Lee D'Avanzo Cause of Mob Wives Reboot?

Karen Gravano may have been on to something when she said someone wanted her off the show.

But according to a source who spoke with Cosa Nostra News on condition of anonymity, that someone is Lee D'Avanzo, not Eddie Garofalo.

Lee and Drita D'Avanzo.

We wrote in a previous post that Alicia DiMichele's husband, Edward "Tall Guy" Garofalo, is "figuring to be a major star" in the upcoming season. This was based on a Jerry Capeci story in which Karen Gravano was the source (there were two other sources, but only Karen went on record). Karen had a theory about why Jennifer had revamped most of the cast of "Mob Wives" -- supposedly to make DiMichele and Garofalo's former marriage a centerpiece of the show. The Tall Guy has been in jail for three years and will soon head off to prison to serve his seven years sentence. Alicia learns her fate in January, as we noted.

According to Karen, it was the Tall Guy who secured his wife a role on the show -- while ousting the other three mob wives: Karen, Ramona and Carla.

We also reported that Garofalo would be heard on the show via select tape recordings, according to Karen in the same Capeci story.

But then, as the season launched and began its progression (we are now between episodes three and four), we began to realize that Karen may have gotten some of her facts wrong. As noted, we have been hearing a gangster's voice on the phone. Only it's not the Tall Guy... It's the voice of Drita's husband, Lee D'Avanzo.

We were on to something, according to an anonymous source who is in the life and knowledgeable about certain circumstances.

"Lee hated the fact that [Karen] was talking about him," said the source. "Drita hates her too."

"[Lee] says Karen's father is a rat, she is a rat and he can't stand how she kept mentioning that she'd been in a relationship with him before Drita. He wants no ties to her. And [Ramona] Rizzo is with [Karen] and whatever else."

"Lee is on his way to getting his button. He was brought into the Bonannos by a made member. There's only one way out of that life," our source said.

As for the name of the made member whom D'Avanzo is said to be under -- we decided not to name him. There is not much information available about him, so he might be off certain radar screens. We did find mention of him as having a brother with whom he grew up on Staten Island (the brother would later become a member of the New Springville Boys, a street gang once led by D'Avanzo; wiseguys worked with and kept there eyes on this gang and others like it for recruitment purposes). Also, the brothers were friends with Jennifer Graziano, the Rizzo sisters and a slew of other Mafia members' offspring, as reported in Michelle McPhee's book, A Mob Story, primarily about Chris Paciello.

[I am going to intrude here to add a personal note: some of my contacts have told me they are not sure "which side of the fence" I am on, to which I answer, neither. I am a journalist. However, since I am not paid to enforce the law, I will draw this line in the sand: I will never identify a made member of the Mafia unless that person can be identified as such via a basic Google search.]

What our source told us makes a lot more sense than Karen's story.
Teddy Persico Jr., a "gun-toting hot head."

The Tall Guy is a made member of the Colombo family under capo Theodore (Teddy) Persico Jr., nephew of longtime Colombo boss Carmine "Junior" Persico and cousin to Carmine's son, Michael Persico. Michael, though a power in the family, was never made.

Teddy Jr. is known for being a "gun-toting, hot-head," according to Jerry Capeci. Only in his 40s now, he's already done a 16-year prison stretch for drug dealing.

Teddy was once overheard in a recording saying that when it comes to competitors, he'd like to “get a gun and shoot them, or stab them, or beat them up.” Teddy was also once heard on wiretap recordings calling himself a "crazy fool."

And in one of the ballsiest moves we've heard in a long time, Teddy once ordered a rival’s murder while attending his own grandmother’s wake and under guard by correction officers.

As the New York Post reported on June 14, 2012: “You’ve got to kill Joey,” Persico whispered to three Colombo cohorts at the wake held at Scarpaci Funeral Home in Dyker Heights in August 1993, one of the mobsters, Anthony “Big Anthony” Russo, testified."

"A handcuffed Persico — who was referring to renegade Colombo gangster Joseph “Joey” Scopo — ordered the hit as he sat in a room with both his grandmother’s body and three state jail guards who’d transported him from an upstate prison, Russo told jurors in Brooklyn federal court. ...

“He was whispering to us,” Russo said of the order. “He said, ‘Get it done.’ ”

"And they did."

