Attorney Benson Weintraub says Persico died on Thursday at the Duke University Medical Center. He had been serving what was effectively a life sentence at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.
Persico was convicted of racketeering and murder in a prosecution of mob bosses led by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.
Prosecutors said Persico took over the murderous New York-based crime organization in the early 1970s when it was at the height of its powers.
He was sentenced to more than a century in prison during the 1986 "Commission Trial" targeting the heads of New York's mafia families.
Persico served as his own lawyer during the trial.
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