The Chicago Syndicate: Reputed Capo recalls " A Few Nice Smashes" on Tape
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Reputed Capo recalls " A Few Nice Smashes" on Tape

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Gregory DePalma
Friends of mine: Joseph "Joey Per Voi" Fornino

The final piece of evidence at reputed Gambino capo Gregory DePalma's racketeering trial depicted the Scarsdale man as a violent, robust Mafia enforcer rather than the ailing old man who drowsed at the defense table for the last two weeks.

Keenly aware of the image jurors might have of DePalma from watching him during the trial, federal prosecutors Christopher Conniff and Scott Marrah finished their case with a flourish; they used DePalma's own words to imprint their assertion that the 74-year-old was an active member of a ruthless organized crime family up until his arrest in March of last year.

Defense lawyers claim that DePalma is a sick old man living in the past, who routinely exaggerates his criminal deeds and power to puff up his own importance. An ashen-faced DePalma is brought into court every day in a wheelchair, oxygen tubes running from a green canister to his nose. He suffers from heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.But in a secretly taped conversation with a mob informant just two weeks before he was arrested, DePalma recounts a beating he administered to a man who owed money to a reputed associate of DePalma's.

"Oh, I gave him a few nice smashes," DePalma said of the attack on John Nigro at Pasta Per Voi, a Port Chester restaurant owned by Joseph "Joey Per Voi" Fornino, an accused associate of DePalma's who has also been charged in the case. DePalma claimed Nigro owed Fornino money.

In the conversation with the informant, Peter Forchetti, DePalma said he finally caught up with Nigro at the restaurant. In an obscenity-laced rant, DePalma says he called Nigro a rat, accusing Nigro of giving information to authorities about DePalma's son, Craig.

The elder DePalma pleaded guilty in 1999 to extorting Nigro. Craig DePalma also was convicted in the case. The younger DePalma is currently in a coma in a New Rochelle nursing home following a failed jail-house suicide attempt.

Gregory DePalma laments to Forchetti that there was one thing he didn't do when he beat up Nigro. "I made a mistake," he said. "I didn't rip his hairpiece off."

He accused Nigro of ripping off a Yonkers toupee maker by not paying him the $5,500 he owed for the rug.

Of course, DePalma had his own toupee trauma just before the trial began when deputy U.S Marshals found two $50 bills taped under DePalma's hairpiece in his Westchester Medical Center hospital room.

The finding assisted Judge Alvin Hellerstein in his decision not to postpone the trial, despite assertions by DePalma's lawyers, Martin Geduldig and John Meringolo, that he was too ill to stand trial.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday.

Thanks to Timothy O'Connor

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