Henry Hill was best known by Ray Liotta's face. An East New York native famously mentored by the Lucchese crime family, Hill was the Lufthansa-heisting mobster whose 1986 memoir, the Nicholas-Pileggi-shaped Wiseguy, served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese's modern classic Goodfellas. As TMZ reported last night, Hill died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 69.
via Hill's eBay account Henry Hill with Ray Liotta
Hill's life consisted of well-documented involvements with the dirty businesses of narcotics, extortion, robbery, and one major point-shaving college-basketball scandal. Eventually he became an FBI informant and entered the Witness Protection Program until he was expelled for, in his words, "being a Goodfella." He then lived openly under his real name, relocating to Topanga County, becoming a recurring guest on Howard Stern, and hawking his paintings through an eBay store. In 2007, the enterprising ex-con opened a mob-themed restaurant in West Haven, Connecticut called Wiseguys. (An attic fire mysteriously broke out shortly after the establishment opened.)
That same year, the Voice spoke with the self-described "bullshit artist" about spaghetti sauce, his artistic muse ("whatever goes through my sick, fuckin' mind"), his Witness Protection Program dismissal, and "learning to fuck again" after his late-life circumcision. Reprinted below is an edited version of Michael Clancy's Runnin' Scared dialogue with the legendary gangster.More »
Cops are on the lookout for a man wearing a Scarface jacket (no, really), and say that he and another man recently robbed a Bronx newsstand at gunpoint.
Around 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 6, the two suspected perps entered the shop at 1936 Crotona Avenue, and pulled out black handguns. The suspects, pictured here, took cash from the register and scratch-off lotto tickets, law enforcement officials say. They fled on foot.
Medicare is struggling with serious problems already -- ballooning costs and an ideologically hostile Republican Party, to name just two. But at least for the moment it no longer has to tangle with the Armenian mob. Armen Kazarian, an Armenian gangster, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal court today to racketeering charges brought in connection to the largest Medicare fraud in history.
Forget smuggling, prostitution and extortion; the real money is in Medicare fraud.
Kazarian and 43 other members of an Armenian organized crime network were charged in October with setting up 118 imaginary health clinics to rack up more than $100 million in billings for patients and procedures that never existed.More »
An old Mafia file found in a black bag in the back of a New York City cab in the early '90s containing mug shots, criminal histories, lists of associates, kids' and wives' names, and the favorite hangouts of 843 Mafia members in the '50s and '60s -- a trove of fascinating historical information for the Mafia buff -- is up for auction at Bonhams today as part of their "Fine Books and Manuscripts" listing. It's a departure from the leather-bound first editions you might expect, cased in a "black cloth binder with tabs, title stamped in green to upper cover." Its 844 pages have been thumbed.
P. 460: Carlo Gambino
A plot to kill a member of a Russian crime family got the man known as Tony D. sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 10 years in prison. Anthony Palumbo, a "soldier and acting capo" in the Genovese family, had been running his organization's petroleum interests with Russians since 1990, and a few years later tried to get a hitman "taken care of" for some Slavic co-conspirators. Though the murder never happened, Palumbo is also tied to a 1992 homicide of a fellow Genovese associate and pleaded guilty "to commit murder in aid of a racketeering enterprise" in 2010. "Anthony Palumbo's decades long crime spree has finally come to an end," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "He is going to prison which is exactly where he belongs." [FBI]
Mobsters have a special way of speaking that is all their own, which you probably already know, having watched any number of the excellent mafia-themed films available on Netflix and your various cable channels. The New York Times has an intriguing look into some of the more "esoteric" of those expressions, as revealed by secretly recorded conversations between Vincent Basciano and mob boss Joseph Massino during Basciano's trial for the murder of Randolph Pizzolo. There are many colorful terms and phrases!
Talking Points Memo has constructed an informative and visually pleasing slideshow of mugshots from January's "Biggest Mob Bust Ever," which we noted at the time both for its epic corralling of suspected criminals, but more playfully for its collection of some of the greatest nicknames ever given to overweight Italian-American men. Unfortunately, in the TPM round-up of the alleged mobsters, only 14 of the 120-plus arrested make the cut to be models and most of our favorite brotherhood handles don't get a face put to the silly name.
"Pepe," via TPM
Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, the former Bonanno crime-family boss who's facing new charges of murdering a mob associate while currently serving a life sentence on another conviction, will not be just some schlub at trial. The New York Post reports that his "perfectly coiffed hair" will be paired with a garment choice from among five coordinated business outfits made available on each day of his upcoming capital-murder trial, as ordered by a federal judge.
|Vincent "No Good" Young|
But they're also pretty potent pop-culture pricks. Gangs of other colors and races are also dangerous, but Joe Coscarelli's list of Mafia nicknames from the recent big bust shows that when it comes to nicknames, Italian gangsters still have an edge over black gangsters.
There are exceptions. Just yesterday, feds in New Jersey indicted a bunch of Bloods for racketeering and other felonies. Topping the list is Vincent "No Good" Young. He's so bad that even one of his other nicknames, "Good," is simply a shortened version of "No Good." More »