By David Amoruso
Posted on September 28, 2008
Updated on October 24, 2008
William "Wild Bill" Cutolo was one of the most charismatic and feared mobsters of the Colombo Crime Family. Born on June 6, 1949 he had risen to become an underboss to Alphonse Persico, the son of imprisoned boss Carmine Persico. But the Colombo Family was a dysfunctional family, in the 1990s two factions had fought a war over who would be boss. One faction was loyal to Carmine Persico and his son. The other supported acting boss Vic Orena. Things heated up fast between the two factions creating fireworks on the streets of New York.
Wild Bill Cutolo was a very respected Colombo Family capo. He was known as a man capable of murder, and a great earner. He had money out on the streets as a loanshark and was heavily involved in union corruption. Using the unions he controlled to hand out no-show jobs to fellow mobsters and steer jobs and money to vendors and resorts operated by men who were connected to the Colombos.
But Cutolo also knew how to maintain a clean front. He was known as a devoted churchgoer at Our Lady Help of Christians on Staten Island. And raised millions for charity, he even dressed up as Santa during christmas parties. But behind that front was a stone cold gangster.
When the Colombo war kicked off Cutolo's crew was on the front line murdering two Persico loyalists. He allegedly pulled the trigger in three hits during the war. There were several attempts on Cutolo's life during those years, but he managed to survive them all. When the smoke cleared twelve people were killed, including two innocent bystanders. Fifteen other people were injured in the war.
The Colombo Family now posed a direct threat to public safety and authorities started hitting scores of mobsters with indictments. Cutolo and six members of his crew were among those charged with various crimes. The mobsters were held without bail in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. According to Jerry Capeci: "They quickly took over their wing, and until the following September, terrorized the inmates as well as the guards. They stole and hoarded food and turned the television room into their private club, hanging up a sign that read: 'Italians Only.'"
In December of 1994 Cutolo and his crew were acquitted of federal murder and racketeering charges. Back on the streets Cutolo was stripped of his capo rank and demoted to soldier status. The Persico faction had 'won' the war and still called the shots. But Cutolo was such a charismatic leader that he was eventually made a capo again. He commanded enormous respect from his men. He had fought beside them during the war. Shown his ability to kill and earn millions. This man had "boss" written all over him. And Alphonse Persico knew it.
In 1999 Persico (right) made Cutolo his underboss. It was a belated peace gesture, a sign of respect to Wild Bill. Or so it seemed. On May 26, 1999 Cutolo was summoned to a meeting with Persico. He would never be seen again. It became clear very soon that Persico had eliminated a threat to his position. Within 24 hours he and newly appointed underboss John "Jackie" DeRoss were looking for Cutolo's millions. DeRoss later paid a visit to Cutolo's mistress and told her that her married lover may have run off "to get away from everything and everybody."
On December 29, 2007 Alphonse Persico and John DeRoss were both found guilty of organizing the murder of Cutolo. Both men thought they were off the hook when their first murder trial ended in a hung jury, but the second time wasn't so sweet. In her closing argument prosecutor Deborah Mayer said "Cutolo was coming on like a freight train, acting like he had his own mob. Alphonse Persico had to act." Persico will now spend the rest of his life behind bars, just like his father. On October 6, 2008 authorities found the remains of William Cutolo. His body was buried in a wooded area of Long Island near a stretch of railroad tracks, manufacturing plants and warehouses. The information about Cutolo's burying place is said to have come from an informant.
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