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Silk Road -the Dark Internet, bitcoin, and murder -video podcast

Al Profit and Scott Burnstein talk about the Silk Road case- the website that facilitated drug deals and other crimes using Bitcoin. Ross Ulbricht, founder of Silk Road and known as “Dread Pirate Roberts” was called an “evil Mark Zuckerberg” by the Feds– but now, in a new development, his attempted murder charges have been dropped due to the indictment of 2 of the Feds assigned to investigate him-for stealing Bitcoins. If you’re interested in bitcoin and its equal counterpart cryptocurrencies such as Ripple, there are plenty of articles on each to help you weigh up which is worth investing in.



Mexican Mafia Murder Trial Rolling In Rocky Mountains

The long-awaited first-degree murder trial of Mexican Mafia leader Silvestre (Chikali) Rivera has begun in a U.S District Court in Denver. Rivera and co-defendant and fellow Hispanic gangbanger Richard (Chuco) Santiago are charged with the gruesome 2005 killing of 64-year old Mexican Mafia boss Manuel (Tati) Torrez, which took place while they were all incarcerated together in a federal super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.

Torrez was one of the Mexican Mafia’s main “inside chiefs,” in charge of all organization activity conducted behind prison walls, the very place the syndicate, sometimes referred to as “La Eme,” (Spanish translation: ‘The M’), was founded in the late 1950s. He was suspected by some of “dry snitching” on a co-defendant in a racketeering and murder case from the 1990s and that’s considered one of the possibl

e motives for the grisly hit.

Left alone with no guard supervision in the prison yard on the morning of April 21, 2005, Rivera and Santiago were videotaped brutally beating and stomping Torrez to death.Rivera has pled not guilty due to self-defense, his attorney claiming Torrez had let loose an assassin squad of imprisoned gang followers in the yard that day ten years ago this month with the intention of offing his client prior to the fatal attack taking place.

Torrez’s slaying was the first in the then-11 year history of the Florence facility (opened in 1994), a fact that future prosecution witnesses will testify made Rivera tremendously proud. Since the Torrez hit, there’s been one more murder within the confines of the prison (transpiring in 2008).

The notorious “SuperMax” in Florence, Colorado is reserved for only the nation’s most dangerous convicts and highest national security risks. Torrez was serving 13 years on a 1999 racketeering conviction and had been transferred there the year before his killing for the fact that he was caught running gang affairs at Mexican Mafia-stronghold Lompoc Federal Prison in California. Rivera, an emerging power in the gang himself, was serving time for bank robbery when the murder occurred.

If convicted in his current case, Rivera faces a life sentence. Santiago, being tried separately, is staring at the death penalty since he was already locked up on a homicide. Jury selection ended on Monday afternoon, opening arguments were completed Tuesday and the first witness (a former corrections officer-unit manager at the Florence SuperMax) was called Wednesday morning. Prosecutors showed jurors the video of the murder as part of their opening statement.

Pending portions of the trial will take on a distinct flavor of a real-life version of the movie Con Air, as a series of infamous and incredibly-feared prison gang leaders representing Chicano, Aryan Brotherhood and African-American factions have been subpoenaed to testify and will be flown into town to take the stand under heavy guard. Con Air was an action film in 1997 starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich and Dave Chappelle and about an airplane full of shackled misfit convicts from different backgrounds joining forces to hijack the flight they are being transported on.

Frank Sinatra’s Mob Connections In The Midwest

In honor of what would be Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday this year, HBO unveiled a four-hour, two-part documentary film this week exploring the life and times of the iconic singer and entertainer. Sinatra, a well-known mob associate from his home base on the east coast dating back to his days growing up in New Jersey, was often in the company of mafia dignitaries when he came to the Midwest as well.

“The Chairman of the Board” famously cavorted in Chicago with Outfit mob boss Sam Giancana and palled around with the less nationally-known, yet equally infamous and treacherous Giacalone brothers in Detroit.

