A federal appeals court has affirmed the racketeering conviction and 8-year sentence of one-time Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese thereby ensuring that the 95-year-old likely will die in prison as reported by The Associated Press. Of course, in 2010 the mobster said "he wasn't afraid of dying in prison" as reported by John Marzulli for the Daily News: "'Who cares?' he said. 'I gotta die someplace.'" So be it. Franzese once bragged that he killed 60 people in the course of his degenerate life. Wonder whether he's afraid of going to hell in the next life.
One of the enduring myths about the Mafia is that it respects women and children. However, for several years boss Vito Genovese protected one of his top earners Salvatore "Sally Burns" Granello who allegedly raped multiple underage girls. Indeed, at one time Granello even was being groomed as a possible successor to Don Vito. The only thing that prevented the child rapist from becoming a family boss was his big mouth which finally got him whacked in 1970.
Multiple sources claimed throughout the 1960s that Granello "has taken advantage of several young girls," and "is known to be extremely rough with his female companions" according to the FBI files on the mobster.
One of the girls was a 14-year-old from the Lower East Side in Manhattan whom Granello impregnated in 1959 or 1960. The girl gave birth to a son, and as years passed it was noted that the bastard child "supposedly resembles GRANELLO to a great extent." An informant told the FBI that Granello was "barred from the neighborhood due to the ill feeling which resulted from the affair," and "this restriction is being enforced by several underworld figures due to the attitude of the local population." The neighborhood ban on Granello was not long-standing because an informant recounted his rape of another "young girl" in 1961 on the Lower East Side.
Many of Granello's young victims were assaulted in Greenwood Lake, NY where the Genovese mobster spent his summers at a lakefront bungalow he owned. One informant stated that Granello "had sexually assaulted a 15 year old girl at Greenwood Lake, New Jersey, sometime between May and August, 1959," and "the subject is supposed to have paid the girl's father $15,000.00 in order to compromise the alleged rape."
The family of another 15-year-old victim filed a criminal complaint against Granello in June 1963 but the local judge dismissed it on July 19 for "lack of corroboration" notwithstanding physical evidence that the child was sexually penetrated. The incident is detailed in a June 13, 1963 FBI memorandum:
[Girl] suffers from nerve injury in her back and currently under medical treatment. Granello has discussed with [girl] and her parents the possibility of consulting a NYC specialist re her physical condition. He has also discussed the possibility of having her employed as a model.
On June 10 last, Granello called [girl] and requested her to meet him at his summer residence. He stated he wished to discuss tentative appointments with the specialist and a model agency. [Girl] allegedly appeared at the subject's residence in her bathing suit at a time when the subject was alone. She posed in the bathing suit and in the nude for pictures taken by Granello with [girl's] camera. Granello removed the film and maintained possession of the same. Thereafter, Granello allegedly had intercourse with her. [Girl] advised investigating officers that she was too frightened to protest at the time, but later advised her boyfriend, [name redacted] of the occurrence.
Granello told [girl] that he would take her to consult the specialist in NYC on June 11 last. However, in the event his chauffeur was unable to pick her up he gave her $20 for bus fare to NYC.
Following disclosure of the alleged rape by [girl] to [her boyfriend] the latter suggested that she advise her parents and thereafter, [girl's] mother advised the NYS police. [Girl] was examined on the evening of June 11 by Doctor [name redacted] Greenwood Lake, New York, who acknowledged that [girl] had sexual relations but was unable to determine the time or previous chastity of [girl] due to the lapse of time since the occurrence.
A July 26, 1963 article in the New York Daily News reporting on the local judge's dismissal of the statutory rape charge quotes Granello stating that "I'm glad to have been vindicated of this terrible thing. Justice has prevailed."In another child rape incident Granello apparently started off dating a mother but ended up going after her daughter. On July 1, 1965 an informant "advised that the subject was in trouble somewhere in the New Jersey area for the alleged rape of a young girl": "He stated that this situation came about while GRANELLO was dating the girl's mother, he apparently started 'fooling around' with the daughter. At this point, the mother was the one who screamed 'rape.'"
