Frank Coppa

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Anthony Coppa Sr. (born September 11, 1941) is a Sicilian-American gangster in the Bonanno crime family who was a close friend of Joseph Massino and Frank Lino and made large sums of money in stock fraud schemes. In 2002, Coppa became the first Bonanno made man to turn state's evidence.[1]

Biography[edit]

Coppa was born in Manalapan Township, New Jersey. He graduated from high school and spend a few months in college before dropping out.[2] He held jobs as a grocery store clerk, transport truck driver and waiter but soon drifted back into a life of crime. Frank Coppa Senior has brown eyes, brown hair, stands at 6'2" and weighed 280 pounds. "Big Frank" Coppa had three sons; one became a doctor while the other two, Frank Lino Jr and Michael followed him into his school bus business.

Coppa lived in New Jersey and Staten Island, but operated his criminal activities on the eastern edge of Bensonhurst and Williamsburg on the corner of Broadway and Kent] in Brooklyn. This area included a low-income municipal housing project called Marlboro Houses, where he eventually became involved in drug trafficking.[3] A cigar smoker, Coppa regularly disregarded New York State smoking laws. He always wore slacks with button down shirts and a black, short mink coat.

Coppa acquired many assets, including parking garage leases, soft drink vending machine and coin-operated telephone contracts and a chain of rotisserie chicken restaurants. Through his wife and sons, Coppa owned a school bus company named Three Brothers{ My Three Sons, Daniel T and Frezcon}. He used his influence to win a city contract to bus children with disabilities to and from school.[2][4]

Criminal career[edit]

At age 19, Coppa was arrested for attempted burglary of a clothing store, but did not spend any prison time.[5]

Coppa began his serious criminal career selling stolen watches and furs from transport truck hijackings, grossing $20,000.[2] In Bensonhurst he associated with the Colombo crime family and Genovese crime family before he eventually joined the Bonanno family. He elevated himself from a "sidewalk soldier" to a shady businessman. Coppa was one of the Bonanno family's biggest mobsters on Wall Street and is credited for practically inventing the pump-and-dump stock scheme.

In the early 1970s, Coppa first became involved in stock fraud schemes. Coppa and his associates bought stock in Tucker Drilling, a nearly worthless oil drilling company. Coppa bribed stockbrokers to sell to the stock to the public at high prices. For brokers who did not cooperate in the scheme, Coppa employed threats and physical violence.[3] When the stock price reached a high point, Coppa and his associates sold their stock holdings. The remaining investors lost their investments.[2]

In 1977, boss Carmine Galante inducted Coppa into the Bonanno family in recognition of his ability to earn money.[6]

In 1978, Coppa survived an assassination attempt. As he was entering his Mercedes Benz, a bomb detonated. Coppa escaped with third degree burns and shrapnel wounds to his face, chest and legs. On Hylan Blvd. On Staten Island

Legal problems[edit]

In 1979, Coppa was convicted for his role in the Tucker Drilling scam but successfully avoided a prison sentence.[2]

During the 1980s, Cappo was indicted for income tax evasion for not declaring income received from his bus company. In 1992, Coppa was convicted and received several years in prison.[4] In 1994, Coppa was released from prison.[7]

By the late 1990s, Massino and Coppa had become close associates. Massino appreciated Coppa because his stock schemes netted large amounts of money for the Bonanno family. During this period, Massino and Coppa went to France with their wives to celebrate Massino's birthday. Coppa paid for the entire trip, which included stays at expensive hotels and meals at classy restaurants.[2]

On March 3, 2000, Coppa was indicted on stock fraud charges.[8] From 1993 to 1996, Coppa and other Bonanno associates collaborated with brokers at two defunct stock firms, White Rock Partners and State Street Capital Markets, to drive up the price of some penny stocks.[9] In 2002, Coppa was convicted and sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

Government witness[edit]

In October 2002, having served several months on his recent stock fraud conviction, Coppa was indicted again on racketeering charges of extortion against Barry Weinberg, a Bonanno business associate. To avoid prosecution on his own criminal charges, Weinberg secretly recorded conversations for law enforcement in which Coppa pressed him for extortion payments.[10]

Facing charges that would have all but assured he would die in prison if convicted, Coppa decided to become a government witness, later declaring that, "I didn't want to do no more time." He became the first member of the Bonanno family to break his blood oath; until then the Bonannos had been the only family to have never had a member turn informer since the Castellammarese War. Coppa's defection precipitated a mass defection of Bonanno leaders to the government, eventually including Massino himself.[4]

Coppa testified against Massino. According to Coppa's testimony, the government allowed him to keep $1.7 million in personal assets and a townhouse in Florida.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marzulli, John (2005-04-10). "The Rise & Fall Of New York's Last Don. Pale. Bloated. Shuffling.". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Crittle, Simon (2006). The last Godfather : the rise and fall of Joey Massino. New York: Berkley. ISBN 0-425-20939-3. 
  3. ^ a b "Born to Steal: When the Mafia Hit Wall Street" By Gary Weiss
  4. ^ a b c Raab. p. 669 http://books.google.com/books?id=5nAt6N8iQnYC&pg=PA656&dq=%22Frank+Coppa%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=olGDT9DkPOnx0gGJvODWBw&ved=0CGMQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=%22Frank%20Coppa%22&f=false.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ DeStefano, Anthony M. (2008). King of the godfathers (Trade paperback ed. (updated). ed.). New York: Citadel Press/Kensington Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 0-8065-2874-5. 
  6. ^ Raab, Selwyn (2006). Five families : the rise, decline, and resurgence of America's most powerful Mafia empires (1st St. Martin's Griffin ed. ed.). New York: Thomas Dunne Books. p. 656. ISBN 0-312-36181-5. 
  7. ^ Raab. p. 657 http://books.google.com/books?id=5nAt6N8iQnYC&pg=PA656&dq=%22Frank+Coppa%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=olGDT9DkPOnx0gGJvODWBw&ved=0CGMQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=%22Frank%20Coppa%22&f=false.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Feuer, Alan (March 3, 2000). "19 Charged in Stock Scheme Tied to Mob". New York Times. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Claffey, Mike (March 3, 2000). "40M STOCK SCAM 19 SAID TO HAVE TIES TO U.S., RUSSIAN MOBS ARE CHARGED". New York Daily News. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Humphreys, Lee Lamothe & Adrian (2008). The sixth family : the collapse of the New York Mafia and the rise of Vito Rizzuto (Rev. & updated. ed.). Mississauga, Ont.: J. Wiley & Sons Canada. ISBN 0470154454. 
  11. ^ Marzulli, John (January 29, 2005). "MASSINO SANG FOR MONEY Talking don seen in fed shocker". New York Daily News. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 

Further reading[edit]