Is Steve Lenehan worthy of informant status?
Scott Deitche began promoting his Steve Lenehan project by attempting to justify Lenehan's importance in the underworld by claiming the former mobster was responsible for 26 mobster's decisions to plea bargain out of fear of the damage that Lenehan would inflict with his testimony.
When the truth came out- that Scott Deitche grossly over-exaggerated the truth- he angrily replied: "I never lied! I explained what the justice department conveyed to me. If you guys have a problem, take it up with them!"
All due respect to people's intelligence, the justice department, or any department for that matter, is not going to contain that information. Scott Deitche cannot call Agent William Evanina in New Jersey and have him keyword Lenehan's name in a computer system and receive an answer like a calculator. The truth of the matter is, determining the reason why a defendant takes a plea is nearly impossible. However what is known is that the majority of organized crime figures accept pleas.
When someone is indicted and a defendant pleads not guilty, what follows is a long, lengthy and expensive legal process where the defendants build to maintain their innocence. On the opposing end, the district attorney builds theirs and has the power to add or include additional charges to an indictment. Instead of going up against that, most accept plea bargains which will satisfy the prosecution by adding to their winning record, satisfy the state by saving court costs, save themselves a great deal of financial debt and most importantly, serve the least amount of time possible. A deal is made with the prosecutor that the defendant will plead guilty and the defending attorney, like any good businessman, bargains and negotiates a deal that both sides are satisfied with. There have been mobsters that have faced 50 years imprisonment that have only served 5 year sentences through pleading out.
But the question still stands: Was Steve Lenehan a formidable force terrifying enough to influence the defense to accept pleas? A yes or no answer would be redundant, then Jilly Scibetta wouldn't have a reason for nodding off when he sees a body of words larger than two sentences thanks to a 10th grade education. However, what is known is that Scott Deitche contacted the justice department and inquired as to how many cases Lenehan testified in and how many convictions resulted from that case. After receiving the number, Scott D just credited the total 26 to Lenehan even though Lenehan was often a small co-witness in a series of events. Here is a brief summary of several cases Lenehan cooperated in which will present in a new light Scott Deitche's atrocious researching skills and make one think twice next time Steve Lenehan posts as Picasso and explains how "Stevie" hurt "over 30" guys.
The Genovese DePhillips Organization
In August of 1995, six members of the Genovese Crime Family's New Jersey crew were indicted on a 21 count massive multi-million dollar gambling and loansharking operation
which was said to be conducted out of a Newark-area social club and an apartment on Division Street in Manhattan. Allegedly, millions were generated by taking wagers on sporting events, and then charging 156 percent interest on bettors who fell into debt to the organization. Among those indicted were:
Thomas "Pee Wee" DePhillips, 68, of Bellville, New Jersey. The alledged leader of the Genovese Jersey crew since 1992 when former capo Andrew Gerardo retired to Florida and DePhillips began overseeing the day to day activities.
Salvatore Cetrulo, 56, of North Caldwell
Joseph Cetrulo, 58, of Wayne
Philip DeNoia, 51, of Bloomfield
Mario Mauriello, 67, of West Caldwell
Vincent "Skippy" Squatrito, 51, of Belleville: a former police officer
The case was largely built around the testimony of Ronald Castellano, who served as an enforcer under the Cetrulo brothers. Ronald Castellano agreed to cooperate in probe by providing information and wore a wire while attending group meetings.
Castellano became an informant due to leads provided by Steve Lenehan which lead the FBI to monitor Castellano's activities where they witnessed him drive a loanshark victim to a remote area of Branch Brook Park in Newark where he stabbed him in the stomach.
The fact of the matter is Lenehan had virtually no access to DePhillips or his crew, it was Castellano who provided the "inside" information, not Lenehan. Thomas DePhillips would be sentenced to six and half years and allowed to serve his time at home.
Lenehan's achievement: Tripped up Ronald Castellano. Now can Lenehan be directly linked to the DePhillips organization? Was he privy to inside information? Absolutely not!
The Bonanno-backed Bank Robbery Attempt
On August of 1996, Frank "Chickie" Fabio dined in a Las Vegas Casino restaurant unaware that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Being incredibly cheap as most wiseguys are, Fabio tried to leave the restaurant without paying but was stopped by security where they ran an ID check on him and learned that he was wanted by authorities.
Within a month, Chickie Fabio would be sitting next to Salvatore Arena from Miami and Brian Giannolla from Bellville. They all shared one thing in common: they were all part of a crew that tried to rob Chase Manhattan Bank four years prior. Only one man from the crew was missing, Steve Lenehan.
Frank ''Chickie'' Fabio, 54, of Hackettstown, New Jersey.
Salvatore Arena, 48, of Miami Florida.
Frank Fabio faced a 50 year sentence and and a $500,000 fine. Both Arena and Giannolla faced a 25 year sentence and a $500,000 fine. Brian Giannolla would also cooperate and admit to assisting Fabio with planning the plot while Lenehan admitted to being the driver in the plan. Faced with 50 years and a $500 k fine, Fabio and Arena took a plea and were sentenced to only five years and a $250 fine.
