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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

At a Mafia Murder Trial, a Lesson in Mob Jargon

With a clamor of jailyard voices echoing in the background, Joseph C. Massino asked his former crime family subordinate, Vincent Basciano, if he had used two men “to clip Randy.”
After a series of expletives, Mr. Basciano responded, “I’m not sure exactly what happened there, but I gave the order.”
That brief exchange from a secretly recorded conversation between the two men in the recreation area of a Brooklyn jail in January 2005 is significant for two reasons.
It is Mr. Basciano’s most direct comment about involvement in the murder of Randolph Pizzolo, for which he is now on trial.
It is also an example, through the use of the term “clip,” of the blunt, esoteric parlance of the mob. The two conversations between the former Bonanno crime family leaders that were played in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Wednesday were littered with shorthand and code phrases that may puzzle the lay public, but seemed natural to Mr. Massino.
Clip. Boob. Strip. Brokester. Chase. All part of the underworld vernacular.
In one instance, Taryn A. Merkl, a federal prosecutor, asked Mr. Massino what he meant when he said in the recording, “Vic, Vic was a boob,” referring to Mr. Massino’s former private investigator.
“That he was a boob,” Mr. Massino responded.
“What did you conclude about that?” she pressed further.
“That he was a boob,” Mr. Massino repeated.
Mr. Massino, the first official boss of a New York crime family to flip and testify as a government witness, agreed to cooperate to avoid facing the death penalty for an eighth murder. (He had already been convicted of seven others.) Instead, he pleaded guilty in 2005 and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
He spent much of Wednesday explaining the terminology and context of the conversations that he secretly recorded for federal authorities. But the substance of what was said could both help and hurt the prosecution.
Mr. Basciano, a former Bonanno acting boss who is serving life in prison for murder and racketeering in a separate case, conceded on the tape that he put out the order to “clip” (“that’s to murder somebody,” Mr. Massino explained) Mr. Pizzolo.
But he also claimed later during the taped conversation that he had had nothing to do with the killing.
After Mr. Massino told Mr. Basciano that he did not want to be blamed for Mr. Pizzolo’s murder, Mr. Basciano said, “We didn’t do it.”
Later on, Mr. Basciano said that another Bonanno acting boss, Michael Mancuso — whom he referred to as Michael Nose — ordered the hit on Mr. Pizzolo, who was found shot to death in Brooklyn in December 2004.
“It wasn’t me,” Mr. Basciano said. “You know what I’m saying?”
Even this seeming cleansing of the hands had, according to Mr. Massino, another meaning in the underworld.
“It wasn’t him, but it really was him,” Mr. Massino said of how he interpreted Mr. Basciano’s statement.
In saying how he would have handled Mr. Pizzolo — whom Mr. Basciano derided on the tape as annoying, stupid and with a number of profane terms — Mr. Massino used yet another mob term, “chase.”
“I tell you, ‘Get out of here,’ ” Mr. Massino explained.
At another point in the conversation, Mr. Massino called Nicky Santora, a Bonanno underboss, a “brokester.” He testified that that meant he “ain’t got any money,” would borrow from people and “just forgets to pay.”
The conversation also shed light on a show of loyalty in the crime family. The two men discussed on the tape that after Mr. Massino had been sent to prison, Mr. Basciano sent his wife $50,000 in a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne so that she would have money to support herself.



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