The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the American Mafia
By J. R. de Szigethy
Rarely is the fight against organized crime a key issue in a Presidential election year. The first such was in 1932, during which candidate Franklin Roosevelt vowed to lead the fight to repeal the Prohibition Amendment which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages, an attempt at legislating morality that fueled an unprecedented expansion of organized crime. The void that was created by the end of Prohibition, however, was filled by organized crime syndicates who quickly gained control of many of the Labor Unions that were formed as a result of Roosevelt’s Progressive agenda. In the election cycle of 1948, Prosecutor Thomas Dewey, who had made his career fighting the new threat of the emerging American Mafia, very nearly won the election on this singular issue. The issue of the fight against organized crime would only become key in the later elections of 1960 and 1980. The related issue of Drug Policy has received the attention of four Candidates, and one Candidate has faced allegations that he has in some way crossed paths with members of the American Mafia.
PART ONE: DRUG POLICY
There are some Americans, some in the world of Academia, some in Law Enforcement, and some in the Media, who regard the “war on drugs” to be a colossal failure. Candidate Bernie Sanders is one such person. Sanders’ Presidential website reveals that the fight against drug trafficking wastes billions of dollars and accounts for 48 percent of those currently incarcerated in prisons nationwide. A disproportionate number of those inmates are Blacks and Hispanics. Sanders seeks the de-criminalization of marijuana and the diversion of billions of dollars aimed at drug interdiction in favor of addiction treatment and counseling. The legalization of marijuana, a nationwide movement gaining momentum, would significantly reduce the “market share” of this industry for the American Mafia. Drug traffickers would likely react to a decreased marijuana revenue source by converting acreage used to harvest that plant to those that produce the base for the production of cocaine and heroin. Illegal drugs, after all, are just another commodity for mass distribution.
Senator Marco Rubio is an opponent of surrendering the war against drugs, and knows the personal anguish of having a family member who is a convicted drug trafficker. Rubio, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz each propose securing the border with Mexico with a physical wall. Such a wall, they believe, will stem the tide of illegal aliens entering via Mexico, some of whom are drug traffickers. Some opponents claim that securing the border with Mexico will only result in an increased use of the lucrative secondary route for drugs smuggled into the U.S. which uses boats and airplanes focused on the State of Florida. This is the route Rubio’s brother-in-law used to smuggle $15 million of cocaine into the United States.
One argument for the de-criminalization of drugs is to end the corrupting influence a multi-billion dollar industry has on members of law enforcement. In New York, Greg Scarpa, Sr., a hitman and drug dealer for the Colombo Mafia Family in New York, enjoyed protection for most of his adult life because of his secret work as an FBI Informant. Scarpa was even warned of his son Greg Scarpa, Jr.’s impending Indictment on drug trafficking charges, which allowed Scarpa to send his son on the lam to Florida. (1)
Scarpa’s counter-part in Boston was Whitey Bulger, who also enjoyed protection because of his corrupt relationship with the FBI. When Bulger was about to Indicted on such charges by State authorities, an FBI Agent tipped him off, which sent Bulger and his girlfriend on the lam to California until his capture years later. Both Scarpa and Bulger trafficked primarily marijuana and cocaine, not heroin. (2)
5-time Emmy Award winner Peter Lance has devoted his last 3 best-selling books on the subject of how the enormous profits generated by the illegal drug trade has corrupted Law Enforcement agencies, notably the FBI. More ominously, each book details that a combination of corruption and incompetence in such agencies, notably the FBI, has compromised and impaired the ability of such agencies to combat the war against terrorism, making the corrupting influence of the drug trade a matter of national security. Some terrorists organizations have been shown to be involved in the drug trade, spawning the term “narco-terrorism.” (3)
PART TWO: THE PRESIDENTIAL POWER OF PARDON
The power of a President to Pardon a criminal convicted in Federal Court is rarely an issue in a Presidential election cycle. However, Candidates Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump could each be asked questions by reporters this year in regards to the Pardon issue. Ms. Clinton, for example, could be asked that, if elected President, would her criteria for issuing Pardons be significantly different than the criteria her husband used in the final months of his Administration. Bill Clinton’s controversial Pardons would come to be known as the “PardonGate Scandal.” In August, 1999, President Clinton Commuted the sentences of 16 members of FALN, an organization that had set off 120 terrorist bombs in America as part of their aim to see Puerto Rico gain independence from the U. S. and become a Communist nation. This action set off a firestorm of protest in Congress and America’s law enforcement community. The Senate voted 95-2 and the House voted 311-41 to Condemn the President over this action. A House committee launched an investigation. At first Hillary Clinton supported her husband’s actions, and then later, as a Candidate for the U. S. Senate, opposed them.
On his final day in office, President Clinton issued 140 Pardons, many of them controversial. Among those Pardoned or Commuted in his final days were; fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose wife had made substantial contributions to the Clinton Library and Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaign; cocaine trafficker Carlos Vignali; 2 members of the Weather Underground terrorist organization; former Democratic Congressmen Dan Rostenkowski and Mel Reynolds; former Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros; and former Republican Governor of Arizona Fife Symington III.
President Clinton had also been approached by his brother Roger Clinton, who was seeking a Pardon for his prior cocaine trafficking conviction. But Roger Clinton lobbied his brother for something else; a Pardon for convicted heroin trafficker Rosario Gambino. The Gambino Family of New York is best known for it’s namesake, Carlo Gambino, his successor, Paul Castellano, and the man who rubbed him out at Spark’s Steak House, John Gotti. Rosario was a cousin from Palermo, Sicily, who illegally immigrated to the U. S. in the 1960s. Gambino was deported back to Italy in 1962 but returned. Rosario and his brother Joseph opened a succession of pizza parlors in and around their base of operations in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. By the 1980s, Rosario and his two brothers were at the top of an international heroin trafficking ring worth one billion dollars. In 1984 the Gambino brothers went on trial for heroin trafficking. Only Rosario was convicted, and sentenced to 45 years in prison. (1)
Also that year, Bill Clinton, the Governor of Arkansas, faced a family crisis that would have repercussions 16 years later. Clinton learned that the Arkansas State Police were involved in a drug investigation and that Clinton’s younger brother Roger was a target for cocaine distribution. Roger was Bill’s half-brother, the Governor’s biological father having died before he was born. Roger Clinton, Sr. was a gambler and alcoholic who abused his wife and young son, putting young Bill in a position of having to protect them both. Roger, Jr. was 11 years old when his father died, so from that point on Bill Clinton assumed responsibility for him. (2)
Whether he realized it or not, Governor Clinton was facing an integrity test as well as a family crisis in how to handle the situation regarding the drug investigation. Clinton could have advised his brother to get as far away from Arkansas as possible for as long as necessary in case the authorities did not yet have enough evidence to arrest Roger. Bill Clinton did the right thing, passing his integrity test in a case of “tough love,” saying nothing to his brother about the drug investigation. Roger was arrested in 1984 and convicted the following year and sentenced to 2 years in a Federal prison. Roger Clinton came out of prison determined to never go back. That should have been the end of this story right there, but that would not be.
In 1984, authorities investigating the drug trafficking of the Gambino brothers obtained a Warrant to search Rosario Gambino’s house. Inside was found photocopies of Gambino’s NYPD file. It was clear to the authorities that Rosario Gambino had bribed a crooked cop in order to obtain that file. An investigation revealed the fingerprints on the pages belonged to New York City Police Officer Lou Eppolito. Born in 1948 to Ralph “The Loanshark” Eppolito, his Uncle James and cousin Jim-Jim were also members of the Gambino Mafia Family. In 1969 Eppolito applied to the NYPD and once on the street quickly became a “celebrity cop” for his daring arrests which were fodder for the New York tabloid newspapers. What made Eppolito successful was his use of Mafia tactics against “perps.” Eppolito would use threats of violence against the citizens he arrested, tactics not uncommon in those days. The NYPD would get a golden opportunity to fire Eppolito, but would fail for reasons still not clear. The NYPD has it’s own disciplinary procedure called a “Departmental Trial.” It’s usually a kangaroo Court where a single Judge hears evidence of misconduct and either clear the Defendant or make a determination that the cop should be fired. The fact that Eppolito’s father was a member of the Gambino Family and that Gambino Family relative Rosario Gambino’s confidential police file was found in his home with Eppolito’s fingerprints on them should have been enough to establish that the cop had illegally forwarded the file to the known heroin trafficker. Eppolito could have been bribed to steal the file for Gambino or he could have procured it for free as part of a “Family” matter. Regardless, at the 11th hour in his trial, it was revealed that the documents seized in Gambino’s home did not actually have Eppolito’s fingerprints on them, but were rather PHOTOCOPIES of the original documents which had his fingerprints on them. Eppolito was then Acquitted and while his reputation had been tarnished, he still walked the streets of New York wearing a Badge and carrying a gun. (3)
Eppolito’s Acquittal was all the more disturbing given that his family, a few years earlier, had received national attention in a bizarre scandal which revealed that even members of the Presidential family are not immune to scams by the Mafia. It involved First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who became involved in a public relations nightmare when a hostile Media published a succession of photographs of Mrs. Carter in the company of vicious murderers, one of whom was "Jim-Jim" Eppolito. By the time the scandal had run it’s course, the Carter Administration would become the target of ridicule and satire by members of the Media, as well as fodder for comedians and late-night talk show hosts. And, two members of the Eppolito family would wind up dead.
The first such embarrassing incident involving Mrs. Carter came in November, 1978 and it involved a Preacher who was active in Democratic politics in San Francisco. During a 1976 campaign event Mrs. Carter had shared a platform and dined with the Reverend Jim Jones, an avowed Communist who had been appointed Director of the Housing Authority by San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. By 1978, however, Reverend Jones had relocated his Congregation to a plantation in Guyana, South America, where the flamboyant Minister was slowly losing his mind. When Democratic Congressman Leo Ryan learned of the Reverend Jones’ bizarre behavior he set off on a fact-finding tour of ‘Jonestown’ to speak to some its members, most of whom were constituents of his Congressional District back home. On November 18th, 1978 members of Jones’ cult murdered the Congressman and Reverend Jones then ordered the members of his Congregation to commit suicide. Most of the 900 men, women, and children in the cult complied by consuming a children’s drink laced with cyanide. Those who did not quite possess such Revolutionary zeal were murdered. (4)
The government of Guyana reacted to this shocking event by releasing copies of letters by top U. S. officials praising Reverend Jones and his Church. The letters included glowing tributes from politicians including President Carter’s Vice-President Walter Mondale, former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Carter’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington State and Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, Congressman Phillip Burton of California and Congressman Jonathan Bingham of New York, former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and his predecessor Joseph Alioto, and Rosalynn Carter. Mrs. Carter’s letter to Reverend Jones was hand-written on White House stationary. Back in the United States, members of the Media hostile towards the Carters dug up a photograph of Mrs. Carter embracing the Reverend Jones. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who would run for President in 1984 and 1988, praised Reverend Jones as a man who “worked for the people!” “I would hope that all of the good he (Jones) did will not be discounted because of this tremendous tragedy!” (5)
One month later, authorities in Chicago arrested a local Democratic Party figure named John Wayne Gacy for murdering 33 boys, most of whom were found buried underneath his house, the same home at which Gacy had hosted events for the local Democratic Party. The Media then distributed a photo of First Lady Rosalynn Carter shaking hands with Gacy during a campaign stop in Chicago. Comics and programs such as Saturday Night Live were having a field day ridiculing the Carters, also noting that the Carters had brought with them to Washington a convicted murderer, Mary Fitzpatrick, who worked as a Nanny to their young daughter Amy.
