Showing posts with label Carmine Persico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carmine 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.

Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family

Carmine “the Snake” Persico has been identified by the FBI and the Justice Department as the longtime head of the New York Cosa Nostra Colombo crime family.

Although incarcerated in 1987 due to his conviction in the 1986 famous Mafia Commission federal RICO caseCarmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family, he reputedly still runs the Colombo crime family from prison. He made his name in the Profaci crime family as part of the hit team that shot and killed mob boss Albert Anastasia in a New York barbershop in 1957.

Anastasia, known as “The Mad Hatter” and “The Executioner,” was the co-creator of Murder Inc., the notorious enforcement arm of organized crime in New York in the 1940s. A famous photo was taken of the slain Anastasia, lying dead next to a barber’s chair as detectives look on.

In 1961, during a conflict between the Gallo crew and Joe Profaci, the Profaci crime family boss, Persico switched sides and attempted to strangle and kill his friend and fellow hit man Larry Gallo, which earned him the nickname “the Snake.” The attempted strangulation in a darkened bar was fictionally re-created in “The Godfather, Part II.”

Frank DiMatteo, who describes himself as a mafia survivor and previously wrote “The President Street Boys: Growing Up Mafia,” offers a “street level” view of the Colombo boss in “Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family.” Michael Benson, a true crime author who wrote “Betrayal in Blood,” is the co-author of this book.



As Mr. DiMatteo notes in the book, his mother knew Persico when they were teenagers in Brooklyn, and his father was a bodyguard and driver for the Gallo brothers. He grew up in Brooklyn around the Gallo crew and heard numerous stories about Persico.

“Some men’s lives are measured by wealth and power. By that standard, Carmine John Persico, Jr. is a very successful man. His blood family is estimated to be worth upward of $1 billion,” the authors write in the beginning of the book. “Even allowing for inflation, he became one of the richest gangsters ever. His superpower was instilling fear. He made many thousands afraid, and they paid to stay safe.” But as the authors also point out, Persico’s life from street kid to mob boss might best be measured by the pain, suffering and death that he caused.

“Using a combination of brashness, cunning, and an appetite for extreme violence, Carmine Persico rocketed from gangbanger on a Park Slope, Brooklyn street corner to boss of the Colombo crime family, where he reputedly became the longest-reigning godfather in modern Mafia history — mostly from behind the bars of a federal penitentiary,” the authors tell us.

The book covers in detail the internecine mob war between the Gallos and the Profaci crime family, with each faction murdering and attempting to murder each other. The Gallo crew put a bomb in Persico’s car, but the detonation failed to kill him. The war ended with Profaci’s death and the murder of Crazy Joe Gallo in a restaurant.

Joseph Colombo, once a Profaci captain, later took over the organization and renamed it the Colombo crime family. Persico became a Colombo captain and later the boss of the crime family.

The book also tells of a Persico enforcer whose story would be unbelievable if told in a novel or film. The authors tell us that as Persico was heading to prison he chose Gregory “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa as his battle leader. Persico’s man was a mass murderer and a sociopath. “He was nuts, thought he was James Bond, and told his kids that he worked for the government.”

In a sense it was true, as the Colombo hit man was a longtime FBI informant. From the 1960s on he was involved in extortion, murder and other crimes. He told his fellow mobsters that he enjoyed killing people. “Scarpa’s actual cooperation with the U.S. Government went at least as far back as 1964 when the feds used him to help solve the ‘Mississippi Burning’ murders of three civil rights workers in 1964,” the authors inform us. “Somewhere there is a tape of Scarpa cajoling a KKK member to disclose where the bodies are buried.” And by cajoling, the authors write, they mean he beat the KKK member and stuck a gun in his mouth. Scarpa later died from AIDS.

The story of Carmine Persico, the Gallo brothers and the internecine mob war has been covered previously in several books, including a fine satirical novel, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” by Jimmy Breslin.

“Carmine the Snake,” written in a conversational style with street vernacular and sprinkled with Frank DiMatteo’s personal anecdotes and reminiscences, offers another look at the infamous crime boss.

Thanks to Paul Davis.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mob Hit on Rudy Giuilani Discussed

The bosses of New York's five Cosa Nostra families discussed killing then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani Mob Hit on Rudy Giulani Discussedin 1986, an informant told the FBI, according to testimony in October of 2007, in Brooklyn state court. But while the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti pushed the idea, he only had the support of Carmine Persico, the leader of the Colombo crime family, according to the testimony.

"The Bosses of the Luchese, Bonanno and Genovese families rejected the idea, despite strong efforts to convince them otherwise by Gotti and Persico," said an FBI report of the information given by informant Gregory Scarpa Sr.

Information about the purported murder plot was given to the FBI in 1987 by Scarpa, a Colombo captain, according to the testimony of FBI agent William Bolinder in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Bolinder was testifying as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of ex-FBI agent Roy Lindley DeVecchio, who handled the now deceased Scarpa for years while the mobster was a key informant. Prosecutors contend that DeVecchio passed information to Scarpa that the mobster used in killings.

In his testimony, Bolinder described the contents of a voluminous FBI file on Scarpa, who died of AIDS in 1994.

In September 1987, DeVecchio reported that Scarpa told him that the five mob families talked about killing Giuliani approximately a year earlier, said Bolinder. It was in September 1986 that Giuliani's staff at the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office prosecuted bosses of La Cosa Nostra families in the so-called "Commission" case.

The Commission trial, a springboard for Giuliani's reputation as a crime buster, resulted in the conviction in October 1986 of Colombo boss Carmine Persico, Lucchese boss Anthony Corallo and Genovese street boss Anthony Salerno. Gambino boss Paul Castellano was assassinated in December 1985 and the case against Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli was dropped.

The purported discussion about murdering Giuliani wasn't the first time he was targeted. In an interview in 1985 Giuliani stated that Albanian drug dealers plotted to kill him and two other officials. A murder contract price of $400,000 was allegedly offered by convicted heroin dealer Zhevedet Lika for the deaths of prosecutor Alan Cohen and DEA agent Jack Delmore, said Giuliani. Neither Cohen nor Delmore were harmed.

