One of America’s most feared gangsters has passed away at 85.
Carmine (The Snake) Persico, longtime leader of New York’s Colombo crime family met his maker at Duke University Medical Center as he served out a sentence at the federal prison in Butner, N.C.
The exact cause of his death is unclear but it is thought that it may be linked to leg infections suffered by Persico in recent months.
In 2016, his lawyer Anthony DiPietro wrote: “Mr. Persico is legally blind in his right eye, and has diminished vision in his left eye. He also has limited use of his left and right arms and a deformity of his left wrist that has severely impacted his upper mobility.”
“Mr. Persico is also predominantly wheelchair-bound as a result of his emphysema. In addition, Mr. Persico suffers from anemia and a multitude of cardiac issues that require periodic medical attention,” he added.
Persico sued the prison warden and a doctor at the prison last year over alleged “deliberate indifference” to his deteriorating medical condition and calling for his compassionate release.
At the time he had serious infections in his legs, and was trying to block doctors from amputating his leg above the knee.
Persico had been behind bars since the mid-80s when he was found guilty as part of the infamous ‘Commission trial’ along with two more of New York’s top crime family bosses.
He was given a 139-year sentence for murder and racketeering and spent the final 36 years of his life locked up.
However, various accounts claim that he remained at the head of the Colombo crime family despite his incarceration.
Persico was born on August 8 1933 in Brooklyn, New York.
Her father worked at a law firm in the city as a stenographer, while his mother was a housewife.
Carmine had one sister, Dolores, and two brothers, Alphonse and Theodore, who both followed his life of crime.
He first came to police attention at the age of 17 following the death of a youngster during a fight in the city’s Prospect Park.
It was in his twenties that Persico became a leading figure in the Colombo family gang, headed by Joe Colombo.
Persico, who was serving a 139-year sentence, was put away in 1986 following his conviction in the landmark “Mafia Commission” case.
Many believe that he still ran his crime family from behind bars, making him the longest-reigning mob boss in history.
The federal case, led by then-Manhattan US Attorney Rudy Giuliani, also ensnared Lucchese family boss Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo, Genovese boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and five others on a slew of racketeering charges.
At the time, prosecutors claimed that the mobsters were “some of the most dangerous, ruthless and heretofore untouchable hoodlums ever to stand before the bar of justice.”
“Carmine Persico was born in August 1933 and killed his first human being in 1951, before his 18th birthday,” they added in court documents.
Persico earned his infamous “Snake” nickname after he tried to carry out a hit on a friend and fellow mob boss.