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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The story of how Gambino family hitmen tracked down mob snitch Sammy "the Bull" Gravano in Arizona for the ultimate revenge

Surveillance photo of Mafia leaders John Gotti...Surveillance photo of Mafia leaders John Gotti, Sammy Gravano, Victor Amuso and Anthony CassoSalvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano was a criminal for most of his life. He was a tough guy who used violence and intimidation to impose his will on others. In 1976 he became a member of the Gambino crime family, eventually becoming underboss to John Gotti. In the world of organized crime, Gravano was a very dangerous and powerful man. Although law enforcement and his colleagues and associates knew about him, he was able to ply his trade for many years and remain virtually unknown to the general public.
All that changed in 1991 when Gravano burst on the national scene by doing the unthinkable. He flipped and became a government witness against Gotti. Prior to that, federal prosecutors had suffered a series of courtroom losses at the hands of Gotti’s attorneys, earning the flamboyant boss the nickname “Teflon Don.” But in 1992, Gravano’s testimony was instrumental in Gotti’s racketeering conviction, which resulted in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Thanks in large part to Sammy Gravano, Gotti’s Teflon had turned to Velcro.   As part of his deal with the government Gravano admitted to myriad criminal activities, including taking part in 19 murders. However, his value to prosecutors as a witness against Gotti was such that he received a token sentence of five years in prison and admittance into the federal Witness Protection Program.  Gravano’s defection was viewed in different ways by the public.
To those to whom Gotti had become a kind of cult hero over the years, Gravano was the ultimate rat; a traitorous cur to be held in total contempt. Others thought he was as bad as Gotti and that the government had erred in giving the admitted killer the deal of the century. And some considered him a hero for having the guts to help rid society of the likes of John Gotti. Gravano’s organized crime associates also had mixed opinions. Some disliked Gotti because he disregarded Mafia protocol when he orchestrated the 1985 murder of then Gambino boss Paul Castellano, without getting permission from the Commission. Others became disenchanted with Gotti and his apparent infatuation with the media. The Mafia was, after all, a secret society. Being in the public eye was not good for secrecy or for business. They shed no tears upon Gotti’s departure.
However, most felt that overall, the Gravano situation was an embarrassment to organized crime in general and to the Gambinos in particular. In addition to that prevalent feeling on the part of the rank and file, there were other Gottis still in positions of power within the family. Gotti’s son, John Gotti Jr., his brother Peter, and other relatives undoubtedly harbored ill will toward Gravano. It seemed a no-brainer that at some point there would be an attempt at retribution. The question was when it would happen.
Gravano received an early release from prison and went back into the community as a member of the Witness Protection Program, making him a difficult target for his adversaries. But in 1995 he voluntarily left the Program. During a TV interview following his release Gravano made this bold announcement:
“They send a hit team down, I’ll kill them. They better not miss, because even if they get me, there will still be a lot of body bags going back to New York. I’m not afraid. I don’t have it in me. I’m too detached maybe. If it happens, fuck it. A bullet in the head is pretty quick. You go like that! It’s better than cancer. I’m not meeting you in Montana on some fuckin’ farm. I’m not sitting here like some jerk-off with a phony beard. I’ll tell you something else: I’m a fuckin’ pro. If someone comes to my house, I got a few little surprises for them. Even if they win, there might be surprises.”
Gravano’s bravado aside, now that he was on the loose and out from under the government’s veil of protection, if his enemies could locate him he’d be vulnerable. For Sammy Gravano, the clock was ticking.
Getting Started In 1999, the Gambinos were ready to make their move. Peter Gotti had a coded conversation with his incarcerated brother John at the federal prison in Marion, Illinois. That discussion concerned an article in a Phoenix, Arizona newspaper that stated Gravano was living in the Phoenix area and was running a construction company. It was known that Gravano’s wife Debbie, who claimed she had left him, and children were in the Phoenix area. But was Sammy really there too? After the prison meeting, Peter Gotti ordered former Gravano crew member Thomas “Huck” Carbonaro to head a two-man reconnaissance team to Phoenix.