Other tidbits offered by Scarpa to DeVecchio involved an allegation of law enforcement corruption within the Brooklyn district attorney's office, said Bolinder. In 1983, stated Bolinder, Scarpa reported that an NYPD detective assigned to the Brooklyn district attorney's office (then led by Elizabeth Holtzman) had been taking money to leak information to the Gambino and Colombo families. A spokesman for current Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said no investigation was ever done about the allegation.

Scarpa also reported to DeVecchio that top Colombo crime bosses suspected the Casa Storta restaurant in Brooklyn was bugged because FBI agents never surveilled the mobsters when they met there. The restaurant was in fact bugged, government records showed.

Thanks to Anthony M. Destefano

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hitting the Mafia

The aging bosses seated at the defense table in the packed federal courtroom in lower Manhattan look harmless enough to be spectators at a Sunday-after noon boccie game. Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, 75, the reputed head of the Genovese crime family, sits aloof and alone, his left eye red and swollen from surgery. White-haired Anthony (Tony Ducks) Corallo, 73, the alleged Lucchese family chief, is casual in a cardigan and sport shirt. Carmine (Junior) Persico, 53, is the balding, baggy-eyed showman of the trio. Elegant in a black pinstripe suit, a crisp white shirt and red tie, the accused Colombo crime boss is acting as his own attorney. "By now I guess you all know my name is Carmine Persico and I'm not a lawyer, I'm a defendant," he humbly told the jury in a thick Brooklyn accent. "Bear with me, please," he said, shuffling through his notes. "I'm a little nervous."

As Persico spoke, three young prosecutors watched, armed with the evidence they hope will show that Junior and his geriatric cohorts are the leaders of a murderous, brutal criminal conspiracy that reaches across the nation. In a dangerous four-year investigation, police and FBI agents had planted bugs around Mafia hangouts and listened to endless hours of tiresome chatter about horses, cars and point spreads while waiting patiently for incriminating comments. They pressured mobsters into becoming informants. They carefully charted the secret family ties, linking odd bits of evidence to reveal criminal patterns. They helped put numerous mafiosi, one by one and in groups, behind bars. But last week, after a half-century in business, the American Mafia itself finally went on trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff, whose bushy mustache could not hide his tender age of 32, addressed the anonymous jurors in calm, methodical tones. Chertoff charged flatly that the Mafia is run by a coordinating Commission and that the eight defendants, representing four of New York City's five nationally powerful Mob families, were either on this crime board or had carried out its racketeering dictates. "What you will see is these men," he said, "these crime leaders, fighting with each other, backstabbing each other, each one trying to get a larger share of the illegal proceeds. You are going to learn that this Commission is dominated by a single principle -- greed. They want more money, and they will do what they have to do to get it."

Across the East River in another federal courthouse in Brooklyn, a jury was being selected for the racketeering trial of the most powerful of all U.S. Mafia families: the Gambinos. Here a younger, more flamboyant crime boss strutted through the courtroom, snapping out orders to subservient henchmen, reveling in his new and lethally acquired notoriety. John Gotti, 45, romanticized in New York City's tabloids as the "Dapper Don" for his tailored $1,800 suits and carefully coiffed hair, has been locked in prison without bail since May, only a few months after he allegedly took control of the Gambino gang following the murder of the previous boss, Paul Castellano.

Gotti, who seemed to personify a vigorous new generation of mobster, may never have a chance to inherit his criminal kingdom. Prosecutor Diane Giacalone, 36, says tapes of conversations between Gotti and his lieutenants, recorded by a trusted Gambino "soldier" turned informant, will provide "direct evidence of John Gotti's role as manager of a gambling enterprise." If convicted, the new crime chief and six lieutenants could be imprisoned for up to 40 years.

The stage has thus been set for the beginning of two of the most significant trials in U.S. Mob history. Finally realizing the full potential of the once slighted Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, federal prosecutors are trying to destroy Mafia families by convincing juries that their very existence is a crime, that their leaders should be imprisoned for long terms and that, eventually, even their ill-gotten gains can be - confiscated. Success in the New York cases, following an unprecedented series of indictments affecting 17 of the 24 Mafia families in the U.S., would hit the Mob where it would hurt most. Out of a formal, oath-taking national Mafia membership of some 1,700, at least half belong to the five New York clans, each of which is larger and more effective than those in any other city.

"The Mafia will be crushed," vows Rudolph Giuliani, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has been leading the major anti-Mafia crusade and who takes personal affront at the damage done by the Mob to the image of his fellow law-abiding Italian Americans. Declares G. Robert Blakey, a Notre Dame Law School professor who drafted the 1970 RICO law now being used so effectively against organized crime: "It's the twilight of the Mob. It's not dark yet for them, but the sun is going down." Insists John L. Hogan, chief of the FBI's New York office: "We are out to demolish a multiheaded monster and all its tentacles and support systems and followers."

More cynical, or possibly more realistic, law-enforcement authorities doubt that these grand goals can be achieved. But they nonetheless admire the determination and the sophisticated tactics that the current prosecutors are bringing to a battle that has been fought, mostly in vain, ever since the crime-breeding days of Prohibition. Even the doubters concede that the new campaign is off to an impressive start.

From 1981 through last year, federal prosecutors brought 1,025 indictments against 2,554 mafiosi, and have convicted 809 Mafia members or their uninitiated "associates." Many of the remaining cases are still pending. Among all criminal organizations, including such non-Mafia types as motorcycle gangs and Chinese and Latin American drug traffickers, the FBI compiled evidence that last year alone led to 3,803 indictments and 2,960 convictions. At the least, observes the FBI's Hogan, all this legal action means the traditional crime families "are bleeding, they're demoralized."

In Chicago, where the "Outfit" has always been strong, the conviction last January of four top local mobsters for directing the tax-free skimming of cash from two Las Vegas casinos has forced the ailing Anthony Accardo, 80, to return from a comfortable retirement in Palm Springs, Calif., to keep an eye on an inexperienced group of hoods trying to run the rackets. The same skimming case has crippled the mob leadership in Kansas City, Milwaukee and , Cleveland. The New England Mafia, jolted by the convictions in April of Underboss Gennaro Anguilo, 67, and three of his brothers, who operate out of Boston, is described by the FBI as being in a "state of chaos." Of the major Mob clans, only those in Detroit and Newark remain relatively unscathed. But the muscle of organized crime has been most formidable in New York City. Prosecutors have been attacking it with increasing success, but expect to score their biggest win in the so-called Commission case (dubbed Star Chamber by federal investigators). Chertoff and two other young prosecutors handling their first big trial will have to prove that a national Commission made up of the bosses and some underbosses of the major families has been dividing turf and settling disputes among the crime clans ever since New York's ruthless "Lucky" Luciano organized the Commission in 1931. Luciano acted to end the gang warfare that had wiped out at least 40 mobsters in just two days in September of that year. Before that, top gangsters like Salvatore Maranzano had conspired to shoot their way into becoming the capo di tutti capi ("Boss of Bosses"). Maranzano, who had organized New York's Sicilian gangsters into five families, was the first victim of Luciano's new order.

