Lewis Kasman -- remember him? -- says he saved my life so I shouldn't write bad things about him. For all I know, he may be right. So, in that spirit, I will take things down a notch and just report that the self-described "adopted son" of the late John Gotti is back, six months after he quietly slithered out of town free as a bird after double crossing Gotti and the feds.
The fast-talking stool pigeon is again spewing venom on judges and lawyers from New York to Florida. This time, one of his targets, Garden City-based attorney Barry Levin, is fighting mad, to say the least. Levin says that since Kasman got a free pass for crimes he committed while working for the feds, he has been trying to extort money from lawyers involved in a contentious divorce battle between Kasman and his ex-wife.
Kasman fired the opening salvo last month when he sued his own lawyer for malpractice. Around the same time, Levin reports, he received a call from a nameless anonymous voice who sounded an awful lot like Kasman, demanding that the lawyer return a $50,000 fee he received for work he did for Eileen Kasman, or face the consequences.
"Like I told the dirtbag who called me, I'm not giving Kasman a quarter," said Levin. "But if he wants to get in the ring with me, with all proceeds going to charity, and he stays on his feet for one round, I will return the fee to the person who paid me, not him, and give him $50,000."
Kasman, who also has a way with words, declined, but not graciously. "Tell him he should spend three minutes in the ring with Allie Boy Persico, who hates his guts," he said, adding that years ago, Kasman and the late Dapper Don had combined to save Levin's life. "Allie Boy wanted to kill Levin and John Gotti Senior said you can't go killing lawyers." After thinking about it, Kasman added, "I'll get in the ring with him after he fights Allie Boy, because he'll be with the undertaker."
Before we get back to the main event, we need to tell you about how Kasman kept Gang Land from getting whacked. Or says he did.
In fact, the convicted perjurer who "borrowed" $277,000 from his kids' college fund while working for the FBI and hasn't paid it back, and who admits lying in affidavits and depositions during his divorce case, insists that he saved the life of this reporter -- not once, but twice.
Like much of what Kasman says, there is probably a modicum of truth somewhere in his words. The hard to answer questions are: Where? And how much?
The first time, said Kasman, was in 1992, when during a visit with Gotti at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Kasman and the Dapper Don stopped an angry Junior Don from doing a number on me, just like he allegedly did on Curtis Sliwa that year. "I was there at the MCC, and Junior was pushing his father, 'We got to make an example of Capeci,' but John agreed with me and said no," recalled Kasman.
Junior Gotti, through attorney Charles Carnesi, denies that. And no one in law enforcement confirms the assertion either. But to be on the safe side, Gang Land right here, right now, extends its gratitude to Kasman.
Five years later, after Gene Mustain and I wrote in Gotti: Rise & Fall that the FBI's 1990 arrest of Gotti had prevented the Dapper Don from celebrating the 30th birthday of his latest flame, the buxom Lisa Gastineau, at a Frank Sinatra concert, Junior Gotti again voiced angry words toward yours truly. Or at least that's what Kasman told the FBI shortly after he began working as a confidential FBI informer in early 1997.
In this case, there is some solid corroborating evidence: Without disclosing their source of information, FBI agents dutifully informed me about Junior's anger back then, advising me to be a little more cautious than usual. They added that the younger Gotti had hired an ex-NYPD detective who had been bounced from the force as corrupt to follow me around and "dig up some dirt." He should've just asked. I could have told him exactly which of my old editors would be glad to help him out.
As for his own marital troubles and lawyer feuds, Kasman states in his $2 million lawsuit against Ft. Lauderdale attorney Barry Roderman, that the lawyer "was involved in an inappropriate personal relationship with" his ex-wife's attorney. As a result, Roderman was guilty of extortion as well as "legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract."
We couldn't get Roderman's side of this because he did not return several calls. Too bad, we could have compared notes on Lewis.
Kasman has a slew of litigation going against lawyers. In addition to the Roderman suit, he has one against a second attorney. He also has charged other Florida attorneys and judges with malpractice during the three years his divorce case was in the courts. Among other things, Mrs. Kasman won $439,000 from the sale of their home, and judgments totaling $350,000, which Kasman has not yet paid. The case ended in October, 2009. It's unclear exactly where Kasman resides (some court papers suggest he lives with his mother in Palm Beach). But wherever it is, sources say two former Navy SEALs make up his personal protection detail.
For two years, beginning in August of 2008, according to court records, and letters and other documents that Gang Land was provided by Kasman and Levin, the attorney was retained by Eileen Kasman's father, Albert Kula, to represent his daughter and consult with the Florida firm that handled her divorce case.
Kasman claims that he has told the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn that Levin's real purpose while working for his ex-wife was to "obstruct justice and put a federal witness, me, in harm's way. He was just trying to find out my location when I was operating as a cooperating witness. He took $50,000 from my father-in-law and all he did was ask my father-in-law, 'Where's Lewis?' He'll see me in court."
Said Levin: "He's a pathological liar. And a pathetic human being. All I did was try to protect his ex-wife and help her recoup the hundreds of thousands he stole from his children's trust funds. The work I did for Eileen Kasman is documented in a transfile of my work product. That this subhuman waste product is allowed to be in society, and to extort all the lawyers involved in his divorce case is a sad example of what cooperating witnesses can get away with under the guise of government protection."
Kasman, who became a paid FBI informer in 1997 and wore a wire against numerous mobsters and members of Gotti's family, including his widow, from 2005 to 2007, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other crimes he committed while working for the feds. He was sentenced to three years of supervised release in September.
Spokesmen for the FBI and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's office did not respond to queries about Kasman's status, or the charges and counterclaims that he and Levin made about each other.
Gang Land hates to take sides on this, but three minutes in the ring, Marquess of Queensberry rules of course, sounds like a nice way to settle things.