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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Former Bonanno family boss testifies against Genovese captain

 In this undated photograph released in New York by the United States Attorney's Office, Tuesday, April 12, 2011, is Joseph Massino. Massino, the reputed former boss of a notorious New York organized crime family, is expected to testify for the government in a murder case against Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano. (AP Photo/United States Attorney's Office)
The fat man admitted he's trying to sing away two life sentences.
Looking like the canary who swallowed a beach ball, former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino took the witness stand Monday for only the second time since he became the highest-ranking New York City mafioso ever to become government rat.
Massino, 69, waddled into the courtroom outfitted in the same navy blue warm-up suit he wore when he testified last year at the murder trial of his successor Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Dennehy asked the tubby turncoat to tell jurors what the mob penalty is for cooperating.
"Moider," Massino said gruffly. "A hundred percent."
This time, Massino was called as an expert witness on the mob in the extortion trial of Anthony “Rom” Romanello, a relatively unknown Genovese captain whose only connection to the crime boss was frequently dining at his Casablanca restaurant in Queens before it was seized by the feds.
But Massino left no doubt that he's trying to earn points with the government in the hope of a reduction in his sentences someday.
"I'm hoping someday I see light at the end of the tunnel," he told the prosecutor. "Whenever they need me, I'm here."
Massino has torrents of blood on his hands to wash off. He pleaded guilty to nine gangland hits and has admitted participating in a total of 12. His crime career began in his teens, stealing pigeons and boosting cars for joyrides, before he graduated to truck hijackings, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion and murder.
He got his button along with four other wiseguys on June 14, 1977 in a Maspeth tavern — where the jukebox played "Happy Birthday" so the other patrons wouldn't suspect a mob induction ceremony was taking place.
Massino lacks the charm and charisma of the late John Gotti, who earned fame and infamy for his custom-made suits and good looks. Massino's graying hair needed a trim, he obsessively brushed lint or dandruff off his jacket, and frequently scratched the inside of his ears with his index finger.
But the gangster — known as "The Last Don" before he rocked gangland by flipping — oozes authenticity and authority.
When he became boss, Massino instituted a rule that associates had to be around the Bonannos for eight years before they could be inducted on the theory that the FBI wouldn't use an informant for that long.
"I was always leery of surveillance," he said. "If I had to talk about something serious, I'd go to the boardwalk and face the ocean and talk. No one can see what you're saying."
"I never let anybody in my house, I drove myself, I didn't talk in the car and I didn't talk on the phone," he added.
He regaled the jury with war stories about bribing jail guards to smuggle shrimp, linguini and clams into the prison cellblock; whacking the prospective son-in-law of the late Gambino boss Paul Castellano because he made fun of Castellano's looks; and refusing to allow an ex-member of law enforcement into the Bonanno ranks.
"If we put in cops, what, are we gonna make lawyers next?" Massino said, prompting chuckles.
Defense lawyer Gerald McMahon parried with Massino over the gangster's immense wealth — he turned over $10 million in cash and gold bars to the government under the plea deal. Massino denied there were millions more stashed away.
"If I would have had more money, I would have given it to the government," he insisted. "I got no money overseas."
Massino pointed out that rental income from real estate was providing his wife with a six-figure income, along with their faux mansion in Howard Beach, which they were allowed to keep.
"Maybe you missed it, but the real estate market crashed," McMahon said.
After making his point that Romanello was a Genovese captain and that mobsters never hold sitdowns over legal monetary disputes, Massino waddled out of the courtroom for the trip back to a prison somewhere in the U.S., where he keeps a copy of his 11-page cooperation agreement in his cell.


Post a Comment