Teddy and the Colombos once came so close to whacking Tall Guy that the Feds actually warned Garofalo that he was on the hit list.

This was because the Colombos thought Garofalo was a rat. Another rat is the only thing that came between Eddie and a fusillade of Colombo bullets.

Garofalo's longtime business partner, Steven Marcus, who had known Tall Guy for over 25 years and was so tight with the mob soldier that their wives together were the "name partners" of a trucking concern the two racketeering husbands ran together (the Bronx-based firm, Big R Trucking, had the juicy pension fund that Tall Guy and Alicia were milking from 2003 until June 2005, according to the indictment.)

Marcus, who had a reputation for being a sleazeball in the trucking/demolition contracting businesses, had gotten into some trouble and began wearing a wire for the FBI in June of 2006.

The Tall Guy and six others -- including Eddie's wife, DiMichele, and his cousins (see how the Colombos are all related?) Michael Persico and Teddy Persico Jr. -- were all indicted based on this guy's recordings.

But even while he was an unwitting cast member of Marcus's radio show, Tall Guy was implicated by another cooperating witness in an attempted murder plot in a tape recorded discussion that the feds later used to indict Teddy Persico Jr. on racketeering charges (that ultimately got him a 42-month stretch).

This crime was for the Scopo murder mentioned above; it was committed for reasons related to the then-ongoing Colombo family war of the early 1990s, which Teddy Jr. missed because he was serving a prison sentence. The Scopo murder turned out to be the final shots of the war.

"The Tall Guy skated free in that case, which over the years, sources say, caused a rift between him and several Colombo wiseguys, including Skinny Teddy Persico [Jr.]...who suspected that the feds might have spared Garofalo because he was cooperating," Capeci has reported.

"Indeed, sources say that during the investigation, FBI agents visited Garofalo and warned him that they had heard about death threats against him and were required to inform him.

It was only when Marcus's status as a recorder-wearing turncoat dropped Eddie and his wife into hot water that the Colombos' changed their minds about Garofalo.

What street guy who was ever in that position would then go and negotiate for himself and his wife a deal to be on a high-profile television show known to be despised by all the Five Families?

Mafia hits, authorized or not, often involve teams, as well as various members of the hierarchy who relay the orders. That is why so many different mobsters over the span of years, if not decades, will often be charged with the same murders.

For example, Teddy Persico ordered the hit to a group of Colombos at the funeral. It was ultimately carried out by a young man, John Pappa, son of Gerard Pappa, also known as "Gerry" and "Pappa Bear." Gerard was a former Colombo associate and eventually a Genovese soldier and known hit man. He was widely feared for his violent tendencies, which directly contributed to his own murder in 1980 under orders from Vincent "The Chin" Gigante.

John Pappa

John Pappa, more than anything else in life, wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He was the one who fired the shots into Scopo.

Pappa’s trial took place in Brooklyn Federal Court, focusing on the Oct. 20, 1993, murder of Scopo, as well as three other murders committed in the following 12-month period, primarily as part of Pappa's campaign to stop others from claiming credit for a murder he himself had committed -- and wanted to use to ride a way to his button.

Pappa, 24 at the time of his conviction in 1999, got four life-without-parole terms for the murders and 45 years for drug dealing and other miscellaneous charges under Brooklyn Federal Judge Raymond Dearie.

“This prosecution brings the terrible legacy of the Colombo war to a close, with the conviction of one of the most dangerous young hitman in the Colombo family,” said assistant U.S. attorney Stephen Kelly, at the time.

Pappa's tattoo: Death before dishonor.
In the years before his arrest, Pappa and pal Calvin Hennigar (also now serving life) both had major egos -- and major chips on their shoulders. In 1994, a Mafia capo ordered his Brooklyn-based crew to find and kill the two young hoodlums -- both of whom were with the Colombo crime family.

Pappa and Hennigar's crime had been to shoot up the Staten Island strip club owned by the irate capo, who was with the Bonanno family. One patron had been wounded. However, the then-capo had a sitdown with members of the Colombo family. A settlement was agreed to, and the capo called off the murder.

Still, in 2002, the capo -- TG Graziano -- would be indicted on two counts of murder conspiracy thanks to Pappa and Hennigar's audacious stunt.