He's not the Boss of the Gambino family, and he's twice the gangster that Big Paul Castellano ever was. But Daniel Marino is in the same embarrassing predicament that engulfed the late businessman-boss of their powerful crime family back in March of 1984.
That was when Castellano's endless quest for cash tied him to a murderous crew of drug-dealing car thieves who ate pizza as they dismembered the bodies of their victims for quick and easy disposal. It was very undignified company for the Boss to be keeping. Even at trial.
Marino, a powerful capo, has got a similar problem: He is now the centerpiece of a massive racketeering indictment that includes mobsters and other associates who are charged with such low-life crimes as pimping for teenaged hookers, including a 15-year-old girl.
But Marino has only himself to blame for now facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
The powerful 69-year-old mobster, a member of a three-capo panel that runs the Gambino crime family these days, ignored the dangers of racketeering statutes that make the leaders of criminal enterprises responsible for the crimes of their subordinates.
Of course, there's always the upside: No matter how badly his case ends up, Marino is not expected to end up the way Castellano did - lying face up in a pool of blood on a sidewalk in midtown Manhattan. Unlike Big Paul, Danny Marino doesn't have to worry about an ambitious gangster like the late John Gotti looking to move on him. In the first place, he's not the Boss of the crime family; and in the second place, eventually, the FBI would figure out who the killer was, and probably bring him down the same way it nailed the late Dapper Don.
Marino is charged with two murders - including a 1989 slaying for which he has already served time - and the 1998 murder of his nephew Frank Hydell, a killing he steadfastly denies, according to defense attorney Charles Carnesi. But even if he somehow manages to beat those allegations, he will be hard pressed to evade a conviction on racketeering charges that tie him to crimes of his underlings, particularly those of a young reputed Gambino soldier he befriended while they were in federal prison together.
Marino was behind bars from 1994 to 2000 for the 1989 murder of mobster Thomas (Tommy Sparrow) Spinelli. Sources say that during the last 18 months of his incarceration at the federal prison in Fort Dix, NJ, he became "very close" to wannabe wiseguy Thomas Orefice, who was then serving an 87-month stretch for racketeering that ended in 2004.
Upon his release, Orefice, 33, "became one of Marino's closest and most trusted Mafia subordinates on the streets, and, by 2008, Orefice was inducted as a Gambino family soldier," according to prosecutors Elie Honig and Steve Kwok.
In addition to dreaming up and overseeing "an interstate sex trafficking ring" that involved teenage girls in 2008 and 2009, Orefice was involved in four violent shakedown plots, including one in which he used his "fists and a baseball bat" to put one extortion victim into a hospital, say prosecutors Honig and Kwok in court papers that sought to detain both men as dangerous criminals.
"Under Marino's direction and guidance, Orefice has engaged in a staggering crime spree from 2005 through the present" that also includes fraud, narcotics trafficking, loansharking and gambling, wrote prosecutors Honig and Kwok.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara described the prostitution allegations that involved a 15-year old runaway as "a new low" by a mob family that firmly established that "the Mafia is not dead" but "alive and kicking" and "terrorizing businesses, using baseball bats, and putting people in the hospital."
New York FBI boss George Venizelos said the Mafia "is about murder, mayhem and money" and that "this case shows that it's still about making money illegally, by whatever means, including the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old."
Prosecutors say in court papers that the sensational sex trafficking charges are corroborated by numerous tape-recorded conversations, but none of the conversations were disclosed.
In addition to Marino and Orefice, the 23-count racketeering indictment charges 12 other defendants, including six allegedly involved in the sex trafficking operation, including the accused madam, Susan Porcelli, 43.
Orefice and Marino were detained without bail but their lawyers told Gang Land they will soon seek their release on bail as they prepare to fight the charges.
"I'm confident that my client had nothing to do with prostitution and certainly nothing to do with underage girls," said his Orefice's attorney Seth Ginsberg. "He has a young daughter of his own and that's the last thing he would ever consider."