This may not be as shocking as mob stoolie Abe “Kid Twist” flying out of a Coney Island hotel window in 1941. But the suicide of Gambino crime family Nicholas “Nicky Skins” Stefanelli has left the FBI with enough eggs on their faces for an Olympian-sized omelet.
Stefanelli, who has been secretly wearing a wire for the last two years, was considered a key witness is several upcoming mob trials, both in New England and in Philadelphia. Rather than testify against Philadelphia-area mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi and former New England boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, Stefanelli apparently killed himself with a drug overdose on Feb. 26 at the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel in Rutherford, NJ. But not before he shot to death the man whom Stefanelli felt was responsible for him becoming FBI informant. (As if Stefanelli didn’t have a free will of his own.)
The man Stefanelli killed was Joseph Rossi Sr., a Bloomfield, NJ, businessman who in 2010 was arrested on tax evasion and the possession of illegal video games. Rossi tried to buy his way out of jail by telling the Feds that Stefanelli and his son Nicholas Jr. were drug dealers. Stefanelli and his son were then arrested by the Feds, and the elder Stefanelli agreed to wear a wire on top-echelon mobsters, ostensibly to save his son from going to jail.
As a result of Rossi’s untimely demise, the FBI also winds up looking a tad incompetent for allowing a federal witness to go out and kill someone, when Stefanelli should have been under federal watch, and obviously was not.
A source close to the FBI gave this lame statement: “You can’t keep somebody locked down 24/7. The FBI has thousands of sources all over.”
And another FBI source said: “This is sensitive. It’s ugly. It’s bad.”
To show how bad the FBI missed the boat on this one, a source close to Stefanelli told the New York Post that Stefanelli had even paid for his own funeral a few days before he offed himself. (I’m surprised Stefanelli didn’t ask the FBI for advice in picking out his coffin.)
If Stefanelli was such a valuable witness, and it appears that he was, how could the FBI not keep Stefanelli under 24-hour surveillance, even if it was only for the purpose of making sure other mobsters didn’t kill Stefanelli before he could testify at the upcoming mob trials?
As for the effect Stefanelli’s death has on these trials, a source told Jerry Capeci’s Gangland website. “They (the FBI) are not happy about it. They had a lot of cases going. They were not thrilled about this at all.”
But I’m sure Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi and Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio are absolutely giddy the FBI dropped the ball with such a resounding thud. As a result of the FBI not closely monitoring a cooperating witness (Stephanelli), “Uncle Joe” and “Baby Shacks” may be issued a brand new “Get Out Of Jail” card, without even going to trial, or selling the Broadwalk and Park Place.
F(amous) B(ut) I (ncompetent)?
Not usually. But this was a major blunder.
You can view the article below at:
Guilty-conscience mob rat commits suicide
By JOSH MARGOLIN, REUVEN FENTON and TODD VENEZIA
Last Updated: 6:48 AM, March 9, 2012
Posted: 2:35 AM, March 9, 2012
He was a mob rat who needed redemption.
A guilt-ridden Gambino crime family member who spent two years wearing a wire for the FBI was found dead in an apparent suicide before he could testify against a bunch of his underworld cronies — including two bosses, sources said yesterday.
But Nicholas “Nicky Skins” Stefanelli, 69 — who was found dead on Feb. 26 at the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel in Rutherford, NJ — finished one more piece of murderous Mafia business before he went.
Two days earlier, Stefanelli shot and killed Joseph Rossi Sr., a Bloomfield, NJ, businessman he blamed for the 2010 drug arrest that forced him to become a turncoat, the sources said.
Stefanelli’s death, which was first reported by Gang Land News, has thrown several mob prosecutions into chaos.
He made secret recordings of wiseguys from Philadelphia to Providence while mostly operating in New Jersey — but was also needed to testify against the targets.
While some cases have been crippled, the feds will try to use his recordings to prosecute Philadelphia-area mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi and former New England boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio.
Sources told Gang Land News that federal agents believe Nicky Skins was having second thoughts about betraying fellow mobsters.
“After cooperating for two years, he had pangs of guilt and decided to kill himself to make things right,” a source told the Web site. “But first, he just had to get even with the guy he thought had fingered him.”
