Or maybe a better question is, did they ever leave?
UPDATED WITH MUG SHOTS (below): Journal News reports “victim” in meat-cleaver attack was on probation for promoting gambling after being arrested as part of a series of raids and arrests in 2004; he was convicted in 2005. Interestingly, Jeanine Pirro was running the DA’s office at the time of the arrests while her husband Al Pirro was representing mafia-related contractors operating in New Rochelle.
If the “New Rochelle Buzz” is any indication, the mafia seems to be making quite a comeback in the Queen City of the Sound. Over the past six weeks there have been no fewer than four “mafia” stories which have appeared in New Rochelle Buzz including this week’s horrific meat-cleaver dismemberment of the manager of the Italian-American Social Club on Union Avenue. This does not include some of our reporting on no-show jobs and misappropriation within the New Rochelle school district which have not been connected to organized crime at this time.
New Rochelle Buzz is an aggregator set up by the Talk of the Sound that pulls in web-based information about New Rochelle from a wide variety of sources including Google News, Lohud.com, Twitter, Craiglist, and many more sources. The results are aggregated using Yahoo Pipes and appear in the middle of the home page as a series of headlines and links.
It all began with a series of “tweets” from Twitter in which a Twitterer going by the name of rangerOGA was sending out messages about a descendent of Joseph “Joe Bananas” Bonanno working in New Rochelle.
# Maybe you can save my friend I can’t.That is why I have only seen him twice last couple years.I hope this can help is some way.about 17 hours ago from web
# Charges a few years ago from what i understand.Jimmy sr. little jimmy my friend work at new rochelle school district.about 17 hours ago from web
# I don’t no if their is an angle you can use their.Little jimmy has drug problems from what i gather.Father jimmy bonnano sr. was facing RICOabout 17 hours ago from web
# From what i understand joseph bonnano sr. is the nephew of joe bonnano. aka joe bannanas.Bonnano Crime family.about 17 hours ago from web
# Best friend robert glatz hangs out with jimmy bonnano son of james bonnano senior.New rochelle ny.Only hung out with guy twice.about 17 hours ago from web
# Check it out.south bronx near yankee stadium I have never been their.The biggest heroin spot in nyc from what I understand.about 18 hours ago from web
# Major Heroin spot in south bronx.Unfotunately my bestfriend I grew up with Robert glatz has become an addict.Near Yankee stadiumabout 18 hours ago from web
# Talk to you later.You guys are doing a great job.I appreciate it. ( protection)10:32 AM Mar 16th from web
# Everything is great here!Sorry if the music was to loud.Waiting for you guys.I will be at my house.Give me a call whenever you need me.10:29 AM Mar 16th from web
# Like I said everything is good hope to see you soon.Merry Christmas DOj !
A couple of weeks later, at the end of April the 34 people were arrested as part of a sweep of a mafia run gambling ring including Paul “Shortline” Weber who worked selling hot dogs at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field but lived in New Rochelle. Weber was charged with Racketeering, Promoting Gambling, and Conspiracy to Promote Gambling.
The Bergen Record reported:
A Clifton mailman, a Fort Lee insurance executive and a food vendor at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field participated in a Mafia-run sports gambling ring that handled more than $1 million in illegal wagers each week, authorities charged today.
A total of 34 people have been charged for their roles in the ring, 28 of whom were swept up during a series of raids across North Jersey and Westchester County that began Tuesday, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said. Detectives executed 20 search warrants that netted $1.2 million, he said.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli spoke with the Bergen Record about the arrests:
The ring was divided into separate bookmaking and money laundering operations, one led by John “Blue” DeFroscia of Warren, a reputed soldier in the Genovese crime family, and the other headed by an alleged family associate, Thomas Conforti of Fairfield, Molinelli said. Both men ran a large network of bookies and passed part of the profits to the Genovese crime family hierarchy, he said.
Molinelli said that DeFroscia, 48, and Conforti, 44, used middle men to insulate themselves from their bookies, hoping to escape detection by law enforcement. Michael Cirelli, 49, of Nutley served as Conforti’s right-hand man, while DeFroscia employed Paul “Shortline” Weber, 40, of New Rochelle, N.Y., and Gerald “Jay” Napolitano, 60, of Belleville, Molinelli said.
The same week as the raids, Anthony Piliero of New Rochelle was arrested at his home by the FBI and charged with attempting to hire a mafia hitman. An FBI informant, also a man from New Rochelle (and long-time friend of Piliero), wore a wire and tape recorded conversations with Piliero.
The Journal News reported:
Piliero, who owns several businesses, is accused of hiring a mob-connected friend to find a hit man to carry out a contract killing on a man who lives in New Milford, Conn. Federal authorities did not disclose the identity of the intended victim. He was described in a federal criminal complaint as a man in his 50s who was a business partner of Piliero’s in 1999 when Piliero allegedly took out a $1 million insurance policy on his life.
The friend Piliero hired was arrested by law enforcement officials on Jan. 9 at his home in Westchester, before any hit could be carried out. The man that Piliero’s friend had tapped to carry out the hit was an FBI informant who contacted agents in early 2009 to tell them about the plot, federal officials said.
