LOS ANGELES -- Aladena 'Jimmy the Weasel' Fratianno boasted in a taped conversation that he flirted with the idea of hiring the Mexican Mafia to kill three members of La Cosa Nostra before they killed him.
Jurors in a federal racketeering trial of five West Coast Mafia bosses Tuesday heard a recorded conversation in which Fratianno told author Ovid Demaris that three years ago he believed three of the defendants had marked him for murder.
'I wasn't scared of them guys,' Fratianno said to Demaris, who is writing his biography. 'I'd tear their eyeballs out. Every one of them. In fact, that's what I was going to do, you know ... I was going to kill all three of them'
Fratianno said he was not scared for himself, but for his wife, who feared he would be taken for the proverbial 'ride in the desert.'
'I got some of the Mexican Mafia with me, see,' Fratianno said. 'I had three or four of them, you know. I figured, well, later on, I couldn't trust ... nobody.'
Fratianno explained that he had met the Mexican Mafia prison gang while serving time in prison. The gang also operates outside of prison.
Fratianno is the government's star witness in the trial of the five men on charges of conspiracy to murder and extortion of bookies, gamblers and pornographers in Nevada and Southern California.
The defendants, free on bail, are Louis Dragna, 59, of Covina; Dominic Brooklier, 66, of Anaheim; Samuel Sciortino, 61, of Rancho Mirage; and Michael Rizzitello, 62, and Jack LoCicero, 68, both of Los Angeles.
Fratianno, under the second day of cross-examination by attorneys who are trying to convince the jury that he is a liar, testified to personally committing a murder, in direct contradiction to his testimony last Friday that he had not killed anyone.
Attorney Alvin Michaelson, representing Brooklier, questioned Fratianno about the 1951 murder of Tony Brancato, who was shot in Hollywood along with Anthony Trombino.
'What did you do, personally, to kill Mr. Brancato?'
'I was ordered to kill him.'
'Did you shoot him in the head?'
'Yes, I did, sir.'
'Did you pull the trigger?'
'Yes, I did, sir.
Fratianno testified that 'someone else' had shot Trombino. He said there were other persons present during the slayings, both of which were ordered by the mob.
He denied killing Louis 'Russian Louie' Strauss, a Nevada gambler who disappeared in 1953, but admitted being present when Strauss was slain. Fratianno has testified in other cases that Strauss was strangled in Las Vegas by the mob.
Attorney Donald Marks tried to get Fratianno to admit that he _ not the five defendants _ played the lead role in the murder of former San Diego mobster Frank 'The Bomp' Bompensiero in February 1977.;
'You committed the murder of Mr. Bompensiero, didn't you?' Marks asked.
'Are you kidding? That's a lie, sir.'
Fratianno denied knowing Joseph Bonanno Sr. or his sons, but acknowledged that he dined with Bonanno's associate, Jimmy Styles, in San Francisco the night before Bompensiero was slain.
Defense attorneys are trying to implicate Bonanno in the Bompensiero murder, based on a scrap of paper found in Bonanno's garbage that contained the number of the telephone booth where Bompensiero was shot.
Fratianno admitted he frequently called Bompensiero at the phone booth.
'You got him at the phone booth so that you and Mr. Bonanno and his sons could execute Mr. Bompensiero as he walked away from the phone booth,' Marks charged.
'That's a lie, sir,' Fratianno replied.
'Mr. Fratianno,' Marks added, 'do you know what perjury is?'
'I believe I do,' Fratianno answered.