Falcone, Sicily's chief anti-mafia prosecutor was killed by the mafia in 1992

Giovanni Falcone, Sicily’s chief anti-mafia prosecutor was killed by the mafia in 1992

Just a few weeks later, another explosion killed Falcone’s childhood friend, magistrate Paolo Borsellino as he visited his mother’s house.

Riina and Provenzano had committed many crimes around the country for decades, but these two killings really escalated the pressure on the government to arrest them.

Riina managed to avoid capture until 1993. After a highly publicized trial, he was given 26 life-sentences which he served in solitary confinement.

The 'Boss of Bosses' Toto Riina

The ‘Boss of Bosses’ Toto Riina

Riina never showed any remorse for his crimes. In fact, after he died in 2017 at the age of 87, his lack of remorse compelled the local Catholic priest to deny him a church funeral saying, “I can understand the suffering of Riina’s family with this loss. But he was the head of the mafia and no sign of redemption ever came from him.” He was privately buried in Corleone.

Provenzano took control after Riina’s arrest in 1993. In 2006 he was eventually captured near Corleone. He was given 20 life sentences plus 49 years and one month, and solitary confinement for 33 years and six months. He died of bladder cancer in 2016 and his ashes were buried in his family tomb in Corleone.

A tribute to Bernardo Verro, Mayor of Corleone who was killed by the mafia over 100 years ago

A tribute to Bernardo Verro, Mayor of Corleone who was killed by the mafia over 100 years ago

Corleone also has an anti-mafia museum. Operator Marilena Bagarella says she has seen huge progress over the years as the town tries to shake its grisly legacy. Ironically, the museum is located on property that was seized from Riina, whose family members still live just around the corner.

This article was originally posted “here

Getaway driver in assault on retired police Mafia expert did it for drugs, court told

Article content continued

Jacques told the interrogator that he agreed to drive for St. Jean to feed a drug habit he has had “since he was a teenager,” Parapuf said.

When St. Jean was interrogated, he was shown photos collected during the investigation. He was asked if the men intended to kill Poletti and he replied with: “I think the photos speak for themselves. If we wanted to kill him, he’d be dead.”

Jacques used his 2014 Nissan Sentra, registered in his name, for the job. A security camera near Poletti’s home recorded the moments when the three men headed for Poletti’s home and when they returned to the Sentra. A neighbour of Poletti’s witnessed as the men piled into the car in a hurry and suspected something was wrong. He followed the Sentra in his own vehicle and managed to read Jacques’s licence plate. It was that information that led police to arrest four men, including Jacques, at an intersection near the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Longueuil, eight hours after the attack. One of the men, a resident of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, was released without being charged. Parapuf said it is believed the man was not involved in the attack.

When the Sentra was searched, police found a loaded and prohibited firearm that had been stolen during a break-in in LaSalle last year along with 16 other firearms. The firearm was inside a Nike Air Jordan gym bag that Jacques said St. Jean had handled often on the day of the attack. The police also found small amounts of various drugs inside the Sentra.

The bail hearing will resume on June 26.

pcherry@postmedia.com

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Original Post http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/getaway-driver-in-assault-on-retired-police-mafia-expert-says-he-did-it-for-drugs

20 mafia members arrested after ex-wives tip off police


20 members of Rome’s infamous Casamonica clan have been arrested and 20 million Euros ($22 million) worth of assets confiscated by 150 carabinieri – Italian military police – who conducted early morning raids on Thursday, after two of the clan members ex-wives tipped off the authorities.

The Casamonica clan is known for its “Scarface-chic” – gold faucets, gold bathtubs, and gilded furniture. They operate on the outskirts of Rome and in the hill-towns surrounding it.


The police used drones to assists them with the 20 arrests and besides the cash, they found jewelry, gold watches, and guns. They also seized villas, a bar, and a gas station that had all been paid for by loan sharking, racketeering, and extortion.


Video footage from a villa that was confiscated in Monterosi, 30 km north of Rome in the Lazio region, shows, amongst other things, an ostentatious gold dining table set with gold chairs. You can see the video at the end of this article.

Two of the clan’s members ex-wives ratted the clan out, providing all the necessary inside information to capture the clan members and to help the government get convictions.

In the past, many wives and ex-wives have spoken out about the control their husbands and other male members had over them. They are often asked to stay quiet, stay home, and be a housewife. Recently, women have held higher positions within the clan.

