Slain Mafia Informant Missing After Burial
Police say turncoat may have gone underground
Mahwah, NJ, June 19 (AP) – Joseph Piscatelli, a longtime Mafia operative who turned state’s witness seven years ago in a prominent case, was laid to rest Monday after being killed in a drive-by shooting near his home, and has not been seen since.
“Lynch-man” Piscatelli testified in a 2005 conspiracy, racketeering and murder case against his former Mafia boss Giovanni “Blue-Boy” Messi, who led the Rizzuto crime family. Messi is now serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Upstate New York.
FBI and Mahwah police say they are not surprised at Picscatelli’s disappearance. “After being fatally shot two days before, I’d also want to keep a low profile,” said Mahwah PD Detective George Laverty. “You never know what kind of dangers are still lurking out there for someone with quite a few enemies.”
The list of suspects in Piscatelli’s murder is said to be quite lengthy, as the Messi trial also resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of six Messi associates, all of whom are still incarcerated, but some of whom have loyal followers of their own, said FBI spokesman Donna Nobis. “Piscatelli’s testimony against his former accomplices was particularly troubling to the Rizzuto members. Piscatelli and his former boss were very close – Joe Piscatelli even served as a witness when “Blue-Boy” separated from his wife in 2002. Everyone in the Rizzuto circle was pretty sure of Piscatelli’s position of trust, considering the role he played in the Messi divorce.”
Police officers and FBI agents have gone door-to-door in the vicinity of the St. Vincent Cemetery where Piscatelli was last seen, but have not reported any developments in the case. But they are sure to face criticism over apparently lax security measures for the slain informant, even though Piscatelli repeatedly refused to relocate or assume a new identity. He had no known relatives.
Mahwah police are no strangers to unresolved cases. During 2010, the last complete year for which statistics are available, the Mahwah Police Department opened has closed only one case file related to excessive donut purchases by department members. Department spokesman Will B. O’beese dismissed the donut files as irrelevant. “That section of the department is completely unrelated to Missing Persons, specifically the Missing Homicide Victim division.”
Professor N. Cogg Nito of Rutgers University, an expert on organized crime, holds slim hopes for the resolution of the Piscatelli case – both his murder and his subsequent disappearance. “No witnesses have stepped forward in his shooting, and Lynch-man has no relatives that might agitate for the police to pursue the case aggressively. They’re probably just going to wait for the media attention to die, then relegate the story to the cold case file, where it’s basically six feet under.”
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