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Showing posts with label Alphonse D'Arco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alphonse D'Arco. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Did Organized Crime Firms Perform Work on Yankees and Mets New Stadiums?

Millions of dollars worth of work associated with the new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets was performed by companies that New York City avoids doing business with because of prior allegations of corruption and ties to organized crime.

The roughly $17 million demolition of Shea Stadium, which cleared the way for the new Citi Field in Queens, was largely done by Breeze National Inc., whose vice president, Toby Romano, was convicted on federal bribery charges in 1988 and whom law enforcement officials have identified as having ties to organized crime.

Much of the electrical work at the new Yankee Stadium was done by Petrocelli Electric, a company that since June 2006 has been on a list of contractors that New York City cautions its agencies against using. The owner, Santo Petrocelli Sr., was indicted this month on charges that he had been bribing a leading union official for more than a decade.

In a third instance, the millions of dollars in excavation and cast-in-place concrete work at the new Yankee ballpark was performed by Interstate Industrial, a company that has been barred from doing city work since 2004. City investigators concluded several years ago that Interstate had connections to organized crime. The company has been accused of paying for more than $150,000 in renovations in 1999 and 2000 on the apartment of former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting the work.

Two of the three contractors, Petrocelli and Interstate, were not paid with city funds. But both the ballpark projects were overseen by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and together received roughly $2 billion in public subsidies.

In defending themselves to city regulators and others, the companies have denied any improprieties, or have suggested the allegations were ancient ones that had been long contradicted by years of appropriate behavior on job sites.

The city development corporation’s policy is to review the hiring of major contractors on its projects only when they are paid directly with city funds. And even then, it generally takes no action to review what in some cases are dozens of subcontractors, a spokesman said.

The development agency says it does not have the staff to conduct background checks on all the companies working on a particular project, and with undertakings like the stadiums — private projects that are bolstered by a huge infusion of city, state and federal public benefits — the city has never sought to review the selection of the contractors.

The ball clubs say the companies were hired through competitive bidding processes and performed well under their contracts. No one has made any complaints about the competence or safety of the work they performed, and until recent years, both Petrocelli and Interstate had each won large city contracts with some regularity.

In the case of the demolition work at Shea, the contractor, Breeze National, was paid with state and city funds. But Breeze was hired to do the work by a subcontractor to Queens Ballpark Company L.L.C., a company created by the Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, to develop and operate the stadium.

The development corporation’s spokesman, David Lombino, said that while it reviews the general contractor and first-tier subcontractor, it does not review companies more than two levels down, as Breeze was.

Experts say the policy does not go far enough to help address the problems in the city’s construction industry, which has seen a rash of fatal accidents and has a long history of corruption and mob influence.

James B. Jacobs, a professor at New York University Law School who has written extensively about organized crime and construction corruption over the last two decades, suggested it was shortsighted on the part of the city to refrain from reviewing contractors that were not paid directly with city money.

“We’re talking about the nature of the whole construction industry, which affects public construction, private construction, not-for-profit construction and the whole economic viability of the city,” Professor Jacobs said. “So there ought to be a commitment to do what we can to purge corrupt influences out of that industry.”

Like much construction work in New York, stadium projects have some history of being infiltrated by companies whose ownership, work product or associations has drawn the attention of investigators. In the mid-1980s, for example, a plumbing company that listed John Gotti, the Gambino boss, as one of its salesmen, was hired to do work at Shea Stadium.

For the current projects, neither the city nor the baseball clubs released a list of the companies that have worked on the stadiums.

Questions about the city’s oversight of a stadium project also surfaced six years ago when the Yankees built a $71 million minor-league ballpark on Staten Island. On that job, the development corporation approved awarding the concrete contract to Interstate, though the company was then under investigation by the city.

