Former Luchese Wiseguy John Pennisi Tells Us What Really Happened

The Feds know lots of wiseguys out there on the street—some of them very well. But there also are wiseguys the Feds don't know at all. Guys who are not on the "radar" at the present moment. John Pennisi was one of those guys....

John Pennisi
Recent pic of John Pennisi.

The Feds weren't building a single case against John Pennisi when he first went to them to talk in 2017, and it took a while for them to fully comprehend what had happened, that a guy who knew a hell of a lot about current goings-on inside the Luchese family had just fallen into their lap.

Pennisi -- who flipped and testified in detail about certain events related to the Luchese family (plus the other families that comprise the New York Mafia) (and if you are wondering, yes, wiseguys are still out there hustling) -- was following in the footsteps of another former member of the Luchese family: Onetime acting boss Alphonse (Little Al) D'Arco, who flipped and testified in the early 1990s after he learned he had been unjustly marked for death.

John contacted us to tell us we'd gotten some of the facts wrong regarding what transpired with him and his old confidants, a list of guys that includes John (Big John) Castellucci, John (Johnny Sideburns) Cerrella, Pasquale (Patty Red) Dellorusso, Michael (Big Mike) DeSantis, (and, don't worry, many many others). We emailed back and forth a few times, and then began chatting, and the following story (and the other ones that will eventually follow) is the result of that...

"Things went wrong for me sometime in the later part of 2017," he told us.

What happened was, John Pennisi and John (Johnny Sideburns) Cerrella took a drive to the Cigar Vault on Page Avenue in Staten Island, which is Big John’s cigar bar. They went inside and started chatting. (The Cigar Vault is a public place, but it also serves as a clubhouse for the Luchese family....)

John and Johnny Sideburns were chatting in the front area, and eventually, the man himself, Big John, comes up to them because he had something he wanted to say.

As John tells us: "He says to me and Johnny Sideburns: 'We hear two guys in this family are wearing wires.'”

"Really?," John says to Big John.

"Yeah," Big John says. Curtly.

"So I say, Why don’t we find out who they are and kill them?"

Meanwhile John Sideburns pulls his shirt up.

"I could’ve done the same thing," John says, "but I didn’t want to disrespect myself. I took John Sideburns outside and said “what the fck you do that for?”

Sideburns: "I don’t know why I did that!"

"I told him I didn’t like Big John's fcking approach with us," John says now. "So that was the first inkling. But I didn’t know what it meant."

We asked John for clarification.

"It wasn't what Big John said, it was how he said it. I didn’t like his approach. This was the first thing that got my antenna up. Later on I found out there were two people who cooperated but at that moment, I didn’t have a clue about what he was talking about. Him saying that to us -- I just didn’t like how he said it – he didn’t tell us to be careful. That’s what he’s supposed to do, by the way, warn us, be wary, two guys are wearing a wire on us.... The way he said it, it was like a challenge. He didn’t say, Be careful, be on alert."

Back then, John Pennisi was good friends with Pasquale (Patty Red) Dellorusso and his crew. He and Patty and Patty's guys hung out frequently, going out to dinner and for drinks almost every night.

But sometime after that discussion at the cigar shop, all communication between John and Patty (and his crew) stopped.

Now John couldn't just call the guys up and ask them, what's going on? Why are you guys avoiding me?

As John says now: "I wasn't about to start reaching out to them,"

"That was the second thing that happened."

"I didn't connect the two things or understand what was going on at the time. And I didn't put a lot of weight behind what Big John was saying at the time either."

Next thing that happens is, John runs into Spanky (aka Anthony Castelle, Big John's brother) by the cigar lounge and he tells John that he's taking a ride by Dominick Truscello's house.

"Why don’t you come take a ride with us," Spanky says to him....

To be continued......