Convicted hit man’s escape evokes mob’s ‘ruthless’ heyday in one American city

(CNN)Dominic Taddeo was in his early 20s when a US Justice Department lawyer appeared before a Senate subcommittee with a dire warning about the future mafia hit man’s hometown.”Rochester, the home of Kodak, Xerox, and other thriving corporations … is a wealthy city, a ripe plum ready to be plucked by the strongest and most ruthless mob,” Gregory Baldwin, an attorney with the department’s organized crime and racketeering section, said during the 1980 hearing.

In the upstate New York city, the mob was known for detonating homemade bombs by remote control under the cars of rivals, according to Baldwin’s testimony and news reports.But Taddeo plied his deadly trade in the 1980s with a more conventional weapon — a .22-caliber pistol.A man who federal officials say began a life of crime at the age of 16, Taddeo, 64, was a largely forgotten crime figure until his March 28 escape — less than a year before his likely release — from a Florida halfway house while on a medical appointment.

His short-lived breakout took mob observers back to the heyday of La Cosa Nostra in the Lake Ontario city of about 200,000 — where the tragicomedy antics of rival factions at times evoked the third-rate mobsters in Jimmy’s Breslin’s novel “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”