At least some Genovese mobsters were not so thrilled to have a notorious pedophile among their ranks, and "on July 8, 1963 [informant] advised that he recently learned that SALLY BURNS [Granello] is in trouble with the 'organization'" which was "disgusted with him because of these instances." Indeed, the informant stated that Granello very well may get whacked over the child rapes:
[Informant] reported that BURNS [Granello] will definitely have all of his power in the "organization" taken away and he will be extremely fortunate if he is not killed in the process. The informant is not cognizant of any contract to "hit" BURNS [Granello] at the present time, but feels it will be forthcoming in the immediate future.
Lucky for Granello, however, he had friends in high places including boss Vito Genovese who was ruling the crime family from a prison cell following his 1959 conviction for trafficking heroin through his gay bars. On April 16, 1964 an informant "stated that because of difficulties BURNS [Granello] created in connection with various rape cases, he should have been killed, but since this has not taken place, he is probably receiving protection from someone high in the organization." A few months later, this same informant told the FBI on July 23, 1964 "that VITO GENOVESE has been GRANELLO'S 'angel' in the organized criminal element," and "GENOVESE has saved GRANELLO on several occasions."
Prior to his imprisonment Don Vito had an open door policy with Granello which reflects the close relationship between the pair. An informant recounts one incident in which Granello burst in on a meeting in which the mob boss was involved with Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo and John "Johnny the Bug" Stoppelli:
TONY once accompanied SALLY BURNS [Granello] to the Erb Strapping Company, 180 Thompson Street, New York City, and, upon entry into this company's office, BURNS [Granello] inquired of a receptionist where VITO GENOVESE was. She replied that Mr. GENOVESE was in conference, to which BURNS [Granello] replied "to hell with him," and proceeded directly into GENOVESE's office. GENOVESE did not appear disturbed by this and BURNS [Granello] and GENOVESE proceeded to converse in the inner office in a friendly manner. TONY noted that at that time GENOVESE appeared to have been in conference with an individual referred to as being from New Jersey, who was called "GYP THE BLOOD" or RAY and an individual referred to only as "JOHNNY THE BUG."
Granello's ties to Genovese went back to the days when Cuba was a gambling mecca where he and his long-time partner in crime Hyman George Levine made a pile of cash for Don Vito through racetracks, casinos, hotels and other ventures. On occasion Granello had to flex a little muscle in order to protect the mob boss's interests, and one source described Granello as an "insane killer" in recounting an incident during which he beat two men to death with a baseball bat in a Havana hotel room.
After revolutionary Fidel Castro kicked corrupt dictator Fulgencio Batista and his American mob cronies out of the country, Granello and Levine continued to rake in the bucks for Vito Genovese in New York and Miami through the usual mob rackets such as bookmaking and loansharking and white collar crimes including real estate swindles and stock market fraud. Granello and Levine also were hooked up with the Teamsters Union Pension Fund, and they would collect origination fees or "green payments" from borrowers on loans they arranged through it. One source said Granello and Levine "would be involved in anything that would produce money."
Granello muscled his way into dozens of legitimate businesses including bars, restaurants and clubs, and was convicted for a 1964 attempt to shake down juke box vendor Irving Holzman for twenty-five percent of his business holdings which included a telephone call to Mr. Holzman's pregnant daughter in which he threatened "if your father doesn't cooperate we'll . . . kick your [expletive] pregnant belly in."
Among the businesses in which Granello allegedly had acquired interests were at least a couple of gay bars. An informant alleged to the FBI on March 17, 1970 that "SONNY PERRONE and SALVATORE GRANELLO are partners in two homosexual bars on the East Side," and "he stated that one is located on Third Avenue and the other, which may be known as The Susanna, is located on either 39th or 40th Streets, between Third and Lexington Avenues."
Granello's involvement in the gay bars and other midtown establishments certainly would be consistent with his ties to Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello who controlled dozens of gay bars, jiggle joints and nightlife hotspots for the Genovese family. An infomant told the FBI according to a December 16, 1970 report that Granello met with Ianniello at Les Champs Restaurant on 25 East 40th Street which was owned by jeweler Abe Margolies. Granello also frequented The Round Table at 151 East 50th Street which was owned by Morris Levy and where Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and other Genovese mobsters were known to dine. The Round Table was a night club back in the 1960s which saw a lot of acts before they got big, and in the early 1970s became a gay bar.
