As we turn the calendar on another year, it’s time to reflect on our favorite – and not-so-favorite – mob happenings in 2013. Here’s some of the stories you may have missed, others you may have caught and more gangster goings-on than you can even imagine.
JANUARY-The year started off strong for federal authorities when they arrested more than 30 alleged mobsters from three crime families in New York and New Jersey during pre-dawn raids last January. The defendants are charged with running an extortion racket that controlled several trash-hauling businesses. http://tinyurl.com/mob-arrests
FEBRUARY- By February, mob-watchers began to worry about a brewing mob war in Russia after a top gangster was killed by a sniper while leaving his favorite restaurant in Moscow. Aslan Usoyan’s death left rivals scrambling to take over his vast empire, which included prime property in the Olympic host city of Sochi, a favorite weekend destination of Russian President Vladimir Putin. http://tinyurl.com/Russian-mob-wars
MARCH Italian authorities worried about that country’s own brewing mob war in March when they issued an annual report stating that a “power vacuum” had developed in the Sicilian Mafia following the arrest of 36 alleged mobsters in 2011. http://tinyurl.com/Sicilian-mafia
APRIL April in Paris means different things to different people. For French gangster Redoine Faid it meant using explosives to blow off five doors at a detention center where he was being held outside of Paris. Faid, who drew his inspiration from the movies, even wearing a hockey mask similar to one used by actor Robert De Niro in “Heat,” only managed to stay free briefly, however. Six weeks after dynamiting his way out of jail, the 41-year-old career criminal was captured in a Paris hotel room. http://tinyurl.com/gangster-prison-escape
MAY By May, fears over mob bloodshed in Sicily materialized but not in the fashion authorities expected. Instead, a Canadian turf war spilled over into the town of Palermo when the bodies of two senior Canadian mob members were found incinerated in what was described as an “old fashioned” Mafia hit. A tip led authorities to a rubbish dump just outside the city where they found the badly burned bodies of mob enforcer Juan Ramon Paz Fernandez and his associate Fernando Pimentel. http://tinyurl.com/Canadian-mobsters-in-Sicily
JUNE June brought the death of one of our favorite faux mobsters, James Gandolfini, whose role as murderous mob boss and family man Tony Soprano in the award-winning HBO drama “The Sopranos” gave us a brief glimpse into the life of a modern gangster in today’s underworld. http://tinyurl.com/Gandolfini-obituary
JULY In Philadelphia, mob underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino, whose criminal record spanned five decades, was handed more than 15 years in prison this past July following his federal conviction on racketeering charges. “Mousie’s” boss and co-defendant, Joseph Ligambi, and several others were retried in December after the earlier jury failed to return a verdict in their cases. Their fate is expected to be decided early this year. http://tinyurl.com/mousie-massimino
AUGUST Sixteen years after he went on the lam, notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was convicted on a slew of federal murder and racketeering charges that brought him two life sentences plus an additional five years in prison on gun charges. Bulger’s trial, replete with testimony from a hitman who admitted to killing at least 20 people and the unrelated cyanide murder of a potential witness, drew crowds of onlookers to the courthouse. http://tinyurl.com/Whitey-Bulger-sentenced
SEPTEMBER Fall started with a vengeance in California where 129 people linked to street gangs controlled by the Mexican Mafia were indicted for crimes ranging from murder and drug trafficking to racketeering and extortion. The indictments were designed to cripple the California-based group, which authorities said controls much of the organized crime in Los Angeles, San Diego and parts of Arizona. http://tinyurl.com/California-Mexican-Mafia
OCTOBER As if Amanda Knox’s life wasn’t surreal enough, things took an even stranger twist in October when a convicted Mafia gangster who was undergoing gender reassignment therapy told an Italian court that her brother was responsible for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Lucia Aviello, said her brother, Antonio Aviello, was actually Kercher’s killer and testified to that during Knox’s 2011 appeal. The American exchange student and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of Kercher’s murder in 2007 but were cleared on appeal in 2011. That appeal was later overturned by Italy’s supreme court prompting a second trial, now underway in Italy. http://tinyurl.com/amanda-knox-mobster
NOVEMBER In Japan, a brewing mob scandal erupted when that country’s financial regulator sent investigators to Japan’s three largest banks. One of those banks, Mizuho Bank, came under scrutiny after 54 executives, including the bank’s president, were punished for allegedly giving more than $2 million in loans to people with ties to the Yakuza, the name given to Japan’s organized crime syndicate. http://tinyurl.com/Japan-mob-scandal Long-time Bonanno crime family captain Patrick “Paddy From The Bronx” DeFilippo exited the world in November as well when he reportedly passed away of natural causes at the age of 74 while in prison. Also going to that big penitentiary in the sky this year was New York gangster Michael Meldish. Meldish died of “mob-induced natural causes” when he was found shot once in the head inside his Lincoln LS sedan on a Bronx street. Meldish, 62, who had ties to the Bonanno and Genovese crime families, was considered by authorities to be one of the most feared people in the city. He was a key player in the city’s heroin trade and controlled the drug trade in the Bronx and Harlem during the 1980s while serving as head of the Purple Gang, known for killing and dismembering its rivals. http://tinyurl.com/Michael-Meldish
DECEMBER Reputed mob boss, Vito Rizzuto, whose dapper outfits and ability to avoid prison earned him the nickname “Montreal’s Teflon Don,” left a void in Canada’s underworld following his 2004 arrest on racketeering charges but his death in December, reportedly from natural causes, is expected to send Canada’s Mafia into a tailspin. http://tinyurl.com/Montreal-Teflon-Don
So, as we say goodbye to several longstanding mob members and “Good Luck” to all the police officers and federal agents working to combat organized crime, we also want to wish you, our readers, a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Or else fuggedaboutit.