The Chicago Syndicate: Colombos

Magee 1866 Heritage Month
Showing posts with label Colombos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colombos. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"JP" Helps the Syndicate

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Albert "The Blast" Gallo, Genovese Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Crazy Joe Gallo, Larry Gallo, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Frank "Punchy" Illiano

On your "Gambino Crime Family" profile chart you list Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo as a Friend of Ours. He's actually a made member of the Genovese Family. He started with the Colombos in the crew run by his brothers--Crazy Joey and Larry Gallo. He went through the Gallo-Profaci War with them. He was supposedly a favorite of Vincent "Chin" Gigante until The Chin died this past December.

Then Albert "Al the Blast" Gallo Jr. (his full name and I don't think he uses the "Kid Blast" nickname anymore) switched allegiance to the Genovese Family in the mid-1970s after Larry died of cancer and Joey was hit in 1972 at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy. Nearly the whole crew switched to the Genoveses.

Former Gallo crew member Frank "Punchy" Illiano is now a capo in the Genovese Family and Al Gallo is a made guy in his crew (or it could be the other way around, Gallo's the capo and Illiano's the top member of his crew--reports are conflicting on exactly who the capo of the crew is).

Thanks to "JP" who emailed this information to me.

Friday, May 26, 2006

DA Scoffs at "Mafia" Fed's Claim

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Gregory Scarpa

Brooklyn prosecutors yesterday blasted accused FBI mob mole Lindley DeVecchio's claim that he's entitled to a federal trial.

The former G-man, who's accused of helping the Colombo family engineer four gangland rubouts during the 1980s and early 1990s, made his request under a little-used rule that applies only to officials who are engaged in federal duties when the alleged crime occur. But in legal papers, Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes' prosecutors say DeVecchio isn't entitled to the change of venue because gangland killings aren't part of an FBI agent's duties.

"[The] defendant's job as [Gregory] Scarpa's FBI handler did not require him to provide Scarpa with the identities of potential government informants so that Scarpa could kill them," the papers read.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Book Club: Five Families: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Bonanno Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Family, Genovese Crime Family. John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Vincente "The Chin" Gigante, Charles "Lucky" Luciano

Selwyn Raab recently met with Gotham Gazette's Reading NYC Book Club to discuss his book Five Families: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, a history of the Mafia from its origins in Sicily to the present day. The following is an edited transcript of the event.

GOTHAM GAZETTE: Mr. Raab, your book focuses largely on the fall of the New York crime families, but the title includes the phrase "resurgence." What's going on with the Mafia in New York City right now?

SELWYN RAAB: Up until 9/11, there had been a 20-year long, concentrated attack against the Mafia, based on the Racketeer Influence Corruptions Act, popularly known as RICO. What was important about RICO was that for the first time it gave prosecutors an effective tool to go after the big shots in organized crime. At the attack's peak, there were 200 people working full time on just investigating the five Mafia families in New York -- the Gambino, the Bonano, the Colombo, the Lucchese, and the Genovese. The FBI had a specific squad following each family, and were able to bust John Gotti, Vincente "The Chin" Gigante, and other bosses, even though they didn't pull a trigger or shake anyone down themselves.

[This prosecution was coupled with a] concentrated effort to knock the Mafia out of some industries. Waste collection and construction were two immense moneymakers for them, and they've been hurt in both industries, especially commercial garbage collection. There is now some oversight by city agencies, licensing etc. The Mafia has been severely wounded in some of these big industries – but not mortally.

As soon as 9/11 occurred, terrorism justifiably became a prime concern and objective for the FBI and most police departments, including New York's. This created a reprieve – suddenly you had this tremendous diminution of people investigating the mob.

Today, the Mafia is still making money in gambling and loan sharking. The penalties for these crimes are very small, nobody goes away for a long time, and bosses are never brought up on charges. Still, this is terrific seed money to keep them going.

The Mafia is still very big on Wall Street, counterfeit credit cards, and phone scams. But a lot of the most recent action has been in the suburbs, where the theory is the local police departments don't have the expertise to stop them.


GOTHAM GAZETTE: Is there a fundamental difference between the Mafia and other types of organized crime?