For more than two decades the Mafia managed to keep its board of directors hidden from the outside world, until November 1957, when police staged a celebrated raid on a national mobsters' convention in Apalachin, N.Y. In 1963 former Mafia Soldier Joseph Valachi told a Senate investigating subcommittee all about La Cosa Nostra, the previously secret name under which the brotherhood had operated. After the Mafia had been romanticized in books and movies like The Godfather, some mobsters became brazen about their affairs. In 1983 former New York Boss Joseph Bonanno even published an autobiography about his Mafia years.

Reading that book, A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno, helped Giuliani realize that the little understood 1970 RICO act could be used against the Mob. "Bonanno has an entire section devoted to the Commission," Giuliani recalled. "It seemed to me that if he could write about it, we could prosecute it."

Bonanno, 82, seems to have had second thoughts about what he triggered. The aged boss has left his Arizona retirement mansion to serve a contempt-of-court sentence in a Springfield, Mo., federal prison rather than give testimony in the Commission trial. The mobster turned author, says one investigator, "is hearing footsteps."

Brought to bay in a courtroom, the Mafia bosses have adopted an unusual defense: rather than fight the Government's efforts to prove the existence of La Cosa Nostra, they admit it. "This case is not about whether there is a Mafia," thundered Defense Attorney Samuel Dawson. "Assume it. Accept it. There is." Nevertheless, he told the jury, "just because a person is a member of the Mafia doesn't mean he has committed the charged crime or even agreed to commit the charged crime." Dawson depicted the Commission as a sort of underworld businessmen's round table that approves new Mafia members and arbitrates disputes. Its purpose, he insisted, is "to avoid -- avoid -- conflict."

Much more sinister conspiracies will be described by Government witnesses in the trial. The prosecutors will contend that the Commission approved three murders and directed loan-sharking and an extensive extortion scheme against the New York City construction industry. The killings involve the 1979 rubout of Bonanno Boss Carmine Galante and two associates. Bonanno Soldier Anthony Indelicato, 30, and alleged current Bonanno Boss Philip (Rusty) Rastelli, 68, are accused of plotting the hit, with the Commission's blessing, to prevent Galante from seizing control of the Gambino family. (Rastelli, already engaged in a separate racketeering case, will face trial later.) The jurors will see a videotape of Indelicato, who is a defendant in the Commission case, being congratulated shortly after the killings by high-ranking Gambino family members at its Ravenite Social Club. "Watch the way they shake hands, watch the way they are congratulating each other," said Prosecutor Chertoff.

The crux of the Government's case, however, is more prosaic than murder. It details a Commission-endorsed scheme to rig bids and allocate contracts to Mob influenced concrete companies in New York City's booming construction industry. Any concrete-pouring contract worth more than $2 million was controlled by the Mob, according to the indictment, and the gangsters decided who should submit the lowest bids. Any company that disobeyed the bidding rules might find itself with unexpected labor problems, and its sources of cement might dry up. The club dues, actually a form of extortion, amounted to $1.8 million between 1981 and 1984. The Mob also demanded a 2% cut of the value of the contracts it controlled.

The key defendant on this charge is Ralph Scopo, 57, a soldier in the Colombo family, and just as importantly, the president of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council before he was indicted. Scopo is accused of accepting many of the payoffs from the participating concrete firms. Scopo's lawyer admits the union leader took payoffs, but he and the other attorneys deny it was part of a broader extortion scheme. Since the Mafia leaders own some of the construction companies, said Dawson, the Government was claiming "that these men extort themselves."

Although the Commission trial involves four of New York's five Mob families, a more recent murder plot has prevented the Gambino family from being represented. Former Gambino Boss Paul Castellano and Underboss Aniello Dellacroce had been indicted. But Dellacroce, 71, died last Dec. 2 of cancer. Just 14 days later Castellano, 72, and Thomas Bilotti, 45, his trusted bodyguard and the apparent choice to succeed Dellacroce, were the victims of yet another sensational Mob hit as they walked, unarmed, from their car toward a mid-Manhattan steak house.

Law-enforcement agents are convinced that Gotti, a protege of Dellacroce's, helped plot the Castellano and Bilotti slayings to ensure his own rise to the top of the Gambino clan. No one, however, has been charged with those slayings. The Castellano hit may not come up at the racketeering trial of Gotti, his brother Eugene and four Gambino associates. But two other murders and a conspiracy to commit murder are among 15 crimes that the Government says formed a pattern of participation in a criminal enterprise. The defendants are also accused of planning two armored-car robberies, other hijackings and gambling, and conspiracy to commit extortion.

The major evidence in the Gotti case was provided through a bugging scheme worthy of a James Bond movie. In 1984 Gambino Soldier Dominick Lofaro, 56, was arrested in upstate New York on heroin charges. Facing a 20-year sentence, he agreed to become a Government informant. Investigators wired him with a tiny microphone taped to his chest and a miniature cassette recorder, no bigger than two packs of gum, that fitted into the small of his back without producing a bulge. Equipped with a magnetic switch on a cigarette lighter to activate the recorder, Lofaro coolly discussed Gambino family affairs with the unsuspecting Gotti brothers. Afterward he placed the tapes inside folded copies of the New York Times business section and dropped them in a preselected trash bin. Lofaro provided the Government with more than 50 tapes over two years. Says one admiring investigator: "You can't help wondering how many sleepless nights he spent knowing that if caught he would get a slow cutting job by a knife expert."