Then, a few months later came the 60 MINUTES story that exposed a fraudulent children’s charity scam run by "Jim-Jim" Eppolito. Broadcast on national television for all the world to see was a photograph of the First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter, shaking hands with yet another murderer, "Jim-Jim" Eppolito.
Eppolito’s Godfather Paul Castellano was not pleased. The Godfather knew there would be a law enforcement investigation of Jim-Jim’s scam. The Media would follow every development of the investigation with glee. Castellano would not allow this to happen.
In his auto-biography ‘Mafia Cop’ Lou Eppolito bragged about his ability to arrange a ‘sit-down’ with Godfather Castellano and specifically mentions how he sought to convince Castellano to not have his cousin murdered. What Eppolito does not go into detail about is the apparent orchestration of these murders. Given that Detective Eppolito was a ‘darling’ of the New York City Media, Castellano and his associates must have known that the murder of Jimmy Eppolito would be a front-page story, exactly the publicity the Gambinos did not want. Thus, the evidence suggests that the decision was made to take Jimmy Eppolito and his father out on a day when the Media - as well as law enforcement - and specifically Detective Eppolito - would be distracted by some other ‘big event.’
That ‘big event’ was the arrival in New York of the enormously popular Pope John Paul II. The Pope had been scheduled to address the United Nations and lead two outdoor Masses on October 2nd and 3rd. Detective Eppolito had been awarded the rare honor of being among those assigned to the NYPD’s Security Detail for the Pope. In the early morning hours of October 2, Lou Eppolito was awakened by a phone call. Jim-Jim and his father had been just been murdered. Eppolito raced to the Morgue, where he saw that both men’s faces had been blown off by their assassins, who shot them numerous times at close range inside a car. Eppolito left the Morgue in order to join the Security Detail for the Pope’s visit. On a ‘slow news day’ the murder of two Mafia wiseguys - relatives of a decorated Police Officer who himself was a ‘Media favorite’ - would have been front-page news. And, of course, Jimmy Eppolito had recently received national exposure on 60 Minutes. Instead, the story was eclipsed by coverage of the Pope’s visit. In the days following the murders the Daily News did not even report on the story, while the Post ran one short blurb buried on page 15.
This was exactly the way Godfather Castellano wanted it. The scandal was over. Lou Eppolito might have been murdered himself along with his Uncle and Cousin had it not been for the fact that he was a Cop. In fact, he was now a Detective. He had access to confidential law enforcement information that would be invaluable to certain members and relatives of the the Gambino Family. People like Rosario Gambino.
At some point in the 1990s, Roger Clinton became acquainted with relatives of Rosario Gambino. Towards the end of the Clinton Administration, Roger lobbied for a Pardon for himself and Gambino. President Clinton did Pardon his brother, but did not Pardon Rosario Gambino. (1)
In 2001, Mary Jo White, who had been Appointed U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Clinton impaneled a Grand Jury to investigate all the Pardons issued by Clinton. Roger Clinton was among those investigated. No one was charged with a crime.
Still, the Media reports regarding the investigation of Rosario Gambino and Detective Eppolito kept the story alive. In 2003, Tommy Dades was a retired NYPD Detective working for the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Dades had long believed that Lou Eppolito was corrupt and in September of that year Dades’ re-investigation was paying off. Dades was compiling evidence linking Eppolito and his partner Stephen Caracappa in a series of murders. He had hoped that Prosecutor Michael Vecchione would be able to obtain Indictments and that Vecchione would bring the two “Mafia Cops” to Justice. Instead, the Feds in Brooklyn took over the case - some would use the word “stolen” - and in March, 2005, the two cops were charged with drug trafficking, racketeering, money laundering, and multiple counts of murder. After Eppolito’s Acquittal in his Departmental Trial, he and Caracappa had gone on the payroll of Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso, the former Underboss of the Luchese Family who had confessed to murdering over 30 people. One murder was that of 25 year old Nicholas Guido, murdered in front of his family on Christmas Day, 1986 in his new car. Gaspipe had asked the Mafia Cops to use the NYPD computers to find the address of a man by that name he wanted to kill. But the cops, as incompetent as they were greedy, supplied the address of the wrong man by that name. (6)
The trial of the Mafia Cops was significant in that it was covered by this reporter along with Lou Eppolito, Jr., the son of Defendant Eppolito. It was also revealed during the course of the trial that Detective Eppolito had framed a man for a murder that he did not commit. Several other similar cases have emerged in Brooklyn in recent years. The Mafia Cops were convicted in 2006 and will never leave prison.
Rosario Gambino, however, is today a free man. Gambino was originally sentenced to 45 years, but was released after only 22 years. Gambino was still held in custody while legalities were worked out to have him extradicted back to Italy. Gambino’s conviction in Italy had been the work of Prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, who was later murdered in Palermo, Sicily in 1992 by a remote control bomb as he drove his car on a highway. ICE officials in the U. S. successfully deported Gambino back to Italy in 2009. (7) However, after Appealing his conviction he was Acquitted and released in 2014. (8)
Back in 1985, Bill Clinton could never have imagined how the conviction of his brother would someday become intertwined with such sordid cases as that of Rosario Gambino and by extension the case of the Mafia Cops. This is all the more reason that the current Candidates for President be asked about the Power of Pardon and how it may confront them one day if they attain that power.
One such Candidate is Senator Marco Rubio. Marco was just a teenager in 1987 when his brother-in-law Orlando Cicilia and 6 others were convicted for being part of an international marijuana and cocaine trafficking ring that bribed corrupt Law Enforcement officials in Florida and dismembered with a chain saw an Informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The gang operated in part by paying $150,000 to a Key West Deputy Police Chief who subsequently was sentenced to a 30 year prison term for corrupt acts. Cicilia was not charged with murder, only drug trafficking, was released from a Federal Prison in November of 2000, and currently lives with Rubio’s mother in Florida. (9) Should at any time Marco Rubio become President, or even Vice-President, this issue is likely to re-emerge, given that Cicilia could seek a Presidential Pardon for his crimes.
As an elected official, Marco Rubio has already used his influence as a government official on behalf of Cicilia. In 2002, while Majority Whip of the Florida House of Representatives, Rubio sent a letter on his Official stationery to the Florida Division of Real Estate seeking a License for Cicilia, despite his conviction as a drug dealer. Rubio did not disclose that Cicilia was a family member. (10)
The Senator from Florida has the opportunity now to settle this issue by outlining his criteria for offering a Presidential Pardon and more specifically state if he would or would not Pardon Orlando Cicilia.
PART THREE: POLITICIANS AND THE AMERICAN MAFIA
Given that there are allegations in the 2016 Presidential Campaign that one or more Candidates may be compromised by members of organized crime, such allegations can only be best analyzed by comparisons with politicians from the past now known conclusively to have been involved with the American Mafia. America’s law enforcement community has it’s own legal standard as to what constitutes corrupt behavior on the part of a public official. The standard that journalists use is a much lower bar, but there is no set definition. For the purposes of this narrative, this reporter will apply the following standard; a public official can be identified as “associated” with the Mob, or “compromised” by organized crime, or “involved” with the American Mafia if there is evidence of a “quid pro quo” between the two parties; in other words, a member of organized crime must give to the public official something that has perceived value, and the recipient must give back to that criminal something in return, usually through the auspices of the office or company that person is a custodian of.
A. MARIO CUOMO, RUDOLPH GIULIANI, AND CHRIS CHRISTIE
Unsubstantiated rumors about a public figure do not meet this reporter’s standard as to whether a politician is “Mobbed up.” Throughout most of his public life, Mario Cuomo, who served 3 terms as Governor of New York, was dogged by claims he was involved with the Mafia. These questions about Cuomo were circulated in Academic, law enforcement, and journalism circles for many years. Like J. Edgar Hoover, Cuomo’s public proclamations that the Mafia did not exist only served to fuel such speculation. When once queried if the Mafia did in fact exist, Cuomo replied: “You're telling me that Mafia is an organization, and I'm telling you that's a lot of baloney!" (1) Nor did pronouncements by members of his own Party help dispel the rumors; in 1992, a tape recording was released to the Media in which Presidential Candidate Bill Clinton quipped that Cuomo “acts like” a Mafioso. (2)
In 1984, Cuomo gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. His impassioned, fiery rhetoric made him an instant celebrity within the party, creating overnight a nationwide fan base of people who wanted to see him seek the Presidency. In late 1987, organized crime expert Nicholas Pileggi published a lengthy, well-researched feature for New York Magazine regarding the allegations against Cuomo. Pileggi could not find a single piece of hard evidence linking Cuomo to the Mafia.
That being said, Cuomo did accept a $50,000 contribution from Anthony Scotto when Cuomo ran for Mayor of New York City back in 1977. Scotto, aligned with the Gambino Family, was the Boss of the International Longshoremen’s Union that ruled the Brooklyn docks going all the way back to the 1940s. That story is most memorably told in the classic film “On the Waterfront,” starring Marlon Brando. Once Scotto took over the docks, he went “public” very much like John Gotti would after him, by openly courting the Democratic Party establishment. Scotto was named a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972 and 1976. President Jimmy Carter even considered Scotto as a possible Secretary of Labor in his Administration. Just like Godfather Gotti after him, Scotto’s life of crime caught up with him in 1979, when he was indicted and convicted on 33 Federal Counts of bribery and racketeering. The charges included Scotto’s machinations to accumulate the $50,000 that was forwarded to Mario Cuomo’s 1977 campaign for Mayor. There was no indication whatsoever that Cuomo committed any crime. Scotto was convicted, but instead of receiving the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, Scotto was only given five years. (3)
As Governor, Mario Cuomo was plagued by indecision as the deadlines to launch his own Presidential campaign came and went in 1988 and then again in 1992. Cuomo’s vacillation was interpreted by some that he had something to hide that the increased scrutiny of a national run would likely expose. In 1994, Cuomo was defeated for a 4th Term as Governor, despite Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s crossing party lines to endorse Cuomo, instead of the Republican Party candidate George Pataki, who won the election.
Having a relative who is involved with organized crime is by no means evidence that that person is also involved with the Mafia. Rudolph Giuliani’s father Harold served prison time for an armed robbery, committed before his son was born. Giuliani’s cousin Lewis D’Avanzo was a gay mobster who was killed in a shootout with the FBI. (4) Giuliani learned from the examples of these 2 men that organized crime was not a wise career choice. As an adult, Rudolph Giuliani became one of the most successful Federal Mafia Prosecutors in American history, winning convictions in the landmark cases of the “Pizza Connection,” whereby pizza parlors masked an international heroin trafficking ring, and “The Commission” case, which targeted the Godfathers of New York City’s Mafia families.
