Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Insight on the Wall Street Mob Hit

Jerry Capeci has an interesting column today (subscription only) on the unsolved 1999 slaying of two Mob-linked stock promoters, Alan Chalem and Maier Lehmann.

In a BusinessWeek article at the time, I pointed out that Chalem had business dealings with DeCavalcante crime family capo Phil Abramo, now imprisoned, who controlled Toluca Pacific Securities and another penny stock house called A.S. Goldmen.

Capeci reports:
The so-called real Sopranos’ main man on Wall Street, capo Philip Abramo, (left) had controlled Toluca Pacific, and soldier Anthony Capo was quickly fingered as one of the gunmen.

Capo, however, squelched that theory after he was indicted on racketeering and murder charges, and began cooperating that December with federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Capo admitted several mob killings, but insisted he had nothing to do with the Colts Neck murders.
At that point, he said, investigators began probing the Russian mob:
For several years, federal prosecutors in Newark, working with state police, the FBI and SEC, used a federal grand jury investigation in an effort to get to the bottom of the double homicide. Despite several leads that pointed in that direction, including a cooperating witness who told the feds he had seen several gun-toting Russian gangsters in Chalem’s house, that also turned out to be a dead end.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. Capeci says that the slayings are now believed to be linked to Alphonse "Allie" Persico of the Columbo crime family, who's now serving life in prison. Persico had business dealings with Chalem, and there is still a link with Toluca Pacific:
[Persico family member] Sean Persico. . . and Chalem were also “silent partners” in a classic “pump and dump stock scheme” that the men allegedly operated out of Toluca Pacific Securities, one of two shady brokerages that Chalem worked for during the late 1990s.

Neither man was ever charged, but authorities and other sources say that Sean Persico used a crew of corrupt brokers he controlled to “pump up” the prices of stocks that Chalem gave him. The crooked brokers touted the stocks to unsuspecting investors who would buy them and end up with worthless paper when Chalem would “dump” his own holdings at artificially high prices.
A person who knows these kinds of things tells me that Abramo would have had to approve the killing even if it was carried out by the Columbo family. After all, Chalem was his money-maker. One doesn't kill one's milch cows if one can avoid doing so.

I've never really understood why these guys were killed. The mob people involved in Wall Street at the time, even the Russian mob guys (who were fifty times as violent as their Mafia brethren) did not leave a trail of bodies behind them. It doesn't seem likely they'd have been killed unless there was either a massive ripoff or it was believed that one or both of them was about become an informant.

Complicating the investigation is that Lehmann may be a red herring. Capeci says that state and federal authorities believe that Chalem was the target, and that Lehmann might just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is shaping up to be just another of the thousands of mob killings over the years that have never been solved, and never will be.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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