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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia Trial - Week 8

Waiting..waiting...waiting. There has been no news about the Albanian Mafia trial, aka "The Rudaj Organization," since October 19th. The trial started Sept. 26th and there has been a grand total of four news stories about it by our count.

The last two reports were from the Westchester County based The Journal News:

Operation of Westchester gambling dens detailed at trial
[Journal News, Oct. 14, 2005]
Defense lawyers grill informant in NYC organized-crime trial [Journal News, Oct. 19, 2005]

A key prosecution witness last month was Maurizio "Mo" Sanginiti. He testified for 3 1/2 days before defense lawyers began their cross-examination. Sanginite said he ran a gambling house and an illegal sports bookmaking operation in Port Chester, NY, for the Rudaj group. The Journal News reported:

The book in Port Chester took in $250,000 a week in illegal sports bets when Sanginiti ran the operation in 2002, he testified. The Dobbs Ferry man has pleaded guilty to extortion and gambling, among other charges, and is testifying in hopes of receiving a much lighter sentence than the life imprisonment he could face. Sanginiti said Rudaj and "The Corporation" got 20 percent of the profits for providing muscle to the endeavor.

"They would protect us if we were owed money and if someone tried to move in on the territory," he said. If the operation lost any money, Sanginiti paid that out of his own pocket, he said. "The Corporation" was in the business of making money, not covering losses. The money was transported every week to Cafe Roma on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx, which served as headquarters for "The Corporation," he said.

Sanginiti also testified that he ran a gambling house on Adee Street in Port Chester for Rudaj.

Marathon card games at the Adee Street den would take in as much as $15,000, he said.

Cafe Roma would apparently be just down the street from Morris Park Games (840 Morris Park Avenue) in the Bronx. Morris Park Games is Rudaj's game machine business. However, a basic search doesn't show a public address for a "Cafe Roma" on Morris Ave? Does that mean that "Cafe Roma" and the game company are at the same address? Butta bing! It's hard to imagine bags of cash being exchanged in a "public" restuarant.

Update Jan 5, 2005: The New York Times finally decided to report about the Rudaj case. In a story published on Jan. 3rd 2006 a reporter from the NY Times visited the small low profile Cafe Roma on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx:
There is a small cafe on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx where Albanian soap operas play on a large-screen television set. It is the Cafe Roma, and an uneasy quiet hangs in the air.

The cigarette smoke is thick, and stacks of playing cards lie unused on the bar. The bartender, a sallow giant with a mustache, plays chess between serving espressos and sugar-sweetened snacks. The bartender will not talk about it, but the authorities say the Cafe Roma was the headquarters of the Corporation, a violent, up-and-coming gang that had a bold objective: to become New York's sixth crime family, one headed not by Italian-Americans but by Albanian immigrants.
The story goes on to say:
In this country, investigators say, the numbers of such [Albanian] gangs are still unknown but are likely to be concentrated in several states where Albanians have settled in the past few decades, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Only a tiny fraction of Albanian immigrants actually belong to criminal gangs, investigators say, adding that they start by stealing from their own communities. The more sophisticated and daring of the groups go on to more profitable and violent work, often as low-level enforcers for established crime families.
2nd Update:

The TrueHoop blog at ESPN caught some more information from the NY Daily News regarding Maurizio "Mo" Sanginiti and his criminal activities, which even involved an NBA player.
From the witness stand in a Manhattan federal courtroom, Maurizio Sanginiti, 40, has claimed he arranged for a high school friend of [Celtic Player Mark] Blount to take his SAT for him and once had him injected with steroids to bulk up his skinny frame. "He couldn't get the score on his SAT, which I believe had to be an 800 or better, so we decided, me and him, to get somebody else to take the test for him," he told prosecutor Timothy Treanor. Sanginiti is the government's lead witness in a racketeering conspiracy case involving an Albanian-led gang accused of wresting control of Bronx and Queens social clubs from Italian crime families. As a cooperator he's been forced to reveal all other crimes he's committed, including those involving Blount.
He also says Blount was given money by various colleges. Who knows if it's true. The accuser could be seen to have some crediblity problems:
Sanginiti's money troubles had worsened. He was running a sports book operation for the Albanians as well as weekly Texas Hold 'Em games. He said he was in the hole for more than $250,000 in gambling losses. He was arrested last year for kidnapping a man he said took $465,000 in cash from him and his family and invested it in a failed Ponzi scheme.
trial links:
Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia Trial - Week 3 [TJN, Oct. 11, 2005]
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]