It didn't work against John (Junior) Gotti, but federal prosecutors in Manhattan are hoping it does the trick against a reputed junior Gambino hoodlum.
Call it stacking the deck by the so-called good guys - legally, of course. As they did against Gotti, prosecutors have added new charges to a racketeering case involving murder and the mob to better their chances of convicting a long-targeted defendant - Edmund (Eddie) Boyle - of at least one major charge.
There's a different judge, different prosecutors and different defense lawyers, but it's the same drill. And there are several intriguing similarities between the murder and racketeering conspiracy trial that begins tomorrow (Tuesday) against Boyle and the one that officially ended last week when the feds dropped all charges against Junior Gotti.
Both cases involve murders and numerous other crimes allegedly committed as part of the usual everyday racketeering activities of the Gambino crime family.
In each case, long after the original indictment was filed, the Manhattan U. S. Attorney's office obtained a "superseding indictment" that added more charges against a 45-year-old defendant to increase the likelihood of a guilty verdict in a difficult-to-prove case.
Several mob defectors who have testified against Gotti will take the stand against Boyle. And each case was the result of investigative work by Theodore Otto, a veteran FBI agent and a longtime member of the agency's squad that monitors and makes cases against the Gambino crime family. This is not to say that Otto is behind the fancy legal footwork by the U.S. Attorney's office.
The Gotti prosecution began in July 2008 as a racketeering conspiracy indictment that accused Junior essentially of being a Gambino family racketeer from 1983 to 2008. Last year, to undercut the "I quit the mob in 1999" defense that stymied the government three times, the feds added separate murder charges that would enable jurors to convict Junior of the killings even if they agreed that he had quit the mob and was not guilty of racketeering. In the end, Gotti prevailed because the key witness against him turned out to be a dud. But there's no question the government's strategy was sound.
Superseding indictments in mob racketeering cases are not unusual. But normally, they simply add more crimes to an indictment. In Junior's case - and in Boyle's too - prosecutors did more than just beef up the case; they added new crimes that gave jurors a second theory upon which they could hang their hats if they found that the facts and the law argued against a conviction on the original charges.
The feds took a different path to get there in the Boyle case, but by adding new charges to an existing indictment, prosecutors have dramatically increased their chances of winning a conviction against Eddie Boyle, a tough career criminal whom they have had in their sights for the last decade.
In June of 2008, some five years after a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn first stated publicly that the feds believed that Boyle had been the gunman in the April 28, 1998 murder of FBI informer Frank Hydell, a federal grand jury in Manhattan accused him of the slaying outside a Staten Island nightclub.
Along with cohorts Thomas Dono and Letterrio DeCarlo - who last month pleaded guilty to related, reduced charges - Boyle allegedly killed Hydell to improve his standing with the hierarchy of the Gambino family. Hydell had been cooperating about the killing of a mob associate a year earlier during a wild Super Bowl party at a Bensonhurst social club.
At the time of the indictment, Boyle was four years into a 10 year stretch he got for a 2005 conviction in Brooklyn Federal Court. In that case, he was found guilty of a slew of bank burglaries he committed during the 1990s along with a loosely linked band of hoodlums who were relatives of mobsters and associates of all five crime families.
Six months later, in December of 2008, prosecutors added bank burglaries for which Boyle is now serving time - as well as other crimes - to the Manhattan indictment, alleging that Boyle committed them or agreed that others would commit them on behalf of the Gambino family. So in addition to facing life for murder, Boyle also faces racketeering conspiracy charges that carry up to 20 years in prison.
It's not hard to grasp why prosecutors added new charges to the murder case. Not only don't they have any eye-witnesses or alleged accomplices who can point a finger at Boyle, they also have no turncoats who will testify that they heard Boyle admit a role in the murder.
What's worse, a witness to the killing, a cab driver not linked to the mob in any way, identified a suspect with a longtime grudge against Hydell as the gunman who shot him in the head and killed him outside Scarlet's, a Staten Island strip club.
Even if prosecutors Jonathan New and John Zach can't convince jurors that Boyle killed Hydell, they hope to have an easier time proving that he burglarized banks and committed other crimes. These include beating up a mob associate who made "fat jokes" about rotund Gambino soldier Thomas (Huck) Carbonaro and spray-painting the home of a Brooklyn landlord pink for another misdeed against Carbonaro - coming on to a niece who didn't appreciate his advances.
"Eddie Boyle did not kill Frank Hydell, and whatever crimes he has committed, he didn't do with or for the Gambino crime family," said Boyle's lead defense lawyer, Martin Geduldig, who conceded to Gang Land that he and co-counsel Diarmuid White may be hard pressed to convince jurors of that because of what he called "outrageous" conduct by the feds and their cooperating witnesses.
"They trot out the same witnesses trial after trial, and each time they take the stand they have another epiphany," said Geduldig. "They remember a little more than they did the last time they told the story. They keep nudging their witnesses to remember a little more detail, and they do. And I think that's outrageous."
On deck to point their fingers at Boyle are three turncoat Gambino wiseguys who have testified against Gotti - Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, Frank (Frankie Fapp) Fappiano, and Joseph (Little Joe) D'Angelo. Also making a cameo appearance will be Boyle's old bank burglary buddy, Salvatore (Fat Sal) Mangiavillano, who testified against him at his Brooklyn trial in 2005.
No matter what the outcome, Boyle's troubles will forever be linked to Gotti's because of a flip tape-recorded remark that lawyer Richard Rehbock made during a jailhouse conversation with Gotti in 2004. Rehbock, who represented a Boyle codefendant at the time, said Boyle, who was then awaiting trial, was helping himself by using questionable methods to dig up dirt on potential witnesses against him.
"He calls up the state of Florida and gets motor vehicle records" while posing as "an investigator for an insurance company," said Rehbock. "I told him. 'You beat this case, I'll hire you to work on (Junior's) case.'" Even though Boyle denied using unholy techniques, and the feds could not confirm Rehbock's remarks, Boyle's bail was revoked, his investigative skills were doused, and he's been behind bars ever since.