By Selim Algar
A Mafia boss can’t expect his jailhouse emails to be protected from the prying eyes of authorities — even if the communiques are to and from his lawyer, a Brooklyn federal judge has ruled.
Reputed Bonanno crime family boss Thomas “Tommy D” DiFiore and his lawyer, Steve Zissou, had argued that the monitoring of their Web-based conversations violated his right to counsel — even though jailhouse rules clearly spell out that inmates’ emails are subject to review.
Judge Allyne Ross had temporarily blocked federal investigators from checking DiFiore’s emails while she considered the argument, but ruled in favor of the government last week.
Ross found that DiFiore had other opportunities to privately communicate with his attorney and that the email snooping did not “unreasonably interfere” with his ability to defend himself in court.
She said that inmates know that they are waiving their confidentiality when using the prison email function.
Ross did concede in her decision that the federal Bureau of Prisons should consider some form of protected email forum for inmates and their attorneys to facilitate communication.
“Certainly, it would be a welcome development for BOP to improve TRULINCS (the jail computer system) so that attorney-client communications could be easily separated from other emails and subject to protection,” the judge wrote.
DiFiore is charged with participating in an extortion scheme with co-defendant Vincent Asaro, the infamous Bonanno capo charged with the 1978 Lufthansa Airlines heist depicted in the film “Goodfellas.”