This was the only scenario in which Steve Lenehan was partial to the inner workings of the crew and even then he functioned as a lowly driver in the plan, was never involved in the strategy, but he knew enough to provide information tying Sal Arena and Chick Fabio to the Chase Manhattan attempt, combined with their arrest at the location and information from other informants who also knew about the attempted plot which resulted in Lenehan’s initial arrest in 1992.
Is Lenehan responsible in influencing their decisions to plead out? Probably not but we’ll give him SOME credit since he was at least there and involved (albeit at the grunt level.) This was the highlight of his criminal career, the heights he strived for since he was a teenager.
Scooping up Scoop's Crew
In September of 1998 a 22 count racketeering indictment was handed down following a two year investigation on the Jersey faction of the Bruno-Scarfo mob. The indictment contained gambling, racketeering, conspiracy, loansharking and extortion charges and alledged that the gambling ring ran by Joseph "Scoops" Licata charged an interest rate of 50% to losing gamblers.
Gambling, loansharking, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering
Joseph ''Scoops'' Licata, 57, of Florham Park.
Nicholas ''Nicky O'' Olivieri, 52, of Bloomfield
Louis ''Big Lou'' Fazzini, 31, of Belleville
Dennis ''The Fireman'' Christy, 54 of Belleville
James ''Jimmy Fingers'' Polidoro, 28, of Bloomfield
Carmen D'Archi, 40, of Fairfield.
Nicholas ''Nicky O'' Olivieri, 52, of Bloomfield
Louis ''Big Lou'' Fazzini, 31, of Belleville
Both Olivieri and Fazzi were charged with attempted murder of ''Michael F'' on Feb. 20, 1993. Several informants- George Fresolone, Ronald Castellano and Steve Lenehan witnessed the event and collaborated information on the event.
A Gambino associate, Michael Falzone, attempted to extort payment from a restaurant in Union, NJ who was already paying tribute to the Bruno-Scarfo mob. When Scoops Licata was contacted about the incident, Olivieri and Fazzini were dispatched to settle the problem. When Michael F appeared to collect early moring, he was beaten, knocked over the head with a magnum of wine and stabbed by Olivieri and Fazzini. Michael Falzone denied any knowledge on who his assailants where.
All six men would accept plea bargains and receive small sentences in doing so. Despite the fact that Scott Deitche credited every man’s plea to Lenehan, the only men Lenehan had ties to were Olivieri and Fazzini.
Olivieri was faced with 310 years in prison and a four million dollar fine. Instead of pleading innocent and possibly facing that sentence he pled guilty and received 66 months in prison. Had he fought the charges he would have faced FBI surveillance, wiretaps, undercover informants including George Fresolone who recorded their own mob initiations. But according to Scott Deitche, when Nicky O found out Lenehan was making an appearance at the witness stand he dropped his jaw and pled guilty out of fear of Lenehan’s underworld knowledge.
All men plead guilty. Joseph "Scoops" Licata was sentenced to 55 months; Nick Olivieri received 66 months, James Polidoro, 21 months; Dennis Christy, 24 months; and Carmen D’Archi, 18 months.
Lenehan's acheivement: happened to be at the right place at the right time, along with George Fresolone and Ronald Castellano to witness a beating. Lenehan had no contacts to Scoops or the gambling and loansharking ring.
Lucchese Drug Busts
When Steve Lenehan agreed to assist the government, he was paid $500 a week and given
a Lincoln Continental. He also was supplied heroin to sell to other underworld figures.
Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli, 54, of Toms River, a Lucchese family associate was indicted in September of 1996 after
he made several heroin purchases from Steve Lenehan while Lenehan wore a wire.
There are other names of the 26 that were not described because the information simply cannot be found. But among the names not described include Rosario Gangi and Burton Kaplan, two relatively famous underworld figures who are covered in ganglandnews.com. But the question remains: if Lenehan was the cause of these two men taking plea bargains and is ultimately responsible for their incarceration why the hell isn’t he mentioned anywhere in reference to them?
Steve Lenehan was as mediocre an informant as he was an associate. His exploits are something only Lenehan can remember or care about enough to bring up. In his interview he named many names from New Jersey and claimed to have known and been around a lot of people: Turk Cifelli, Patty Specs and Nicky O, all men were notably covered in Fresolone’s Blood Oath. If Lenehan was so important why wasn’t he mentioned once if he was so close to the same people Fresolone was around? We are not saying he didn’t know Fresolone, we’re saying that Lenehan wasn’t significant enough to deserve a reference by Fresolone.
But after reviewing the cases known, the number of men who were directly impacted by Lenehan’s cooperation were Ronald Castellano, Nick Olivieri, Lou Fazzini, Salvatore Arena, Frank Fabio and Nicholas Steffanelli. Quite a long drop from 26. Lenehan was nothing more than a mob wannabe who knew people, knew where they frequented and who they were with, but was always on the outside looking in:
Lenehan always spoke of himself in large words, both as a mobster and as an informant. But
what truly did he inform upon when he didn't know anything? If he had he would not had to go back on the street and
wear a wire to trip people up. Lenehan was caught trying to rob a bank and to avoid jail time claimed he had these
connections and could assist whomever. The FBI handed him a tape recorder and said "show us." And in the end this
is what Lenehan brought to the table: several half ass assocites who at their prime would never grace a mob chart.