COOL JUSTICE EDITOR'S NOTE: Louis Colavecchio, known to many as Louis The Coin, began a life of entrepreneurial adventure as a youngster. Along the way he got to know many characters on all sides of the law, throughout the United States and Europe. His father had arrived in Providence from Italy in 1903. As an established businessman, Benedict Colavecchio and his wife Theorora encouraged young Louis to gain an education. While working fulltime, Louis Colavecchio earned a degree in business administration from Providence College. Colavecchio's talents as a jeweler, manufacturer and man of romance are part of the historical record - as seen on The History Channel and The BBC. It might be an understatement to say Colavecchio changed the face of casino gambling forever. Now, he applies all those talents and his imagination in a new venue: storyteller. His work in progress: "You Thought It Was More: The Real Providence Brought To Life." See text below Providence Journal article for more background ...
Counterfeit coin-making machinery
up for bid tomorrow at police auction
01:00 AM EDT on Friday, September 19, 2008
By Amanda Milkovits
Journal Staff Writer
WARWICK –– They called him “The Coin” because Louis B. Colavecchio was good at making near-perfect counterfeit tokens for slot machines at casinos from Foxwoods to Vegas.
So good, that he spent more than two years in federal prison in 1998 for his handiwork and was paid $18,000 by the feds as a consultant to explain why his manufacturing dies outlast those at the U.S. Mint.
So good, that he was the featured “Counterfeit King” in a History Channel documentary on Breaking Vegas and made his own video, How to Win at Slots, after advising casinos how to detect fake tokens.
So good, that in November 2006, when investigators from three states and two federal agencies began investigating high-quality counterfeit tokens showing up in casinos up and down the East Coast, they ended up on Colavecchio’s doorstep in Pawtucket once again.
Now, the coin-making machinery, the blank metal strips and blank coins seized from Colavecchio’s property two years ago are going up for auction tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at S.J. Corio Co., in Warwick. Colavecchio, who has been out on $25,000 bail with surety, requiring 10 percent of the amount in cash, or the full amount in property, since his arrest in 2006, noticed his equipment listed in a newspaper advertisement for the auction.
“I might go,” Colavecchio, 66, said about tomorrow’s auction. “I could tell [potential buyers] a lot of stuff. They may know how it works, but it’s been, let me say, ‘modified’ … so some things are not exactly as they seem.”
BACKGROUND ON LOUIS:
The Other Side Of The Coin
Law & Justice In Everyday Life, 2nd edition, 2002
Chapter 7, Cops and Perps
Louis Colavecchio is not your average jeweler.
The North Providence, R.I. entrepreneur brought his talents to Connecticut several years ago. He had already hit Las Vegas. The casinos will never be the same.
Colavecchio can duplicate or create almost anything made out of precious metals or stones. All he needs is a sample.
Foxwoods had been booming for about five years when Colavecchio set his sights on Connecticut; Mohegan Sun had just opened.
Colavecchio never talked about his friends -- at least to police. But one of the important numbers in his personal phone directory was for Louis "Baby Shanks" Manocchio, the reputed Mafia boss of Rhode Island. Manocchio lives in Providence's Federal Hill Neighborhood, where he once operated the Café Verdi restaurant. He was convicted of a mob hit in 1968, but that was overturned by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Manocchio's only other brush with the law came three years ago when he gave his mother a dishwasher and a refrigerator stolen from Connecticut.
Before Colavecchio could move on the casinos, he needed to do some homework. He also needed some serious equipment. Colavecchio's expert analysis revealed he needed the following: precious metals including copper, zinc and nickel; a 150-ton press from Italy; and laser-cutting tools to cut, shape and create dies to stamp out the coins. The coins were tokens, to be used in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Connecticut.
When state police brought a sample of Colevecchio's product to Foxwoods, the experts did not believe it was counterfeit. Some called it a masterpiece. State police advised the casino to keep track of inventory; the token counts were bound to be off because of the surplus. Meanwhile, the inventories at Atlantic City casinos were multiplying like rabbits.
"We know that he hit Vegas hard," an investigator told me. "But since many of the directors of security there were former FBI agents, they denied it. The problem did not exist. It never happened."
Evidence mounted. A surveillance team comprised of detectives from Las Vegas, New Jersey and Connecticut waited for Colavecchio to hit New Jersey or Connecticut again. He chose New Jersey. This time he used only $100 tokens. It was easy. There were fewer machines to watch.
Colavecchio was arrested in Atlantic City in late December 1996. The pinch did not make the papers for about a week. In his car, Colavecchio had 750 pounds of counterfeit tokens, a fake police ID, a handgun, maps of casinos and various casino documents.
