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Not-so-secret ties between Pennsylvania Mob and The Man

Luna murder resembles infamous 1932 mob hit of former Pennsylvania chief justice's uncle

Posted October 5, 2007 -- Who left the body of Jonathan Luna near the trees, with the winter birds sipping from the freezing creek?

John Bazzano: Not-so-secret 1932 mob hit haunts family of PA Supreme Court chief justice

We should ask a reasonable question: did the mob have a hand in the death of Jonathan Luna?

In the old days, if a policeman or a federal prosecutor turned up dead nearby, mobsters would be quaking in their wingtips, as they knew, their fault or not, retribution from The Man would come swift and severe.

That's why a don would keep such things from happening in his territory. That's why a don doesn't hang out a sign that says, "Dead prosecutor drop off." It draws too much attention, and heat.

In the Luna case, all this becomes an interesting subject.

One would imagine, had the mob been involved in Luna's death, that his body would not have been found, let alone in one piece, off Exit 286 of the Pennsylvania turnpike. He would simply have disappeared. Unless, of course, the murder was botched. Or somebody felt they were protected. Or someone was sending a message.

The mob loves to send messages. You'd think they work for Western Union. In The Godfather, when Vito Corleone's henchman, Luca Brasi, goes missing, his vest arrives wrapped around fish. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes, Sonny is told. It was a message, and a warning.

After Sam Giancana was subpoenaed to appear before the Church committee on assassinations in 1975, he was found murdered at home, killed by someone he trusted, a wound to the back of his head, and five bullet holes around his mouth. It was a message, and a warning, to others not to talk.

Precisely because the body was found off the Pennsylvania turnpike, Luna's body was left strangely on the doorstep of the Pennsylvania mob. In recent years the turnpike has had peculiar contacts with organized crime families, and not just in its security operations. In Pennsylvania, amazingly, in more ways than one, The Man has been married to The Mob.

Three crime territories in Pennsylvania:
bosses well known, does one have a slot license?

There are three organized crime territories in Pennsylvania, not counting Philadelphia: east, middle, and western Pennsylvania. It's an open secret in law enforcement circles who controls these territories, yet for some reason no one does much, if anything, about it. In fact, the Pennsylvania Crime Commission was disassembled in the 1990s by state politicians angered at the agency's successful pursuit of mob infiltration of the state attorney general's office.

The mob payroll includes attorneys general, judges, agents and cops. Philadelphia is in a class by itself. Philadelphia municipal corruption investigations are neverending. Genovese family ally Nicky Scarfo rose to prominence in the early 1980s, in part because he'd been exiled, after a barroom brawl, to Atlantic City in the early 1970s. When casino gambling was approved in 1976, Scarfo had learned the ropes of the Atlantic City construction business well enough to control the unions. The mob threatened strikes if the casino developers didn't pay them off. Scarfo also owned his own construction company, and would later murder his own partner, Vincent Falcone.

The web site Organized Crime and Political Corruption (, reports, "Vincent Falcone was a partner with Scarfo in his construction company. Scarfo believed that Falcone was ripping him off, but his only real crime was to criticize Scarfo's quality of workmanship in the construction business. Scarfo and (Scarfo's nephew Philip) Leonetti invited Falcone to a hideaway where they had dinner. After they ate and drank, Leonetti shot Falcone in the back of the head. Scarfo celebrated by drinking more, putting his hand on Falcone's still body to feel for his heart beat, ordering his nephew, Leonetti to shoot him one more time in the heart. With them at the time was another Bruno family member, Joe Salerno, who feared he, too, would be killed."

In the 1980s, in Philadelphia, the feds inadvertently caught leaders of a rackets-influenced Roofers Union handing envelopes stuffed with cash to more than a dozen city judges at Christmas time. When the dust settled, RICO violations were filed against fourteen judges, a Department of Labor official, and thirty-six city and state officials. The Labor Department demanded a trusteeship of the union, "to prevent the union from being managed as a racketeering enterprise in the future." No such probation was placed on Pennsylvania courts. Instead, worthy of note here, several of the collared judges were made into "cooperating witnesses" by the FBI. The corruption of Pennsylvania courts finally threatened judicial independence. Judges presiding over cases while wearing FBI wires found their rulings thrown out by shocked appellate courts forced to uphold the notion that defendants should not be tried by agents of the government.

