This post may be skipped; it is recording the presence of Mafia in Stamford/Newtown/Norwalk area:
Mafia in Stamford says news:
"NEW HAVEN -- More than a dozen alleged Mafia bosses and soldiers, including several from Stamford and Norwalk, were charged by federal authorities yesterday with gambling, drug dealing, extortion, loan sharking and racketeering.
At the top of the list was Anthony Megale of Stamford. The 51-year-old, nicknamed "The Genius," was once a "capo" in charge of the Gambino crime family's Connecticut operations, but is now allegedly the "underboss," or second in command, for the family across the New York area, according to the indictment unsealed yesterday.
Megale, who was arraigned on 46 counts, is believed to be the highest-ranking member of the Cosa Nostra crime organization in Connecticut. The Cosa Nostra is composed of five families, one of which is the Gambino family.
The arrests of 15 alleged mobsters and charges against three others who are sought were the result of a two-year investigation involving the FBI, state police and the Stamford and Norwalk police departments.
"While it may have been under the radar screen for many . . . organized crime remains a threat in Connecticut," Kevin O'Connor, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, said during a news conference in his offices in New Haven.
The indictments outline a traditional Mafia organization making money through extortion, illegal gambling and other activities. "This is the most significant investigation of La Cosa Nostra activities in Connecticut in 15 years," FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Wolf said.
Three separate indictments resulting from the organized crime investigation were unsealed yesterday. Most of the 18 charged in what may be the largest organized crime bust in the state since the "Gamester" case of the late 1980s are allegedly members or associates of the Gambino crime family. Others were charged with dealing drugs in two other indictments, which were spin-offs of the investigation.
Lawyers for several of the accused declined to comment on the indictments as the first 12 of the accused went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons. All 12 were held without bond.
Megale; Nicola "The Greaseball" Melia, 72, of Stamford; Gerard Grecco, 56, of Stamford; Anthanasios "Saki" Tsiropoulos, 36, of Norwalk; and Victor Riccitelli, 71, of Bridgeport; were charged with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.
Riccitelli allegedly became a "made" member, or soldier, in the Gambino family about July 2003, according to the indictment.
Lawyer Harold Pickerstein requested a hearing for Melia, also known as "The Old Man," as soon as possible, saying he doubts the government can make a valid argument for keeping his client incarcerated pending trial.
Pickerstein cited his client's "lifelong ties to Stamford" and said that although Melia has a criminal record he has never failed to appear in court when required.
Fitzsimmons scheduled Melia's hearing, with those of three other defendants whose attorneys were present at yesterday's arraignment, for tomorrow. She tentatively scheduled the other defendants' detention hearings for Tuesday pending retention of attorneys.
After the first group of defendants was arraigned and marshals prepared to usher them out of the courtroom, Riccitelli stood and told Fitzsimmons he is "fighting a battle with cancer." Riccitelli said he underwent open-heart surgery and suffered from colon cancer in recent months.
Fitzsimmons said marshals would consider those factors in deciding where to incarcerate him.
Officials are still searching for three more men indicted in the investigation -- Ignazio Alogna, 71, of New York, Pennsylvania and Florida, an alleged Mafia captain; Vincent Fiore, allegedly a Gambino soldier from Goshen, N.Y.; and a man from Rhode Island known only as "Hank."
Those from lower Fairfield County indicted yesterday included Megale, Melia and Tsiropoulos. John Chetta, 45, of New Canaan was named in a separate indictment charging him with selling drugs at Norwalk Community College.
Megale was charged with 38 counts of extortion and, along with Riccitelli and Grecco, was charged with three counts of operating an illegal gambling business.
In one example from the indictment, Megale and his associates allegedly threatened the owner of nightclubs in Fairfield County to extort money from him. The owner, identified only as "Businessman No. 1," allegedly paid $2,000 a month to keep from being harmed or having his property damaged, and paid a yearly "Christmas bonus."
Members of the organization also allegedly shook down the owner of a vending-machine business in Fairfield County, identified as "Businessman No. 2," for $200 a month.
"Payments were solicited and obtained with the use of and threat of violence," O'Connor said.
In addition, Fiore allegedly tried to extort $30,000 from the operator of a Fairfield County social club. When the club operator refused, Fiore allegedly assaulted him. Fiore allegedly became a "made" member of the crime family at about the same time Riccitelli did.
