Long Island Mobster Buried Victims in Farmingdale

High-ranking mobster Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli lived on Long Island until his 2012 conviction in Brooklyn federal court.

He is probably one of the most powerful mobsters to have lived full-time on Long Island. (Powerful meaning his role as the Colombo crime family's muscle.)

Colombo leader Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to hard prison time for conspiracy.
A young Dino Calabro, left, with Tommy Shots.

He and his wife Maureen raised a family in a modest house in Farmingdale. Tommy Shots' one-time right-hand man, Dino Calabro, moved next door with his family as well.

The former Colombo capo later testified against Tommy Shots, who taught him how to kill while also dazzling him with the "glamour" of the Mafia lifestyle, as "Big Dino" said on the stand. "I wanted what (Gioeli) had,” Calabro told Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gatta. “He had the power to get me in the family.”

“Tommy Shots” Gioeli was a staunch Persico ally during the 1991–93 war. He ran a crew of shooters who played a key role in the streets fights against the larger Orena faction.

On March 27, 1992, he was supposedly hit by gunfire in a Brooklyn shootout, though some sources say his wound was minor and he exaggerated it. Maybe a knowledgeable source out there would know about this.

An early tip-off that Gioeli was being targeted was quoted in a news story: “He’s got a crew of shooters who haven’t really gotten touched,” one police said.

The secret to Gioeli's importance for the Colombo family was allegedly his ability to serve as a link between the family's former factions. He was universally trusted by mobsters from each faction, who in the early 1990s were shooting at one another.

Gioeli was a sort of small-time version of Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, who held together the deadly Scarfo-Merlino factions.

His acting capo Paul “Paulie Guns” Bevacqua had been an Orena loyalist. So was Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace, who supposedly paid Gioeli an historical compliment in 2000 when he told a Bonanno boss: “If you need to see me, tell Tommy. Talking to Tommy is just like talking to me.”

Gioeli advanced his mob career by supervising a crew of killers that included Calabro and Tommy Shots's co-defendant Dino "Little Dino" Saracino, prosecutors said during his trial.

Alphonse Persico, John “Jackie” DeRoss, Cacace and Andrew Russo, 70, a Persico cousin, all filled in as acting boss. Each was convicted and jailed when Gioeli rose in the ranks. (On an interesting sidenote, the U.S. Attorney General initially ordered prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Joe Waverly for ordering an NYPD cop's murder. But AG Eric Holder declined to seek the death penalty against Gioeli and soldier "Little Dino" Saracino, who also were charged in the shooting of officer Ralph Dols.)

His case still makes news. As reported last week Tommy McLaughlin, who also testified, was sentenced to no jail time.

Recounting his first murder — Bonanno associate Frank "Chestnut" Marasa in 1991 — Calabro said Gioeli gave him explicit advice.

“Tommy always said, ‘Shoot him in the body first. Then walk up and cap him,” he said.

Calabro recalled Gioeli ordering the death of Colombo associate Joe Miccio for stealing a Mercedes-Benz from a customer of the then-acclaimed Marco Polo Restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

A Gambino soldier had owned the car.

“Gioeli informed (the Gambinos) that he took care of the problem and no cars would ever be stolen out of that garage,” Calabro said.

Tommy Shots as he's arrested in 2008.

Long Island Gangster
Tommy Shots used a bowling alley, the County Line Bowling Center, near his Farmingdale residence as his headquarters. The noisy place, replete with the explosive crack of bowling balls smacking into pins, blended with screaming children and laughing adults, was perfect, Tommy Shots thought. What better natural buffers were there for his conversations with his crew.

Those discussions covered a host of criminal activities, including murders. Gioeli also met with Colombo crew members in the establishment's parking lot prior to going on night missions to hunt people as far away as Brooklyn. They also met there in the alley before burying bodies. Usually they were dead gangsters. Gioeli seemed to have a preference to bury bodies in a wooded area in Farmingdale, near the bowling alley and his home.

Gioeli was known to routinely frequent and  pray in the garden of a Massapequa-based Catholic Church on Long Island, where he also discussed mob business. He allegedly plotted murders there, too, and sometimes discussed his sins, there in the garden of the church, never identified in reports. It was located not far from Gioeli's Farmingdale home.

