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Philly Mob Boss Skinny Joey Merlino Is Free To Travel Abroad, Fed Judge Gets Him His Passport Back

December 3, 2021 — The man they call “Skinny Joey” can now officially fatten his travel schedule with the return of his passport after five years of it being considered property of the federal government.

Last week in New York City, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan ordered prosecutors to immediately give reputed Philadelphia mafia don Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino his passport back after dawdling and slow-rolling returning the document to the swashbuckling crime boss in Florida, where he has resided the past decade. At the proceeding in Manhattan, Sullivan admonished the U.S. Attorneys Office for dragging its feet in allowing Merlino to retrieve his rightful property minus harassment.

Gangland News founder Jerry Capeci, the undisputed Dean of American mob writing, broke the news in his weekly column Thursday. Capeci first wrote of Merlino’s passport troubles in October.

The swaggering, high-fashion conscious Skinny Joey has been “off paper” (free of any parole restrictions) since the summer. He did a year of prison time for a federal gambling conviction stemming from the 2016 “East Coast LCN” conspiracy case.

When he was awarded bond in that case more than five years ago, Merlino, 59, turned over his passport to prosecutors. After a mistrial on racketeering charges, Merlino copped a plea to a single gambling count for placing an illegal bet on a cell phone.

The Possum & The President: JFK Partied With Mob On Inauguration Day ‘61, Led To His Shunning Of Rat Pack

December 2, 2021 — U.S. President John F. Kennedy broke off his relationship with iconic entertainer Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack after Kennedy came under heat from his own Justice Department for allowing Sinatra to throw him an inauguration party at a mobbed up gambling den, per FBI records.

On the late evening of January 20, 1961, hours after Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States, he was drinking, gambling and carousing the night away at the Spartan American Club with Sinatra’s Rat Pack and other big-name celebrities, not to mention a convoy of Mafiosi from New York and Chicago, at a party held in his honor. The Spartan American club was owned by Washington D.C. mob boss Joe

(The Possum) Nesline, who ran the rackets in the nation’s capital for New York’s Genovese crime family from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Kennedy had leveraged his family’s corporate and political dynasty and support from Hollywood and the Mafia into a successful run to the White House. Sinatra served as Kennedy’s conduit to both the entertainment world and the underworld. The Rat Pack played a pivotal role in JFK’s win in the rail thin 1960 election, barnstorming the country stumping for him and helping him raise money. The JFK campaign used Sinatra’s “High Hopes” song as its theme music.

In the days that followed Kennedy’s inauguration, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover presented the President FBI surveillance photos of the Rat Pack’s Spartan American Club party at a meeting in the Oval Office and his advisors instructed him to immediately cut ties with Ole’ Blue Eyes. Kennedy subsequently canceled a planned vacation to Sinatra’s residence in California and angered the singer by staying at rival entertainer Bing Crosby’s estate instead.

Nesline was Irish and a native of D.C. Per his D.C. police jacket, he politicked his way up the criminal food chain via his close relationships with Jewish mob power Meyer Lansky and Genovese crime family capo Charlie (The Blade) Tourine, the borgata’s skipper in Miami. Because he wasn’t Italian, he could never be made into the mafia, however, his business acumen and legendary reputation for running the most profitable dice game on the East Coast allowed him to rise to crew boss status and become D.C.’s only true-crime mob chief. According to his FBI file, Nesline maintained a wide network of gangland connections and extensive gambling interests in Cuba and the Bahamas, eventually planting a flag in Europe and the Middle East (with some of the ventures being co-financed by Lansky and Tourine).

A jury acquitted Nesline of murdering D.C. bookmaker George Hardy in 1951 at the Hide-Away Club on the grounds of self-defense. Hardy had a 38-caliber gun in his jacket pocket when Nesline shot him dead in a hallway of the club.

