Tag Archives: Bonano family


Mob boss rats out ‘pals’ for feds at trial

This rat’s got a purpose.

Mob turncoat Joseph “Big Joey” Massino — who went from Mafia boss to government witness — admitted that he’s a “rat” and said he became the first don to violate the mob’s blood oath of “omerta” in a desperate bid for freedom.

“I’m hoping to see daylight at the end of the tunnel,” Massino said of his turncoat motives during testimony today in Brooklyn federal court against Genovese capo Anthony “Rom” Romanello, who’s on trial for racketeering and extortion.

Earlier in his contentious cross-examination, defense lawyer Gerald McMahon grilled Massino, bluntly saying, “You became a rat!”

Massino, who made history last year when he became the first mob boss to take the stand for the feds, at the trial of his successor, Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, all-too-willingly agreed: “Correct.”

Known as “The Last Don,” Massino took over a decimated Bonanno family in 1986 and built it back up to a rival of the powerful Gambino’s by the end of the ‘90s. But he’s been behind bars since his arrest on Jan. 9, 2003, and is serving two life terms for a laundry list of murder, racketeering and extortion convictions.

He’s banking that his testimony in this and other trials will be so convincing, he’d be eligible for a Rule 35 reprieve, when federal prosecutors could ask a judge to severely cut prison time because of cooperation.

Massino admitted during cross that he’s made about $25 million in his career in crime, and didn’t pay a dime in taxes. He claims to have blown almost all of it, living large.

“Through the years, I had to live,” Massino said. “I gambled like crazy.”

In direct testimony to the government, Massino said he joined the Bonanno family in 1972 and rose to the level of boss. He admitted to carrying out 12 mob murders.

“Is there anyone else in the Mafia in this courtroom?” asked Assistant US Attorney Jack Dennehy.

“The man sitting over there with the glasses, Romanello,” said Massino, gesturing at the defense table.

Romanello is on trial for extortion.


Mob assassin loses bid to overturn conviction

An infamous mob assassin who murdered a man who threatened to kidnap the child of Bonanno crime family boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano has lost a bid to overturn his conviction.

Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato cannot retract his guilty plea for the 2001 shotgun murder of Frank Santoro and must continue serving his 20-year sentence for the mob hit, a judge ruled in an order filed yesterday.

The Bonanno hit man appealed his conviction in 2009, arguing that he wouldn’t have plead guilty if he had known about certain information that might have helped him beat the charges.
Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied Indelicato’s appeal request in a brief order.

The 65-year-old Bonanno wiseguy is not scheduled for release from prison until 2023.
Indelicato, who was portrayed in the film “Donnie Brasco, was also one of the trigger men who gunned down Bonanno boss Carmine Galante in 1979.
He was convicted of the slaying in 1986 at the famous Mafia Commission trial.

Source: nypost.com


Too tough to fuggedabout: Notable Mafia nicknames

Former New England Mafia boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio was sentenced Friday to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in the shakedown of Providence, R.I., strip clubs. AP takes a look at some of the more notable nicknames associated with the mob and tries to shed light on their sometimes murky origins:

– Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, owned a beauty salon in the Bronx called “Hello Gorgeous” and was known for being obsessed with his personal appearance; serving life on racketeering and murder charges.

-Anthony “Tony Bagels” Cavezza, an accused Gambino family mobster known for his affection for New York bagels. He was indicted in Jan. 2011 as part of a sweep in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island and awaits trial on charges including running an illegal gambling business scheduled later this month; has pleaded not guilty.

-Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo, a New York City mobster and boss of the Lucchese crime family, earned his nickname because of his ability to duck subpoenas and convictions during his long criminal career. Died in a prison hospital in 2000.

-Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio, former underboss of the New England mob, got his nickname because he was the portly owner of a cheese shop in Boston’s North End; now serving a 6-year prison sentence for bribing an undercover FBI agent posing as a state official to try to win a $6 million contract on Boston’s Big Dig highway project.

-Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, headed the Genovese organized crime family, known for faking mental illness for decades to hide his position. His nickname apparently came from his mother’s pronunciation of “Cincenzo,” a variation of his name in Italian, and his childhood friends shortened that to “Chin”; died in prison in 2005 at age 77.

– Manocchio is also sometimes called “Baby Shanks.” The nickname “Baby Shacks” is said to have been given to him because he had an older relative nicknamed “Shacks,” which was bestowed because of that man’s relationships with numerous women.

-Carmine “The Snake” Persico, de-facto boss of the Colombo crime family, earned his nickname for switching sides in a mob faction battle. Persico has been serving a 139-year sentence since 1987 on racketeering charges.

-Harry “The Hunchback” Riccobene, a Philadelphia mobster. At 4-foot 11-inches, he was known as “little Harry” until a police officer dubbed him “Hunchback” for his short, bent stature. He died in prison in 2000 while serving a life sentence for murder.

-Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, former boss of the New England mob, so named because he owned a bunch of auto body garages in Boston. Salemme later became a government witness. Released from prison in 2009, he is now believed to be in the witness protection program.

-Philip “Chicken Man” Testa, briefly led the Scarfo crime family in Philadelphia. Testa’s nickname is believed to have come from his involvement in a poultry business. He had a heavily pockmarked face, caused by a bad case of chicken pox, which is also thought to be one of the reasons for his nickname. Testa was killed by a bomb in a mob assassination.


Sources: AP, newspaper archives, FBI.


‘Mob Wives’ rat won’t testify this week

The gangster ex-husband of the “Mob Wives” star Renee Graziano won’t be taking the witness stand this week to testify against a ranking wiseguy after all.

Hector “Junior” Pagan was expected to dish the dirt on his former mob colleague, Bonanno crime family underboss Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora.

But in a surprise move, Brooklyn federal prosecutors have just hit Santora with a series of new mob racketeering charges — courtesy of an FBI informant who taped more than 70 conversations with the Bonanno underboss.

Apprised of the new development by prosecutor Jack Dennehy, Judge Carol Amon postponed Santora’s trial to give his defense attorney more time to prepare.

That means Pagan’s debut as a government witness is delayed.

Pagan, a former Bonanno associate, secretly switched sides last summer while filming the “Mob Wives” series, put on a hidden recorder and taped conversations with both Santora and Renee’s Bonanno wiseguy father, 71-year-old Anthony “TG” Graziano.


Source: nypost.com

Thomas Pitera

Mafia hitman ‘Tommy Karate’ has his motion for DNA testing shot down by federal appellate court

A federal appellate court turned down Thomas Pitera’s motion for DNA testing that he believed would prove his innocence in three murders.

A federal appellate court has chopped down a motion by a Mafia hitman Thomas Pitera, known as Tommy Karate to compel DNA testing in connection to three cold-blooded killings.

Thomas Pitera claimed DNA testing would exonerate him of those murders for which he is serving three consecutive life sentences.

But Judge Roger Miner ruled the proposed testing “would not raise a reasonable probability” that Pitera did not commit the murders.

Pitera was a brutal killer for the Bonanno mob who dismembered his victims and buried them in a bird sanctuary on Staten Island. He was convicted in 1992.

In an affidavit, the mobster said the DNA testing would prove he was innocent of killing “Burdi,” “Leone” and “Stern” and demonstrate the killer was turncoat mobster Frank Gangi.

Gangi testified that he assisted Pitera in carrying out the gruesome killings.

The items Pitera sought to test were a ski mask, a scarf, a suitcase and three guns that had belonged to Gangi.

Source: nydailynews.com


Bonannos became a parody of itself

It started “The Godfather.” It ended “Jersey Shore.” Last week, the Bonanno crime organization — one of the “Five Families” of New York lore — became a parody of itself, shot down not on the tollway but with leopard print and mascara.

