President Barack Obama had a very amusing anecdote several days ago when praising James Comey as his choice to head the FBI during Comey’s official installment at FBI headquarters.
The only question is: Was it even true?
Jerry Capeci, mob expert who runs the website Gang Land News, reported that the president mentioned the first name of Gambino mobster Lorenzo Mannino during his remarks at the installment. Comey was prosecuting Mannino and some other mobsters in 1993 in Manhattan.
“One of the defendants was an alleged hit man named Lorenzo,” said the President, according to Gang Land News. “And during the trial, Jim won an award from the New York City Bar Association.
“When the court convened the next morning, everybody was buzzing about it, and suddenly, a note was passed down from the defendant’s table, across the aisle to the prosecutor’s table. It was handed to Jim, and it read: ‘Dear Jim, congratulations on your award. No one deserves it more than you. You’re a true professional. Sincerely, Lorenzo.’ “Sincerely Lorenzo,” the President cracked. “Now, we don’t know how sincere he was. We don’t know whether this was a veiled threat, or a plea for leniency, or an honest compliment. But I think it is fair to say that Jim has won the respect of folks across the spectrum — including Lorenzo,” smiled Obama.
Capeci reports that there was polite laughter in the crowd ”but in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, which has been home for Lorenzo since his release from prison in 2004, the 54-year-old Mannino wasn’t smiling. “
The kicker, according to Gang Land: “He never wrote the letter,” said Charles Carnesi, who defended Mannino during the lengthy 1993 trial that ended in a hung jury. “It didn’t happen,” said Carnesi, adding: “Although I personally agree with the sentiments expressed in it.”
Capeci reported that the White House did not respond for comment, but an FBI spokesman insisted the anecdote was true.
As a side note: The jury hung. But a year later, on the eve of the retrial, Mannino and codefendants John and Joseph Gambino all pleaded guilty and were released after serving their 15 year sentences.