The Florida/Hollywood Mob Connection, the CIA and O.J. Simpson (SEGMENT)

By Alex Constantine

I: Pizza Drippings on the Courtroom Floor
Joey Ip's Murder, Inc.
II: Meyer Lansky's Migratory Birds of Prey
1: F. Lee Bailey, Bad Eye Gerstein and BCCI
2: Joey Ip's Nubian Wiseguys and Denise Brown, the Grieving Gunsel

1 : Pizza Drippings on the Courtroom Floor

The shadow of Joey Ippolito falls across the courtroom, seeps into every crack in the Simpson case. Yet his name is seldom mentioned. His father, Joseph Ippolito, Sr., was in the pay of the syndicates Meyer Lansky, and a soldier of Sam the Plumber DeCalvacante, who brought Joey into the league. Little Man Lansky, of course, was no homunculus. He led the mob into an alliance with the intelligence sector of government in WW II, and loomed above much the Combination until his death in 1983. Today, Lansky's foot soldiers march in step with Langley. CIA denials have been scuffed by too many tongues over the years to be taken seriously (Campbell, Hoch, Pizzo,

Joey Ip's Murder, Inc. Joey Ippolito is second generation mafia, one of several powerful successors of Meyer Lansky. He was born to a brood of nine children. Joey's brother Frankie perished of a heart attack unloading a crate of marijuana from an Eastern Airlines plane in New Jersey. His brother Louie is a convict (Burdick). Ippolito's influence in the Combination is felt from Philadelphia to Dade County, Florida to Southern California. A former speedboat racer, he headed for California in 1988 after completing a 40-month prison sentence for marijuana smuggling. He opened, without flourish, CentAnni, a fashionable Italian restaurant in Malibu, and distributed cocaine in Santa Monica and Brentwood (Anastasia & Jennings). The LAPD enjoys publicizing its efforts to frustrate the attempts of organized crime to gain a foothold in Los Angeles (a Hooverism, since the Mafia established roots in Southern California decades ago). The Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) even maintains a squad of operatives at L.A. International Airport to intercept incoming mob figures at the turnstile and send them packing (Lieberman). Presumably, Ippolito slipped into town without drawing the attention of the OCID.

Another explanation, of course, is that certain Mafia figures are permitted to thrive in L.A. There is even a question as to whether the OCID gives a fig about organized crime. The division evolved from a unit called the Political Disorder Intelligence Division, and retired OCID detective Mike Rothmiller maintains that the priority is still politics, not the Mafia. The division, to be sure, kept no files on organized crime at the time of Rothmillers resignation, but did target liberal activists for surveillance, spied on police in other departments, harassed opponents of former police chief Daryl Gates and performed local services for the CIA (Rothmiller & Goldman). Among Ippolito's distributors was bodybuilder Rod Columbo, his life ended with three shots to the back of the head on January 7, 1992. Columbo himself had been the leading suspect in the murder of cocaine dealer Rene Vega in 1989. He worked in Malibu at CentAnni until the restaurant folded in 1991. At this time Columbo began to travel extensively. His body was found slumped over the wheel of a 1984 Cadillac in southern New Jersey. LAPD Detective Lee Kingsford told reporters that the West Coast consensus was that the murder had been drug related. A few months before the Columbo killing, Ippolito fell under the scrutiny of Los Angeles police. The timely death of a leading distributor eased his legal difficulties considerably. Dante's Circle of Ippolito associates is not a lonely place. Another ranking member of the Ippolito syndicate on this plane was John Steele, formerly the mayor of Hallendale, Florida. Mayor Steele once placed a police station at the subdivision where Meyer Lansky lived, at the gangster's request. (Burdick). Joey Ippolito, who also lived in the high-security subdivision, was arrested in Long Island in the early 80s with a dozen other marijuana smugglers running eight tons of cannabis from a ship anchored offshore (Burdick).

Another cog in Joey's dope machine was Donald Aronow, a friend of George Bush and designer of the famous Cigarette speed boat, a high-speed favorite of cocaine runners everywhere. Aronow, a wealthy Casanova with more testosterone in his blood than Earnest Hemingway, built speedboats for the Shah of Iran, Charles Keating (convicted of securities fraud in 1991 in a case prosecuted by William Hodgman, a trial strategist in the Simpson case he failed to mention for the record that Keating had extensive ties to the CIA and Mafia. The judge in the Keating case was Lance Ito.) and Robert Vesco, among other financial outlaws (Burdick).

