Gangsters vs. the law: 'Whitey' Bulger, Capone, Gotti & more

By MSN News AP Photo: U.S. Marshals Service, File
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Mobsters, other bosses often tangle with authorities

James "Whitey" Bulger is only the latest alleged mob figure to tangle with the law. Here's a look at other famous gangsters and their legal wins and defeats. See gallery

 

James 'Whitey' Bulger

James "Whitey" Bulger has become a household name in the world of famous mobsters, thanks to films, TV episodes and books chronicling his time as the kingpin of the south Boston underworld, as well as an FBI informant with a "license to kill." Bulger, who is now 83 years old and in poor health, is facing what's left of his life in prison after a jury found him guilty of murder, racketeering and conspiracy on Aug. 12, 2013. In a sprawling 32-count indictment, Bulger had faced charges relating to 19 murders, and was ultimately convicted of participating in most, but not all, of the killings. His sentence will be determined at a hearing scheduled for Nov. 13.

Video: The Boston Globe tells the Whitey Bulger story

Potential witness was poisoned

 

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Charles 'Lucky' Luciano

Italian-born, Manhattan-raised Charles "Lucky" Luciano was a pioneer in modern organized crime. Rising to become the head of the Genovese crime family, he often is credited with splitting New York's organized crime structure into five families and an overriding board to settle disputes. Luciano's trial and conviction as the head of a massive prostitution ring in the 1930s captivated the city, and his years in prison as an informant for the U.S. military and, later, his continued reign as mob boss made him a legend.

 

Video: "Mobsters" profile of Luciano

 

 

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Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel

Known for being handsome and charming, as well as ruthless and bloodthirsty, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was one of the top henchmen in the Genovese crime family and a founder of Murder Inc., the infamous mafia hit squad of the 1930s and '40s. In 1939, Siegel was arrested and tried for the murder of Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg, but due to a witness's dying and insufficient evidence, he was acquitted only to be gunned down by his girlfriend several years later.

 

Video: Siegel documentary

 

 

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John Gotti

John Gotti was called the "Teflon Don" for a reason no matter what federal prosecutors charged him with, it never seemed to stick. As the boss of New York's Gambino crime family, Gotti beat numerous charges through witness intimidation, jury tampering and other nefarious means. But in 1992, he was convicted of five murders, along with a litany of other crimes, thanks to an agreement by his underboss, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, to testify against him.

 

Video: Gotti on "60 Minutes"

 

 

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Al Capone

Perhaps no figure embodies the classic American mobster identity like Chicago Outfit boss Al Capone. In the early 1920s through 1931, Capone was the most high-profile gangster in the country, having developed a Robin Hood-like persona by donating much of his illegal fortune to charity. Despite his alleged role in the infamous St. Valentine's Day massacre and other murders, prosecutors could never prove his involvement. Instead, Capone eventually was convicted of tax evasion for not paying taxes on the millions of dollars he earned through illegal rackets. (See more tax woes of the famous.)

 

Video: Biography of Al Capone

 

 

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James 'Jimmy the Gent' Burke

Immortalized by actor Robert De Niro in "Goodfellas," James Burke, aka "Jimmy the Gent," was an Irish mobster with deep connections to the Italian-American Lucchese crime family. He is believed to have masterminded the famous 1978 Lufthansa heist, in which nearly $6 million in cash and jewels was stolen from New York's JFK Airport. Although he was never convicted of the heist, Burke eventually wound up in prison for an illegal gambling scam and the murder of Richard Eaton though he was reportedly suspected in more than 50 homicides.

 

Video: The Lufthansa heist

 

 

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Griselda Blanco

If there were ever a glass ceiling in the world of international drug cartels, Griselda Blanco broke through it on her way to becoming one of the most powerful members of the Colombian Medellín cartel. Often referred to as the "Cocaine Godmother," Blanco oversaw the importation of hundreds of tons of the drug into the United States, by some estimates. She was convicted of drug-trafficking charges in 1984 but escaped a trio of murder charges because of technicalities. She couldn't escape a pair of assassins in 2012, however, who killed her using the same motorcycle drive-by-shooting method she is credited with inventing.

