John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

New England mystery: Who killed George Colvocoresses?

                                             Who killed George Colvocoresses?
John W. Tuohy

Although the known facts of the death of Civil War hero George Colvocoresses clearly show a homicide had taken place on the streets of Bridgeport in the early summer of 1872, the case remains shrouded in controversy, falsehoods, and exaggerations. 
Whatever the truth is behind his murder, and it was certainly a murder and not a suicide as some claimed at the time,  George Colvocoresses led an amazing life.
Colvocoresses was born on the island of Chios in the Greek Archipelago on October 22, 1816, to a prominent family. The Turks invaded the island 1822, during the Greek War of Independence, and kidnapped Colvocoresses, who was six years old, his mother and two sisters and held them for ransom. Before leaving Chios, the Turks massacred most of the of the Greek population there, including six of Colvocoresses brothers and most of his relatives. While Colvocoresses waited for his ransom to be, he was forced into slavery and only released after his father managed to borrow the money, by then the family’s fortune was gone, to buy back his freedom.
After his release, Colvocoresses father sent him to the United States for safekeeping from further kidnapping and he was eventually adopted by Captain Alden Partridge, the founder of the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy (later Norwich University) in Norwich, Vermont.
entered the US Naval Academia and graduated with the class of 1831, at age 16, and was attached to a frigate in the Mediterranean Squadron. From 1838 up until 1842, he served in the United States Exploring Expedition, (The Wilkes Expedition of the Pacific Ocean.) During that four-year period, the crew surveyed more than 280 islands and created more than 180 new sea charts. Colvocoresses was so instrumental in that voyage that a small island off the coast of Fiji was named "Colvos" in his honor. (Colvos Passage, a tidal strait in Puget Sound, was also named in his honor)
He was promoted to lieutenant on December 7, 1843, and to commander on July 2, 1861. He contracted yellow fever and nearly died while sailing in the Mediterranean.
During the American civil war, Colvocoresses commanded a ship that captured the Confederate schooner Stephen Hart off the south coast of Florida, carrying assorted cargo.
In early August 1864 with 115 men in 7 boats from his sloop Saratoga, he conducted an expedition to gather intelligence and capture enemy prisoners. Two weeks later, at South Newport, Georgia, Colvocoresses led 130 men in boats, capturing a lieutenant and 38 privates of the Third South Carolina Cavalry, six overseers of saltworks he had destroyed, and 71 slaves. He was promoted to captain and placed on the retired to Litchfield on April 4, 1867.
However, in retirement, Colvocoresses continued his seemingly endless dispute with the Navy over money he believed that he was owed from ships he had captured. (Up to the end of the civil war, captains of Navy ships)
On the morning of June 3, 1872, Colvocoresses trimmed some fruit trees in his yard before departing for Bridgeport, where he was going to take a schooner to New York City.
A few papers mentioned that he had acted strangely the previous week, and some of his actions couldn’t be explained but, frankly, those reports seem to have been planted by the insurance companies to back up their tall tale of suicide by the Captain.   
The 60-year-old Colvocoresses boarded a Housatonic Railroad train down to Bridgeport in order to catch the 11:00 pm steamer to New York and meet with his insurance agent. He was carrying an umbrella, a bamboo cane/sword  (The sword blade was hidden under the umbrella’s wooden handle) his valise, a small leather satchel, and $8,000 in cash inside a carpet bag. In 2019, the value of $8,000 would be in or near $154,000.00 
Once in the city, he purchased a ticket to New York aboard the ship the Bridgeport, scheduled to set sail at 11 p.m. that night. He went to a Sterling hotel hoping to eat dinner, but the kitchen was closed and walked a few blocks to Ward's restaurant instead. After dinner he went back to the hotel to return a key he had mistakenly taken the previous week. He stopped at a drug store to buy two sheets of writing paper and two envelopes. The ferry horn blasted that it was boarding. The captain asked the drug store owner for the quickest route to the dock. But Colvocoresses apparently did not follow the drug store owner's directions; he turned left onto Clinton Street rather than proceeding to South Street.
At almost exactly 9:00 PM, there was the sound of a gun shot. A Bridgeport policeman rushed to the sound of a pistol shot and found Colvocoresses dying in Clinton Street, a busy if run-down commercial area. (Clinton Street no longer exists; ripped down and buried under an underpass for 1-95.)
It was shortly after 9 PM. Colvocoresses unbuttoned shirt was on fire where the bullet had entered the left side of the chest. He had $2.70 in his pocket. The captain's sword was found near his body, apparently damaged during some sort of struggle.  His carpet bag was found the next day a few streets away, slit open, its contents, including the cash, missing.
The broken gun used to kill him, actual a horse pistol, was found about 35 feet away on the other side of Clinton Street. Police described the pistol as a large, clumsy horse pistol of ancient French manufacture, held together with some glue and twine, had broken apart during the shooting. The next day a bullet, in the light, powder horn and percussion caps were found 60 feet from his body wrapped in a handkerchief. Colocoresses’ body was taken to the police station, where his pants were stolen.
The death of a Navy officer who was a Civil War hero garnered months of press coverage. At first, the newspapers called it a “cold-blooded murder” but that wasn’t the headlines that the insurance companies, who held enormous power in the state, wanted. They were hell bound not to pay out to the Colvocoresses family and used the immense public relations operations to spread the rumor that the Captain had either committed suicide or had run off to Europe with a paramour.
The Courant Newspaper  soon changed its tune to match the insurance companies story. The editors wrote a long story indicating Colvocoresses had committed suicide. In that story, the newspaper explained away the fact that the gun was found 35 feet from the captain's body by hypothesizing that it recoiled when he fired.  The paper concluded a gun that was "heavily overloaded and placed by a suicide against the elastic walls of the chest and thus fired, the recoil of such weapon as this one would be quite sufficient on the opinion of persons competent to judge to set it as far and even further from the body than was the distance in this case."
The  Boston Globe which seemed to running every word the insurance companies wanted them too, added to the confusion in the case by running rumor about the state of  Colvocoresses mental health.
The Globe reported, without any evidence,  that the captain was reported to have acted strangely weeks before his death. That he had  offered his wife no explanation for leaving for the city and that he had come to Bridgeport, wandered aimlessly around the dock and, during dinner at a hotel, held his satchel close to his chest, a satchel that an unnamed clerk said was empty.
Virtually no one who knew Colvocoresses believed he had killed himself. He was a happy, well-adjusted and accomplished man, of sterling character, on good terms with his family.
What was clearly a stick up homicide now became a mystery. Police incompetence didn’t help. The cops couldn’t explain where the captains trouser had disappeared to and the gun also turned out to be useless as evidence because the police chief had someone try to put it back together.
The case even drew the attention of the great Allan Pinkerton, of the world famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. Pinkerton investigated and concluded that the captain had been murdered. Pinkerton asked all the right questions. If the captain wasn’t robbed, why was his shirt unbuttoned? How could he have thrown his gun across the street after he shot himself? The insurance companies answered those questions by planting stories that  Colvocoresses had hired a body double and faked his death.
But the insurance companies stuck to the theory that Colvocoresses had killed himself, so his family had to go to court to try to get their money. As the case was about to go to trial, most of the insurance companies settled, agreeing to pay 50 percent of their policies, except for the New York Life Insurance Co., which paid in full. Basically, the family got about half of the nearly $200,000 in insurance that Colvocoresses had amassed.
The case remains unsolved, however, in 1885,  an unnamed Danish sailor, claimed, from his death bed while at sea in the Sandwich Islands, that he murdered Colvocoresses while robbing him. The sailor said he grabbed Colvocoresses bag but Colvocoresses managed to strike him several times with his cane until it broke, which exposed its hidden blade. Fearing Colvocoresses would stab him, the sailor said he shot Colvocoresses. Then, dropping the weapon, he used the cane-sword to slice open the money bag and then ran to his schooner.

