Sunday, March 29, 2015

Killing Alite (and Anyone in the Car With Him)


Alite was marked for death.

In 1995, a member of the Gambino crime family plotted the violent murder of John Alite and anybody in the car with him, according to a former Gambino associate directly involved in the conspiracy who was going to be one of the shooters.

Stephen Newell, about whom we've previously written, told us the hit was to be staged at a towing company/auto-body shop in Queens at the intersection of Crossbay Boulevard and Redding Street. Alite would pull up in his car to meet someone -- and two men would open fire from a passing van.

One of the gunmen, arrested on an unrelated charge, revealed the plot, prompting the FBI to visit Alite with a warning.  This is only one such plot; no doubt there were others. 

We caught up with Stephen Newell a few weeks ago. He'd seen our story and had some corrections and amendments. Newell is an interesting person. He is mentioned in both Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia and Shadow of My Father.


John Alite shot him in the leg as part of a mob turf war over a large drug ring Alite operated in Queens. Because of the shooting, Carmine Agnello enlisted Newell in a plot to murder Alite. (Stevie had been a willing participant -- we incorrectly reported that he'd turned Carmine down.)

Bars in Alite's network either sold drugs outright or paid protection money, as did any dealers who wanted to keep dealing in any of the bars that fell under Alite's purview.

"I have firsthand knowledge of a lot of the bars we dealt in, not just Jagermeister -- we were the largest suppliers [of cocaine] in Queens," said Newell, who worked in Alite's ring.

Newell never knew John Junior, though he testified on his behalf. In return, John Junior labeled him in the eBook version of Shadow as a "law enforcement cooperator."

"I did Junior a solid," Newell said. "When a guy testifies for you to save your life, push you away from bodies, you do that back to him?"

"He says at one time I was a law enforcement cooperator, that I was a law enforcement cooperator that the defense had called.
Stevie Newell was willing to work his way up -- the hard
way. He agreed to hit Alite for Agnello.

"Where he got the info I have no idea. I tried to save his life and he puts that in his book."

Recently, Newell actually visited several of his criminal attorneys to see if there was any paperwork in his history that could have been misconstrued. His attorneys informed him there was nothing that could have conveyed an impression that Newell had ever been any kind of cooperator on any level.

"I was in touch with [Gotti] family members and he apologized through them. They told me he feels bad, he's sorry... that the info was given to him by a third party and he's going to correct this for the paperback."

Newell said he's saved copies of the messages he'd received from a Gotti family member.

"So I order the paperback when it's available and it's still in there."

Asked about the relationship between Alite and Junior, Newell said, "Alite, to my knowledge and from what I've seen, was Junior's right hand man."

"You'd see them together a lot. He always showed up at the PM Pub with John Alite."

Newell is no longer associated with the mob, hasn't been for more than a decade, and most of the gangsters he worked and hung around with are long gone, dead or in prison. The mob's presence has been largely reduced in neighborhoods such as Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Howard Beach. 

"That doesn't mean they're not around," Newell said. "You just don't see as many as often as you used to." 

In fact, GangLand News yesterday reported that Thomas "Monk" Sassano, 68, is now running the Queens-based crew once headed by Alphonse Trucchio, "a brash and relatively young capo once viewed as a rising family star." We noted previously that Trucchio, 38, had been busted down from capo to soldier, though Jerry Capeci reported that he may have been shelved, losing "all of his Mafia rights and privileges."

(Apparently, Trucchio had disrespected former Gambino consigliere Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo when they were codefendants awaiting trial.)

Though he is out of the life, Newell said he doesn't need any bogus information labeling him as a cooperator floating around on the street.

He still lives in Queens, where events in Gotti's Rules and Shadow of My Father took place.

---------

In 1995, Newell and Carmine Agnello were in the office of a junkyard Agnello owned in Queens.

Newell was walking with the aid of a cane. Weeks prior he'd been shot by Alite. Still, the cane was more of a prop that Newell didn't need. Agnello fixed his eyes on it, as Newell noticed.

"Lose that cane," he told Newell.

"I didn't need it. I was like, what the fuck am I doing? I tossed it," Newell told us.

Carmine directed his gaze at Newell, as if sizing him up. "He was looking at me and he said: 'You got any balls?'"

Newell knew immediately what Carmine was getting at.

"I never thought you'd ask," Newell responded.

This discussion sparked what was to be the hit on John Alite. Ultimately, there was never an attempt, but the planning was completed, the gunmen waiting for the call.

Newell had a few reasons to want Alite dead. First off, Alite had shot him in the leg, almost blasting off his testicles too.

