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Ex-cop: family hired Gravano for hit

February 27, 2003

Peter Calabro, the former New York City police officer whose 1980 killing was supposedly ordered by organized crime underboss Sammy Gravano, was slain because his in-laws suspected he had drowned their daughter, an ex-police chief told Newsday.

"He was married to a beautiful girl from a close-knit Italian family who died under mysterious circumstances," said former NYPD Chief John Guido, who supervised the investigation into the death of Carmella Calabro in 1977.

"At one point," Guido said, "a relative came to us and said, 'You guys have done all you could do. Now I have to do it my way.' There is no doubt in my mind that he went to Sammy the Bull. God knows what he was paid. They wanted revenge."

Guido said he did not recall the relative's name.

"I am aware her family believes he [Calabro] killed her," Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli said. "The allegations were made 23 years ago."

Molinelli, who charged Gravano earlier this week in Peter Calabro's murder, said he has made no effort to locate Carmella Calabro's family. "I have a death, a shooter and confession," he said. "It is not legally necessary to prove a motive."

Attempts by Newsday to locate the family have proved unsuccessful.

Carmella Calabro was found in the water 4 miles off Long Branch, N.J., on July 28, 1977 by the Coast Guard. She was last seen walking with her husband on Coney Island, Guido said.

 

"We put hundreds of hours into the case. Capt. Jimmy Skennion investigated it. He was vehement about it. He came into my office and said, 'He killed his wife. I am going to get him.'"

A Brooklyn grand jury found insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges in Carmella Calabro's death.

"When it was all over, Skennion - a 32-year veteran - was crying," Guido said. "He told me a relative kissed his hand and said to him, 'I know you did the best you could, but we're going to take care of it. He is not going to get away with it.'"

Skennion retired in 1978 and is deceased.

Peter Calabro was shot to death March 14, 1980, as he returned from work to his home in Saddle River, N.J., where he lived with his second wife. Last week, Richard Kuklinski pleaded guilty to firing the shot that killed him.

Bergen County prosecutors have said Kuklinski, who is serving four life sentences and has claimed to have killed more than 100 people - implicated Gravano, who has admitted murdering 19 other people.

Gravano is serving 20 years for his part in an Arizona Ecstasy drug ring. Gravano, through an attorney, has denied any role in Peter Calabro's death.

"... We are willing to cooperate with New York City or federal authorities," Molinelli said. "We have reached out to the New York City police authorities and invited them to sit down with us, and they have accepted it."

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.