Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities
One Tough Prosecutor
In Vengeance Is Mine, his book about Fratianno, Michael Zuckerman relates that all the federal and local agencies involved in the case demanded the right to try Ferritto. FBI agent Doug Roller, in charge of the local Organized Crime Strike Force, called a summit meeting.
The most aggressive of all was Carmen Marino, chief assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor. As Zuckerman describes the meeting, Roller proposed putting off the decision until a Grand Jury indicted Fratianno.
"The hell with that," Marino interjected. "You know, you guys, the FBI and the rest of you, always play this as a one-way street. We give and you take."
Marino had an ace up his sleeve: Ohio still had the death penalty. He could hold the threat of the electric chair over Ferritto's head.
"I want to turn Ferritto, give him a deal, and then use him to wipe out the rest of these guys," he said. "Without this informant strategy, no jury is going to care enough to convict anybody for killing a bum like Greene."
The debate continued. Finally, Marino issued a challenge:
"Look, I have the informants and the secret witnesses. If I need searches in Pennsylvania, I can use the state police. I can make this entire case without you; so you either start coming across or we'll go it alone. What's it going to be?"
Roller said he would call Washington. The next day he called Marino and said the FBI would give him the first crack.
Ferritto was brought to the Cuyahoga County jail. At a bail hearing, Marino argued against his release because if he were free the Mafia would kill him.
The argument made an impression on the judge, who denied bail.
It also made an impression on Ferritto, who realized he was trapped between the Mob and the cops. He found agent Fitzpatrick's card and called him. He said he was ready to deal.
He added, according to Zuckerman, "But whatever you do, I don't want anybody in the Cleveland FBI office involved — they have trouble keeping secrets there."
On Dec. 4, in the Chicago FBI office, Ferritto agreed to a deal. He would plead guilty to Greene's murder, but would be sentenced to no more than five years in prison or in the Witness Security Program. He would testify in the trials of the others involved in the murder.
And he would give the FBI one more crime figure. The one it wanted most.
He would give them Jimmy Fratianno.
Next: "Look at That Weasel!"