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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mistrial declared for Skinny Joey Merlino after jury is deadlocked

Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino slipped through the feds’ fingers Tuesday when the jury at his racketeering trial announced it was hopelessly deadlocked despite four days of deliberations.
Manhattan federal Judge Richard Sullivan declared a mistrial at 5:30 p.m., more than seven hours after giving jurors a sternly worded “Allen charge” to try to end the stalemate the panel first revealed in a note late Thursday afternoon.
Merlino, 55, faced four charges tied to alleged loan-sharking, bookmaking and health care fraud conspiracies.
The feds say the schemes were part of a sprawling, cross-crime-family racket from Springfield, Massachusetts, to South Florida, where Merlino moved following his release from prison in 2011 and was the matire d’ at a short-lived, namesake Italian restaurant, Merlino’s, in Boca Raton.
His trial featured stunning testimony about how the FBI, through an informant, paid the tab for more than 20 mobsters to attend a 2014 Christmas party at Pasquale’s Rigoletto restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
The gangsters — including eatery owner and reputed Genovese crime-family capo, Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello — were all busted two years later in a massive roundup of 46 alleged Mafia members and associates.
The mob rat who arranged the party, John “Junior” Rubeo, also alleged from the witness stand that Merlino cheated on his wife with a pharmaceutical saleswoman amid an insurance scam involving $1,500-a-tube prescription pain cream.
Rubeo dropped the bombshell claim without warning under cross-examination by Merlino’s defense lawyer — and while Merlino’s wife was sitting in the courtroom gallery.
Deborah Merlino’s face froze in shock upon hearing the humiliating testimony, and her hubby tried in vain to cover up his alleged affair, telling a Post reporter outside court, “Don’t put the girl in” the paper’s coverage of the proceedings.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Jury has yet to reach a verdict in trial of Philadelphia boss Skinny Joey Merlino

A judge has ordered jurors in the Joey Merlino trial back on Tuesday to deliberate, according to FOX 29's Dave Schratwieser. The jury has deliberated over 20 hours so far.
On Wednesday, jurors deliberated for almost six hours and asked to hear 8 secret tapes over. They also asked for the definition of conspiracy. The jurors are expected back at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
A prosecutor says a reputed Philadelphia mob boss profited from health insurance and gambling schemes despite his claims he had retired from a life of crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Schorr made the accusations Tuesday in closing arguments at the New York City trial of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.
Defense attorney Edwin Jacob countered by telling jurors that they were being misled by "compromised" turncoat mobsters who testified against Merlino.
The 55-year-old Merlino was among nearly four dozen defendants arrested in a 2016 crackdown on an East Coast crime syndicate. Prosecutors say it committed crimes including extortion, loan-sharking, sports gambling and insurance fraud.
Most of the defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Merlino is the only one, so far, to go to trial on conspiracy charges.


Judge gives jury an extra day to decide verdict in trial of Skinny Joey Merlino

Jurors at the Manhattan racketeering trial of reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino revealed they were deadlocked Thursday, but the judge said he’d keep them deliberating at least another day.
The jury foreperson sent out a note at 3:55 p.m. that read, “We the jury are unable to come to an unanimously (sic) decision on the four counts.”
Before summoning the panel, federal Judge Richard Sullivan told both sides that he wasn’t ready to declare a hung jury after little more than a day of deliberation.
“This was a two-ish-week trial. There were long days that were pretty dense. This has not been an inordinate amount of time to be deliberating,” he said.
Sullivan also said he would consider delivering an “Allen charge” — stern instructions intended to avoid a mistrial — if the jury sent out a similar note “at this point tomorrow.”
As the jury entered the courtroom, several members shuffled their feet and had weary expressions on their faces, then scowled as the judge told them: “Go until 5:30 and then pick up again tomorrow.”
“Sometimes a fresh start helps. Don’t stress about it. This is what deliberation is,” he added.
Merlino is one of three reputed mobsters accused by the feds of running a sprawling, cross-crime-family racket that operated between Springfield, Mass., and South Florida, where Merlino moved following his release from prison in 2011.
He served a 14-year sentence for racketeering, extortion and illegal gambling, but beat three murder raps that could have sent him away for life.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Judge orders jury to continue after they say they are deadlocked

