||Palermo| Francesco Marino Mannoia
Born: March 5, 1951 - Palermo
He was raised in Palermo, the capital of Siciliy, and joined the Santa Maria di Gesù Mafia Family, headed by Stefano Bontade. He was highly sought after by all Mafia families for his skills in chemistry to be used to refine heroin. Marino Mannoia recalled having refined at least 1000 kilograms of heroin for Bontade. He was also suspected of being involved in at least seventeen homicides.
During the Mafia War of the early 1980s his boss, Stefano Bontade, was murdered along with hundreds of associates. Mannoia only survived because he was in prison at the time for drug trafficking. He escaped from prison in 1983 with the help of his young brother, a hitman named Agostino Marino Mannoia. They met with Corleonesi boss Salvatore Riina to establish their position in the dramatically altered landscape of the Sicilian Mafia and were both allowed to live and work under the auspices of the Corleonesi boss. Francesco Marino Mannoia became a major refiner of heroin for the Corleonesi.
In 1986 he was recaptured and returned to prison. On 20 April 1989, his brother Agostino Marino Mannoia - then aged twenty-three - vanished and was never seen again. His bloodstained car was found later that day. Francesco Mannoia realised his brother had been killed. As it turned out, both Mannoia brothers had been plotting along with Vincenzo Puccio to overthrow Salvatore Riina as the boss of the Sicilian Mafia. Somehow word had gotten out and Agostino Marino Mannoia was the first of the conspiritors against Riina who would die. Puccio and his brothers followed soon afterwards.
In October 1989 Francesco Mannoia contacted Anti-Mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino and declared his wish to cooperate with the authorities. He followed in the footsteps of Tommaso Buscetta and Salvatore Contorno in becoming an informant. His collaboration was important because he was the first pentito that came out of the winning faction of the Second Mafia War. He was able to update the authorities in the activities within Cosa Nostra throughout the 1980s, including the fates of Filippo Marchese and Giuseppe Greco. Not long after he began to talk to the authorities Mannoia's mother, aunt and one of his sisters were murdered in their Bagheria home as revenge, it being a common tactic by the Mafia to kill the relatives of the pentiti to discourage others from similar cooperation with authorities.
Marino Mannoia was admitted into the Witness Protection Program in the United States (Italy had no such programme at the time). In the US, he testified against the Sicilian faction of the Gambino Family, the so-called Cherry Hill Gambino's, Giovanni, Rosario and Giuseppe Gambino. He also disclosed that Roberto Calvi – God's banker of the Banco Ambrosiano and the Vatican – had been killed by the Mafia because he had lost Cosa Nostra's criminal proceeds when the Banco Ambrosiano collapsed.
In 1996 he gave evidence against former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti who was accused of Mafia association. He claimed Andreotti had met with Stefano Bontade in the 1970s. Whilst giving his testimony, Mannoia admitted he had been one of the men who had stolen the Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence, a painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio that has never been seen since it was stolen in 1969 (the artwork was believed, at one point, to have been in the hands of the late Mafia boss Rosario Riccobono.) Currently he lives in an undisclosed location with a new identity in the FBI Witness Protection Program, having been granted American citizenship after testifying against a number of Sicilian Mafiosi at work in the USA.
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