Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Family Ties in Irving, TX

May 10, 2008

From CBS-11 News in Dallas I get this report of the bust in Irving, Texas of a company with alleged ties to the Scarfo family. Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo was the head of the Philadelphia family of the Mafia during its bloodiest period in the 1980s, and was the subject or a main player in a couple of very good true crime books by writer George Anastasia. Scarfo is still in prison, elegible for release in 2033 (when he will be 104).

His son, Nicky, Jr., was almost killed in 1989 by a gunman wearing a Batman mask.

“CBS 11 News has learned that FBI agents have searched an Irving business with alleged ties to east coast Mafia families.

“On its website, First Plus Financial Group describes itself as a company that provides financial and management services to both consumer and commercial businesses. However, according to a search warrant obtained by CBS 11 News, the FBI is investigating if the Irving company has ties to the Mafia.

“CBS 11 News has learned that FBI agents went to First Plus Financial Group’s offices along Highway 114 in Irving on Thursday. In the search warrant, agents were instructed to seize records from 43 individuals and companies. On the top of the list is First Plus Financial Group itself.

“Also named in the search warrant are Nicky Scarfo, Sr. and his son, Nicky Scarfo, Jr. The senior, nicknamed ‘Little Nicky,’ was the notorious mob boss of Philadelphia in the 1980s. The 79-year-old is currently in prison for racketeering and murder.”

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Bernardo Provenzano and the Sicilian Mafia

May 10, 2008
In the Telegraph I found a review of Claire Longrigg’s book on Sicilian mob moss Bernardo Provenzano, Boss of Bosses: How Bernardo Provenzano Saved the Mafia:

“The story of how a Sicilian Mafia boss remained on the run for 43 years is an extraordinary one. The fact that he spent most of that time right under the noses of Italian authorities in and around Palermo and his hometown of Corleone raises profound questions about the complicity of the Italian state and Sicilian society.

“He was convicted in absentia of 127 killings. His biggest crimes, the murders of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, took place in 1992, yet another 14 years passed before his capture.”

Read more.

Image: Bernardo Provenzano in 1959, aged 26, from Wikipedia.

Italian Police Arrest ‘Ndrangheta Suspects

May 10, 2008

From the Associated Press (also covered in Bombay News and Deutsche Welle:

“Italian police arrested seven people Friday in an investigation connected to a mob shooting in Germany that claimed the lives of six people last year, officials said….

“The clans are part of the ‘ndrangheta organized crime syndicate, which is based in the southern Italian region of Calabria and is now considered by many analysts to be more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia.

“…The slayings of the six Italians at a restaurant in downtown Duisburg — seen as the latest bloody chapter in the feud — drew attention to the ‘ndrangheta. Investigators say the ‘ndrangheta has eclipsed the Sicilian Mafia largely because of its control of Europe’s lucrative cocaine market.”

Image from www.CIA.gov.

The Cheeseman Sells Dirt to the Big Dig

May 8, 2008

Howie Carr
Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

 

Howie Carr in the Boston Herald writes about the case of Carmen DiNunzio, aka The Cheeseman, a Boston gangster who’s on trial for trying to sell dirt to the Big Dig (yeah, you read that right).

Like many true crime writers, Carr feels the need to lay vast amounts of abuse on his subject, who happens to be a bit on the large side:

For the FBI, bringing down the Cheeseman was like shooting fish in a barrel….A very, very fat fish, that is. He weighs 400 pounds, this don of doughnuts, this king of the mozzarella mob. And Carmen DiNunzio can’t keep his bleepin’ mouth shut, any more than he can keep his pants from falling down around his 66-inch waist.

Yesterday, the feds released more information about the arrest of the 50-year-old moron formerly known as the Big Cheese, now the Cheeseman. And you can stick a fork in the Boston Mafia, because it’s all done.

Whether that’s true I have no real sense… but it’s always fascinated me how many writers need to go on about how disgusting, stupid and, well, criminal Mafia figures are… all while kinda half-boasting about their Mob knowledge and connections, as Carr does in this article when he writes of “A retired wiseguy I know.”

