Dominic Taddeo’s escape evokes mob’s ‘ruthless’ heyday in one American city

In upstate New York City, the mob was known for remotely detonating pipe bombs under rivals’ cars, according to Baldwin’s testimony and news reports.

Taddeo, 64, a man who federal officials say began a life of crime at age 16, was a largely forgotten criminal figure until his March 28 escape, less than a year before his likely release, from a Florida rehabilitation center while at a medical appointment.

His short-lived escape brought mob watchers to the height of La Cosa Nostra in the Lake Ontario city of some 200,000, where the tragicomedy antics of rival factions sometimes evoked the third-rate mobsters of the novel. Jimmy Breslin’s “The Gang That Couldnn”. Shoot straight.”

“I’m just not sure which side I couldn’t shoot directly from,” Baldwin, 75, now in private practice, said in an interview. “I mean, both sides shot themselves in the foot at some point.”

Who does that?

Taddeo served more than three decades in prison after a conviction on racketeering charges that a federal judge said involved “the murder of three people, attempted murder of two more people, and conspiracy to murder a fifth person” as a hitman for the mafia.

The murders of Nicholas Mastrodonato, Gerald Pelusio and Dino Tortatice, in 1982 and 1983, were carried out on behalf of the Rochester mob, according to published reports.

Taddeo pleaded guilty to the shooting in January 1992, court records show. The guilty plea included two attempts to shoot dead a mob boss and conspiring to kill another gangster.

A federal judge sentenced Taddeo to 24 years in prison, to be served consecutively to the 30 years he was already serving on other charges.

Taddeo was nearing the end of several prison sentences for a variety of offenses including illegal weapons possession, drug conspiracy and bail jumping, court documents show.

He was transferred in mid-February to a rehabilitation center in Orlando, from a medium-security prison in Sumter County, Florida, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Taddeo would be released next February, according to court documents.

Longtime mob watchers were puzzled that Taddeo did not return after his medical clearance last month, especially as his supervised release was expected in February.

“Who does that?” asked Blair Kenny, who has written several books on organized crime in Rochester. “There’s something wrong. Who knows? It’s erratic behavior.”

Gary Jenkins, a former detective who investigated the mob in Kansas City, said the brief escape did not surprise him.

Jenkins noted that Taddeo was involved in 1990 in what federal prosecutors believed was a bizarre scheme to break a Colombian drug trafficker out of prison and sell him to the Medellin cartel. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, Morning Call newspaper described the alleged plot, which involved a stash of weapons, camouflage gear and thousands of dollars in cash hidden in a storage locker.
“This guy has delusions of grandeur,” said Jenkins, host of the Gangland Wire Crime Stories podcast, which in December featured Taddeo and the Rochester crime family. “That’s a bold guy… I mean he was obviously a planner.”

Taddeo had been on the run before. In 1987, when he was facing federal weapons charges, he disappeared while on bail and was arrested two years later after a nationwide manhunt.

Court records show that Taddeo has been appointed a deputy federal public defender, but that attorney is not identified, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. Taddeo’s former federal public defender in Rochester did not return a call seeking comment, and neither did his sister, who lives in Florida, along with his elderly mother.

Taddeo sought deliverance during the pandemic

It’s unclear how much planned Taddeo’s escape, but he was back in federal custody a week later.

“I was surprised they caught him so quickly,” Jenkins said. “I thought he had something set up to really let loose.”

US Marshals said he was taken into custody without incident in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County.

Taddeo was indicted on one count of elopement by a federal grand jury in Orlando, according to court documents. The maximum penalty is a sentence of five years.

The leak came after Taddeo sought a compassionate release in December 2020, citing the dangers the covid-19 pandemic posed to his health. A federal judge denied the request and refused to reduce Taddeo’s sentence, noting the “seriousness of his crimes and his extremely long criminal history.”

“The defendant began a life of crime at the age of 16,” US District Judge Frank Geraci Jr. wrote in his decision last year.

