The Chicago Syndicate: Dino Saracino
Showing posts with label Dino Saracino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dino Saracino. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Noah Rosenberg

Thomas Gioeli, Reputed Former Acting Boss of the Columbos, on Trial for Alledged Role in Killing of Police Officer and 5 Others

The off-duty police officer was ambushed by gunmen, and left to die in the street outside his home in Brooklyn.

For two other men, the end came farther from home: they were killed separately in the basement of a man they had trusted, prosecutors say. One was a mob associate who wanted out of the life; he was shot once in the back of the head, never to be seen again. The other was an underboss who apparently had accumulated too much clout for comfort; his body was not found for nearly a decade.

Those killings and three others, all from the 1990s, were described on Monday in the opening statement of Cristina M. Posa, a federal prosecutor. They are at the heart of the prosecution of Thomas Gioeli, Thomas Gioeliwhom officials called the former acting boss of the Colombo crime family, and Dino Saracino, who the authorities say was one of his hit men, on murder and racketeering charges in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Ms. Posa said the murder crew was methodical in its preparations, trailing potential victims for days to determine their habits, luring them to the places where they would be killed, disposing of evidence and disposing of bodies. “As professional killers, that was their specialty — committing murder and getting away with it — until today,” Ms. Posa told the jurors, many of whom said during jury selection that they had known little of the ways of the mob.

The prosecution plans to call cooperating witnesses who will describe how the killings were carried out.

Of the six killings, the one shrouded in the most mystery was that of the police officer, Ralph C. Dols, 28, in 1997.

Officer Dols had married a woman, Kim T. Kennaugh, who had been previously married to three men associated with the Colombo crime family. One of them, Enrico Carrini, was killed in 1987; the most recent former husband was Joel Cacace, also known as Joe Waverly, described by officials as a consigliere, or top mob adviser. Mr. Cacace is awaiting trial on murder and other charges.

Federal prosecutors have accused Mr. Cacace of ordering Mr. Saracino and others to kill Officer Dols because it was embarrassing that Ms. Kennaugh would leave a powerful mobster for someone in law enforcement. Mr. Saracino, known as Little Dino, and Mr. Gioeli, known as Tommy Shots, were among those charged with the murder of the underboss, William (Wild Bill) Cutolo Sr., who was a union official. His body was found on Long Island in 2008 after the authorities were tipped off by an informer.

Mr. Gioeli’s lawyer, Carl J. Herman, said in his opening remarks on Monday that the prosecution had built its case based on the work of a desperate federal agent who relied on cooperating witnesses who had reason to lie.

“The F.B.I. since the mid-’90s has been attempting to gather evidence on Gioeli by surveillance,” Mr. Herman said. “Sometimes they get a little desperate, your government, and that’s what happened in this case.”

Samuel M. Braverman, a lawyer for Mr. Saracino, said there was no physical evidence that the homicides even happened. He said the prosecution could only present the testimony of sociopaths who could not be trusted.

“I’m not here to tell you Dino is a choirboy,” Mr. Braverman said of Mr. Saracino. “He isn’t. I’m not here to tell you he didn’t commit the murders because he’s a nice guy. I’m telling you he didn’t commit the murders because he didn’t commit the murders.”

This list of people who were killed for crossing the Colombo family is long. In 1991, Frank Marasa, known as Chestnut, was killed to avenge the death of a Colombo family member, prosecutors said. A year later, John Minerva took the wrong side in a war that split the Colombo family. He was killed in his car with another man, Michael Imbergamo, prosecutors said.

In 1995, Richard Greaves wanted to leave the Colombo mob, so he had to be eliminated, prosecutors said. In 1997, Officer Dols was killed. Mr. Cutolo’s killing was in 1999.

Katherine Kelley, an F.B.I. agent, said she was present at the wooded lot where Mr. Cutolo’s body was finally discovered; the toes of his shoes protruded above ground. She led a team of excavators, who, with small tools, removed the body, which she said was covered with bits of lime, its blackened and skeletal limbs hogtied behind its back.

Judge Brian M. Cogan ordered a short break during Ms. Kelley’s testimony. Mr. Gioeli, looking avuncular in a navy shirt, a tan sweater vest and a tie, smiled and waved to friends and family in the audience. He blew them kisses.

Mr. Saracino, wearing a crisp blue shirt and tie, his head shaved, offered no expression. He and Mr. Gioeli face life in prison if convicted.

