Allan May's book MOB STORIES
IN THIS ISSUE|
· Alphonse "Little Al" D’Arco – Revisited 2
· Like Father, Like Son
· This Thing of His
· Short Takes
Alphonse "Little Al" D’Arco – Revisited (Part 2)
From their hiding spots, Lucchese Family leaders Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and Anthony "Gas Pipe" Casso were ordering murders on a wholesale basis. Their chief executioners were Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo and Richard Pagliarulo.
Less than a month after the men fled the "windows" indictment, Casso was indicted "on state charges of participating in a separate conspiracy to control the bidding for almost every major public and private painting contract in the city for 12 years," according to an article by Selwyn Raab of the New York Times. Peter Chiodo was a co-defendant in this case also.
. Things weren’t getting any easier for them while in hiding. Amuso and Casso concerned when several of their associates, members of a burglary ring called the Bypass Gang, were indicted in November. The two were worried that some of the ring members might "cut and roll" on them.
Between May 1990 and January 1991 Amuso ran the family as a fugitive boss. Then Alphonse "Little Al" D’Arco was made "acting boss" of the family. He was to find that in his new role he was nothing more than a go-between for the guys committing the murders and the men ordering them. Amuso was using this opportunity to strike back at the Lucchese Family’s New Jersey faction, which had cut him out of the profit-sharing following the imprisonment of Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo.
Tumac Acceturo was the leader of the New Jersey faction. Residing in Florida he was paid a visit by Amuso and Casso where the two demanded more of the profits Acceturo and his crew were generating. His refusal to part with any money in the wake of the meeting was a clear signal to Amuso and Casso that they would have to deal with Acceturo in a severe manner. They ordered that the entire crew – 30 mobster in total – be executed.
While D’Arco’s time in power would only amount to six short months, they were action packed ones. Pete Chiodo knew the government had him cold in the "windows" case and didn’t see the need to spend money on an attorney to hold off the inevitable. So the 40 year-old mob hitman became the only one of the 15 defendants to plead guilty. This immediately caused speculation that Chiodo had cut a deal with the government and was going to testify. Amuso and Casso ordered his murder.
D’Arco put together a hit squad to silence "Fat Pete." On May 8, while the "windows" trial was in progress, the hit team, which included D’Arco’s son Joseph, struck. Chiodo had stopped at a Staten Island service station not far from the toll plaza of the Verranzano-Narrows Bridge, and was working under the hood of his car when the attack took place. The huge mobster was shot a total of seven times, with five bullets passing completely through his body. However, none of the bullets struck any vital organs. Chiodo was rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in serious condition.
While he was recovering, Assistant US Attorney Charles Rose tried to convince him to become a government witness. Chiodo was totally against this until Amuso and Casso made the point moot. They sent two hoods into Chiodo’s attorney’s office with the message: "Tell him his wife is next."
With his wife now tucked away in the Witness Security Program, the next strike was against other family members. While reprisals of this nature are supposed to be against Mafia ethics, an attempt to murder Patricia Cappozalo was carried out by three Lucchese Family "recruits." After dropping off her children at school Cappozalo was returning home when she was shot and severely wounded. Not content with that effort, Chiodo’s uncle, Frank Signorino was murdered, his body placed in trash bags found in the trunk of an automobile.
