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July 11, 2022

It's A Fugazi! The Bond Scheme


fugazi · 1. Artificial, fake. Something that has no substance. · 2. A really bad knockoff, a copy.

Mafia fiction writer extraordinaire Vinnie Teresa's testimony exposed the Boston mafia's participation in stolen and fake bond schemes up and down the Eastern seaboard.

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Lara & Nina

Transcript

Lara:

 

Hi all! Last week Nina and I discussed Butchie Miceli in the later half of the episode. In addition to being a thief and according to Mafia fiction writer Vinnie Teresa the leader of a Gambino hit squad, Butchie was also a peddler of stolen and counterfeit bonds.  The bond scheme would eventually lead to the exposure of Vinnie Teresa as an informant and to Vinnie becoming a cooperating witness.



Nina:

 

You know the past few times you’ve mentioned Vinnie, you haven’t dropped f-bombs like you normally would.



Lara:

 

I’m beyond over Vinnie.



Nina:

 

Thank goodness! Moving on from that.

 

Today we’ll also be discussing another one of your childhood favorites, Marvin Karger.



Lara:

 

You have to say it like an old time wise guy from Boston! Mahhhvin Kahhgahh….



Nina:

 

I’ll leave the imitations to you!



Lara:

 

Thanks!

 

Involved in the bond schemes were also more than a few of the men from Ralphie Lamattina’s Nite Lite lounge. If you haven’t listened to that episode check it out. For our regular listeners I don’t think we need to say the link is in the show notes.

Nina:

 

For sure. 

 

Ralphie’s brother Joe Black and Phil Waggenheim were also wrapped up in the bonds.

 

And Marvin Karger was the nephew of Louis and Max Fox. I’ve been dying to tell Louis’ story in particular and now I have my chance!



Lara:

 

Sorry for the delay! That is totally on me! We planned on doing a holiday bonus episode about the back in the day bookies like Louis, Abe Sarkis and Adolfo Gravalese, but my schedule was a nightmare. One of these days! But today you can share with our listeners about both of Marvin’s uncles.

 

As for Marvin’s connection to dad, Marvin too was wrapped up with Jack and Pro.

 

And as we’ve continued researching, I have my suspicions that dad was more wrapped up with Vinnie Teresa than I realized.



Nina:

 

Well that makes sense. I can only imagine the stories those two concocted together.



Lara:

 

Pulitzer Prize worthy!



Nina:

 

How do you want to start today?



Lara:

 

Let’s go back to the case we briefly mentioned in our last episode involving Butchie and Frank Capizzi. Then as we move forward we can get into Louis Fox’s and Marvin’s background.

 

On February 14, 1962 Butchie, Capizzi and Louis Viscito were arrested in a New York City hotel with $1,072,000 worth of General Motors Acceptance Corp bonds. On October 25th of that year  a total of 13 indictments were handed down. The authorities claimed that the counterfeiting ring had printed upwards of $4 million worth of bonds. By June of 1965, all of the other defendants had pleaded guilty except Capizzi and Butchie, but in August of that year, Capizzi’s luck ran out, and he was sentenced to three years. After that the case against Butchie just vanished. His lawyer claimed that the government dropped the charges because their case against him was flimsy.



Nina:

 

But the rumor was that Butchie cooperated with the authorities and put away his co-defendants. 

 

Before we continue with the bonds, I’ll give Louis Fox’s history. Louis and his brother Max both got their start working for Charles “King” Solomon, a famous racketeer who controlled a large portion of the narcotics trade, prostitution and illegal gambling in the Boston area during the 1920's and '30's. Solomon was also tight with Dan Carroll who you might remember from our episode about the founding fathers of the Boston mob. Carroll was a boxing promoter with ties to Fillipo Bruccola. 

Solomon entrusted Louis Fox with Revere and the surrounding area, and Max with the New Bedford area. Solomon was killed in front of Boston's Cotton Club in 1933, just a few months before the repeal of prohibition when the Coconut Grove that he owned transformed from speakeasy to a legit nightclub. A decade later the Grove would be the site of a deadly fire that took the lives of 492 patrons and employees. After Solomon’s death the Fox brothers branched out on their own.