The FBI, Secret Service, three state police agencies and Providence police took inventory at Colavecchio's Providence operation. The government had to rent two storage facilities to store all the loot that was seized.
Everyone took their turn arresting Colavecchio. He hired a former Rhode Island attorney general as his lawyer.
Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun acknowledged finding a total of at least $50,000 in fake tokens. Investigators borrowed microscopes from local high schools to inspect mounds of tokens. It took them weeks just to determine that Colavecchio hit one Mohegan Sun jackpot for $2,000.
Colavecchio ended up in a conference room and getting VIP treatment at Mohegan Sun. His lawyer had worked out a deal. Colavecchio showed law enforcement how he did the job, and promised to help the casino tribes and the state ward off any future raids. They say he was a hero in Providence as well. Colavecchio served a short sentence and did not "rat out" any of his friends.
Law & Justice In Everyday Life by Andy Thibault at Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Louis’s Forthcoming Novel
You thought it was more …
Wise guys usually introduce another wise guy as being, “Our Friend,” or, “He’s With Us.”
If he’s of a very high rank in the Organization, or a Made Man, you might say, this is John, he’s a “Good Fellow.” A slang version would be, he’s a “Good Fella.” Using the phrase, “What’d you thought it was more,” identified him with the Providence Office.
A shorter version is, “You thought it was more.”
Ironically, as one talks about how small the world is, in 1998 I was incarcerated in a fucking rat hole, Fort Dix, located in New Jersey, which is the largest federal Correctional Institution in the country, housing some 4,000 inmates. I wound up with two roommates, one a young man from Connecticut, who worked for the Boss there, Bill Sabia, who I knew well, having made many trips to his office located downstairs in the Brass Rail, a restaurant he owned, and the nephew of a high level New York mobster, Andrew Giannino, nicknamed the Sarge, because he was a Ranger during the Viet Nam war.
Guess what he said after the first time we introduced ourselves?
“I’m Andy, but everyone calls me The Sarge. You thought it was more.” I freaked out, and asked about his using that expression. Turns out he was a close friend of both my uncle Vincent and his brother Tony, who lived in New Jersey. Now, talk about a small world.
* All Rights Reserved. Property of Louis Colavecchio.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or entered into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author, publisher or their agents.
You Thought It Was More:
The Real Providence Brought To Life
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Louis Colavecchio, known to many as Louis The Coin, began a life of entrepreneurial adventure as a youngster. Along the way he got to know many characters on all sides of the law, throughout the United States and Europe.
His father had arrived in Providence from Italy in 1903. As an established businessman, Benedict Colavacchio and his wife Theorora encouraged young Louis to gain an education. While working fulltime, Louis Colavecchio earned a degree in business administration from Providence College.
Colavecchio’s talents as a jeweler, manufacturer and man of romance are part of the historical record – as seen on The History Channel and The BBC. It might be an understatement to say Colavecchio changed the face of casino gambling forever. Now, he applies all those talents and his imagination in a new venue: storyteller.
Andy Thibault, a mentor in the MFA writing program and adjunct lecturer for the Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, is the author of books including Law &Justice In Everyday Life and The History of the Connecticut State Police. Thibault serves on the advisory board of the Connecticut Center For The Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress, and manages an endowment that awards $17,000 annually to young writers in Connecticut. He delivered the 2004 Pew Memorial Lecture In Journalism at Widener University, Chester, Pa. Thibault is also a consulting editor for the literary journal Connecticut Review, a licensed private investigator and a professional boxing judge.
He blogs @ www.cooljustice.blogspot.com
You Thought It Was More:
The Real Providence Brought To Life
With ANDY THIBAULT
I found it very hard to believe that anyone would spend several hundred thousand dollars or more to obtain a job that paid $45,000 a year. So, I didn’t see any other reason than that it was an opportunity for an elected politician to make that money back, plus a whole lot more.
Sure, a handful of people in the country may have been interested in becoming a politician for humanitarian reasons. But, let’s be realistic. They are few and far between. I never sucked up to a politician for a favor. I didn’t need to.
I could afford to hire the best lawyers in the country and let them do the kissing ass routine. They were the ones that needed to suck ass, not me.
But, I was aware that we controlled certain politicians and enough of them came into the S&S Bar, for one favor or another. Several of these assholes actually became judges, and one is still very active now. For the most part, they were hanging around looking for money for favors they had granted, ranging from simply fixing a speeding ticket or getting someone’s bail reduced to some pretty hefty things like sentence reductions and felony violations reduced to misdemeanors or even dismissed.
