Are All Mob Informants Rats?

For "LittleItaly7"


UPDATED: An old Cosa Nostra News poll was focused on the views of regular law-abiding citizens (whom I presume make up the bulk of my readership) regarding whether all informants should be given the denigrating rubric of "rat."

I was quite shocked that 77% of you believe all government informants are rats. A key problem is that we have creeps like Sammy Bull Gravano, Vinny Palermo, John Alite and Hector Pagan to serve as shining examples to guide popular opinion. But not all informants are created equally, I believe. There are some informants -- admittedly in the minority of this segment -- whom I would never classify as being among the aforementioned members of the genus Rattus.

Gravano clearly wanted to save his own ass, and was playing a game with the government, no matter how sincere many of those federal officials thought he was, time tells us it was bullshit: the Bull went back to crime, dealing E, specifically, as soon as humanly possible -- and didn't even go to great lengths to hide it.

Sammy Bull threw away the second chance
the government gave him.

Then we have the case of Vinny "Ocean" Palermo, a former boss of the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family who eventually became a government witness. On September 14, 2009, the New York Daily News exposed Vinny Ocean's new life in Witness Protection as a strip club operator in Houston, Texas.

Vinny Palermo was a mob boss (only in
New Jersey, though). After he rolled, he tried
to build a strip club/drug ring empire.
Palermo had grown a goatee and the paper ran photos of him. He has been living under the name "Vincent Cabella". Palermo's new strip clubs were called "The Penthouse Club" and the "All Stars Mens Club" and Houston Police say they were a source of drug dealing and prostitution in the Houston area. Palermo claims that many of his Houston friends already know who he is because he was featured in an A&E television special. He lived in a multimillion-dollar gated mansion.

Palermo's son, Vincent Jr, is said to be involved in the day-to-day running of the strip clubs. Local Houston television station KPRC broadcast an expose on Vinny Ocean on September 15, 2009.

Just 40 days later, Palermo put his Houston mansion up for sale, first for $4 million, but then over the following two years he reduced the price to $2.45 million but it still would not sell so he took it off the market on June 3, 2011. He originally bought the mansion for $895,000 in the early part of the decade.

Another mobster, for whom turning state's evidence was a business transaction, not a promise to tell all he knows, but then walk the talk, lead a new life as a law-abiding citizen.

As for Pagan, his story is well known as he was part of the cast of the hit reality show "Mob Wives." But to recap, he is the gangster/ex-husband of the show’s star, Renee Graziano, one of the daughters of currently imprisoned Bonanno big shot TG Graziano.

Hector “Junior” Pagan, who had become the DEA's bitch, wore a hidden microphone to tape conversations with at least six organized crime figures after he agreed to flip last summer, amid the taping of "Mob Wives."

Federal prosecutors, however, became reluctant to use Pagan -- to put him on the witness stand and such, owing to the lies he was caught in. For example, Pagan said that another member of his crew murdered the mafia associate they were robbing, which was initially the crime he was nailed for. As it turns out, Pagan himself was proven to have been the shooter who committed the murder, and not the man he pointed the finger at.

As for Alite, he was yanked to the States from down in Brazil, presumably where he was doing nothing but working out and sunbathing. A former Gambino associate and one-time close friend of John Gotti Jr. in the 1980s and 1990s, he was extradited in 2006 and convicted in Tampa, Fla., on several counts of murder conspiracy, racketeering and other charges stemming from allegedly running a Gambino crew in Florida. In 2011 he got 10 years in prison -- but then he was plucked from his cell and flown to New York -- where he emerged as a prosecution witness prepared to testify against former associates, primarily Junior Gotti.

After 11 days of deliberations, the jury sent word that they were deadlocked. The judge was forced to declare a mistrial in what was the fourth and final (so far) attempt to send Junior Gotti away for life. Interviewed after the trial, jurors said that they had not trusted prosecution witnesses, particularly Alite, The New York Times reported.

A motley assortment, or maybe on this blog "crew" is the better word -- and I would have no problem calling each and every one of them rats. (I know there are a lot more, but this post is getting long enough and I think you all get the idea here, in any event.)

Al D'Arco, former 
Lucchese acting boss.
But what of Little Al D'Arco?

D'Arco was living in a very real nightmare. As acting boss for the Lucchese family -- Vic Amuso and Gaspipe Casso were in the wind, having gotten word that the hammer was coming down -- D'Arco had to hold the family together while carrying out the wishes of the hiding bosses. The only problem was that their wishes were becoming increasingly erratic and bloody, and Little Al was probably wondering if Amuso and Casso were both insane. They were whacking members of their own family for any reason. Casso's police informants revealed someone was a rat, someone was stealing, someone was a "creep" -- left and right, Lucchese hit men were killing their own. At one point Casso wanted the entire New Jersey faction of the family killed, after their capo, Tumac, figuratively gave Vic and Gaspipe the finger.

