14 NY mafia mobsters sentenced to prison

NEW YORK — Fourteen mobsters from New York's Italian-American mafia have been sentenced as part of a wide-ranging assault by the authorities on the Cosa Nostra, officials said Thursday.

The 14 ranged from former Gambino crime family boss, Daniel Marino, to so-called soldiers or thugs carrying out beatings to enforce Gambino extortion activities, the federal prosecutor's office in Manhattan said. Nine were sentenced this week and five over recent months.

Illustrating the authorities' principal strategy against secretive mafia groups in New York, the 14 were handed light sentences after they admitted guilt.

Mafia members in plea bargains with prosecutors are often handed reduced punishments in return for cooperation with investigators against former comrades, including testifying against them in court.

Marino, who admitted to presiding over 200 "made" mafia members and to authorizing the murder of his own nephew, a police collaborator, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and $1.25 million forfeiture.

Others pleading guilty to crimes such as racketeering, extortion and sex trafficking received sentences of as little as 18 months.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said: "The successful prosecutions of Daniel Marino and his cronies dealt a significant blow to the Gambino Family -- a family that will stop at nothing to wield power, extract illegal profits, and exact revenge against its enemies."

"We are far from finished," Bharara said.

Ex-mob boss: 'Vinny' wanted to kill prosecutor

NEW YORK (AP) - Jurors deciding whether to give the death penalty to a tough-talking mobster convicted of murder heard from his boss on Wednesday - the former head of an organized crime family who aired dirty laundry about life in the mob - literally.
Testimony from ex-Bonanno head Joseph Massino ranged from a list of mob victims, claims that his underling Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano wanted to kill a federal prosecutor and talk of having to wash their own clothes in prison.
Massino also testified during the trial against Basciano, who served as acting boss after Massino was jailed. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Basciano, who was convicted May 16 in the death of Randy Pizzolo and is already serving a life sentence for a separate 2007 conviction on murder and racketeering charges.
Prosecutors sought to show the onetime owner of the Hello Gorgeous beauty salon had a hot temper and was eager to kill anyone who got in his way - including federal agents. Massino testified Wednesday that Basciano wanted to kill U.S. Attorney Greg Andres in an Upper East Side Italian restaurant as payback for decimating the family leadership.
"Let me kill this guy when he comes out of the restaurant," Basciano said, according to Massino. As head of the crime family, Massino had to give his OK before the hit could be carried out.
The two were talking at the time in the depths of a federal courthouse, awaiting separate appearances in their respective criminal cases, Massino said.
Andres "pretty much destroyed the Bonanno family," Massino said, and Basciano was also angry that the government was planning to subpoena his wife.
Massino said Basciano requested permission to kill at least nine others in a two-year span - but the requests weren't granted because he didn't think the people merited killing.
Neither Massino nor any other convicted Bonanno associates are facing the death penalty, though most were convicted of more murders than Basciano.
Defense lawyer George Goltzer portrayed to jurors a picture of Massino and much of the Mafia as a bunch of back-stabbing liars.
He argued that Massino overplayed the initial, unrecorded conversation about the federal prosecutor, and then hammered the issue while he wore a wire in order to secure a better a deal for himself.
"I was a cooperator already; it was just more that I could tell them," Massino testified.
Massino is the highest-ranking member of the city's five Italian organized crime families to break a sacred vow of silence and testify against one of their own.
The 68-year-old began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos.
The bloodshed included the shotgun killings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1980s. Brasco's story became a movie starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.
Massino, serving two consecutive life terms for eight murders, agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano while the two were imprisoned together in 2005. He testified his cooperation spared his wife from prosecution, allowed her to keep their home and gave him a shot at a reduced sentence.
The recordings detailed the struggle to keeping the family together and possible hits, but also captured the more mundane aspects of prison life.
"Yesterday I had too much to do. I got a visit, I had to wash my clothes, two lawyer visits," Massino says.
"Washing your clothes is a f------ trip, right?" Basciano asks.
"I can't wear the briefs, I got about four pairs of boxers," Massino replied.
"I don't know how you do it in that shower," he says.
Basciano is known for his meticulously groomed hair and sharp suits. Before trial, he won approval to have access to five different suits to wear to court - one for each day of the week.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis asked the Justice Department to reconsider bringing a death penalty case - which at the time had already cost taxpayers more than $3 million. But prosecutors decided to press ahead anyway. A series of successful prosecutions had already decimated the Bonanno leadership in the past decade.
"We was OK until I got pinched," Massino said to Basciano in prison. "We was on top of the world."

