The defense in a mob case is taking offense, saying a key prosecution witness against a group of ordinary men is the real bad guy.
The witness in the alleged Bonanno loansharking, gambling, extortion and pill-peddling case is a repeat killer, with seven grim notches on his belt, a lawyer for one defendant said Tuesday at the start of the two-month trial in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Adam Konta, who represents alleged soldier Anthony "Skinny" Santoro, told jurors the District Attorney's office has gone after alleged gangsters who are actually non-violent nobodies.
"One of their witnesses killed seven people — that's more than on a season of 'Game of Thrones,' " said Konta.
The lawyer also said the DA pursued the scraps left behind from a past police probe that netted no arrests.
"Mr. Santoro did not make anyone 'sleep with the fishes,' " he said, citing a slang reference for a mob hit.
Santoro, along with alleged 73-year-old boss Nicholas Santora and underlings Vito Badamo and Ernest Aiello, is on trial on enterprise corruption, racketeering and other counts.
Santora's lawyer, Michael Alber, argued the charges against the wheelchair-bound alleged captain, who was the basis for a character in cult classic "Donnie Brasco," are bogus.
"It will be crystal clear at the end of the trial you will have every reason to doubt Mr. Santora's involvement in this case," Alber argued.
Aiello was such a low priority that investigators did not even search his home, his lawyer, Stacey Richman, argued.
He was arrested at 6 a.m. on July 9, 2013, and "has waited until this day for (you) to evaluate the evidence and set him free," she told the jury.
But prosecutor David Stuart said the crew used old-school mob tactics and code words to try to throw off law enforcement.
They arranged meetings at "the place with the good sandwich" or the one "with the waitress you like," he said.
Stuart said that while they were involved in selling Viagra and Cialis on the black market, "the real money maker for them, their bread and butter, was the online gambling operation."
The activities of the crew were sanctioned and overseen by the highest levels of the "family," the assistant DA said.
"I'm sure that everyone has heard of La Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, the mob," Stuart argued. "Let me assure you, ladies and gentleman, this is not Hollywood. These crimes and these defendants are real."