Current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also has a minor Mafia connection in his family. As a young man, Christie traveled in 1991 to a prison in Texas to visit a distant cousin, Tino Fiumara, who, in 1980, was sentenced to 15 to 25 years for labor racketeering and extortion. In 2002, Christie became the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, upon which he learned that that office had an on-going investigation of Fiumara on various charges, including murders. Christie correctly recused himself from that prosecution. As U. S. Attorney, Christie focused on prosecuting the crimes of human trafficking, street gangs, and public corruption. In 2007, Christie echoed the claims made previously by Governor Cuomo, denying the extent of the American Mafia’s influence by stating: “The Mafia is much more prominent on HBO than in New Jersey.” That was a reference to the HBO hit tv series “THE SOPRANOS,” which was based upon the real-life crimes committed by members of the Mafia in Governor Christie’s home state. (5)
The Mafia was, in fact, very much active in New Jersey during the time Chris Christie served as U. S. Attorney in New Jersey from January, 2002, to December, 2008. On November 8, 2005, Genovese Mafia Family Capo Lawrence Ricci was Acquitted in Brooklyn Federal Court of charges he was involved in an extortion and fraud scam with Unions representing Workers on the docks of the New York and New Jersey Waterfront. That legal victory was mute for the aging mobster, who was not in Court to hear the jury’s Verdict; Ricci had disappeared mid-trial, and on November 30th, Ricci’s rotting body was found in the trunk of his car parked outside a Union, New Jersey Diner. Ricci had been put on trial along with Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey, two high-ranking executives of the International Longshoremen's Union, which oversees Local Unions of Longshoremen who work the docks of the once-thriving seaport of the North Atlantic Coast. (6) Tino Fiumara, who was a suspect in the murder of Lawrence Ricci, died in 2010. (7)
Chris Christie’s Recusal of himself from his distant relative’s prosecution was the proper action. While some in the Media have played up the life of Christie’s mobbed-up relative, there is no suggestion of impropriety found by this reporter regarding Christie in this case. However, as Governor, Chris Christie did hire at least 3 people accused of committing crimes in a political scandal popularly termed “BridgeGate.” In September, 2013, 2 traffic lanes leading into the George Washington Bridge which traverses across New Jersey into New York were closed, leading to traffic jams which endangered the public safety. Like the World Trade Center, the George Washington Bridge is under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a multi-jurisdictional legal entity that historically has been exploited by members of the American Mafia. In May, 2015, the U. S. Attorney for New Jersey, the very position once held by Governor Christie, announced charges against Bridget Anne Kelly, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Christie, and David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, whom Christie had appointed to the Board of the Port Authority. The Feds allege that when Fort Lee, New Jersey Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, had refused to endorse Christie during his 2013 re-election bid, the 3 individuals conspired to create a traffic jam in Fort Lee by illegally closing the access lanes in retaliation. Once the scandal became public, Christie fired Ms. Kelly. David Wildstein has already pleaded Guilty. (8)
Despite the BridgeGate Scandal, about which Governor Christie has denied any knowledge of, Christie did submit his name as a Candidate for the Republican Nomination for President in 2016. Christie dropped out of the race in February and announced his support for Candidate Donald Trump. Rudolph Giuliani had previously been supporting Trump in his Presidential bid.
B. RICHARD NIXON
Republican Richard Nixon is the first major political figure in the past 50 years to meet this reporter’s standards regarding the American Mafia. During his run for the Presidency in 1960 and 1968, Nixon received the Endorsement of the powerful International Teamsters’ Union. There was nothing illegal about this, but Nixon’s subsequent actions and interactions with corrupt Teamsters officials are evidence of a corrupt quid-pro-quo relationship.
In 2 separate trials in 1964, Hoffa was convicted of jury tampering and fraud, regarding Hoffa’s illegal loans of Teamsters’ Pension funds to members of the American Mafia. Hoffa began serving his 13-year sentence in 1967. Five years later, President Nixon used his Power of Pardon to release Hoffa from prison. Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell and White House lawyer John Dean were involved in this decision. To lessen the scandal of this action, the release of Hoffa came with the stipulation that he refrain from Union activities for several years. It was the Nixon Administration’s hope that Hoffa would just quietly fade away from public life. Hoffa had no such intention, and began legal proceedings challenging the stipulation. While this saga was playing out, Attorney General John Mitchell, White House lawyer John Dean, Nixon Aides John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman, along with retired FBI Agent G. Gordon Liddy, among others, were convicted and sent to prison for their roles in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. After Nixon resigned in disgrace, President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Pardon to Nixon. Ford also Pardoned Hoffa’s predecessor as Teamsters’ President, Dave Beck, which erased his prior convictions for embezzlement, labor racketeering, and income tax evasion. Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in 1975, and was presumed murdered on orders of Teamsters’ Vice President Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano. (9)
Although never charged in that case, Provenzano was convicted in 1978 for ordering the murder of fellow Teamster Anthony Castellito in 1961, whose body was never found. Provenzano would later be convicted for the murder of Walter Glockner in 1963, a rank-and-file member of the Union who had dared to criticize the Union for being corrupted by the American Mafia. (10) Provenzano was sentenced in 1978 to 4 years in prison for his role in a Teamsters' Pension fund scam, and in 1979 was given a 20 year prison term for Labor Racketeering.
2 months after Jimmy Hoffa vanished, Richard Nixon, in his new life as a private citizen, played a round of golf with Tony Provenzano, Teamsters President Frank Fitzsimmons, Teamster financier Allen Dorfman, and future Teamsters’ President Jackie Presser. (11) Dorfman was a Co-Defendant in the jury tampering case for which Jimmy Hoffa was convicted, but Dorfman was acquitted. Dorfman was convicted in 1972 for improper loans of Teamsters Pension funds to members of the American Mafia. In 1974 Dorfman was Indicted for Teamsters' Pension fund fraud, along with Tony “The Ant" Spilotro, Joseph Lombardo, and Irwin Weiner, an associate of Dallas crime figure Jack Ruby. The case against them collapsed after Lombardo had the key Prosecution Witness against them, Daniel Seifert, murdered. Lombardo was convicted of Seifert’s murder in 2007. In 1981, Dorfman, Lombardo, and Teamsters’ President Roy Lee Williams were Indicted for attempting to bribe Democratic Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada. Senator Cannon was not charged. Dorfman, Lombardo, and Williams were convicted. Just before his sentencing in that case, Dorfman, in the company of Irwin Weiner, was executed in the parking lot outside a hotel in Licolnwood, Illinois. Weiner was unharmed. Dorfman’s murder was never solved. (12)
It was Jackie Presser who helped bring about the downfall of Roy Lee Williams when he had ascended to President of the Teamsters’ Union. Working secretly as an FBI Informant, Presser supplied information to the Feds regarding the attempt to bribe Senator Cannon. (13) For years, Presser committed various crimes with the American Mafia with seeming impunity. Then, on June 1, 1984, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department was seeking to prosecute Presser on charges of labor racketeering. 5 days later, however, the Los Angeles Times reported that Presser had been an FBI Informant for approximately 10 years. This revelation caused a scandal in Washington that plagued the Reagan Administration for many years to come. Four years earlier, Ronald Reagan, during his Presidential campaign, had eagerly accepted Presser’s endorsement and named him to his transition team once he was elected. The Presser scandal was notable on various accounts. First, it revealed that the FBI, which is supposedly a subservient branch of the Justice Department, continued to keep secrets from the Justice Department in regards to it’s registered - and protected - Informants.
That this happened over 10 years after the death of Hoover also revealed that little had changed in the FBI. During that time in 1984, both Colombo Family hitman and drug dealer Greg Scarpa and Boston hitman and drug dealer Whitey Bulger were also being protected by the FBI, allegedly in exchange for the information they provided. Despite Congressional hearings and the outcry of critics on both sides of the law, Presser’s work for the FBI shielded him from being sent to prison.
C. THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE CLEVELAND MAFIA FAMILY
Jackie Presser had been closely associated with another Mobster now known to be an FBI Informant; Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno. Fratianno was something of a “free-lance” Mobster who worked with the crime families in Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, and enjoyed close associations with members of the Teamsters and Longshoremen’s Unions. Fratianno got caught up in a “Mob War” that began after Cleveland Family Godfather John Scalish died after open heart surgery in 1976. The Godfather’s heir apparent was assumed by most to be "Big Ange" Lonardo, who assisted Scalish during his 32 year reign. However, Mafia Associate Milton "Deer Hunter" Rockman, who was with Scalish at his demise, astounded everyone with his claim that it was Scalish' dying wish that "Jack White" Licavoli succeed as Godfather. Licavoli, a 72-year-old bachelor in charge of the Youngstown gambling rackets reluctantly agreed to assume the position. "Jack White" named his cousin Leo "Lips" Moceri, who was head of the Akron rackets, as Underboss.
Licavoli was perceived by many to be a bumbling idiot, which prompted a move by rival Mobsters to attempt to take over the lucrative Ohio rackets. This plot was led by John Nardi, a high-ranking member of the Teamster's Union, and his partner Danny Greene, an Irish Mob figure in Cleveland who was also a corrupt Union official. Greene began his ascent as a crime boss in the 1960s as the President of a Local of the Longshoremen’s Union. After being arrested on Labor Racketeering charges, which prompted his working as an FBI Informant, Greene initiated a campaign to organize local garbage haulers. One of Greene’s Union Enforcers, Art Snepeger, made the mistake of confiding to the Cleveland Police Department that Danny was secretly informing for the FBI. Danny Greene was just about to be indicted on the labor racketeering charges and other charges when the Judge assigned to the case dropped it completely. This, the Judge would claim, was done at the personal request of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. (14)
A few weeks later, in October, 1971, Snepeger, was blown to pieces by a car bomb that was part of Greene’s arsenal. The case was never solved, but Cleveland was earning it’s dubious distinction as the "Bombing Capital of America!" Those who live by the bomb, however, can certainly die by the bomb. Greene’s partner in crime, Alex “Shondor” Birns, was a Jewish-American gangster who was put on trial in 1957 for bombing the house of Don King, who ran one of his gambling rackets. Birns was Acquitted and King, who testified against Birns and lived to tell about it, went on to become America's pre-eminent boxing promoter. The next bombing target of Birns would be Danny Greene, marked for death because he did not repay a $70,000 loan from New York’s Gambino Family. However, Greene got to Birns first. On an evening in March, 1975, Shondor Birns stepped into his Cadillac, and when he turned on the ignition, a car bomb blew his body into pieces. The bomb was made with C-4 plastic explosive. (14)
With Licavoli’s rise as Godfather, Danny Greene accepted a contract from John Nardi on the life of "Lips" Moceri, who then disappeared, his bloodstained car found abandoned in Akron. His body has never been found. Nardi and Greene did not live long to profit from their scheme: Nardi was soon blown to pieces by a car bomb in the parking lot outside his Teamster's Union office. Only the murder of Danny Greene remained for the Cleveland Family’s revenge for the murder of Lips Moceri. A corrupt private investigator was then hired to place a wiretap on Greene’s phone, which revealed he had an upcoming appointment with his dentist. Greene was followed to the Dentist’s office in Lyndhurst, Ohio, by Ronnie “Crab” Carabbia, a Youngstown gangster, and Ray Ferritto, a bombing expert. The two assassins parked next to Greene’s car a new twist on an old method of murder; a ‘bomb-car,’ an auto that itself was an enormous bomb, equipped to be detonated by a remote control device. When Greene later returned to his car, Ronnie “Crab” pushed the button of the remote control that blew the adjacent car - and Greene's body - into pieces. Ferritto and Carabbia sped away, but were seen by a young woman who just happened to be an artist. Her father just happened to be a cop, and the composite sketch by the witness clearly showed the faces of the murderers, whom, along with Jack White, Big Ange, and 15 other members of the Cleveland Family were indicted. Ferritto "flipped" and turned State’s witness, implicating Jimmy Fratianno in the murder of Greene. However, only Carabbia and his associate Pasquale "Butchie" Cisternino were convicted. Fratianno then decided to “go public,” and become a co-operating Witness against the Mob. Joined by the defection of “Big Ange” Lonardo, the new Underboss of the Cleveland Family, this unprecedented “one-two” punch of the highest ranking Mafia turncoats up until that time led to the extinction of the Cleveland Mafia Family, the only such organized crime gang in America eradicated by law enforcement. Today’s Police Chief of Lyndhurst, Rick Porrello, would have the final word on Danny Greene, with the creation of AmericanMafia.com in 1998, and Porrello’s book “To Kill the Irishman,” published in the same year, which became the motion picture “Kill the Irishman” released in 2009. Jimmy Fratianno and Big Ange Lonardo would also become Witnesses in the “Commission Trial” prosecuted by Rudy Giuliani.