Here's Morgan Henry Morgan

Prohibition speakeasy: In his memoir Here's Morgan, old-time radio star Henry Morgan writes that during Prohibition he used to visit a saloon in the basement of the PA state capitol building in Harrisburg

Several recent Pennsylvania attorneys general had close ties to organized crime, including Ernie Preate, who went to prison for fixing gambling cases while taking unreported money from gamblers. In the last two decades, every state row office but the governorship has seen an officeholder successfully prosecuted for corruption. Will that soon change? There's obviously a deep and enduring problem in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania courts, which often condone organized crime activity, as we'll see, remain the laughingstock of the nation, and have direct ties to organized crime.

It's worth mentioning that, at the time of Jonathan Luna's disappearance, slot machine gambling was being hotly debated in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Gambling's a cash cow for the mob, as Nicky Scarfo demonstrated. In Maryland, Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich was the main proponent of slot machines. If Ehrlich and his Republicans were damaged due to scandals, the prospects for slot machines in Maryland, and mob profits, dimmed.

In early March 2007, Luna's boss, former U.S. Attorney Tom DiBiagio, in fact called in a New York Times reporter to say he believed he'd been forced from his job because he'd been investigating alleged ties between gambling proponents and staff members working for former Maryland Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich. DiBiagio said he felt his life at one point was threatened during the curtailed investigation, but that the FBI refused to protect him.

"There was direct pressure not to pursue these investigations," the Times quotes DiBiagio. "The practical impact was to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations."

In Pennsylvania, at the same time, under governor Ed Rendell, a convicted felon with known ties to organized crime was successfully seeking a casino license by giving office holders in both political parties large campaign contributions.

Speakeasy in the state capitol building:
PA mob is service provider

In Pennsylvania the mob and state government go together like, well, beer and sausage. It may be hard for outsiders to believe, but the mob has for a long time been a not-so-silent partner of Pennsylvania state government. Examples are flagrant, and always humorous to Pennsylvanians.

In his 1994 book, Here's Morgan, old-time radio personality Henry Morgan talks about attending school in Harrisburg, the state capitol, in 1929 and 1930. Morgan writes:

The way we got drunk on Saturday nights was this. (These were Prohibition years, mind you.) Downtown, there was a small saloon in the basement of the State Capitol. The Building that housed the Government of the State of Pennsylvania. The saloon had an inside entrance which I never saw, and an outside entrance lit by a single, naked bulb. (My schoolmates) and I were the only teens allowed in ("'Sall right, they're Academy kids") and that's where we drank needle beer. This is ordinary beer which is amplified by advancing the tap all the way, thus allowing a "needle" of real ether to shoot into the glass.

Who supplied the beer? Who supplies the women? Not the Amish. In Pennsylvania, the mob is a service provider.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, whose highway hosted Jonathan Luna in the last minutes of his life, is Pennsylvania's bipartisan patronage dumping ground. Organized crime is a family trade at the turnpike. Until early in 2003, the executive director of the Pennsylvania turnpike was John Durbin, Jr. Durbin was appointed to head the turnpike in 1995 by Gov. Tom Ridge, the once and future homeland security director.

Turnpike Executive Director Durbin's uncle was Aldo Magnelli, the Russell Bufalino capo who was caught with his boss at the Apalachin soda pop convention in 1957. Durbin's father, John Durbin, Sr., of Windber, married Romilda Magnelli, sister of Aldo Magnelli.

John Durbin, Sr.'s lasting political legacy was a political action committee, or PAC, which he formed. He bequeathed the PAC to his son, John Durbin, Jr. God only knows how and for what services the funds in the PAC were raised by the father; it's well known what the son did with the PAC. He raised even more money, and donated most of it -- tens of thousands of dollars -- to Tom Ridge, when Ridge was running for governor of Pennsylvania in 1994. At the time, Durbin, Jr. was a lower-level functionary at the turnpike commission.

In return for the PAC money, upon his election, Gov. Tom Ridge appointed Durbin, Jr. executive director of the turnpike commission.

Ridge's appointment of Durbin to head the turnpike is only one example of cash and carry government that today makes careless spoils of our government. It was during the administration of Tom Ridge that Schaad Detective Agency began providing security for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. In Harrisburg in 2003, bank robbers were found with extremely well-made Pennsylvania drivers licenses. PA drivers licenses, I'm told, are offered on the street for several hundred dollars a piece. "You wouldn't believe how real they look. They looked better than the real ones," I've was told by someone who was offered a fake ID in a bar.

