The 3rd week of the trial of the Albanian organized-crime group called the Rudaj Organization by federal prosecutors begins this week. There has been a serious lack of reporting on this trial by the New York news media. There have only been two news stories published: one by the Westchester County based Journal News on Sept. 28th and one by The New York Daily News on Oct. 9th.
The trial in courtroom 26A of Manhattan Federal Court started September 26th and is expected to last about three months. Given the weak rehash of old stories from last October's indictment and arrest of the 22 members of the Rudaj Organization you wonder if any reporters are really at this trial or if they're just phoning it in. Where is Court TV? The Feds are making Alex Rudaj out to be the new John Gotti of organized crime.
The six men being tried for racketeering, gambling, extortion and loansharking are:
- Alex Rudaj (Allie Boy, Uncle Radaj, Xhaxhai, Sandro Rudovic), age 38, Yorktown, New York - ring leader
- Nardino Colotti (Leonardo, Lenny), age 43, Bronx, NY - Italian protégé of the late Gambino soldier Phil (Skinny Phil) Loscalzo and group co-leader
- Nikola Dedaj (Nicky Nails, Big Nick, Nikol), 42, Yonkers, NY - Rudaj's alleged chief enforcer and co-leader.
- Ljusa "Louie" Nuculovic, 47, Hopewell Junction, NY.
- Prenka Ivezaj (Frankie, Big Frank), 40, Queens, NY.
- Angelo DiPietro (Fat Angelo), 48, Hopewell Junction, NY. Former owner of Sue's Rendezvous, a strip club in Mount Vernon, NY. He is accused of being a salaried employee of the organization and is charged with racketeering. Prosecutors said he was fired for stealing from the crime group.
Defendant, Gjelosh Lelcaj, pleaded guilty to racketeering after jury selection was completed on Tuesday, Sept 27, 2005. The other 15 indicted individuals of "The Rudaj Organization" have or will be tried, with one individual, Miri Patani, still remaining at large. It will be interesting to see if any of them testify at this trial.
Prosecutors said that Rudaj and his friend Colotti broke off from the Gambinos after Phil Loscalzo died in the early 1990s. Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gruenstein said their goal was "to become one day, they hoped, a sixth family."
The NY Daily News said:
federal prosecutors are claiming the Gambinos and the Lucheses - among the most bloodthirsty crime families the city has ever known - are just a bunch of pansies...
"The Gambino crime family simply could not stand in the way of the Rudaj organization, and the Rudaj organization took great pride in that," prosecutor Benjamin Gruenstein said.
They also pushed the Lucchese crime family out of Astoria, Queens, prosecutors said, taking over gambling clubs the Luccheses had run for years.
Small discrepancies come out of these reports. For example, how can the Feds claim that Mr. Rudaj is a criminal kingpin or the new John Gotti if he just "fired" Mr. DiPietro for stealing from the group? Wouldn't a kingpin inflict something a bit more serious than a piercing Donald Trump look and a "you're fired" for stealing from the family till? What's going on here?
One new piece of information that Rudaj's lawyer, James Kousouros, provided is that Mr. Rudaj is "a legitimate businessman, owner of Morris Park Games, which sells foosball games, pool tables and gambling machines to bars and clubs throughout the city." Here's the address:
Morris Park Games, Inc.
840 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY (New York) 10462-3615
Phone: (718) 892-9004
Google Map for Morris Park Games, Inc.
As for Mr. Kousouros's quoted remarks, someone needs to explain how it's legitimate to sell "gambling machines" to New York City bars and clubs? Thought the only forms of gambling that are allowed are the state lottery and off-track betting (OTB), plus the occasional informal game of bingo. Help!
Also, Mr. Rudaj's lawyer, James Kousouros, should ditch the "legitimate businessman" description. Hollywood has turned that tired cliche into a Mafia calling card. Call Mr. Rudaj an honest citizen, a steady Eddie, a taxpayer, a hard working immigrant, or a small business owner, just please don't say "legitimate businessman."
Mafia turns scaredy-cat [NY Daily News, Oct. 9, 2005]
Albanian mob trial opens [Journal News, Sept. 28, 2005]
Gangs of New York: Rudaj vs. Gambinos [TJN, Dec. 15, 2004]
Albanian Mafia Boss Denied Bail [TJN, Dec. 10, 2004]
New Mafia Gangs of New York fly below the radar screen [TJN, Nov. 15, 2004]
The Rudaj Organization aka: The Albanian Mafia [TJN, Nov. 1, 2004]