Posts Tagged ‘Roy Cohn’
Former special agents who once served their country in the fight against mobsters, terrorists and fraudsters often have second careers in the security or investigation departments of big companies and law firms.
However, jumping into the private sector is not without its pitfalls for one-time G-men. As much as they are prized assets by corporate America for their training, experience and contacts, the good reputation of these former agents also can be cynically exploited by employers with sharp practices or shady reputations as a cover to deflect any suspicion into wrongdoing.
For example, Assistant Director Louis Nichols — J. Edgar’s No. 2 man — left the FBI in 1957, and took a plum job making $100,000 a year at Schenley Industries which mob lackey Roy Cohn allegedly secured for him, and Louis Rosensteil, the company’s president, was suspected of ties to Genovese mobsters Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello. And former special agent H. Paul Rico left the Boston field office in 1975 to become security head at World Jai Alai, and then was indicted for his alleged role in a 1981 murder as a tool of Winter Hill boss Whitey Bulger although Rico died in 2004 before the charge against him was resolved.
Indeed, in May 1962 while staying at the Volney Hotel in New York City, Meyer Lansky was recorded on a wire describing how the G-men could be co-opted in the private sector as “racketeers” and the “new mafia”:
They’re nothing but racketeers, every one of them. After five years they get out, get on a big corporation’s payroll. Now what happens, you and I . . . let’s say I work for IBM. You came. They say [redacted] is doing the same business. He has no FBI guys working for him. Pop, they chop his legs off. They find him with a sweetheart, they find him with this, they find him with that. This thing’s gonna get an investigation. It’s a new mafia.
The potential pitfalls for former agents joining the civilian life came to the forefront recently for U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island, NY, who spent a decade as a special agent with the FBI until leaving the agency in 2006. Grimm then opened a restaurant on the Upper East Side called Healthalicious with partner Bennett Orfaly, and federal prosecutors now allege that Orfaly has personal ties to reputed Gambino capo Anthony “Fat Tony” Morelli who “is serving a 20-year prison sentence for racketeering and extortion in an elaborate tax fraud” as reported by Alison Leigh Cowan for The New York Times:
“Mr. Orfaly maintains constant contact” with Mr. Morelli in prison, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony] Capozzolo told the court, noting that Mr. Orfaly “has visited him and engaged in telephone conversations.”
One unidentified source claims that Morelli is “like an uncle” to Orfaly as reported by Mitchel Maddux and Dan Mangan for the New York Post.
Orfaly is not accused of any wrongdoing, and Grimm previously sold his interest in the restaurant and insists he was unware of Orfaly’s supposed ties to Morelli. In any event, many citizens probably are not thrilled with the idea that a special agent who worked undercover assignments targeting the mob after leaving the FBI became involved with a business partner who allegedly has a personal relationship with a reputed mobster. It’s just not the prettiest picture.
Another former agent got employment at a law firm which subsequently was indicted. Steve Bursey spent 27 years at the FBI, and among his assignments was serving as the contact agent for undercover agent Joe Pistone who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family as Donnie Brasco. Immediately following his FBI retirement in 1997 Bursey joined the class action law firm Milberg Weiss to head its investigations department. In 2006 the law firm was indicted by federal prosecutors for an alleged decades-long scheme in which serial plaintiffs were illegally paid kickbacks out of the attorneys’ fees for filing their shareholder lawsuits. Several heavy-weight partners were convicted for their roles and sent to prison, and the firm itself — now known simply as Milberg LLP — settled the criminal case by paying a $75 million fine and hiring a compliance monitor for two years according to a Department of Justice press release: “the settlement with Milberg reflects the seriousness of what was probably the longest-running scheme ever conducted by a law firm,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien, and “the monetary payment will punish the firm for allowing this conduct to occur.”
Among those convicted for their roles in the scheme was the firm’s founding partner Mel Weiss, and Bursey wrote a May 1, 2008 letter to the sentencing judge pleading for leniency on behalf of the crooked lawyer which provides the following:
I have reported to Melvyn Weiss for most of my eleven year tenure with the firm. It has been a privilege to work for him and he has allowed me to assemble a collection of fact-finding talent that is the envy of every law firm in this country. Our methods and effectiveness are so well regarded that the plaintiffs’ bar actually refer to it as the “Milberg model.”
