Not too many people thought Lawrence Ricci disappeared on his own accord. He’d already testified before a federal courtroom jury in Brooklyn, N.Y. And when he remained missing even after being acquitted of conspiracy and wire fraud charges related to a union benefit diversion scheme, the likelihood his vanishing was voluntary became even more remote. Now everyone’s worst suspicions have been confirmed: Ricci was killed. And his death – his body was discovered in the trunk of a car – has all the marks of a mob hit. Ricci, 60, a reputed acting capo of the Genovese crime family, had been on trial along with two top officials of the International Longshoremen’s Association, Harold Daggett and Arthur Coffey, both of whom, like Ricci, wound up acquitted. Another union official, Albert Cernadas, pleaded guilty prior to the trial.
The case centered on whether ILA officials steered a union pharmaceutical contract to a company with known Mafia ties. The Justice Department seemingly had built a strong case. But the jury wasn’t convinced. And the prosecution wasn’t helped by the fact that one of its star witnesses, George Barone, had a thuggish past that would have made any of the defendants cringe (and in the case of Daggett, did). Ricci was last seen in Carteret, New Jersey on October 7, a few weeks after the trial began. He turned up in the trunk of a car that for weeks had been parked in the rear lot of the Huck Finn Diner in Union, N.J. His body, swarmed by flies, was discovered by police on November 30, after receiving a call from diner management. The license plate on the car matched that of a vehicle belonging to one of Mr. Ricci’s relatives. Police initially were reluctant to assert it was Ricci until they’d made a positive ID on the decomposing body. Not long after that, however, they concluded it was him.
At least Ricci wasn’t lacking for family or friends. Nearly 1,000 people attended his wake on December 5; his funeral was held the next day at a Newark church. Ricci’s attorney, Martin Schmukler, said the circumstances of his client’s death were not brought up at the wake. But make no mistake about it – they will be among the feds for some time to come. (New York Post, 12/07/05; other sources).