The Pennsylvania turnpike headquarters, like the Pennsylvania transportation building, where drivers licenses are made and issued, is guarded by employees of the Schaad Detective Agency. A Pennsylvania newspaper publisher and a city police commissioner passed along allegations to the federal government that the owner of the Schaad Detective Agency enjoys a not-so-secret involvement with a courthouse sex ring. The feds to date have done nothing.

Tom Ridge's turnpike director, John Durbin, Jr., was replaced in early 2003 by a new executive director, Joseph Brimmeier, of Pittsburgh. Democrat Mitchell Rubin, of Philadelphia, became the new turnpike chairman. These and other changes came with the election of Democrat Governor Rendell.

Jobs, and unbelievably lucrative turnpike business contracts, rolled to different people with the turning of the parties after eight years of Republican control.

Zappalas and Bazzanos

The Democrats have their own interesting familial bonds. A longtime turnpike bond underwriter and a recently retired state supreme court chief justice are immediate family to late Pittsburgh mobster John Bazzano. Bazzano married into the Zappala family of Pittsburgh.

Zappalas are principals in the firm Russell, Rea, Zappala and Gomulka, which through much of the 1980s and 90s controversially underwrote, in a no-bid fashion, most of the financing bonds for the turnpike. True family bonds.

Justice Stephen Zappala

Justice Ralph Cappy

Well-dressed court capos: Chief Justices Stephen Zappala (top) and protege Ralph Cappy were focus of 1990s impeachment proceedings. Cappy, who presided over a recent legal case allowing slot machine gambling in Pennsylvania, in September 2007 announced he was retiring early from the bench, to spend more time with his family.

Newly retired Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala, a brother to one of the bond underwriters, found himself, in the mid-1990s, at the center of the first impeachment proceedings of a state supreme court justice in a century. Zappala and fellow justice Ralph Cappy stood accused by a brethren justice of fixing cases involving the interests of Zappala's brothers' bonding firm. Chief Justice Zappala retired at the end of 2002, having reached mandatory retirement age. He was succeeded as chief justice by his protege, Ralph Cappy.

Cappy kept his mentor working for the court in an emeritus role. Chief Justice Cappy decried in early 2003 that Zappala would oversee the state judiciary’s computer upgrades. Cappy, who presided over a recent legal case allowing slot machine gambling in Pennsylvania, in September 2007 announced he was retiring early from the bench, to spend more time with his family.

Justice Zappala's son, Stephen, Jr., now sits as district attorney in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County. In Pittsburgh, murder rates are at an all-time high, even though the population is declining.

Family patriarch, the late Frank J. Zappala, Sr., came to prominence as a Pittsburgh attorney, magistrate and state representative. He would father the state supreme court chief justice and the bond underwriter. Frank, Sr., had something in common with John Durbin, Sr. For years it was one of the closest held secrets in Pennsylvania politics.

"Frank Zappala's sister was married to gangster John Bazzano," I was told one day, when a reader learned I was working on a book about Jonathan Luna. "Look into what happened to John Bazzano," I was told. Though Bazzano is stuff of legend in Pittsburgh, I'd never heard of him.

Bazzano, it turns out, died in a curious fashion in 1932. For the purposes of this story, very curious. He died not in a hail of bullets, but a hail of ice picks.

Twenty-two tiny pricks to the skin, to be precise.

I was referred to an interesting article titled, "Mafia has long history here, growing from bootlegging," published on November 6, 2000, by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article is interesting not only for what it reports, but for what it omits. In it, reporter Torsten Ove writes colorfully of Bazzano:

John Bazzano, whose son John Bazzano, Jr. is one of the few remaining Pittsburgh mob members, became the new boss.

An unimposing Sicilian who immigrated to the United States in the 1890s, John Sr. worked as a theater manager, then built an empire by controlling sugar and yeast for beer makers. He lived with his wife and five children in a palatial Mt. Lebanon home where the lawn was "as smooth as golf links."

It's notable Ove's story doesn't mention who Bazzano's wife was: the aunt of the then-current chief justice of the state supreme court. The story continues:

In 1932, he (Bazzano) tried to consolidate his power by ordering the most spectacular gang murder in the city's history: the Volpe killings....

The eight Volpe brothers were racketeers in the Turtle Creek Valley who claimed royal Italian blood and virtually owned police and politicians in Wilmerding. One of them, James, served on Wilmerding Council...

John Volpe drove a 16-cylinder Cadillac with bulletproof windows and a license plate that read "J.V.8." -- the 8 stood for the eight brothers. He also wore a watch fob studded with 25 diamonds arranged to form his initials....