Members of the organization also collected $100 and $280 a week in interest on loans of $2,500 and $7,000, according to the indictment. Those levels of interest are well above that allowed under Connecticut and federal laws, according to the indictment.
Megale, Riccitelli, Grecco and others also allegedly operated an illegal gambling business, including sports bookmaking, video machines and numbers running. At least five people allegedly were involved in the business, which brought in as much as $2,000 a day.
In the second indictment unsealed yesterday, Riccitelli; Richard "Bam" Terico, 45, of Stamford; David Bean, 46, of Stamford; and two others were charged with narcotics conspiracy and narcotics distribution.
The men conspired to distribute 500 grams of cocaine and were charged with possession.
The Stamford Police Department was involved in the investigation for about two years."
[link to www.pbnation.com
"Stamford Police Chief Louis DeCarlo said the apparent increase in activity of the Gambino family in southwestern Connecticut may be due more to Megale's alleged rise in the organization than any other reason. Megale is a longtime resident of Stamford.
"He's a commuter," DeCarlo said. "He went up the ranks of a New York company."
The chief said he is not surprised that the Gambino crime family has survived and rebuilt after the Gamester investigation.
"It's just the end of a particular chapter," he said of the indictments. He added, "I am very proud of the work that was done by everyone."
Stamford police Capt. Richard Conklin, one of the leaders of the city's efforts against organized crime, said he agreed with Wolf that this is the biggest arrest in 15 years.
"Connecticut has been controlled by Gambino representatives and reported to Gambino authority for a number of years," he said. As Megale allegedly moved up the ranks of the crime syndicate, it is natural that organized criminal activity in the state would increase, he said.
The investigation included long-term surveillance of individuals to learn their patterns and habits so that early yesterday, federal and local law enforcement officials could sweep in and make arrests.
Conklin said he expects some of those charged but not captured will turn themselves in. He said building a case and getting warrants is the difficult part; making the arrests is usually easier.
"We are very pleased about the arrests and think this is a major strike at organized crime in Connecticut," Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy said. "We are very proud that Stamford played a role."
In a third indictment, Chetta was charged with narcotics conspiracy and narcotics distribution within 1,000 feet of a school. Chetta, who owns a company that provided cafeteria services to NCC and other schools, was allegedly selling drugs on the campus, officials say.
Chetta was charged with possessing with intent to distribute 5 kilograms of a substance containing cocaine. Along with Michael Barletta of Norwalk, Chetta was charged with distributing 500 grams of cocaine on the NCC property.
"(The) company owned by Mr. Chetta is an independent contractor, contracted by the state of Connecticut to provide cafeteria and snack bar services on campus," said Madeline Barillo, an NCC spokeswoman. "He is not a Norwalk Community College employee."
The Norwalk Police Department had as many as nine officers working on the investigation with state and federal authorities, Police Chief Harry Rilling said. Small businesses were the primary targets of the crimes investigated, but Riling said there are more victims than those that appear in the indictments, including family members of those whose gambling addictions are exploited.
Rilling said he is not surprised the Gambino family operations in Connecticut survived the Gamester operation.
"The history of organized crime is just that," Rilling said. "They are very resilient."
"It's alarming to learn how strong they have been in southwestern Connecticut," Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp said. "Shutting down of this large operation dealing drugs to students and others on campus is a big breakthrough."
According to past federal indictments, Megale assumed control of the Gambino organization in Connecticut soon after the bullet-ridden, frozen corpse of Thomas "The Bull" DeBrizzi of Stratford was found in the trunk of a car at a Trumbull shopping center in 1988.
Megale was charged in 1989 with racketeering and tax evasion along with 21 other defendants, including seven from Stamford and two from Greenwich.
Megale received an almost six-year prison sentence. Afterward, he worked at a gas station in Stamford but was sentenced to prison again in 1998 for violating the conditions of his court-supervised release by associating with a convicted felon. Megale admitted at the time that he had met with Riccitelli, one of the men who was charged with Megale in 1989 and indicted again yesterday.
O'Connor said even with the important arrests made yesterday, he expects the Gambino syndicate to recover.
"We are not naive enough to think there won't be organized crime in this country," he said."
-- the above is from the Stamford newspaper in 2004-2005
The story is no longer accessible online from the Stamford newspaper but the URL address above has record.