Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How an undercover NYPD detective took down a Lucchese and Bonanno family gun ring

It was the acting job of a lifetime, but you won’t see his name on a marquee.

For nearly three years from 1999 into 2002, a Jewish-born NYPD detective raised in Flushing posed as an Italian mobster moving between two factions of the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families.

He took on the persona of Vincent Spinelli, a dangerous truck hijacker and gun-runner with a warehouse full of swag. He wore gold watches and drove a Mercedes.

After the indictments came down in those cases, Spinelli switched gears entirely and joined the elite Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2002 under his real name.

He spent the next 11 years chasing terrorists threatening to hit New York and, later, Afghani drug lords as a consultant with U.S. Special Forces.

“I’ve had an interesting life,” Spinelli, 47, told the Daily News. “I had opportunities that a lot of people don’t have. Now, I live to play golf.”

The News is withholding his real name at his request for security reasons.

Spinelli’s adrenaline-rich undercover career began in earnest in 1998 after he helped take down a major drug operation, which had basically annexed an entire apartment complex in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx.

That case and other successes landed him in the coveted Organized Crime Investigation Division.

Vincent Spinelli's (right) first undercover mission was to buy guns and jewelry from gangsters like Lucchese soldier John Donnadio (left).

There, he was assigned to work with Detectives Richie Fagan and Billy Gillespie – two men who would mentor him and become his close friends.

“He came highly recommended but we weren’t sure what to do with him,” Fagan recalled. “We were thinking about making him a corrupt government official.”

It took an informant to make the decision. Gillespie got word of a Bonanno gun ring operating out of the Aquarius Social Club on Waterbury Ave. in the Schuylerville neighborhood of the Bronx. It was controlled by Capo Patrick "Patty from the Bronx" DeFilippo.

Gillespie brought Spinelli to a meeting with the informant in January 1999.

“Billy asked him, ‘Can you introduce us to them?’” Spinelli said. “The informant pointed to me and said, ‘Yeah, he would work.’ And that’s how it got started: a five-minute conversation.”

To play the role, the Jewish kid from Flushing had to learn the lingo and customs of the mob, and that started with regular visits to the A. Reali Gourmet Deli on Utopia Parkway in Auburndale, Queens.

“They had some good food there,” he said. “I told the three old ladies working there I was writing a story and asked them questions about food; how to properly pronounce certain foods.”

Meanwhile, Fagan and Gillespie wiped NYPD personnel records of his existence, gave him a criminal record, a new driver’s license, a new apartment and a business with a warehouse.

Fagan said they started calling him Vincent months before sending him into the social club.

“Everyone in the office did it so he would respond to it naturally,” he said. “Wise guys pick up on that stuff in a second.”

They filled the warehouse with fake high-end goods, like counterfeit Movado watches and Tommy Hilfiger jeans. They borrowed nice suits, diamond rings, gold chains and watches from the evidence unit for him to wear.

His role was to buy guns from the gangsters, as many as he could, and pick up on whatever other crimes the mobsters were involved in.

His first meeting in 1999 with Luchese soldier John Donnadio to sell him Movado watches was at Satin Dolls, the New Jersey strip club that the makers of “The Sopranos” used as a model for their Bada Bing jiggle joint.

“At the table, he liked to be the center of attention,” Spinelli said. “If I had a good score, I would take him away from the table and tell him and gave him his cut.”

The 300-pound DeFilippo, on the other hand, was more old school.

“He was the anti-Gotti,” he said. “He didn’t say much. He took you on walks to talk business. But we had a camera in his club, and we cloned his pager and his cellphone.”

Bonanno Capo Patrick "Patty from the Bronx" DeFilippo ran the Aquarius Social Club on Waterbury Avenue in the Bronx.

Pretty soon, Spinelli was a regular at the social clubs and strip clubs like Lace in Midtown or Sue’s Rendezvous in Mount Vernon, hanging with a whole roster of mobsters over steak and lobster dinners, and doing gun deal after gun deal. He would buy guns from them and sell them stuff from his warehouse.

