Reputed Colombo Boss Carmine (Junior) Persico Died Yesterday

Carmine (The Snake) Persico, the longtime boss of the Colombo crime family, died at age 85, the Daily News has reported in a story by Larry McShane and John Annese.

Carmine Persico had served more than 32 years of a 136-year prison sentence following his conviction in the "Mafia Commission Case."

One source, who requested anonymity, told COSA NOSTRA NEWS:

"After being railroaded by the courts and the Parole Commission, we tried to get a Compassionate Release based on his well-documented medical conditions. As his health plummeted they consistently ignored our pleas and engaged in deliberate delay to assure he would die in jail.

"They took him to a great hospital at Duke University just a few miles down the road HOURS before he died. They should have sent him there months ago or sent him home so he could get real medical treatment. "

As we reported in 2017, his attorneys were mounting a major effort to get Persico resentenced on the grounds that the FBI may have played some covert hanky-panky during the investigation prior to the high-profile trial of the so-called leadership of New York's Five Families.

The ghost of Gregory Scarpa continues to haunt New York's criminal justice system, especially in the Southen District, where the case was prosecuted. A landmark trial, then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani was the driving force behind it, ironically and allegedly after he read former mob boss Joseph Bonanno's memoir A Man of Honor.

Or was he? Jerry Capeci already has raised questions about whether Giuliani has historically overplayed his hand in terms of his role in that case. Now, the legal validity of the case is under fire -- at the very least by Persico's attorneys.

Persico's appeal brief, which was filed last October, turns a healthy chunk of organized crime history on its ear, charging:

The Government concealed the fact that it had obtained its sentencing information from unreliable sources. The Government failed to disclose that it learned of Mr. Persico’s involvement in uncharged murders from FBI informant, Gregory Scarpa, Sr.

In addition, the Government concealed the fact that the sentencing information provided by FBI Agent Joseph Pistone was unreliable because he had participated in undisclosed acts of violence, extortion, obstruction of justice, hijackings, and a conspiracy to murder Bruno Indelicato.

Persico's attorneys, Anthony DiPietro, Esq. and Mathew Mari, filed a reply brief on January 22, 2017, arguing that Carmine Persico should be resentenced based on new evidence revealed in recently released FBI files.

The newly cited evidence is based on disclosures recently obtained via DiPietro's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings. A key allegation based on the documents regards the use of confidential information from a notorious deceased mobster who for decades served as a government informant.

While receiving payments from Uncle Sam for his "inside" information, Colombo mobster Gregory Scarpa never seemed to slow down in terms of life on the streets.

While apparently under the FBI's auspices, Scarpa was elevated to capo and in the 1990s, was a chief gunman for one of the two factions fighting what became known as the third Colombo crime family civil war.

Scarpa, who died of AIDS in 1994, gave the Feds information used to prosecute the Commission Case in New York's Southern District.

In a previous story, The Mobster Who Convicted Half the Mafia, we detailed the information Scarpa provided the Feds with for the Commission Case. For example, in 1983, Scarpa reported that mobsters were involved in a multi-family extortion and bid-rigging scheme that earned a 2% surcharge from Manhattan construction projects worth more than $2 million. (Scarpa named Colombo soldier Ralph Scopo, then president of the cement workers union, as the ring's muscle.) In September 1983, Scarpa described Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno as among the Genovese crime family's most powerful members. In 1984, the longtime Colombo capo clarified for the FBI that Vincent "The Chin" Gigante was boss of the Genovese crime family, though the Feds apparently decided to move forward with Fat Tony.

Scarpa provided plenty of information but only now is it alleged that Scarpa's revelations were never corroborated.

Additionally, sworn testimony of FBI agents during the Commission Case trial revealed that as many as three reliable sources had given information used to obtain permission for the investigation's many wiretaps, the transcripts of which were a centerpiece of the whole case.