To accompany him, Carbonaro selected Gambino associate, electronics expert and bank robber, Sal “Fat Sal” Mangiavillano, who at times tipped the scales at around 400 pounds.  Huck Carbonaro was never much of an earner for the family. He’d taken over Gravano’s loansharking book, estimated to be worth more than $2 million, after Gravano flipped. But after a while most of the customers refused to pay back a “rat’s money” and the cash flow dried up.  However, according to federal prosecutors, what Carbonaro was good at was killing. In addition, he’d been part of Gravano’s crew and knew the man and his habits well. And as a bonus, his wife continued to have telephone contact with Gravano’s wife, providing the potential to gather valuable intelligence.
For those reasons Carbonaro was a logical choice for such an important assignment. In what would later prove to be an ironic twist, the feds alleged that while travelling cross-country, Carbonaro confided to Mangiavillano that of the many people he’d killed, the only murder he regretted was that of his good friend Nicholas “Nicky Cowboy” Mormando, who was slain on Gravano’s orders for violating the family’s policy of not dealing drugs. But later on, Gravano changed his position on the issue of distributing drugs and became a drug trafficker himself.
Fat Sal’s reputation was the opposite of Carbonaro’s. He wasn’t known as a killer. His reputation in the criminal underworld was as a highly skilled thief, who led a crew of Mob associates that specialized in bank burglaries, bank robberies, and auto theft. He was a master of electronic gadgetry and a valuable earner for the family.
Sal was also known for his resourcefulness. He’d committed more than 30 bank burglaries from Brooklyn to South Carolina, usually by angling a homemade gaff and three-pronged spears into night deposit boxes to pluck out the loot. During one Queens, New York, heist he rigged a remote controlled drill to cut through concrete and steel. His organized crime pals dubbed his capers “Fat Sallie Productions.”
After an 18-month prison stretch in the mid-1990s for bank burglary, during which his weight dropped to a svelte 225 pounds, Sal was deported to Argentina, where his parents were living when he was born. From Argentina he traveled to his parents’ birthplace in Sicily. After that he went on to visit friends in Montreal, Canada, and then to Toronto. However, he longed to get back into the United States, and slipped into the country by riding a Jet Ski across the Niagara River.
Once again in Brooklyn in late 1999, the 35-year-old Mangiavillano reunited with his wife and three young children. He also put the word out to his criminal associates that he was back and available for work. It was important for guys like Sal to let their presence be known quickly. If they didn’t, upon discovery their friends might think they’d kept silent because they were cooperating with the law or had become weak, making them untrustworthy or unreliable. Such impressions could affect their ability to earn, and even be hazardous to their health.
Huck Carbonaro was among those who heard of Sal’s return. Carbonaro had gone on scores with Sal in the past. His nephew, Tommy Dono, was a member of Sal’s bank burglary crew. And several years earlier when Sal heard that a family associate from another crew was making Carbonaro’s excessive weight the butt of his jokes, Sal and three of his friends went to the bar where the offender hung out. The joint was full of the guy’s friends. Sal and one of his buddies dragged the man outside and beat him mercilessly. One of Sal’s other two friends stationed himself at the bar’s door to block the victim’s pals from intervening. The other sat in their car with gun in hand, prepared to shoot if the bar patrons got out the door and tried to interfere with Sal’s administration of justice. Later, when Carbonaro asked Sal the motive for the beating, he said it was because the victim had been making fun of Carbonaro. Sal’s action placed him in high esteem in Carbonaro’s eyes.
Shortly after Sal announced his return, Carbonaro received his marching orders regarding Gravano. Although Sal had never committed murder for the family before, Carbonaro knew he was willing to commit violence. And he liked the way Sal handled himself, his abilities with electronics and gadgets, and his talent for overcoming obstacles. Equally important, he trusted him. Confident that Sal had what it took to be a valuable partner in the assassination plot, he invited him along. He then explained the potential rewards. If they were successful, Carbonaro would be promoted to captain. Fat Sal would have made his bones and become a made man—a full member of the Gambino family.