Meanwhile, his fellow detectives were sitting outside in a van recording what was said.

“He was like a chameleon,” Fagan said. “Part of it was the fact that he grew up in the city. He could just walk into any place and was able to engage these guys.”

He was still working for a bureaucracy, though. He was reminded of this the time that an NYPD accountant asked him to provide receipts for his high restaurant tabs.

“I said, ‘Who am I going to ask for a receipt?’” he said. “That’s just not going to work.”

Testing him out, the mobsters started taking him on collection runs. In one, a down-and-out button salesman in the garment district who owed a big gambling debt begged for more time.

“One of the guys just wanted to kick the sh-- out of him,” he said. “I calmed everything down and the guy promised to pay.”

Spinelli said beyond some light questioning, the mobsters didn’t really closely examine who he was.

Spinelli's work enabled law enforcement to seize 240 guns, a lot of ecstasy pills and, according to Fagan, develop new informants that helped them on future cases.

“Every time we were out, we had a good time, cracking jokes, laughing. We got along,” he said.

“I was bringing in money. They were happy with that. And all the things we were doing, they weren't getting arrested. Beyond that, they never really questioned me.”

But he did have a couple of close calls. One time, he was standing in a reception line at a mobster’s mother’s funeral and he realized, being Jewish, he had no idea how to genuflect the right way. He rushed into a bathroom and called Fagan and said, “They’re all doing the sign of the cross. You gotta tell me how to do it quick.”

Another night, he went to a police wake and then to a restaurant to meet the mobsters. A woman who had been at the funeral tapped him on the shoulder.

“I said ‘I don't know you,’” he said. “She insisted. I said you got the wrong guy, leave me alone. I felt horrible after that, but the guys were watching.”

On another night, he was out on a double date using his real identity. Donnadio’s brother and another member of the crew showed up with their dates.

“I see them and say to myself ‘Oh f---,” he said. “We paid the check and got out the door.”

At one point, FBI agents inadvertently photographed him leaving a social club, not knowing he was an undercover cop. His team also had him arrested just to allay any suspicion from the mobsters.

An undercover NYPD detective, who went by the persona of Vincent Spinelli, posed as a mobster moving between the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families for three years. The News is withholding his name on his request. Two items he helped to seize are pictured here when he was a private contractor working for the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan between 2013-15 when he retired from the police department.

And then there was the night he was ordered to drive to Yonkers with three of the mobsters to kill a rival associate who beat up Donnadio’s brother.

With his NYPD team watching, Spinelli parked the car under a streetlight.

“When he comes driving up, his headlights go into our cars, and he sees four goons in the car, and he takes off,” he said. “He later had to pay a $10,000 fine to settle up.”

In the fall of 2001 and early 2002, the indictments came down in the Lucchese and Bonanno cases from Manhattan grand juries.

His work enabled law enforcement to seize 240 guns, a lot of ecstasy pills and, according to Fagan, develop new informants that helped them on future cases.

“We know that somewhere on that table of guns or floor of guns we saved someone’s life,” Spinelli said.

Everyone associated with the case, except DeFilippo, pleaded guilty. The cases were yet more evidence of the decline of the Mafia.

“Over the years, all the big bosses flipped, but as long as you have gambling, you’ll have the mob,” he said. “Only, instead of having the wire room in someone’s house, you send it to Costa Rica.”

After going undercover, Spinelli spent over decade chasing terrorists abroad with the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

In 2002, in the post 9/11 era, Spinelli moved on to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he worked highly sensitive terrorism investigations until he retired in 2013.

Spinelli won’t talk much about that work.

“I travelled to some places you don't go to for vacation,” he quipped. “Part of it was working with foreign governments. Part of it was checking tips.”

In September 2006, authorities in Iraq rounded up 19 people linked to a plot to bomb a subway train in the city.

“Let’s just say I traveled on that job,” he said. “At one point, I think I was up for three days working that case.”

