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

Monday, April 18, 2011

Details from Joseph Massino's Testimony

Joseph Massino told of a life of crime that began as a teenager. For the entire day, Massino, looking like he put on more weight despite a prison diet, dropped a few interesting tidbits which readers of The Last Godfather and other Mafia fans would appreciate.
   ** As a bookmaker in the 1960s Massino paid one NYPD detective $500 to get out of gambling case and another detective $10,000 to get out of a burglary case.
   ** Massino committed his first homicide in the 1960s, the killing of one Tommy Zummo, a Bonanno associate who he said was killed in the lobby of a Queens building. Massino said he feared getting caught when the clip fell out of the handgun which had his fingerprints. Nothing happened.  The late Philip Rastelli one day told Massino he was looking into who killed Zummo and if he discovered who did it would kill the person. Rastelli never found out and ironically became Massino's protector and mentor.
 ** Massino said he set up Joseph "Do Do" Pastore to be murdered in 1976. Tutti Franzese did the killing, said Massino.
  ** Massino was made on June 14, 1977 in a bar in Queens.  The late Anthony Spero, Joe Chilli and three others were made in the same ceremonoy prssided over by Carmine Galante.  It was Galante who was considered the street boss at the time, although the incarcerated Rastelli was the official boss.
  ** John Gotti Senior carried out the shooting of Vito Borelli, the old boyfriend of Paul Castellano's daughter. Borelli had joked about Castellano looking like chicken grower Frank Perdue.
      Prosecutors also played tapes Massino made of Basciano while both were in jail.

When Joe Massino was about to get arrested he took one final shopping trip with his daughter Joanne in Howard Beach, a scene described in King of The Godfathers.  But there was one more trip Massino took two days before he was arrested on January 9, 2003. That was when he met Vincent Basciano at a diner on Rockaway Avenue in Queens on January 7, 2003. In his testimony, Massino described telling Basciano that he was going to get arrested very soon and that if they had to kill anybody it could be done. The code word for a hit was to be the word "Jocko" which was to be said in conjunction with the name of the target, said Massino.  Basciano also wanted to kill the family underboss, Sal Vitale, but Massino said he told him not to, that he needed facts and not mere suspicion that Vitale was an informant. [Vitale didn't turn government witness until a month later, after he was arrested on the same day as Massino] "Take care," Basciano wished Massino.
    According to Massino, he set up a panel to run the family while he was in jail that includeed Anthony "TG" Graziano, a capo named "Peter Rabbit" and the another named " Joe Saunders" otherwise known as Joseph Cammarano. Vitale was to be removed as underboss,which he was.
     Massino also testified that while he was in the federal detention center with Basciano, that his young captain told him he had Randolph Pizzolo killed because he was a "bad kid, a jerk off."  This conversation wasn't recorded but prosecutors are using it as a piece of evidence in Basciano's racketeering case. Basciano faces the possible death penalty for the Pizzolo slaying in late 2004

Former boss Joseph Massino ended his time on the witness stand in the trial of Vincent Basciano at shortly after  Noon, on April 21 in Brooklyn federal court.  Massino was a pretty straightforward witness in his five days on the stand and wasn't really shaken in the cross examination by the defense team.  Readers of King of The Godfathers would have heard alot that was familiar. But the heart of Massino's testimony had to do with the audio tapes he made of Basciano while both were in jail together in January 2005.  Basciano indicates on the tapes that he wanted murder victim Randolph Pizzolo to be killed, but isn't sure of the details.  However, the whole point of the defense is that Basciano is actually lying to Massino on the tapes because he feared Dominick Cicale would be hurt for taking part in an unsanctioned murder.  Massino admits that unsanctioned murders and other kinds of actions which go against mob rules can get the culprit killed. But such a penalty wasn't automatic, said Massino.  It isn't clear how the jury took to Massino, who admitted time and time again that he played a role in 10 gangland hits.  The defense may use that fact if the case goes to the death penalty phase as an example of mobsters who did far worse than the one homicide charged against Basciano.
     After Massino left, the next big witness was James "Big Louie" Tartaglione, who was also a cooperator against Massino in 2004.  Tartaglione will be on the stand April 25 as well.


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