Mafia boss Carmine (Junior) Persico has managed to reclaim his favored dining spot in the federal prison complex in Butner, but the news out of his old Brooklyn haunts just keeps getting worse and worse for the jailed-for-life Colombo crime family chieftain.
Last week, another capo in his already decimated crime family flipped to the feds. The defection bodes badly not only for yet another acting family boss, Persico's cousin Andrew (Andy Mush) Russo, but also for another Colombo mobster with very close ties to the Persico clan.
Gang Land hears that the new stool pigeon, Anthony (Big Anthony) Russo, who is no relation to Andrew Russo, has given the feds solid evidence that a drug-dealing wiseguy with close ties to two second-generation Persico family gangsters was part of the hit team in the 12th and last killing in the family's bloody 1991-93 war.
Meet 45-year-old Brooklyn-based mobster Francis (B.F.) Guerra. The nickname is a short form of his old 1980s moniker, "Big Frank." The feds are now zeroing in on B.F. - a close pal of Persico's son Alphonse, as well as Carmine's nephew, Theodore (Skinny Teddy) Persico Jr. - for the October 20, 1993 murder of rival Colombo gangster Joseph Scopo.
Getting Guerra continues to be a long, slow process. He was first linked to the ambush slaying in front of Scopo's Queens home in testimony at the 1999 trial of wannabe wiseguy John Pappa, who was convicted in the slaying and is serving life. But the feds never had enough evidence to indict Guerra. Court papers that prosecutors filed in connection with last month's 39-defendant Colombo family case place B.F. in a crash car - ready to block any pursuers - with Big Anthony Russo during the hit.
Sources tell Gang Land that Big Anthony initially spurned a request from Scott Curtis, the lead FBI agent in the Colombo purge, to cooperate before he was snared in the monstrous Mafia takedown last month. But he changed his mind soon after he was detained without bail as a danger to society.
"Big Anthony always hated rats. He was actually insulted that Curtis thought he was rat material," said a usually reliable underworld source, who added: "Guess Curtis knew Anthony was a rat at heart even before Anthony did."
According to court filings in the case, Russo implicated himself - and Guerra - in the Scopo slaying during several tape-recorded talks he had with another turncoat during the investigation. Sources say Russo admitted his own involvement in the murder plot and confirmed for the feds that B.F. was in the car with him.
During one taped conversation, while Big Anthony and wired-up mob associate Thomas McLaughlin were exchanging war stories, Russo stated that as Pappa was blowing Scopo (right) away on that cool October evening, Russo's hat was shot off his head in a fusillade of gunfire.
"I jumped out of the car, I was like a fuckin' mad hatter. I didn't know what to do," recalled Russo.
"B.F. was in the backseat," apparently enjoying the wild Kafkaesque scene, said Russo. "He said, 'What the fuck. Are you crazy?' He was laughing hysterical in the backseat."
It's doubtful that B.F. Guerra, who was released from federal prison in 2006 after six-plus years behind bars for drug dealing and extortion, finds anything funny about the Scopo slaying today.
Sources tell Gang Land that Guerra is also a suspect in the 1990 murder of a federal informer whose slaying is linked to the jailhouse photo of his old pal Teddy Persico and Joseph (Joey Cupcake) Urgitano that FBI agents seized as evidence in the murder probe from a wall at Rao's restaurant last fall.
As Gang Land disclosed last month, the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have obtained evidence that Persico was involved in the 1990 rubout of a low-level drug dealer who had given the NYPD information that led to Persico's conviction and a 20 year sentence on state coke trafficking charges in 1988.
Sources say that Persico, who was in state prison at the time, and Guerra, were both allegedly involved in the plot to kill Vincent (Scoobie) Lafaro, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of his Bensonhurst, Brooklyn home on March 26, 1990.
According to FBI documents, B.F. was a key member of Skinny Teddy's drug operation who escaped prosecution. Over the years, he funneled a $500 per week stipend to the imprisoned Persico from the coke trafficking ring until his release in 2004.
In 1998, according to FBI documents, Guerra set the murder of mob associate Frank Hydell in motion when he told Alphonse Persico, the family's acting boss at the time, that Gambino associate Hydell was an FBI informer. Persico informed members of the Gambino family who later killed Hydell in front of a Staten Island strip club in April of 1998.
As part of a plea deal, Gambino capo Daniel Marino was sentenced last month to five years in prison for murder conspiracy charges in the slaying of Hydell, the gangster's nephew.
All this must make for pretty dismal reading for Junior Persico in Butner F.C.I., where he begins his 27th year behind bars. The 77-year-old Colombo boss is watching from afar as his crime family is mired in a decidedly losing battle with Seamus McElearney and his squad of 10 FBI agents and their mob busting partners. Persico has chalked up one victory, however: He won back that corner dining room table with a window seat that overlooks his medium security prison compound in North Carolina.