By Mitchel Maddux
May 9, 2012
A Brooklyn jury today cleared two notorious mobsters on all murder charges they faced, in a stunning setback for federal prosecutors.
Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli beat the rap on six murder counts while soldier Dino “Little Dino” Saracino was cleared for three rubouts. They were both cleared in connection to the infamous Aug. 25, 1997 slaying of NYPD officer Ralph Dols.
Gioeli and Saracino were convicted on lesser charges — three murder conspiracies on “Tommy Shots” and a single murder conspiracy on “Little Dino.”
Gioeli was convicted of planning the slayings of mob rivals John Minerva on March 25, 1992, Frank “Chestnut” Marasa on June 12, 1991, and other unnamed crime figures in a bloody Colombo civil war. But he beat the rap on more serious charges that he gave the final order to have them rubbed out.
Saracino was convicted of conspiring to hit Michael Burnside, who was suspected of killing “Little Dino’s” brother. Saracino was also convicted on several other charges, including extortion, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Gioeli stands to get anything from time served to 20 years in prison, and Saracino time served to 100 years when they’re sentenced. There was no date set for sentencing as defense lawyers planned their appeals.
Despite that looming prison time, both defendants couldn’t hide their joy over the verdicts.
“Little Dino” joyously bear hugged defense lawyer Sam Braverman and said: “I’m gonna go home [someday].”
Had the men been convicted of committing any of the murders, instead of just planning them, they would have surely been sent to the big house for life.
Gioeli’s wife and family smiled broadly and hugged outside the courthouse.
“We’re obviously very grateful to the jury for analyzing the evidence and not the emotion of the case,” said Gieoli’s defense lawyer Adam Perlmutter. “He [Gioeli] was very moved. He was heartened by the fact that he could, one day, return to his family and grandchildren.”
Prosecutors marched out of court without speaking to reporters.
A spokeman for the US Attorney’s Office put his best spin on the handful of convictions, saying: “The evidence at trial established the defendants’ involvement in a racketeering conspiracy that spanned 1991 through 2008.”
The ashen-faced family of the slain officer Dols left courthouse, got into an NYPD van under a uniformed escort and sped away without making any comments.
Dols was savagely rubbed out because he married the ex-wife of Joel “Joe Waverly” Cacace, a former Colombo consigliere.
Veteran mob lawyer Joseph Corozzo, who closely followed the trial, said prosecutors struggled to make the Dols case stick because they relied heavily on the testimony of trigger man Dino “Big Dino” Calabro, who turned stool pigeon for the government.
“It seems to be a trend to acquit the defendants of murders when the evidence shows it was actually the cooperating witness who committed the murders and try to lay blame on others for directing,” Corozzo said.
Big Dino is behind bars for other mob murders and under witness protection.
Both Gioeli and Saracino were accused of participating in the May 26, 1999 hit on William “Wild Bill” Cutolo, who at the time of his death was the underboss of the Colombo family.
Gioeli and Saracino were also cleared in the rub-out of Colombo associate Richard Greaves on Aug. 3, 1995.
Tommy Shots beat the murder rap for the slaying of Michael Imbergamo, who had no mob ties but was a pal of Minerva and had the misfortune of being with his friend as they were wiped out.
Additional reporting by David K. Li