Reputed Mobsters Indicted in ’88 Slaying
By GRAHAM RAYMAN
November 29, 2000
Twelve years later, the gangland murder of Victor Filocamo is still generating arrests. Reputed Luchese crime family capo Joseph Tangorra, 51, and soldier Joseph Truncale, 69, yesterday became the latest entangled in the murder of Filocamo, who authorities said was killed because his fellow mobsters thought he was an informer.
The two men were indicted yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn on a host of charges, including murder, cocaine trafficking, extortion, arson to intimidate business owners and loan-sharking. Five other reputed Luchese members and associates were also charge: Eugene Castelle, John Castellucci, Scott Gervasi, Robert Greenberg and Lester Ellis. All seven men pleaded not guilty in an arraignment yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go.
After the hearing, most of the defense lawyers declined to comment. VINCENT ROMANO, an attorney for Tangorra, said his client denied accusations that he is a member of organized crime.
The charges involve the activities of a wing of the Luchese family known as the Bensonhurst Crew. Federal prosecutors said Tangorra and Castelle, 40, took over the crew after the previous leadership – George Conte, Frank Papagni and George Zappolla – was indicted in 1996 and sent to prison.
According to an informant’s account in a 1995 FBI internal memo filed in federal court, Luchese boss Vic Amuso and underboss Anthony Cass ordered the October, 1988, hit because they thought Filocamo was secretly cooperating with the government. Federal officials would not say if he really was an informant.
Truncale and Conte were given the assignment, the informant told agents. They allegedly lured Filocamo to Tangorra’s social club on 78th Street off 13th Avenue in Brooklyn.
Conte sent Truncale to retrieve a machine gun with a silencer from a car, the informant said. Conte grabbed the gun from Truncale, who had been fumbling with it, and sprayed bullets into Filocamo, the memo said.
The informant claimed that Conte did it to “impress everyone present.” Truncale and Tangorra stuffed Filocamo into the trunk of his own white BMW and dumped the car in a parking lot, the memo said.
Back at the club, the informant claimed, Tangorra, who got his nickname “Joey Flowers” because he ran a flower shop, was on his hands and knees trying to scrape the blood off the floor, according to the memo. The mobsters discussed burning the blood with a lighter, but they eventually decided on replacing the floor tiles, the informant told the FBI.
Shortly after Filocamo’s murder, the informant said, Conte and Truncale became “made” Luchese members.
Tangorra and Ellis, 50, are also accused of shooting Henry Motta in the back of a stairwell in 1992 because he owed them money. Motta remains confined to a wheelchair, a law-enforcement source said.
“The Bensonhurst crew was a full-service operation,” said Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, whose office is prosecuting the case along with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. “For too long, these defendants victimized a part of our community.”
For Tangorra, it is his third indictment in seven months. He is also accused in a loan-sharking indictment filed in Brooklyn last May and, in a state case filed in Manhattan, of racketeering in the construction industry.
Truncale, who was first convicted on narcotics charges in 1953, also faces the construction case in Manhattan, and he has been on lifetime parole since 1991, court record show. Gervasi, 36, is also on lifetime aprole for a 1987 drug conviction, court records show.
Castelluci and Greenburg, known as “The Viking,” are currently in federal custody on unrelated charges. A bail hearing is scheduled for next week. If convicted on all counts, the defendants face up to 50 years in prison.