Killing Time, New ID True Crime Show, Accuses Bonanno Capo Of Snitching. He Didn't

You dirty rat...

"Sleep No More," the debut episode of Killing Time, a new Investigation Discovery true crime series, created an incorrect -- and potentially dangerous -- impression about a Bonanno capo by depicting him as a snitch who made a deal against his criminal confederates.

Frank The Fireman Porco.

It's the kind of impression that could get wiseguys killed.

The episode -- which aired on Tuesday, January 1, as part of a marathon of sneak peeks of pending ID programming -- centered on the ghastly, reprehensible murder in November 2004 of 52-year-old state Appellate Division court clerk Peter Porco in the upstate town of Bethlehem in Albany, New York.

Frank Porco, aka The Fireman, a capo in the Bonanno crime family, was questioned by police following the murder because he was a distant relative of the victim's -- and because he's Mafia.

"Frankie the Fireman Porco essentially became a snitch," an investigator says, inaccurately, during the Sleep No More episode. "He could've then put his family in harm's way by divulging secrets of the Mafia."

Another theory was that the two Porcos, Frank the wiseguy and Pete the appellate judge's clerk, had had "a beef."

And the way the bloodied ax was left on the bed, noted another detective, "was that some sort of a sign, like from The Godfather?"

Detectives visited Frank in federal prison.

"He was very wise... And he had no interest in the interview," one of them recalled.

When they accused Frank of committing the murderous assault, "he gave me this look. It was very unsettling," the detective added.

Frank Porco would only tell the detectives that he hadn't seen his nephew in decades, "20 years ago at a family function on Long Island."

The investigator's speculation about Porco being a snitch was part of a larger discussion on the show regarding potential motives for the grizzly murder 15 years ago of Frank's great nephew.

While this doesn't appear to have been an intentional effort by producers to distort the facts, carelessness and sloppiness likely played a role. Our opinion is that the show's editors, and not the lawman, are to blame for this mistake. (The investigator, after all, was part of the team that proved the murderer couldn't be Frank Porco.)

Frank Porco didn't snitch and never copped a deal against his Mafia associates, as far as is publicly known. Rather, defense attorneys were attempting to deploy a mob-related conspiracy theory to deflect blame from a client who was ultimately convicted for the murder.

While The Fireman may not have been his genuine mob nickname (it sounds like it was more of a neighborhood nickname than a mob nickname), Frank Porco was a genuine fireman. Porco is actually a decorated 20-year veteran of the FDNY.

And he's a real wiseguy, too. In 2002, Frank Porco was one of 15 members and associates indicted in a racketeering and loansharking investigation of the Bonanno crime family. (He was busted with Little Anthony and Johnny Joe, etc.)

In September 2003, Frank Porco was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, which follows sentencing guidelines. As per the BOP inmate locator site, Porco was released on September 29, 2005.

Porco has been getting plenty of attention in the past few months -- probably even more than when his great nephew's murder put him in the klieg lights.

He's been mentioned in a spate of news stories since the October 2018 shooting of Sally Daz. Porco was supposed to catch a beating for arguing with the Luchese associate. As noted, Vinny Gorgeous Basciano allegedly ordered an assault on Frank Porco after Big Frank, as he is also known, got into an argument with Luchese associate/Basciano goombah Sylvester (Sally Daz) Zottola. As per a court memo: "... in 2003 or 2004, Basciano directed Dominick Cicale and other Bonanno members and associates to assault Frank Porco in response to a dispute that had arisen between Porco and Sylvester ‘Sally Daz’ Zottola, a Luchese family associate who maintained Basciano’s joker-poker machines.”

Zottola was gunned down in his car in the Bronx this past October. So far, five have been nabbed for the murder of Sally Daz, 71, at a Bronx McDonald's drive-thru, as well as the summertime shooting of Sally Daz's son.

Porco murder  weapon

Porco Murder
In November 2004,  someone with an ax walked into the bedroom where Peter Porco and his wife, Joan, were sleeping, expressly to kill them.

Peter sustained 16 devastating blows from the ax, only one of which, surprisingly, actually penetrated his skull. (A second removed part of his jaw.) The other 14 apparently were similar to hammer blows.