To many up and coming mobsters, getting made was a giant step up the career ladder. But not to Sal. Over the years he’d done quite well for himself as an associate. To him, being a made man would subject him to much tighter control by the family. He’d have to live by another standard of Mafia rules. That would change his lifestyle in a way he wasn’t excited about. But Sal felt that once asked, he couldn’t say no. In the Mob, refusing Carbonaro’s request for help might have cost him his own life. So in late December, the pair headed for Phoenix.  Their assignment: Locate and assassinate Sammy Gravano, the super-rat.

The Mission – Part I
Fat Sal provided the transportation for the trip. He retrieved his 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis from his parents’ garage, where it had been stashed since 1995. It had been Sal’s work car and was last used in a bank burglary prior to Sal retiring it. He was confident the Mercury hadn’t been bugged by law enforcement, and it was equipped with secret compartments behind the dashboard for hiding weapons, money, or contraband.
After installing a new battery, Sal left the sanctuary of the garage. As was his habit from doing bank burglaries, his head was on a swivel as he checked his surroundings for any signs of suspicious persons or vehicles.
Sal knew the caper he was embarking on was much more serious than a bank score. Unlike a bank, Sammy Gravano would fight back. If he felt threatened he’d use lethal force without hesitation. And if he and Carbonaro were able to kill the traitor before he killed them, they could still face death. If caught and convicted, Arizona could sentence them to execution. And waiting in the wings would be the feds, ready to pursue a charge of murder in aid or racketeering, which also carried the death penalty and was not exempted by the double jeopardy rule.
Sal picked Carbonaro up at a pre-arranged location. He opened one of the secret compartments and Carbonaro placed a large amount of cash inside. Sal opened a second compartment in which he and his passenger deposited their new identification documents—New Jersey boater’s licenses. Carbonaro’s was in the name of Paul Milano and Sal’s was issued as Henry Payne. He chose that name because he thought it sounded more American. In order to get the IDs in New Jersey where Sal had connections, he had paid a corrupt worker in the department of motor vehicles $500 per license. Carbonaro also placed a piece of paper in the compartment that contained Gravano’s wife’s address, and the address of a pizzeria that Gravano’s son owned. Carbonaro’s wife had obtained the information through a telephone conversation she’d had with Debbie Gravano.
Although it was nice to have that information, Sal thought it was very possible that Debbie had in fact left Sammy as she claimed. He based that opinion on the fact that one of the 19 murder victims Sammy admitted to in his plea deal was Debbie’s brother. So knowing Debbie’s home address didn’t necessarily mean they’d find Sammy there too.
Stopping only when necessary, by the early morning hours of their second day on the road Sal and Huck were nearing Amarillo, Texas. At that point they encountered a severe snowstorm that closed down the highways. The number of stranded motorists exceeded the available hotel and motel accommodations and people had to be put up wherever room could be found. The would-be hit men took sanctuary in the basement of a church. After three nights the storm cleared and the journey resumed.
Upon arriving in Phoenix, Carbonaro grew a beard and put hoop earrings in each ear. Although such appearance-altering is taboo when crime family members or associates are representing the family, they are widely accepted when on a murder assignment. Sal didn’t make any physical changes, but did start to wear sunglasses and a baseball cap at all times. Using their New Jersey-issued boater’s licenses as identification, obtaining Arizona driver’s licenses was a piece of cake. After that, booking flights or renting rooms or vehicles was easy.
Even if the article about Gravano being in Phoenix was true, Sal and Huck anticipated it would take some time to find him. According to the newspaper story, Sammy was running a construction business. So they decided to begin their hunt by researching Phoenix-area construction companies. Using the public library as their office, they verified the addresses they had for Debbie Gravano and her son’s pizzeria. And then, using a library computer, Sal located a site listing construction businesses and typed “Gravano” in the search box. To his amazement, he got a listing for the newly-created “Marathon Pool, Inc.” In silence he turned to Huck and pointed to the screen. Marathon had been the name of Gravano’s construction company back in New York.
Another page listed the names of the people associated with the company. Sammy’s name wasn’t there, but Debbie’s and the children were. Sal and Huck agreed that there was no way Debbie and the kids were actually running Marathon Pool. It had to be Sammy’s operation.
