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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bonanno gangster Skinny Santoro shows chivalry isnt dead

Judge: Wiseguys can still be nice guys
Wiseguys turn rat at the drop of a dime these days, but chivalry is not dead in the modern mafia.

A Manhattan judge commended reputed Bonanno gangster Anthony “Skinny” Santoro for his “chivalry” in trying to protect his wife when cops showed up at his Staten Island home last year.

In a written decision issued Wednesday — denying Santoro’s motion to dismiss the charges against him and eight co-defendants busted last year for a variety of mob staple rackets including loansharking, drug dealing, perjury and firearm possessions — Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa Jackson nevertheless noted, his “chivalrous nature” when cops showed up at his door with a search warrant in July 2013.

“Whatever you find in there that isn’t supposed to be there, it’s mine, not hers,” he told cops, referring to his wife.

Wrote the judge, “The circumstances of the statement support its voluntariness: the statement was non-custodial, chivalrous in nature and clearly spontaneous.”

Cops seized nearly 10 pounds of marijuana, boxes of Viagra and seven guns from his home, according to court papers.

“There’s no question that he’s a chivalrous guy,” said defense lawyer Timothy Parlatore. “This wasn’t a motion that we really needed to win anyway because we were never planning on blaming his wife at trial.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

NJ Transit plans to do battle with Papa Smurf's family over $8.1 million land deal

Carmine Franco before his sentencing in 1998.

Most people would not choose to owe Carmine Franco — or his associates — anything. But that’s exactly the situation NJ Transit finds itself in, owing more than $8 million to the family of Franco, a convicted mob boss currently serving time in federal prison for racketeering.

In May, Franco admitted that he orchestrated a Mafia scheme to control North Jersey’s garbage business through threats and intimidation, forcing many owners out of their own businesses. But NJ Transit isn’t backing off.

This morning, the agency plans to dedicate another $150,000 to challenge a court ruling that gave Franco’s family $8.1 million for a piece of land needed to build new train tunnels under the Hudson River — a project that was canceled by Governor Christie in 2010.

And the costs for the public transit agency may not stop there. A private contractor has found that cleaning up the disputed parcel could cost $2 million, a bill the Franco family now says is NJ Transit’s responsibility.

That’s on top of another $2 million NJ Transit already has paid lawyers over property disputes related to the canceled rail tunnel project.

“They’ve just procrastinated,” said Paul V. Fernicola, the attorney representing Franco’s family. “How long is this process supposed to take?”

Nancy Snyder, a spokes­wom­an for NJ Transit, declined on Tuesday to discuss the parcel or the agency’s appeal.

The legal fight centers on an awkward, 1.89-acre triangle of weeds and broken concrete that spills into Weehawken, Union City and Hoboken. Owned for years by Carmine Franco, who deeded it to his wife Mary and sister-in-law Carol, it was an industrial site used by a hodgepodge of auto repair, jitney bus and salvage yard companies, according to records filed in Superior Court in Hudson County.

Carmine Franco, who is 78 and from Ramsey, was known to his mob associates in the Genovese crime family as “Papa Smurf” and “Uncle Sonny.” Convicted in the early 1980s and again in the late 1990s for mob-related conspiracies, he was banned for life from the waste-hauling industry in New Jersey and many New York jurisdictions.

Franco eluded that ban, helping to create an alliance between the Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese crime families to exert control over the trash industry by using proxies to hide his role. He also admitted to mail fraud, wire fraud, and overbilling customers at a waste transfer station in West Nyack, N.Y., which he controlled.

When he was convicted, Franco faced a possible prison sentence of 45 years. His lawyers responded with a request that he be sentenced to a year of community service, at a church. Manhattan federal Judge Kevin Castel ultimately sentenced Franco to one year in prison. He also was ordered to forfeit $2.5 million to the United States.

The land originally caught the eye of NJ Transit officials in 2008 when the agency was looking for properties for its massive project to build a pair of train tunnels between New Jersey and New York. The project was called Access to the Region’s Core.

The agency sued for condemnation in December 2009, and initially offered to pay the Franco family $934,000, according to court filings by NJ Transit. A second appraisal increased the offer to $990,000.

Seven months later, Christie canceled the ARC tunnel project. In the years since, NJ Transit has done little with the land, other than surround it with a chain link fence festooned with signs marking it as NJ Transit property.

