Niceguy Tico Pays the Price

06/14/2010 03:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Even in the Mafia, no good deed goes unpunished.

At least twice, aging Genovese capo Anthony (Tico) Antico pulled Michael (Mickey) Souza's mob chestnuts out of the fire. Once he even went to bat for the Colombo wildman after Souza outraged rival gangsters by dropping his pants in a mob nightclub.

Thanks to his generosity, Antico, 74, is now likely to have Souza as a key witness against him in his upcoming trial. Gang Land has learned that the feds have very quietly drafted Souza, a violent Colombo soldier, to play on their team and that they are planning to unleash him next month at the trial of the elderly Genovese wiseguy who is charged in the botched robbery slaying of a jeweler two years ago.

Souza, a Staten Island gangster who was arrested a few days after he was heard testing a new silencer he was going to use to whack a rival thug, has no details that link Antico to the killing of jeweler Louis Antonelli, according to court papers filed in the case.

Instead, prosecutors say they have enlisted the turncoat mobster to testify about several lesser, older charges they have recently added to the indictment, including a 1996 extortion of a deli-owner and gambling charges. Souza, 42, will also relate how Antico helped the then-budding wiseguy escape "various organized crime disputes" with rival gangsters over the years, including two that could easily have ended with him dead.

The ex-Colombo soldier is also likely to talk about lots of mob violence form the witness stand, but most of it will be stuff that he carried out or ordered.

On December 7, 2006, for example, a few days after he told a Bonanno family rival, "I am going to smash your fucking head in," he was tape recorded telling a cohort that his test earlier that day, of a new silencer-equipped handgun he was going to use to kill his victim, had gone very well.

"Souza noted that the silencer sounded 'beautiful, like an air duct,'" according to a detention memo written by assistant U.S. attorney John Buretta, when Souza and nine underlings were arrested a few days later and DEA agents seized the brand new silencer under the dashboard of Souza's 2007 Chevy Tahoe.

Charged with racketeering, drug dealing, home invasions, and the murder plot - and facing a mandatory minimum of 30 years behind bars if convicted - Souza was ordered detained as a danger to the community. Last November, according to court records, Souza was quietly released on a $500,000 bond, and subsequently disappeared from the federal prison database.

Sources say Souza, a close associate of turncoat Colombo capo Dino (Big Dino) Calabro, secretly pleaded guilty last year and is cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office in Antico's case and in several other pending investigations.

When Souza takes the stand, however, he's sure to get some tough needling by Antico defense attorney Gerald McMahon about his own outrageous conduct. He'll surely ask Souza about the time in the 1990s when Antico interceded with DeCavalcante mobsters who were planning to kill Souza following a knife fight at Beaches, a Staten Island nightclub.

During that same time frame, Tico also had to save Souza from retaliation by Bonanno and DeCavalcante wiseguys after he exposed himself at the same nightclub. The government's new recruit was "engaging in a lewd act which offended patrons of Beaches," according to prosecutors Jack Dennehy, Nicole Argentieri and Stephen Frank, who detailed both incidents in court papers.

The FBI, DEA and prosecutors declined to discuss Souza. Antico attorney, McMahon, who is pretty good at getting government cooperators to blow their cool on the stand, said: "He certainly ain't no smoking gun when it comes to Antony Antico. They are pulling out all the stops, and it smacks of desperation. We feel good about the case and are confident of an acquittal."

Antico, who was implicated in the robbery-killing of jeweler Louis Antonelli soon after the slaying but not charged until March, has maintained all along that he had nothing to do with the caper. Sources say that during several talks with FBI agents, who quizzed him improperly while he was in prison, Antico emphatically denied allegations by turncoat Salvatore (Sally Fish) Maniscalco (left) that Tico had orchestrated the robbery.

In the first place, Antico told the agents, the jeweler was a friend who would give him anything Tico asked him for. And if he did want to rob him, Antico told agents George Khouzami and Jennifer King, he would never have selected a bunch of young, trigger happy thugs who shot the jeweler to death and then ran off leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewels lying alongside his body.

In court papers, prosecutors denied any prior knowledge of the agents' questioning of Antico and agreed not to use the gangster's remarks at trial after defense lawyers McMahon and Mathew Mari charged they were illegally obtained from their client and petitioned Judge Carol Amon to suppress them from the case.