During my time here, I have conferred with Mr. Weiss on many occasions. At no time have I ever been asked to do anything which could be even remotely considered improper or unethical. He has, without exception, always put the interests of the investors and consumers ahead of everything else. His dedication to the mission has led me to develop a respect, admiration and affection for him that has only been rivaled by one other man in my life, my father.
On a personal note, I know that Mr. Weiss has, on numerous occasions, provided financial and/or moral support to many employees of the firm, such as paying for medical procedures. Unsolicited assistance was rendered quietly and without fanfare. People here, especially the support staff, adore Mel and it was particularly moving to see their reaction when he expressed his remorse for what happened – a lot of tears followed by a standing ovation.
I hope that this unique man, with his love of this country and passion for helping people, can be placed in a situation in which he is able to continue to put his talents and generosity to use.
U.S. District Judge John Walter apparently was unmoved by Bursey’s letter, and gave Weiss 2 1/2 on his racketeering conviction as reported by Edvard Pettersson for Bloomberg:
The kickback scheme enabled Milberg to become an extremely successful and profitable securities law firm, Walter said before sentencing Weiss. The lawyer’s continued participation in the scheme, after he knew the government was investigating, made it difficult to show leniency in spite of the many letters of support written on his behalf, Walter said.
Bursey and the others remaining at the firm were not involved in any wrongdoing but the optics of a former agent at a law firm which otherwise was thick with corruption may not have inspired a lot of confidence among all the good citizens who once paid his public salary. The federal investigation into Milberg Weiss commenced in 1999 — two years after Bursey gained employment there — but unflattering press about “professional plaintiffs” had been written about the firm going back to 1992 as reported by Peter Elkind for Fortune magazine. Indeed, Milberg Weiss was seen by many as the principal target of Congress in its passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 to address some of the perceived abuses in the lawsuit industry. Given Bursey’s FBI background one reasonably may ask whether he ever entertained any suspicions about the kickback scheme prior to the indictment against his employer and several of its partners.
Milberg Weiss has been the subject of controversy beyond its use of professional plaintiffs. For example, in 1999 a federal jury found that Milberg Weiss “had abused the legal process to discredit” the reputation of consulting firm Lexecon Inc., and awarded the injured company $45 million in compensatory damages as reported by Melody Peterson for The New York Times:
Before the jury could decide whether punitive damages should be added to that amount, the two sides talked through the night, reaching the $50 million settlement yesterday morning. The settlement takes the place of the $45 million jury verdict. ”The biggest and most powerful class-action plaintiff’s firm was found liable for abuse of process,” said Alan N. Salpeter, a lawyer at Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago, which represents Lexecon. ”This sends a message that lawyers should not abuse the law.”
Apparently “at the trial, several Milberg Weiss partners testified,” and “after the verdict, one juror was quoted in the press as saying that the ‘Milberg Weiss lawyers were not truthful'” according to a case summary (“Lexecon Wins $50 Million Settlement From Milberg Weiss“) by Mayer, Brown & Platt.
FBI agents see a lot in their work but once they leave the protective cocoon of the Bureau for civilian life maybe that’s when they fully appreciate just what a wild world it is.
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:
Clint Eastwood’s recent film about J. Edgar Hoover which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the storied FBI Director declines to expressly address his sexuality, and leaves it to viewers to draw their own conclusion about his relationship with Associate Director Clyde Tolson as reported by Ann Oldenburg for USA Today:
“Well, they were inseparable pals,” says Eastwood. “Now, whether he was gay or not is gonna be for the audience to interpret. It could have been just a great love story between two guys. Or it could have been a great love story that was also a sexual story.”
DiCaprio explains, “What we’re saying is that he definitely had a relationship with Tolson that lasted for nearly fifty years. Neither of them married. They lived close to one another. They worked together every day. They vacationed together. And there was rumored to be more. There are definite insinuations of—well, I’m not going to get into where it goes, but . . . If I were a betting man, I actually don’t know what I would bet.”