Al watched all this happen in front of him and probably wondered what the hell had happened... how had the Mafia fallen to these depths?

Eventually, Al knew it was only time before bullets would come flying his way. The reason: he knew that Amuso and Casso blamed him for a failed attack on Pete Chiodo, a family soldier who was incorrectly identified as a turncoat. A botched shooting left a very overweight Chiodo full of bullet holes (his blubber literally saved his life), but very much still breathing. So a hit team shot up his sister, who also survived. Chiodo did indeed flip then. (Is Chiodo a rat, too?)

First some background on Little Al.

D'Arco became a Lucchese associate during the 1950s when the family was led by boss Tommy Lucchese. In the 1960s, D'Arco was convicted on drug-related charges and spent several years in prison. After his release, D'Arco returned to the Lucchese family, which was then run by boss Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corralo. On August 23, 1982, D'Arco became a made man in the Lucchese family and a soldier in the Brooklyn-based crew of caporegime Paul Vario, of Goodfellas fame (under the fictional name of Paulie Cicero).

Flash forward: D'Arco correctly believed Amuso and Casso were waiting to kill him because of the Chiodo screw up. In July 1991, Amuso and Casso replaced D'Arco as acting boss with a four man panel of capos. On September 18, 1991, D'Arco attended a meeting of Lucchese leaders in Manhattan's Kimberly Hotel.

As Wikipedia relates:

D'Arco noticed that one man had a bulge under his shirt—a sure sign that he was carrying a gun. The man then went to the bathroom—and when he came back, the bulge was gone. D'Arco realized this was a classic setup for a hit; the next person to go into the bathroom was likely to come out blasting. Convinced his life was threatened, D'Arco rushed out of the hotel. His driver was nowhere to be found—another indication that D'Arco had been marked for death.

Too fearful to go to the main FBI office in Manhattan because of the unknown extent of Casso's tentacles into corrupt law enforcement, D'Arco went instead to an FBI office in New Rochelle, New York and offered to become a government witness. Except for $55,000, D'Arco was forced to leave his fortune behind. But he got to take his family.

I believe he is the only mobster to ever become a government informant of his own volition; he had not been arrested, had not been indicted, the police weren't pressuring him to 'fess up. He was compelled by the simple fact that the Mafia as he knew it no longer existed; it was finished. He read the writing on the wall faster than many others, and accurately knew that the downfall had begun and was gaining steam. There was no life for him in "the life" anymore, and he knew it. So he got out, with his family. 

Over the next 10-plus years, D'Arco testified in a dozen trials along with many grand jury hearings and other legal proceedings. His testimony helped convict Amuso (a psychopath, but not as bad as his buddy, Casso), acting Colombo crime family boss Victor "Little Vic" Orena (ending the Colombo war), Bonanno crime family consigliere Anthony Spero, Genovese crime family consigliere James Ida and Genovese boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante. D'Arco also testified at the trial of Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, the two corrupt NYPD detectives who provided Casso with information.

D'Arco is participating in the federal Witness Protection Program. According to government sources, D'Arco has been an excellent witness and has not committed any more criminal acts.At one of his trials, we get via Wikipedia, a prosecutor asked D'Arco if the mob life was worth it, and received this reply:

"No, I'm 65 years old. What has it gotten me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Yes, I have my wife and I have my son. But I was the one who got my son into the Mafia. And what did I accomplish by doing that? My son is a drug dealer. No, I've got nothing to show for it. What a waste of my life."

If a psycho like Gaspipe Casso was gunning for you for no reason, and your only escape was the Feds, and you took only your family and the shirt on your back -- and if you stood by the informant's agreement and didn't use it as a "reset" button to start up your old life in another part of the country under an assumed name -- then, let me ask you, are you a rat? Do you consider Little Al D'Arco a rat?

I, for one, do not.


  1. Someone like D'Arco, who spent his life in the mob seeing other guys get jacked up, maybe killed for something they didn't deserve, maybe participated in one or more, then decides he's afraid, real or imagined, becomes an informer, IS A RAT. D'Arco was so unfit for his position that rolling over became inevitable...and that's not to justify what went on at the top of that crew. When I came home and was told Little Al was the Lucchese Acting Boss I thought my leg was being pulled because I'd been away. I thought it was a joke. Enough said.

  2. This commentary on Lil Al D'Arco couldn't have been written any better , "Hear that Sonny Gereard?" Lil Al was A natural born leader A Leader Before His Time ! He was on the streets of New York making money at the young age of 14 , he is the last of Old World Mafia as I know it to be, he is now 80 years old , the very last known gangster of Mafia rules that young punks of today will NEVER know , punks like you "rat bastard"!

