October 30, 2000|
By Scott M. Deitche
Inspired by John Touhy's Round Up The Usual Suspects - the latest mob news from the Sunshine State's left coast.
June 29, 2000
FBI and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies raid Valucar Sales and Service Supercenter in Tampa, Bradenton, and Pt. Charlotte. They cart away files and VIN numbers. Nelson Valdes Jr., who co-owns Mahalo Auto Sales with Tampa mob boss Vincent LoScalzo, owns Valucar. Nothing has come out of the raid yet.
July 3, 2000
Vito John Lauro, 60, died in Tampa. Lauro was an associate of Tampa crime figure Pat Matassini. Lauro was also the nephew of Pasquale and Salvatore Lauro, two New Yorkers with ties to the Luchesse family. Lauro was indicted in an organized crime investigation in Tampa in 1977. He was charged with selling 40 lbs of cocaine, but charges were dropped when lab tests revealed the cocaine was harmless powder.
July 8, 2000
Leo Mancuso, associate of Sammy Marcello (brother of Carlos and Joe Marcello), pled guilty to fraud after wooing investors out of over $3 million dollars in Tampa. He was a regular on the South Tampa nightclub scene.
July 29, 2000
Vincent "Vinny Aspirins" Congiusti died in Springfield, Missouri, four months into his extortion sentence. The Valrico, Florida resident was part of a Gambino crew sent to Vegas to muscle in on the escort service business. You can read all about the scheme in my story "The Gambinos Come to Vegas" in the Pats Feature Articles File. Vinny was 50.
August 30, 2000 to present (a commentary)
Peter A. Christopolous has some information. He wants to give the information to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in exchange for a get-out-of-jail-free card. Peter has been in prison since June of 1999, serving a 5 ½ year prison term for racketeering. He was initially sentenced to house arrest but violated the conditions, sending him to jail.
What Christopolous has that intrigue some investigators, is evidence of organized crime influence in Hillsborough and Pinellas County politics. He specifically ties a judge, a county official, and a member of the State Attorney's office to Tampa organized crime. It's not yet clear who the politicians are, or even what mobsters Peter can name, but two organized crime experts from the FDLE, who interviewed Christopolous, stated that his information is valid and were eager to use him.
That was until Tampa politics got in the way.
State Attorney Bernie McCabe refused to use the information Christopolous had. First, McCabe stated that the sentence couldn't legally be reduced. Also McCabe was unsure of the validity of the information, even after sworn statements by the FDLE said that the story Christopolous told them was most likely true.
The problem with this scenario is that now the targets of whatever investigation will be forth coming know that Christopolous is cooperating. There is no way he can be used in any undercover capacity. He has a deep understanding of Tampa organized crime rackets, but is not being utilized to his full potential.
The FDLE recently stated that it is declining Christopolous's help with an ONGOING investigation. So there is something to his allegations after all. Actually the Tampa political arena is now hosting three separate investigations into the suicide of Harry Lee Coe, potential judicial misconduct, and reportedly, organized crime influence in local politics. The next few months may prove to be extremely enlightening.
September 22, 2000
DeCavalcante capo Philip C. Abramo pled guilty in a Tampa courtroom to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire and securities fraud, and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. His brother-in-law and DeCavalcante soldier Louis Consalvo pled guilty to fraud in August. Sentencing is scheduled for January 5, 2001. Three other men named in the indictment are awaiting trial.
Scott Deitche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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