Genovese Associate In New Jersey Snitched For 15 Years—Before Wearing Wire For Feds

Researching the history of the Genovese crime family in North Jersey, wcame across a longtime Hoboken-based associate who snitched for more than 15 years, then agreed to wear a wire for a couple more. His tips sparked Federal, State, and local investigations and he identified some 50 wiseguys and associates for investigators. He was called Petey Cap. And another name joins our List of Mafia Defectors.

Peter (Petey Cap) Caporino
Peter (Petey Cap) Caporino 

Over 40 years, longtime Genovese associate Peter (Petey Cap) Caporino and his gambling operation were slowly and inexorably threaded into the fiber of the North Jersey underworld. He hooked up with the Genovese crime family as an associate and reported to some very powerful Garden State wiseguys. And while the man (or woman) at the top sometimes changed, Petey Cap’s numbers and gambling operation, which  he ran out of his social club in Hoboken, was a constant.

For almost half his time as an associate, Caporino lead a double life as a government informant (around 15 years). His tips became fodder for Federal, State, and local investigations. Reportedly, some 50 wiseguys and associates became known entities to investigators thanks to Petey Caps.

When in 2002, Caporino, his wife, and about 30 others were arrested on State gambling charges, he decided it was time to end the courtship and get married: He became a cooperating witness. 

"My wife had been to prison before, and I knew she couldn't do it again," Caporino testified. "I knew she wouldn't be able to do the time."

"Cooperating witness meant I would wear a wire and testify," he said.

Caporino wore a pager for his numbers ring, so FBI agents gave him a new one that featured a hidden recorder, which they activated remotely. (By the end of the probe in 2005, they let Caporino turn it on and off by himself.) Caporino then spent more than two years recording what would be the key evidence in a case against his crime family. His efforts included recording around 300 conversations-- around 800 hours--with fellow mobsters and others. 

Caporino became an associate in the 1960s when his gambling operation grew large enough to bump into Genovese capo James (Jimmy Nap) Napoli.

"If anyone ever approaches you, you just tell them you're with me, mention my name,'" Jimmy Nap told him.

After Napoli was arrested, Caporino was kicking up to then-Genovese consiglieri Louis (Bobby) Manna and was among the regulars at Casella’s. Under Manna, Caporino ran gambling and extortion operations—and had enough juice to poach a runner from the Philadelphia crime family. (Though, after a sitdown at Casella's, Manna told him to give the guy back.) 

When Manna went to jail in 1988, Caporino paid tribute to his wife for the next 10 years, until 1998, when he started kicking up to Joseph (Big Joe) Scarbrough, a powerful Genovese associate who oversaw a crew that ran bookmaking and loan-sharking from a Hoboken social club. Big Joe reported directly to Lawrence (Little Larry) Dentico, aka Larry Fab, who had been a top aide to Manna. By the summer of 1998, Dentico along with Frank (Punchy) Illiano had stepped up to the plate to oversee the Genovese family after acting boss Dominick (Quiet Dom) Cirillo, who had been running the family for more than a year, was stricken with a heart attack. At the time, official boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante was serving a 12-year term for racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder at a Federal prison medical center in Springfield, Mo., because of a heart condition. (Chin died in December 2005 at age 77, and Manna, 91, is trying to get out of an 80-year sentence via compassionate release.)

Word about Caporino being a snitch spread in the fall of 2005 and blew up in the early months of 2006 when an FBI affidavit exposed him. Prosecutors had submitted the affidavit to a Federal judge under seal in July 2004 to support a search warrant bid on the home and car of Big Joe Scarbrough. Scarbrough attorney Michael Koribanics included the affidavit in a motion he filed to dismiss the Federal indictment or force the government to disclose more about their cooperator. Although the affidavit didn’t name Caporino, attorneys familiar with the case said that based on the conversations "Cooperating Witness-1" had with defendants, CW1 was Caporino—which the US Attorney's Office didn’t dispute. The FBI affidavit—signed by Special Agent Jason Brown—offered the first evidence that Petey Cap’s cooperation had been extensive. 

Caporino's tapes led to charges in the summer of 2005 against 16 defendants. Prosecutors made one of their favorite proclamations (about delivering "a body blow" to Cosa Nostra, specifically, the richest and most powerful crime family in America).

The "twist" in this case (prior to the revelations about Petey Cap snitching) was that all the victims were Greek-Americans, an ethnic group that at the time "had a corner on the New Jersey diner trade."

Christopher J. Christie, the then-United States Attorney for New Jersey, declared at an August 2005 news conference in Newark that Mafia members had targeted Greek-American diner owners and threatened to hurt them unless they paid punishing interest rates and protection money. (Christie could not explain why the suspects seemed to single out Greek-Americans who owned diners, restaurants, and other businesses.) 

