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The Brilab Affair: Marcello’s Web of Corruption

Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. In this episode, Gary tells the story of Brilab (Bribery Labor), which initially aimed to uncover corruption in Louisiana and Texas and led to the indictment of New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello.

Marcello, the kingpin of organized crime in the South, controlled operations across Louisiana, Texas, and Tampa, with significant influence over local officials.
Joseph Hauser, an insurance salesman turned FBI informant, arranged a meeting between Marcello and undercover agents and proposed kickbacks for insurance contracts.
Marcello agreed to use his influence to secure insurance contracts for the agents but demanded kickbacks in return.
Louisiana State Commissioner Charles Romer accepted bribes to facilitate state insurance contracts but claimed the money was a campaign contribution, resulting in minimal charges.
Marcello also expressed interest in gaining control over the Teamsters’ health and welfare insurance funds, citing the illness of Teamsters’ leader Frank Fitzsimmons as an opportunity to make this move.

Marcello offered to secure Teamsters insurance contracts in exchange for a $2 million cash deposit in a safety deposit box under a fictitious name.
Marcello’s involvement in Brilab highlighted his influence over officials and his ambitions to expand his criminal enterprises. The case revealed the extent of government corruption and the reach of organized crime in the United States during the late 1970s. Despite Marcello’s efforts, his plans to control the Teamsters’ insurance business were thwarted by law enforcement actions and the eventual downfall of critical players like Alan Dorfman.
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Transcript
[00:00:00] Well, hey guys, welcome all you wiretappers back here in the studio of Gangland Wire. This is Gary Jenkins, retired KCPD intelligence detective, now turned podcaster and documentary filmmaker and author of books‚ÄĒor of one book, anyway‚ÄĒabout the Las Vegas skim. But enough of that. I stumbled into a story. A friend of mine sent some old FBI files.
That had to do with Abscam that he found doing some research he was doing. And it had an interesting story in it. Then there was a, I think it was a life magazine article that interpreted some of these files and, and it made it a little easier to research the story and write some script that I could explain it to you.
Cause it’s about Abscam, and it’s about Brilab, and it’s about. My porn. Now, those were three really famous stings that the FBI did back in the 1970s and [00:01:00] 80s, and there’s a lot of controversy about them. A lot of, , there’s even some congressional hearings about the FBI and doing these reverse or these stings and Anyhow, but the title of my story today is how a leak prevented the FBI from recording a meeting of the Mafia Commission down in New Orleans during Mardi Gras times.
Now speaking of missed opportunities during the casino skimming investigations, here in Kansas City we had a wire up. It was on a lawyer’s office and they picked up Nick Civella talking to his, brother or his nephew. George Chiavola, who was a Chicago police officer who had been carrying some of the skim money back and forth between Kansas city and Chicago.
And, and he had Mr. Chiavola set up a meeting between himself, Nick Savala, our boss and his brother Cork to meet with Joey Aiuppa and Joey Aiuppa brought Jackie Cerone to this meeting. [00:02:00] The meeting did come off and we listened to him or the FBI listened to him at the time, planned it, figured out where it was going to be, probably what room it was going to be in, and why it was in that room.
He told his nephew to get some Lambrusco wine and some antipasto and set up a nice table for IUPA. And it was really an interesting lesson to him, plan this meeting, that that was all in Sicilian. So we listened to it in Sicilian. I’ve listened to it in Sicilian, but then I’ve got a transcript that explains, you know, what was with the interpretation of it, translation of it.
So the FBI finds out about this meeting and they, the address of Shia Bola’s relatives, it was a three-story brownstone up there, kind of by Wrigley Field, I believe. And they put some microphones in a second-floor den that probably that’s where Nick was telling him to set up this meeting when Iupa arrives, which he does arrive.
Shiavola sends his son out, [00:03:00] who’s also a Chicago policeman, and tells him to sweep the streets, and they call back and forth. Streets been swept? Anything, problem out there? Didn’t see any problem. He said, okay, call them up wherever they are. They’re hiding somewhere up the block, or a couple, three blocks away.
Send them on down. So they go on down, and,, so there were no pictures of this because you couldn’t get in close, but they were listening to it on the phone. They had this bug in there, and there’s a chance to listen to the head of the Kansas City mafia and the head of the Chicago outfit discuss business.
And, Nick was going to discuss Kansas City, putting together a package of straw men, if you will, to buy out Alan Glick out of the stardust. It turns out that they didn’t get it done, but when Aiuppa arrived, he refused to walk up the stairs to the second floor because he had a bad heart. So they sit down the first floor and the FBI missed a chance to record this meeting between these two bosses.
