The Chicago Syndicate: Alphonse Persico
Showing posts with label Alphonse Persico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alphonse Persico. Show all posts

Friday, March 08, 2019

Carmine Persico, AKA The Snake, Legendary New York Mobster and Longtime Boss of the Colombo Crime Family has Died in Prison

One of New York’s most storied mob bosses met his end in prison Thursday — old and sick, and mired in a lawsuit over his medical treatment.

Carmine "The Snake" Persico, the longtime boss of the Colombo crime family, died at age 85, the Daily News has learned.

Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family.

Persico was convicted of racketeering and murder in the famous mid-‘80s “Commission trial,” which put three of the city’s five crime family bosses in prison in one fell swoop. He was the last surviving defendant in that notorious case.

He was serving his sentence at the federal prison in Butner, N.C. when he died at Duke University Medical Center, confirmed his lawyer, Benson Weintraub. Among his reported pals at the medium-security prison was Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

Persico spent the last 36 years of his life behind bars, serving a staggering 139-year sentence. But by most accounts, he remained the titular Colombo boss.

In 2016, Persico’s lawyers described a litany of health problems and called his 100-year sentence a “virtual life sentence.”

“Mr. Persico is legally blind in his right eye, and has diminished vision in his left eye. He also has limited use of his left and right arms and a deformity of his left wrist that has severely impacted his upper mobility,” his lawyer, Anthony DiPietro, wrote in March 2016. “Mr. Persico is also predominantly wheelchair-bound as a result of his emphysema. In addition, Mr. Persico suffers from anemia and a multitude of cardiac issues that require periodic medical attention.”

Persico sued the prison warden and a doctor there in December, alleging “deliberate indifference” to his deteriorating medical condition and calling for his compassionate release. He had serious infections in his legs, and was trying to block doctors from amputating his leg above the knee.

Wientraub said he suspected Persico died of the leg infections, which he said “spread as a result of deliberately indifferent treatment.”

Persico was known to his friends as “Junior” and to his enemies as “The Snake.”

He was born on Aug. 8, 1933, and grew up in the working class Brooklyn enclaves of Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. His dad was a law firm stenographer, while his mother stayed home to raise Carmine and his siblings – fellow future mobsters Alphonse and Theodore, along with their sister Dolores.

Persico was a high school dropout and ran with a local street gang. His first arrest was at age 17 in the fatal beating of another youth during a melee in Prospect Park. When the charges were dropped, he was recruited to the world of organized crime – working in bookmaking and loan-sharking operations.

By his mid-20s, Persico was a made man in the family headed by Joe Colombo.

He became affiliated with fellow Brooklyn mobsters the Gallo brothers – “Crazy” Joey, Larry and Albert, aka Kid Blast. Their crew was widely credited with the execution of mob boss Albert Anastasia, famously whacked inside a Manhattan barber shop.

The hit led to an internal family war, with the Gallos taking on boss Joe Profaci over what they felt was a slight following the Anastasia killing. The younger crew expected bigger responsibilities and more cash, only to clash with family’s old guard.

Persico turned on the Gallos, aligning himself with Profaci in the war that left nine dead, three missing and 15 more wounded. He was reportedly involved in the attempted strangling of Larry Gallo inside a Brooklyn bar, a hit interrupted by a local police sergeant.

He later survived an attempted murder by the Gallo faction before a truce was declared in 1963.

Persico, though in prison for hijacking, ruled over a powerful crew inside the Colombos. After the 1971 shooting of boss Joe Colombo, he and his brothers grabbed control of the family. Persico ran the family from the outside after he was released from prison in 1979 — but his time on the street was short.

Persico was indicted for racketeering in 1984 and arrested in the home of an FBI informant. He was also charged with the heads of other four families in the “Commission” prosecution led by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

Persico’s reply was to put out a contract on Giuliani.

He got a 39-year term in the first case. In the second, where he acted as his own attorney, Persico was hit with a 100-term – ensuring his death behind bars.

One small victory: Federal Judge John F. Keenan hailed Persico as “one of the most intelligent people I have ever seen in my life” for his performance as a lawyer.

While running the family from behind bars, the Colombos descended into another internal bloodbath pitting Persico loyalists against supporters of new boss Victor (Little Vic) Amuso. The war destroyed the family, which was decimated by a dozen murders and as many defectors to the government side – including the family’s consigliere and two capos. Sixty-eight made men and associates were arrested, including Carmine’s kid brother Theodore.

Persico appealed his conviction in 2016. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals shot down his request in 2017, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case later that year.

Thanks to Larry McShane and John Annese.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Salvatore Vitale Offers List of Mob Commandments and Chain of Command at Thomas Gioeli Trial

It was summer 1999, and a meeting between the leadership of the Bonanno and Colombo crime families was under way in an apartment off Third Avenue, in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. But something was amiss: the seat that should have been taken by William Cutolo Sr., a Colombo underboss, was empty, a former Bonanno underboss testified on Tuesday.

The absence was noted, and then cryptically explained by another Colombo mobster: “You can’t take in this life what’s not yours,” the witness, Salvatore Vitale, recalled the man as saying.

Mr. Vitale, then the underboss of the Bonanno crime family, said he immediately knew what that meant. “I realized then that Wild Bill was dead,” said Mr. Vitale, invoking the nickname of Mr. Cutolo, one of six people whose killings are at the heart of the prosecution of Thomas Gioeli, who prosecutors believe is a former acting boss of the Colombo crime family, and Dino Saracino, who they allege was one of his hit men. The trial of the two men, charged with murder and racketeering, began on Monday.

Mr. Vitale, once known as Good Looking Sal, is admittedly no innocent bystander, nor is he a stranger to the witness stand. Following his arrest in 2003, he quickly began working with the authorities, and his testimony on Tuesday was the seventh time he had taken the stand in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on behalf of the government.

Currently under witness protection, Mr. Vitale has been credited by prosecutors with identifying more than 500 organized crime members and associates. Dozens of them, including Joseph C. Massino, a former Bonanno boss and Mr. Vitale’s brother-in-law, have been imprisoned as a result.

Most of Mr. Vitale’s testimony, under questioning by Christina M. Posa, an assistant United States attorney, amounted to a colorful primer on mob life, as he spoke casually of his nearly 30-year association with the Bonanno family.

At one point, Mr. Vitale was invited off the witness stand to outline the organizational structure of a typical crime family, presented on a large poster board as if it were a boardroom breakdown of a white-collar company. But Mr. Vitale spoke of a criminal hierarchy: the robberies, the loan-sharking, the “hijacking” of trucks carrying “tuna fish, lobster, clothes,” and the homicides.

He offered what amounted to a list of commandments for anyone hoping to succeed and survive in organized crime. “The dos are, ‘Do what you’re told, and you’ll be fine,’ ” he said, underscoring the vital importance of the chain of command in the Bonanno and other crime families.

The chain of command, he emphasized, was essential, especially when murder was involved. “We’re all supposed to be tough guys, we’re all supposed to be shooters,” he said. “But you have to get permission to do something like that.”

Mr. Cutolo disappeared on May 26, 1999; Alphonse Persico, then the boss of the Colombo family, and John DeRoss have been convicted in the killing.

In Mr. Vitale’s four hours on the stand, which included a cross-examination by Carl J. Herman, a lawyer for Mr. Gioeli, he only began to establish Mr. Gioeli’s connection to organized crime.

