Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hoboken Genovese Gang Not Seen Much Any More

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family, Michael Coppola, Michael "Tona" Borelli, Peter Grecco, Peter Caporino, Tino R. Fiumara, Lawrence A. Ricci

The old gang isn't seen much around Hoboken any more, thanks to the recent efforts of the FBI to nab the city's most notorious mobsters.

The latest arrest: Michael Coppola, 60, a reputed captain in the Genovese crime family, who was arrested Friday in New York City and charged in the 1977 killing of a mobster in Bridgewater .

Coppola was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives, and he'd been featured on " America 's Most Wanted" several times. Investigators had searched for him in Nevada , Pennsylvania , Florida , Canada , Italy and Costa Rica .

In the 1970s and 1980s, Coppola could be seen in Hoboken social clubs meeting with the likes of Michael "Tona" Borelli, 69, of Fort Lee, a reputed made member of the Genovese crime family, Peter Grecco, 70, of Woodcliff Lake , and infamous mob rat Peter Caporino, 69, of Hasbrouck Heights , Hoboken police sources said yesterday.

Borelli and Grecco are facing prison time after a federal probe into gambling and other rackets in Hoboken and Jersey City . Caporino, who cooperated with the feds in that case to avoid jail time on a gambling charge in Hudson County , faces jail time himself, as authorities said he continued his criminal activities even after the feds told him to stop.

Caporino wore a wire for the FBI for years and made one recording of Borelli in the "Company K" social club on Jefferson Street , where Coppola used to hold court. When Genovese boss Tino R. Fiumara was in prison and Coppola was on the run, Borelli and Lawrence A. Ricci ran the Coppola/Fiumara crew, says a report 2004 by the New Jersey Investigation Commission. Ricci was found dead in a car trunk behind a Union County diner in December 2005.

With the help of Caporino, Borelli and Grecco pleaded guilty in April 2006 to operating an illegal gambling business. "The Fiumara/Coppola crew is one of the largest and most resourceful Genovese crews operating in New Jersey ," the state report says.

Coppola is accused of gunning down Johnny "Coca Cola" Lardiere outside the Red Bull Inn on Route 22 in Bridgewater in 1977.

Investigators believe Coppola drew a silenced .22-caliber pistol and pointed it at Lardiere - but the gun jammed. Lardiere then sneered at the hitman, "What're you gonna do now, tough guy?" Coppola then drew a second gun from an ankle holster and shot Lardiere five times, authorities said.

Nine years later, DNA evidence and an informant led the FBI to Coppola, but he disappeared.

Coppola has been listed at or near the top of the state Division of Criminal Justice's 13 most wanted fugitives since the list was drawn up five years ago.

Newhouse News Service contributed to this report.

Thanks to Michaelangelo Conte

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