Mike Ference | Pittsburgh City Paper

Member since Jan 31, 2013

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  • Posted by:
    Mike Ference on 10/15/2019 at 9:42 AM
    The Zappala Synchronized Crime Family/Terrorist Group has nothing to be proud off.

    Read for yourself and judge for yourself:

    Lingering loyalties, enmities As radical a change as incorporation into the American Mafia would have been, it could not have wiped clean the memories of individuals who previously were part of a different underworld society.

    So, if an association of Calabrian criminals existed before Calabresi were welcomed into the Mafia, we should expect to find evidence of some widespread organizational memory - the old friendly relationships and the old rivalries of the Calabresi as a group should resurface from time to time.

    There are some examples of this. John Bazzano's brief tenure as boss of the western Pennsylvania Mafia is one. John Bazzano Bazzano, born May 22, 1888, in Palizzi Marina on the southern Calabrian coast, emigrated to the United States as an adult.
    He settled first in West Virginia, soon relocated to western Pennsylvania and became an American citizen in 1916. He served his adopted homeland in the Great War. Early in the Prohibition Era, Bazzano earned a substantial income through involvement in confection and yeast businesses, which provided essential ingredients for moonshining operations.

    In 1924, he married Rosina Zappala in New York City. His bride was a native of Musolino's hometown, Santo Stefano, and she likely was another relative of the famous brigand (her paternal grandmother was Anna Maria Musolino). Rosina also appears to have been related to Calabrian underworld chief and "white slaver" Frank Filasto (her maternal grandmother was Rose Filasto).

    In addition to New York City, members of the Zappala family resided in the Pittsburgh and New Kensington areas of Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada. In Pittsburgh, Rosina's brother, attorney Frank Zappala, served as Bazzano's legal counsel. Bazzano's influence in the Pittsburgh area increased through the years. By the conclusion of the Mafia's Castellammarese War in 1931,

    Bazzano was the prominent leader of a rival faction to local boss Giuseppe Siragusa, a loyal vassal of Castellammarese War victor Salvatore Maranzano. Maranzano's murder on September 10, 1931, presented an opportunity for Bazzano. Three days later, Siragusa was found shot to death in the basement of his home.

    Bazzano stepped to the leadership of the Pittsburgh-based Mafia. On July 29, 1932, John, James and Arthur Volpe were shot to death inside a Bazzano-owned cafe. (This incident was discussed in the January 2011 issue of Informer.) The Volpes were aggressively expanding Neapolitan racketeers in the East End of Pittsburgh.

    Everyone seemed to know immediately that Bazzano was responsible for the attack. Vito Genovese, second-in-command of the powerful Luciano Crime Family in New York and a leading figure among Neapolitan racketeers in the Mafia, was enraged and blamed several of his underworld colleagues for the murders. Genovese targeted Bazzano and his Calabrian-paesano in Brooklyn, Albert Anastasia, in a vendetta.

    Copied from: http://mafiahistory.us/a031/f_calabrian.ht…

    Source info:
    Hunt, Thomas, "Just how organized was
    Calabrian organized crime?," The American Mafia, mafiahistory.us, accessed Oct. 14, 2019.

    Copyright Thomas Hunt
  • Posted by:
    Mike Ference on 04/22/2019 at 10:17 AM
    The fake media in Pittsburgh also missed out on a chance to expose the Pittsburgh Diocese years before the PA Attorney General got downwind of their shenanigans.

    Years ago I was reporting the abuse, the cover-ups and naming all the names but, the media was not permitted to report the truth. Compare my press release with the Horowitz Law firm site as they beg for victims of Father john Wellinger to come forward.


    Compare it with the recent posting of Horowitz Law firm.

    Read for yourself and judge for yourself:

    For more information, contact:
    Mike Ference

    The Last Call: Second Protest Announced

    Pittsburgh, PA November 10, 2011 On December 5, 2011, well-known local activist Mike Ference will stage the second in a series of Last Call protests targeting local institutions and individuals tied to cases involving the abuse of children and young adults. The protest will take place beginning at 11:00 am in front of the Allegheny County Detectives Bureau in Dormont.

    Ference is targeting the bureau for failing to take action after he presented detailed information about alleged clergy sex abuse, cover-ups and other criminal behavior as early as year 1986. Detectives Dennis Logan and Keith Andrews basically blew me off. They werent the least bit interested in asking me any questions or following up on anything, Ference says.

    He adds that Assistant District Attorney Laura Ditka also showed little interest, although she did help him secure the police report on the attempted murder of his son in 1989 the event that inspired him to begin his work as an activist. Ference says he had been unable to obtain the report directly from the McKeesport Police Department, and that then-McKeesport Mayor Jim Brewster remained reluctant to release the files, even though they are considered public record.

