Will Skinny Teddy Call The Shots for the Colombos? Or Joe Waverly?

To have been a fly on the wall at the downtown Brooklyn halfway house where the leading contenders for the slot of Colombo family boss, Theodore (Skinny Teddy) Persico Jr. and Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace, both cooled their heels for months....

Theodore (Skinny Teddy) Persico
Theodore (Skinny Teddy) Persico is heir apparent.

Unless the COVID-19 pandemic changed anything, Joe Waverly departed the Brooklyn Residential Reentry facility last Friday, May 22. Skinny Teddy still has a few more days to go before his slated May 29 release.

For now, Andrew (Mush) Russo is once again acting Colombo family boss.

Skinny Teddy Persico, 56, has been the presumed heir apparent since cousin Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, went away for life after his 2008 conviction for the 1999 murder of William (Wild Bill) Cutolo. Skinny Teddy's father, who died in 2017, was a brother of Carmine (Junior) Persico, the legendary and unpredictable boss of the Colombo crime family who died last year at the age of 85 while serving a 139-year sentence.

Teddy Persico has the lineage and street experience to take the reigns. (When Teddy Persico was arrested and jailed in 2010, he was already underboss and, quite helpfully for the Feds, he identified the crime family's acting hierarchy on a wiretap.) Skinny Teddy also has spent decades, actually most of his life, in prison. Fortunately for him, he was inside during the 1991-1993 Colombo war (which really was already ongoing by 1988), though Skinny Teddy used a prison furlough visit to New York City to issue a key, war-ending hit order.

“He’s more than capable,” Billy Cutolo Jr., son of Wild Bill, told us.

Bill Cutolo Junior
Bill Cutolo Junior

Still members of the Colombo family would seem to have much riding on whether Skinny Teddy has matured since his days as a hot-headed street thug. (Though if history serves as any guide, it won't be long before Persico is locked up again.) According to Gang Land, Teddy has three years of post-prison supervised release ahead of him, which would give him time to prove his "boss" mettle.

Persico is finishing a 12-year sentence for ordering the 1993 murder of Joseph Scopo -- who was killed in front of his Queens home months later. Teddy Persico whispered the order at his grandmother's 1993 Brooklyn wake. He had been let out of jail on a furlough expressly to attend the wake. “You’ve got to kill Joey,” Persico told three Colombo cohorts at Scarpaci Funeral Home in Dyker Heights, so said one of the three, Anthony (Big Anthony) Russo, during testimony at the 2012 trial of another of the trio, B.F. Guerra.

At the time Persico was handcuffed and sitting in a room with both his grandmother’s body and three state jail guards who’d transported him from an upstate prison. Persico wanted Scopo dead because Scopo had played a key role in the hierarchy of then Colombo acting boss Vittorio (Little Vic) Orena. Scopo was close to John Gotti, and it was believed that, if the Orena faction had won the war, Orena would've been killed to allow for Scopo's rise. (As reported in a previous story, John Gotti “started the Colombo war," Michael (Mikie Scars) DiLeonardo told Cosa Nostra News. "He wanted to control the Colombo family. He had us; he had the Bonanno family – and he wanted the Colombos. It was Scopo he tried to work through to control the Commission.”)

Persico loyalists likely offered extensive toasting to Teddy following the Scopo hit, which ended the Colombo war and allowed the Persicos to prevail at the helm of the crime family.

Teddy hasn't shown he has the right temperament to be boss, some sources said.

"I knew Teddy when he was younger. He learned what it was to have the last name and use it to his advantage," one longtime Colombo mobster told us recently. "I wouldn't call him boss material at that time. He was lacking in tactfulness. He may have matured into a leader, or been groomed by a more seasoned 'friend' while he was away."

Larry Mazza, Greg Scarpa's former protege (who you may have seen in The Irishman, in which he had a role as one of the gunmen who killed Albert Anastasia), discussing Teddy with us several months back, said: "Teddy's strength is the Persico name. His weakness,when I knew him, he was raw, unpolished, and would be another Gaspipe, John Gotti etc. They need more Chin's and Spero's, and Castellano's..." referring to the wily former Genovese boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante, Bonanno consiglieri/two-time acting boss Anthony Spero, and CEO-minded Gambino boss Paul Castellano. The first two died in prison; the last was slain in 1985. Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, the former Luchese underboss, confessed to killing 36 people and is still in prison and will be there forever.