Once Ronnie the Crab was convicted and sent to prison for his role in Danny Greene’s murder, responsibility for taking care of Ronnie’s family and running the gambling rackets fell upon his brother, Charlie "The Crab" Carabbia. In those days, the Mafia made most of it’s money not from drug trafficking, as is the case today, but from gambling rackets, which took bets from citizens in the community on sporting events, most notably collegiate and professional football games. A common Mafia tactic in those days, as well as today, involved the bribing of College athletes in ‘point-shaving’ schemes, in which an athlete, typically a quarterback on a football team or point leader on a basketball team, would take measures to keep his team’s victory below the ‘point-spread’ established by professional gamblers. If a Mafia organization could thus influence the score outcome of a game, they stood to reap huge profits by betting for the ‘underdog’ in those sporting events. Such were the scams being operated by the two Mafia Families that controlled Youngstown; Cleveland and Pittsburgh. At this point, a local football hero in Youngstown, Ohio, James Traficant, entered into the picture.
D. CONGRESSMAN JAMES TRAFICANT
The product of a traditional Italian Catholic family from the tough, low-income Youngstown neighborhood known as ‘Hunkytown,’ Traficant grew up learning to fight with his fists, as well as his mouth. Traficant’s family become more "Americanized" by dropping the ‘e’ from their original name, "Traficante." In the late 1950s Traficant tasted the roar of the crowd as the popular star quarterback of his high school football team. He parlayed this success into a football scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh, which for decades has operated one of the nation’s most successful and lucrative programs, winning several national championships. Once his heady football career in Pittsburgh was finished, Traficant returned to Youngstown to run Mahoning County’s substance abuse treatment program.
During the 70s, Japan began dumping into the United States low-priced steel that was subsidized by the Japanese government. Unable to compete with these unfair practices, the steel industry throughout American was devastated, sending thousands of once-proud steelworkers into the ranks of the unemployed. The resultant discontent turned the blue-collar residents of Mahoning County against the government "Establishment," a constituency Traficant perfectly symbolized as someone who grew up on the wrong side of town.
In 1980 Traficant saw his chance and declared his candidacy for Sheriff of Youngstown. Both the Pittsburgh Mafia Family and the rival Cleveland Mafia Family recognized that the next Sheriff had to be ‘bought’ by them to protect their gambling interests, so the Pittsburgh Mafia Family forwarded a $65,000 bribe to Traficant through their Associates Charles O’Nesti and Lenny Strollo. The Cleveland Mafia Family contributed more to Traficant, $98,000, forwarded to the former athlete through Charlie "The Crab. This was a lot of money in those days and reflected the enormous profits both crime families generated from illegal gambling. Traficant accepted the Mob’s money, agreed to protect their gambling rackets, and was elected Sheriff. Then, on the afternoon of December 13, 1980, just weeks after Traficant’s election, Charlie the Crab got a phone call from someone who asked to meet him at a local donut shop. At least one member of law enforcement was there that day, a Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy, who reported seeing Carabbia’s car parked outside the donut shop with the lights on and the doors locked. 24 Hours later the car was found abandoned in Cleveland, the keys in the ignition. Charlie the Crab has not been seen since.
Some months later, FBI Agents assigned to this case would make an astonishing find; Carabbia believed Traficant was already in the pocket of the Pittsburgh Family so as an ‘insurance policy’ Charlie secretly tape-recorded Traficant’s conversations with him in which the Sheriff-elect bragged about accepting the Mafia bribes. On one tape, Carabbia stuns Traficant by revealing that he is blackmailing Traficant’s friend Ed Flask, the son of a former Youngstown Mayor, with "compromising photographs that would ensure his silence!" At that point in the conversation, Traficant becomes flustered and disturbed. It is clear to Traficant that Charlie, in addition to being a briber, gambler and racketeer, is also a blackmailer. Traficant had to consider the possibility that Charlie was secretly recording him at that very moment. Which he was. Just days later Associates of the Pittsburgh Mafia Family abducted Carabbia and murdered him. The Pittsburgh Mafia Family then took extraordinary measures to conceal the identity of one of their accomplices in Charlie the Crab's murder, that being the person who disposed of Charlie’s car.
On August 9, 1982, Sheriff Traficant was indicted by the U. S. Attorney’s office for accepting bribes from organized crime figures and for knowingly filing a false 1980 personal income tax return. Traficant then made a bold decision; he would face trial in Federal Court, acting as his own attorney. At his trial in the Federal Courthouse in Cleveland, the government presented a strong case against Traficant, including the damaging statements on Charlie the Crab’s tapes. Undaunted, Traficant persisted in his defense and maintained he had returned to Charlie the Crab the bribe money he was on trial for accepting. With Carabbia conveniently dead, Traficant was able to explain the contents of the tapes by telling the jury that he had joined neither Mob faction by accepting their money, but rather was conducting his own "undercover sting operation" against the Mob so that he would know whom to target for arrest once elected Sheriff. After four days of deliberations an exhausted jury acquitted Traficant of all charges.
James Traficant had single-handedly beaten the United States government, the same government that the residents of Mahoning County held responsible for the closing down of the area steel mills. Thus, Sheriff Traficant returned to a hero’s welcome in Youngstown; t-shirts with his image emblazoned on them sold out in minutes outside a Church reception; crowds jammed the victory celebration while a parade of supporters in automobiles turned the event into a circus. Traficant’s popularity soared. Despite the opposition of the local Democratic party, Sheriff Traficant rode the wave of his notoriety into Congress in the elections of 1984. He was, in fact, the only Democrat nationwide to unseat an incumbent Republican in the Republican landslide generated by the re-election of popular President Ronald Reagan. Once in Congress, Traficant advocated sending armed forces troops to patrol the Mexican border in an effort to curtail drug trafficking.
A few months after Traficant’s acquittal, Cleveland Underboss Big Ange Lonardo, who along with Godfather Licavoli had been convicted in Federal Court on racketeering charges, quietly ‘flipped’ and became a co-operating witness for the United States government. Only then did the facts surrounding the murder of Charlie the Crab begin to emerge. The American Mafia is a patriarchal, crime fraternity governed by a ruling “Godfather.” There is a chain of command and “rules of engagement” that members must follow, on penalty of death. Once a man has become a “Made Member,” usually - but not always - by carrying out at least one murder on behalf of the “Family,” that position brings with it certain protections. “Made Members” cannot be harmed without express permission from the Godfathers. Their wives and girlfriends are consider “off-limits” from lesser associates of the Family. Members of law enforcement and the Media are not to be harmed for just doing their jobs; such bad publicity only brings intensified heat from members of those professions.
Thus, Big Ange told the FBI that after Traficant was offered the bribe money, Jimmy Prato and Joey Naples of the Pittsburgh Family approached him and Godfather Jack White to request permission to murder Charlie the Crab. They suspected The Crab was cheating them by lying about the size of his gambling rackets in Youngstown. Most disturbingly, the two wiseguys reported that Charlie was now in the habit of going out to public bars, getting very drunk, and making statements against them as well as members of his own Cleveland Family. It was evident to the four Mobsters that something was deeply troubling Charlie the Crab; either he was becoming greedy and trying to take over all of the Youngstown rackets for himself, or he was on the verge of ‘flipping’ for the government, as had hitman Ferritto. Prato and Naples smelled a ‘rat’ and wanted Charlie dead.
After giving the matter considerable thought, the Godfather decided that if Charlie was murdered, his brother Ronnie, in prison for the murder of Danny Greene, would likely retaliate by himself becoming a government witness. Ronnie, they all knew, could bring down everyone, but would likely stay in line as long as Charlie was alive to provide for his brother’s family. The Godfather denied Prato’s and Naples’ request for the time being, but he did grant permission to murder Charlie the Crab if he continued his erratic and unexplained behavior.
Shortly after his disappearance, Prato and Naples confessed to Big Ange that they had murdered Charlie Crab. The two wiseguys also explained that they had an accomplice who helped them in this murder. They did not tell Lonardo who this man was but apologized to Big Ange for the fact that he very sloppily disposed of The Crab’s car in Cleveland, which would suggest to law enforcement that Charlie’s disappearance was the work of the Cleveland Family, and thus bring investigators to focus on that Family, instead of the Pittsburgh Family who actually committed the murder.
Jimmy Prato died of a heart attack in 1987. In August, 1991, Joey Naples was blown away by an assassin laying in wait for him in a cornfield across the site of the construction of his retirement home. Congress was in Recess at that time, and Lenny Strollo had recently gotten out of prison. Once Strollo “flipped,” he denied any involvement in the murder of Naples, but did admit in a Court proceeding that he was the one who phoned Charlie Carabbia, luring him to the donut shop where he was last known alive.
In 1987 Congressman Traficant faced a civil trial for back taxes on the bribe money he did not declare on his income tax. Judge B. John Williams Jr. concluded that Traficant’s refusal to testify confirmed the damning evidence on the tapes and convicted Traficant of all charges. In his decision, Judge Williams cited the secretly recorded conversations that were the final legacy of Charlie the Crab. In the age of electronic surveillance, dead men DO live on to tell tales. (15)
In February, 2001, this reporter published an analysis of the campaign contributions to Congressman Traficant, according to records obtained from the Federal Election Commission. It was no surprise that associates of the American Mafia were among those who had given cash to Traficant’s re-election campaigns. What was a surprise was evidence of contributions from around America to Traficant’s campaign by associates of a group on the State Department’s list of known terrorist organizations called the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, also known as the Mujahedin e-Khalk, or MEK.