D’Arco found the acts ludicrous as they only created a public outcry and solidified Chiodo’s resolve to get revenge. In Gangbusters Ernest Volkman describes the next set of events that D’Arco was made a part of:
"D’Arco became further unsettled when, in secret meetings with Amuso and Casso, he heard even more elaborate plans for wholesale murder. In one meeting with Casso, he was shown a list of forty-nine people Gas Pipe had picked to be murdered. With a start, D’Arco realized that half the names on the list were members of the Lucchese Family. Asked why so many people were targeted for elimination, Casso replied that they were "creeps." In another meeting, Casso insisted that the government would never be able to prove his and Amuso’s guilt in the windows case. At some point, he said, the government would be forced to drop the case against them, and then they would return to New York. ‘When I come home,’ Casso vowed, ‘I’m going to have a party and invite all the creeps I want to kill. Then I’ll kill them all.’ At still another meeting, this time with Amuso, D’Arco was ordered to contact the Philadelphia Mafia to recruit bombing experts for the purpose of another attempt to kill John Gotti. When D’Arco raised the possibility of retaliation by the Gambino Family after Gotti’s murder, Amuso replied, ‘Don’t worry about it; the robe [a nickname for Genovese boss Vincent Gigante] knows about it’"
One of D’Arco’s responsibilities was collecting and forwarding money to the two fugitive Lucchese leaders. He found himself being constantly pressured by the two regarding the amounts he brought to them. Without offering a time frame, Volkman discusses the end of D’Arco’s "acting boss" role:
‘"You sure this is what we’re supposed to get?’ Amuso or Casso would ask with increasing frequency. D’Arco sensed the question meant he was in deepening political trouble, confirmed when he was summoned to a meeting and told he was being demoted. From now on, on-site operations of the family would be run by a four-man committee consisting of himself, Salvatore Avellino, the boss of the Long Island garbage racket; Frank Lastorino, the notorious hit man; and Anthony (Bowat) Barrata, a capo in the family’s Bronx section.
"D’Arco suspected that his demotion was merely a prelude to more drastic action Amuso and Casso had in store for him."
From that point on, D’Arco would later testify, "Vic never looked at me anymore."
On July 29, 1991, in the middle of a warm Sunday afternoon, Amuso was captured by FBI agents at the Fairview Mall in Dickson City, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Scranton. He was taken into custody along with a bodyguard named Fred Johnson; neither offered any resistance. Authorities credited the television show "America’s Most Wanted" in helping with the capture. A segment featuring Amuso had aired on March 15.
On September 18, 1991, exactly a month before the verdict in the "windows" case was handed down, D’Arco attended his last mob meeting, held at the Hotel Kimberly in mid-town Manhattan. It was a tense situation that D’Arco had walked into. Lucchese Family members, people who he had known for years and was friends with, milled around expending nervous energy. D’Arco noticed one of the men had a bulge under his shirt, a sure sign he was carrying a weapon. There was a rule against bringing guns to a family meeting, but D’Arco knew that in the Lucchese Family of the early 1990s no rules were sacred, let alone adhered to.
The man with the bulge under his shirt stepped into the suite’s bathroom. When he emerged the bulge was no longer there. D’Arco knew that the next person to use the bathroom would return with the gun and for certain kill him.
Only self-preservation occupied the mind of Al D’Arco in the ensuing moments. Even when the next man into the bathroom came out empty handed D’Arco knew he must make his move. He made an excuse to leave the room and was quickly on his way to find his driver to get safely out of mid-town.
All the fears D’Arco experienced were confirmed when his car and driver were no where to be found. He hailed a taxi and headed home, all the while preparing in his mind plans to flee the city. At home his wife worried about their family as they packed what they needed for their escape from the mob.
Alphonse D’Arco was not fleeing from the feds. He was not an indicted man rolling over on other family members to avoid prison time. Alphonse D’Arco was fleeing for his life because the Lucchese Family was going to kill him due to the botched assignment to execute Pete Chiodo. There would be no trial, no hearing in which D’Arco could plead his case or remind family members of his past service or recite his record of good deeds. He was just going to die.
The Lucchese leadership had broken the mob’s fantasized and romanticized dictate of not going after innocent people by shooting Chiodo’s sister and murdering his uncle. Why would D’Arco’s family be treated any differently? His son Joseph, also a target of the Lucchese killers after the failed attempt on "Fat Pete," had turned himself into the feds earlier that month to avoid being murdered.
Staying alive and keeping his family alive left D’Arco with only one choice and that was to seek the protection of the federal government against the "lunatic fringe" that had become the Lucchese Family.
Next Week: Al D’Arco begins his incredible eleven-year career as a government witness testifying at organized crime trials around the country.
It must have been in the blood of the father and son duo, both named John Petrucelli, to be standup guys and look out for other members of their gang. In the end, it would cost the father his life and in the son’s case his freedom.