Larry Mazza
Larry Mazza, former protege of the Grim Reaper. 

Counting Joe Waverly, 76, out of the running would be a mistake though, some sources cautioned. Cacace, who already held positions in the Colombo hierarchy (including as acting boss for Junior), initially had been a leading member of Vic Orena's rebel faction in the third Colombo civil war. Cacace last Friday finished a 20-year-bid for murder.

Sources told us Persico and Cacace "definitely" discussed the new regime. "There is no doubt that conversations have been going on...." Problems very well could be in the cards, based on how those discussions went.

"Maybe Joe says "Teddy, you're the boss, but your not MY boss," he said. Then again, the same source also said it could be that "Waverly may fool them and move away, just to disassociate....he's smart enough."

The ruling dynamic, he believes: "I'm sure most would 'openly' stand behind Teddy or Waverly, just to keep the peace. There will always be men who have lost someone, or something (status, business), that will have something on the back of their mind. Waverly for instance. If he isn't given a serious position, after being shot, nearly killed, and finished 20 years in....?"

Joe Waverly has proven his toughness, surviving multiple shootouts on the street, including with the Grim Reaper himself, Greg Scarpa Senior, with whom Joe Waverly had a years-long ongoing feud, the origin of which baffled even Scarpa's former protege, Larry Mazza.

Joe Waverly never hesitated to whack anyone, including NYPD police officer Ralph Dols. Dols married Cacace's ex-wife Kim Kennaugh in 1995 and was ambushed and gunned down in cold blood while arriving at his Brooklyn home one night in 1997. Federal prosecutors alleged Joe Waverly ordered the hit because Dols married his ex-wife. Cacace was acquitted at trial for the murder. (One source claimed racism may have been involved in the incident.)

Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace
Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace

Cacace reminds us of John Gotti in that he has an abiding ability to not give a fuck when it suits him. Case in point: in 2003, Joe Waverly was arrested at his Deer Park, Long Island, home at 6 a.m. for ordering four 1987 mob murders, including of a former prosecutor’s father, a judge (this was years before he was charged with the Dols murder). The arresting agents sought to get under his skin by calling him a known cop-killer. "I don't give a fuck," Joe Waverly supposedly told them as they walked him out in cuffs, as per Gang Land.

Teddy Persico Jr. used to talk the way screenwriters think gangsters talk.(This may have something to do with the fact that Skinny Teddy has spent most of his life in prison.)

“You’re not me,” Persico was taped telling mob turncoat Steven Marcus in 2008. “If it was up to me, I’d go get a gun and shoot them, or stab them, or beat them up when I seen ’em,” he said. “I got nothing. They can’t fuck with me because I got nothing to lose and they got everything to lose. You can’t fuck with them because you’ve got everything to lose and nothing to gain by getting physical. I can get physical all day long.

Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace
Surveillance shot of Joe Waverly, possibly the only wiseguy ever to rock a ponytail. 

“I got nothing to lose, I can get crazy. I don’t give a fuck; what are you going to do, put me in jail? What am I going to lose? My wife, my kids, my house that I own, my $2 million house that I own, or my car? I don’t own nothing. I got no wife, I got no kids. I can act like a fool. I’m telling you what I can do, I know you can’t do that, I know you don’t want to do that.”

It's this kind of talk that should concern members of the Colombo family, sources tell us.

Teddy Jr has had problems with the law for most of his life. In 1983, when Persico was 17, he and Frank Smith, 16, were involved in a negligence lawsuit involving an incident that happened at a Perisco family-owned farm in Saugerties, in upstate New York. Teenager Desiree Rios was seriously injured when an ATV collided with a tree. A jury verdict found Persico's negligence to be a proximate cause of the accident.

It wasn't long after that, in 1987, that Persico was indicted for being part of a large scale cocaine trafficking organization. He sold cocaine to an undercover officer on four separate occasions, including one sale of 13 ounces.

