Did Officer Dols Get the Benefit of the Doubt?

Gioeli was found not guilty 
for Dols' killing.
Dedicated to TD and JS; some of us never forget that there are still heroes in the world.

I like Tom Selleck -- he's among my favorite actors. I didn't care so much for the young Tom Selleck, the Magnum PI Tom Selleck, of one of the highest-rated shows on U.S. television. But I started liking him when he stood up to Rosie O'Donnell, TV's former perennial pain in the ass.

I thought he made a great casino boss on the television show Las Vegas, strong enough to yank the torch from Jimmy Caan, who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth since departing the onetime hit show, which ended abruptly before the start of what should have been the sixth season. As Changing Channels wrote: "It appears that the cliffhanger season finale of Las Vegas (it ended with Molly Sims' pregnancy in crisis, while Tom Selleck was apparently returning from the dead) that aired on Feb. 15 [2008] was really the series finale. NBC has canceled the show after five seasons... "

I'll never understand how some people are able to make such boneheaded decisions and still manage to remain employed. I enjoy the remaining key Selleck vehicles: Blue Bloods and the Jesse Stone made-for-TV movies. The movies are growing extremely dark, which I like. Tom has taken Stone and made him his own. And Selleck enjoys tremendous popularity among the masses. I have some firsthand evidence: An old abandoned blog I used to write still generates comments and views for a post I wrote about Selleck, called "Tom Selleck's 'Fitz Special' Brings Reality to Blue Bloods."

"Joe Waverley" Cacace, who still carries
slugs fired into his chest, ordered Dols'
murder after the cop dared to marry the
mafioso's ex-wife.
The last Jesse Stone episode's title was derived from a key line of dialog that runs throughout the two-hour episode, which had to do with the very public murders of two police officers by a bomb. Were they killed because they were on to something, or because they were dirty.

"I think it looks like they were dirty," Stone, Selleck, said, analyzing the deaths.

"They were dirty..." another agent of law enforcement says, thinking he's only agreeing with Stone.

"Not the same thing," Stone/Selleck abruptly retorts.

Stone knows things that look a certain way may be a deliberate miscue, a false story readily prepared and served. The human mind wants to impose order on chaos, even when the order is not there. Heroin and a ton of money were in the blown up car with the cops  -- they "looked" dirty. But as the show reveals, they were not dirty; someone very dirty needed to both kill them and make them look dirty.

(When you think about it, that whole "plant drugs and money on a good guy to make him look bad" trick is entirely B.S. if anyone would think about it for a minute. Why would whoever killed the guy in the first place leave a fortune in drugs and money with the guy's corpse? He probably killed the guy for money or drugs in the first place, so why in God's name would he leave the drugs and money with the dead body instead of taking them with him because he is a.) a drug dealer, b.) a drug addict and/or c.) a robber who murders for cash or drugs. This whole scenario had to haved been invented by screenwriters because in the real world it's a paradox; it just wouldn't happen....)

But the line I referred to earlier, that runs through the movie and gives it its title, is spoken repeatedly by Stone/Selleck whenever the "dirty cops" theory arises.

Kimberly Kennaugh -- did Joe Cacace order a cop's murder
just to break her heart?

"A cop deserves the benefit of the doubt."

Benefit of the doubt: to decide you will believe someone or something;

Officer Dols, who was murdered by Mafia gunmen, looked like he was dirty. Did officer Dols, I wonder, get the benefit of the doubt, a sentiment of dignity bestowed even on a fictional character; I wonder if this formerly alive human being who enforced the law was ever awarded the same sentiment.

What if Dols wasn't dirty? Just forget what you think you know, and wonder -- did he get the benefit of the doubt, a certain time and spatial allowance in which a white-hatted law enforcement agent interested only in truth and justice has a chance to possibly drag to prison the truly guilty by their thumbs and clear the name of the innocent.

The Dols' story begins with former mobster Dino Calabro -- a former mobster is either retired or a rat; this one is a rat -- reading a newspaper one morning in 1997, or trying to. It seems that day's front page stopped his reading; he was "stunned," he said. Later, when it was OK for him to admit to murdering Dols, he said that the front page that day had carried a picture of a man he, Calabro, had murdered just the previous day (that was one hellluva "scoop" for that newspaper, in journalistic parlance!), and the victim, he said he had thought, before the morning paper, anyway, was a citizen and not the off-duty NYPD patrolman the man had actually been.

"I was amazed," Calabro testified at a recent Mafia murder trial. "We don't typically kill police officers. That's just the rule — you don't hurt kids and you don't kill cops." Did he really include the qualifier "typically?" If an informant intentionally lies, they lose any privilege they may have gotten; it's best to hedge your lies, logic would recommend. And the motto he voiced is not really true: as Bugsy Siegel famously said, "We only kill our own." It is known that generally all citizens and cops -- as long as they don't cross the line and get "in bed" with the mob -- are off limits. Many mobsters have been killed for committing such offenses. Not all, but some. (And Calabro left "women" off his list, as well, unless he considers them fair game for a gunshot or two.)

