NEW YORK -- An FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family testified today he suggested that a rival Mafia figure be killed, but he denied he was encouraging any crime by making the suggestion.
The undercover agent, Joseph Pistone, testified that he told defendant Benjamin 'Lefty' Ruggiero 'why don't we just kill him?' during a conversation about the rival.
But Pistone, denied he was encouraging any crime when he made the statement in a conversation with Ruggiero and said he never believedRuggiero would act on his words.
Pistone, who successfully infiltrated the Bonanno crime family for six years, also testified in U.S. District Court under cross examination that it was a 'coincidence' alleged Bonanno crime family member Anthony Mirra knew of a drug deal the agent allegedly was involved in and from which, according to the defense, he profited $125,000.
Defense lawyer Robert Koppleman told the jury Pistone was referring to Mirra when he told Ruggiero 'Why don't we just kill him?'
'Yes, I said it,' Pistone told the courtroom. The agent later said, however, the statement was made to maintain 'credibility' in his role as an undercover agent and he 'knew he (Ruggiero) wouldn't kill him on my encouragement.'
Pistone is the government's chief witness in the racketeering and conspiracy trial of four reputed Bonanno family members.
On Wednesday, Pistone testified a reputed soldier in the Bonanno crime family told him how a rival gangster's stomach 'went flying' when he was shot during a bloody mob war.
The conversation, describing the execution of Dominick 'Big Trin' Trinchera, was recounted during the third day of testimony by Pistone, who infiltrated the mob for six years as 'Donnie Brasco.'
The agent said a long war within the Bonanno crime family killed at least three men and generated so much fear that one mobster demanded protection at a wedding.
Pistone, 43, said he secretly taped a conversation in which one defendant, Nicholas Santura, talked about the death of Trinchera.
'You should have seen when they shot him,' the jury heard Santuro say on the tape. 'Fifty pounds of his stomach went flying.'
Pistone also testified that the body of Alphonse 'Sonny Red' Indelicato, who allegedly was murdered in the 1981 family war, was found because of a 'mistake' made by a Mafia leader in charge of disposing of the body.
Santuro and Ruggiero have been charged with conspiring to kill Indelicato, whose body was found May 28, 1981.
In a tape made June 15, 1981, Pistone said, 'They (police) found that one body.' Ruggiero responded, 'Yeh, that was a mistake,' and blamed fellow Mafia captain Joseph Messina, who was 'supposed to get rid of the body.'
Testimony and tapes in the case indicated Trinchera and Indelicato were killed in the months after Philip 'Rusty' Rastelli became the family boss. Rastelli succeeded Carmine Galante, who was assassinated in a Brooklyn restaurant in 1979.