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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Accused mobster Tommy Gioeli blogs as he awaits trial

Outrage seems to come easily to Tommy Gioeli. But headlines last May about the government's assertion that he was involved with the accidental killing of an ex-nun during a mob hit and feared going to hell drove the alleged former Colombo family mobster from Farmingdale to a new level.

"What a disgrace!" he wrote in a post on his prison blog, denying the accusation. "My saintly, elderly mother who just buried my father, my poor wife, my precious children, my priest, the rest of my family, friends, people I just know. All of these prospective jurors would think I am an animal. . . . I am fighting my own beloved America. Help me win her back from the evil minions that control her!"

For criminal defendants awaiting trial, most lawyers advise silence. But Gioeli, 59, an alleged one-time family acting boss known as "Tommy Shots" -- who goes on trial Monday on charges including murder and racketeering over six slayings -- has loudly broken that mold.

Jailed at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center since his 2008 arrest, the accused wiseguy -- whose record prosecutors say includes prior convictions for robbery and attempted robbery -- began the blog in January 2010. It is titled, eponymously, "Alleged Mob Boss Tommy Gioeli's Voice."

Since then, he has taken on subjects ranging from Osama bin Laden to the Casey Anthony case while raging repeatedly at his prison treatment, the media and -- most of all -- the agents, prosecutors and informants who he claims are railroading him.

"Why am I persecuted in my own country that is a symbol of freedom worldwide?" he asked in a post last month. "I demand my freedom! I want justice, not tricks and treachery. I am not a mobster. I am an American citizen!!"

In Brooklyn federal court, where jury selection is to begin Tuesday, Gioeli is charged with involvement in murders that date back to the internal war for control of the family in the early 1990s, including the 1992 killings in North Massapequa of John Minerva, a mob soldier, and Michael Imbergamo, a man who happened to be with Minerva.

The indictment also charges Gioeli and co-defendant Dino Saracino with playing a role in the 1997 killing of NYPD Officer Ralph Dols, who had allegedly angered a powerful Colombo captain by marrying his ex-wife, and with participating in the 1999 murder of alleged Colombo underboss William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, whose body was dug up in 2008 from a Farmingdale mob graveyard.

And beyond the murders, court filings charge that Gioeli was a virtual one-man crime wave on Long Island over the past two decades -- from profiting from illegal joker poker machines and nightclub extortion, to planning or committing robberies of furriers in Syosset and Levittown as well as banks, markets and jewelers, to stealing a Macy's trailer at the Massapequa Mall.

Defense attorney Adam Perlmutter offers a spare response: "We deny the charges categorically and we're going to meet them vigorously at trial," but won't comment on his client's more colorful and extensive rhetoric. Nor will the government.

Gioeli produces the blog through notes or emails to his daughter that are subject to prison screening, which she posts.

Prosecutors, in court papers, have suggested that Gioeli is trying to use it to influence potential jurors who may be exposed to publicity about his blog. And organized crime experts say that's a tactic with a long pedigree, dating back at least to the efforts of John Gotti's defense team to seek out positive publicity on the mob boss and attack government tactics.

Different form of publicity

"It's nothing different than Bruce Cutler did when he was representing Gotti in the 1980s -- put the message out that his client is being persecuted by the FBI," said Jerry Capeci, who runs the website Ganglandnews.com. "But this is the first time a gangster himself has his own blog. Every grandmother and grandfather has a Twitter account and a blog these days, and Gioeli's taking advantage of the current technology."

Gioeli doesn't pretend otherwise, complaining regularly about the government's alleged leaks and its use of pretrial filings -- such as the claim about the accidental killing of an ex-nun, ultimately excluded from trial as irrelevant by U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan -- to prejudice jurors against him.

"I wish that I had a press agent like the government, instead of just a blog, but I will fight with any tools that I have," he wrote. "I am fighting for my life. I am fighting the biggest bully in the world."

Gioeli's blog entries mix together attempts to humanize himself with attacks on the other side.

In the former category, he adopted Occupy Wall Street lingo last year, identifying himself as part of "the 99 percent" in one post. He has also chronicled fights with the prison over his various physical afflictions (diabetes, heart problems, bad teeth) and has bid for sympathy by sharing his feelings on personal highs and lows -- the wedding of a daughter and the death of his father.

He sought furloughs to attend both the wedding and the funeral, but both requests were turned down. "Even though I am an innocent American man, not convicted of anything, I cannot bury my father," he blogged.

When he turns his attention to the case against him, Gioeli goes on the attack. He has given unflattering nicknames to most members of the government's team -- "The Liar," "The Prune" and "The Seducer" -- and has accused them of behaving unethically.

He says the charges have been trumped up by an array of mob turncoats trying to save their own skin -- "water rats, subway rats, sewer rats" who "have everything to gain and nothing to lose by pointing their dirty, snot-caked fingers at me."

And some get even harsher treatment. In a blog post in December, Gioeli accused one former family friend expected to testify for the government of dropping a cat into a cage fight with a pit bull for laughs, torturing and shooting his own dog, and scheming to poison a pet fish owned by another mobster -- as well as various violent acts against humans.

"It has been argued," Gioeli added in a scholarly note, "that the first victims of serial killers tend to be animals."



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