It usually takes more than a prison sentence to impress a career criminal to go straight, especially for someone in the Mafia. If and when released, it’s a fair bet he’ll continue doing the things that got him sent away in the first place. If the pattern holds, the next few years should see a large batch of familiar faces back in action. An unpublished federal document has revealed the names of dozens of currently imprisoned mobsters due for imminent release. Among their friends on the outside, especially in the New York City area, are crooked labor unions.
In an interagency memo, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons alerted the FBI to roughly 80 mobsters and associates set for release from prison by the start of 2007. The list, compiled this July, ought to serve as a reality check for those believing that the Mob, despite numerous recent setbacks, is on its last legs. In the underworld, vacancies need filling, and there’s never a shortage of applicants. As one source put it, “For each rat or guy we put in prison, there are 20 others willing to take their place. And none of these guys are coming out to shine shoes.” Among those soon to be uncaged: Genovese underboss Venero “Bennie Eggs” Mangano; Lucchese crime family underbosses Sal Avellino and Steven Crea; former Gambino family triggerman Joe “the German” Watts; Gambino family heir Richard G. Gotti; Andrew “Andy Mush” Russo (a cousin of Colombo crime boss Carmine Persico); and Genovese captain Salvatore “Sammy Meatballs” Aparo. Crea, Gotti and Aparo are among those with close dealings with the Longshoremen and other unions. And while some of these mobsters are old – Mangano, for one, is 84 – in La Cosa Nostra, old shouldn’t be taken to mean senile.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons declined to say what prompted the survey. But sources point to a request from the FBI to update inmates’ connections and “their potential impact” after release. The list, explained James Margolin, an FBI spokesman in New York, “is further indication of what we have always maintained; that there remains plenty of work to be done in fighting organized crime, and that is why it continues to be a priority for this office.” (New York Post, 9/26).