Catania

Mobster-turned-state-witness Antonio Calderone dead

Lifted lid on Cosa Nostra from '60s, police head Manganelli says

Mobster-turned-state-witness Antonio Calderone dead

Catania, January 10 - Senior mobster turned state witness Antonino Calderone, 78, has died at the secret overseas location he had been living in for years under an assumed identity, Italian Police Chief Antonio Manganelli told reporters on Thursday. Along with Tommaso Buscetta, Salvatore Contorno, and Francesco Marino Mannoia, Calderone helped Palermo magistrates build an accurate, sweeping picture of the inner workings of the Mafia and its relationships with entrepreneurs and politicians in eastern Sicily, where the state had been unaware of its existence until 1982. The underboss of a Catania crime syndicate, Calderone fled to Nice, in France, following the 1978 assassination of his brother and boss, Giuseppe, which paved the way for the rise of the Ferlito and Santapaola clans. In Nice, where he renounced the life of crime and opened a laundromat, Calderone turned state witness upon realizing the Mafia had infiltrated the French construction sector and would likely catch up with him. Fearing for his life, he specifically asked to speak to crusading Palermo prosecuting magistrate, the late Giovanni Falcone, becoming a critical source of information on the history of the Mafia from the 1960s onwards. He recounted the war for supremacy between the Ferlito and Santapaola clans, culminating in the June 1982 assassination of Alfio Ferlito during a prison transfer, in which two carabinieri policemen and one civilian were also killed. That operation, according to Calderone, signaled an alliance between Nitto Santapaola, who ordered the hit, and the Palermo clans: they went into action again with the September 1982 hit on carabinieri general and Palermo prefect, Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, killing him along with his wife and a body guard. Calderone also unveiled the perverse relationships between organized crime and the business sector: in Catania, but also in Gela and in Agrigento, the Mafia extorted money, and in return helped entrepreneurs thrive, for example by providing false invoices. ''Calderone made a great contribution to our understanding of the Mafia phenomenon,'' Manganelli said, adding that the ex boss had ''entrusted'' his family to him once he ''shed his mafioso skin''. Manganelli called the Calderone family to express his condolences. photo: Manganelli

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