Armed with a new inside source about the Colombo crime family hierarchy, the feds are taking a hard new look at a grisly, 18-year-old gangland-style slaying. As part of the probe, they hope to end the long-charmed life of Michael Persico, the only son of the official boss of the crime family - Carmine (Junior) Persico - who has not been charged with mob crimes.
The insider info is coming to the feds courtesy of newly arrived mob songbird, once feared enforcer Frank (Frankie Blue Eyes) Sparaco. His defection to Team America was reported by Gang Land two weeks ago.
The murder is the hit of a Staten Island night club owner who took several bullets to the head and a pair of telling shots in the groin. Michael Devine was killed in the early morning hours of January 24, 1992 shortly after he drove his black Nissan Pathfinder into the garage of his condo apartment.
There was little mystery about the likely reason for the hit. Devine, 28, had just kissed goodnight his new-found flame, Teresa Persico, the then-wife of imprisoned mob prince Alphonse (Allie) Persico.
But despite recorded conversations of Persico angrily discussing his wife's affair from prison - and vowing to take action - prosecutors could never put together a case to charge anyone in the killing. That may change thanks to Sparaco, Allie Persico's longtime cohort and enforcer.
Knowledgeable sources tell Gang Land that Sparaco's cooperation may lead to the first charges against Michael Persico, who has never been indicted, despite long suspicions that he had quietly served his father's crime family. Michael Persico, 53, oversees Romantique Limousines, a Bensonhurst, Brooklyn car service company that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.
Devine, a part owner of Hedges, a popular Staten Island nightspot at the time, was found dead, slumped over the steering wheel at 8:30 am. The car was still running. The headlights were on. The radio was still playing. The murder weapon, a .22 caliber handgun, was found three blocks away.
According to knowledgeable sources, as well as official government records obtained by Gang Land, Allie himself may have dragged his brother Michael into the Devine murder plot during numerous tape-recorded telephone calls he made to Michael from his prison cell in Milan, Michigan.
The conversations, according to a May 12, 1993 letter that prosecutors wrote to Bureau of Prison officials, establish that "in the weeks and days before the Devine murder," Persico was angry that "Devine was dating and sleeping with his wife" and told his brother that "he intended to take action in response to the situation."
The action was ordering Devine's murder, wrote then-prosecutor George Stamboulidis, who noted that the "two gunshot wounds to the groin area" were a sign that Devine was killed because he had been "imprudently intimate with the spouse of a member of La Cosa Nostra."
The day before the murder, "Persico told his brother that" Colombo associate John Dileo, a long time friend of the Persicos who now runs Michael Persico's limousine business, "has the color of his vehicle," Stamboulidis wrote.
Less than an hour later, in a follow-up call to an unidentified co-conspirator in the murder plot, Alphonse Persico was told "that Frankie Sparaco and John DiLeo are at Michael Persico's house waiting for him to return," Stamboulidis wrote.
During an earlier discussion about his wife's affair, the prosecutor wrote, an angry Persico had told Dileo: "You've been in this situation long enough to know what I'm going to do."
The letter, which also stated that three Colombo family turncoats had fingered the imprisoned mobster for the slaying, asked the BOP not to release Persico on May 30, 1993 as scheduled because he had ordered Devine's murder from behind prison walls.
BOP officials refused the prosecutor's request, but the feds managed to keep Persico behind bars following his official release by obtaining a racketeering indictment that charged him with involvement in the bloody family feud that left 12 dead between 1991 and 1993.
Persico got out of prison a year later, on August 8, 1994, when he was acquitted of all charges. At trial, Federal Judge Charles Sifton precluded prosecutors from bringing out any allegations about Allie's involvement in Devine's death because they had nothing to do with the charges against him.
The judge did allow prosecutors to question Teresa Persico, who divorced Allie in February, 1993, about her relationship with Devine and what she knew about his murder however, after her ex-husband called her as a defense witness regarding other charges in the case. Noting that she had an obvious "lack of comfort" on the stand, Sifton ruled that prosecutors could explore whether she was fearful "of retaliation if she doesn't toe the line" in her testimony.
Teresa Persico testified that her husband "didn't object" to her dating Devine and having spent several nights at his home. While he "wasn't happy with it" she said, he really just wanted her "to wait until he came home before we both went our separate ways."
Under questioning by the prosecutor, Teresa made no bones about the fact that Devine had swept her off her feet and that they had become lovers after they met in August 1991. She said that they had vacationed together, and had planned to get married after she and Persico were divorced.
Devine had been to her home, and had met her daughters, she testified. She had met his parents, and was fond of them. Perhaps most importantly, the Italian American mother of three daughters testified, her father had met and approved of Devine.
She had seen him the night before he was killed, she testified, with her final good bye to her lover coming at about 11:30 that night.
Teresa was not allowed to answer any questions about any discussions she may have had about Devine's killing with her ex-husband or Frankie Blue Eyes after the murder. She did testify, however, that on the day before Devine was found shot to death in his car, Michael Persico had come to her home and that they had argued about "a few things."
Michael Persico did not respond to a request for comment left at his limousine company office.