American boys need this, American boys, of all colors and all creeds and backgrounds, need this very badly.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights Books, San Francisco, Allen Ginsberg, Beat Generation

Her name was Elizabeth Henson

On December 29, 2018, a Texas teenager who kept kiddie porn in his phone was allowed to tend to a  5 month-old foster infant named Elizabeth Henson, in foster care, alone. The next morning, the child was dead.
 Not only was the teen, Christian Richmond, allowed to care for the infant, he was also caring for the dead infant's brother and three other children, two of which were Richmond’s siblings.
Richmond told the police, he fed the infant and eventually fell asleep with her on the couch, with the girl face up on his chest. Richmond’s mother, Nicole Parker, the recognized foster parent in charge, was gone all night.

When Richmond woke up, the child wasn’t breathing and had gone purple. By then, the next morning his mother had returned and the two of them attempted CPR but it was too late.
An autopsy on the baby ruled the death an accident, calling the cause of death “asphyxia due to wedging” a term to describe when someone suffocates from either lying face down or being lodged between a sleeping partner or surface. The medical examiner’s report supported law enforcement’s narrative of events.

Natalie Parker was arrested for causing injury to a child and abandoning or endangering a child. A few days later, her son, Christian Richmond, was arrested for storing videos of kiddie porn on his cell phone.
 Parker was hired as a verified foster home keeper through a subcontractor called  Kingdom Kids. That was in March of March 2017. Over the next 9 months, state officials site Parker five times for "possible minimum standards violations" and once for leaving her children unsupervised.
It took the death of Elizabeth Henson to get her license revoked.

Warm soup for the writer’s soul

If you seriously want to pen down books and articles, do it with unconditional devotion
Navanita Varadpande
It was a curt reply from the publisher — ‘Declined by Return of Post.’ Jane Austen’s early draft of Pride and Prejudice was thus rejected and lay on her table for the next 16 years before seeing the light of the world. My inbox too began receiving such responses from publishers and I drew consolation from this.
Writing always came naturally to me, it would fill me up with bliss, serenity and peace. I had become ‘writing’s most devoted handmaiden’ as I grew up. With each passing year I began casting an ambitious gaze around me and experienced this tremendous need to be published. I took solace in the fact that Ruskin Bond and Rudyard Kipling also faced such flak in life as they trod that ‘inky’ path to ‘writerdom’.
“ ... you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Rudyard Kipling got this response to a short story he had pitched to a now-defunct newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner.
My folder of rejection slips was called the ‘folder of encouragement’ and sadly enough I had stopped writing for myself ... I had gone astray trying to imbibe what each publisher threw at me or trying to learn the writing techniques of bestselling authors.
A few years later, I met an old acquaintance from school, a mediocre student who managed to somehow weave together cobwebs of inanity during our English classes. One always has this feeling of a deja vu on meeting somebody from school. So, we exchanged notes. She had indeed undergone an image makeover, dressed in a very FabIndian-arty style, kohl-lined eyes and speaking in manner laced with an unnatural borrowed accent ... I couldn’t really identify which country it belonged to.
“You know these books keep me so busy, working on one now,” she bantered. I wondered whether I had missed out on a title she might have written, on the bestsellers’ list. I was so excited that I enquired about the list of books that she had written. Well, the lady just needed a little goading on and there she invited me for a cup of coffee and a very “one-way” conversation, rather a monologue. “I already have a book on that epic for children, Ramayana and another one on Mahabharata, all published by foreign publishers, you know?” Her kohl-lined eyes squinted and her thin lips parted into a conspiratorial smile.
“Three books already in press. To get published all you need is some intelligent socialising, marketing and of course some mythological book in the home. Just do copy of story, change one or two words here and there and one book is ready. And nobody take you to court for plagaring!” Plagaring?
“Oh, you meant plagiarising?” I enquired.
“Yes, yes, that only. And these big publishers having excellent editors, they will do most of your work. Illustrators decorate the books so well.” She pursed her lips again as if she was going to set more author-goals for me, I squirmed under my skin, as I blurted an incoherent excuse to her and sprinted from there. (Ved Vyas and Valmiki must have been turning in their graves furiously!)
Phew! That was some sure-shot recipe to become a “successful” writer, now would I call her a “copy-writer”? This was when I sensed that clarion moment of truth and realisation dawned upon me that I needed to just write for the love of the written word. If you seriously want to pen down books and articles, take it upon yourself as a holy calling, do it with unconditional devotion, without judging oneself by rejection slips.
Well, a rather drastic revision was suggested to F. Scott Fitzgerald, by a publisher, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.” About — you guessed it — The Great Gatsby.
Thus, a very Kafkaesque attitude always holds good for all, budding writers and otherwise — “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @navanitavp

Organized crime in Connecticut: Iggy Step’s Out of Line

Iggy  Step’s Out of Line
John Wiliam Tuohy

Ignazio Alogna AKA Iggy had been a bodyguard to John Gotti boss of the Gambino family. In 2002, a Stamford businessman Harry Farrington came to Alogna attention. Farrington ran two successful and honest strip clubs in Stamford, Beamers on Richmond Hill Avenue and Harry O's Café.