Meanwhile the surrounding neighborhood was experiencing a transformation. Thanks partly to NJ Transit’s light rail trains, which pass immediately north of the site, the area has exploded in recent years with new luxury condominiums and apartment buildings. All that development has left the Franco family’s 1.89-acre plot as one of the last large pieces of bare ground, just a few minutes’ walk from ferry lines to Manhattan.

Facing condemnation, the Francos hired an architect and an engineer to reimagine their land, and seek a higher price. Instead of a polluted bus parking lot, the architect envisioned residential buildings up to 13 stories tall, with 126 units and sweeping views of New York.

When its capacity for redevelopment was considered, the land’s value skyrocketed to $9.1 million, Fernicola said. After a 12-day trial a Hudson County jury largely agreed, ordering NJ Transit to pay the Franco family $8.1 million.

“Clearly NJ Transit substantially undervalued the property,” Fernicola said. “This property has amazing views of Manhattan.”

In addition to the site’s potentially growing value, NJ Transit also may have to deal with its contamination. The agency’s first, preliminary environmental study of the parcel, dated Sept. 16, 2008, found “a petroleum-like odor” and “elevated levels of contaminants … in both soil samples and groundwater samples,” according to court documents. A second study in March 2012 found PCBs and other pollutants, and estimated it would cost nearly $2 million to remove contaminated soil, remove drums of chemicals and cap dangerous portions of the site.

NJ Transit argues in court filings that the Franco family should pay to clean the site. Fernicola counters that because New Jersey law requires agencies that take land through condemnation to file two lawsuits simultaneously — one to condemn the property and a second to recover cleanup costs from the former owners — NJ Transit already has missed its only chance to get cleanup money from the Franco family.

Years after it started the condemnation process, “all NJ Transit has done was remove a single gasoline container” from the site, according to a legal brief filed in 2012 by Fernicola.

NJ Transit’s administration committee is scheduled to vote this morning on whether to spend another $150,000 on legal fees associated with the case. The agency originally allocated $2 million in November 2008 for lawyers working on property acquisitions related to the ARC tunnel.

Gambino associate indicted in 2002 drug related murder

Gennaro Bruno was busted in Las Vegas on charges that he murdered a man in Queens in 2002.

A reputed Gambino associate has been indicted in a 2002 drug-related murder in Queens.

Gennaro Bruno, 41, was arrested Tuesday by the FBI in Las Vegas and will be arraigned at a future date in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Bruno, 41, is charged with firing a bullet at point blank range into the back of the head of pot dealer Martin Bosshart as Bosshart urinated on the side of a road in Howard Beach.

The indictment alleges that Bruno was aligned with the "Corozzo Faction" of the Gambino family, referring to former consigliere Joseph "JoJo" Corozzo.

Another Gambino associate, Todd LaBarca, pleaded guilty in 2012 to participating in Bosshart's rubout.

First member of the Bonanno family to cooperate with the government gets time served

Frank Coppa (Left), a New York mobster who became a rat that toppled Vito Rizzuto, pictured with Bonanno Mafia boss Joe Massino.
Frank Coppa (Left), a New York mobster who became a rat pictured with Bonanno Mafia boss Joseph Massino

The first made member of the Bonanno crime family to turn rat was sentenced to time served for racketeering in Brooklyn federal court Thursday.

Frank Coppa, a Bonanno capo and close pal to former boss Joey Massino, apologized for his lengthy life of mob mayhem before Judge Nicholas Garaufis handed down his fate.

“I’d like to say that I’m really sorry,” the hulking but aged crook said after navigating his way into court on a motorized scooter. “I’m really sorry for the people I hurt.”

Prosecutors lauded Coppa’s landmark tenure as a rat and credited him with decimating the highest ranks of the once potent Bonanno clan.

“His cooperation was truly historic,” said federal prosecutor Amy Busa. “He was the first made member of the Bonanno family to break the Cosa Nostra code of silence.”

Coppa, 73, took the stand against many high ranking Bonanno hoods – including Massino himself.

He copped to taking part in a slew of murder conspiracies but his decision to turn rat allowed him to escape without any additional time behind bars.

“With Mr. Coppa’s cooperation, many of the redwoods started to fall,” Garaufis said of his impact on the Bonanno family.

