September 18, 2014
This Week in Gang Land
70 Years Later, 'Greatest Generation' Federal Judges Still Going Strong
They come from different backgrounds. And they each have different philosophies about the law. But five Eastern District of New York (EDNY) federal judges who have been dealing with the criminal justice system in their own ways for more than 50 years – and with crime and punishment of New York wiseguys for decades – are members of an unusual brotherhood: The "Greatest Generation" of federal judges who served their country during World War II.
Gang Land – which has unabashedly noted the "Greatest Generation" heroics of mobsters over the years – today heralds the wartime actions of the five jurists who spent a total of 15 years on the ground, on the high seas, and in a submarine from 1943 to 1946. They have served a total of 175 years on the EDNY bench since Jack Weinstein was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.
The EDNY plans to post video interviews of the quintet – which is the largest group of living World War II veterans sitting in any of the 94 U.S federal courts – on its website next month to commemorate Veteran's Day. But there's no time like the present to note the accomplishments of Weinstein, 93, and I. Leo Glasser, 90, who sit in Brooklyn, as well as Thomas Platt, 89, Leonard Wexler, 89, and Arthur Spatt, 88, who are assigned to the courthouse in Central Islip.
It's the Mafia version of the Seinfeld episode in which everyone lives in Bizarro world: Four years into his prosecution, mob prince Michael Persico has now decided he wants to ditch a spectacular plea deal that is the envy of gangsters everywhere, and face trial for murder. And the feds, instead of jumping at the chance to rescind the deal, are insisting that Persico take the deal, rather than take him to trial where a long prison term is a likely outcome, given the slim chances of Persico winning acquittal on all 15 counts in his racketeering indictment.
Acting Bonanno crime family boss Thomas (Tommy D) DiFiore got his first wish: He won't have to stand trial alongside a 79-year-old capo charged with the storied Lufthansa Airlines robbery and a 45-year-old murder. Now he's working on a second one: Not to stand trial at all on extortion charges involving a $75,000 loan to a car wash worker that was the subject of a high-level sitdown between the Bonanno and Gambino families.
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