EAST FARMINGDALE, New York – Authorities found the badly decomposed remains of a member of the infamous Colombo crime family Monday, reportedly acting on a tip from an informant, the FBI said.
William "Wild Bill" Cutolo was a feared mobster who vanished nearly a decade ago during a bloody struggle for control of the Colombo crime family. It had been widely believed that after rival gangsters killed him, his body was dumped off the side of a boat in the Atlantic Ocean.
As it turns out, Cutolo's body was buried in a wooded area of Long Island near a stretch of railroad tracks, manufacturing plants and warehouses. An informant led agents to the spot after providing a tip that three bodies might be buried in the location.
The search continued Wednesday as a team of about a dozen FBI and law enforcement officials was joined by two backhoes in East Farmingdale.
Attorneys for the two men convicted last year of orchestrating Cutolo's murder have told a federal judge they will seek a new trial now that his remains have been found. Cutolo, a reputed Colombo crime family underboss, was 49 when he vanished in 1999.
Prosecutors said reputed acting boss Alphonso "Allie Boy" Persico feared Cutolo was going to seize control of the crime family from him. John "Jackie" DeRoss was accused of being his accomplice.
Persico and DeRoss were convicted on charges of witness tampering and murder in the aid of racketeering and face life in prison, but their attorneys say the new revelations merit postponing the December sentencing until the latest investigation is closed. U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell confirmed the identity of Cutolo's remains in a letter to the sentencing judge.
"Clearly, this new evidence directly contradicts the theory on which the government proceeded at trial," attorneys Sarita Kedia and Robert LaRusso wrote to the judge in response to the discovery of Cutolo's remains.
Neither FBI spokesman Jim Margolin nor Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the local U.S. attorney's office, would comment on any specific aspect of the investigation.
One of the victims suspected of being buried at the East Farmingdale site is former Pace University student Carmine Gargano Jr., 21, who was last seen in July 1994. Authorities were told he was killed in a revenge plot targeting his cousin, a reputed member of a rival crime family.
Authorities also reportedly believe reputed Colombo associate Richard Greaves may be buried at the site. He was killed in 1995 because bosses feared he might become an informant, authorities said.
Searches for the victims of mob violence are not unusual in the metropolitan New York area, where the FBI and police sometimes show up at vacant lots, garages, parking lots and homes.
In 2004, they searched a vacant lot in Queens, known locally as Mafiaville because it was apparently used as a dumping ground by the late Gambino mob boss John Gotti. Authorities recovered bones and personal items believed to be the remains of two Bonanno crime family captains.
The following year, a search of a Brooklyn lot uncovered the remains of a jeweler named Israel Greenwald. He was shot dead inside a Brooklyn garage and buried on the spot by two detectives doubling as hit men for the mob.