July 27, 2003 |
He has been described as a wanna-be wiseguy and a gofer with little common sense and limited intelligence. "A mental midget," said one former associate who predicted he will wilt under the pressure of a strong cross-examination once he takes the witness stand. But Roger Vella, the mob associate who once idolized jailed Mafia boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, may be the key to the next major case built against the beleaguered Philadelphia organized crime family. More than two years after Vella, 31, first agreed to cooperate, an outline of what he is telling authorities is taking shape.
May 12, 2003 |
A few years before top aides to Gov. McGreevey established a foothold in New Jersey's multimillion-dollar billboard industry, a power broker of a different sort was trying to get into the business. Documents obtained by The Inquirer indicate that Philadelphia-South Jersey mob boss Ralph Natale tried to grab a piece of the action and at one point even proposed killing Lewis Katz, the millionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets and one-time giant in the billboard business. Natale, who began cooperating with federal authorities in August 1999, told the FBI that he met with two associates of Katz's to discuss getting involved in billboards.
May 1, 2003 |
He made and spent millions, saw his name in headlines and his picture on television, rose to the top of his profession, but if he had to do it over again, mobster-turned-informant Ronald Previte told authorities yesterday that he'd choose a different line of work. "I wish I had never got involved in it," Previte said. "It's a terrible way of life. You're never at ease. You wait for the door to crash down. You wait to get shot. It's a terrible way to live. " Previte, 59, was the final witness at a two-day hearing into the changing face of organized crime conducted by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation.
April 30, 2003 |
He is the new face of organized crime in New Jersey, but he wore a hood, dark sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead yesterday when he testified before the State Commission of Investigation. Identified only as "Rey," the admitted drug dealer and "warlord" for a chapter of the Latin Kings was the final witness at the first of two days of hearings into underworld activity in the Garden State. His story supported the themes touched on by nearly a dozen law enforcement officials who also appeared before the panel - "super gangs," particularly the Latin Kings and the Bloods, are emerging as dominant players in the underworld, spreading from urban centers to the surrounding suburbs.
December 19, 2002 |
Testimony about Daniel Daidone's past ties to the mob-tainted South Jersey bartenders union will be a part of his forthcoming political corruption trial, a federal judge ruled yesterday. But U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez said that information prosecutors can provide about the union will be limited and will not include details about corruption, extortion, and acts of violence that have long been tied to the powerful Local 54 of the Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees International.
May 6, 2002 |
Danny Provenzano wants to be in the movies. State prosecutors want him in jail. Both could happen before the year is over. "I might be on trial when the movie comes out," said Provenzano, a reputed mobster and erstwhile filmmaker, smiling as he sat in the hallway of the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack last week. He was there for a status conference in his criminal case. The saga of Danny Provenzano is quintessential art imitating life imitating art, set - where else?
April 27, 2002 |
The mob references go; the nicknames can stay. That's what a state Superior Court judge in Camden County ruled yesterday after hearing arguments about references to La Cosa Nostra and to defendants' so-called street names in a 14-count gambling-related racketeering case now pending before him. Judge Samuel D. Natal, accepting the arguments of defense lawyer Mike Pinsky, said references to the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, and organized crime were...
April 26, 2002 |
The lead defendant in the case has been identified by investigators as the current underboss, or number-two man, in the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob. The gambling and loan-sharking operation that he and several codefendants allegedly ran has been described as a criminal enterprise linked to "La Cosa Nostra. " But a prominent criminal defense attorney wants a Superior Court judge to bar any references to the Mafia from the multicount indictment around which the case is built.
January 29, 2002 |
Aging mobster Anthony "Tony Buck" Piccolo had his 45-year prison sentence for racketeering reduced to 13 1/2 years yesterday, a substantial change that offers the 79-year-old former mob leader a chance to get out of prison before he dies. "The proceedings today took Anthony Piccolo from a position of absolutely no hope to a position of significant hope," said attorney Norris Gelman, the architect of the appeal arguments for the onetime acting Philadelphia mob boss. Gelman's comments came after U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter sentenced Piccolo to 162 months for a racketeering conviction dating to 1995.
December 12, 2001 |
Angelo Lutz, the mob associate whose quips and sound bites placed him at center stage during last summer's high-profile federal racketeering trial, found himself the center of attention again yesterday when U.S. District Judge Herbert Hutton sentenced him to nine years in prison. Rejecting several pleas for leniency, Hutton hammered the heavyweight wannabe wiseguy with the maximum permitted under sentencing guidelines. What's more, Lutz, 38, who was convicted on racketeering, gambling and extortion charges, received the same sentence as two codefendants who were "made," or formally initiated, members of the mob and more time than two other made members of the organization.