Nothing but Money_ How the Mob Infiltrated Wall Street - LightNovelsOnl.com
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"It is the judgment of this court that the defendant, Francis Warrington Gillet III, is hereby placed on probation for a term of three years," the judge said. "The defendant shall also comply with the conditions of home confinement for six months."
This meant Warrington would have stay in his apartment on the Upper East Side of New York for six months except to look for or work at a job. His phone couldn't have call-forwarding, caller ID or call-waiting. It had to be plugged into a wall. A cordless phone and a cell phone were out of the question. After that he could come and go as he pleased, as long as he remembered to follow the requirements of the U.S. Department of Probation for another two and a half years. Not a single day would he have to spend in a federal prison for the crimes he had committed during his time as Johnny Casablanca at DMN. Warrington had officially dodged the bullet.
Outside court he began making calls to let friends and family know how he'd fared. It was nothing but good news, as far as he could tell. Sure, he'd have to stay away from Wall Street for a while, which would make coughing up money for rest.i.tution and fines tough. Sure, he'd have to meet regularly with a probation officer and let him know all about how he was trying to earn money and contribute to society. Sure, he was a felon, but he would never be an inmate. Sure, he'd be barred from purchasing and owning a firearm for the rest of his life, but he could live with that. Sure, he'd have to put down this little matter on every job application he ever filled out until the day he died, but so what? His only prison would be his apartment, with cable and air-conditioning and fully stocked liquor cabinet.
d.a.m.n, Warrington thought. This is a great country.
There was only one problem. Warrington Gillet IV. Little Warry. He would have to explain it all to Little Warry. Explaining this to his fellow adults was relatively simple. Life is complicated. Sometimes you make bad decisions. Sometimes you get a little too selfish and forget your way. Adults understand these things. Kids really don't. They see things on a much simpler level. Warrington would have to let Little Warry know that his father had made huge mistakes and then gotten lucky. He would have to find just the right words, and that-more than anything-would be the most difficult task of all. In the end, after all was said and done, it really came down to one thing.
"The biggest job with your kids is the biggest job with my kid," he said, "and that is, you have to teach them the difference between right and wrong."
At 6 p.m. on a spring day in March, Robert from Avenue U found himself once again standing in a courtroom, wrangling over words with lawyers. It was after hours in the federal court in downtown Brooklyn and the issue was the organization to which Robert belonged. In the opinion of the United States attorney, Greg Andres, the organization was the Bonanno crime family and Robert Lino was a captain with supervisory responsibilities. The prosecutor was insisting that Robert from Avenue U say the actual words, "Bonanno crime family." Robert from Avenue U was not pleased at this development. He'd agreed to plead guilty to several crimes and say he was a member of a group, but he was not about to say anything about any Bonanno crime family.
None of this had anything to do with Wall Street and pump and dump and corrupt brokers and stock promoters and DMN. This was all about everything going on behind the curtain, and the reason they were all a.s.sembled was because of Robert's uncle and mentor, Frank Lino. Frank had gone and turned himself into a cooperator for the FBI and started talking about all his friends, including his nephew, the kid from Midwood he'd helped raise as a favor to his cousin, Bobby Lino Sr.
Frank had given up Robert from Avenue U in a heartbeat. He'd told the FBI all about the murder of Louis Tuzzio, the one in which Robert was the shooter. He'd also remembered the business about Robert Perrino, the guy from the New York Post New York Post Robert helped with. There were many other stories to recall, harkening all the way back to dark winter nights digging into the frozen ground of Staten Island to find a final resting place for Gabe Infanti, then trying again a few years later to find Gabe and not succeeding. Frank had a remarkable memory for detail, and as a result, Robert now faced the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. Robert helped with. There were many other stories to recall, harkening all the way back to dark winter nights digging into the frozen ground of Staten Island to find a final resting place for Gabe Infanti, then trying again a few years later to find Gabe and not succeeding. Frank had a remarkable memory for detail, and as a result, Robert now faced the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Robert had agreed to admit to certain activities at this particular court session. And at first, things had gone along as planned. His lawyer, Barry Levin, and the prosecutor, Greg Andres, did not seem to get along at all. The judge, Nicholas Garaufis, kept stepping in to smooth things over. The task at hand was fairly simple: Robert had to plead guilty to four counts related to a lengthy racketeering indictment brought against much of the Bonanno crime family, which Robert did not wish to acknowledge the existence of.
"The defendant needs to acknowledge that the enterprise charged in the indictment is the enterprise with which he a.s.sociated," said the prosecutor.
"But he need not allocute to the name of the enterprise?" the judge asked.
"Correct, Judge," replied the prosecutor.
They came up with a plan to give Robert twenty-seven years in prison. He was thirty-seven, so that meant if he behaved in prison and got a little time off as a reward, he still wouldn't be walking out on to the streets of America until he was sixty. A sobering thought for a man not yet forty.
