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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mountain mobster: Wiseguy on the lam hid for years in Poconos

Hidden away in the sleepy bedroom community of Milford, Joseph Massino, one of the mob's highest-ranking members, enjoyed weekends at Caesars Pocono Palace and lived for a short time in the gated community of Hemlock Farms while he was on the lam from the law.
The former head of the Bonanno organized crime family testified at a murder trial Thursday that a crooked FBI agent tipped off the mob in the early 1980s that he and other gangsters were about to be rounded up.
Then a powerful captain in the crime family, Massino continued to conduct Mafia business from a hideout in the Poconos and kept track while other mobsters were caught and prosecuted.
Massino has been on the witness stand in Brooklyn this week testifying in the murder trial of Vinny "Gorgeous" Basciano. Breaking the Mafia's code of silence or "omerta," Massino is the highest-ranking New York Mafia member to ever testify for the government.
According to the biography, "The Last Godfather: The Rise and Fall of Joey Massino," by Simon Crittle, Massino started hiding out in a vacation home about five miles outside of Milford in 1982.
A handful of other Mafia captains, including John Gotti, who had a house in the area, would make regular visits, waiting at the Milford Diner to be picked up and taken to the vacation home by one of Massino's guards.
According to Crittle's biography, Massino enjoyed occasional weekend trysts at Caesars Pocono Palace with his mistress, while his wife, Josephine, was at home in New York with the children.
Since the FBI had Josephine under surveillance, Massino had to keep his distance.
In 1984, Massino moved out of the Milford vacation home and moved into the gated community of Hemlock Farms in Lords Valley in Pike County.

Blindfolded lawyer

He finally decided to surrender after a sit-down with a defense lawyer who was literally kept in the dark about his whereabouts. Mob minions blindfolded the attorney so that he wouldn't know where he was, Massino testified Thursday.
Joan Weiner, who was then-executive director of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, said Pennsylvania laws forbidding wiretapping made the state more attractive to organized crime than New York or New Jersey, according to a March 8, 1978, Pocono Record story.
The Crime Commission's investigation into the Mafia's ties to the Poconos took a toll on the area's tourist industry in the late 1970s, particularly after the commission released a statement saying the Pocono Mountains were being "raped" by organized crime.
To counter the negative press, the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau spent about $30,000 to $50,000 on a new public relations program, hoping to undo the damage, according to a May 31, 1978, Pocono Record story.
During his time on the witness stand this week, Massino, 68, detailed a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes he committed. Massino began talking with investigators about his murderous exploits after a 2004 conviction.
The bloodshed included the shotgun slayings of three rival mob captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco, whose story became a movie starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.


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