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Showing posts with label Salvatore Vitale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salvatore Vitale. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Joseph Charles Massino become Known as #TheLastDon

Born on Jan. 10, 1943 in New York City, Joseph Charles Massino is a former member of the Italian Mafia who was the boss of the Bonanno crime family from 1991 to 2004. During his 13 years running the crime syndicate, the powerful Massino was known as “The Last Don,” as he was the only New York mob leader at the time not in prison. However, he is perhaps best known as the first boss of one of the notorious five Mafia families to turn state’s evidence and cooperate with the government in prosecuting other Mafiosi. The ex-mobster entered the Witness Protection Program after his 2013 release from prison and his whereabouts are unknown.

One of three boys raised in Maspeth, Massino claimed he was a juvenile delinquent by age 12 and he was a high school dropout at age 15. He married Josephine Vitale in 1960, and soon began supporting his wife and three daughters through a life of crime, with brother-in-law Salvatore as one of his earliest associates.

By the late 1960s, the future Don was running a truck hijacking crew as an associate of the Bonanno family. He fenced his stolen goods and ran numbers from a lunch wagon which he used as a front for his illicit business. In 1975, Massino participated in a mob murder with brother-in-law Salvatore and future Gambino family head John Gotti. Two years after “making his bones” by killing for the mob, the Maspeth native became a made member of the Bonanno family. Joe Massino was on his way to the top of a criminal empire.

Following the 1979 murder of acting family boss Carmine Galante at a Brooklyn restaurant, Massino began jockeying for power with other Bonanno capos. Ever cunning and ready to use violence to serve his ends, he eliminated several key rivals in 1981. One capo who allegedly fell before The Last Don’s ambition was Dominick “Sonny Black” Napolitano, who allowed undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone to infiltrate his crew under the name Donnie Brasco. Upon hearing about the unprecedented breach of mob security, Massino said of the disgraced capo: “I have to give him a receipt for the Donnie Brasco situation.”

The mobster’s climb to the top would not be without pitfalls, however. In 1987, when some believe he was already the underboss, Massino and Bonanno family head Philip Rastelli were sent to federal prison on labor racketeering charges. Following Rastelli’s death in 1991, Joe Massino was named boss of the Bonanno family while still incarcerated.

Under his leadership, the Bonanno crime syndicate regained the prestige it lost following the FBI undercover operation, and by 2000, with many other Mafia leaders in prison, Massino was considered the most powerful don in the nation. His time at the top would prove short lived. In 2004, The Last Don was indicted for murder and racketeering based on the testimony of other made mobsters, including underboss and brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale. Facing the death penalty if found guilty, Massino agreed to turn against his former associates and testify as a government witness. Although initially sentenced to life in prison, in 2013 he was resentenced to time served.

A Joe Massino quote: “There are three sides to every story. Mine, yours and the truth.”

Thanks to Greater Astoria Historical Society.

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

Monday, November 01, 2010

Salvatore Vitale Murders 11, Serves Only 7 Years in Prison

A Mafia boss who turned informant on one of New York's notorious five families - and pleaded guilty to 11 murders - has been sensationally sentenced to 'time served' today.

Salvatore Vitale, 63, immediately cooperated with the FBI and prosecutors after his arrest and imprisonment in January 2003.

He identified more than 500 gangsters and helped convict more than 50 - including his brother-in-law and former Bonanno chief Joseph Massino.

Today's sentence will mean that Vitale will have served around 18 months for each of his 11 murders.

It is expected that he will immediately enter the witness protection programme
.
'Quite simply, Vitale has likely been the most important cooperator in the history of law enforcement efforts to prosecute the Mafia,' said Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, of United States District Court in Brooklyn, when he meted out the sentence today.

Judge Garaufis noted that the criminal justice system was 'dependent on the cooperation of criminals in the prosecution of other criminals'. He added: 'This cooperation does not come without a cost.' The judge noted that he was under no illusion that Vitale had become a government witness for any reason other than self-preservation, noting that he did so only when he realised that the crime family had come to see him as a liability.

The judge said: 'It is unfortunate that law enforcement must, of necessity, obtain the cooperation of felons to address the pernicious crimes committed by organised crime,' the judge said. 'But without the benefit of cooperating witnesses like the defendant, the government’s ability to prosecute the secretive and rule-bound world of organised crime would be greatly impaired.'

In October 2004, information he gave to federal officers led to the discovery of three bodies in Ozone Park, Queens.

Vitale’s lawyers, Kenneth Murphy and Brian Waller, had pushed for the sentence to be 'time served'.
Vitale had been facing life in prison.

In a bid to put Vitale away for good, prosecutor Greg Andres read aloud letters sent to the judge from the wife and daughter of one of the victims. Robert Perrino was a Bonanno associate who was the superintendent of deliveries at The New York Post and who was slain in 1992. Vitale ordered the killing based on the fear that Perrino might cooperate with the authorities. Perrino’s body was not found until Vitale himself began cooperating with police. Perrino'd widow Rosalie wrote: 'As a result of Salvatore Vitale’s criminal inhuman behaviour, my grandson never knew his grandfather, and he and our granddaughter have grown up without this special man. 'Salvatore Vitale caused my own life to unravel and the colour in my life to drain away.'

Vitale alternately stared at the table before him and watched the judge as Mr Andres read the letter.
At the end of the hearing, the judge asked the people in the gallery to remain seated so deputy United States marshals could escort Vitale out of the courtroom. He left through the courtroom’s rear door, beside the judge’s bench, and did not look back.

