John Gotti Was Linked To Murder Of Giovanni Falcone, The Legendary Anti-Mafia Judge? We Don’t Buy It

Newspapers overseas report that John Gotti, the former Gambino boss who rose to power following the midtown Manhattan execution of his predecessor in December 1985, played a role in the brutal bombing murders of two Sicilian judges.

A Sicilian turncoat pointed the finger at Gotti for ordering a made member of the Gambino crime family -- who was an explosives expert -- to train Sicilian mobsters to use the bombs that killed anti-mafia crusaders Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

The turncoat -- Maurizio Avola, 56, a convicted murderer who flipped in 1994 -- told prosecutors in Caltanissetta, Sicily, that John Gotti had sent the American mobster/explosives expert, who Avola described as “about 40 years old" with brown hair and dark eyes, about six feet tall, with a strong build, and he "dressed very elegantly."

Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo, and three police officers/bodyguards were killed in Palermo in May 1992 with a bomb comprised of 400kg of TNT explosives and a remote-controlled detonator.

La Repubblica reported that Avola told prosecutors: "I met [the expert] in a house in Catania and was later told “today you’ve met someone really important." I was told that the foreigner collaborated in the attack."

Avola reportedly killed as many as 80 people before becoming a pentito (A Sicilian mobster who cooperates; he is repentant). "Occhi di ghiaccio" (his nickname means ice eyes, referring to his cold stare) had been recruited by the Santapaola Cosa Nostra family. The information he provided law enforcement reportedly fueled investigations that resulted in the arrests of more than 100 Sicilian Mafiosi.

Maurizio Avolan in the 1990s.

On multiple levels, this allegation is difficult to believe. It’s ass backwards, for one thing. Sicilian Mafiosi probably use bombs more than most other criminal entities; Sicilians generally would know a lot more about bombs and devices to set them off than American mobsters. Sicilian gangsters actually have shown a preference for using bombs -- in fact, bombs were so commonly used in Sicily, mobsters have been known to use them to cover up the real cause of death. The American Mafia supposedly banned the use of bombs back in the 1960s. And aside from isolated regional events (a spate of explosions in Arizona and during the Danny Green “war” in Cleveland readily come to mind) bombs were never commonly used in the American underworld—if they had been, the Mafia would’ve been labeled a terrorist organization.

Read more about Maurizio "Occhi di Ghiaccio" Avola here in a Q&A

Questions We Raise

When did Gotti send this expert? There’s a problem with the chronology. Falcone was killed in May 1992, when Gotti was on trial for his life. John Gotti, who was arrested for the final time in December 1990, was convicted in June 1992. He spent the rest of his life in prison.

And why'd Occhi wait about 25 years to offer this information?

American and Italian mob investigators have worked together since the Pizza Connection case of the 1980s, but this sliver of information apparently is the first “evidence” supposedly linking American Mafiosi to the murders.

The May 1992 killing of prosecuting judge Falcone—followed by the murder of judge Paolo Borsellino two months later—outraged Italians.

The mastermind, Toto Riina, wanted to decapitate Italy's anti-Mafia campaign and wanted revenge against the two chief architects of Italy's Maxi Trial, the largest criminal trial against the Sicilian Mafia ever. (It took place in Palermo, commencing on February 10, 1986, and ending on January 30, 1992.)

After returning to Sicily from Rome, Falcone was killed during the drive along the four-lane highway that stretched from Palermo's airport to Palermo. An armed escort was ahead of him. The bomb, hidden in a culvert over which the roadway ran, was detonated via cell phone. The explosion destroyed about a third of a mile of roadway.

The Italian Government responded by launching one of the largest mob crackdowns ever. Seven-thousand Italian soldiers marched across Sicily and arrested Riina, the Sicilian Mafia’s “boss of bosses” in January of 1993. (Baldassare Di Maggio, a Mafioso-turned-informer led authorities to one of Riina’s hideouts. Riina had been lamming it for more than 20 years.) Italian investigators identified Riina as the man who gave the orders to kill Falcone and Borsellino.

American FBI agents identified DNA samples from cigarette butts collected by police on a nearby hilltop where a group of mobsters waited to detonate the bomb. The DNA was found to belong to Antonio Gioe, who later committed suicide in prison, but not without leading investigators to the other plotters and Riina.

Ultimately, investigators revealed, Riina wanted only his closest and most trusted men involved in the hit on Falcone. Riina gave his personal driver, Salvatore Biondino, the job of coordinating the assassination. Riina brother-in-law Leoluca Bagarella was charged with participating in the conspiracy, as was Salvatore Sbegli, who built the detonator used to explode the bomb. Gioacchino La Barbera, also charged in the indictment, followed Falcone's car as it sped toward Palermo and was in direct communication with the plotters. Men had also tailed Falcone while he was still in Rome.

This story is not an attempt to defend anyone or anything, and we make no claims alluding to moral or ethical considerations.

John Gotti most certainly would've helped the Italian mob had they sought his help with anything against the police, we believe.

