Gravano Pleads Guilty in Ariz. Drug Ring Case

ByWalter Berry

P H O E N I X, June 29, 2001 -- Mafia turncoat Salvatore "Sammy the Bull"Gravano pleaded guilty today to charges that he masterminded anecstasy ring that sold the drug from Arizona to New York.

He pleaded guilty to 10 counts including conspiracy to selldangerous drugs, participating in a criminal syndicate and moneylaundering. He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison onthe charges when he is sentenced Sept. 28.

Gravano's wife, Debra, and their children, Gerard and Karen,also pleaded guilty in the case before Judge Steven Sheldon ofMaricopa County Superior Court.

Gerard Gravano pleaded guilty to illegally conducting anenterprise and offering to sell and transport dangerous drugs. Hefaces up to nine years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 28.

Debra, 48, pleaded guilty to illegallyconducting an enterprise. She faces five years' probation and apossible one-year jail term. Karen Gravano, 29, pleaded guilty tothe use of wire or electronic communications and drug-relatedtransactions. She faces three years of supervised probation. Bothare scheduled for sentencing Aug. 31.

Gravano, 55, and his son, 24, pleaded guilty in New York lastmonth to federal conspiracy counts involving the drug case. U.S.prosecutors said both faced up to 15½ years in prison whensentenced on Sept. 11.

Gravano could serve his time for the New York convictions at thesame time as his Arizona sentence. At the time of his New Yorkhearing, Gerard Gravano's attorney said the federal pleas were apackage deal that included Arizona charges and concurrentsentencing.

Family Linked to Ecstasy Ring

Salvatore Gravano and his family were the last of 48 defendants,most of them Arizona residents, who were indicted last year inconnection with the drug ring. Some of the others were sentenced toprison; most received probation.

Investigators said Gravano was boss and bankroller for theecstasy organization which allegedly distributed up to 30,000 pillsa week. A similar New York ecstasy ring with ties to Israeliorganized crime allegedly distributed 4 million ecstasy pills worth$100 million in the last three years.

Gravano moved to Arizona in the mid-1990s under the federalwitness protection program after he testified against Gambinofamily boss John Gotti Sr. and other mobsters. He served five yearsin prison after admitting involvement in 19 murders and numerousother crimes.

He was living in suburban Tempe as Jimmy Moran while operating aPhoenix construction company. His wife operated an Italianrestaurant in Scottsdale.

At the same time, the former underboss allegedly was helping hisson and Michael Papa operate an ecstasy ring. Prosecutors said ithad been failing to turn a profit and the elder Gravano was to helpthem get it out of the red.

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