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.