WHACKED REDUX: Inside the 2013 Luchese Associate Murder Probe

Michael Meldish, 62, was a Luchese associate who once ran the Purple Gang, a violent crew based in Harlem and the Bronx.

He was shot in the head in 2013 while he sat behind the wheel of his car. One bullet had been fired into the right side of his head at close range as if the shooter were seated in the front passenger seat. And he likely was sitting beside Meldish as a getaway car tailed them. (Ironically, the front passenger seat is usually referred to as the "death seat" in mob parlance.)
Terence Caldwell allegedly murdered Michael Meldish in 2013.
Surveillance video allegedly caught gunmen
Terence Caldwell.

Police found Luchese associate Meldish within a very short timeframe following the shooting. He was bleeding from both ears, and his body was still warm when police arrived on the scene, summoned by a 911 call from a neighbor.

The shooting took place in the Throgs Neck section of The Bronx allegedly by Luchese mobster Christopher Londonio, 43, and associate Terrence Caldwell, 58.

The two were identified days after the shooting. Yet it took around one and a half years for prosecutors to indict the alleged shooters.

The NYPD's Organized Crime Investigation Division reportedly obtained the evidence that linked Londonio and Caldwell to Meldish's murder. Evidence includes "DNA, phone records, and license plate numders," the Bronx District Attorney's Office had said.

Surveillance footage also played a role in solving the murder. Investigators reviewing videotape spotted a gray car that resembled the Hyundai Londonio was known to be driving at the time. Londonio was a known associate of Meldish. The gray car was seen following Meldish's dark blue Lincoln Town Car minutes prior to the shooting. Investigators went on to discover Caldwell's DNA in the car in which Meldish was whacked.

The murder seems to have gone something like this: Caldwell fired the fatal shot while he was seated in the car with Meldish. Londonio was the getaway driver who pulled up and drove off with Caldwell.

Also linking the pair were cellphone calls on the night of the murder.

Both Londonio and Caldwell were arrested in 2015, Londonio on weapons charges, and Caldwell for the actual Meldish murder. Nevertheless, the murder indictment only came down this month, more than a year after the arrests.

One reason for the years-long wait seems to have resulted from federal prosecutors' inability to find enough evidence linking the murder to the man believed to have ordered it.

Near Bronx-Pelham Landfill
Londonio and Bonanno soldier Pasquale "Patty Boy" Maiorino were arrested on unrelated federal gun charges on Nov. 8, 2015, when they were spotted sitting in a 2013 Acura parked near the Bronx-Pelham landfill. This is "an area known for criminal activity, including drug transactions and prostitution," according to an arrest complaint emailed to this website by an anonymous source.

Police spoke to Londonio, the driver, when a bullet was seen behind the driver's seat on the floorboard. Cops also noticed that Maiorino, the passenger in the vehicle, "was noticeably pale," according to the complaint. After the two men were ordered to withdraw from the car, police spotted a firearm on the backseat.

That was only the beginning.

Upon handcuffing and arresting the duo, police swept the vehicle, discovering a small arsenal. The cache of weapons included a stolen .40 caliber Glock pistol with laser sighting, a .9 mm handgun, and around 115 ammunition rounds. (A metal pipe, switchblade, and hammer also were discovered, as were robber's tools.)

Londonio and Maiorino were held on federal weapons charges, which supposedly made it easier for law enforcement to detain the two. (Maiorino was sentenced to 30 months in prison.)

One week prior, Caldwell had been nabbed for the Meldish slaying. Caldwell is the accused triggerman. (He's also been charged for the East Harlem shooting of self-admitted Bonanno soldier Enzo (The Baker) Stagno six months prior to the Meldish hit.)

Matty Madonna

More than a year the indictment seemed to whither on the vine in Bronx Supreme Court.

As with Meldish, Stagno also was sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle: his SUV, which was parked near 111th Street and First Avenue. Caldwell allegedly fired three shots at The Baker, hitting him once in the chest before running away from the scene. Grainy surveillance video caught the gunman who had taken off toward Second Avenue.

Stagno, not seriously injured, supposedly identified himself as a made Mafia member to police, though he refused to identify the man who shot at him.

Motive for Meldish Hit

Matthew (Matty) Madonna was feuding with Meldish in the months before the hit.

Meldish allegedly was a Luchese enforcer and loanshark collector. He supposedly earned Madonna's anger some eight months prior to his death. Madonna was initially reported to have ordered the hit. The direct reason was that Meldish had disrespected the elderly mobster, then acting street boss of the Luchese crime family for an imprisoned Steven Crea.

The Bronx DA decided to hand the case over to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Reportedly the goal was to expand the investigation to include Madonna in the Meldish murder indictment. But that hasn't happened.

Veteran FBI agent Theodore Otto had intel revealing that Madonna had ordered the hit after the clash between him and Meldish who himself was suspected of committing numerous murders in the 1970s and 1980s when he helmed the violent drug-dealing Purple Gang.

Initially, it was reported that months prior to the Meldish slaying, Michael (Mikey Nose) Mancuso also supposedly had problems with Meldish.

Michael Nose Mancuso

Mancuso supposedly went as far as ordering Meldish a beating, also for what Mickey Nose had considered acts of disrespect. Acting capo Ernest Aiello committed the Meldish assault. (Aiello is only an associate but supposedly is considered "a rising star in the Bronx faction" of the Bonanno family, according to Gang Land News.)

The beating occurred in August of 2012 in upper Manhattan, supposedly outside the famous East Harlem Italian restaurant Rao's. One source quoted in reports said that the beating administered by Aiello to Meldish was witnessed by dozens of spectators.

Aiello was not charged with the assault, nor was he ever a suspect in the Meldish slaying. (He, in fact, was a guest at Rikers Island since a 2013 arrest that took place months prior to the killing.)

As for Mancuso, he has been behind bars for 11 years.

So how did he order Aiello to assault Meldish? 

The Feds have since revealed that Mikey Nose had found a new conduit in one Frank (Frankie Boy) Salerno, who the boss used to pass on messages from Danbury federal prison.

Gang Land News reported that one source had told the site: "Matty was badmouthing Meldish for months. It was common knowledge that (Meldish) was with Matty, doing some collecting and other stuff for him, (and that) he did something that pissed Matty off."

"It doesn't mean Matty did him in," the source added. "There were a lot of people who were happy to see him get it."

However, in the end, it was Madonna who had the most likely motive -- and clearance to order the hit.

As a law enforcement source told Gang Land: "It's one thing for Mikey Nose to get someone to slap Meldish around, it's quite another for him to get someone to whack him."

Londonio is a Luchese mobster who, like Meldish, also has longtime ties to Madonna.

Madonna pleaded guilty in Manhattan earlier this year to an unrelated 2009 gambling case and received one-to-three years in prison.