Thursday, May 28, 2009

Black Book member Masterana dies in the Dominican

Frank Masterana, a gambler and bookmaker known from the Strip to Santo Domingo, died Sunday at age 80 in the Dominican Republican, according to a longtime family friend.
A member of Nevada’s list of excluded persons, better known as the Black Book, Masterana was born in Canton, Ohio Jan. 26, 1929, and moved to Las Vegas to work for “Doc” Stacher in the early 1950s.
An illegal bookmaker much of his adult life, Masterana’s name was placed in the Black Book on Oct. 19, 1988. He became known as an associate – a reluctant one, to hear Masterana tell it – of Anthony Spilotro in the early 1980s.
Following a couple trips to prison, Masterana moved his base of operations to the Dominican Republican, and according to reliable sources at the time of his death he ran more than a dozen sports betting outlets in Santo Domingo.
I met Frank many years ago when he was between government staycations. He was an intriguing character whose life was defined by illegal gambling and his son Frank's quadruplegic condition. In those days, in part to avoid detection, Masterana looked a little like Willie Nelson with a long ponytail and salt-and-pepper facial hair. He was an old-school survivor, an outlaw with a soft spot for his kids. John L. Smith Las Vegas Review Journal

Friday, May 15, 2009

Martin Scorcese to direct Frank Sinatra biopic

Martin Scorsese, the Oscar-winning director, is to make a film about Frank Sinatra's life. After two years of wrangling with the singer's family on how to tell his colourful story. Sinatra has been portrayed several times on screen, including by Ray Liotta in the 1998 film The Rat Pack, but there has never been a feature film devoted to his life.
No actor has yet been announced for the lead role but initial speculation has focused on Leonardo Di Caprio, who has starred in four previous Scorsese films. Cathy Schulman, the co-producer of the new film, provisionally titled "Sinatra", said it would be "an unconventional biopic". It remains to be seen how Scorsese, like Sinatra an Italian-American, tackles the most contentious area of the singer's life – his reported links with the Mafia.While Scorsese has made several Mob-related films such as Goodfellas, the involvement of Sinatra's family – his daughter, Tina, is executive producer in the new project – has prompted speculation that it will steer clear of this area.
"In any family, you're dealing with a precious life, and in this case, you're dealing with an extraordinary life," said Miss Schulman.
"We knew Scorsese would lead the troops to a true, fair, exciting and entertaining portrait of the man."
A screenplay, based on 30,000 pages of research, has been written by Phil Alden Robinson, who won an Oscar nomination for Field of Dreams, the sentimental Kevin Costner film about an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball pitch in a field.
"It's not a cradle-to-the-grave traditional portrait of the consecutive events in a man's life," said Miss Schulman, president of Mandalay Pictures, which is making the film with Universal Pictures. "Instead, it's more of a collage and, in many ways, it will feel like an album itself. It's a collection of various moments and impressions in his life and together we hope they'll tell the full story and present full themes."
It took two years to secure the rights to Sinatra's life and music.
Warner Music Group and the Sinatra estate are partners on the project.
Sinatra's daughter, Tina, said it was "personally pleasing" to know Scorsese would oversee the celluloid version of her father's life story.
The FBI kept a file on Sinatra for decades, detailing his heavy drinking, bouts of depression, liaisons with prostitutes and his friendship with various Mafia bosses.
The singer and actor, who died in 1998, performed on more than 1,400 musical recordings, was awarded 31 gold records and earned 10 Grammys.
He made his first recording in 1939 and continued recording almost until his death, being responsible for such classics as "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way".
He also appeared in 58 films and won a supporting-actor Oscar for From Here to Eternity in 1953.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rocco Balliro Mobster

It was one of the best-known Boston shootouts of the 1960’s. Cops cornered prison escapee Rocco Balliro, his twin brother Sal, and an associate at the Roxbury home of Rocco’s ex-con girlfriend Toby Wagner. They tried to shoot their way out, and when it was over, Rocco’s girlfriend and her 7-year-old son were dead. That was in February 1963, and six months later, here he is in custody at Division 1. Handcuffed to Rocco’s left had is Sgt. Tom Gavin of DA Garrett Byrne’s office. On the right is Det. Eddie Walsh, soon to be the cop mentor of future FBI agent Zip Connolly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Donato "Danny" Angiulo, part of notorious mob family, dies

Former New England Mafia capo regime Donato "Danny" Angiulo, who was part of a powerful mob family that ruled Boston's underworld from the 1960s through the mid-1980s, died Sunday night at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after a long illness. He was 86.
His brother, Gennaro "Jerry'' Angiulo, was the underboss of the Patriarca crime family until an FBI bug planted in his North End headquarters in 1981 captured conversations about murder, extortion, illegal gambling, and loansharking that led to Boston's first sensational Mafia trial and the end of the Angiulos' reign.
In 1986, a federal jury convicted Donato Angiulo and his brothers, Gennaro and Francesco, who was the mob's accountant, of racketeering charges, and a third brother, Michele, of illegal gambling.
An Angiulo associate was caught on FBI tapes boasting that South Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his sidekick, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were friends of the Mafia and would kill for them. More than a decade later it was revealed that Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants who had provided information about the interior of Angiulo's headquarters that assisted agents in planting the bug.
Donato Angiulo's nickname was "Smiley," but prosecutors alleged during his trial that he had a fierce reputation on the street and served as a capo regime, running a crew of Mafia soldiers. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for racketeering, gambling and loansharking. He was freed from federal prison in 1997, after serving 11 years, and returned to his Medford home.
"He was a great family man and a very decent guy,'' said Boston attorney Anthony Cardinale, who represented Donato Angiulo's brother, Gennaro, during the eight-month federal racketeering trial.
Cardinale recounted that he had been stricken by a virus and hospitalized just before final arguments were about to get underway in the trial.
"I remember waking up in the hospital and there was Danny, just sitting there...he had come to the hospital and sat there to see how I was,'' Cardinale said. "That was typical of the kind of guy he was."
Before Donato Angiulo became ill and was hospitalized, he often was spotted in the North End, having lunch. He was the son of Sicilian immigrants, who ran a North End grocery store, and was raised on Prince Street with five brothers and a sister.
The Dello Russo Funeral Home in Medford confirmed today that it is handling arrangements for Donato Angiulo and said visiting hours will be Thursday from 4 to 8 pm. at the funeral home. A Mass is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Leonard Church in Boston's North End.