Michael Tabman

Mafia Hitman – Only 10 Years in Jail

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm

            The news recently reported that Dominick Cicale, who snitched against Bonanno Crime Family Boss “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, despite Cicale’s conviction for two homicides.  Was that a fair deal?

The fight against the mob, drug traffickers and gangsters has often required the cooperation of informants, also referred to as rats, snitches, moles and other terms for those who turn against their colleagues to protect themselves.  Many people do not like the idea of law enforcement making deals and working cooperatively with violent criminals.  Working with informants is a dirty and high risk business.  I have previously blogged about the dangers of working with informants.  In my first book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People, I chronicle stories of FBI-Informant relationships gone awry and the fall-out.  Yet, the bottom line is this – many high profile investigations, from the mob to terrorism, would have never been successful if not for informants.

Informants are generally working in their own best interests.  They are usually criminals; otherwise, they would not have gained the trust of the criminals on whom they are snitching.  They often lie, mislead and do what it takes to make things work for themselves.  It is up to the experienced law enforcement officer to work through those challenges by controlling the informant, using wiretaps, polygraphs and sometimes other informants to verify the information.  Relying solely on the word of a self-serving informant would not only be irresponsible, it would most likely end up in a failed prosecution.  Juries do not like informants.

Is it fair to reduce the sentences of informants who have committed violent and other serious offenses? No, it is not fair.  But, it is necessary.  Without their cooperation, without some deal making, we would not get the bigger fish.  That is a hard concept to swallow, but it is the reality of fighting crime.  The mob, as with other organized criminal enterprises, is difficult to penetrate.  Without the cooperation of snitches, we would always be one step behind.  It’s a dirty business, but someone has to do it.


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