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FINAL ACCOUNTING
Numbers Add Up to Mob Boss's Conviction

11/02/05

New York SkylineIn the end, it was the cold, unforgiving numbers that helped whack the fortunes of Joseph Massino, the last of the big New York crime bosses to be sent to the pen. For years, the leader of the Bonnano family kept a tight leash on his captains—and his own profile—as his fellow Mafia Dons were famously carted off to prison.

Massino became the official boss of the Bonnano family in 1992 after the death of boss Rusty Rastelli a year earlier. Massino was fresh from a prison stint and quietly rebuilt the Bonnano family from the ashes of an embarrassing trial that had caused the family’s eviction from Mafia circles. Massino restored the Bonnano family through muscle, a web of criminal schemes, and a strict adherence to “omerta,” the Mafia code of silence. He was considered by many in the law enforcement community to be untouchable.

That loyalty helped create a dangerous and powerful enterprise that traded heavily in gambling, extortion, loansharking and money-laundering. Massino and his associates were also tied to several murders, including the slayings of fellow mobsters who betrayed the family.

But Massino’s “omerta” code would slowly disintegrate as FBI investigators pieced together a case against the crime family using an innovative blend of traditional shoe-leather surveillance and forensic accounting.

Two special agents, Jeffrey Sallet and Kimberly McCaffrey, both accountants before joining the Bureau, engineered the plan. They employed a “building block approach” using subpoenaed financial records to help pin lower level Bonnano associates to crimes. Facing hard evidence and hard time, the associates—mob bosses, bankers—agreed to cooperate. Up the chain it went. Every step of the way, Sallet and McCaffrey corroborated mobsters’ admissions with seized financial documents. Their plan turned up information and targets that might have been missed by traditional investigative methods.

Faced with mountains of evidence, one of Massino’s trusted captains eventually turned on his boss, leading to Massino’s arrest in 2003. Massino was convicted last summer for murder conspiracy, racketeering, and extortion, to name a few charges. He was sentenced in June to life in prison.

For more than 70 years, the Bonnano family had stood alone as the only New York organized crime family in which no inducted member had cooperated with authorities. In the end, even Massino agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, whose office prosecuted the cases, said the indictments “represent the broadest and deepest prosecution ever of a New York City-based organized crime family.”

Resources: FBI Organized Crime website | More stories on Organized Crime