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Breaking the Code


In prison, Petrucelli befriended a muscular young gangster named Constabile “Gus” Farace. When another inmate threatened to drop a set of weights on Petrucelli’s head, Farace saved him. Petrucelli returned the favor after their release from prison. On February 28, 1989, while working on a drug deal, Farace shot and killed Everett Hatcher, a federal undercover agent. The murder was front-page tabloid news for weeks. Farace, now wanted by the Feds and the mob, turned to his Green Haven family, and John Petrucelli, then 47, agreed to hide him. A Lucchese boss sent word to John Petrucelli: “Either clip Farace or kill yourself.” He refused, and on September 13, 1989, Petrucelli was executed by his boyhood friend Joey “Blue Eyes” Cosentino and Anthony Magana, two names that would wind up on Junior Gotti’s list. In time, their sons went to war, the fight going on in the name of their mob fathers.

The Petrucelli boys and the Cosentino boys began to ricochet through the mob world. On March 8, 1992, outside a New Rochelle bar where Darin worked as a bouncer, the younger Petrucelli son, Joey, 16, got into a racial argument and shot another 16-year-old to death. He is doing a life bit. Johnnie Boy Petrucelli and Darin Mazzarella have beaten up on the Cosentino boys and were planning to kill them when the FBI came crashing down.

“Johnnie Boy definitely wanted to revenge his father,” Darin said. “I remember his dad’s wake in the Bronx. I was like 18 and didn’t know all the wiseguys then. It was mostly Johnnie’s friends. The Petrucelli brothers went crazy after that. I started a life of crime with Johnnie Boy. His father was on his way out of a girlfriend’s apartment trying to get to his navy-blue Mazda 929 when he got hit. Johnnie Boy got the car when the FBI was done with it. All the panels were ripped out. We didn’t care. We still drove it around. That was kind of weird, I guess, driving around in FBI evidence.

“After his father’s closed-casket funeral, Johnnie got the car and $4,000 cash from his grandmother, and I stood by Johnnie. We tried to make money and started using the car to do robberies. The FBI crime scene was the getaway car. The first crime we did was rob a New Rochelle bookmaker one night in 1989. We just knocked on his door and Johnnie stuck an unloaded gun in his face. We grabbed $3,500 and left the guy in his bathtub. Then we started robbing baseball cards in Yonkers and Hartsdale and spending money on clothes at the Cross County Mall. Our technique was simple: Break the glass with a baseball bat and run in.

“We robbed assault rifles from a sporting-goods store. We were down in the Bronx when some Albanians we were always arguing with shot up our cars. Johnnie Boy came back and killed one of them outside a bar. That was his first murder.

“Then Johnnie told me he killed another guy to revenge his brother, Joey. Johnnie said he just ran into a crowd of kids in the Bronx and stabbed one kid to death. He didn’t even know if it was the right guy and didn’t care. I gave the FBI Johnnie’s three murders. It will be difficult to testify against him, though. Loyalty died with his old man, but Johnnie never betrayed me.”

By 1991, Darin Mazzarella had moved from violence to bookmaking. He opened an office in a building controlled by a friend’s father on 109th Street, between First and Second Avenues, and was making $100,000 on some weekends. The crack dealers on the corner never messed with Anthony “Blue Eyes” Santorelli’s Tanglewood Boys.

They still gathered in the parking lot, but the Tanglewood Boys were rich now. On February 2, 1992, the Mazzarella brothers went to a friend’s house for a party in Tuckahoe. An older Gambino associate was snorting coke in the bathroom all night and teasing Nick Mazzarella, who then grabbed the guy by the throat and choked him. He fell to the floor, unconscious. Another Tanglewood Boy ran into the kitchen and stabbed him in the neck with a kitchen knife.

“I never saw anyone killed before,” Darin recalled. “Instead of people breaking the stereo while his parents were away, we killed somebody in this kid’s house. We wrapped his body in a handmade quilt, and I drove his van with the body to Manhattan. We had just seen Goodfellas and were listening to the CD on the stereo. I left the van on the Upper East Side with a body.” The case went unsolved until Darin and Nick, who were both wired by the FBI, ratted out their friends. Nick pleaded guilty to the murder last month, and Darin admitted dumping the body.

Then, on February 4, 1994, the Tanglewood Boys killed a 21-year-old Mercy College student in a very public way. Louis Balancio was knifed to death outside the Strike Zone Bar, a mob hangout, now closed, across the street from Darin’s high school in Yonkers. Although there may have been as many as 30 witnesses, none came forward.

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