In a move that's seemingly unprecedented in the history of American organized crime, a gangster-turned-government witness has published an open letter to his former criminal associates, warning them that if they're thinking about trying to whack him, they should probably reconsider - for their own sake.
Former Genovese family soldier Michael "Cookie" D'Urso penned the letter, which was first shared with Gang Land News, a premium site that aggregates news about the American Mafia. D'Urso addressed the letter to several 'former associates' who were 'overheard' by law enforcement sources discussing D'Urso's new identity and whereabouts.
First, some background: D'Urso was a mob soldier in the early 1990s when he survived a bullet to the head, allegedly fired over a gambling debt during a late-night card game at a social club in Williamsburg. One of his cousins was killed in the incident, but D'Urso survived.
D'Urso, more than 20 years ago
He took it on the chin when his Genovese bosses forbade him from retaliating for the shooting. But it wasn't until he caught wind that then-acting Genovese boss Farby Serpico had threatened to have him whacked that he decided to turn state's witness, becoming one of only a handful of Genovese family members who have violated their oath of secrecy.
His testimony eventually helped the Fed's jail more than 70 mob members and associates, including the current Genovese boss Liborio Bellomo.
Of course, all that was more than 20 years ago. D'Urso, now 49, has been living under a new identity provided by the witness protection program since then.
But, as he acknowledged in the letter, D'Urso still ventures into his old neighborhood from time to time. It's during these visits that he warned any passing wiseguys should think twice if they think they're going to boost their rep by taking D'Urso out.
In his letter, D'Urso insists that those who "know him" understand that he only cooperated to save his own life from being taken out by rivals for whom he had no respect, and that he would have done "100 years" in prison "for the right people."
Even if he's not armed with a gun, D'Urso warned that he's a black belt in ju-jitsu and mixed martial arts, and that anyone who attacks him "will need a gun" - a bat or a knife simply won't do it.
If the bosses are intent on rubbing him out - so be it, D'Urso said. But anyone involved in the plot should keep in mind that they will likely be caught and prosecuted. And their bosses could eventually face life imprisonment.
A LETTER TO THE MOB:
This letter is a heads up to the individuals who were seen and overheard during the Christmas holidays at the TBar Steak & Lounge on the Upper East Side talking about me.
Law enforcement folks told me you were talking about my new identity and where I might be living today. I hope that 20 years later, no one would be so stupid to get himself into very serious trouble over me.
While I still have some respect for the life I once lived and the life that some of my old friends and acquaintances still choose to live, rest assured I WILL NEVER GET CAUGHT SLEEPING AGAIN. I am ready, able and willing to defend my family and myself. Also, I have very capable ex-law enforcement friends with gun permits who are with me all the time. And don’t forget, there are cameras everywhere today that can track people to and from any location.
As you know, I didn’t create this mess. I was extremely loyal until my life was in danger for the SECOND time. The people that got in trouble because of me can thank Farby for threatening me on the phone and putting me in the position that led to me cooperating. What boss gets on the phone to actually threaten someone? Did he not expect a response? As a street guy was I supposed to just let someone I don’t know abuse me? No f- -king way.
I hate the fact that some of my Bronx friends got caught up in my cooperation. They are legitimate tough guys. They know who they are. If I had been with them before, I believe they would have been by my side the second I got shot and would have helped me get even. I am truly sorry you guys got wrapped up in the investigation.
There was only one person who raised a finger to try and help me get revenge when I got shot, and my cousin got killed.
Unfortunately he [Editor:Vito Guzzo] got 38 years in prison. He was arrested before I cooperated. He was facing the death penalty and I paid for his capital punishment attorney while I was cooperating. The government didn’t need me to convict him.
When Sammy Meatballs [Editor:Salvatore Aparo] came to me with tears in his eyes and said, “If I send for you don’t come,” I knew that Farby was going to have me killed. I had no choice but to reach out to the government. Those of you who truly knew me know that I would have done 100 years for the right people and the right reasons.
There could not be a brotherhood without loyalty. But no real man can ever accept being told not to seek retribution when someone shoots you in the head and kills your cousin.
I understand why people have to act like tough guys when my name gets brought up. I would do the same if I was in their shoes. But just because I have been respectful and not rubbed anything in any of your faces, do NOT think that I will go on the defense if I see any of you. I am not running and I don’t need a weapon to protect myself. I am a black belt in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu and have been training in mixed martial arts for over 14 years. A bat and a knife won’t help you so you will have to use a gun.
But if you, and your bosses, feel that getting me is worth risking life in prison, then come find me. Just keep in mind that your bosses will get prosecuted for the murder as well.
And rest assured that if I feel my life is threatened, I WILL BE ON OFFENSE, NOT DEFENSE. I FEAR NO ONE AND NEVER WILL. And remember that there is no statute of limitations for the murder of a federal witness. And you’d be surprised to find out how many confidential informants there are in your circle, who would love to tell the feds they heard about a murder plot to kill me.
To the gangsters in my neighborhood: If you stop and think, you will realize that I left all of you out of my cooperation on purpose. I didn’t hurt any of you. I didn’t seek you out. I could have started a beef to draw you out. But I didn’t want to see anyone in the neighborhood get in trouble whether we were on good terms or not.
I bring this up because I still come in and out of the neighborhood every so often. If you see me, do yourself a favor and do not confront me. It may look like I’m alone but I’m not. Again, I am respectful but fear no one and you might not be happy with the outcome of a confrontation.
Everyone should just focus on their families, their well-being, and staying out of jail. Continue to make money the smart way and leave the violence that gets you life in prison alone. For those of you that have money, find ways to keep it and for those of you that don’t, find ways to make it without violence. Times are different today.
And for anybody who thinks the five families aren't still active in the New York area, one recent report from NBC New York delves into how the mafia has changed and evolved since John Gotti's imprisonment in the early 1990s.