Judge rejects Colombo prince's bid to retract guilty plea

Judge rejects mob scion’s bid to retract plea
A Brooklyn federal judge rejected a Colombo crime family scion’s bid to pull back his plea deal for loan-sharking because the feds decided to get tough with his sentencing guidelines, Brooklyn federal court papers show.

Mafia prince Michael Persico claimed prosecutors breached their 36- to 47-month sentencing deal by pushing for a stiff term in a pre-sentence report, his lawyers said in court papers.

He also claimed to have not fully understood what he was pleading to and wanted the deal torn up.

But no-nonsense Brooklyn federal Judge Sandra Townes dismissed his request and said the accord was binding.

Persico, 57, had repeatedly said he understood what he was admitting to and there was no legal basis to allow him to back out of the deal, her ruling states.

Persico copped to loaning $100,000 to trucking company businessmen and sticking them with a whopping 45 percent annual interest rate.

Persico wanted his sweetheart plea deal yanked despite facing the prospect of life in prison if he’s convicted at trial.

Gambino associate gets time served for testifying against the crime family

​A veteran mob rat was rewarded with a sentence of time served — just three days — for helping to whack his own brother-in-law despite pleas for punishment Thursday from his victim’s relatives.

Calling his cooperation “historic,” prosecutors said Gambino associate Anthony Ruggiano Jr., 61, helped the feds bag capos Bartolomeo “Bobby Glasses” Vernace and Dominick “Skinny Dom” Pizzonia with his insider testimony.

His singing on the stand against former family hit man Charles Carneglia also helped solve a slew of cold gangland cases, prosecutors said.

The son of late Gambino soldier Anthony “Fat Andy” Ruggiano Sr., a busy triggerman who ran a crew out of an Ozone Park cafe, Ruggiano Jr. was sentenced for his role in the murder of his brother-in-law Frank Boccia in 1988.

The hit – sanctioned by Gambino don John Gotti – was in retaliation for Boccia’s ill-advised manhandling of Fat Andy’s wife after she refused to cough up cash for a baptism.

Boccia was lured to the old man’s wiseguy-filled social club, Cafe Liberty, where he was shot five times and then gutted to prevent his body from floating.

Groveling before the court, Ruggiano Jr. apologized to Boccia’s relatives as they seethed in the jury box during the proceeding.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m so sorry for everything.”

A former junkie, Ruggiano Jr. said that he had cleaned up his life in the witness protection program and abandoned his life of crime.

“I was born and raised in a family whose values were rooted in organized crime,” he said. “I grew up in the shadow of my father.”

But the mobster’s tearful pleas were met with disgusted glares from Boccia’s daughter, Jenna, and sister, Josephine.

Unmoved by the fruits of his cooperation, the women focused on justice for their loved one.

“It is inconceivable how Mr. Ruggiano can live with himself,” Josephine Boccia told the court before sentencing, noting that her brother’s innards had been emptied and that his body was never found.

“It is the request of my family for the maximum penalty,” she said.

Just a baby when her father was murdered, Boccia’s daughter said the specter of his slaying has left her psychologically disfigured.

“The anger you have left with me is indescribable,” she told the hoodlum, adding that her heartbroken family told her for years that her dad was still alive and had abandoned them.

“I can’t tell you what that did to me as a child,” she said. “I pray today that justice prevails.”

But the pleas for punishment were mere formalities as Judge Jack Weinstein contritely explained that even the most nauseating cooperators were given breaks in the courtroom.

“In this case the defendant has become a tool of the government to destroy the remnants of this terrible group of the mafia that has been the cause of your grief,” he explained.

Aware of the outcome beforehand, the two women hung their heads and nodded as Weinstein expressed his sorrow for their loss.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Feds urge leniency for Colombo cop killer turned rat

Joseph (Joey Caves) Competiello, Colombo soldier, turned on the mob.
Federal prosecutors are going to bat for the ex-Colombo hit man who came forward to solve the 1997 gangland rubout of NYPD cop Ralph Dols.

Joseph “Joey Caves” Competiello, a mob soldier who pleaded guilty to five murders as part of his government agreement, is facing life in prison when he is sentenced next month by Judge Brian Cogan.

But the feds are urging leniency for the turncoat who helped break the crime family and bring Dols' killers to justice.

"Competiello's cooperation initiated a chain of events which resulted in the cooperation of other Colombo family members and associates which led to the arrests and ultimately the convictions of nearly every inducted member of the crime family," Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes stated in court papers.

