Feature Articles

January 2007
Whose Guns Tommy Longo? Whose Guns?
Speculations Part 2

By Amy A. Kisil

The writer of this article is currently researching and writing a trilogy of novels loosely based on both people and events drawn from the Cleveland Mafia. She�s writing a book titled Three Cousins about Tommy Longo�s relationship with Cleveland�s Mafia and his Sinito cousins, Tommy and Chuck.

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     Black plastic trash bags full of shredded documents. A printed out e-mail from a Yahoo internet account. Dusty, sealed, crates of a cache of high powered guns sitting in the evidence and property building at the Solon Police Station in Solon, Ohio. A featured fugitive on the television show America�s Most Wanted. A compact car with an Ohio license plate. A hideaway in a gated community in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. All these clues links in a chain of evidence leading to the capture of fugitive Thomas G. Longo.

     Five months after Tommy Longo fled from federal gun charges in Cleveland, Ohio in October 2005, like Bob Marley�s song said, "Running like a fugitive. Longo made his first appearance as a featured fugitive on America�s Most Wanted in February 2006. None of the tips about his whereabouts turned into valid leads. He kept on the run, eluding those who pursued him.

     Tommy Longo, a disbarred Ohio attorney who had served as a prosecutor for various small cities and towns in the Cleveland, Ohio area. A former federal public defender, and Law Director for the City of Bedford, Ohio. An officer of the court with strong ties to Cleveland�s Mafia. . Longo too served as an defense attorney, he defended many members of Cleveland�s Mafia. He had friends, relatives and other ties to organized crime . Longo was and still is "connected" to Cleveland�s Mafia.

      One of the organized crime figures Longo defended on drug charges, in the early 1980s, was Lester "Skip" Williams. Williams and Longo later became friends. Tommy. Longo�s association with Williams, both as a business partner and socially led to Tommy Longo�s downfall. In 1999 Longo was sentenced to a three year prison sentence on a Misprison of a Felony charge , this meant he didn�t report a felony when he had knowledge of it. . Longo�s days on the run ended suddenly on a warm, sultry Mexican evening in Puerto Vallatra, Mexico. He�d left his home to have his usual nightly drink with a friend. Even with Longo�s change in appearance, he�d lost weight, let his hair grow and had grown a mustache, his newest disguise didn�t mask him completely. Unknown to Tommy Longo he had been under surveillance by Mexican legal authorities for a month before being appended.

     On October 30th, 2006 just short of one year. Tommy Longo ex-prosecutor was arrested on federal fugitive charges in Puerto Vallarta Mexico after leaving his home located at 971 Aquilles, Serean, to have his usual evening drink at the Atlas Olas Bar. Tommy never reached the bar.

      Both the US Marshal Service and Mexican Immigration Service rushed Longo before he had time to react. This is usual practice for law enforcement officials, they rush a suspect before he has time to react or draw a weapon. Fortunately for Tommy Longo he wasn�t armed, he might have been fleeing federal gun charges, but he wasn�t carrying one.

      Tommy Longo emptied the meager contents his jeans pockets, they contain much. A pack of Salem cigarettes, a gas lighter, a disposable cell phone along with a leather wallet filled with American and Mexican currency and credit cards. A key ring with the keys to his home and car. The contents of his jeans pockets sat on the well polished hood of the small car,. the car used by Mexican Immigration Service for the first step in Longo�s return home to Cleveland, Ohio.

      As Tommy rested his deeply tanned, ringless, well manicured hands on its roof. He tried one last time to manipulate his way out of custody,. In a desperate bid for freedom.

     :What�s this?" He asked in broken Spanish. "I�m Dave Coppola, I�m not this Tommy Longo?" He kept repeating. "I�m an Italian citizen! I�m not a fugitive! Let me go!"

     Some sources say the name Coppola is one of his many relatives last names. This name could be another connection Cleveland�s Mafia

     Longo had to quit pretending he was Dave Coppola after his fingerprints confirmed his identity. Tommy knew he was going home to Cleveland, Ohio. Home to an uncertain future. His days on the run were over!