Through it all, the NYPD never saw fit to promote him even though everyone else on the two mob cases got bumped up. He retired as a detective third grade.

“It’s still a mystery why nobody promoted him. He was certainly recommended,” Fagan said. “Promotion in grade is a funny thing.”

For Spinelli’s part, he says he’s not upset about it.

NYPD detective Billy Gillespie (right) was one of Spinelli's mentors and friends. He died of a heart attack in July.

“I was kind of disappointed. It would have been nice, but I wasn’t bitter,” he said. “That's something beyond my control.”

He then spent 16 months in Afghanistan chasing opium lords with the U.S. Special Forces in a classified role, where he found himself under fire several times.

“The drug money buys the bombs, so we went after anything that could be used against our troops,” he said.

“We seized tons of raw opium and put bombmakers out of business. We seized homemade explosives, triggers, wires, all the ingredients for making a bomb.”

Spinelli finally had enough of adventure and came home to run a small security business and play golf with his buddies. He has a regular NYPD pension that earns him about $80,000 a year.

“One time, we’re out on the course and see this guy beating his bag with a club,” he said. “My buddy says, ‘We ever get like this, we're never playing again.’”

On July 5, Gillespie died of a heart attack.

“Richie called me, and usually we’re goofing around on the phone,” he said. “He goes ‘We lost Billy last night.’ It was just hard to comprehend because I saw him the week before.”

Spinelli is working on a book about his experiences as a tribute to those he worked with, including Fagan, Gillespie and Detective Eileen Corrigan, who died of cancer in 1999.

“It’s a unique story,” he said. “Not a lot of people have had the experiences we had. I want to get the story out.”


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jailed New England captain denied parole

Mafia capo Frank “Bobo” Marrapese Jr. will not be appearing in “Crimetown Live” any time soon.
The Rhode Island Parole Board unanimously voted Wednesday to deny parole to the notorious mobster, now 74 years old and serving time at the Adult Correctional Institutions for murder, racketeering and extortion.
Marrapese will have another opportunity at parole in 18 months, said Parole Board administrator Matthew Degnan.
Marrapese was a powerful enforcer for New England crime boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca in the 1960s and ’70s. He operated the Acorn Social Club in the heart of Federal Hill, where he shot mob associate Richard “Dickie” Callei to death on March 15, 1975 and had the corpse buried near a golf course in Rehoboth, Mass.
It took nearly a decade to catch Marrapese on that murder, although he continued to commit other crimes, such as a hijacking case involving La-Z-Boy recliners in the early 1980s.
Marrapese was convicted of Callei’s murder in 1987 and served 25 years. He was released on parole in 2008, but it didn’t take long for him to get in trouble again.
Within two years, state police say, he and other mob figures were running a large-scale sports gambling ring that was raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Marrapese was among two dozen people arrested in that ring in May 2011 and was sentenced in 2013 to nine years for racketeering and extortion.
While Marrapese has spent most of his adult life in prison on various crimes, not all of the charges have stuck. He was acquitted in the murder of Anthony “The Moron” Mirabella at Fidas Restaurant in May 1982, as well as the August 1982 murder of 20-year-old Ronald McElroy, who was beaten to death with a baseball bat after accidentally cutting off Marrapese and other mobsters who were street racing in Providence.
Marrapese maintained his innocence in McElroy’s murder during a prison interview with “Crimetown” podcast producers Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. He blamed the murder on the informant, a former friend and mob associate.
What broke his heart, Marrapese said, was the betrayal.
“Whenever I got in trouble, I was the only one who went to jail. But I don’t take nobody with me,” Marrapese told “Crimetown,” while inside maximum security. “I had people inform on me who murdered people, and the state police know they did it, and the FBI know they did it, but what they thought was that, if they put enough charges on me, I’d roll over too. But the buck stops here, like Harry Truman said. The buck stops here.”