Aronow was gunned down in his parking lot on February 3, 1987. Throughout the week prior to the fatal ambush, Aronow held a series of lengthy telephone conversations with George Bush (Burdick). It was rumored around Miami that Aronow, who'd recently been questioned by the authorities about cocaine trafficking, intended to talk. A subpoena was to be served on him the day after the shooting. Joey Ip once broke parole after an eight-year prison term to visit actor James Caan of Godfather fame in L.A. (Burdick). The actor was also friendly with Ben Kramer, the convicted L.A. casino owner and marijuana smuggler (Burdick, p. 73). Kramer is married to Meyer Lansky's niece (Burdick).

The syndicate lurking behind the O.J. Simpson case is a closed circle. To illustrate: James Caan was a regular at exclusive Turnberry Island, Florida's Bacchanalian playground for rich men with rich hormones. Turnberry Island is the Floridian stomping ground of Robert Evans, once Denise Brown's paramour. (He still dwells fondly on erotic memories elicited by the photo of Denise he still hangs on his wall.) Bill Mentzer and Alex Marti, convicted killers of fledgling Hollywood producer Roy Radin, accused Evans from the witness stand of complicity in the murder. Evans was subpoenaed. He pled the Fifth and was sent home. In the early 70s, Evans, according to author Maury Terry in The Ultimate Evil, gave orders to the Son of Sam cult in New York. Bill Mentzer, a cocaine courier, bodybuilder and hit man, belonged to the Sams and took part in the killings attributed to David Berkowitz, who heard voices commanding him to kill. Alex Marti once ran with an Argentine death squad. He opened a private investigation service in Los Angeles and employed the late Rod Columbo before the bodybuilder and cocaine distributor went to work for Joey Ippolito, another regular at Turnberry Island and James Caans best pal. Other regulars at Turnberry: Jack Nicholson and Tommy Lasorda. Statuesque hostesses, employed by Don Soffer, the resorts developer, have included model Donna Rice, Lyn Armandt (the wife of a Miami drug dealer alleged to be a friend of Lanskys great-nephew Ben Kramer her phone call to the Miami Herald finished Gary Hart's presidential ambitions), and a clutch of heartbreakingly beautiful hookers with backgrounds in CIA blackmail operations.

On the afternoon Donald Aronow was gunned down, his buddy Soffer received a phone call at Turnberrys central office, informing him: Youre next (Burdick).

II: Lansky's Migratory Birds of Prey

It seems like all the LCN (La Cosa Nostra) drug interests are interconnected, I suggest. I'm thinking that you just chopped off one arm of an enormous octopus. (Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Norris) nods. That's usually what we do, he says in a somewhat resigned tone. And it turns out to be more like one arm of a starfish, so it regenerates.

Thomas Burdick, Bluer Thunder

Meyer Lansky's attorney Mel Kessler was a suspect in the investigation of Joey Ippolitos drug smuggling venture. Kessler is suspected of being the brains of the operation (Burdick). Hollywood, Florida vice squad officials suspect Kessler arranged the shipment of 200 kilos of cocaine from Bolivia and was involved in a smuggling operation based in San Juan, Peurto Rico, with stopovers in the Caribbean. Telephone records revealed that Ben Kramer, from the Bicycle Club in Southern California, consulted with Kessler almost daily (Burdick). Kessler has also been linked with Little Ray Thompson, another Lansky associate, indicted for drug smuggling with Steadman Stahl, a Dade County judge groomed for the post by state prosecutor Richard One Eye Gerstein, a former Watergate investigator who doubled as Kramer's attorney. He lived in Meyer Lansky's back pocket. Gerstein was elected in 1956 to the first of six terms as state attorney, generally considered to be the second most powerful office in Florida after the Governors (Myers). He was the most popular prosecutor in Dade County history.