John Gotti would not have hesitated, even slightly, if he thought he had a good enough reason.

The Gus Farace story we think offers strong evidence regarding where John Gotti stood as to law enforcement/the federal government, etc.

Gus Farace brought serious heat on the five families.

John Gotti was reportedly the only holdout when all the other New York bosses were advocating for Gus Farace's head. The drug dealing Bonanno associate had murdered DEA agent Everett Hatcher on Staten Island in February 1989 and brought down an unfathomable amount of heat on New York mobsters. Gotti alone refused to move against Farace.

Hatcher's death was the first murder of a DEA agent in New York City since 1972. "Assisted by law enforcement agencies in the New York City area, the DEA instantly spearheaded a massive manhunt in an attempt to apprehend Farace," the DEA noted of the Hatcher case.

A nationwide manhunt commenced, and Farace landed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. One of the largest Federal rewards ever posted was offered -- $250,000. Then-President Bush Sr. pressed in a public address the need for a mandatory federal death penalty in cases involving the murder of law-enforcement officials.

In New York City, local and federal law enforcement turned up the heat on Cosa Nostra until it passed the boiling point. Members were stopped in their cars for driving two miles over the speed limit. Photographs of made guys were taken everywhere, day and night, and not the slightest effort was made to hide the operation or surveillance, which was never-ending.

Initially, the mob had been aiding Farace, who had lammed it right off the bat. But the heat eventually became too much. It was made clear to bosses and capos that if Farace didn't turn up and surrender himself, a veritable shit storm was going to rain down on the Five Families as had never before been seen.

The head of the New York DEA office visited Gambino boss John Gotti. "We want Farace, and I don't care if he's dead or alive when we find him," the DEA chief later admitted to telling John Gotti.

Gotti had no idea what the DEA agent was even talking about.

Gotti meanwhile reminded his criminal cohorts that they were obligated to continue supporting Farace, whatever the cost. It was simply out of the question, unconscionable to Gotti, that mobsters would ever side with law enforcement against one of their own.

A few months after the Hatcher murder, the manhunt for Farace ended at 11:08 p.m. on November 17, 1989, after police dispatchers received a 9-1-1 emergency call about a car parked at 1814 81st Street in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.

Farace's bullet-riddled body was later found.

As per an exclusive interview with an NYPD officer who requested anonymity: “Once we arrived (Gambino associate Joseph) Sclafani was outside the car where he was shot, literally out of his shoes.

Farace never got his snub-nose .38 out of his waistband.

"Approximately 8-9 bullets hit Farace, a few also hit Sclafani,"

The Gambino associate had driven Farace to what they thought was a late-night rendezvous with friends.

"Sclafani never ran, he was on the ground - when I saw the .38 I asked if they were cops because .38s were the type of firearm favored by off-duty cops. [Sclafani’s gun was later linked to a Pan-Am heist].

“Sclafani shouted: ‘I ain't no fucking cop!’

“I was the last person to talk to Farace - we were able to barely get him into a trauma suit. We didn't realize it was Farace until hours later - after going through his pockets, we found the letters, wedding picture, and a clipping from the Staten Island Advance about the film (about Farace) being made. After doing this, we confirmed his identity."

Sclafani was hospitalized and charged with CPW (criminal possession of a weapon).

Because Sclafani had been wounded in the Farace hit, Gotti ordered hits on all four shooters; that was confirmed by a law enforcement source. But only one of the shooters ultimately was killed.

In January 1990, Bonanno associate Louis Tuzzio was found dead in his car in Brooklyn, a bullet in the back of the head. Believing he was getting made on an appointed night (though Louis did first confide to a friend, "I am either gonna get made or killed tonight "), Louis was murdered by Bobby Lino and Anthony Spero, Bonanno mobsters who would later be convicted of this murder, among other things.

It’s fascinating the information we continue to hear about.

Way back in 2013 we learned that the Sicilian mob allegedly wanted to kill Rudy Giuliani, former New York city mayor. Who told us? Giuliani himself.

Giuliani was being uncharacteristically self-deprecating when discussing how his value had seemed to fall, from $800,000, which was what he said the Sicilian Mafia had offered to whoever ended the mayor's life, to $400,00, which, he alleged, Carmine Persico had offered.

Giuliani made his confessions as a guest on Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable-channel show, "Oprah: Where Are They Now." Sounds unimaginable today that he was once on Oprah. The onetime prosecutor seemed to relish that he was once important enough to be a target for organize crime.

Giuliani was U.S. Attorney before becoming the mayor, from 1994-2001.

"Certainly, no one sent them to prison for the lengthy periods of time that I did," he said of American mobsters.

In any case, he never was that concerned about threats from members of organized-crime gangs.

"Now, when we start talking about Islamic extremist terrorism — that worries me more, because they are suicidal.

"Part of why I didn't worry about the Mafia was because there was a certain rationality to their kind of violence. This other kind of violence is completely irrational violence."