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 2002 Arnold (Zeke) Squitieri article

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little vic

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PostSubject: 2002 Arnold (Zeke) Squitieri article   Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:37 am

MEET BOSS ZEKE, NEW GOTTI Late don's pal seen as Gambino head



BY PATRICE O'SHAUGHNESSY

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER


Monday, June 17th 2002, 1:80AM



Arnold (Zeke) Squitieri is the apparent successor to deceased Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, a position some authorities say he achieved through steely silence and wanton violence.

A far cry from the Mafia chieftains of yore, Squitieri toiled in relative obscurity for years, selling drugs in New Jersey for Gotti's crew and becoming a made Mafia member only after Gotti was boss.

"He did 11 years [in prison] for heroin trafficking and didn't buckle, so they made him a capo when he got out," said a law enforcement source. "You do 11 years for the family and don't cooperate [with authorities], I guess you earn your credit that way."

But his mob stock may be high for less noble reasons.

"He was a gambling and drinking buddy of Gotti's, and he's a tough guy," said Bruce Mouw, former supervisor of the FBI's Gambino squad.

"That's why John liked him - he's a stone-cold killer," Mouw said. "He's done a lot of bad things for these guys. He's done murders for John Gotti."

With Gotti dead, his son John A. (Junior) Gotti and brother Gene Gotti in prison and brothers Peter and Richard indicted this month, law enforcement officials say Squitieri is best poised to lead the tattered crime family.

Squitieri, a resident of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., who is also known as Animal to feds across the Hudson River, was incredulous.

"I only know what I read in the papers," the 66-year-old Squitieri told the Daily News, shaking a head of close-cropped gray hair, his dark eyes dubious, as he stood in the doorway of his home.

"It's not true. I stay in my house, I'm on parole, I have no place to go," he said. He was wearing a white T-shirt, blue shorts and white sweat socks, a gold chain with a religious medal around his neck.

"Forget about it. ... I have no affiliation with nobody," Squitieri said. "I stay home. ... I'm on parole for the next 10 years. I can't go to New York; I can't go anywhere. I just stay here in New Jersey."

Elevating a convicted drug dealer to don would indicate how much luster the Gambino family and the Mafia have lost, some authorities said.

"He has a very checkered background," Mouw said. "Only 15 years ago, you couldn't even get made in the Gambino family if you were involved in heroin. He only got made after John became boss. Before that, he could never get made."

"It might show where the Gambinos are now," said Edward McDonald, former organized crime prosecutor for the Eastern District. "They might have dabbled a little bit in the past, but now to take a convicted narcotics trafficker and make him the head of the family is almost a signal that they will be or have been more heavily involved in drugs."

Narcotics have always been Squitieri's forte. In the 1960s and '70s, his turf was East Harlem, where the Luchese and Genovese mobs held control of the Asian heroin trade through musclemen. Meanwhile, he lived in a comfortable white brick house on a leafy street in Englewood Cliffs and sent his children to Catholic schools.

Squitieri gained notoriety in the era of the Knapp Commission on police corruption, when he was accused of bribing three patrolmen in the 25th Precinct to release him after he shot a man dead.

The bribe, rather than the killing, became the focus of headlines.

On Aug. 18, 1970, Squitieri shot 31-year-old garment cutter Desiderio Caban five times at First Ave. and 117th St. A cop heard the shots, responded and saw a gold-colored Cadillac speeding away. Squitieri was captured after a wild, six-block car chase.

Later that day, $5,000 allegedly was offered to the arresting officer and two other cops. They released Squitieri and omitted his name from reports on the Caban killing.

The three cops were accused of dividing an initial $2,000 payment; they were indicted and acquitted but dismissed from the force after a departmental hearing.

Squitieri, meanwhile, went on the lam and became the subject of a 13-state alarm. He surrendered in January 1972, his manacled hands shielding a face framed by a mane of black wavy hair, in a crime-noir snapshot portrait in The News.

While awaiting trial for the murder, Squitieri was charged, along with his wife, Marie Squitieri, in 1973 with failing to file federal tax returns for three years on $200,000 in income they concealed in bank accounts under phony names.

Arnold Squitieri got four years on the tax case, which ran concurrently with his sentence for pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the Caban case, and he served six years in state prison.

Squitieri was re-leased in May 1981 and within months became the drug connection for the Gottis in New Jersey, officials said.

In 1982, he'd meet Gambino lieutenants at a hot dog stand in Queens to purchase heroin for distribution in New Jersey. He sold a kilo of heroin supplied by Gene Gotti outside the Red Oak Diner in Fort Lee for $180,000.

In 1986, he was among several mobsters charged in a drug conspiracy case by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani. Squitieri was acquitted.

Accompanying Squitieri on the run as a murder fugitive in the '70s and through the heroin deals in the '80s was Alphonse (Funzi) Sisca, 59, a close pal who still lives a couple of blocks from him.

"They are longtime friends of the Gotti crew," a law enforcement source said.

Sisca's fondness for the late don could be heard in a conversation recorded Oct. 27, 1987 - John Gotti's birthday - by an FBI bug planted in a New Jersey mobster's office.

"Today is, uh, the birthday," Sisca says. "... yeah, we're gonna go home early, you know. ... Looks like we're gonna have a cake over his house, I guess."

In 1988, Squitieri and Sisca often visited Gotti at his hangouts, the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry St. in Manhattan and the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club in Ozone Park, Queens.

"Gotti took a strong stand against drugs, telling the other families the Gambinos had nothing to do with it; but on the other hand, he allowed these two prominent narcotics traffickers to meet with him in a public way at the Ravenite," McDonald said. "He was flaunting his association with them."

