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Carmine "The Snake" Persico is one of most enduring godfathers in Mafia history, leading the Colombo crime family for more than 30 years.
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The newly established mob boss tried acting as his own lawyer, but was ultimately unable to escape the government: In January 1987, Persico was sentenced to 100 years in prison—a virtual death sentence.
Even from prison, Carmine Persico tried to maintain his control of the family and hand the reign of power over to his son, Alphonse. A rival faction led by Vic Orena vied for power, causing another brutal mob war to ensue. The battle ended when Vic Orena was imprisoned for racketeering, ensuring Persico's top post.
In 1999, Alphonse Persico was sent to prison on a gun charge. Fearing a growing threat that mobster William "Wild Bill" Cutolo might attempt to wrest control of the Colombo family away from the Persicos, Carmine Persico decided to eliminate the possible candidate, and "Wild Bill" Cutolo was murdered in Brooklyn on May 26, 1999. Cutolo's son, Bill Jr., was so dismayed by his father's murder, however, that he cooperated with the FBI and ultimately helped bring down Alphonse Persico, getting him sentenced to life in prison.
Carmine Persico still stands as head of the Colombo family, but it's a family in tatters.
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