IV. Organized Crime Involvement (Other than Corporate Organizational Profiles)

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
4
Organized Crime Involvement (Other than Corporate Organizational Profiles)

The Mitchell Brothers Film Group, San Francisco, California is a major supplier of high quality XXX rated pornography films to the Washington, D.C., Playhouse Theater.

In 1973, Arthur and James Mitchell produced a film titled "Behind the Green Door" which was very successful. In October of 1973, the Mitchell brothers said they were visited by two men, Robert DeSalvo and James Bochis, who wanted to obtain national distribution rights to the film for one of their companies based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. "He wanted to distribute our film, offering us a 50/50 split," said Arthur Mitchell. "We told them that we already made distribution arrangements." They replied that if we didn't give the film, pirated versions of it would be playing around the country in a week. We turned them down, but a couple of weeks later they called back and made another effort. We turned them down again; arld a short time later, pirated versions of the film started playing in major cities across the country. We obtained restraining orders, but before we could stop them they hurt us badly. They wiped out several key markets for us: Miami, Dallas and Las Vegas.

Robert DeSalvo was convicted in 1976 in federal court in Memphis, Tenn., on a charge of conspiracy to ship obscene material interstate along with Melvin Friedman, Michael Cherubino, Anthony Arnone and Anthony Peraino (listed by the United States Justice Department as a soldier in the LCN Colombo Family) involving the businesses of Damiano Productions, Fidelity Equipment & Leasing Corp., and Bryanston Distributors. Melvin Friedman was also found guilty of interstate transportation of obscene materials in the United States District Court of Oklahoma City involving the business of Peachtree National Distributors. At this time, DeSalvo is a federal fugitive.

Anthony Arnone has been quoted as saying Anthony Peraino mediated a dispute between himself and another movie theater operator about local screening rights to "Deep Throat." Eventually, Arnone said, Peraino gave him Florida distribution rights and the other man, Robert DeSalvo, got rights for most of the rest of the nation.

Gerald Damiano sold his interest in the movie to Anthony Peraino for $25,000. When Damiano was asked by a New York Times reporter about the seemingly low price he received for the movie rights, he was quoted as saving, "I can't talk about it . . . You want me to get both my legs broken." Peraino was arrested with Peter Marchese and Philip Sayona for arson of the Tilton Theater, Northfield, New Jersey.

Between October 18, 1972, and October 24, 1972, Peter Salanardi aka "Sonny Boy," and Nicholas Musolino were observed in Los Angeles meeting with Michael Zaffarano. At the same time, Salanardi and Musolino were being sought for the murder of Carlo Lombardi in New York. Both the victim and the two suspects were involved in large scale heroin distribution in that city. While in Los Angeles, California, Salanardi and Musolino were guests at the homes of Stuart Segall and Theodore Gaswirth and were observed driving Gaswirth's vehicle. When Gaswirth lived in New York, Anthony Mascolo lived across the street. Mascolo visited with Gaswirth in July 1975 when Mascolo was living in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. Theodore Gaswirth is currently operating the Lyndon Industries, 15756 Arminta, Van Nuys with Michael Collela and Fred Alfano as partners. Recently, a search warrant executed by the Los Angeles Police Department at this location resulted in Gaswirth's arrest for sale of pornographic materials and a violation of California Weights and Measures due to short footed films. In November, 1973, office of.the District Attorney, Los Angeles forwarded a request for information to the Cleveland Police Department concerning Ted Gaswirth and his telephone calls to 216/881-1099 of Cleveland, Ohio. Investigation revealed the telephone number was that of Discount News Co., 2075 E. 65th St., Cleveland, Ohio (Sovereign News Company's address).

