Thursday, December 19, 2013

Meet Joseph DiSomma, Convicted Felon and Controller of St. Francis Prep

My first year at St. Francis Prep, I worked for Br. Mark. He was the head of the Computer Science and Business Department. I liked him very much. Besides being a good man, on his free periods he would light scented candles in our office and crochet. What's not to like?

A few months into that school year, Br. Mark told me that the man running the school's finances,
Joseph Disomma, is a convicted jewel thief. He told me his nickname is Joey Diamonds, and that he has mafia ties. He told me many things, but that was one of them. That was a biggie. He also told me that so long as he was there, he would protect me from all the nonsense that the administration dished out. Those were his exact words, "I will protect you." Br. Mark quit at the end of that school year  - 2008 - and he had to get permission from Br. Bill Boslet, the Superior General of the Franciscans, to do it. Br. Mark just could not take the bullshit anymore. He gave me three main reasons he was leaving - Br. Leonard, Patrick McLaughlin, and Joseph Disomma. On his last day, he apologized to me. He said "I'm sorry I won't be able to protect you anymore." But I am a big girl, I knew I would handle it.

About a year later, my good friend at the time, Andrea, was overheard in the faculty lounge talking about Joey Diamonds. She was soon summoned to Patrick McLaughlin's office, and Joseph Disomma was there. She was told to never speak of "Joey Diamonds" again, so she didn't.

Someone who is now a reporter for Newsday, and who previously worked at the Daily News, recently forwarded some information about Joseph "Joey Diamonds" Disomma,.

This is what her investigation turned up:

The SFP principal refused to get on the phone with me when told I was
calling about Disomma.

 From Federal Parole spokesman:

Joseph Disomma, DOB 1/28/1966, was sentenced to 57 months in prison
for conspiracy to commit robbery.

He was convicted on May 11, 1992 in the Southern NY District under
Judge Cedarbaum.

His sentence started on Oct. 19, 1993.

He was released on Sept. 19, 1997.

He was at the following facilities in chronological order:

Danbury, CT (minimum security)

Loretto, PA (low security - an UPGRADED security level from min.)

Fort Dix, NJ (low security)

Then to a half-way house under NY Correction supervision

He had 223 days shaved off his sentence for good behavior, and 79 days
credited for time served during the trial.

Newsday (New York)

May 29, 1991, Wednesday, CITY EDITION

Thieves Convicted

BYLINE: M.P. McQueen


LENGTH: 87 words

Four men have been convicted on charges they operated a violent
jewelry theft and fencing racket, stealing more than $ 1.2 million
over eight years in robberies from New Jersey to Florida.

Paul Tinnirello, 37, of Babylon, L.I.; Lorenzo Gregory, 36, of Staten
Island, Joseph DiSomma, 25 of Brooklyn and Charles Lachterman, 41, who
is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center because he has
been convicted of state burglary charges, were convicted by a federal
district court jury in Manhattan Friday.

U.S. v. FRIEDMAN - Argued November 30, 1992.



998 F.2d 53 (1993)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee-Cross-Appellant,


Felix FRIEDMAN, Lawrence Tinnirello, Paul Tinnirello, Lorenzo Gregory,
a/k/a "Fat Larry," Frank Mucchiello, a/k/a "Frankie Mooch," Joseph
DiSomma, a/k/a "Joe Diamonds," Francis Tinnirello, Michael Pugliese,
and Charles Lachterman, a/k/a "Charlie Lucky," Defendants,

Charles Lachterman, Defendant-Appellant, and

Joseph DiSomma, Defendant-Appellant-Cross-Appellee.

Nos. 617, 446, 467, Dockets 92-1373, 92-1274, 92-1306.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Argued November 30, 1992.

Decided June 10, 1993.

James B. Comey, Asst. U.S. Atty., New York City (Otto G. Obermaier,
U.S. Atty. for the S.D.N.Y., Andrew C. McCarthy, Asst. U.S. Atty., New
York City, of counsel), for appellee-cross-appellant.

Linda Imes, Richards Spears Kibbe & Orbe, New York City (Michele R.M.
Campbell, Debevoise & Plimpton, New York City, of counsel), for
defendant-appellant Charles Lachterman.

Joann Harris, New York City, for defendant-appellant-cross-appellee
Joseph DiSomma.

