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Colombo Organized Crime Family Acting Boss Alphonse T. Persico and Administration Member John J. Deross Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for the Murder of William “Wild Bill” Cutolo and Related Witness Tampering

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 27, 2009
  • Eastern District of New York (718) 254-7000

Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced today that Colombo organized crime family acting boss Alphonse “Allie Boy” Persico and administration member John “Jackie” DeRoss were sentenced to life imprisonment for their roles in the 1999 murder of Colombo underboss William “Wild Bill” Cutolo, and for tampering with witnesses. The sentencing was held before United States District Judge Joanne Seybert, at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

During an eight-week trial in late 2007, the evidence established that Persico and DeRoss ordered that Cutolo be murdered because they believed he was about to take control of the Colombo family from Persico, and to serve as retribution for Cutolo’s actions during the bloody “Colombo War” in the early 1990s. During the war, Cutolo, on behalf of the faction loyal to Vic Orena, tried to wrest control of the Colombo family from Alphonse Persico and his father, Carmine “The Snake” Persico, the family’s official boss. As part of the murder plot, Persico summoned Cutolo to a meeting on the afternoon of May 26, 1999. That afternoon, an auto mechanic dropped Cutolo off at a park near 92nd Street and Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the designated place for the meeting with Persico. Cutolo was never seen or heard from again. That evening, DeRoss kept watch over Cutolo’s crew at Cutolo’s Friendly Bocce Social Club in Brooklyn, where the crew was awaiting Cutolo’s arrival for their traditional Wednesday dinner. When Cutolo failed to show for dinner, DeRoss feigned surprise and directed Cutolo’s son, William Cutolo, Jr., to telephone his father. Early the next morning, May 27, DeRoss, on Persico’s orders, arrived at Cutolo’s home and began questioning Cutolo’s wife, Marguerite Cutolo, about the location of Cutolo’s money.

Persico and DeRoss were also found guilty of tampering with witnesses Marguerite Cutolo (Cutolo’s widow), Barbara Jean Cutolo (one of Cutolo’s daughters), and William Cutolo, Jr., after Cutolo’s disappearance. The trial evidence included a recording that William Cutolo, Jr. secretly made of DeRoss threatening the Cutolo family in March 2000, several months after it was publicly disclosed that the FBI was investigating Persico in connection with the Cutolo murder. During the meeting, DeRoss ordered the Cutolo family to provide false, exculpatory information to a private investigator hired by Persico. DeRoss threatened that if the Cutolo family did not assist Persico, Marguerite Cutolo could be “hurt,” as could the “little . . . kids,” a reference to Barbara Jean Cutolo’s seven- and five-year-old daughters. Marguerite and Barbara Jean Cutolo both testified at trial that, as a result of DeRoss’s threats, the Cutolos withheld information about the murder from law enforcement authorities for years. The information included a statement that Cutolo, Sr. made to Marguerite Cutolo on May 26, 1999, that he believed he was going to meet that day with Persico.

Further investigation following the defendants’ convictions led to the recovery of Cutolo’s body on October 6, 2008, from a field in Farmingdale, New York, where the defendants’ mafia underlings had buried Cutolo after shooting him.

“Today’s life sentences bring to a close the criminal careers of two of New York’s most powerful mafia figures, who chose to settle old scores through murder and then tried to cover up their deed by threatening the victim’s family members, including his wife, children, and grandchildren,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. Mr. Campbell praised the work of the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency that led the government’s investigation.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Buretta, Deborah Mayer, and Jeffrey Goldberg.

The Defendants:
ALPHONSE PERSICO, aka “Allie Boy” and “The Kid”
Age: 54
JOHN DeROSS, aka “Jackie”
Age: 71

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