That's allegedly not the case, however. The FBI apparently accepted Greg Scarpa's word alone, Persico's lawyers now allege.

Persico's lawyers also are attempting to get Persico re-sentenced also by arguing that Carmine Persico was not the boss of the Colombo crime family at the time alleged in the Commission Case indictment.

For one thing, Scarpa himself had named at least three other Colombo mobsters as boss of the Colombo crime family when the Commission Case crimes reportedly occurred.

Thomas DiBella was the boss of the Colombo crime family when the Commission Case murder was committed, according to the documents. That was the 1979 murder of Carmine Galante, a capo in the Bonanno crime family. Galante believed that since he had served as underboss to the Mafia family's progenitor, Joseph Bonanno, he was entitled to the top slot.

He also didn't believe there was anyone strong enough to oppose him.

He was wrong.

While DiBella is historically considered to have served as Carmine Persico's acting boss, defense attorneys now dispute this, saying that, based on the newly released documents, Persico couldn't have been official boss because of his incarceration, which prevented him from providing the crime family with effective leadership.

Separately, in interviews with this blog, attorney Mat Mari noted that supporting this new motion are FBI 302s based on information provided by former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who flipped following his own conviction in a major murder and racketeering trial.

Joe Massino has made a host of claims that rewrite the history of the New York Mafia as we know it. These include different motives for the murders of Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano and Anthony Mirra; according to Massino, the two were not whacked over Joe Pistone's Donnie Brasco Mafia infiltration, among other things. (Sources contacted us after reading our initial story to confirm that Mirra and Napolitano were indeed killed over Donnie Brasco, despite Massino's contrary admissions.)

There was no Commission meeting to determine the fate of Carmine Galante, Massino told the FBI, which detailed his comments on 302s, the form used by FBI agents to report or summarize interviews with certain sources.

In fact, the Galante murder was in-house Bonanno business, Massino told FBI agents. Bonanno boss Philip (Rusty) Rastelli simply ordered the murder of Galante, Massino told the FBI. Massino never testified in court about this information.

The reply brief was filed last month, following an appeal brief filed on October 11, 2016. It dispute many long-held "facts" about Mafia history in New York.

To quote directly from the document:

The Government deliberately withheld from Mr. Persico’s defense, numerous FBI reports proving that other individuals acted as the “boss” of the Colombo family and as a member of the “Commission” when Carmine Galante was murdered in 1979. See, e.g., FBI Report, dated 3/9/1982 (“The source advised that the former Colombo family boss, Thomas Di Bella, who was the boss of the family prior to 1981...”)...

Among the Government’s withholdings, were records proving that at least four FBI sources reported that Thomas Di Bella was appointed as the “boss” of the Colombo family by the “Commission” through its leader Carlo Gambino:

• On June 4, 1973, NY T-1 advised that Thomas Di Bella has been designated permanent new Boss of the Colombo La Cosa Nostra (LCN) Family by Carlo Gambino.

• On July 12, 1973, NY T-2 confirmed the above.

• On August 7, 1973, NY T-3 advised that Thomas Di Bella was still Boss of the Colombo LCN Family. FBI Report, dated 8/22/1973... ***

• On June 7, 1974, NY T-2 advised that one of the reasons Thomas Di Bella was made “boss” of the Colombo Family was because of his close friendship with Carlo Gambino. Gambino had threatened to take over the entire Family if a boss was appointed who he found unsuitable.

• On March 14, 1974, NY T-4 advised that Thomas Di Bella was firmly established as boss of the Colombo family

The Government also suppressed information that Mr. Persico was not an active or influential member of the Colombo family due to his incarceration in the 1970s.... (“On September 13, 1973, NY T-2 advised that Thomas Di Bella is consolidating his power as the true boss of the Joseph Colombo La Cosa Nostra (LCN)” and “it has become apparent that Carmine Persico cannot control the family from his jail cell in the view of his brother’s, Alphonse Persico’s, ineffectiveness”); FBI Report, dated 3/7/74 (“A couple of months ago Yackovelli sent word to Persico that [ ]. Yackovelli told Persico that he [Yackovelli] is boss and when he needs things, people are to respond”); US Gov’t Memorandum, dated 11/4/74 (“The word on the street is that the Persico faction is ‘out’ in the Colombo power circles and that Joe Brancato appears to be the low key figure the Family has been seeking as a leader....”).