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Twin brothers wanted for questioning in death of mafia associate

Men arrested in Henry County wanted for questioning in N.Y. deathMen arrested in Henry County wanted for questioning in N.Y. death
Twin brothers arrested in Henry County last week who led police on a high-speed chase that ended at Walmart are wanted for questioning in a New York murder investigation.
Louie and Vincent Iacono, 36, Brooklyn, New York, were arrested Sept. 6 after a chase that began on westbound Interstate 70 near Wilbur Wright Road.
According to the New York Police Department, the Iacono brothers are wanted for questioning in the death of 35-year-old Carmine Carini of Brooklyn.
On Aug. 2, New York police responded to a 911 call of a water rescue in the vicinity of East 58th Street and Avenue U within the confines of the 63rd Precinct. Upon arrival, an unidentified male was observed in the water unconscious and unresponsive. The body was removed by the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of the City of New York. EMS responded and pronounced the male, later identified as Carini, deceased at the location.
As of Tuesday morning, the Iacono brothers remained incarcerated at Henry County Jail.
Court records show Louie Iacono pleaded not guilty during an initial hearing Monday in Henry Circuit Court 2. His jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2018, and his bond is listed at $50,000 surety, $3,000 cash.
Vincent Iacono also entered a not guilty plea in court Monday during his initial hearing. His bond was set at $30,000 surety, $2,000 cash. Vincent Iacono’s jury trial is set for Jan. 22, 2018.
The Iaconos’ arrest in Henry County began with a traffic stop by the PACE Team, a multi-jurisdiction agency that patrols Interstate 70 in Henry and surrounding counties.
Deputy Nick Ernstes, a PACE Team member with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, originally pulled over the Chevy Avalanche the men were traveling in for license plate violation. The driver of the vehicle, Louie Iacono, fled from the scene, said PACE Team member Sgt. James Goodwin of the Henry County Sheriff’s Department.
Police pursued the men to the Ind. 3 exit, turning north. Louie Iacono made a u-turn at Walmart near County Road 300 South and proceeded to head south on Ind. 3, turning into the parking lot of Ivy Tech before driving across the grass into Walmart’s parking lot, Goodwin said.
Louie Iacono pulled up to the Walmart entrance, abandoned his vehicle and ran into the store, where he was apprehended by police near the cash registers.
Louie Iacono was charged with criminal recklessness, two counts of resisting law enforcement, possession of narcotic drugs, possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia.
Vincent Iacono, who remained in the vehicle, was charged with resisting law enforcement, possession of paraphernalia, possession of narcotic drugs and possession of a controlled substance.
The PACE Team was assisted by members of the New Castle Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana State Police.
Pills and personal-use amounts of heroin were allegedly located in Iacono’s vehicle.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lucchese solder busted for planning to escape from jail

A reputed mobster’s plan to bust out of a Brooklyn jail involved dental floss, a bed-sheet rope and a priest, prosecutors are charging in a bizarre new indictment.
Lucchese crime family “soldier” Christopher Londonio — who has been locked up in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center since February on murder, drugs, firearms and racketeering charges — planned to either use dental floss to saw his way out a window or get a priest to smuggle in a real hacksaw, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.
Londonio’s crackpot scheme also involved stockpiling bedsheets and tying them together as an escape rope, Manhattan prosecutors say.
“Someone facing federal charges of murder, extortion, racketeering and a litany of other crimes may feel a certain desperation to attempt breaking out of jail to avoid justice,” said FBI assistant director William Sweeney Jr..
“However, the outlandish choice of dental floss, and even allegedly asking a priest to assist in the escape defies comprehension.”
His plan fell through when another inmate reported the plan to jail authorities.
The 43-year-old Hartsdale man faces life in prison or death if convicted on his prior charges and the new escape charge could add another five years to his sentence.
He is due back in White Plains court on Sept. 20. His lawyer, Charles Carnesi, did not return a request for comment.