Granello apparently conducted much of his business out of the Greenwich Village bar and restaurant Taste of Hawaii on 458 Sixth Avenue at 11th Street in which he allegedly had a silent interest, and among those whom the FBI spotted meeting with Granello there in the early 1960s were Colombo mobster John "Sonny" Franzese who also was involved in the gay bar racket with the Genovese family and Bonanno associate Harold Konigsberg who performed contract killings for the Genovese family.
Over the years Granello worked in crews which were headed by the most powerful mobsters in the Genovese family -- Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo, Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli, Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo and finally Vincenzo "Old Man" Generosa -- but he functionally acted as a capo with his own crew of brash young turks. As Granello's star continued to rise he was even being considered as a possible successor to Vito Genovese. A September 22, 1965 FBI memo states: "On September 1, 1965 [informant] advised that the subject, in addition to THOMAS EBOLI, has been mentioned as the likely candidates to take over the position of VITO GENOVESE in the organized criminal element."
As an up-and-coming mob earner the short fat man -- Granello was 5'6" and 240 pounds -- lived large during the 1960s. He often waved around a thick bank roll, and was described as "a flashy dresser" with "a definite flare for flashy jewelry." He wore a 10-carat diamond ring on his right hand, a diamond-studded cross in his lapel, and "is always smoking expensive cigars." Granello got his baubles at a discounted rate. He allegedly financed a fencing front for stolen jewels on Canal Street, and the operation was frequented by innumerable cops, prosecutors and other city officials looking to purchase cheap diamonds for their sweeties. Granello expanded his "well furnished" apartment at 215 Mott Street on the Lower East Side in Manhattan into a sprawling duplex by knocking down the walls and ceilings of adjoining units, and his summer bungalow in Greenwood Lake had about $75,000 in improvements.
Greenwood Lake was a summer camp for many mobsters. Granello purchased his bungalow under his wife's name Nancy Volpe in 1953, and he hosted Anthony Strollo and John Ormento among others over the decades. He constructed a dock at the lakefront property, and owned two power boats including a twenty-one foot Chris Craft. The place was the first in Greenwood Lake with a swimming pool and bathhouse.
Greenwood Lake Police Chief John Pietrzak told the FBI in July 1961 that "BURNS [Granello] has always displayed a considerable amount of cash during his periods of residence in Greenwood Lake," and "he proffered the opinion that the town merchants would probably sanction any action on the part of BURNS [Granello], legal or illegal, since they believe it would ultimately benefit them."
For nightlife entertainment in Greenwood Lake the mobster allegedly had a silent interest in the Little Copa Club which was fronted by Vincent Conti. According to one informant Conti supposedly was "a relative of MIKE SCOTTI, the Mayor of Greenwood Lake, New York" in the early 1960s, and Scotti allegedly was a bootlegger back in the Prohibition days.
On Saturday nights in Greenwood Lake the randy Granello apparently entertained the fairer sex in a room above Tobin's Bar and Grill according to an FBI source. In April 1965 an informant alleged to the FBI "that every Saturday night the subject [Granello] goes to Tobin's Bar and Grill in Greenwood Lake, New York, where he has his associate DINO (last name unknown), obtain a girl for him," and "he entertains the girl in a room above the tavern."
"Dino" perhaps refers to Dino Conte who allegedly ran the Headline Bar for Granello in the Times Square Hotel at 255 West 43rd Street which was cited for serving minors. Granello had alleged interests in several seedy midtown cocktail lounges, and some of them may have been fronts for call girl operations. For example, an informant claimed the Mansfield Lounge on West 44th Street was a Granello operation which allegedly was fronted by a guy named Frankie who "arranges dates for a number of girls that frequent the establishment." Dino was not Granello's only supposed procurer. An informant alleged to the FBI that Ralph "Chico" Serrano "supplied female companionship for the subject's [Granello's] gratification."
