Federico (Fritzy) Giovanneli, Notoriously Linked to 1986 Homicide of NYPD Detective, Dies

Federico (Fritzy) Giovanneli, who was charged with the 1986 murder of an NYPD detective, died Friday. He was 84. The cause of death was an illness, according to the New York Post.

Fitzy Giovanneli was charged with murdering an NYPD detective in 1986
Federico (Fitzy) Giovanneli died Friday.

Giovanelli faced charges for shooting Detective Anthony Venditti, 34, four times, including twice in the head, in Ridgewood, Queens. Venditti and his partner had been trailing the longtime Genovese crime family mobster when the shooting occurred.

Giovanelli went on to face four trials, all of which ended in hung juries, except for one federal trial, which convicted him, but for racketeering only. The verdict was overturned on appeal.

Venditti's partner, Detective Kathleen Burke, was wounded in the shooting.

Cold Blooded Murder
At 8 p.m. on the night of Jan. 21, the two detectives trailed Giovanelli to a destination in the vicinity of Myrtle and St. Nicholas Avenues. The two were part of an organized crime taskforce and were staking out Giovanelli as part of an ongoing investigation into mob activities in the area.

Venditti exited the car and entered a diner then located there, Castillo’s Diner. After exiting a short while later, he was confronted by three men, who shoved him against a wall.

Seeing this, Burke hurried to his assistance, issuing a warning. (She testified in every trial that followed that Fritzy was one of the trio.) Seconds later, the suspects pulled out guns and opened fire. Venditti was shot four times, including twice in the head and twice in the back. Burke was shot in the chest, a critical wound she recovered from.

The three men fled the scene.

Venditti was a relatively young cop who proved he was more than capable. In his first 14 years on the force, he'd already earned 17 departmental commendations. He also was presented, posthumously, with the NYPD Medal of Honor, the highest award for an NYPD police officer.

Giovanelli and two others, Steven Maltese and Carmine Gualtiere, were arrested shortly after the shooting.

No one has ever been convicted in the slaying.

In the years after the shooting, Detective Venditti's widow and parents held the murder against Burke, proclaiming their belief that Detective Burke had been unable to prevent the murder of her partner because she was not good at her job.

Detective Burke was the main prosecution witness at all four trials. Each time she identified the three men as Genovese mobsters, including Fritzy.

Her version of events was never completely corroborated by other witnesses, however.

The case was officially closed.

Detective Anthony Venditti and wife, Patti, in an undated photo.

Law enforcement made life itself hot for Fritzy after the shooting.

They sent him to prison three times over the next 15 years. He was pinched for gambling, loansharking, parole violation.

Fritzy also was known for getting his hands on extremely sensitive information regarding law enforcement activities.

Most famously, in 1984 Giovanneli got hold of a draft copy of an FBI affidavit that noted the existence of a covertly installed bug inside the home of Gambino soldier Angelo (Quack-Quack) Ruggiero. The bug was part of a major probe into a heroin-trafficking ring that the Feds linked to Ruggiero, Gene Gotti, and others.

By presenting Ruggiero with that document, Fritzy brought the investigation to a complete halt.

A massive wave of surveillance was unleashed on Giovanneli; it included wiretaps on his home phone. (WMOB, a website that offered a sort of greatest hits of Fritzy and Frankie California, a friend, chatting about everything and anything unfortunately no longer exists. You can read about it, including a transcript of one conversation about the annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, here on Smoking Gun.)

Electronic surveillance was fruitful, though not in the way the FBI initially sought. Wiretaps uncovered corruption involving Brooklyn Democratic County leader Meade Esposito and Rep. Mario Biaggi of the Bronx. Both were later convicted and jailed.