Lino-who barely got out of elementary school-began to read a prepared statement describing his crimes.
"Your Honor, I am not such a good reader and I don't have prescription gla.s.ses, so bear with me."
"Take your time," said the judge.
"I, Robert Lino, withdraw my previous plea of not guilty under case number 03 CR 0307 S20 and enter a plea of guilty to Count One of the superseding indictment . . . charging me with violation of t.i.tle 18 of United States Code Section 1962 D. That I joined an a.s.sociation of individuals and I conspired to commit the following criminal acts."
"Go ahead," said the judge.
"I was involved in illegal gambling and sports betting. Acts 15." Lino stopped. He couldn't read what was written. His lawyer, Levin, jumped in.
"Between January 1, 1989, and January 1, 2003. Your Honor, it is my chicken scratch, so I have to apologize to the court."
Robert summed it up: "I was taking bets on sports and that is it."
The judge asked, "Were you taking bets?"
"On sports," Lino replied.
"Did this activity involve five or more people?"
"Five or more bets? Yes."
And so on. Soon it got around to the murder of Louis Tuzzio, the same Louis Tuzzio that Robert Lino personally shot in the face. The judge said, "As to Racketeering Act 16, the conspiracy to murder and the murder of Louis Tuzzio."
Robert Lino said, "I partic.i.p.ated in the conspiracy to murder and the actual murder of Louis Tuzzio between December 1989 and January 3 of 1990."
The prosecutor interjected: "The government would prove at trial that Mr. Lino was, in fact, the shooter on the Tuzzio murder."
"All right," said the court.
Next up was Robert Perrino, a man who died by another's hand. Robert Lino merely helped clean up afterward, which in a murder conspiracy was more or less as bad as being the guy who pulled the trigger.
The judge: "What did you do in furtherance of the conspiracy, what activity?"
Lino said, "I cleaned up the . . ."
The judge: "You cleaned up?"
Lino: "Yes, I cleaned up the . . ."
The judge, turning to the prosecutor, asked, "Is that sufficient for you?
Prosecutor: "Yes, sir."
Then came the usual confusion that erupts when defendants are asked to admit that they are part of an "enterprise" that existed solely to commit crime. Often members of these types of enterprises prefer to wrap themselves in the gauze of euphemism instead of actually admitting the existence of, say, the Bonanno crime family. It is a quaint tradition.
The judge said, "In order for you to plead to the Rico count, the conspiracy count, it is necessary to acknowledge that such an inst.i.tution or organization existed without any specificity-no specificity is needed as to who the members of the organization were. You are not being asked to state that this one was or that one was, just that the activities were pursuant to the activities of an enterprise, that these were not some unrelated acts of criminal violence."
"Okay," said Robert Lino.
"So you understand what has to be done here? It is a structural-it is a question of admitting, which you must do in order for me to accept the plea, that you were part of a racketeering enterprise."
"Okay. Can I state something for the record?
"n.o.body ever told me I was part of the Bonanno family or a Ma.s.sino family, for the record."
This was a mistake. His lawyer tried to keep things moving, but it was not to be. Prosecutor Andres started in by claiming Lino had just committed perjury.
"Judge, I just-I don't want to make this worse for Mr. Lino. He certainly can't perjure himself. He is under oath. He certainly was told that he was part of the Bonanno family. I am not asking him to say that."
"No," insisted Lino.
Prosecutor: "He is not being asked to admit that to the court."
The judge: "I am not asking him to admit that."
Prosecutor: "I understand. But he is making statements that are false under oath. All he has to admit is that-or to acknowledge that he was part of the enterprise that is charged in the indictment." He actually said at one point, "He doesn't have to say it is the Ma.s.sino family or the Bonanno family. But he has to acknowledge his members.h.i.+p. He has to acknowledge the existence of the members.h.i.+p-excuse me, the existence of the enterprise."
Finally they agreed on language, and Lino admitted that he was part of an unnamed organization made up of unknown people who got together and shot people like Louis Tuzzio and Robert Perrino. Robert Lino was then allowed to go back to his prison cell to await his sentence.
Eight months later, they were all together again in downtown Brooklyn. Four FBI agents and a.s.sistant United States Attorney Greg Andres arranged themselves in an efficient government manner on one side of court. Robert Lino's wife, Carla Vitucci, her mother, and three other Lino family members occupied the other half of the courtroom. Both sides did their best not to look at one another. Outside a frigid rain fell from a sky as gray as a hea.r.s.e. Both groups sat in more or less silence for forty-five minutes, until Judge Nicholas Garaufis finally took his place behind the bench.
A side door opened and Robert Lino was led in by two United States marshals. He wore a khaki prison suit and blue canvas laceless shoes. He waved with a small anxious smile and pulled on gla.s.ses. His lawyer, Barry Levin, and Prosecutor Andres stood in front of the judge at his bench and listened to a lecture on the difficult job of being a federal judge.