Around that same time, the Bergen County Prosecutor gave a statement to the Bergen Record which at least suggests the possibility of a connection between the arrests in April and the be-handing incident this week. In April, Molinelli said:
…there were no instances of extortion or violence in these operations, but he said bettors could be in danger if they end up owing money to the bookies.
“Organized crime has a very good collection rate,” he said. “You don’t want to be a bettor who owes money to these individuals.”
Less than six weeks later we get this:
New Rochelle police said the club manager – 42-year-old Vincent Zarcone (pictured left) — was brutally attacked Sunday night by two men armed with a meat cleaver.
“He owed a substantial amount of money, and apparently Mr. Calise was unhappy with the payment schedule that had been worked out,” said Lt. Christopher Hearle of the New Rochelle Police Department.
That’s Christopher Calise, who allegedly attacked Zarcone while accomplice Maurice Mann held him in a bear hug.
“Basically severed his right hand with a meat cleaver,” Lt. Hearle said.
Calise (left) and Mann (right) will appear in court on June 16th.
Of course, the mafia as a long and storied history in New Rochelle going back many years. By the 1970’s, New Rochelle was rife with mob-run gambling and drug-dealing operations and gangland violence was occurring in New Rochelle. Things got so bad the FBI opened a field office in New Rochelle to save commuting time from Manhattan (OK, that last bit was hyperbole).
As recently as 2005, members of the Gambino crime family have been operating in New Rochelle – holding planning meetings at the United Hebrew Geriatric Center in New Rochelle.
Back then, the New York Times reported:
A burly undercover FBI agent who posed as a mob muscleman has helped bring down a new generation of bosses in the Gambino organized crime family less than three years into their reign, according to federal law enforcement officials.
The agent infiltrated the Gambino organization so effectively for two and a half years that the FBI had to bring him in from the street in recent days after he was offered induction as a “made member” of the clan, according to Pasquale D’Amuro, an assistant director in charge of the FBI office in New York.
The agent infiltrated the crew of Gregory DePalma, who was charged Wednesday as an acting capo, or captain, in the Gambino family. The agent discovered that the DePalma crew held planning meetings at the United Hebrew Geriatric Center in New Rochelle, New York, at the bedside of DePalma’s son Craig, law enforcement officials said.
David Kelley, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Craig DePalma had been comatose and in a “vegetative state” at the home since he tried to commit suicide in prison several years ago. The elder DePalma and his crew had the “lack of grace” to plot strategy in a nursing home, Kelley said, “and we were right there with them.”
Maurice Mann, the person who allegedly held Mr. Zarcone in a bear-hug while Mr. Calise applied a meat-cleaver to his wrist, just happens to reside in Fort Lee, N.J. which happens to be in Bergen County. You do the math.
A few months later the New York Daily News ran a three-part investigative series called Stuck on the mafia’s highways which featured reporting on the infamous Potter Avenue Bridge project which was a mafia project.
The Daily News reported:
The New York State Thruway Authority hired Persico Construction of Westchester County in April 2000 to fix an I-95 bridge in New Rochelle.
For the next two and a half years, lane closures and traffic stops at the Potter Ave. location became as routine as kids in the backseat whining, “Are we there yet?”
The firm is owned by Robert Persico, who was indicted in March on mob racketeering charges. Persico has been publicly identified as a mob associate since 1998.
Prosecutors said in court then that Persico consulted the Gambino family to get a mob-controlled union to let him use nonunion help. In exchange, he got a Gambino soldier a no-show job, they alleged.
Records obtained by The News under the Freedom of Information Law show that in March 2002, with complaints escalating about the competency of Persico’s work, he hired lobbyist Albert Pirro, husband of U.S. Senate candidate Jeanine Pirro.
By the time the I-95 project was half completed, Persico had already closed traffic lanes at the site on 101 occasions — far more than expected. Often, warning signs were not in place, and workers were left unprotected.
Again and again, traffic was backed up 2, 3 — even 5 — miles, sometimes in rush hour, other times in the middle of the night, according to the documents, which include internal Thruway E-mails.
The final sign-off on the contract took place on Oct. 25, 2002 — 13 months behind schedule. All the proposed sanctions had disappeared, and Persico was paid an extra $3 million he had asked for.
Persico’s lawyer, Barry Levin, said Pirro “was hired to help my client collect outstanding monies owed to him. Pirro was successful in that endeavor.”
In a written statement to The News, Pirro would only say he was retained by Persico “to help resolve its payment dispute with the Thruway authority over the reconstruction of a bridge in New Rochelle.”
Pirro refused to answer other questions about the nature of the representation.
I know we’ve got a couple of New Rochelle old-timers who read and sometimes contribute or comment on Talk of the Sound. I would ask that a few who know the story tell us a bit about what happened a few decades ago that cause the FBI to set up shop in New Rochelle atop what was the Sheraton Hotel. Maybe it is time we bring them back.