SELWYN RAAB: We've always had organized crime groups – you had Irish and German gangs on the Bowery, Jewish bootleggers, the Italians, and so on. To oversimplify, prohibition changed all these gangs from street thugs to executives. The money was so big that they could expand, and when prohibition ended, they had big organizations to go into different things like labor racketeering.

But the Italians had a business genius named Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Luciano saw the handwriting on the wall – prohibition was going to end, and what were gangs going to do for loot? He also saw the lack of a central organization. Luciano had a major convention [of Italian gangs] in Chicago in 1931, and said we can't have fights among ourselves anymore, because it's bad for business. He turned the Italian gangs into a semi-military organization based on what had been going on in Sicily, where each family had a boss, underboss, consigliere, and soldiers.

If you knocked out the leaders of the Jewish or Irish gangs, they dissolved, because there was no military setup. But Luciano set up the Mafia so that the individual is secondary to the organization; the theory was that the organization had to survive at any cost. If the boss died or was arrested, the organization replaced him, and he set up another hierarchy.

To stop disputes between families, Luciano created something called the Commission comprised of representatives from each of the five New York families. Immediately, they had more power than anyone else in the country.

Luciano also urged the Mafiosi to diversify their activities. Instead of having just gambling or loan sharking as other gangs did, they went into labor racketeering. They were a mirror image of capitalism: whatever works.

That distinction still exists today. The Mafia has such a lot going for it. The Latin Americans – Columbians and Mexicans – are into one thing: narcotics. They don't have the know-how to do these other kinds of crimes. Same thing with the Asian gangs, the Chinese. They may be involved in smuggling immigrants, or do shake down rackets on stores or restaurants in Chinatown and Queens. But they're not involved in other things.


GOTHAM GAZETTE: Why did New York City's Mafia families have such a disproportionate amount of power within the nationwide Mafia right from the beginning?

SELWYN RAAB: We can thank Benito Mussolini partly for this. The Mafia had always been very strong since it started out in Sicily in the 18th century, where people once thought of them as liberators because they fought against the foreign invaders, protecting the small farmers, peasants, and businessmen. They developed into a tyrannical organization, and they grew very powerful both politically and financially. When Benito Mussolini came into power, he saw them as a threat and started a crackdown. He rounded people up and put them in cages, sent them away for life, or killed them.

Because of this, a lot of the young Mafiosi in the 1920s emigrated to the United States, and the major place they went was New York City. They liked New York. It was very profitable. There was a big Italian American population, bigger than anywhere else. They settled into New York because they were welcomed here.

The curse of New York is that there are still five powerful Mafia families here. In the rest of the country it wasn't that hard to combat the Mafia – you just had to knock off one family and there would be no one around to fill their shoes. Here, if there is a devastating blow to one family, that vacuum can be filled by one of the others. They know if it's a good opportunity, and they'll take advantage of it.

PHILIP ANGELL: In New York City organized crime families were involved in a lot of very public rackets – the trash business, the construction business, the ready-mix concrete business. These were pretty open secrets for a long time. Do you have any sense of why this was tolerated by the political, financial, and law enforcement establishment?

SELWYN RAAB: Well, one major reason was that J. Edgar Hoover didn't want the FBI to do anything with the mob. They didn't do anything until after his death in 1972.

I started as a reporter in New York in the 1960s on the education beat. I was working for a year when there was a big scandal: schools were falling apart. I was assigned to the story and found so many connections. There were secret Mafia partners to all these construction firms that were allowing ceilings to collapse, and building shoddy buildings. There was a big investigation, and eventually the city got rid of some of the people who worked for the Board of Education and banned some of the contractors. But they never went after the Mafia.

So I started asking around: Why don't you do anything about the Mafia? "It's too hard," I was told. But the real reason was that the Mafia was paying off the politicians and the judges. Every stone you turned up in this town had to do with the Mafia. Garbage, the fish market, you name it.

Also, when you talked to mayors off the record they'd say: 'everything runs smoothly now. If you fool around with the construction industry, there will be a strike. If you do anything about trying to regulate the garbage industry, they won't pick up the garbage. If you try to do anything about the fish market, restaurants won't get any fish. Leave well enough alone. They're not bothering anybody.'