But when the brothers expanded their territory into East Liberty and the North Side, Bazzano ordered them rubbed out....

On the morning of July 29, 1932, gunmen pulled up to the coffee shop and opened fire. John was shot four times on the sidewalk. Inside the shop, a spray of bullets struck Arthur Volpe as he ate a bowl of corn flakes. James Volpe died trying to hide behind the counter....

Cappuccino frothed

Bazzano's brother, Santo, meanwhile, managed to hide behind the steel-protected counter in the coffee shop as the three hired gunmen pulled up to serve the Volpes a triple mocha. That day the Volpe brothers got their cappuccino frothed.

And you thought the price of coffee was steep at Starbucks. The Volpe brothers spent their time at Bazzano's coffee shop, a 1932 Post-Gazette article relates, "not because it was their headquarters, but because of business dealings with Bazzano." The August 12, 1932 Post-Gazette, page 5, article further explains,

Bazzano... was the real power in the booze racket in the Hill district and a large part of the downtown when the Volpes, extending their activities from the Turtle Creek Valley, came into Pittsburgh to set up as "big shots" in the liquor traffic here.

Many of Bazzano's customers, it was said in this whispered story, began to slip away from him when the Volpes arrived, and when he investigated, he learned that it was because the Volpes were able in some way to obtain liquor at $24 a case, much less than he could get it for.

Considering it was much more advantageous to put them out of business by shrewdness than by force. Bazzano conferred with the Volpes, the underworld story goes on, and suggested that, since they could buy at so low a price, they sell to him, take their profit and abandon the small selling. The idea of selling in such quantity appealed to the Volpes, it is said, and they began to act as a kind of super-wholesaler, bringing liquor in from Brooklyn and selling it to Bazzano.

But suddenly, according to the underworld story, Bazzano found his customers dropping off once again. Once more he investigated and learned he was being undersold. Further inquiry revealed, say the underworld gossipers, that it was the Volpes who were underselling him -- going to see his customers, offering them the same liquor for less money and leaving Bazzano, with the large store they had sold him, "holding the bag."

Under these circumstances, it was only natural that Bazzano should be interested in seeing those he considered double-crossers "rubbed out," says the underworld -- and when the Volpe's finally were "rubbed out," they pointed out, it also was entirely in order that Bazzano should be the next one to die at the hands of the Volpe's friends.

All this sounds remarkably prototypical of today's sometimes cooperative, sometimes cut-throat non-competitive bond business in Pennsylvania state government. The writer of the 2000 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reminiscence naturally seems to have been, well, in the morgue, reading the articles from the newspaper's 1932 articles. "Gaudy splendor Marks Burial of Three Volpes," ran the August 2, 1932 headline. "More than 250 autos in procession." Torsten Ove, in the 2000 article, writes it like this:

On the weekend of the funeral, an estimated 50,000 people visited the Volpe home to pay their respects -- including judges, prosecutors, police and politicians.

By paying off police, judges and politicians, gangsters had the power to keep the peace, convey favors, sell jobs and take care of neighborhood problems.

Sometimes, of course, killing was also necessary.

Is this what Jonathan Luna discovered? Even then, mobsters had more responsive redress of grievances than most Americans have access to responsive courts. The remaining Volpe brothers filed a complaint to the same mobster commission that J. Edgar Hoover took twenty-five years to admit existed.

Ove relates:

After the Volpe hit, two of the surviving brothers, Louis and Joseph, complained to the La Cosa Nostra Commission in New York, which had been recently formed to oversee Mafia disputes. Because the hit had not been sanctioned, the hierarchy decided to make an example of Bazzano.

In an often-used mob trick, he was lured to a dinner in New York and set upon by almost everyone in attendance.

On Aug. 8, 1932, his body turned up in the middle of a street in Brooklyn, N.Y., wrapped in a burlap sack. He had been stabbed 22 times in the chest with ice picks and strangled with a rope. His tongue had also been cut out and his lips sealed with tape.

Newspaper keeps facts from readers

There's something today's readers of the Post-Gazette weren't being told by their newspaper about this fascinating chapter in Pittsburgh lore, I'd learn. And it wasn't because the Post-Gazette didn't know about it. Readers weren't being told the surprising role Zappala family members played in events surrounding the murders of the Volpe brothers and the retaliatory killing of John Bazzano.

'Tom Ridge's appointment of John Durbin to head the PA turnpike is only one example of cash and carry government that today makes careless spoils of our government.'