     His choice of the last name Coppola is an ironic one . He chose one of his relatives names to hide under. There was a Mafia associate named James Coppola who worked for Tommy "The Chinaman" Sinito, Longo�s cousin, during the 1970s and early 80s. This might be the relative Longo took this last name from another family relation with organized crime ties, another psychological connection Cleveland �s Mafia.

     James Coppola worked as a Mafia errand boy in a massive drug trafficking ring operating out of Cleveland�s west side. A drug ring managed by Drug Kingpen Carmen " Jinglebells" Zagaria. This drug ring was financed and protected by Mafia members. Tommy Sinito and Joseph Gallo along with Carmen Zagaria in 1977 merged the two separate drug rings, one on the east and the other on the west side of Cleveland, into one operation. This merger created a large criminal organization trafficking illegal drugs in Northeast Ohio.

     The combined drug ring accounted, according to FBI records, for 40% of the illegal drugs sold through the 1970s and early 80s. Every illegal drug could be purchased, the drug ring�s primary purpose was to traffick marijuana and cocaine. Illegally obtained prescription drugs, Quaaludes and LSD were offered sale by the ring. This massive drug ring sold over 15 million dollars worth of illegal drugs during each year of its operation.

     Coppola, later became an FBI informant, he confided to FBI agent Bob Frederick, in the Cleveland Field office, the violent enforcement by Carmen Zargaria and Harmut "Hans" Graewe to protect the drug ring and murders were out of control, Coppola feared for his life. "That gang is nuts and crazy. Hans Graewe is out of control." Coppola told his FBI handler, "He wanted out!".

     If James Coppola is the relative�s name Tommy Longo chose as an alias. . it�s an ironic choice. Another connection to Cleveland�s Mafia family. The Dave Coppola identity didn�t last long under intense scrutiny

     The US Marshal Service extradited Tommy Longo to the United States, after the Mexican Immigration Service deported him. The US Marshal Service transported Tommy to Los Angeles, California, where on October 31, 2006 he had a video arraignment in the Central California District Federal Court. Since Tommy had fled from his first hearing in Cleveland, Ohio, he was considered a "flight risk" . Longo�s bail request was denied and he was remanded into custody.

      Tommy was held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, California, he was later transferred to the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma until his pre-trial hearing at the Northern District Of Ohio Federal Courthouse in Cleveland. The Federal Bureau of Prisons website lists Tommy Longo�s status as being "in transit�, this means Longo is in the custody of the US Marshal Service. He may or may not be in the federal prison system. When a federal prisoner has "in transit" status it generally means he is in protective custody and might be entering WitSec, the Witness Security Program administered by the US Marshal Service.

     Tommy Longo might change his not guilty plea on the federal gun charges to guilty, in exchange for a reduced sentence. A reduced sentence in exchange for the information he knows about Mafia activities in Cleveland.

     The US Marshal Service drove Tommy Longo into the Northern District of Ohio Federal Courthouse in Cleveland on November 9, 2006. for his pre-trial hearing. Tommy appeared in front of US District Judge Donald C. Nugent. The same judge he�d fled from less than a year ago. The fugitive cycle took it�s full circle, Tommy Longo arrived back at his starting point, gaining nothing in return.

     Dressed in his prison uniform of a white T-shirt , ill fitting denim pants and slip-on tennis shoes. Tommy shifted from foot to foot as he looked nervously around Judge Nugent�s courtroom. Longo probably wondered what his uncertain future held. Whatever his future held, he knew it involved a prison sentence.

     In contrast to his former appearances in the federal courthouse as an defense attorney. Dressed in tailored suits, spotless white shirts, brightly colored silk ties, and leather shoes. Arguing cases, , with clear legal logic, in front of the bench and confident about his future. .

     Standing, handcuffed, in front of the same federal judge he�d fled from less than a year earlier, Longo knew his future was bleak.

     Could Tommy Longo have had another reason to flee the federal gun charges? Unanswered questions remain! Who really owned the cache of high powered, unregistered guns found in his home�s basement in 2004? were these his guns or was he holding them for someone else? If Longo was holding these illegal weapons, whose guns are they? The most pressing question of all. How do the original owners of these guns feel about the loss of these weapons?

