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Detroit mobsters linked to JFK assassination in FBI files

Moceris linked to Kennedy assassination, per newly-unveiled FBI documents, Joe Misery’s death possibly connected

Recently-released FBI records pertaining to former Detroit mafia underboss Peter (Horseface Pete) Licavoli reveal informants telling the government that Licavoli dispatched the villainous Moceri brothers, Joseph (Joe Misery) Moceri and Calogero (Leo Lips) Moceri, to Dallas in November 1963 to aid in a joint mob-CIA plan to assassinate U.S. President John F. Kennedy and that Joe Misery’s murder five years later might have been related to the fallout.

A new book, The Mafia Court – Corruption in Chicago, by Dr. John Russell Hughes, a physician and professor at the University of Illinois’ School of Medicine, alludes to a connection in the case between Licavoli, Leo Moceri and Chicago mob boss Sam (Momo) Giancana, one of the Mafiosi most-closely tied to the Kennedy assassination by conspiracy theorists.

Hughes’ book recounts allegations that Giancana sent notorious Outfit hitman Chuckie Nicoletti, the Chicago mafia’s representative on the West Coast, John (Handsome Johnny) Roselli, and a one-time driver and bodyguard of his named, James Sutton Files, to help take out the President.

Files is currently in an Illinois state prison serving a 50-year sentence for a 1991 conviction for attempting to murder a pair of Chicago police officers and claimed in a 1994 interview that he was the shooter on the grassy knoll. The FBI has deemed Files’ boasting regarding his involvement in the iconic political assassination lacking credibility.

Giancana, Nicoletti and Roselli were all murdered gangland-style themselves the following decade, each on the verge of testifying or already have testified in front of U.S. Congressional Committees.

Pete Licavoli died of heart failure in 1984, after a hallowed career in the underworld where he was a founding father of the Detroit mafia and went on to become a widely-respected figure on the national gangland landscape, with pull on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Licavoli and the Moceris were cousins. During Prohibition, Horseface Pete and Joe Misery were the co-leaders of “The River Gang,” a preeminent bootlegging syndicate in Detroit, and Leo Lips, Joe Misery’s baby brother and Thomas (Yonnie) Licavoli, Horseface Pete’s little brother, were two of the gang’s top enforcers.

Yonnie Licavoli was jailed for over 30 years on a murder conviction from 1934 in Toledo, Ohio, a region traditionally controlled by the Detroit mob and at the time of his conviction, Yonnie’s home base.

At the conclusion of Prohibition, Pete Licavoli and Joe Moceri merged business affairs with East Side Gang leaders, William (Black Bill) Tocco and Joseph (Joe Uno) Zerilli, and formed the modern-day Detroit mafia. The blending of the two factions, on the heels of the Eastsiders winning the Crosstown Mob War over the West Side Gang and its’ boss, Chester (Big Chet) LA Mare, resulted in the syndicate earning the monikers, “The Combination” and “The Partnership,” referencing the Licavoli-Moceri group and the Tocco-Zerilli group coming under the same banner.

Horseface Pete and Joe Misery became high-level capos in the Detroit Mob for the next four decades. Leo Lips’ wound up moving across the state border and rising through the ranks of the Ohio mafia, first in Toledo, then in Youngstown and Akron and finally in Cleveland.

In 1940s, Licavoli began spending winters in Arizona, planting a flag in Phoenix and Tucson and building himself an opulent estate, Grace Ranch, named after his wife. He eventually moved out there on a permanent basis, averting more than a half-dozen murder raps while living in Michigan.

His youngest brother, Dominic, also a “button man” in the Detroit mafia, was married to Joe Zerilli’s daughter. Zerilli died peacefully, never having spent a night in jail, in the fall of 1977.

For most of the 1970s, Licavoli was the Detroit mob’s underboss, helping ease the transition of power from the Family’s founders to a new generation, spearheaded by a series of sons and nephews of syndicate brass.

Joe Moceri was killed inside a warehouse he owned in 1968, the victim of what is believed by authorities a random robbery gone wrong, beaten to death with a pipe.

An FBI memo from December 18, 1968 states that informant told his handlers in the Bureau that Moceri was murdered on orders of Pete Licavoli, possibly for having sensitive information regarding the Kennedy assassination. That same memo references a prior federal informant log which alleged Licavoli sent Joe and Leo Moceri to Dallas on November 22, 1963 to help kill Kennedy.

