Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins tells a captivating story of Tommy Karate Pitera and his associates. We start off with the tale of Billy Bright, a New York kid who teams up with Frank Gangi, a man with a mafia background. Together with Arthur Guvernaro, they embark on a large-scale marijuana operation. However, when Guvernaro becomes unreliable and starts stealing from the business, Billy and Frank decide to take action. They lure him to a stash house and attempt to shoot him, but Guvernaro manages to escape only to run into a police car, where he eventually dies, revealing the culprits in his dying declaration.
After serving a prison sentence for weapon possession, Frank and Billy face threats of revenge from Guvernaro’s brother, Louis Bob. Seeking protection, they turn to Tommy Karate Pitera, a respected Bonanno soldier known for his karate skills and ability to earn money for the family. With the backing of Tommy and the powerful Bonanno and Genovese families, Frank and Billy feel secure.
However, their troubles continue when Greg Reiter, an associate of John Gotti Jr., enters the picture. Reiter complains to Frank Michael Harrigan, claiming that Harrigan and Gotti Jr. are squeezing him out of a business venture. Unfortunately for Reiter, Harrigan is aligned with Tommy Pitera, making it difficult for him to go against Pitera’s interests. Harrigan decides to discuss the situation with Pitera and arranges a meeting with Reiter, unaware that they are being watched by DEA agents.
Pitera suggests meeting in a Nassau County parking lot, with Billy Bright serving as backup. Pitera reaches out to Michael, another individual involved in their dealings, and calmly informs him that Greg Reiter needs to be dealt with immediately. Harrigan, initially hesitant, is swayed by the fear of losing money and potential involvement of dangerous individuals. When Reiter questions why this is happening, Pitera pulls out a shotgun and shoots him multiple times. Ken Harrigan points at Pitera in response to Reiter’s confusion. Reiter dies shortly after, and his body is placed in Harrigan’s car trunk. The three men then bury Reiter in a wildlife sanctuary in Nassau County.
Despite witnessing such brutality, Harrigan continues doing business with Pitera until he eventually distances himself. Harrigan faces legal consequences and is implicated in Pitera’s trial. Gansey, who testified against Pitera and joined witness protection, initially intended to give an interview but later retracted and may have passed away. Pitera, meanwhile, currently serves a life sentence for his involvement in drug dealings and sells paintings. Rumors circulate that Bright was killed in prison by the A.B. gang, allegedly hired by Greg Reiter’s brother, Mark Reiter, seeking revenge. It is noteworthy that they couldn’t get the A.B. to kill Tommy Karate, suggesting that Tommy himself pulled the trigger in Reiter’s shooting.
In further discussion, we explore Tommy Karate’s power and the mob’s influence within the federal prison system. While other groups hold some power, the ABs seem to have the most sway, not just in prisons but across the entire system. It’s yet another fascinating tale of murder and the mob in New York City. We appreciate your support and encourage you to like, review, and subscribe to our podcast. New episodes are released weekly, with occasional bonus episodes. If you ride motorcycles, stay alert on the streets, and if you’re dealing with PTSD, don’t hesitate to seek help from resources like the VA website and hotline. Anthony Ruggiano, a Gambino guy, is also available on his website, YouTube channel, and hotline to assist with drug and alcohol problems. Lastly, we welcome corrections if there are any inaccuracies in our presentation. Thank you once again for your support.
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[0:00] Well, hey, all you wiretappers out there. Gary Jenkins, retired Kansas City Police Intelligence Detective.
I’ve got a story about Tommy Karate, and I know a lot of people like Tommy Karate.
I got some of this from that Philip Carlos book, and I know that a lot of people quibble about that.
And I found some other in some other places, but I put together this story about one of the murders that he did.
I tell you, that guy was a killer. He was a cold-blooded killer.
There was once a New York kid named Billy Bright, and he had partnered up with a guy named Frank Gangi, who was a mafia legacy.
Frank Gangi, his father, his uncles, his cousins, they were all members or associates of the Bonanno family.
And his cousin, Ross Gangi was a capo in the Genovese family.
Frank Gangi was a career mafia associate.