Excited, they left the library, bought a city map and drove to the address of Marathon Pool, near 45th Street and University Drive. It was a one-story structure, with what appeared to be brand new heavy equipment parked in back. Two Lexus cars with tinted windows and chrome wheels were parked in front. As Sal took in the setup, it reminded him of a Mob hangout in Brooklyn. Sal commented to Huck, “We ran up on a den of rats.”
Sal’s conclusion was based on more than the parked cars. He and Huck were both aware of the existence of a taped conversation in which a former Colombo family associate-turned-government-witness, bragged to relatives that as soon as he got out of Witness Protection, he planned to join Gravano in Arizona and they’d start their own family. That tape had been released as exculpatory evidence in a Colombo family case in federal court. Huck and Sal suspected they’d found Sammy and another rat or two as well.
Next they scouted the area to see where they could conduct a surveillance of what they were sure was Sammy’s business. There was no satisfactory place to park to watch the building. Gravano was no slouch. If he noticed a suspicious vehicle in the area he’d know it wasn’t law enforcement. He’d either start shooting or get spooked and take extra precautions, becoming an even more difficult target.
This would probably be the most important murder the Gambino or any other organized crime family had ever committed. The preparations had to be precise. Any misstep would likely blow the hit and cost Sal and Huck their lives in the process. If Gravano didn’t get them, the cops might. And if they survived Sammy and the law, there was a strong possibility that the Gambinos would bump them off as punishment for the screw-up. Huck and Sal had to plan it right. They would not get a second chance.
How were they going to whack Sammy? That was the question Huck and Sal kept asking themselves. The Marathon Pool office was a bad location for the hit. At best they’d have to hide in back of the building where the heavy equipment was parked and hope to pick Gravano off sniper-style.
Their next spot to check out was Debbie’s address. They now believed Sammy was either living there or had an apartment nearby. It was a sprawling ranch home located on Secretariat Drive. As with the Marathon office, parking was a problem. There were no vehicles parked on the street. They were all in their private driveways. Vehicle surveillance there would be spotted quickly. However, there was a large expanse of vacant land behind the house and they’d picked up information that Debbie kept riding horses on the property. They spotted a trail that was probably used when the horses were ridden. There was a possibility that if Sammy rode the horses and they could learn his riding habits, they could hide on the trail and ambush him during his ride.
Huck and Sal next went to the pizza restaurant owned by Gravano’s son. Located in a strip mall, this was the most appealing location of the three. There was a back door leading into the kitchen that was kept open for the pizza delivery man’s use. If they found that Sammy spent time at the restaurant, they could enter through the back door, shoot him, and make their getaway through the same door.
Sal thought of another possibility that might work outside the restaurant. They could park a vehicle right next to Sammy’s car and plant a directional bomb. The device would shoot out 20 12 gauge shotgun shells when the turncoat entered his car. Using a bomb wouldn’t require getting too close to their target and would be safer. And Sal had the expertise necessary to assemble the bomb.
During a couple of days of reconnaissance they scouted every possible route from the pool company office to the Gravano house, every possible route to the pizzeria, and locations where Gravano could be ambushed. Although using a bomb would be safer, a shooting scenario would allow them to stand over the victim and fire a couple of extra rounds into his head just to make sure he was dead.
There was a lot of thought and talk about the manner in which Gravano would die. But a final decision would not be made until additional investigation and surveillance was done.
Having gotten the lay of the land, the pair decided to fly back to New York to spend the holidays with their families. When they returned to Phoenix they’d bring all necessary surveillance and other equipment with them. They were confident that Sammy Gravano would be dead within two months.
Not wanting to fly out of the Phoenix airport, they drove toward Los Angeles on U.S. 10. Still in Arizona, they passed through a town with a big flea market in operation. From travelling in Florida, Sal knew that flea markets sold guns. Spotting a sign on one of the tents advertising guns and ammo, Sal pulled in. They entered the tent and Sal made his way to the handgun display. He asked the clerk to show him a .38 Detective Special. A .38 was the favorite gun of the criminals on Sal’s home turf. It had adequate punch, but wouldn’t exit the victim’s body and hurt an innocent bystander. It was also easy to conceal.
