James “Louie” Tartaglione a former captain in the Bonanno crime family who turned rat took the stand in the ongoing New York mafia trial.
The now 78-year-old mobster is testifying against his former Bonanno family pals which include Nicholas Santora, Vito Badamo, Ernest Aiello, and Anthony Santoro charged with drug trafficking, loansharking, and running illegal gambling operations. Tartaglione the prosecution’s key witness gave some in-depth insight into the inner working of the New York mob family along with describing his former relationships to the mobsters on trial. The former mobster has been cooperating with the feds since 2003 after the arrest of underboss Salvatore Vitale who he thought may rat him out.
But defense lawyers claim the prosecution’s key snitch is an unreliable witness and was responsible for seven murders during his time in the mafia, including the 1994 killing of Cesare Bonventre and the infamous 1981 three capos murders. But when asked by the Manhattan Assistant District Attorney if he ever committed the act of killing he shot down the claims, saying “No, I was there, that’s it.” Tartaglione claimed he simply asked the Bonanno family bosses to “whack” his fellow mobsters but never actually pulled the trigger. He explained his role in some of these mob murders, including the hit on his former mob pal Russell Mauro, whom he led to a social club in 1991 to be murdered by another mobster.
While on the stand he also explained his part in the “Three Capos murders” admitting he helped former Underboss Sal Vitale clean up after the hit. He said “I walked in with Sal and he said, ‘Do me a favor, help me remove the shells on the floor,” as he explained the scene of the murder and continued saying “There were three bodies. The last body was being tied up and canvased, it was already wrapped. We put it in the trunk, and I took it to Woodhaven Boulevard.” But even if attempts by the defense to undermine his credibility because of his links to these mob hits is less then successful, he did admit on the stand that he had no direct knowledge of any crimes in which the defendants were charged with.