Mob Juries Reach the Darndest Verdicts

Little Dino

Seems juries are having trouble with turncoat testimony, though judges seem to be taking up some of the law enforcement slack when they can by basically ignoring jurors' verdicts and imposing the most draconian sentences permissible.

Take the recent case of Dino "Little Dino" Saracino, 41. The gangster must be feeling a range of emotions as he readies himself for transport to a federal prison where he will spend a half century, 50 years, for racketeering and conspiracy charges.

Now consider this: That is actually more than double the 18 years given to his former boss, Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli.

Interestingly, the same judge doled out both sentences.

It seems a bit unfair considering Little Dino was carrying out orders. Yes, he knew he'd earn his button, and as a former gangster once in the same position put it: "I wanted the order. I wanted to be completely in and trusted, and to believe that he liked me that much, that he trusted me to do anything for him."

At the same time, Little Dino and John Alite, whom we just quoted above speaking in reference to John Gotti Senior, had to have also known that they really had no choice; they were in too deep to say no. According to Mafia protocol, those who refuse such critical orders know they could very well end up facing their own execution.

In Little Dino's case, this was even more so the fact, considering that the hit was done as a favor to then-Colombo family street boss Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace, who wanted NYPD officer Ralph Dols hit for marrying his ex-wife. (The Colomby family is probably the most lethal and treacherous, though Gotti certainly wasn't afraid to whack people.)

Hector Pagan was able to provide effective testimony
by helping convict two cohorts in crime.

When confronted by this fact, that the soldier was facing more than twice the prison time of the boss, the judge apparently said something about Gioeli being a sick man. (Which reminded me of the story Joaquín "Jack Falcone" García had told me about how Greg DePalma had tried to gain a female judge's sympathy.)

Little Dino certainly didn't help himself when he was caught on tape bragging about his ability to serve 20 years standing on his head, or laughing about it, or something like that.

What's also interesting about the trial of Saracino and Gioeli is that, despite their convictions, he two did beat top-line murder charges, which would have meant automatic life sentences (though in the end, the sentences seem to amount to the same thing). In fact, both Dino and Gioeli practically broke out into a song and dance act in the courtroom they were so happy they beat the charges, forgetting those other counts.

Still, the bottom line is that the jury simply didn't believe the testimony of a turncoat witness. After the May 2012 trial, defense attorney Adam Perlmutter said specifically that the verdicts were a repudiation of the government’s star witness, admitted assassin Dino “Big Dino” Calabro.

“It’s clear (jurors) rejected the vast majority of what Dino Calabro had to say,” the lawyer said.

Consider the case of Francis “BF” Guerra, a long-time associate of the Colombo crime family, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for selling his own prescription drugs. Guerra was a sort of repeat of what happened to Gioeli and Saracino -- all were acquitted of the top charges but found guilty of lesser ones.

The jury acquitted Guerra of two murders, but did find him guilty of selling his prescriptions. Federal Judge Sandra Townes, the same judge making life difficult for Alicia DiMichele these days, after sentencing the gangster clearly proclaimed her intentions in a statement.

“Years ago, the defendant Guerra chose a life of crime, with murder as his criminal stock in trade. Organized crime has always been about money rather than honor, and recent years saw Guerra move into the equally deadly business of illegal trafficking in prescription drugs,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This sentence is a harsh warning to anyone considering introducing these addictive, deadly drugs into our community. This sentence also sends an important message to members and associates of organized crime. We will never stop investigating and prosecuting the murders and other violent crimes they commit..."

Over in Philadelphia, the same thing happened--only in the case of Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, two juries both returned mistrials.

Uncle Joe, the first mob boss since John Gotti to beat the feds in court (only Ligambi, the smarter of the two, probably didn't have a juror in his pocket and, more importantly, is ducking rather than taunting his opponents), is back home sleeping in how own bed and enjoying his comfortable, luxurious townhouse life in the upscale section of South Philadelphia near the stadium.

While Dino and Tommy swelter in cells, awaiting transport, "by all accounts Ligambi, who spent more than two years in jail after he was denied bail, is relaxed," George Anastasia reported on PPV website Gangland last week, filling in for Jerry Capeci.

"After spending the past two summers in a sweltering eight-by-10 foot cell in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Uncle Joe is looking forward to a summer at the Jersey Shore."

As for Ligambi's juries, he wrote:
One member of the panel of 11 women and one man in the second trial later told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "There was very little physical evidence and the witnesses were all convicted criminals…If the government could have provided us with credible witnesses, maybe things would have been different." 
The juror's assessment went to the heart of the government's case which was built around cooperating witnesses like Louis (Bent Finger Lou) Monacello and Anthony Aponick. Both carried a lot of baggage to the witness stand. 
Aponick, 44, who had been a cellmate of Borgesi's in federal prison in West Virginia, was a New York mob associate who just a month after being released and while cooperating against Borgesi, staged a series of bank robberies in New York. 
Monacello, 47, was a South Philadelphia wannabe who knew Borgesi for nearly 30 years. He provided the most damaging testimony, linking both Borgesi and Ligambi to the hierarchy of the crime family and claiming that Borgesi boasted of taking part in 11 gangland murders. But his story obviously did not ring true with two juries, 
Monacello, who was indicted in the same case, is to be sentenced on April 28. He faces us to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to the same conspiracy charge that Borgesi beat. He will likely receive considerably less time...
"I think the juries in both Ligambi trials were looking for bodies," said Albert DiGiacomo, an organized crime professor at West Chester University, "and there weren't any." 
DiGiacomo, a retired Philadelphia Police captain who worked the case that brought down mob boss John Stanfa in the mid 1990s, said early trials of mob bosses like Scarfo and Stanfa, included multiple murders, attempted murders and assaults. There was none of that in the Ligambi trials.
One recent exception that comes to mind is the infamous Hector Pagan, a turncoat who provided testimony that the jury actually bought, convicting two others for a spur-of-the-moment homicide that Pagan himself committed during what was supposed to be only a robbery (as far as we know, anyway).





  4. Calabro was one of the hitmen....both opened fire with a .44 magnum revolver and a .45 auto. Calabro is a dirty rat.. Dino was only doing what he was told by Tommy. Yeah, when you kill a NY housing's bad, but the guy had it coming to him. The reason: steer clear and get as far away as you can from any made guys former daughter, niece, wife, or any other family member or there serious consequences to pay. That's the is what it is, honorable or not. Deal with it. It will always be the same for future generations no matter how you haters feel. Nobody wins here...

    1. justice feels good......rotten in hell low life......................................DINO name is written in the hell innocent the name of god amen.........................god bless pope francisc...............

  5. Obviously you've never had the fear of God put into you. If you live in these streets you know they are safe and tight knit. You pay respect to those who are in control and they protect you. You need some serious learnin' to get the point.

  6. Two up are u fucking kidding me stay away from made guys it only gives u a right to kill made guys drug dealers anybody doing illegal bussiness i thought. not common folks who go to work everyday thats why this thing of urs is in the condition its in.

    1. Dols was not dirty, he was a cop. All the bullshit about steroids and the Russian mob is just that: bullshit. I know this for a fact. Only the Colombo family would kill civilians. Joe Waverly has survived gunshots in his chest but couldn't get over his ex marrying another? Dolls was a kid, too. Look at his pictures. The Dinos both wanted a button and would've killed anyone for it; it was their bad luck that they got this particular contract.

  7. You make yourself sound like a real jerkoff. You go pay your respect , coffee-boy. Maybe one day you can wash my draws


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