FBI surveillance logs note Sinatra’s presence at Giancana’s headquarters, the Armory Lounge and his restaurant the Villa Venice while visiting the Windy City. He was also close to Rocco and Charles (Trigger-Happy Charlie) Fischetti, a pair of brothers and cousins to Chicago Prohibition Era don Al (Scarface) Capone who rose to prominence in the Outfit hierarchy, first at Capone’s side and then on their own after Capone’s jailing in the 1930s. One particular FBI file pertaining to Sinatra tells of ‘Ole Blue Eyes’ accompanying the Fischetti brothers and Chicago mafia boss Tony (the Big Tuna) Accardo to a meeting of mob higher-ups in Cuba in 1946.

Sinatra and his Rat Pack played a week-long run at the Villa Venice in 1962 as a favor to Giancana, and according to some underworld rumors, to assuage tensions between him and the Chitown Godfather due to the Kennedy Administration’s sudden and aggressive declared war on American organized crime.

Just two years prior, Sinatra, and some believe powers in the mafia, helped get John F. Kennedy elected President of the United States. Sinatra, one of the most recognized pop-culture figures in the world and an ardent JFK friend and supporter, campaigned vigorously for Kennedy in the 1960 election and his buddy Giancana is alleged to have spearheaded an effort by the mob to fix voting districts in one of the closest Presidential Elections in history in which Kennedy edged past future President and then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

Sam "Momo" Giancana
Sam “Momo” Giancana

Almost immediately after taking office in early 1961, Kennedy unleashed his brother and new Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy on a heated rampage against Giancana and his fellow mafia leaders around the country, almost quadrupling the number of federal indictments levied against members of organized crime. Most historians point to Sinatra as the man that introduced and tied the mob into the Kennedy camp – at least partially through arranging a purposely-constructed love triangle between a former girlfriend of his named Judith Campbell, JFK and Giancana.

Starting in the late 1940s, whenever Sinatra visited Detroit, he’d seek the company of the notorious Giacalones, steely-eyed Motor City mob street boss, Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and his baby bro and syndicate capo and future underboss Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone.

Per FBI documents related to the Giacalones, the trio would often hold court at the historic Roma Café in Detroit’s Eastern Market (one of the oldest eateries in the city) and then as the years went on also at the Excalibur, a popular restaurant and lounge in suburban Southfield less than a five minute drive from Tony Jack’s nearby headquarters, the Southfield Athletic Club. Sinatra often performed at local reputedly mob-connected establishments in Metro Detroit, like Pine Knob in Oakland County and the Premier Center in Macomb County.

Giacalone bros. - c. 1992
Giacalone bros. – c. 1992

“It was like clock work,” recalled retired Detroit FBI agent Sam Ruffino, a central OC unit member in southeast Michigan from the 1970s until the 2000s. “A few times a year, we’d trail the Giacalones to the airport to pick up Sinatra. They’d spend the weekend together socializing before and after his shows. We’d watch them post up at the Excalibur, entertain large groups of people from all walks of life. Billy would bring all the girls. Frank would have his pick. Almost every night, they’d shut the place down. And he didn’t make any apologies for it. Those were his friends. The fact that they were known hoodlums and murderers didn’t matter to him. He didn’t care, he was going to hang around with who he wanted to hang around with.”

Tony Giacalone died of cancer in 2001, Billy Giacalone of natural causes in the winter of 2012.  Accardo passed due to old age in 1992 and the Fischettis have been in the grave for over a half-century. Giancana was killed gangland style in 1975, just weeks prior to the disappearance and murder of Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa, a globally-known mob hit and unsolved crime long linked to the Giacalones, Hoffa’s liaison in the Midwest Italian mafia.

Sinatra was felled from a heart attack at 82 in May 1998.

Detroit Man Didn’t Get Chance To See Sister’s Mob Murder Solved

Thomas Gargaro died at 85 late last week in Metro Detroit never getting the satisfaction of seeing his sister’s killer brought to justice. Gargaro, a retired local builder, passed away on April 2, some 46 and a half years after his sister, Judy Gargaro Ruggirello, vanished August 18, 1968 from her Southfield, Michigan home, never to be seen again. She is presumed dead.

The No. 1 suspect in her disappearance and murder to this very day is her then-husband, reputed Detroit mafia figure Antonino (Tony the Exterminator) Ruggirello, Jr., alleged to be a widely-respected mob elder statesman in the Motor City these days.

Ruggirello, Jr., 81, was questioned and heavily investigated for his involvement in the crime at the time his wife went missing nearly a half-century ago, however, he was never charged. Nobody’s been charged, leaving just inferences, accusations and presumptions.

