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

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Federal judge rejects early release for Colombo Soldier convicted of five murders

Mafia killer Vito Guzzo, who the feds say became a made man behind bars — after he’d already confessed to murdering five people — will not get early release from prison, a Brooklyn judge has ruled.

Guzzo’s crimes were too serious and the danger he poses to the community is too great to consider springing him five years shy of his scheduled November 2028 release date, Brooklyn Federal Court Chief Judge Margo Brodie ruled.

“Guzzo’s sentence is not extraordinarily long in light of his eighteen convictions, which include five murders in aid of racketeering and other violent crime,” Brodie wrote in her ruling Thursday. “Guzzo committed five heinous murders using various weapons as the leader of the Giannini Crew, and conspired to commit five others. Guzzo was also convicted of a number of other violent crimes including arson and armed robbery.”

The 58-year-old Colombo gangster was sentenced to 38 years after admitting to the killings as part of a 1998 guilty plea.

Guzzo was seeking compassionate release under the First Step Act criminal justice reform bill, which was signed into law by Donald Trump in 2018.

In a court filing last year, Guzzo said he was “completely rehabilitated” and “has matured from a rash young man pursuing a lawless lifestyle, to a reflective, empathetic middle-aged adult.”

Guzzo described a series of ailments, including the effects of two shootings in 1990 and 1996, which left him with the loss of sight in one eye and the removal of part of his left lung, and said he feared continued exposure to COVID-19 in prison. He pointed to 132 classes he’d taken behind bars as part of his rehabilitation, and said he prevented a fellow inmate from committing suicide.

Federal prosecutors took issue with his claims of rehabilitation, though, contending that “multiple government sources” say he was inducted into the Colombo crime family within the past decade while he was locked up at the federal prison in Danbury, Conn.

Guzzo’s lawyer, Sanford Talkin, said in a January filing that the government made that claim about him becoming a made man “without providing any substantive evidence.”

“Guzzo categorically denies that allegation and offers to take a polygraph to refute the claim,” Talkin wrote.

When asked about Brodie’s ruling, Talkin said Monday, “We’re disappointed, but we feel that the judge gave it consideration.”

In his mafia heyday, Guzzo led the “Giannini Crew” — a death squad comprisingmembers of several Cosa Nostra families who used the former Caffe Giannini in Ridgewood, Queens, as their home base.

In January 1992, the crew lured pot dealers John Ruisi and Steven Pagnozzi to a Queens social club, forced them to their knees and demanded they reveal where they stashed their drugs and cash. Guzzo shot Ruisi in the head, while another crew member, Anthony Tabbita, did the same to Pagnozzi. The mobsters put both victims in a car and torched it.

Later that year, he lured Gambino associate Ralph Campione Sciulla to the basement of his accomplice Fabio Bartolotta’s home, then fatally shot Sciulla in the head for not giving the Giannini crew a cut of his drug dealing and fraud money.

A few months later, in November 1992, Guzzo orchestrated the shooting of Colombo associates Vincent Ricciardo, Anthony Mesi and Paul Schiava as they drove to a capo’s wake, the feds said. Mesi was killed in the ambush; the other two survived.

Guzzo, who suspected that Ricciardo killed his father in upstate New York in 1987, made sure to take part in the attack.

In October 1996, Guzzo and Tabbita murdered Genovese crime family associate John Borelli, who was dating Guzzo’s ex-girlfriend.



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