"Joe's cooperation was the beginning of the end of the Colombo family," another law enforcement source added.

Before Competiello was flipped by FBI special agent John Fallon, the Dols' murder had been exhaustively investigated by the NYPD and the feds, but was a cold case

Then Competiello revealed the participants in the killing, including then capos Thomas Gioeli and Dino Calabro - Calabro cooperated soon after and implicated former acting boss Joel Cacace who wanted the cop whacked because he had married Cacace's ex-wife.

Ralph Dols was gunned down outside his home in 1997.

"Prior to Competiello's cooperation not a single lead implicated Competiello or the Gioeli crew in the murder," Geddes noted.

In a sad footnote to the case, Cacace, Gioeli and accused shooter Dino Saracino were acquitted of the young cop's slaying. Competiello and Calabro testified that they did not know Dols was a cop when they were tasked with gunning him down outside his Brooklyn apartment building.

Sources said Dols' family understood that it was necessary for the feds to make deals with the mob rats who participated in the murder in order to bring their accomplices to justice.

Competiello has served more than six years in prison since he was arrested and it is doubtful that the judge will give him time served, sources said.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Judge sends Skinny Joey Merlino back to jail for four months for parole violation

What a federal prosecutor described as a "night on the town with his mob buddies" has resulted in a four-month prison sentence for former Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick imposed that sentence this afternoon after hearing more than three hours of testimony and argument in a probation violation hearing for the 52-year-old convicted Mafia leader.

Merlino, now living in Florida, will begin the sentence in 30 days, according to the order issued by Surrick. Once he completes that sentence, Merlino will no longer be on supervised release and will be free to meet and associate with whomever he chooses.

But that may be the least of his problems. According to testimony during the hearing, Merlino has been the focus on an ongoing investigation by an organized crime task force in South Florida. Authorities have apparently had the one-time South Philadelphia celebrity gangster on their radar since his arrival in the Sunshine State three years ago.

Law enforcement officials have been tight lipped about the nature of that investigation. A Broward County detective confirmed during his testimony that Merlino has been picked up on "dozens" of surveillances over the past three years. But Surrick upheld a prosecution objection when Jacobs asked what was being investigated.

In May, Merlino was questioned at length by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer about his finances. Authorities have made no secret of the fact that they would like to know the source of the former mob boss's income and how he has managed to live a comfortable life in the Boca Raton area while reporting minimal income.

"He reports almost nothing ... a paltry sum," Troyer said at one point during today's hearing. Yet Merlino lives in a posh condo and is seen being driven around in a Cadallac Escalade. The vehicle is owned by his longtime friend and one-time roommate Don Petillo.

Merlino said little as he left the courtroom following today's hearing.

Tan and dressed in an expensive, light gray business suit, white shirt and dark tie, and with what appeared to be a Rolex peeking out from under his shirt cuff, Merlino looked liked someone who had walked off a GQ photo shoot. His wife Deborah Wells-Merlino, his mother Rita and a dozen other friends attended the session.

The always outspoken Rita Merlino complained of government harassment, implying that her son had been unjustly targeted by authorities. Jacobs hinted at the same thing during his closing argument before Surrick.

Jacobs said the violation of supervised release summons came from Philadelphia despite the fact that Merlino had been under the supervision of probation department authorities in Florida.

"Prosecutors and the FBI have long memories (about) cases that don't turn out the way they want," Jacobs said. The lawyer, who has defended Merlino for years, was apparently making reference to a federal racketeering trial in 2001 in which Merlino was convicted of gambling and extortion, but acquitted of murder, attempted murder and drug dealing charges that could have carried a longer prison sentence.

Merlino was sentenced to 14 years in that case. He had spent more than 12 years in jail before being released to a halfway house in Florida where he opted to relocate. For the past three years he has been on court-ordered supervised release, the final legal of that sentence.

The probation violation charge was based primarily on surveillance conducted by local authorities on June 18. Merlino was spotted at an Italian restaurant, La Villetta, in Boca Raton, and later at Havana Nights, a cigar bar. He was, according to surveillance reports and testimony, seen in the company of three convicted felons, including John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini, a Philadelphia mob capo and a co-defendant in the 2001 trial.

Merlino was prohibited from associating with convicted felons and organized crime figures while on probation.