There’s Renee Graziano in court, crying as she explains how her husband, Hector Pagan, flipped for the DEA, wearing a wire to nab her father, Anthony “TG” Graziano, consigliere to the Bonannos.

Then there’s Renee on VH1’s show, “Mob Wives,” undergoing full-body plastic surgery that leaves her sliced up like prosciutto. She discusses the family business in such detail that her father stopped talking to her.

It’s hard to tell who wounded the family more — the rat or the reality star.

In a recent episode, the oldest of the “Mob Wives,” Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, turned to Pagan and summed it up. “We need some new guys . . . some real men.”

An epidemic of snitching and a slew of arrests has gutted this once-robust family, started by original commission member Joseph “Joe Bananas” Bonanno.

Joseph Ponzi, chief investigator for the Brooklyn DA’s office, says the recent take-down of acting boss Vincent “Vinny TV” Badalamenti — a relatively unknown bagel-store owner from Bensonhurst whom Ponzi called “the last man standing” — has left the family rudderless.

There’s no clear boss, street boss or consigliere. The in-house counsel job became vacant on Jan. 27, when Anthony Graziano, busted with Badalamenti and other senior leaders, was charged with racketeering and extortion, thanks to Pagan’s wire.

“They keep setting ’em up, and we keep knocking ’em down,” said Seamus McElearney, the FBI supervisor whose squad investigates the Bonannos and has been hammering them and the Colombos with equal vigor.

The feds have secured a number of key Bonanno defections, including that of Joseph “Big Joe” Massino, the only New York crime-family leader ever to rat out his own people. Massino began cooperating in 2004, and over the last eight years his defection has been exploited to maximum advantage, bringing down virtually the entire upper management.

The biggest to fall was the family’s toughest tough guy, ex-boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, and one of the few not to flip. He nearly drew the death penalty in June, thanks to Massino having secretly recorded the two of them blabbing behind bars, where Basciano not only copped to killing an associate but discussed in detail how and why the hit went down. Massino loosened up Basciano, his successor as family head, with a grim summary of the state of affairs.

Source: www.nypost.com


Ex-mobster gets less prison

A former New York mobster who turned against the mafia and helped convict Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, then acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday despite being involved in multiple murders.

Prosecutors said Dominick Cicale, 44, was convicted of racketeering and involvement in two murders and assaults in aid of racketeering. He avoided a maximum life sentence by agreeing to turn against his former crime-world associates, according to a motion filed in court on Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.

He was sentenced to 10 years prison and was given credit for about seven years already served.

Prosecutors said that Cicale, who grew up in the Bronx in New York City, ascended the ranks of the Bonanno family from 1999 until his arrest in January 2005, during which time he took part in two “brutal” murders and other violence on the crime family’s behalf.

He began cooperating with the government in January, 2006, the prosecution’s motion said, giving information and testimony that helped convict Basciano and a dozen other reputed Bonanno family members.

Basciano, known by his nickname Vinny Gorgeous, was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2011.

The prosecution’s motion argued for a lenient sentence for Cicale based on his help to the government.

In February, 2001, during his tenure with the Bonanno family, Cicale took part in the fatal shooting of Frank Santoro, who was out walking his dog near his home in the Bronx, the motion said. Basciano, the acting boss, had ordered the killing on suspicion that Santoro was planning to kidnap his son, prosecutors said.

In December, 2004, Cicale orchestrated the murder of Randolph Pizzolo, an associate of the mob family that Basciano had ordered killed as a “wake-up call”, the motion said.

The prosecution’s motion said Cicale had since proved an “important and effective” government witness.


“While he has engaged in a multitude of crimes, including three murders, he has nonetheless provided information and testimony that has put dangerous criminals behind bars,” the prosecutor’s motion said.


Russell Neufeld, Cicale’s lawyer, declined to comment.