The president of the development corporation at the time, Michael G. Carey, said there was no reason to question the company’s fitness. But city documents show the development corporation knew the city was examining accusations that the company had ties to the mob. It let the contract go forward when the company’s owner denied the allegations and told corporation officials that the inquiry was routine.

Mr. Lombino, the Economic Development Corporation’s spokesman, said the corporation carries out what it sees as its responsibilities under the law. “We go above and beyond what is required by law to ensure that construction projects are carried out safely and in a timely and cost-effective manner,” he said, adding that the effort “created thousands of jobs in neighborhoods that need them.”

David Newman, the vice president of marketing for the Mets, defended the selection of Breeze and Mr. Romano, saying that Queens Ballpark Company made the choice based on the recommendation of Hunt Bovis, which managed the construction of the new stadium and the razing of the old. It was based, he said, on their capability and resources and their ability to meet the schedule and bond the job. “The deconstruction,” he said, “was done on time, on budget and without incident or injury.”

Mr. Romano, for his part, said in an e-mail message: “It is completely untrue and totally unfair for anyone to state that I was ever connected to organized crime.” He said that the allegation was 17 years old and called it “a self-serving lie by a convicted felon.”

The accusation was made by Alfonse D’Arco, the former acting boss of the Luchese crime family, and was cited by city regulators in 2007 when they blocked another of Mr. Romano’s companies from a license to operate a construction trucking business in the city.

In the case of the electric company, law enforcement officials, trial testimony and F.B.I. reports say Mr. Petrocelli has had associations with members of the Genovese family dating to 1988. His lawyer could not be reached for comment. Mr. Petrocelli pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges filed this month.

Interstate’s owners have also denied the allegations that they have ties to the Gambino crime family or that they paid for Mr. Kerik’s renovations.

At Yankee Stadium, the contract was technically awarded to a company called Central Excavators. But the Yankees, Interstate and the Turner Construction Company, which built the stadium for the Yankees, have all acknowledged that Interstate performed the work.

Turner said in a statement that it selected Petrocelli and Interstate “after a competitive-bid process and based on Turner’s positive experiences working with these firms.” The statement noted that the work performed by the two companies was limited to the stadium itself, and thus no taxpayer money was used to pay them.

A spokeswoman for the Yankees, Alice McGillion, said that in an excess of caution, the company had brought in an independent construction monitor to oversee the stadium project, including the hiring of subcontractors by Turner.

The monitor, Edwin H. Stier, said his company came on the job after Petrocelli and Interstate had already been hired, but performed background checks on subsequent subcontractors.

“The important thing is that the Yankees did something about it, and as a result of it, we identified a number of issues, including the presence of Interstate and the presence of Petrocelli,” he said. “They were there already working on site and the Yankees said to our firm, we want you to monitor them very carefully.”

Thanks to William K. Rashbaum

Monday, May 15, 2006

La Cosa Nostra Tough Guy-Turned-Witness follows the Rules

Friends of ours: Bruno Facciola, Luchesse Crime Family, Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, John Gotti, Vittorio Amuso, Paulie Vario, Henry Hill, Vic Amuso, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, Genovese Crime Family, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Colombo Crime Family, "Little Vic" Orena, Bonanno Crime Family, Anthony Spero, James Ida
Friends of mine: Stephen Caracappa, Louis Eppolito

The killers placed the dead canary in the freezer. Later, after their work was finished, they placed the bird inside the mouth of the equally deceased Bruno Facciola.

The August 1990 mob hit followed a tip from two corrupt NYPD detectives that the Luchese family capo had turned government informant. Facciola was stabbed, shot through both eyes and shot again in the head before the bird was stuffed in his mouth. It was murder with a message: See no evil. And definitely speak no evil.

The slaying was orchestrated by one of the crime family's true believers, a diminutive thug known to fellow Mafiosi as "Little Al." Few in organized crime embraced the mob ethos more fervently than Alphonse D'Arco, a hard case from the cradle.