The jury in the Joey Merlino trial say they're deadlocked on all four counts. FOX 29's Dave Schratwieser reports they have been ordered to continue deliberating Friday.
On Wednesday, jurors deliberated for almost six hours and asked to hear 8 secret tapes over. They also asked for the definition of conspiracy. The jurors are expected back at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
A prosecutor says a reputed Philadelphia mob boss profited from health insurance and gambling schemes despite his claims he had retired from a life of crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Schorr made the accusations Tuesday in closing arguments at the New York City trial of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.
Defense attorney Edwin Jacob countered by telling jurors that they were being misled by "compromised" turncoat mobsters who testified against Merlino.
The 55-year-old Merlino was among nearly four dozen defendants arrested in a 2016 crackdown on an East Coast crime syndicate. Prosecutors say it committed crimes including extortion, loan-sharking, sports gambling and insurance fraud.
Most of the defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Merlino is the only one, so far, to go to trial on conspiracy charges.


Feds say Skinny Joey is lying about giving up the mob life

Claims that Joseph Merlino (l.) gave up his life of crime are bogus, prosecutors said Tuesday in closing arguments at the reputed Philly crime lord's racketeering trial.
Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino’s claim that he gave up a life of crime is as thin as his nickname, a prosecutor said Tuesday during closing arguments of Merlino’s federal racketeering trial.
“Being with Merlino did not come for free,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Schorr told jurors in federal court in Manhattan. “You pay tribute.”
Schorr highlighted witness testimony about Merlino’s alleged role in an insurance claim scam that featured doctors who wrote phony pain cream prescriptions for people who had no ailments. She reminded jurors of a recording that allegedly captured the 55-year-old talking about money.
“We do the right thing, make 20,000,” he said on the tape.
Merlino’s lawyer Edwin Jacobs attacked the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, calling them “compromised” turncoat mobsters.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Former home of Big Ang from Mob Wives for sale

Attention fans of late “Mob Wives” star Angela "Big Ang" Raiola: This is your shot at living in her over-the-top house on Staten Island. The current owner, who bought the boldly renovated four bedroom, three-and-a-half bath last year, listed it with Corcoran on Sunday for $949,000. As committed viewers of the show know, this house is not for believers in understatement.
The portrait of Big Ang is no longer above the fireplace at 72 Tompkins Circle, but listing photos show that some of the house’s quirky decorating scheme (think a massive gold-tufted ottoman and a giant tufted headboard), featured on the hit reality show, remains intact. For example, you can see the 10-foot turquoise-colored couch that Raiola sat on during the season finale as she discussed her battle with lung and brain cancer, which ultimately took her life in 2016.
Listing agent Diane Henning says that the bed and ottoman in the master suite are so massive that they're tough to move, and so they'll come with the house.
The new owner did some restyling, including work on the lower level and landscaping, Henning says. The owner is looking to downsize now that one of her sons is away at school.
"It's too much house for her," Henning says. The first open house is this Sunday and Henning says she's receiving interest from Manhattan buyers, likely because the house is just a mile from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
The house was listed for sale at $1.3 million in April 2015, and then listed again in February 2016 for $1 million. After a couple of cuts, the asking price dropped to $824,000. Property records show that the house sold last year for $800,000.
Big Ang was known as the peacemaker among a tough-talking female cast that on occasion needed bouncers to step in to break up brawls. Raiola bought the house overlooking St. George and the harbor for $560,000 in 2013, then began a two-year renovation. She told the Daily News in 2015 that the furniture was custom-made for the house.
There are some striking details that a new owner would likely need to adjust to, like a master bathroom with a claw foot tub that, apart from the toilet, is not separated from the master bedroom by any walls. The setup lets you dry off from a bath with a view of the harbor, and if you have company, give whoever's in the bedroom a view of his or her own.
One of the three bedrooms on the second floor opens up onto a balcony.
These bedrooms share a bathroom with an eye-strain-inducing custom tile job, a separate shower and deep tub, and a chandelier.
There's a lot of stainless steel around the house.
There are other modern touches as well, such as Thermador appliances in the kitchen, a media room, central air, and radiant heat in the bathrooms.
In the basement there's an in-law suite with a separate entrance. Out on the front lawn, high above the street, is a sturdy-looking playhouse. And out back there's a two-section patio.
The commute to lower Manhattan via the Staten Island ferry takes about 25 minutes, but the walk back up the hill is a bit of a schlep on foot.


