The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, June 17, 2005  

Bum Knees Have Replaced Broken Knee Caps

I’m not sure if readers will find Corey Kilgannon’s story in today’s New York Times, “12 Are Accused in Mob-Run Betting Scheme,” funny or sad:

The authorities hauled a dozen men into a Queens courtroom yesterday and charged them with participating in a mob-run gambling and loan-sharking operation.

They called the men chiefs, soldiers and associates in the Bonanno crime family, but to one defense lawyer, Mathew J. Mari, they looked more like “the Geritol generation.” […]

As the men were brought in, some cursed at news photographers. They slumped into the front row of the courtroom, rattling their shackles against the wooden benches.

Michael G. Postiglione, a lawyer for Anthony Rabito, 71, of Brooklyn, remarked that the procession resembled “an old-folks-home chain gang.”

Some of the defendants have arrest records going back to the 1960’s, prosecutors said. When prosecutors requested high bail, the defense lawyers argued that their clients had difficulty leaving their homes, much less skipping town.

One by one, they lifted themselves gingerly off the bench and shuffled slowly in front of the judge, with the help of court officers showing the delicacy of home attendants.

Queens prosecutor, Catherine Kane, said that [David] Treccagnoli [age 76] had earlier gambling arrests and might be a flight risk.

“I don’t think he could outrun anybody,” [his attorney John] Scarpa said.

Mr. Treccagnoli, who maintained his innocence, was released without bail. Outside court, he said, “I’m living on borrowed time,” and pointed to his heart and neck.

“I got what they call a cabbage down here, a shunt here and another shunt here,” he said. “I’m blind in one eye from my diabetes.”

He said that detectives raided a veterans’ club on Metropolitan Avenue in Greenpoint where he spends time with other aging friends.

“Half of these guys got one foot in the grave,” he said. “The cops come in the club and the sergeant says, ‘Go block the back entrance so no one runs out.’ Run out? Half these guys couldn’t walk out.”

There’s no escaping this: The mob just ain’t what it used to be.

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