Research to date has been unable to identify the owner of Tobin's Bar and Grill.
A Raymond Tobin in the mid-1960s was a "tavern owner of Greenwood Lake" and once considered a material witness involving several murders of nightlife figures from the late 1950s and early 1960s. A May 28, 1964 article from The New York Times states:
A 42-year-old tavern owner of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., who is said to hold the key to six murders, was committed to Civil Jail yesterday as a material witness after he was held in $100,000 bail in Supreme Court. The witness, Raymond Tobin, was said by District Attorney Frank S. Hogan's office to have been a witness to three of the killings and to have information about the other three. The prosecutor's office said the accused killer was Joseph Donahue, 37, described as a West Side gunman. * * * The victims were Proesley Wilkes, killed on Feb. 26, 1959, outside an afterhours club at 19 West 94th Street; Robert Hannigan and Elizabeth Horvath West, manager and hatcheck girl of the Cotillion Room at 303 East 75th Street, slain Sept. 7, 1960; Bertram (Sonny) Haines, described as an ex-convict, and Joseph Corlees, a bartender, killed in the Bronx Jan. 16, 1960, and Lawrence Krebs, shot to death on the 79th Street transverse road in Central Park last month.
Raymond Tobin previously was identified as John Raymond Tobin in a September 10, 1960 article from The New York Times which reported he was being held as a material witness to the Cotillion Room murders, and at that time was described as a bartender and alleged bookmaker from 151 West 72nd Street.
The husband-and-wife team William "Sonny" and Jennie Tobin was known for their many gay bars on the Upper West Side in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s but they also apparently had a hotel in Greenwood Lake. A Dec. 4, 1978 article called "The Front" from New York Magazine cited an affidavit "filed by former Tobin employee Ed Posner" with the New York State Liquor Authority which claimed "that the Tobins actually own, to his direct knowledge, more than 22 bars as well as a hotel located in Greenwood Lake, New York." William Tobin was killed right after after the publication of the New York Magazine piece according to a December 5, 1978 article from The New York Times:
William Tobin, a 54-year-old businessman dealing in vending machines, bars and motels, was shot to death in his home by an unidentified man early morning yesterday, according to the police. Mr. Tobin lived at 21-21 Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. The police, who last night could offer no motive for the killing, said Mr. Tobin's wife had witnessed the shooting.
Research to date has been unable to determine whether there is any relationship between Raymond Tobin or William and Jennie Tobin with Tobin's Bar and Grill in Greenwood Lake.
Granello and former middleweight boxer Rocky Graziano wanted to build a boys camp in Greenwood Lake but could not secure financing from the Teamsters Union Pension Fund so the project was killed. Graziano was the son-in-law of Granello's partner George Levine, and apparently the boxer and the mobster enjoyed a bromance. One informant said that Granello treated Graziano like "a mascot," and another informant spoke of "Graziano's adoration" for Granello. The pair often were seen together in New York restaurants, and at Granello's summer bungalow.
The money passed through Granello's fingers as quickly as it rolled in. The degenerate mobster was a gambling addict, and often scrambling to pay off debts up to $200,000. One informant claimed in November 1961 that Granello owed $100,000 to loanshark Charles "Ruby" Stein who was a close associate of Fat Tony Salerno.
Granello finally got whacked in the wee hours of September 25, 1970, and since Vito Genovese died a year earlier in prison his "angel" no longer was around to protect him. As with many mob hits there apparently was a conflux of factors behind the decision. There was his nasty habit of boinking little girls, and his disrespectful habit of shooting off his mouth to the big boys including acting boss Thomas Eboli. And Granello no longer was a productive earner but had become a parasitic mooch by seeking an undeserved cut from the annual San Gennaro feast in Little Italy. On top of it all the Genovese family had become concerned that Granello was ready to flip and become a rat.
