The Brotherhoods by Guy Lawson

The Brotherhoods by Guy Lawson

Author:Guy Lawson [Lawson, Guy]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Published: 2006-11-28T00:00:00+00:00

MISERY, HEROIN, LOBSTERS

By the spring of 1996, Anthony Casso was housed in a witness protection unit in the Otisville Federal Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The segregated section in the center of the prison was filled with more than one hundred inmates who had to be kept apart from the general population. “Cooperators, according to the code of prisoners, betrayed the most basic tenet of criminality. Talking to the government made them universal targets for criminals of every stripe. ‘Snitch jail’ was another name for the witness protection units that constituted prisons-within-prisons.”

That spring, federal prosecutors were finally confronting Vincent Chin Gigante and attempting to prove that he was competent to stand trial.* With the “crystal ball” case stalled, testifying against Chin Gigante was going to be Casso’s ticket out of prison. During his debriefing, Casso had told Charles Rose and Greg O’Connell about his dealings with the Chin. Gigante was running the Genovese family, Casso said. Christy Tick Furnari, John Gotti, Gaspipe Casso, dozens of senior mobsters were dumbfounded or angered by Gigante’s behavior—but there was no question it was an act. “Casso described meetings Gigante held in an Italian restaurant on East 4th Street on the Lower East Side. That was where Gigante settled disputes about chopping up the proceeds from the windows scams, demanded repayment of stolen money, and enforced mafia punishment, including putting out the hits of John Gotti and Frank DeCicco—which were given to Casso and his partner Vic Amuso. According to Casso, Gigante wasn’t just sane, he was a cagey con man who insulated himself from his family solely to frustrate prosecutors. The act had worked for years. During his proffer, Casso gave Charles Rose a long list of people who knew Gigante was faking it. Casso was expecting to be used by the government as a witness against Gigante in the hearings about mental competency that spring.”

Colombo captain Big Sal Miciotta had also been shipped to the witness protection unit inside Otisville. For two years, Miciotta had been preparing and giving testimony against his former fellow mobsters. The trials had not gone well. Miciotta was an expert on the inner workings of the mafia, able to explain arcane practices and describe the true underlying culture of the mob. Money, Miciotta knew, was always at the root of all mafia matters. But on the stand, Miciotta downplayed his own role in the murders in which he had participated. In the hope of receiving a lesser sentence, Miciotta misguidedly portrayed himself as less of a criminal than he truly was.

“Committing the indiscretions on the stand meant tearing up my plea agreement,” Miciotta recalled. “And rightfully so. I knew I had it coming, but that only made it worse. After a lifetime of lying I could not believe that investigators and prosecutors actually wanted the truth. No one told the truth, as far as I knew. Everything was a con—everything on every level. The same had to be true as a cooperator. I didn’t tell the whole truth about the money I had stashed away.



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