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Remains of Mafia captains identified

Informant's tip led FBI to burial site in Queens lot

From Anne Castellani

Police and FBI investigators excavate a vacant lot in Queens, New York, in October.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Queens (New York)
Organized Crime

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The New York Medical Examiner's Office has identified the skeletons of Philip "Phil Lucky" Giaccone and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, two Mafia figures believed to be the victims of a gangland shooting more than 20 years ago, FBI officials said Tuesday.

Agents from the FBI's Bonanno and Gotti squads, along with the New York City Police Department's cold case squad, dug through concrete and sifted through dirt in a Queens lot for three weeks in October after a tip by an informant.

Giaccone's remains were initially identified by pieces of personal property found with his bones, including a Piaget watch that matched a description given by family associates, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Authorities initially identified Trinchera's remains after finding his credit card and other pieces of personal property with his bones, the official said.

Investigators worked with the examiner's office to conclusively identify the remains by matching samples of DNA provided by families of the Bonanno captains, a process that took more than two months, the FBI said.

The bodies were found in an area that borders Brooklyn -- near John F. Kennedy International Airport -- where Alfonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato's body was found by children playing in 1981.

Indelicato, a captain in the Bonanno family, had tried to take over the family with Giaccone and Trinchera, a plan that led to the deaths of all three in a Brooklyn social club in 1981, according to court testimony from the brother-in-law of Joseph Massino, the Bonanno mob boss.

Law enforcement sources told CNN that over the past 10 years they have been able to develop good sources within organized crime. Those sources eventually pointed investigators to the site in Queens.

Authorities originally believed as many as six murder victims were buried in the lot in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Luchese family associates Joseph Spione and Thomas DeSimone, plus John Favara, a Queens furniture store manager who they say was killed because he accidentally ran over the 12-year-old son of former Gambino mob boss John Gotti.

DeSimone, from Queens, was reported missing in January 1979; he is suspected of being part of a Lufthansa Airlines cargo heist in 1978.

However, investigators did not find any of their remains during the excavation.

"Our belief is that we've found whatever it is to be found there," FBI spokesman Jim Margolin said.

The ties of loyalty in the Bonanno family began to unravel after the undercover FBI agent known as Donnie Brasco infiltrated their world in the late 1970s, a story told in the Al Pacino-Johnny Depp movie "Donnie Brasco."

CNN's Jonathan Wald and Adam Reiss contributed to this report.

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