A law enforcement source told The Post the FBI is furious over his death.
“They are not happy about it,” the source said. “They had a lot of cases going. They were not thrilled about this at all. ”
Nicky, who was a made member of the Gambino crime family, turned rat after both he and his son, Nicholas Stefanelli Jr., were arrested in 2010 in connection with a drug operation.
The elder Stefanelli agreed to don a wire so his son wouldn’t be hit with charges, according to Gang Land News.
Stefanelli’s body was found around 11 a.m., when a woman believed to be his daughter called the Renaissance hotel front desk to say he was unconscious, the general manager Toni Pinto said.
“She was totally hysterical and crying and screaming. She kept saying that he wasn’t breathing. That’s all she was saying. So we immediately called 911,” Pinto said, adding that Stefanelli appeared to have been dead for a few hours.
“He died peacefully, that I can tell you,” he said. “There was no foul play. The room wasn’t disturbed. There was nothing.”
Officials do not believe Nicky Skins was murdered and are awaiting toxicology reports to confirm his death was a suicide.
Federal sources believe he likely died from a drug overdose.
Sources told The Post that Stefanelli had “paid for his own funeral three or four days before” he died — further evidence of a suicide.
Meanwhile, the FBI is trying to figure out how Nicky Skins managed to kill Rossi.
The 58-year-old was gunned down inside a Bloomfield building where he operated a coin-operated machine distribution business.
Sources said there will be an internal review of the investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department to determine how a federal informant was able to go out and kill someone without being stopped.
Stefanelli was not under federal watch at the time of the Rossi killing.
“You can’t keep somebody locked down 24/7,” a source said. “The FBI has thousands of sources all over.”
Another source said: “This is sensitive. It’s ugly. It’s bad.”
It was also all for nothing.
If Stefanelli hoped his suicide would earn him forgiveness from the mobsters he backstabbed, he was dead wrong.
An underworld source told Gang Land that the wiseguys still think “he was no good.”
suicide snitch’s ‘aide’ charged in payback whack
By JOSH MARGOLIN
Last Updated: 4:32 AM, March 10, 2012
Posted: 1:13 AM, March 10, 2012
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In a stunning twist to the case of the guilt-ridden mob rat, officials yesterday busted a Mafia hanger-on nicknamed “Lucky” for helping the turncoat wiseguy kill an old enemy before he committed suicide last month.
The FBI and local prosecutors believe José Luis “Lucky” Rivera served as “muscle” and a possible lookout when Nicholas “Nicky Skins” Stefanelli blew away Joker Poker machine peddler Joseph Rossi Sr. on Feb. 24, sources said.
Stefanelli wanted to kill Rossi because he believed the 58-year-old purveyor of illegal video games was responsible for his 2010 arrest on drug charges, which forced him to turn stool pigeon and wear a wire for two years, law-enforcement sources told The Post.
Two days after Rossi was shot dead in his Bloomfield, NJ, business, Stefanelli apparently decided to whack himself.
On Feb. 26, he was found dead in the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel in Rutherford, NJ.
Nicky Skins’ death came shortly before federal prosecutors were to begin prepping him to testify against his mob cohorts, including the bosses of Philadelphia and New England.
Many of those prosecutions are now in jeopardy because, without Stefanelli’s testimony, it is unclear whether his undercover recordings can be introduced as evidence.
Rivera, 48, of Plainfield, NJ, was slapped yesterday with murder, conspiracy and other charges and ordered held on $1 million bail.
Sources said investigators do not believe that he actually shot Rossi but do believe he tagged along with Stefanelli as a backup.
It was not clear whether Rivera was a Mafia associate or just a local thug Stefanelli recruited for the slaying.
Rossi allegedly ran afoul of Stefanelli after he was busted in 2009 on tax charges and charges related to the illegal video-gamemachine trade.
Sources said that’s when he told authorities that he bought drugs from Stefanelli and his son, Nicholas Jr.
In 2010, father and son were busted and the elder Stefanelli, a made member of the Gambino crime family, agreed to wear a wire during meetings with high-level gangsters.