    Ference initially began investigating the attempted murder of his son because he felt the case had been botched and prematurely closed by the McKeesport police. William Scully, then Public Safety Director in Clairton, gave Ference notes on the case and encouraged him to continue investigating on his own. A central issue was whether the shooter had been sexually abused and encouraged to study the occult by a local Catholic priest. In more than two decades of work since then, Ference has uncovered and written about numerous related tales of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in the region.

    What has happened in the Mon Valley is every bit as disturbing as Cardinal Bernard Laws cover-up in the Boston Archdiocese and the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case unfolding at Penn State, Ference says. What Ive found again and again during my investigations is that such abuse cant happen without various community stakeholders looking the other way. My Last Call protests are an effort to expose some of the individuals and institutions we need to hold responsible.

    Ferences December 5 protest will concentrate on one specific report of clergy sex abuse, cover-up, and possible intimidation by persons associated with the Pittsburgh Diocese. Based on an interview and email exchanges with the alleged victim, telephone conversations with the victims parents and interviews with other individuals in community, Ference summarizes the case as follows:

    In 1988, former Catholic priest John Wellinger fed drugs and alcohol to an 18-year-old college student from the University of Pittsburgh at the students apartment. According to the victim, Wellinger also gave him a Mickey which knocked him out for several hours. Upon waking, the youth called 911, ran down his apartment steps and met the Pittsburgh EMS squad at the bottom. The EMS took him to the emergency room of Presbyterian University Hospital, now part of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The young man was given a bed. Wellinger followed him to the hospital and into his room. The victim asked Wellinger to get his nurse. When the nurse entered the room, the young man informed the nurse that Wellinger was the person who harmed him. The nurse ushered Wellinger out. The parents of the victim were summoned, but the victim claims that he was never seen or treated by a doctor and that the police were not called.

    Ference also quotes from emails sent to him by the alleged victim: My dad did report Wellinger's behavior. Did you forget the excommunication letter he received from the diocese that I told you about? Did you forget about my dad being forced off the rectory grounds by West Mifflin police? Or maybe you forgot that I told the nurse in the ER that night that a priest did this to me. Or maybe you forgot how my family was ostracized from the neighborhood. We werent quiet, Mike. We were ignored. Just like you and everyone else. I was abused.

    In correspondence with Rita Flaherty from the Pittsburgh Diocese, Ference has been told that the Diocese is not aware of any allegations concerning this individual. In an email dated November 9, 2011, Flaherty writes:

    If someone has come to you with information that they have been abused, please have them contact me directly at 412-456-3060 or through our hotline number 1-888-808-1235. We would want to meet with that person and hear their story first hand and see what assistance we could provide to them. After dealing with the person directly, we follow our policies of reporting any alleged abuse involving a minor (no matter how old the alleged victim is now) to the appropriate civil authorities in the area where the abuse allegedly occurred. It is certainly my desire to assist any victim of abuse with their healing to the best of my ability.

    Ference says this email represents a positive change from the deny, stonewall, cover-up and hush up tactics that he has found to be common in cases involving clergy. However, he also feels the time for patience and gradual change is long past. For two decades I have called on certain institutions and individuals to come forward and take responsibility for their roles active or passive in child sex abuse, he explains. This is the last call those who dont do the right thing will be outted at a series of protests where I will publicize incriminating details from my 22-year investigation. Abusers who have harmed children and those who knowingly covered up the crimes will be named I want everyone in our community to know who the bad guys are.

    Additional protests are in the planning stage. Ference says UPMC Hospital in Oakland is a likely site because of its ties to the clerical abuse case discussed above. He is also considering the police departments and municipal buildings of McKeesport, Clairton, and West Mifflin, due to their involvement in the mishandled investigation of the attempted murder of his son. District Attorney Stephen Zappalas office and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette were also mentioned as stakeholders who have been more interested in protecting the church hierarchy than punishing abusers and defending children.