I despised their deceptiveness, passing themselves off as upstanding citizens of high moral character, then scurrying to collect their bribe money. This was not only the case of politicians, but also of numerous law enforcement officials who were in a position to see that critical parts of a criminal case might suddenly become weak, such as the disappearance of evidence crucial to the prosecutor. Who knows, maybe they both were working on the same fix, collecting twice as much money.
No one in the Family seemed to care. It was just a part of the cost of doing business, and was passed along to the ultimate consumer.
Only Raymond took a different point of view. The cheap, purple-lizard-lipped Mob Boss never wanted to spend a dime on lawyers, judges, politicians or cops. I guess his position could allow him to be that way. The local cops were glad he was the Boss on the Hill, as no crime involving civilians ever took place there and the general feeling was that Providence was much better with him than without.
If some Cowboy, or Independent, a non-connected tough guy, did something he shouldn’t have, he was dealt with immediately. No cops were necessary. Anyone could walk the streets at night without fear of harm.
And, if by chance, the cops knew that something was going to go down, sometimes they got word to Raymond to let it happen elsewhere. It made the local lawmen look like they had crime under control.
This happened when Tiger Baletto, an enforcer for the Mob in the late 50’s, got out of control. Tiger started to knock on the doors of civilians who lived on the Hill, then told the husbands to disappear while he fucked the guys’ wives. It wasn’t long before he was shot, and that ended that problem.
Tiger was shot by Jackie Nazare, another regular at the S&S. Jackie was a short, dirty- looking character who walked with a cane. He was respected for his ability to collect money for wise guys, I guess mostly from non-paying gamblers and stiffs that were being shylocked.
Everyone, including the cops, knew Jackie killed Tiger. Again, the streets were better off with him than his predecessor, and nothing was made of this assassination. Just another unsolved murder.
No one cared, as long as it didn’t conflict with their interests. But, soon it did.
It was Jackie’s job to collect money not only from local people who were paying juice from 5 percent to 10 percent a week, but he also was to keep things under control for the Old Man in other areas, like Boston, Revere and Somerset. For a while, he was also sent to New York to help in the killing of Albert Anastasia.
Jackie had some plans of his own, and they involved screwing the Office. He was going to take from activities that were sanctioned by the Office, and were run by Henry Tameleo in Boston. The Office received a percentage of each and every one of these. Jackie wanted to take them over and run them for himself. Jackie was getting out of control.
I remember being in Raymond’s office one afternoon when two wise guys entered. They were there to pay him his percentage of last Saturday’s game, held in the Ebbtide bar in Revere Beach.
The Old Man refused the money repeatedly, saying “No, no, I don’t want it. You boys make some money, it makes me happy to see young fellows get ahead. I admire your energy.”
After three or four times of their insisting that he take the money -- which they referred to as his end -- The Old Man finally relented and said ok, but it isn’t necessary.
The Old Man took the money and put it in his drawer. But the wise guys knew better. If they hadn’t shown up on their own with the Old Man’s cut, they would soon have more trouble than they could handle -- and a beating, or worse, much worse, was a certainty. No one cheated the Old Man out of his cut.
It’s a funny thing about gambling. One could have a winning streak, and defy the odds against him, or just the opposite, suffer from a losing streak, and the house wins more than normal. But over time, it all averages out somehow.
The Old Man knew exactly how much he had coming from any activity he was involved in. I don’t know if it was his intuition, Henry Tameleo, or if he had someone at each game keeping him informed, but the fact remains the same. He knew how much he was due. God help anyone who fucked with that money. And several did. Usually, a beating was all that was necessary, but I would need to count on both my hands and feet the number of persons killed for this reason.
Jackie Nazzare was different. It was his job to collect the money and deliver it to the Office. He was also responsible to collect from the slow payers and deadbeats. The Office depended on him.
At some point, Raymond felt something wasn’t quite right. The numbers from the games didn’t seem to add up correctly. They were less than the he felt they should be. Jackie was called into the office.
Unlike today, where someone might get killed over a ridiculous dispute in a gas station, in those days, killing someone, even if he had committed a major mistake, was not taken or carried out lightly. It was always considered a last resort. It was to be used when all other efforts or solutions had been exhausted.
By this time Jackie felt invincible. He thought he wasn’t touchable because he had committed the ultimate deed for the Old Man, that he had earned the supreme right to do anything he wanted to do. He was a made man. And, he had made friends in New York. Still, Raymond worked with Jackie, trying to get him to “do the right thing,” as he would put it.
