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June 2015


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Gang Land News: Feds Cheer Mama’s Boy Mob Snitch, And He Earns A Sweet Reward

Jerry Capeci is considered a mob expert. He’s the founder and editor of the paid subscription website Gang Land News. This article was republished with permission.

By Jerry Capeci

Anthony Zoccolillo’s role as a co-star of the short-lived Mama’s Boys of the Bronx reality TV show was pretty much a flop.

But there was applause all around for the former Genovese crime family associate-turned super snitch at his sentencing last month. Surrounded by dozens of FBI agents, NYPD detectives and very happy family members, a smiling but moisteyed Zoccolillo walked out of Manhattan Federal Court and breathed free fresh air for the first time in 18 months.

His best review came from Judge Richard Sullivan who praised him for “truly extraordinary” undercover work following his arrest on drug dealing charges and sentenced Zoccolillo to “time served.”

In January, Gang Land dubbed Zoccolillo The Most Effective Mob Turncoat Of 2014. Federal prosecutor Rebecca Mermelstein said he was he even better than that. She credited him with giving her the crucial evidence to obtain six indictments against 14 mobsters and drug dealers, and dubbed Zoccolillo the best cooperating witness she had seen in her five years as an assistant U.S. Attorney.

“This is, without a doubt, the cooperator who has offered the most substantial assistance,” Mermelstein said of Zoccolillo. She submitted a list of 27 gangsters, including 13 members of a violent Bronx-based Albanian gang who pleaded guilty to drug, weapons and other charges rather than face the former Mama’s Boy on the witness stand.

“He did it from the very beginning” when he “worked proactively to make hundreds of in-person telephone recordings,” she said. “Unlike many people, he never withheld anything. He never got caught minimizing anything. He came forward immediately and did  the right thing.”

The sentencing documents, and a transcript of the proceeding, which took place May 1, were sealed until this week. Judge Sullivan ordered them unsealed following a Gang Land pro se motion that cited the public’s common law and First Amendment right to open court proceedings. Zoccolillo, as Gang Land first disclosed two years ago, flipped on the same day he was arrested — February 20, 2013.

He quickly snared Genovese mobster Salvatore (Sally KO) Larca and three others on tape as they conspired to buy thousands of pounds of marijuana in northern California and distribute it in New York. Larca was buying the high-grade weed for $1500 a pound and selling it for $4000 a pound.

The FBI busted Larca less than two months later when agents seized a 500 pound load of pot in Queens. Until then, no one had suspected the former Mama’s Boy was a snitch, however. And during a 55 day stretch, the hard working and very enterprising Zoccolillo recorded “hundreds” of conversations with many drug dealers, including three sons of former acting Bonanno boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, and another Genovese wiseguy, according to Mermelstein. The cases against Larca, the Basciano brothers, Genovese wiseguy Pasquale (Uncle Patty) Falcetti and the others could not “have been brought” without him, said Mermelstein.

“Indeed,” the prosecutor stated in a court filing, “the Government initiated its investigations into these targets solely as a result of information provided by Zoccolillo and had no other evidence against these targets prior to Zoccolillo’s initial proffer.”

Defense lawyer Michael Beys echoed and expanded upon much of the prosecutor’s points in his remarks. And like Mermelstein, who submitted a copy of the Gang Land column that praised Zoccolillo’s cooperation in her filings, Beys also mentioned Gang Land’s kudos for his client in his remarks. But Sullivan, who’s been on the bench since 2007 and was the Federal Law Enforcement Association’s Prosecutor Of The Year in 1998, didn’t seem too impressed.

“I don’t know if you get a plaque or money with that,” the judge cracked. While saying he “was not criticizing anybody,” Sullivan questioned why prosecutors postponed the sentencing in December. He told Zoccolillo: “I think, candidly, that I might have given you (time served) six months ago because the quality of the cooperation and the difference that you made is substantial.” If he hadn’t cooperated, Zoccolillo was facing a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years. “Your cooperation has been really outstanding. I don’t  think there is any other way to describe it,” Sullivan told Zoccolillo, noting that his undercover work put him “in a very select category of cooperators.

You took steps at great risk to yourself, wore a wire and put yourself in situations where things could have really gone bad with people who might have reacted very badly if they had learned that you were working with the government and wearing a wire.” “You really were an extraordinary cooperator, and that has to be acknowledged, and rewarded loudly,” said Sullivan.

“The work you have done, the cases that you have made, the difference that you have made is truly extraordinary, no doubt about it.” In a letter to Judge Sullivan, Zoccolillo, 38, wrote that his Morris Park “neighborhood was dominated and controlled” by the mob. An uncle was a nephew of legendary Mafia boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante, he wrote, and he “grew up looking up to these guys,” even though his “father was murdered by mob violence” when he was a child.

In court, Zoccolillo apologized for his repeated brushes with the law, and asked for a “last chance” to right his life, breaking down several times when discussing family members he hurt the most, “especially my mother,” who co-starred with him on Mama’s Boys of the Bronx.

The mother of the Mama’s Boy was in court to hear him, along with about 20 other family members. (The TV show — which was cancelled after two episodes in April of 2012 — was not mentioned at the sentencing or in court filings.) “I feel like in the course of the (last) 18 months, I have learned a lot,” he said. “I feel really strongly, your honor, about what the future holds. I am tired of disappointing everybody.

I’m tired of making mistakes. And every day I am trying to keep growing. I have read so many self- help books. I have read so many spiritual books. I am really trying my best to keep moving forward in my life, and I feel positive now about the future.” Sullivan noted he didn’t have a “crystal ball” to predict the future, but said he believed the erstwhile Mama’s Boy was “being sincere” about not going back to his old ways. “Look,” said the judge, “if you are conning me, you will regret it ultimately, but I don’t think you are.”

Sullivan gave him a little extra incentive to keep himself straight. He ordered strict supervised release for five years. Zoccolillo was ordered to avoid all former criminal associates, as well as drugs and guns. And just in case, the judge ordered that Zoccolillo and his home will be liable to unannounced searches for contraband or possible evidence of any suspected criminal activity.

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