Dino Calabro, a Long Island mobster once involved in a dozen murder conspiracies whose cooperation is credited with helping cripple the powerful Colombo crime family, was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court on Friday to 11 years in prison for his years of mayhem.
Calabro, 51, formerly of Farmingdale, who testified publicly against both alleged one-time acting Colombo boss Tommy Gioeli and the mob consigliere accused of ordering the 1997 killing of NYPD Off. Ralph Dols, has been in prison since 2008 and will likely do less than 2 more years.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, after hearing Calabro’s remorseful plea for “one final chance” and an equally emotional plea for a maximum sentence from the mother of one victim, said it was hard to “get your arms around” the human damage Calabro caused.
But Calabro had risked his life to cooperate with the government, he said, and had to be rewarded. “We wouldn’t be talking about any sentence other than life but for the cooperation,” Cogan said. “…The cooperation exceeds anything I have seen.”
The ruling did not go down well with relatives of victims. Rosa Gargano, the mother of Carmine Gargano, whose 1994 killing Calabro admitted being an accessory after the fact on, told Cogan “I want justice” and said afterward she wasn’t sure she had gotten it.
“I was expecting life in prison,” she told reporters. “They don’t give a chance to my son or other people. Now he wants mercy? I didn’t like the sentence.”
Maria Dols, the mother of the cop who Calabro testified he gunned down in Brooklyn with two accomplices, did not address Cogan but said afterwards she was disappointed. “Who would be happy for eleven years for all the people he killed?” she said.
Officials say Calabro’s criminal history included involvement in at least eight murders, and acting as a triggerman in three, as well as loansharking, extortion, robbery and other crimes. He was part of the crew of the now-imprisoned Gioeli, 65, also of Farmingdale, known as “Tommy Shots.”
Calabro publicly testified both at Gioeli’s trial on racketeering charges and the trial of alleged Colombo consigliere Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace of Deer Park for allegedly ordering a hit on Dols, who had married Cacace’s ex-wife.
Cacace was acquitted and Gioeli, convicted of racketeering, was cleared on three murders. But both are still in prison, and Cogan said Calabro was an early “domino” who started an “exponential” chain reaction dismantling the Colombo family that is still unfolding..
Calabro, who will go into witness protection when released, told the judge he was “filled with shame and regret” for his mob life. Cogan said he wasn’t sure the remorse was genuine, but noted that Calabro, bent and graying, was a far cry from the confident “Big Dino” of a decade ago.
“He is a shadow of his former self,” Cogan said. “The swagger is gone. It isn’t just gone. It’s hard to believe it’s the same person.”