The increasing use of wiretaps and tapes, says another investigator, is "like opening a Pandora's box of the Mafia's top secrets and letting them all hang out in the open." Both top Mafia trials will depend heavily on tapes as evidence, as have numerous RICO cases around the country. The FBI's bugging has increased sharply, from just 90 court-approved requests in 1982 to more than 150 in each of the past two years. The various investigating agencies, including state and local police, have found novel places to hide their bugs: in a Perrier bottle, a stuffed toy, a pair of binoculars, shoes, an electric blanket, a horse's saddle. Agents even admit to dropping snooping devices into a confessional at a Roman Catholic church frequented by mobsters, as well as a church candlestick holder and a church men's room. All this, agents insist, was done with court permission.

An agent posing as a street hot-dog vendor in a Mafia neighborhood in New York City discovered which public telephone was being used by gangsters to call sources in Sicily about heroin shipments. The phone was quickly tapped, and the evidence it provided has been used in the ongoing "pizza connection" heroin trial against U.S. and Sicilian mobsters.

The agents were even able to slip a bug into "Big Paul" Castellano's house on Staten Island some two years before he was murdered. Ironically, they heard Castellano apparently complaining about Sparks Steak House, the site of his death. "You know who's really busy making a real fortune?" Big Paul asked a crony. "(Expletive) Sparks. I don't get 5 cents when I go in there. I want you to know that. Shut the house this way if I don't get 5 cents." In Mob lingo, authorities speculate, he seemed to be warning that the restaurant would be closed if it did not start paying extortion money to the Gambino family.

In Boston, FBI agents acquired details on the interiors of two Mafia apartments in the city's North End. With court approval, agents picked the locks early in the morning and planted bugs that produced 800 hours of recordings. The monitoring agents learned fascinating tidbits about Mob mores. Ilario Zannino was heard explaining how dangerous it is to kill just one member of a gang. "If you're clipping people," he said, "I always say, make sure you clip the people around him first. Get them together, 'cause everybody's got a friend. He could be the dirtiest (expletive) in the world, but someone that likes this guy, that's the guy that sneaks you." They heard Zannino and John Cincotti complaining about a competing Irish gang of hoods. Said Cincotti: "They don't have the scruples that we have." Zannino agreed. "You know how I knew they weren't Italiano? When they bombed the (expletive) house. We don't do that."

A major break in the Commission case came on a rainy night in March 1983 when two agents of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force carried out a well-rehearsed planting of a tiny radio transmitter in a 1982 black Jaguar used by "Tony Ducks" Corallo. In a parking lot outside a restaurant in Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island, one agent carefully opened a door, pressing the switch that would otherwise turn on the interior lights. Another helped him spread a plastic sheath over the seats so that rain would not spot the upholstery. With a stopwatch at hand, they quickly removed the dashboard, installed the bug, replaced the dash and closed the car door. The operation took 15 minutes.

For four months the bug transmitted intimate Mob conversations between the Lucchese boss and his driver, Salvatore Avellino, to agents trailing discreetly in various "chase cars," which rebroadcast the signals to a recording van. "It was the most significant information regarding the structure and function of the Commission that has ever been obtained from electronic surveillance," declared Ronald Goldstock, chief of the Organized Crime Task Force. After building his own case against the Lucchese family for a local carting-industry racket, Goldstock alerted Giuliani to the broader implications of using the evidence to attack the Mob's controlling Commission.

Where federal agents and local police once distrusted one another and often collided in their organized-crime investigations, a new spirit of cooperation is proving effective. In New York, state investigators have been invaluable to the FBI in probing the Mob, and some 150 New York City police are assigned full time to the New York FBI office.

The current wave of Mob trials has benefited as well from the number of former gangsters who have proved willing to violate the Mafia's centuries-old tradition of omerta (silence) and provide evidence against their former partners. Racket victims are less fearful than before of testifying. Nationwide, says Giuliani, "we've got more than 100 people who have testified against Mafia guys." To be sure, many witnesses are criminals facing long sentences; they have a strong self-interest in currying favor with prosecutors.

That is a point that the defense lawyers attack forcefully. "I can't tell a witness in jail to come and testify for me and I'll give him his freedom," Persico told the Commission jury. "The Government can do that. They're powerful people . . . Not me." Persico, a high school graduate who learned legal tactics working on appeals during some 14 years behind bars, is described by his longtime attorney, Stanley Meyer, as "the most intelligent fellow I have ever met in any walk of life." His unusual self-defense role also gives him a chance to come across as an unsinister personality to jurors. Persico's strategy, says one court veteran, "is brilliant, if it works." But he runs a risk: his questions must not convey knowledge of events that an innocent person would not possess.

The Commission trial is not expected to produce a turncoat as high ranking as Cleveland Underboss Angelo Lonardo, the top U.S. mobster to sing so far. He learned how to be a turncoat the hard way. Charged with leading a drug ring, Lonardo was convicted after a lesser hood, Carmen Zagaria, testified about the inner workings of the Cleveland Mob. Zagaria described how the bodies of hit victims were chopped up and tossed into Lake Erie. Lonardo, who wanted to avoid a life sentence, then helped prosecutors break the Las Vegas skimming case.

John Gotti is haunted by the deception of Wilfred ("Willie Boy") Johnson, a Gambino-family associate. Caught carrying $50,000 in a paper bag in 1981, Johnson invited New York City detectives to help themselves to the cash. They charged him with bribery. After that Johnson, who hung out at Gotti's Bergen Hunt and Fish Club, kept the cops posted on how the rising star was progressing. He also suggested where bugs might be placed.

The most loquacious turncoat may be James Frattiano, 72, once the acting boss of a Los Angeles crime family. He not only confessed publicly to killing eleven people but also wrote a revealing book, The Last Mafioso, and has taken his story on the road, testifying at numerous trials. All this public testimony means that the Mafia is losing what Floyd Clark, assistant FBI director in charge of criminal investigations, calls a "tremendous asset: fear and intimidation. That shield is being removed."

The willingness of some hoodlums and victims to defy the Mob is partly due to the existence of the Federal Witness Security Program, which since it started in 1970 has helped 4,889 people move to different locations and acquire new identities and jobs. At a cost to the Government of about $100,000 for each protected person, the program has produced convictions in 78% of the cases in which such witnesses were used. For some former gangsters, however, a conventional life in a small town turns out to be a drag. They run up fresh debts and sometimes revert to crime.