The heat incurred by Nesline’s Spartan American Club over Kennedy’s inauguration party resulted in him shuttering the club all together and moving his headquarters to the Amber Club, hiring actor George Raft as the club’s greeter. Nesline teamed with Chicago mob associate and nationally-respected gambling whiz Frank (Lefty) Rosenthal in operating the Amber Club until they were indicted for illegal gambling and Rosenthal fled for Las Vegas. Rosenthal’s life in Vegas was chronicled in the film Casino with Robert DeNiro playing him as a character called “Ace Rothstein.”

Nesline took federal pinches in 1963, 1967 and then finally in 1986, all gambling related, but did little prison time. His 1986 bust for selling and operating video poker machines got him probation. He died of natural causes at age 82 living in a Delaware nursing home.

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 riding in a motorcade during a parade in Dallas. Lansky and Tourine both died peacefully in Florida in 1980 and 1983, respectively,

“Reesie” Hankton Finds Relief From The U.S. Supreme Court, New Orleans Drug Chief Could Be Back In Crescent City Soon

November 30, 2021 — The First Family of the Big Easy dope game got good news this week. New Orleans drug world figure Andre (Reesie) Hankton appears to be on his way to punching a ticket home in the near future instead of spending the rest of his life in prison. Based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that federal racketeering convictions are not to be considered violent offenses (even if one of the predicates of the racketeering count found guilty of included an act of violence), federal prosecutors have moved to dismiss two of Hankton’s three convictions, making him eligible for release within months.

Reesie Hankton is one of the co-founders of the notorious Hankton Boys drug gang. He was found guilty at a headline-dominating trial in 2016. Two of the racketeering counts he was convicted of and led to life sentences were tied to the brazen 2008 murder of rival Big Easy drug boss Darnell (Dunrey) Stewart. Once the first two counts of his case are thrown out of court, the lone count Hankton will be doing time for is a firearm offense that he was sentenced to 10 years for. Hankton’s already been behind bars for almost a decade and could be paroled by the spring.

Hankton’s brother, George (G-Cup) Hankton, started the Hankton Boys crew in the 1990s. Durney Stewart and his henchman Jesse (Tu Tu) Reed allegedly gunned down 40-year old G-Cup Hankton on December 7, 2007 in front of a carwash in the city’ Gert Town neighborhood. Stewart and Reed were arrested for the murder, but had the charges dropped before the case made it in front of a jury.

With G-Cup dead, leadership of the Hankton Boys gang fell to G-Cup and Reesie Hankton’s little cousin, “Wild Telly” Hankton. Per DEA records, Wild Telly Hankton issued $50,000 murder contracts on Stewart and Reed as a revenge for his cousin’s slaying. The contract was open all takers for four months, until a frustrated and grieving Wild Telly decided to take matters into his own hands. Reesie Hankton got in on the payback action as well.

On the evening of May 13, 2008, Wild Telly and Reesie Hankton found Stewart and engaged in a high speed chase with him before he ditched his vehicle after smashing into an industrial dumpster and took off on foot. Reesie Hankton, driving a Mustang with Wild Telly in the passenger’s seat, slammed into a fleeing Stewart, sending him flying into the air near the entrance to the parking lot of Jazz Daiquiris nightclub. Wild Telly exited the car and executed Stewart with four shots at point-blank range to the head in front of a crowd of horrified onlookers.

Tu Tu Reed was slain June 20, 2009, shot more than 50 times as he stood on his porch talking to a friend. Hankton Boys crew enforcer Walter (Moonie) Porter was convicted of murdering Reed.

Wild Telly Hankton was found guilty of first degree homicide in 2011 and then racketeering five years later. The 45-year old Hankton was sentenced to life in prison.

One Nation Under A Groove Under The Genovese Crime Family: Payola Probe, Black Woodstock, Big Nate McCalla Left 5 Bodies In Their Wake

November 30, 2021 — Fallout from a federal investigation into Payola in the radio industry and a music festival dubbed the Black Woodstock in the late 1970s resulted in five murders tied to the New York mafia’s Genovese crime family, per FBI and DEA records. Two of those murdered were famous Washington D.C. disc jockeys and another was an infamous mob associate and record executive. The main cause of all the ruckus was the Brute Music Festival: One Nation Under A Groove, held in the days surrounding the 1977 July 4 holiday at the Take It Easy Ranch property in Calloway, Maryland.

