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Pizza Connection: Lawyers, Money, Drugs, Mafia

NCJ Number
S Alexander
Date Published
442 pages
This is a behind-the-scenes study of the longest criminal trial ever held in a Federal court -- the so-called Pizza Connection trial, which pitted the Federal Government against 22 Mafia defendants accused of a $1.65-billion heroin-smuggling and money-laundering conspiracy that extended from Sicily to Brooklyn to Brazil to a chain of small pizzerias in the Midwest.
The study focuses on how the judicial system worked as it was manipulated by the motives, moves, and maneuvers of the adversaries. Some of the issues examined are the significance of the prosecution's evidence (2.5 kilos of heroin) and the prosecution's use of a new conspiracy law that linked 22 defendants represented by 22 'unequally competent' and 'diversely principled' defense attorneys. Other issues addressed are the interactions of the various defenses upon one another and the effect of the lengthy trial upon the jurors. Also considered is the impact on the trial of the murder of two defendants and the wounding of another. The book notes the conclusion of prosecutors and judges that the Pizza Connection trial resulted from the Federal Government's increasing reliance on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The Justice Department has insisted that such mass trials are essential for efficient, effective, economic prosecution, particularly of organized-crime cases. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have upheld this view. The author concludes, however, along with many legal critics, that the trial was too big, too complex and contradictory, and too long to serve the interests of justice and the efficiency of the legal system. The author argues that it was not cost effective, costing the taxpayers $50 million dollars while not making even a slight dent in the Nation's drug problem. Charts, subject index. (Publisher summary modified)


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