Infamous Snitches Who Avoided Life in Prison

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Everyone knows the age old adage “snitches get stitches,” yet for some reason people still decide to tattle. Maybe they aren’t as afraid of needles as we are, or maybe they just don’t take the term literally. Since the dawn of time people have been ratting each other out, whether it’s to get ahead at work or to get out of trouble. On this list of famous snitches we’ve got mob bosses, cold blooded killers, hip hop wannabes, and even a US President! After all, you don’t get to the top without getting a little dirty.

While you’re reading through this list of famous informants who avoided jail time by turning in their closest pals (and accomplices) take some time for self reflection and remember that even when your friends annoy you, at least they aren’t mob snitches!

It’s bananas to think that some of the mafia snitches and other tattletales on this list were able to get off squeaky clean after all the heinous crimes they committed, just by naming names. If we knew all it took to get some of that sweet Witness Protection business was to ice some goodfellas, we’d have started icing gangsters a long time ago. Is that the right term? Icing?
From Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney (say whaaat?) to Linda Tripp and a whole lot of mafia guys with cool nicknames, these are the biggest snitches in history.

WALT DISNEY

There are almost as many myths and half truths about Walt Disney as there are people in line for Space Mountain on any given weekend: his frozen body is kept below Disney Land, he was a Nazi sympathizer (probably true), he was an FBI Informant, the list goes on.

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, it seems that Walt Disney served as a secret FBI informant for 26 years and allowed J. Edgar Hoover access to movie and TV scripts so the agency director could suggest changes. Maybe that’s why there’s so much cross dressing in all those early Disney films. 

Source: Orlando Sentinel

SAMMY GRAVANO

Sammy the Bull led a varied life in the New York mafia underground. He began his career as a wiseguy who moved up the mob ladder until he was a confidant of famed mob boss John Gotti. Along the way he spilled enough blood to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Eventually, Gravano and several members of my family became disenchanted with Gotti’s lust for the media and high profile antics, feeling they brought too much heat. He testified against Gotti and other high-ranking mobsters in exchange for a reduced sentence. Since Gravano had already served four years, his sentence amounted to less than one year.

Source: Biography

RONALD REAGAN

Before he was the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan lived out his days in Hollyweird, acting in films like Bedtime for Bonzo and Hellcats of the NavyThis is common knowledge. But did you know that as a budding politician in Hollywood’s acting community after World War II, Reagan served as a confidential informant for the FBI, snitching about pro-Communist influences in the Screen Actors Guild and other Hollywood organizations? No wonder he’s a conservative hero. 

Source: Mercury News

AL SHARPTON

In 2014, The Smoking Gun reported that Sharpton, whose classified alias was “CI-7,” was heavily involved with the FBI in the 1980s. The report claimed Sharpton’s association with the Genovese organized crime family included recording conversations and led to the arrests of several mob members such as Dominick “Baldy Dom” Canterino and soldier Federico “Fritzy” Giovanelli. “CI-7” sounds cool but “Big Greasy” might have been a better nickname.

Source: The Smoking Gun

ELIA KAZAN

Elia Kazan was the director of such films as On the Waterfront and East of Eden, but he remains controversial in some circles for the testimony he gave before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In April 1952, the Committee called on Kazan, under oath, to identify Communists from his stint in the American Communist Party 16 years prior.

Kazan initially refused to provide names, but eventually named eight former colleagues who he said had been Communists. The move cost Kazan many friends within the film industry, including playwright Arthur Miller and actor Marlon Brando.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HENRY HILL

The ultimate Goodfella, Henry Hill, a NYC mobster who had 25 years of history with the Lucchese crime family, assisted the FBI in making 50 convictions and put away mobsters like James Burke and Paul Vario. His story was turned into the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas and the books Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family, The Wise Guy Cookbook.

Source: Biography

RALPH NATALE

In 1995, the dashing Ralph Natale took control of the Philadelphia crime family after John Stanfa was sentenced to life in prison. Four years later, Natale was arrested on drug charges and became the first American mafia boss to turn state’s evidence. 

In 2005, Ralph Natale was given a sentence of 13 years, but escaped life in prison due to his testimony. He was released in May 2011 and entered the Witness Protection Program before suing the United States Government for depriving him of proper treatment in jail. He has alleged that the government let him “willfully sink into darkness,” earning him the nickname, the “Vonnegut of the Mafia.”

Source: Philly.com

KOBE BRYANT

When interrogated about his 2004 Colorado rape allegations, Kobe sold his then teammate, the hulking Shaquille O’Neal, up the river and probably ruined Shaq’s marriage in the process. Bryant stated that “he should have done what Shaq does and pay his women not to say anything.” He stated Shaq has paid “up to a million dollars already.” Way to throw the big guy under the bus.

Source: The Smoking Gun

PETER CHIODO

Peter Chiodo was quite a guy. An Italian from Queens, in 1987 he became a “made man” and was put in charge of collecting payments from the Ironworkers union. In May 1991, Chiodo was attacked by two men and shot 12 times. He survived the attack (largely because he weighed 500 pounds), but decided to turn state’s evidence against the mafia in return for the safety of his family.