     The murder of Ralph Barone, a Mafia associate, in 1985. Might have been on Tommy Longo�s mind. Ralph Barone told various Mafia members he could buy an airplane in Florida. The plane, Barone said, could be used to transport loads of illegal drugs to Ohio easier. They gave Barone $400, 000 to buy the plane, the only problem. Ralph Barone didn�t return from Florida with either an airplane or the cash. Barone remained, spending the Mafia�s $400,000, in Florida for years. When he�d spent all of money he returned to Ohio.

     When Barone did return, after sending out a couple of feelers to various member�s of the Mafia , confident no one would kill him. The Mafia takes no prisoners when it feels someone has stolen something from it, especially a large sum of money! Barone was later found dead in his rental car in downtown Cleveland, he�d been shot to death. Barone�s murder still remains an unsolved, cold case.

     The cache of guns found during the search of Longo�s home in 2004, weren�t hunting or sports guns. These were MACH 40s, a small, easily concealed semi-automatic submachine. The weapon of choice for drive-by shooting and drug dealers. MACH 40s like earlier MACH models are deadly weapons capable of rapidly firing large rounds of ammunition. MACHs are used as currency in exchange for large shipments of illegal drugs. The gunsafes found in Longo�s basement contained 16 MACH 40s and other submachine, along with 3 silencers and probably ammunition for this arsenal. An impressive collection of high powered guns.

     One problem Longo, a convicted felon, isn�t allowed to own any firearms. His private arsenal was confiscated by the Solon Police Department. The question remains could he have been holding these guns for someone? The large number of high powered weapons suggests this, he may have been holding the guns for someone else. .

     No doubt, Tommy Long probably remembered the Barone murder. Longo or his family could have suffered the same fate as Barone had. The only solution for Tommy was to run. Run he did!

.      Which one of the remaining members of the decimated Cleveland�s Mafia owned those weapons? High powered guns left in Longo�s care and now in the possession of the Solon Police Department.

     While law enforcement officials consider Longo�s appearance at the Indians Opener game in April 2006 his first reappearance in Cleveland.. Another event, might have lured him back, it took place three days earlier. The funeral of former Mafia Boss Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo.

      Big Ange Lonarado, a man Tommy had known and respected. Tommy had not only served as part the legal defense team for "Big Ange" during his first federal trial in the 1970s. Longo�s late cousin Tommy "The Chinaman" Sinito had been a made man while Big Age was Boss of Cleveland�s Mafia. With Tommy�s changed appearance, the crew cut hair, deep tan,. and weight loss. If Tommy attended Big Age Leonard�s funeral held on April 4, 2006 at the Dominica Catholic Church in Shaker Heights, Ohio no one recognized him. He may have even signed the memorial book during the funeral for Big Age.

      Tommy wasn�t caught, he�d done the unexpected! He�d gotten away with it.

      Another love Big Age and Tommy shared was the Cleveland Indians. With the 2006 Indian Opener three days away, Tommy decided to watch the game. Not on television! Long watched the opening game up close. He watched the game in the comfort of someone�s luxury loge,. at Jacob�s Field.

     The Solon Times, a local paper that serves the Solon, Ohio area, printed a front page article on April 6, 2006 detailing the hunt for Tommy Long. In the article according to Chief Deputy US Marshal David Harrow "We have some good information. He was here, he was there. . .He has money, where we see smoke coming from the cigar, we�ll know again. We�ll catch him eventually."

      The day after the Solon Times article appeared, Tommy attended the Cleveland Indians Opener, tweaking those chasing him. The US Marshal Service threw down the gauntlet, he, Tommy took up the challenge. He did the unexpected, by going to the Cleveland Indians Opener and won.

     Unfortunately a tipster saw Long by the elevator bank, located on the second floor, by the loges. Tommy was accompanied by a "unknown" woman named Patio. Long was dressed in a totally black outfit, an outfit he might have worn if he had attended a funeral.