Jackie was a hard-headed son of a bitch. He defied Raymond. He actually told people he would like to take over the Office. There was no reasoning with him. He was totally out of control. Raymond finally made the decision: Jackie had to be whacked.
In some other state, the killing of Jackie would have required the permission of all the Family Bosses, since Jackie was a made man. In Rhode Island, things worked a little bit differently. Raymond was supreme over his Family.
“Breaking an egg” -- as Raymond characterized the act of someone who committed murder for him -- was not enough to allow the shooter to do anything he wanted, in defiance of the Boss. Skimming money from Raymond was one of the ultimate sins.
There were many people in the S&S who would be capable and more than glad to whack Jackie, as no one liked this dirty little man. Raymond would choose wisely regarding who would make this hit, because he knew this would be an important one for the shooter. He would elevate his choice to a higher position in his Family.
Raymond didn’t want to make the same mistake as when Tiger Baletto was killed, only to be replaced by another out-of-control asshole. Most people think that a hit carries a price tag and that a Boss pays someone to do a hit for him. This is rarely the case. Hits are rewarded in several ways. The most common reward is rising to an elevated position within the Family, the status of being a made member. This brings perks with it that are recognized throughout the country. Even more frequently, a hit man received a larger percentage of a take, from all sources or just a designated one, as his compensation. Raymond made his decision with the utmost diligence.
It was a drizzly night in Providence, and the furniture store directly across the street from the S&S closed early.
The store was called J.O.’s Furniture. The owner was an old man, Joe Orabona. He made a living selling Italian immigrants tacky furniture -- at high prices -- and then financing the purchase. Since few of the customers spoke English, he would be able to grant them credit on terms that were very profitable to his store. Still, he remained in business for 40 or more years.
The store had two large showroom windows -- one on the left side of a huge double door entrance, set back from the sidewalk a few feet -- and the other to the entrance’s right.
Around 8 or 9 p.m., Jackie would finish making his routine stops on the Hill, collecting money, and would enter the S&S for a drink before returning to his cheap apartment on Spruce Street. His route was always the same: He would start at the S&S, walk all the way down to Angelo’s Restaurant, then cross the street and return on the other side. By the time he reached the furniture store, he was finished with his business, and would cross the street again and enter the bar for a drink and to count his take.
This night was to be a little different.
As Jackie moved under the front entrance of the furniture store -- seeking temporary shelter from the drizzle to light up his Parody cigar -- a man approached him. It was obvious they knew each other, as Jackie continued lighting his Guinea Stinker.
The second man reached into his overcoat and pulled out a .38-caliber snub nose revolver. He fired six shots directly into Jackie’s body. Jackie spun around. It was over in seconds. The shooter took his revolver, put it back in his pocket and walked up the side street, slowly disappearing into the dark night.
Jackie Nazzare was dead. Or was he?
The noise drew lots of attention. Windows opened in several houses.
Inevitably, a man in every one of the apartments hollered to his wife, “Shut the window and mind your own business.”
No one wanted to get involved, and I can’t blame them. Identifying the killer meant certain death for the witness.
There was one problem.
An ambulance arrived on the scene in minutes. Attendants did not cover the body. Instead, they wheeled Jackie into the ambulance and sped off to Rhode Island Hospital, just a few blocks away.
Jackie Nazzare was still alive, and was now hooked up to all sorts of tubes and breathing apparatus in an effort to save his life. This was a botched hit. It could bring the most serious of consequences to everyone involved.
Jackie remained in a coma for a couple of days, then, regained consciousness periodically throughout the next few days. The state police and FBI kept him under 24-hour guard. Whenever he was conscious, they wanted to question him. The local police knew Jackie well, as did the FBI.
They all questioned Jackie.
“Fuck off, leave me alone,” was all Jackie would say.
His periods of consciousness grew shorter and shorter each day. It was obvious he wasn’t about to tell anyone who shot him.
Then, the FBI got a bright idea. One agent dressed up as a doctor, and one as a priest and told him that he would not live through the night. Wouldn’t it be nice to clear your conscience, and also bring justice to the man who shot you, they asked.
Jackie signaled one of them to come a little closer. The agent, now thinking Jackie was going to reveal who had shot him, bent over close to Jackie.
Jackie spit in the face of the FBI agent, calling him a mother-fucking piece of shit. Jackie Nazzare died the next afternoon, seven days after he had been shot, and never revealed the name of the man who shot him. Even though the hit didn’t go exactly as planned, Raymond was pleased with Rudolph Sargenta’s work. He would be handsomely rewarded.
Rudolph’s work was only beginning. Lots of jobs are necessary to maintain gambling operations …