When Persico was released from prison in 2004, after serving about 16 years following his state conviction for narcotics trafficking, he immediately returned to his position in the Colombo family and began engaging in criminal conduct, according to court-authorized wiretaps.

On May 25, 2004, Persico was recorded discussing a weapon brought to him in advance of a potentially violent meeting with another Colombo family soldier. Persico stated, “they come there the [expletive] thing is dirty. How do you keep a pistol with [expletive] dirty bullets in it in the first place? You got an automatic pistol, you clean the bullets, you put them in the [expletive] clip, and the clip is ready, whenever you’re ready.”

In another conversation intercepted on November 23, 2004, Persico spoke about collecting a debt and instructed his co-defendant to bring an individual to him so he could give him a “[expletive] beating.” Persico further threatened that he would “take it out on his kids, that’s all, until he [expletive] does the right thing.”

As per a New York City Business Integrity Commission (BIC) report dated October 24, 2006 (PDF), Skinny Teddy Persico has been friends with Colombo soldier Edward Garofalo for almost 30 years, including the years Persico spent in prison for selling drugs. The report includes excerpts from depositions given by both Garofalo and his wife, former Mob Wives star Alicia DiMichelle, discussing their relationship with Skinny Teddy.

The report presents a different side of Skinny Teddy and is quite touching in a way. (Garofalo was aware that Persico was the “MVP of softball, football in every jail” and wanted to take care of Persico upon his release from prison since “[Persico] had nothing else going for him, no family. His father is in jail. His mother is an alcoholic.") How much these assertions and sentiments align with reality, however, is a valid question.

 Alicia DiMichelle,
Former Mob Wives star Alicia DiMichelle,

As per the BIC report:

For approximately 13 years before Persico went to jail at 23 years old, Garofalo and Persico spent every day together, “play[ing] sports and just be[ing] friends with each other.” See Garofalo deposition (they were friends “since [Garofalo] was about 9 or 10 years old” and later conducted business “[w]hen Ted came home from jail. He was in jail 17 years”). Garofalo, who addressed Persico by the nickname “Teddy,” spoke to him while he was in prison and “knew, day one, he had to do something” to help Persico when he was eventually released from prison.

“[Persico] couldn’t stand still. In jail, he got up in the morning, they told him what to do. They told him to eat dinner and go to sleep, and then they let him go. He had no idea what to do with himself. … They let him go with no rehab to fit him back into society, nothing”).

Garofalo was aware that Persico was the “MVP of softball, football in every jail.” Garofalo wanted to take care of Persico upon his release from prison since “[Persico] had nothing else going for him, no family. His father is in jail. His mother is an alcoholic.”

Soon after Persico’s release from prison, Garofalo suggested that Persico form a corporation for the purpose of leasing trucks to the Applicant. Garofalo was aware that Persico, despite his prison sentence, had “perfect credit” and a “perfect driver’s license.” Garofalo testified that he and DiMichele advised Persico and “made him go buy a couple of trucks, got him an income.”

As a result, on May 27, 2004 (approximately a month after Persico’s release and during the same time period Persico possessed the gun charged in the indictment), Persico incorporated T&E Leasing Corp.

T&E was created for the sole purpose of providing Persico with an income. To that end, T&E purchased four trucks and leased all of them to him.

Persico called Garofalo from jail after he was arrested on the federal charges in May 2005.

Shortly after, Garofalo obtained a copy of the indictment from Persico’s brother and became aware that Persico had been identified as a Colombo soldier. Garofalo later learned from the internet that Persico had pleaded guilty to extortion. After Persico went to prison, DiMichele and Garofalo continued running Persico’s company – Garofalo took care of the trucks and DiMichele handled the books. Garofalo admitted that he continued to speak to Persico after Persico was incarcerated and that Persico called him from prison frequently.

Despite the indictment and Persico’s racketeering plea, Garofalo claimed to refuse to believe that Persico was a member of organized crime. With complete disregard for the purpose of the Commission and the intent of Local Law 42 to rid this industry of associations with organized crime, Garofalo and DiMichele continued to do business with Persico.

Garofalo testified, “that’s the choice we made, because he is a friend, I guess.”