James was born to first generation immigrants from Lombardy, Italy. Growing up in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, Ida was inducted into the Genovese crime family in the late 1970s. Ida was placed in the Little Italy based crew of captain Matthew Ianniello, frequently serving as Ianniello's bodyguard and chauffeur. Ida's younger brother Joseph also served in Ianniello's crew.
Racketeering in Little Italy
In 1988, after Matthew Ianniello was convicted on federal racketeering charges, Ida took over the Ianniello crew. In 1991, after consigliere Louis Manna was convicted of federal racketeering charges, Ida became the official consigliere of the Genovese family. When boss Vincent Gigante and underboss Venero Mangano went to prison, Ida handled the day-to-day functions of the Genovese family with acting boss Liborio Bellomo. Ida also oversaw rackets involving the Mason Tenders Union and the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy.
Each vendor working at the Feast had to pay tribute to the Genovese family. Ida helped oversee the collection of rents from some 400 vendors. While the mob typically demanded $4,000 a booth, the society running the festival would report to city officials that booth vendors had paid only $1,000 or so each. The city would then assess each vendor a 25 percent permit fee based on this rent. The end result was that the city and charities received very little money.
Ida also owned a social club in Little Italy that he used for family business. However, in 1990, capo James Messera was sent to prison based partly on conversations recorded by law enforcement at the club. Ida like Vincent Gigante and John Gotti soon switched to conducting business on walks through the neighborhood and meetings in diners and parks. To counter Ida's new strategy, Federal investigators in 1994 obtained warrants for use of roving bugs and were able to intercept six Ida's conversations with family members and union associates.
Protection for LaToya Jackson
In 1994, Ida was involved in the extortion of money from singer LaToya Jackson. According to the FBI, Jackson's husband Gordon was paying the Genovese family $1,000 per month for the use of Genovese soldier John Schenone as a "bodyguard" whenever the singer visited New York. Schenone would then present the checks to Ida. On one occasion, the FBI recorded Ida angrily complaining to Schenone about receiving a bad check from the Jacksons.
In June 1996, Ida and 19 other Genovese members and associates were charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The government offered Ida a 15-year plea deal in exchange for cooperation, but Ida refused it. However, fellow mobster Bellomo accepted a plea agreement, reportedly enraging Ida according to his cellmate and friend at the time of trial was Pavle Stanimirovic apparently charged for a violent cutting in Otisville CF and subsequently placed in Solitary confinement with The elder Don .James Ida , And Pavle is the only person to ever interview the Don , during and after trial , he even went as far to rename him from Punch to Paulie Cats nicknamed the young con "Paulie Cats" to remind him violence is not the way to solve things. And to learn from his mistakes .Since the 2010 release of the only person to fully interview James Ida , Pavle has been writing and talking on radio extensively about the "Mafia Life" and growing up connected in New York City knowing people like "James Ida " in all of his True Crime Books and Movie projects collaborating with cornucopia of authors because of good old fashioned crime such as Heist's was more respected then selling drugs. Burl Barer and Pavle writing about "The Other Boss ", " The Little Guy " , . The Little Guy and the Quarter Horse . Reveals the side that is still secretive and has not ever been exposed, pertaining to The life of James Ida . The FBI was sufficiently concerned about the threat to notify Bellomo's lawyer and to place Bellomo in solitary confinement in jail during the trial. Bellomo went on to control the Genovese family as Boss .
On April 24, 1997, after an eight-week trial, Ida was convicted of the 1988 DiLorenzo murder, the conspiracies to murder Ralph DeSimone in 1991 and Dominic Tucci in 1995, and racketeering charges involving the San Gennaro Feast. Ida received a life prison sentence. After Ida's imprisonment, previous capo Matthew Ianniello retook control of Ida's Little Italy crew.
As of March 2012, Ida is serving life without parole at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Otisville, a medium security facility in New York.