UPDATE: More abuse is heaped on the Cheeseman elsewhere in the Herald by Laurel J. Sweet, in a story about an unusual request:

Boston’s once legendary La Cosa Nostra – which for years struck fear in Hub hearts as its hit men painted the town red with blood – sank to a sorry new low yesterday with the Mob’s 400-pound reputed underboss’ pathetic plea for a jail cell with a super-sized toilet.

Whether or not you’re pro mobster… I think it seems kinda lame for “journalists” to be hurling abuse at the bad guys.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Somali Pirates Free Spanish Crew

April 26, 2008



Jolly Roger

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

Jollly Roger from Wikipedia.

From CNN:

The crew of a Spanish fishing boat seized by pirates last week off the coast of Somalia has been freed, officials said Saturday, and the boat was being escorted to the Seychelles Islands.

Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, deputy prime minister of Spain, said at a news conference that all 26 crew members of the Playa de Bakio are being brought to safety.

She said the tuna boat “has been liberated” and was navigating on its own, headed toward the Seychelles escorted by a Spanish naval frigate. The crew, de la Vega said, is in “perfect condition.”

The boat was seized Sunday. On Monday, Spanish state radio RNE reported that the pirates had demanded a ransom payment for the release of the crew.

Asked Saturday whether a ransom was paid, de la Vega said, “I can’t give you details.” But she said the “kidnappers” abandoned the boat, allowing it to sail away with the frigate.

Happy 4/20

April 20, 2008

The term “420” as a “discreet way to refer to marijuana” is ubiquitous in my social circle, inspiring giggles even among those who don’t smoke weed (myself included). But I’m always kinda shocked at how many people have never heard the slang term before.

As a devotee of slang, I’m even more interested as to the many competing theories as to why “420” came to mean marijuana; Wikipedia chooses to report the spurious rumor that a group of students at San Rafael high school (hee hee huh huh high school get it?) used to gather at 4:20pm to partake; I’ve heard the same story reported as fact about the University of Michigan, CSU Chico, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Humboldt State, and I’m sure it’s repeated about plenty of other schools.

Until about ten years ago, I had more often heard the story that “420” was the number of the California Penal Code that referred to marijuana possession (it’s not), a rumor that seems derived from the rap slang term “187” for murder, though I personally heard that explanation of “420” as a slang term before I ever heard of anyone going one-eight-seven on the mutha.

Incidentally, the image above, taken from the Wikipedia article referenced, has a photo of a 4/20 celebration on the Porter Meadow — Porter is the college I attended at UC Santa Cruz. It was kind of the experimental-theater, free-jazz, black-turtleneck-and-combat-boots-wearin’, punk-lovin’ arty-farty college of the bunch, though it was far from the exclusive venue at UCSC for such rampant Bohemianism.

Since I’m digressing, if anyone cares — and why should you? — my opinion on pot is, rather predictably, that it is completely stark raving fucking psychopathic madness for a society to outlaw something like weed while you can buy liquor on every block.

Though I don’t smoke pot much and yet I do like me some fruit of the vine, I have to look at it in live-and-let-live terms, and frankly I have had plenty of run-ins with drunks. If I have to encounter a fucked-up jackass pissing me off in a club, on a streetcorner or in a back alley somewhere, I would much, much rather encounter a jackass baked crispy on KB than pickled in vodka. To me the war on drugs is a whole ‘nother issue from the war on pot — the latter is, to me, arguably the single stupidest social policy to which the United States seems miserably wedded.

So smoke up, citizens — and happy 4/20.

See Also: In 420 Related News.

420 Celebration: Wikipedia.

40th Anniversary Folsom Prison Concert Canceled

January 17, 2008

folsomprison.jpgFrom CNN:

FOLSOM, California (AP) — A concert marking the 40th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s famous concert at Folsom State Prison has been scrapped, with the prison and the promoter blaming each other for the cancellation.

The tribute concert, scheduled for Sunday, was to have been staged in the same prison cafeteria where Cash performed before inmates on January 13, 1968. That breakthrough performance became a popular live album.

Prison officials called off the show late Monday, citing problems over filming rights, media access and security concerns.

Promoter Jonathan Holiff claims the cancellation was just another broken promise by prison officials. “I was in tears when I found out,” Holiff said.