"I was a man when I was born," Little Al once bragged. He committed every crime except pimping and pornography, which D'Arco deemed beneath his dignity. Murder was a different story; he committed eight while rising from Luchese associate to acting boss.

Few in organized crime despised informants more than Little Al. "Rats," he'd spit, his face contorted with disgust. He did a three-year heroin rap without opening his yap. So when the word came down that Facciola was singing to the feds, D'Arco arranged for his demise. And for the canary.

Four months later, with the family in turmoil, D'Arco stepped up to become the Luchese boss. His reign abruptly ended on Aug. 21, 1991, but not in the fashion he expected: on the wrong end of a jury verdict. Or maybe a bullet. Instead, D'Arco _ disgusted by the loss of mob honor, double-crossed by men he had respected _ became what he most abhorred: a rat. And not just any rat.

He brought down mob bosses, underbosses, consiglieres. Fifteen years later, the former made man is still making inmates out of accomplices as perhaps the most devastating mob informant ever _ even better than Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, who famously flipped on mob superstar John Gotti.

Alphonse D'Arco, born July 28, 1932, grew up near the Brooklyn Navy Yards. The neighborhood was heavy with heavyweight mobsters, including some of his relatives. His childhood, D'Arco once recalled, was "like being in the forest and all the trees were the dons and the organized crime guys." D'Arco walked into the woods without hesitation. He was 14 when he started hanging with the local mobsters; one year later, he dropped out of school.

Two tenets of the old-school Mafia appealed to D'Arco: Loyalty and honor. Both extended into his personal life; in 1951, during the Korean War, D'Arco volunteered for the Army, served two years and received an honorable discharge. When he returned to Brooklyn and the mob, he found a wife; they remain married to this day. The D'Arcos had five children.

In 1959, D'Arco first met future Luchese family boss Vittorio Amuso. He was soon making money for the Lucheses in a variety of ways: Hijacking. Drug dealing. Burglary. Counterfeiting. Arson. Armed robbery.

D'Arco became a made man on Aug. 23, 1982, in a ceremony held in a Bronx kitchen. "I should burn like this paper if I betray anyone in this room," D'Arco swore. D'Arco was particularly good with dates, and he always remembered this one. He remembered plenty of other things along the way. D'Arco was a guy who listened more than he spoke.

D'Arco had long ago resolved the differences between mob life and straight society. As John Q. Citizen, D'Arco would have lived by the rules. As Alphonse D'Arco, mobster, he would abide by the Mafia's code _ no questions asked. He obeyed orders and his elders, kicked money up to the bosses. And he never cooperated with law enforcement. Not even on the smallest of matters.

His capo was Paulie Vario, one of the family's most valued leaders. As the entire crew would soon discover, the erosion of mob values was under way. And it was happening in their midst.

Henry Hill was a Luchese associate and a cocaine dealer. Once arrested, Hill became the most notorious Mafia turncoat of the decade. His testimony helped put Vario away in 1984. Hill's life became fodder for the classic mob movie "GoodFellas." Vario, played by Paul Sorvino in the movie, died in a Texas prison four years later. His replacement was Alphonse D'Arco.

D'Arco's old friend Vic Amuso became the head of the family. His underboss was another pal, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, a hoodlum responsible for three dozen murders.

The mob life was good for D'Arco. He had about $1 million in loan-sharking money spread around, and ran his own crew. The family hierarchy relied on him to handle important business _ labor unions, racketeering, murder.

"He was a true believer in La Cosa Nostra," said former federal prosecutor George Stamboulidis. "He grew up in the life. It was something that he wanted, and succeeded at."

D'Arco dressed in shirts with big "wiseguy collars," and lived in an apartment on Spring Street in Little Italy. The market rent was $1,200 a month; D'Arco paid $200.

He brought his son, Joe, into the family business, and considered doing the same for another son, John. When the order came down for Joe to whack a guy in California, Al unflinchingly told his son to do it. At his father's behest, Joe committed a second mob murder in New York. The son played by his father's rules.