The face of the festival was its founder and promoter, Norris (Brute) Little. Behind east coast R&B music impresario Little though was a cadre of mob figures, drug bosses and underworld-connected D.C. radio-station hustlers.

Little had been staging his festival for the previous decade, but at a much smaller scale. For 1977, Little wanted to go big and brought in investors, including high-ranking Genovese crime family affiliate Morris Levy and his henchman Nathan (Big Nate) McCalla, also a music industry executive, D.C. heroin kingpin Linwood (The Grey Ghost) Gray and popular, smooth-talking disc jockey, Bob (Nighthawk) Terry. Plans for the event immediately tripled in size. Disco Queen crooner Johnnie Taylor and Best-selling R&B groups, The Commodores, The Brothers Johnson and Kool & The Gang, were booked to headline the show.

“Mo” Levy was a staple of the recording industry for three decades and the owner of Roulette Records. He was notorious in the music business for mistreating his artists and stealing their publishing rights. He owned the Strawberries chain of record stores and a number of nightclubs and performance venues around New York City.

Much of Levy’s power and influence came from his tight relationship with mob titan, Vincent (The Chin) Gigante, don of the Genovese clan, and one of his most trusted capos, Dominick (Baldy Dom) Canterino. Gigante was the most powerful of the New York mafia boss in the 1980s and 1990s, famous for his “Oddfather” routine, roaming the streets of Greenwich Village in his bathrobe mumbling to himself in a ruse to fool the FBI into thinking he was insane.

Big Nate McCalla was vice president of Roulette Records. Besides being the No. 2 at Roulette Records and Levy’s right-hand man and enforcer, McCalla owned a tiny R&B music label backed by Levy named Calla Records and publishing-rights outfit known as JAMF Publishing (JAMF stood for Jive Ass Mother Fucker). Betty LaVette’s 1965 Top 20 hit, Let Me Down Easy, was Calla Records’ most successful release.

McCalla was born in the Bahamas and served as a go-between for Levy and his African-American associates, pushing spins at Black radio-oriented stations across the country with the use of threats and intimidation tactics. Levy and McCalla were both military vets. McCalla served as a paratrooper in the Korean War.

Many music industry historians point to McCalla as the person responsible for bringing iconic reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley to massive fame in North America in the 1970s. Big Nate traveled to Jamaica and made deals to license Marley’s music in the U.S. and Canada; delivering a signing bonus and then failing to pay the rest of the agreed amount. Nonetheless, it was because of McCalla that U.S and Canadian audiences heard Marley on the radio, fell in love with him and made him a counter-culture icon.

McCalla’s push to get Marley played in the North American radio market involved highly-successful New York disc jockey Frank (Hollywood Frankie) Crocker, a pioneer in the “urban contemporary” genre (he’s credited with coining the phrase) in big-city radio, was also at the center of a Payola scandal in the industry that derailed his career for a brief period of time in the late 1970s and was connected to Mo Levy and Big Nate McCalla. Levy and McCalla were trailblazers in developing different payola scams to heighten their artists exposure. Whether his palm was greased or not to play his records, Crocker embraced Marley and the entire reggae music scene and his championing of the sound exposed Marley to the masses and skyrocketed his success in the States.

Around this time, Mo Levy and Big Nate McCalla were indicted for attacking an off-duty police officer outside a Manhattan jazz club in 1975. The assault occurred when NYPD cop Charlie Heinz made what Levy interpreted as an inappropriate comment to his girlfriend. Per an NYPD incident report, McCalla held Heinz on the ground while Levy pummeled his face causing Heinz to lose his right eye.

Crocker was indicted on May 13, 1976. Earlier that same month, D.C. disc jockey R. Seavy (Soul Papa) Campbell of WOL, someone Crocker and Nighthawk Terry used to promote concerts with, was slain gangland style. Campbell was found shot to death on the side of a Virginia road in the early morning hours of May 4, 1976.

