This month, a longtime Bensonhurst mobster was released from prison after spending just over a year behind bars. Ilario "Fat Larry" Sessa, who tips the scales at over 400 pounds, was charged back in July of 2018 with violating the conditions of his parole. In court, he promised that he was trying to go "legit" after he was previously sprung from prison in 2017, having served six years behind bars for racketeering and loansharking.
Sessa, whose full biography leading up to his 2011 arrest is exclusively available on thecolombomafia.com, told the court in 2018 that he had been working as a legit used-car salesman since his exit from prison on strict supervised release conditions. On paper, the portly mobster was working for 4 Guys Motors in Brooklyn, where he crossed paths with his old Colombo family pals. His lawyer says his contact with his old business pals were of an innocent nature; his friends, Colombo mobsters Jerome "Fat Jerry" Ciauri and Salvatore "Two Pair" Fusco Jr., were trying to help the struggling father-of-two get by in the used-car business.
"His old friends were trying to help him make legitimate money and a living in the used car business," said lawyer James Froccaro in a plea to Brooklyn Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.
But even if Sessa was trying to "go straight," and even if his pal Fat Jerry Ciauri, himself a used car salesman, was giving him a hand in the industry, the full picture is much darker than the one presented by Sessa's defense. Both Sessa and Ciauri were part of a three-man trio known in the Colombo family as the "Fatty Boys" during the 1980s and 1990s. With the third member, "Fat Dean Gargagliano," they reported to an infamous Dyker Heights Mafioso and murderer named Greg "the Grim Reaper" Scarpa, who was attributed with dozens of murders before being outed as an undercover FBI informer and dying of AIDS in 1994. The Fatty Boys were entrenched in loansharking, as well as moving cocaine and marijuana, according to The Life, a book penned by former Scarpa crew member and hitman Larry Mazza.
In the early 1990s, Sessa took a bigger role in the family as a militant in the family's bloody civil war that brought the family to its knees. So far, he is attributed with taking part in at least one slaying - being the getaway driver in the Dec. 1991 slaying of 78-year-old mobster Gaetano Amato. After spending ten years behind bars for racketeering, attempted murder, and drug dealing, Sessa hit the ground running after his March 2005 release from prison. Penniless, he eagerly accepted a job as a loanshark collector for incarcerated Colombo soldier Dino "Little Dino" Saracino, and was quickly put up for induction as a "made man" in the family's ranks. He was on the cusp of "getting his button" until the feds crashed down his door in January 2011 and revealed that another mobster from back in the Scarpa days, Tommy McLaughlin, had been covertly wearing a hidden microphone for three years.
According to federal prosecutors, Sessa was inducted from behind bars since the Colombo family's acting boss, acting underboss, and consigliere - the three men making up the family's administration - were all awaiting charges in Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center. His lawyers hotly contested that allegation, since prosecutors couldn't come up with any prison videotapes they claimed to have, but court papers claimed that his career as a made man continued when he was released from prison in 2017.
According to his 2019 sentencing memorandum, Sessa's violated his post-prison violations "quickly" by getting into contact with longtime pal Jerry Ciauri, and a man who court papers portrayed - but didn't explicitly name - as Sessa's higher-up, Salvatore "Two Pair" Fusco Jr., a suspected murderer and son of a onetime Colombo acting boss. Whether or not Sessa was really straightening his life out, he apparently knew he shouldn't be in contact with the two ex-felons, since he bought six burner phones which he failed to report to the Probation Department.
Unfortunately, Sessa's release from prison coincided with an ongoing investigation into the illegal gambling & loansharking rackets of Fat Jerry Ciauri, who allegedly ran a mediocre sports book and policy ring from the now-closed Tryst Bar & Lounge in Dyker Heights. Ciauri, who was inducted into the Colombo family in 2013, ran the operations in conjunction with the Tryst Bar's owner, an aging school custodian named Vito "the Mask" Difalco, who was allegedly inducted into the Colombo crime family in 2016.
After the FBI bugged Ciauri's phone in 2017, they found him contacting a man whose phone codename was "much more." They traced the phone back to Fat Larry Sessa, and in November 2017 called the Probation Department in to monitor his cell. In fact, they even saw Sessa - who 400-pound frame stuck out like a sore thumb for federal investigators - at DiFalco's Tryst Bar and Lounge, which was located on the floor below an illegal payday lending service operated by a Colombo associate.
Without getting specific, court papers allege that Sessa's intercepted telephone calls "make clear Sessa's continued loyalty to the Colombo family and more specifically, his adherence to the rules." Although Sessa tended to direct all phone calls to in-person meetings, specifically due to the threat of tapped cells, prosecutors were able to cite one call to Sal Fusco Jr. in which Sessa said; "I don't want to make no mistakes, you know," which, say prosecutors, "was a clear reference to Sessa's intention to abide by protocols within the Colombo family and desire to avoid disrespecting his superiors in the family."
This superior may or may not have been a reference to Sal Fusco Jr., whose history with the Colombos is pretty murky. Although his father, Sal Fusco Sr., was the family's brief acting boss in 2000, and his uncle Richie was the family's consigliere until his 2013 death, there is scant information on Two Pair himself. A suspected member of a sophisticated Colombo-Lucchese heist ring known as the "Bypass Gang," with extensive ties to former Lucchese underboss Anthony Casso and onetime Colombo powerhouse Greg Scarpa, Sal Fusco Jr. was never actually charged with burglary-related offenses. He was, however, indicted in 1991 for the 1988 attempted murder of Bypass cohort Dominick Costa, who was ordered dead by both the Colombo and Lucchese higher-ups after finding out Costa was informing. On the witness stand, Costa damningly fingered the beefy Fusco Jr. as the lookout in the hit, with skinny triggerman Michael Bloome as the gunman.
Miraculously, Fusco Jr.'s conviction was overturned in 1993, with seven years left to serve on his sentence. That came after turncoat Colombo consigliere Carmine Sessa shocked the FBI by confessing that he, not Bloome, was the "skinny triggerman" in the Costa hit, and Robert "Bobby Zam" Zambardi was the "beefy lookout." (Zambardi, who died in prison in 2014, is also the father-in-law of Fat Jerry Ciauri, proving that it's a small world in the Mafia).
Since the, Fusco Jr. has been somewhat of an underworld enigma. Sources say that after his conviction was overturned, he was one of the last men standing in the war-torn Colombo Family to take over the last of Greg Scarpa, Robert Zambardi, and Michael Sessa's crew. The last hoodlums in that crew - aside from Fusco Jr. - were indicted in 1995, and it appears Fusco Jr.'s role as capo became obsolete. Since then, his name has been absent in almost all Colombo-related court records until he resurfaced in 2018. Sources say he remains close to imprisoned Colombo capo Teddy Persico Jr., and may have indeed taken over his crew after Persico Jr.'s 2010 arrest. That would make sense; Fat Larry Sessa was an on-record associate of Teddy Persico Jr.'s crew prior to his own 2011 arrest. Although, given that the FBI neglected to give a title to Fusco Jr. himself and refused to explicitly call him a "higher-up" of Sessa, it appears they are just as clueless on Sal Fusco Jr. as they have been since they wrongfully accused him of murder back in 1991.