Years earlier, in June, 1993, Senator John McCain entered into the Congressional Record a public challenge to the FBI and the Justice Department to share information on the MEK, an Islamic terrorist organization involved in a clandestine effort to influence American public policy by directing contributions to the campaigns of selected members of Congress. In response to Senator McCain’s request, the FBI, State Department, and other law enforcement agencies released information about the MEK, which was founded in the 1970s by young Iranian Communists with the aim of overthrowing the Shah of Iran. FBI documents show that MEK members murdered several U. S. military members and civilians in this quest and that MEK members were among those in 1979 who invaded the U. S. Embassy in Tehran, kidnaping 52 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and installed a puppet Communist regime, the new Iranian government banned the Communist MEK and they fled to neighboring Iraq, where they received the support of Dictator Saddam Hussein. MEK terrorists fought alongside the military of Iraq during the 8-year war between Iraq and Iran and continued their association with Hussein during the first Gulf War against the United States and it’s allies. (16)
In 1996 Congress passed new legislation that made it illegal to raise funds within the United States for criminal syndicates determined by the State Department to be terrorist organizations. A year later, the U. S. State Department added the MEK to it’s official list of terrorist organizations. By the end of that year, only four Congressmen were still accepting substantial contributions from associates of the MEK; Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, Gary Ackerman of New York, Dan Burton of Indiana, and James Traficant of Ohio. (17) Traficant and Torricelli did in fact for many years aggressively lobby in Washington on behalf of the MEK, seeking the removal of this organization from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Going back to 1989, Congressman Traficant had developed a huge following in the Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East because of his passionate public support for accused Libyan terrorists Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, Indicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Despite the efforts of Traficant and his associates, Al-Megrahi was convicted as the terrorist who planted the bomb that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103. With the fall of the regime of Libyan Dictator Muamar Qadafy in 2011, further evidence has emerged regarding the Libyan government’s role in the bombing of Pan Am 103.
In February 2001 the FBI utilized the new law enacted by Congress and arrested 7 foreigners at the Los Angeles International Airport for illegally raising funds for the MEK. The 7 solicited money from travelers after showing them photographs of starving children, with the promise that their money would go to humanitarian relief efforts. Instead, according to the FBI, the money was used to buy rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives, which have been used by the MEK in their attacks on innocent civilians. (18) By the time of Torricelli’s 2002 re-election campaign, during which the issue of the MEK was raised, Torricelli then admitted that it was a mistake on his part to accept money from associates of the Mujahedin e-Khalk.
In 2002, Congressman Traficant was Indicted - again - on Federal bribery, tax evasion, and racketeering charges. After his conviction, the House Ethics Committee voted 420-1 to Expel Traficant from Congress. This was the first time Congress had taken such action since the 1980 expulsion of Congressman Michael Myers, one of several members of Congress caught up in the FBI’s ABSCAM investigation.
E. CONGRESSMAN JAY KIM
Jay Kim immigrated to the United States in 1961 from his birthplace, Seoul, South Korea. After earning Degrees in Civil Engineering from USC, Kim began a successful career in that field. In 1992, Kim was elected to Congress as a Republican. However, in 1997 Kim pleaded Guilty to accepting $230,000 in illegal campaign contributions in his initial campaign for Congress. $12,000 of that money came from Korean businessman David Chang. By the time David Chang had met Jay Kim, Chang had already made a substantial income as a Broker in the oil business. Chang then set out to broker a large shipment of grain to the starving population of North Korea. Chang set out to endear himself with Kim, even though as a child Kim and his parents had nearly lost their lives during the Korean War. (19)
Chang also developed an association with Kenneth Quinones in 1991, who, when working for the State Department, was an expert on Communist North Korea. Chang had won a special permit to ship to North Korea millions of dollars worth of grain. However, after a year had passed without Chang being paid, Chang sought two options; lobby government officials to put pressure on North Korea to pay for the grain, or seek payment through assets of North Korea frozen by the U. S. government. From 1993 to 1997 Chang lavished gifts to Quinones, including an Acura Legend car and $65,000 cash for Quinones’ daughter’s college expenses. In exchange, Quinones helped Chang’s company obtain a Federal Contract worth over $700,000, as well as assisting Chang in obtaining the money owed him by Communist Korea. In 2001, Quinones pleaded guilty to charges that he used his position to help Chang's company in exchange for gifts. (20) Chang was now under scrutiny for having steered illegal campaign contributions into the re-election campaign of Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey.
F. SENATOR ROBERT TORRICELLI
Robert Torricelli was born in New Jersey in 1951. His father, Salvatore, was a lawyer from Corleone, Sicily. Torricelli followed in his family traditions, obtaining a law degree from Rutgers in 1977 and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard in 1980. Torricelli was first elected to the U. S. Congress in 1982.
In 1990 the Public Interest watchdog group Common Cause released a report on ‘Torricelli PAC,’ a Political Action Committee set up by Torricelli in New Jersey. Federal law makes it illegal for a member of Congress to accept a gift worth more than $100. Members must also submit under Penalty of Perjury personal financial disclosure statements. Federal election laws also limits contributions by individuals to $1,000 to the campaign of a Congressman and those individuals must be U. S. citizens. However, a candidate can set up a State PAC, whose disclosure requirements are not required by Federal law. A citizen can make unlimited contributions to a State PAC and there are few restrictions as to how that politician can spend those funds. The Common Cause report detailed how Torricelli spent $147,000 of ‘Torricelli PAC’ funds during 1987-1990 on such items as speeding tickets of his Aides, dues for Torricelli’s private Club, The Harvard Club, meals in fancy restaurants, overseas trips, gifts for friends from upscale Department Stores, and over $1,300 in florists bills.
In 1995 Torricelli began his campaign for a seat in the U. S. Senate, waging a bitter and controversial contest against his opponent while utilizing a variety of fundraisers of various backgrounds to assemble his war chest. One fundraiser for the Torricelli Senate campaign was a $2,000 a plate event held at the home of convicted felon Francis Walsh, owner of Walsh Trucking Company. In 1988 Walsh was named in a landmark prosecution of the Teamsters Union and the Genovese Mafia Family. The indictments listed a veritable "Who’s Who" of mobsters, including Genovese Family Godfather "Fat Tony" Salerno, capo "Matty the Horse" Ianniello, Vincent "Fish" Cafaro, James "The Little Guy" Ida, and Teamsters officials Tony Provenzano and Stephen Andretta.
Stephen Andretta and Tony Provenzano have been identified in FBI documents as among those responsible for the abduction and murder of former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa. Andretta was later convicted of loan sharking and racketeering and Provenzano was convicted of racketeering and murder. "Fat Tony" Salerno was among those convicted in the famous "Commission" trial prosecuted by Rudolph Giuliani. "Matty the Horse" Ianniello was sent to prison for income tax evasion. Vincent "Fish" Cafaro turned ‘rat’ and testified against several Mafia figures, including Gambino Family Godfather John Gotti and Genovese Family Godfather Vincent "The Chin" Gigante. James Ida is now serving a Life sentence for racketeering and murder. Francis Walsh pleaded guilty to charges he bribed Teamsters officials and served time in prison. Congressman Torricelli, when questioned by U. S. News & World Report about his association with the Walsh family, shrugged off criticism. "Walsh did something wrong, and he paid a price," the Congressman minimized. Federal Election Commission records show that in addition to the fund raiser for Torricelli, Francis Walsh donated $1,000 to Torricelli’s 1996 Senate campaign.
In 1996 Torricelli was caught on an FBI wiretap soliciting contributions over a telephone at a Florida pizza parlor under surveillance for suspected Mafia ties, the Associated Press’ John Solomon would later report. Among those captured speaking with Torricelli were Francis and Sam Roti, the nephews of Fred Roti, a Chicago politician convicted in 1993 of racketeering, bribery, and extortion with members of the Chicago Mafia Family and the Laborers Union. On the FBI tapes Torricelli asks for $1,000 contributions from the Rotis and their associates and the Rotis then suggest that their native Chicago would be a good place for Torricelli to raise funds, even though Chicago is over 500 miles away from the constituents Torricelli would represent in New Jersey. Nicolas Castronuovo, the owner of the pizza parlor and his grandson Nicholas Melone later pleaded guilty to evading the government of $100,000 in taxes. Sam Roti was indicted in 1993 on Federal tax charges, which were later dropped. (21)
Fred Roti, along with Chicago Mafia figures Tony Accardo and Joey Aiuppa and Laborers Union Vice-President John Serpico were named in a 1999 Federal civil racketeering lawsuit filed to end Mafia dominance of the International Laborer’s Union. Serpico was convicted in July 2001 on Federal fraud charges involving misuse of the Union’s Pension funds. The Laborer’s Union contributed $7,000 to the 1996 Torricelli Senate campaign, according to Federal Election Commission documents.
The gambling industry is one that has contributed extensively to Torricelli, according to Federal Election Commission documents. In 1996 Torricelli received $15,000 from Mirage Resorts, $11,000 from Ballys, $3,500 from Circus Circus, $3,500 from the Boyd Gaming Corporation, $3,500 from Showboat Casino, $1,000 from Trump Taj Mahal, $9,800 from MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, $5,000 from Harrahs', and $4,000 from the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. Common Cause has also reported Torricelli's actions that have benefited the American drug manufacturers lobby. As detailed in their June 2001 report, the Schlering-Plough Corporation made a $50,000 contribution in May 1999 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, then headed by Senator Torricelli. The report noted that the very next day, Torricelli introduced legislation favorable to the manufacturers of 7 drugs, including the popular anti-allergy drug Claritin. A Schlering-Plough Executive would later contribute $5,000 to Torricelli's Legal Defense Fund.
Senator Torricelli's eagerness to accept money from foreign-born businessmen with questionable backgrounds became one of the focuses of the Campaign Financing Task Force put together in 1997 by U. S. Attorney General Janet Reno. 8 associates of Torricelli’s were eventually indicted for making illegal contributions to Torricelli’s 1996 Senate campaign. Seven were convicted, while an eight, Mario Crespo, aka Mark Jimenez, fled to his native Phillipines. In May 1999 the Campaign Financing Task Force secured guilty pleas from lawyer Berek Don, a top Republican leader in New Jersey political circles whom nevertheless illegally funneled money into the 1996 Torricelli campaign. Don admitted he laundered through the campaign $11,000 given to him by his associate David Chang. Don also pleaded guilty to Federal charges of defrauding two real estate partners of over $100,000. In December the Task Force announced that Don's partner in his law firm, Carmine Alampi, who was given a position on Torricelli's Senate campaign committee, had pleaded guilty to his role in making illegal contributions.
In June 2000 the Task Force secured the convictions of South Korean national Cha-Kuek Koo, who pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions in the names of other people to the 1996 Torricelli campaign. Koo, who as President of LG Group, a Korean-based telecommunications and finance conglomerate, funneled $20,000 in illegal contributions to the campaign by convincing his employees to make these donations. These funds were then reimbursed by David Chang, a businessman born in Communist China who has a history of financial dealings with the Communist North Korean regime. The Task Force also announced that Audrey Yu, a co-defendant of David Chang, had pleaded guilty to lying to a Grand Jury about her knowledge of destruction of documents relating to charter flights arranged for Torricelli's campaign trips by Chang.
In June 2000 the Bergen Record reported that David Chang had pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired with others to make illegal donations of over $50,000 to the 1996 Torricelli campaign, as well as Obstruction of Justice charges and Solicitation of Perjury before a Grand Jury. Chang also admitted falsifying records in regards to 19 chartered flights of airplanes he arranged for Torricelli during his travels seeking election to the United States Senate.
