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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Appeals court upholds life sentences for ex-Colombo family boss, underling for whacking underboss

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld the convictions of two Colombo family crime bosses jailed for life for the murder of one of their captains in an alleged struggle to control the New York Mafia family.
The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request to vacate the guilty verdicts of accused Colombo family acting boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, and underboss John "Jackie" DeRoss for the 1999 murder of William "Wild Bill" Cutolo Sr., said to be a high-ranking Colombo captain.
A federal jury convicted the two men in 2007 on charges they orchestrated Cutolo's murder, fearing Cutolo was planning to take down Persico. They also were found guilty of tampering with witnesses, including Cutolo's wife and two children.
A three-judge panel was not won over by the argument that the post-trial discovery of the body buried in upstate New York debunked prosecutors' theory he was dumped in the sea after his murder by a Colombo family soldier on Persico's order.
The court found what it called "considerable other evidence" to tie the two to events preceding the death, including phone records and testimony from Cutolo's wife that he went to meet Persico right before he disappeared.
Persico and DeRoss disputed the decision by the Brooklyn district court to let Cutolo's wife testify that he often met Persico at the Brooklyn address where Cutolo last was seen -- as well as the government decision to let Cutolo's wife keep $1.65 million in cash from her late husband's alleged illicit activities.


"We have considered all of defendants' arguments on these appeals -- including their contentions that testimony by some witnesses was incredible as a matter of law -- and have found them to be without merit," wrote Judge Amalya Kearse in a unanimous opinion.
Although neither Persico nor DeRoss was accused of actually killing Cutolo, prosecutors said the two had plotted the hit based on fears Cutolo planned to usurp Persico as boss.
"You could see him coming like a train ... (Cutolo) was all about Cosa Nostra, and he wanted to wear the main hat," former Gambino family captain Michael DiLeonardo testified.
The first trial for the two men ended in a hung jury in 2006. The government sought a second trial and, in 2007, Persico and DeRoss were found guilty of murder in aid of racketeering and witness tampering, and acquitted on charges connected to an unrelated attempted murder.
Persico's attorney, Paul Shechtman of Stillman, Friedman & Shechtman, P.C., said he was disappointed with the appeals court ruling.
"The court gave the issues extended consideration, but it doesn't remove the sting of not getting a new trial," Shechtman said. He did not rule out a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
An attorney for DeRoss did not immediately return a call for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn declined to comment.
The case is U.S. v. Persico et al., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 08-5266; 09-0992; 09-1076.

For the prosecution: Assistant U.S. Attorneys John David Buretta and Jeffrey Goldberg.
For Persico: Paul Shechtman, of Stillman, Friedman & Shechtman, P.C.
For DeRoss: Robert P. LaRusso of LaRusso & Conway.



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