First, it appears that Scott Rothstein was able to nab someone believed to be international Mafia figure Roberto Settineri, who is pictured at right in what appears to be a surveillance photo. With that gut and cigar jutting from his mouth, he looks like he could be Rothstein's balding cousin. The other two men charged in the Rothstein sting, Enrique Ros and Daniel Dromerhauser, owned Five Star Executive Protection & Security and don't appear to have any Mafia pedigree whatsoever. Wannabes, you might call them, who have been effectively reduced to never-wills.
Settineri is Sicilian but had been operating in Miami Beach, allegedly serving as a conduit between his Mafia family in Palermo and the Gambino crime family in New York. The feds say they arrested him just hours before he was scheduled to jump on a plane back to Italy.
There are three obvious prongs to the investigation: a long-standing federal investigation out of the FBI's New York office, a concurrent investigation by the Italian government into the Palermo organized crime family Santa Maria di Gesù, and the Rothstein operation, which didn't begin until Rothstein came back from Morocco in November and immediately started cooperating with FBI agents and federal prosecutors.
The ties between Settineri and the Gambino family, which has a long history of operating in Broward County, revolve around Gaetano Napoli Sr., a reputed Gambino soldier. Napoli was the target of a long-term FBI investigation out of New York. Agents say they caught him on tape threatening anextortion victim, tampering with a grand jury witness, and lying in a bankruptcy case involving a business of his called Napoli & Sons Meats & Provisions.
Napoli was one of Settineri's main contacts in the U.S. From the news release issued by New York federal prosecutors last week after his arrest:
"Wiretap intercepts of Napoli, Sr. and Settineri revealed that in 2009, Napoli, Sr. 'sat down' on behalf of Settineri when Settineri had a dispute with members of the Colombo crime family of La Cosa Nostra operating in the Miami area. In those interceptions Settineri referenced his Sicilian mafia affiliation. Because La Cosa Nostra protocol required Settineri to be represented by a member of La Cosa Nostra as to U.S.-based matters, Settineri turned to Napoli, a Gambino crime family representative, for assistance."
The sit-down occurred in Pompano Beach. Said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Joseph M. Demarest Jr. at the New York news conference on the arrest of Napoli and two of his sons: "This investigation not only exposed an alleged scheme to commit bankruptcy fraud -- wiretapped conversations also established that Gaetano Napoli and the Gambino family protected Roberto Settineri in the U.S. and captured Settineri admitting his association with the Sicilian Mafia."
Such admissions on tape and evidence of meetings between Settineri and his American brethren are all well and good, but a criminal charge they doesn't necessarily make. So you can imagine how the eyes of FBI agents and prosecutors lit up when Rothstein told them he knew Settineri. The feds quickly threw together a sting, and they claim to have nabbed Settineri and his two accomplices, Ros and Dromerhauser, for destroying financial records they believed could have been used against Rothstein in the Ponzi criminal case and laundering what they thought were leftover Ponzi proceeds.
Understand that while Rothstein was making the case against Settineri et al., he was all over the internet, newspapers, and TV as a criminal facing arrest. In an attempt to create the illusion he wasn't in federal custody (in a local hotel), the feds threw Rothstein out there at the Capital Grille, where I caught him on videotape, and he did an interview on Channel 7. But he was working with the feds all the time. Still, the stupidity and greed necessary for anyone to do Rothstein's dirty bidding at that time seems staggering to me.
March 10 was D-Day for all three operations, as agents arrested the three Napolis, Setterini, Dromerhauser (Ros is still at large), and the polizia in Palermo went to work taking down 19 members of Settineri's Mob family overseas in the operation, which was dubbed "Paesan Blues." Among the charges was drug trafficking, attempted murder, money laundering, and extortion. Included in the takedowns were reputed Santa Maria di Gesu clan leadersGioacchino and Giampaolo Corso.
Here's a YouTube clip of some of the Italian government's work in the case:
Both U.S. and Italian authorities have said that Settineri has also been charged criminally in Italy on one count of "criminal association." I spoke with Settineri's attorney, Miami's Jeff Weiner, this morning and, while he said it was too soon to comment on the case, he did say that he has learned that his client has not been charged in Italy yet. Weiner was named Settineri's attorney just yesterday and said he met with the Italian national but wouldn't reveal any details.