Shocking, Dangerous New Evidence Will Free Vic Orena, Former Colombo Acting Boss, Lawyers Allege

Ailing former Colombo acting boss Victor (Little Vic) Orena, 86, who currently resides at FMC Devens, the Federal prison in Massachusetts, may be in for a taste of freedom before shuffling off this mortal coil.

William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, Vic Orena, Benny Aloi
William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, Vic Orena, Benny Aloi, Bobby Ross.

Because a firearms charge in his 1992 case has been tossed, Orena, who is wheelchair-bound and suffering from dementia, will have to be completely resentenced--and his lawyers are hoping to use this opportunity to successfully press for his release, according to a Daily News report by Noah Goldberg.

When Orena is resentenced, his lawyers will argue that he has been rehabilitated. They also say that they will present newly discovered evidence that points toward Orena's innocence.

“An overriding factor here is Mr. Orena’s age and medical conditions,” said David Schoen, Orena’s lawyer, at a Monday hearing in front of Eastern District Judge Eric Komitee.

Schoen told the Daily News that new evidence includes previously unreported government misconduct related to the murder of  Thomas Ocera, a made member of the Colombo family, that a top-echelon confidential informant said permeated Orena’s case. Schoen said this information is “unbelievably shocking” and potentially dangerous if revealed publicly.

“It’s stuff we never knew about that happened back then,” he told The News.

In December 1992, Orena was convicted of ordering the Ocera murder (after Ocera allegedly skimmed Colombo administration money) and conspiring to murder members of the rival Colombo faction, aka the Persico loyalists, who remained loyal to then-sitting (and imprisoned) boss Carmine Persico.

Ocera belonged to Colombo capo Pasquale (Patty) Amato's crew, and besides shylocking, he owned a restaurant in Merrick, Long Island, called the Manor.

In October of 1989, the police raided Ocera's restaurant and seized his shylock book.

Ocera started drinking heavily and told others that he was going to be killed soon.

Orena ordered his murder in November for stealing shylock money.

Patty, a crew member named Giachino (he went by Jack) Leale, and Ocera used to have early morning meetings at the Manor. After the police seized the shylock book, the meetings stopped.

On or around November 13, 1989, Leale convinced Ocera to meet him at Patty’s house, and when he walked in, Jack and Patty garroted him. They put Ocera’s body in the trunk of a car that Leale borrowed from Harry Bonfiglio, his brother-in-law. Leale, Bonfiglio, and others then drove to Forest Park, Queens, where they buried the body.

The next day, Leale took over two underground gambling clubs that Ocera had owned.

In October 1991, Michael Maffatore, a Colombo associate who helped bury Ocera's body, flipped and led FBI agents to the grave, where Ocera's body was unearthed (a metal wire still twisted around his throat). The FBI quickly issued a warrant for Leale’s arrest.

Giachino Leale was found shot to death in a Long Island parking lot.

Orena was arrested on April 1, 1992. When he went to trial he faced an array of turncoats, including Maffatore and Bonfiglio; Joseph Ambrosino, a Colombo associate; Alfonso D'Arco, former acting Luchese boss; Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, former Gambino underboss; and Diane Montesano, Ocera's girlfriend at the time of his murder.

During Orena's trial, the prosecution introduced wiretap recordings relating  to the Ocera murder and loansharking records seized from Ocera's restaurant and from an apartment used by two Orena associates.

Bobby Ross, Anthony Casso, Vic Orena
Bobby Ross, Anthony Casso, Vic Orena.

Also presented were numerous firearms seized at the home of Orena's girlfriend, where Little Vic was reportedly residing at the time of his arrest, including guns and ammunition hidden under a wooden deck in the backyard of the residence, about $60,000 in cash, a bulletproof vest, three beepers, and three mobile telephones.

The jury convicted Orena on all counts, and the district court sentenced Orena concurrently to:
  • life imprisonment for racketeering, 
  • life imprisonment for racketeering conspiracy
  • life imprisonment for Ocera's murder
  • 10 years on each murder conspiracy count
  • 20 years on each loansharking count
  • 10 years for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • a consecutive five-year sentence for the use and carrying of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence
The court also ordered Orena to pay:
  •  $2.25 million in fines ($250,000 per count)
  • the costs of his own imprisonment at a rate of $1,492 per month*
  •  a special assessment of $450

In testimony during the trial, Gravano said then Gambino boss John Gotti had supported Orena in his effort to become the official boss of the Colombo crime family.

Vic Orena
Vic Orena travels under heavy guard during third Colombo war.

Gravano said he and Gotti, at a 1989 meeting of the Commission, heard Orena say he had been approved as "the official acting boss of the Colombo family." Later, Orena told Gotti that imprisoned Colombo boss Carmine Persico had been accused of violating Mafia rule by admitting his membership in the Colombo family.

"John Gotti was behind Vic Orena," Gravano testified. 

Gotti wanted Orena to present his complaints to the Commission at its next meeting, but Gotti and others were pinched before that could happen.

Gravano testified that Luchese boss Vittorio Amuso also had sided with Orena. He didn't know if the Genovese family backed either side. As for the Bonannos, they had been excluded from the Commission for years because of drug trafficking.

D'Arco testified that he joined Gambino and Genovese leaders in an attempt to avert bloodshed in the Colombo conflict. D'Arco said they summoned the two Colombo factions to secret meetings that prevented violence during the summer of 1991. The first slaying in the Colombo war took place in November 1991.

* Anyone know how common is it for convicted mobsters to be ordered  to pay the costs of their own imprisonment ($1,492 Per month in this case)? If you know, please email us at