In early 2002, Alogna, who was 72 at the time, came into one of Farrington’s clubs with enforcers Joseph "Joey Mash" Mascia, occasionally of Arizona and his brother John "Johnny Mash" Mascia Jr., and two associates of the Patriarca family, Alfred "Chip" Scivola Jr. and Henry "Hank" Fellela Jr.

Fellela, of Johnson Rhode Island, was an interesting guy. In 2014 he was sentenced today to 48 months in federal prison for making nearly $83,000 in purchases with the use of stolen credit cards belonging to 17 individuals and fraudulently collecting more than $58,000 in Supplemental Security Income benefits by falsely claiming that he had no permanent home address while living with his wife and children in their Johnston residence. His wife was State Representative Deborah Fellela.

Alogna sat Harry Farrington AKA “Oil Can” down and said, "We're taking over the whole East Coast now," and demanded $4,000 a month in protection payments from Farrington. "You've had a free ride for years," Alogna told him and boasted about extorting 50 other New England strip clubs. "Come on, you know the routine, you gotta start paying."

Alogna told him to put the extortion money in an envelope marked "grocery money" at the start of each month. If not, Algona said “someone will come in and wreck the place, and you could get real hurt.”

Farrington went straight to the FBI.

The FBI wired him and rigged his club for sound and film and then directed Farrington to call Connecticut mob boss Anthony Megale for help in dealing with the Alogna demands. Farrington had known Megale for at least 3o years.

Anthony Megale, the so-called Tony Soprano of Connecticut, was a ranking member of the Gambino crime family in New York. Megale was a new generation who hood who held his meetings in Starbuck’s, Home Depot, and McDonald’s or anywhere else he felt free from FBI bugs. Megale went to Beamers, a strip club in Stamford to meet one-on-one with Farrington. During the conversation, and caught on the wiretaps Farrington was wearing, Megale bragged

"They made me the acting underboss of this family. So I'm over everybody."

Farrington asked if he could join the Gambino family.

"What about me bein' a soldier?" Farrington asked. "Your father Italian?" replied Megale.

"No, Indian," Farrington said.

"You're probably better than 90 percent of the guys. But if you were Italian..."

Regarding the extortion payments, Megale was outraged that Alogna, who lived in eastern Pennsylvania, was trying to extort a business in Stamford, Megale's territory.

"I just don't want to be embarrassed," said Megale. "You gonna let a guy from out of town take a guy you know all your life?" and then added "I'm going to make this fucking asshole bleed, though," said Megale about Alogna.

Megale explained on tape that Alogna’s demand for money had not been approved – a particularly offensive affront because Alogna used muscle from Providence. “Everything you do, you’re supposed to put on record, especially when you do things with other families,” Megale told Farrington. Megale then told Farrington he should ignore Alogna and make monthly protection payments to him.

Megale is then heard telling Farrington on the tapes that Fairfield County's bookies are paying "$500 a week" to be allowed to work. "So for two joints, $500 a week ain't bad," Megale told Farrington "I figure maybe we can do a couple thousand a month for both joints and like $5,000 [at] Christmas."

At one meeting Megale told Farrington about a nearby upscale, extremely pricey Northern Italian restaurant in  Old Greenwich called Valbella, known in the 1990s for its celebrity clientele. Megale said that one night he sent a crew of Albanian gangster, known for their violence, to slap around Valbella’s owner, the five foot five Dave Ghatan, until he agreed to make extortion payments. Ghatan, an Iranian immigrant, was an American success story. He arrived in the United States with almost no money and eventually opened two very successful restaurants before opening Valbella in 1991.

 Megale laughed when explained to Farrington “Yeah, they went over to Valbella’s two months ago. Thirty of ’em. With Uzis. They got $5,000 a month. The guy was in a fuckin’ panic, Dave. a fuckin’ panic.” The Albanians, he said beat up Ghatan and  hung him from the ceiling until he agreed to pay out. “The, the guy stayed home three days,” said Megale, laughing. “Fuck, he hadda go to the dentist cuz he was grinding his teeth. That’s how nervous he was.”

Farrington replied,  “That’s a fancy place over there. That place fucking does some business.”

Megale replied that he and his crew had been “eating for free at Valbella’s ever since.”

The story that Megale told Farrington was  missing some key facts. The reality of that happened was that the extortion began in 1998. The boss over Western Connecticut then was Gambino Capo Gregory DePalma, (Who also had rackets in the Bronx) Tony Megale was on DePalma’s Connecticut crew and took over temporarily after DePalma went to prison on an extortion charge.

When he was released six years later, in 2003, DePalma “went ballistic” when he learned that Megale had allowed Valbella’s to be shaken (He loved the place) and, worse yet, that Megale had brought in Albanians to do and that Megale handed most of the $5,000 payment to the Albanian hoods. Worse yet, DePalma couldn’t even get in on the free food since his parole restrictions prohibited him from leaving the state of New York and traveling to Connecticut to chow down.

The restaurants chef, an Albanian immigrant named Joe Vuli,  went on to open his own restaurants, Vuli at the Stamford Marriott and Gusto in Danbury. In a few years later he was found dead, cut up into pieces placed in plastic bags, on a roadside in Bedford, N. Y. The crime remains unsolved. The FBI assumes he either refused to make extortion payments or, more likely, he was in to loan sharks for more money than he could ever pay back.

In a phone call to Alogna, Megale said "Iggy, what's Iggy doing down there? That's why I'm here. I wanna know why. What is he doing in Stamford when I'm there? Ain't he supposed to come check with me?"