Before: OAKES and WINTER, Circuit Judges, and CONBOY,* District Judge.


WINTER, Circuit Judge:

This appeal by Charles Lachterman and Joseph DiSomma1 involves
questions regarding the applicability of U.S.S.G. § 2X1.1 to Hobbs Act
convictions, a sentencing court's degree of discretion in applying an
obstruction of justice enhancement when the jury has necessarily
concluded that the defendant lied at trial, and the proof sufficient
to establish that predicate acts are related to a criminal RICO

[ 998 F.2d 55 ]

We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for resentencing.


These appeals arise from convictions following a government
investigation into the criminal activities of the "Friedman/Tinnirello
Organization." Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
government, the following facts were established at trial. Since 1983,
the Friedman/Tinnirello group, operating from a variety of retail
stores and jewelry booths in Manhattan's 47th Street jewelry district,
fenced hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen personal
property and jewelry. Members of the group also maintained a steady
supply of jewelry through a wide variety of robberies, burglaries, and
fraudulent schemes. The nucleus of the group consisted of three
brothers, Lawrence, Paul, and Francis Tinnirello, as well as Felix
Friedman, Joseph DiSomma, and Lorenzo Gregory. This opinion concerns
only the activities of Joseph DiSomma (Tinnirello's cousin) and
Charles Lachterman, see Note 1 supra, who were convicted for their
roles in the organization.

A. Joseph DiSomma

In the fall of 1989, Lawrence Tinnirello, Lawrence Taylor, and Richard
Skowronski conspired to rob the Telco Jewelry store where Skowronski
worked. United States v. Skowronski,968 F.2d 242 (2d Cir.1992). The
government alleges that Joseph DiSomma, Skowronski's closest friend,
was part of this conspiracy and was instrumental in its planning. The
store carried between $200,000 and $300,000 in inventory and was
equipped with a safe and a metal roll-down gate which covered the
storefront at closing. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the period
of the conspiracy, the store also employed security guards during the
evening hours of business. The plan called for the robbers to enter
the Telco store after the exterior window gates had been closed for
the day and "clean ... the whole ... place out."

Government wire-taps revealed that on November 18, Tinnirello and
Taylor discussed the proposed robbery. Tinnirello indicated that he
would "check ... out" the Telco store, pretending to be an ordinary
customer, and that they would "move" if the store contained at least
$200,000 in jewelry. Two days later, Tinnirello left a message on
DiSomma's answering machine saying that he wanted "to meet Richie
[Skowronski] this week and take a look at that thing." DiSomma
returned the call, saying that he had spoken with Skowronski about the
plan. The two agreed that they should meet with Skowronski after
Thanksgiving. On November 27, Tinnirello informed DiSomma that he and
Taylor would check out the Telco store the following day, but would
warn Skowronski of their planned visit. DiSomma added that Skowronski
should not greet them, thereby revealing that he knew them, but should
just "be cool" when they arrived at the store.

On Thanksgiving morning, Tinnirello recruited Charles Lachterman, a
professional thief, for the robbery, saying:

I got an inside guy that works somewhere. The same thing that me and
you are into.... Its just him and two girls, and he wants to take the
whole ... place.... I already, right, have two guys.... Now my friend
works in there. You understand? So it's a setup. Ya put the ... gate
down, ya take the showcases, the ... vault, and leave.

On December 13, attempting to prevent the robbery, FBI agents visited
Skowronski, accused him of planning to rob the Telco store, and
implied that one of his associates had informed on him. Skowronski
asserted his innocence, denied knowledge of any wrongdoing, and the
agents left. Skowronski drove to a phone booth, made three phone
calls, and returned home. Shortly thereafter, DiSomma arrived at
Skowronski's residence. The two drove to a pay phone booth and called
Tinnirello. DiSomma told Tinnirello that "[w]e got trouble" and urged
him to "go out to a pay phone and call me back." Tinnirello protested
that he had no car available and asked what was wrong. DiSomma
answered that there was trouble for them and Skowronski, but told
Tinnirello to keep quiet. When Tinnirello insisted his phone was not
tapped and pressed DiSomma for details, DiSomma refused to disclose
more, saying only that the situation was serious

[ 998 F.2d 56 ]

and that Tinnirello must get to a pay phone.

