It's not often a federal prosecutor breaks bad but it happens.
On July 18, 1958 heroin trafficker Christoforo Rubino -- a soldier under Joe Profaci but with close ties to Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese -- was gunned down on the sidewalk in front of the People's Regular Democratic Club which he was known to frequent at 130 Central Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Rubino recently had returned to New York to face a narcotics charge after spending two years in Italy as a fugitive.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics alleged that Rubino was responsible for an eighth of all dope distribution in New York, and further told the FBI the following according to a 11/14/58 report:
RUBINO was known to be a close associate of LUCKY LUCIANO and reportedly spent two years, from 1955 to 1957, in close contact with LUCIANO in Italy after RUBINO jumped bail in New York City on the above-mentioned narcotics conspiracy charge. According to information received, RUBINO had gained considerable mob prestige by virtue of his close association with LUCIANO by the time he returned to New York City and surrendered himself on the Government's narcotic charge in December, 1957.
Immediately upon his murder federal prosecutor Joseph F. Soviero Jr., an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn where Rubino had been indicted, issued an inexplicable and apparently unauthorized press release announcing that that the mobster had become a government witness, and was scheduled to testify the following week before a grand jury which would provide "a full blueprint on the operations of the narcotics racket, including names and places." Only two weeks earlier a grand jury for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan had indicted Vito Genovese and others on heroin charges.
The FBN vehemently denied that Rubino was slated to testify before a grand jury as a cooperating witness which, of course, was the responsible public position even if not true.
Soviero resigned his AUSA position on September 12, 1958, and on September 18 an informant advised the FBI that the federal prosecutor received $15,000 from Vito Genovese for tipping off the mob to Rubino's cooperation according to a 11/13/58 letter from the New York field division to Director J. Edgar Hoover:
With relation to the July, 1958, murder of CHRISTOFORO RUBINO, a hoodlum reportedly closely connected with LUCKY LUCIANO, and at the time of his murder under indictment in a Federal narcotics conspiracy case in the EDNY, information was received from [redacted] regarding an allegation made by two Brooklyn hoodlums that members of the Brooklyn underworld had received information from a "DA" in connection with the narcotics case in which RUBINO was named as a defendant. During subsequent contacts by this informant with these hoodlums, information was developed that the "DA" was named SOVIERO. This informant also learned that members of the underworld had suspected that a few racket people might be ready to do some talking and that the killing of RUBINO was able to serve as a lesson to others who might have a tendency to inform.
It is noted that immediately following RUBINO'S murder, AUSA JOSEPH SOVIERO, JR., EDNY, issued a press release to the effect that RUBINO was scheduled to appear before a Federal Grand Jury in Brooklyn within a week from the time he was murdered and was expected to be a cooperative witness regarding the operation of the narcotics ring in question.
[Redacted] later advised during Sept., 1958, that a source told informant that SOVIERO "got some heat from someone in the government" and had left the USA’s office for fear of trouble and questioning. Informant was also told at this time that SOVIERO was going to work for the State of NY as an attorney. In the course of informant's conversation with his hoodlum sources, informant was told that SOVIERO had been given a quiet dinner a short time before in Manhattan, NY, at which time SOVIERO was given $15,000. The informant was told that the money paid SOVIERO had been furnished directly by VITO GENOVESE.
It was subsequently determined that JOSEPH SOVIERO had resigned from the USA'S Office, EDNY, on 9/12/58 and took employment in the office of NY State Attorney General LOUIS J. LEFKOWITZ.
A 10/24/58 report from the New York field office to Director Hoover further included allegations from the informant that Soviero was raising campaign funds from his mobster friends for Lefkowitz:
[Redacted] advised that he had a conversation with ERNIE DE VITO, a Brooklyn combination man who told him that JOHN MONTANA had been in Brooklyn during the past week and that he saw JOSEPH PROFACI, TUNIO INDELICATO ("the old man" of the Sicilian group at 90 Elizabeth St.), and other unnamed members of the underworld, and also JOSEPH SOVIERO, former AUSA, EDNY. According to the informant, the purpose of the gathering was to raise money for the election of LOUIS LEFKOWITZ who is presently running for re-election to the office of Attorney General of NY State.
Soviero ultimately went into private practice. In 1995 he was convicted on a tax charge, and in 1998 disbarred for conversion of client funds. Apparently the disgraced lawyer retired to South Florida, and died last year.
And Vito Genovese? He was convicted in 1959 for trafficking heroin, and died in prison a decade later. Maybe Genovese headed the welcome wagon for Soviero when the latter finally arrived in hell.