Coppa, First Bonanno Defector Ever, Sentenced

Frank Coppa was sentenced today.

He earned quite a distinction in the Mafia: Coppa was the first member of the Bonanno family ever, since its formation in the 1930s, to break his oath; the other four families had all had defectors prior (the Bonannos alone for a period of time bragged that they had not produced a single defector -- until Coppa).

Fat and Fatter: Massino, left, Coppa

But as if to compensate for that, the former Bonanno capo's decision to flip set off a chain reaction that culminated in mass defections that took down the so-called Last Don, Joseph Massino.

Coppa was sentenced to time served. At age 73, he spent only two years in prison, then was out on bail about 10 years ago.

The key charge that caused Coppa to flip was the storied 1981 Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano murder, which many still believe was committed because the Bonanno capo embarrassed the Bonanno family by allowing inside its walls undercover FBI agent "Donnie Brasco."

Massino, who himself would flip, earning an even more dubious distinction (he was the first boss of one of the Five Families to flip), has since testified that Sonny Black was killed for trying to take over the family and not because of Joe Pistone.

Sonny Black...

However, Massino failed two polygraphs and Salvatore Vitale, Massino's underboss and brother-in-law, who also flipped, testified that Massino had said he needed to send Sonny Black a "receipt" for Joe Pistone, meaning he wanted Napolitano murdered.

“Coppa’s cooperation was a historic event and began a wave of cooperation of high-ranking Bonanno family members,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Busa stated in court papers.

Coppa testified against then-boss Joseph Massino. A photograph he submitted as evidence has garnered many chuckles.

Massino and Coppa had grown extremely close in the family's 1990s glory years. Coppa was a massive earner for Massino via pump-and-dump scams he and other family members pulled off with complicit brokers at two defunct stock brokerages. During that span, Massino and Coppa traveled with their wives to France to celebrate Massino's birthday. A dutiful Coppa paid for the entire trip. See photo above.

In early 2000, Coppa was indicted on stock fraud charges; in 2002, he was convicted and sentenced to seven years.

Then, in October of the same year, Coppa was again indicted -- on racketeering charges related to the extortion of parking lot magnate Barry Weinberg.

A Queens-native, Weinberg had reaped a fortune in the parking lot business. The chatty chain smoker also was a sharp businessman with a lifelong jones for the Mafia. He was delighted to eventually go "on record" with Bonanno capo Richard "Shellackhead" Cantarella.

Weinberg was vulnerable to the Feds for not reporting millions of dollars of income. The FBI nabbed him and told him the situation. They had enough evidence to put him in prison for the rest of his life or he could wear a wire for them and incriminate every Bonanno with whom he spoke.

Reaching his decision quickly, Weinberg, and an associate, secretly recorded conversations for law enforcement that incriminated Coppa and others.

According to Coppa's testimony, he was allowed to keep $1.7 million in personal assets and a Florida-based townhouse.


  1. There is a risk of calling the exterminator. Basically if more than 2 informants in the program get clipped in one year the feds will be forced to increase resources and heat. They hate having heat. The only way for the wiseguys to regain some deterrence and maintain the low profile policy is to outsource the killings to international groups. Basically kidnapping them bringing them across the border to get killed and buried. Therefore its out of the us jurisdiction. That plan would also be logistically possible because both the canadian and mexican borders are so wide open.

  2. A bit off of topic guys but I just saw a video of Merlino heading back to Federal Court. What got my attention was the two guys escorting Merlino. Anyone Know if their mob up or have some connection to him? Just out of curiosity. 2:20 for a close up of them.

  3. The big guy in the tan shirt is Ray Wagner aka Ray Wags, the other guy is his flunkie in Florida who drives him all over and was his roommate there when he first got there, their both nobody's , they sat Ray Wags is a small time bookie who sends him money every month, Merlino calls a guy like him "a throw away" uses him n milks him as much as he could then when he can't do anything for him anymore he throws him away.

  4. Thanks, Just A Thought. That was Johnny Chang, sitting on the stoop? For some reason I was kinda surprised.... thought he'd be tougher looking, big arms, etc. I know looks can be deceiving, especially with these guys.....

  5. Ed can you let us know when we can buy the E-book, I went on Kindle & Nook not there yet

  6. It's on track for Monday. Thanks!!!


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