In the months prior to his murder, Campbell was facing scrutiny from the IRS for shady banking practices linked to his concert promotions firm and had been subpoenaed before a grand jury investigating Payola in the radio industry and its ties to Italian and African-American organized crime. According to one internal FBI memo, multiple informants pointed the finger at Levy and McCalla for playing a role in Campbell’s murder.

Calla Records shut down in 1977. That same year, Levy and McCalla began discussing staging a musical festival to wash dirty money, per FBI informant files. Using McCalla’s contacts to Nighthawk Terry and the D.C. black music scene, they were introduced to “Brute Little,” who had been putting on a small annual concert series in the D.C. area during the summer since the mid-1960s and was hoping to grow the series of glorified jam sessions to a buzzy Black music festival in the mold of transcendent mostly-Caucasian hippy music festivals like Woodstock in New York or Monterey Pop in California.

Nighthawk Terry was the premier D.C. radio personality at the time, overseeing WOL’s transition from traditional rock-and-roll to all-R&B and soul music. Federal documentation from 1970s tied him to a series of Payola scandals, a string of money laundering schemes and several prominent members of the D.C. drug world. One of those D.C. drug tycoons he was close to was Linwood Gray. He also knew Brute Little and did business with Little’s music promotions outfit. So did Gray, providing financing to many of the endeavors. Mo Levy and Big Nate McCalla made an under-the-table deal with Little and Gray to pump a million bucks into the creation and promotion of a bigger, much more glitzy and grand Brute Music Festival to be marketed as the “Black Woodstock,” with the Parliament Funkadelic-inspired tag line, “One Nation Under A Groove.”

Little’s Charisma Entertainment Co. leased the Take It Easy Ranch located in Calloway, Maryland in the Eastern Shores region of the state, for the days of July 1 through July 4, 1977. Linwood Gray sent a pair of his own guys to be his boots on the ground for the event. The only problem was, that those two guys, D.C. hoodlums, Howard (Hawkeye) McNair and Theodore (Fast Teddy) Brown, didn’t make it through the event itself alive.

Per one FBI document related the concert’s fallout, Terry, McNair and Brown began to counterfeit large amounts of tickets and backstage passes and flooded the buyer’s market with them in the weeks preceding the four-day festival. Levy and the Genovese crime family got word of the bootlegged tickets and passes and were enraged, dispatching McCalla to Maryland to deal with the situation personally.

On July 2, the second day of the festival, McNair and Brown were both found slain in a patch of woods just a few hundred yards away from the Take It Easy Ranch property, each shot in the back of the head at point-blank range. Three days later, on July 5, the day after the festival concluded, tensions boiled over between Big Nate McCalla and Nighthawk Terry and a screaming match erupted in the lobby of WOL, with McCalla accusing Terry of counterfeiting 150,000 tickets for an event that could only hold 200,000 and costing him, Levy and their backers in the Chin’s Genovese crew more than $1,000,000 in profits.

Nighthawk Terry was living on borrowed time.

The 41-year old Terry vanished on August 31, 1977, last seen driving away from WHUR radio station in D.C. in his blue-colored Oldsmobile Toronado. His body has never been found.

Considered the No. 1 suspect in the McNair and Brown homicides and Terry’s disappearance, Big Nate McCalla left New York and went into hiding in Florida. He was discovered shot to death in the living room of a rented house in Ft. Lauderdale on February 20, 1980. McCalla had been deceased for at least a week and was killed by someone he knew (the home’s back door was open, a set of keys in the handle and the windows sealed shut with the heating system blasting).

According to federal informants, “Chin” Gigante ordered McCalla’s murder and Levy signed off on the contract and aided the hit team in finding McCalla so he could be killed. Gigante had recently taken the reins as Godfather of the Genovese Family.

Gray, known on the street by the nicknames “The Grey Ghost” and “Big Boy Caprice,” went down in a drug and tax case, convicted on the tax counts at a July 1979 trial where he admitted under oath that him and Terry did business with New York organized crime figures. Gray’s attorneys blamed the narcotics activity he was being charged with on Terry, who couldn’t refute the claims because he was dead.