After that he asked to see a .44 Bulldog. The .44 appealed to him because even if Sammy was wearing a bullet proof vest when they caught up with him, this weapon would knock the wind out of him and put him down until the head shots could be administered. Sal negotiated the purchase of both guns.
As Sal was preparing to pay, the merchant noticed the old Los Angeles Raiders cap he was wearing. He asked, “Are you taking these back to LA?” Transporting the guns into California would have been illegal.
“No, I live in Flagstaff,” Sal said smoothly. And then to sweeten the vendor’s pot, he added a 12 gauge shotgun to his arsenal. The transaction was completed without Sal being asked for any identification or having to fill out any forms.
With the guns safely in the trunk of the car, Sal suggested they not take any chances in case the merchant had second thoughts about his customers and made a call to the California cops. With Huck behind the wheel and Sal studying the map, they reversed course and headed back toward Phoenix. About an hour later, they came to a small town with a self-storage facility and pulled in. After renting a space, they drove around to their unit to stash the weapons. The interior of the closet was very dark, which pleased Sal. Finding a nail sticking out of the wall near the ceiling, he used a broom handle to hoist the bag containing the handguns and hook it over the nail. Then he took the shotgun and leaned it up against the wall where it would be easily seen by an intruder. Hopefully, if someone broke in they’d quickly find the shotgun and think that was the only item in the room. The burglar would take the shotgun, but the handguns would be safe.
After securing the guns, Huck and Sal drove to Los Angeles without incident. They put the Mercury in storage and hopped a plane back to New York. After the holidays they’d return with the necessary equipment and the sand would rapidly drain out of the hour glass of Sammy Gravano’s life.

In December 1999, Thomas “Huck” Carbonaro, a made man of the Gambino crime family, and family associate Sal “fat Sal” Mangiavillano, were dispatched to Phoenix, Arizona to locate and kill the ultimate Mob traitor, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano.
The pair found their target and began doing the planning and research necessary to carry out a successful hit. One scenario was to do a traditional shooting, which would require the killers to be in close contact with their victim. Another option was for Sal to assemble a bomb to kill the very dangerous Gravano. Huck and Sal returned to New York City for the Christmas holiday and then got ready to finalize their plans.
The Mission – Part II In late January 2000 the hit men flew back into Los Angeles and brought their surveillance and bomb-making equipment with them. After picking up their car they stopped at an Army surplus store and bought a folding military shovel called an entrenching tool. When Huck asked why they needed the shovel, Sal told him they might have to temporarily bury some of the bomb material until it was needed.
That explanation seemed to satisfy Huck. But it wasn’t completely true. In reality, Sal thought he might need the shovel to dig a grave for Huck. He knew that two people could keep a secret if one of them was dead. If they pulled off the Gravano hit the heat from the feds would be tremendous. Sal was prepared to make sure his partner’s lips were sealed permanently.
They picked up the guns they had purchased previously from the flea market and continued to Phoenix. Upon arriving they sought to rent a hotel suite with a kitchenette so they could eat in and keep out of the public as much as possible. Their first attempt turned out to be a bust. In a low conspiratorial tone, the female desk clerk said, “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but the FBI is in town having a convention and most of our rooms are booked. All we have left is a smoking room.” Sal was a heavy smoker, so that didn’t bother him. But living with the FBI did. Huck was a known made man of the Gambino family and Sal was a known bank robber. It would be way too risky to hang around and possibly be spotted by an agent who knew them. They decided to get out of town for a few weeks and return after the feds cleared out.
Before leaving, they rented a storage unit to stash the weapons and electronic equipment. Then they drove to Las Vegas, stored the car and caught a flight back to New York. Their plan to return to Phoenix got put on hold, though, when the mother of Louie Vallaro, Huck’s crew boss, passed away. Huck had to stay around to attend the funeral for two reasons. The first was a matter of showing respect to his boss. The second was the fact that the FBI would undoubtedly do a surveillance of the funeral. If a guy in Huck’s position wasn’t there, it would be a red flag to the feds. When Gravano was killed, they’d quickly connect the dots.
