United States v. Cacace
Acquittal In Historic NYPD Cop Killing The Number One Story Of 2013
January 2, 2014
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
...The big problem with the government's case, one that lead defense lawyer
Susan Kellman drove home in her opening and closing arguments, was that
prosecutors were never able to introduce any evidence to back up their
stated allegation that Joe Waverly was jealous, or angry, or even a little
upset that his ex-wife had married Dots.
"Mr. Cacace was jealous that his ex-wife had remarried? An explanation like
that, in my view, fails to pass even a straight-face test. Everybody who
remarries doesn't run the risk of being killed by a former husband, even if
that person is in the Mafia," she said.... see more
Mobster accused in cop killing not guilty
November 26, 2013
New York Post | By Selim Algar
...“When you don’t have any evidence, a jury can tell,” crowed Cacace’s jubilant attorney Susan Kellman...."
...The acquittal came on the strength of Kellman’s evisceration of the government’s star witnesses — who she painted as soulless killers whose testimony had no value. Repeatedly referring to them as “maniacs,” “animals,” and “subhuman,” Kellman argued that the killers were simply trying to soften their own looming sentences by taking down a mob whale for the government...
Jury Acquits Mobster in ’97 Killing of Officer
November 26, 2013
New York Times | By MOSI SECRET
...Mr. Cacace’s lawyer, Susan Kellman, continually questioned the reliability of Mr. Calabro and Mr. Competiello. “The government tells you to listen to these people,” she said to the jury on Monday. “Joel Cacace had no idea these lunatics were out there killing..." see more
Colombo crime family figure ACQUITTED of NYPD officer's murder
November 26, 2013
Newsday | By JOHN RILEY
...Susan Kellman, Cacace's lawyer, argued to the jury that the prosecution had a theory of a motive but no proof of it, and two witnesses named Cacace because bringing down a Mafia bigwig would enhance their own chances for leniency.
"In an American courtroom, there's nothing like having evidence," she said after the verdict. "When you don't have evidence, the jury can tell. The government asked them to substitute 'common sense' for evidence, and instead they used their common sense and acquitted..." see more
Cop Killer Feared For His Own Life Before He Did The Dirty Deed
November 21, 2013
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
...In her opening remarks, attorney Susan Kellman stressed that the FBI, which had Joe Waverly under surveillance from 1996 through 2000, had produced no photos, no reports, or anything else that put her client with any of those she called "animals" who killed Dols... see more
Forgetful Ex-Mob Boss Tapped jerFor Wiseguy Cop Killing Trial
September 20, 2012
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
Joseph Massino was proficient at getting cohorts to whack gangsters for the Bonanno crime family. As a turncoat Mafia boss, however, he was unable to convince a Brooklyn jury to execute a wiseguy whom the feds marked for death. But prosecutors plan to give Massino a second chance at that – at the murder trial of Colombo consigliere Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace.
Prosecutors want Massino to testify about a jailhouse conversation he had years ago with Cacace about the slaying of police officer Ralph Dols. There’s a big problem here, however: Massino, 69, couldn’t recall the allegedly damning discussion last month when a prosecutor asked him about it.
That hard-to-fathom scenario will be one of the subjects under discussion at a conference today on Cacace’s indictment before Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Brian Cogan. Also on the agenda are a host of defense objections regarding Massino’s emergence as a prosecution witness three and a half years after Joe Waverly was indicted.
In court papers, defense lawyers charge prosecutors have “purposefully obfuscated, manipulated or misrepresented” claims they made about Massino’s allegations about Cacace, about his own health, and about his unspecified difficulties he has had with his high-priced lawyer whom the government is paying for. They also question whether choosing Massino as a witness was a ploy to “derail the defense” because one of Cacace’s lawyers had previously worked for Massino.
Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for the 71-year-old Cacace, deny any impropriety in their strategy in the four year old case that is tentatively set for trial in April.
According to the government, sometime after January of 2003, while both high-ranked mobsters were incarcerated and awaiting trial for multiple murders, Massino became convinced during a discussion they were having that Joe Waverly had been behind the 1997 murder of Dols.
That happened, say prosecutors, when “Cacace smiled” after “Massino mentioned that there was a rumor circulating that Cacace had been responsible for the murder of Dols” while the gangsters were talking about a plea deal for 30 years that the feds had offered Joe Waverly for four 1987 murders that he was then facing.