Samuel Haimowitz, Thomas Sinopoli and Dominick Raffone have been observed in the Los Angeles office of Mr. Zaffarano's businesses, Stu Segall & Associates and Miracle Film Releasing Company. Dominick Raffone, Michael Rizzitello (former member of the Joey Gallo LCN Family in New York), Jack LoCicero, James Frat'ianno and Thomas Ricciardo (member of the Joseph Columbo LCN Family in New York) were indicted by a Los Angeles federal grand jury on charges of attempting to extort up to $20,000 from local pornographers and a dummy pornography business set up by the F.B.I. Also, a known pornography distributor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ferris Alexander was stopped in Los Angeles, California, in the company of William Bittner, also known as William Haimowitz on February 11, 1974. On May 15, 1975, a truckload of pornographic materials was hijacked in St. Paul, Minnesota. The owner of the truck and person reporting the crime was Michael Kaplins of 2014 Westchester, Baltimore, Maryland. At this time, Mr. Kaplins stated that the shipment was being shipped from Bon Jay Sales,. 6601 Moravia Park Drive, Baltimore, Maryland, (formerly 600 Aisquith St., Baltimore, Maryland) to a party named Ferris and gave a phone number which was later traced to Ferris Alexander. On September 8, 1975, several cartons of pornographic booklets being shipped by Emery Air Freight broke open. Emery officials refused to deliver the shipment and notified federal and local authorities. The shipment was found to contain material displaying young children and adults in pornographic activity. The pornographic material was being shipped from Atlantic Distributors, #9 Ford St., Providence, Rhode Island, to magazine Agency, 419 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is owned by Ferris Alexander.

In 1970, Ferris Alexander was convicted of interstate transportation of obscene material in federal court, along with Samuel Manarite, a member of the Vito Genovese Family and Richard J. Portela. in 1972, Ferris was sentenced to Sandstone Penitentiary where he served 9 of 18 months and paid a $20,000 fine.

An identified supplier of pornographic films to Alexander through correspondence, as indicated below, is William and Lewis Mishkin and their Motion Pictures, Inc., 1501 Broadway, New York, New York, dated November 12, 1975:

I hope that by now you have had your first playdate on the INTIMATE TEENAGERS, and that the results were as good as they have been all over the country.

I would appreciate learning when you will be through with the prints. I am not rushing you, but we have been considerably more successful with this film than we had originally anticipated, and with the negative in Europe, this has caused us a print problem.

I have several other films that you might be interested in, including THE FILTHIEST SHOW IN TOWN (Harry Reems and Tina Russell), ADULT PLAYPEN...

A partial list of recorded calls from Alexander's main warehouse at 20 North 14th St., Minneapolis, Minneapolis 1201 revealed telephone calls to several known businesses and individuals involved in the pornography industry such as Kenneth Guarino, William Mishkin, Stu Segall & Associates, Star Distributors, Ltd., David Grama, Robert Eugene Smith, Samuel Haimowitz, Lyndon Distributors, Bon Jay Sales, Inc., Norman Arno and the Mitchell Brothers Film Group.

William Bittner was arrested for operating a warehouse in which 1.5 million dollars of hardcore pornographic material was confiscated. Also arrested with William Bittner was Anthony Zappi who is the secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Union 854 in New York City. William Bittner is currently operating the Lauderdale Beach Hotel, 101 S. Atlantic Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Donald Embinder is the president of the hotel. Ronald Zappi is an employee, as well as Robert Barkow, who is also the production consultant for Blueboy Magazine.

Bittner also operates the 'Suki, Inc., dba Pojo, a hardcore pornography distribution business with his step brother Samuel Haimowitz. William Bittner stated to F.B.I. agents he sometimes used his step father's name, William Haimowitz. When the Suki warehouse was searched it was established that they were doing a nationwide business. Records indicated that they were grossing $40 to $50 thousand per month on magazine sales alone. When added to their film distribution business, the estimates of their yearly sales was grossing about 1-1/2 million. The following excerpt from the 5-15-73 issue of the LA Times gives an indication of Bittner's pornography operations at the time: "One of the key witnesses in the second round of indictments was Arthur Pellon, who told the grand jury he was employed as a driver and bodyguard for Suki, Inc. Pellon told the grand jury, in testimony which is now public record, that during the past year he made three different trips to the East Coast with locked briefcases, which he delivered to the Zappis. He testified that those trips to the East began after he overheard one of the managers of Suki, Inc. remark: "We are making plenty of money, we ought to see if we can get some money back to the East Coast." Pellon testified that the other principals of Suki, Inc. immediately told the man to "keep his big mouth shut." Although he never saw the contents of the briefcases, Pellon said he believed them to be full of money. On each of these trips, he said, he was under strict orders from his Los Angeles bosses to keep the briefcases in his hands until he turned them over to the Zappis. Pellon said that his boss in California was William Bittner named in the second indictment. Pellon testified that Bittner intimated that he had Mafia connections and was given "a high ranking position in California as a present" for his service in underworld wars. Pellon also detailed for the jury his work as a collection agent for Suki, Inc. and its predecessor, Pojo, Inc. He was asked by Deputy District Attorney Oretta Sears, during the grand jury hearing, what his instructions were with regard to collection of overdue accounts. "Either get the money or a piece of their ass," Pellon said. He said he was sent out on four collections, three of which were settled immediately. "One of them I had to bust up a little bit and then he paid," Pellon said.

