Friday, September 5, 2008

Court tosses three 2003 racketeering convictions

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Manhattan has rejected the 2003 racketeering convictions of three men accused of ties to the DeCavalcante Crime Family of New Jersey and it has ordered that the defendants be given new trials, according to a story by John Eligon of the New York Times.

Giuseppe Schifilliti, Philip Abramo and Stefano Vitabile were sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of racketeering conspiracy, murder and murder conspiracy charges. They were the only defendants - out of more than 20 arrested in a crackdown on the DeCavalcante Family - who went to trial. Most of the others accepted plea deals.

Plea deals were at the heart of the appeals court rejection of the guilty verdicts. During the trial of Schifilliti, Abramo and Vitabile, prosecutors introduced as evidence statements given by eight alleged co-conspirators who had taken plea deals. A Supreme Court decision in 2004 made such statements inadmissible as evidence.

Schifilliti, 70, was reputed to have been a powerful lieutenant of the DeCavalcante organization. He reportedly became a made member of the crime family in the mid-1970s, when the organization was run by Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (died of natural causes in 1997). Some sources indicate that Vitabile, 72, served in the position of consigliere for the crime family and possibly was named acting boss for a time. Like Schifilliti, Abramo, 63, reputedly served as a lieutenant in the family.

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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.