Thanks to Mosi Secret

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reputed Colombo Mob Figures Indicted in Murder of Police Officer

Eleven years after an off-duty police officer was assassinated by gunmen lying in wait outside his home in Sheepshead Bay, federal prosecutors charged three accused mob figures on Thursday in the shooting, removing a high-profile murder from the ranks of unsolved cases while painting the motive as one of simple romantic jealousy.

The charges were announced with the unsealing of a murder and racketeering indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, seeming to begin the process of closing the book on the Aug. 25, 1997, murder of the officer, Ralph C. Dols, 28. The indictment also charges a fourth accused mob figure in the murders of two other mobsters.

Prosecutors said that a Colombo crime family consigliere who has long been suspected in the slaying, Joel Cacace, 67, ordered the murder. Mr. Cacace, also known as Joe Waverly, had once been married to the officer’s wife, Kim T. Kennaugh, an investigator said. He is in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to racketeering charges. The other three defendants are also in custody on other charges from an earlier version of the indictment. All four men are expected to be arraigned on Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.

In addition to Mr. Cacace, the indictment charges Dino Calabro, 42, identified as a captain and also known as Big Dino, and Dino Saracino, 36, who prosecutors say is a soldier known as Little Dino.

“Big Dino Calabro and Little Dino Saracino ambushed Officer Dols and shot him repeatedly outside his Brooklyn home, leaving him to die in the street,” said David Cardona, the special agent in charge of the criminal division in the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, speaking at a news conference on Thursday. “The murder was ordered by Colombo consigliere Joe Waverly Cacace merely because Dols was married to Cacace’s ex-wife.”

One investigator said the motive for the officer’s slaying came down to Mr. Cacace’s image. “From an organized crime perspective, this was insulting to Joel that she had married a cop,” the investigator said, adding, “and because he had a high-ranking position in the Colombo family, it looked bad for him.”

An earlier husband of Ms. Kennaugh’s, a Colombo hit man, also was murdered, in 1987. A woman answering the door of Ms. Kennaugh’s home in Staten Island, heavily festooned with Christmas decorations, said, “No, no,” and shut the door on a reporter inquiring about the case on Thursday.

The indictment, which is largely based on evidence provided by a new cooperating witness from the Colombo family, law enforcement officials said, also charges Mr. Calabro and Mr. Saracino with the 1999 murder of William Cutolo Sr. Mr. Cutolo was a Colombo family acting underboss and union official whose body was finally found on Long Island this year after an informant tipped off the authorities.

The fourth defendant, Thomas Gioeli, 56, who was an acting boss in the family and is known as Tommy Shots, is also charged in the killing of Mr. Cutolo.

Mr. Cardona said the murders led to promotions in the crime family. “That’s why mobsters commit murder,” he said. “Our intelligence revealed that Calabro became a made member of the Colombo family after the murder of Ralph Dols, and he became a capo after the Cutolo murder. Saracino was inducted into the family because of his participation in both murders.”

Officer Dols had driven home after finishing his shift at a Coney Island housing project and was parking his car at 11:38 p.m. when three men drove up in a dark Chevrolet Caprice and opened fire. He was wounded three times in the abdomen and twice in the arm before he could step from behind the wheel or pull his gun. He died in surgery at Coney Island Hospital the next morning. He had been on the force for four and a half years.

He and Ms. Kennaugh, who was 38 at the time of the slaying, had been married for two years and had had a daughter three months earlier. Ms. Kennaugh’s brother, August, was convicted in the 1981 murder of a Queens restaurant owner and had also been identified as a Colombo soldier.

The shooting rattled the already embattled Police Department, which was facing accusations in the brutality case of Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a broomstick in the restroom of the 70th Precinct station house earlier that month, on Aug. 9, 1997. As Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani eulogized Officer Dols at the crowded funeral Mass, thousands of demonstrators gathered at Grand Army Plaza for a march to City Hall to protest the Louima case.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly called for capital punishment. “The murder of a police officer is an attack on society at large and merits the death penalty,” he said in a statement.

The indictment also charges Mr. Calabro with the 1994 murder of Carmine Gargano and charges Mr. Gioeli, Mr. Calabro and Mr. Saracino with the 1995 murder of Richard Greaves. The bodies have not been found.

Thanks to Michael Wilson and William K. Rashbaum

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