  3. What you WITSEC guys don't realize is that if Al were a capable boss he would have stopped Gaspipe & Vic dead in their tracks & brought sanity to the crew. Decent guys got clipped during his tenure and he did nothing till he felt personally threatened and rolled over. That says a lot that you two don't want to accept.

    1. Sonny - I wanted you to know I didn't update this post to try to address your previous comment -- I planned to revise it all along but got too tired to do it all at once. I know I don't have your experience but D 'Arco has always intrigued me and I have done a lot of research on him and this stems from that. I think Gaspipe was a psycho and Al was caught between a rock and a hard place. Would anyone at that time in the Lucchese family have been able to stand up to Gaspipe and launch a revolt? Even Tumac flipped. People don't usually change overnight ; change is usually an evolution.

    2. I understand Al's position, but the truth is that Gaspipe had a limited number of real gunmen, like Richie Pagliarulo, who was a boyhood friend and sometimes partner in our early days (his voyage to the Luccheses is a long story). A competent boss would have been able to muster a few good men to end the killing by eliminating Gaspipe, Vic, and their couple of shooters after the fifth, tenth, or fifteenth murder. Your last sentence is the most accurate of all the discussions on this subject.

  4. I'm going to have to say that from my very unscientific sampling of your readership (previous 5 comments) not to mention the anecdotal thought that most law abiding citizens do not ferret out such deeply specialized subject matter, that the complete opposite is, in fact, the case. These cats are gunning (pun intended)for the bad guys.

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  6. You guys are funny, "Can't we all just get along" little italy is getting all pissed off at that Sonny guy, so what if Sonny may or may not have known lil Al,or if he flipped or not, bottom line is The Life is OVER !!!!! there are more guys out on the street giving weekly intel to the FBI than you can shake a stick at, as for me YER I FLIPPED, but thats what this life does to you, if you guys are truely around this world you would know the truest words most old timers say " IF I can GET OUT of this life I do it in a second, after 30 years in this life everyday becomes self preservaton to stay alive, I know some really rough guys who flipped, by the way I would like to see somebody go to Junior this face an call him a Rat, I know skipper that were scared shit of him, not to many guys would take on Junior rat or not

  7. Hey JOKESTER: How old are you? I'd guess 20-21? You left out Jamaican Posses -- they were supposed to prevail over LCN too, along with all those other minority gangs. The media was reporting this crap back in the 1980s. And none of em have come close. The Russians want to work with the mob -- but as junior partners. Google "gasoline tax scams". The Albanians? You are kidding, right? Cosa Nostra may be down but not for the count -- and they aren't out. LCN wrote the playbook -- those other groups can't carry the mob's shit...

    1. none of those groups will ever be as organized as La Cosa Nostra, they maybe more ruthless, the Albanians have been trying for years to get a leg up on the Mafia, but they always fall short, the Russians fight with in, so they can never come together a a group, but La Cosa Nostra is getting away from its roots,which may lead to thier total down fall.....

    2. The real sign cosa nostra in the us is a joke is the amount of people that flips . In México, Cartel´s fights directly with the local army, an army that uses US machinery and US techniques. Mexican Cartels work with Camorra and Ndrangheta Mexicans Cartels hace power in México, in LA, in Chicago, in NYC; in every contry in Latin America and even in Australia. Mexican Cartels would kill every informant, and their family, and cops and everything at hand. They really obey the rules.
      And the italian-americans? As many americans, they to fat, to chubby and to soft to really figtht.
      US cosa nostra only matters in urban NY? Outside, they are nothing. What power is this?

  8. I have to agree w/ the article on this one. There are certain guys like Mazzini & Hector pagan etc that wore a wire just to save their own sorry asses. However there are guys like fat Pete choosing & lil al that were basically backed into a corner & were loyal untilled their bosses paranoia got the best of them & they became marked men b4 there was any real proof to support that whatsoever. They were whacked on paranoia & fear by the physcopaths they were surrounded by. Granted these guys all knew wtf they signed up for in "the life", there's is still a big difference in wearing a wire to save ur own cowardly ass & talking because u were backed into a corner & would have been killed regardless simply on a whim & paranoia of the degenerates around you. Bottom line....NOBODY knows wtf they'd do till their faced w/ it but I guaran-f*cking-t if u were in that position & had zero intention of ratting yet were STILL threatened & in that position there's NO way u would standby & take a bullet from some degenerate crazy f*ck in their clumsy attempt to 'cover their tracks'!!

  9. *Massino* damn autocorrect!


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