A more significant reason for the breakdown in Mob discipline is that the new generation of family members is not as dedicated to the old Sicilian-bred mores. Some mafiosi may have been in trouble with their families already. "Often, they're going to be killed if they don't go to the Government," says Barbara Jones, an attorney in Giuliani's office. Others feel that a long prison sentence is too stiff a price to pay for family loyalty. The younger mafiosi, explains one Justice Department source, "are much more Americanized than the old boys. They enjoy the good life. There's more than a bit of yuppie in them." Contends RICO Author Blakey: "The younger members are a little more crass, a little less honest and respectful, a little more individualistic and easier to flip."

The combination of prosecutorial pressure and the slipping of family ties may be feeding upon itself, creating further disunity and casting a shadow over the Mob's future. Certainly, when the old-timers go to prison for long terms, they lose their grip on their families, particularly if ambitious successors do not expect them to return. Younger bosses serving light sentences can keep operating from prison, dispatching orders through their lawyers and visiting relatives. They may use other, less watched inmates to send messages. Prison mail is rarely read by censors.

Still, the convicted dons run risks. The prison pay phones may be legally tapped. When the feds learned that the late Kansas City boss Nick Civella was directing killings from Leavenworth prison in Kansas, they bugged the visitors' room and indicted him for new crimes. But can prison bars really crush the Mob? Giuliani contends that as the Italian-American community has grown away from its immigrant beginnings, La Cosa Nostra has been losing its original base of operations and recruits. Pointing to the relatively small number of "made" Mafia members, Giuliani says, "We are fighting an enemy that has definable limits in terms of manpower. They cannot replenish themselves the way they used to in the '20s, '30s and '40s." The Mafia seems aware of the problem: U.S. mobsters have been recruiting hundreds of loyal southern Italian immigrants to run family- owned pizza parlors, help with the heroin traffic, and strengthen the ranks. Experts point out that the Mafia remains a wealthy organization that collected at least $26 billion last year. The Mob has deep roots in unions and labor- intensive industries such as building construction, transportation, restaurants and clothing. In many industries, says Ray Maria, the Labor Department's deputy inspector general, "the Mob controls your labor costs and determines whether you are reputable and profitable."

Repeated prosecutions alone will not put the organization out of its deadly business. Veteran observers of the Mob recall the prediction of the imminent demise of the Chicago Outfit in 1943 when its seven highest hoods were convicted of shaking down Hollywood movie producers. The bell of doom seemed to be tolling nationwide in 1963 when Joseph Valachi's disclosures set off an FBI bugging war against the families. In 1975 the most successful labor racketeering prosecution in U.S. history was supposed to have cleaned up the terror-ridden East Coast waterfront from Miami to New York. None of those highly publicized events had lasting impact.

Still, today's zealous prosecutors have a new tool that gives them a fighting chance to take the organization out of organized crime, if not actually to rub out the Mob. The same RICO law that allows prosecutions against criminal organizations also provides for civil action to seize their assets, from cash to cars and hangouts. A prime example of this technique was the action taken in 1981 against Teamsters Local 560 after it was shown to have been dominated by New York's Genovese family. A civil suit led to the discharge of the local's officers. The union was placed under a court- appointed trustee until free elections could be held. While such suits have been attempted against organized-crime figures only ten times, top Justice Department officials concede they have underestimated the leverage the law can give them. They vow to follow up the convictions they have been winning with civil suits against the family leaders.

The crusading Giuliani admits that the old practice of locking up a capo or two "just helped to speed the succession along." But by striking at all levels of the Mob families and then "peeling away their empires," Giuliani insists, "it is not an unrealistic goal to crush them." Perhaps. But first there are two new and potentially historic courtroom battles to be fought. For the Mob, and for an optimistic new generation of federal crime fighters, it is High Noon in New York.

Thanks to Ed Magnuson

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Does Carmine "Junior" Persico Run Local 6A of the New York Cement and Concrete Workers from Prison?

Twenty-five years after the historic Commission case exposed the Colombo crime family's stranglehold over the union representing workers on all major New York construction projects, Local 6A of the New York Cement and Concrete Workers is still a family affair - in more ways than one.

Today, the grandson of a mobster who was convicted of racketeering at the Commission trial is Local 6A's key official. And the crime family's boss who was found guilty at the same trial, Carmine (Junior) Persico, is still the ultimate power behind the union, according to the special counsel for the Laborers' International Union of North America.

The imprisoned-for-life Persico has controlled the union through several underlings over the years, says LIUNA special counsel Robert Luskin. They include onetime "street boss" Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli and capo Dino (Big Dino) Calabro - two longtime Persico loyalists who allegedly whacked Junior's longtime nemesis William (Wild Bill) Cutolo in 1999.

Tommy Shots has remained loyal since his 2008 indictment for Cutolo's murder. But Big Dino has been cooperating with the feds for some time. And one of the many subjects Calabro spilled his guts about, says Luskin, was the large cast of characters - including his brothers, Vincenzo and Giuseppe - who helped him run the union for the Colombos and reap the benefits as well.

Numerous Colombo wiseguys, their relatives, friends, and cohorts affiliated with other crime families were handed no-show and seldom-show jobs, says Luskin.

They also shared in payoffs from contractors and a variety of other schemes, including a "coffee boy" scam, according to Luskin. In that rip-off, which occurred at every job site, all workers were forced to buy any food and drink they wanted - whether at lunch or during any breaks - from a mob-selected vendor who kicked back $250 a week to the Colombos.

In a complaint filed two weeks ago, Luskin asked LIUNA's Independent Hearing Officer to oust all the current officials of the Flushing, Queens based local and replace them with a trustee to "eradicate the corrupt influence of organized crime."

The complaint states that the day-to-day mob front man at Local 6A is business manager Ralph Scopo III, whose grandfather, Colombo soldier Ralph Scopo Sr. ran the union in the 1980s. Scopo III, 40, earned $160,600 in 2009 as the key official of the 1047 member union. Scopo's brother, Joseph, 35, is the union's recording secretary.

Back in 1986, Ralph Scopo Sr. and Persico were found guilty of racketeering and sentenced to 100 years. Scopo's sons, Ralph Jr. and Joseph, followed him into the crime family and took over his union - with Ralph Jr. serving as president and Joseph as vice president - until both were bounced from their union posts a year later.

