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

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bonanno captain's Death before Dishonor tattoo makes appearance at trial

Tat’s all, folks!

The evidence part of the trial of reputed Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro — who is charged with planning the infamous $6 million Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport in 1978 — ended Wednesday with jurors getting a look at the mobster's "Death Before Dishonor" tattoo.

FBI special agent Robert Ypelaar, the government's final witness, identified the blurry letters pinted on the 80-year-old Asaro's right forearm from a photograph taken on the day he was busted in January 2014.

"Death Before Dishonor" tattoo.

In her opening argument two weeks ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes said those ominous three words were for Asaro, "the pact of 'Omertà,' the code of silence which he built his life on."

But like the faded tattoo, the silence did not stand the test of time. Asaro was betrayed by first cousin Gaspare Valenti, who secretly recorded nearly 200 hours of conversations with the unwitting wiseguy.

Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro charged with planning the infamous $6 million Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport in 1978.

Defense lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio tried valiantly to defuse the tattoo photos.

Government exhibit 104 of the Lufthansa Cargo building at JFK airport, presented to the jury in the Lufthansa heist trial at Brooklyn Federal Court.

"Not particularly," Ypelaar replied.

Macedonio pointed out that the term, "Death Before Dishonor" dates back to Samurai warriors and is a motto of the U.S. Marine Corps.

"This is a question I never thought I'd be answering," he said prompting laughter in the courtroom.

Asaro's lawyers put on a short, but colorful defense case. They called former Lufthansa cargo worker Kerry Whelan, who was pistol-whipped by members of the robbery crew — and has been carrying a 37-year grudge against the FBI for allegedly mischaracterizing his description of a robber in court papers.

Whelan, 60, testified that the two thugs he encountered in a van outside the cargo building were Tommy DeSimone — portrayed in the film "Goodfellas" by actor Joe Pesci — and Colombo associate Angelo Sepe.

But Whelan didn’t come across as unbiased.

"I was treated horribly by the FBI," Whelan said.

Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes got him to acknowledge that he has written letters to the Gov. Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch with various complaints over the years.

He also wrote to the federal judge presiding over the trial demanding the FBI return his $5 bill that was seized for fingerprint testing because a robber might have touched it, and the shoes he was wearing the night of the heist which were also taken for forensic testing.

Whelan said outside the courthouse that he was exercising his First Amendment right of free speech when he staged numerous one-man protests in Foley Square, outside the U.S. Attorney's office, and in Facebook rants.



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