The summer of 1989 was a hot one in New York City, especially if you were a member of the Lucchese Family. If you weren’t on the shit list of the maniacal leadership of "Vic" Amuso and "Gas Pipe" Casso, then the chances were that you were being hounded by law enforcement as they combed the city looking for Costabile "Gus" Farace. On February 28 Farace, a hot-headed drug dealing member of the family gunned down Everett E. Hatcher, a Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who was working undercover. The dedicated and well-liked agent left behind a wife and two young sons.
Gus Farace would lead New York City law enforcement agencies on a nine-month chase, which ended on November 18 when he died in a hail of mob bullets.
One of the people who helped harbor Farace during this period was the elder John Petrucelli. In the book Dead On Delivery, author Robert Stutman, a drug enforcement agent with 25 years experience who headed the DEA office in New York City from 1985 to 1991, tells us how Petrucelli and Farace met:
"Petrucelli, convicted of manslaughter in a mob-related Bronx bar slaying twenty-one years earlier, had served a long stretch in the tough confines of upstate Green Haven prison. Blamed for some infraction of the inmate’s code, Petrucelli was about to be killed with a set of barbells in a weight room brawl when Farace interceded, saving his life."
In helping to hide Farace, Petrucelli moved him to several locations. In doing so Petrucelli knew, if caught, that he could end up doing serious time for harboring the most sought after fugitive in the country. What he didn’t realize was the danger he was up against within the underworld with all the pressure being supplied by law enforcement to get the mob to cough up Farace.
The mobster absorbing the most heat was Gerard "Gerry" Chilli a capo in the Bonanno Family, who had also spent time in prison with Farace. Chilli took Farace under his wing in prison for two reasons. First, having the muscular young man as a friend would provide him with protection; second, Farace’s cousin was Greg Scarpa, Jr. a made member of the Colombo Family. Chilli was building relationships.
The first place Farace ran to after the murder of Hatcher was Chilli’s daughter, Margaret "Babe" Scarpa. The widow of a mob victim murdered in 1988, Babe Scarpa had been in love with the twice-married Farace for some time.
On May 24, after obtaining information from snitches, agents raided the Chilli home and, in front of the Bonanno capo, handcuffed Babe and led her from the house. As Babe was being led away, Agent Stutman whispered in Chilli’s ear, "You can thank the guy who fucks your daughter for this." Incensed, Chilli now wanted the Farace episode to come to an end. Stutman writes:
"[In June]…Chilli asked for a sitdown with Petrucelli. The younger man refused. "I don’t want to meet without my boss," the recently made member of the Lucchese family said. Mike Salerno, a Lucchese capo, agreed to the sitdown and Chilli traveled to the Bronx.
‘"You took this guy, right,’ Chilli said to the two fellow mobsters. ‘We don’t need a meeting to make this right. Get rid of the guy.’
‘"I can’t do that, ‘ Petrucelli said. ‘I owe this guy a lot.’"
Later that month, Mike Salerno had two hitmen murder John Petrucelli at the Westchester County apartment of his girlfriend, the daughter of a retired police officer.
In the case of John "Johnny Boy" Petrucelli, he was out to avenge the shooting of his Tanglewood Boy’s gang-mate, Darin Mazzarella, who was shot multiple times on June 20, 1995. However, instead of getting even with the gunman, a Genovese Family associate, Petrucelli stabbed the man’s cousin to death.
The murder of 17 year-old Paul Cicero went untried for years until two events came together to solidify the government’s case. First, Mazzarella, after recovering from his wounds, was arrested for his involvement in another murder and agreed to cooperate with the feds. Second, former Lucchese underboss Joseph "Little Joe" Defede became a government witness and in his first trial would help corroborate Petrucelli’s guilt.
In between the murder and the trial, it was a tough road for the family of Paul Cicero. His father told of how his family had to endure Tanglewood Boys gang members "laughing in our faces" whenever they ran into them on the street.
Two years after the killing, the young victim’s mother, Joanne Cicero, had a chance encounter with Petrucelli in a Morris Park café. Apparently it was no secret locally as to who killed Paul Cicero; it was proving it that was difficult. Joanne Cicero looked Petrucelli in the eyes and promised, "If it takes my last breath, I will get you."