Prosecutor rips Skinny Joey Merlino in closing arguments

A prosecutor spent two hours Tuesday trashing reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino as a greedy gangster who skimmed profits from fraudulent prescriptions for $1,500-a-tube pain cream.
During closing arguments at Merlino’s federal racketeering trial, Manhattan Assistant US Attorney Lauren Schorr said “the evidence is clear” that Merlino belonged to an “organized crime enterprise” that schemed with crooked patients, doctors and pharmaceutical sales workers.
But she didn’t mention the sales rep that a mob rat testified had an affair with Merlino during the alleged scam.
Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. attacked the credibility of three gangland snitches who testified against Merlino, including former Genovese crime-family associate John “Junior” Rubeo.
Last week, Rubeo stunned courtroom spectators — including Merlino’s wife, Deborah — with his unexpected allegation of Joey’s infidelity. “They do things you would not consider doing in your wildest dreams. They lack conscience,” Jacobs said of the cooperating witnesses. “To them, the oath is a meaningless jingle.”
The jury is scheduled to begin deliberations on Wednesday.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Skinny Joey's wife wont testify for defense after shocking cheating testimony revealed by informant

Lawyers for reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino opted not to have his wife testify Monday, following a humiliating incident in which she heard a gangland turncoat testify that her hubby cheated on her.
Deborah Merlino had been listed as a potential witness at Joey’s racketeering trial, but the defense instead rested its case without calling anyone to the stand in Manhattan federal court.
Joey and Deborah wouldn’t discuss the last-minute decision, but denied that last week’s embarrassing testimony by mob rat John “Junior” Rubeo was a factor.
On Wednesday, Rubeo was discussing an unidentified pharmaceutical saleswoman tied to an insurance-fraud scam that Merlino allegedly ran when he unexpectedly blurted out, “Listen, he got caught sleeping with her.”
“He ended the relationship with her. It was his connection. He said, ‘She sent stuff to my house, my wife found out,’ ” Rubeo added.
Closing arguments are set for Tuesday.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Wall Street trader and NFL players targeted in $4M scheme tied to Colombo family

In early 2007, a Wall Street trader waltzed inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., factory to see a futuristic product pitched as his fast track to making a faster mint.

Visitor Mark Spanakos surveyed a bustling operation with a professional-looking staff clad in pristine white lab coats, protective goggles and hardhats.

Here, as his host on the 15-minute tour explained, production was underway on a newly patented, high-tech, highly profitable fingerprint identification device.

The impressed Staten Islander couldn’t know what he alleges is the truth: There was no production, no product, no patent.

He soon learned about the lies.

Spanakos’ fibbing best friend had lured him into a scam. He would lose a $4 million investment in the sham company, Hawk Biometrics — described in court papers as a mobbed-up farce, a racketeering enterprise intent on fleecing its investors.

One of its principals, a reputed made member of the Colombo crime family, even threatened to whack Spanakos during a 2013 deposition.

“You are a f---ing dead man!” he reportedly screamed in front of a roomful of witnesses.

More than a decade after touring the fake Florida factory and despite his repeated pleas to law enforcement about Hawk, the duped Spanakos is still fighting in court and hoping for justice — if not compensation.

David Coriaty is accused of running an investment scheme with Hawk Biometrics.

He’s not alone: The alleged scam duped investors in 13 states, along with an additional 14 New York commodities dealers, several NFL players and an assortment of hardworking mom-and-pop types.

Their investments disappeared in a rip-off rife with “fraudulent financial reports, self-dealing, engaging in insider trading, manipulating stock prices and acting in material detriment of the company and its shareholders,” according to court papers.

Spanakos’ allegations were once deemed credible by a Palm Beach police detective, and he even carried a briefcase fitted with a recording device as the FBI investigated the case.

Yet somewhat inexplicably, no one was ever indicted, arrested or prosecuted. Why?

