United States District Court, E.D. New York
January 15, 2004.
VICTOR J. ORENA and PASQUALE AMATO, Movants, -against- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JACK WEINSTEIN, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM and ORDER
In the closing decades of the last century heavily armed mobs of
Mafiosi, protected by bullet proof vests and scanners monitoring police
radio channels, roamed the streets of New York in their automobiles
(bugged by the Federal Bureau of Investigations) shooting down their
rivals in crime. One of the more fascinating episodes was the civil war
in the Columbo organized crime family,
In the sequelae of that struggle, the two movants, Victor J. Orena and
Pasquale Amato, were convicted in the early 1990's of various crimes,
including murder. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of
all their assets. Their convictions were affirmed. Collateral attacks on
the judgments of conviction were rejected by the trial court after an
extensive evidentiary hearing. The by now archaic history is fully
described in United States v. Sessa, 821 F. Supp. 870 (E.D.N.Y.
1993), aff'd sub nom, United States v. Amato, 15 F.3d 230 (2d
Cir. 1994) and United States v. Orena, 32 F.3d 704 (2d Cir.
1994); Orena v. United States, 956 F. Supp. 1071 (E.D.N.Y,
1997), aff'd by summary orders, Orena v. United States (2d Cir.
April 28, 1998) and Amato v. United States, (2d Cir. April 20,
As of 1997 the matter was accurately summed up as follows:
Attempting to transform a troubling cloud of
questionable ethics and judgment enveloping an
F.B. I. Special Agent into a raging storm of
reasonable doubt, petitioner-defendants move for
dismissal of their indictments or for new
trials. . . . The claim is that the government
violated its disclosure obligations under
Brady v. Maryland, after engaging in
and covering up outrageous government misconduct.
Orena and Amato contend that it was not they
the convicted criminals but
cx-F.B.I. Special Agent, R. Lindley DeVecchio, who
conspired with one of the defendants' associates
the murderer Gregory Scarpa to
cause the killing of their partner, the loanshark,
Thomas Ocera, and to instigate an internecine
mafia war, The evidence to prove this bizarre, but
not entirely implausible, contention, defendants
argue, should have been supplied to defense
counsel so that they could rely on the jurors'
rationality or befuddlement (they claim either
provides a justifiable basis for reasonable doubt)
to achieve a verdict of not guilty, or at least
disagreement sufficient for a mistrial.
Scarpa has died in prison and can provide no
help on the facts. DeVecchio, having been allowed
to resign from the F.B.L . . . [,] was granted
immunity, all documents relevant to his background
were revealed, and he was subjected to fierce
examination by defense counsel.
Despite the seamy aspects of law enforcement
revealed by the record, . . . defendants' factual
assumptions and legal theories are unpersuasive.
956 F. Supp at 1076-77 (citations omitted).
As an epilogue, Orena and Amato now present further "evidence" in a
renewal of their attack on their convictions. An additional full
evidentiary hearing was held on their new motions. The only relevant
support for their contentions of any significance are the alleged
confessions of Scarpa to his son, Gregory Scarpa, Jr., a convicted
murderer and a made member of a mafia family, that it was the father and
Del Vecchio, not defendants, who killed a fellow gang member and
organized the mob war, Gregory Scarpa, Jr. testified by video from prison
where he is serving what amounts to more than a life sentence.
Other witnesses called by petitioners at the hearing presented no
testimony of any significance. None revealed any direct knowledge of Del
Vecchio's alleged demonic connection to the senior Scarpa that can be
Gregory Scarpa, Jr. testified that Del Vecchio was paid some $100,000,
furnished with such "entertainment" as call girls, champagne, and a hotel
suite at the Holiday Inn in Staten Island, and provided an all-expense
paid trip to Aspen, Colorado for services he rendered to the senior
Scarpa and the mob, and that for these and other benefits Del Vecchio
started the Columba war, helped Gregory Scarpa and his associates hunt
down and kill members of a competing faction of the mob, and protected
the Scarpas, father and son, from the police, The court finds this
witness to be not credible. His source is also not credible on these
The only substantial information Scarpa, Jr. had was furnished to him
orally by his parent. The son, if he is credited at all, was told by his
sire what Del Vecchio was doing for the mob and what the elder Scarpa was
doing for Del Vecchio. The son observed nothing that took on significance
without the father's extra-judicial statements. Since both Scarpas were
sentenced to federal prison, where the father died, and the son is
serving an almost endless sentence, they
had good reason to want to further damage the reputation of the F.B.I.
and to help their erstwhile friends, and sometimes adversaries, Amato
None of the newly presented evidence is persuasive. The court's
decision of March 10, 1997 denying a similar collateral attack remains
unshaken in its premises and findings. The motions are dented.
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