Mr. Vitale told the court that he had first met Mr. Gioeli, also known as Tommy Shots, when Joel Cacace Sr. — whom prosecutors have called a consigliere, or top mob adviser in the Colombo family — said he wanted Mr. Gioeli to act as a go-between.

“Joe Waverly,” Mr. Vitale said, using a nickname for Mr. Cacace, “had a lot of heat on him — the F.B.I. was all over him,” so he wanted Mr. Gioeli to, in a sense, be his public face.

Several meetings between Mr. Vitale and Mr. Gioeli followed. At some of those meetings, in the mid-1990s, Mr. Vitale said, Mr. Gioeli requested the Bonanno family’s approval, as was customary, of new members the Colombo family was considering. But at the time, the Colombo family’s internal struggle had been raging, and a commission of the top leadership from New York’s main crime families had to halt the Colombo family’s growth.

“When it’s all over the news, all over the newspapers,” Mr. Vitale said of the Colombo power struggle, “it’s bad for business.”

Thanks to Noah Rosenberg

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Ralph DeLeo the Street Boss of the Colombo Crime Family?

In Boston, home to the New England Mafia and a string of legendary former bosses like “The Cheese Man’’ and “Cadillac Frank,’’ Ralph DeLeo was a virtual unknown.

“Here, I’m nothing,’’ DeLeo said within earshot of an FBI bug. But in New York, he said, “Everybody is holding the door for ya, helping on your coat, giving you hugs . . . kissing you, and all this type of stuff. ‘Oh, you gotta sit in front, you gotta do this, are you comfortable? Can I get you coffee?’ ’’

But to the FBI, DeLeo, 66, of Somerville was somebody.

Agents tapped his cellphone from January through November of last year, then he was indicted last month on a federal racketeering conspiracy charge. The indictment filed in US District Court in Boston alleges that he is the “street boss’’ of New York’s Colombo family and runs a small crew based in Greater Boston involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and loansharking.

DeLeo is being held in Arkansas, where he’s also facing charges of cocaine trafficking. An FBI affidavit filed last week in courts in Boston and Arkansas detailed DeLeo’s alleged position in the New York mob and offered snippets of conversations from his bugged telephone calls.

The affidavit alleges that DeLeo is the highest-ranking member of the Colombo family who is not in prison, and ran the family’s business for most of last year. He allegedly reported to its boss, Carmine “The Snake’’ Persico, and acting boss, Alphonse “Allie Boy’’ Persico, who are in prison.

During an FBI-bugged call to his sister from New York last week, DeLeo, who had allegedly presided over a mob induction ceremony, admitted that he found his job “like overwhelming a little bit,’’ the affidavit said.

He described going to the ceremony in different groups and cars to “make sure we weren’t followed,’’ and added, “it was a big deal; people picking us up, taking us somewhere else and all that type of stuff, I wasn’t ready for all that.’’

In October 1989, New England mobsters did the same thing, arriving at a Medford home in different cars and groups. But it didn’t do them much good because the FBI had planted a bug in the house and captured its first-ever recording of a Mafia induction ceremony that led to a takedown of the hierarchy of the local mob.

Before the New England family was weakened by waves of prosecution, it was unheard of for another Mafia family to encroach on its territory.

The indictment alleges that in the past year DeLeo and three other men, Franklin M. Goldman, 66, of Randolph, Edmond Kulesza, 56, of Somerville, and George Wiley Thompson, 54, of Cabot, Ark., plotted to distribute marijuana and cocaine, extort money from victims, including one in Canton, and collect loansharking debts.

DeLeo allegedly paid $50,000 for 2 kilograms of cocaine that were transported from California to Massachusetts in December 2008, according to the indictment.

It’s not DeLeo’s first brush with the law.

He served a 25- to 40-year sentence in state prison at Walpole for kidnapping and armed robbery when he escaped in 1977.

He was convicted of killing an Ohio doctor in 1977 and sentenced to 15 years to life. But the state’s governor granted him clemency in 1991 and he has been free since 1997.

Unaware that his alleged encroachment into New England last year had drawn attention, DeLeo kept talking as the FBI kept listening.

During a March call to his sister from Florida, DeLeo lamented about all of the attention he was getting from other wise guys.

“They gave me too much attention,’’ DeLeo said, according to the affidavit. “You know, too many hugs, too many kisses. You know, holding the car door for me, holding doors for me, you know all that type of stuff. And, um, I’m not into that type of stuff. I’m, uh, you know, I’m . . . at heart I’m a regular guy, you know. Uh, you know to them I’m something else, but I’m really not that something else.’’

When his sister asked if he brought his girlfriend on the Florida trip, DeLeo said he was just “with the guys’’ because he was afraid she would be suspicious if she saw the royal treatment he was getting.

“You know what I mean, cause they definitely act like Sopranos and . . . the way they [pay] attention to me is, you know, they would huh, you know she would suspect something.’

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Former Mob Kingpin and Underling Get Life in Prison

Two coldblooded Colombo mob bigs convicted of rubbing out an intra-family rival in 1999 were sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

Former Colombo kingpin Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, 55, and underling John "Jackie" DeRoss, 71, were found guilty in 2007 of orchestrating the hit on William "Wild Bill" Cutolo.

Prosecutors said at trial in federal court in Central Islip, LI, that Cutolo had been dumped at sea. But his corpse eventually was discovered last fall in a Farmingdale, LI, industrial park after several days of digging by federal authorities.

Persico ordered Cutolo's hit after growing nervous about his position as acting family don in 1999 as he prepared to go to prison, prosecutors said. He feared Cutolo, then second in command, was planning a coup with Persico behind bars.

Persico had set up a meeting with Cutolo near 92nd Street and Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the day he vanished in May 1999.

Thanks to Selim Agar

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mistrial in Alphonse 'Allie Boy' Persico Crime Boss Murder Trial?

Convicted Colombo crime boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico may get a new murder trial because of allegations a key witness lied when she said the feds let her keep $1.6 million in mob money.

The widow of the murder victim, gangster William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, testified the feds let her keep - tax-free - stacks of cash the slain mob underboss left stashed in their Staten Island mansion.

The testimony from Marguerite (Peggy) Cutolo not only shocked defense lawyers, but caught the current prosecutors off guard, too.

Peggy Cutolo claimed she told a prosecutor in 2001 about the money and an NYPD detective even saw the money in a suitcase in her home. But notes from her debriefing contain no mention of the $1.6 million and, while a former prosecutor in the case said she was allowed to keep the money, the feds have not produced a document backing up the claim.

If prosecutors fail to correct false testimony from their witness, a mistrial could be declared.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nine Mobster Accused and Arrested for Mafia Crimes Nationwide

A reputed acting mob boss and eight other suspected gangsters were arrested Wednesday on federal charges accusing them of coast-to-coast Mafia crimes, ranging from gangland hits in New York to a home invasion by police impersonators in Los Angeles, authorities said.

Among those named in a racketeering indictment were Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, who authorities said was the acting boss of the Colombo organized crime family.

Three other defendants already behind bars also were charged, including 89-year-old John "Sonny" Franzese, identified as the family's underboss.

Gioeli, wearing a hoodie and basketball shorts after an early morning arrest at his Long Island home, pleaded not guilty to robbery, murder and extortion charges. He was ordered held without bail. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

"He's denied all the allegations," said his attorney, Adam Perlmutter, outside court. The other defendants were also due in court Wednesday.