On November 4, Joanne kept her promise as Petrucelli was found guilty of murdering her son. The seven-year ordeal came to an end with a trial that began in late October. The prosecution presented three key witnesses – Mazzarella, Defede and Sean McKernan. The latter was an eyewitness to the stabbing.
In closing arguments in Manhattan Federal Court, prosecutor David Kelly told the jury that Petrucelli "was a street thug, an aspiring mobster and he’s Paul Cicero’s murderer."
Defense attorney David Brietbart painted a different picture of his client. "As John sits here, he is sheathed in innocence, clothed in innocence."
The jury found Petrucelli "sheathed" only in guilt. As the verdict was being read, Joanne Cicero sat in the gallery clutching her son’s Communion cross, which she kept on a chain around her neck. Outside the courthouse she told reporters that while she was happy with the jury’s decision, her son would never be coming home. Joanne Cicero did confirm, however, "Johnny Boy, I got you."
John Petrucelli faces life in prison when he is sentenced on February 4, 2003.
What a disappointing turn of events! Daniel Provenzano, an alleged Genovese Family associate, has been claiming for years that he is innocent and would prove it at trial. After several delays, the trial was scheduled to get underway last Tuesday.
Provenzano’s trial hype reached its zenith just 24 hours earlier when newspapers reported that he would defend himself. Danny Pro prepared himself for trial by watching Court TV. Beautiful! It probably makes sense, though. His movie works of "Vampire Vixens From Venus" and "The Regenerated Man" came about after he attended an Ed Wood Film Festival. Both films ended up in the discount rack faster than the "Benny Mardones’ Greatest Hits" album.
Is D.P. serious? Next he’ll be performing open-heart surgery after watching E.R.
The newspapers reported that Court TV was ready to beam Danny Pro into all the cable households. Plus, Hollywood mobsters James Caan, Vincent Pastore and Frank Vincent were scheduled to be heard at pre and post trial interviews and Aerosmith was to hopefully provide halftime entertainment.
"I’m really looking forward to this," Danny Pro announced.
But come game day, Danny Pro crapped out and pled guilty.
In 1999 Provenzano was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, three kidnappings, extortion, aggravated assault, witness tampering and income tax evasion. On Wednesday, November 6 he pled guilty to four counts of racketeering and tax evasion.
In court Provenzano detailed some of his crimes – such as having a man’s thumb broken and beating up a man who owed him money – which are included in his new flick.
His explanation for the plea was, "I went at something the wrong way. I have two children to think about. I would rather sit in prison for three years [than do 30].
Three years? Prosecutors are hinting at ten. Only Judge William Meehan knows for sure. Provenzano is scheduled for sentencing on February 28, 2003.
And what did Danny Pro’s Hollywood buddies have to say after being on board the "Danny’s not guilty" bandwagon for months on end? Nothing! None of them attended the hearing.
Well, at least we have his latest movie to look forward to. "This Thing of Ours" was supposed to be released in September. Maybe it was. Let me go check the discount rack.
Detroit – Motor City Mafia capo Anthony J. Corrado died at the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri on October 31 of complications from kidney disease. Corrado, whose father was Detroit Prohibition Era gangster Pete "The Enforcer" Corrado, was serving a 70-month prison term for his conviction in 1998. In 1996, Corrado and sixteen other Detroit mobsters, including boss Jack Tocco and underboss Anthony Zerilli, were charged in a massive indictment that virtually wiped out the Detroit Mafia Family. Zerilli, the last of the mobsters to be tried, was convicted in August, but as of yet has not been sentenced. As a young man Corrado won acclaim as a wrestler at Howe Military Academy in Indiana. He was later elected to Indiana’s Sports Hall of Fame. Corrado was 67 years old.