A few months after they exposed Bruno Facciola, the two crooked detectives provided Casso with a new bit of information: the underboss and Amuso were targeted for arrest. On Jan. 9, 1991, the pair met with Little Al at a Brooklyn bar, where Amuso pronounced him acting boss of the Lucheses. Then Casso and Amuso vanished. Top of the world, Al.

During eight eye-opening months as boss, D'Arco's blind allegiance to the mob was undermined. From seclusion, Amuso and Casso started a whispering campaign against D'Arco among the Luchese faithful. A fellow mobster informed D'Arco about the betrayal; so did FBI agents.

Yet D'Arco was unconvinced until the night of Sept. 18, 1991, when he attended a meeting in a midtown Manhattan hotel room. His longtime Luchese associates appeared unnerved. A family hit man was among the group, and the vibe was ugly. D'Arco had no doubt that he was marked for death.

D'Arco managed to bolt the meeting, and reconsidered his life _ or what might be left of it. He considered going to war against the Amuso/Casso faction, handling things in the style of his Brooklyn mentors. But D'Arco had no more loyalty to the Lucheses. And he no longer viewed them as men of honor.

"So I says, `That's it,"' D'Arco explained later from the witness stand. "I washed my hands of the whole thing."

D'Arco sent most of his family to Hawaii, far from the deadly streets of New York. Accompanied by his son, D'Arco hid in his mother's Long Island home. A deal was made. On Sept. 21, 1991, Alphonse D'Arco became the most unlikely cooperating witness ever recruited. And also one of the most expensive.

The federal government spent more than $2 million to relocate the D'Arco clan. Little Al and six other families were moved from New York to parts unknown. He left behind a mob fortune; his legal net worth was about $30,000.

News of the stunning defection spread quickly through the underworld. An attorney was dispatched to the Metropolitan Correction Center to inform jailed Gambino boss John Gotti that Little Al was switching sides.

The acting boss was one of the highest-ranking mobsters to ever flip, and federal authorities took advantage. He testified more than a dozen times against his former friends and the mob's top echelon.

D'Arco was a combative and effective witness. His memory for details and dates was unshakable. He took on New York's top defense attorneys, and refused to let any put words into his mouth.

Testifying at a 1996 competency hearing for Genovese family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, D'Arco flew into a rage. "Don't break my chops," D'Arco warned defense attorney Michael Shapiro. "I'll break yours, too."

D'Arco's testimony helped convict ex-cronies Amuso and Casso; Gigante and Colombo boss "Little Vic" Orena; Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero; Genovese consigliere James Ida; and an assortment of other mobsters.

He testified before uncounted grand juries, spilling about corruption in the unions, the Garment District, the airports and the Hunts Point market. "D'Arco gave them great value for the money," said criminal defense lawyer Edward Hayes. "He testified against a lot of guys, and they got convicted. D'Arco is a lunatic, but he has a story."

Once, in a Brooklyn courtroom, D'Arco stood before a federal judge who noted they had grown up in the same nearby neighborhood. "Yeah," D'Arco replied. "And we both rose to the top of our professions."

Prosecutor Stamboulidis said D'Arco embraced his new calling as fervently as his old. "When he entered an agreement with the government, he answered all the questions with brutal honesty and thoroughness," Stamboulidis said. "A true believer does everything 100 percent. He believes 100 percent in his current position."

His reward came in November 2002, when D'Arco was sentenced at a courtroom in suburban Westchester County. Little Al appeared via closed-circuit television and received time served, which essentially meant no jail time. He was fined $50, and returned to obscurity.

While mob turncoats like Gravano and Hill went back to jail, D'Arco stayed on the right side of the law. And one of the biggest trials yet remained in his future _ one that brought him back to the day when Bruno Facciola had a canary for his last meal.