The takedown -- following a three-month investigation using turncoat mobsters and electronic surveillance -- was part of a "relentless campaign to prosecute and convict the highest echelons of the Colombo family and La Cosa Nostra as a whole," said U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell.

He noted that former Colombo acting boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico and another family member were convicted last year of orchestrating a 1999 murder.

Gioeli was charged in three of four slayings detailed in the indictment, including the 1992 slayings of two men amid a bloody civil war for control of the family. A Colombo captain was accused of participating in the shooting and killing of an armored truck guard, also in 1992, while the victim was delivering money to a cash-checking store in Brooklyn.

The indictment also alleges Gioeli participated in the holdup of a fur shop in February 1991 in which he posed as a customer shopping for a Valentine's Day gift. He and other bandits handcuffed the owner before they "filled garbage bags with fur coats" and fled, court papers said.

In 2006, two other defendants flew to Los Angeles to try to rob a home where they believed there was $1 million in drug money, court papers said. Donning hats and T-shirts emblazoned with "DEA" and carrying a fake search warrant, the men burst into the home and pistol-whipped a woman there, but never found the cash, the papers said.

It was the second high-profile mob case to be made in recent months: In February, prosecutors charged 62 reputed members and associates of the once-powerful Gambino crime family with murders, drug trafficking, robberies, extortion, and other crimes dating back to the 1970s.

Last Thursday, the lone fugitive in the Gambino case, Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo, strolled up to the FBI's office and surrendered on charges he ordered a decades-old gangland hit that took an innocent bystander's life. He was ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty to racketeering, extortion and murder charges

Saturday, January 05, 2008

COLOMBO CRIME FAMILY BOSS ALPHONSE PERSICO & ADMINISTRATION MEMBER JOHN DEROSS CONVICTED OF MURDER IN AID OF RACKETEERING AND WITNESS TAMPERING

Following eight weeks of trial, a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, returned a verdict convicting Colombo organized crime family acting boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico and administration member John "Jackie" DeRoss of murder in aid of racketeering and witness tampering. Specifically, Persico and DeRoss were found guilty of orchestrating the May 26, 1999, murder of Colombo family underboss William Cutolo, Sr.

The evidence at trial established that Persico and DeRoss murdered Cutolo because they believed he was about to take control of the Colombo family from Persico, and to serve as retribution for Cutolo's actions during the bloody Colombo family war in the early 1990s. During the war, Cutolo, on behalf of the faction loyal to Vic Orena, tried to wrest control of the Colombo family from Alphonse Persico and his father, the family's official boss, Carmine "The Snake" Persico. As part of the murder plot, Persico summoned Cutolo to a meeting on the afternoon of May 26, 1999. That afternoon, an auto mechanic dropped Cutolo off at a park near 92nd Street and Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the designated place for the meeting with Persico. Cutolo was never seen or heard from again, and the government's evidence indicated that Cutolo's body most likely was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. That evening, DeRoss kept watch over Cutolo's crew at the Friendly Bocce Social Club in Brooklyn, where the crew was awaiting Cutolo's arrival for their traditional Wednesday evening dinner. When Cutolo failed to show up, DeRoss feigned surprise and directed Cutolo's son, William Cutolo, Jr., to telephone his father. Early the next morning, May 27, DeRoss, on Persico's orders, arrived at Cutolo's home and began questioning Cutolo's widow, Marguerite Cutolo, about the location The United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York

Persico and DeRoss were also found guilty of tampering with witnesses Marguerite Cutolo (Cutolo's widow), Barbara Jean Cutolo (one of Cutolo's daughters), and William Cutolo, Jr. The trial evidence included a recording William Cutolo, Jr., secretly made of DeRoss threatening the Cutolo family in March 2000, several months after it was publicly disclosed that Persico was a target of the FBI's investigation of the Cutolo murder. During the meeting, DeRoss ordered the Cutolo family to provide false, exculpatory information to a private investigator hired by Persico. DeRoss told the Cutolo family that, if they did not assist Persico, Marguerite Cutolo could be "hurt," as could the "little . . . kids," referring to Barbara Jean Cutolo's seven and five-year-old daughters. Marguerite and Barbara Jean Cutolo both testified at trial that, as a result of DeRoss's threats, the Cutolos withheld information about the murder from law enforcement authorities for years, including Cutolo, Sr.'s statement to Marguerite Cutolo on May 26, 1999, that he was going to a meeting with Persico.

Persico was the second acting boss of an LCN crime family convicted in 2007 of murder charges in the Eastern District of New York. On July 31st, Bonnano organized crime family acting boss Vincent Basciano was convicted of racketeering murder and is awaiting sentencing. "Law enforcement's campaign against organized crime will continue until our communities are free from its corrupting influence," stated United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell. Mr. Campbell praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency that led the government's investigation.

When sentenced by United States District Judge Joanne Seybert, each defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Buretta, Deborah Mayer, and Jeffrey Goldberg.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lin DeVecchio to Return to Court?

Former G-man Lindley DeVecchio may return to court as a defense witness for Colombo crime boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, the Daily News has learned.

DeVecchio, 67, was cleared last month of orchestrating four gangland murders with informer Gregory Scarpa after a key witness was snared in a web of lies.

Defense lawyer Sarita Kedia wants to call the retired agent as an organized crime expert Monday to testify about the bloody Colombo war of the early 1990s. Scarpa was aligned with Colombo boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico - Allie Boy's father - against a rival faction.

Alphonse Persico is charged with ordering the 1999 murder of underboss William (Wild Bill) Cutolo as payback for backing the other faction.

In a letter to prosecutors, Kedia said she will question DeVecchio about "the identities, positions and affiliations of certain individuals involved in the war."

It's unclear if prosecutors will try to keep DeVecchio off the stand. "If he's subpoenaed and the government permits him to testify, he will testify truthfully," DeVecchio's lawyer Douglas Grover said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Charles Tyrwhitt

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wiseguy Widow Fingers Crime Boss

The widow of wiseguy William (Wild Bill) Cutolo did Tuesday what prosecutors wanted her to do - she placed Colombo crime boss Alphonse Persico at the center of the crime.

Then things started unraveling for Marguerite (Peggy) Cutolo when defense lawyers suggested her husband was still alive and that she had stashed away up to $2.7 million in loanshark profits.

"I'm not lying," a visibly upset Cutolo said in Federal Court in Central Islip, L.I. "I've been distressed and depressed for eight years because I don't know where my husband was. My husband would have never run away."

She left witness protection to testify against (Allie Boy) Persico and former underboss John (Jackie) DeRoss, who are charged with her husband's murder - and whose first trial ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors say the gangsters orchestrated the murder because they believed Wild Bill was trying to take over the Colombo family.

Under questioning from prosecutors, Peggy Cutolo insisted her husband kept nothing from her. On the day he vanished, she said, "I knew he was meeting Allie Boy."

She said Cutolo's meeting with Persico in Bay Ridge on May 26, 1999, was unusual because on Wednesdays he usually visited his union office in Manhattan, got his weekly haircut at Bruno's in Bensonhurst, and dined with his crew at the Friendly Bocce Club in Brooklyn.

Cutolo was DeRoss' best man at his wedding. After he disappeared, DeRoss was more concerned about finding the piles of cash Cutolo stashed in their Staten Island mansion than finding her husband, the widow testified.

