An alleged Mafia hit man who kept a library on killing and torture has been arrested and indicted with about 30 members of his gang, federal authorities said.
Thomas "Tommy Karate" Pitera, a member of the Bonanno crime family, and the others were indicted on numerous racketeering and drug charges, said Andrew J. Maloney, U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.Pitera, 35, a martial arts expert, headed a gang of hired murderers and drug dealers who routinely dismembered their victims, stuffed them into suitcases and plastic bags and buried them at a Staten Island bird sanctuary, authorities said.
Among Pitera's deeds was the execution of a mob stool pigeon carried out to gain favor with John Gotti, the reputed Gambino crime family boss, and boost his standing with the Bonanno family, Maloney said.
The federal complaint unsealed Monday charges them with a pattern of racketeering based on at least seven murders in the past three years but says they might be responsible for about two dozen more murders.
Among the seven murder victims was Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson, who died in a barrage of gunfire outside his Brooklyn home in August 1988.
Johnson, an ex-boxer, gambler and loan shark, was a longtime associate of Gotti's crew who reportedly turned stool pigeon in 1966 and provided reams of information to investigators over the years under the code name Wahoo.
A raid of Pitera's Brooklyn apartment yielded a library of underground publications with such grisly titles as "The Hitman's Handbook," "Kill or Be Killed" and "Torture, Interrogation and Execution."
An arsenal of pistols, shotguns and assault rifles also was seized.
Pitera was arrested Sunday without incident as he drove along a street. The others were picked up Sunday and Monday at various locations in the city, authorities said.
The defendants face life in prison if convicted, Maloney said.
Pitera and his associates allegedly dealt in large quantities of cocaine, marijuana and heroin. They often arranged drug transactions but instead murdered and ripped off the suppliers, prosecutors said.
"They took the cocaine from them and left the bodies behind," Maloney said. Other victims were dismembered to make it easier to stuff them into bags and suitcases.