It would have been historic because they probably got into [00:04:00] other things. So, you know, say lovey. But this story here, the missed opportunity to record a meeting of the Mafia Commission down in New Orleans, is an exciting, little-known story. It starts off with a long-time Washington lobbyist named Isaac Irving Davidson.
He’s been around forever, and that’s all he’s ever done. He knows everybody, every mover and shaker. He’s from up in the Northeast. But interestingly, he was a close friend of the New Orleans mob boss, Carlos Marcello. Marcello even used to call him. They picked this up on some kind of a wire, Uncle Snookum’s.
And through his many business deals, Davidson had had some dealings with a Los Angeles based insurance operator and convicted swindler named Joseph Hauser. Mr. Hauser went to Davidson and got an introduction to Carlos Marcello. He wanted to do some business down in New Orleans. He’d been out in Los Angeles, wants to do business in New Orleans, and he gets [00:05:00] his connect with Carlos Marcello and, and which ends up in Hauser getting access to all kinds of insurance business from the building trade union off the bat, some lucrative contracts with the local teamster’s unions and longshoremen unions down in New Orleans.
He leveraged this business through his insurance company that he purchased in New Orleans and Carlos Marcello setting this insurance company up, getting all these nice contracts. By the end of 1978, actually, this was 76. By the end of 78, he had been going for a couple of years, but Houser was in trouble again.
I said, he’s a swindler. These guys, even though they could do business right and make money, they don’t. The SEC got onto him because of some shenanigans he was doing. He placed his company under receivership because they had discovered some irregularities. I don’t know exactly what they were. It’s probably not really important, but what is important that.
He and this Mr. Davidson were indicted for federal racketeering [00:06:00] charges in February 1979. Hauser went ahead and pled guilty, and he had to pay off a hefty fine and he was going to have to do some prison time. That’s when the FBI‚ÄĒyou know, they were probably watching all this‚ÄĒpounced and turned him into a cooperating witness.
And they wanted to start this ambitious sting operation because they had these other two stings going on at the time. This was a thing for the FBI. They called it Brilab. B R I L A B. You may have heard of BriLab. And this, these other stings going on were Abscam and MyPorn were the two big ones that made some headlines.
Now, Abscam, if you remember, that was one where the agents were opposing as an Arab sheik, willing to bribe New Jersey politicians. They wanted to open up some casinos in New Jersey, and that’s where the famous saying that was, was on the, there’s a lot of videos out there of, at the time that got leaked of New Jersey politicians taking money directly from this Arab in full headdress.
And the saying was Bush money [00:07:00] walks. The saying was money talks and bullshit walks. So that probably reminds you about abscan. They did a movie about this too. My porn, Miami porn pornography. That was a sting where some agents set up a pornography distribution company in Miami and started buying porn from mob connection, connected distributors all over the country.
This was one interesting thing about this was one of the agents that got involved with this. Got caught shoplifting like a couple of years later and kind of, it really damaged any testimony that he was able to give, you know, the claim was that he got so into this criminal lifestyle working, you know, deep cover, undercover 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But he didn’t know right from wrong anymore. Sting ended in 1980 and took down some of the largest porn distributors in the United States and several high-ranking members of the mafia. I don’t need to go into all that. I don’t want to confuse you with too many details because we’re discussing Brilab and Carlos Marcello.
Brilab or [00:08:00] bribery labor, and it started out as a way to uncover official corruption in Louisiana and Texas and ended up with the indictment of Mafia boss in New Orleans, Carlos Marcello. One of the more exciting aspects of Brilab was never made public back then. And these involved the dealings, of course, with the pudgy grain, Carlos, little man, Marcello, and he was about 70 at the time.
And as I said before, he was the king of organized crime in New Orleans and all over the South. He, Trafficante had, Trafficante had Tampa. There was a kind of a boss up in Texas and Dallas. But Marcello ran everything down in the South there. And he needed. Check with him before you do anything.
This guy had talked about Joseph Hauser, insurance company owner and insurance salesman, Swindler, and the FBI turned him. So he sets up a meeting with these agents and Carlos Marcello. He claimed that these were guys he knew from [00:09:00] California. He’d done business with them out in California. And, now he’s down in New Orleans, of course and, and they all make him a pitch to give him kickbacks for any insurance business that Marcello can direct their way.
Well, the little man Marcello said, you know, I like you guys. And there are certain office holders in Texas and Louisiana that I can probably persuade to help. View and getting insurance contracts covering different state and municipal employees. Of course, you know, you’re going to get a fee. You’re going to have to give me something.