It was March 2005 when federal authorities announced the indictments of ex-NYPD detectives Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito, former police partners-turned-partners in crime. The two were charged with taking $4,000 a month from Gaspipe Casso to work as Luchese family hit men.

On occasion, they also slipped the underboss inside information. They let Casso know that Facciola was reportedly working as an informant. Casso ordered D'Arco to handle the hit.

Little Al was called again to testify. The federal RICO statute, a powerful tool that allows law enforcement to link crimes committed over decades, made D'Arco every bit as valuable in 2006 as he was 15 years before. It was a big case, and D'Arco could help bring down the "Mafia Cops."

The ex-boss, now 73, looked more grandfatherly than Godfatherly as he testified, his thick Brooklyn accent unchanged by years of life outside the city. He wore a 20-year-old suit to court, one of two now hanging in his closet.

He spent parts of two days on the stand, standing firm under withering cross-examination from Hayes and former Gotti lawyer Bruce Cutler. Caracappa and Eppolito were quickly convicted, and faced life in prison.

Alphonse D'Arco went home, where his loyalty was still appreciated. But there was a moment during his testimony where D'Arco recalled a less complicated time, when he was a young man whose belief in simple values was absolute.

The burly Cutler, his booming voice filling the courtroom, recited a litany of perks that came D'Arco's way from the Witness Protection Program: No jail time. A new identity. An attorney, free of charge. "That's another reward, yes?" Cutler asked.

"I don't see anything to be a reward," D'Arco responded without hesitation. "I'd trade it all to go back on Spring Street."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Monday, March 27, 2006

'Mafia Cops' Trial Has Lots of Theatrics

Louie Eppolito had a story to tell. And, more importantly, one to sell.

The decorated ex-New York police detective, who also happened to be the son of a mobster, was living in Las Vegas and trying to peddle doomed screenplays with titles like "Murder In Youngstown." Eppolito was looking for an investor in his latest project and he was unconcerned about the source of the cash.

"If you said to me, `Lou, I wanna introduce you to Jack Smith, he wants to invest in this film,' (and) he says, `$75,000 comes in a (expletive) shoe box,' that's fine with me," Eppolito said during a surreptitiously taped conversation with a federal informant. "I don't care. I've had people give me money before."

It sounds like movie dialogue, maybe something out of "Get Shorty (Two-Disc Special Edition)." No surprise the trial of so-called "Mafia Cops" Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, heading into its third week, has featured plenty of theatrics.

The courtroom histrionics occasionally threaten to overshadow one of the most serious prosecutions in city history: a pair of top-echelon NYPD detectives accused of using their prized gold shields to kill eight people at the behest of a brutal mob underboss, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso.

Prosecutors allege that Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were partners in crime from 1979 to last year, when they were arrested in Las Vegas. They remain free on $5 million bail.

The first day of testimony was punctuated with a screaming match between turncoat mobster Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco and defense attorney Bruce Cutler, who made his reputation defending the late Gambino family boss John Gotti.

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," snapped the grandfatherly D'Arco, 73, his Brooklyn accent unaltered by 15 years in witness protection. "You're not making any sense to me."

Cutler, his deep voice rising, tried to ask another question: "Wouldn't you agree with me …"

"I wouldn't agree with you on anything!" shouted D'Arco, who was threatened with contempt by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein. That was before the one-time Luchese boss ripped into Cutler as a loudmouth and a cheapskate. The judge showed little more tolerance for Cutler, cutting off his cross-examination for shouting at D'Arco.

The defendants themselves are a mismatched pair: the portly Eppolito, whose reputation was made as a street cop, comes to court in an ill-fitting sports coat. Caracappa so thin he was known among fellow cops as "The Stick" is fastidious in appearance, right down to his neatly trimmed mustache.

The prosecution has already called its key witness, confessed drug dealer Burton Kaplan, who spent four days testifying about the two detectives' brutal work on behalf of Luchese underboss Casso. Kaplan implicated the pair in a dozen homicides.