A search of public records in the Allegheny County Courthouse reveals only a few clues. Yellowed records disclose that Frank Zappala, Sr., the father of the future state supreme court chief justice, and grandfather of today's Pittsburgh DA, handled the estate of John Bazzano following his mob killing, and represented Bazzano's widow in probate.

But what exactly was Frank Zappala's relationship to racketeer John Bazzano, and his widow? Looking at the courthouse records, it's hard to say. Bazzano's marriage records aren't to be found in the Allegheny County courthouse; perhaps they're filed in another county, the clerk suggested to me.

I finally got the answer from none other than the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In the State Library of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg, I dug through the back issues of the Post-Gazette. I unearthed the Zappala-Bazzano family relationship on no less than the front page of the Friday August 12, 1932, edition, in an article announcing the gangland murder of John Bazzano. The article reports that Pittsburgh homicide detective Frank Ferris traveled to Brooklyn to identify Bazzano's ice pick-stabbed body.

"Ferris had gone to New York with Andrew Zappala, brother-in-law of Bazzano, and had stood beside the body of the slain Pittsburgher in a Brooklyn morgue while Zappala definitely identified the body as that of the man at whose Wylie avenue establishment, the Roma Coffee House, the murders of 'Prince Johnny' Volpe, and his two brothers, Arthur and Jimmy, occurred two weeks ago." (Emphasis mine.)

It takes a tough man to brew a murderous cup of joe, but a rather stupid one to serve it up in his own coffee house. Uncle Andrew Zappala was the dead cappuccino brewer's brother-in-law.

What about Frank Zappala, Sr., the family patriarch? The same article, continued to page 5, relates that before Bazzano was murdered, he was questioned by police about the Volpes' coffee house creaming.

"Bazzano, questioned by homicide detectives in the presence of another brother-in-law, Attorney Frank Zappala, declared that when the Volpe killings occurred he had been in Midland, where he said he operated a restaurant." (Emphasis mine.)

So Frank Zappala, Sr., wasn't only the probate lawyer. He was John Bazzano's brother-in-law and personal attorney. One could say he was Bazzano's counselor, his consigliere. Frank Zappala, Sr., screwed up that job, didn't he?

This dark family secret was carried by Chief Justice Stephen Zappala all the years he sat on the bench, a secret his brothers carried all those years they'd held a strangle-hold (no pun intended) on the lucrative Pennsylvania turnpike bond business. One Pennsylvanian tells me of once asking Supreme Court Justice Zappala about his rumored Bazzano family relationship, only to have Justice Zappala stop the questioner and admonish that this subject never be brought up again. This Pennsylvanian expressed some surprise when I explained that John Bazzano was Justice Zappala's uncle.

We can only speculate the extent to which Frank Zappala, Sr., may have known of Bazzano's business dealings. He certainly knew of the mob's retaliation.

The Post-Gazette reported in 1932, "Quiet grief reigned in Bazzano's palatial home at 1287 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, last night following the first outburst of emotion among Mrs. Bazzano and her five children when the news of Bazzano's violent death was brought to them."

John Bazzano had overreached, and La Cosa Nostra had slapped him back down.

22 tiny stabs wounds

The Post Gazette, in the same 1932 article mentioning Frank and Andrew Zappala, describes the wounds on the body of John Bazzano:

Bazzano's body, trussed up like that of a slain animal, with the head and arms drawn down between his legs, with 22 tiny stab wounds in his chest and the other end of the rope with which he was tied drawn tight about his neck, was found before dawn Monday morning in the middle of Center street, Brooklyn, in the heart of the notorious Red Hook underworld district.

The maimed body, the hands and feet also securely bound, had been thrust into a burlap sack, and from the position in the street where it had been found, New York police believed that Bazzano had been murdered elsewhere and thrown from a speeding automobile in Center street. The face of the murdered man, swollen by strangulation, still was distorted by the anguish of his torturous death.... The New York police representative, who was first at the scene when Bazanno's body was found, denied the story told here that Bazzano's tongue had been severed, and a strip of adhesive plaster stuck across his lips.

The "22 tiny stab wounds" seems eerily similar to the circumstances in which Jonathan Luna was found off the turnpike, slashed violently, but also stabbed by dozens of smaller prick marks, and left face down in the stream.

The fury and number of wounds inflicted on Bazzano clearly expressed mob displeasure with a double-crosser. The motives behind Luna's death appear similar. His death, it seems, was not the result of a chance encounter, or a random act of violence committed on a stranger.