At another recorded meeting, Megale explained to Farrington that he had clearance from New York to deal with Alogna and that he had sent one of his crew, Angelo Ricco, to deliver a message to Alogna and the others at a roadside diner: "Stay out of Stamford. I've got a message, it's coming from the boss--stay out of Connecticut." Megale also used his power as underboss to demote Alogna from a captain to soldier.

Chippy Scivola, one of the goons who showed up with Alogna at the first extortion meeting, was made member of the Providence mob. Megale claimed “ownership” of Farrington and his businesses but to keep the peace, he paid Scivola a “settlement fee” to give to Luigi Manocchio acting boss in Rhode Island to have the Patriarca’s to back-off of any further shakedowns.

On July 26, 2005, Alogna pleaded guilty to attempted extortion. Alogna, who faced up to 20 years in jail, was spared prison time and was sentenced to six months home confinement and three years-probation because the judge bought his story that he was a down-on-his-luck retiree and his family's only caregiver in Pocono Lake, Pa. and was the sole caregiver for a 12-year-old grandson, whose parents have narcotics addictions.

Scivola pleaded guilty on February 15, 2005, to two attempted extortion charges and was sent to prison for two years. He was indicted and jailed in 2011 along with Luigi Manocchio and Anthony DiNunzio for extorting Rhode Island strip clubs for approximately a million dollars. He pled guilty and admitted the existence of the Mafia and was sentenced to three years behind bars. He was released on parole and placed on house arrest before finishing out his sentence in January of 2015 and then died in 2017.

John "Johnny Mash," Mascia, was sentenced to a year and a day in jail.

Remarkably, the Government has dismissed all charges against Fellela.

Megale died of cancer in the summer of 2015. Megale’s health declined in the months surrounding his sentencing 2006. He suffered two heart attacks and underwent two heart surgeries in the spring of that year. He e died of a heart attack at 9:30 p.m. on his 62nd birthday on July 21, 2015

Farrington had to sell his bars and move out of Fairfield County under FBI protection.

As for DePalma, the real reason he may have been so upset over the Valbella extortion was that Valbella’s attracted an A list group of actors and television people who lived in the area and DePalma was a food for celebrities.  In the 1970s he opened the Westchester Premiere Theatre in Tarrytown, New York and he was soon close friends with  Liza Minnelli and Dean Martin, Willie Mays, and Frank Sinatra. It was at DePalma’s Westchester Premiere Theatre in 1976 that Sinatra arrogantly took a group photo with DePalma (of course) Gambino boss Carlo Gambino, future boss Paul Castellano, and slew of other powerful hoods. A year later, in 1977, DePalma was made man in the Gambino crime family. On June 6, 1978, DePalma was indicted for basically robbing his own theater blind and causing its financial collapse. He eventually pleaded guilty bankruptcy fraud and one of the pieces of evidence used against him was the group photo with Sinatra.

In the 1990s, DePalma was named a caporegime which is when he was given control over the Gambino’s Connecticut operations. But in 1999, he and his son DePalma and son were convicted, in a sensational case, for taking over and then extorting Scores, a strip club in Manhattan. He was jailed for 70 months in that case. (His son was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. In 2002, while still in prison, he botched a suicide attempt to hang himself and was left in a persistent vegetative state. Mercifully, he died in December 2010.

In 2003, DePalma unknowingly allowed an undercover FBI agent named Joaquin Garcia, to infiltrate the highest levels of the Gambino operations. Agent Garcia, using the name Jack Falcone got close to DePalma and stayed close to him by flooding him gifts of high quality stolen good. DePalma was taken with Garcia that he considered nominating him for induction into the Gambino family. For two solid years, Garcia wore a recording device and caught hundreds of high level conversation on tape. Several of the those tapes proved DePalma’s obsession with the stars never ended.  He told Agent Garcia that  he threatened actor Armand Assante shortly before Assante portrayed mob boss John Gotti in an HBO movie, that he dined regularly with singer Mariah Carey and her then-husband Tommy Mottola and that he had forced Liza Minelli’s longtime manager to pay for a Las Vegas vacation and shopping spree for some Gambino bigshots and their wives.

Garcia was also there on February 21, 2005, when DePalma met with Gambino mobster Robert Vaccaro were meeting another mobster, Peter "Petey Chops" Vicini in the Housewares section of a Bloomingdales department store in Westchester County. When Vicini failed to show them proper respect, Vaccaro grabbed a solid crystal candleholder and began beating him on the head until Garcia convinced him to stop. On March 9, 2005, Garcia and other FBI agents arrested DePalma and 32 other Gambino mobsters on racketeering charges. DePalma would die in prison in 2009.

It wasn’t DePalma that made Megale into the Gambino’s. Instead Megale was made in to the mob when he was part of a crew run by Tommy Gambino,  the oldest son of Carlo Gambino. Tommy Gambino actually graduated from Manhattan College in the Bronx before following his father into crime, although by then, the Gambino family was rich beyond reason. In 1962, he married Frances Lucchese, the daughter of Gaetano "Tommy Brown" Lucchese, the boss of the Lucchese crime family. Gambino’s personnel fortune was, in 1992, estimated to be near $100,000,000 although many finical experts called the figure low. He owned three homes; one in Florida, another in Lido Beach, New York, and a third on Manhattan's exclusive Upper East Side. He contributed millions to the Gambino Medical and Science Foundation.

Low profile and well hidden behind his front as an honest, successful and well educated business man, few people realized that Gambino ran his own very large Mafia crew. In early 1985, Gambino boss Paul Castellano gave western Connecticut’s gambling rackets to Gambino. Shortly afterwards, Castellano and his driver Tommy Bilotti were murdered in front of Spark’s Steak House on December 16, 1985, Gambino, who was supposed to meet with Castellano, arrived at the scene moments after the killing.

In 1989, Gambino was indicted for obstruction of justice by lying to a grand jury about Gambino racketeering activities. He was  acquitted but indicted again the following year on charges of extorting the garment industry. He accepted a plea deal to avoid prison (A guilty admission, a $12 million restitution payment, and a promise to leave the garment trucking business.)

In 1991, Gambino, Gotti, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano and other Gambino mobsters were indicted on charges of racketeering, loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling and 11 counts of murder. He was convicted of two counts of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. He was sent to prison for five years in 1996.