[0:48] You know, it was kind of an interesting guy. He looked like a chain smoking, skinny recovering drug addict that worked as a short order cook.
Real unassuming. He had a gift of gab though, and he was always ready to help and everybody liked him.
And he had partnered with this Billy Bright who really knew, I don’t really know anything about him other than he fell with Tommy Karate in the end and did some time in the penitentiary out of Tommy Karate’s narcotics network.
Murder and Betrayal: The Stash House Shooting
[1:16] They, the three of them, Billy Bright, Frank Gangi, and a guy named Arthur Guvernaro.
We’re selling hundreds of pounds of pot every week in new york gubernatorial had several brothers who are all in the life and in and around the life they were particularly.
[1:34] Nobody was a member was a member of the family in new york ever freelancers and gubernatorial start freebase and cocaine and he was known to be a kind of a guy that was still from people and, And he became unreliable and he started stealing from the pot business and Billy Bright and Frank Gansey went to their stash house and lured him over there where there wasn’t anybody around and shot him.
Well, these two guys, there are no Tommy Karate’s.
They are non-aggressive killers because they started shooting at him and this guy took off running and got out and runs into a arms of a patrolling police car with a whole bunch of bullets in him and dies in their arms.
And his dying declaration was, Frank Gonsi and Billy Bright did this.
Well, you know, it wasn’t for bad luck. They wouldn’t have any luck at all.
Tommy Karate’s Protection: A Deal with the Mafia
[2:27] After a trial, the jury found them not guilty of the murder, but they found both of them guilty of possession of weapons.
[2:34] They both did a year. Right after they released Gubernero’s brother, a guy named Louis Bob. I don’t know why I had a different last name, but it was his brother.
He was starting announcing around the neighborhood. He had a contract for the death of these two guys who killed his brother.
He would pay money to see them killed.
And he probably tried to do it himself.
Gonsi and Bright heard about this threat.
Billy Bright had done business with Tommy Pitera. You know, he’s a longtime drug dealer, made a lot of money for the Bonanno family.
They went to Tommy Karate Pitera for help.
Well, at this time, Pitera was, it was a really, it’s 1986.
Tommy Pitera, Tommy Karate, you heard me say Tommy Karate, he was a karate expert, if you don’t know.
Most people know who he is. He was a real well-respected Bonanno soldier and a really good earner for the family and a good killer for the family.
They even loaned him out to the Gambinos or to John Gotti to kill a Willie Boy Johnson, is my understanding.
Frank Gangi will later help send Tommy Karate Pitera to prison and a bunch of these other guys for life, basically.
But at this point in time, he’s pleading for Tommy Karate’s protection, and so is Billy Bright.
[3:50] Pitera knew an opportunity when he saw it, and he wanted to take these guys in and make even more money with them, make them his guys.
So he agreed he’d ask his capo, Anthony Sparrow, to mediate this dispute.
And he recommended to Frank Gangi that he get his uncle, Russ Gangi, who was a Genovese captain to come and speak up for him.
Supposedly, Tommy said, then you’ll have two families on your side.
Now, this mediation of disputes between professional criminals is kind of what the mafia is all about.
It started over in Sicily and it still goes today.
And what I understand, the American mafia over the years in the 60s, 70s, and 80s has really perfected this, you know, accepted procedure.
If you’re a high enough level in the gangster world, whether you’re a made guy or an associate or a freelancer, whatever, you’re in that world, then you will attend one of these sit-downs, because the mafia is the law for the people who don’t have the law.
The dead guy here, Arthur Guvenanaro, his brother named Louis Bob, was there, and it was reported he was sitting there seething with visible anger.
But Bright and Gangi were, by this point in time, Tommy’s brought him in and there were going to be good owners for him and the Bonanno family.
Plus Gangi’s Genovese uncle was there on their sides. And needless to say, guess who wins? Tommy Karate wins.
[5:14] Anthony Spiro ordered the Guvernaro family to not kill Gangi and Bright.
His word was law. They did it. Somewhere around this time he’ll hook them up with an Israeli cocaine dealer and they really take off in both the marijuana and the cocaine business.
Now Tommy Pitera’s man, Billy Bright, had been selling a lot of weight of marijuana for a long time and with all the connections he had, they had this really good connection down in Texas and they were bringing it up.
