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Showing posts with label Thomas Gioeli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thomas Gioeli. 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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reputed Mob Boss, Thomas Gioeli, to Miss Daughter's Wedding

A reputed Mafia boss won't be trading his prison stripes for a pinstripe suit on his daughter's wedding day.

Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan rejected on Wednesday Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli’s request for a prison furlough to attend his oldest daughter’s nuptials.

Cogan stated that he "conferred with the U.S. Marshals Service and with other judges in the courthouse and concludes such a release is not feasible."

Prosecutors opposed the wedding pass, arguing it would be impossible for the feds to prevent Gioeli from slipping messages to underlings at the ceremony and reception, endanger cooperating witnesses scheduled to testify against him.

Cogan cited security issues and the serious charges against Gioeli in denying the request. The alleged Colombo family boss is on trial for six gangland killings.

Earlier this year Cogan approved a plan to have U.S. Marshals escort Gioeli from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to the Long Island Federal Courthouse to view the casket containing his deceased father. Gioeli apparently objected to paying his last respects in the courthouse garage and refused to leave his prison cell.

Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis allowed Bonanno associate Patrick Romanello to leave prison to attend his two daughters’ weddings in 2004 and 2005. But sources said the Romanello situation was different because he was not a high-ranking mobster who could order acts of violence as Gioeli is capable of doing.

Gioeli's lawyer, Adam Perlmutter, said the father of the bride deserved to give his daughter away. "I find it sad that in America an individual who enjoys the presumption of innocence can be denied the right to attend his father's funeral and walk his daughter down the aisle," defense lawyer Adam Perlmutter said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Jerry Capeci

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

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nine Mobster Accused and Arrested for Mafia Crimes Nationwide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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