“That’s exactly the question everybody is asking: Where is the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI, the IRS?” said attorney Cathy Lerman, who represents a dozen of the victims.

“There’s something really, really wrong here. These guys were blatant and fearless.”

One-time Hawk director David Coriaty said the various probes only prove the operation was legitimate.

“Every law enforcement agency investigated this and not only cleared us but asked Spanakos why he went to them in the first place,” he said.

Promotional materials by the phony mob-tied firm, Hawk Biometrics.

Incredibly, the allegedly crooked company is still operating — and trading on the NASDAQ. On Feb. 2, though worth less than a penny apiece, 105,000 Hawks shares moved.

Spanakos, now 58, was known as “Shark” on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, where he befriended colleague Edward "Seby"Sebastiano.

“We were best friends, joined at the hip,” he recalled. “We rode motorcycles. We hung out with a lot of guys who worked together. It was a great life.”

And so when Sebastiano approached Spanakos with an offer to get an early piece of a new personal identification product, he listened.

And then Spanakos invested.

“It sounded like a great idea, especially after 9/11,” Spanakos recalled. “The device would read the constellation of blood vessels in your finger. You would need a match to start your car, open the door to your car, for ATMs and banking and credit cards.”

“The Power of Touch” became one of Hawk’s promotional tag lines. Spanakos became a true believer, investing his own cash — and even persuading his clerk to invest $100,000.

His former Wall Street worker now drives a cab.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Bryant McFadden sits on the bench in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011.

The powers behind Hawk, as identified in court papers and by Spanakos, included a scary coalition of opportunists, gangsters and thieves.

One hailed from New York City: Robert Pate, a former Colombo family soldier and Sebastiano’s brother-in-law.

His brother John Pate, identified by the FBI as a mob capo, reunited with Robert in Florida after finishing a 10-year federal prison stint in October 2003.

John Pate, was a made man, a combatant in the early 1990s Colombo family war that left a dozen people dead. He was also charged with the 1985 murder of boss Carmine Persico’s son-in-law, who was left to decompose in a car trunk outside Nathan’s in Coney Island.

Hawk operated under the guidance of the muscular, tattooed David Coriaty, who boasted of a nonexistent college football career at the powerhouse University of Miami and a short, bogus pro stint with the Dolphins.

Like Robert Pate, he came with a brother: Ehab Coriaty, who was convicted in 1999 of one count of conspiracy and eight counts of wire fraud for bilking his boss of roughly $1 million in investment funds.

David Coriaty “seemed to be a cool guy,” recalled ex-NFL defensive back Bryant McFadden, an early Hawk investor. “I thought he was straightforward. . . . He seemed legit.”

No surprise there. The Hawk crew put together a flashy sales come-on for potential investors.

Lynda and Larry Pennington were among the investors who were lured into the scam in Florida.

“Hawk Biometrics patents are unmatched in the industry to deliver ultimate state-of-the-art security technology,” the company boasted.

Among its claims: Prospective clients included several major car companies and Donald Trump’s Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago.

Except there were no deals or orders for the product. And the company misspelled the name of the exclusive oceanfront property as one jumbled word: Maralago.

Spanakos soon smelled something fishy on the Florida coastline.

Investment money was spent by David Coriaty on a highflying lifestyle involving private planes, expensive jewelry, luxury automobiles and Las Vegas gambling junkets, according to court documents.

McFadden, now 36, recalls Coriaty showing him a “prototype” of the device, installed in the executive’s silver Lamborghini.

The athlete invested $100,000, and later doubled down with a $100,000 loan. The longtime Pittsburgh Steeler, a second-round draft choice in 2005, lost every penny.

According to Spanakos’ still-pending 2010 lawsuit, the company reported $22 million in expenses against a mere $5,570 in sales between October 2007 and September 2010.

David Coriaty, one-time Hawk director, allegedly gave investors tours of the Florida factory in West Palm Beach where Hawk Biometrics prototypes were supposedly being produced.

The broker wasn’t alone in his suspicions.

The NFL Players Association warned its members in a 2010 memo to steer clear of Hawk, encouraging any player with money already invested to hire an independent auditor.