Massino, who flipped in 2004 after he was convicted of seven gangland-style slayings, told the feds about that discussion on January 27, 2009, a month after Cacace was charged with ordering Dols’ slaying, according to prosecutors Elizabeth Geddes, Allon Lifshitz and Cristina Posa.
Last month, however, on August 10, in a telephone conversation with assistant U.S. attorney Geddes, “Massino did not immediately recall a conversation with Cacace about the Dols murder,” the prosecutors say in court papers filed with Judge Cogan.
Despite Massino’s inability to recall the old discussion he had with Cacace about Dols’s murder during the telephone conversation he had with Geddes, prosecutors must feel they can “refresh” Massino’s recollection about it before he takes the stand, because they still plan to use him as a witness, they say in the court papers.
If need be, prosecutors wrote, they will file a “supplemental letter” providing more potential testimony of Massino, who while Bonanno boss in the late 1990s, met with both Cacace and Thomas (Tommy Shots) Goeli, “a former co-defendant and a co-conspirator in the Dols murder.”
According to court records, prosecutors officially informed Cacace about their intention to use Massino as a witness after Gioeli and soldier Dino (Little Dino) Saracino were acquitted of the Dols murder and several other slayings at their trial last May. They await sentencing for their racketeering convictions.
Last week, Cacace attorney Susan Kellman ripped prosecutors for its plans to use an “ambiguous encounter” that her client supposedly had with “the notoriously manipulative witness” who first reported the “encounter” more than 11 years after the crime was committed but couldn’t recall it last month.
Kellman also blasted prosecutors for changing their story several times about Massino’s health and his legal representation by former Organized Crime Strike Force Chief Edward McDonald after Cacace’s defense team, which includes Jane Simkin Smith and David Stern, a special death penalty counsel, called them on their assertions.
Initially, prosecutors stated that coming to court “could seriously jeopardize Massino’s health and particularly the viability of his left leg” but then reported that “miraculously, Massino’s condition healed” when Cogan ordered prosecutors to furnish a letter from his “treating physician” that was never provided, Kellman charged.
And last month, over an 18 day period after prosecutors reported Massino’s memory loss, they changed their minds three times about whether Massino had an attorney, finally stating on August 31 that McDonald, the former mob buster, was once “again” representing Massino.
“McDonald is not your ordinary defense counsel and Massino is not your ordinary cooperator,” wrote Kellman, arguing that prosecutors were being “artful and misleading in their reports to the Court” in an effort to bolster the credibility of their willing but memory-plagued witness.
Kellman noted that official transcripts of a 2006 hearing state that the government “was actually paying McDonald to represent Massino.” No contrary reports were filed with the court, she stated, adding that it “defies belief” that lawyer and client would split up without the government knowing it before Massino got what the government was paying for: “a reduction in the life sentence he got in 2005.”
She also stated that McDonald’s filed waiver of his on-again, off-again client’s attorney-client privilege with Stern, who represented Massino when he was facing the death penalty, was inadequate under the law, which requires that the client himself waive the privilege “in writing.”
Prosecutors and McDonald declined all comment, including why the government paid the attorney to represent Massino, who despite his enormous $10 million restitution, is not destitute and can well afford to pay his own legal fees.
Historic Cop-Killing Guilty Plea Transcript Has 'Gone Missing'
April 5, 2012
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
On December 15, 2008, in a sealed courtroom in Brooklyn Federal Court, eight men and women were part of a ground-breaking occasion in the history of the American Mafia: A New York mobster pleaded guilty to the murder of New York City police officer Ralph Dols.
Until then, no “made man” had ever been accused, let alone convicted, of taking part in the execution slaying of an NYPD cop. But that Monday afternoon, a little more than three years ago, Colombo soldier Joseph (Joe Caves) Competiello admitted he was part of a mob hit team that stalked and killed Dols in front of his Brooklyn home.
Competiello’s allocution was hot stuff: In addition the murder of a city cop, he admitted to taking part in four other mob killings at the session before Judge Brian Cogan. But you can’t read the transcript of this remarkable session because there isn’t one.
That’s right, in a major league foul-up, no official court transcript of the guilty plea of a cooperating witness in a mob racketeering case was ever made. The slip-up occurred even though everyone in court that day – including three assistant U.S. attorneys, Competiello’s attorney, the judge, and the court reporter – all knew that at some point, Joe Caves would likely be a prosecution witness. They also knew that when that day came, the government would be required to give a transcript of the guilty plea to lawyers for the defendants. But no transcript was ever prepared.