Peggy Cutolo admitted she hid $1.65 million in an air conditioning vent and moved it when the AC went on the fritz and the repairman - DeRoss' nephew - came to fix it. She said she took the money with her when she went into witness protection in February 2001. "My husband told me, 'If anything happened to me, you give them nothing,'" she testified.

When DeRoss' lawyer, Robert LaRusso, produced ledgers indicating Cutolo had $2.7 million at the time of his disappearance, the flustered widow explained her husband kept two sets of books - one for Colombo money, one for his money. "I just know what I counted," she said.

Asked what happened to the cash, Peggy Cutolo said, "The government let me have the money. I had to take care of the kids."

Thanks to John Marzulli and Corky Siemaszko

Store.HBO.com

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Story for Martin Scorsese to Bring to the Big Screen

Are you familiar, as the lawyers say, with a man named Alphonse Persico, known as Allie Boy? How about Nicky Black, Wild Bill, Joe Waverly, Joey Brains and Joe Brewster? Or Lawrence Mazza, James Delmasto, John Pate and Carmine Sessa?

If not, good luck following the blockbuster murder case on trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court before a spellbound audience of journalists, promoters, authors, conspiracy theorists, gadflies and some who answer to three or more of those designations. You need a scorecard just to track the players.

Fortunately, their nicknames give them away: All are figures associated with the Mafia, that fetishistically documented secret society responsible for long-ago crime waves, more recent cinematic masterpieces and, above all, an enduring modern marketing bonanza. Some are dead and some are living; in their lives the press loved them all.

These latter days find the waning wiseguys reduced to walk-on roles in an ensemble gathered for the trial of Roy Lindley DeVecchio, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation supervisor. Mr. DeVecchio, 67, has been charged with helping his prized Mafia informer kill four people in the 1980s and early 1990s. Prosecutors say he disclosed confidential information to set up assassinations.

This contemporary Mafia trial’s more prominent players include a 1960s campus radical turned dapper judge whose taste in courtroom d├ęcor runs to the eccentric, an aspiring author planning a book with a self-styled love, dating, sex and relationship coach and an amateur private investigator who was choked (not fatally) in a strange, unexplained attack last year.

The publicity circus surrounding big mob trials was already in full churn last week. Satellite trucks idled on Jay Street. Photographers ascended stepladders to gain some purchase over their rivals. A high school class visited the courtroom on a field trip. Mr. DeVecchio, free on $1 million bond, mingled with his supporters. And tabloid newspapers reflexively chronicled every twist under headlines such as “Weird Mafia Love Triangle” and “G-Man and G-Strings; Plied With Bimbos: DA.”

The basic accusations against Mr. DeVecchio date to the Bensonhurst war for control of the Colombo crime family in the early ’90s, when Mr. DeVecchio led an F.B.I. squad charged with crippling the Colombos. His informer was Gregory Scarpa Sr., proprietor of the Wimpy Boys Social Club and a capo in the family.

After the war ended, federal prosecutors admitted that Mr. DeVecchio had passed confidential information to Mr. Scarpa. Investigators for the Department of Justice failed to turn up evidence to support criminal charges or even disciplinary action, and Mr. DeVecchio soon retired.

In a way, his new trial can be considered the triumph of the hangers-on, the true believers and the Mafia aficionados.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office has credited Angela Clemente, a single mother from New Jersey, amateur private eye (and victim of that unexplained choking) with research that helped revive the case. The office has also acknowledged the work of Peter Lance, a writer who attends the trial in pinstripe suits, telling anyone who will listen his theories linking the case to global terrorism. But at center stage is the main prosecution witness, Linda Schiro, aspiring author of a book tentatively titled “Marriage, Mafia Style.” Supporting testimony is expected from her son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., who is in prison for racketeering. Mr. Scarpa is a prolific informer who has at times claimed to have the goods on his own father and on Ramzi Yousef, orchestrator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Mr. DeVecchio’s defense lawyers speak of a darker side to all this Mafia obsession. Over the years, they argue, Ms. Schiro has tried time and again to sell the story of her life as the common-law wife of the senior Mr. Scarpa, who died in prison in 1994.

With each new telling and each new potential co-author (including the love and dating coach, Sandra Harmon), she has sharpened her portrayal of Mr. DeVecchio. In her evolving accounts, defense lawyers argue, Mr. DeVecchio has gone from a man who met privately with her husband to a man she heard giving orders to kill.

“That’s pure fantasy,” said a defense lawyer, Douglas Grover, in his opening statement. “She’s making it up.”

Prosecutors built the groundwork for her credibility last week with testimony from a Mafia expert and from F.B.I. agents who had worked with Mr. DeVecchio.

The Mafia expert, Sgt. Fred Santoro of the Police Department, seemed well at ease. A product of Bensonhurst himself, he lent the trial an old-time touch by cracking wise on Mafia policies for drug-dealing (frowned upon) and murder (get permission first). The federal agents recounted their suspicions about Mr. DeVecchio’s relationship with his informer.

By the end of the week, a real live Mafia associate cried on the witness stand, to the evident delight of the gallery. The witness, Lawrence Mazza, told of hunting Colombo rivals, armed to the teeth in a frequently repainted station wagon.

The judge overseeing the case, Gustin L. Reichbach, interjected with his own questions. He knew a thing or two about the F.B.I.; its agents had once counted him among the most dangerous protest organizers at Columbia University. When the witness mentioned a newspaper account of one killing, Justice Reichbach offered a qualification.

“Just because it appears in the newspapers,” he said, “doesn’t make it so.”

The writers packed into the gallery laughed and laughed. The judge leaned back in his big leather chair. The scales of justice glowed over his shoulder, in neon, bright red and blue.

Thanks to Michael Brick

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mob Menu: Donunts Followed by Jail

Friends of ours: John "Sonny" Franzese, Joe Colombo, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico
Friends of mine: Michael Franzese, Frank Sinatra

At age 89, John "Sonny" Franzese still enjoys sitting for a bite with his friends. The problem, according to federal authorities, is when the octogenarian mobster inevitably puts his criminal interests on the menu.

For the third time since 1996, Franzese was back in federal lockup _ this time after authorities spotted him sharing donuts with associates in the Colombo crime family, violating his parole. In the two earlier arrests, Franzese was nabbed after meeting with alleged mobsters in a coffee shop and a restaurant.

It's enough to give the reputed family underboss indigestion. "It's really sad," said his son, Michael, who followed the elder Franzese into organized crime before leaving the mob and becoming a born-again Christian. "I believe he wasn't very active (with the Colombos) at all, but then again, I'm not with him 24/7. Many of his friends are dead."

No surprise there, since the elderly Franzese's contemporaries included mob veterans like Joe Colombo (RIP, 1978) or Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico (RIP, 1989). But authorities said Franzese was spotted more than once in recent weeks sharing breakfast pastries with 21st century Colombo members.

Franzese was picked up last Wednesday during a scheduled check-in with his parole officer, said FBI spokesman Jim Margolin. He will remain behind bars pending resolution of his case, which could take up to three months, according to Tom Huchison of the U.S. Parole Commission.

If Franzese has a weakness for old friends, he also has an unfortunate predilection for meeting them in public places _ a major problem, since his parole bars him from any contact with organized crime figures.