New York (1) – Imprisoned Gambino Family capo John Gambino, who led a crew under boss John Gotti in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has filed a $20 million lawsuit in federal court in Boston. John and his brother Joseph Gambino – not to be confused with Carlo’s sons or the Cherry Hill Gambinos – were sent to prison in 1994 after pleading guilty to racketeering charges they compiled from crimes committed over a 17 year period from 1975 to 1992. John Gambino, in the middle of a 15-year sentence, suffered a stroke, which caused paralysis to the left side of his body. The Bureau of Prisons transferred him to the Federal Medical Center in Deven, Massachusetts to complete his sentence. Over this past summer John suffered a broken hip after a cafeteria table collapsed on him. Gambino’s lawsuit names David L. Winn, the facility’s warden, and half a dozen staff members as plaintiffs. The suit claims that "dangerous dining hall tables" have caused him an enormous injury and he is suing for both mental and physical damages. The Boston Herald’s J. M. Lawrence, who usually is inundated with stories about Bean Town mobsters, writes, "Gambino’s suit accuses the prison safety manager of ‘deliberate indifference’ and claims the unsecured tables still pose a threat to handicapped federal inmates, who shuffle out of their walkers and wheelchairs to sit down and eat."
New York (2) – Despite the fact that a February 4, 2003 hearing date has been set, accusations continue to fly in the lawsuit between Gambino Family associate Julius Nasso and film actor Steven Seagal. The latest charge by Nasso is that he loaned his former friend and business partner $500,000 three years ago when Seagal had a large tax bill to pay. Seagal, according to Nasso, never paid the money back. Nasso now wants that amount, plus interest, tacked on to the $60 million he originally filed suit for. The $60 million is for four films Nasso alleges Seagal backed out on after agreeing to make. Seagal charges that the New York courts have no jurisdiction in the matter since he is a resident of California. In September, however, a New York judge denied Seagal’s motion for dismissal.
In a related mater, Nasso’s lawyer Barry Levin claims Seagal is behind two threats, which involved a Los Angeles Times reporter and a writer for Vanity Fair magazine. Both received threats while investigating the Nasso / Seagal dispute. The first reports claimed a dead fish was left behind on Times reporter Anita Busch’s car. The latest stories claim the fish had a rose in its mouth. The next story will probably say that the fish was wrapped in Luca Brasi’s bulletproof vest. After all, this is Hollywood.
New York (3) – Germans never did make for successful gangsters in America. The case of Frank "Big Frank the German" Schwamborn certainly helps to support that fact. "Big Frank," who was named in the massive 45-man Genovese Family indictment in April 2001, was arrested again last month and charged with cocaine dealing and money laundering. In an affidavit filed by William Hessle, a federal postal inspector, "Big Frank" is alleged to have "bribed several unidentified stock brokers with cocaine to get them to sell overpriced stock to the public." Hessle stated Schwamborn was connected to a New York City crime family and claimed he headed a crew of "thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes, leg breakers, and stock brokers." The affidavit states that several stock investors, who might testify against Schwamborn, have been told to relocate their families due to "credible death threats" from "Big Frank." If this can be substantiated, let’s hope he’s not granted bail again like the last time. Maybe helping to keep "Big Frank" in lockup will be the fact that he threatened Assistant US Attorney Burton Ryan. The big Kraut told arresting agents, "you better keep me in handcuffs if I see Mr. Ryan." Someone should explain to "Big Frank" that this is why, when you’re arrested, they tell you anything you say can and WILL be used against you.
Youngstown – After 18 years the Mahoning Valley will be represented by new leadership in the House of Representatives. Disgraced former congressman James A. Traficant, Jr., running as an independent, was soundly defeated in last Tuesdays election receiving only 13 percent of the Valley’s vote. Tim Ryan, a one-time protégé of the bald infidel, will hopefully not follow in his predecessor’s path. Ryan will be one of the youngest members of the House when he is sworn in this coming January. Hopefully the Valley will forget about Jimbo and his non-stop non-sense and get on with rebuilding an area, which still has the state’s highest unemployment figures. Traficant was convicted in federal court in Cleveland last April, removed from Congress in July and a week later was sentenced to ten years in prison. Sources tell AmericanMafia.com that the arrogant ex-congressman has spent considerable time in the hole due to his inability to keep his mouth shut. Despite his conviction for ripping off constituents, Jimbo still thought the people of the Steel Valley loved him enough to re-elect him. As he was with most of his thinking, Jimbo was wrong. See ya next decade Mr. T.
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