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A local Brooklyn hoodlum, LaTempa was pressured to support the testimony of hitman Ernest "The Hawk" Rupolo in the government's case against Vito Genovese for the 1934 murder of gambler and Luciano crime family soldier, Ferdinand "The Shadow" Boccia. Shortly after Genovese's escape to Sicily, LaTempa reportedly agreed to cooperate with authorities because he believed Genovese would never be prosecuted.
However, in 1946 U.S. occupation troops in Sicily arrested Genovese when they discovered he was a fugitive. On January 8, 1945, federal authorities announced that Genovese had been repatriated to New York. LaTempa immediately went to the Brooklyn district attorney's office and demanded protective custody. The authorities placed LaTempa in a cell at the Raymond Street Jail. Less than a week after Genovese's return, LaTempa was found dead in his cell after taking medication for his gallstones. A later autopsy revealed enough poison was in his system "..to kill eight horses." LaTempa's murder, specifically how his medication had been tempered with, was never solved. However, underworld rumors said that Luciano crime family boss Frank Costello arranged for LaTempa to be poisoned using his high level political and law enforcement contacts.
With LaTempa's sudden death, there was no one to corroborate Rupolo's testimony in the Boccia murder case.
The presiding judge stated before the court:
- "By devious means, among which were the terrorizing of witnesses, kidnapping them, yes, even murdering those who give evidence against you, you have thwarted justice time and again."
- and all charges against Genovese were dropped.
- Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3
- Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Crime. New York: Facts on File Inc., 2005. ISBN 0-8160-4040-0