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

Friday, August 20, 2021

Underworld in disbelief as news of legendary Colombo family Boss being a rat runs rampant

Front page of the New York Daily News on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.

A mob war of words erupted Friday over court documents identifying infamous Colombo family boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico as a federal “top echelon informant.”

Lawyers for Persico blasted the charge leveled in a court filing Wednesday seeking compassionate prison release for one-time acting Colombo boss Victor “Little Vic” Orena.

“This story is BULL----!” tweeted defense attorney Matthew Mari. “Calling Carmine Persico a rat is like calling George Washington a British spy! Junior was a great client, man, and friend. The government railroaded him and he fought back like a MAN!”

David Schoen, representing Orena, delivered the bombshell Brooklyn Federal Court filing — including a 1971 law enforcement document identifying Persico as a member of the FBI’s “Top Echelon Informant Program.” The 50-year-old paperwork was revealed through a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed against the Justice Department.

Schoen said he hesitated to go public with the charge until doing some digging to verify the shocking story.

Carmine Persico, late boss of the Colombo crime family.
Carmine Persico, late boss of the Colombo crime family.

“Independently of this document, two lawyers who represented Mr. Persico in the past have said that they had solid reason to believe that this information is accurate, as did another cooperating witness who gave examples that he believed proved the point,” Schoen wrote in a Friday email to defense lawyer Anthony DiPietro. “I would never have filed such a document without having taken these steps.”

In another email, Schoen said he heard from a former Colombo associate declaring “the assertion is 100% right.” The mobster was a cooperating witness who testified against two of Schoen’s clients.

DiPietro, who fought unsuccessfully to win Persico parole before the mobster’s March 2019 death, dismissed the charge as ridiculous after The News published the exclusive scoop.

“Having served as Carmine’s lawyer and being his friend, I am very upset by this allegation,” said DiPietro. “What I know for fact is that this allegation is completely false and the 50-year-old document cited by Orena’s lawyer provides no support for this bogus claim. We fought the government until his last dying day and there wasn’t even a thought of cooperation.”

The revelation came as Schoen argued for the ailing, 87-year-old Orena’s early release from federal custody. Orena is battling senility, and Schoen argued that Persico’s cooperation was another factor in favor of turning the elderly mafioso loose.

The Colombo family famously went to war with itself between 1991-93, with factions loyal to Persico and Orena battling as 10 people were killed — including an innocent teen slain at a Bay Ridge bagel store during the bloody battle.

Schoen alleged Orena’s racketeering conviction and life sentence were the result of FBI misconduct. Orena has long argued that Colombo turncoat Greg “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa and his FBI handler Lindley DeVecchio instigated the mob war.

David J. Garrow, the author of a book on the FBI’s campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr., messaged the lawyers that the document indicated Persico and a handful of other gangsters were the targets of informants, rather than cooperators.

But Schoen remained adamant that he’d considered all these possibilities and ran them by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General during an in-person meeting.

Colombo crime family boss Carmine “the Snake” Persico's name in documents naming four turncoat mobsters.
Colombo crime family boss Carmine “the Snake” Persico's name in documents naming four turncoat mobsters. 

“I met with the DOJ inspector General and two FBI agents. ... All agreed that the document reflected exactly what it has been represented to reflect,” he said. “I avoided filing this document for quite some time because of the seriousness of it and the implications.”


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