GOTHAM GAZETTE: Can you point to any industries that the Mafia ruined or ran out of town?

SELWYN RAAB: I used to speak to people in the garment center, and they said you had a choice: either you get protection from the mob, or you sign up with the union and pay the union dues. The union will let you be non-union, but you have to be hooked up with some family. In fact, the corrupt unions were getting part of the payoffs.

There were mob families running all the trucking in the garment center – the Colombos and the Luccheses. You couldn't be an independent trucker and go into the garment center. You'd have flat tires, and your drivers would be beaten up. These weren't the only reasons – there were runaway industries for cheaper labor elsewhere, too– but they added an extra inducement. Why bother?

It wasn't just the garment industry. Garbage haulers wouldn't come into New York because they knew it wasn't worth the effort. If you came in you'd be shaken down, and if you didn't pay them off there would be a strike, because they controlled the Teamsters on the garbage locals.

A lot of fish wholesalers wouldn't come into New York for many years. They would rather go to New England, or the big fish markets in Baltimore, where they wouldn't have this trouble.

PHILIP ANGELL: And the important thing to remember is that it was underwritten by violence, no matter what industry.


GOTHAM GAZETTE: Why do people have such a romantic view of this?

SELWYN RAAB: Well, that's Hollywood. American entertainers have always had a vicarious love affair with criminals. They're interesting people; you're more interested in rogues than good guys. Do you want to do a story about the founder of the Red Cross or Salvation Army? No one is too interested in that.

One of my pet peeves is a movie like the Godfather, where we set up the idea that there are good Mafiosi and bad Mafiosi. Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, he's a white hat, a good guy cowboy. At one point, he's opposed to narcotics, and as a result there's an attempt on his life by the bad Mafiosi. But who wins? The good guys. They try to create this image that it's not so simple, that you can identify with them.

I don't watch the Sopranos every week, but when I do watch what I see is a soap opera not about a mob family, but a dysfunctional suburban family. If you're a middle-aged man, you can easily identify with Tony Soprano. His kids are rebelling against him, his wife is smarter than him and wants to leave him, he doesn't have the old time loyalty when he goes to the office anymore. He has all these midlife crises, even though he lives in a mini mansion, has a harem of beauties throwing themselves at him, and he's got big cars and all the money in the world. Yet he's got these crises; you can sympathize with him. You don’t see him for the most part killing people.

You get a vicarious kick out of watching these people. Look at the great lives they lead: they sleep late, they don't have to go to work, they make a lot of money, they have a lot of woman friends. It looks good.

There's one other aspect which I think is a subtext to all of this, which makes these movies popular and is why people romanticize the Mafia: they're antiestablishment. In the Godfather, they talk about how the Italian Americans couldn't get a break. They had to become a government onto themselves, because the WASP establishment wouldn't allow them to become bankers or big businessmen. You can see it also in the Sopranos. His father was a laborer. What a choice: drive a truck for a living, or could he work for the mob and make a lot of money, be comfortable, take care of your family?

GOTHAM GAZETTE: But how much of that is true?

SELWYN RAAB: Well, I've talked to a few made men. They always rationalized what they did and why they did it. But they have always been into anything that will bring them money.

Thanks to the GOTHAM GAZETTE

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Colombo Crime Family

This is a work in progress, but the table below will include Members of the Colombo Crime Family who appear in articles within the Chicago Syndicate. Eventually, each member will have a bio page with links to the articles in which he appears. The gangsters have been split into 3 categories: "Bosses", "Friends of Mine" and "Friends of Ours". It is not intended to be an all-inclusive listing of Colombo Members and Associates, but more of an index for this site. As other members or associates are mentioned in articles, the list will grow. If you have information on any additions or changes that should be made, please let me know.
BossesFriends of OursFriends of Mine

Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico
Carmine "The Snake" Persico

Vic Orena
William "Wild Bill" Cutolo

Friends of Mine:

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Romance and Rubout of Mafia Kingpin's Moll Doll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Jennifer Fermino and Todd Venezia

Friday, January 27, 2006

God Vs. the Mafia

Friends of ours: Michael Franzese, Colombo Crime Family, John "Sonny" Franzese

For fans of The Godfather and Goodfellas, it may be an offer you can't refuse: an invitation to dine with an ex-Mafia don. Lexington's Porter Memorial Baptist Church officials predict 1,000 men will pay $7 each to eat a Fazoli's Italian dinner tonight with Michael Franzese, a former high-ranking member of the Colombo crime family. Afterward, Franzese, 53, will speak about his journey from prison to the pulpit and the public-speaking circuit.

