Heartbroken Colombo Capo Couldn't Let Go—And Got Himself And His Crew Indicted

Does the old saying "All's fair in love and war" still apply when the romance in question involves a wiseguy?

Joseph Amato
Birthday boy: Joey Amato, Colombo capo.
Picture courtesy of Sitdown News blog...

While we can’t definitively answer that question, we can tell you about one particular wiseguy who turned the game of love into a war that he sought to win using decidedly unfair means—and in the process got himself, his crew, and others indicted.

It  all began (ended, technically, but for our purposes, we'll stick with began) in October 2019 when three indictments were unsealed in Federal court in Brooklyn charging 20 defendants (of which 11 were members and associates of the Colombo family) with racketeering, extortion, loansharking, stalking, attempted sports bribery, and related offenses. 

Among those charged were Joseph Amato, an alleged captain; Daniel Capaldo and Thomas Scorcia, alleged soldiers; and Joseph Amato, Jr. and Anthony Silvestro, alleged associates. This case had legs in the media. News stories touted that it included a scheme to fix an NCAA college basketball game. 

On the surface this seems to be a garden-variety mob indictment with perfunctory charges. There's mention of how an individual confronted  Amato Jr. (Joey's son) for insulting a woman in a bar.  Amato Jr. told the individual to back off, barking, “Do you know who my father is?”  Then, the following day, Amato, Amato Jr. and other members of Amato’s crew lured the guy somewhere and did him some damage, "leaving him bloodied and in need of staples in his scalp."

But despite the generic flavor, what lead to the opening of this case in the first place is something pretty novel: A GPS device was found in an MTA bus depot on Staten Island. Joey Amato had used it to stalk his then girlfriend's movements, as we learn. So this case quite literally exists because a capo in one of the Five Families was stalking an unrequited love. And not in a way that was especially bright. As outlined by the Feds, the girlfriend discovered the tracking device and got rid of it. She didn't go to the cops, however. (No, this isn't that kind of revenge story.) Instead, she seemed to want Joey to disappear inside his own ass by hiding the tracking device on an MTA bus. It was subsequently found inside the bus depot; the Feds got ahold of it and opened the investigation, according to the indictments and detention letters. 

Read Joey Amato profile by the proprietor of The Colombo Crime Family Blog:
Colombo Capo Joey Amato On Thinning Ice

A heartsick Amato, we learn, apparently couldn't stop himself from bragging to the then girlfriend that he had the "resources" to keep her under very close ongoing surveillance, if he wanted to.

In one email, Amato wrote: “This is my island. Not yours. I have eyes all over[.]” 

Another he wrote, in a style reminiscent of a Trumpian tweet: "I’m a MANS MAN!!!"

Former Luchese wiseguy John Pennisi, who has given us extensive access for stories (which you can read right here on this site), not only knew Amato personally, he has background on Amato's relationship with the girl who apparently inadvertently tipped off the Feds about certain illegal doings committed by members of a crew in the Colombo crime family. (She wasn't identified in court documents, it seems.)

John Pennisi
Former Luchese wiseguy John Pennisi

Pennisi (who recently did the second part of a two-part podcast interview, see below) got out of prison following a long bid for murder and became associated with the Luchese crime family. He got his button in a 2013 secret initiation ceremony in the basement of a house on Staten Island, and he became a soldier in the crew of John (Big John) Castelluci. John said he quickly soured on the life, primarily because of Big John's pettiness and greed, and has noted how he flipped in 2017 after Big John and others wrongly suspected him of being a rat.

As Pennsis noted over on Sitdown News, "a friendship developed outside of the mob" between him and Joe Amato. 

"Naturally, our conversations were about [the life] and the characters we dealt with, but we spoke on a personal level as well. Our meeting places varied but we often met at Bloomingdale Park in Staten Island. A place where Joey would walk his Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff) and on one such walk, he mentioned an argument between his girl and himself."

In the summer of 2016, John realized that Amato had a problem, writing that it was "Not a legal one as many wiseguys fret over, but a problem nevertheless. His was a physical one, concerning his heart. No, he was not in need of a cardiologist, he was only experiencing a broken heart."

Amato told Pennisi that his then girlfriend's brother had ratted him out after seeing Amato cheating on his sister with another woman. The brother didn’t seem to waste much time giving sis the hot scoop. 

What especially rankled Amato, or so he claimed, was that, he, Joey Amato, had helped the brother out. 

As Amato allegedly told John: "Do you know how many times I helped this fucking mutt out?

Based on the outpouring of what was in Amato's heart, John notes, "Listening to (Joey's) entire story, I gathered she had reached her breaking point and grew tired with his philandering ways. I suggested that maybe he should leave well enough alone. Conversely, anytime we met no matter what we had to discuss, the conversation always turned to the girl. Previously, when meeting me for dinner he took her along. She was an attractive woman who seemed nice and had an easy going personality."

If only Joey Amato had taken the advice! Read the whole kit and caboodle here....