Feature Articles

October 2005

Last Days of the Gotti Gang

Part Seven: �Plan B� to �Get Gotti�

By J. R. de Szigethy and Lou Eppolito Jr.

     Just two days after Prosecutors failed to obtain a conviction against John "Junior" Gotti on charges including the 1992 shooting of talk show host Curtis Sliwa, Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn filed murder charges against a reputed Gambino captain that ultimately may be aimed towards Gotti. Dominick �Skinny Dom� Pizzonia has been charged with the murders of Thomas and Rosemary Uva, a pair of thieves who had the audacity to rob Gambino and Bonanno social clubs, crimes which, for obvious reasons, never got reported to the cops. Dubbed "Bonnie and Clyde" by incredulous wiseguys, the fearless duo who appeared to have a death wish were gunned down in their getaway car on a New York street on Christmas Eve, 1992. At his arraignment in Brooklyn Federal Court Dominick Pizzonia pleaded Not Guilty. Seasoned Mafia experts believe that the Feds seek to convict Pizzonia in the hopes that he could subsequently implicate Junior Gotti in ordering the murders of the Uva couple.

     The theory that Junior Gotti was involved in the Uva murders gained momentum in 2003, when Bonanno Family Underboss Salvatore Vitale �flipped� and became a co-operating witness. According to Court filings, Junior Gotti allegedly met with Vitale and Bonanno Godfather Joseph Massino, during which he took credit on behalf of his Family for the murders. After Vitale told this story to the Feds, something unprecedented occurred; the Feds charged Massino with an eighth murder, for which they would seek the Death Penalty.

     This tactic was unheard of in Mafia Prosecutions. It also worked; Massino soon became the first Godfather of an American Mafia Family to become a co-operating witness for the Feds, trading his execution date for a �get-out-of-jail-free-card.� Not all of the information, however, that Massino proffered turned out to be accurate. Massino directed the Feds to an empty lot in New York at which it was believed they would find the bodies of several men alleged to have been murdered by John Gotti. While two bodies of victims of the Bonanno family were found buried there, no such alleged victims of Gotti were recovered.

     The allegations of Vitale regarding Junior�s alleged role in the Uva murders has supposedly been corroborated by Massino as well as by �Mikey Scars� DiLeonardo, who testified against Gotti at his recent trial in Manhattan. The murder charges against Pizzonia, however, were brought in Brooklyn Federal Court by one of the same Prosecutors going after accused �Mafia Cops� Steven Caracappa and Lou Eppolito. Whether or not Prosecutors seek the Death Penalty against Pizzonia remains to be seen but the Feds are already resorting to hardball tactics. The Prosecutors in this case have filed a letter with Judge Jack Weinstein seeking the removal of Pizzonia�s attorney Joseph Corozzo, citing conflicts of interest and charges that Corozzo has acted as "House Counsel" to the Gambino crime family. Corozzo is related to two members of the Gambino crime family.

     Corozzo was removed from representing one of Junior Gotti�s co-defendants last year in the trial that just ended. Similar allegations were made by Prosecutors in Brooklyn before Judge Weinstein in July in regards to Bruce Cutler, the attorney for accused �Mafia Cop� Lou Eppolito. Cutler was not removed but only after Eppolito waived any right regarding potential conflicts of interest Judge Weinstein warned the former Detective might exist, now or in the future, regarding Cutler�s previous representation of accused members of the Gambino family.

     How all of this will play out over the course of the next few months is anyone�s guess, but should the Feds attempt to pin the Uva murders on Junior Gotti, such a case would be problematic at best. Attorneys for Gotti could credibly point out that Joseph Massino had a motive to murder the couple, given that they were ripping off at gunpoint members of his crime family. Despite his claim in Court in recent weeks that he loved his "brother," Junior Gotti, Mikey Scars DiLeonardo, like Massino a proficient murderer, also has credibility problems, as does Salvatore Vitale. Still, an alleged conversation is hardly proof of a murder conspiracy, although people have been convicted of crimes on far less evidence.

     Junior Gotti�s attorney Marc Fernish is unimpressed with these new developments. "File this under �ancient history,� he tells "The government knows full well there�s no evidence linking John to this stale crime from the early 1990s. Otherwise, they would have indicted him for it long ago. Indeed, as we said in open Court, John flatly rejected a plea offer including the Uva murders because he�s absolutely innocent of the crime."

     Junior Gotti is now at home with his wife and five kids, having been released on a Bail package. A retrial on unresolved counts from his recent trial is scheduled for next year. Following the testimony of Mikey Scars, Junior�s mother Victoria remarked to her son regarding DiLeonardo�s claim to love his �brother:� "Imagine if he didn�t love you; he�d get you the Death Penalty."

     Indeed, for Junior Gotti, the outcome of the murder trial of Dominick Pizzonia and his associates may turn out to be a matter of life and death.

To be continued

Related Features

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Six: Homecoming for Junior Gotti

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Five: Junior�s Trial Intersects �Mafia Cops� Trial

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Four: Curtis Sliwa Gets His Day In Court

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Three: "Dirty Dozen" Trial of Junior Gotti Begins

Last Days of the Gotti Gang:
Part Two: Peter Gotti Convicted, Junior Awaits Trial

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part One: The Two Godfathers vs. the Two Ladies

Ends of Evil: The Final Days of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano


James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:

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