The Colombo Family
The Colombo Family fell into chaos when the aging and ailing Thomas DiBella voluntarily stepped down as boss. His logical successor was the familys most powerful capo, Carmine Junior Persico, but Persico had faced a relentless onslaught of prosecutions that sent him to prison for ten of the 13 years prior to 1985, according to Carl Sifakis in The Mafia Encyclopedia. Still, he managed to maintain his position as boss while incarcerated, empowering his brother Alphonse and Gennaro Jerry Lang Langella to carry out his orders. During this period, the family concentrated their efforts on narcotics and labor racketeering.
But as the government stepped up its campaign to stamp out organized crime in
Orena came to like wearing the crown. With the backing of Gambino Family usurper John Gotti, Orena lobbied the Commission in 1990 to have Persico ousted and himself recognized as the rightful boss. Colombo Family members soon took sides. Tensions mounted. Persico loyalists struck first.
On June 20, 1991, a five-man hit team led by Persicos consigliere Carmine Sessa converged on Orenas home on
(Interestingly, Scarpa had been a secret FBI informer for 30 years, playing both sides of the fence to his own advantage. As for his legendary toughness, he matched Carmine Persico, who had once spit out a bullet fired into his face. In 1992, Scarpa took a bullet in the eye during a shootout. According to Jerry Capeci, Scarpa drove himself home, poured himself a Scotch, and called the police. He lost the eye.)
Five days after their attempt on Scarpas life, Orena supporters came back hard, gunning down Henry Hank the Bank Smurra outside a doughnut shop in
War broke out. Twelve men died in all. Cutolo killed three himself, as did Scarpa for the Persico camp. Two of the victims were innocent bystanders. Fifteen other people were seriously wounded.
Authorities cracked down on both sides to end the violence, which had gotten far out of hand. Forty-one Persico loyalists were sent to prison as well as Orena and his most powerful capo, Pasquale Patty Amato.
The last casualty in the Colombo War, Orena capo John Scopo, was the handiwork of an 18-year-old assassin named John Pappa, who had been dispatched by Greg Scarpa. Pappa, who wears a large tattoo of two menacing eyes across his upper back under the inscription Morte prima di disonore- death before dishonor - then gunned down his two partners in the Scopo murder for taking undeserved credit for the hit. Eventually Pappa was convicted on four murder charges. He is now serving four life sentences.
The Persico faction ultimately claimed victory, but the war had weakened the family as a whole. Some would have thought it was time to call for a truce and regroup, but Carmine Persico wasnt through yet.