Joseph Scopo's stock in the crime family rose until he was killed during the bloody Colombo war in 1993 - the same year his dad died in prison. But Ralph Scopo Jr. and the Colombo crime family still run the union, and steal from its members regularly, through Ralph Scopo III, and a host of puppets they control, according to Luskin. And like their father and late grandfather before them, Scopo III is controlled lock, stock and cement mixer by the still imprisoned Mafia boss, Junior Persico, according to Luskin.

Luskin painted Scopo III, his father, and a host of other Local 6A officials as lying, money-hungry leeches who have been stealing money from hardworking laborers for at least nine years - the same way the late Scopo Sr. did in the 1980s.

Since the Local 6A probe moved into high gear two years ago, nine union officials and members, including Calabro's brothers, have been ousted or resigned rather than answer questions about their mob connections from LIUNA's lead investigator, former FBI mob buster Bruce Mouw.

In 2002, when Big Dino first met Scopo Jr., the longtime labor racketeer praised his abilities as a moneymaker, and set the stage for the way things would operate for the next six years, until Calabro was arrested and detained without bail, according to the complaint. "I'm in charge of Local 6A and control everything that happens in that local," he told Big Dino. "My son is a delegate and he runs the Local. If anybody need a job, just let me know and I'll take care of it through my son."

Calabro met Scopo III two years later, when his father brought him to a regular monthly get-together that Scopo Jr. had with Big Dino at a "bagel store on Route 109 in West Babylon" to talk business and split the money they brought in that month.

"During this meeting, Scopo Jr. gave Calabro $10,000 as his monthly share from the shakedown" of one contractor, the complaint said. "Calabro kept $1,000 for himself; Scopo Jr. took $1,500 for himself, and the remaining $7,500 went to the Colombo Family Administration."

A few years later, according to the complaint, Big Dino and the father and son Scopos attended a sitdown to settle a dispute at a World Trade Center jobsite with a union foreman who had been "criticizing the Scopos." The elder Scopo "told Calabro that his son Ralph was there in case he decided that (the union worker) needed to be physically assaulted," the complaint said.

When Ralph Scopo learned about Calabro's cooperation, and LIUNA's investigation, he and his fellow union officials assumed they would eventually be bounced as corrupt, according to the complaint. So they decided to grab as much union cash as they could, and took vacation time checks - as many as eight weeks worth - before they were due, let alone earned.

Questioned about this last year, Scopo admitted that the LIUNA probe "was in the back of his mind," the complaint said. "Why save vacation time if the Local is placed into trusteeship?" he added.

Scopo did not return a request for comment that Gang Land placed to his union office.

Thanks to Jerry Capeci

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mafia Princess Caught on Video Shoplifting from Target

Mafia princess Kim Persico was caught on video pushing a cart full of hot goods out of Target on Staten Island, authorities said.

Persico, daughter-in-law of Colombo crime family boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico, smiled as she was released without bail after appearing in Criminal Court yesterday.

Persico, 47, is charged with stealing $597 worth of cleaning supplies, clothing, health and beauty aids and home decor items.

"She put the items in a shopping cart and walked out of the store without paying," said William Smith, a spokesman for the Staten Island district attorney's office.

Her lawyer, Salvatore Strazzullo, said he expects the charges will be tossed. "Are you kidding me? Why is she going to steal from Target?" he said.

Persico, of Brooklyn, is married to Lawrence Persico, one of three sons of Carmine Persico. The don's son Lawrence has a "long history of severe mental health issues," according to papers filed in a 2003 racketeering case.

Thanks to Matthew Lysiak and John Marzulli.

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

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mob Fighting Forensic Accountant Earns FBI Promotion

The Target 12 Investigators bring you "Inside the Mafia" revealing a new threat to the New England mob.

An FBI agent who infiltrated a New York crime family and took down their powerful boss has just arrived in Providence. He's agreed to speak exclusively with Target 12 Investigator Tim White.

Jeff Sallet is the newest supervisor for the FBI in Providence. He quickly built a reputation in New York for being a tenacious investigator and for helping take down the city's last true "don".

A legendary bust that crippled the mighty Bonnano crime family. They're the notorious leaders of the five organized crime empires in New York.

Infamous Gambino boss, John Gotti, Colombo family boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico, Genovese leader Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, Luchese boss Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso, and boss of the Bonnano family Joseph "The Ear" Massino.

By 1997, all but one had been sent to prison. He was the "last don," and somehow, "The Ear" had successfully evaded the sting of law enforcement. Sallet says, "The reason they came up with the name "The Ear" is because he always had his ear to the ground, as Joe always knew what was going on."

In 1999 FBI agent Jeffrey Sallet and his partner Kimberly McCaffrey were assigned to infiltrate Massino's empire in an unconventional way.

The FBI calls them "forensic accountants" -- specially trained to sift through financial records and instantly recognize criminal patterns like "money laundering."

Sallet says, "I think there is nothing people fear more than an accountant with a badge."

The paper chase into Massino's massive finances led investigators down the chain to a low-level mob associate. Sallet not only convinced the mob insider to become an informant, but take on the dangerous assignment of wearing a "wire" around wiseguys.

Sallet says, "Top down our main targets were Joe Massino and Salvator Vitale. But in order to get to the top, we also had to get to the bottom and determine who were the people to get us in."

It took 4 years, but eventually the feds had their case. On January 9th, 2003, a team of federal agents knocked on Massino's door. The charges, among many: Loan-sharking and murder.

Sallet was there and in what he describes as surreal, the mob boss knew him and his partner by their first names.

Tim White asks, "Had you ever met Joe Massino before that moment?"

Sallet: "Never"

White: "So how did he know who you were?"

Sallet: "I think one of the quotes he also said is you do your homework and I do mine."

The case lead the FBI a lot in Brooklyn lot, where they recovered the bodies of three mob soldiers Massino had whacked. The last don is now in prison for life.

Sallet, has moved on, 6 months ago he came to the FBI's Providence office to run the organized crime, violent crime, gang criminal enterprises squad.

After helping take down the last don in New York, it makes sense why Sallet would be here. Sallet says, "The boss of the New England LCN is one of the only bosses, official bosses to be on the street."

Citing FBI policy, Sallet won't identify members of the Patriarca crime family. But law enforcement sources tell Target 12, the boss, is 80 year old Louis "Baby Shacks" Mannochio.

State police Major Steven O'Donnell, a veteran organized crime fighter, says Sallet's knowledge of the New York families will work here.