In about 1986, Gambino, who liked Megale, gave almost free reign in the Gambino’s Connecticut rackets, to replace the murdered Frank Piccolo. An interim boss in Connecticut was Mobster John “Jackie Nose” D'Amico, who would later head up the Gambino family. In 1999, D’Amico was charged with pumping money from illegal gambling in western Connecticut to John Gotti Jr. He did 20 months in the can for the charge.

FBI recordings prove that Megale was wired into Tommy DeBrizzi and Frank Piccolo and John Gotti when it came to making decisions in Connecticut. An FBI surveillance on November 14, 1985 captured  Thomas DeBrizzi meeting with Megale and Phil “Skinny” Loscalzo in Stamford. Loscalzo, a Gambino man, was the Family’s point man to the Albanian Mafia. Loscalzo’s protegee Nardino Colotti, would continue in that capacity after Loscalzo died.

Megale inherited a Gambino associate from Norwalk named Joe Fusaro AKA Davy Crockett, who was primally a gambler. In March of 1996, the FBI, in a joint raid with the IRS, Connecticut State Police, Bridgeport and Stamford police, struck out hard against the Gambino’s loansharking and sports gambling in lower Fairfield County. The Gambino ring was pulling in at least $10,000 a week in illegal wagers, probably far more than that. On the same day, at the same time, the Fed’s also conducted a crack-down of a Detroit Mob gambling ring as well.

The primary target of the Fairfield County raids was Joseph "Davey Crockett" Fusaro and his partner William DiPastina, from Stamford. They two had run most of their gambling out of two Stamford businesses, Val's Variety Store and Victory Autobody.

When the fed cracked down on Davy Crockett Fusaro’s gambling ring in Fairfield County, Fusaro was in jail in Valhalla, N.Y., awaiting sentencing on a cocaine trafficking charge in which he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. He faced another possible 45 years if convicted on the racketeering and gambling charges in Connecticut.

In 1996, Fusaro was sentenced to twenty years in prison on the drug charge. Fusaro said that after a discussion with his fellow prisoner John Gotti Jr. in the prison barbershop. Fusaro said he wanted to talk to Gotti about collecting a $180,000 in loan-sharking money that he had out on the street, but Gotti turned him down “He was done with that," Fusaro testified. "He said, 'If you have any brains, and I think you do ... do your sentence because this is over."

So Fusaro became a government informant and wrote out a statement that he collected tribute, which he paid to Gotti, from a Connecticut gambling ring. Not that Fusaro’s crossing over to the light surprised anyway. Mobster Michael DiLeonardo later testified that “there was a little suspect that he may have been a cooperator. We had seen some material in a 302 that might have alluded to him”

The shocked asked “You saw a 302? You saw FBI reports.  Do you know how you got those?” To which DiLeonardo said “They usually are passed out from lawyers to -- to, you know, on the street”

(Just after his testimony about meeting Gotti in the prison barber shop Judge Kevin Castel asked the bald Fusaro  "You use a barber shop frequently?".

"No, not me," replied Fusaro, who turned to take a look at the judge's pate. "Don't think you do, either,"

"Quite right, sir," said Castel.

"I know the feeling," said Fusaro.

Megale also developed a brief working relationship with long time Gambino boss Angelo Mascia AKA Cockeyed Angie. Mascia and his brothers John and Joseph ran a much feared operation out of East Harlem for decades. After he earned his millions, the brothers moved out of Yonkers and up to Hartsdale New York, about 15 minutes from the Connecticut line. Angelo Mascia died in 1986, just after Megale became active in Connecticut and his crew went to Locascio. However, when Megale was busted in 2005, John and Joe Mascia were indicted with him.

Megale, who was born in Italy and attended Waterbury’s Post College for two years with a concentration on recreation sports, would be a different kind of boss. He bought a home 105 Northwind Drive in leafy North Stamford. He held his meetings….walk and talks…. in the aisles of a Home Depot in Port Chester, N.Y. or at the Starbucks in Stamford. He set up sub-crews in Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk and concentrated on extortion of individuals and businesses, loansharking, union embezzlement, illegal gambling, trafficking in stolen property and counterfeit goods and mail fraud.

On March 22, 1989, an FBI agent followed Megale from Stamford to the Cafe Cappuccino on Morris Avenue in the Bronx where Phil Loscalzo "did most of his business . . . almost on a daily basis" and then to the Dynamic Delivery Corporation warehouse on West 24th Street in Manhattan. Tommy Gambino had a controlling interest in the Dynamic Delivery Corporation. He repeated the trip and met with the same people on March 22, 1898. The bureau assumed Megale was dropping his weekly $1,600 payment to the bosses. On one trip Megale took to West 35th Street from Cos Cobb on May 3, 1989, agents stopped him just before he reached New York City and searched his car. Another Special Agent followed Tommy DeBrizzi to the Cafe Cappuccino on January 22, 1986, where DeBrizzi he met with Giuseppe Gambino, his brother Thomas Gambino and Phil Loscalzo.

Megale’s telephone records for the years 1985-1990 also should that the bulk of his calls went to  Giuseppe Gambino home, to and from the Romeo Cafe in the Bronx where Giuseppe Gambino conducted business, to the residence of Phil Loscalzo; to and from the Cafe Cappuccino in the Bronx where Loscalzo was frequently found; to Consolidated Carriers on West 35th Street in Manhattan. A series of calls also went to a grocery store three doors removed from the Ravenite Social Club, John Gotti’s club where Megale was spotted “on many occasions” where, when he made a phone call, he made them from his cousin's restaurant located a few blocks from the Ravenite Club.

There was speculation that Tommy Gambino also handed control of Capo Tony Carminati Northern New Jersey crew over to Megale as well Carminati went back decades in the mob and had been close to Carlo Gambino, Tommy’s father. However after Gambino died young Turks inside the Northern New Jersey branch wanted Carminati, a heavy drinker and mean drunk, especially after he  unwittingly allowed an undercover police officer to infiltrate a family loanshark operation. However, Megale wasn’t given the crew which instead went to Hillsdale, New Jersey, caporegime John D'Amico.