    For more information on the December 5 protest or other upcoming events, call Mike Ference at 412-233-5491, or email mike@ferencemarketing.com.
  • Posted by:
    Mike Ference on 10/19/2016 at 12:13 PM
    An Open Letter to William and Kimberly Gaines proud parents of Billy Gaines,
    a former University of Pittsburgh student and football player
    who fell to his death due to the corruption of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

    Sadly, Mr. & Mrs. Gaines I have to be the one to tell
    you that Billys untimely death could have and should have been prevented. For
    over 25 years Ive been trying to expose the dysfunctional and deviant behavior
    of a former Catholic priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese. His name is Father
    John Wellinger.
    Billy was not the only University of Pittsburgh student to
    be victimized by a Catholic priest, nor the only young man to lose his life
    because of a Catholic priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese.
    I can assure you that I have tried everything imaginable to
    expose the criminal behavior of Catholic priests in the Pittsburgh Diocese,
    especially Father John Wellinger. Had I successfully exposed Wellinger, theres
    no doubt in my mind, your son, Billy would still be alive.
    Whats worse, there were so many others who could easily
    have exposed Wellinger but deliberately covered-up his crimes; again had any
    one of these dozens and dozens of people done the right thing, your son Billy
    would be alive today.
    I take no pleasure in writing this letter even though I know
    it may finally force people to confront the truth. And, I know it wont bring
    Billy back, but it might save others. I have a feeling Billy would want to help
    Heres what I know for sure and why Billy could still be
    alive today if only those people in charge would have done the right thing.
    From 1981 to 1985 Father John Wellinger abused a young boy
    at St. James Parish in Wilkinsburg where Wellinger served as the assistant
    pastor. The young boy's name was Jeffrey Wennersten who passed away at the age
    of 42, leaving a young son. Just weeks before Jeffrey died he shared details of
    the abuse he suffered at the hands of Pittsburgh Catholic priest Father John
    Sometime in early 1987, possibly February or March, Father
    John Wellinger and a University of Pittsburgh student, Greg Witkowski were
    sharing beers in an Oakland apartment that Greg rented with his brother, who
    was also a Pitt student.
    Greg admitted to me that Wellinger often provided alcohol
    for Greg and his brother. On this occasion Wellinger also drugged Greg with a
    substance that knocked him out for hours. When Greg regained consciousness he
    intuitively called 911. Scared, Greg said he raced down the flights of stairs
    to meet the EMS crew and ambulance that transported the still dazed student to
    Presbyterian University Hospital, now known as University of Pittsburgh Medical
    Center (UPMC).
    For whatever reason, the emergency room doctors refused to
    treat Greg even though he ingested an unfamiliar substance, administered by a
    lay person, with malicious intentions and alcohol was part of the mix.
    This was years before the Boston scandal exploded, so the
    Catholic Church still maintained its grip on plenty of institutions, it appears
    that the University of Pittsburgh was one of them and its affiliate,
    Presbyterian University Hospital.
    Father Wellinger trailed the ambulance to the emergency room
    and took Witkowski by surprise. Staying calm, Witkowski asked Wellinger to
    fetch his nurse. When the nurse arrived, Witkowski explained that Wellinger was
    the person who had drugged him. No police were called, not even hospital
    Witkowskis parents Robert and Ann were summoned to the
    hospital and asked to take their son home. I do not know who or if anyone ever
    paid the hospital bill. According to former Clairton Public Safety Director
    William Scully, he explained to me in 1990 that a hospital worker advised
    Robert and Ann Witkowski not to press charges and further cautioned the parents
    that the Catholic Church was too powerful to challenge.
    Several days later Robert Witkowski would confront Father
    John Wellinger at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA. Father Wellinger was
    the parish priest and the Witkowski family were members. At the time Robert
    Witkowski came banging on the front door of the rectory, a parish council
    meeting was going on with several eyewitnesses to the event. I interviewed one
    of the eyewitnesses who was also Father Wellingers secretary. Her name is
    Marta Placek.
    According to Placek the council members were concerned that
    Robert Witkowski was drunk and may have had a gun, so West Mifflin Police were
    called. No charges or arrests were made. My guess is if any questions were
    asked by West Mifflin police, they quickly forgot the answers.
    Over the years I spoke with Robert Witkowski on several
    occasions. He never volunteered very much information. He did admit that he
    received a letter from the legal department of the Pittsburgh Diocese or one of
    their law firms commanding Robert Witkowski to stay off the property at Holy
    Spirit Church and to stay away from Father Wellinger.
    If any of this had been exposed, like it should have been,
    college students throughout the Pittsburgh area would have been warned about
    Catholic priests such as Father John Wellinger. Freshman orientation would have
    been the appropriate time to issue the proper alerts. Sadly, too many people
    failed to take their jobs seriously. Worse yet, folks in charge succumbed to
    the wishes of evil men in black robes; most likely because they are scared to
    death of Catholic Church hierarchy.
    Your son Billy wasnt the only boy victimized by Father John