And today, not one person who took part in that secret proceeding remembers anything about what Competiello stated that day about his involvement in the execution murder of Dols – the first NYPD cop to be the victim of an alleged contract mob hit since legendary Detective Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino was killed in Palermo in 1909.
The screw-up was revealed by The Daily News this week on the morning that Joe Caves finally took the stand and began talking about murders he committed at the behest of, and with, former “street boss” Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli and soldier Dino (Little Dino) Saracino.
At the end of the trial day, Cogan convened a reunion of the eight participants who took part in the secret proceeding with a view toward re-constructing a transcript that could be furnished to the defense lawyers.
During the session, according to a transcript obtained by Gang Land, Cogan reported that Chief Judge Carol Amon had investigated and concluded that no transcript was prepared. Cogan stated that the court reporter’s stenographic notes that had been stored on rewritable disks had "gone missing" and most likely were replaced by notes the reporter, Marie Foley, took at subsequent proceedings she worked.
It’s doubtful whether the prosecutors, or Competiello’s attorney, David Rhunke, ever asked the court reporter to prepare a transcript back in 2008, long before she re-wrote over her notes. Court reporters earn their living by producing transcripts, not by taking notes and writing over them.
Officially, it wasn’t until early last year that assistant U.S. attorneys Elizabeth Geddes, James Gatta, and Cristina Posa decided to order a transcript of Competiello’s guilty plea, according to a letter they submitted to Cogan.
Sources say that soon after the prosecutors learned that no transcript had been prepared, a directive was issued by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch requiring prosecutors to order transcripts of sealed proceedings as soon as they were completed to guard against a repeat of the current embarrassing situation.
Under questioning by the judge, Rhunke, Competiello and Foley, who, like all the participants, testified under oath, said they recalled little or nothing about the session. Cogan’s courtroom deputy at the time, Gabrielina Battista, testified that she recognized Joe Caves, and recalled Cogan asking him questions about the killings he admitted, but no specifics. The judge drew a complete blank: Cogan stated he had no recollection of the proceeding.
Prosecutors confessed to a similarly stunning memory loss. Asked what she remembered about the police officer’s murder, Geddes, a deputy chief of the Organized Crime Unit said: “I don’t remember what he said about Ralph Dols. I just don’t have a specific recollection.”
She did remember details about the other slayings: She recalled Competiello admitting shooting two of the five murder victims, Joseph Miccio and Carmine Gargano. And based on discussions with her co-prosecutors, she recalled Joe Caves saying that he helped “clean up” the murder sites in the slayings of Richard Greaves and William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, and helped bury their bodies.
Gatta and Posa told Cogan they agreed with Geddes’s recollection, which did not include any mention of the slaying of Dols. This triggered a pointed request from defense lawyer Susan Kellman that Cogan question each prosecutor individually about what Joe Caves said about each homicide.
Kellman, who represents Colombo mobster Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace, (left) who will be tried later for ordering Dols’ murder, said it seemed “incredible” to her that none “of the three law enforcement prosecutors in this courtroom” has a “single specific recollection as to what their witness …. said about his role in particular homicides about which he would later testify.”
“Yes, incredible, that’s the word I meant to use,” repeated Kellman, using the word a total of three times as she asked Cogan to question each prosecutor separately, implying that instead of giving individual recollections that might be at odds with each other, they had worked out a single version of events.
After chiding Kellman for being argumentative, Cogan asked Geddes to read the names of the murder victims “aloud” and state what she recalled. Before doing so, he noted that guilty pleas by cooperating witnesses are invariably short on details. Geddes repeated her earlier remarks about the first four victims and then mentioned police officer Dols for the first time, noting that she didn’t remember what had been said about his murder.
The U.S. Attorney’s office would not discuss the inability of all three prosecutors to recall Competiello’s remarks about Dols’ murder. Several current and former prosecutors said it was not unusual for them not to recall any detail, because he did not fire the fatal shots. “If he was the shooter, you’d certainly remember that,” said one prosecutor.
Contacted by Gang Land, Kellman stuck to her guns about the matter: “As I said in court, it’s incredible that none of them remembered anything of what their star witness said under oath about a cop killing. I think it’s incredible. I think it’s a little hard to believe.”