Jacobs argued that the meeting of Ciancaglini and Merlino in the cigar bar was a "chance encounter" and not a planned association. He also contended that there was no evidence to support allegations that Merlino and Ciancaglini had been together in the restaurant earlier that same evening.

He conceded that Merlino should have reported the encounter to his probation officer, but said Merlino had made a "mistake."

"It was an oversight," he said.

Jacobs also called Ciancaglini's wife, Kathy, as a witness. She said her husband told her he had "run into Merlino" that night and that he hoped Merlino would not get into trouble as a result. She said it was a chance encounter and that her husband had studiously tried to avoid being in Merlino's presence while he was on probation.

Troyer dismissed the defense argument of a chance encounter and asked why John Ciancaglini -- "he's available" -- hadn't been called as a witness rather than his wife. The prosecutor said the meeting was a clear violation of the terms of Merlino's probation.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Feds bust massive Genovese family money laundering ring

Authorities have charged 11 members and associates of the notorious Genovese crime family with running a number of illegal financial schemes, including elaborate loansharking and sports gambling operations that raked in millions of dollars in recent years.

At a press conference in Newark this morning, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced the takedown of the wide-ranging ring, saying their schemes were evidence that the Mafia had “evolved and learned to exploit sophisticated financial systems to hide and launder the proceeds of traditional street crimes.”

Seven defendants were arrested this morning, including a Genovese “capo”, 80-year-old Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo and 55-year-old Vito Alberti, a “made” soldier – both of whom report directly to the crime family’s hierarchy in New York, authorities said. Another three were charged by summons, and one, Vincent Coppola, remains at large.

Check-cashing schemes

According to Hoffman, the man at the helm of the family’s alleged check-cashing scheme is Domenick Puccillo, a 56-year-old Florham Park man who oversaw operations at Tri-State Check Cashing Inc., located on Avenue A in Newark’s Ironbound District, and other licensed check cashing locations.

There, he allegedly extended lines of both cash and credit to customers, and charged annual interest rates ranging between one to three “points”, or between 52 and 156 percent.

The victims, who Hoffman said were typically indigent with poor credit, were required to pay interest weekly, or face threats of violence from Puccillo and an associate, Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola.

They typically made payments by check, so that it appeared they were simply cashing them as part of the Tri-State’s regular course of business, but the two were in fact keeping the proceeds for themselves and kicking profits up the line to Tuzzo and Alberti.

The ring also ran an unlicensed check-cashing operation out of the Portucale Restaurant & Bar, also in Newark’s Ironbound District, which was allegedly used to launder money and evade taxes.

According to Hoffman, customers looking to avoid government scrutiny when cashing checks over $10,000 would visit the restaurant, where owner Abel Rodrigues would hand over cash provided by Tri-State in exchange for a fee. Customers typically cashed the checks in order to finance “under the table” payrolls at their own businesses, Hoffman said.

Rodrigues, meanwhile, would flout federal law by failing to file required transactions reports on the checks, and Tri-State would be reimbursed by another company, Viriato Corp., for six-figure sums they had directed to the illegal operation.

Over a four-year period, Rodrigues and an associate, Manuel Rodriguez, are accused of cashing more than $400 million in checks and collecting over $9 million in fees.

Two employees at Tri-State and Portucale, Flor Miranda of Newark and Jennifer Mann of Bayonne, are each accused of helping to keep records and file false reports related to the schemes.

Sports Gambling

Authorities claim the ring ran a multi-million dollar illegal sports gambling business, headed by 37-year-old Coppola, the son of jailed Genovese capo Michael Coppola.

According to Hoffman, Coppola used an offshore “wire room” located in Costa Rica to process bets, and supervised underlings John Trainor and Jerry Albanese, who vetted new clients and dictated how much specific groups of bettors could gamble per week or per game.

During 2011, Coppola allegedly handled more than $1.7 million in bets, bringing in more than $400,000 in profits to the Genovese family.

Trainor allegedly became tied up with the ring after becoming indebted to the crime family. The ring then took over his car business, GTS Auto Carriers, and siphoned money from it - which Hoffman likened to a memorable episode of “The Sopranos” during which mobsters force a gambling addict to hand over profits from his sporting goods store until it hits bankruptcy.

“That’s the analogy that works for me. This guy Trainor got involved with the mafia, the mafia got involved in his business, and they really bled the business dry and took advantage of him,” he said.