    Wellinger. There were many; too many. Here are some of them, all before your
    son even thought about playing football at the University of Pittsburgh.
    One boy was Chris Mathews an 11-year-old altar boy who
    served under Father John Wellinger at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA.
    Although, I do not know the details of the sexual abuse, I know Chris Mathews
    very well and his father, as well. His abuse took place in 1989.
    Also in 1989, a young boy from Holy Spirit Church in West
    Mifflin took his own life. He killed himself with a shotgun blast. Was this
    young man another victim of Father John Wellinger. I do not know. As a civilian
    investigator, I have very few resources to conduct an investigation. Without a
    badge or even a press pass, most people would shy away from talking to me; all
    fearful of the Catholic Church.
    1989 was not a good year for former altar boys of John
    Wellinger. Robert Butler served under Father John Wellimger at St. Clare of
    Assisi Parish in Clairton, PA. Butler also attended the parochial school, it
    was known as Clairton Central Catholic. Butler and his circle of friends were
    often invited to the rectory for fun and games with Father Wellinger. The game
    room had a pool table and pinball machines, I was told.
    Butler would kill himself with what I believe was a
    32-caliber pistol on his way to Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, PA.
    One shot to his right temple, he probably died instantly. Before killing
    himself, Butler tried to murder my son, Adam with a bullet discharged inches
    away from the back of my sons skull.
    Miraculously, my son survived and thrived. Its the main
    reason why after 25 years, Im still fighting to expose Father John Wellinger
    and all the harm he did to others. Theres no doubt in my mind that Wellinger
    sexually abused Robert Butler.
    I spoke to many people about Wellinger. I would state with absolute
    certainty that Wellingers sexual activity with young boys, young men and older
    women was common knowledge in every parish where the preying priest served.
    The women who worked in the cafeteria and volunteered to
    watch the children on the playground at Clairton Central Catholic knew to keep
    their children away from Wellinger. According to Mrs. Ann Weeks, the cafeteria
    manager at the time, Wellinger liked to parade around the playground covering
    the younger children faces with his long black rope and smothering their heads
    into his genitals; separated only by a thin layer of clothing.
    One of the things I learned through my 25 years
    investigating the Catholic Church is that Catholic parents dont give a damn
    about other children. As long as their childrens heads werent being squeezed
    in Wellingers private parts; thats all that mattered.
    Wellinger was at St. Clare of Assisi in Clairton in 1985 and
    86 or so. I was told by a Catholic priest that a man with the last name, Volmer
    went to talk to Father Charles Bober and complained about Father Wellingers
    predatory behavior and nothing was done.
    Father Bober is a big time operator in the Pittsburgh
    Diocese raising millions of dollars for the Cardinal Donald Wuerl Catholic High
    School. Hes got a plum position in a financially well-off parish church in the
    north hills section of Pittsburgh. Possibly a reward for keeping his nose clean
    and his mouth shut.
    Again, if this is true, your son Billy should have and could
    have been alive today.
    Back in 1987 or 1988, Marta Placek, Wellingers secretary at
    Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA went to the Pittsburgh Diocese to
    protest Wellingers behavior at Holy Spirit Church. Her complaint included
    Wellinger providing living arrangements for a young man, possibly from St.
    James Parish in Wilkinsburg, PA, yet another parish that witnessed at least one
    young man who suffered as a result of Wellingers demons.
    Instead of Placeks concerns being taken seriously, she was
    labeled a gossip hound by Pittsburgh Diocesan spokesman, Father Ron Lengwin.
    Certainly, by the time Placek lodged her complaints, Wellingers dossier was
    simply too depraved to reveal. One could easily make the argument that
    Wellingers file was so wicked and dreadful, he may have been able to blackmail
    church hierarchy.
    In any event, if any of Wellingers alleged crimes would
    have been and should have been reported your son, Billy and his friends would
    have known better than to trust a Catholic priest overly eager to offer alcohol
    to underage young men.
    After all these years something made me reach out to you,
    William and Kimberly Gaines. I hope it makes a difference. I hope I did the
    right thing. I know your son, Billy was a good boy and a very tough football
    I tried and tried to expose the truth. I wish I could have
    done more. I really believe Billy could be alive today.
    Maybe, just maybe, it was Billy who spurred me on to write
    this letter. Maybe someday, well find out.
    God Bless you William and Kimberly Gaines and God Bless
    Warm regards,
    Mike Ference
  • Posted by:
    Mike Ference on 11/13/2015 at 1:20 AM
    Re: “Catching Z's
    The Roman Coward Church lives in a topsy-turby world where evil, somehow rises to the top all too often for the wrong reasons.
    June 1, 2010, Cardinal George appointed Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. to the board of the US Bishop’s conference that oversees celrgy sex abuse cases. Sadly, no background check was made of the Zappala Crime Family/Terrorist Group. Here’s some background information a friend dug up in her spare time on the Zappala’s. There’s much more, but this does a good job in explaining why Cardinal George wanted a little more mob-muscle behind the US Bishop’s Conference.

    Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, and let he whose family hath been a sin-machine for generations, be banned from casting any stones. I’m talking about the Zappala’s. What does Mike Ference mean when he calls the Zappala’s a “Crime Family/Terrorist Group”. I am a genealogist, I can tell you, I have done my homework. And I have the documents to back up what I say.

    Let’s begin at the beginning, Frank Zappala was DA Stephen Zappala’s grand-father. Frank’s parents were immigrants from Calabria, who first settled in New York, the Bronx on Mott Street. Frank Zappala got a law degree, which was unusual at that time for an Italian Immigrant. Most Italian immigrants then had little or no education. Frank and his wife Josephhine settled in Oakland. The rest of his family were in New Kensington, a stronghold for the gangsters of that time.

    Frank’s had a sister Rose who married John Bazzano a major racketeer. Racketeer John Bazzano was the Uncle of Chief Justice Stephen Zappala. In 1932, John Bazzano got angry about the popular Volpe brothers infringing on his racketeering territory, so he had three of them killed in broad daylight on Wylie Avenue in the Hill-District section of Pittsburgh.

    Bazzano’s murder of the Volpe’s was not sanctioned by Lucky Luciano in New York. Bazzano was called to New York to answer for murdering without permission. Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s underboss Vito Genovese, a very brutal man had Albert Anastasia, whose side business was Murder Inc. whack John Bazzano brutally for misbehaving. And quite a Brutal Whacking it was. Bazzano came back to Pittsburgh with 22 stab wounds from ice picks, a dead pin cushion.

    It was also quiet a scandal in the day, both in New York and in Pittsburgh. Rose Zappala retreated to New Kensington with her children in tow, as well as her father Joseph. Eventually her son John Bazzano Jr. took up his father’s business. John Jr, married into the Ripepi Crime family. He married Frances Ripepi.

    One of her sisters married into the Valenti Crime family which included Constenzo, Stanley Valenti and Frank Valenti. It was Stanley who married the Ripepi girl, but it was Frank Valenti who was the man.. dapper, charming, good looking and deadly. Stanley and Frank due to their marriages were into both the Pittsburgh and Rochester New York Rackets.

    One of Franks favorite schemes was to blow up a building on one side of Rochester while he was committing a crime on the other side of town. At the time, these bombings got blamed on the Vietnam Hippie Protesters. Frank let them take the rap. Frank lived a long life and died in Houston Tx in 2008.

    In Western Pennsylvania at this time the Western PA crime family was the LaRocca Family. There were about 8 or 9 chief families under the LaRoccas. Of those the Zappala’s are closely related to at least three.

    How do the Zappala’s factor into all of this? They were the lawyers in the family. All I can say here is that when I read about other crime organizations that span this time frame, there is always what they called an Ambassador of the Underworld, who bridged the underworld to the upper-world. The job of these ambassadors was to grease the way of illegitimate business to legitimate business, and provided protection.

    For instance when you read of Frank Valenti crimes in Rochester it usually says that the powers in Pittsburgh got him off the hook. Let’s’ take it a step further, DA Zappala’s law partner was Charles Porter, he is Chuckie Porter’s son. Chuckie Porter was huge in the Pittsburgh rackets working with Michael Genovese as his underboss. Michael was the nephew of Vito Genovese in New York who was mentioned above.
    Chuckie Porter was also one of the biggest cocaine distributors around. That is a lot of “Family”. It is way too much to all be a coincidence.

    Why is this kept quiet? Well let me put it this way, many people know about this, Italians know, people in power know, the average person who votes does not know though. They have a right to know. If all of this were made public, it would kill a political career. It is UN-survivable.

    If there was nothing here to hide, why are the Zappala’s hiding it? The bigger question is, how on God’s Green earth, do people who climbed their way to the top this way deserve to sit in judgment of anybody.

    And why is it not being pointed out that DA Stephen Zappala, through his witch hunt, show trials, which destroy peoples’ lives and the fabric of our community, is acting just like his Chief Justice father did, when he wanted to get his political opponent Judge Larsen out of the way.

    These political assassinations are no different at all, except in method, than racketeer John Bazzano whacking the Volpe Brothers in broad daylight on Wylie Avenue, because they were doing business on his “turf”, which threatened his business interests. I say, the next time the Zappala’s run for office, “out” their family tree to the public and let the public decide.

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