Joe Waverly's Aching Legs & Troubled Mind
February 17, 2011
By Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins, an award-winning New York City reporter and columnist for more than 30 years – writing for the Daily News and the Village Voice – pens an occasional guest column for Gang Land.
Colombo crime family big Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace never made it to court last week to hear why the Justice Department has decided to seek the death penalty against him. Reason? His legs are already killing him.
“He has major circulation problems. His legs are so swollen he can barely walk, even with two canes,” said his attorney, Susan Kellman, after a Friday hearing before Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn Federal Court where Cacace’s chair sat empty. “I saw him Wednesday night and he was in great pain,” the lawyer added.
That pain presumably didn’t get any better the next day when the feds announced that Cacace should die for his role in the murder of New York City police officer Ralph Dols who was gunned down outside his Sheepshead Bay apartment back in 1997.
The announcement came in a one-sentence letter that packed three separate life and death decisions into all of 65 words. The letter was so tightly written it made you wonder why the feds didn’t just put it out in a Twitter message. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, it stated, has decided Cacace (right) should face capital punishment; the lives of co-defendants Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli and Dino (Little Dino) Saracino will be spared.
The reason apparently has nothing to do with body count: Gioeli has been tagged by the feds with a half-dozen murders; Saracino with five, while Cacace has only the solo slaying.
Even if he’d shown up in court, Joe Waverly wouldn’t have learned anything more about why he’s the latest candidate for a federally-subsidized lethal injection. Cogan opened the hearing by asking prosecutors about the Justice Department’s thinking in its death edict. He got nowhere.
“The government cannot comment,” responded lead prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes. She did offer this reassurance: “The Attorney General looks at each individual case, and reviews all of the factors.”
The death-penalty decision means that Joe Waverly’s case is likely to be severed from that of his Colombo family colleagues who have been waiting to see a jury for nearly three years. That trial is now set for May, but Cogan as much as said Cacace won’t be there. Several times during the hearing, he indicated that, given the now higher stakes, he will give the Colombo consigliere his own separate trial. Prosecutors asked for a chance to convince the judge otherwise in written arguments. Cogan said he’d give them their shot, but warned: “It’s an uphill battle.”
Outside court, defense attorney Kellman said the death penalty move against her client by the Obama administration was a big disappointment. “This is not change I can believe in,” she said.
Actually, the decision on Cacace isn’t a major shocker. Gang Land noted last fall that things looked grim for the Colombo mobster. That was after Obama’s lawyers signaled their readiness to go for the ultimate penalty in two other Brooklyn cases involving the murder – or the attempt at it – of law enforcement officials. One was the appeal by Brooklyn prosecutors of an appeals court decision last year overturning the death penalty for convicted cop killer Ronell Wilson, the Staten Island drug gang member who executed a pair of undercover cops in 2003. The other was Holder’s decision in October re-affirming a Bush-era move to seek the needle for acting Bonanno crime family boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano.
Basciano’s death penalty-eligible crime is that he ordered an execution – from prison – of a mob associate who had royally pissed him off. But it didn’t help his chances that he’s also charged with conspiring to kill assistant U.S. attorney Greg Andres, (left) an even bigger irritant to the gangster.
In Joe Waverly’s case, NYPD officials have been calling for someone’s head ever since Dols was shot as he was returning home after finishing his tour as a Coney Island housing cop. Prosecutors say Cacace ordered the slaying out of a twisted sense of disrespect: Dols had married Cacace’s ex-wife. It was bad enough that she’d married a cop, say the feds; even worse, the cop was Hispanic.
Kellman, however, indicated that if and when she finally goes to trial she’ll be raising questions about Dols’s own record. “They haven’t turned over any information yet, but we believe he was a dirty cop,” she said. Dols was hailed at his funeral by then Mayor Rudy Giuliani who called the weight-lifting housing cop a “gentle giant.” But two years after the killing, the Daily News reported that investigators were focusing on allegations that Dols was involved in steroid sales with Russian gangsters. Those charges never materialized, but police officials also failed to place a memorial plaque honoring the slain cop in the Hall of Heroes at police headquarters.
