Categotry Archives: Criminals


Marvin M. Mitchelson

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Categories: Criminals, Hollywood, Law, Military

mmitchelson.jpgMarvin Morris Mitchelson, a divorce lawyer for the rich and famous, died on Sept. 18 of cancer. He was 76.
The Detroit native was the only son of immigrant parents. Mitchelson served in the Navy as a medical corpsman, then earned degrees from UCLA and Southwestern University School of Law. He opened his own Los Angeles law practice in 1957.
After handling a wide variety of cases, Mitchelson earned national attention in 1963 for winning the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Douglas v. California, which guaranteed legal representation for indigent defendants appealing their sentences. However, it was his skill at deftly negotiating divorces that earned him a place among the Hollywood elite.
In his first celebrity divorce case, Mitchelson represented Pamela Mason, actor James Mason’s wife. She won a $1.5 million settlement, which was an unheard of amount in 1964. Over the next four decades, Mitchelson worked on cases involving Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hugh Hefner, Robert De Niro, Mick Jagger, Joan Collins and Mike Tyson.
Mitchelson also represented Michelle Triola, Lee Marvin’s former live-in girlfriend, when she sued for half of the actor’s $3.6 million income. Although the couple never wed, Triola felt she was entitled to these assets. In 1976, the California Supreme Court ruled that unmarried, cohabitating partners could legally seek property and assets upon separation if a written or oral contract existed, and that judges could determine whether cohabitating conduct equaled an implied contract. The Marvin v. Marvin case led to the coining of the phrase “palimony.” Triola eventually won a judgment for $104,000, but the state appeals court later overturned it.
Mitchelson’s high-class hobnobbing and jet-set lifestyle ended in 1988 when the State Bar of California charged him with six incidents of misconduct. Sotheby’s sued him for more than $1 million, then the Internal Revenue Service went after him for back taxes. He was convicted in 1993 of four felony counts of tax fraud for hiding nearly $2 million in income. After exhausting all of his appeals and declaring bankruptcy, Mitchelson served two years in federal prison, where he ran the law library and wrote appeals for inmates. The California State Bar allowed him to resume his law practice in 2000.
Mitchelson was married to the same woman for 45 years.


Michael Corbitt


Categories: Criminals, Law

Michael Corbitt lived a double life. Although he was a police chief in suburban Chicago, Corbitt also spent his entire law enforcement career working for the Mob.

Corbitt was 21 when he joined the Willow Springs, Ill., police force in 1965. A self-described “crooked cop,” he went from ignoring the nefarious deeds of “the Outfit” to actively participating in them. Corbitt was the town’s police chief from 1973 to 1981, then worked as an investigator for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department from 1981 to 1987. But he also moonlighted as a bodyguard, courier and driver for Sam “Momo” Giancana, one of the area’s most powerful crime bosses.

When Dianne Masters, a prominent college trustee and the wife of a mob attorney, disappeared in 1982, Corbitt resigned from the police department. Her body was found inside the truck of a Cadillac at the bottom of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal nine months later. Masters’ head was crushed and two .22-caliber bullets were found in her skull. Corbitt and two others, including her husband Alan, were indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in 1988. All three were convicted a year later.

Corbitt was serving a 20-year sentence in the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center when he learned that members of the Mob had ordered a hitman to kill him and one of his sons. In response, he became an informant for the F.B.I. Although he faced additional racketeering charges, Corbitt’s information and cooperation earned him a reduced sentence. He was paroled in 1998.

Once he got out of the joint, Corbitt joined forces with true crime writer Sam Giancana, the nephew of Momo Giancana, and penned a bestselling tell-all book. “Double Deal: The Inside Story of Murder, Unbridled Corruption and the Cop Who Was a Mobster,” was released in 2003. His story also served as the basis for the 1992 TV movie “Deadly Matrimony.”

Corbitt died on July 27 of lung cancer. He was 60.

Listen to an Interview With Corbitt on WNYC


Raymond Ferritto


Categories: Criminals

Mob hit man Raymond Ferritto died on May 10 of congestive heart failure. He was 75.

A native of Erie, Pa., Ferritto was hired by the Cleveland Mob in 1977 to kill Danny Greene, a member of the Irish Mob. Godfather James “Jack White” Licavoli and Underboss Angelo “Big Ange” Lonardo were in a turf war with Greene. When they learned he planned to visit his dentist, Licavoli and Lonardo contracted Ferritto to assassinate him.

