Witness says big purses drawing organized crime BOXING

April 02, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- Former Mafia underboss Salvatore Gravano, known as "Sammy the Bull," testified before a Senate panel yesterday that the co-managers of former welterweight champion Buddy McGirt are "associates" of the Gambino crime family in New York.

The hearings were the latest in a series on boxing corruption held by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

The two managers -- Al Certo and Stuart Weiner -- responded to the allegations with dramatically different comments.

Certo passionately denied the charges, but Weiner, named as an unindicted co-conspirator on state racketeering charges last year in New York, pleaded the Fifth Amendment to every question posed by the panel.

Gravano, whose testimony helped convict Gambino crime boss John Gotti on murder and racketeering charges last year, is the ** second mob figure to testify before the subcommittee, following Michael Franzese, former captain of the Colombo crime family, who testified in August.

"Al Certo is a family associate," said Gravano, who testified before the panel that he had murdered 19 people as an underboss. "Certo is with JoJo Corozzo, who is a 'made' member [an outsider who takes an oath of allegiance to his new group] of the Gambino crime family."

L Gravano did not say when -- or how -- the association began.

"You guys pick out people with Italian names," Certo said, almost yelling at the panel. "You guys look at me with my dark glasses, and you see that I talk out of the side of my mouth, and you think I must be with the Mafia.

"I'd like to participate in a lie-detector test, and I'd like Gravano to participate in a lie-detector test, in front of all you guys, and then we'll see who's lying. I've never seen this man in my life."

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