According to law enforcement records, throughout the summer of 1968, Judy Gargaro Ruggirello began telling friends that she was thinking of leaving her husband and that she intended on purchasing a gun to protect herself from him. On the evening of August 17, the small and petite 29-year old informed the rotund man they called ‘The Exterminator’ in honor of his reputation for being a suspected mob killer and the fact that he owned a pest extermination business, that she was filing for the divorce the following day and had already placed a down payment on an apartment. A heated argument ensued, admitted Tony Ruggirello, Jr. to police afterward and authorities believe during the argument Ruggirello, Jr threatened his wife.

The morning of August 18, Ruggirello, Jr. sent his two kids to spend the afternoon with relatives and Judy never showed up for a lunch meeting with her sister. By the end of the evening, her sister went to the police and filed a missing persons report. Around 11:00 a.m. on August 19, Southfield Police detectives came across Judy Gargaro Ruggirello’s abandoned car with her purse and keys left inside, at a popular local restaurant and Jewish delicatessen called Darby’s on 7 Mile Road on the Southfield-Detroit border.

afghjDuring an intense verbal exchange in a courtroom hallway in the early 1970s, Michigan mob political-fixer, bag man and turncoat, Pete Lazoros accused Detroit Mafioso and convicted racketeer Joseph (Joe the Clipper) Barbara, Jr. of “stuffing Judy Ruggirello down a sewer drain.” Lazoros thought Barbara of raped his wife and admitted to trying to kill Barbara, Jr, himself in an unsuccessful shooting at a suburban Detroit hotel.

Barbara, Jr. was raised a mob prince by his father, Joseph (Joe the Barber) Barbara, Sr., the mafia don of upstate New York and parts of northeast Pennsylvania in the mid-20th Century and infamous host of the notorious Apalachin summit, a poorly-executed meeting of Italian crime czars from across the country, raided by the police in 1957. The younger Barbara relocated to Michigan upon marrying the daughter of Detroit mafia capo Peter (Bozzi) Vitale (d. 1997).

Ruggirello, Jr, and his brothers Luigi (aka “Louie the Bulldog”), Antonio (aka “Toto”) and Joseph (aka “Jo Jo”) were sons of feared Detroit mob enforcer Antonino (Big Tony) Ruggirello, Sr., a longtime personal bodyguard, strong arm and all-around top lieutenant of Michigan mafia “founding father” William (Black Bill) Tocco’s. Black Bill Tocco was the syndicate’s first recognized “LCN don” in the 1930s and ruled at the forefront of crime family affairs until he died of heart failure in May 1972.

Per FBI and Michigan State Police documents, Tony, Jr. captained a crew of mob soldiers from the 1970s into the early 2000s that oversaw underworld activity in the Ann Arbor and Flint areas. Ann Arbor is a college town, home to the University of Michigan, and surrounded by several rural communities in Washtenaw County, while Flint is a smoky factory town in Genesee County – both regions are located some 40 miles outside of Detroit.

In 1977, Tony, Jr. and his baby bro Toto were convicted of attempting to murder a Flint illegal numbers operator with a car bomb. The government’s star witness, Ruggirello crew member, David La Ponsey survived an attempt on his life in federal custody awaiting his turn to testify at the Ruggirellos’ trial.

Two years later in the summer of 1979, they hosted an elite mob get-together at their crew’s headquarters, the ritzy Timberland Game Ranch, a private club and hunting lodge 10 miles away from Ann Arbor in Dexter, Michigan, held to anoint Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, Black Bill’s eldest son, the new Godfather of the Detroit mafia and attended by only the most powerful members of the crime family.

Tocco’s “inauguration” was also attended by the FBI through good luck and a tip delivered to them by Tocco’s driver and cousin, Anthony (Fat Tony) Zito, a confidential government informant for years prior to his death in 1990, and photos snapped at the event were used to convict Tocco and several of his Detroit mob administrative counterparts in a wide-spanning RICO case that wasn’t filed until almost two decades after it took place.

Jack Tocco died of natural causes at 86 last July. Louie Ruggirello, Tony Jr.’s co-captain in the 70s and 80s, died of cancer in 1987. Jo Jo Ruggirello did the same in 2013.

