Thursday, November 01, 2007

News reporting on Connecticut and the Mob only scratches the surface

Prosecutors: Prison didn't slow Megale's mob career

NEW HAVEN, Conn. --Federal prosecutors asked a judge to tack extra time onto Anthony "The Genius" Megale's racketeering sentence, saying previous prison terms did nothing to slow the rise of the man they called Connecticut's most successful gangster.

Megale, 52, of Stamford, faces up to 6 1/2 years in prison next month as part of a plea deal on racketeering conspiracy charges. Prosecutors said he was Connecticut's highest ranking Mafioso and served as the No. 2 man in the New York-based Gambino crime family.

In documents filed in federal court Monday, prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton to impose a stiffer sentence.

When Megale received a six-year racketeering sentence in 1990, he was a full-fledged, or "made," member of the family, prosecutors said. They said he emerged from prison on the Mafia fast track, becoming a captain in 2001 and underboss in 2002.

"The most appalling aspect to this case is not that Megale continued his involvement in the Gambino Organized Crime Family after these prior periods of incarceration," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Gustafson wrote, "but that he did so with such commitment that he ascended to the highest level ever attained by an individual from Connecticut -- underboss."

The Gambino family, once led by John Gotti, collects money from sports gambling rackets, poker machines and business owners who must pay for mob protection, prosecutors said.

When Megale pleaded guilty in July, he was not required to admit his Mafia membership, but the FBI recorded him describing himself as the underboss, a position he said meant, "I'm over everybody."

A co-defendant who unwittingly described the Gambino hierarchy on an FBI tape also put Megale in the No. 2 spot.

Probation officers, who advise judges on sentencing, suggested Megale should serve up to eight years in prison. Megale's attorneys oppose that, saying probation officers are unfairly trying to add prison time for a man who is devoted to his family and community.

Megale's attorneys filed their own documents Monday arguing that Arterton should stay within the sentencing range in the plea agreement. Attorney Lindy Urso said the guidelines that calculated that range already considered Megale's criminal history and adding more time would be unfair.

"We don't give any credence to the allegations of supposed rank in any crime family," Urso said.

For two years before his arrest in 2004, Megale worked at his wife's sanitation company but did not report an income, prosecutors said. He reported a similar arrangement in 1999 and 2000. Megale also has reported working for a vending machine company and as a gas station attendant, prosecutors said.

During the investigation, the FBI said Megale illegally made tens of thousands of dollars, including more than $57,000 in extortion payments, $300 per week from one gambling machine and $500 a week from bookmakers.

"This sum represents the tip of the proverbial iceberg," Gustafson wrote. "It is not clear how many machines were in operation, how many bookies were paying for the right to stay in business, and how many other businesses were paying protection."

Megale also faces federal racketeering charges in New York, where prosecutors said he answered only to Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri. The indictment says they made millions of dollars through extortion, loansharking, illegal gambling and other crimes during the past decade.

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