It was there Gioeli first mentioned the planned hit of the man serving as Colombo underboss, William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, who'd originally fought on the side of Vittorio "Little Vic" Orena. The young Persico was facing prison time and there was too much fear that their official underboss, Cutolo, as the highest-ranking Colombo on the street, would take over. (His daughters told me in an interview that their father had specifically said he had no intentions of making such a move.)

William Cutolo, former Colombo underboss

“He told me he had just left Pooch and Betty Boop,” said Calabro, using nicknames to refer to Persico and DeRoss.

Gioeli then made a hand gesture, covering up several fingers. Cutolo's other nickname, “Billy Fingers,” stems from the fact he was missing fingers on one hand.

“They wanted to kill him,” Calabro said of Cutolo, who was lured to “Little Dino” Saracino's house and killed.

Calabro testified, “I shot him in the head.”

Colombo turncoat Reynold Maragni wore a wire and recorded soldier Vincent Manzo Sr. telling him how Gioeli had showed him “where the hole was," then waited in a vehicle while the body of Wild Bill was carried to the grave and buried.

“Tommy didn’t even get out of the car,” Manzo quipped on the recording.

According to court testimony at the trial of Gioeli and Dino “Little Dino” Saracino, at least two mobsters — Colombo underboss Cutolo and associate Richard Greaves — were killed by Gioeli's crew and then dumped in graves in that wooded area in proximity to the bowling alley.

Greaves was shot dead on Aug. 3, 1995. Gioeli and other mobsters allegedly murdered the Colombo associate in Saracino's basement apartment. Greaves's fatal crime had been to ask the Colombo leadership for permission to leave the family; he'd wanted to move to the Midwest. However, the bosses feared that Greaves might become a government witness, so his death was ordered.

The body was driven to Farmingdale but never found.

Saracino’s cousin, “Big Dino” Calabro added that after meeting at the County Line, the crew then drove to Gioeli's ad-hoc graveyard to bury Greaves.

“[We] were in the lead car. We took the Belt Parkway to the bowling alley,” Calabro, testified.

“I took the pick and the shovel and the bag of lime, and then we carried the body over and started digging.”

Carmine Gargano was murdered in 1994 and buried on the grounds of a Brooklyn autobody shop located on McDonald Ave. Eventually, he too was buried in Farmingdale.

Gioeli sipped cocktails at the bowling alley while the body was reburied in the nearby wooded area.

The Gargano killing was particularly horrible in that he was only 21 and was attending Pace university. I have spoken with law enforcement sources who say he had no known mob ties. His body was never found.

"There was a lot of talk that he was supposedly an animal. But he wasn't connected," one NYPD source told me.

Carmine Gargano Jr. wouldn’t stay down even after he was shot twice, once in the eyeball.

Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello eventually slammed Gargano's head with a sledgehammer to kill him, "Big Dino" Calabro testified.

The Sicilian-born Calabro's testimony "prompted sobs from a woman seated at the back of the courtroom — Gargano’s mother."

“I hope these people die burning in hell,” Rosa Gargano told the Daily News after hearing Calabro describe her son’s death. “They pierced my soul.”

Calabro said he had no clue why her son was killed.

"I don’t know. I just felt like it. I was upset," Calabro said Competiello told him.

Calabro said that, as was his practice, he told his mentor Gioeli about the murder.

“We dug a pretty deep hole and threw Carmine in there,” Calabro testified, explaining how he helped Competiello, another turncoat also was set to testify against Gioeli. They covered the remains with lime.

Gioeli's Counter-surveillance efforts
Gioeli was one of the more surveillance-conscious mobsters of modern times. He feared wiretaps and bugs like the plague -- and did all he could to avoid speaking anywhere near such devices.

He was known to go to great lengths to avoid all forms of surveillance, as prosecutors noted in court papers, explaining why Gioeli's voice was rarely caught on recordings.

“Members of organized crime tend to avoid talking about crimes over the telephone or in places that can be intercepted,” Brooklyn federal prosecutors wrote in a letter to the judge in Gioeli's 2012 case.

In previous testimony, prosecutors noted that Gioeli purposely spoke only on a Nextel cell phone via its walkie-talkie feature. (The model I linked to is only an example of the type of phones Gioeli may have used.) The Fed's explained the difficulty encountered while attempting to subpoena his Nextel records; Gioeli had obtained phones from a company "controlled by the son of co-conspirator.”