Trent Snyder, a Porter Memorial minister and a former Lexington police officer, says Franzese's story proves God's power to transform lives. "You can be a sinner and involved in the worst crimes in life and if you truly surrender your life, Christ can turn that around and use that to glorify him," he said.

Franzese's criminal past is well-documented. His 1985 indictment on criminal conspiracy charges made the front page of The New York Times. In 1986, Fortune Magazine ranked him No. 18 on its list of "50 biggest Mafia bosses." Life Magazine, in 1987, described him as "one of the biggest money earners in the history of the Mafia." Before his 1985 arrest, he allegedly helped steal more than $1 billion in gasoline tax revenues. When he wasn't stealing millions, he produced B movies such as Knights of the City and Mausoleum.

After his conviction on federal charges, Franzese cut a deal with the feds. He spent seven years behind bars. Law enforcement officials were skeptical that Franzese would ever give up crime, and when he became a born-again Christian, many viewed it as just another scam. "I carry a lot of baggage and it's always going to be there," Franzese said in a telephone interview. "People have every right to be skeptical." But he says he has truly changed.

The pivotal moment was in the mid-1980s, when he fell in love with an evangelical Christian who danced in one of his movies. "She had a tremendous effect on me," he said. "She planted the seed, and there's no doubt God used her as a catalyst to turn my life around." He married the woman, Cammy Garcia, after divorcing his previous wife. They have been married for 20 years.

Unlike most underworld figures, Franzese has never kept a low profile. He turned down chances to be in the witness protection program and welcomed the chance to appear on TV news shows. His autobiography, Quitting the Mob, was published in 1992. His latest book, Blood Covenant, was released in 2003. In addition to ministry, Franzese speaks out against gambling and meets with National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball players to warn them of the risks. He has also spoken on gambling at about 150 college campuses across America, including the University of Kentucky.

Quitting the mob was a risky move. "My dad (mobster John "Sonny" Franzese) didn't speak to me for 10 years," he says. There were death threats. But Franzese said he survived by trusting God and refusing to squeal. "I never put anybody in prison. At one point in time, they realized I wasn't a threat."

As he talks about his faith, Franzese mentions the Apostle Paul, another tough guy who preached and spent time behind bars. "It just shows you," Franzese said. "Nobody's beyond redemption and fulfilling God's purpose."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Former G-Man to be Sued in '92 Mob Hit

Friends of ours: Gregory Scarpa Sr., Colombo Crime Family, Nicholas Grancio

A former FBI agent helped set up the 1992 shotgun murder of a Brooklyn mobster, a federal civil suit to be filed today by the gangster's widow charges, the Daily News has learned. The agent, Lindley DeVecchio, pulled a surveillance team shortly before the rubout of Nicholas Grancio as a favor to Mafia capo Gregory Scarpa Sr. - DeVecchio's secret informant, the suit contends.

News of the lawsuit came as The News reported that a Brooklyn grand jury is probing DeVecchio in the mob slaying and other alleged criminal dealings with Scarpa, an infamous Colombo crime family figure who died behind bars in 1994.

DeVecchio, found yesterday at his Florida home in an exclusive gated community, said, "I have nothing to say, I retired 10 years ago and everything that needed to be said is already on the record." "Anything you want to get, get from my lawyer. There's a lot I would love to say, but I just won't," said the former agent, appearing flustered in a T-shirt and jeans in his doorway.

The slaying of Grancio - a rival of Scarpa - took place at the height of a mob war between factions of the Colombo crime family. At Scarpa's request, DeVecchio called off surveillance by two NYPD detectives on Jan. 7, 1992, so Scarpa, with two associates, could move in for the drive-by shooting, the suit contends.