Three years later, in 1989 Megale, and 21 others, was indicted on charges of racketeering. He pled guilty although Tommy Gambino was paying his legal defense. It was then that John Gotti “went through the roof” over Megale’s plea deal.

“We found out.”  Sal Gravano testified in court “John Gotti and myself were sitting there. I believe Frank Locascio came in, who was our acting consigliere, with the newspaper, put it on the table. John read it, handed it over to me. I read it and shortly after that, Tommy Gambino came in and told us that he read the article. We gave him the article. He said he read it. He said if it was so, which he didn't believe it to be so, he would make him withdraw the plea.”

Prosecutor: That Thomas Gambino would make Tony Megale withdraw the plea?
Gravano: . Yes.
Prosecutor: What happened next?
Gravano: He tried to withdraw the plea. (Tony Megale had moved to withdraw his plea on April 25 and his motion was denied on April 30)

 Megale was sentenced to six years.

When Megale was pushed out of power and into prison, his boss in the Gambino operation was Arnold “Zeke” Squitieri. Squitieri and Megale were both indicted on 53 counts including extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling and other crimes including threatening and actually beating the owner of Valbella’s Northern Italian Restaurant. A great deal of the evidence gathered in that case was collected by undercover FBI agent Garcia.

 Those charges in the indictment were separate from the charges Megale faced in Connecticut for extorting Gas Can Harry Farrington.

After Megale was indicted on the New York charges, Louis “Bo” Filippelli took over supervising Megale rackets and filling in as underboss. In the 2005 indictment Squitieri was sentenced to just over seven years in federal prison. He was released on December 7, 2012.

Squitieri had labored away in the belly of the Gambino family and slowly made his way to the top, largely due matriculation of everyone else above him. Boss John Gotti died in prison in June 2002. Gotti’s brother Peter, who took over as acting boss, was convicted in two trials and sent to jail as was John Gotti’s son and heir apparent, John Jr.

Squitieri, who was from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., had been made into Gambino’s by John Gotti in 1985 and eventually made a Capo. Before that he had been a knock around guy who was arrested on August 18, 1970, for shooting a troublesome garment cutter named Desiderio Caban at First Avenue and 117th Street. Squitieri plowed five bullets into Caban, killing him. The gunplay was heard by a passing patrol car which chased Squitieri for six blocks until finally cutting him of.

Squitieri got out of his car and told the cops, who were from the 25th Precinct, “Don't worry about it, he's only shot in the arm. Let me go; the boys will take care of you.” And they did. A week later mobster Alphonse “Funzi” Sisca met with one of the cops and paid him $5,000 to remove Squitieri's name from the crime report for the Caban killing. (Sisca would eventually go on to become the head of the Gambino operations in New Jersey)

When word got out about the bribe, the cops were indicted (And acquitted — but dismissed from the force after a departmental hearing) and Squitieri, who had two prior convictions and several felony arrests and Alphonse Sisca fled and became fugitive from justice. The New York City Police department, furious over the bribery charged assigned 45 to find the two hoods while federal agents search a 13 state radius for them. At the time, Squitieri  was known to police as "an extensive dealer in heroin in East Harlem" and a man who was "utterly without roots in the' community."

They stayed underground until January of 1972, and then surrendered to the police. The prosecutor emphasized that Squitieri and Sisca had surrendered "only when I told (Gino) Gallina (their defense attorney) that there was likely to be a gun fight" if they remained fugitives.

A year later, in 1973, Squitieri, who was known as  "Animal"  on the streets,  and his wife Marie were charged with failing to file U.S. federal income tax returns for three years, concealing at least $200,000 in income. That would cost him four years in federal prison. Shortly afterwards, he pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter in Caban murder and was sentenced to eight years in state prison.

Squitieri was released on the Caban murder in May 1981 and within months became the New Jersey drug connection for the Gotti’s. In 1982 Squitieri would meet Gambino lieutenants at a hot-dog stand in Queens to buy heroin for distribution in New Jersey. He sold a kilo of heroin supplied by Gene Gotti outside the Red Oak Diner in Fort Lee for $180,000.

While Squitieri sold Asian heroin in Harlem, he lived in a comfortable white-brick house on a leafy street in Englewood Cliffs and sent his children to Catholic schools. He became a star of the Knapp Commission which was looking into police corruption. In 1986 he was among several mobsters charged in a drug-conspiracy case by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani. Squitieri was acquitted.

Then, in 1988, Squitieri and his old sidekick Al Sisca were convicted on federal charges in New Jersey of conspiring with the Gambino’s to distribute enormous amounts of heroin into Northern new Jersey. At the same time, in 1988, Squitieri and Sisca learned that the owner of a  New Jersey pest-control company was bragging about being connected to John Gotti. They checked with Gotti, who didn’t know the man, and took over his company  and extorted him for tens of thousands of dollars. Squitieri was arrested for the extortion in 1992 and got five years in the can which ran concurrently with his drug sentence.

Sisca did 11 years in prison on the drug case. When Squitieri was released on the drug rap in the spring of 1999, he was elevated to capo and then acting underboss. "He did 11 years for heroin trafficking and didn't buckle',' so they made him a capo when he got out," a law enforcement source explained  "He was a gambling and drinking buddy of Gotti's, and he's a tough guy, That's why John liked him. He's a stone-cold killer," "He's done a lot of bad things for these guys. He's done murders for John Gotti."

According to court records, Squitieri killed Gambino soldier Liborio Milito.  (Squitieri was present in a bar owned by Lou Vallario when Milito was killed. Vallario had taken over Sal Gravano’s crew when Gravano was promoted to be John Gotti’s Consigliere in 1986. Milito felt that crew should have gone to him instead of Vallario and made no secret of his unhappiness. On March 8, 1988, Milito was called to a meeting at Vallerio’s bar. Not only was Squitieri present, so was  Gene Gotti, Johnny Carneglia, Vallario of course, and Sal Gravano. Gotti, Squitieri and Gravano were playing a card game at the table and John Carneglia was sitting on a couch watching television and Vallario was behind the bar. When Milito stepped up to the bar to drink a coffee he had asked for, Carneglia got up from the couch and shot him through the head with a .380 caliber handgun armed with a silencer, killing him. His body had never been found.)