'There was direct pressure not to pursue these investigations," the Times quotes DiBiagio. 'The practical impact was to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations.'

Had Jonathan Luna double-crossed or betrayed someone, as the fury of his wounds perhaps suggest? That night he had failed to complete a plea agreement, as he had promised. By failing to complete this plea deal, he not only left Smith and Poindexter exposed. By not shutting down the case, he left exposed U.S. Attorney Tom DiBiagio, and members of the FBI's "Safe Streets Task Force."

That very evening, hours before his death, Luna had double-crossed several dangerous foes.

Organized crime is what the Pennsylvania turnpike in recent years has been all about. Both political parties flagrantly break the law at the turnpike, with no cop or U.S. attorney in sight. Political patronage was outlawed by a 1991 U.S. Supreme Court decision, but you'd never know it to look at the turnpike's employment roster. Children, family members and friends of turnpike commissioners and legislators bloat the turnpike's staff to this day, flaunting the law, ignored by the FBI. They thumb their noses at the law. It's organized crime of a highly perfected nature.

Did we hear the FBI say sex may have played a hand in Luna's death off the turnpike?

Well, sex and organized crime Share-A-Ride at the Pennsylvania turnpike. Concerned citizens are curiously unable to do anything about it. They are curiously unable to do anything about the allegations dogging the owner of the turnpike's security service, I'd learn. For reasons of politics, the U.S. Justice Department, and the FBI, don't care.

"The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has a history of public scandal and corruption dating to the 1950s," sums up the Allentown Morning Call in an April 18, 2004 article. In its Hall of Shame, the paper lists a 1999 incident involving the wife of the then-president of the state senate and a future lieutenant governor.

In 1999, the paper recalls, "State Sen. Robert Jubelirer files for divorce after nude pictures of his wife, a turnpike employee, are discovered on a computer at work. The employee responsible for the camera used to take the pictures was fired. Jubelirer's wife resigned. Her hiring five years earlier had prompted a lawsuit that was settled for $250,000. The plaintiff also was hired by the turnpike."

What's the wife of a top state senator doing with a turnpike job? Today, Jubelirer has remarried, this time to a judge. He was also recently thrown out of office by voters.

At the Pennsylvania turnpike, at the time of Luna's death in late 2003, different factions, shall we say, were in, while other factions were out. In Pennsylvania government, it's the old in/out.

Tony Soprano takes ticket

Tony Soprano takes New Jerey turnpike ticket: have toll road, will travel...

Did a mob faction dump Jonathan Luna's body near the turnpike as a not-too-subtle message to Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Philadelphia DA and mayor, that they expect a cut of slot machine casino revenues in Pennsylvania? Or because they're upset at being cut out of turnpike contracts and jobs?

What about the many, tiny prick marks on Luna's body, and their remarkable resemblance to the "22 tiny stab wounds" on the body of John Bazzano? Was someone sending an instantly understandable message to Chief Justice Zappala and Cappy's family factions, whose grip so dominated the turnpike and state courts for so many years?

Perhaps it's just a bizarre coincidence. It could also be a deflection by someone in law enforcement, someone well versed in state lore, meant to frame the mob.

If the mob is behind Luna's strange murder, the message sent would be this: they are powerful, their reach is everywhere, they are masters even of the police, and they want to wet their beaks.

Is that why Jonathan was found face down in the stream?

The meaning of the running car, set as if to run over Luna?

That's the turnpike.

They even thought to take a turnpike ticket, like Tony Soprano does at the start of every show, when he enters the New Jersey turnpike. New Jersey, where Luna, curiously, entered the turnpike. Yes, the signs on the turnpike seem to point east.

They even thought to leave a spot of blood on the ticket they returned at the toll booth. A nice touch.

They've bought their way in, they're saying with the ticket.

So expect a midnight ride.


External link:
"Former prosecutor says departure was pressured"
-- The New York Times March 6, 2007


October 27, 2007
"Thanks so much for the article. I have been trying to unravel the Bazzano/Zappala connection for a year or more. I happened to notice John Bazzano's headstone in the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried, and my curiosity was piqued. As an amateur on-line genealogist, I have accumulated some information to add to the story, if you are interested."

Maggie B.
Pittsburgh, PA


Luna page

WHTM-TV Midstate Mysteries: The Death of federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna

A video biography of Jonathan Luna

My cousin Jonathan Luna

To learn more visit the Luna page



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