Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Murder of Frank Black

Businessmen can have the effect of rubbing up rivals the wrong way.  Sure, it can lead to hostility and bitterness, but does it justify killing somebody.  That was the fate that befell a New Jersey businessman named Frank Lee Black.  He ran a bus company and was cut-throat about how he obtained contracts, usually by undercutting the competition.  He made enemies.  He made one very deadly enemy in Alan Mackerley, a rival bus company boss.  Black was holding talks by telephone with a woman in Florida named Mia Giordano, who was representing abus company, wishing to purchase 60 buses from Black.  He flew from New Jersey down to West Palm Beach in Florida to conclude this deal, but was never seen again.

    One of his daughters was married to a New Jersey cop who kickstarted an investigation.  Mia Giordano was discovered to be in reality, Lisa Costello.  Served with a subpoena, she refused to testify before a grand jury and was jailed for contempt.  She was offered an immunity deal, in return for evidence, but again, she refused.  Meanwhile, a man named Bill Anderson came forward, telling Police that his friend Alan Mackerley had admitted killing Black and dumping his body in the sea.  He asked Anderson if he could fly over an area to see if the body had surfaced.  Anderson himself, had run a New Jersey bus company, and certainly knew of Black, but did not like him at all.  However, he could not turn a blind eye to murder, even if it was somebody he disliked.  FBI set up covert surveillance and bugs, but Mackerley was very careful about what he said.  After so long, cops arrested him and charged him with kidnapping and murder.  Lisa Costello struck a bargain deal, and in return for the story, she received ten years for false imprisonment & manslaughter.  Mackerley was convicted and jailed for life.

    Bill Anderson had to be placed in the Witness Protection Programme after it was learned that Mackerley was trying to arrange his murder from jail.  Mackerley was not charged with Solicitation of a Murder.  In 2001, Mackerley had his conviction overturned, because Black went to Florida willingly, and was therefore not kidnapped.  A second trial resulted in a hung jury, but he was convicted in the third trial, receiving life without parole.  Lisa Costello was attacked in prison, and it was believed that Mackerley was behind it.  An attempt to move her to another jail, was challenged by Mackerley`s lawyers, saying that by moving her, it would have been part of a deal to get her testimony.  She was released in 2004.  Mackerley claimed Costello killed Black in self-defence, and that he did not lure him there to kill him.  What was indisputable was a threat Mackerley made to Black some years before, that he would bury him.  Why should Black attack Costello?  How would Black have reacted to being lured to Florida and delivered to his bitterest rival?   The body of Frank Black has never been found.