Elevating a convicted drug dealer to the exalted position of Boss indicated to law enforcement how low the once might Gambino’s had fallen. "He has a very checkered background," one federal lawman said when he found out Squitieri was being considered for boss. "Only 15 years ago you couldn't even get made in the Gambino family if you were involved in heroin. He only got made after John became boss. Before that he could never get made."

Megale (Who was actually known as “Mac” and Machiavelli” inside the mob and “the Brain”) was promoted to acting underboss under  at about the same Squitieri was made acting boss. The promotion meant that Megale would be tasked with settling disputes within the family and generally overseeing the family’s criminal interest. The job paid him a portion of the Gambino’s take and made him wealthier than he had ever dreamed of becoming.

If John Gotti were alive at the time, Megale’s promotion never would have happened, Gotti didn’t like Megale steaming from Megale 1990 conviction for racketing. In the plea deal, Megale was forced to admit that he was a member of the Gambino crime family which aggravated John Gotti to no end. Megale received close to 6 years in prison. After he was released in 1995, he was sent back for 11months to jail for associating with known members of organized crime.

Even while Megale was acting underboss, he continued to grow his operations in Connecticut. The feds estimated that Megale and his top man Nic “The Greaseball” Melia, had at least $2,000,000 in cash dedicated to shylocking, out on the street at any given time. At the same time, Megale personally  the big dollar poker games in the rich and clustered Greek communities in Stamford and Norwalk.

When Megale went down, just about all his top earners went down with him. Old age eventually took its toll on what remained of the once mighty and expansive Megale organization in Connecticut.

Nicola "The Old Man" Melia, AKA The Greaseball,  a Gambino associate, who, the newspapers wrote “had a knack for making hundreds of dollars off a $1,000 loan” and  Victor Riccitelli, a Gambino soldier from Bridgeport, who supervised illegal gambling in Fairfield County for decades.

Melia, who was underboss to Tony Megale, was an interesting hood. In the 1990’s, Eugene “The Rooster” O’Nofrio was with the Gambino Family and running a small but wealthy criminal empire that included pieces of Western Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and a few spots in Manhattan’s Little Italy.

O’Nofrio, who dabbled in bookmaking, drugs and loan sharking ran his organization out of The Café Roma in Port Chester New York, just east of Greenwich and minutes from the Connecticut’s western border. He answered to Capo Louis “Louie Bracciole” Ricco who held sway from Brooklyn to the Bronx to New jersey.

Because he operated inside territory owned by Tony Megale, he paid Megale’s operation, he not only paid up to his Capo but to Megale as well.  Whatever he was paying to Megale, Megale’s underboss, Greaseball Melia, felt it wasn’t enough and demanded more money out of O’Nofrio.

At a meeting at O’Nofrio’s Café Roma in early 1997, to discuss the increase, things got so hot between O’Nofrio and Melia that Melia threw a heavy glass ashtray at O’Nofrio and others at the meeting had to separate the pair. Melia was so angry he drove to New York and demanded that the Gambino’s toss O’Nofrio out of the organization. The Gambino’s weren’t about that do, reportedly O’Nofrio had carried out some contract killings for them, so they instead transferred O’Nofrio over to the Genovese Family under Matty “The Horse” Ianniello.  When O’Nofrio started to pour big time money into Ianniello pockets, in 2003, Ianniello sponsored O’Nofrio to be made into Mafia.

In 2000, Melia did four months in federal prison for under-reporting $150,000 on his 1994 federal income tax return. In March of 2005, two men broke into Melia's home and bound and robbed him at gunpoint. A month after that, Melia’s 39-year-old son, Philip, was arrested on state charges of first-degree assault and third-degree criminal mischief in connection with the beating of a truck driver.

Later that year, when The Old Man Melia was 78-years-old when he was swept up in a statewide crack down that rounded up 18 alleged Gambino mobsters accused of racketeering, extortion and illegal gambling. Of the 18 men, Melia was the least important. Still, federal prosecutors told the court that Melia, who owned a Stamford beauty parlor called Continental Coiffeurs III, was a "major-league loan shark."  They claimed he was all business and once negotiated a loan in his then-98-year-old mother's room in a Stamford nursing home, at 3% a week and once collected more than $300,000 in interest on a $10,000 loan.

Melia was charged with five counts of making extortionate loans and one count of illegal possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. For the law, it was an open and shut case since most of the evidence prosecutors were prepared to present against Melia came from a small notebook one of his loan shark customers used to record his payments over a period of about nine years.

Melia, a natty dresser who spoke with an almost undecipherable Italian accent, lived in Stamford, pled guilty to racketeering and admitted in court that he collected debts for Megale. On one $2,500 loan taken out at $100 a week interest, Melia, who emigrated from Italy in 1955. He had virtually no formal schooling, was picked up on FBI microphones telling the debtor “I’m going to do what I gotta do” to make the collection. In December of 2011, the 79 year old Melia was sentenced to five years in prison on extortion and weapons charges, his third prison sentence in a decade. Further, he was ordered Melia to pay a $50,000 fine and forfeit $253,800 and a 2000 Mercedes Benz SL 600 to the government.

Harry A. Riccio of Bridgeport was reported to be a Gambino member was a ranking an in Megale’s operation. The feds said that Riccio supervised illegal gambling in the Bridgeport area. However, and despite his severe arthritis and high blood pressure,  Riccio said he earned his living as a well-paid itinerant racquetball coach. Riccio had a long record. His first conviction came in 1958 for receiving stolen goods. He was arrested on gambling charges in 1962 and in 1972 he was arrested for interfering with an officer when he threw a batch of gambling receipts written on dissolvable paper in to a puddle of water when he saw the police approaching to rain his house. He was one of the last people seen with Tommy DeBrizzi before he was murdered in 1982.

In 2005, 71 year old Victor Riccitelli, a Gambino solider in Bridgeport, and another key Megale operative, had just gotten over open heart surgery, still had cancer and suffered from a serious heart problem, was denied bail because the judge considered him too dangerous to walk the street. In fact, the judge ruled it was “extremely likely” Riccitelli would commit more crimes if released. Riccitelli, who claimed to be a retired use car salesman, had been indicted for operating the Gambino’s lucrative numbers operation in Bridgeport. He was arrested late in 2005 Riccitelli gambled and rejected a plea deal that would have given him about five years in prison. Instead, he went to trial, where, after four hours of jury deliberations, he was convicted of cocaine distribution and conspiracy and sent away from 13 years.