Another financier whom Torricelli gave a position on his 1996 Senate campaign finance committee is Philippe Hababou, who became an International Fugitive when he fled his native France in late 1995 where he was wanted on charges of defrauding investors in an international securities scam. Hababou was also involved with members of the French Mafia in a money laundering and stolen checks scam. Once on the lam in the United States, Hababou hooked up with another Fugitive from Justice, Mark A. Rousso, aka "Marc Amand," who was wanted in France on stock fraud charges. Hababou and Rousso quickly set up similar stock fraud scams in the U. S., raking in millions of dollars as the two hooked up with Congressman Torricelli. Soon, both were attending fundraisers where they had their photographs taken with President Clinton. Rousso pleaded guilty in 1999 to money laundering and securities fraud charges. In 1996 Hababou was convicted "in absentia" in France on the French Mafia stolen checks case. In December 1998 Hababou was arrested at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City where he and Rousso had laundered and gambled huge amounts of stolen money. French authorities secured Hababou's extradition after Hababou pleaded guilty in September, 2000 to laundering thousands of dollars into the Torricelli campaign, as well as laundering over $5 million he and Rousso made in their U. S. stock scam.
In response to the growing investigations of Torricelli campaign financiers, Torricelli had founded a separate Legal Defense Fund. According to FEC documents, waste management contractors Frank and Peter DiTommaso contributed $10,000 to this fund. At the time of the donations, the DiTommaso brothers, owners of Interstate Industrial Corporation, were the subjects of a Federal, New York City, and New Jersey Casino Control Commission investigation into allegations of ties to the Mafia. The City investigation was prompted by a $30 million contract sought by the DiTommaso brothers' business to assist in the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, an illegal Mob-controlled landfill that was only closed after the election of former Mafia Prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani as Mayor of New York. The City as a result of their investigation canceled the $30 million contract.
The Federal investigation of the DiTommaso brothers concerned their purchase of a Staten Island waste station controlled by Edward Garafola, who was married to the sister of former Gambino Family Underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. Garafola was indicted in March 2000 along with Lawrence Ray, an executive of the DiTommaso brothers' Interstate Industrial Corporation, and Daniel Persico, nephew of Colombo Family Godfather Carmine "The Snake" Persico, on Federal charges involving a $40 million stock 'pump and dump' scam. Interstate Industrial Corporation was also denied a contract by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 2000 to perform work on an Atlantic City gambling casino.
In 2006 the DiTommaso brothers were each Indicted on Perjury charges regarding free renovations worth $250,00 to an apartment in the Bronx purchased by Bernard Kerik, the former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections and then Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. In December, 2012, Frank DiTommaso was Acquitted but his brother Peter was convicted. Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty to related charges in the Bronx in 2006 and was fined $221,000. In 2009 Kerik pleaded guilty to tax fraud and false statement charges regarding his nomination to become Director of Homeland Security, a position his former employer, Mayor Giuliani, had lobbied for on his behalf. Kerik spent 4 years in prison.
In August 2001 the Washington Post reported that Torricelli had spent an incredible $1.5 million on lawyers defending him in the various investigations, despite the fact that the Senator had not yet been charged with a crime. Half of the $1.5 million was doled out by his re-election campaign fund, with the other half coming from his Legal Defense Fund. In the end, the money raised for Torricelli’s defense was not necessary, as the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which had taken over the investigation, announced no indictments would be forthcoming. Torricelli still had to face a hearing before the Senate Ethics Committee. The Senate Ethics Committee then handed Torricelli a 3-page admonishment for his dealings with David Chang. Trailing in the polls, Torricelli announced that he was quitting his bid for re-election. Torricelli was replaced on the ballot by his archenemy, former Senator Frank Lautenberg, who won the election.
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush Administration made the determination that regime changes were necessary in countries that support terrorism. Thus, the war in Iraq was launched. What received little Media attention during the liberation of Iraq was that Coalition forces also captured members of the MEK. The organization had in fact renounced violence in 2001. Thus, the Bush Administration began re-evaluating its position on the MEK. To be fair, the MEK has many associates who are not involved in terrorist activities, but are instead activists in the women’s rights movement. This re-examination of the MEK continued into the Obama Administration. In January, 2011, former Senator Robert Torricelli hosted an event in Washington to further press his case that the MEK should be removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Former Presidential candidates Howard Dean and Rudolph Giuliani would add their names to the growing chorus for this change. On September 28, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed the MEK from the list. By this time, among Secretary Clinton’s most pressing concerns was the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear program.
G. THE ABSCAM SCANDAL AND IT’S AFTERMATH
In the late 1970s the FBI launched a highly successful operation called ABSCAM, which ensnared 7 members of Congress. ABSCAM was an FBI operation run out of New York in which public officials were offered bribes, most of whom took the bait. Over 30 years later, the operation was the basis for the acclaimed motion picture “American Hustle.” Six Congressmen and one U. S. Senator were among those convicted of bribery in that case. One of those, Congressman John Jenrette of South Carolina was caught on an FBI tape saying the following as to whether he would accept a bribe: “I’ve got Larceny in my blood!” the Congressman exclaimed. “I’d take it in a goddamn minute!” Another Congressman, Michael Myers of Philadelphia, was caught on an FBI tape stating: “Money talks and bullshit walks!”
Another corrupt Congressman caught in this net was Democrat John Murphy, an 18-year veteran representing New York City’s Borough of Staten Island. Staten Island is different from the rest of New York City, due in part to the fact that many cops and firefighters live on that island, which is physically and culturally separated from the other Boroughs. Although registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans on Staten Island as well as throughout the other Boroughs, the presence of so many cops living on Staten Island means that it’s possible for the Republicans to claim that Congressional seat if they run a pro-law enforcement candidate.
The Republican Party responded to this scandal by choosing a local attorney, Guy Molinari, a Marine Corps Veteran who saw combat during the Korean War, as their Candidate. Promising to restore Integrity to that office, Molinari defeated Murphy, who would later be sent to prison. Once in Congress, Guy Molinari quickly distinguished himself as one of the most aggressive members of the House in support of the Reagan Administration’s fight against Communism. However, in the elections of 1982, both Houses of Congress were captured by the Democrats and the new Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which precluded the government of funding the Contras, rebels trying to defeat the Communist Sandinistas who had taken over Nicaragua. President Reagan famously proclaimed himself a Contra, and in May, 1986, Guy Molinari was among 9 Congressmen who took a fact-finding trip to Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Months earlier, a U. S. Marine Corps Colonel, Oliver North, a VietNam war hero, working at his desk in the basement of the White House, initiated a private war to fight the Communists; weapons would be sold to arch-enemy Iran and the profits from those sales would be used to buy weapons for the Contras. A magazine in Lebanon would leak this story to the world in November of 1986. The scandal almost brought down President Ronald Reagan. Oliver North was accused of a variety of crimes, but never went to prison. Instead, he almost went to the United States Senate. In 1994, North ran for the nomination of the Republican Party for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. In a foreshadowing of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Oliver North was not expected to win the Nomination, given his direct role in the Iran-Contra scandal. North’s opponent for the Nomination, Marshall Coleman, had the support of the other Virginia Senator, Republican John Warner. North far exceeded everyone’s expectations and won the Nomination. Some Republicans were outraged, and encouraged Coleman to run as an Independent. On election night the Democratic incumbent Chuck Robb won with 45% of the vote. North received 42% and Coleman received only 11%. Some pundits claimed that had Coleman not run, North would have been elected.
Ronald Reagan’s Vice-President, George H. W. Bush, emerged from the Iran-Contra scandal virtually unscathed, and succeeded Reagan as President in the election of 1988. It was during Bush’s Administration that the “Evil Empire,” as Reagan called the Soviet Union, finally collapsed. Among Bush’s most vocal supporters was the Congressman from Staten Island, Guy Molinari, who headed the New York State campaign for George Bush. Guy Molinari was re-elected that year with over 60% of the vote. However, with his singular issue - the fight against Communism - now achieved, Guy Molinari decided to resign from the Congress on New Year’s Eve, 1989. He would be succeeded in a Special Election in the new decade by his hand-picked successor, his daughter Susan, who would easily win that election.
Susan Molinari became an instant star within the Republican Party. Her power escalated when she married Bill Paxton, a Congressman from Upstate New York, and the two of them became a “Power Couple” in Washington. Susan Molinari was the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in 1996. However, a year later, Molinari left Congress voluntarily. Among the reasons was the safety and well being of her children, and her desire to pursue a career in journalism.
The Republicans then chose Vito Fossella, who had worked on Susan Molinari’s re-election campaign beginning in 1992, as their candidate. Fossella won that seat and held on to it until 2008. Once First Responders to the World Trade Center terrorist attack began to come down with a variety of rare ailments, Fossella joined with Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as the most aggressive advocates for the passage of the Zadroga Bill which would provide funding for the expensive and debilitating illnesses that had afflicted the First Responders, many of whom were civilians. Despite having one of the most Conservative voting records in Congress, Fossella could not persuade fellow Republican members of Congress across the country to support the Bill. The Bill would not become law until 2011, by which time many of those who had worked at Ground Zero had died.
Fossella’s political career ended in 2008 when a drunk driving arrest in Washington led to the disclosure that he had fathered a child in Washington in addition to having a wife and family on Staten Island. Fossella’s Republican replacement lost that election to Democrat Michael McMahon. It was the Democrat’s first election win for that seat since 1978. 2 years later, Guy Molinari was determined to reclaim the seat he and his party had held for over a quarter of a Century. To recover from the scandal of Fossella they needed a straight-arrow, tough guy, law enforcement-minded person that would appeal to Staten Island’s unique constituency. They found such a person - or so they thought - in a Marine Corps Veteran and former FBI Agent named Michael Grimm. Some Molinari supporters, however, wary of the FBI scandals that have unfolded in New York since the early 1990s, thought Agent Grimm must be too good to be true. They would launch their own, private investigation of Grimm.
On paper, Grimm’s career with the FBI looked quite impressive. For 2 years he worked undercover in a sting that netted over 50 White-collar criminals on Wall Street. Grimm worked with legendary FBI Agent Joaquin Garcia, whose accomplishments as an undercover Mob associate of the Gambino Family meet - if not exceed - the results FBI Agent Joe Pistone achieved under his alias of “Donnie Brasco.” In 1999 Grimm got into altercations with several patrons of a nightclub into which he entered with a woman who’s estranged husband was also present. An NYPD Officer working off-duty alleged that Grimm was violent, brandished his gun, and threatened patrons on more than one occasion that night. Grimm’s version of the story was very different. A lawsuit between Grimm and the cop ensued, but went nowhere. The NYPD and FBI both investigated the incident.
Years later, as Congressman, Grimm would exhibit the exact violent behavior attributed to him by the cop in the nightclub. In January, 2014 the FBI arrested Diana Durand on charges of illegally funneling $10,000 into Grimm’s campaign. Later that month, after the President’s State of the Union address, Michael Scotto, a reporter for New York One, a 24-hour cable TV news program, pursued Grimm for an interview on the balcony of the House. When Scotto queried Grimm about the growing allegations of his campaign finances, Grimm erupted into fury, threatening to throw Scotto off the balcony and “break you in half - like a boy!” As an FBI Agent assigned to investigate the Gambino Family in New York, Grimm should have known Scotto is the Nephew of Anthony Scotto, the infamous Union Boss connected to the Gambino Mafia Family.
