Shondor Birns & Danny Green: Cleveland's Killer Celebrities
The Dominoes Topple
On Feb. 15, before the courthouse was open for business, Fratianno pleaded guilty to the murder of Danny Greene.
By time the lawyers for the other defendants found out, the FBI had him on a plane back to prison in California to plead guilty to the murder of Julius Petro. The Mafia reportedly put out a $100,000 contract on his life.
As promised, Fratianno pleaded guilty and was allowed to avoid the witness stand.
Jurors were skeptical of the testimony of Ferritto, who had also pleaded guilty and was obviously trying to shorten his sentence. After a 79-day trial with 129 witnesses, they convicted only Carabbia and Cisternino, against whom there was corroborating evidence.
It returned "not guilty" verdicts for Licavoli, Lonardo and Thomas Sinito. Calabrese had been freed by the judge at the end of the prosecution case. At a separate trial, Thomas Lanci and Kenneth Ciarcia were convicted and John Calandra acquitted. Anthony Liberatore and Carmen Marconi had fled and were in hiding.
The bribing of Geraldine Linhart, however, provided grounds for the feds to file a RICO case — Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organizations. With Fratianno now willing to testify, it resulted in the convictions of Liberatore and, Ciarcia and Lanci. Licavoli and Calandra again were acquitted.
Fratianno, meanwhile, was off on a nationwide courtroom tour. He helped prosecutors win cases from New York to San Francisco and, as promised, delivered the leaders of the Los Angeles Mafia.
And in 1982 the Strike Force finally got Licavoli on a RICO charge. Convicted with him were Carabbia, Calandra and 10 others. Licavoli was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison.
The more Mafia members the FBI convicted, the more agreed to testify against their comrades in return for a shorter sentence or the Witness Protection Program.
The biggest was yet to come.
Next: "Big Ange"