The lawsuit will be filed in Brooklyn Federal Court by attorney David Schoen on behalf of widow Maria Grancio. Schoen also filed notice that the FBI and the Justice Department will be also be sued.

Meanwhile, a grand jury convened by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is investigating Grancio's killing and DeVecchio's long, complicated relationship with Scarpa.

One of two NYPD detectives involved in the surveillance, Joseph Simone, now retired, was extensively debriefed yesterday by a prosecutor and investigators from the DA's office, sources said. Simone has previously testified that he got called off the surveillance duty, calling it "very unusual." He and other law enforcement agents also reported his suspicions that DeVecchio was working for Scarpa.

Simone testified that he got the "call off" from DeVecchio's subordinate at the time, FBI agent Christopher Favo, who was acting on DeVecchio's orders. Favo was also named as a defendant in the suit, which sites a "corrupt relationship between an informant [Scarpa] and his FBI handler [DeVecchio] as part of a campaign of corruption and concealment." Favo did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

DeVecchio's attorney, Douglas Grover, has dismissed the DA's investigation as "nonsense," noting DeVecchio has not been prosecuted despite a previous two-year FBI probe into the agent's dealings with Scarpa. But the DA's office has developed new information on the matter and decided to begin the grand jury probe, sources said.

"Since the murder, DeVecchio, Favo and others lied about the matter and have misled on this subject and other incidents of gross misconduct repeatedly," the Grancio suit says. "They have taken other steps to conceal the true factors of the Grancio murder and that campaign of lying and coverup continues today."

Thanks to Jose Martinez and William Sherman with Nancie L. Katz

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

FBI Agent assists Mobster?

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Nicholas Grancio, Gregory Scarpa Sr.,

The Brooklyn district attorney's office is investigating whether a former F.B.I. agent may have helped a Mafia mole murder a rival in a 1992 gangland killing. Investigators are looking into whether the former agent, R. Lindley DeVecchio, may have helped a Colombo family gangster, who was working secretly as his informer, kill a rival in the mob, according to a law enforcement official who has been briefed on the case.

The investigation concerns the killing of Nicholas Grancio on the streets of southern Brooklyn on Jan. 7, 1992, after a joint F.B.I.- New York Police Department surveillance team was called off of a mission to watch him. The official said investigators were trying to determine whether Mr. DeVecchio, a former organized-crime investigator for the F.B.I., was the one who withdrew the surveillance team and, if so, whether that withdrawal was timed to allow his Mafia informant, Gregory Scarpa Sr., to sweep down on Mr. Grancio with a well-armed hit squad and assassinate him.

When Mr. Grancio was killed - in his car, by a shotgun blast to the head - it was at the height of the Colombo family wars, an internecine squabble in which two factions of the family murderously fought each other for control. According to court documents, Mr. Scarpa was seeking revenge that day against Mr. Grancio: He was under the impression that Mr. Grancio had had a role in an attempt on his own life, the documents show. But the investigation by Brooklyn prosecutors is the first real indication that law enforcement officials are at least concerned that Mr. DeVecchio may have had a role in Mr. Grancio's murder. In the mid-1990's, Mr. DeVecchio was investigated for more than two years in an internal F.B.I. inquiry concerning allegations that he had had an improper relationship with Mr. Scarpa. Mr. DeVecchio was exonerated by the F.B.I. in 1996, and he retired shortly after the investigation ended.

Yesterday, his lawyer, Douglas Grover, said the current inquiry was baseless and "laughable." "He was innocent then," Mr. Grover said, "and he's innocent now."

The law enforcement official said prosecutors from the district attorney's office have already gone to Washington to brief the F.B.I. on their investigation, which adds yet another chapter to a tale long told among mob connoisseurs. Indeed, the tangled bond between Mr. DeVecchio, one of the agency's top mob investigators, and Mr. Scarpa, one of the Mafia's most brutal and ingenious killers, is one of the stranger relationships in Mafia lore.