A November 2000 sitdown for coffee with three Colombo associates at a Long Island Starbucks landed him behind bars for three years. A February 1996 bowl of spinach soup at Pucinella's restaurant in Great Neck led to a two-year term after authorities identified his dining companions as mobsters.

A decade earlier, Franzese was popped after a mobbed-up meal at Laina's Restaurant in Jericho. In all, Franzese has racked up five parole violations _ and gone to jail for each one _ since his November 1978 release on a bank robbery conviction.

By then, Franzese's reputation as a stand-up guy was already well-known among the Colombos.

He was once a frequent patron at the Copacabana nightclub, taking in headliners like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. And he was among the investors in the legendary porn movie "Deep Throat." But the up-and-coming mob star's career was derailed by a 1967 bank robbery conviction and subsequent 50-year jail term, which included parole restrictions that now extend though 2020 _ when Franzese would be 102 years old.

Franzese has not been convicted of any new crimes in the last 40 years.

When Michael and his father speak now, the discussions still focus on family _ Sonny's seven grandchildren (another son, John, went into federal witness protection). Michael says the old man is no longer in the best of health, and sometimes has trouble recognizing his voice.

The arrest, in an odd culinary twist, also denied Franzese one last good meal: A friend says they were due to share dinner in a Long Island restaurant just hours after his arrest.

Thanks to the Niagara Gazette

Monday, November 06, 2006

Persico/DeRoss Trial Ends in Mistrial

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Carmine Persico, John DeRoss

After a five-week trial, a Brooklyn federal judge ordered a mistrial Friday in the racketeering case against reputed Colombo crime family mobsters Alphonse Persico and John DeRoss when the jury indicated it was deadlocked.

Judge Sterling Johnson terminated the trial after the panel, in its fifth day of deliberations, sent out a note about 2:30 p.m. saying it could not reach a verdict despite a final try at unanimity. "The jury is deadlocked on all counts. We take the opportunity to apologize to the court," jurors said in the note to Johnson.

Three women on the jury dabbed at their eyes with handkerchiefs as Johnson thanked all of them for their service. "Some matters can't be resolved," Johnson said in an apparent attempt to console those who were upset.

Sarita Kedia, Persico's attorney, said, "I had hoped for an acquittal given the evidence in this case, but it seems better than the alternative."

Persico, 52, who is known as "Allie Boy" and is the son of imprisoned legendary mobster Carmine Persico, once was considered by law enforcement officials to be the acting boss of the Colombo family. Since late September, he and DeRoss, 69, had been on trial on charges they were involved in the disappearance and presumed slaying of cohort William Cutolo in 1999. Cutolo was considered a rising star in the crime family when he vanished.

Persico and DeRoss also faced other charges involving crime family rackets. Both defendants remained in custody, as they already are serving sentences in other federal cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Seigel said he plans to pursue a retrial, which would not occur until 2007.

Strong indications of a mistrial emerged Thursday when a flurry of notes from the jury showed at least one juror didn't believe the various cooperating witnesses called by the government. Another note suggested three jurors were voting as a bloc, but it wasn't clear if they were for acquittal or conviction.

The mistrial was the second time recently that federal prosecutors in the city have been stymied in getting a conviction in a high-profile mob case. Last month, in federal court in Manhattan, a mistrial was declared in the racketeering trial of John A. Gotti, the son of the late Gambino crime boss John J. Gotti. It was the third mistrial in that case. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said it would not seek another trial.

Thanks to Anthony M. DeStefano

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dapper Don Instigated Bloody Mob War

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Carmine "The Snake" Persico, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Vic Orena, John "Junior" Gotti, William "Wild Bill" Cutolo

The late Gambino boss John Gotti instigated the bloody civil war within the Colombo crime family in a diabolical scheme to consolidate his power on the Mafia Commission, a turncoat witness testified yesterday. Gotti falsely branded jailed Colombo boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico "a rat" in an attempt to get him replaced by another Colombo gangster who was close to Gotti, according to former Gambino capo Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo.

DiLeonardo, testifying at the racketeering trial of Persico's son and acting boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, surprised Brooklyn Federal Judge Sterling Johnson when he matter-of-factly said that Gotti was behind the conflict that left a dozen gangsters dead and an innocent bystander slain outside a Brooklyn bagel shop in the early 1990s.

"John Sr. instigated it?" the judge asked the witness.

"Oh, yeah," DiLeonardo replied.

DiLeonardo explained Gotti's strategy this way: "John was close to Vic Orena and figured if he could get him in, and Allie out, he [Gotti] would have a majority vote on The Commission," DiLeonardo said. "He [Gotti] owned Vic Orena."

During the war, DiLeonardo said he accompanied John A. [Junior] Gotti to Rockaway Beach for secret late-night meetings with members of the Orena faction to try to iron out a settlement.

DiLeonardo said he thought that it was wrong that the Dapper Don had slurred the elder Persico's name. "Allie found out about it and wasn't happy," he recalled. "I told him it wasn't right and I set out to try and make things right."

Alphonse Persico is charged with ordering the 1999 murder of Colombo underboss - and Orena loyalist - William (Wild Bill) Cutolo.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gangland Killings: FBI Agent Indicted for Role in Mafia War

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Craig Sobel, John Sinagra, Greg "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa, Alphonse Persico, Carmine Persico, Joseph DeDomenico, Lorenzo Lampasi, Nicholas "Nicky Black" Grancio, Larry Mazza
Friends of mine: Lindley DeVecchio

A retired FBI special agent who was being investigated for his role in mob "hits" has been indicted by a Brooklyn, NY grand jury, according to the District Attorney's office. The decorated FBI agent, Lindley DeVecchio, was indicted on charges that he gave information to his Mafia informant that led to a series of gangland murders during the bloody Colombo Family gangland war of the 1990s, according to the indictment.

The arrest and indictment of retired FBI Agent Roy Lindley DeVecchio and two men Craig Sobel and John Sinagra associated with the Colombo crime family, who have all been implicated in Mafia murders from 1987 to 1992, has shocked New York City.

The murders all took place when DeVecchio was assigned to work with FBI “top echelon" informant and Colombo Family kingpin Greg "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa, in Brooklyn. Sobel and Sinagra are charged with being triggermen in two mob hits, and DeVecchio is charged with acting in concert in four mob-related killings.

This is the most stunning example of official corruption that I have ever seen, said Brooklyn District Attorney Richard Hynes. Four people were murdered with the help of a federal law enforcement agent who was charged with keeping them safe. Lindley DeVecchio deserves the maximum sentence of 25 years to life for each of these killings.

In 2005, the House Judiciary Committee was involved in preparing for hearings to look into allegations against FBI agents involved in organized crime investigations. The pre-hearing investigations uncovered discrepancies regarding DeVecchio and his relationship to Scarpa during 1980s and early 1990s. The case to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office with a recommendation for a full investigation.

Pursuant to its oversight responsibilities the Judiciary Committee will closely monitor the proceedings in this case, and review all the evidence presented concerning FBI misconduct, according to a Congressional spokesperson.

The first murder victim, Mary Bari, 31, was the stunning brunette girlfriend of Colombo consigliore Alphonse Persico, brother of then Colombo Family boss, Carmine Persico. The indictment charges DeVecchio told Scarpa that Bari had been speaking to federal authorities and should be taken care of. On September 25, 1984, she was shot and killed in a Brooklyn social club by Scarpa and other members of the Colombo crime family.