     He escaped detection and capture. Tommy played the fugitive game and won another round against those pursuing him.

     Tommy Longo�s here and there fugitive appearances were featured three more times on America�s Most Wanted, in May and July in 2006. His last appearance on America�s Most Wanted was to announce his capture in Mexico by the US Marshal Service in November 2006.

     Longo�s next visit to Cleveland wouldn�t be until after his capture in Mexico. Tommy�s return wouldn�t be like his last appearance at the 2006 Cleveland Indians Opener at Jacob�s Field. Then he sat and watched the Indians game, in the company of Patio, a young , attractive, female companion, from the comfort of someone�s second floor luxury loge. Then Tommy drank beer, ate roasted peanuts and cheered on the Indians. .

     This time Tommy Long arrived, handcuffed, and ducking Cleveland�s media by trying hide in the backrest of a US Marshals deputy�s car. This marked his uncelebrated return to Cleveland. No accommodations in an luxury loge at Jacob�s Field, only the lonely confines of a dark, dismal prison cell.

     Longo during his time as an practicing defense attorney, had been legal adviser to various members of Cleveland�s Mafia. Like other attorneys who have Mafia members as clients; Longo merged psychologically with them. Salvatore Avena, like Tommy had organized crime ties through his family, he worked as an legal adviser for the Philadelphia Mafia. Frank Rangano�s merged both roles as an attorney and confidante for Florida�s major organized crime figure Santo Trafficante. Longo too blended into the Mafia crowd he worked for as a defense attorney. He blended in so well they forget he wasn�t one of them.

.      In his capacity as a defense attorney Tommy Longo served the same function to some members of Cleveland�s Mafia family. Longo�s former clients were protected by attorney-client privilege, all the information he�d recorded as work product for each individual case can�t be subpoenaed as evidence. Tommy having been disbarred in 2000, his disbarred status probably ended the privacy of attorney-client privilege.

     . With the number of organized crime figures he�d defended, both as a federal public defender and as an private defense attorney. Tommy Longo has thirty odd years of information concerning various illegal activities, protected by attorney -client facts he couldn�t reveal any criminal acts he�d heard about as both as an attorney and socializing with Mafia members.

     Freed, by his disbarred status, he could corroborate this evidence with testimony about the Cleveland Mafia. Unanswered questions about unsolved crimes in the Cleveland area, cases that could be solved.

     With this type of information, Tommy could exchange it for a reduced sentence. Longo has a thirty year old bargaining chip to use to his advantage. If his work product and case files can be corroborated by other evidence.

     Longo�s capture as a federal fugitive could be the end of what little Cleveland Mafia remains. Ironic, the Mafia, an organization Tommy loved , could possibly be destroyed by his future testimony in other Mafia related cases in court.

      Longo�s wide spread connections, both political and with organized crime in Youngstown, Ohio; Buffalo, New York, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and some ties to Florida and California give him lots of information to trade. The weakened crime families still functioning in those areas could fall, from the information Longo has gathered over the last thirty years. He has a good bargaining chip to trade for a reduced jail sentence..

     Longo, during the long lonely, dark, quiet night hours, sitting in his prison cell, perhaps he�s in a safe house, is thinking about his future. Tommy knows he faces the prospect of another prison. sentence, he has information to share, having been a legal adviser to many members of Cleveland�s Mafia. Tommy had been first chair as an defense attorney for his Sinito cousins, Tommy and Chuck, both Mafia members, during their many trials.. Some Mafia members felt you fitted in with them, they forgot you weren�t Mafia.

     In the quiet of Longo�s cell during one long night, Tommy will request to make a phone call. One similar to the phone call Big Ange Lonardo made decades ago to his FBI handler. In a soft voice, Tommy will ask, like Big Ange did, "Are you still there?"

     The last remaining members of Cleveland�s Mafia, could be permanently eliminated as a criminal force. .

     Only one question remains, your legal partner William Summers asked it! "Tom. . .what are you doing with those guns? You mean to tell me you don�t know you�re not supposed to have guns?" That question may soon be answered!

Whose guns Tommy Longo? Whose guns?


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