While Granello was serving a two-year sentence on a federal tax evasion conviction his 22-year-old son Michael was whacked. The young Granello "had a number of disputes with LCN members on the Lower East Side of NYC" and an "utter disregard of LCN authority." Michael Granello's supposed offenses included beating with a baseball bat the father of Genovese soldier Vincent "Jimmy Red" Caserta. On December 24, 1968 Michael Granello was found with two bullets to the dead in a car parked on 86th Street and Riverside Drive. After Daddy Granello was released from prison he embarked on a mission to seek revenge against his son's killers regardless of how high up they were on the Genovese chain. Granello even directly confronted Eboli who apparently had approved the hit against Michael notwithstanding an earlier promise to watch out for the kid, and the vengeful father sealed his fate in that meeting.
An informant for the FBI claims he was told of the meeting between Granello and Eboli from a Colombo mobster, and relayed it as follows:
[Informant] stated as the discussion went on, it grew into a violent stage and GRANELLO made statements to EBOLI that he had been responsible for all of his son's troubles and that it was not inconceivable that he, GRANELLO, could cause trouble to EBOLI and a lot of his friends for their broken promises. According to [informant] EBOLI supposedly told GRANELLO to stop and think and watch what he was saying. GRANELLO supposedly made remarks to the effect "you can't shut me up and what I say can can even go as high as you." When GRANELLO left, the informant's sources understand EBOLI gave out a "hit" contract on GRANELLO.
Eboli may have felt disrespected by Granello but no doubt he was more concerned that Granello would flip. Indeed, in October 1969, about a year prior to the confrontation between Granello and Eboli, an alleged capo over Granello expressed concerns that he was "weakening, possibly becoming another VALACHI" according to an informant.
In fact, the feds approached Granello on September 23, 1970 to warn him there was a contract on his life and to solicit his cooperation. Granello told the feds he first needed "to consult his attorney ROY COHN." That probably was a mistake. Granello was murdered just two days later, and perhaps the shyster lawyer leaked to the Genovese powers that Granello was ready to sing which added an urgency to the already-made decision to whack him. In order to cover his criminal betrayal Cohn disingenuously contacted the FBI immediately after the discovery of Granello's body on October 8 to express his purported concern over his client's death: "COHN indicated that his motives for cooperating with this Bureau was that he had become quite friendly with GRANELLO and abhorred his violent death." Cohn was a long-time Genovese tool and Salerno lawyer, and betraying the confidences of Granello would have served the dirt bag lawyer well.
Multiple sources told the FBI that Granello was last seen on the night of September 24, 1970 at Vincent's Clam Bar. One source told the FBI that Granello was murdered at about 4 am on September 25, 1970 "with the approval of VINCENZO GENEROSO aka 'The Old Man,'" and "the murder took place in a coffee shop on Elizabeth Street between Houston and Prince Streets, NYC."
Granello's slain body was discovered on October 6, 1970 on the lower east side, and a December 16, 1970 FBI memo states:
Detective Ray DRISCOLL, 7th Squad, New York City Police Department (NYCPD), advised October 6, 1970, that the Department had located an abandoned car on the East River Drive at Houston Street this date. A search of the vehicle revealed a body of a white male, matching the description of SALVATORE GRANELLO. The body was wrapped in heavy canvas or drop cloth with a green plastic wrapping about the head. * * * Detective DRISCOLL informed that an autopsy was being conducted as the body was in an advanced state of decomposition. According to DRISCOLL, bullet holes were observed in the skull of GRANELLO. Detective DRISCOLL advised that the autopsy report was not available, but the police estimate the death occurred about eight to ten days prior, due to the decomposition of the remains.
The Genovese family finally said good riddance to the child rapist who once was in the running to be their crime boss. Of course, it's no surprise that the mob accepted a degenerate in its ranks for so long. After all, the Mafia long has been the principal supplier of kiddie porn and child prostitutes with no concern for who gets hurt or who does what as long as the money is rolling in. Honorable men? Respect for women and children? Forget about it.