Agent DeVecchio is also charged with urging Scarpa to kill Joseph DeDomenico, a Colombo soldier who was considered a threat, because he had been using drugs, committing crimes without involving Scarpa and talking about becoming a Born-again Christian. DeDomenico, 45, was killed September 17, 1987, by Scarpa and other Colombo associates.

Sobel is charged with firing two blasts from a sawed-off shotgun that killed 17-year-old Dominick Masseria on the steps of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Brooklyn, October 31, 1989. Earlier that Halloween night Masseria had been present at an egg-throwing incident which turned violent, and involved several other youths from the neighborhood. While walking home he was the victim of a drive-by shooting. Present in the car were triggerman Sobel, Joseph Scarpa Greg Scarpa’s teenage son and his friend Patrick Porco.

In May of 1990 Porco was questioned by detectives at the 62nd Precinct stationhouse about Masseria’s murder. DeVecchio contacted Greg Scarpa to tell him that Porco, 18, had been speaking to authorities about Joseph Scarpa’s involvement in the Masseria shooting. Sinagra is charged with carrying out a Scarpa-ordered hit on Porco, to prevent him from speaking about Masseria.

The final murder charged is of a criminal rival of Scarpa’s, Lorenzo Lampasi, during the war within the Colombo crime family. Scarpa informed DeVecchio that he wanted to kill Lampasi, 66, and DeVecchio is charged with providing Scarpa critical information -- obtained during law-enforcement surveillance regarding Lampasi’s address and personal habits. On May 22, 1992, Lampasi was murdered in his driveway at 4 a.m., the time that Lampasi left his home every morning.

DeVecchio, 65, who retired from the FBI in 1996, has always maintained he was clean. A source within the New York City Police Department told this writer that the DeVecchio indictment does not mention his alleged role in one of the most notorious mob murder cases in New York history -- the brutal murder of mobster Nicholas "Nicky Black" Grancio in 1992.

Former hitman Larry Mazza, who later became an FBI informant, had claimed Scarpa successfully called on DeVecchio to pull surveillance off Grancio -- a rival mobster -- so Scarpa's crew could shoot him. However, nothing against DeVecchio could be proved by New York detectives.

Thanks to Jim Kouri, CPP

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Romance and Rubout of Mafia Kingpin's Moll Doll

Friends of ours: Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Colombo Crime Family, Greg Scarpa Sr.

Mary Bari loved living in the "Goodfellas" fast lane of New York's 1970s mob underworld. She loved the diamonds and furs. She loved the weekend trips to Vegas. She loved listening to Frank Sinatra. Most of all, though, she loved Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico - a dashing wiseguy nearly 25 years her senior, who fed the bubbly brunette's fantasies of danger and romance with his white Rolls-Royce and his pistol-packing bodyguard.

It was a love that would lead Bari to the heart of gangland high life - and to her murder at the Wimpy Boy Social Club in Brooklyn on the morning of Sept. 24, 1984, when she was held down by a group of her former boyfriend's pals and three bullets were pumped into her head.

Now authorities are looking into the circumstances behind the sexy mob moll's death, trying to find out if the Brooklyn woman was whacked because a renegade FBI agent ignored his pledge to protect and serve and instead outed her as a mob informant.

The only thing that is known for sure about the case now is that Bari's bloody end started with burning love for a married made man. "In the beginning, he was a real gentleman," said a relative of Bari's. "And she had a real crush on him."

The ebullient, popular teenager first met the handsome Persico on a street corner in 1969, while she was a student at New Utrecht HS. She was just about to turn sweet 16, her family said. He was pushing 40. Persico wasn't just any wiseguy wannabe trying to look tough on the Brooklyn street. He was the real deal, one of the Colombo crime family's best and baddest, brother of the gang's boss. He eventually rose to underboss and, some say, acting boss.

Despite their age difference, she was immediately smitten - and he was more than happy to make her his goumada, or paramour. Once she hooked up with Persico, the other young men in the neighborhood stopped asking her for dates. They all knew better. "Once they started dating, he started showering her with gifts. He took her to Vegas, to Hawaii, to Florida," the relative said. "He gave her a fox fur coat. He gave her diamond rings."

She loved the mob life - parties with crowds that looked like the cast of "The Sopranos," and money flowing as freely as a scene from "Casino." Her now-deceased mother, Louise, tried to warn her that being a Mafia gal pal may have seemed glamorous, but it was also dangerous. "[She said] they're bad people," the family member recalled. "But [Mary] wouldn't listen."

Bari knew that Persico would never leave his wife for her, but she still tried to treat him like a normal boyfriend. She had him meet her family, and even took him to her brother's wedding in 1979. She eventually got a peach tattoo on her butt as a gift to him.

By 1980, however, trouble began Persico jumped $250,000 bail while facing 20 years for extortion. While he was on the lam, he dumped Bari. It didn't go easy. "When they broke up, one of his men came over to her house and took back all of the gifts, the diamonds and jewelry," the relative said.

Without Persico in her life, Bari was stuck for money. She didn't work for more than a year afterward. Eventually, some of her old boyfriend's pals made her an offer she couldn't refuse - a job at the Colombo gang hangout in Bay Ridge.

For her interview, she dressed in her mob-moll best - high heels, snakeskin belt and a tank top. But she went to the Wimpy Boy with some trepidation, after a strange supernatural encounter a few days earlier. "She went to a fortune teller in Staten Island and she wouldn't tell her future," the relative said. "She seemed like she was getting really nervous."

According to a published report last week, Bari was killed by Colombo capo Greg Scarpa Sr. and some of his cohorts as soon as she showed up. They allegedly put a gun to her head while she was held to the floor, and blasted her three times.

At the time, Scarpa reportedly told his gang that he wanted Bari dead because she knew where Persico was hiding. But last week, ganglandnews.com reported a new development. It said grand jurors in Brooklyn are investigating whether former FBI Agent Lindley DeVecchio told Scarpa that Bari was a federal informant, leading to her death.

The Brooklyn probe is also looking into whether the former G-man leaked other information to the mob, endangering lives. The panel has reportedly heard another allegation that DeVecchio once told Scarpa that his son's 17-year-old friend was an informant, leading to the young man's murder.

He also has been accused of pulling police protection off of a mob target, who was then assassinated, according to sources familiar with the probe.

DeVecchio's lawyers have adamantly denied his guilt, and complained the leaks of so-far-unproven allegations made to the jury are hurting their client's reputation. As yet, he has been charged with nothing, including any role in Bari's death.

Bari's body was found a few days after the slaying, rolled in a blanket and dumped on a Brooklyn street. She was identified only because her sister recognized her peach tattoo.

After the murder, her younger brother became obsessed with finding the real killer. He wound up killing himself with a drug overdose in 1987, unable to deal with the loss. Persico was eventually captured in 1987, hiding in a Connecticut apartment. He died in 1989 of cancer.

Bari's parents never got over her death. And her surviving family members still grieve every day. News that a government agent may have played a role is only making their pain worse. "They should hang him if this is his fault," said one family member.

Thanks to Jennifer Fermino and Todd Venezia

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dramatic mob trials still fill the seats

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, Genovese Crime Family, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Gambino Crime Family, Peter Gotti, Colombo Crime Family, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Lucchese Crime Family, Steven "Stevie Wonder" Crea, Bonanno Crime Family, Joseph "Big Joe" Massino, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, Patrick "Patty from the Bronx" DeFilippo
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

Organized crime may be on the decline, but Mafia trials are getting as much attention as ever.

