Phone Call From FBI Ends Reputed Crime Boss’ Freedom
NEW YORK (AP) _ After searching four months for reputed organized crime boss Carmine ″The Snake″ Persico, the FBI got a tip and called the most-wanted fugitive at a relative’s home, officials said.
Persico was captured Friday afternoon by 25 FBI agents and police officers who surrounded a Long Island house after authorities were told one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted suspects was inside.
″Once we determined the address ... we simply called him and told him to come out,″ FBI Assistant Director Lee. F. Laster said at a news conference after Persico and three others were taken into custody. ″He was told that the house was surrounded, that he was going nowhere and to come out, and he did.″
″He really wasn’t very happy, but he came out,″ Laster added.
Persico, 51, had been sought since his indictment in October with 10 other alleged leaders of the Colombo family.All four men, none of whom were armed, were scheduled for arraignment today.
Police identified the others arrested as Dominic ″Donnie Shacks″ Montemarano, 46, described by authorities as a ″capo″ or captain in the Colombo family; and two men identified only as Joseph Russo and Fredrick DeChristopher, who were arrested on suspicion of harboring fugitives.
DeChristopher lived at the home where the arrests took place, and his wife, Katherine, is a cousin of Persico, according to Laster.
Laster hinted the relationship between Mrs. DeChristopher and Persico helped lead the federal agents to the house, saying it was ″an obvious part of any fugitive investigation″ to look into family backrounds. But, he added, ″I’m not saying exactly how he was located.″
″We’ve been looking everywhere, talking to everyone, following everyone,″ Laster said. ″We’ve been looking under every stone, and today we looked under the right one.″
Persico was indicted along with Montemarano and nine others in October on 51 racketeering counts that included extortion, payoffs, mob control of labor unions, embezzlement of union funds, trafficking in heroin and other drugs, multimillion-dollar thefts, illegal gambling, loansharking and bribery.
The indictments stemmed from a three-year undercover investigation called Operation Star Quest that was conducted by a joint city-federal Organized Crime Task Force.
Persico, Montemarano and two others named in the indictments - John T. DeRoss and Frank Melli - fled last year after the New York Post published information leaked by someone in government, according to U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.
DeRoss and Melli surrendered to authorities Oct. 31.
Persico was placed on the Ten Most Wanted List last month, and Laster said the FBI stepped up its already ″intensive″ efforts to find him. He said it was ″obvious he’s been running around,″ but did not say where Persico had been or how long he was known to have been on Long Island.
The Colombo organization is not the biggest of New York’s crime families, but controls ″no fewer than″ seven union organizations in New York and strongly influences both the construction and restaurant industries in the city, said U.S. Attorney General William French Smith.
In 1981, Persico was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to bribe Internal Revenue Service agents to fix tax problems for a union leader and trying to get himself transferred from a federal penitentiary in Atlanta to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Persico had been serving a 14-year term for truck hijacking. Because of good behavior, he was freed in December 1979 after serving eight years of the term.
In a plea bargain, Persico pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and five other charges were dropped.
The five-year term ran concurrently with a four-year term for parole violation that he began serving in May 1981. He was released shortly before he was named in the October indictment.