 “I’m not a drug dealer,” Riccitelli, whose criminal record went back to the 1940s,  told the court, but in fact, he was a drug dealer. The FBI captured Riccitelli on video and audiotape selling cocaine to an informant in 2003. When agents arrested him he was flushing drugs down the toilet. The feds also seized more than $28,000 in cash from him, including money marked by the FBI as part of the drug buy.

“I only got a few more years left, your honor, if you could take that into consideration,” Riccitelli, shrugging his shoulders, told the court when he was sentenced. However, the prosecutor in the case played audio tapes they said showed him to be violent, unpredictable and dangerous. In one taped conversation, Riccitelli outlined a plan to kill a local drug dealer and steal his cocaine stash: "That'll be our expletive retirement!" Riccitelli yelled in to the recording.

In another conversation, Riccitelli said he planned to kidnap the son of an unidentified Fairfield County businessman and hold him for ransom. 'Two million to him is like a expletive hamburger," Riccitelli said. "He owns all kind of real estate and shopping centers…..as soon as I get better, I'm going to snatch him."

Gerald Gerardi of Stamford, another Megale operative, ran a gambling operation in Greenwich. His record went back to 1963 when he was convicted of conspiring to transport women across a state line for immoral purposes, (The Mann Act) has been sentenced to five years in prison. He didn’t rehabilitate very much since an investigation provide that  Gerardi received very special treatment at the jail. By the late 1980s, Gerardi was collecting millions for the Gambino mob with his numbers and bookmaking rackets. When he wa convicted on gambling charges in 1990 and sentenced to serve eight years in federal prison, the trial judge also tacked on a $100,000 fine as well a fairly steep charge for his room and board while being held in jail. In 2006, after his release, a federal judge had Gerardi yanked into court to explain why he has paid only $225 toward the $100,000 fine imposed (Plus $512,350 in interest) on him 15 before. Gerardi, the owner of a mini-mansion in Greenwich, dragged the case out and died in 2009.

Another Megale regular was Vincent Fiore, he preferred Vinny. Fiore was born and raised in the Bronx. He was college educated, holding a bachelor’s degree in finance from Mercy College in Westchester County, New York. He had one conviction, a weapons charge in New York City in the early 1990s. In 1998, Fiore, his wife, and their three children moved to 78 Maple Avenue in Goshen in 1998, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom, double-lot property valued at $595,000 in 2005.

The additional land was approved for 17 new house lots which worked out well since Fiore was also an aspiring land developer and ran a construction and remodeling company, The Venice Land Development, with his wife, Desiree. His lawyer would later tell a court that Fiore made $25,000 to $35,000 a year in taxable income.

That was one side of Vinny Fiore. The other side, so said the federal government was that Fiore was a Made Man in the Gambino crime family and an enforcer for the Megale crew out of Bridgeport who worked under Gambino hood Victor Riccitelli. In a series of recorded conversations, Riccitelli bragged about how he and Fiore were inducted into the Gambino family in July 2003 and referred to Fiore as a soldier in his crew.  In another recorded phone conversations Riccitelli berated another Mafia crew chief for using Fiore to handle a dispute with an unnamed Connecticut contractor over some construction equipment.

On August 5, 2003, a month after he was made into the Gambino’s Fiore and another unnamed man, approached a bar owner and demanded $30,000 in cash and $200 weekly protection payments.  Exactly what happened isn’t clear, but a fight broke out because the bar owner wasn’t intimidated so Fiore punched him in the head, touching off a brawl. The bar owners elderly father joined in and was struck in the back with a bar stool and was later sent to a hospital. Fiore was chased out of the bar, had his car window broken and his watch stolen and, to make matters worse, the bar owner reported Fiore to the FBI.

A short time later, Nic “The Old Man” Melia, sent two men to assault a contractor in the parking lot of an Off-Track Betting parlor in Bridgeport. Fiore was thought to be one of the assailants but the contractor, whose jaw was wired shut, refused to identify Fiore or anyone else in the attack. 

Then, in September of 2004, everything fell apart. Megale, Riccitelli, Fiore and 15 others were indicted on racketeering charges.

 During Fiore’s trial his New York attorney, Thomas Lee, who represented a long line of Mafia hoods, was arrested on murder conspiracy and racketeering charges. Lee shuttled messages between an imprisoned Bonanno family boss Joe Massino and the mob’s street soldiers. Massino, facing life in jail, decided to cooperate with the feds and turned Lee in. 

Several requests that Lee delivered included direction on killings that various Bonanno bosses wanted to be carried out. Lee told Massino during a prison visit that the Bonanno acting boss on the streets, Vincent Basciano, (Who was later sentenced to life in prison) wanted to kill a Bronx Capo named Patrick DeFillipo (Who would later die in prison) and wanted Massino’s blessing for the contract to be carried out. Lee also brought a request from Basciano to Massino to murder the adult sons of two cooperating witnesses.

Lee would later say that in January of 2004, he delivered a message from the jailed Massino to Vinny Basciano that it was agreed by the Bonanno elders that Basciano should "take the reins of the Bonanno crime family."

"He was excited.” Lee said, “He asked me to repeat several times the exact words that were used by Mr. Massino…..I don't remember the exact words, but they were "something to the effect, 'I love him. I won't let him down. Things aren't going to skip a beat with me out here.'"

After hearing the tapes made by Massino, Lee agreed to cooperate with the government and turn states evidence. His other choice was to face 60 years in prison. Lee would become the first lawyer in American history to enter the witness protection. His wife and family joined him.

Fiore’s wife, Desiree, also pleaded for leniency for her husband and said that with his arrest and the costs of lawyers to defend him that she was forced to rent out their Maple Avenue home and move into a small apartment in the South Bronx. “I don’t want to sound like a snob,” she said. “But I don’t deserve to be in the South Bronx.”  But the judge fined Fiore $6,000, to be paid in $175 monthly installments after his release from prison and sentenced to at least two years behind bars