Cross-examination of another prosecution witness, crooked accountant Steven Corso, focused on his theft of $5.3 million from an ex-employer to finance a life of what he called "girlfriends, jewelry and going out." It was Corso who recorded the conversations with Eppolito about film financing. The ex-detective, playing up his mob pedigree, sprinkled the conversation with mob names like "Jimmy the Buffalo" and the late crime boss Joe Bonanno.

There was one witness whose testimony tugged on heartstrings while going to the heart of the case: Pauline Pipitone, describing how her youngest son, 26-year-old Nicholas Guido, had come home for Christmas dinner in 1986.

It was Guido's misfortune to share his name with a mobster involved in a botched hit on Casso. When the underboss wanted revenge, prosecutors said, he turned to the two detectives who provided an address for the wrong Nicholas Guido.

The innocent man was showing off his new car when he was shot by mob hit men. Pipitone was inside washing dishes.

"I ran over to the car," she testified. "He was sitting up at the wheel. I went to touch his hand, and he must have just died. His fingertips were cold."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Monday, October 21, 1991

U.S. Says Mob Is Drying Up In New York

New York's five Mafia families, who survived years of Federal attack, have deteriorated in recent months to the point that three are virtually out of business and two are crumbling, many law-enforcement authorities and experts say.

After 60 years of illicit expansion, the combined racketeering power and wealth of New York's five traditional families is going the way of their counterparts in most other cities around the country, who have succumbed to a decade of aggressive Federal prosecution, the authorities say.

For the first time since the Mafia groups were formed in the 1930's, the experts say that all five families -- Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo and Bonanno -- are in disarray, hurt by convictions and indictments of top leaders, murderous internal disputes, generational changes and defections by high-ranking members who have become Government witnesses.

The Lucchese family, for example, has had three changes of leadership in less than a year: one boss was jailed, and a second became a Government witness after he botched the killing of a mob captain -- who himself went on to become a key witness in a major racketeering trial aimed at ending the Mafia's influence in the window-installation industry.

All eight defendants were cleared of the racketeering charge on Friday, and six were cleared entirely, while two mid-level bosses were convicted of extortion. But prosecutors said afterward that the case had succeeded in driving the mob out of what had been a lucrative industry.

Moreover, many of the mob's customary money-producing rackets in the New York region, including extortions and kickbacks in the garment district, the Fulton Fish Market and the construction and trucking industries, have been eliminated or reduced by recent convictions and civil court remedies, the experts assert.

Federal and state law-enforcement officials say that the Colombo and Bonanno families have also been so shaken that they are no longer considered powerful threats. But officials cautioned that the the Genovese and Gambino groups -- the two largest in the country -- remain potent forces in illegal sports betting, loan-sharking, labor racketeering and the waste removal industries in the region.

Andrew J. Maloney, the United States Attorney in Brooklyn, and Ronald Goldstock, the director of the state's Organized Crime Task Force, forecast that the families could be reduced to the level of street gangs within a decade. They said that if prosecution pressure and defections continue, the mobs will lose what remains of their once-flourishing extortion rackets in legitimate businesses.

"No organization, legal or illegal, can withstand repeated decapitations at the top," Mr. Maloney said about the New York area. "They are certainly no longer a growth industry."

Not all experts are that optimistic. Robert J. Kelly, the president of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime, agreed that the families seemed to have been weakened, but said that if the family units disappear they may undergo another incarnation. Mafiosi 'Will Persist'

"There may not be a Mafia, but there will be mafiosi who will persist as long as there are lucrative criminal opportunities," said Mr. Kelly, who is a professor of social science and criminal justice at Brooklyn College.