Famous mafia actor from The Sopranos and Goodfellas dead at 80

Frank Vincent, whose tough-guy looks brought him steady work as a character actor in film and television for four decades, including mobster roles on “The Sopranos” and in “Goodfellas,” died on Wednesday in New Jersey.
The Associated Press said Mr. Vincent’s family had confirmed the death in a statement and gave his age as 80, though some websites list his birth year as 1939. John A. Gallagher, who directed Mr. Vincent in “Street Hunter” and “The Deli,” said the actor had long identified himself as being younger to avoid the age discrimination common in Hollywood. No cause of death was given.
Mr. Vincent was born in North Adams, Mass., and raised in Jersey City. His first forays into show business were as a drummer, playing in nightclubs and on recordings with the singers Paul Anka and Trini Lopez.
He made his film debut in 1976 in “The Death Collector,” whose cast also included his friend Joe Pesci, a fellow musician. (Mr. Pesci plays guitar.) The two had once worked up a comedy act.
Continue reading the main story
Among those who took note of “The Death Collector” was Martin Scorsese, who cast both Mr. Vincent and Mr. Pesci in “Raging Bull” (1980), about the boxer Jake LaMotta, and, a decade later, “Goodfellas.”
That film gave Mr. Vincent perhaps his most memorable line, in the role of Billy Batts, a mobster who profanely invites Mr. Pesci’s character to go home and get his shine box, an insult that proved fatal. Mugs and T-shirts emblazoned with the line were soon being sold.
The character of Billy Batts made such an impression that it kept him off “The Sopranos,” at least at first, Mr. Vincent told an interviewer. He originally auditioned for the pilot of that series, created by David Chase, which began its long run on HBO in 1999. Dominic Chianese and Tony Sirico auditioned with him.
“They got hired and I didn’t,” Mr. Vincent said in a 2006 interview. “David now in retrospect says he didn’t want to hire me at that time because ‘Goodfellas’ was too popular and the character Billy Batts was too known to put him into that mix.”
Mr. Vincent was brought into the cast in 2004 as Phil Leotardo, a crime boss. The character appeared in more than 30 episodes, ultimately meeting a gruesome end.
Mr. Vincent’s other credits included another film by Mr. Scorsese, “Casino” (1995), and Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “Jungle Fever” (1991). He was also the author, with Steven Prigge, of “A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man’s Man,” published in 2006.
In the book, he wrote of being approached at a mall by three women who gushed over his “Sopranos” character. He expressed surprise, since the character is so tough.
“They went on to tell me that it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Phil Leotardo kills people on the show — it had to do with the fact that he exudes confidence and power,” he wrote. “He’s a man’s man, for sure. For the record, there’s a good bit of myself in Phil Leotardo.”


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Judge blasts Genovese captain as he hands out potential death sentence