It is not the first time Mafia informants have been given lesser sentences for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of their bosses. Salvatore Gravano, an underboss for the Gambino family known as 'Sammy the Bull', admitted to 19 murders in 1991 in exchange for a lesser sentence and served just five years.
As part of his testimony, notorious gangster John Gotti was jailed for life.

Vitale, wearing a blue suit and silver pattered tie, twice dabbed tears from his eyes during the court proceeding - and exhaled sharply just before the judge read out the sentence.

The former paratrooper - known as Good Looking Sal' during his three decades committing countless crimes on behalf of the Bonanno family - read from a statement where he apologised to the families of his victims.
He said: 'I would say to them that I pray daily for my victims’ souls and I’m truly sorry. I stand in front of you, your honour, ashamed of the life I used to live. 'I disgraced my father’s name, my name, my sons’ name.'

Vitale operated at the highest levels of organised crime while a member of La Cosa Nostra, and knew many of the Bonanno secrets - including quite literally where bodies were buried.

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

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Powerful Mafia Boss Seeking Plea Deal?

Friends of ours: Vito Rizzuto, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, Salvatore "Good- Looking Sal" Vitale, Gerlando "George From Canada" Sciascia, Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" De Filippo

Vito Rizzuto, named as Canada's most powerful Mafia boss, has asked a New York City judge to delay his trial for three gangland slayings, fueling speculation he is negotiating a plea deal.

David Schoen, defending Mr. Rizzuto against racketeering charges in the United States, declined to discuss any plea negotiations but said one thing is clear: Mr. Rizzuto is not considering co-operating with the authorities, as many of his American co-accused have done. "The answer is absolutely unequivocally 'no,' " he told the National Post.

An earlier document from prosecutors said Mr. Rizzuto, 61, of Montreal, was negotiating a settlement as far back as October, 2006. "If there were plea negotiations going on in any case, notwithstanding what may be a different practice for some other lawyers, I could never conceive of discussing them publicly," Mr. Schoen said. When pressed, he added: "Any speculation about a plea deal, at this point, is misguided."

He and his co-counsel are planning a vigorous defence that is well funded and well planned, he said. "Mr. Rizzuto is very strong and holding up well under these conditions - although I must say he misses Canada and his family very much," Mr. Schoen said. "In my view, there is no need or valid reason whatsoever for Mr. Rizzuto to be incarcerated in a jail in Brooklyn, or anywhere. He is no risk of flight whatsoever and certainly no danger to anyone in any community."

Mr. Rizzuto was arrested in January, 2004, inside his Montreal mansion at the request of the U.S. government. He is accused of being a shooter in an ambush of three rival mobsters in Brooklyn in 1981 as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. He has been imprisoned since. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a 20 years.

Mr. Rizzuto's desire to return to Canada could factor into any deal; he would likely ask to serve his sentence in Canada. If that were agreed to, it would see him released far sooner than if he served his prison term in America. Under international agreements on the transfer of prisoners, once back in Canada, inmates benefit from our more lenient release rules, including release after serving just two thirds of a sentence.

Mr. Rizzuto was the only Canadian among dozens of men ensnared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its assault on the Bonanno Mafia organization, one of the notorious and influential Five Families of New York.

Those indicted alongside him have not fared well. Almost all have pleaded guilty, been found guilty at trial or become government informants.

A cavalcade of Mafia turncoats are pointing fingers at former colleagues. The so-called "rats" include the former Bonanno Family boss, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, and underboss, Salvatore "Good- Looking Sal" Vitale. Both are expected to be star witnesses against Mr. Rizzuto, should his case go to trial.

Vitale has already testified in other prosecutions, twice telling juries about Mr. Rizzuto's alleged crimes, but Massino has not yet been called to the stand. "I am not in the speculation business and I will leave such decisions to the government," Mr. Schoen said of whether he expects to see Massino testify against his client. "I certainly should hope we will be well prepared to deal with any witness."

Massino has been telling his secrets to the FBI for a year. Although the high-security debriefings are held in utmost secrecy, some of the information he provided was recently summarized in a note from prosecutors to a judge in another case. Some of it involves his contact with Canadian mob figures.

Massino said he ordered the murder of Gerlando "George From Canada" Sciascia, who was the Montreal Mafia's representative in New York and a close friend of Mr. Rizzuto's. He assigned the job to Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" De Filippo at Danny's Chinese Restaurant.

After the murder, Vitale, contacted Massino and spoke a prearranged code to signal the job was done: "I picked up the dolls for the babies."

Mr. Rizzuto continues to be a presence - through his name and photograph - in New York mob cases.

At the trial of De Filippo, which ended this month, the jury heard Vitale claim that Mr. Rizzuto started the shooting that killed the three mobsters.

"What was your role in that murder?" Vitale was asked by Greg Andres, the prosecutor. "Shooter," he answered.

"Were there other people assigned as shooters?" Mr. Andres asked.

"Vito Rizzuto; an old-timer from Canada, I never got his name; another individual from Canada named Emmanuel."

Vitale was shown a photograph and asked to identify it.

"That's Vito Rizzuto from Canada," he answered.

"Do you know where Vito lives?" Mr. Andres asked. "Montreal, Canada."

Later, Vitale again brought Mr. Rizzuto up.

"At the time of your arrest, was there a particular person who you considered the most powerful person in Canada, the person who you would deal with in Canada?" Vitale was asked.

"Vito Rizzuto," came the answer.

Pretrial motions in the case are expected to be ruled on in June.

Mr. Schoen estimates a trial would last nine weeks.

Thanks to Adrian Humphreys

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