Under a lucrative deal with Nissan, GTS transported cars from Port Newark to area dealerships. Alberti is accused of creating a company called AMJ Transport, which collected more than $300,000 a year to to lease trucks to GTS, and placed himself and another Genovese associate on the payroll, despite never performing any legitimate work.

Drug Money, Tax Charges

Authorities say another check-cashing company acquired by Pucillo, Florida-based I&T Financial Services, was used to launder and transfer money from drug traffickers.

Money would initially be delivered to Miranda at Tri-State, then wired under a fictitious name to I&T to an account managed by the client, who authorities were unable to identify, Hoffman said.

I&T allegedly took in about $666,000 in laundered money from the scheme, and collected about $22,500 in fees. Hoffman declined to be specific about the type or amount of drugs the ring may have helped conceal, citing an ongoing investigation.

Tuzzo, Alberti, Pucillo, Spagnola, Rodriguez, Coppola, Rodrigues and Trainor are all facing charges including first-degree racketeering and money laundering, each of which could land them in jail for up to 20 years.

Alberti, Trainor, Rodrigues and Rodriguez are also facing tax-related charges for their illegal activity related to the check-cashing businesses and other endeavors.

Hoffman said the cases will be tried out of State Superior Court in Morris County.

A full list of the defendants and charges:

∙ Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo, 80, Bayside, N.Y. – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury and promoting gambling

∙ Vito Alberti, 55, New Providence – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury, promoting gambling and filing a fraudulent tax return

∙ Domenick Pucillo, 56, Florham Park – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury, possession of usurious loan records, operating an unlicensed check-cashing facility

∙ Robert “Bobby Spags” Spagnola, 67, Morganville – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury, possession of usurious loan records

∙ Manuel Rodriguez, 49, Chatham – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, operating an unlicensed check-cashing facility, filing a fraudulent tax return, failure to file a tax return

∙ Vincent P. Coppola, 37, Union – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, promoting gambling

∙ Abel J. Rodrigues, 52, Bridgewater – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, operating an unlicensed check-cashing facility, filing a fraudulent tax return

∙ John W. Trainor, 42, Brick – first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, promoting gambling, forgery, failure to file a tax return

∙ Jerry J. Albanese, 47, Scotch Plains – first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, promoting gambling

∙ Flor Miranda, 40, Newark – first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, criminal usury, possession of usurious loan records

∙ Jennifer Mann, 30, Bayonne – first-degree money laundering, conspiracy, operating an unlicensed check-cashing facility, issuing a false financial statement, forgery

Mob turncoat has 12 year sentence overturned

A prolific mob informant — who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for taking part in an arson with gangsters he informed on — has had his conviction tossed out on appeal, federal court records show.

Volkan “The Turk” Mergen had been praised by prosecutors for helping sink a slew of Bonanno and Gambino hoods by making more than 275 secret recordings between 2001 and 2006, court documents say.

“Mergen’s service was fruitful: He sometimes submitted so many recordings to the FBI that the agency could not keep pace,” the papers say.

But the feds abruptly ended his dazzling tenure as a mob canary after he took part in a 2006 Staten Island home arson with a crew of mobsters he was supposed to be informing on, court papers state.

Mergen had told FBI agents about the arson plan in advance and was instructed not to involve himself, prosecutors said.

But the former Gambino crime-family associate claimed he didn’t have time to back out without revealing himself as a rat, court papers state.

Citing his work as an informant, the feds offered Mergen a plea deal on a lesser charge. He chose a trial and was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012.

But an appeals court ruled that Mergen’s trial was defective, finding he should have been allowed to play in court a secret recording he made of his FBI handler.

The recording captures the agent saying Mergen didn’t do anything wrong in relation to the blaze.

The panel also dumped other counts against Mergen — including theft — because the statute of limitations had run out.

Mergen’s attorney, Andy Frisch, declined to comment on his successful appeal.

The feds will now decide whether to retry the Turkey native, now free on $200,000 bond pending the outcome of his case.

Before his arrest, Mergen was credited with sending several hoods to prison and helping to crack the 2005 murder of Bonanno associate Robert McKelvey at the old Kreischer Mansion in Staten Island.

McKelvey was stabbed and drowned in a pond on the grounds before his body was chopped into pieces and discarded. Joseph Young, 29, was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to life on 24 racketeering counts, including the murder.