“The notion that Pete Licavoli would order Joe Misery’s murder is ridiculous,” said one current member of Detroit underworld who knew both Licavoli and Moceri. “Pete loved Joe like a brother, trusted him like blood. Even if the Kennedy thing is true, nobody would have to worry about Joe Misery getting loose lips. Misery was killed by some bozo who didn’t know who he was robbing. The guy gave him a couple whacks and Joe was old at the time and it did him in. It was a fluke, it wasn’t a hit.”

Leo Moceri, like his older brother before him, met a grisly demise. He was slain in the Cleveland mob war that rocked Ohio in the late-1970s, dying in August 1976 as the Family’s underboss and a suspect in more than 10 gangland at the time of his death.

Arrested or indicted in seven homicides throughout his days on the streets, Horseface Pete took his last pinch in 1976 for buying a stolen 16th Century painting from an undercover FBI agent, forced to do a year and half in prison as punishment.

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Canadian Mafioso wants trial in French, Judge overwhelmed w/ motions

Montreal mob leader wants separate trial, mountain of motions threatens start date

Parlez-Vous Francais?

Translation; Do you speak French?

Well, if you don’t you might have a difficult time understanding the proceedings at the forthcoming murder trial of Canadian mafia bigwig Raynard Desjardins, the one-time right-hand man to deceased Montreal Godfather Vito Rizzuto.

Lawyers for Desjardins filed motions in Quebec Superior Court court last month requesting that Desjardins’ trial, set to begin in January, be conducted in French and be held separate from his seven co-defendants. Prosecutors desire a single trial before a bilingual jury. His seven co-defendants want the trial to be in English.

Desjardins, 60, and his alleged co-conspirators are charged with killing deported New York mob don Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna in November 2011, with Desjardins acting as ringleader of the assassination plot that highlighted a bloody power struggle for control of the Montreal underworld.

Judge Michael Stober told the courtroom at a June progress hearing that he questions if a January 5, 2015 start-date for trial is realistic. Marc Labelle, Desjardins’ defense attorney, informed a visibly perturbed Stober that he is encountering scheduling conflicts for a January start to what is sure to be an arduous trial process. Canadian legal experts are expecting the trial to last at least six months, probably longer.

The case changed venues in April, from Joliette to Laval, both Montreal suburbs.

A just-recently ceased Canadian mob war pitted Desjardins and his initial-ally Montagna against an imprisoned Rizzuto. Released from incarceration in 2012, the revenge-driven, 67-year old Rizzuto died of cancer in December 2013, having lost his father, son and brother-in-law in the carnage-filled conflict that registered a body-count of 15 people in less than three years.

Rizzuto was locked up for eight years for his role in the famed 1981 “Three Captains Murders,” out of New York. He served his first two years in Canada, prior to his extradition to the United States. Upon Rizzuto leaving Canada, his robust criminal empire came under siege from his former protégé Desjardins, who teamed up with Joe Di Maulo, another top lieutenant of his, and Montagna, acting boss of the Bonnano Family, to try to push the jailed Montreal crime czar out of the rackets.

However, in the midst of the palace storming, Desjardins and Sal the Ironworker had a falling out, which according to Canadian prosecutors, resulted in Montagna (called ‘The Bambino Bo

ss’ by the press for his young age – he was 40 when he was whacked) ordering a failed hit on Desjardins and Desjardins retaliating by engineering Montagna’s murder.

Desjardins survived an attempt on his life in September 2011, a sign that his pact with the power-obsessed Montagna had fallen apart. Responding quickly, Desjardins is alleged to have had Sal the Ironworker lured to the house of an associate of his named Jack Simpson two months later and killed. Montagna was attacked at Simpson’s house in Charlemagne, an east suburb of Montreal, but managed to flee, eventually murdered with two gunshots to the head following a chase that ended at a nearby riverbed.

For the year that Rizzuto was alive and back home after serving his prison sentence, he took aim at the renegade faction, headed by a then jailed-himself Desjardins, suspected in ordering at least a half-dozen slayings prior to succumbing to cancer.

Di Maulo was one of the first to be killed, less than a month following Rizzuto’s return, in January 2013. In July 2013, the renegade faction’s reputed No. 1 hit man, Salvatore (Young Gun Sam) Calautti, 40, and his henchmen Jimmy Turek, 35, were slain in Toronto, gunned down while smoking cigars in a car outside a bachelor party.

