Joe Bruno on the Mob – Andrea Giovino – Part Five

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There have been numerous instances where mobsters have killed their girlfriends rather than lose them to another man. In other cases, to remove the competition, the mobsters killed the other man.

However, after they were married, things quickly turned sour. Michael was an investment banker who worked in Manhattan. He made his money the hard way; he earned it legally. As a result, Michael scorned Andre’s previous lifestyle, and especially her former acquaintances: organized crime figures like Frank Lino.

Michael, although he provided for Andrea and her son as well as Lino did,  got into the habit of treating Andrea like dirt; when they were alone, and worse, in front of people. Soon, they had a son, John, and if anything, the birth of the new baby increased Michael’s animosity towards his wife. Michael’s scorn was so intolerable, their  sex life became extinct.

Andrea tried to spice things up sexually by dressing provocatively in the privacy of their own home. This affected her husband in the opposite way she had hoped. Instead of taking the hint, Michael snubbed her, and called her a slut. In 1983, after less than three years of marriage, Andrea had had enough. She filed for a legal separation, with the intention of finalizing their marriage with a divorce.

So much for a happy life with a legitimate guy.

The good news for Andrea was that Michael was so flush with cash, she got a nice divorce settlement. This allowed her to move her and her two kids into a lovely condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, complete with a uniformed doorman

By early 1985, Andrea decided to venture out again into the glitzy nightlife of Manhattan. It was Andrea’s birthday and she hadn’t hit the hotspots of Manhattan in 15 months. With her girlfriend Margo in tow, Andrea visisted Club A, a known mob hangout on Avenue A in the shadows of the Queensborough Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge.

The first night she entered the joint, Andrea was captivated by one of John Gotti’s best pals: a handsome drug dealer named Mark Reiter. When Andrea inquired what Reiter did for a living, he said was as an executive in the garment industry.

Well, not exactly.

During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Reiter moved more heroin into Harlem than any other dealer, including Harlem kingpins Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas. Reiter was Jewish, so he could not be elevated to a made made in the Gambino Crime Family. However, Reiter was smart enough to get tight with Gotti, and especially Gotti’s brother Gene. Also, Reiter kicked up a substantial amount of his profits up the Gotti ladder, until it reached the so-called Teflon Don, John Gotti himself. This afforded Reiter the same protection as being a made man, without having to do the heavy-lifting, like committing murders, which was previously required of all mobsters before they got  their “buttons.” (Starting in the 1970’s, Italian organized crime associates did not have to participate in a murder in order to become “made,” as long as they were “good earners,” and  kept shuffling the money up the organized crime totem pole.)

                From the moment their eyes first met, Andrea was smitten with the 38-year-old Reiter, who was married with children. Reiter appeared to have everything; breathtakingly good looks, and more importantly, plenty of cash which seemed like it flowed from a bottomless pit.

            In 1986, when Reiter was indicted, along with Gene Gotti and others, for selling heroin like it was flour, then U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani said that Reiter was, “a major heroin distributor operating at a very high level with organized crime.”

            However, Andrea couldn’t see past Rieter’s good looks and the good times he provided. In the nightclubs of Manhattan, the duo were constant companions of John Gotti and his minions, some of them the most brutal killers in the annals of organized crime.

Hanging with such a tough bunch gave Andrea what street people call “beer muscles. One night, while sitting with John Gotti and his crew, and after downing enough drinks to give her an attitude, Andrea became perturbed with two women sitting at a nearby table.  

“I hear this woman talking about my girlfriend (Margo); saying she was a slut.” Andrea said. “I said to her, ‘Excuse me. You’re talking about my friend. Keep your mouth shut.’”

The two women put Andrea on their pay-no-mind list and continued to bad-mouth Margo.

“The woman continued to trash talk,” Andrea said. “So I turned to John Gotti and said, ‘Excuse me John, but these women are trash-talking my girlfriend.’ I pushed my table aside; rushed over to their table; picked up the champagne bottle and smashed one girl on the head with it. Then I went to work on them. As I was hitting them  I yelled, ‘I told you not to open your mouth.’ When I finished hitting them I went back to my table, and Gotti and his crew were impressed. From then on, nobody called me Andrea or Andy. They called me ‘Rocky.’ I was more stand-up then some of the guys around me.”

            Andrea was not only dating a drug dealer, but her younger brother, Johnny, who was 17 at the time, was also dealing babania on the streets, albeit at a much lower level than Reiter. One night while Andrea was in a Brooklyn social club with Reiter and John Gotti and his crew, her brother Johnny knocked at the front door of the club. He was stopped by the bouncer, but Andrea, seeing her brother in distress, hurried to the front door with Reiter in tow.

            Instead of addressing his sister, Johnny turned to Reiter.

            “Mark, did you hear anything about me,” Johnny said.

            Reiter told Johnny that the word on the streets was that another drug dealer, Johnny main turf competitor, Jimmy Dunn, was looking to eliminate the competition; meaning Johnny Silvestri.

            Reiter looked Johnny in the eye and said, “Now you know what you gotta do.”

            At this point, most loving sisters, especially those without deep roots in the streets, would have told their teenage brother to do anything to save himself, even if it mean disappearing for a while. But Andrea, again flexing those beer muscles inherent in her present environment, told  Johnny exactly what Reiter had said: “Do what you gotta do.”