Source: NY Daily News

FRANCESCO MARINO MANNOIA

This gumba was a high-ranking member of the Sicilian mafia who became a government witness in 1989, after an unsuccessful attempt to replace the local mob boss left him marked for death. In the aftermath of his testimony, he moved to the United States and entered the Witness Protection Program. In retaliation, the Sicilian Mafia killed his mother, aunt, and sister.

Source: shelf3d.com

VINCENT PALERMO

Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo is a former de facto boss of the DeCavalcante crime family who eventually turned state’s evidence. (Supposedly, fictional mob boss Tony Soprano is based upon Palermo.) 

After being arrested for the murder of Fred Weiss, he testified against the DeCavalcante family and joined the Witness Protection Program. On September 14, 2009, NY Daily News exposed Vinny Ocean’s new life as a strip club operator in Houston, TX.

SALVATORE VITALE

“Good Looking Sal” was a New York City underboss and caterer who worked his way through the ranks of the Bonanno family, first as a truck hijacker and then as a capo (like a mob manager).

In 2003 he was arrested for racketeering and murder; two weeks after the initial hearing, Vitale notified prosecutors that he wanted to turn informer, becoming the third confessed underboss of a New York crime family to break his blood oath. 

Source: The New York Times

LINDA TRIPP

In what has now become a tired punchline, Linda Tripp was a key figure in the Clinton/Lewinski scandal that took over American news in the mid ’90s. Tripp was a confidant of Monica Lewinski and surreptitiously recorded the conversations, acting on the advice of literary agent Luciana Goldberg. Based on Tripp’s tapes, a federal case was built around Lewinski’s alleged perjury and the Clinton/Lewinski scandal hit critical mass.

Source: Washington Post

PHILIP LEONETTI

From a young age, Phil Leonetti was mentored by his uncle, Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, to become a hit man for the mafia. In 1980, after the murder of two top ranking officials, he was made boss of the Philadelphia family and gained a reputation as a ruthless leader. In 1989 he was sentenced to a lengthy prison term. To escape the sentence, Leonetti became a FBI informant and helped get Nicodemo Scarfo convicted of first-degree murder.

Source: Mafia Today

ALPHONSE D’ARCO

During Alphonse “Little Al” D’Arco’s time with the Lucchese crime family, D’Arco gained a reputation for violence and was involved with 10 murders. In 1991, D’Arco became fearful that he was being targeted for death by former bosses. In response, he became an FBI informant and testified against some of the highest ranking members of the New York families, including Victor Amuso.

Source: The New York Times

JOHN FRANZESE JR.

Born in 1917, John “Sonny” Franzese Sr. was the oldest active member of the American mafia. So in 2010, when his eldest child, John Franzese Jr., turned states evidence, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if he had keeled over on top of the subpoena. Despite his age, Sonny was convicted of extortion and sentenced to eight years in prison and Jr. joined the ranks of the mafia snitches.

Source: News Day

RALPH GUARINO

On January 14, 1998 Ralph Guarino was part of a poorly planned heist of the Bank of America offices inside the World Trade Center. He was pretty much immediately apprehended and agreed to go undercover and infiltrate the DeCavalcante crime family of New Jersey.

He wore a wire, planted bugs, and put about 45 men behind bars, including the family’s consigliere and seven capos (mini bosses). 

Source: NY Daily News

FRANCIS SALEMME

“Cadillac Frank” Salemme is a former boss of the Patriarca crime family of New England. In 1972, he was arrested for a bombing and sentenced to 16 years. Afterwards, he took control of the Patriarca family and forged ties with powerful underworld figures like Stephen Flemmi and James “Whitey” Bulger. 

In 1995, Salemme was included in a federal racketeering indictment and he decided to talk with the police. Along with Bulger and Flemmi, Salemme testified against corrupt FBI official John Connolly Jr. 

Sallemme is currently in the Witness Protection Program and living in an unknown location.

Source: Boston.com

MICHAEL FORTIER

Michael and Lori Fortier were considered accomplices for their foreknowledge of the planning of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Among their activities, Michael assisted McVeigh in scouting the federal building and Lori had helped McVeigh laminate a fake driver’s license which was later used to rent the Ryder truck used to deliver the explosives. 

Michael agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for a reduced sentence and immunity for his wife. On May 27, 1998, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $75,000 for failing to warn authorities about the attack. On January 20, 2006, after serving ten and a half years of his sentence, including time already served, Fortier was released for good behavior into the Witness Protection Program and given a new identity.

Source: CNN

JOSEPH MASSINO

Joseph Massino is one of the few bosses of the Five Families of New York to become an informant. In 2002, gangster Frank Coppa became the first Bonanno made man to turn. He implicated a large number of high-ranking mafia leaders, including Massino, who was arrested and accused of seven murders. He was sentenced to life in prison, but after cooperating in a high-profile trial, Massino was released from jail on July 10, 2013.

