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Federal prosecutors in Atlanta called on a parade of witnesses with admitted mob connections and a record of heinous crimes at the Gold Club trial. On the witness stand, all recounted a litany of crimes, some with a dry humor at odds with the violence they discussed so matter-of-factly. How this played to the jury, which often chuckled at the tales, remains an open question. Here are the federal government’s most incorrigible witnesses who linked club owner Steven E. Kaplan to organized crime and other illegal activities. � Dino Basciano, now 45, faced a life sentence when he began cooperating with federal prosecutors in New York in 1995 after his arrest in connection with the import and sale of 500 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $2 million. Basciano, a self-described soldier for the Gambino and Luchese crime families, has admitted to murder, attempted murder, numerous assaults, gun-running, truck hijacking, robbery, burglary, credit card fraud, gambling and the fire-bombing of at least two businesses. Federal prosecutors in Atlanta sent a formal memo outlining his cooperation to New York court authorities after Basciano fingered Kaplan as an “earner” for the mob. Basciano spent six years in prison before his release this year. He and his family are in the federal witness security program and have received $188,000 from federal authorities for relocation expenses. � John DiGiorgio, the 45-year-old nephew of Gambino family don John Gotti Sr., was convicted in Florida in 1996 of conspiracy to engage in racketeering and committing violent crimes to aid racketeering activities. After DiGiorgio linked Kaplan to his Florida loan-shark operation in testimony before a federal grand jury in Atlanta, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arthur W. Leach appeared in court on DiGiorgio’s behalf. A federal judge in Florida then cut two years off his prison sentence. DiGiorgio was released this year. When he testified against Kaplan in May, DiGiorgio said he couldn’t remember whether Kaplan or Kaplan’s father actually had been the loan shark. � David Alwais, 38, is Kaplan’s cousin. He first was convicted of credit card fraud and possession of counterfeit currency in 1987. Alwais was arrested again in Florida in 1996 on racketeering charges that included loan-sharking and extortion. As a result, Alwais eventually became a cooperating witness in 1998 — first against DiGiorgio and later against Kaplan. He implicated Kaplan in a stolen-credit card ring, but those charges were not included when Kaplan was indicted. Federal prosecutors in Atlanta wrote a letter to Florida prosecutors on Alwais’ behalf. In addition, Leach and FBI Supervisory Agent John Simmons appeared on his behalf at his sentencing and sentence reduction hearings. In return for his cooperation with federal authorities in Atlanta and Florida, Alwais was released in 1998 — first on bond and then on probation. � Michael Blutrich is a disbarred New York attorney. He was charged with racketeering in New York after federal prosecutors there alleged that his nightclub, Scores, had been infiltrated by the mob. He also pleaded guilty to racketeering and fraud in Florida in connection with a $400 million insurance scam. His Florida plea includes the New York charges. In grand jury testimony and on the witness stand, Blutrich linked Kaplan and alleged mob captain Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo to the Gambino family and said the two men once extorted $100,000 from him and his business partner. Leach wrote a letter on Blutrich’s behalf and took a break in the middle of the Gold Club trial to fly to Florida and appear at Blutrich’s sentencing. Leach had recommended that Blutrich’s original 25-year sentence be reduced to six years. But U.S. District Judge Ann Conway refused, saying that his sentence already had been reduced from 25 years to 16 for his cooperation with the FBI in New York against the Gottis. Blutrich and his family are in the federal witness security program. Blutrich remains in prison where he is housed with other inmates who have entered the program after testifying for federal prosecutors. � Lyle Pfeffer, Blutrich’s business partner, faced the same penalties as Blutrich for racketeering and insurance fraud. Federal prosecutors wrote a letter on his behalf, and Leach appeared at his Florida sentencing. Like Blutrich, Pfeffer remains in prison serving a 25-year sentence. He and his family are in the federal witness security program. THREE OTHERS COOPERATED Three other witnesses who were acknowledged associates of the Gambino family began cooperating with federal prosecutors in New York or Florida. But after they provided information to the Atlanta grand jury about Kaplan’s alleged ties to the mob and his alleged involvement in other crimes such as credit card fraud, their Atlanta cooperation was taken into account when they were sentenced. They are: � Joey Gross, 32, committed his first crime at age 13, and has served three stints in prison on convictions that include bank larceny, drug dealing, illegal firearms possession, attempted murder, car theft and forgery. After his third arrest in 1998 for stealing $500,000 from two bank depositories, Gross became a cooperating federal witness. He was released last year after serving 22 months and is now in the federal witness protection program. Gross testified that Kaplan was closely aligned with the Gambinos and had operated a counterfeit credit card racket in New York nearly two decades ago. � Willie Marshall is a self-described “leg-breaker” for a Mafia loan shark and a former bouncer at Scores. He first became a cooperating witness in New York in an investigation that targeted John A. “Junior” Gotti, then head of the Gambino crime family. As a result, Marshall has spent just nine months in prison. � Michael “Mikey Hop” Sergio once ran dice games and numbers lotteries for the Gambino family in New York. He provided “protection” for Blutrich’s New York nightclub and took a percentage of the nightly cover charge as payment, then “kicked up” a share of his take to the Gottis. After Sergio cooperated with New York authorities in the Scores racketeering investigation, he was sentenced to two years, but was released immediately for “time served.” LENIENCY FOR THREE MORE? Three other felons who testified against Kaplan are expecting letters from federal prosecutors in Atlanta asking for leniency, Sadow says. “Whatever Art Leach ultimately does for John Givens has got to be the worst,” Sadow says. “That man does not deserve to see the light of day.” They are: � “Big” John Givens, 29, a former bouncer at Kaplan’s Club Boca in Florida and Kaplan’s alleged “enforcer” there, is now in federal prison on convictions for racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and the attempted murder of government witnesses. During Kaplan’s trial, Givens told of his torture of a drug dealer whom he had handcuffed and blindfolded. He then slit his victim’s nostrils and forced burning cigars up his nose. Givens also admitted that he had tortured a second man and cut off his ear, then left him for dead. During Kaplan’s trial, Givens acknowledged that he began cooperating with federal authorities in Florida only after they discovered his plan to kill five witnesses who had testified against him, and he learned that the Mafia had put out a contract on his life. He is seeking a reduction in his 13-year prison sentence. He is currently in the federal witness security program. � Hal Cherney, 39, is a Givens associate who posed as a DEA agent to kidnap, torture and rob drug dealers. He, too, is seeking a reduction in his federal prison sentence. � David Campo, is a convicted drug trafficker now in the federal witness security program. Campo acknowledged that he robbed drug dealers and stole cars. He testified that he once provided Kaplan with false identification papers for a fugitive the club owner was helping who had committed a diamond robbery.

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