From intelligence obtained mainly from electronic eavesdroping and informers, experts cited these signs of decay in the families:


  • Leadership vacuums or internal wars have weakened the Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo and Bonanno groups, with the bosses and top leaders in each of the families serving prison sentences or in jail awaiting trials.
  • The number of active mob members has dropped by half in most cases since a peak in the late 1970's, law-enforcement officials say. The Colombos are down to about 100 members and the Bonnano family to 75.
  • The only reputed boss of a family not behind bars is Vincent Gigante, the suspected Genovese leader, who has been declared mentally unfit to stand trial on racketeering charges. Four capos or captains are trying to run the family but still consulting Mr. Gigante on major decisions.
  • The acting boss of the Lucchese family, Alphonse D'Arco, 59 years old, and a capo, Peter Chiodo, 40, both apparently fearing for their lives because of family strife, have become government witnesses. Their defections, said Mr. Maloney, may produce a wave of new indictments against Lucchese members. "It could be the death knell for the family," he asserted.
  • Control of the Colombo family is being disputed by two factions and the authorities say that the rivals have issued contracts to murder each other.


The new turmoil in the Lucchese family stemmed from distrust and a failed attempt to kill Mr. Chiodo in May. After surviving 12 bullet wounds, Mr. Chiodo became a Government witness. When Mr. D'Arco learned last month that there was a contract on his life for botching the hit on Mr. Chiodo, he, too, became a turncoat.

Since the 1930's, the New York region has been the Mafia's strongest bastion in America. Except for New York and Chicago, the F.B.I. and Federal prosecutors maintain that in the last decade they have largely eliminated Mafia strongholds in most big cities. But they say the job has been harder in New York, the only area with five separate, large families, while other cities had one family to eradicate.

Experts say that New York's families have survived because each family created a rigid organization, with rules that defined what kinds of crime could be committed and how profits would be divided.

The Mafia groups also engaged in more sophisticated white-collar crimes than other criminal gangs, and they infiltrated major labor unions. 'Mob's Invisible Tax'

The Manhattan District Attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, said that by skimming "multimillions" annually from the construction and garment industries, the families had imposed an "invisible tax" on the region.

"What they do translates directly into higher costs for such basic things as clothes, the costs of an apartment and an office and discourages legitimate businesses from coming here or staying here," Mr. Morgenthau added.

Laura Brevetti, a former Federal prosecutor, noted that testimony and records disclosed that the Colombo family alone netted at least $80 million a year in the mid-1980's from gasoline tax frauds in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And Mr. Morgenthau noted that a raid last year on the office of Thomas Gambino, 62, whom prosecutors have called a major organized-crime figure in the garment district, found records showing that he had $75 million in stocks, bonds and bank accounts.

The names of the five families are actually designations by law-enforcement authorities, based on the groups' founders or later bosses. Most members are not related by blood.

As in other regions, the New York Mafia has now has been severely injured by long-term legal strategies that concentrate on eliminating entire family hierarchies.

Federal prosecutors have used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, and state authorities have applied the state's new Organized Crime Control Act, known as Little RICO, to obtain convictions and indictments against previously insulated bosses and leaders. 'Process of Grinding Down'

Mr. Goldstock, who was not involved in the case, called the window trial "neither a victory nor a defeat, but rather part of an investigative process of grinding down organized crime."

He emphasized that until several years ago it had been "almost unheard of" to convict such high ranking mobsters as Venero Mangano and Benedetto Aloi, who were convicted on Friday on charges of extortion in the window-installation industry.

Two bosses who remain in control of their organizations, investigators say, are John Gotti and Vincent Gigante, 63; authorities say they head the Gambino and Genovese crime families.

Mr. Gotti, 51, is in jail awaiting trial on racketeering charges that include the slaying of his predecessor, Paul Castellano. But Federal and state investigators said that Mr. Gotti still runs the Gambino family from prison, using his son John Jr. The officials, however, believe that his absolute control has slipped in his absence.

Mr. Gigante, 63, was declared mentally unfit last March to stand trial. But investigators believe that he, too, is still in charge.

Thanks to Selwyn Raab


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