“His prior convictions are for crimes including assault, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and, most notably, conspiracy of corrupt and mobster-influenced organization arising out of his employment and association with the La Cosa Nostra organized crime family of Rochester.”

The judge denied release despite what he said was Taddeo’s “relatively clean disciplinary record” and stated that he “has learned his lesson” and wishes to “play a positive role in his community”.

Bloody war for control of the Rochester rackets

Taddeo was in his late teens and early 20s when, according to Baldwin’s Senate testimony, the Rochester organized crime family was making huge profits on a series of rackets, including gambling, loan sharking and arson schemes.

“Rochester was a remarkably wealthy community at the time,” Baldwin said in the CNN interview. “Back then it was the headquarters of Kodak, IBM, Stromberg Carlson, Bausch and Lomb. It made the city rich. And when the city gets richer, the profits are better.”

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But the prosperity was being undermined by a bloody war for control of the city’s lucrative rackets. Local newspapers dubbed it the “Alphabet Wars,” with a group of older, machine-gun-wielding gangsters known as the A-Team taking on a younger B-Team with a penchant for remote-controlled explosives, according to Baldwin’s testimony. One group had the backing of the New York mob; the other was supported by mob figures in Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

At the time, the use of bombs and detonating devices was new to the mob. On Columbus Day in 1970, a Rochester mob boss ordered a series of dynamite bombs to be detonated in the early morning hours at places of worship and government buildings. The goal was to divert attention from law enforcement efforts to radical groups at the time, Baldwin testified.

“The plan was to blame the hippies or the anti-war protesters,” he said in the interview. “I mean, none of it made much sense… The Columbus Day bombings, they were so inept they were almost a Keystone comedy. I mean they had bombs that probably couldn’t have gone off for two years.” the old man’s hand.

Over time, however, the bomb makers got better, though their blunders persisted. Baldwin’s Senate testimony recounted the numerous plans to kill an A-Team underboss with explosives.

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One proposal involved hiding an explosive device in a Big Wheel tricycle and leaving it outside the mobster’s house. Baldwin said the plan was dropped due to concerns that a child might take the toy.

“The concern for the child’s safety was not paramount, but the loss of the device was inexcusable,” he told the Senate, noting that each bomb costs more than $350 to make.

Another plan was to launch a remote-controlled bomb down the chimney of the gangster’s apartment. At the last minute they discovered that the apartment did not have a fireplace. In another attempt, they used a magnet to attach a bomb to a car’s exhaust pipe, but the device fell out during an ongoing gunfight, according to Baldwin. Later, a 12-year-old boy found the bomb in the street.

“The pump fell off due to sleet and ice under the car,” Baldwin recalled in the interview. “It wasn’t connected clean enough. It’s a miracle the boy didn’t die. Witnesses said that somehow, with his teeth, the boy pulled the explosive capsule out of the plastic explosive device. He should have bought a lottery ticket that day.” .

Mob presence not ‘close to the way it used to be’

In April 1978, the B-Team finally managed to kill the underboss with a bomb that exploded under his car.

The bloodshed for control of the Rochester rackets continued for years. Mafia book writer Kenny described Taddeo as a “short-lived hit man” who preferred a .22-caliber pistol to improvised explosive devices during the height of his infamy in the 1980s.

Today, the Rochester mob, like La Cosa Nostra crime families across the country, is a shadow of its former self. The federal crackdown and state regulation of gaming have taken a toll. Members broke the code of silence and disappeared into witness protection programs. Others have been murdered, or have died of old age. Others, like Taddeo, have been convicted and locked up for years.

“I know they’re still around,” Kenny said of the mob, adding that, for a week, Taddeo was a reminder of the heyday of organized crime families.

“There’s definitely still a presence, but I don’t see the mob like I used to. I mean, if you’re from Rochester, you definitely know Dominic Taddeo.”

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