Sources tell the Gangster Report that both living Ruggirello brothers -Tony, Jr and Toto – remain semi-active in the rackets, having recently emerged from a near-10 year long gangland hiatus to help oversee the former crew of reputed newly-enshrined Detroit mafia underboss Anthony (Chicago Tony) La Piana and aid in the transition of power in the Family from Tocco to La Piana and freshly-minted Midwest don, Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone. Even in his time away from the leadership ranks of the local mob, Tony, Jr. is alleged to have acted in an unofficial advisory capacity to Jack Tocco at the tail end of his reign.

Why Is Chicago Mobster Anthony Volpendesto No Longer In Jail? Or Is He?

Where is Chicago wiseguy and Outfit jewel thief Anthony (Kid Blast) Volpendesto? He’s not where you’d think he’d be that’s for sure. At least, that’s what it looks like.

The 53-year old Volpendesto, convicted in December 2010 alongside Windy City mob don Michael (Fat Mike) Sarno in a federal racketeering case for his role in a multi-million dollar mafia-backed robbery ring that targeted jewelry stores, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his crimes but his current status on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website curiously states that he is no longer in custody. What that means is anybody’s guess, though I’m sure some will jump to what could seem an obvious conclusion.

Also convicted with him at trial in 2010 was his father, longtime Chicago mob soldier and gangland explosives expert Sam (the Master Blaster) Volpendesto, who literally had a police jacket that reached triple figures and died behind bars in 2013 at 89. He had been sentenced to 35 years for constructing a bomb that was used to destroy a video-poker machine business at Fat Mike Sarno’s behest. The business was encroaching on territory controlled by another video-poker machine operation sponsored by and possibly silently co-owned by Fat Mike.

Sarno, 57 and a suspect in the 2006 disappearance and assumed slaying of Outfit power Anthony (Little Tony) Zizzo, was hit with a 25-50 year sentence in his case with the Volpendestos. He was named the “acting boss” of the Chicago mafia in 2005 upon the jailing of Zizzo’s mob confidant James (Jimmy the Man) Marcello, Sarno’s predecessor in the acting boss chair on behalf of aging Godfather John (Johnny No Nose) Di Fronzo.

Sam Volpendesto was a military hero, earning the Bronze Medal of Honor in World War II, however when he returned to his hometown of Cicero following his service he gravitated to the underworld and the mentorship of local rising-star hood Joseph (Joey Doves) Aiuppa, a future Outfit boss, according to Chicago Crime Commission files. In the 1950s and 60s, Volpendesto ran a series of after-hours clubs, gambling houses and brothels under the umbrella of Aiuppa’s regime.

Known as a “tough guy who was fast with his fists,” in his gangster prime according to his CCC folder, he became close to lunatic Chicago mob hitman Salvatore (Mad Sam) DeStefano and was caught on FBI wiretaps in the 2000s recounting watching DeStefano chopping up his enemies and disposing of their corpses by putting their body parts through a meat grinder. Per FBI and court documents, in his latter days on the street, Volpendesto was viewed by authorities as a sometime-advisor to Sarno, one of a number of “old-timers he leaned on” to transition into the syndicate’s top spot after Marcello was brought down courtesy of the colossal Operation Family Secrets case issued in April 2005.

Building a reputation as a “fireman,” somebody you went to if you wanted a business torched for insurance money or a rival’s business blown up in a show of force, Sam Volpendesto is said to have happily and eagerly ushered his son, Anthony, into a life of crime. The younger Volpendesto, an admitted cocaine abuser, was a quick study – he recorded more than 30 arrests in 25 years in the rackets.

As a young boy, “Kid Blast,” nicknamed in reference to his dad’s skills for blowing things up, was an accomplished trick bicyclist and he used his prowess on a ten-speed in a series of “smash-and-grab” robbery jobs included in the RICO brought against Sarno’s Cicero goodfella contingent in 2008. During the trial that spanned most of November and into early December 2010, Volpendesto’s behavior was defiant and borderline erratic. At one point, he was ordered removed from the courtroom by the judge for his outbursts.

Another one of the lead defendants in that case, Casey Szaflarski, a Sarno lieutenant convicted of being the Outfit’s video-poker chief, was saddled with a three-and-a-half year prison bit and just got out last month.