Q&A #1 With Former Luchese Wiseguy John Pennisi

The first Q&A with former Luchese wiseguy John Pennisi...These are the first few questions, followed by John's answers.

QUESTION: The prevailing thought on mafia hits is that they no longer happen. The 2013 Meldish rubout was seen as brazen and uncommon and of course Caldwell, Londonio and the entire administration paid dearly for it. However, in John's story there are at least two instances which suggest hits are still a viable option. 1) When Big John tells John two family members are wearing wires John immediately suggests whacking them without hesitation. 2) John eventually walks into the Federal Building when he becomes convinced the Lucchese family was planning to kill him.

Boots outside Michael Meldish's apartment.
Michael Meldish's boots were still outside his apartment days after he was killed in 2013.

So, my question is - how prevalent are mafia hits? Was the Meldish rubout in 2013 really the only one in modern mafia history (or at least since the mid-2000s)? Or does the mafia still carry out hits but either A) conceal the bodies and destroy the evidence so we don't hear about them or B) when bodies are found after a hit has law enforcement been unable to tie them to the mob. Jeremy

: I have said this in the courtroom- The mob has three types of guys. 1. Capable guys, who will act violently or hit you (murder) if need be or if it is ordered. 2. Money makers, guys who earn or have the ability to earn money for the family. 3.Politicians, guys who have either the gift of gab or know who to schmooze up to.

Years ago, the streets of New York were littered with bodies that were the results of hits. The Gov’t, law enforcement and society does not like seeing bodies left all over the streets. It brought a great deal of attention to organized crime. La Cosa Nostra has learned from past mistakes, you now hear of a guy being put on the shelf ( inactive- and no one in the life is supposed to bother with you) as opposed to killing him. Why? They do not want the heat of investigations. But make no mistake, if absolutely necessary they will hit you. 

Michael Meldish had a few things not going in his favor. Firstly, he was feared. Everyone in the street knew he was more than capable. There was a woman he was involved with that someone had a great affection for ( Mikey Nose). Mikey Nose sent word that he wanted him to stay away from her. Medlish was not listening because in the Purple Gang days, Meldish and his brother were in charge. Mikey Nose use to be under him. He retaliated after the Bonanno’s (Mikey Nose) sent two guys to lump him up during the feast near Rao’s. He got Caldwell to shoot a friend (made guy) with the Bonannos. That is a death sentence as Michael was just an associate and that kind of move was never sanctioned. He also had an issue with Matty over loansharked money and was not respecting Matty at all. What does that show us? They will act out of embarrassment, because to embarrass a borgata (family) means the other families loose respect for them. 

Me suggesting to Big John after he tells us there are two guys wearing wires in our family that we should find them and kill them was a knock towards him. Big John was not finding or killing anyone. When his son (who passed away from an overdose) was being sold drugs by a neighbor it was me who he (Big John) asked to assault the guy- which I did, not even an hour after he asked me. That is who we were, by saying let’s find and kill them is what we were supposed to do even if it brought attention.
It is possible that a murder here or there can go under the noses of law enforcement as far as it being related to a mob hit. I am not saying I know of any, just that it is possible. 

I did not agree with this but they started to use Bloods to do our dirty work. They even tried to send them after me in Manhattan. I chased them down 37th Street towards 7th Ave. I spotted them and had a pistol in my knapsack, I kept my hand inside it on the pistol and approached them. They ran and I am still here. The days of sending a hit team of friends (made guys) to do a piece of work are long over. 

Q: Which crew was Patty Dellorusso made captain of the day Mike DeSantis was made acting boss? Also could he name the captains of each crew? And does he still believe the Lucchese family is made up of only 7 crews? I'm not clear on the whole Brooklyn/Staten Island thing is it one crew or two. Scootch

JP: Patty was made Captain to the original Brooklyn crew. The Staten Island Brooklyn crew was newer guys and not necessarily all from Brooklyn and the old Brooklyn crew were all from that area.

Yes, there were two different crews.

The captains back then were:
Joe “Cafe” Desana- Long Island
Carmine Avellino- Long Island
Richie Deluca- New Jersey
Dom Truscello- Manhattan
Big John- Staten Island (Brooklyn)
Stevie Crea Jr- Bronx
Anthony “Blue” Santorelli- Bronx

We also had a Captain Paolo Loduca from Long Island but I was never sure if he had a crew.

Q: A lot is made from outsiders about the size and strength of the families... as a Lucchese member would the way you treat a Genovese or Gambino differ from the way you treat a Colombo or Bonanno? How are the DeCavalcantes treated by New York these days - would their boss be treated as important by the New York families? Thanks in advance. Joshua

JP: We, as friends (made members) are supposed to honor and respect each other as we are all brothers. We would not treat a member of one family differently than another. We treat the DeCavalcantes the same and would respect their boss for his position.