In New York City alone, three upcoming federal prosecutions are targeting La Cosa Nostra, the Italian-American crime syndicate made famous by The Godfather books and films, and the HBO series The Sopranos. Defendants include John A. Gotti, son of John J. Gotti, the "Dapper Don" who died in federal prison in 2002 while serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering.

In Chicago, federal prosecutors hope to try alleged mobster Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, 76, and 10 alleged associates later this year for conspiracy to commit at least 18 unsolved murders, some dating back more than 30 years.

The cases all have the ruthlessness, and the color, that America has come to expect from the Mob.

First, there are the names. "Vinny Bionics," "Jackie Nose," "Mikey Scars," "Louie Electric" and "Skinny Dom," are among the characters who appear in court papers filed in the New York cases.

Then, there are the details. One case features an apparent first: the boss of a New York City crime family who, court papers say, "wore a wire" to secretly record conversations that were used to bring charges against other members. In another, two former New York City police detectives are accused of accepting thousands of dollars to carry out or aid seven Mafia-related slayings.

The public and the media are sure to be watching. Last month, a standing-room-only crowd showed up for Lombardo's first court appearance. Lombardo, who got his nickname by making jokes during legal proceedings, had disappeared soon after he was indicted and was on the lam for nine months before he was captured in a Chicago suburb Jan. 13.

Mafiosi "are not as large and as powerful as they once were, but they can still draw a crowd," says Jerry Capeci, organized crime specialist for Ganglandnews.com and author and co-author of six books on the Mob. "And let's face it, (Mob trials) are a lot more colorful than, what, Enron and like that."

Defendants in all of the Mafia cases have pleaded not guilty.

In Chicago, Lombardo and his associates are charged with plotting to kill a potential grand jury witness. They're also charged in the June 1986 killings of Chicago organized crime figure Tony "Ant" Spilotro and his brother Michael, who were beaten, then buried alive in a cornfield. The episode was fictionalized in Casino, a 1995 movie in which actor Joe Pesci played a character based on Spilotro.


MAFIA CONVICTIONS AT A GLANCE
During the past nine years, federal and local prosecutors in New York City have secured convictions and prison sentences for defendants they described as the bosses or acting bosses of all five of the city's Mafia "families."
Family Boss Conviction Sentence
Genovese Vincent "Chin" Gigante Racketeering (1997) 12 years (died in prison, 2005)
Gambino Peter Gotti Conspiracy; money laundering (2003) 9 1/2 years
Colombo Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico Racketeering (2003) 13 years
Luchese Steven "Stevie Wonder" Crea Construction bid rigging (2004) 3 to 6 years
Bonanno Joseph "Big Joe" Massino Multiple murders (2005) Life


In federal court in Brooklyn, testimony is scheduled to begin Feb. 22 in the murder, racketeering, bookmaking and extortion trial of Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, 46. Court papers describe him as the acting head of the Bonannos, one of five Mob "families" in New York City. Since mid-January, jury selection has been going on in secret to protect potential jurors' identities, court spokesman Robert Nardoza said.

Basciano, whose nickname, Capeci says, derived from a Bronx beauty parlor Basciano once owned, is charged with killing a Mob associate and plotting two other slayings. Patrick "Patty from the Bronx" DeFilippo, 66, an alleged Bonanno capo, or crime crew chief, is accused of killing another family associate.

Both men also face gambling, loan sharking and extortion charges. The charges are based in part on secret recordings made by convicted Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, 66, in January 2005, when he and Basciano met in a detention center in New York City, court papers say.

Basciano, awaiting trial, was unaware that Massino — who was awaiting sentencing for a racketeering conviction — had agreed to work for the FBI, Basciano's attorneys say in court papers.

"That's huge," says Ronald Kessler, who has written two books on the FBI. "Getting a family leader to wear a wire is something that's never happened before. It should make for very interesting testimony."

One of the most interested parties might be DeFilippo, Basciano's co-defendant and, according to prosecutors, his fellow Bonanno family member.

Transcripts of the tapes in court papers indicate that Basciano asked Massino, the family leader, for permission to "jocko" — Mob slang for kill — DeFilippo in a dispute over money and Basciano's leadership style. "I have a problem living in the same world as this guy," Basciano said of DeFilippo, the court papers say.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the retrial of John A. Gotti in federal court in Manhattan. Gotti, 41, called "Junior" in court papers, is charged with ordering the kidnapping and non-fatal shooting of Curtis Sliwa, a New York City radio talk-show host and founder of the Guardian Angels citizen-patrol group. Sliwa was abducted by Gambino family crime members under Gotti's control in 1992, prosecutors allege, because Gotti was upset by Sliwa's criticism of his father. When Gotti was first tried in September, jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on the kidnapping and extortion and loan-sharking charges. He was found not guilty of securities fraud. His attorneys disputed prosecutors' claims that he is boss of the crime family his father once led. They said he had severed his ties with organized crime.

The younger Gotti was convicted of racketeering in 1999 and was imprisoned for six years.

This week, Judge Shira Scheindlin turned down Gotti's request that Sliwa not be allowed to criticize him on Sliwa's show during the trial. Gotti said Sliwa's comments could unfairly influence jurors.

On Feb. 21, also in federal court in Brooklyn, jury selection is scheduled to begin in the murder and racketeering trial of former New York City police detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, are charged with accepting up to $4,000 a month in the 1980s and early 1990s to give members of the Luchese crime family information on police surveillance and help them find the targets of seven family-ordered hits.

The retired detectives also are accused of fatally shooting a Mafia member who had agreed to turn over information to the government.

Jack Weinstein, the judge in the case, has asked for a larger courtroom to accommodate crowds.

"They don't get better than this," Capeci says.

Thanks to Richard Willing

Sunday, September 03, 1995

Genoveses Surpass Gambinos as Most Powerful New York Crime Family

With John Gotti and scores of other organized-crime members behind bars, law enforcement officials say that New York's mob families are undergoing a major power realignment, elevating to the top rung of the Mafia a man who is best known for walking around his neighborhood in his pajamas.

Federal and state officials say that since Mr. Gotti, the head of the Gambino family, was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992, the rival Genovese organization has supplanted the Gambino family as the most powerful Mafia group in New York and the nation. The shift has placed significant power in the hands of Vincent Gigante, the boss of the Genovese family and now the decisive voice on the Mafia's commission, the group that sets mobster policies and resolves disputes.

Since Mr. Gotti, 54, began serving a life sentence without parole, the officials say, he has been confined away from the general inmate population and his communications outside of prison have been closely monitored. As a result, his hold on the Gambino family has loosened and the crime organization has fallen into disarray, lacking firm leadership. The family's ranks have been whittled in the last five years to about 200 active members from 400, according to Federal and state investigators who work on organized-crime cases.

The Genovese family, on the other hand, has 300 members and a hierarchy relatively unscathed by prosecutions, making it the country's strongest Mafia force, Federal and state law enforcement officials say.

Law enforcement officials emphasize that huge amounts of money are at stake in the shift of power. Mr. Gigante's influence on the commission, the officials say, often allows the Genovese family to harvest the largest shares of revenue in mutual crime ventures with other families. On Friday, a Federal grand jury in Manhattan charged that the Genovese family took a secret bite out of the Feast of San Gennaro, one of the city's most popular street festivals. In a perjury indictment, the grand jury said that Genovese members picked vendors for the feast in lower Manhattan and siphoned off significant amounts of the rents paid for stalls.