Death Penalty

As the death penalty phase began on Tuesday in the trial of a convicted murderer and former mob boss, even the prosecutor acknowledged that capital punishment was not appropriate in most cases.
But in the case of this man, Vincent Basciano, it was appropriate, the prosecutor, Jack Dennehy, told a jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
Condemning a man to death is not something taken lightly in New York; it has been more than 50 years since a federal defendant was executed in the state, and nearly as long since a state case led to an execution.
But Mr. Basciano led a “cold-blooded and remorseless life,” Mr. Dennehy said. Prison walls, he added, would be no obstacle to further misdeeds.
Mr. Basciano, who was known in Mafia circles as Vinny Gorgeous, relished determining whether others lived or died, the prosecutor said.
Last week, the jury convicted Mr. Basciano, who is already serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering, of plotting to murder a fellow mobster, Randolph Pizzolo. If the jury decides against execution, Mr. Basciano will receive an additional sentence of life in a federal prison without possibility of parole.
“Randoph Pizzolo didn’t deserve to be executed, he didn’t deserve a bullet in the brain, he didn’t deserve to be left in the gutter,” Mr. Dennehy said, adding that the killing came as a result of Mr. Basciano’s “rage and desire to be a hoodlum” and his “murderous rise to power.”
A few moments later, one of Mr. Basciano’s lawyers, Richard Jasper, argued that his client’s life should be spared in part because several mobsters were also culpable in the death of Mr. Pizzolo but were not facing the death penalty. And he suggested that the victim was far from blameless.
“Randolph Pizzolo,” Mr. Jasper said, “willingly participated in dangerous and illegal activities, a circumstance that contributed to his death.”
Mr. Basciano’s conviction last week was achieved with the help of a former leader of the Bonanno family, Joseph C. Massino, who testified for the government. Mr. Massino, who is serving two consecutive life sentences for eight murders, was the first official boss of a New York crime family to cooperate with federal authorities.
One of the first witnesses to testify on behalf of the government was Dominick Cicale, a former high-ranking member of the Bonanno family and a former associate of Mr. Basciano.
Mr. Cicale testified that Mr. Basciano had spoken with him many times over the years about desires to kill others: the Mafia figure Salvatore Vitale, because he might become a government informant; Dominick Martino, because he fought with a senior mobster; Mr. Cicale’s fiancée, Lynette Ayuso, because she might have told Mr. Basciano’s wife about an affair he was having. Mr. Cicale testified that Mr. Basciano even discussed the idea of bursting into a restaurant to kill a federal prosecutor, Greg Andres, who, he believed, had been rude to Mr. Massino.
Those murders were never carried out, Mr. Cicale said. But he testified that he had helped Mr. Basciano kill Mr. Pizzolo.
A prosecutor, Nicole M. Argentieri, asked why Mr. Pizzolo had been killed.
“Because Vincent Basciano couldn’t tolerate Randolph Pizzolo any more,” Mr. Cicale replied.
Later, a defense lawyer, George R. Goltzer, asked Mr. Cicale if he, too, was facing the death penalty for that murder.
“I decided to become a government informant,” Mr. Cicale said. “So, no, they took the death penalty away.”
The last time a federal defendant was executed in New York State was in 1954, when Gerhard A. Puff, who had been convicted of murdering an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was put to death. Last year, an appeals court reversed a death penalty verdict in the case of Ronell Wilson, who was convicted of executing a police officer on Staten Island in 2003.

Mob boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano dodges death penalty, sentenced to life in prison


Murderous mob boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano will live to preen again.

The former Bronx hair salon owner was spared the death penalty Wednesday by a federal jury that found his crimes less heinous than those of turncoat witness Joseph Massino - killer of a dozen people.

"There are other members of organized crime that have admitted to an equal or greater number of crimes that are not facing the death penalty," read a note from 10 of the jurors who gave Basciano life in prison.

The 51-year-old was outwardly confident when the jury began its deliberations at 3:50 p.m., blowing a kiss to his wife and sons inside Brooklyn Federal Court.

"Don't worry about me," the cocky gangster crowed. "I feel good, ya hear?"

When the verdict was read less than two hours later, a relieved Basciano poured a glass of water. He nodded and smiled at the dozen anonymous people who saved his life as they exited the jury box.

His bid to thank them personally was quickly rejected by Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

"There's no chance in the world," the judge declared.

The one-time Bonanno family boss was convicted last month of capital murder for ordering the November 2004 execution of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.

The testimony of his Bonanno predecessor, mob boss turned mob rat Massino, and five other cooperating witnesses crushed Basciano's hopes of acquittal for racketeering, murder and conspiracy.

"Tell Joe Massino he's a b--- j--," said Basciano's son Stephen, delivering a hard to swallow insult outside the courthouse.