The two started working together in the early 1980's, court documents show, when Mr. DeVecchio found Mr. Scarpa's name in a file of dormant Mafia informers and reactivated him. The two were close, with Mr. Scarpa giving his handler wine and freshly baked lasagna, the documents show. They spoke often, and Mr. DeVecchio often used the code name "the girlfriend" when calling his source, the documents show.

The relationship was close enough that some of Mr. DeVecchio's fellow agents complained to their superiors, which led to the internal F.B.I. investigation. That inquiry, however, never included allegations that Mr. DeVecchio might have played a role in the Grancio assassination. Mr. Scarpa died of AIDS in 1994.

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

Monday, October 03, 2005

Feds Fear Syndicate Rebirth

A tidal wave of imprisoned mobsters, including ferocious Mafia bosses champing at the bit to hit the streets, will soon be freed to reclaim the reins of the city's five crime families, The NY Post has learned.

In an extraordinary interagency memo, the FBI has been warned by the Bureau of Prisons to brace for the release of 80 goodfellas and their close associates, whose sentences behind bars will expire before January 2007, according law-enforcement sources. The list of hardened hoods in the prisons bureau survey reads like a Who's Who of Mafioso whose exploits were splashed across the front pages during the past two decades:

* Venero "Bennie Eggs" Mangano, 84, legendary underboss to Vincent "Chin" Gigante of the Genovese crime family, is scheduled for release on Nov. 2, 2006, after serving 15 years for his role in rigging window-installation contracts at city projects in the infamous "Windows Case."

* Sal Avellino, 69, the Luchese crime family underboss and one-time chauffeur for family godfather Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo, is slated to be released Oct. 10, 2006, after serving 11 years in prison for his role in various mob activities, including the murders of two waste carters who were cooperating with the feds.

* Joe "Joe the German" Watts, 63, former chauffeur and gunslinger for John Gotti, the late Gambino boss, will be freed May 5, after serving 11 years for convictions for murder conspiracy and for an elaborate money-laundering scheme.

* Steve "Stevie Wonder" Crea, 58, a powerful Luchese underboss, is expected to be free Aug. 24 after serving three years for fixing prices on three Manhattan construction projects and extorting money from a Long Island construction company.

* Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo, 71, the capo cousin of Colombo crime family godfather Carmine "The Snake" Persico, who was convicted as the muscle over private carters and is coming out June 6 after serving nine years for racketeering.

* Salvatore "Sammy Meatballs" Aparo, 75, a powerful Genovese capo, will be free May 25 after serving time for a 1991 labor-racketeering conviction in a case in which another mobster was caught on tape bragging, "Hurting people. That's what this is about."

* Charles Carneglia, 59, a trusted Gambino power whose brother, John, was a reputed hit man in the famed slaying of boss Paul "Big Paul" Castellano, will be free May 1 after serving five years for extortion.

* Richard G. Gotti, 37, nephew of the late John Gotti, and son of the Dapper Don's brother, Richard V. Gotti, will be free March 3 after serving three years in the same racketeering case that convicted his father and his uncle, Peter.

Experts say the survey, conducted in July, serves as additional proof that speculation about the demise of the Mafia is vastly premature — despite high-profile defections of mob bosses such as Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano, a succession of celebrated convictions and the latest twist involving a mob lawyer entering the witness-protection program, as The Post reported last week. "You only hear about the all the guys who flipped, but if you ever took a look at the list of guys who went into prison and how many rolled over, it is not even close," one longtime mob hunter observed.

In fact, there are about 1,100 members of organized crime, with each wiseguy connected to 10 associates, making for a separate rogues' gallery of about 11,000 businessmen, labor officials and others linked to the mob, the sources said.

In recent years, law-enforcement has broken the mob's stranglehold on certain unions and construction industries, but "the nucleus is still there" in those businesses as well as in the Mafia's bread-and-butter pursuit: gambling. "There's too much money to be made and always people willing to take the shot," one source said, adding that the "same is true of the leadership."Cannes Film Festival Club at the Film Movement

For example, the Gambino power vacuum created by the death of John Gotti and the subsequent imprisonment of brother Peter has been quickly filled by the lower-profiled Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo and his brother, Joseph "JoJo."

