NY Mobsters Used Strip Club For Training

New York – Two accused members of a notorious New York crime family turned a strip club into a training ground for mobsters, prosecutors told the jury on Thursday in closing arguments in a Mafia extortion trial

Salvatore “Fat Sal” Scala, 64, an accused Gambino crime family captain, and Thomas “Monk” Sassano, 61, an alleged soldier in Scala’s crew, both face extortion charges in Manhattan federal court.

Prosecutors said the men used the VIP Club to host lavish parties for business associates and extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from the club.

“Scala and Sassano used that club as a junior varsity” to groom future mobsters, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig, referring to a training squad of a high school sports team.

Defense attorneys countered that the men were protecting legitimate business interests as investors in the VIP Club.

If convicted, Scala faces a maximum of 60 years in prison and Sassano faces 40 years.

Honig said the then-owner of the club, Frank Marcello, sought help from the Gambino crime family to protect it against other members of organized crime. Marcello died in 2002.

Scala installed several underlings in bogus jobs at the club, prosecutors said. They conducted mob business, including one they called “the bathroom extortioner” for using the lavatory to collect payments.

Sassano was brought in to do Scala’s bidding after Scala was sent to prison on an unrelated extortion charge in 2001, prosecutors said.

Biweekly payments of thousands of dollars were funneled up to Scala to “keep the peace,” according to prosecution witness, Steve Aslind, a club co-manager.

Defense attorneys Ronald Rubenstein and Lindy Urso said the club’s financial woes were not due to ties to organized crime but because the club’s managers failed to pay taxes and one ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debts.

The jury will continue deliberations Friday.


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