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Brooklyn’s organized crime expert picks top 10 mob trials

October 22, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jerry Capeci has been covering the Mafia in his “Gang Land” column since 1989 and is known as the foremost expert on organized crime in the U.S. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Brooklyn’s Jerry Capeci is a famous organized crime journalist who has written for the New York Post, the Daily News, the New York Sun, the Huffington Post and his own website GanglandNews.com. His column, “Gang Land,” which he has written since 1989, has earned him recognition as the nation’s foremost expert on the mob.

Capeci recently spoke at a Kings County Criminal Bar Association event where he ran down his list of the top 10 favorite trials that he has covered.

 

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10. The trial of “Allie Boy” Persico in 1989

Verdict: Mistrial

Why Capeci liked it: “The first trial I covered gavel-to-gavel. It was a great case. [Persico’s attorney] destroyed the key witness, got [that witness] to admit that he tried to extort $300,000 from [Persico]. I wrote a couple stories about the case, some jurors read it, and the case is a mistrial. Allie Persico was furious at me. It’s all your f–king fault, he told me. It was a fun trial.”

 

9. The Mafia Cops trial in 2006

Verdict: Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were sentenced to life in prison.

Why Capeci liked it: “[This case involved] the two most corrupt NYPD cops in history. I wrote, ‘Turn the lights out. If I was Steve Caracappa or Lou Eppolito, I would get on the Jersey Turnpike, go South and never come back.’ Sure enough, they were convicted, and that was the end of them. They’re still doing life.”

 

8. Joe Massino trial in 1987

Verdict: Life in prison

Why Capeci liked it: “When the jury was out, the Mets game was on TV and Joe Massino and Alan M. Friedman, the prosecutor, are watching the game together and then there is a verdict. They go in, everybody is guilty, and Alan Friedman gets up and says, ‘Your honor, I want to have Joe Massino remanded.’ Joe gets up and says, ‘Alan, how could you? We just watched the game together.’”

 

7. Vincent “Chin” Gigante trial in 1997

Verdict: Sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison

Why Capeci liked it: “The highlight was the battle of the wheel chairs. We had big fat Pete Petrillo testifying in one wheelchair and we had Chin Gigante in another wheelchair, shaking his head and looking crazy.”

 

6. “Big Paul” Castellano trial in 1985

Verdict: Assassinated during trial

Why Capeci liked it: “He was on trial when he was killed in Manhattan. He was the head of a big group of car thieves who were also drug dealers and serial killers who killed more people than any other mob crew ever. Those are the guys I found out about because John Gotti and his crew were afraid to kill any of them.”

 

5. Mafia Commission Trial in 1985-1986

Verdict: 100 years in prison for seven defendants

Why Capeci liked it: “The fascinating thing about that trial is that Carmine Persico represented himself. He thought that since [he] wasn’t on tape that he could win the case. He didn’t do any better than the other attorneys. Or any worse, for that matter.”

 

4. Joel Cacace aka Joe Waverly trial in 2008

Verdict: Not guilty

Why Capeci liked it: “His trial was important in my view because he was the only mobster ever accused of actually plotting to kill a law enforcement official. Great case, great trial. Even in mob cases when you have a certified mobster on trial, it is important to have some evidence, and the government didn’t have any.”

 

3. Junior Gotti’s fourth trial in 2006

Verdict: Hung jury

Why Capeci liked it: “I think Charlie Carnesi did a great job in convincing at least eight jurors that the feds didn’t have a case against his client. I happened to be there for Carnesi’s summation. He went on for about two hours. When 5 p.m. comes the judge tells everyone to go home, I’m pissed off. When we come back the next day Junior Gotti wasn’t there. He was upset. It turns out that he was furious with Carnesi for not letting him take the stand and testify in his own defense.”

 

2. John Gotti’s third trial in 1992

Verdict: Life in prison

Why Capeci liked it: “It was the most exciting trial I’ve covered. It was a packed courtroom every day. In the end, he got convicted along with Frank LoCascio, who I don’t really think was guilty for the one murder he was convicted of.”

 

1 John Gotti’s first trial in 1984

Verdict: Not guilty

Why Capeci liked it: “It was the first time a Mafia boss was acquitted of racketeering charges. He said he was going to be acquitted, but the bottom line was, we found out later, it was a bogus case. The verdict was bought and paid for. Somebody on the jury took $60,000.”


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