While Greene was getting his teeth examined, Ferritto and Ronald “The Crab” Carabbia planted a bomb in the passenger side door of his car. As the Irish mobster opened the door to his car, Carabbia triggered the bomb and blew up the vehicle, killing Greene.

Artist Debbie Spotz saw Ferritto at the scene of the bombing and drew a detailed sketch of his face. She gave the rendition and Ferritto’s license plate number to her father, a local police officer. The state of Ohio used the sketch and other evidence to indict Licavoli, Lonardo, Ferritto, Carabbia and 15 other members of the Cleveland Family.

After his arrest, Ferritto heard that the Mob had taken a contract out on him. So he cut a deal, turned state’s witness and testified in the 1978 trial. On the stand, Ferritto admitted to being hired by the Cleveland Mob family and participating in Greene’s murder. Carabbia and his associate, Pasquale “Butchie” Cisternino, were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Everyone else walked. Cisternino died behind bars in 1990 and Carabbia was paroled in 2002.

Ferritto, who also claimed responsibility for the 1969 slaying of Cleveland gangster Julius Anthony Petro, served less than four years in prison for both killings. He retired from the “business” in 2000, and moved to Florida.


Gaetano Badalamenti


Categories: Criminals

Gaetano Badalamenti, who was described by federal authorities as the “boss of all bosses” of the Sicilian Mafia, died on April 29 from cardiac arrest. He was 80.
Born in Cinisi, Italy, Badalamenti served in the Italian Armed Forces Infantry Division during World War II. Once Sicily was liberated, he joined the Sicilian Cosa Nostra. Badalamenti eventually became known as Don Tano, a member of the “triumvirate” that ran the Sicilian Mafia; Luciano Liggio and Stefano Bontade were the other two bosses.
When Salvatore “Toto” Riina rose to power, Badalamenti fled to Brazil, then Spain. In the mid-1970s, he joined forces with organized crime figures in New York who were using pizza parlors to smuggle $1.65 billion worth of heroin and cocaine from the Middle East and South America.
In 1987, the smuggling ring’s members were charged with conspiracy to import and distribute narcotics, conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), participation in a money laundering conspiracy and various substantive money laundering offenses. Prosecutors also claimed ring members were responsible for dozens of murders in Sicily and the United States.
The trial of Badalamenti and his 21 co-conspirators took 17 months and included testimony from more than 400 witnesses. Louis Freeh, who went on to became director of the FBI, was one of the lead prosecutors in the “Pizza Connection” case. Badalamenti was acquitted on the narcotics and RICO conspiracy counts, and convicted for money laundering. He was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison.
As Badalamenti was serving time, an Italian court convicted and sentenced him to life in prison in absentia for the 1978 murder of a disc jockey. Then in 2002, he and former prime minister Giulio Andreotti were acquitted of involvement in the 1979 murder of journalist Mino Pecorelli.


José Giovanni

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Categories: Criminals, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

José Giovanni, a former Parisian death-row inmate who became a famous director and crime writer, died on April 24 from a brain hemorrhage. He was 80.
Giovanni was a member of the French resistance during World War II, then joined a criminal gang run by his Corsican uncle. He was only 22 years old when he and his older brother were arrested for burglarizing a house in Paris. The homeowner died during the commission of the robbery, and the siblings were arrested and sentenced to death. His brother escaped from prison only to be killed in a fight. After many requests by his father, the French government commuted Giovanni’s sentence to life imprisonment and pardoned him eight years later.
In the late 1950s, Giovanni launched his movie career as a screenwriter. He penned “Du rififi chez les femmes” (The Riff Raff Girls) for director Alex Joffe, and adapted his debut novel, “Le Trou,” (The Hole) into a 1960 film of the same name.
Giovanni also spent 30 years directing films. In 1972, he turned his novel, “La Scoumoune” (The Hitman) into a popular gangster movie. He followed that up with “Deux hommes dans la ville” (Two Men in Town), a drama about an ex-bank robber whose past catches up with him. His final movie, “Mon père, il m’a sauvé la vie” (My Father Saved My Life), which focuses on his father’s tireless efforts to free him from prison, was completed in 2001.

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