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A sordid tale of two mob bosses

Published: Sun, September 8, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

James “Whitey” Bulger, murderous boss of the Irish-American organized crime gang in South Boston, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Lenine “Lenny” Strollo, murderous boss of the La Cosa Nostra in the Mahoning Valley, is spending his twilight years in the comfort of his suburban home.

Bulger, who viewed the killing of rivals and others who displeased him as just another day in the office, will die with only his demons at his bedside.

Strollo, who publicly acknowledged that murder was an integral part of his business, will die surrounded by family and perhaps friends (those he didn’t betray.)

And then there’s the issue of their ill-gotten gains, their blood money.

Bulger, who was convicted a month ago of a slew of organized crime-related charges, including 11 murders, had $800,000 in cash confiscated by the federal government.

Strollo, who pleaded guilty to organized-crime related charges but then struck a deal with the feds to become a government witness, was permitted to not only keep his Canfield home, but did not have to give up any of the wealth he accumulated over the many decades that he plied his trade of death and destruction.

There is a common denominator in this tale of two mobsters: The Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Both men had a close relationship with the FBI, but while Strollo benefited from it, Bulger is paying the price for it.

What Omerta?

When the Valley’s Mafia boss was arrested as part of a wide-ranging federal investigation into government corruption and organized crime in the area, his blood oath of Omerta was quickly forgotten.

Facing the prospect of a life sentence in the federal penitentiary, the man who was merciless in dealing with his enemies and rivals begged for mercy.

His offer to tell all about the Mafia in the Mahoning Valley and in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago and even New York City was too good for the feds to pass up. The deal that was ultimately struck resulted in Strollo spending 12 years of easy time (for a cold-hearted criminal), during which time he testified in trials of individuals directly or indirectly involved in organized crime activities. He also provided the FBI and federal prosecutors with inside information about the mob.

The federal government showed its appreciation by letting Strollo leave prison as rich as he was the day he went in.

Bulger, on the other hand, was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list from 1994, when he disappeared after being tipped off that federal charges of racketeering were imminent, until 2011, when he was arrested in California.

The feds threw the book at him. Not only had Bulger made fools of them by being on the lam for so long, but he publicly discussed a dirty little secret about the FBI.

The boss of the Irish-American mob for two decades-plus was able to stay in business so long because he was one of the biggest informants for the FBI. He provided information about the Italian Mafia, which was the federal government’s main focus. In return, Bulger was permitted to conduct his business of murder and mayhem without fear of arrest.

In fact, it was his FBI handler, Special Agent John Connolly, who tipped off the crime boss to the racketeering charges that were about to be filed.

Connolly is serving 50 years in the federal pen for crimes linked to the Irish mob, including murder.

Given its unclean hands, the agency is under pressure to prove that the deals it makes with unsavory characters result in bigger fish being caught.

Tap on the wrist

For instance, what information did Strollo provide that justified his being given a tap on the wrist for the crimes he committed for more than a quarter century?

Or, what information is former Mahoning County Treasurer Lisa Antonini providing to the feds that justifies her being given a pass on her sentencing for taking money from a businessman and not declaring it?

Antonini pleaded guilty in June 2011, but U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi postponed sentencing on the recommendation of federal prosecutors.

Antonini will receive a reduced sentence if she fully cooperates with any federal, state or local investigations or prosecutions.

In a sense, the FBI’s reputation is on the line in the Valley, given its deal with Strollo and its kid-glove treatment of Antonini.


1NoBS(2647 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

For those unfamiliar with Omerta (deSouza isn't going to tell you what it is), read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omert%C3%A0

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2youngstownmafia(2 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Why doesn't Bertram de Souza tell you how he got his position on Vindicator back when he was on Joey Naples payroll. By the way the Feds made Lenny Strollo totally broke today again Bertram de Souza writes without the facts.

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3youngstownmafia(2 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Sorry but I must correct my response on Sunday Bertram de Souza wasn't on Joey Naples payroll. Joey bailed out the Vindicator when they were broke, through an advertisement arrangement, pumping thousands of dollars there way. Which helped, Bertram de Souza keep his job, with the Vindicator. Dante Strollo who had helped the Feds for 50 years, got a one year prison term and stole all of the liquid cash and sold the families assets from Lenny, which broke him. Dante still has control, of the Campbell gambling rackets, with the protection of the Feds.

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4Roger_Thornhill(1046 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Feds behavior has been pretty poor.

Sure, Antonini did wrong, but she made her guilty plea. So sentence her already and let her get on with her life. It has been almost 2.5 years. She probably would be out of jail (and she may not even get jail) or off probation by now. Not a fan of stringing her or anyone else along like this.

Feds should have given the tapes they had to the state. Or they should say why they did not.

Feds should also say whether they are or are not done with the Oak Hill defendants. If they are then tell them and the public for God's sake. Feds did exactly that for public official #14 in Clevelend, so they can't say they don't disclose that.

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5MVB1977(3 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

First off, Lenny Strollo is far from broke. He is currently residing at 3900 Mercedes Place, Canfield, OH in a condo under his sister's name, Adema Strollo. Danny is not running any gambling, what are you smoking Youngstownmafia? The reason Strollo isn't in prison for life is because the Feds wanted the crooked politicians, judges and cops. Besides the guys on trial, who did Lenny testify against? He gave info on Sonny Ciancutti from Pittsburgh that led to a minor gambling arrest. He didn't testify against NY, Chicago or Cleveland and Pittsburgh. He testified against Bernie and the two shines. Lenny has over $6 million in liquid cash as well as any other money he washed with Vic Calautti as well as casinos and hotels in Puerto Rico.

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6MVB1977(3 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Bertram should have been let go by the Vindicator years ago, as his material never is creative or well researched. I've emailed him several times to inform him that the closest thing to the Godfather in Youngstown was Dominic Mallamo (Jimmy Prato's uncle), yet Bert continues to foam at the mouth and report wrong information. Bert has no idea who the players were in Pittsburgh. All he talks about is Naples/Strollo. Naples got what he deserved, as his flashy ways and arrogance got him clipped not long after he and Strollo became co-bosses of the area. Lenny was stronger when it came to politicians and corrupting public officials. At the end of the day, Joey Naples and Lenny Strollo danced to the tune of Jimmy Prato and Dominic Mallamo. Naples' family, especially his nephews, have never left the Youngstown area and still like to ride on his last name and coat tails. It's almost as if they can't leave Youngstown because they wouldn't have an identity. They talk about Joey like they were proud of him. At the days end, he made the same critical mistake that his brothers made...greed and advertising who and what he was. The mansion he was building didn't go over well with Mike Genovese and company from Pittsburgh, as they liked things a little more quiet.

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