Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reputed Colombo Mob Figures Indicted in Murder of Police Officer

Eleven years after an off-duty police officer was assassinated by gunmen lying in wait outside his home in Sheepshead Bay, federal prosecutors charged three accused mob figures on Thursday in the shooting, removing a high-profile murder from the ranks of unsolved cases while painting the motive as one of simple romantic jealousy.

The charges were announced with the unsealing of a murder and racketeering indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, seeming to begin the process of closing the book on the Aug. 25, 1997, murder of the officer, Ralph C. Dols, 28. The indictment also charges a fourth accused mob figure in the murders of two other mobsters.

Prosecutors said that a Colombo crime family consigliere who has long been suspected in the slaying, Joel Cacace, 67, ordered the murder. Mr. Cacace, also known as Joe Waverly, had once been married to the officer’s wife, Kim T. Kennaugh, an investigator said. He is in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to racketeering charges. The other three defendants are also in custody on other charges from an earlier version of the indictment. All four men are expected to be arraigned on Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.

In addition to Mr. Cacace, the indictment charges Dino Calabro, 42, identified as a captain and also known as Big Dino, and Dino Saracino, 36, who prosecutors say is a soldier known as Little Dino.

“Big Dino Calabro and Little Dino Saracino ambushed Officer Dols and shot him repeatedly outside his Brooklyn home, leaving him to die in the street,” said David Cardona, the special agent in charge of the criminal division in the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, speaking at a news conference on Thursday. “The murder was ordered by Colombo consigliere Joe Waverly Cacace merely because Dols was married to Cacace’s ex-wife.”

One investigator said the motive for the officer’s slaying came down to Mr. Cacace’s image. “From an organized crime perspective, this was insulting to Joel that she had married a cop,” the investigator said, adding, “and because he had a high-ranking position in the Colombo family, it looked bad for him.”

An earlier husband of Ms. Kennaugh’s, a Colombo hit man, also was murdered, in 1987. A woman answering the door of Ms. Kennaugh’s home in Staten Island, heavily festooned with Christmas decorations, said, “No, no,” and shut the door on a reporter inquiring about the case on Thursday.

The indictment, which is largely based on evidence provided by a new cooperating witness from the Colombo family, law enforcement officials said, also charges Mr. Calabro and Mr. Saracino with the 1999 murder of William Cutolo Sr. Mr. Cutolo was a Colombo family acting underboss and union official whose body was finally found on Long Island this year after an informant tipped off the authorities.

The fourth defendant, Thomas Gioeli, 56, who was an acting boss in the family and is known as Tommy Shots, is also charged in the killing of Mr. Cutolo.

Mr. Cardona said the murders led to promotions in the crime family. “That’s why mobsters commit murder,” he said. “Our intelligence revealed that Calabro became a made member of the Colombo family after the murder of Ralph Dols, and he became a capo after the Cutolo murder. Saracino was inducted into the family because of his participation in both murders.”

Officer Dols had driven home after finishing his shift at a Coney Island housing project and was parking his car at 11:38 p.m. when three men drove up in a dark Chevrolet Caprice and opened fire. He was wounded three times in the abdomen and twice in the arm before he could step from behind the wheel or pull his gun. He died in surgery at Coney Island Hospital the next morning. He had been on the force for four and a half years.

He and Ms. Kennaugh, who was 38 at the time of the slaying, had been married for two years and had had a daughter three months earlier. Ms. Kennaugh’s brother, August, was convicted in the 1981 murder of a Queens restaurant owner and had also been identified as a Colombo soldier.

The shooting rattled the already embattled Police Department, which was facing accusations in the brutality case of Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a broomstick in the restroom of the 70th Precinct station house earlier that month, on Aug. 9, 1997. As Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani eulogized Officer Dols at the crowded funeral Mass, thousands of demonstrators gathered at Grand Army Plaza for a march to City Hall to protest the Louima case.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly called for capital punishment. “The murder of a police officer is an attack on society at large and merits the death penalty,” he said in a statement.

The indictment also charges Mr. Calabro with the 1994 murder of Carmine Gargano and charges Mr. Gioeli, Mr. Calabro and Mr. Saracino with the 1995 murder of Richard Greaves. The bodies have not been found.

Thanks to Michael Wilson and William K. Rashbaum

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