Brute Little died of natural causes in October 2005. Gray would go on to be convicted in a later drug case for trafficking heroin and cocaine.

Terry was portrayed by actor-comedian Cedric the Entertainer in the 2007 film Talk To Me. One police informant told authorities that Terry’s body was dismembered and buried in several different spots across a North Carolina farm. Terry’s Oldsmobile was found torched in a North Carolina field in 1978.

Mo Levy died in 1990, less than two weeks away from being scheduled to report to serve a 12-year federal prison sentence for racketeering and extortion. The Chin passed away of natural causes behind bars in the 2000s. Baldy Dom Canterino, Levy’s co-defendant in his racketeering case and Gigante’s confidant and sometimes driver, died in prison too.

When The Chicago Outfit Hired The Cocaine Cowboys: Lefty Rosenthal Tried Having Tony The Ant Blown Up In Miami

November 25, 2021 — Famous Chicago mob associate Frank (Lefty) Rosenthal tried to take a murder contract out on his childhood friend, feared Las Vegas mafia chieftain Tony (The Ant) Spilotro, before their bosses in the Outfit beat him to it and the hit man he tried to hire was killed himself. According to FBI records, in the early 1980s, Rosenthal, who was feuding with Spilotro over Outfit business affairs in Vegas and the fact that Spilotro was having a romantic affair with Rosenthal’s wife, Geri, sought out Cocaine Cowboy and CIA asset, Richard (Monkey) Morales, to have Tony the Ant blown up in a fire-bomb explosion on a visit to Miami.

Spilotro was known to spend time on one particular boat when he visited the area in the winter. Rosenthal had previously lived in Florida and maintained ties in the area’s underworld.

Monkey Morales was an explosives expert trained in Cuba. He and Rosenthal met each other in Miami in the 1960s when Rosenthal and his benefactors back in the Windy City hired Morales to car bomb rival bookmakers, per federal documents. Rosenthal fled South Florida for the glitzy Vegas Strip in the wake of a federal investigation into the string of bombings focusing on Rosenthal and other Outfit affiliates living in Dade County.

Rosenthal and Spilotro were put in charge of the Chicago mob’s interests in the Las Vegas gaming industry. Outfit bosses tapped Rosenthal, one of the most legendary handicappers in the American gambling world of the mid to late 20th Century, as their “inside man” and Tony the Ant, pint-sized, but formidable mafia assassin, as the strongman to oversee the whole operation from the streets outside the four casinos controlled on the Strip.

The entire ordeal came to a crashing halt in the final months of 1982.

On October 4, Rosenthal survived a car bombing in the parking lot of a Las Vegas restaurant. The following month, on November 9, Geri Rosenthal was found dead of a drug overdose in a Los Angeles motel room.

In the days before Christmas, Monkey Morales, 44, met his fate and died in a bar fight in Miami on December 21, shot to death outside Rogers On The Green. Morales’ family believes the seemingly random altercation was in actuality a hit and Morales’ brother admitted on his deathbed to executing the owner of Rogers On The Green two years later in an act of vengeance.

Spilotro lasted another four years until he was heinously slain in the basement of a private residence in Chicago, beaten, stomped and strangled to death along with his little brother, Mickey, for his insubordinate behavior. Oscar-winning actors Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro, played Spilotro and Rosenthal, respectively, in the 1995 film Casino. Sharon Stone was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Rosenthal’s wife.

After Rosenthal died of natural causes in 2008 at age 79, it was revealed that he was a longtime confidential informant for the FBI. The character based on him in Casino was renamed Sam (Ace) Rothstein.

Morales cut ties with the CIA and became a wholesale cocaine trafficker in the final years of his life. Richard Morales, Jr. recently told reporters his father admitted to him that he was sent to Dallas by the CIA in the days before U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 as part of a “clean up crew.” Morales informed his son that he knew Lee Harvey Oswald from his days training Oswald at a CIA sniper school.