 

Lara:

Max Fox was notorious for hijacking the trucks of rival gangs back in his bootlegging days. Raymond Patriarca was also famous for hijackings. Listen to episode 12 to hear more about Raymond’s early adventures. Fox’s most infamous hijacking became known as the Bergeron Farm Shootout which involved nearly 50 men including a young unknown at the time gangster named Raymond Patriarca. Four unwitting Dartmouth cops happened upon the melee after being sent out to the farm to investigate chicken thieves.

 

Nina:

Can you imagine their surprise?! 

The farm shootout landed Max in the can for a year. He stepped back from his illegal dealings over the years he invested in real estate He passed away in 1966.

There was another brother Abraham who also fell afoul of the law at least once. In 1950, he was arrested for assaulting a man named Jacob Strauss, but Abraham was found not guilty.

When Louis passed away the headlines read, “Louis Fox, Financial Wizard for the Massachusetts Mob, Now Dead.” And the pathological liar, Vinnie Teresa wrote, “Louis Fox was the Meyer Lansky of Massachusetts.”

 

Lara:

But the Jewish community remembered Louis for his philanthropy. “Louis may have been a mobster, but he was our mobster.”

He was much more than that. Louis built the Wonderland Dog Track and amusement center in Revere, and owned hotels, theaters and shopping centers.

In October of 1963 Louis died in a motor vehicle accident in Norwood. The headline read, “Noted Sportsman Killed in Crash.” 

 

Nina:

It would later be revealed that Louis wasn’t alone in the car at the time of the accident. He was accompanied by a young lady.

 

Lara:

Let’s not speculate about that!

 

Nina:

Ok, no gossip. Louis left behind a sizable estate. His sister Sayde Karger and his attorney were named the executors. Which brings us to Marvin Karger!

Marvin was born on November 9, 1933 to Julian Karger and Sayde Fox in Revere, MA. His Uncle Louis’ stomping grounds. Prior to 1969, the only time Marvin’s name made the papers was when he was fund raising for Francis X. Bellotti’s political campaign.

 

Lara:

 

And the only notoriety his parents received was when their house was broken into in June of 1965. While they were in New York City the home was ransacked and mink coats and jewelry were stolen from their Swampscott home. Marvin’s younger brother discovered the break-in. 



Nina:

 

I still kind of think that was a Marvin job. Stealing from his own parents. Anything’s possible.

 

The following year from the middle of July to late August 5000 shares of IBM stock were stolen from the brokerage firm, Hayden Stone. The public wasn’t aware of the theft until two months later when 600 shares were discovered in Montreal. And that story only made the papers up in Canada and not in the US. 

 

Two Canadian citizens were charged with illegal possession of the shares, although they’d only held the shares for about a 24 hour period. One of the accused was an accountant named Robert Landori Hoffman. He claimed that he had taken the certificates to a bank, only to discover that they’d been stolen. The other defendant was described as a textbook salesman. What exactly his involvement was in the scheme was unclear. But according to a CIA report, Robert Landori Hoffman had made a trip to Cuba six months earlier. During the layover in Key West, Hoffman had admitted to an informant that he was a secret agent for the Canadian government. He further stated that he hoped to have something important for his organization when he returned home from Cuba, though he apparently did not say what. He was half in the wrapper, so maybe take it with a grain of salt, but Hoffman would be arrested and held for nearly a month in Cuba two years later. 



Lara:

 

We were going to gloss over this story, but we couldn’t resist.



Nina: 

 

Anything that involves spies and wiseguys is too much for either of us to resist!




Lara:

 

That’s why we have to get our next podcast up and running. Spies and Wiseguys!

 

Back to reality or the surreal as the case may be. The alleged textbook salesman, Arthur Davies was also some kind of a spy. 



Nina:

 

And “an ardent communist!” 



Lara:

 

And one of the first Allied journalists to enter Hitler’s bunker at the end of World War II!



Nina:

 

His real name was Rudolph Shohan. He was born in Smorgon, Russia, and in 1917 he and his father escaped the revolution and settled in Boston. There he found himself disenchanted with the West supposedly after the Sacco and Vanzetti trial in 1927, so the natural thing to do was become a commie!



