On this date in 1987...
|Rockland County NY Journal-News|
Seven leaders of New York-area organized crime families were sentenced January 13, 1987, to hundred-year prison terms. The Manhattan federal court sentencing concluded the Commission Case.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Owen recommended that none of the defendants ever be paroled. "These defendants deserve permanent incarceration," the judge stated. "Their crimes cry out for extraordinary punishment. The defendants occupied the highest ranks of the Mafia, and their offenses were of the utmost magnitude." Without that recommendation, parole could have been considered after ten years had been served.
Three of those sentenced to a century behind bars were believed at the time to be bosses of Mafia organizations:
- Lucchese Crime Family - Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo, 73, of Oyster Bay Cove, New York.
- Colombo Crime Family - Carmine "Junior" Persico, 53, from Brooklyn.
- Genovese Crime Family - Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, 76, of Rhinebeck, New York. (Salerno was later found to be acting as a screen for the actual Genovese boss, Vincent "the Chin" Gigante.)
Corallo was also fined $250,000. Persico and Salerno were fined $240,000.
|Corallo, Persico, Salerno|
- Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro, 72, of Bronx, underboss of Lucchese Family. Fined $250,000.
- Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella, 48, of Staten Island, underboss of Colombo Family. Fined $240,000. (Langella's attorney asked for a leniency, as Langella was already serving sentences of ten years and sixty-fine years from other cases and, according to the attorney, did not have "much left to give to his country." Judge Owen made the hundred-year term concurrent with the other sentences.)
- Christopher "Christy Tick" Furnari, 62, of Rockville Centre, New York, consigliere (counselor) of Lucchese Family. Fined $240,000.
- Ralph Scopo, 58, of Howard Beach, Queens, former labor leader and soldier of Colombo Family. Fined $240,000.
An eighth defendant, Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato, 38, of Manhattan, member of the Bonanno Crime Family, was sentenced to a lesser term. Convicted on two racketeering counts, including participation in the Commission-ordered killing of Bonanno big shot Carmine Galante, but not of holding a leadership position in the underworld, he received the maximum sentence of forty years. He was also fined $50,000.
|Courtroom scene at sentencing. New York Daily News.|
All the defendants were present in court for the sentencing. Judge Owen addressed them one at a time.
Salerno, believed at the time to be the wealthiest and most powerful underworld leader, was the first to be sentenced. Judge Owen remarked, "You sir, in my opinion, essentially spent all your lifetime terrorizing this community to your financial advantage."
Most of the defendants remained silent at sentencing. But Persico, who had acted as his own attorney at trial, charged that "this case was prejudiced from the very first day." He said the convictions and sentences were the result of "Mafia mania." Persico was already serving a thirty-nine-year sentence from a different case.
After four defendants had been sentenced and Judge Owen called the name of Salvatore Santoro, Santoro remarked, "Give me my hundred years and we'll get it over with."
Judge Owen explained that the sentences were intended as "a statement to those out there ... who are undoubtedly thinking about taking over the reins" of organized crime.
Rudolph Giuliani, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told the press that the sentences would be "devastating to the mob."
Thomas L. Sheer, head of the FBI's New York office, was cautious in his assessment: "The worst mistake we can make is to declare a final victory."
The Commission Case began with the unsealing of a fifteen-count indictment on February 26, 1985. The original defendants, nine in number, did not include Persico or Indelicato but did include Bonanno Crime Family boss Philip "Rusty" Rastelli and Gambino Crime Family boss Paul "Big Paul" Castellano and his underboss Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce. In June prosecutors added Carmine Persico and Stefano Cannone to the list of defendants.
That list was reduced over time. Dellacroce and Cannone died of natural causes. Castellano was murdered. Rastelli was severed from the case because he was being tried on a separate matter in Brooklyn. Indelicato was added.
Trial began with jury selection on September 8, 1986. The court proceedings lasted for a month and a half.
An anonymous jury of five men and seven women returned guilty verdicts against the defendants on November 19, 1986, following five days of deliberations. All eight defendants were convicted of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. All except Indelicato were convicted of extortion, extortion conspiracy and extorting and accepting labor payoffs. Corallo and Santoro were also convicted of loansharking conspiracy.
Maximum possible sentences were 326 years for Corallo and Santoro; 306 years for Persico, Salerno, Langella, Furnari and Scopo; and forty years for Indelicato.
- "Jury selected as Mafia bosses head to trial" (Writers of Wrongs).
- "Eight guilty of serving on Mafia ruling council" (Writers of Wrongs).
- Hunt, Thomas, and Michael A. Tona, DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime - Vol. II.
- Doyle, John M., "Commission bosses get 100 years," Poughkeepsie Journal (AP), Jan. 14, 1987, p. B5.
- Doyle, John M., "Eight mobsters convicted of all counts in Mafia Commission trial," AP News Archive, Nov. 19, 1986.
- Jacobs, James B., with Christopher Panarella and Jay Worthington, Busting the Mob: United States v. Cosa Nostra, New York: New York University Press, 1994, p. 86-87.
- Lubasch, Arnold H., "Judge sentences 8 Mafia leaders to prison terms," New York Times, Jan. 14, 1987.
- Lubasch, Arnold H., "U.S. jury convicts eight as members of mob Commission," New York Times, Nov. 20, 1986.
- O'Shaughnessy, Patrice, "100-year terms for 7 mobsters," New York Daily News, Jan. 14, 1987, p. 7.
- "In brief: Mafia bosses are sentenced to centuries," New York Times, Jan. 18, 1987.
- "Lawyer for Mafia boss shows lighter side of sentencing," Rockland County NY Journal-News, Jan. 14, 1987, p. B6.
- "Mafia bosses get 100 years each," Rockland County NY Journal-News (AP), Jan. 14, 1987, p. B6.