Source: Biography

LEROY “NICKY” BARNES

Leroy “Nicky” Barnes, aka “Mr. Untouchable,” was one of the biggest drug lords in American history and leader of The Council, an African-American gang in the 1970s. When he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, he discovered The Council had stopped paying his attorneys’ fees, and one of his fellow council members, Guy Fisher, was having an affair with his mistress. As a result, he turned over 109 names, including that of his wife, and helped convict 16 criminals.

Source: TIME

LIL’ CEASE

In 2005, Bad Boy Records artist, Lil Cease was labeled a snitch after he took the stand in Lil’ Kim’s perjury trial. The case stemmed from a shootout incident that occurred between Kim’s camp and Capone’s crew outside of the Hot97 studio in February 2001. Kim was convicted of perjury and conspiracy for lying to investigators, and sentenced to a year in prison. Cease claimed that he was subpoenaed by the Feds and had no choice but to take the stand. 

Source: Hip Hop DX

ROBERT COOLEY

Robert Cooley was a lawyer employed by Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo’s Chicago mob outfit where he helped to fix court cases and bribe judges to get lenient sentences for mobsters. According to Cooley, he also paid city officials to influence government decisions. However in 1986, Cooley became an undercover FBI informant. He provided evidence that put 26 men in prison, including mobsters, judges, politicians, and police officers.

Source: When Corruption Was King

JOSE CANSECO

Jose Canseco might be one of the best baseball players ever, but that doesn’t change the fact that he snitched on a whole bunch of fellow steroid-loving MLB players. In his hit tell-all book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big he named former teammates including Mark McGwuire, Jorge Delgado, Damaso Moreno, and Manuel Collado.

ANTHONY CASSO

Anthony Casso had a reputation in the mafia for being a real bad boy, especially since he attempted to kill crime boss John Gotti multiple times. When he was arrested in 1993, he offered to turn evidence against his fellow mobsters. However, Casso was thrown out of the Witness Protection Program when prosecutors alleged numerous infractions, including bribing guards, assaulting other inmates and making “false statements” about federal witnesses Gravano and D’Arco. 

Source: The New York Times

ANDREW THOMAS DELGIORNO

Unlike Tommy Devito, Andrew DelGiorno was able to hide his Polish ancestry to be able to hold the title of captain in the Scarfo crime family before he was demoted after a betrayal by one of his closest friends. After losing his title and being placed at the top of the Scarfo hit list, DelGiorno went the route of FBI informant and helped put Nicky Scarfo in jail for life.

Source: Wikipedia

RAY FERRITTO

Ray Ferritto was best known for the 1977 murder of Irish mob boss Danny Greene with a car bomb. Ferritto loooooooved car bombs. He would have married them if he could. He became a government informant when he learned that his Cleveland family had put a hit out against him. He only stayed in Witness Protection for a year, before being sentenced to six months in prison.

Source: American Mafia

JIMMY HENCHMAN

In 2011, the FBI indicted hip-hop mogul James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond on charges that he ran a $10 million a year drug ring. According to authorities, that’s when he started naming names in exchange for time shaved off his inevitably lengthy sentence. Henchman reportedly detailed aspects of his operation and admitted to prosecutors that the majority of his income was derived from illegal means.

He also admitted to loaning Wyclef Jean drug money and selling the rapper’s driver several kilos of dope, as well as using Interscope’s offices do make drug drops. A record company as a front for drugs? Shocking!

Source: Hip Hop Wired

PRIMO CASSARINO

Primo Cassarino may be most “famous” for extorting money from Steven Seagal, but his involvement in the Gambino crime family is where he really had his time to shine. After he was convicted of racketeering and extortion, Cassarino received an 11½ year prison sentence and became a government witness in hopes of reducing his sentence.

Source: NY Daily News

MICKEY FEATHERSTONE

Featherstone committed several mob killings, but it was a crime that he didn’t commit that caused him to turn state’s evidence. Featherstone was convicted in March 1986 for the April 1985 murder of Michael Holly and despite being innocent of this particular murder, he received 25 years in the slammer. Rather than serving his sentence he instead told prosecutors who had committed the murder, and he became an informant, entering the Witness Protection Program in 1988.

Source: The New York Times

What can you do to stop people from snitching on you?  You can support a free press with an occasional buck or two to help keep this list online and up-to-date, because the one thing snitches hate more than anything else is publicity.

Also read:  Control of Information  how to stop snitching on yourself. Also:  How to find out who’s a snitch  and  10 Ways to Spot an Informant  and  How the cops are tracking you  and  If the Cops Can Track You, You Should Be Able To Track Them, Here’s How. and  No Warrant No Problem (How the police are tracking you)  and   How to Beat Police Investigations  and  Criminal defenses (How to beat your court case) All free of charge. And one more, just to give you something to aspire to:  7 Fugitives who Became Folk Heroes