Then there’s that other mark on Joe Waverly’s head, the one that never goes away. It’s not part of the current indictment, but Cacace’s reputation with the feds isn’t helped by his involvement in the wrong-man rubout of the father of a former federal prosecutor. Cacace is now serving a 20-year sentence for racketeering, having admitted in 2004 to helping arrange the killing of William Aronwald, head of a federal mob task force that angered imprisoned Colombo boss Carmine (Junior) Persico (right.) In an epic screw-up, Cacace’s shooters gunned down Aronwald’s 78-year-old father instead. But even though the Colombo mobster owned up to the murder, many believe the feds haven’t gotten over that one.
“He was supposed to have wrapped up his criminal exposure to that five years ago, so I don’t know why it should count,” said Kellman. Meanwhile, she said, she’s focused on trying to get some better medical attention for her imprisoned client’s ailing legs. Presumably, the feds have an interest in this as well. Otherwise Joe Waverly won’t be able walk that last mile to the death chamber where Eric Holder’s prosecutors want to send him.
Feds Likely To Seek Death Penalty For Joe Waverly
October 7, 2010
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
Three imprisoned Colombo mobsters await trial for the killing of officer Dols, but the prevailing wisdom in Gang Land is that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are looking to see the death penalty needle administered to only one very unlucky defendant, namely Joe Waverly Cacace.
Cacace, 69, has been cited since day one as the alleged prime mover in the first mob plot to kill an NYPD cop since legendary New York Mafia fighter, Lt. Giuseppe Petrosino, was murdered in Palermo in 1909. And that one at least had something to do with real mob business: Petrosino was getting too close to learning Mafia secrets. Cacace’s alleged cop murder was for a reason that no self-respecting mobster could ever admit: He was angry that the cop had married the gangster’s ex-wife.
In addition to the wanton nature of Dols’s murder, there is also Cacace’s already proven propensity for violence – he ordered four slayings in 1987, including the murder of a former federal prosecutor whose father was killed instead by the motley crew of assassins chosen by Joe Waverly.
And since Brooklyn prosecutors recently sought permission to appeal a recent 2-1 decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that reversed the death penalty for convicted cop killer Ronell Wilson, Holder’s decision to seek capital punishment for Basciano is a death knell for any hope Cacace may have had to evade a trial that could end up costing him his life.
“Evenhandedness and the perception of evenhandedness is a very important factor,” said one knowledgeable federal official who has no say, or interest, in the outcome. “Not seeking the death penalty for Cacace in light of Wilson (right) and Basciano makes no sense.”
Cacace’s lawyer, Susan Kellman, disagrees. She told Gang Land she is confident that her client will not face the death penalty at trial, and will be totally exonerated at the end of the day, for essentially the same reasons.
“There is no forensic evidence that ties my client to the murder of Ralph Dols, nothing,” said Kellman. “I think that whenever there’s a decision of this magnitude, and there is no forensic evidence at all, the death penalty is not an option, especially when the only witnesses are cooperators with a motive to lie. There’s too much at risk. There’s too much at stake for the witnesses; too much at stake for the defendant, and too much at stake for the judicial system.”
And Kellman sees the government’s stated motive for the killing as a strong reason why the government should not seek the death penalty.
“I don’t see it,” she said. “What kind of a motive is that to kill a cop? He had moved on, he was living with someone else; she had moved on. I think it will be hard for the prosecutors to argue with a straight face that that’s why he killed the cop: ‘He married my ex-wife.’ That makes no sense. I really think that when witnesses come forward more than 10 years later, and when there’s no forensic evidence, and they don’t have a theory that makes sense, you can’t seek the death penalty.”
The other two defendants who are technically eligible for the death penalty are Colombo mobsters Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli, an alleged intermediary in the plot, and Dino (Little Dino) Saracino, an accused gunman in the slaying. But sources say that federal prosecutors didn’t seek death penalty authorization for them. Holder has the final say, but sources say it would be unlikely for him to authorize a capital punishment prosecution that was not sought by the local prosecutors.
Turncoat Son, Death Behind Bars, Haunt Sonny Franzese
May 27, 2010
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
After running the clock out for nearly two years, the end game has begun for John (Sonny) Franzese. And it won’t be fun. The legendary Colombo family wiseguy will be the first New York mobster to have his son testify against him.
He is not charged with murder, but his stated expertise as a mob hitman – as well as the very real possibility of his own death behind bars if he is convicted – hang like a dark cloud over Sonny as he gets set for his final stint before the bar of justice. At 93, he is the oldest mobster to go to trial on racketeering charges.
On Tuesday, Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan is scheduled to lay out the ground rules for the trial that is slated to begin the following week for Franzese, who recently professed seeming indifference to the thought of dying in prison.
