An ailing Colombo capo was sprung from behind bars Tuesday on an extraordinary one-week medical furlough so he can undergo tests to determine whether cancer has spread throughout his body.
Luca DiMatteo, wearing his prison khakis, walked slowly with the aid of a cane outside Brooklyn Federal Court, accompanied by family members who signed a $1 million bond guaranteeing his return in seven days.
Prosecutors had dropped their opposition DiMatteo’s bail application after his lawyer made a compelling argument to a federal judge that the reputed mobster has received shoddy medical treatment at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
“I understand the MDC is not the Mayo Clinic,” Judge Leo Glasser said in Brooklyn Federal Court earlier this month. “But I also understand that even the MDC or the Bureau of Prisons has an obligation to see to it that a person in need of medical attention is receiving it appropriately and adequately.”
DiMatteo, 70, was diagnosed with bladder cancer before his arrest last July on racketeering charges.
A month before he was busted, federal agents observed DiMatteo travel directly from his chemotherapy treatment to pick up alleged extortion and loansharking payments from a victim.
His two previous bids for bail were rejected by a magistrate judge and Glasser who accepted the government's contention that the geezer gangster was a danger to the community, but the latest court filing seeking reconsideration of the bail issue contained new information about his deteriorating condition.
Defense lawyer Flora Edwards said her requests for medical intervention to treat DiMatteo's "agonizing pain" were either ignored by the MDC's warden, or bungled by the staff. Besides cancer, DiMatteo also suffers from congestive heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
The complaints included failing to check the battery on DiMatteo's pacemaker, not providing him with insulin before every meal, changing pain medication that he was previously prescribed to a type that isn't working, and transporting him to the emergency room of a Brooklyn hospital without forwarding his medical records.
"They turned around and they took him back (to the MDC) which left him bedridden for another two days," Edwards told the judge."He can't be left to suffer at the MDC until his heart gives out."
A prison told the judge via telephone that the pain DiMatteo is experiencing could signify that his cancer has metasticized, and that he should undergo a bone scan and other tests.
Glasser, who was annoyed that prosecutors did not bring the doctor to his courtroom, ordered a hearing on DiMatteo's treatment. The feds agreed to the one-week furlough to avoid the hearing.
Outside the courthouse, DiMatteo's lawyer declined to comment.
DiMatteo's nephew and co-defendant, Lukey DiMatteo, was granted a weekend release from jail in April by Glasser so the reputed mob associate to visit his baby daughter in the hospital where she was recovering from cancer surgery.
Both men are scheduled to go on trial in September.