1: F. Lee Bailey, Bad Eye Gerstein and BCCI In 1982, Dick Gerstein was investigated, but not indicted, after accepting drug money intended for laundering in Panama. He has long been a coeval of F. Lee Bailey. In fact, O.J. Simpson's celebrated attorney hung a shingle in Florida with him, Bailey, Gerstein, Carhart, Rushkind, Dreskick & Rippingille. At the time of his migration to Florida, Bailey represented the families of the passengers of Korean Airlines Flight 007, downed by the Soviets in 1983, in a wrongful death suit. A few years later, the families steering committee sued Bailey himself for misrepresentation after making a personal pledge in his letter of acceptance to work full-time as required on the case. In five years, Bailey clocked a mere 97 hours on pretrial preparation, compared with 6,311 hours put in by the two other law firms retained by the families. In a court brief, Bailey cited the move to Florida, allowing his wife Patricia to be near her ailing parents, as his rationale for not assisting the families hed been hired to represent athough he had no qualms about charging full-time legal fees. In 1993 a federal court in Washington ordered Bailey to return a share of his income to the families (Felsenthal). Baily and Gerstein were the directors of CenTrust Federal Savings Bank, a failed satellite of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the CIAs money laundering facility (Truell & Gurwin, Bender suit). A major share in CenTrust was secretly owned by BCCI in fact, a full quarter of the banks shares were snapped up by Saudi tycoon Ghaith Pharaon, a BCCI front man who maintained daily contact with CenTrust President David Paul between 1984 and 1988, when the S&L was declared insolvent (Truell & Gurwin), and Paul was convicted on 68 charges of bank fraud to a maximum prison term of five years. Paul's financial strategies included illegal bond deals with Charles Keating and false entries in the banks accounting books (NYT, 11-25-93). CenTrust Savings, the largest thrift in Florida, made handsome contributions to the campaign funds of several Congressmen, notably Joseph Biden (Truell and Gurvin, p. 373) and Newt Gingrich (FEC Report). When the bank defaulted, taxpayers were saddled with $2-billion in debts (Truell & Gurwin). The co-trustee named in lawsuits filed against CenTrust was Citibank, chaired by the CIA's John Reed (Thompson & Kanigher). F. Lee Bailey is Dick Gerstein's legal and business partner. Gerstein died of a heart attack in 1992. But the syndicate never wanders far from the Simpson. case. Simpson's well-connected attorney brought in a retired New York investigator, John E. McNally, to investigate the Bundy murders. McNally, the Los Angeles Times reported, was in 1989 accused by federal investigators of being part of the security department of Gene Gotti, the younger brother of notorious mobster John Gotti. Prosecutors in New York believe he screened prospective employees for the Mafia (Newton). Also hired to look into the case on behalf of the defense was Pat McKenna, a Palm Beach investigator and a veteran of the William Kennedy Smith rape case.

2: Joey Ip's Nubian Wiseguys and Denise Simpson, the Grieving Gunsel Nicole Simpsons sister, Denise Brown, was squired about L.A. for several years by an Ippolito recruit: when Joey was arrested, police questioned his bodyguard and chauffeur, A.C. Cowlings, who was visiting the mobster when police entered his residence (Harrell). Ippolito's roommate, Ronnie Lorenzo, was the owner of a chic Malibu restaurant called Splash, and a fraternal member of the Bonnano crime family, a perennial target of organized crime probes. Kidnap and extortion were two of many charges filed against Lorenzo. James Caan offered his home as collateral toward the $2-million bail and appeared as a character witness for his dear friend (Lieberman, Connolly).The narco-restaurateurs were both sentenced to ten years hard time for distributing cocaine in Santa Monica and Brentwood. Joey Ip skirted sentencing, escaped a maximum sceurity prison three weeks the brutal murders in Brentwood (Harrell).

What does Ippolito know of the killings?

Someone besides her husband had taken an intense interest in Nicole. O.J. Simpson consort Paula Barbieris Toyota 4 X 4 was stolen from a Beverly Hills parking lot on January 24, 1994. The Toyota was used to follow Simpson's estranged wife. Police in Newport Beach recovered the car after it was involved in a traffic accident a week later and arrested one William Wasz, who insisted he was unaware that Barbieri owned the vehicle...



This article contains copyrighted material that has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. MCF is offering this article available to our readers for the general purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching and/or research. We believe that our use of this material falls under the "fair use" provision of Title 17, Section 107 of the United States Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes other than that provided by law, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Back to MFC Index Back to Hambones Index