No problem. They were steered to a Louisiana state commissioner named Charles Romer. This proved to be a pretty worthwhile contact because Mr. Romer was responsible for the day to day operations of all the Louisiana state government. And he was recorded agreeing to accept a 4, 300 a month. Payment in return for helping these so called insurance salesmen get a state insurance contract.
According to the [00:10:00] tapes and to the testimony he accepted, Mr. Romer, 1979 accepted two payments amounting to 25, 000. And when they had the trial, you know, this was the bribe money. Well, in a kind of a crazy turn of events at trial, Mr. Romer said that, yeah, I did take that money. I was part of a kind of a bribery plan, but I didn’t do anything for them.
I didn’t do anything illegal for them. I just took a campaign contribution for a gubernatorial candidate, a guy named Edgar Mouton, that he was actually was the, the election committee chairman at the time. And he ended up being convicted only of some minimal charges. He was not convicted of the big charges in this.
It’s a pretty good defense. Now, in that initial meeting with the FBI agency, I also recorded Marcello claiming that he could deliver, other than state contracts, he said, that’s nothing compared to the millions of dollars that could be drawn [00:11:00] from the huge Teamsters health and welfare insurance funds.
Now remember, this is 1979. Hoffa’s disappeared in 1975. Somebody else has run the Frank Fitzsimmons has run the, Teamsters union. They wanted to keep him in. I’ve said that before. They really wanted Hoffa gone and not to take Fitzsimmons out because Fitz was an easy guy for the mob to deal with. It was a pushover for them.
He just wanted to go play golf. He was sick also. And he just wasn’t paying attention to any business. Marcello claimed that. Fitzsimmons was too ill to block any change if they wanted to get some of the national insurance business with the teamsters and gotten some local business down there in new Orleans.
Agents ask him about, well, what about Alan Dorfman? He’s, you know, his Amalgamated Insurance company. He’s got all the contracts with the teamsters and Marcello claimed. Remember this is, , this is 79. And Alan Dorfman is going to get killed a few years later, but he claims in 79, well, we own the [00:12:00] Teamsters and Dorfman is going to be leaving.
But if you remember, that would be easy to predict because at this point in time, 1979, the Las Vegas loans approved by Dorfman and the Midwest mob families that were involved had been exposed. The FBI served search warrants on my buses in Kansas City, which I was part of in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cleveland, some people in Las Vegas, Alan Dorfman’s office and teams, and other team shares.
They’d seen all the, you know, the affidavits for probable cause and all that. So they knew what was going on. I knew it was all falling down on. They knew that the FBI had something I think Marcello saw this too, and he saw that as his opportunity to make this little incursion into the Teamsters piggy bank and him to get some influence and get some, some of that candy out of that piggy bank or that cookie jar, shall we say, and get a big cookie out of that Teamsters cookie jar known as the Health and Welfare Pension Fund, [00:13:00] They taped this deal offered by Marcello and he agreed to use his influence within the Teamsters to get a big cut of the union’s insurance business, like I said, but in return, they had to deposit 2 million in cash in a safety deposit box, which was going to be rented under a fictitious name.
Once they did that, and he could show that they could show that they did that, and he would guarantee that they could take over the teamsters insurance business. Alan Dorfman was out. Alan Dorfman had many legal problems during these years. I mentioned about the skimming and the teamsters loan, but he also was caught on tape conspiring to bribe Nevada Senator Howard Cannon along with Joey Lombardo.
And so he had a case pending on that. He’s going to be murdered a couple of years later in 1983. The deal of this, of this magnitude, requires the approval of the Mafia’s commission, particularly Chicago. Because Chicago, you know, this has been their baby a deal was made. They were going to [00:14:00] have a commission meeting in New Orleans during Mardi Gras in 1980.
I believe This would have been my bosses’ most important meeting since the famous Appalachian meeting in 1957. Chicago and New Orleans families supposedly, before they met, had agreed on how to cut up this 2 million payoff to switch to Teamsters insurance. But another topic, according to these reports, another topic was how to recover any kind of dominance by the mob and the international narcotics traffic, because by the 80s, the cocaine is flooding in, the Colombians are making all the money, and you know, the mob guys are making money, but There’s more money to be made out there and they’re not in control of it.
And, you know, the future will be the, with the Sicilians and they controlled a lot, but slowly, but surely they went down on the pizza connection and the Colombians and now Mexicans have [00:15:00] just. Totally taken over the narcotics business. If there’s any mob guys involved with it, they’re working under Sicilians, Sicilians, they’re working under Columbians or Mexicans.
They’re just buying from them. They have no influence down there. The FBI, of course, was hoping that they could pick up all this discussion with microphones and they planted a bunch getting ready for it because Marcello was going to be the host. And they had some ideas about where it would be.
