Convicted mob killer Harold “Kayo” Konigsberg, who strangled a man in Kerhonkson more than 50 years ago, has died, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
He was 88 and died on Nov. 23, the department said.
Konigsberg was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy and grand larceny stemming from the 1961 strangulation death of Anthony “Three Fingers” Castellito Sr. and was sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison. Castellito was killed at his summer home near Kerhonkson.
Konigsberg used a cord from venetian blinds to strangle Castellito and later buried him in New Jersey.
Konigsberg was released May 21, 2012, from the Walsh Regional Medical Unit on the grounds of the Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate New York, according to information from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
He moved to Florida after being paroled.
Konigsberg and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano were convicted of first-degree murder in 1978 for the Castellito killing. Authorities said Provanzano ordered the hit.
A retrial later was ordered for Konigsberg, and he was convicted again in 1982.
At the time, Ulster County District Attorney Michael Kavanagh said Konigsberg got what he deserved.
Kavanagh said the mobster “richly deserve(d)” the outcome. “If there was ever a case that was advertising a call for the death penalty” this was it, Kavanagh, now a retired judge, said at the time.
Lawyer Josh Koplovitz, who served as a legal adviser to Konigsberg during the 1982 trial, said the gangster was difficult. Koplovitz said Konigsberg served as his own attorney during the trial.
“He was a very, very aggressive and demanding person,” Koplovitz said. “He was used to, in his life, getting his own way.”
Koplovitz said the evidence showed Castellito was planning to run against Provenzano for a leadership position in a New Jersey-based Teamsters local.
“‘Tony Pro’ wasn’t sure if a vote were taken that he would win,” Koplovitz said. “So they put together this group.”
One member of that group, Sal Sinno, was flipped by the federal government and served as a witness against Konigsberg, Koplovitz said.
“There was a time when Konigsberg was cross-examining, and Sinno responded to him, ‘Harold, why are you asking me these questions? you were there,’” Koplovitz recalled.
“It was a very interesting experience and one that I will always remember,” Koplovitz said.
Matthew Spireng, a retired Freeman reporter and editor who covered Konigsberg’s 1982 trial, said that the mobster was “a brilliant, frightening bully.”
“One should never speak ill of the dead, but if one were to speak ill of the dead, Harold Konigsberg would be one who you would speak ill of,” Spireng said.
According to the website Mafia Wiki, Konigsberg first became involved in organized crime by working for New Jersey mob boss Abner “Longy” Zwillman. The website says Konigsberg became “one of the crew’s most prolific hit men.”
“Konigsberg was described as a troublemaker from the beginning,” the website says.
Eventually, Konigsberg became a violent and feared racketeer in Jersey City and Manhattan, the website says.
According to a New York Daily News article published in March, Koingsberg was residing in an assisted-living facility in Florida.
“Legendary mob hitman Harold Konigsberg, released from an upstate prison two years ago, has resurfaced at an assisted-living facility in Florida, where the octogenarian flouts the rules and bullies his neighbors,” the Daily News said.