Newell's strongest motive though was the oldest motive on the street.

"Alite was known as a badass tough guy. Privately in the mob world I would've been known as the guy who took out Johnny Alite. I felt I could move up and do things. I was thinking, maybe it was my time to shine.... Fugettaboutit!

"Then my brother gets arrested on Staten Island. He's in a wild chase, crashes into the train station. My brother was the reason the hit was called off."

"The FBI went to John's house to warn him. How do you think the FBI got the info in the first place?"

On that day in the junkyard when Stevie lost the cane, Agnello walked across the street to another junkyard where John Junior happened to be.

"Carmine comes back and says if we're gonna do it, then let's get it done."

From that day on, the two planned the murder of Alite.

Two vans were going to be used for the hit. Agnello would be in one. Carmine's brother, Mike, would be in a crash car.

A guy named Charlie was going to drive the van that Newell and his brother, each holding an Uzi, would be in.

"Carmine said it would go down in Queens at the intersection of Crossbay Boulevard and Redding Street."

The actual hit would occur on the grounds of a large towing company with a connected autobody shop. Someone important was going to set Alite up for the hit, Newell said he was told, knowing in his heart that this someone had to have been a made guy based on the careful instructions he'd been given.

"The guy that was gonna set up Alite was gonna keep his distance, Carmine told me. 'You'll know him when you see him. Don't shoot him. Under no circumstances are you to hit that guy.' It had to have been one of two guys," Newell said.

Gambino capo Ronald "Ronnie One-Arm" Trucchio was the guy who planned to set up Alite, Alite confirmed for us. Newell, to this day, still hadn't known the person's identity until I informed him. But Ronnie One-Arm was one of the two possibilities. The other was Charles Carneglia.

Newell was told, "If Alite shows up in a car with people in it, everybody in the car has to go."

After the hit, the vehicles and guns were to be shredded in a junkyard in Queens.

"Carmine asked me if I'd do it alone. I said that my brother would be with me. Carmine said, 'Then I  don't wanna know your brother.'"

There'd been brief discussion about Newell's brother positioning himself outside the van, but Carmine nixed it. He told Stevie once more, 'Remember, everybody in the car goes."

Vic Newell, Stevie's brother, gave up the plot before it could be executed.

Staten Island detectives got the info from him during an interrogation following his arrest after a car chase that ended in the crash. They relayed the threat to the FBI.

"This was my blood brother. When I found this out several years later I was devastated," Newell said. In 1999 when Newell was arrested on an unrelated charge, the Feds revealed the role his brother had played as an informer for them in the plot to kill Alite. They showed him the paperwork on his brother as part of another effort to flip him, which he also declined. (The first time, noted in the previous story, had been following his arrest over the murder of Bruce Gotterup; turning down the Fed's efforts to flip him, Newell took it to trial and won an acquittal. No mistrial for Newell.)

"Next thing I know, Carmine calls me up and tells me to come to the junkyard. I'd just been there, now I was in Staten Island and had to go all the way back to Queens."

"Me and him and Mike were talking in another junkyard. Carmine said the feds went to Alite's parent's house."

Alite, as noted in Georgia Anastasia's Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia, confronted Junior about the plot, bullshitting that the agents had played a tape recording of people discussing the hit for him, Alite.

Newell and Agnello believed they'd been caught on tape. In fact it wasn't until Anastasia's book came out this year that Newell realized Alite had made up the recording.

"Back then me and Carmine were backtracking where we could've talked on a bug."


We showed this story to John Alite prior to publication for his reaction (he had not known how developed the plot to murder him had been, although he had suspicions that Ronnie One-Arm was trying to set him up on more than one occasion).

His response:


"It's laughable that they're protecting Newell from.... Alite! And when he gets shot they ask that same person to do the work. They're too scared to do it themselves.

"It's ironic that the guy who testified isn't a rat but Gotti himself is one, but he doesn't write that about himself. Instead, he writes that Newell is a rat, the guy who saved Gotti's life."



The truth is, guys like Johnny Alite are not supposed to live this long. It's inconvenient for certain people. Today we see them trying to deny his right to exist (because a certain jury "discredited" him, apparently). 

When you speak to the guys who knew him back in his street days, like I have done, a trend emerges.

Also we're being contacted by readers as far away as the UK who revealed they were harassed on Twitter for tweeting innocuously about Alite. We've run into this ourselves on social media. 

While some have clear and obvious motives for discrediting Alite, others do not; we consider them naive and misguided -- aka "useful idiots," the term commonly and incorrectly attributed to Vladimir Lenin.


This is one of the most interesting interviews I have seen yet...

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