O'Donnell says, "you read a report about a wiseguy in Rhode Island... Its no different than reading about a wiseguy in New York, its the same type of activity just a different person."

O'Donnell says Sallet meets daily with state and Providence police. And, we've learned Sallet has made contact with the criminal side as well. Sallet won't comment, but mob insiders tell Target 12 he was spotted introducing himself to "Baby Shacks" Mannochio, letting the boss know, he's in town.

Sallet says, "I have been investigating organized crime for ten years, and what I can tell you is I have always treated everybody with the utmost respect."

Sallet's squad not only focuses on bringing down traditional wiseguys, but also with the growing national problem of violent street gangs. Sallet says their "turf wars" are a prime target for the FBI and local police.

Thanks to Tim White

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

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cops and Mobsters

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Nicholas Grancio, Bonanno Crime Family, Lawrence Mazza, Carmine Persico

There were two surveillance teams on the streets of southern Brooklyn that day in January, 1992. One was the law: a task force of federal agents and police detectives. The other was the mob: a crew of gangsters who had disguised their sedan with a fake police light and a cardboard cup of coffee on the dashboard.

Although they came from opposing sides, their target was the same: a Colombo family captain by the name of Nicholas Grancio. The agents and detectives wanted to tail their mark at the height of a bloody Mafia civil war. The gangsters, with revenge in mind, had a darker purpose: They wanted him dead. Soon after the detectives left that day, the gangsters arrived, and got their wish.

What eventually happened that day, near Avenue U and McDonald Avenue, is now the subject of a new investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney's office, according to law enforcement officials who have been briefed on the case. Fourteen years after Mr. Grancio was murdered, investigators are trying to determine if a former F.B.I. agent, who supervised the government surveillance team, may have had a hand in his death.

The investigation has focused on that agent, R. Lindley DeVecchio, a career investigator and onetime head of the F.B.I.'s Colombo and Bonanno families squads. Mr. DeVecchio, who is now retired, had developed a remarkable mole within the Mafia, a grim Colombo family killer named Gregory Scarpa Sr. They became close, so close that Mr. DeVecchio would chat with Mr. Scarpa at his kitchen table while two of his F.B.I. colleagues waited in the living room. And close enough for other agents to whisper to their bosses that Mr. DeVecchio had crossed a line.

It was Mr. Scarpa's hit team that pulled alongside Mr. Grancio's car on Jan. 7, 1992, and dispatched him with a shotgun blast to the head. What investigators now want to know is if Mr. DeVecchio had ordered a withdrawal of his own surveillance team and, in so doing, cleared the way for Mr. Scarpa and his crew to swoop down on Mr. Grancio .

Word of the investigation has reached F.B.I. headquarters in Washington, where top-ranking federal officials have been briefed about the case. An F.B.I. spokesman, John Miller, said yesterday that he could not comment. Mr. DeVecchio's lawyer, Douglas Grover, has dismissed the current inquiry as baseless, insisting his client has done nothing wrong.

What breathed new life into a 14-year-old murder case remains unclear, though one law enforcement official said the district attorney's office recently received a tip from an informant. Among the people expected to be interviewed are two former police detectives who were on the surveillance team and who recall being pulled back by the F.B.I. to the agency's New York headquarters from the streets of Gravesend, Brooklyn, only hours before Mr. Grancio was killed.
Already, investigators have made arrangements to speak to a former mobster who was part of the hit team and now lives in Florida. The man, Lawrence Mazza, said in an interview that he remembers being surprised a decade ago when federal agents who arrested him kept asking him if he knew that the surveillance team had, in fact, been sent away before the hit team struck.

On the other hand, an F.B.I. agent who worked for Mr. DeVecchio and directed the surveillance team has filed an affidavit suggesting that Mr. Grancio was killed at a time when the authorities typically did not have him under surveillance. Remarkably, this agent was one of the first to raise his voice against Mr. DeVecchio, sparking an internal Justice Department investigation that examined charges against Mr. DeVecchio that his relationship with Mr. Scarpa had been untoward.

The Justice Department's two-year inquiry heard a host of complaints by colleagues - including charges that Mr. DeVecchio had leaked information to Mr. Scarpa and had helped him track rivals, which Mr. DeVecchio denied. And in September 1996, the government declined to bring charges. The tangled tale of Lin DeVecchio, the diamond-cuff-linked agent, and Gregory Scarpa, the gangster who died of AIDS in 1994, has long stood as one of the odder stories from the underworld. The current chapter homes in on a few short months in 1991 and 1992, after the boss of the Colombo family, Carmine Persico, was sent to prison and its opposing factions went to war.

Mr. Scarpa was a leader of the loyalist brigade and feared for his life. He suspected Mr. Grancio of having tried to kill him and, according to court documents, set about to seek revenge. The task force run by Mr. DeVecchio was charged with ending the gruesome violence that the war had wrought. To that end, two detectives, Joe Simone and Patrick Maggiore, were sent to watch Mr. Grancio on Jan. 7, 1992, from a post called Plant 26, near Avenue U and McDonald Avenue.

"It was a routine day," said Mr. Simone, who is retired and lives with his family on Staten Island. Then, he said, a call came in with orders to return to 26 Federal Plaza, the local F.B.I. headquarters, for a meeting. "It was kind of unusual," he said, to be pulled off in the middle of a tail. "Very unusual." According to Mr. Simone's duty log, he was at Plant 26 from 12:40 to 1:30 p.m. The next entry reads: "1330-1440 ERT 26 Fed Pl w/Maggiore," which meant that, with his partner, Mr. Simone was en route to the F.B.I. office from 1:30 to 2:40 p.m.

Around 4 p.m. that day, shocking news buzzed through the office: Nicky Grancio had just been killed. "We were called and we went back," Mr. Maggiore, also retired, said in a separate interview. "Then he gets whacked when we're supposed to be on him. We looked at each other and couldn't believe it."

The man who pulled the trigger that day was a fit young up-and-comer in the Colombo family named Larry Mazza. Over surf-and-turf at a Florida steakhouse, Mr. Mazza, having served his term in prison, recalled how he, Mr. Scarpa and a third man spotted Mr. Grancio, followed him through Lady Moody Square - close to where the detectives had been parked - and pulled up beside his car. Mr. Mazza leaned his torso out the back window, put a shotgun near his victim's head and fired, he said.