Dino (Little Dino) Saracino was also in the
hot seat with Gioeli for the Dols murder.
A Brooklyn jury was Calabro's audience in the courtroom, and they all were probably quite absorbed to hear what is considered the ":first detailed account" [but apparently not necessarily accurate; being "first" and "detailed" is not the same thing as "accurate" -- at all] of the slaying of officer Ralph Dols. Calabro was duped into killing him, he claimed. We don't give guys like Calabro the same benefit of the doubt that we'd give a regular cop, would we? Turns out, we do -- and then some.

Prosecutors allege Dols was among six slain during the 1990s at the hands of Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, the former reputed boss of the Colombo crime family, who was on trial the day Calabro was providing his first detailed account of a cold-blooded cop murder. Gioeli, please note, was found not guilty of Dols' murder, which was only one count in the indictment against him. [Note: We have amended the details of Gioeli's charges -- while he was found not guilty of the murders (he was charged with six) he was found guilty of planning to murder Dols, which is a lighter charge with a lesser sentence of 10 years versus life -- "from now on" -- for committing outright murder. Sentences are slated to be handed down in September.]. But "not guilty" does not mean the same thing as "innocent."

Several turncoats, including Calabro, had pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Gioeli about the gangland slayings in exchange for leniency. [They had a motive to tell a story that made Tommy look bad; it looks kinda fishy, aye? But the monkey in the wrench is Gioeli is an evil son of a bitch who killed an awful lot of people, mobsters and others, including, famously, a former nun, in the "Deep Throat Murders," and even a former prosecutor.]

Investigators believe Dols ran afoul of the mob by marrying the ex-wife of Joel Cacace, another Colombo boss. Cacace later supposedly gave the order for Dols' termination; Mafia bosses are more powerful then a President. They are more like Kings or Emperors, doling out death, even if it's only to suit their mood -- or out of a rage of jealousy..

Calabro said he had been told the "target" worked at a Queens social club and was on the Colombo family's shit list; you don't stay on that kind of list for a very long time. You are speedily added to the death list. Calabro said Gioeli ordered him to kill the worker when said worker arrived home at the end of his shift. The newspaper report I am looking at even describes Calabro as a "witness." The end of the story is that Calabro and another assassin wearing baseball caps and gloves confront Dols after he emerged from his parked car.

"What's up?" Calabro said Dols said, right in the moment before the silence of the day or night -- we are not given the time -- was split apart by the cracks of gunshots from both gunmen. While Dols was on the street, dying, a large and growing puddle of blood beneath his body, the hit man dashed away, slowing up just long enough to shove their guns down a nearby sewer.

Calabro said he confronted "Tommy Guns" once he had read the front page the next day. [From here on, Calabro's story gets a little sketchy, in my opinion.]Calabro said he told Gioeli, "What the fuck? The guy's a cop." Calabro said Gioeli acted like he himself was also surprised.I'll bet -- but who knows for sure. I think Gioeli and Cacace knew for sure, but maybe Calabro was low level enough that he didn't need to know.

Calabro testified that his first instinct was to seek retribution against Cacace "because he screwed us." A single soldier taking out a boss on impulse because the boss supposedly tricked him into killing a cop? And the boss in question is Joel Cacace?

That sounds like pure bullshit to me. I don't believe Calabro -- or many low-level soldier -- would have the balls to confront Gioeli, let alone Cacace, who has survived at least firefights, evidence of which still exists in the form of the bullet or two still lodged in his chest. Read a bit about "Joe Waverley" Cacace here. The post notes that "Cacace is one of the few members of the Colombo war that wasn't killed or sent to prison for life. But he was badly wounded, and not for the first time.

"Cacace had received a gunshot wound in 1976, when he was ambushed by three robbers near his florist shop in Brooklyn. After being shot in the chest, Cacace wrestled a handgun from one of the robbers, shooting one of them dead. The remaining robbers fled the scene and a critically wounded Cacace erratically drove to a local police station with the robber's bloodied corpse in the backseat.

"Overall, [Cacace] is believed to have been shot in the chest several times in his life of crime..."

Calabro said Dols' killing, when it came up in conversation, would cause the chatty-Cathy gangsters to silently mime injecting a hypodermic needle into their arms — reminding each other that killing a police officer means punishment of death by lethal injection. [But not always, and not for everyone apparently.] This anecdote too sounds a little fishy, a bit... forced.

More to come tomorrow about both Dols's story, with a focus on how and why the belief he was dirty took root. Also I have two former NYPD detectives who I know believe Dols is innocent. They must have given him the benefit of the doubt -- and found enough proof in their own hearts and minds to hold on to. I will be talking to them.

NYPD officer Ralph Dols. RIP.
If you are an NYPD detective or cop or anyone who knew Dols and would like to discuss him with me -- even anonymously, privately on the phone or via email -- just start the process by writing me at eddie2843@gmail.com and we can set up an interview or do it however you want. I am a professional journalist with 20 years of experience.

I am hoping at least one NYPD cop or detective out there will contact me; a white-hatted lawman who gives Dols the benefit of the doubt.