NEW YORK -- Police Wednesday sought clues and possible witnesses in the slaying of the uncle of a former mobster turned government informant in what appeared to be a third attempt at silencing the mob turncoat.
Former Lucchese organized crime family capo Peter Chiodo, whose testimony already has lead to the conviction of four reputed mobsters and the indictment of others, is scheduled to appear again as a government witness against Anthony 'Gaspipe' Casso, the reputed underboss of the Lucchese crime family.
In the last two years, Chiodo and his sister survived shootings in what law enforcement authorities said were attempts to silence the family and warn other possible mob witnesses.
Chiodo's maternal uncle, Frank Signorino, 68, of Staten Island, was found Tuesday in the trunk of his 1991 Acura parked on the corner of Vermont Street and Flatlands Avenue in the East New York Section of Brooklyn.
His frozen body was wrapped in a plastic bag and he had been shot in the head.
He was reported missing by his family three days ago, according to Sgt. Nick Vreeland, a police spokesman, who added that the Medical Examiner's office would determine the exact cause and time of death.
Signorino reportedly was a Lucchese associate, and Vreeland said the police investigation was centered on the possibility that Casso ordered the slaying.
Chiodo survived being shot 12 times in May 1991, prompting him to turn government.
Months after the shooting, the 435-pound Chiodo, known as 'Big Pete', provided dramatic testimony from a wheelchair in the trial of 10 alleged mobsters accused of skimming millions from the city's windows replacement business. Three were convicted.
Casso and Lucchese crime boss Vittorio Amuso have been charged with conspiring to kill Chiodo.
Amuso was convicted, with the help of Chiodo's testimony, last year of murder and racketeering, while Casso, after being captured last month after almost three years as a fugitive, awaits trial on charges of ordering 11 slayings. Chiodo again is expected to be a key government witness in the trial.
In March 1992, Chiodo's sister, Patricia Capozzalo, a mother of three, was shot and seriously wounded in a mob-style hit as she sat in her car in front of her Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, home. She also survived.
Before the shooting, her family reportedly had declined an offer to enter the federal Witness Protection Program, but law enforcement sources said the family took up the government's offer after the attempt on her life.
Authorities said that with Casso's capture, the heads of all five Mafia families actives in the New York City area are behind bars either awaiting trial or serving prison terms.