Lara:

 

Back to 1966. In August a married couple from Boston who were believed to be linked to Davies, Samuel Irving Green and his wife Gloria were arrested in Toronto. Supposedly the FBI tipped the authorities off. But as usual in Boston, the Greenes were out on bail three times over when they got picked up the fourth time. 

 

They plead guilty in September to charges of stealing $55,000 from Gloria Greene’s employer over a 15 month period. The case was continued to November 8th, after the Greenes said they’d make restitution for $25,000 within 30 days.

 

I guess the way they intended to make restitution was by stealing more money because Samuel Greene was arrested again the following month. He was indicted again in early November. This time for attempting to cash a forged Travelers check and receiving stolen goods. 

 

The following day the FBI arrested him at a broker’s office in Boston, trying to sell more stolen bonds.

 

Finally, the following March, Greene was sentenced to two years in a Canadian prison.




Nina:

 

Backing up just a little. In February of 1967, 2600 shares of the IBM stock valued at $1 million were discovered by the FBI in a safety deposit box in Harrisburg, PA.

 

Two months later Ralphie Lamattina was transferred out of the Norfolk prison after several run-ins with Joe Barboza. Barboza was shipped out to a different prison. Ralphie was doing time for being an accessory after the fact in the murders of Tommy Deprisco and Tash Bratsos at the Nite Lite lounge on November 15, 1966. Ralphie came forward and pleaded guilty to lesser charges and in turn took the heat off of the others, including his brother Joe Black, who were involved in the slayings. Deprisco and Bratsos were shaking down wiseguys trying to bail their boss, Barboza out of prison. Needless to say Barboza took the opportunity to torment Ralphie while they were both in Norfolk including threatening to poison his food and standing over Ralphie with a hatchet while he slept.



Lara:

 

In September 1967, Hayden Stone reported another theft to the authorities. This time it was 56 T-bills that valued at $1.52M. A stop order was placed on them, and the company claimed it was “fully insured for the loss.” The newspapers tried to make it sound like the thefts were a common occurrence, citing several examples of recent alleged thefts, ranging from half a million to 2.5 million dollars.

 

Six months later four men were arrested in NY. Three of the men were charged with trying to sell a $100,000 T-Bill to the fourth man. The cops watched as the exchange took place on a NYC sidewalk. The T-Bill was one of those stolen from Hayden Stone in September. Arrested were Max Kamin and his son Stuart, Michael Parker and Seymour Siskind.



Nina:

 

They only found the guys through a private investigator because one of the men was going through a nasty divorce. 

 

Lara:

 

Talk about getting lucky!

 

Nina:

 

I think that’s the case in most of these stories. It certainly wasn’t their investigative skills.

 

Siskind was an interesting character. Seymour Siskind aka “Big Seymour” and “Sy the Jew” was born in Brooklyn on March 11, 1913. Siskind had a record going back to his teens, and like Vinnie Teresa he was involved in gambling junkets to San Juan, Puerto Rico.



Lara:

 

There were all sorts of things happening in San Juan. Remember episode 41? At least two of those guys were facing charges in San Juan.

 

Ok, back to Massachusetts and the bonds! In October of 1968 a Grand Jury was convened in Essex County. Called in to testify were Phil Waggenheim, Vinnie Teresa, and Frank Balliro, among others. The press noted the heavy police presence at the courthouse. Two banks on the North Shore lost over $500,000 because of loans that were issued using counterfeit or stolen bonds as collateral. 

 

18 men were indicted in the middle of November on charges of manipulating bank funds for loan sharking. All of the indictments involved loans issued by the Lynn Safe Deposit and Trust Company on Market Street in Lynn.



Nina:

 

And all the men pleaded innocent, including Richard Donati and Joe Modica. Don Pepino was also informing on himself since he was wired up too. But the Feds have never released those recordings, and they certainly didn’t use it against him. 

 

Frank Balliro was killed in a car accident at 4 in the morning on New Year's Day 1969. His car swerved off of the McClellan Highway in East Boston and hit a retaining wall. It took the firemen half an hour to pull him from the wreckage. The papers blamed his death on the icy roads, but the timing was awfully suspicious.