Massino became the highest-ranking Mafiosi to ever flip when he wore a wire to meetings with Basciano inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Once sentenced this summer, Basciano will head to the notorious Cell Block H of the supermaximum security federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo.

Basciano lived up to his nickname during the trial, keeping his hair meticulously groomed and wearing a suit to court each day.

He was already serving a life sentence for the 2001 murder of Bronx junkie Frank Santoro before his conviction for Pizzolo's slaying on a deserted Brooklyn street.

Basciano sanctioned the killing to deliver a "wakeup call" to his crime family, which was beset by defections in its upper echelon.

The jury reached its decision despite Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri's contention that the brutal Basciano deserved a lethal injection.

"Even though his body is in prison, his mind will be in the street with his power and his money," the prosecutor told the jury. "The defendant has earned the ultimate punishment."

The government spent nearly $5 million in taxpayer money for Basciano's court-appointed team of lawyers.

Defense lawyer Richard Jasper had implored the jurors to let Basciano die "in God's time, not man's."

Ex-mobster Henry Hill of 'Goodfellas' fame visits Dunedin


Ex-mobster Henry Hill of 'Goodfellas' fame visits Dunedin

DUNEDIN — In one of the first scenes of the biopic movie Goodfellas, real-life mobster Henry Hill visits a Tampa zoo with an associate.

They dangle a man upside down over the lions' den and offer him an ultimatum: Pay up or become kitty dinner. The man quickly obliges.

Hill, now 67, said that since that day in 1970, he'd not been back to the bay area until Wednesday, when he stopped in Dunedin on the latest leg of his tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the film, which is based on Hill's life.

"I passed (the zoo) today," Hill said, smiling as he smoked a cigarette and sipped coffee outside downtown Dunedin's Black Pearl Restaurant. "I may go there and take a couple pictures."

But the image of that fateful night in Tampa clearly is already implanted in the mobster-turned-informer's memory. It and other memories from the days when Hill ran with the Lucchese crime family are immortalized in Goodfellas, Hill's biography Wiseguy, as well as in the artwork Hill now sells during speaking engagements and online.

Wednesday's Black Pearl meet-and-greet party featured not only Hill, but also Angelo Dundee, legendary trainer for Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. Hill and Dundee, who have known each other only a short time, are touring together in the bay area. The tour continues Saturday with a stop at Montauro Ristorante in Tampa.

Roughly 30 people paid $50 a head to share hors d'oeuvres, get autographs and speak one-on-one with Hill and Dundee.

Dundee, 89, now lives in Palm Harbor and keeps busy attending award shows, sporting events and helping children. A possible boxing documentary is in the works, he said.

Dundee trained more than a dozen world boxing champions. Years later, he was tapped to offer technical advice to Will Smith for the movie Ali and earned a small cameo while a consultant for Cinderella Man.

The crowd had plenty of questions for both Hill and Dundee, ranging from whether fights are ever fixed ("No," Dundee said. "There's not that kind of money in it. Why would you want to fix fights?"), to whether Hill believes he made the right choice in testifying against his former Mafia associates.

"Absolutely. I know I did," Hill said. "I've had so many young guys tell me that knowing me and hearing me speak and watching the movie changed their life. And I tell them if this knucklehead can do it, so can they."

The answer shows how much Hill has changed in the decades since he joined the Lucchese crime family in 1955.

The Brooklyn teen quit school and was taken under the wing of mob capo Paul Vario and his associate Jimmy Burke. The mobsters saw promise in their half-Irish, half-Italian protege, who was later a key player in the famous Lufthansa heist, in which an estimated $6 million in cash and jewelry were stolen from the John F. Kennedy Airport in 1978.

But Hill violated Mafia code when he began using the drugs he sold. ("Drugs were a no-no in our family," Hill says.) He was caught by the FBI, and rather than face possible execution by the Mafia or going to prison for his crimes, Hill became an informer. His testimony led to 50 convictions.

Hill, his wife, Karen, and their children spent several years in and out of the Witness Protection Program until Hill's continued crimes got them officially expelled from the program in the early 1990s. Hill and Karen divorced in 1989 after 25 years of marriage.

Today, Hill says he lives a quiet life in Topanga Canyon, Calif., with his common-law wife of 10 years, Lisa Caserta.

He spends his time cooking (a craft he learned in prison); painting ("It's therapy. I started painting lessons in prison in California when I was doing a stint for DUIs," he said); and writing. (He's now writing a book about the Lufthansa heist as well as a sequel to his first cookbook, The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run.)

Hill says he's in talks with a television network that's interested in producing a series based on his life. He attends fundraising events and mobster museum openings around the country.

He doesn't fear for his life.