Folsom Prison is near where I grew up. When I was a kid I thought the prison we drove past to get to my Grandma’s house in Oakland was Folsom Prison and thought that was cool; in fact, it was the California Medical Facility. I was not so clear on geography as a 4-year-old.

Recently I have been playing “Folsom Prison Blues” my newish Ibanez. My voice is not as low as Johnny Cash’s, but I try to sing it in his key because it sounds so cool. It doesn’t entirely work. In some ways writing songs is actually easier than butchering great songs written by other people.

I always feel weird singing the Reno line; it’s a great line, but whereas Wikipedia suggests that maybe the guy was serving time in Folsom for another offense and Reno being the location of the murder was incidental, I think that line is so central in that song that Wikipedia’s interpretation is ludicrous. The obvious answer is that Arkansan Cash, then in Germany, had no effin’ idea where Reno was. More power to him: improvisation is the soul of creativity.

My favorite musician from the Lousiana Swamp/Blues style, Slim Harpo, did a strange and wonderful cover of “Folsom Prison Blues;” I think it must have been shortly after Cash recorded it. It is completely different than Cash’s and is on Harpo’s amazing Excello Singles collection, well worth listening to.

40th Anniversary Folsom Prison Concert Cancelled

January 9, 2008

folsomprison.jpgFrom CNN

FOLSOM, California (AP) — A concert marking the 40th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s famous concert at Folsom State Prison has been scrapped, with the prison and the promoter blaming each other for the cancellation.

The tribute concert, scheduled for Sunday, was to have been staged in the same prison cafeteria where Cash performed before inmates on January 13, 1968. That breakthrough performance became a popular live album.

Prison officials called off the show late Monday, citing problems over filming rights, media access and security concerns.

Promoter Jonathan Holiff claims the cancellation was just another broken promise by prison officials. “I was in tears when I found out,” Holiff said.

Folsom Prison is near where I grew up. When I was a kid I thought the prison we drove past to get to my Grandma’s house in Oakland was Folsom Prison and thought that was cool; in fact, it was the California Medical Facility. I was not so clear on geography as a 4-year-old.

Recently I have been playing “Folsom Prison Blues” my newish Ibanez. My voice is not as low as Johnny Cash’s, but I try to sing it in his key because it sounds so cool. It doesn’t entirely work. In some ways writing songs is actually easier than butchering great songs written by other people.

I always feel weird singing the Reno line; it’s a great line, but whereas Wikipedia suggests that maybe the guy was serving time in Folsom for another offense and Reno being the location of the murder was incidental, I think that line is so central in that song that Wikipedia’s interpretation is ludicrous. The obvious answer is that Arkansan Cash, then in Germany, had no effin’ idea where Reno was. More power to him: improvisation is the soul of creativity.

My favorite musician from the Lousiana Swamp/Blues style, Slim Harpo, did a strange and wonderful cover of “Folsom Prison Blues;” I think it must have been shortly after Cash recorded it. It is completely different than Cash’s and is on Harpo’s amazing Excello Singles collection, well worth listening to.

Techyum Roundup

January 7, 2008
bittersweets.jpg

The Return of BitterSweets

Electric Plane Flies in France

Whiskipedia is Live

Mafia Museum Being Built in Las Vegas

Say You Love Coca-Cola, Satan!

Image via Despair.com.

Money Shot by Christa Faust (Book Review)

December 15, 2007

Angel Dare spent a decade plus in the porn industry doing hardcore shoots with guys with names like “Axl Rod” and “Dix Steele.” When she started getting older, she got out, opening her own agency, Daring Angels, managing girls for hardcore video productions and feature dancing, ie, stripping.

Sounds pretty sweet, huh? All things considered, it is — until Angel gets the call from old friend and bigshot porno oldtimer Sam Hammer, tucked away in a mansion in Bel Air shooting a fuck flick that’s going swiftly wrong, wrong, wrong. Jesse Black, the hottest stud in porn, is ready for his closeup and getting steadily more pissed off with Sam’s flaky female talent. Hammer’s got one last chance to get the money shot, and Jesse Black demands Angel or the sumbitch plans to walk.

Read my review at Eros Zine.