Mr. Scarpa admitted his role in the killing. And when Mr. Mazza was later arrested, he agreed to cooperate with the F.B.I. He said he remembered thinking it was odd that the agents who debriefed him kept asking him if the gunmen knew that the government surveillance team had been pulled back. A spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, declined to comment.

Mr. Grover said that his client, Mr. DeVecchio, has been through this before - the long grind of an investigation. Indeed, during the F.B.I.'s internal inquiry, Mr. DeVecchio submitted an affidavit in which he presented his relationship with Mr. Scarpa as an appropriate law enforcement tool. The only thing he ever received from Mr. Scarpa, he said, was a Cabbage Patch doll, a bottle of wine and a pan of lasagna.

Mr. DeVecchio later told investigators he gave the doll away to a friend's niece. "I gave the bottle of wine to someone whom I don't recall," he said, "and I consumed the tray of lasagna."

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas on the Lam

Sing a sad Christmas song for Joe Dogs.

On Dec. 25, when much of the world opens presents beneath the tree or enjoys a turkey dinner, Joe Iannuzzi will spend another lonely holiday far from his family, his friends, his city. Maybe knock back a couple of drinks, probably shed a few tears.

"It's sad," says Joe Dogs, whose nickname pays homage to a long fascination with gambling on greyhounds. "Very sad." And very predictable, given Iannuzzi's past. Once a made member of New York's Genovese crime family, Iannuzzi survived a vicious mob beating in 1981 that left him near dead. He awoke in a Florida hospital to find a priest giving him the last rites.

Months later, Iannuzzi recovered. He became convinced that revenge, even more than laughter, was the best medicine. He became an informer, testified at a dozen trials, put away some old pals. A botched mob hit sent him into the federal Witness Protection Program. And now, 24 years after he flipped for the feds, every Christmas brings a reminder of what he left behind.

Joe Dogs may eat alone on Christmas, but he's not the only one. Since 1971, more than 7,700 witnesses were relocated after testifying for the federal government at the risk of their lives. Not all wound up as lonesome as Iannuzzi; 9,800 family members were relocated with them. But they're all far from home, and for many, the holidays are a melancholy time.

"There's tremendous pressure to return home. We sympathize with it, but that's absolutely forbidden," says Dave Turner of the U.S. Marshals Service, which runs witness protection.

Ianuzzi hasn't gone home. He abandoned the high-end world of New York and Florida for low-profile homes in Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama. He now resides in an undisclosed Midwest location where "I gotta travel 100 miles to go to a decent restaurant."

He's gotten used to the rootless life but not Christmas on the lam. "The very worst for me," Iannuzzi says over the phone from his apartment, his accent still betraying his New York roots. "I never had the warm feelings that a normal individual would have during that holiday. ... I haven't been around my family since 1982. "You count the Christmas days."

It wasn't always this way. When he was with the mob, every day was a holiday, and he greeted every maitre d' and doorman with a flash of cash. The son of a suburban bookie, he grew up among mobsters north of the Bronx. His first arrest came at age 14. He worked briefly as a dognapper, returning the pilfered pooches once their owners posted a reward.

Iannuzzi had a straight gig as a cook, working in diners and hot dog stands. It was at a classy restaurant in Cleveland that he received professional training, emerging as a saucier. But after a year, he longed for home. "It was time for me to leave," he says. "So I stole a car and went back to New York. It was less expensive that way. I stole a pink Lincoln. Can you imagine? I kept it for a couple of months then parked the car near a place called 'Buzzy's Big Nightclub.' "It still had the Ohio plates."

Three marriages and five kids followed as Iannuzzi burrowed deeper into organized crime. He moved to Florida and became the protege of Gambino soldier Tommy Agro - a hoodlum straight off a Hollywood lot, with a flashy wardrobe, a big bankroll and a short fuse.

Iannuzzi provided muscle for Agro, who loaned him money to launch a loan-sharking operation. But as Joe Dogs fell behind on the payments, their friendship faded and Agro's anger grew. On Jan. 19, 1981, inside a Florida pizzeria, Iannuzzi took a terrible beating from his one-time mentor and some cronies.

His last memory before everything went black was Agro's alligator loafer sinking forcefully into his ribs. When he finally recovered, Iannuzzi joined up with the FBI and taped his fellow Mafiosi discussing their illicit businesses. "All these guys convicted themselves with their big mouths," Iannuzzi says. "All I did was tape it. They all talked their heads off."

When the chatter finally stopped, Colombo boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico went to jail along with another dozen mobsters - including the brutal Agro, who died of cancer in 1987.

Iannuzzi went into witness protection after surviving a murder attempt on a Florida interstate. Today he demurs when asked if he's ever killed somebody: "My answer is, 'That's a rude question.' Let's go onto another subject."

Iannuzzi soon was supplementing his witness protection stipend as a writer. But he was booted from the program in October 1993 after violating its rules: He returned to New York to promote "The Mob Cookbook" on David Letterman's show. He would have to protect himself.

Iannuzzi just published another book, "Cooking on the Lam," which intersperses recipes for brook trout amandine and strawberries with Grand Marinier sauce with tales of life in and out of the mob. It's his fourth book; in his biggest non-mob score, he was paid $250,000 for his autobiography. "How many people wrote one book, much less four?" he asks. "I'm trying to do things the hard way: honest."

Iannuzzi stays in contact with one of his daughters, who calls him 10 times a day. "She loves her dad," he says. He avoids contact with all of his other old friends and stays away from New York and its environs.

Iannuzzi knows sitting alone on Christmas is not necessarily the worst thing. Henry Hill, the infamous mob informant whose story became the Oscar-winning movie "GoodFellas," won't be alone this Christmas - he'll share his meal with the rest of the inmates at the Lincoln County Jail in North Platte, Neb. Hill, a fellow witness protection alumnus, is finishing up a six-month stretch following his July arrest on drug charges.

At 74, Joe Dogs has slowed down quite a bit. He recently survived "triple A surgery" - operations on his aorta, abdomen and an aneurysm. He shares his apartment with two Yorkshire terriers and confides some of the tamer old tales to a few locals.

"Some of them are still scared to death of me," says Iannuzzi. "I don't know why. I'm a nice guy. I say that every day to myself."

Thanks to Larry McShane

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


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