Well, remember I talked about Abscam and Brilab. Before this meeting, this is Bri lab. We go back to ab scam. Somebody during this time, 80s at 79 or 80 has leaked the details of the app scam staying out and the FBI had to cut it short, start serving warrants, making arrests prematurely. And actually they were getting ready to do that, but they wanted to do it on the down low.
But Abscam, because some agents were really mad. [00:16:00] They said it was coming down too early. Abscam blew up in the headlines because somebody leaked it. And the mafia said, Hey, you know, what’s going on? Who, you know, why are we here? Who we’ve been dealing with? And they called this meeting off and started taking a closer look at who they’d been dealing with.
And I think probably then they knew they were been dealing with some Peckerwoods, two of whom were. Rather unknown. And the other one, you know, again, he was an outsider. Remember how’s there was an outsider too.
As well as the agents were, of course,
this, some of these wire taps they’d had had really been paying off. The one they had on this Irving Davidson, who was a longtime public relations man and lobbyist in the Capitol and was a friend of Marcello’s called him uncles or Marcello called him Uncle Snookum’s FBI taps it over Davidson regularly calling some low-level assistance to, aides of then-president Jimmy Carter discussing his client’s problems.
So he had a Had some [00:17:00] pipelines into some pretty highly placed people in, in Washington, D. C.
Now, why, why was this get leaked? I just speculated a little bit. Was there a bad agent? Was there a bad prosecutor? Was it a mistake? Well, according to what I read and according to some Justice Department sources, some of the, as I said before, some of the key agents involved with the New York, New Jersey area, part of Ab Scam, , it was kind of down in Florida and then New Jersey and they were working their way up into New York with this phony sheik and trying to bribe politicians.
Somebody was wanting to take it down and these agents were mad. They said, that’s premature. So, but they went ahead and took it down and shut it down. And that’s when somebody started leaking this information out. , they leaked it out because they were afraid that, you know, if they take this down in secret, then the next thing, you know, those cases will just disappear into the bowels of the department of justice.
And there’ll [00:18:00] be some high-level coverup. Cause they had a bunch of politicians. I believe there were democratic politicians at a democratic administration at the time. So, you know that was their fear. And that’s why they started leaking it like crazy. Cause they wanted the ad scam, those dramatic.
Videos and that dramatic language of these politicians is blatantly taking money from an Arab sheik. They want that out on the public record so that cannot be swept under the rug. I went ahead and closed down my porn also at the same time. And that was kind of the end of these big ambitious FBI stings.
, all the defendants in all these cases appeal to convictions on charges of entrapment. Congress even held meetings on the use of these stings and trying to entrap people that may or may not have been predisposed to, if you hadn’t offered them a whole lot of money, maybe they wouldn’t have gone out looking for the money.
It’s always kind of a deal, you know, on whether you entrap somebody or whether they were predisposed to [00:19:00] To take money as an official bribe, anyhow, but that’s the story of ab scam, Carlos Marcello, and how some loose lips sunk this ship. And
How the FBI missed an opportunity to record a meeting of the mafia commission down in. New Orleans during Mardi Gras about 1980, I believe, anyhow. Thanks a lot, guys. I just thought it was an interesting little story that you would, you would like and enjoy and enlighten you about this BriLab thing and kind of what was going on, why they did it.
These other stings that were going on, the ab scam and my porn. Each one of them is a story in itself. Each one of them has mafia people involved, organized crime people involved. Anytime there’s politicians, dirty politicians out here. Casinos and pornography and any kind of gray area business or totally illegal business, then the mafia is going to be somewhere involved in around it and in our history [00:20:00] and probably today, but everything’s legal today.
So I don’t know what the mob has to do today. And yeah, thanks a lot, guys. Don’t forget. I like to ride motorcycles, so watch out for motorcycles when you’re out there. If you have a problem with, PTSD and you’ve been in the service, be sure and go to the, VA website and get that hotline number.
There’s help available and drugs and alcohol addiction of those really go hand in hand with PTSD. And if you have a problem with that, maybe you can get that help at the VA. If you’ve been in the service, you probably can, but if you haven’t, our friend, former Gambino soldier Anthony Ruggiano, is a drug and alcohol counselor down in Florida.
Plus he has a hotline on his website. So go find anthonyruggiano. com or, or he’s got a YouTube page. Anyhow, get hold of him and get some help for yourself. And let me know if you ever do that. I’d be really interested to see how that worked for you so thanks a lot, guys. Don’t forget to like and subscribe.
And keep coming back and give me a [00:21:00] review on, Apple. If you can figure out how to do that and tell your friends about it, share it on your social media, more viewers we get, and the more listeners we get, the better I like it. Thanks a lot, guys.

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