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Michael “Mickey Scars” DiLeonardo

(1955– )
“Most-feared rat” of the comeback mob

By 2003 the “resurrection” of the Mafia in America, especially of the Gambino crime family, was becoming clearer to many crime watchers, although the wise guys were getting shock vibes of another “rat attack” on the mob. This may seem odd as the FBI appeared to have a large backlog of potential informers, but most informers can only give small measures of Mafia activities. The rest of their claims have to be weighed and balanced against other sources, and their credibility tested. Over the years it has been informers or mob defectors who stunted the Mafia outfits. “Rats” such as Abe Reles, Joe Valachi, Jimmy “the Weasel” Fratianno, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, and other biggies were credited with hammering the final nails in the Mafia coffin. That did not quite happen, however. The mob survived, bloodied no doubt but still able to function. Now with the bellweather Gambinos clearly on a murderous upgrade, the mob was worried about another rat in the ointment—a fresh Sammy the Bull—wrecking their newfound activities: Their obvious suspect was Mikey Scars DiLeonardo. That fear became ominously apparent in early 2003 when a June 2002 indictment was stripped of the Mikey Scars name and replaced with that of Peter Gotti, the brother of the late dynamic family boss, John Gotti.

The defection of DiLeonardo was a shocker to the wise guys. He had long been a bosom buddy of John Gotti Jr. and was trusted with many Gotti secrets and activities. Even when DiLeonardo was indicted for murder and racketeering, the mob take was that he would beat the raps, especially since he had beat federal extortion charges in a sensational strip-club trial in Atlanta in 2001. But apparently the feds had plenty of evidence against him, and soon DiLeonardo was doing some fancy flipping. He suddenlyneeded to reveal some alleged mob secrets he was privy to. What he offered to the feds, it was said, implicated Junior Gotti (godfather to Scars’s teenage son) in three criminal acts: the 1983 fatal stabbing of 24-year-old Danny Silva; giving the order for the murder in 1992 of a “Bonnie and Clyde” stickup couple who had robbed a string of mob-connected social clubs (the couple was found dead in their maroon Mercury Topaz, each with three bullets in the head); and the attempted murder of Guardian Angels founder and radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa who was shot in the back and legs as he scrambled to flee from a taxi his would-be killers had stolen.

There were sundry charges against Peter Gotti and some of the most deadly Gambino soldiers, but the main charge certainly was that against JoJo Corozzo, a former driver and lookout for Dapper Don John Gotti. DiLeonardo fingered Corozzo as the new Gambino boss rather than figurehead Peter Gotti. It was said that Scars was all wired up to tape Corozzo in a discussion of current criminal doings, but the meet was canceled when Corozzo learned that DiLeonardo had flipped.

DiLeonardo’s story of why he had defected was the standard canary song. He claimed he had been betrayed by the Gambino brass when they ignored his plea to provide for his lady, the usual treatment for an important wise guy on his arrest. That was not done for DiLeonardo or his mistress, 33-year-old Madelina Fischetti. According to Fischetti, the bosses told Scars “to tell me to go on welfare.” The mob also suddenly stopped the flow of money routinely kicked up to Scars at the same time that feds had frozen his legitimate assets. The irate Fischetti was quoted by newsmen as saying, “They just left him hanging like a piece of garbage.”

If the story was accurate, the mob would have been made up of clowns and idiots, who were tempting fate. It was dandy for the mob to claim Scars had offended the “rules” by going though with a messy divorce from his older mob-connected wife of 17 years, Toni Marie Fappiano, the sister of highly regarded Gotti soldier, Frankie Fap. The Mafia tradition was that while goumatas (mistresses) are for fun, wives are for keeps. Tradition or no tradition, the mob would not have moved against Scars if it meant imperiling the mob. It did so because Scars was warbling, and the mob suspected a deal had been worked that would in due course put him in the witness protection program. Fischetti started identifying herself as Scars’s wife even though the feds denied a secret marriage was part of any cooperation deal.

None of this was terribly significant in the brutal cops-and-robbers game being played out. It was clear the government had a lot on Mikey Scars, who now was volunteering other wise guys to take his place in the law’s crosshairs. Time will tell how much of Mikey’s claims will stand up. Certainly the material on Peter and Junior Gotti have to be most appetizing to the law, prosecutors never being able to pass up any Gotti stories. For Junior Gotti, the Scars testimony could be devastating and extend his prison time considerably. Meanwhile in late 2003 Fischetti insisted she was living in terror of mob retribution: “My husband has helped a lot of people. He’s saved lots of peoples’ lives.” Mikey’s peoplesaving activities were one thing, but his cooperating with the authorities was arguably less likely to save his own life.