Fourteen-year mystery may be solved - Missing Ridge student thought to be found in mob graveyard exhumation

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A 14-year search for a missing Bay Ridge college student may have finally ended with the discovery of a mob graveyard on Long Island.

Officials said that the remains of 21-year-old Carmine Gargano, Jr. could be among those rumored to have been interred in an unmarked mass grave in a wooded area in East Farmingdale.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been excavating the spot ever since a mob turncoat told authorities that this was where members of the Colombo crime family disposed of their kills.

On Monday, the remains of a body wrapped in a tarp had been found at the site, but the Suffolk County Medical Examiner had not identified the remains as this paper went to press.

By late Tuesday, no other remains had been found, officials said.

Investigators have been digging in the area since the middle of last week, hoping to find the remains of murdered Colombo capo William “Wild Bill” Cutolo and mob associate Richard Greaves. Both had been reported killed in the mid to late 1990s.

They are also hoping to find the remains of Gargano, who may have been killed by a Colombo mobster over a dispute with the young man’s cousin, Anthony “Trigger” Dellavecchia, according to the Charley Project, a website that profiles over 6.000 cold missing person cases.

Gargano, an accounting student at Pace University, left his parents’ Ridge Boulevard home at 12:30 p.m. on July 10, 1994, reportedly so he could go jet skiing in Plumb Beach.

Gargano never returned home and has not been seen again.

Over the decade that followed, FBI informants learned that he may have been a victim of an ongoing mob dispute between his cousin and Colombo soldier John Pappa.

Investigators have theorized that Pappa killed Gargano because the young man’s cousin may have played a role in his friend’s murder.

Pappa vowed revenge, but he couldn’t take out Dellavecchia, who was heavily connected with the Luchese crime family.

If he was to kill Dellavecchia, he would have needed approval of the mob bosses, officials were told.

Instead, he decided to take his revenge out on Gargano, who had just gotten into a fistfight with Michael “Mikey Flattop” DeRosa – another Colombo associate — at a Bay Ridge bar known as T-Birds.

Investigators have theorized that Pappa killed Gargano in the hopes of blaming it on DeRosa, who threatened to kill Gargano after their brawl.

Detectives also learned that Pappa had bragged about killing Gargano after the college student’s disappearance. He also reportedly said that no one would ever find the man’s body.

Pappa is currently serving two life sentences in prison plus 65 years for his participation in a slew of mob-related killings.

The cold blooded killer was reportedly a triggerman in the Colombo family war that left eleven people dead. He is also personally responsible for a half a dozen other slayings – including Gargano, according to the New York Daily News.

Pappa, however, continues to deny any involvement in Gargano’s death, despite repeated pleas from the college student’s distraught parents, who wrote to him in prison back in 2001, begging him to come clean.

“My heart doesn’t accept that he’s dead,” Rosa Gargano, Carmine’s mother told the Daily News back then. “But my head knows it.”

Mr. and Mrs. Gargano went as far as asking then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir to take a new look at their son’s disappearance during a 2001 town hall meeting in Bay Ridge.

With the exception of a rumor that Gargano may have been buried underneath an auto body shop on Stillwell Avenue – which ultimately turned out to be false lead — the case remained cold until last week.

“For Mrs. Gargano’s sake, I hope they do find the body of her son,” Michael Bachner, Pappa’s attorney told New York Newsday, adding that the federal government had no evidence to link his client to the 21-year-old’s murder.

“If they had proof, they would have indicted him,” he said. “This is basically a ‘Sopranos’-type story.”

Attempts to reach the Gargano family for comment were unsuccessful as this paper went to press.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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