Cutting his teeth in the rugged Montreal drug game during the 1970s, Desjardins entered Rizzuto’s inner-circle when he became brother-in-laws with Di Maulo, who was a valued capo in the crime family led by Rizzuto and his father, Nicolo (Uncle Nick) Rizzuto, and a frequent social companion of theirs. Known as an expert underworld politician, connected to multiple gangland sects and able to effortlessly alternate between them, Desjardins was the Rizzuto’s longtime liaison to the motorcycle gang contingent, a key business partner with the organization in its narcotics distribution wing.

Vito Rizzuto and Desjardins were indicted together in 1987 on drug charges, however, both beat the case at trial. Finally nailed on a drug conspiracy in 1993, Desjardins was imprisoned for over a decade, returning to Montreal in 2004.

Before he died, Sal the Ironworker Montagna experienced a meteoric rise to American mob royalty. Born in Sicily, he moved to New York at 15 years old and by his early 20s was a driver and bodyguard for Bonanno soldier Baldo Amato, who sponsored him to get his button in the late 1990s. At the age of 30, he was named capo of the Bonanno’s Bronx-based crew – after serving an apprenticeship under Pasquale (Patty from the Bronx) DeFilipo – and four years later in 2006 he was bumped up to acting boss of the Family.

Montagna, the owner of a profitable steel company while a New Yorker, hence the moniker, was deported from the United States on an immigration violation related to his conviction for contempt after he refused to testify at a grand jury convened in 2003 to look into DeFilipo and his crew’s activities.

Buffalo mob enforcer dies, remembered as Real Tough Guy

Buffalo gangland goon extraordinaire ticketed to the big social club in the sky, leaves behind violent legacy

Residents of Western New York can breathe a little easier these days with the news that one of its most dangerous residents passed away in the spring.

Widely-feared and heavily-utilized Buffalo mob enforcer Jimmy Sicurella died of cancer in April. The reputed ace hit man and strong arm was 73 years old.

In his heyday of the late Twentieth Century, the mere mention of Sicurella’s name left people in the Buffalo underworld shaking in their proverbial boots, as he became a go-to “fix-it man” for local mafia leaders. Sicurella was a suspect in at least a half-dozen gangland slayings at the time of his own passing (although he was never indicted in any of them).

According to FBI files and court documents, he “made his bones” in an infamous mob hit from the early 1970s. Informants tagged Sicurella the triggerman in the high-profile murder of Buffalo mafia capo John Cammilleri on May, 8 1974, shortly before he himself was formally inducted into the crime family and given a portion of Cammilleri’s rackets as reward for a job well done.

Overseeing the Buffalo mob’s interests in the labor unions for 30 years, Cammilleri was killed on his sixty-third birthday at a time in the city’s underworld where there was a great deal of unrest and jockeying for power, with Stefano (The Undertaker) Maggadino, the syndicate’s don and founding father, on his deathbed. An increasingly-unpopular Maggadino would die two months later amidst growing dissention in his ranks.

Loud, brash and colorful, Cammilleri, butted heads with the Family hierarchy, specifically, underboss Joe Fino, a one-time close ally, regarding affairs in Local 210 (LIUNA), of which Fino’s son was president. Called to a sit down in the late afternoon of May 8 at a Buffalo cigar shop to discuss the matter, Cammilleri got into a screaming match with syndicate brass, Sam Pieri, Salvatore (Sam the Farmer) Frangiamore and Joseph (Joe the Wolf) Di Carlo and left in a huff.

That evening, per FBI informants, Sicurella gunned down Cammilleri from a passing car, in front of Roseland’s restaurant, a popular hangout of his on the city’s Westside. Sicurella allegedly yelled, “Hey, Johnny, this one’s for you,” before unloading six shots into Cammilleri’s head, face, neck, back and chest, killing him instantly. Cammilleri had just attended the wake of fellow wiseguy Frank (Frankie Blaze) Lo Tempio and was going to meet his girlfriend and members of his crew at Roseland’s to celebrate his birthday.

Investigators tie Sicurella to the gun used in the Cammilleri hit via grand jury testimony by the man that reportedly sold it to him.

From that point forward with the famed “piece of work” under his belt, Jimmy Sicurella commanded immense respect on the streets of Western New York, not to mention significant attention from law enforcement.

Sicurella took federal pinches for running an arson-related insurance fraud scam in the 1980s, perjury in the 1990s and extortion and loan sharking in the 2000s. He was booted from his seat in Local 210 for his connections to organized crime as well.

His 1993 perjury conviction spawned from lying about incidents surrounding Cammilleri’s slaying in one of several grand juries convened to look into the headline-grabbing murder.