M. Wesley Swearingen, an FBI agent from 1951 to 1977, writes in his memoir FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose about the long-standing rumors within the Bureau concerning Hoover and Tolson which include allegations that the FBI Director ignored the Mafia for decades because the wise guys had incriminating goods on the supposed lovers:
One year after arriving in Memphis, Hoover transferred me to Chicago, Illinois. I was thrilled – my mind was full of gangsters, Tommy guns, and the FBI’s famous machine gun battles of the 1930s. It was clear to me from Chicago’s newspaper headlines that gansters ruled a Chicago underworld element in the 1950s because gangland style murders averaged close to 100 a year in the Chicago area. * * * But when I told my colleague and veteran agent Vince Coll of my big plans for Chicago, he said that Hoover did not recognize the existence of a mob in Chicago. According to Coll, Mafia leader Meyer Lansky’s organization had enough on Hoover and Tolson, as closet homosexuals, that Hoover would never investigate the mob.
The allegations were fleshed out — so to speak — in Official and Confidential: the Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summer. A review of the book (“Partners For Life“) by Sidney Urquhart for Time magazine summarizes one alleged incident as follows:
Perhaps Summers’ most bizarre revelation is an account provided by Susan Rosenstiel, the wife of a liquor distiller and gambling crony. Rosenstiel recalls attending what she thought would be an elegant private party at New York City’s Plaza Hotel in the company of lawyer Roy Cohn, Hoover and others. Instead, Cohn introduced Rosenstiel to a woman named “Mary,” dressed in a fluffy black dress, lace stockings and high heels. It was obvious Mary was no woman. “You could see where he shaved. It was Hoover,” said Rosenstiel. Joined by Cohn, Hoover stripped down to a tiny garter belt and proceeded to have sex with two young boys. Cohn later joked about the evening. “That was really something, wasn’t it, with Mary Hoover?”
The “two young boys” with whom Hoover allegedly had sex perhaps were provided by Ed “the Skull” Murphy who was a long-time Genovese associate involved in the crime family’s gay bar and boy prostitution rackets in New York City. In Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution, David Carter writes:
John Paul Ranieri, a former prostitute interviewed for this history, provided critical testimony for corroborating and better understanding the larger implications of Murphy’s criminal enterprises for gay history. Ranieri said that as a youth from Westchester County he had been forced by blackmail and Mafia-supplied drugs into a prostitution ring in which he remained active for three years before he escaped the mob’s control. He claimed that a number of youths in the ring had disappeared after they got careless with talk, for while most of the customers were more or less average homosexual men with money, the regular clientele, according to Ranieri, also included famous men such as Malcolm Forbes, Cardinal Spellman, Liberace, U.S. Senators, a vice president of the United States, one of the most famous rock musicians, and J. Edgar Hoover. The mob’s order, according to Ranieri, was strictly “Keep your zipper open and your mouth shut.”
Ranieri said that he met J. Edgar Hoover at private parties at the Plaza Hotel and that Hoover’s name was never mentioned. Hoover was always in drag, and Ranieri said he could tell that the FBI director was sure that no one recognized him. Ranieri said that he had ensured his own survival by having in his possession a photograph of himself with Hoover, given to him by the photographer.
How does the preceding information link Ed Murphy with J. Edgar Hoover? The connection is made evident in a news story written shortly after Hoover’s homosexuality and transvestism became public. When [Anthony] Summer’s book [Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover], was published [in 1993], a newspaper story about the 1960s national homosexual blackmail ring suddenly appeared after a quarter of a century of silence on the subject. Without mentioning Murphy’s name, it quoted law enforcement sources who had worked on the case as saying that their investigation into the nationwide blackmail ring had turned up a photograph of Hoover “posing amiably” with the racket’s ringleader and had uncovered information that Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s lover, had himself “fallen victim to the extortion ring.” After federal agents joined the investigation, both the photograph of Hoover and the documents about Tolson disappeared. * * * Very suggestive in this context is that Murphy would publicly say in 1978—before it became public information, as it did in the 1990s, that the Mafia had photographs of Hoover involved in sex acts—that he knew that J. Edgar Hoover “was one of my sisters.”
Murphy’s boys did have a habit of disappearing. For example, one Puerto Rican youth known as Tano with whom Murphy was sexually involved was kidnapped right off the streets never to be seen again according to one eyewitness to the incident as recounted by Carter in Stonewall.