William Bittner was indicted as the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the sale and distribution of obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy magazines along with Thomas Sinopoli, Peter Sinopoli, Donald Epstein, Jim Rhoat, Samuel Haimowitz, Ronald Foreman and Donald Jacobson. The indictment further indicted that the above individuals unlawfully, willfully and knowingly did conspire to combine, confederate and agree together, with each other and others, and through their use of the Atlantic Magazine Company, Automatic Enterprises, Inc., Suki, Inc., also known as Pojo and as R & M Productions and Age of Majority, Inc.., did commit offense against the United States by transporting interstate obscene material. Donald.Epstein's arrests date back to 1971 and includes two arrests for indecent publications, 23 counts for the possession of unregistered guns and for the possession of a machine gun.

The key officers in Epstein's corporate structure profile are Donald Epstein, president; Rebecca Crone, vice president; Isabel Kramer, director;and Richard Plummer, agent for the Automatic Enterprises, Inc., 412 10th St., N.W.,. Washington, D.C. They hold the same corporate structure for the Automatic Amusement, Inc., T/A Automatic Amusements, 437 9th St., N.W. Washington, D.C., except for Isabel Kramer who is listed as the secretary. Richard Plummer is also the agent for Gem, Inc., T/A Capitol Amusements, 1214 New York Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., with Henry Reensynder as president. Reensynder is also the owner of Variety Books, 1026 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C., Rebecca Crone is the vice president and Isabel Kramer the treasurer of the Fine Arts Theater, 633 Main St., Buffalo, New York. Hyman Tash was the registered agent (1956) and Richard Plummer is the registered agent (1970) for the Enterprise Amusements, Inc., 413 9th St., N.W., Washington, D.C., T/A Enterprise Amusements, 521 9th St., N.W., Washington, D.C., and T/A Enterprise Amusement, 502 9th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Hyman Tash is an officer, Paul Downey, vice president, Henry Levine, current president, C. Ann Henze, treasurer, Daniel Flowers was the president (1976) and Catherine Steele, agent for the United Theaters, Inc., 446 West Federal St., Youngstown, Ohio, T/A Gayety Theater, 508 9th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Catherine Steele is the agent, Rebecca Crone, vice president, Daniel Flowers, president and James Rhoat, manager of the Automatic Amusements, Inc., T/A Playland, 413 9th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. James Rhoat is also the owner of Seaboard News, Pt. Pierce, Florida. Henry Levin, C. Ann Henze and Daniel Flowers, previously mentioned as officers of the United Theaters, Inc. are also vice president, secretary/ treasurer and president, respectively along with Joel Hirschhorn as the registered agent for the Florida Literary Corporation, 180 N.E. 79th St., Miami, Florida. Henry Levin is president and Isabel Kramer is secretary of the United Theaters of Florida, Inc., 17745 N.E. 9th Place, North Miami, Florida. Joel Hirschhorn is the registered agent for Miami Bargain BookS, Inc., 6020 South Dixie Highway, South Miami, Florida, the Atheneum, Inc., 25 West Flagler St., Miami, Florida, Artistic Books, Inc., 6020 South Dixie Highway, Florida, and the NBF Theaters, Inc., 25 West Flagler St., Miami, Florida. Rory Brown is the president and Barry Brown is a director of Miami Bargain Books, Inc. Rory Brown is the secretary/treasurer, Robert Brown is the president and Fay Brown is the vice president of the Atheneum, Inc. Fay Brown is the secretary and Herbert Brown is the president of the Artistic Books, Inc. Paul Downey is also a director for the NBF Theaters, Inc. On July 23, 1976, indictments were returned on 207 counts of obscenity and conspiracy relating to the operating of Overstock Book Company, Inc., also known as Timely Books, Inc., 519 Acorn St., Deer Park, New York, on Robert Brown and Barry Brown.