Moreover, the Government suppressed information that Mr. Persico did not have the authority in the 1970s to authorize or sanction murder on behalf of the Colombo family. Alleged members of the Colombo family neither sought nor requested his authorization.... FBI Report, dated 3/1/1975 (“Source advised further that George Tropiano was attempting to get approval from Acting Boss Joe Brancato to have a ‘witness’ hit”); US Gov’t Memorandum, dated 10/14/75 (reporting that Thomas Di Bella is the boss of the Colombo family)...

The Mafia Commission Trial took place in New York's Southern District from February 25, 1985, to November 19, 1986. (Officially the case is named "United States v. Anthony Salerno, et al.")

Based largely on the transcripts of bugged conversations, prosecutors tried alleged mobsters who supposedly held rank in New York's Five Families.

The driving force behind the case was United States Attorney Rudolph Giuliani under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) on charges including extortion, labor racketeering, and murder.

The Commission Case is generally considered to be one of the most significant blows against the New York Mafia's infrastructure in the history of American law enforcement. It effectively hastened the decline of the Mafia just as Giuliani intended based on his statement that: "Our approach... is to wipe out the Five Families."

Even if you don't know anything about Scarpa, consider his FBI handler, Lindley DeVecchio.

In 1993, former Colombo consigliere Carmine Sessa told prosecutors that Scarpa had had an "unusual relationship with DeVecchio," as the NY Post reported.

During a probe of the relationship between Scarpa and DeVecchio, prosecutors uncovered circumstantial evidence that suggested DeVecchio had provided Scarpa with confidential information several times.

The FBI decided not to press charges against DeVecchio, who retired in 1996.

Still, 19 alleged Colombo mobsters had their convictions reversed or charges tossed after defense attorneys successfully argued that DeVecchio's actions raised serious questions about the evidence used to incriminate.

Then in 2006, Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes indicted DeVecchio on charges that he'd helped Scarpa kill four people in the 1980s and early 1990s. He did this by providing Scarpa with confidential FBI information, as was alleged in court.

The trial imploded in progress when Tom Robbins provided the court with a recording of an interview he and Jerry Capeci had conducted in 1997 for an aborted book project. On tape, Linda Schiro -- Scarpa's longtime girlfriend and the key witness against the retired FBI agent -- seemingly denied that DeVecchio had been involved in alleged criminal activity.

All charges against DeVecchio were dismissed on November 1, 2007. Yet as recently as a year ago, a judge didn't mince words about DeVecchio.

Judge Edward Korman, based on a transcript of a 2012 court case for mob informant Gregory Scarpa Jr.," was quite blunt:

"It was my view and remains my view that Lin DeVecchio provided information to Scarpa that got people killed,” Korman said, according to a court transcript.

“I found it pretty outrageous and the bottom line was, of course, nothing happened to Lin DeVecchio. He was permitted to retire and in his retirement was actually doing background checks for the (FBI),” the judge said.

Mat Mari, a defense attorney for more than 40 years (he grew up on Mulberry Street), reached by telephone told us, "The Persico family is sick and tired of this fixed justice system. Carmine Persico is 83, he has a myriad of things wrong with him and he is in the prison hospital in Butner North Carolina.

"This is not about suing anyone, Carmine Persico simply wants to come home. He wants to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. How many years can he possibly have left? Even prisoners of war get to go home once the war is over -- and the war against the alleged Mafia in New York is practically over. The government won."