Mrs Porco survived the attack — Peter ultimately did not, though he “almost certainly” survived "for several hours after" his attacker fled, as pathologist/coroner Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard explained at the summer 2006 Porco murder trial.

"There are no injuries that were instantly or rapidly fatal," Hubbard said. "The survival here could have been many hours."

Devastating injuries to the brain caused something both remarkable and chilling to happen.

Based on blood evidence found throughout the house, including in places where it shouldn't logically have been, as well as testimony by Dr Hubbard, prosecutors theorized that, "in the minutes or hours following the attack (because of damage to the brain), Peter Porco went through his morning routine as if he were getting ready for work, unaware that he had been mortally wounded with an ax or that his wife Joan Porco lay bleeding in their bed."

Suffering unbelievable head trauma, Peter Porco walked into the bathroom -- and used the toilet. Then the sink...

Photo from Porco murder scene.

He even went into the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher. He tried to make his lunch.

He should not have been alive. He was suffering from catastrophic injuries.

Interspersed with his attempts to carry out his early morning routine, Peter allegedly also had flashes of awareness during which he understood exactly what was happening and tried to get help, including crawling outside the house and into his car for his cellphone to call 911. Alas, he was unable to dial the number. (He also tried calling 911 on the house phone, maybe for hours. Had you been able to phone the police, it was speculated that he may have survived as his wife Joan did. It was also noted that had he stayed in bed, he may have lost less blood, which would've raised his chances of surviving. Joan is alive today.)

In opening statements during the trial of then-22-year-old college student Christopher Porco, Peter and Joan Porco's son, his defense attorneys highlighted speculation that Peter Porco was the target of professional killers hired by organized crime figures.

Enter "distant relative" Frank Porco, a "documented member of New York City's notorious Bonanno crime family."

"Peter had a cousin in the mob down in the big city named Frankie the Fireman," the attorney told the jury. "And Frankie the Fireman was what we call in my business a 'snitch.' And we couldn't help in our investigations but notice that Frankie the Fireman was doing 24 months in a federal prison on a conspiracy-to-murder conviction. ... Do you think maybe Frankie the Fireman made a deal? Do you think maybe somebody was upset by the deal he made?"

Actually, no and no...

Still, during the Porco trial, defense attorneys said they would not be presenting evidence supporting a mob-based murder conspiracy as the cause of Porco's murder. "What we're talking about here is a shoddy police investigation," as one attorney said. "When they got leads, they didn't follow them."

Outside court, the attorneys raised questions about whether killing Peter Porco with an ax, which they contended was a "fireman's ax," was a sign that the murder was retaliation for alleged cooperation.

(In July 2006, during the trial, it was reported, quite unbelievably one day that "a local town councilwoman awoke.... to find a severed horse head in her pool. While the incident (was) not connected to the Porco murder, (a defense attorney alleged that) the head could be the signature of a particular criminal just as an ax left in a bed could be, and that (detectives had failed because they) did not investigate any such symbolism." C'mon that is crazy -- that  does not just happen!!)

According to federal court records in Brooklyn, and attorneys familiar with Frank Porco, he did not cooperate with authorities and was never accused of taking part in a murder conspiracy.

Jerry Capeci, in a Times Union report on the trial, is quoted saying, "To my knowledge, Frank Porco did not cooperate. He did get a relatively light sentence ... but that, as far as I can recall, had to do with the fact they didn't really have much. He copped a plea. He was old. A former firefighter."

As per the Times Union: "Prosecutors said Frank Porco's case was deeply researched by a State Police investigator who determined his background had nothing to do with (the great nephew) Peter Porco's murder."

Frank Porco has finished his prison term and returned to Brooklyn, where he was last reported to be living. As far as is known he also remains in good standing with the Bonanno crime family.

Christopher Porco, 35, was accused of driving from the University of Rochester to his family's Bethlehem home on the night of the murder, where he allegedly snuck in and attacked his parents, killing his father and severely wounding and disfiguring his mother.

He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

As for motive, Christopher Porco, who was suspected of stealing laptop computers from wherever he could find them (including from friends) and selling them on eBay, allegedly stole $31,000 from his father, who discovered the theft, which only fed long-brewing tension between him and his parents.

For more information on  Killing Time on ID, see here.