William Cutolo Jr. still can't believe the mobsters who put a bullet in his father's head were stupid enough to bury the body - or disrespectful enough to leave him in his loafers.
"My father must be smiling down on us. Now we have the body. Now we have the evidence," Cutolo told the Daily News in an exclusive interview.
His dad, William (Wild Bill) Cutolo, was underboss of the Colombo crime family when he was killed in 1999. His murder was ordered by acting boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, who feared losing control to Wild Bill, a charismatic rival.
"Why did they bury the body? I thought Allie would have been smarter," Cutolo, 36, said.
Until this month, the prevailing theory was that Cutolo's corpse had been dumped off Persico's boat into the Atlantic Ocean. But on Oct. 6, the mob capo's remains were pulled from a secret Mafia graveyard in Farmingdale, L.I., after a turncoat led FBI agents to the burial ground.
The body was wrapped in a tarp. Loafers protruded from the burial shroud - an old-world Mafia no-no, Cutolo said.
"When a man such as my father, a made man [is killed], the old-timers believed it was a sign of respect to remove their shoes so that when their bodies were ever found, and there were no shoes, it was a sign of respect," Cutolo said.
FBI agents plan to continue searching the site this week with cadaver dogs, looking for the remains of mobster Richard Greaves and Pace University student Carmine Gargano.
Federal prosecutors didn't need Wild Bill's body to convict Persico and former underboss John (Jackie) DeRoss in December 2007 of ordering the hit.
The evidence they used included incriminating tapes secretly made by the younger Cutolo - who wore a wire for the feds to avenge his father's death. The mob scion dubbed his undercover work Operation Payback.
Persico's lawyer subpoenaed Cutolo, but he refused to answer questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. It was the first time he was face-to-face with Persico and DeRoss in years.
"Put me in an alley with both of them, and I'll send them out in bags. They're nothing but cowards," Cutolo said.
Wild Bill was DeRoss' best man at his wedding.
After the mobster disappeared, DeRoss went knocking on the walls of the slain man's Staten Island mansion, looking for hidden cash. He even took over Wild Bill's Friendly Bocce social club on 11th Ave. in Brooklyn.
"He sat in my old man's chair, no less," Cutolo said.
Cutolo had a falling-out with the feds and his family, but is back on speaking terms with his mother, who testified against Persico and DeRoss.
She has promised to give him a portion of his father's cremated remains, he said.
There was no similar pardon for him from his late aunt Barbara DePalo, who bought a blistering death notice in The News calling Cutolo Jr. a "pansy on a crusade" for cooperating with the government.
"I called her and said, 'You get a pair of gloves, a ski mask and a pistol, and do what you gotta do. Don't you ever call me a 'pansy' in the newspaper,'" he said.
Cutolo said he considered killing his father's murderers, but instead opted to help put them in jail - a fate his father believed was worse than death.
"I was very sick over what I did, but I put my b---s on the table," he said.
He is no longer in the witness protection program but doesn't expect to attend DeRoss' and Persico's sentencings.
If he were there, he'd have plenty to say: "You made two mistakes: You killed my father and you didn't kill me."