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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Legendary Jewish hitman released from upstate NY prison

Legendary Jewish gangster Harold "Kayo" Konigsberg has been sprung from an upstate prison in a surprise parole decision that will allow him to live out his final days in a posh gated community in Florida, the Daily News has learned.

The still-remorseless 86-year-old mob hit man was quietly released in June from the maximum-security Mohawk Prison, where he spent nearly five decades for a gangland murder.

He might have died behind bars after being sentenced to 20 years to life for the 1961 contract killing of Teamsters big Anthony "Three Fingers" Castellito, on orders from union rival Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano.

Konigsberg — suspected by the feds in as many as 20 other mid-20th century mob hits — used a Venetian blind cord to strangle Castellito in the kitchen of the dead man’s upstate vacation home. His body was buried in New Jersey but never found.

Retired NYPD detective and veteran mob buster Joseph Coffey said it’s a disgrace that Konigsberg is free.

“I knew him well and he was the worst of the worst,” Coffey said. “He enjoyed killing and enjoyed getting paid for it.

“He was a nasty bastard and he should have gotten the (electric) chair.”

Jennie Castellito was just 13 when her dad was killed.

“When ‘Tony Pro’ died in prison — he had cancer — that was the greatest news I heard,” she told The News.

She had hoped the same fate awaited Konigsberg: to be hauled out of the Rome, N.Y., prison in a body bag.

“My father’s dead and he didn’t have the last 49 years to spend alive with his children and grandchildren,” she said. “I don’t think he should have been released. I don’t understand it.”

Konigsberg, who had been locked up since 1963, has maintained his innocence in the Castellito rubout. He’s been denied parole seven times since 1998, but has been housed in the prison hospital for nearly two years with unspecified maladies that appear to have contributed to his release, parole records show.

The octogenarian showed not a whiff of regret or sorrow at the April parole hearing that ultimately led to his freedom.

“This is over 50 years old. When does it end? I mean you can’t keep holding it against somebody for 50 years, 60 years, and say the crime was this or that,” he whined, according to a hearing transcript.

Castellito, who lives in Florida, said she was not notified by the New York Division of Parole about Konigsberg’s release, and was never given the chance to offer a victim-impact statement. She said she’s outraged Konigsberg is now living about 130 miles away.

There was no answer Wednesday at the pink-stucco, waterfront home Konigsberg now shares with his daughter Edie in Weston, Fla.

An ashtray on a table outside the house — which is valued at $750,000, records show — held three cigarette butts and a cigar. A housekeeper, who said she’d just returned with a repaired pair of pants for Konigsberg, declined to comment.


Konigsberg’s colorful mob life was chronicled by his nephew Eric Konigsberg in an article in The New Yorker and a book, “Blood Relation.”

Taken under the wing of gangster Abner "Longy Zwillman — the so-called “Al Capone of New Jersey” — Konigsberg was a violent and feared racketeer in Jersey City and Manhattan.

He also earned a reputation as a major loanshark who pummeled deadbeats with a lead-lined rubber hose. Back in the day, doing time in the Hudson County Jail was a breeze for the thug.

“He had a private apartment done over for him in the jail library, with his own TV, telephone, radio, refrigerator, hot plate, desk and sofa,” Eric Konigsberg wrote in The New Yorker. It was even alleged that a shapely young blond, Marilyn Jane Fraser, was smuggled into his cell in 1965 to provide him female companionship, The News reported at the time.

New York State Parole Commissioners Sally Thompson and Michael Hagler stated no reason on the record for granting Konigsberg’s release.

He’s been in the prison’s hospital since October 2010, and he offered this gripe in a 2008 hearing.

Board spokeswoman Carole Weaver said she couldn’t discuss his medical issues, which were discussed at the April hearing but are redacted from the record.

In 2008, Konigsberg complained that he has spent an excessive amount of time in prison because he rebuffed then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s effort to make him rat out the mob.

“There was no way he could break me,” the tough guy said, according to a 2008 hearing. “The Nazis, the Germans, those people that were not hanged at Nuremberg didn’t do 20 years,” he ranted.
Konigsberg Daily News Page

Coffey said it was very unusual for the Mafia to use non-Italians to do their hits, but Konigsberg was an exception because of his ruthlessness. Konigsberg insisted to the parole board that he was not insane, but Coffey recalled that the hoodlum represented himself at an extortion trial in Manhattan Supreme Court and claimed he was crazy.



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