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Remains of mafia captains identified

Pieces of human skeletons found in vacant lot

From Jonathan Wald and Adam Reiss

New York City police department and F.B.I. investigators sift through dirt in a vacant lot in Queens, New York.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Organized Crime
John Gotti
Crime, Law and Justice

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Authorities have found the skeletons of two mafia captains, believed to be victims of a gangland shooting over 20 years ago, FBI officials said Monday.

An FBI agent said the two week long excavation in a Queens lot has uncovered the bones of Bonanno capos Philip "Phil Lucky" Giaccone and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera.

Agents from the FBI's Bonanno and Gotti squads along with the New York City Police Department's Cold Case Squad have been digging through concrete and sifting through dirt since October 4 following a tip by an informant.

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

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

The discoveries were made in an area that borders Brooklyn and Queens 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 murder of all three of them in a Brooklyn social club in 1981, according to court testimony from the brother-in-law of Joseph Massino, the Bonanno mob boss.

Investigators are working with New York City's Medical Examiner's Office to conclusively identify the remains by matching samples of DNA provided by families of the Bonanno captains, a process which could take weeks.

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

Authorities believe as many as six murder victims were buried in the lot in the late 1970s early 1980s, including Luchese family associates Joseph Spione and Thomas DeSimone and 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, when he darted from behind a garbage container.

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

Investigators will keep excavating until the end of the week. "The search is continuing," FBI spokesman James Margolin said. "There is still 40 percent of the lot left untouched."

The FBI believes this area may be a graveyard used by the Mafia for targets of hits ordered by Gotti and his Bonanno family counterpart, Massino.

Massino was recently convicted of murder and racketeering and will be sentenced November 17. His brother-in-law, Salvatore Vitale, was the government's star witness at his trial.

The ties of loyalty in the Bonanno family unraveled 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."

Vitale, the family's underboss, agreed to become a government witness last year.

By October 11, investigators found what appeared to be a human fibula, a tibia, a hip or pelvic bone and a bone from either a hand or foot, according to Margolin.

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