Although Congressman Grimm apologized the next day to Scotto, the damage was already done. The Media scrutiny of Grimm intensified, as did that of his former employer, the FBI. Some found it suspicious that, after 9 years as an FBI Agent, Grimm would give up his lucrative, future Pension by leaving the FBI to open a health food restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Grimm’s business partner in that restaurant has been alleged to have close ties to a member of the Gambino Family. (22) On April 28, 2014 Grimm was charged in a 20-Count Indictment of concealing $900,000 in wages and sales from the State of New York and the Federal government. “He never met a Tax he didn’t lie to evade!” stated U. S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Grimm had hired illegal aliens in his restaurant, paid them “off the book” in cash, and not paid the State and Federal taxes on their employment. Had Grimm gone to trial, he would have faced a jury made up of residents of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as residents further out on Long Island. This area is one of the most ethnically-diverse populations in the nation. Such a jury would be inclined to have compassion for new immigrants to America, regardless their legal status. Such a jury pool would find compelling the testimony of the immigrants Michael Grimm exploited for his own financial gain. As a former FBI Agent he could not claim ignorance of the law. Recognizing this, Michael Grimm accepted a plea bargain which gave him an 8-month sentence in a Federal Penitentiary.
Former Congressman Guy Molinari was devastated. Fellow Marines, Grimm had become to Molinari the son he always wanted and never had. Molinari had now come full circle from the FBI’s Abscam operation that propelled him into Congress. For Guy Molinari, the crimes of Michael Grimm were the ultimate betrayal.
IV. DONALD TRUMP AND THE AMERICAN MAFIA
During the course of his adult life, Donald Trump has been involved with a controversial Federal Prosecutor who was an FBI Informant and also represented Mobsters as a criminal lawyer, a convicted drug trafficker who worked secretly with the Drug Enforcement Administration, a Mafia associate who has a felony conviction for possession of stolen auto parts, and a corrupt stock broker who has worked with the U. S. Intelligence community. FBI documents reveal that Trump himself has sought the advice of FBI Agents as he has navigated a career in the real estate and Casino industries which are populated and compromised by members of the American Mafia. Were Trump involved in illegal activities with gangsters the last thing he would do would be to approach members of the law enforcement community regarding his actions. (1)
Trump has never been charged with a crime, nor does his behavior meet this reporter’s standard to be labeled as an associate of the America Mafia. However, Trump’s involvement with various individuals certainly warrant’s scrutiny given that Trump is seeking the office of President of the United States.
The first person of questionable character that Trump became involved with as a young man was former Assistant U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Roy Cohn. In 1973, John Mitchell’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the real estate empire built by Donald Trump and his father. Both men were active members of the Democratic Party in New York at that time. The suit alleged there was a pattern of racial discrimination in the rental of apartments owned by Trump’s company. A settlement was later negotiated whereby Trump’s company did not admit guilt but agreed to change it’s business practices. This agreement was negotiated by the lawyer Donald Trump had hired, Roy Cohn. (2)
Roy Cohn first made a name for himself as a Prosecutor of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union in 1951 and executed. Cohn then joined into an association with 4 other prominent Americans, U. S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Army General Edwin Walker, and the Reverend Billy James Hargis, whom each, in their own way, exploited the hysteria regarding Communist subversives in America for their own personal gain. Each man also publicly denounced gays working in the government and the military, ironic given that each of these public figures would later be revealed to have lived secret gay lifestyles themselves. In 1953 McCarthy, with Roy Cohn as his right-hand-man, launched his series of Congressional hearings in which allegations were made regarding Communists working in the government and the military. While most of the Media went along for the ride, the Las Vegas Sun ran a story alleging that Senator McCarthy was a secret homosexual, the suggestion being that the Senator’s witch hunt was at least in part designed to deflect attention from himself. McCarthy did not sue the newspaper, and instead married his Secretary and then adopted a baby with the help of Roy Cohn’s friend, New York City’s Cardinal Spellman. (3)
McCarthy’s downfall came on June 9th, 1954, during the testimony of a U. S. Army attorney, Joseph Welch. Senator McCarthy had gone on an attack against a young man in Welch’s law firm whom the Senator claimed was a Communist, given his brief association years earlier with a left-wing organization. Joseph Welch took in a deep breath, and then issued a response that was one of the most riveting moments in American history, an event broadcast live on television. Welch admonished the Senator thus: "Senator - you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" Those in attendance in the packed conference room gave Welch a roaring ovation of approval and thus, Senator McCarthy's reign of terror came to an end.
After the fall of Senator McCarthy, Roy Cohn somewhat retreated to his base in New York City. Cohn then made a career for himself as a criminal lawyer representing a wide-ranging variety of clients, including members of the Mafia such as Genovese Family Godfather Tony Salerno, Gambino Family Godfather John Gotti, and Bonnano Family Godfather Carmine Galante. Shortly before he died of AIDS in 1986, Cohn was disbarred by a 5-Judge Panel of the State Supreme Court, who found his conduct as a lawyer “particularly reprehensible!” (4)
Much of what is now known about Roy Cohn was not public at the time Donald Trump became professionally and socially involved with Cohn. Indeed, in his last years, Cohn’s reputation was enhanced by his visits to the White House at the invitation of popular President Ronald Reagan. What bonded Reagan and Cohn was their life-long fight against Communism. And, it would be revealed in recent years, both Reagan and Cohn were Informants for the FBI.
There are two types of FBI Informants; one is a Registered Informant, usually someone involved in criminal activity, who agrees to supply information to the FBI, sometimes even wearing a wire against his accomplices, in exchange for cash and/or leniency regarding prosecution. Greg Scarpa, Sr. of the Colombo Family is a perfect example of this. The other type is a “De-Facto Informant,” someone who is not registered, but provides information in exchange for information himself or perceived access to Power. The gossip columnist Walter Winchell is one example of this, who routinely exchanged information with J. Edgar Hoover during their lifetimes. Roy Cohn was another. Much of what Cohn and Winchell proffered was during direct conversations with Hoover himself. These conversations left no paper trail. Conversations with FBI Agents, who were expected to memorialize such information on documents to be forwarded to Headquarters, left paper trails.
Ronald Reagan routinely supplied information to the FBI, according to FBI documents obtained by the San Jose Mercury News through Federal Freedom of Information Act Requests. This began in the early 1940s. What the FBI was seeking was information regarding alleged Communists who belonged to Reagan’s Union, the Screen Actor’s Guild. (5) Many careers were ruined during the Hollywood “Blacklist” period of the 1940s and 1950s. Some of the accused were in fact Communists and some were falsely accused. Reagan was one of two men who would later become President who are now known to have served as an FBI Informant. The other was Gerald Ford. FBI files obtained by the Washington Post revealed that while Congressman Ford was a member of the Warren Commission, he routinely shared with the FBI the directions the Commission’s investigations was taking. (6) Hoover had to make certain that no investigation of the American Mafia would uncover the fact that he had on his payroll a Mafia hitman, Greg Scarpa.
Ironically, Gerald Ford himself, years later, while President, was the target for murder by a registered FBI Informant, Sara Jane Moore. Moore aimed her handgun at the President and pulled the trigger twice on the streets of San Francisco in September, 1975. The quick action of a bystander, Marine Corps Veteran Oliver Sipple, who jumped Moore, likely saved the President’s life. (7) Moore was released from prison in 2007.
President Ford’s role as an FBI Informant makes his Pardon of Teamsters’ President Dave Beck more complex. President Reagan’s closeness to Teamster’s President Jackie Presser, also an FBI Informant, similarly challenges Historians as to how to determine exactly what was going on. Similarly, Roy Cohn’s work as an unofficial FBI Informant makes his work for Mobsters more intriguing. One of his clients, “Fat Tony” Salerno, had a stranglehold on the construction industry in New York.
On February 8, Ted Cruz, appearing on the ABC News program “This Week,” accused Donald Trump of ties to Mafia figures such as “Fat Tony” Salerno and suggested the reason Trump has not released his tax returns is because they may reveal financial dealings with the American Mafia. Marco Rubio has accused Trump of using illegal aliens to build Trump’s signature real estate venture, Trump Tower.
There were, in fact, aliens, some illegal, who worked at the Trump Tower site, most of them being from Poland, but Donald Trump is not the person who hired them. These men were hired by the Contractor to perform the demolition of the Bonwit Teller Department Store at the site upon which Trump Tower was built. For decades, it has been the practice of the construction industry in New York, working in conjunction with corrupt Labor Unions, to hire illegal aliens to perform construction work. Often, the Developer of the site, or the business renovating the site for their future business location, are billed at the substantially higher Union wages as if it was Union labor who had performed the work. Unless kickbacks are involved, the Developers and businesses are the victims, not the perpetrators, of organized crime.
Trump’s organization hired Kaszycki and Sons Contractors, Inc. at the fee of $775,000 to perform the demolition work. The Workers for this company had been organized by the House Wreckers Union Local 95 of the Laborers’ International Union. The Union Contract required that members of Local 95 be paid $11.00 an hour. However, according to lawyers for Local 95, the Kaszycki company hired about 200 Polish workers who were not members of Local 95, and paid them $4 to $5 an hour. Thus, Kaszycki Contractors maximized their profits. The Trump organization did not save any money because of the actions of Kaszycki.
In 1983 a lawsuit was filed against the Trump organization, not by the leadership of Local 95 but rather a member who did not work at the Trump Tower site. The lawsuit sought to compel Trump to pay $300,000 into Local 95’s Benefits fund, to compensate the fund for income that would have been received had Kaszycki Contractors hired Local 95 workers at the $11.00 an hour rate instead of the Polish workers who were paid considerably less. The lawsuit dragged on through the Courts for 15 years. On numerous occasions, Donald Trump had opportunities to settle the case. “It would be cheaper, but on principle I won’t,” Trump stated. “We did nothing wrong.” (8) A ruling in the case in 1991 was Appealed and the prior ruling was vacated. Eventually, an undisclosed settlement was reached in 1999.
In recent years, Federal Prosecutors in New York have cracked down on corrupt Union bosses who exploit illegal immigrants. First to go down was Brian McLaughlin, the President of the Central Labor Council, the umbrella organization under which over 400 Local Unions in New York belong to. In 2009, McLaughlin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing over $2 million dollars from the Central Labor Council, his Electrical Workers' Union, and the State of New York via his job as an elected Assemblyman, as well as his taking bribes to allow the hiring of illegal aliens at illegal wages. McLaughlin also stole $95,000 from a kids Little League baseball team, all as part of his lavish lifestyle for himself, his wife, and his girlfriends. John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, was among the 47 colleagues who wrote McLaughlin’s Judge begging for leniency, a stunning revelation that was only reported by one of New York’s major newspapers, the New York Times. (9) McLaughlin did not spend 10 years in prison; he was released in October, 2014.