Law enforcement officials say that the Genovese family has risen in the wake of the Gambino family's decline, allowing Genovese mobsters to take over some construction and gambling rackets previously dominated by the Gambino faction.

Federal and state officials estimate that New York's five Mafia organizations -- the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno and Colombo families -- annually take in billions of dollars in illicit profits. City Police Department officials estimate that Mafia groups and people who work for them reap more than $2 billion a year alone in profits from illegal bookmaking and gambling enterprises in the New York area. Salvatore Gravano, the former Gambino underboss, testified that he routinely turned over more than $1 million a year in cash to Mr. Gotti as his share of the family's plunder from extortion in the construction industry.

The Genovese family has created the largest bookmaking and loan-sharking rings in the New York area, the officials say. The family's other major rackets include shakedowns from construction companies for labor peace, control of the Fulton Fish Market and extortion of companies doing business at the Ports of Newark and Elizabeth.

As the head of the Genovese family, the 67-year-old Mr. Gigante presents an unorthodox image for a mob titan. Since the early 1980's, he has been seen strolling sober-faced and bent near his home in Greenwich Village, clad in pajamas and bathrobe and mumbling incoherently.

Federal prosecutors say that Mr. Gigante, by feigning mental illness, has managed for five years to evade trial on charges of racketeering and plotting to murder his rival, Mr. Gotti. "Gigante still remains a very powerful figure in organized crime," said Lewis D. Schiliro, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's criminal division in New York. "We are confident he is the boss of the Genovese family."

New Jersey authorities say the Genovese family has also emerged as the strongest Mafia group in that state. Robert T. Buccino, deputy chief of investigations for the state's Organized Crime Bureau, said that the Genovese family is suspected of being involved in gambling and loan-sharking rings and of extorting kickbacks for labor peace from construction, garbage-removal and trucking companies.

Overall, the authorities say that from informers and wiretaps they have noticed significant shifts in the underworld, including these:

* All five families are reinforcing their ranks in an action they call opening the books. In 1990 they stopped accepting new members because of fears that newcomers could be more vulnerable to Government pressure to become turncoats. Defections and prosecutions, however, have reduced their combined rolls to about 700 active mobsters from 1,000 in the late 1980's, and the godfathers believe it is now safe to admit carefully screened recruits.

* After four years in prison, Mr. Gotti has lost control of the Gambino family. Although he appointed his son, John Jr., 31, as acting boss, the younger Gotti's rank is meaningless, and most Gambino captains are acting on their own authority.

* The Bonanno family has revived and prospered since its boss, Joseph C. Massino, was released three years ago from prison. The family is now almost as strong as the Gambino family.

Along with the Lucchese and Colombo families, the Genovese, Gambino and Bonanno organizations have operated in the region for 60 years and have created the largest and most entrenched mobster stronghold in the country, F.B.I. officials and prosecutors say. And even though Government efforts over the last decade have helped weaken or virtually eliminate most of the 20-odd Mafia families in the country, the organizations in New York have proven more resilient, officials say.

Still, the officials say, they have achieved significant victories against the mob in New York City and its suburbs, severely wounding the Gambino, Lucchese and Colombo families through the convictions of their bosses and their top lieutenants on racketeering charges.

Additionally, prosecutions and civil suits brought since 1990 by Federal prosecutors and the Manhattan District Attorney's office have loosened the Mafia's hold over major unions. The cases disclosed that the five families had a hand in milking union pension and welfare funds and used threats of violence and work stoppages to rig contracts and to extort millions of dollars from companies in the construction, trucking, garbage-carting, garment and newspaper delivery businesses.

Federal and state officials and investigators, however, grudgingly concede that no major figure in the Genovese family has become a turncoat. "Clearly, we have not had the same impact on them as the other families," said Eric Seidel, head of the state's Organized Crime Task Force. "They have hardly been touched."

Mr. Seidel and other officials credit Mr. Gigante's organizational skills and tight security for keeping his family intact.

Mr. Gigante, whose underworld nickname is Chin, relays his orders through a handful of trusted intermediaries, officials said. Secrecy is so intense, they said, that Genovese members are forbidden to mention Mr. Gigante by name and refer to him only by touching or motioning to their chins.

"We've had some bad breaks with the Genovese family," Mr. Schiliro, the F.B.I. official, acknowledged in an interview. "Chin represents a difficult individual for us. We've had him in court a number of times without final success."

Mr. Gigante was indicted in 1990 on Federal charges of bid rigging and extortion, and in 1993 he was accused in a superseding indictment of conspiracy to murder eight organized-crime figures and of plotting to kill Mr. Gotti.

A hearing on his mental and physical ability to stand trial will be held on Sept. 11. Barry Slotnick, Mr. Gigante's lawyer, did not respond to repeated telephone calls for comment on the charges against Mr. Gigante.

As evidence of Mr. Gigante's power, law enforcement officials point to the Gambino family's acceding to his ultimate authority on the Mafia commission even though he is accused of ordering the murders of Gambino leaders. The Federal indictment against Mr. Gigante asserts that he wanted Mr. Gotti and several of his captains killed because they engineered the murder in 1985 of the previous Gambino boss, Paul Castellano.

The decline of the Gambino family, authorities say, stemmed largely from Mr. Gotti's conviction three years ago on Federal charges of murder and racketeering and the life sentence that followed. Investigators say they believe that even Mr. Gotti's most steadfast supporters in the family realize there is faint hope that his conviction will be overturned.

Mr. Gotti is being held in virtual solitary confinement in the Federal Penitentiary in Marion, Ill., and officials said that his network of receiving information from New York and transmitting instructions has been shattered. Visitors can talk to him only over a monitored telephone, and his mail is inspected. "By not being in the general prison population," a Federal agent said, "it is impossible for him to keep in touch, issue orders and have control over anybody."

Mr. Gotti's son continues to collect the "tribute," a share of the family's income that is reserved for the boss, officials said. But they noted that prison sentences have reduced the number of active family crews to 10 from 22 and sharply cut the Gambino family's income.

While the Gambino family's fortunes have waned, numbers in the once nearly moribund Bonanno family seem to be surging, officials said. Since Joseph Charles Massino, the 52-year-old boss of the family, was released from prison in 1992, the family has mustered 12 active crews and is considered by prosecutors and agents to have become a formidable crime family again.

The Bonanno and the Genovese families, investigators said, are the only New York families operating with a full hierarchy of boss, underboss and consigliere, or counselor, who are not behind bars.

An indication of the importance attached to the regrouping of the Bonanno family is the F.B.I.'s assignment of Bruce Mouw, who headed the squad that dug up the evidence that convicted Mr. Gotti and his chief aides, to direct the unit investigating the Bonanno group.

The Colombo family, which has been shattered by a murderous internal war, also has a new leader. Investigators said that Andrew T. Russo, a capo, or captain, was recently promoted to acting boss by Carmine Persico Jr., the family's boss who is serving a life sentence for racketeering and murder.

Federal agents said that a shaky truce exists between two Colombo factions. Mr. Russo is a cousin of Carmine Persico's, and agents believe he may be serving as a caretaker boss until Mr. Persico's son, Alphonse, is installed by his father.

Thanks to Selwyn Raab


Crime Family Index