Fifteen of the 16 Genovese wiseguys and associates, including Dentico and Scarbrough, pleaded guilty.

Peter Cap was forced out of the shadows and up on the witness stand because of a single holdout: Genovese soldier Michael Crincoli, who was accused of running loansharking operations from a deli located in Jersey City, New Jersey. Crincoli also reported directly to Dentico.

Thanks to Petey Cap testifying, Crincoli was convicted of racketeering and loansharking and sentenced to 51 months in prison. He was released in July 2010.

For Caporino's cooperation, a judge suspended the five-year state prison term he had been serving for promoting illegal gambling.

The postscript is that, in September 2007,  State Superior Judge Peter Vazquez, sitting in Jersey City,  sentenced Petey Cap to seven years in prison.

The guy just couldn't walk away from the numbers and sports betting and got himself arrested twice after he testified against Crincoli. 

The Feds washed their hands of him. 

In addition to the seven years (seven being a horrible number for any bookie), Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio reinstated Caporino's five-year suspended sentence. Under the terms of a plea deal, the two sentences were to run concurrently.

Petey Cap apparently has stayed out of trouble since finishing that sentence, at least as far as we can tell.

Genovese soldier Michael Crincoli
Genovese soldier Michael Crincoli.

The following summary of Petey Cap's information is based on reporting on the affidavit as well as his testimony at Crincoli's trial.

Caporino said he grew up in Hoboken, served three years in the Army and returned to work at a freight company in Fairfield. A co-worker asked if he wanted to help collect bets from workers.

"He said, 'I'll work the platform, you work the drivers,'" Caporino recalled. "I was a numbers runner."

Bettors won when their numbers matched the winning horses that day at Aqueduct or other racetracks.

Caporino said he kept 25 percent of his gross collections, and passed the rest up the ladder.

After his father died, Caporino left the warehouse to take over the family business -- an amusement company that placed pinball machines and pool tables in taverns, he said.

But his numbers ring continued, growing so big that he soon was introduced to the powerful capo Napoli. Caporino agreed to pay Napoli 25 percent of his proceeds. In return, he got protection.

"He said, 'If anyone ever approaches you, you just tell them you're with me, mention my name,'" Caporino recalled.

In 1969, the "wonder year" of championships for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks, Caporino expanded into sports bookmaking. From then on, the names of his bosses changed but the operations remained largely the same.

After Napoli went to prison, Caporino began paying $2,500 weekly tribute to Manna, the New Jersey-based Genovese consigliere. He made his payments through intermediaries at reputed mob hangouts, like Casella's restaurant in Hoboken, and succeeded in getting Manna to ultimately lower his payoffs to $850 a week.

When Manna went to jail in 1988, Caporino said, he paid tributes to his wife, Ida Manna. And in 1998, he shifted his tribute to Scarbrough.

Caporino had a club, the Character Club, along Monroe Street in Hoboken, where friends came to toss back drinks and "have a good time," he said. 

Caporino kicked up gambling proceeds to Scarbrough—typically about $4,000 a month. Scarbrough said he needed the money to include with his own payments to Dentico and to Ida Manna, the wife of Bobby Manna.

Scarbrough bragged about participating in a burglary that netted $300,000.

 In another conversation, he talked about a murder he was part of. 

He told Caporino that he ran with the Hole in the Wall Gang, an infamous and violent Las Vegas-based burglary crew whose exploits were featured in the movie "Casino."

Scarbrough told Caporino about a fence named Barry who for decades had trafficked stolen jewelry and designer suits. He said he bought his wife a $20,000 sapphire-and-diamond ring from Barry for only $4,000, and that the ring had been stolen in a Connecticut burglary.

In one March 2003 conversation, Scarbrough talked about lending out more than $100,000—which earned him 2 or 3 percent interest a week.

Another defendant in the case, Billy Napolitano, talked about how he and Scarbrough used an unidentified attorney to make their loansharking income look legitimate.

Ida Manna
Mrs. Ida Manna passed away at age 88 on April 28, 2017. She was surrounded by family. 

By the spring 2004, Scarbrough seemed certain that his phones were tapped and his house bugged. He talked about how he kept records and guns "buried in plastic bags in several locations," including a neighbor's yard and a nearby park. He also told Caporino to hide his own records by putting them on compact discs and then putting the discs inside music CD cases with the idea that agents probably wouldn’t bother with someone’s music collection.

Early in 2004, Scarbrough complained that the watching eyes of the Feds were preventing him from "straighten(ing) out" a Bloomfield debtor who had borrowed $100,000 and had been too slow with his payments. Scarbrough also was pissed at Michael Crincoli, who had vouched for the borrower.

"Crincoli has been setting Scarbrough up to look bad in front of Larry Dentico," the affidavit stated. "Scarbrough said the next time Crincoli says anything negative about the way he's handling the loan shark operation, Scarbrough will 'knock him on his ass.'"