A ​no-nonsense ​Manhattan federal court judge blasted an aged wiseguy Thursday before sentencing him to seven years in prison — saying he should have thought beforehand about joining the mob if he didn’t want to die behind bars.
“There’s a long history of capos who have died in prison,” Judge Richard Sullivan coldly told 73-year-old Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello before handing down the sentence — which brought audible gasps of disbelief from the packed courtroom.
“You must have understood this, you had 88 months to think about it before,” he added.
The jurist was referencing the reputed Genovese capo’s previous stint in prison on racketeering charges, and then went on to reference the bushels of letters submitted on his behalf, which touted the namesake of Bronx sauce joint Pasquale’s Rigoletto as a kind, generous, and charitable man.
Sullivan noted the letters resembled those he’d read in connection with the mobster’s last sentencing — saying some were nearly identical.
“[The letters] can’t be a get out of jail free card when they’ve been used before,” the judge bristled. “He did take for granted a second chance.”
The judge also scorned claims made by defense attorney Mark DeMarco regarding his client’s intense Roman Catholicism and his faith.
“I don’t think Roman Catholicism takes a favorable view toward extortion,” Sullivan said, interrupting the attorney.
Parrello — who is mostly deaf and kept his index finger inserted in his left ear throughout the two-hour sentencing — pleaded guilty to various extortion charges earlier this year. He was arrested last August alongside dozens of other alleged crime family members.
Prosecutors said Parrello instructed henchmen on the best way to shake down debtors who’d gotten behind on payments to their illegal gambling ring — often instructing his goons to resort to violence.
“First of all, I’d like to apologize for everything that transpired,” the frail-looking mafioso told the court. “I feel remorse for all the things I’ve done, and I’ve taken responsibility and am just trying to be a better person.”
The gallery was packed with Parrello’s friends and family, including a wheelchair-bound, 107-year-old WWII veteran whose friendship the defense repeatedly dangled as proof of the mobster’s good deeds.
“To his friends and family he is a kind, generous, and loving man, he sends meals to this WWII veteran, and also organized transportation for him to come to the restaurant,” DeMarco said, adding his mobbed-up client also “counseled young people he felt were moving in an unfavorable direction.”
Assistant US Attorney Lauren Abinanti, conversely, called Parrello a “man of two faces,” who used his multiple personas to remain a beloved community figure while “never taking no for an answer” in his quest to collect debts.
As part of the sentence, Parrello was also instructed to pay a $15,000 fine, and a $63,800 forfeiture. DeMarco immediately produced the hefty check, and handed it over to the court.
“I hope you reflect on what got you here,” Sullivan told Parrello as marshals re-shackled him.
As he was led out, the capo nodded to his wife, asking “you alright?” and then said “thank you for everything” to the packed pews.
“We love you, Patsy!” the nearly 50 people yelled. “Love you,” he mumbled as he shuffled out.
Later on Thursday, Sullivan went much easier on another defendant in the case sentencing John “Tugboat” Tognino — one of the other 46 men from four crime families rounded up last year for a variety of illegal schemes — to just six months of home confinement.
The 75-year-old man faced four to 10 months in prison after taking a plea deal in May for running gambling schemes with codefendant Anthony “Tony the Wig” Vazzano.
Sullivan said “this is a guy who has been engaging in this conduct for a long time,” referring to Tognino’s previous convictions.
But the judge also said he thinks Tognino’s addiction to gambling played a big role in committing these crimes and believes his treatment has made him contrite.
“Enough is enough. I promise my wife it’s finally over,” Sullivan read from Tognino’s letter noting, “[the letter] strikes me as sincere.”
Sullivan also said he took into consideration Tognino’s health problems when giving him such a light sentence.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Brooklyn based crime family accused of torching building housing rival poker game

Four members of an Eastern European organized crime family have been busted for torching a Brooklyn building housing a rival poker game that was stealing their clients, authorities said​ Wednesday​.
Viktor Zelinger, Vyacheslav Malkeyev, Leonid Gershman and Aleksey Tsvetkov were allegedly operating a high-stakes game in Sheepshead Bay when they decided to burn down the​ir rival’s operation in May 2016, according to a newly unsealed indictment.
But the ​arson was set while people were still inside​ ​–​ ​trapping a 12-year-old boy and another resident on the upper floors.
​Dramatic ​video of the rescue shows a firefighter climbing a ladder to rescue the boy and another person, clad only in their underwear. Five firefighters and both residents had to be treated for smoke inhalation, and one of the smoke-eaters sustained first-degree burns to his face.
​The crime family members refer to themselves as “thieves,” or “thieves in law,” authorities said​, to denote membership in the organized crime faction.
​Zelinger remain​ed​ at large Wednesday, authorities said. The others are awaiting arraignment at Brooklyn federal court.
Gershman, Tsvetkov and Malkeyev are also charged in the 33-count indictment with pistol whipping an unnamed person they suspected of stealing drugs from the syndicate’s “stash” house.
Gershman, 34, also allegedly called his associate, Artiom Pocinoc, a “boxer with cauliflower ears” during a phone call with a victim, in which he threatened violence if the person didn’t pay up.
Pocinoc, 28, is also charged with beating another victim and extortion.
Zelinger, Gershman and Malkeyev are naturalized U.S. citizens who immigrated to the United States from various Eastern European countries. Tsvetkov is a citizen of Ukraine, while Pocinoc is a citizen of Moldova.
The Brooklyn syndicate is believed to have ties to a larger crime organization run out of former states of the Soviet Union, and Israel, authorities said.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Supporters sing praises of Bronx based Genovese family captain