 

Video: CNN reports Griselda Blanco's death

 

 

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Sonny Barger

Ever since Sonny Barger first appeared in the pages of journalist Hunter S. Thompson's seminal work "Hell's Angels," he has been seen as the face of arguably the most infamous biker gang in the country. And while these days Barger is known for spending his time doing media interviews and speaking engagements, his earlier days were filled with the kinds of criminal enterprises for which the Hells Angels are known. In 1988, Barger was convicted of conspiracy to blow up a hangout owned by a rival club, the Outlaws, and served four years in federal prison.


Video: Interview with Barger

 

 

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Stanley 'Tookie' Williams

By the time Stanley "Tookie" Williams was convicted of four murders in 1979 and sentenced to death, he had seen the gang he founded, the Crips, become one of the largest and most feared criminal organizations in the country. His transformation while on California's death row from hardened criminal to anti-gang author and activist, however, made him into a sympathetic figure in the public debate over the death penalty. But it wouldn't save his life, as he was executed by lethal injection in 2005.

 

Audio: Williams talks to "Democracy Now" about his pending execution

 

 

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Paul 'Big Paulie' Castellano

Paul Castellano, aka "Big Paulie" and "The Howard Hughes of the Mob," was a large figure (both figuratively and literally) in the Gambino crime family in the 1960s through the '80s. He was one of the five bosses of New York's Five Families who were indicted in 1986 in what was called the Mafia Commission Trial. Convictions from the case sent the heads of the crime families and their underbosses to prison for life. But Castellano never made it to trial. He was gunned down in an unsanctioned hit ordered by another rising Mafioso from the same family a man named John Gotti.

 

Video: The murder of Castellano

 

 

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Gaetano Badalamenti

From his home in Sicily, Gaetano Badalamenti oversaw a heroin and cocaine importation operation of epic proportions, later referred to as the "Pizza Connection" because of its use of pizza shops as fronts for importing drugs and laundering money. Badalamenti joined 37 other Mafiosi 22 of them in the United States in standing trial for the far-reaching scheme and was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to 45 years in prison. He is said to have served the term without betraying his mafia code of silence.

 

More on the Sicilian mafia

 

 

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Vyacheslav Ivankov

When Vyacheslav "Yaponchik" Ivankov arrived in the United States from Russia in 1992, he already had done a stint in prison and was known as one of the most feared gangsters in his home country. It didn't take him long to earn the same reputation in the United States, and he was sometimes referred to as the "Red Godfather" and the "Father of Extortion." Indeed, it was millions of dollars in extortion that Ivankov eventually was convicted of in 1996. Freed again after being deported to Russia, Ivankov was gunned down in 2009 after leaving a Moscow restaurant. A sniper rifle was found in a truck nearby.

 

Video: "Lords of the Mafia: Vyacheslav Ivankov"

 

 

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Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov

Known as "Taiwanchik" for his Asian features, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov is an alleged Russian mobster who is said to have tried to fix sporting events ranging from beauty pageants and basketball games to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. Tokhtakhounov is one of 34 alleged members of Russian organized-crime groups who were charged in April by federal prosecutors in an alleged sports-betting ring that laundered more than $100 million. Tokhtakhounov, however, is still on the run and is listed as a wanted fugitive by the FBI.

 

More photos of Tokhtakhounov

 

 

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Salvatore 'Sammy The Bull' Gravano

Sammy "The Bull" Gravano is said to have helped John Gotti betray and murder their own boss of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano. So perhaps it was justice that Gravano later turned on Gotti by agreeing to work with the FBI in convicting him of five murders and numerous other crimes. After testifying against his former mafia friends, Gravano entered the Witness Protection Program and lived a reclusive life in Arizona, before eventually abandoning the program and making his identity known by doing several media interviews.

 

Video: Interview with Gravano

 

 

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