Saturday, 16 August 2008

John D'Amico, charged with racketeering, pleaded guilty in May to extorting a cement company out of $100,000 and could serve less than two years

Hundreds of federal agents fanned out across the city and elsewhere in a roundup of 62 suspects from all walks of Mafia life, from reputed acting boss John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico — a crony of former boss John Gotti — to common street thugs.
At the time, authorities made headlines by hailing the takedown as one of the largest in recent memory and predicting it would further cripple a storied crime family formerly led by the legendary "Dapper Don."
Six months later and with far less fanfare, 60 of the defendants have pleaded guilty, with many taking deals that will put them behind bars for three years or less. Two of the pleas were entered Thursday and one case was dismissed last week, leaving a lone defendant charged with murder facing trial.
D'Amico, originally charged with racketeering, pleaded guilty in May to extorting a cement company out of $100,000 and could serve less than two years in prison.
The U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which has a long history of prosecuting high-profile Mafia cases with lengthy trials and sentences, has called the case a success. But some defense attorneys suggest the many plea deals show the office overreached and became overwhelmed as the judge pushed for a speedy outcome.
"There's no such thing as a 62-defendant trial," said one of the lawyers, Avraham Moskowitz. "So what's the point? The point is to make a splash."
Extortion charges against his client, a New Jersey construction official, were quietly dropped earlier this month after prosecutors conceded they didn't have enough evidence against him. But by then, the lawyer said, an innocent man had seen his reputation ruined by stories linking him to co-defendants with nicknames like "Tommy Sneakers" and "Joe Rackets."
"My client's experience suggests they brought an indictment without careful evaluation of the evidence," he said.Former mob prosecutors say there was nothing haphazard about the Gambino case. Instead, they say, it reflected a calculated shift in strategy favoring carpet bombing of the entire enterprise over strategic strikes against leadership."In my view, this is groundbreaking," said James Walden, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who won major convictions against the Bonanno crime family. "They essentially took out the entire organization in one fell swoop" — an approach designed to reap a new crop of cooperators and rattle those mobsters still on the street but under surveillance.The 80-count Gambino indictment charged the defendants with seven murders, three dating back more than a quarter-century, as well as "mob-tax" extortion of the construction industry and racketeering. Among the crimes were the slaying of a court officer and extortion at a failed NASCAR track.
On Thursday, reputed capo "Little Nick" Corozzo and co-defendant Vincent DeCongilio avoided a trial scheduled for next week by pleading guilty. The indictment alleged Corozzo ordered the Jan. 26, 1996, murder of a rival mobster.Corozzo now faces 12 to 15 years in prison for murder conspiracy — by far the harshest term for any of the defendants — and DeCongilio 12 to 18 months for lesser crimes.
According to prosecutors, Corozzo, 68, was part of a three-man committee of capos formed in 1994 to help John A. "Junior" Gotti run New York's Gambino family while his father was in prison, serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering.
The elder Gotti died behind bars in 2002. The younger Gotti was charged with conspiracy last week; three previous prosecution attempts have ended in mistrials.


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