The problem was Judge Garaufis hated the deal worked out between the prosecution and the defense attorney. He wanted to be the judge. The agreement he hated was that Lino should get twenty-seven years in prison.
"I could get a clerk to come up here and sentence Mr. Lino," the judge bellowed. He'd presided over a trial in which witness after witness described the inner workings of the Bonanno crime family, and in particular the nasty murders of Perrino and Tuzzio, and he was not satisfied with twenty-seven years.
"When I see there's plenty of evidence of the brutal nature of these crimes, it gives me pause to swallow this kind of agreement," he said.
Prosecutor Andres apologized again and again, but insisted that twenty-seven years in prison was not a walk in the park. And he praised Lino for actually taking responsibility for his actions, stating, "It's such a rarity for somebody to accept responsibility and agree to a sentence like this."
Robert Lino had a new daughter named Ca.s.sidy Rose. He'd sold off the house he'd inherited from his father and given the money to his wife. She had moved back in with her aging parents to raise their daughter, who-if the deal the judge hated actually happened-would likely be thirty-two when she got to see her father outside prison walls.
His wife, Carla, had written letters to this judge and the last judge, who'd sentenced Robert to eighty-three months for his role in the Wall Street case. Now this new judge would be adding to her misery. In her letters, she first pointed out that she had gone to school and graduated Brooklyn College with a degree in psychology. She then described her husband like this: "I must admit, upon meeting Robert, his dry sense of humor and subtle sarcasm could have been quite unappealing. But it did not take me very long to see the side of Robert that is admired by many. He is a gentleman in the true sense of the word. He has a heart of gold and always a kind word or a kind gesture to those in need. He is the first to stop the car and help a pedestrian in need of a.s.sistance. He would not think twice about handing a homeless man the jacket off his back and has time and time again bought food from restaurants to give to a dest.i.tute person on the street. Robert would always be the one to talk to when you had a dilemma; he always has an honest opinion and is always straightforward with his thoughts. He would also try to lend a helping hand whenever possible.
"Lately Robert's demeanor has been very calm and pensive. Over these past ten months I have regularly discussed with Robert what has been happening with his case and offering him advice on how to deal with his troubles. But Robert is very ashamed of his actions and constantly belittles himself for what he has done. He feels he is not worthy of my love and the love of his daughter. I could em pathize with what he is feeling but I, as his wife, know that Robert is a good man who made a bad decision. I in no way feel he should be excused from his responsibility, but do hope you can find it in your heart to have some compa.s.sion for Robert. His daughter is blameless but unfortunately the children of the incarcerated suffer the most.
"I will do my best to raise my daughter on my own to be well-adjusted socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, etc."
Then it was Robert Lino's turn. He stepped up and kept repeating, "I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say." His lawyer took him aside, and he tried again. As he began to speak, his wife, Carla, put her hand over her mouth, closed her eyes and leaned forward.
"Your Honor, I would just like to put this behind me. I'm very sorry for anyone I offended. I'm sorry."
The judge then cleared his throat and called the whole matter "a Greek tragedy."
"No happiness comes from these events. I hope that you can put this behind you and you can have some solace in the future. This is an extremely large chunk of your life."
And twenty-seven years it was. The judge stood to leave, and everyone followed suit. When the judge was gone, Robert Lino turned and shook his lawyer's hand, then turned toward his wife and relatives and shrugged as if to say "What did you expect?" His wife smiled and waved as he walked through the door and was gone. She had not brought their daughter to see this.
Outside in the brightly lit white limestone hallway, the Lino family considered the fate of the young man who would not walk again as a free man until he was sixty years of age. He would go in with brown hair and come out with gray or none at all. In the hall, the family was asked why Robert Lino didn't try to get away from all that business with the Mafia and the killings, etc.
Carla's mother interjected, "He was born into that life. How do you go against your family? How do you go against your father? Your mother? All your cousins? Robert is not a coward. He did what he had to do and took it like a man."
All that Robert had admitted, the murders of Tuzzio and Perrino, the burying of bodies in the middle of the night with his father, the lying, the cheating, the perpetual state of deceit-none of that mattered. What mattered-what really mattered-was the fact that Robert's cousin Frank, a blood relative, a member of his own family, had gone and told the FBI all about Robert's life as a criminal. This fact made the Lino family crazy.
"The betrayal of your family is the worst thing you can do in your life. There is nothing worse," said one of the Lino cousins, who'd decided it was best not to reveal his name. "These informants, they walk away with no time."
Robert Lino was certainly not going to walk away with no time. This was the fact that his family would have to live with-that he would spend twenty-seven years in prison. The family Lino contemplated how much time cousin Frank would spend inside a prison cell.
"He won't get twenty-seven years, I can tell you that," said Robert Lino's wife, Carla, with not a little bitterness in her voice.