“In light of Gioeli’s close relationship with [the associate], it would have been futile for law enforcement to obtain such court authorization to intercept communications over such a device because Gioeli would likely learn of the authorization and alter his behavior,” prosecutors said.

Lucky turncoat had secret supporter
Dino Calabro was a lucky man, in more ways then one. The Fed's apparently weren't so certain they wanted him.

In Calabro's case, his wife, Andrea Calabro, helped to boost her husband's bid for a cooperation agreement with the Fed's by offering her own personal assistance.

She provided a detailed layout of the inside of Gioeli's colonial home in Farmingdale, L.I.

She also revealed that Gioeli's wife had a massive collection of photographs of both Gioeli's blood family as well as his crime family, which blended at some events, such as weddings, Sweet 16 parties and block parties.

Andrea told investigators how Tommy Shots's wife, Maureen, enjoyed photography and tended to bring her camera to these social events, where she'd snap to her heart's content. She'd store these photos in albums (as well as in bags kept in the basement.)

The Fed's love photographs, even more than authors and bloggers (and wannabes). These preserved moments in time, are a strong credible way to prove links between mobsters at racketeering trials.

It's been claimed that "FBI agent Scott Curtis said Calabro's wife was instructed to ask Maureen Gioeli if she could borrow some of the photographs - and she agreed."

The Fed's however didn't seem to turn down an address book that Andrea fortuitously snagged from a tabletop   when Maureen left her alone in a room.

But Maureen's largest faux pas was telling her friend how, upon arresting her husband, the foolish FBI agents hadn't found Tommy Shots' "man purse," where the mob boss kept cell phones and various assorted papers.

A former federal prosecutor said the tactic of flipping a mobster's wife was unusual and put her life in danger.

Calabro and his wife are in the witness protection program, sources said.

Deep Throat murders
Prosecutors claimed that Gioeli was involved in the 1982 murder of former Catholic nun. He wasn't charged with the killing however. That's because of the testimony of a jailhouse snitch who lied on the stand.

As noted, Colombo shooters lured a father and son into a trap to kill them. Their crime was skimming from the proceeds generated by Deep Throat, the famous porn film the Colombos had financed.

The porno film was one of the most successful of all time. The Colombos were not pleased when they learned that family soldier Joseph Peraino, Jr., and his father, Joseph, Sr., had stolen from them. The twist is another Peraino had tipped Carmine Persico off to the theft.

Accidentally marked for death that night was a former nun who lived in the Gravesend, Brooklyn house used to lure the Perainos. The large front porch offered a means to trap the two men when Colombo shooters opened fire.

Veronica Zuraw, 53 when murdered, was a social worker with the Italian Board of Guardians, though she'd been a nun for the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese before she married her husband in 1974. Zuraw, who was known as Sister Mary Adelaide, had run a Bensonhurst outlet that provided assistance to Italian immigrants.

Veronica and Louis Zuraw had moved into the house, their first as a married couple, only 10 weeks prior to the hit.

It's not known who actually fired the blast that killed Zuraw, but it bothered Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli to the extent that he implicated himself in the shooting, telling his confederates that he was going to hell for her death.

Salvatore "Fat Sal" Miciotta said he'd been ordered to hit the Perainos, who for years had been stealing from the Colombo administration's share of the growing piles of cash accumulating from Deep Throat, the x-rated classic that went from porno theaters to main street cinemas.

The story of Gioeli's involvement is primarily based on his confession to an informant as has been widely published, including by the U.K.'s Mail Online.

According to an FBI debriefing report, Miciotta, when he originally told law enforcement about the 1982 hit, named as members of the hit team Joseph "Jo Jo" Russo, John Minerva, Vincent "Jimmy" Angellino, Frank Sparaco, and Anthony "Chucky" Russo.

The murders were planned at Joseph "Joe T" Tomasello's Avenue U social club, where a pair of sawed-off shotguns had been delivered for use by Miciotta and Angellino.

Tommy Shots and several others weren't mentioned in testimony. Then in that church garden, Gioeli made his “I’m going to hell” confession to Calabro.

Tommy Shots was "definitely" at the house when the Peraino's were shotgunned, an NYPD homicide detective told me, adding that Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace was likely to have been onsite as well. 

Gioeli beat the top-line murder charges in his case but was still slammed on other charges. He is now incarcerated at Butner Low FCI in North Carolina. His projected release date is September 9, 2024.