"For what?" he asked, scrunching up his face and shrugging. "Those people — if they're insane enough to still be involved with that — they got so many problems. … I feel safe now."

Still, he said it took at least 10 to 15 years to forgive himself for ratting out his friends. But he says they were "homicidal maniacs" and he realizes how many lives he's saved in the long run.

He said initially, he would have considered suicide rather than squeal — until the feds played a recording of Paulie and Jimmy ordering his death.

"Paulie was like a father to me. And when I heard that, that broke the camel's back," Hill said. "I never would've thought in a million years Paulie would order my death … and they would've killed my family."

While visiting Dunedin, Hill also offered insider information about the Goodfellas movie:

• The movie was "99.9 percent" dead on, he said. However, some parts — especially about Jimmy — were toned down. And Hill said he actually sold heroin, but director Martin Scorsese changed it to cocaine to make it more palatable to movie censors.

• In the scene where Karen refuses Jimmy's offer of Dior dresses and flees the warehouse, Hill said he actually sent his wife in his place to meet Jimmy because he knew he would've been killed. Had Karen gone into the warehouse, he said, Jimmy likely would've kidnapped her to force Hill to come get her.

• Just as the movie portrayed, Hill says he never whacked anybody. "I never killed anybody. I was a money man," he says.

Given a do-over, Hill said he'd "absolutely not" choose the mobster life again. He'll be 68 on June 11, "and I feel pretty good. I'm blessed."

Though he once saw law enforcement as his "mortal enemy," Hill now says, "I've got to praise the government, honest to God, for saving my life."






Tape in Vinny Gorgeous trial reveals mob king Dominick (Quiet Dom) Cirillo OKed his son's murder

The presumed murder of the son of high-ranking Genovese gangster Dominick (Quiet Dom) Cirillo may have finally been solved - a top mobster says the order to kill him came from the victim's father.

Nicholas Cirillo's fate came up in a candid conversation between ex-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino and acting boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano secretly recorded for the feds by Massino.

"That came from Dom, that came from Dom," Basciano told Massino in the January 2005 talk when asked who did in the mobster's son.

Massino, the highest ranking Mafia rat ever to testify in a New York courtroom was asked by prosecutor Taryn Merkl to explain what Basciano meant.

"I understand that he's telling me Quiet Dom killed his son," Massino testified in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Authorities have long suspected Nicholas Cirillo was whacked after an altercation in the Bronx with Basciano's son, Vincent Jr., and Bonanno soldier Dominick Cicale.

Two weeks after the clash Nicholas Cirillo, then 41, vanished on Mother's Day 2004. His body has never been found.

High price for breaking rules

Dominick Cirillo, a former acting boss of the Genovese family who earned his nickname because he is low-key and surveillance conscious, refused to cooperate with police.

And he was evasive when questioned by a federal probation officer in 2006 about who was to blame for his troubled son's disappearance, according to court records.

Investigators have previously theorized that the elder Cirillo, who was estranged from his son, approved the murder because assaulting a made member of the Mafia carries the penalty of death. Cicale was already a wiseguy and Basciano's son was up for induction into the mob at the time.

But killing the son of a Mafioso would also be a death sentence. Massino acknowledged that he gave the order to kill Bonanno capo Gerlando (George from Canada) Sciascia - despite his fondness for the gangster - because Sciascia had murdered the son of a made man in Canada.

Massino gestured with his hand like a gun when he asked Basciano: "Do we have anything to do with that [Nicholas Cirillo's murder]?"

"Absolutely not. C'mon," Basciano shot back.

That was apparently good enough for Massino, who noted that a wiseguy could get killed for lying to his boss about a murder.

Basciano told Massino he met with Dominick Cirillo about the beef and the Genovese family "came back and apologized to me."

Cirillo, who is on supervised release for a racketeering conviction, could not be reached for comment.

His daughter Ann Marie Caggiano, refused to come to the door of her waterfront home near the Throgs Neck Bridge yesterday, but spoke over the intercom.

Informed of the testimony, she said: "I really don't want to talk about that."

Yesterday, Bonanno turncoat James (Big Louie) Tartaglione was asked about the ramifications of killing a made man's son: "You're liable to start a war between families," he said.

After Nicholas Cirillo vanished, there was no war.