“Who cares? I gotta die someplace,” said Franzese, after he pleaded not guilty to new extortion charges that prosecutors added to his indictment in an effort to beef up the case and insure that he spends his final days in a federal prison hospital.
Franzese, who was indicted in June of 2008 on racketeering, loansharking, and extortion charges involving a Long Island pizzeria, has been free on $1 million bail since Christmas Eve of that year.
“I die outside; I die in jail. It don’t matter to me,” said Franzese, who has spent about 25 of the past 40 years behind bars for a controversial bank robbery conspiracy conviction back in 1967. Sentenced to 50 years, Sonny has been paroled, and sent back to prison five times. If he were to somehow beat the current indictment, it’s a sure bet that he’d get sent back at least one more time, since he will remain on parole until 2020, until age 103.
The nonagenarian gangster has some difficulty hearing, but he is still pretty spry. He spoke briefly to reporters earlier this month following his arraignment for penny ante shake downs of free drinks from the Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs from 2004 to 2006, while he was the crime family’s underboss.
Over the years, Franzese, who had a piece of the porn classic, “Deep Throat,” has earned millions of dollars through secret interests in entertainers, nightclubs and record companies. But, said one law enforcement source: “Sonny always feels he has it coming to him and should never have to pay when he goes out.”
Or, in the words of a respected Gang Land source on the other side of the street who has seen Sonny in action: “He’s a cheapskate. And he doesn’t know that it’s all passed him by.”
Franzese’s attorney Richard Lind has taken a similar position regarding the government’s efforts to use Sonny’s tape-recorded boasts that he “killed a lot of guys” over the years but was “never caught.” Lind says that his client’s words about “alleged murders” were old news, had nothing to do with the case, and were so “far more serious” than the charges against Franzese that jurors would be unable to render a verdict based solely on the evidence if they heard them.
Prosecutors counter that Sonny’s murderous words about modern day mob killings are current, and relevant, especially his assertion that it was wise to dispose of victims rather than “leave them on the street.” Franzese, they noted, told a wired-up turncoat that a good way to dispose of bodies was to cut up the corpse “in a kiddie pool” and then dry the “severed body parts in a microwave before stuffing the parts in a commercial-grade garage disposal.”
Franzese, who sees himself as the consummate tough guy gangster, may actually be indifferent to the possibility of dying in prison, like so many of his peers have in recent years.
But his efforts to downplay the import of another touchy subject to Daily News Reporter John Marzulli fell flat. When asked about son John Franzese Jr., who fingered him for the feds, tape-recorded conversations with him for the FBI, and is slated to testify against him at trial, Sonny shrugged and said: “What do I know about him? I don’t even know where he is.”
Franzese may not know where John Jr. is, but he knows where he’ll be and what he’ll be doing at his trial: He’ll be on the witness stand, pointing a damning finger at his old man. No matter what he says about that, Sonny is devastated by that betrayal, and surely distraught at being the only New York mobster in Gang Land’s memory to have his son take the witness stand against him.
“It’s kind of an embarrassment, pretty embarrassing for a son to be testifying against the father,” conceded attorney Lind. He quickly added that it was “equally embarrassing for the government” to be using the troubled son, who has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, as a witness against his father.
Scheduled for trial with Sonny on various racketeering charges are local mob associates, John (Johnny Cop) Capolino, 41, and Joseph DiGorga, 69, who is also charged in the strip club extortions, as well as Los Angeles-based cohorts, Christopher Curanovic, 28, and Orlando (Ori) Spado, 65.
Meanwhile, Cogan gave prosecutors five more weeks to decide whether to seek capital punishment for co-defendants Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace for the execution slaying of police officer Ralph Dols, and for mobsters Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli and Dino (Little Dino) Saracino for other death penalty-eligible slayings.
Newly appointed U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who took office earlier this month, has agreed to meet with defense lawyers for the three gangsters before submitting her recommendation to the Justice Department, according to court papers filed this week.
“I think it is refreshing that the new U.S. Attorney is taking the time to reflect on an appropriate and informed position instead of shooting from the hip,” said Cacace’s lawyer, Susan Kellman.
Police Reports In Cop Killing Point To Russian Gangsters
September 10, 2009
Gangland | By Jerry Capeci
Who killed Police Officer Ralph Dols?
