#6 – Real Estate
The Mafia doesn’t really control real estate, but mobsters love to invest in property. It’s easier to find a Mafia connection with a scam if the individuals can make easy money. For example, Dominick DeVito, connected to the Genovese family, found new ways in the run up to the 2008 housing market crash to make bad deals for homeowners. The mobster was sentenced to close to five years in prison for his real estate scheme.
DeVito and his associates purchased large houses in Westchester County, then sold them for outrageous profits. The mobsters lied to get the mortgages and used the new homes as collateral for more mortgages. Those eventually went into foreclosure, but not before they cashed in on insurance money for things like broken pipes (which they deliberately broke).
#7 – Wind Energy
Wind energy is attractive to criminals for a few reasons — mainly a lack of regulation in the industry. The product is also priced highly and includes complicated financing. Another bonus just happens to be government subsidies. In Europe, criminals are investing in wind farms and other types of green energy. They use the complex financing, high pricing, and lack of regulation to their benefit. Specifically, a growing “eco Mafia” in Italy is taking advantage of environmental grants the Italian government and the European Union are offering.
Because of the mob influence, legitimate wind providers are getting muscled out of licenses to build working wind farms. They are also sold licenses by the Mafia without knowing what kind of businesspeople they are dealing with.
#8 – Carpentry and Construction
The Mafia got its roots into the building industry through unions. Construction crews typically make bids for jobs that include union crews. Mafia-run companies have been known to include union rates in the bids. But once they win the contracts, they pay far less to their workers. Mafia members have also allegedly gotten top jobs inside the union where they shake down legitimate crews and sell jobs to the highest bidder instead of the most skilled carpenters.
The five families of New York were tried by Guiliani’s office in 1986. They were charged with controlling concrete labor unions and demanding kickbacks that set the city back millions of dollars. The families were also up on federal charges in Brooklyn in 1990 for kickbacks. They were also charged with fixing bids on a $150 million job with the New York City Housing Authority.
#9 – Gambling
In the past, mobsters fancied gambling halls. They famously met in 1929, allegedly under the guise of celebrating mobster Meyer Lansky’s honeymoon. The meeting took place in Atlantic City, where the Mafia apparently discussed how they could profit from the end of prohibition. The consensus was that they should invest in casinos and nightclubs.
These days, however, Mafia members are more likely to get caught for online sports gambling than a Las Vegas casino. A Queens district attorney charged the Gambino family in 2008 with illegal sports and casino-style gambling operations. More recently, New York’s Genovese family were indicted in New Jersey for making millions per year through illegal gambling operations.
#10 – Garbage Hauling/Waste Management
The alleged connection between the garbage industry and the mob goes back decades. La Cosa Nostra has been part of New York’s commercial sanitation system since the 1950s. According to How Stuff Works, the mob entered the sanitation industry through the Teamsters union. The organized criminals gained influence over certain routes through New York. They also apparently used unsavory tactics to keep the competition at bay. For example, national waste-industry leader Browning-Ferris Industries entered the market in 1992. In response, an executive’s wife discovered the decapitated head of a German shepherd on her lawn with a note saying, “Welcome to New York,” in its mouth.
The cleaning up of New York’s sanitation industry was a top priority for Rudy Guiliani as mayor of the city. He and attorney Robert Morgenthau oversaw the indictments of the Genovese and Gambino crime families in the 1990s.