Archive for the ‘organized crime’ Category

On Sunday, March 22, 2011, a Mass was held at Holy Rosary Church in Washington DC, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the assassination by the Mafia of Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo, and security agents Rocco Di Cillo, Antonio Montinari, and Vito Schifani. Among those present were Ambassador Giulio Terzi, members of the Italian community in Washington, Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito

Giovanni Falcone

and Antonin Scalia, Italian judge and Falcone’s student, Giannicola Sinisi, senior counselor at the Embassy of Italy, and agents from the FBI with which Falcone worked closely in the fight against Cosa Nostra and its ramifications in the United States. More . . .


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On April 4, 2011, the  Italian Minister of Justice Angelino Alfano, met with United States Attorney General Eric Holder, to discuss a range of issue of mutual interest.  Following their meeting, a joint statment, reprinted below was also issued.  Earlier in the day, Minister Alfano met with White House antiterrorism advsoor, John Brennan, for talks regarding a broad range of security issues, including the recent mass migration to Lampedusa, Sicily from North Africa.  Also on the dame day, Minister Alfano received a specail briefing on court technolody by Judge Francis Allegra of the United States Court of Federal Claims.

WASHINGTON -U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Italian Minister of Justice Angelino Alfano today met at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., to re-affirm the joint commitment of the United States and Italy to strengthen cooperation in the ongoing fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime. The two countries enjoy a long bilateral relationship in justice matters, and also work together to promote broader international collaboration
through multilateral treaties like the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (known as the Palermo Convention) and the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

Minister Angelino Alfano and Amb Giulio Terzi

“For three decades, the United States and Italy have had notable successes in jointly fighting organized crime, terrorism and other common threats to the security and prosperity of our two nations,” said Attorney General Holder. “For example, Italian authorities recently arrested a fugitive in Sicily who is charged with racketeering conspiracy in the United States, and coordinated that arrest with the largest one-day sweep of La Cosa Nostra defendants in U.S. history. We are grateful for the close collaboration that is provided daily by the Italian Ministry of Justice under the leadership of Minister Alfano, as well as from
prosecutors and police throughout Italy.”

Law enforcement officials in the United States and Italy work together on a broad range of issues. Counterterrorism remains a top priority, and officials tackle
criminal activities from drug trafficking to money laundering, and from illegal arms exports to cybercrime.

“Bilateral relations between the United States and Italy in the law enforcement arena represent an important pillar of global legal and security cooperation,” said Italian Minister of Justice Alfano. “I greatly appreciate working with U.S. Attorney General Holder, whose clear vision and problem-solving approach have
added significant value to our security relations.”

In their discussions, Attorney General Holder and Minister Alfano underlined the importance of maintaining the excellent bilateral exchange of information and evidence between the United States and Italy in the fight against organized crime and terrorism, in particular under the recently updated treaties between
the two countries on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. These treaties streamline communication in urgent fugitive matters and
incorporate technological developments like video-conferencing for taking witness testimony, while also providing a high level of protection for personal

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Fathe Lydio Tomasi, Monsignor Marco Sprizzi, Minister Sebastiani Cardi

Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Washington DC

Italian magistrate Giovanni  Falcone, who was assassinated in Sicily in 1992, was  remembered by the Italian American community  in Washington, DC at a solemn mass held at Holy Rosary Church in Washington, DC.  The event was organized by Giannicola Sinisi, Justice Attache at the Italian Embassy in Washington, who was a colleague of Falcone.  Monsignor Marco Sprizzi of the Papal Nunciature and Father Lydio Tomasi, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, celebrated the mass.  Minister Sebastiano Cardi, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Italian Embassy spoke about Falcone’s contributions to law enforcement, not just in Italy but also in the United States through his collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Also speaking at the event was Carmine Russo, a retired Special Agent of the FBI, who recounted his meeting and subsequent collaboration with Giovanni Falcone.

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National Law Enforcement MemorialEach May during National Police Week, America pauses to recognize the service and sacrifice of U.S. law enforcement.  Established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and a joint resolution of Congress, National Police Week pays special tribute to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. Ceremonies are held in Washington, DC, and in communities across the country.

This week we remember especially those Italian Americans who gave their lives to protect ours.  We remember especially an Italian American hero, Lt. Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino, a N.Y.C. police officer and organized crime fighter who was assassinated in Palermo, Sicily on March 12, 1909, while investigating the connections between the Sicilian Mafia and the Black Hand in New York City.

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Bravo! to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City for organizing a seminar on “A TRIBUTE TO CRIME FIGHTER GIUSEPPE “JOE” PETROSINO, 1860 – 1909.”  Giuseppe Petrosino is an Italian American hero and for those of  us  in the law enforcement community he is a hero sitting on the same stage with Giovanni Falcone.  Both men worked across the Atlantic figthing organized crime — whether we call it Mafia or Mano petrosino_john_jayNera is not material — they are all criminals! Lt. Petrosino, was an Italian immigrant who, in the early 1900’s became one of NYC’s most well-known detectives. From 1894-1909 Petrosino headed the Italian Squad, a special unit of NYPD responsible for investigating crime in the Italian communities of New York City. He was assassinated in Sicily while investigating organized crime’s across the Atlantic.  

(Pictured from L to R are Chief Greg Andres, George Grasso (First Deputy Police Commissioner NYPD), Dr. Pietro Grasso (Italian National Anti-Mafia Attorney), Joseph Guccione (U.S. Marshall, U.S. Department of Justice SDNY) (Photo by Vito Catalano)

  Read the program of the Petrosino seminar.







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The title of Mike Dash’s book, The First Family: Terror, Extortion, Revenge, Murder, and the Birth of the American Mafia, says it all.  Anyone GiuseppeMorellowith an interest in learning more about the history of organized crime in the U.S., in particular  the history of the Mafia and its nexus to  Italian Americans, may want to read this book. According to Dash, the story of Giuseppe Morello, a Sicilian immigrant who became the American Mafia’s “boss of bosses,” proves that the American Mafia was not created by Prohibition-era bootlegging, nor by Sicilian Mafia bosses who dispatched members to New York but by individuals like Morello.  At the same time, Joe Petrosino, the Sicilian-born NYPD detective, gave his life trying to prevent men like Morello from “ruining the reputation of Italians in general,” according to the Washington Post. Read the book and share your views.

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Thanks to Joe Grano for bringing to our attention the latest attempt by a national company to promote its products by stereotyping Italian Americans as mafiosi. The MillerCoors  beer company had a new ad campaign promoting Miller Lite beer featuring a gangster character from the “The Sopranos.”

Fortunately, because of the efforts of two fast-acting Chicagoans, the company has already pulled the offensive ads. Click here to read the Chicago Sun-Times article which describes the ads and the campaign to have them pulled. You can then vote in the Sun-Times poll and let the MillerCoors company know that they did the right thing.

Apparently, in one commercial, Vincent and his sidekick enter a convenience store and ask the clerk if he needs “protection.” The clerk, pointing to a Miller Lite container, says he’s got all the protection he needs, which prompts an exaggerated “oh!” from Vincent and his sidekick. In a commercial set in a bar, Vincent asks — in a threatening tone — if the bartender needs protection. When the bartender says “no,” Vincent asks if he’s a wiseguy.

Congratulations to Lou Rago and Anthony Baratta from Chicago for their quick and effective action in having the offensive ads withdrawn. Thanks also go to Andre DiMino and Manny Alfano of UNICO New Jersey for informing the Italian-American community of the misbegotten ad campaign.

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