On February 24, 2000, the day before they were going to leave for Phoenix, Sal was driving alone underneath FDR Drive in New York, when he heard over his car’s radio that Sammy Gravano had been arrested in Phoenix on state drug trafficking charges. Gravano, his wife, son, and daughter, were all alleged to be part of a criminal syndicate dealing the designer drug Ecstasy.
Shortly after the report aired, Sal’s special pager that only Huck had the number for went off. He pulled the car over and called Huck. Sal broke the news to his partner about Gravano’s arrest. They met at a Greenwich Village location an hour later to discuss the situation. The conclusion was that there were no options available to complete the hit. With Gravano back behind bars he was out of their reach. Their mission was over. The Arizona authorities very possibly had unknowingly saved the traitor’s life.
After all the planning and plotting, no one was injured or killed. Only a few people knew about the planned hit, and none of them had a reason to blab about it. So it appeared that all the involved parties would go on with their lives and the attempt to kill Gravano would never be mentioned again.
But things don’t always end up as they first appear.
A Tale to Tell
The story of the plan to kill Gravano didn’t remain a secret for very long. A few months later, Peter Gotti let the cat out of the bag when he complained to Mob associate Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo that he had spent $70,000 on the Gravano hit and didn’t have a body to show for it. Gotti even questioned whether Carbonaro and Mangiavillano had actually gone to Arizona at all.
And in June 2002, 16 months after Gravano’s arrest, it all became known to law enforcement. At that time, Sal was in jail awaiting an anticipated five to seven year sentence for his guilty plea in a federal racketeering case involving numerous bank burglaries throughout New York City. In addition, his December 2001 indictment under RICO for armed bank robbery and interstate transportation of stolen money was still pending. And besides facing some serious prison time, he was not at all happy with his gangster friends.
The incident that triggered Sal’s unhappiness occurred shortly after he was jailed on the December indictment and involved a Christmas card. The card Sal received was from Huck Carbonaro and contained a check that Sal could deposit in his jail commissary account. The check was in the amount of $50. To Sal, that was an insult. He’d made his organized crime associates lots of money over the years and would have done murder for them. But they had totally ignored him since his arrest. And now Carbonaro slapped him across the face with a $50 offering. “What a piece of garbage,” Sal said of the gift. “That fifty bucks was no more than lunch money.”
Time passed, but Sal’s anger lingered. His colleagues continued to treat him like a leper, increasing his resentment. Sal took stock of his situation, the amount of prison time he was facing and the level of support he was receiving from his colleagues. There was a lot of the former and almost nothing of the latter. The evaluation caused him to conclude that loyalty to the Mob was a one way street. Why should he take it on the chin to protect a bunch of guys who didn’t appreciate him? He decided to test the waters with prosecutors and see if they would be interested in making a deal.
Sal contacted his lawyer. After having refused to speak to the FBI on numerous occasions, he told the attorney he was now willing to be interviewed. At five o’clock the next morning there was a bang on Sal’s cell door. “Mangiavillano, court,” a guard shouted. Sal was taken to the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, and then to an office where his lawyer, a federal prosecutor and two FBI agents were waiting.
“After some pleasantries, we got down to business,” Sal remembers. “The prosecutor said, ‘Sal, you’ve been in prison, you were deported and came back illegally. And you’ve been indicted and arrested again. Quite frankly, you have been out of the loop for a while and we doubt you have any information we need.’
“I said if that’s the way they felt to take me back to the jail. I got up from my chair to head for the door. The prosecutor and the agents chuckled and told me to sit back down. One of the agents asked me what type of information I had. I told him I could implicate Peter Gotti—John Gotti Senior’s brother and the current Gambino family boss—in a murder plot. Were they feds interested in talking deal?”
They were. And what Sal had to say had not been heard by government ears before. He said that Peter Gotti had ordered the murder of the despised gangster-turned-snitch Sammy Gravano. He told agents that on Peter Gotti’s orders, he and Huck Carbonaro had travelled to Phoenix in December 1999 to locate and plan the murder of Gravano.