"For each rat or guy we put in prison, there are 20 others willing to take their place," a mob watcher said. "And none of these guys are coming out to shine shoes."

A prisons bureau spokesperson declined to explain what prompted the mob-inmate survey, but sources say the analysis was handed over to FBI brass in Washington and was being used to update the inmates' connections to the mob and assess "their potential impact" on La Cosa Nostra when they get out.

James Margolin, the FBI spokesman in New York, said the advisory "is further indication of what we have always maintained, that there remains plenty of work to be done in fighting organized crime, and that is why it continues to be a priority for this office."

And as chilling as the recent survey is, it does not list hoods such as Oreste "Ernie Boy" Abbamonte, a major convicted heroin dealer and a member of both the Bonanno and Luchese families, who came out of prison in February.

It also does not mention a future wave of releases expected after 2007 including gangsters such as Liborio "Barney" Bellomo, 48, the former Genovese street boss who is due out in August 2008.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Mafia Retirement Package Includes Funeral, Dat's About It

No pension, no medical benefits, no prescription plan. When you're a mob boss, retirement is more bronze casket than golden parachute.

Since the 1930s ascension of the Mafia, its leaders have departed "The Life" almost exclusively through their deaths. Albert Anastasia, Carmine Galante and "Big Paul" Castellano were brutally (and memorably) assassinated; Vito Genovese, John Gotti and "Fat Tony" Salerno died in prison.

A third, more palatable option emerged in recent years: The Witness Protection Program, for those who found relocation to Arizona preferable to interment in Queens. But an actual mob retirement, renouncing all illegal ties and income for a shot at the straight life, is a trick rarely turned. So it's no surprise that law enforcement officials remained skeptical about John A. "Junior" Gotti's claim that he did what his father, uncles and brother-in-law could not: quit the Gambino crime family.

Defense attorneys, arguing the younger Gotti had left organized crime in the late 1990s, managed to win a hung jury in the recent racketeering case against the mob scion. The mistrial indicated at least one juror was convinced that Gotti had gone legit.

Others are not as easily swayed. "You never leave the mob," said Bruce Mouw, former head of the FBI's Gambino squad. "Sometimes you're wishing you'd never gotten into it, when there's a contract on your life or you're going to jail. But you never leave."

Federal prosecutors agree; they were already considering a retrial for Gotti. Talk radio show host Curtis Sliwa, the target of a botched kidnapping attempt allegedly ordered by Gotti, expressed fear that Junior's possible release on bail could again make him a target.

The best known example of volunteer mob retirement was Joe Bonanno, who headed one of New York's original five families. After the bloody "Banana Wars," Bonanno ceded control of his family and bolted New York for Tuscon in 1968. He died peacefully in the Arizona desert three years ago, surrounded by his family, at age 97.

While Bonanno considered himself out of the crime business, authorities disagreed. He wound up serving 14 months in 1985-86 after refusing to testify at "The Commission" trial that earned 100-year jail terms for the heads of the Colombo, Genovese and Lucchese families.

The mob's induction ceremony, with the burning of a saint's picture and a blood oath of silence, makes it clear that leaving the family is a move taken at great risk for even low-level members. Death is the penalty for breaking any of the Mafia code, particularly omerta.

Gotti was 24 when he was became a Gambino family "made man" in a Christmas 1988 ceremony at his dad's Little Italy hideaway, the Ravenite Social Club. But he's distanced himself from the mob life lately.

Gotti, in various prison conversations recorded by authorities, expressed disgust to family and friends about following his father into the mob. In October 2003, Gotti said his association with the Gambinos had ended six years earlier. "Believe me, I like it better that way," he said. "I sleep better ... I just want to do my time, go home and go fishing."

He may go home on bail as early as Monday. But Gotti is likely to remain a target for catch of the day by law enforcers who reject his purported mob repudiation.

Veteran defense attorney Ed Hayes, a Court TV commentator, said Gotti's defense combined "good strategy and a good lawyer." But does that mean Gotti is no longer a top-echelon member of the Gambino family?

"Absolutely not," said Mouw. "The only way of leaving is by the slab. You're in the mob for life."

Or death.

Thanks to Larry McShane

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