In 1988, Squitieri and Sisca were convicted by the feds in New Jersey of conspiring with the Gambino mob to distribute large amounts of heroin between September 1981 and June 1982.

Also in 1988, the two were charged with taking over a New Jersey pest control company after the owner bragged about his connection to Gotti.

"Oh, boy, they're kicking his name all over," Squitieri said on a wiretap - a reference to the Gambino boss, authorities said.

Squitieri pleaded guilty in 1992 to extorting the exterminating company and got five years, which ran concurrently with his drug sentence. Sisca also did 11 years in prison on the drug case.

When Squitieri was released in the spring of 1999, he was elevated to capo, law enforcement sources said. Later, he was named acting underboss.

In 2000, Squitieri's old generation mob reputation led to an investigation of his son, Arnold Squitieri Jr., a construction worker who became involved in a sophisticated, white-collar crime.

The younger Squiti-eri, nicknamed Bo, was indicted with others in a stock investment scheme in which their New Jersey-based operation cold-called Australian businessmen, claiming affiliation with a re-spected Aussie investment firm. People sent checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, but never got any returns.

Arnold Squitieri Jr., 30, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court last November to conspiracy and was sentenced in March to 15 months in prison.

Of the elder, oft-imprisoned Squitieri, Mouw said: "There are better candidates for the next boss. He's on supervised release; he's not supposed to associate - how can you run a family? Sisca is on parole, too, but if Arnold rises, I'm sure he'll take Funzi with him; that's the mob.

"Squitieri is acting underboss; it's logical he would be the heir apparent, but Peter Gotti is still there; there's no sign he's going to step down."

"Peter was acting for John, and now that he died, they have to elect a new boss, and Peter is under indictment, so Squitieri could get it because the Gottis like him," said a law enforcement source.

And maybe no one else wants the top job, which brings scrutiny from all quarters of law enforcement, not to mention the risk of a racketeering rap - or rubout.

But Squitieri brushed off any suggestion that his life could be in jeopardy.

"How is it putting me in danger? There's nothing to it," he shrugged. "If it was true, maybe. But it's not true."
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PostSubject: Guilty Plea Is New Blow to the Once-Feared Gambinos   Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:45 am

Guilty Plea Is New Blow to the Once-Feared Gambinos



By JULIA PRESTON

Published: April 21, 2006







A graying 70-year-old defendant who federal prosecutors said was the acting boss of the Gambino crime family pleaded guilty yesterday to racketeering, a new turn in the spiraling decline of what was once one of the most feared criminal organizations in New York.


The defendant, Arnold Squitieri, entered guilty pleas in Federal District Court in Manhattan to four counts of racketeering and extortion, saying he had used threats of violence to exact payments from construction companies in Westchester County and Mineola, N.Y., and from a New Jersey trucking company.

"I know it was wrong," Mr. Squitieri said, reading a written statement to a magistrate judge, Michael H. Dolinger. Mr. Squitieri also told tearful relatives that he had made the plea for them.

In a 53-count indictment brought in March 2005, prosecutors charged that Mr. Squitieri took command as the acting boss of the Gambino organization in June 2002 after the former boss, Peter Gotti, was arrested on racketeering charges.

But Mr. Squitieri refused to acknowledge that he was a member of the Gambino organization. He admitted to taking part in an "enterprise," but told the magistrate judge he would agree to a plea only "with the Gambino name out of it."

Gerald Shargel, Mr. Squitieri's lawyer, said he had entered a "straightforward arm's-length plea agreement" and had not agreed to cooperate with the government. Prosecutors recommended a sentence range for Mr. Squitieri of as little as seven years and three months to a maximum of nine years, less than half the sentence that he might have faced if he were convicted in a trial.

The trial of Mr. Squitieri and an accused Gambino capo, Gregory DePalma, had been set to begin on May 8. With his plea, Mr. Squitieri has a chance of getting out of prison before he is 80.

Mr. Squitieri appeared lively and spoke in a strong voice. But at one point, when the judge asked him during which years he had committed his crimes, he became confused.

"I can't remember too good, your honor," he said. "I'm getting up in age."

At the end of the hearing, Mr. Squitieri turned to point at his wife, Marie, a slim woman with flowing blond hair, who was sitting with a group of his relatives. "I did it for you," he said. "I pleaded guilty because of you."

The arrest of Mr. Squitieri and 31 other accused Gambino members was a result of a three-year investigation in which an F.B.I. undercover agent infiltrated Mr. DePalma's crew. F.B.I. officials have compared the agent to Joe Pistone, an agent who, under the name Donnie Brasco, infiltrated the Bonanno crime family two decades ago in an operation that became law enforcement legend as well as a Hollywood movie.

This undercover operation involving Mr. Squitieri also appeared to have some theatrical elements.

At one point during the operation, the undercover agent gave flat-screen televisions to Mr. Squitieri and to Mr. DePalma, saying they were stolen, a law enforcement official recounted. One evening Mr. Squitieri was watching an episode of "The Sopranos." In it, a mobster was watching his own stolen flat-screen set when his parole officer visited and promptly arrested him for possessing stolen property.

That episode made Mr. Squitieri, who was himself on supervised release, nervous about the gift, the law enforcement official said. He got rid of the set, the official said, concerned that this "could be life imitating art."

On March 31, Anthony Megale, accused as the acting underboss and street operator for Mr. Squitieri, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Two men who admitted they were "street bosses" for Mr. Squitieri, Alphonse Sisca and Louis Filippelli, also pleaded guilty then.
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