Over several sessions, Sal talked and the feds listened intently. After getting the entire story, FBI agent Theodore Otto retraced the route Sal said he and Huck took westward from Brooklyn to Phoenix. Ted Otto had been one of the agents it attendance at the FBI convention in Phoenix that Huck and Sal had stumbled into. It all checked out, right down to the snowstorm near Amarillo. Another agent investigated Sal’s description of the Marathon Pool company office. He reported that every detail was accurate, including the color of the window frames on a building across the street. Prosecutors became convinced that Sal’s story was real and that he’d make a powerful witness.
Based in large part on Sal’s information, federal prosecutors in Manhattan leveled new charges against Gotti and Carbonaro, both of whom were already under unrelated indictment in Brooklyn. The press release issued by the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York on August 18, 2003 announced the indictment of Gotti and Carbonaro for allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to murder Salvatore Gravano. This indictment merged the charges from the earlier indictment in which the two men, along with Louis Vallario, Frank Fappiano, Edward Garafola, and John Matera, had been accused of a wide-ranging racketeering conspiracy, including three murders, extortion, loansharking, bribery, witness tampering and illegal gambling.
Sal learned later that his decision to make a deal was a wise one. In addition to Peter Gotti spilling the beans about the Gravano caper to Michael DiLeonardo, Huck Carbonaro also had loose lips. Had Sal not gotten his foot in the door early, the government had located other people who would have implicated him in the conspiracy. Now those same witnesses would serve to corroborate his testimony.
While waiting for the trial to begin Sal saw Garafola and Fappiano in the jail. He saw fear in their eyes. Perhaps the hard-boiled criminals were beginning to accept the possibility they had breathed their last free air. Huck Carbonaro sent a lawyer to see Sal. He wanted him to keep his mouth shut, plead guilty, and do his time. But Sal was having none of it. His deal with the government didn’t provide for any specific prison sentence to settle his outstanding charges. But regardless of how that worked out, he’d told prosecutors his complete criminal history. Once this ordeal was over his slate would be clean. He’d never again have to worry about someone ratting him out. He’d done that himself.
The trial got underway in November 2004. During his three days on the witness stand Sal told jurors a laundry list of every crime he’d committed since the age of 13. They ranged from auto theft to fraud, extortion, bank burglaries and robberies, assault and conspiracy to commit murder. And in great detail, he explained the plot to kill Gravano.
Under cross-examination, a defense attorney asked him, “You’re only cooperating with the government because you want to get out of jail soon. Isn’t that right?”
Sal answered, “I pray to God every night that freedom comes.”
The lawyer followed with, “You want to get free so you can commit more crimes. And if you get caught for a burglary and get five years, you can do that time easy, can’t you?”
Sal said, “No. I’m sick and tired of being in jail.”
The lawyer took one more shot. “You’d lie to get out of jail, wouldn’t you?”
Sal stopped him cold. “You’re wrong. If I lie I won’t get out of prison. I’ll be in for seventy-five years. I can only get out by telling the truth. And that’s the easiest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
A few days after that testimony Sal’s prayers were answered. A Brooklyn judge released him to the federal Witness Protection Program.
On December 22, 2004, on the strength of testimony from Sal Mangiavillano, Michael DiLeonardo and two other mob turncoats, Gotti and Carbonaro were convicted of their roles in the plot to kill Gravano. Coupled with their convictions on other racketeering charges, both men are in effect serving life sentences.
The projected release date for the 71-year-old Gotti is May 5, 2032. The now 62-year-old Carbonaro is in even worse shape. He is scheduled for release on December 24, 2065.

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1 comment:

  1. 1999 I hung out with Sammy Gravano son's crew partying at this same pizza place after party hang out. I was involved in the distrubuting the X before they got popped. Only met his Son twice meeting through a friend. Never met Sammy but if I wanted to I could of as my friends said he was able easily get close often being at the house with his son bringing over people to build his crew up. I beleive the family still has the same house..

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