Local media quoted one of the ex-wives saying, “The different branches of the family are jealous of each other, but when there is a problem they come together, united. They are like a wolf pack. That’s how they work.”

Businesses have suffered greatly during the lockdown which has led the Italian police to crack down on loan-sharks who prey on desperate people.

Referring to loan-sharking victims who have been threatened and extorted by the clan, Interior Minister Undersecretary Carlo Sibilia said, “Starting today they can breathe. Artisans and business owners are paying the effects of the pandemic and struggling to overcome the crisis”.


Founded in 1970, the Casamonica clan claim that they are the “protectors of Rome” and without them, other large organized crime families, such as the Camorra in Naples, would take over.

One of the largest raids happened two years ago when 250 carabinieri arrested 31 Casamonica clan members.

This article was originally posted “here

A Brazen Act Of Violence: Cop Shooting In Chicago Brings Gangster Disciple Back Into Custody

June 18, 2020 — Chicago gang member Steven (Little Stevie) McGee was arrested this week on four counts of attempted murder after the Gangster Disciples solider opened fire on a squad car full of police. Police were in pursuit of an on-foot McGee in the 5000 block of South King Drive when he pulled out a handgun and fired at their unmarked vehicle.

McGee was wanted in connection to an aggravated assault with a weapon from June 10. There are conflicting reports as to whether the one officer injured in the attack was shot in the leg or just suffered a knee contusion.

Following the shooting , McGee fled inside a nearby building and had a three-hour standoff with the Chicago Police Department SWAT team until he was finally brought into custody peacefully. To get into the building, he shot out the glass front door and lobby enclosure. McGee is currently on parole for a 2015 armed robbery conviction. Cook County Circuit Judge Arthur Willis denied McGee bond Wednesday.

The legendary Larry Hoover formed the Gangster Disciples in 1969 on the South Side of Chicago when he merged his Supreme Gangsters crew with David Barksdale’s Black Disciples gang. Hoover has run the organization, today with membership in the tens of thousands and a presence in multiple states across the Midwest and down South, from behind bars for the last 47 years, since his arrest for a 1973 gangland murder.

Original Post https://gangsterreport.com/a-brazen-act-of-violence-cop-shooting-in-chicago-brings-gangster-disciple-back-into-custody/

Gangster Report OP-ED: It’s Time For A Change Of Approach To Imprisonment In This Country

In this flashpoint in history, it’s imperative we address genuine prison reform. Not lip service. Action. And now.

One of the only good things to come out of the current pandemic crisis has been a thinning of incarceration numbers nationwide in order to stem the spread of COVID-19. Cramped, overcrowded federal and state prisons, county jails and metropolitan detention centers are petri dishes for the virus.

Many state justice systems and the Bureau of Prisons have recognized the dangers inherent in the environment of their respective facilities and taken action – thousands of inmates have been released to home confinement or all together in the months since the pandemic landed in the U.S. back in March. In 2019, the White House signed in the First Step Act to help non-violent drug offenders get resentenced. It’s a good start. But we need to do more.

The “Cut 50” movement, an initiative to cut the U.S. prison population by 50 percent in the next 10 years, is something legislators in Washington and state government’s need to get behind. The data and research done on recidivism supports the effort to trim the prison ranks. Studies show people “age out” of crime and non-violent offenders are five times less likely to return to prison than those convicted of violent offenses.

Even certain violent offenders, if they’ve served enough time and do the work necessary to remold their behavior, should be getting consideration for compassionate releases, pardons and commutations. Frankly, not every murderer deserves to spent the rest of their lives behind bars. Especially so, if they have something to contribute and an authentic desire to change their ways.

There is a huge gap between first and second-degree murder. Should a man found guilty of manslaughter in the his early 20s be forced to lose his entire life for one horrible decision made in the heat of the moment?

Take for example, Gangster Report correspondent Ricardo Ferrell. He’s 62 and going on year No. 40 of his sentence for second-degree murder for an altercation that occurred in downtown Detroit in 1981 when he was 23. His work with other inmates in prison is more than commendable. His successful transformation from convicted felon to published writer should be a tale of inspiration for the masses. Does Ricardo still need to be locked up after four decades when he could be on the outside, making amends with the community by making a positive impact?

I think the answer is pretty easy. The inmate population needs to shrink. And starting to let the Ricardos of the world out is an important next step.

Original Post https://gangsterreport.com/gangster-report-op-ed-its-time-for-a-change-of-approach-to-imprisonment-in-this-country/