And I mean, they were turning cold hard cash every week, and they liked that.
Tommy Pitera liked that.
And a guy named Frank Michael Harrigan was in on the deal with them, and they were doing really well.
Well, he had some connections to John Gotti Jr.
And some people like that, who maybe early on in the business, I never could figure out the details on this.
But no matter how you cut it, whenever they were doing this, Tommy Pitera got the lion’s share. Everything’s going smoothly, just like a finely tuned Swiss watch.
But there was a guy named Greg Reiter who was particularly loud and particularly vulgar.
[6:27] He was an associate of John Gotti Jr., thought he, you know, like had the Gotti name behind him.
And he went to this Frank Michael Harrigan and started making waves.
Now, Greg Reiter, like I said, he was loud and vulgar and thought he had connections with the Gotti Jr.
And muscular, tough guy, wore gold chains and drove a soup-up red sports car.
I think it was a Corvette.
[6:53] And, you know, he was a brother of Mark Reiter, who was famously a real-deal Gotti associate.
It was in the cocaine business with Gene Gotti and Angelo Quack-Quack, Rosario, if you know that famous case, that cocaine conspiracy that all of them fell on and writers still in prison today, Gene Gotti just got out.
He did about thirty five or forty years.
And I don’t remember what happened at Rosario. He’s dead.
And this Gregg writer thought he had a good thing taken away from him unfairly.
And he said he claimed that he developed this business with Harrigan and John Gotti, Jr.
And John A. Light, of all people, and they were being squeezed out.
So, you know, you never know what the real deal is here.
It might be just him trying to muscle in, and he had some old connection, but it doesn’t really matter.
Greg Rider went to Harrigan and said, look, what you’re doing here is unfair.
I know you’re with Pitera now, and everybody knows who Pitera is, and everybody’s afraid of him, but there’s basic right and wrong, you know, and what you’re doing is wrong.
This was our thing, man. We made it happen. We were friends.
How could you do this? Of course, Harrigan, he’s not going to do anything.
He’s in with Tommy Pitera, and he’d have to get permission from Pitera.
Pitera isn’t going to give anything up easily.
[8:13] So, Reiter’s words basically fell on deaf ears. No matter how you cut it, Harrigan, he just, you know, he had this thing over him all the time.
There’s one guy who’s had these other family connections is saying, you know, you’re doing me wrong and he can’t, he can’t double cross Tommy Pitera.
Tommy Pitera had his talents deep in his business and there was no turning back.
As we all know, once you let a mob guy in business like that, if you got a peckerwood, you may turn your back on him, but a mob guy like Tommy Karate Pitera, you ain’t gonna turn your back on him.
If you lied to him, if you cheated him, if you tried to do anything else, you’d be dead.
And he’s heard of Pitera’s burial ground. And supposedly Pitera has his burial ground out in Nassau County. Well, supposedly he did.
They ended up digging up a bunch of bodies out there in the end.
But there were stories about how he cut people up, how he would get naked and get in a bathtub with him and cut him up so, you know, and then he could just wash himself all off with the shower and everything.
The setup for a deadly confrontation
[9:18] And, you know, there’s a lot of crazy stories about Tommy Karate Pitera and how evil and mean and vicious and what a killer he was.
So there’s no way that Harrigan could, in any shape, manner, or form, undermine Tommy Carotti’s role in his pot business.
And Greg Reiter had not really said anything offensive. He not really made any threats, but he opened this up.
So finally, Harrigan went to Tommy Karate and said, you know, here’s the deal, found him at the Just Us Lounge, which was Karate’s operation.
They went outside. They did a walk and talk, is my understanding.
And Avenue S runs along there. You guys are from New York City.
[10:03] I think how we know this DEA agents were all over it. And there’s going to make
Michael reveals Greg Reiter’s betrayal to Tommy Karate
[10:06] a case on this and turn Gangi.
And convict Billy Bright. But as they walked and talked, the agent agents were watching him and taking pictures of him.
And what they didn’t know at the time was Michael’s explaining to Pitera that Greg Reiter has said that what he was doing wrong, doing business with Pitera and they stole that business away from him.
