Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Junior Gotti mistrial: Mob rat pack feasts on FBI cash but fails to deliver

Paid Mafia informants - a fixture in mob cases - tell good stories, but juries don't always believe them.
Mob-watchers say juries are leery of convicting based solely on the word of one mob rat, with no corroboration - and Junior Gotti's jurors were no exception.
Jurors said they did not believe key witness John Alite, a former Gotti pal, and his testimony failed to convict Gotti yesterday on murder and racketeering charges.
The use of informants has grown dramatically since the 1950s and Joe Valachi. Now, prosecutors say, there's often a race to be the first informant in big cases.
"Some of them have been spectacular, and others, we've made mistakes," an ex-FBI agent said.
Examples of mob rats who got thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for their cooperation but later got in trouble include:
- Gambino associate Lewis Kasman got $144,000 from the feds from 2005 to 2007 to help convict Junior Gotti. Kasman didn't testify at Gotti's last trial because of two recent arrests.
- Ex-Gambino underboss Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano did five years after admitting 19 murders and helping convict Gotti's mob boss father. Gravano is doing 19 years on drug charges.
- Former DeCavalcante acting boss Vincent (Vinny Ocean) Palermo ratted out most of his crime family. He was jailed briefly for trying to hide $1.1 million.
Still, law enforcement officials say paid informants are worth it.
"There are few substitutes for a guy who fits in well with the other bad guys, who knows the players and can speak to them," said former federal prosecutor Daniel Richman.
Most informants get $2,000 to $5,000 a month, a former FBI supervisor says.
Former capo and star witness Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, got more than $250,000, said ex-Gotti lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman.
"He's been cooperating for seven years," Lichtman said. "Why work when you're getting supported by the government?"


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