 

Marvin Karger was arrested on October 21,1969 on charges of the theft and sale of more than $1 million in treasury bills. The papers described Marvin as a Newton Center deli owner. I love the name of the deli! The Onion Roll!



Lara:

 

Karger was arrested a second time the following week on charges of selling a $100,000 T-bill. The t-bill had been reported missing from a NY bank earlier in the week as part of a $13 million loss. Bail was set at $2500.

 

I know that it was always assumed that it was Vinnie who gave them all up, but the 1969 timing on Marvin makes me think of Jack Kelley!



Nina:

 

Wait, will you?!



Lara:

 

Ok, ok!

 

In December of that year, John Cincotti, Karger and Joe Black Lamattina pleaded innocent to charges of selling stolen T-bills. Karger was accused of selling $2 million worth, Cincotti $125,000 worth, and Joe Lamattina a meager $5000. They were all released on bail.

 

Larry Baione, Joe Black, and two other men were arraigned in March of 1970 on charges of receiving stolen property and conspiracy. The stolen property included five $100,000 bonds that had also been stolen from Hayden & Stone. 

 

Joe Black was arraigned again in May of 1970 and charged with transporting more than half a million worth of stolen t bills across state lines. Indicted along with him was Carmen Mastrototaro of Worcester who was a longtime associate of Pinky Panarelli.



Nina:

 

Our listeners might remember that Pinky Panarelli became an FBI informant not too long after Vinnie in the early 1960s.



Lara:

 

More than a few rats in this story.

 

In June of that year, Phil Waggenheim was arrested for transporting and disposing of 655 shares of stolen American Express stock, worth about $43K.

 

Still later that year, Joe Black was indicted on charges of conspiring to transport 900 shares of stolen IBM stock across state lines. A bench warrant was issued for him in November when he failed to appear in court. Joe took it on the lam



Nina:

 

In July, the sentences were handed down and twenty men were convicted mostly on Vinnie Teresa’s testimony. Marvin Karger received 12 years even though he had made a deal with the prosecution for a five year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Karger later appealed. Judge Tauro vacated the sentence in February 1975 and Karger was released for time served. Butchie Miceli was sentenced to 10 years. Carlo Mastrototaro was sent up for nine years.  

 

The following month, the pathological liar, Fat Vinnie, testified in front of a Congressional Committee. He even had to smear Marvin Karger’s father Julian during his testimony calling him a “big time racketeer.” Vinnie continued on with his tale giving details about how Marvin had used the bonds to obtain a bank loan totalling $26,000. 



Lara:

 

Oh and the story about a fictitious maitre d’ and counterfeit credit cards. I’m not going down a Vinnie rabbit hole.

 

Phil Waggenheim was sentenced to 8 years in prison on September 15th, 1971. In November of 1976 just 24 hours before Phil was to be paroled the US Justice Department blocked his release. His lawyer Joe Balliro appealed their decision, but the appeal was denied and Phil had to serve out his sentence. 



Nina:

 

Joe Black would remain a fugitive until January of 1978 when he was arrested using the name Salvatore Spiga claiming he was an Italian citizen who didn’t speak English. He was hiding in Italy all of that time and even did 15 months in the can there. Somehow he managed to exit and re-enter the country without a passport. He was probably hanging out with Louis Manacchio on the ski slopes! His attorney, Joe Balliro said that Lamatinna sought legal help from the US Consular service in Italy but they turned him down. The Massachusetts judge ordered him held on half a million dollars bail, but he wasn’t locked up for long.



Lara:

 

I love that story. It’s a good match for Frank Capizzi’s tale about how when he would listen to someone speaking English he would hear Sicilian. Amazing!

 

Ok, our listeners are getting off easy today with a short episode!



Nina:

 

No, we're getting off easy! Extra time to play in the sun.



Lara:

 

I wish! As always, thank you all for listening! Just a couple of more episodes until the end of season one! Next week, we’ll be discussing the end of Jack Red Kelley’s criminal career!



Nina:

 

I like to think of it more as a semi-retirement of sorts. 



Lara:

 

Now you’re teasing our listeners!



Nina:

 

Had to get it in there!



Lara:

 

I don’t blame you!

 

Ok, hope you join us next week.



Nina  & Lara:

 

BYE!!!