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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Was Donald Frankos, aka Tony the Greek, involved in the Kingfish Boat Ramp Murders


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- He’s been described as a notorious mobster and as a pathological liar, but no one denies that convicted murderer Donald Frankos, aka Tony the Greek, was involved in organized crime. Frankos himself once said “I picked the wrong profession. Let’s put it that way.”

But more than a decade after the Kingfish Boat Ramp murders, Frankos, the former mobster, became a person of interest in the case and it was unarguably one of the strangest turns.

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Who was Donald Frankos? In 1989 Frankos told the F.B.I. that he helped dispose the body of infamous teamster Jimmy Hoffa in the end zone of Giants Stadium. It was a claim that he made in a Playboy interview and eventually in a 1993 tell-all book, ‘Contract Killer: The Explosive Story of the Mafia’s Most Notorious Hitman Donald “Tony the Greek” Frankos.’

It was a passage in that book that caught the attention of a Manatee County resident, who called the Sheriff’s Office about what he read and how it could be a lead in the unsolved Kingfish Boat Ramp murders. (LINK TO INVESTIGATIVE NOTE 3) In Frankos’ book, a collection of tales of hits and hit-men, he wrote about an incident in which a killer used a bicycle for his getaway and how that person had pretended they had a hurt leg.

Manatee County Sheriff Major James Foy ultimately became the recipient of the citizen’s potential lead and purchased the book. “I was reading it, it peaked my interest…” recalls Foy, now retired but still living in Manatee County.

This was not Foy’s first time working on the Kingfish case. He was an investigator for the Manatee County State Attorney’s Office in 1980 and responded to the original crime scene, interviewed witnesses, and was present when suspect Richard Lee Whitley (LINK) was brought in for questioning days after the murders. “We had a policy that whenever homicides occur that the State Attorneys Office was called and I or one of the other investigators responded to it.”

Soon after Foy read the hit-man’s book, he wrote him a letter and heard back less than a week later. “He [Frankos] responded with a letter back that yes he could help us and that uh, he knew the perpetrators of the crime and why it happened.” 

From behind the walls of Attica Correction Facility in New York, Frankos wrote, “Yes, I can help you. I know about the killings. I know the motive and I know the killers.”

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On May 27, 1993 Major Foy traveled to Attica to visit Tony the Greek. “I think at the time I was kind of excited about it,” says Foy - but he admits he was hesitant on whether Frankos was telling the truth. “He was very friendly, acted like he wanted to talk about it.”

Foy says his memory of the interview is a bit foggy, however, the Action News I-Team obtained the audio recording he made in Attica with Frankos and it reveals who the mobster claims committed the murders and who paid to have the crime carried out.

Sections of the recording were redacted because at one point in time some of the parties involved were in the witness protection program including Frankos, but we were able to determine who Frankos claimed arranged the hit from details contained in other investigative files. The person was a former cell mate, also in the witness protection program, a ‘high echelon drug dealer’ named Jose Antonio Fernandez, who allegedly put a 15-thousand dollar contract out on Raymond Barrows, and two men carried out the murders.

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The following are excerpts from the interview :

Foy: “In your letter you indicated that…you indicated that you uh, knew who had committed these murders and that you knew the motive for it…and that you would talk about it. Would you please tell me at this time what it is that you know about this…uh these murders that happened in Holmes Beach…”

Frankos: “Criminals, they talk about their, they like to brag about the hits and who they killed you know…”

“They always go into details with another hit-man. They want to show they are better than him. It’s like a competition.”

“We [Frankos and Jose Antonio Fernandez] start mentioning old criminals and this guy named Josie Hernandez, name came up, and Josie Hernandez worked for [redacted - Jose Antonio Fernandez].”

“And he said oh you know Josie Hernandez, I says yeah, he says well ya know he committed the murder for me. He killed this guy who was holding 55 kilos of cocaine for me named Raymond Barrows.”

“He says he killed him. He killed three other people, two kids. Uh. The father of the two kids possibly, he didn’t know it was the father or not. But later on he found out it was in the papers that it was the father, and some other guy who was outside the car.”

“I knew Josie Hernandez from New York City when he was dealing drugs and he was on the sly he was a contract hitter. He was a contract killer.”

“Tito Cruz is Joise’s partner. He’s also a contract killer.”

 


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