The extortion and loan-sharking conviction, stemming from Sicurella taking over a street-loan given out by his henchmen Frank (Poochie) Chimento after Chimento died in 1998, resulted in Sicurella’s last stint behind bars. Serving a seven and a half year stretch, he was released in December 2007.

“The man was pretty scary, he put the fear of God into people on the street around here for years,” said retired FBI agent John Culhane of Sicurella.

Jailed Philly mob boss’ son convicted, set to join dear old dad

Little Nicky’s kid won’t be home anytime soon, Scarfo, Jr. jammed up in bank-looting trial

Legendarily lethal Philadelphia mafia don, Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo, might have shed a tear from his prison cell last Thursday for his son, Nicky Scarfo, Jr., convicted in a New Jersey federal court on charges that he masterminded a scheme to muscle in and fleece the First Plus Financial mortgage company in Texas out of 12 million dollars.

But then again, knowing the elder Scarfo’s monumental reputation for ruthlessness, probably not.

Scarfo, Jr., 49, and his co-lead defendant, Salvatore Pellulo, 47, both connected to New York’s Lucchese crime family, face 30-year-to-life sentences after their convictions in the marathon mob trial that lasted six months and unveiled how the two wiseguys used fear and intimidation to secure control of the down-and-out mortgage company.

Little Nicky Scarfo, 85, has been incarcerated since 1986, following a slaughterhouse reign atop the Philly mob that had a body-count in the dozens. He was an unindicted co-conspirator in the First Plus case. Also an unindicted co-conspirator in the case was Lucchese boss Vittorio (Little Vic) Amuso, locked up in an Atlanta federal penitentiary with Little Nicky at the time of the 2011 indictment.

The pair of Godfathers are longtime friends and allies. Amuso’s friendship literally saved Scarfo, Jr.’s life more than 20 years ago.

Upon Little Nicky’s imprisonment in the late 1980s, Scarfo, Jr was left unprotected from his father’s rivals, specifically up-and-coming mobster Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino, the son of Little Nicky’s underboss Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino. On Halloween night 1989, Scarfo, Jr. survived being shot eight times by a masked assailant while he dined at a popular South Philly eatery. Merlino is the one and only suspect in the crime, but has avoided ever being charged.

Knowing that he couldn’t stay in Philadelphia with Merlino’s eventual ascension to the boss’ seat on the horizon, Scarfo Jr and his dad got Amuso to initiate him into the Lucchese Family, allowing for a move to New York and protection against further attacks from the anti-Little Nicky camp in Pennsylvania .

Scarfo, Jr is no stranger to prison walls. The First Plus case is his fourth racketeering-related conviction in the last two dozen years. Pellulo, an associate of the Luccheses, was Scarfo, Jr’s proxy in the First Plus raid, acting as point-man on the illegal operation.

Both Little Nicky Scarfo and Little Vic Amuso, known as practically equally bloodthirsty, are serving what amount to life prison sentences, but according to numerous sources intimately familiar with the situation, Scarfo remains obsessed with the unrealistic prospect of reclaiming control of the Philly mafia from inside his jail cell before he dies.

“He’s a lunatic (Little Nicky), he actually thought he was going to take that money they were stealing from the bank and buy the Family back,” said one source that has heard all the wiretap evidence in the case. “In his mind, he was going to grease the bosses in New York, clip who he had to clip through people on the outside and then install his kid as boss. That was his brilliant plan. Are you fucking kidding me? This guy isn’t living on our planet anymore.”

Interview with the #1 Black Hitman, Nate “Boone” Craft

Starting in the mid 1980’s a group of brothers on Detroit’s east side, still teenagers at the time, decided to become a murder-for-hire gang. The 4 Brown brothers; Ezra, Gregory, Reggie, and Terry, grew their deadly business during Detroit’s descent into the crack cocaine era. You can read their story here.

This interview is part of the “Rollin’: the Fall of the Auto Industry and Rise of the Drug Economy” documentary we did in 2010.

This is really a powerful interview, as Nate “Boone” Craft was one of the Best Friends’ chief assassins, eventually confessing to roughly 30! murders as part of a pleas agreement that saw him spend 20 years in the witness protection program. He has since been released to the streets of Detroit.

It’s not everyday that a serial killer sits down to talk about his crimes. The funny thing is though, Nate was actually a seemingly nice guy in person. I heard he recently had a baby. Mr. Craft, incidentally, was voted the #1 gangster of all time on the Gangland TV Show

Detroit is a strange place.