Echoes Of Notorious Mafia Capo/Top-Echelon Informant Reverberate Decades Later

Recent news about a purported contract killing reminded us of notorious Colombo capo Greg Scarpa, who was a longtime top-echelon FBI informant as well as a key power in the fight for control of the Colombo family in the early 1990s.

Anthony Scarpati and Greg Scarpa
Anthony Scarpati, left, and Greg Scarpa.

The Colombo family mob war, which left 12 dead on the streets of New York City and many wounded, commenced November 18, 1991, when the first shots were fired.

That day Scarpa was pulling out of his driveway while daughter Linda, with her infant son, was behind him in another car also pulling out---when a van and panel truck abruptly blocked them in and several heavily armed men wearing ski masks leaped out and opened fire with automatic weapons.

All shots missed their mark (though they did leave a row of holes in Linda's fender).

Deeply angered that the gunmen—supporters of acting boss Victor Orena Sr. who were trying to depose imprisoned official boss Carmine Persico—had risked hitting Linda and her son, Scarpa later grumbled that discipline in Cosa Nostra was falling apart. (So was loyalty, as Scarpa himself readily demonstrated.)

Scarpa didn't need anyone to tell him that William (Wild Bill) Cutolo--also a capo in the Colombo family, though aligned with the rebel Orena faction--was the name of the person responsible for sending the shooters to his driveway that day.

Scarpa decided he would kill Cutolo. The plan he developed involved disguising himself as a Hasidic Jew and gunning down Wild Bill as he left his girlfriend’s house on Thanksgiving Day 1991. 

Scarpa never tried to carry out the plan because Thanksgiving Day morning 1991, the New York Post featured an article alleging that Scarpa was a snitch. Scarpa couldn't hunt Wild Bill because he had confederates in need of assuaging.

The image of Scarpa dressed up as an Hasidic Jew floated into mind this morning while reading news stories about the recent caught-on-surveillance murder of a "reformed’ gangbanger who was slain in broad daylight by a supposed hitman dressed as an Hasidic Jew. In the video of the shooting, the gunman is seen in a parked car wearing gloves and a mask and dressed in the kind of long black robe and hat that male members of the Hasidic Jewish community wear.

Hitman dressed as Hassidic Jew strikes
The gunman waited for Dixon to return to his SUV before shooting him.

Another man approaches a nearby black Ford SUV, opens the driver-side door, and gets in. The gunman races up behind him, shooting him in the head. The gunmen then gets into his vehicle and speeds away.

The victim was Jermaine Dixon, 46, who was killed just before 8:00 a.m. on Monday September 6 on South Conduit Avenue in Queens. The Daily News reported that Dixon was a convicted murderer who had been released from Federal prison less than 12 months ago and was a former member of the Patio Crew drug gang in Brooklyn.

Dixon served 19 years on drug charges and a 1992 murder.

While serving his bid, the former gangster apparently decided it was time for a change and became a model prisoner. He also studied for a business degree.

The NYPD released video of the killing as part of an attempt to leverage help from the public to identify Dixon’s killer.