That same group of Prosecutors also nailed Michael J. Forde, the Executive Secretary Treasurer of the New York City District Council of Carpenters Union, on similar charges to those Mclaughlin pleaded guilty to. Forde was among 38 people Indicted in 2000 on bribery and labor racketeering charges. Forde was accused of accepting a $50,000 bribe to enable illegal alien, non-Union labor to work at New York City’s Park Central Hotel. Seven corrupt associates of Forde have pleaded guilty, including a reputed Associate of the Luchese Mafia Family. Forde was a cocaine addict and placed his drug dealer on the Union payroll, and used Union funds to pay for trips for himself and his drug dealer to resorts including those in Las Vegas, Hawaii, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Palm Beach, Florida. Forde was convicted, although that conviction did not preclude him from receiving his Pension of over $125,000 a year. (10) After an Appeal, Forde’s conviction was set aside and he was Acquitted after a second trial in 2008. In August, 2009, the Feds Indicted Forde and 9 others on new charges of bribery, as well as allowing Contractors to hire non-Union workers and pay them in cash, denying $10 million to the Carpenter’s Benefits Funds. (10) Forde pleaded Guilty in 2010 and his scheduled release date from prison is September of 2020.
In regards to the allegation regarding “Fat Tony” Salerno and Donald Trump’s income taxes, whatever is in those tax returns is unlikely to have anything to do with Salerno. Back in the early 1980s when Trump Tower was being constructed, the contract to provide cement for that construction went to S & A Cement. In 1981 Salerno became the “Front Boss” of the Genovese Mafia Family, “fronting” for the real Godfather, Vincent “Chin” Gigante. In 1985, Salerno was Indicted in the famous “Commission” case Prosecuted by Rudy Giuliani. Salerno’s lawyer was Roy Cohn. Salerno was convicted in that case and sentenced to 100 years in prison. Prior to that trial, Salerno, along with Vincent “Fish” Cafaro, was Indicted in March, 1986 in a separate trial, charged with having a stranglehold over the concrete industry in New York City. Salerno was also charged with financial improprieties regarding the election of Roy Lee Williams as President of the Teamsters Union. For those charges, Salerno was convicted and received 70 years in prison. Salerno died in prison in 1992.
In 1984 a study performed at Harvard University revealed that concrete in Manhattan then cost $80.00 per cubic yard versus $38.00 to $64.00 in other major cities. The report also noted that despite these enormous profits, there were only 2 concrete companies operating in Manhattan during that time. Donald Trump and his architects chose to build Trump Tower out of concrete as opposed to steel. The company that got the contract was S & A Concrete. At that time, Salerno controlled S & A Concrete.
While awaiting trial, Vincent Cafaro became an FBI Informant, was released on Bail, and wore a wire for several months while interacting with members of the Mob. In 1988, Cafaro testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations as to the Mafia’s stranglehold on the construction industry in New York. Cafaro estimated that the Mafia controlled 75% of the construction industry through it’s control of the concrete companies and the corrupt construction Unions. “Legitimate guys ain’t got a chance!” he stated. Cafaro described how a coalition of New York’s Mafia families shared the Contracts in the construction industry. Any contract over $2 million was shared among the Families. If the contract was worth more than $5 million, it went to S & A Concrete. Cafaro later testified against John Gotti and entered the Witness Protection Program.
Gotti was convicted of several murders, one of which was of a Construction industry figure named Louis DiBono. Through bribery, DiBono, a member of the Gambino Family, was able to obtain from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey a Contract to apply foam fireproofing material to the steel beams of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The design of the Twin Towers were rather unique. Each Tower was essentially a giant birdcage made of steel. To maximize floor space, the exterior of the buildings bore much more of the support for the building than was conventional at the time. Each of the four outer walls were a lattice of steel, connected by horizontal beams of steel for each of it’s 110 floors, intersecting an interior column of steel. In the case of these buildings, steel was the better material for construction, given it’s light weight and ability to bend ever so slightly. This was an issue for buildings this tall, where high wind speeds are a problem.
Concrete is much more fireproof than steel. The Contract that DiBono held called for the application of fireproofing foam to the horizontal steel beams throughout the building. DiBono, however, in order to maximize profits, cut corners by not applying the foam 100 percent throughout the Towers. John Gotti ordered DiBono’s murder in late 1990. One excuse was that DiBono had “disrespected” Gotti. Another factor was that Sammy Gravano coveted DiBono’s lucrative Contract at the World Trade Center. In early October, a hit team entered the North Tower where DiBono’s office was located. Most likely the team drove into the parking lot underneath the Tower. DiBono was shot 3 times as he approached his own car. Given that DiBono was obese, it’s likely that there were 3 members of the hit team, as it would take at least 2 people to lift the heavy man and place him inside his car. DiBono’s body lay for 3 days in his car before it was discovered. This betrayed a staggering lack of Security at the Trade Center. There were no security cameras to record the comings and goings inside the multi-story parking lot. Nor were these conditions corrected. Over 2 years later, terrorists drove a bomb-van into the same parking lot beneath the North Tower with impunity. Their hope was that the blast would topple the North Tower onto the South Tower. The bomb was not strong enough, but still killed 6 people. Terrorists would later try again. (11)
Regardless whether Trump Tower had been constructed primarily of concrete or steel, the American Mafia would have made enormous illicit profits from that project. That was the nature of the construction industry and the Labor Unions during that time. Trump would have been isolated from direct contact with Mafia members in this industry. However, Trump did have direct contact with 3 associates of organized crime, although in each case there is no evidence of any illegality on Trump’s part.
2 of these men ran helicopter companies which ferried high-stakes gamblers to Trump’s Casinos in Atlantic City. One such person was Joseph Weichselbaum. In 1985 Weichselbaum was Indicted in Ohio on charges of trafficking marijuana and cocaine. He then sought leniency by co-operating with Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and then agreed to plead Guilty. Weichselbaum’s lawyer then sought to have the case transferred, either to New York City or Florida, where Weichselbaum resided. Instead, the case mysteriously got transferred to New Jersey, assigned to Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who just happened to be Donald Trump’s sister. The case was then quickly transferred to another Judge. It was that Judge Weichselbaum’s lawyer submitted several letters to asking for leniency in his sentencing. One of those letters was from Donald Trump, calling Weichselbaum “a credit to the community!” A Federal Prosecutor, Ann Marie Tracey, however, urged the Judge to discount the letters written by Trump and others, suggesting Weichselbaum had conned them and they were thus unaware of his previous convictions. Weichselbaum, who had resided in apartments owned by Trump in 2 separate occasions, was given a 3-year sentence. (12)
In 1986, Donald Trump sought to associate his Brand with that of luxury automobiles. Trump then entered into a partnership with one John Staluppi, a Brooklyn native who was already successful in building a financial empire involving a string of automobile dealerships. Trump’s idea was to take a Cadillac car and personalize it into a stretch limo. The car would become a literal office on wheels for a well-wheeled businessman, with all the essentials and amenities a businessman could want or need, including a miniature bar. The cars were manufactured by Dillinger Coach Works, run by Staluppi and his business partner Jack Schwartz, both of whom were convicted felons. The first customized auto was introduced by Donald Trump in Atlantic City in 1988. (1)
In 1993, after he was Indicted by the Feds in Brooklyn, Colombo Mafia Family member Carmine Sessa agreed to become a co-operating Witness for the government. Sessa confessed to his role in 4 murders, including that of a young woman. Sessa provided to the FBI a detailed list of who was who and aligned with whom in the Colombo Family, which had undergone a civil war in the early 1990s. The war pitted Family members aligned with Carmine “The Snake” Persico against those loyal to Vic Orena. Persico was among those convicted by Rudolph Giuliani in the famous “Commission” case. A key participant in that war was Greg Scarpa, Sr., who had enjoyed protection from prosecution since his recruitment as an FBI Informant back in 1961. Scarpa, was also known as “The Mad Hatter” and “The Grim Reaper.” (13).
In his briefings with the FBI, Sessa identified John Staluppi as a member of Theodore Persico’s crew. After the arrest of Vic Orena in 1992, an FBI document reveals that according to the Informant, whose name is redacted but is most likely Scarpa, John Staluppi, John Rosatti, and Joey Baudanza, were going to defect from the Orena faction and join the Persico faction. Credible evidence has emerged in recent years that the charges Orena was arrested for, and convicted of, were in fact committed by Scarpa and his associates who then framed Orena for these crimes. One FBI document mentions that at one point Staluppi used his helicopter to fly himself and two other Colombo members to Carmine Persico’s upstate New York farm for a conference designed to negotiate a truce in the ongoing Colombo Family War. (1)
Another document reveals a conversation between Colombo Family members, apparently at Persico’s farm, in which 2 Colombos discuss the use of a helicopter as a potential tool for murder. “We got two guys with us, Staluppi and Rosatti. They got helicopters. How come the Mad Hatter didn’t think of that? With a helicopter how low could you get? You could kill everybody with that. Throw the gun out somewhere. How are they going to know? By the time the call comes over you’d be gone. ... shots coming out of the sky!” “Why didn’t they think of this when these guys were on the other side? (meaning on the Orena side)
“I don’t know why.”
“Very stupid!” (1)
Despite all of these documents, and other documents mentioning Staluppi and the Colombos, Staluppi’s only arrest was in his youth, for stealing auto parts. Over the decades, Staluppi had donated several million dollars to various charities, which includes a donation of $1.5 million to a center at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palm Beach Gardens which bares his name.
A third convicted felon who crossed paths with Donald Trump was Felix Sater, who pleaded Guilty to one count of racketeering in 1998 involving a stock fraud scam. Felix Sater was born in Russia in 1966 and immigrated to the U. S. with his parents in the early 1970s. By his 20s, Sater was working as a Broker on Wall Street. (14) In 1998, Sater was Indicted by the Feds in Brooklyn for his role in a stock “pump and dump” scam that included members of the American Mafia. Sater agreed to co-operate with the government and his Indictment was placed “Under Seal,” which kept the charges against him a secret. At her Confirmation Hearings for Attorney General in 2015, Loretta Lynch, who, when U. S. Attorney in Brooklyn oversaw Sater’s case, praised Sater’s work for the government, including some work overseas related to matters of national security. 2 years after Sater’s secret work for the Feds began, Indictments were issued for 19 people who were part of the pump and dump scam that netter over $40 million. Among those Indicted were Daniel Persico, nephew of Colombo Godfather Carmine Persico, and Edward Garafola, Sammy Gravano’s brother-in-law. Donald Trump worked with the real estate company Bayrock Group beginning in 2003. Sater had become an executive in that company, which rented commercial space from the Trump Organization. 2 years later, Sater worked for 6 months with no Contract with the Trump Organization in joint real estate prospecting. (15)
The one remaining mystery regarding Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is in regards to his income tax filings, which he has yet to make public. His stated reason is that he is currently undergoing an Audit. There was a time when being Audited by the IRS would be viewed by the average American in a negative connotation. That was before the current investigation by Congress regarding how many Americans in recent years have been Audited for political reasons. Former Candidate Dr. Ben Carson has spoken out as to how after he, as an expert on the medical profession, criticized Obamacare at a National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, was then audited by the IRS. The audit discovered nothing wrong in Dr. Carson’s filings.
J. R. de Szigethy can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Related Features by this author:
1. "The G-Man and the Hitman," by Fredric Dannen, The New Yorker, December 16, 1996.
1. United States Congresional Serial Set, No. 14778, House Report No. 454, Justice Undone, Clemency Decisions in Clinton White House, V. 1-2. House of Representatives, 2002.
1. “Five Families,” by Selwyn Raab. Thomas Dunne Books, 2005.
1. “Trump Limos were Built with a Hood Ornament,” by Bill Bastone. The Smoking Gun website, September 22, 2015.
2. “The Trump Balloon,” by David Remnick. The New Yorker, July 8, 2015.
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