Later that day, DiSomma and Tinnirello spoke of the FBI's visit to
Skowronski and the possibility that Skowronski would cooperate with
the government. DiSomma argued that Skowronski would not cooperate
because he is a "stand-up kid." DiSomma later advised Tinnirello that
he had taken care of Skowronski's nervousness. Two days later, DiSomma
told Tinnirello in a coded conversation that Skowronski's co-worker at
the Telco Jewelry store had been contacted by the FBI but that
"everything is good." Tinnirello conveyed that DiSomma should dispose
of his firearm, and DiSomma replied that both he and Skowronski
already had.

DiSomma was later arrested and charged with RICO conspiracy and
substantive offenses, a Hobbs Act violation, and mail fraud. A jury
convicted him only on the Hobbs Act charge. He attacks this conviction
as unsupported by the evidence, violative of his due process rights,
and improper because the lower court should have dismissed the charge
for lack of venue. He also challenges the sentencing court's
three-point addition for possession of a firearm in connection with
the robbery conspiracy. We affirm.

The government cross-appeals DiSomma's sentence, arguing that the
district court improperly applied U.S.S.G. § 2X1.1 and improperly
considered the obstruction of justice enhancement as discretionary. We
agree and remand for resentencing.

DiSomma argues that the evidence does not support his conviction under
the Hobbs Act. First, he claims that there is insufficient evidence of
any conspiracy at all. The wiretaps, in his view, record only
Tinnirello's rambling, incoherent monologues and not a conspiracy
joined by others. He next argues that, even if Tinnirello and others
were planning a robbery, there is insufficient evidence that he was
involved. DiSomma characterizes his phone calls to Tinnirello as part
of his effort to help his cousin through a difficult time. As for the
references to "the thing" involving Telco Jewelry, DiSomma claims that
it is just as likely that he was simply directing Tinnirello and
Taylor to Telco in order to facilitate a legitimate jewelry purchase.
He claims Taylor was looking for a diamond engagement ring and that he
referred him to Skowronski for the purchase. He also argues that his
incriminating phone calls to Tinnirello following the FBI visit may be
equally well understood as reflecting his concern over unrelated

DiSomma mistakes our task on appeal. DiSomma's testimony was submitted
to the jury who weighed it and found it wanting. It is not for us to
weigh, as DiSomma would have us, "competing inferences and
explanations" about which explanation is more likely. United States v.
Stanley,928 F.2d 575, 577 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 112
S.Ct. 141, 116 L.Ed.2d 108 (1991). We cannot reverse a conviction
merely because the defendant's exculpatory account is plausible.
Rather, we must affirm so long as, drawing all inferences in the
government's favor, a reasonable jury might fairly have found DiSomma
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See United States v. Buck,804 F.2d
239, 242 (2d Cir.1986). The evidence here was sufficient.

First, we have already rejected Skowronski's challenge as to the
sufficiency of the evidence as to the Telco conspiracy. Skowronski,
968 F.2d at 247-48. We therefore obviously reject DiSomma's first
contention that the evidence will not support the finding of
conspiracy; at the very least, Skowronski and Tinnirello could be
found to have actively conspired to rob the store.

Second, DiSomma's challenge to the evidence of his involvement is
similarly unsuccessful. After establishing the existence of the Telco
scheme, the government presented evidence that DiSomma: set up a
meeting with Skowronski and Tinnirello to talk about the plan, warned
Tinnirello not to visit the store without first warning Skowronski,
and made incriminating phone calls to Tinnirello upon learning of the
FBI's visit to Skowronski. This evidence was more than sufficient to
allow the jury to conclude that DiSomma was one of the "two [other]
guys" with whom Tinnirello and Skowronski were conspiring to rob the

Joseph Disomma started working at St. Francis Prep as Assistant to the Treasurer. He was promoted to Controller after Br. Ralph died. 

A few months after I launched my website, some posts went up about Joey Diamonds. Someone named Michelle DeRosalito reported those Burns to us and told us to take them down because they "linked" his real life cases to his job. Someone also visited my web designer at his job and "asked" him to make sure those Burns about Joey Diamonds came down. This person said they did not care about any of the other posts about the school, just those posts. I was concerned about the safety my young son, so they came down. 

I believe that rehabilitation is possible, and I believe in redemption, but I don't think putting someone who was convicted of conspiring to commit robbery (while possessing a firearm) in charge of the finances at the country's largest Catholic High School is the wisest decision.

 Do you?