Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reputed crime boss Leo faces up to six years

Daniel Leo
Daniel Leo, 66 (left), reputed boss of the Genovese Crime Family, faces up to six years in prison and $75,000 in fines after admitting today to engaging in an extortion racket, according to stories in the New York Post and the New York Daily News.

New Jersey resident Leo admitted that he ordered underlings to extort money from an East Harlem gambling enterprise and from taxi company. Prosecutors say Leo threatened harm to the taxi company owner if he did not pay back $150,000 owed to Leo-affiliated creditors.
His nephew, underworld confidant and codefendant in the federal case, Joseph Leo, 45, could be sentenced to more than four years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of extortion. Sentencing for the pair is scheduled for Jan. 31 in Manhattan Federal Court.

Federal investigators believe Daniel "the Lion" Leo, of Rockleigh, NJ, took the reins of the Genovese clan after the 2005 death of Vincent "the Chin" Gigante. His name surfaced in news reports one year ago. The extortion case was based upon FBI electronic surveillance. Agents placed a listening device in Joseph Leo's car after failing in more direct attempts to listen in on Daniel Leo's conversations. Daniel Leo was initially charged May 30 with four counts of extortion.

Witness's apparent perjury clears DeVecchio

State prosecutors dropped their murder case against retired FBI supervisor Roy Lindley DeVecchio today and began looking into the alleged perjury of witness Linda Schiro (right), according to stories by Scott Shifrel and Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News and Michael Brick of the New York Times.

Schiro, 62, the prosecution's star witness, was a longtime girlfriend of Colombo Crime Family bigshot Gregory Scarpa. She testified that DeVecchio provided information to Scarpa about a fellow gangster who was secretly cooperating in a federal investigation and aided Scarpa in setting up four mob killings. After hearing of Schiro's testimony, reporters Tom Robbins and Jerry Capeci came forward with 10-year-old audiotapes of conversations they had with Schiro to research a book. In those conversations, Schiro reportedly contradicted her sworn testimony in the DeVecchio case.

The reporters had promised Schiro confidentiality. Robbins said he felt he had to come forward after noting the contradictions in her testimony. Robbins described the contradictions in an article for the Oct. 30 Village Voice. In the taped interviews, Schiro did not link DeVecchio (left) with three of the four murders. She said nothing of DeVecchio's alleged involvement in the murder of Mary Bari and expressly excluded him from involvement in the murders of Joseph DeDomenico and Lorenzo Lampasi.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Vecchione asked Justice Gustin Reichbach to dismiss the case against the 67-year-old DeVecchio. Vecchione said the case would not have gone to trial "had we been provided these tapes much earlier in the process."

As Capeci noted in his online Gangland column today, the dismissal of the charges in such a high profile case is a public relations nightmare for Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes (right). There was no announcement related to the case on the prosecutor's website today. Hynes reportedly told the press, "There's no way we would have brought a prosecution if we had that kind of information."

During the investigation for the case, Hynes publicly blasted federal agencies for their slow response to Kings County requests for information. Federal prosecutors had investigated the charges against DeVecchio earlier but decided not to prosecute. Current and former FBI agents came out in support of DeVecchio.

In the 2005 election, Hynes had to defeat primary election challengers from within his own Democratic party in order to run for reelection.

About Me

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.