The feds say the 1997 murder in front of his Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn home was a mob hit, one that was ordered and orchestrated by a jealous high-level mobster who was outraged that the young, muscular housing cop had married the wiseguy’s ex-wife.
But could Russian organized crime figures have done it?
In the days after Dols’ slaying, that’s what scores of witnesses and tipsters – including confidential police and FBI informers – were telling detectives investigating the execution slaying.
Time and again, for one seemingly valid reason or another, numerous Russian gangsters were fingered for the slaying and investigated by police, according to court papers filed in the pending murder case against imprisoned Colombo consigliere Joel (Joe Waverly) Cacace and two mob underlings.
Within hours of Dols’ death, for example, police were told by a confidential informant that a Russian hoodlum had killed Dols because the cop was putting pressure on his “drug dealing operation,” according to a 10-page-long government summary of suspects and possible motives that was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court last week.
The tip quickly gained credence with police. First, detectives established that Dols had caused the Russian hoodlum’s arrest a few weeks earlier when he spotted him waving a gun at the Cozy Tavern, a bar across the street from the cop’s home. Then, Dols’ widow reported that her husband had become “very upset one night” soon after when he spotted the gunman in the neighborhood.
Like the Cozy Tavern tip, many of the 12-year-old leads – which authorities now say were wrong – portrayed the housing cop’s murder as retaliation for stellar police work. But several investigative leads, which officials also state were erroneous, had Dols being killed over disputes with various unsavory characters involving “narcotics and steroids allegations.”
Even while police were investigating allegations involving Russian organized crime figures, “Cacace was always in the mix as a suspect,” said one law enforcement source, who noted that the 10-page letter dealt only with information that did not link Joe Waverly (left) to the murder.
The newly released reports were compiled by prosecutors Elizabeth Geddes, James Gatta and Christina Posa. But they are a treasure trove for defense lawyers, who are sure to try and make use of any negative reports about Dols and other viable suspects in his murder in an effort to help their clients at trial. They also plan to use that same information later this month to undercut the effort by Brooklyn prosecutors who are asking approval from Department of Justice officials in Washington to seek the death penalty against Joe Waverly and his accused cohorts.
“A key factor in whether you look to execute someone should be the strength of the government’s case,” said Cacace’s lawyer Susan Kellman, who told Gang Land: “There is no forensic evidence at all linking my client to the murder.”
In court papers, and when Cacace and Colombo capo Dino (Big Dino) Calabro (right) and soldier Dino (Little Dino) Saracino were charged with Dols’s murder last December, authorities stated that “Cacace ordered Dols’ murder,” but have not reported where that evidence comes from.
Dols, who was shot five times at 11:28 pm on Aug. 25, 1997 and died in surgery early the next morning, also gave police details about the assault and his assassins that differ from some aspects of the current theory of the prosecution, wrote prosecutors Geddes, Gatta and Posa.
Before he died at Coney Island Hospital, the prosecutors wrote, Dols “stated that he was shot by three white males” who confronted him when he arrived at the apartment he shared with his wife Kim and their two year old daughter following a 3-to-11 pm shift at a housing project in Coney Island.
Shortly after the murder, officials reported that Dols had told police that he did not recognize his three assailants, but could identify them if he saw them again.
But sources say the government’s key snitch in the case, turncoat wiseguy Joseph (Joey Caves) Competiello, says that only two gunmen – Big Dino Calabro and Little Dino Saracino – took part in the slaying. Joey Caves (left) admits being on the scene, but says he drove a “crash car” away from the murder scene in order to intercept any fast arriving police cars that may have responded to the shooting.
“When push comes to shove at trial, the government will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joe Waverly ordered the murder and that Little Dino (right) and Big Dino did it,” said one law enforcement official who was asked about the recently filed documents.
In her papers, Kellman asked the prosecutors to turn over the “original documents” upon which their summary letter was based as well as all internal NYPD documents “related to drug-related activities” by officer Dols and the decision by the NYPD to deny death benefits “commensurate with the entitlement of a fallen officer” to his widow.
“From the beginning,” Kellman told Gang Land, “it’s been pretty clear that the government has withheld mountains of information that they possessed that would lead reasonable people to believe that this homicide was committed by people other than my client. There is no forensic evidence linking him to the killing, but they haven’t let those facts get in their way.”
As of yesterday, prosecutors had not yet replied to Kellman’s papers. A status conference in the case is scheduled for next week.