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Prosecutor: Gioeli crew killed to please

In this June, 4, 2008 photo, reputed acting

In this June, 4, 2008 photo, reputed acting boss of the Colombo crime family Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli is led by FBI agents from Federal Plaza for arraignment in Manhattan. Credit: AP

Accused Long Island mob leader Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli rose to power in the Colombo family from his suburban base by recruiting a gang of younger, street-wise Brooklyn tough guys who unflinchingly carried out hits ordered by higher-ups, a prosecutor charged yesterday.

"Tommy Gioeli cultivated a lethal crew of professional killers," prosecutor James Gatta told jurors in his summation at Gioeli's Brooklyn federal court murder-racketeering trial. "He got things done, and he had a loyal crew of young men hungry to make a name for themselves in the mob."

Gioeli, 59, of Farmingdale, is charged with overseeing six murders and other crimes on Long Island and in Brooklyn during the 1990s. Dino Saracino of Brooklyn, a member of his crew, is charged in three of the murders.

In a prison blog, Gioeli has portrayed himself as a loving dad and husband persecuted by ambitious FBI agents and prosecutors and betrayed by informants anxious to save their own skin. Closing arguments were delayed for a day when he refused to come to court from jail, but he showed up on time yesterday. Gatta said testimony from three former members of Gioeli's crew -- lieutenant Dino Calabro and muscle man Joe Competiello, both formerly of Farmingdale, and Saracino's brother Sebastian -- tied the gang to robberies, burglaries and bank jobs in Brooklyn and Long Island that helped put Gioeli "on the map."

The highlight, he said, was a $210,000 heist at a Chemical Bank branch in East Meadow in 1995. "They were earners," he said. "They were willing to go out and try to make money however they could."

But Gatta said it was two killings described by the informants that fueled Gioeli's rise from soldier to captain to street boss -- the 1997 murder of NYPD cop Ralph Dols, who had angered Colombo consigliere Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace by marrying his ex-wife, and the 1999 execution of Colombo underboss William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, eliminating a rival to boss Alphonse Persico. Calabro testified that Gioeli set the Cutolo killing in motion at a meeting in a Catholic church garden in Massapequa -- a step designed to make sure he wasn't detected by FBI surveillance, Gatta said.

"They killed him to please the higher-ups, just like they did with Dols," the prosecutor said. "They wanted to keep their positions and they wanted to move up."

Saracino lawyer Sam Braverman, in his argument, focused on the lack of scientific evidence linking his client to any murders and the unreliability of the government's informants, who had an "extraordinary motive to lie" to save themselves jail time.

He said he hoped Calabro and Competiello's unemotional performance on the stand as they described beating strangers and executing friends made an impression on the jurors. "That's the definition of cold," he said. "That's the definition of sociopath."

Gioeli's lawyer will address the jury on Monday.

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