Genovese capo Pasquale Parrello, 73.
A Bronx mobster accused of ordering his goons to attack a panhandler isn't a bad guy — because he once sheltered a “desperate pregnant cat,” a supporter said.
Genovese capo Pasquale Parrello, 73, pleaded guilty in May to three counts of conspiracy to commit extortion.
Under a plea deal, he’s expected to serve from 5 1/4 to 6 1/2 years behind bars.
The hulking septuagenarian — who's behind famed Arthur Ave. Italian restaurant Pasquale's Rigoletto — was one of 46 East Coast gangsters hit with rackets charges in August 2016.
Prosecutors say that in June 2011, Parrello ordered two subordinates to break a panhandler's knees for bothering several female customers outside Pasquale's Rigoletto.
He's also accused of instructing his soldiers to collect a man's gambling debt with an iron fist, telling them, "'choke him, actually choke the motherf---er ... and tell him, 'Listen to me ... next time I'm not gonna stop choking ... I'm gonna kill you.'"
Parrello's family, friends and supporters have nevertheless written more than 40 "character letters" to Manhattan Federal Court Judge Richard Sullivan, as part of his bid for a lenient sentence, court filings show.
Sullivan is set to sentence Parrello on Sept. 7.
Paula De Marta Mastroianni, who co-wrote the book "Little Italy of the Bronx," was among those who penned notes.
The self-described "lifelong friend" of Parrello said she considers him to be "one of the most honest, generous, and thoughtful people in my life."
Mastroianni, 70, said her feelings stem from many events - including a time in the late 1990s when "a desperate pregnant cat made her way into the basement of the restaurant, Pasquale's Rigoletto, in order to deliver her kittens."
Parrello reached out to Mastroianni and asked her what to do.
"My first response was 'please don't put her out' to which he replied 'I would never do that,'" she said in her letter filed Monday.
The feline also had been "viciously attacked" by a stray pitbull and needed a "major operation to repair egregious injuries."
Mastroianni didn't have money for surgery. But Parrello said he'd cover the cat's medical costs and came through — "saving her life."
"You could say 'it was only a cat,' but we all know the link between people of good hearts and animals, and Mr. Parrello's heart was too soft and too loving to turn his back on a needy animal," she wrote.
Mastroianni couldn't be reached by phone for additional comment.
Parrello's lawyer didn't respond to requests for comment.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.


Body of Lucchese family associate pulled from Brooklyn waters

A man's body was pulled out of the
The body of Brooklyn man pulled out of the water on Saturday has been identified as that of a low-level mob associate, law enforcement sources said.
Carmine Carini, 35, was found encased in a blue tarp and weighted down by a concrete block, floating off a dock in the 63rd Precinct in South Brooklyn, said sources who didn’t want to be identified.
Carini was arrested in 2003 on charges that he was part of gang which went on a robbery spree which victimized 10 people, allegedly threatening them with a bat and machete. State records show that Carini spent about five years in state prison for the crime. His parole ended in 2015.
Police considered Carini a low-level associate of the Lucchese crime family and are looking into whether Carini’s death is related to long standing problems within the crime group. Carini suffered blunt trauma injury and skull fractures, as well as stab wounds, sources said.
Carini’s father, also named Carmine, 57, was once sentenced to state prison for 25 years to life in 1985 for shooting a man to death. But the murder conviction of the elder Carini was overturned when two former members of the mob told prosecutors that someone else actually committed the crime. In 2007, the elder Carini plead guilty to federal charges related to a robbery conspiracy and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released in July, prison records showed.
Carini’s family couldn’t be immediately located for comment.