Further reading that may be of interest:
09:22 AM in Angelo DeCarlo, Anthony Salerno, Anthony Strollo, Bonanno, Bookmaking, Child Molestation, Child Pornography, Colombo, Drug Trafficking, Extortion, FBI, Fraud, Gambling, Gay Bars, Genovese, George Levine, Harold Konigsberg, Jennie Tobin, John Franzese, John Ormento, John Stoppelli, Loan Sharking, Matthew Ianniello, Mob History, Morris Levy, Murder, Philip Lombardo, Prostitution, Rape, Rocky Graziano, Roy Cohn, Sally Burns, Salvatore Granello, Securities Fraud, Sonny Franzese, Statutory Rape, Strip Clubs, Tax Evasion, Teamsters Union, Thomas Eboli, Vincent Caserta, Vincenzo Generoso, Vito Genovese, William Tobin | Permalink
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Last week a federal judge declared a mistrial in the murder case against criminal defense lawyer Paul Bergrin after the jury couldn't agree on whether the attorney whacked a witness against one of his clients, and yesterday prosecutors announced their intent to try Bergin "on a litany of other charges" as reported by Jason Grant for The Star-Ledger: "those 31 counts include charges of witness tampering, murder-for-hire, cocaine trafficking, the filing of false tax returns and running a high-end prostitution ring."
Bergrin was convicted in May 2009 in another case involving a Manhattan brothel as reported by The Associated Press: "He was accused of taking over an escort service after the 2005 arrest of its founder – one of his law clients." The Manhattan District Attorney had accused Bergrin of using the whore house "to offer sexual favors to unnamed New Jersey law enforcement officers and jail guards – people who were in a position to keep him informed about what inmates might be planning to cooperate against his clients" as reported by David Kocieniewski for The New York Times.
IIn November 2010 Michael Catapano, the nephew of reputed Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, got 6 1/2 years in prison on an extortion conviction, and in sentencing him Brooklyn federal judge Brian Cogan also found that the gangster "had participated in a plot to influence a witness suspected of cooperating against mobbed-up lawyer Paul Bergrin in a prostitution and money laundering case" as reported by John Marzulli for the Daily News.
Further coverage: "The Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey" by Mark Jacobson for New York Magazine
Tonight's episode on Investigation Discovery's I Married A Mobster series takes a look at the relationship between Denyce and John Franzese Jr. who met at a rehab facility:
When John transforms from clean & sober charmer to a manic nightmare, Denyce worries he's relapsing. However, the truth is far more sinister. John would soon vanish, in one of the mafia's greatest betrayals.
Franzese is the son of reputed Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, and last year became the first mob scion to testify against his father. The 93-year-old senior was convicted on racketeering charges involving the shake down of two NYC strip clubs and a loan shark operation, and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Federal prosecutors have brought additional charges against criminal defense lawyer Paul Bergrin who was indicted in May 2009 on racketeering and other charges involving his alleged role in the murder of a witness against one of his clients and attempting to hire a hit man to whack a witness against another client.
The new charges allege Bergrin and others paid off some schmuck to take the rap on a gun charge against a drug-trafficking employee of his law firm as reported by Jason Grant for The Star-Ledger: "The indictment says that J.M.'s false confession, made in exchange for a payment, helped A.W. get a parole-board hearing acquittal and get released from jail in 2007," and once A.W. "was released from the Essex County Correctional Facility, he returned to assisting Bergrin and others 'in distributing kilogram quantities of cocaine.'"
Bergrin, a former federal prosecutor, was convicted in May 2009 in another case involving a Manhattan brothel as reported by The Associated Press: "He was accused of taking over an escort service after the 2005 arrest of its founder – one of his law clients." The Manhattan District Attorney had accused Bergrin of using the whore house "to offer sexual favors to unnamed New Jersey law enforcement officers and jail guards – people who were in a position to keep him informed about what inmates might be planning to cooperate against his clients" as reported by David Kocieniewski for The New York Times.
Last November Michael Catapano, the nephew of reputed Colombo underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, got 6 1/2 years in prison on an extortion conviction, and in sentencing him Brooklyn federal judge Brian Cogan also found that the gangster "had participated in a plot to influence a witness suspected of cooperating against mobbed-up lawyer Paul Bergrin in a prostitution and money laundering case" as reported by John Marzulli for the Daily News.
Further coverage: "The Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey" by Mark Jacobson for New York Magazine