February 6, 1986 |
"I want you to see something. " Judge Giuseppe DiLello led the way down a bleak hall of the Palace of Justice, past the omnipresent armed men who guard him and the other judges, and opened the door of a large room and stepped inside. "This is our case," he said. He knew it would impress. From floor to ceiling, covering all four walls, were metal shelves, and every shelf was crammed with police files, photos, confessions, financial records and transcripts of recordings - hundreds upon hundreds of papers in legal folders and binders.
August 28, 2005 |
It was all there in a federal courtroom in Lower Manhattan last week - a moment in time that perfectly captured what has happened to the American Mafia. Cosa Nostra, the "honored society" that spawned Mario Puzo's classic saga, has become the stuff of comic books and supermarket tabloids. "This thing of ours" is now a caricature of itself. The Sopranos writ large. Art imitating life imitating art. So here was Curtis Sliwa, the flamboyant founder of the Guardian Angels and a local morning radio personality, on the witness stand pointing a finger at a mobster who allegedly pumped two bullets into his belly back in 1992.
July 2, 1987 |
Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso was in trouble on the night of Oct. 29, 1981. He had just been scraped up off a South Philadelphia pavement and rushed to Pennsylvania Hospital where a bevy of emergency room doctors and nurses were trying to put him back together. The brutal beating with blunt instruments had fractured his skull and broken his jaw and the bones beneath his eyes. His left kneecap and leg were shattered. Even for a reputed member of Philadelphia's fratricidal underworld, this was trouble enough; and then the question from the police detective: "Who did it?"
May 20, 2012 |
ROME - A bomb exploded Saturday outside an Italian high school named after the wife of an assassinated anti-Mafia prosecutor, killing one student and wounding at least seven others, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and police were trying to determine who had planted the bomb. But an anti-Mafia prosecutor said it didn't appear to be the kind of attack that organized crime has carried out in Italy. The bombing also followed a spate of attacks against Italian officials and buildings by a group of anarchists.
October 18, 1991 |
For the next two weeks, a federal courtroom in Philadelphia will be the site for a highly unusual "imported" trial, one offering a rare opportunity to see firsthand the Italian criminal justice system at work. Beginning Monday, under tight security, three Italian judges who are presiding over a 50-defendant Sicilian Mafia heroin trial in Palermo will sit in the U.S. Courthouse at 6th and Market Streets, to take sworn testimony. The only significant element missing will be the defendants, who weren't invited to confront their accusers.
December 8, 1995 |
He answered questions for nearly two hours. But he said very little. Gaetano Badalamenti, 72, once a high-ranking member of the Sicilian Mafia's ruling commission and a major figure in the notorious Pizza Connection heroin case, was on the witness stand in U.S. District Court yesterday, supposedly to tell Italian authorities what he knew about a series of mob murders that are the focus of two current murder trials in Palermo. Questioned at length by two Italian magistrates, a public prosecutor and a defense lawyer, the grandfatherly mobster offered no hard information.
November 10, 1990 |
The Mafia, a fertile source of material for American writers, usually appears in plays, books or films about crime. Armand's Place may be the first work in which a Mafia don plays a role - not unexpectedly, a negative one - in a play about race relations. In this case, the Mafia gets a bad rap, and the play by Ron Schultz suffers a great loss of credibility by having a mob leader named Don Thomas Del Vecchio as a character. Armand's Place, receiving its initial production from Venture Theater, is set in a pool hall in Queens in 1974.
September 17, 1995 |
It is, by any measure, the most dysfunctional Mafia family in America, an organization torn apart by its indiscriminate use of violence and lack of self-discipline. Since 1980, two of its bosses have been brutally slain. Three others have spent more time in jail than they have on the streets. Thirty members and associates, including a generation of potential leaders, have been killed. Three dozen more have been convicted and sentenced to long jail terms. And, most troubling of all from an underworld perspective, nearly a dozen members and associates have testified in court, shattering omerta, the Mafia's time-honored code of silence, and the concepts of honor and loyalty that supposedly went with it. This is Cosa Nostra Philadelphia-style - a crime family without any recognizable value system.
December 9, 1988 |
In the matter of Spike Fumo, a kid from Brooklyn best described as street- dumb, it is possible for honest men and women to have a difference of opinion. Not to mention dishonest men and women. In the candid appraisal of Baldo Cacetti, the Mafia chieftain who rules the Bensonhurst section, Spike is "a loser. Face facts. His dad's a jailbird, his old lady's a dyke, and Spike ain't got no future. " In the kinder opinion of Angel Cacetti, his Mafia princess of a daughter, Spike is just another "dumb Italian guy, but he is cute.
July 26, 2010 |
ONE OF THE jobs of the FBI's organized crime investigators was listening to endless hours of wire-tapped conversations among mob figures. Gino L. Lazzari was especially good at transcribing such tapes because of his Italian heritage, but one day he heard mob figure Phil Testa use a phrase that sounded like, "I rose and lost. " How could that be? It didn't make sense. Only later did Gino realize that Testa was saying, 'La Cosa Nostra," literally "Our Thing," the Mafia's name for its organization.