Johnny and a pal, Gary Farmer, abducted Dunn off the streets of Brooklyn. They took him on a one-way ride, shot him in the back of the head, and dropped  his body in a secluded  area in Staten Island (real pros would have had an already-dug grave for Dunn’s disposal).

Johnny knew Dunn had friends, and until cooler heads prevailed, it wasn’t safe for him to be on the streets of  New York  City. Unsure of what to do, Johnny called for a summit meeting of the Silvestri family, with mother, Dolly, firmly in charge.

            Dolly decided it was best if Johnny “went into the wind” for a while until the heat cooled down. That cost money, and the only person in the Silvestri family well-heeled enough to finance Johnny’s  “lamsky” fund was Andrea.

            However, since Dolly first wanted proof that Dunn was indeed dead, she tabled that idea for a while.

She said to Johnny “You sure you put a bullet in his head?”

            Johnny insisted he had done the job right, but Dolly would not be mollified until she saw Dunn’s dead body herself. So Johnny took mom on a little family trip to the marshes in Staten Island, where he showed Dolly Dunn’s unbreathing corpse.

Satisfied, Dolly returned home, and she and her oldest son, Frankie, hammered Andrea with the idea that she should be the one to cough up the twenty grand for Johnny’s “vacation.”

             “Never mind that we were all complicit in the killing and the cover-up, that by asking me for money so that Johnny could flee, they were entangling me in this mess in ways which none of my considerable connections could extract me,” Andrea said.  “On top of that, I was faced with the ultimate reality – that I had condoned the killing of another human being.”

Although she was conflicted, Andrea gave Johnny the cash he needed to go into hiding. In a few months, when he returned from his self-imposed exile, Johnny “Bubblegum,” his moniker on the streets, had become known as a certified whacko, who would blow out your brains if you so much as looked at him cross-eyed.  

Things started to go sour for Reiter when an informant fingered him as a huge supplier of cocaine in New York City. Hearing he might be arrested soon, Reiter hurried to Andrea’s apartment. With him he lugged a large box loaded with cash — reportedly $350,000 — for Andrea to keep in case he needed to make a fast break from the law.

A few days later, Reiter discovered he would be arrested in a matter of hours (Gotti’s crew had moles all throughout law enforcement and especially in the New York City Police Department).  Reiter rushed to Andrea’s apartment, grabbed his get-away cash, kissed her farewell, and made a beeline for the West Coast.

Two months later, the FBI tracked down Reiter hiding in a Los Angeles Holiday Inn. He was extradited back to New York and charged with distributing $240,000 in heroin every other week from 1982 to 1987. Also arrested in the same case were nine other men, including Gene Gotti, John Carneglia, and Edward Lino, the cousin of Andrea’s old paramour, Frank Lino.

Andrea visited Reiter in jail, but he complained her visits were too sporadic. Andrea figured Reiter had a wife and children, and who knew how many other girlfriends, so where did she figure in the process?

Andrea did go to the courtroom for the opening arguments in Reiter’s trial, but that was the last time she saw Rieter.

She decided, “It was time to cut my losses and move on.”

Andrea did move on; never bothering to look in the rear view mirror.

In January of 1989, after nine months in court, Mark A. Costantino of District Court in Brooklyn, declared a mistrial in the trial of the ten alleged drug dealers, including Reiter. The reason for the mistrial was that someone close to the defendants was able to discover the identities of at least five jurors, whose names were supposed to be kept secret by the court. The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Andrew J. Maloney, told Judge Costantino that one juror had  “been approached and is now compromised. He was bought and paid for. He was in the bag.”

In addition to the in-the-bag juror, another juror, Gary Barnes, was dismissed from the case a week earlier. The original reason given for his dismissal was that Barnes was not a United States citizen, and therefore, was not qualified to be a juror.

However, according to sealed testimony, after Barnes had been dismissed from the  jury, he returned to work and was approached by a co-worker, Mel Rosenberg. Rosenberg offered Barnes a new car if Barnes would tell him “what the jury was thinking.”

A third problem surfaced when a man, known only as “Juror No. 4,” asked to be dismissed from the trial because he lived within “walking distance” of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club, in Ozone Park, Queens, which was John Gotti’s headquarters and a frequent hangout the defendants, including Mark Reiter. Juror No. 4 did not say any threats had been made, nor had he been offered money by the defendants, or any friends of the defendants.

However, the  implication was clear. Juror No. 4 didn’t want anything to do with convicting a member of John Gotti’s crew. He clearly feared for his life.

Undeterred at the turn of events, United States Attorney Mahoney told the judge the Government was ready to proceed with a new trial “immediately.”

On August 26, 1988, five of the defendants, including Marv Reiter and Gene Gotti were convicted of racketeering and conspiracy, both of which carried a maximum 20-year sentence. In addition to the racketeering and conspiracy charges, Reiter was convicted under the so-called “drug kingpin statute” of running a continuing criminal enterprise, which carried a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life without parole.

In October, Reiter was sentenced to enough jail time to last several lifetimes: 260 years. Andrea had now lost one very rich boyfriend, and was in danger of having her lavish lifestyle reduced to those of mere mortals.

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