And Pitera, you know, he muses it over and he thinks, well, let’s talk about this. You know, I got an idea.
Why don’t you do this? Just set up a meeting with him And then I’ll come.” He said, we’ll get this straightened out.
Ergen, you know, what’s he gonna do? You know, he’s kind of, he’s over his head. He’s out of his depth.
Said, okay, you know, I’m not sure when this is going in his mind.
He’s a little bit apprehensive is my understanding.
You know, he’s thinking Greg Reiter might have a right to be unhappy.
[10:57] But he didn’t really think that Pitera would cause Greg any harm.
He thought he’d just straighten him out, warn him off, you know, get him to reach, leave him, leave, would he would get him to leave Harrigan alone and just not have a wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.
So they all agreed to meet in the parking lot over here in Nassau County, Long Island, on the other side of the the bay or the creek or whatever the river out there where the burial ground is.
It’s about 11 o’clock in the evening, wasn’t many people around, they’re just in a parking lot, it was cold, and, these guys made and they’re there talking and Pitera drives up.
Billy’s got Billy Bright with him.
Well, you know, nobody knew Bright was there as a backup gun just in case.
[11:49] Bright was a pot dealer and partners with Pitera, but he was he had an interest in what was about to occur.
Of course, they had the cocaine business. They had a lot of business going on.
Tommy Pitera, you know, he just doesn’t put up with this.
You know, you want to come around and act like you got a piece of one of his guys. You know, that’s the way the mob is.
If I’m your guy, don’t come around and think, you’re a guy or you got a piece of anything I’m doing.
My guy, the mob guy, Tommy Pitera, if it’s him, he’s got everything.
Tommy Pitera takes matters into his own hands
[12:18] He’s got a piece of anything I do.
So Tommy Pitera gets there, gets out of the car and he walks up and he calmly explains to Michael off to the side that Greg Reiter’s got to go.
Sooner or later, he’s going to become a problem.
And, you know, you just nip in the bud. You rip that Band-Aid off right now.
[12:40] Harrigan didn’t really particularly want to do that. But, you know, Tommy says, you know, looks over at him across the parking lot and says, there’s a lot of money involved here.
And we don’t want those other people getting involved. He’s going to bring in A-Light and Gotti Jr.
And, you know, you just don’t know where it’s going to go from there once you let him in. So we got to stop this right now.
[13:02] But Tara says, you know, he says, just act normal, just act all normal.
Go back over there and start talking to him.
Red Corvette sitting over there, all comfortable and confident and arrogant.
You know, he’s like, he’s shaking in his boots and writer still in his car.
And he gets out, walks up to him and says, Hey, you know, what’s up before he can do anything.
And before he can do anything, Tommy Pitera pulls up a shot-off shotgun and blast him with double-aught buck, hits him right in the face and the neck and the collarbone, blast him into oblivion.
It takes about half his face off, and believe me, double-aught buck from a pretty close range will take your whole face off.
I saw a guy with that one time. His whole lower jaw was gone.
It was the most macabre thing I’d ever seen. He blows off the guy’s lower jaw.
It’s just, it was horrid. And he wasn’t quite dead yet.
Harrigan will report later that he looks at him and he says, I thought we were friends. I thought we was friends. What’s Harrigan going to do?
He said, just points a Pitera, so, you know, I don’t know, you know, I don’t know what to say.
And of course the guy dies and they put him in the trunk of Harrigan’s car and there’s two shovels already there.
[14:13] Pitera brought these shovels out. They all three of them, Bright, Pitera, and Harrigan, drive out this wildlife sanctuary in Nassau County where there was many other Pitera bodies buried.
Cold March wind blowing through this. It’s middle of the night.
I mean, just think about it. The branches, there’s no leaves on them, and they’re like shaking and quivering, and winds blowing off that Atlantic Ocean.
These guys are out there. Sounds like a scene out of The Sopranos or something, or the what was it the and the good fellows where they’re digging that hole to kill that guy.
And that was right after he was wasn’t quite dead in the trunk. They stabbed.
I mean, this shit happened. This stuff is for real in that world.
They just dig and dig. And it doesn’t take for three of them.
There’s two shovels and there’s three of them.
They trade off probably a little bit and get a hole deep enough and dump him in and, you know, cover him up, pat it all around.
Probably have to probably have to mound it up a little bit. So then because that what that dirt will settle.
And so you don’t want to leave that kind of coffin size dip in the ground.
You want to mound that up a little bit, then it’ll settle out flat.
Put a bunch of brush and stuff on top of it. I guess it’s Michael Harrigan.
He said he’d never forget quickly and how easy it was for Pater to move and take out this Gregg Rider in such a horrible manner.
He said he’d never seen anything like it in the movies or anything else.
He continues to do business with him.
[15:40] And he’ll continue to hear all these stories. And somehow he ended up getting away from him.
But in the end, he caught the case. He went down with him.
[15:52] I don’t know how long he went in the penitentiary for. He may still be in there.
But he was named on the Tommy Pitera et al, along with Billy Bright.
A little postscript. Frank Gansey wasn’t on there because he testified at that trial.
He goes to witness protection, testifies against all these drug co-defendants.
[16:12] He actually was going to give a friend of mine, Ed Scarpo, I can’t remember the name of his blog, but he was going to give him an interview.
And the guy talked to him on the phone a couple of times, but Yanzi finally backed out. And then I think he died.
I mean, Pitera is still in prison for life from all this dealing.
He’s selling paintings, if you didn’t know.
He’ll do a painting and he’ll put his thumbprint on it and sign it and I guess whoever you want.
But I’ve seen him on Facebook that Marilyn Monroe and Lucky Luciano and other mob guys and things like that, you know, write you a letter.
I think at one time there are 350 bucks either each.
When I first saw it, there’s a Instagram page that you got to find.
I don’t remember exactly where it is. You can find it on Instagram, I’m sure.
Billy Bright was killed in prison by the A.B. is my understanding.
I read this on gangsters bulletin board.
And the story was that Mark Reiter, who was the drug dealer with John Gotti and Quack Quack Rosario and Gene Gotti.
The story is that he hired them to kill him because he blamed him and Tommy for shooting his brother’s face off.
But I noticed that he couldn’t get the AB to kill Tommy Karate.
Now, that’s a bad dude. That story is true.
Never know some of these kinds of things like this are true.
If it’s true, but they wouldn’t kill Tommy Karate, then I don’t know.
Tommy Karate’s the one that pulled the trigger there. This is amazing.
Power Struggles in the Federal Prison System
[17:34] The power that this Tommy Karate, he must exude to keep people that afraid of him.
And I guess maybe the mob still has some pull inside the joints of the federal prison system.
Although, I don’t know if anybody has any more power than the ABs.
There may be a black group, but they’re kind of splintered, I think.
The Mexican mafia, maybe.
But boy, the ABs, they got power in that federal penitentiary system.
They got power all across that whole system. So, I don’t know, go figure.
Anyhow, just another little story for you. Well, it should be a Halloween story, I think.
A little story of murder and the mob in New York City.
So, I really appreciate you guys tuning in and listening. I like it whenever you give me likes and reviews.
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Support and Resources for PTSD and Substance Abuse
[18:23] I’ve got a new one coming out every week. Many times I’ll put out a bonus, a shorter episode during the middle of the week. And, you know, we’re just rocking and rolling here.
Don’t forget, I like to ride motorcycles, so watch out for motorcycles when you’re out there on the streets.
And if you have a problem with PTSD, be sure and go to the VA website and get that hotline number. There’s help available.
[18:47] Drugs and alcohol problems usually go hand in hand with PTSD.
Anyhow, probably the VA has helped there. but if you’re not in the VA, then go to Anthony Ruggiano, Gambino guy, knew Goddie well, and he probably knows all these stories firsthand at the time.
And he’s got a website, he’s got a YouTube channel, and he’s a drug and alcohol counselor, and he’s got a hotline, so be sure and get ahold of him or find that hotline number and you can get help with the real deal.
Gambino’s a member, I think it was a maid guy, I think, I can’t remember, or straighten me out if I’m wrong on that.
Don’t forget, like and subscribe and give me a review. Thanks guys.