Curiously, Murphy also was a long-standing FBI informant according to a May 8, 1978 article (“Skull Murphy: The Gay Double Agent“) by Arthur Bell for The Village Voice. Indeed, this article contained the interview in which Murphy expressly speaks of J. Edgar Hoover as one of his “sisters”: “He was the biggest fuckin’ extortionist in this country. He had presidents by the balls. He had a record on everybody and his brother.”
The allegations that Meyer Lansky had incriminating evidence against the FBI Director are particularly credible in light of the relationships among all the parties with political fixer Roy Cohn — a fellow closet case who died of AIDS in 1986 — at the center of it all.
Cohn was a personal friend of Hoover during the 1950s and 1960s, and the two shared extensive correspondence directed to each other on a first-name basis including a September 1957 exchange on an article published by the Director entitled “Let’s Wipe Out the Schoolyard Sex Racket.” Ironically, only months earlier an apparent obscenity indictment against Cohn had been dismissed according to an FBI memo dated June 28, 1957 from Assistant Director Louis B. Nichols to Clyde Tolson:
Roy Cohn called 6-27-57 to advise that Neil Gallagher of the New Jersey Turnpike Commission represented him in connection with the return of an indictment charging the sale of obscene literature. Gallagher went before the Superior Court judge in Union County, New Jersey, Thursday afternoon and moved the dismissal of the indictment. The district attorney joined him in this recommendation and issued a public apology to Cohn.
Cornelius “Neil” Gallagher later became a U.S. Congressman from Bayonne, NJ until he lost the seat in 1972 after Life magazine ran an article alleging mob ties.
The relationship between Hoover and Cohn is particularly troubling given that the FBI was fully aware that Cohn had ties to the most powerful bosses in the Mafia. For example, in 1964 federal prosecutor Robert Morgenthau was trying Cohn on corruption charges, and at the trial introduced excerpts of earlier grand jury testimony by Cohn. A March 27, 1964 article from The New York Times which the FBI contemporaneously clipped for its files on Cohn states:
The excerpts contained admissions by Mr. Cohn that he was acquainted with Geralde (Jerry) Catena, described by the Senate Rackets Committee as “No. 2 Man” in the Vito Genovese unit of the Cosa Nosta, and with Meyer Lansky, gangster. Mr. Cohn said he scarcely knew Lansky but that he had played golf two or three times with Catena.
Cohn further had represented the Stork Club which was Hoover’s favorite stomping ground and Schenley Industries which was one of the country’s largest liquor distillers. Louis Rosensteil was the president of Schenley Industries, and he had close ties to Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello. “In fact, on several occassions, Hoover was seen at the Stork Club fraternizing with people like Costello and Rosensteil” according to Peter J. Devico in The Mafia Made Easy. After Hoover’s right-hand man Louis Nichols left the FBI in 1957, Cohn allegedly secured him a plum job making $100,000 a year at Schenley Industries although Nichols insisted in Hooveresque fashion that Rosensteil shunned the mob.
If you lay down with dogs you get fleas, and by associating with a mob tool like Cohn it’s more likely than not that Hoover got blackmailed.
Of couse, the best evidence that Meyer Lansky had the goods on the FBI Director is that the storied agency never laid a hand on the gangster who was a bootleg kingpin during Prohibition, later founded Murder Inc., and finally ran gambling operations in Las Vegas and Havana, Cuba. At the time of Lansky’s death in 1983 the FBI estimated that he had a net worth of $300 million, and yet during his long criminal career the G-men never nailed him on a single charge or recovered a single penny. Indeed, the FBI did not even start a file on Lansky until the 1950s, and a review of the file’s sparse contents illustrates that the agency’s efforts to target him — a purported top hoodlum — were half-hearted at best involving little more than the occasional wiretap and a sometimes surveillance. Indeed, the newspaper articles on Lansky which the FBI clipped were more informative on the mobster’s activities than the investigator reports. Ironically, Lansky only was arrested in 1972 — the same year Hoover died — as a result of an IRS investigation involving an alleged skimming scheme from a Vegas casino, and even that indictment conveniently was dismissed because Lansky was considered too ill to prosecute.
But apparently none of this matters to Clint Eastwood in his celluloid drama masquerading as a bio pic.
Further reading that may be of interest: