George Fresolone, 48; Mob Informant

From Associated Press

George Fresolone, an organized crime turncoat who wore a hidden microphone to his own Mafia initiation and helped prosecutors indict leaders of the Philadelphia-New Jersey mob, has died. He was 48.

Fresolone, who co-wrote the 1994 book “Blood Oath,” about the inner workings of the mob, died of a heart attack Wednesday at an undisclosed location where he had been living under the federal witness protection program.

“As far as I know, he was never sick and never complained about chest pains,” his co-author, Robert J. Wagman, told the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.


Two of Fresolone’s children found his body in the hallway of his home, said Bill Newsome, who was in the New Jersey State Police for more than 25 years and worked with Fresolone. No foul play was suspected, he said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Fresolone bought a home after being relocated under the witness protection program. He went to work for a maintenance contractor and eventually bought the business.

“Blood Oath” detailed Fresolone’s time inside organized crime, including his teenage years in Newark’s Ironbound section; his decision to become an informant; and the tape recordings he made while wearing a body wire for investigators in 1989 and 1990.

Authorities said the information he helped gather led to the 1991 racketeering indictments against 38 reputed mobsters, including now imprisoned Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, then the reputed Philadelphia-Atlantic City mob boss. During a yearlong investigation of the Colombo, DeCavalcante, Gambino, Genovese, Luchese and Scarfo mob families, Fresolone recorded more than 400 conversations and his own initiation into the Scarfo gang.

Fresolone later wrote that the mob’s failure to provide for his wife and children while he served state time on a bookmaking conviction was a major factor behind his decision to turn state’s evidence. His testimony led to 40 convictions and pleas, though not every defendant was sent to prison, Newsome said.

“He was the most effective cooperating witness we ever had,” Newsome said. “He was a home run for us.”

Last year, Fresolone accused the popular HBO series “The Sopranos,” which is set in New Jersey, of stealing ideas on a mob initiation ceremony from his book. HBO denied the claim.