Ex-Bonanno Mafia boss Joseph Massino was scared of his wife, recordings reveal


Fearing the wrath of a wife scorned, former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino once had a bottle of bubbly containing a $50,000 tribute delivered to his angry spouse.
The convicted mobster talked about the pricey package, his health and a crime family member's likeness to a "Godfather" character in wired recordings he made with Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano in 2005 at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
"I don't know if I'm gonna get divorced," Massino confided to Basciano, taped recordings played Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court revealed.
He lamented that the bottle of Dom Perignon champagne didn't appease his fuming spouse, Josephine, who was angry over rumors of another woman and the feds going after their assets, including a faux-mansion in Howard Beach.
'She's on tranquilizers, and she's got my daughters going out of their f------ minds," Massino said.
"She started Thursday night with the girl again."
Massino also griped about prison.
"I went to the bathroom 15 times," he said. "The food is terrible."
The tapes were played at the current murder trial of Basciano, who is accused of ordering a hit on associate Randolph Pizzolo.
At the time of the recordings, Massino was locked up for his role in seven murders and faced a death-penalty trial for an eighth.
The tapes provide a fascinating window into Massino's decision to turn rat and the roiling tensions in the crime family after Basciano anointed himself acting boss of the Bonannos.
Basciano was taking liberties by inducting new soldiers, promoting captains and allegedly ordering the murder of Pizzolo.
Massino had received complaints from capos who "resented" being forced to strip to their skivvies by Basciano to check for recorders.
"I took 20 years to put this together," Massino counseled, according to the recordings. "It's easy to take a life. I can take a life every day."
In a devastating admission, Basciano says that Pizzolo "deserved it" and "I gave the order."
Pizzolo was found facedown in a puddle of water on a desolate street in Greenpoint on Dec. 1, 2004.
Bonanno soldier Anthony (Ace) Aiello later pleaded guilty to murdering Pizzolo.
In one conversation, Massino questioned the wisdom of Basciano giving the contract to Aiello, whom he suspected of using drugs.
"Anthony Aiello is like a Luca Brasi," Basciano replied, referring to a fearsome hit man in the "The Godfather." "He's your Luca Brasi."
"He was a hit man, send [Aiello] in a direction, and he'll kill for you," Massino said on that tape, first released five years ago.

The mob's fat man sang - and now he's coming back for an encore.

Joseph Massino, the highest ranking Mafia canary to ever testify in a mob trial in New York, will take the stand again against former Bonanno boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano.

Massino's testimony helped convict Basciano of capital murder. Now, the roly-poly rat will try to convince the jury he deserves the death penalty for ordering the killing of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.

Massino was the official boss of the Bonanno family when he secretly taped Basciano in jail.

After Massino was convicted of multiple murders, he revealed that Basciano wanted to kill prosecutor Greg Andres, and he agreed to wear a wire.

"Massino is also expected to testify that he learned from an attorney at a co-defendant meeting ... that Andres ate dinner at an Italian restaurant with his boss," prosecutors stated in court papers.

Another mob rat, Generoso (Jimmy the General) Barbieri will testify that Basciano "knew where to find Andres and that Basciano had a crew of capable enforcers," the papers say.

The same jury that convicted Basciano this week returns Monday to determine whether he should die by lethal injection or get life in prison.

Prosecutors will argue that Basciano was involved in numerous murder plots and remains dangerous even behind bars.

'He went to church every day so they thought he may flip': Mobster was brutally killed - 'because he found God'

A Mafia associate and newspaper delivery man was 'whacked' by the mob in a horrific murder - because he found religion.

Robert Perrino was shot in the head and brutally stabbed in the ear with an ice pick by Bonanno mobsters after they allegedly became worried that he was going to church too often.

They are said to have thought turning so suddenly to religion was an indication that Perrino, an associate of the family, might be considering grassing to police.

Mobster: Salvatore Vitale, the former Mafia underboss who is said to have ordered the death of Robert Perrino 'because he turned to religion'

Perrino's skeletal remains were found in 2003 in Staten Island but he had been missing from 1992, more than a decade earlier.

At the high-profile federal murder trial of Vincent Basciano yesterday, fellow Bonanno Mafioso James Tartaglione, known as 'Big Louie', shed light for the first time on the possible reason for Perrino's horrific murder.

Tartaglione said of Perrino: 'He would go to church every day. He was praying every day. They thought he may flip -- that he found religion.

'He was saying certain things that he felt a little more religious.'

He added that, as a result, underboss Salvatore Vitale ordered his murder.

'Sal had him whacked out,' he told the court.

After the order was made, Perrino, who had a job on the side as superintendent of deliveries at The New York Post, was told to go to Brooklyn social club Basile's.

Demise: Basciano is heard on tape saying: 'We're all gonna be in jail.'

At the club, a hit man shot him in the head and another thrust an ice pick in his ear.

Perrino’s body was not found until Vitale himself began cooperating with police.

At Vitale's high-profile murder trial last year, Perrino's widow Rosalie wrote a letter that was read out in court

She 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.'

At the Basciano trial yesterday, prosecutors also played recordings of a meeting between Basciano and Tartaglione at the Seacrest Diner on Long Island. Tartaglione was wearing a wire.

Basciano can be heard predicting his demise during the conversation.

'The end of the day, we're all gonna be in jail,' he said. 'That's going to f***ing happen.'

Basciano, 51, sneered in court as a series of boasts about his power as a mobster were replayed to the court.

He said of late mob boss John Gotti, his criminal role model: 'You know what? He did it the way he wanted, and he died the way he wanted.'

He then added, of his own methods: 'I don't need anybody that anybody's gonna give me. I got my own guys. I do it myself.'

Accused Mob boss feared 'going to hell' for accidental murder of nun...in hit that targeted pornographer

How many Hail Marys do you have to say if you kill a nun?

Federal prosecutors claim alleged Mafia boss Thomas 'Tommy Shots' Gioeli told a government informant that he feared he was 'going to hell' because he and associates accidentally killed a nun in the 1980s.

Gioeli, 59, was indicted for murder, racketeering and extortion in 2008 after feds allege he served as a hitman for New York's Colombo crime family.


Gioeli's trial is set for later this year, and he could get life behind bars.


Feds claim that on January 4, 1982, Gioeli and alleged Colombo family soldier Joseph Carna, also known as 'Junior Lollipops', shot at several alleged mob associates in Brooklyn.


As a result, fragments of a shotgun blast 'penetrated the doors and walls of a residence', killing social worker and former nun Veronica Zuraw, 53, court papers say.


According to The Village Voice, Ms Zuraw was shot in the head while she was busy putting away laundry.

One of the alleged hit's intended targets, Colombo family soldier Joseph Peraino, Jr., was found dead outside the Lake Street home.

Also injured was Peraino, Jr's father, alleged Colombo family soldier Joseph Peraino, Sr., who lived but was left paralyzed, feds say.

Ms Zuraw was a social worker with the Italian Board of Guardians, though before she married her husband, Louis, in 1974, she worked for the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese.

Ms Zuraw was then known as Sr. Mary Adelaide, and she ran a Bensonhurst storefront that provided aid to recent Italian immigrants, reports the Voice.

Veronica and Louis Zuraw had owned their home -- their first -- only 10 weeks before the shooting.

Mr Zuraw was at home at the time, watching TV, when he heard the shot that killed is wife.

Feds were given details of the case by former mobster-turned informant Salvatore Miciotta, who was allegedly one of the shooters.

Miciotta told police the Perainos were targeted over a dispute over the profits of the porn film Deep Throat, which the Peraino family financed.


Gioeli is not officially charged for the events of that day in 1982, but prosecutors hope to present the case as evidence against the alleged mobster in his current trial.


They also hope to present evidence that Gioeli allegedly assaulted his daughter’s boyfriend and planned to rob a Long Island amusement park.

According to the New York Post, Gioeli's lawyers will likely file to bar the jury from hearing of these alleged past crimes.

Gioeli is noticeably overweight and suffers from diabetes.

He suffered a stroke in February 2010, but a judge declined to release him because of his poor health.



R.I. authorities arrest 24 in mob crackdown / Video

Richard Calabro, left, of Cranston, and Anthony Palumbo, of Johnston, face gambling and bookmaking charges.

SCITUATE

State and local police fanned out across the Providence metro area and northern Rhode Island early Friday to arrest three prominent mobsters, including paroled killer Frank L. “Bobo” Marrapese Jr., and 21 others on a raft of racketeering, gambling, extortion and narcotics charges.

Marrapese, 68, of Cranston, and Edward C. Lato, 65, of Providence, were arrested locally, while Alfred “Chippy” Scivola Jr., 69, of Johnston, was taken into custody in Las Vegas while on vacation.

“We cut it short,” quipped Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin at a state police news conference at headquarters announcing the arrests.

The men are longtime made members of the Patriarca crime family, also known as the New England mob. They were all charged with racketeering, while Marrapese and Scivola were charged with multiple counts of extortion conspiracy.

Kilmartin said the sweep proves that the mob continues to have a presence in the state.

“It doesn’t sleep and neither do we,” he said.

Another significant mob associate nabbed was Thomas “Red Ball” Hartley. He was sent to prison for 10 years for his role in the 1989 fire that took the lives of two teenage boys he had hired to torch a Warwick pizza parlor.

State police Capt. James O. Demers, commander of the detective division, said the investigation was launched last fall after the police received information that Vincent R. “Big Vinny” Tallo, 49, of Johnston, allegedly was running an illegal gambling ring.

Investigators went to Superior Court and obtained authorization for a wiretap for Tallo’s cell phone. They began tracing his calls and learned, the police said, that he was taking action on professional and college sports. They also learned that he was allegedly buying and selling prescription drugs from his house.

As the probe evolved, Marrapese, Lato and Scivola emerged as Tallo’s accomplices in the alleged criminal operation.

A few months ago, Kilmartin and the state police obtained a second court order, this time to monitor and record Marrapese’s cell-phone conversations.

Investigators said that the mobster “used his standing as a made member of the Patriarca crime family” to assist and direct other accomplices to carry out various crimes including extortion.

At one point in the investigation, the state police said that Alfred Maiello, 49, of Johnston, handled nearly $400,000 in sports betting action.

All of the defendants, except for Scivola who remains in Las Vegas, were brought Friday afternoon to District Court, Providence, for their arraignments. Most of them were charged and released late in the day.

Marrapese, Lato and Scivola have lengthy criminal resumes.

In 1987, Marrapese was convicted of killing mobster Richard “Dickie” Callei in 1975. His bullet-ridden body was discovered near a golf course in Rehoboth, Mass., and the case remained unsolved for a decade.

In the 1980s, Marrapese, a feared mob enforcer, was charged with two other murders: the gangland slaying of Anthony “The Moron” Mirabella and the baseball bat beating of Ronald McElroy, of East Providence. Separate juries returned not guilty verdicts in each case.

Nonetheless, Marrapese spent 25 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions for the Callei murder and awaiting trial in the other two slayings.

In May 2008, he was paroled and released on home confinement.

Lato and Scivola have spent time in prison on a variety of charges.

They are close to Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, who was the reputed longtime New England crime boss. He is in jail awaiting trial on charges that he shook down Providence strip clubs in exchange for protection payments.

Back in the early 1980s, Scivola and Marrapese were sent to federal prison after they were convicted of hijacking a truck stacked with La-Z-Boy recliners.

In December 2006, Lato was arrested with 11 others and charged with participating in a gambling and drug ring that had ties to a bookmaker in Houston. The state police said that Lato managed the operation and supervised the activities of two known mob associates.

In 1999 Lato was convicted on charges that he played a key role in a Rhode Island-based extortion, loansharking and bookmaking ring. He spent several years in federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., with former Providence Mayor Vincent A.. Cianci Jr., who was convicted of racketeering conspiracy for overseeing a corrupt administration at City Hall.

In recent years, Lato was working on local construction crews in Providence, and, on the weekend, he could be found power walking on Elmgrove Avenue on the city’s East Side.

KEY POINTS Gambling arrests

Frank L. “Bobo” Marrapese, 68, of 104 Elwyn St., Cranston. Racketeering, extortion conspiracy (six counts), usury and parole violation. Bail was set at $50,000 surety or $5,000 cash.

Edward C. Lato, 65, of 277 Atwells Ave., Providence. Racketeering.

Alfred “Chippy” Scivola Jr., 69, of 104 Brown St., Johnston. Racketeering and extortion conspiracy.

Vincent “Big Vinny” Tallo, 49, of 12 Poppy Hill Drive, Johnston. Racketeering, organized criminal gambling, extortion conspiracy (four counts), bookmaking, conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, possession of a firearm while committing a crime of violence, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver..

Karl Anastasi, 20, of 40 Valley St., Cranston. Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Richard Calabro, 58, of 141 Oxford St., Cranston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking, and possession of Vicodin.

Paul Calise, 56, of 64 Eddy St., Providence. Organized criminal gambling, extortion conspiracy and bookmaking.

Melissa Cato, 36, and Richard Cato, 38, of of 96 Phenix Ave. Cranston. They were both charged with conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

John Conaty, 58, of 475 School St., Pawtucket. Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Gerald Coro, 40, of 60 Hunter Ave., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.

Anthony Delmonico, 55, of 39 Basil Crossing, Cranston. Racketeering and extortion conspiracy (four counts).

Gennaro Dicarlo, 53, of 15 Sunset St., North Providence. Criminal solicitation.

Christopher Disanto, 64, of 70 Woonasquatucket Ave., North Providence. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.

Thomas “Red Ball” Hartley, 74, of 7 Water St., Johnston. Racketeering and usury.

Robert Ianiero, 53, of 29 Byron St., North Providence. Organized criminal gambling.

Kevin Kitson, 51, of 673 Putnam Pike, Glocester. Bookmaking conspiracy and bookmaking.

Shaun MacDonald, 30, of 136 Puritan Ave., Cranston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.

Alfred Maiello, 49, of 33 1/2 Marne St., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.

Walter McClean, 52, of 359 Carpenter St., Providence. Felony shoplifting.

Anthony Palumbo, 65, of 29 Pine Hill Rd., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.

Michael Romano, 58, of 110 Dean Ave., Smithfield. Criminal solicitation.

Helene Tallo, 50, of 12 Poppy Hill Drive, Johnston. Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act and possession of marijuana.

Raymond Vallante, 56, of 11 Traver Ave., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.

Five bedrooms, seven baths and one storied Mafia tale

The palatial mansion of Vito Rizzuto, the Mafia boss of Canada whose family has been decimated by gangland rivals, is on the market for just under $2-million as the family seeks to “downsize.”

“This beautiful stone residence was custom built to the highest quality standards and is now being sold for the first time by the original owner,” says the real estate listing.

What it does not say is that the occupant who made the stately home such a distinctive address is currently serving time in a U.S. prison for his role in three gangland murders.

The colossal structure, part Tudor style with decorative half timbering and part Medieval revival with imposing stone and recessed entranceway, boasts five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a three-port garage and a large wooded lot.

The opulence leads to one conclusion: “Crime pays,” said Andre Cedilot, a retired organized crime reporter in Montreal and author of Mafia Inc., a French-language book about the Rizzuto clan.

“They are very, very rich, the Rizzutos. During 30 years they could not be touched. They were the kings of Montreal.”

While putting the home up for sale makes some wonder if the Rizzutos are considering abandoning Montreal when Rizzuto is released from prison next year, Loris Cavaliere, a long-time lawyer for the family, downplayed any significance.

“It’s just for sale. It’s time to move on,” he said Monday.

Despite the obvious visual appeal, the house carries the weight of history.

While the listing boasts an “elegant garden and patio located on an immense and magnificent wooded lot,” to some that might conjure the shocking sniper attack from the same woodlot that struck and killed Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo, last November, just two doors down.

The listing notes “elegant granite floors grace the large entrance,” an entranceway where Rizzuto was confronted at dawn by Montreal police in 2004 and told that he was under arrest for a mob massacre made famous in the Hollywood film Donnie Brasco.

The home’s “luxurious and large master suite replete with a separate living area, a large dressing room and closet,” is where police waited while Rizzuto got dressed that day before escorting him to prison, setting off a media frenzy. He has not seen his home since.

The “marble mantle imported from Italy,” might remind some of the charges pending against Rizzuto in Italy, where his extradition has been requested for his alleged role as the head of an underworld financial empire.

And the “three additional bedrooms each with their own ensuite bathrooms and large closets,” might remind a buyer of Rizzuto’s three children, one of whom was shot and killed in 2009.

All of that past, said Liza Kaufman, the sales agent with Sotheby’s International Realty, is irrelevant to the sale.

“It only raised eyebrows with reporters not with consumers,” said Ms. Kaufman.

“Why should anyone be frightened? There are so many historical homes that have had owners with a lot more notoriety than this. We have had showings and there are families that are interested. It is a great family home. Whoever buys it is going to buy a beautiful, exceedingly well-built family home with a colourful history.”

Ownership of the home is listed under the name of Rzzuto’s wife, Giovanna Cammalleri, according to municipal records.

“It is a typical case of an empty nester. I know she wants to downsize,” said Ms. Kaufman.

“It is not my job to judge, it is just my job to put the house on the market and sell a beautiful house. There are no legal declarations we have to make vis-à-vis the house because nothing untoward, as far as we know, took place there.”

The sale is not a concern for federal prosecutors in Montreal.

“Vito Rizzuto was not prosecuted in Project Colisée [the large police operation that hit his criminal organization] and there were no proceeds of crime seizures regarding his assets in Project Colisée,” said Alexandre Dalmau, a federal prosecutor involved in that case.

“We don’t have anything pending on that property.”

The property was purchased by the Rizzuto family in 1981, about four months after Rizzuto travelled to a Brooklyn social club, where he jumped out of a closet with other mobsters, clutching a gun. Three rebellious captains of the Bonanno Mafia Family, one of the notorious Five Families of New York to which the Montreal mobsters were a part of, were then shot and killed.

On the large, cloistered strip of land on Antoine-Berthelet Avenue in Montreal’s posh Cartierville, the family built three abutting homes. Nicolo Rizzuto and his wife moved into one. Next door was Nicolo’s daughter and son-in-law, Paolo Renda, and Vito and his family lived next to that.

In recent years, however, their life of crime caught up to them. Nicolo Rizzuto and Mr. Renda were charged in Canada in 2006. After their release, Mr. Renda went missing, reportedly kidnapped and is now presumed to be dead.

Rizzuto was convicted in New York of racketeering and is being held in the Federal Correctional Institution in Florence, Colo. He is scheduled for release on Oct. 6, 2012.

National Post
ahumphreys@nationalpost.com