That unfortunate group included star wide receiver Anquan Boldin, along with fellow Florida State alums McFadden, Greg Jones and Alex Barron.

The Spanakos lawsuit was filed the same year.

“That raised my eyebrows a little bit,” said McFadden. “Coriaty downplayed it, said that was a lie. He got a bit salty, and said Spanakos was trying to take down the whole thing.

“And he said he would meet with me. And of course, that never happened.”

Hawk allegedly used the victimized athletes’ names as a lure for other unfortunate investors. The company’s 2008 “Management and Advisory Team” featured a picture of Boldin — without his permission.

In a February 2013 deposition, Boldin testified about losing $250,000 to Hawk. The company did cut a $10,000 check donated to Boldin’s charity foundation, apparently at the direction of Coriaty.

Robert "Bobby" Pate, Colombo mobster.

“I think it was (at his request),” said Boldin. “But I think the check bounced.”

In the same year as the NFL memo, Spanakos — a former member of the Hawk board of directors — filed his lawsuit against the company, laying out the entire pump-and-dump operation.

The legal fight has now lasted longer than McFadden’s seven-year NFL career.

David Coriaty was described as the de facto CEO/chairman, and Spanakos’ old pal Sebastiano as a fellow board member.

“Spanakos eventually learned that Hawk did not own patents, nor did it own pending patents and trademarks in biometric technologies,” his lawsuit charged. “The board’s statements to investors were false.”

The top executives were nonetheless collecting high six-figure salaries and cash payments for “consulting” duties, while providing interest-free loans to the scammers and their families, the lawsuit alleged.

Phony documents were supposedly filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

David Coriaty’s annual compensation was listed at $800,000. Court papers charge that $25,000 in company money paid for his second wedding, and an additional $50,000 was funneled to his ex-wife — along with 500,000 free shares of Hawk stock.

This Hawk Biometrics fingerprint sensor installed onto a car dashboard.

A subpoena filed by Spanakos’ lawyer for Hawk bank records indicated another $7.5 million was embezzled by the board of directors for personal use.

And board members approved the sale of 100 million shares of new stock at “penny stock” prices, crushing earlier investors who watched as their $3 shares plummeted to one thin dime per share, according to court papers.

Insiders buying at the new low price then turned profits as the company, touting the involvement of the NFL players and hyping the business’ prospects, allegedly brought in new investors to fleece and watched the stock value rise.

None of it seemed possible when Spanakos visited the factory. He remembers taking in a grand illusion perpetrated by the men at the center of the fraud.

“Very impressive — definitely impressive,” he recalled of the factory. “Absolutely. And anybody we brought there felt the same reassurance: They’re doing what they said they’re doing. Testing and retesting.”

Coriaty charges that Spanakos, rather than a victim, is the cause of Hawk’s demise — and he’s perplexed as to why.

“I cannot explain Spanakos’ motivation except to suggest that he is a bad person,” said Coriaty. “He caused every single person to lose their money — in some cases their life savings — out of greed and acting like a scolded child. . . . This guy is a horrible human being.”

Spanakos continues to pursue the case simply because he can, added Coriaty.

Spanakos picked up hints something was wrong with the company after Hawk Biometrics lied about its product and messy promotional schemes.

“He had and has more money than the rest of us and that robbed us of our ability to fight him,” he said.

Among the other visitors convinced by the plant tour were Larry and Lynda Pennington, who were steered around the factory by Coriaty himself.

The senior citizens were lured into the scam by a work colleague of Larry, with whispers of an insider’s shot at turning a tidy profit to boost their retirement fund.

The pitch, like ripples in a pond, soon reached relatives and neighbors.

“Other friends and family became investors,” said Larry, 71. “They brought them in as they needed more suckers.”

The couple wound up losing more than $80,000 in retirement funds, and are selling their Florida house with its two-car garage for an 825-square foot apartment in Pittsburgh.

“It still makes me want to sock (Coriaty) in the face,” said Lynda, 68. “He’s a silver-tongued devil. Not a true word comes out of David’s mouth. . . . I worked hard for that money.”

Coriaty disputes the allegations brought by the Penningtons and other investors.

Florida State running back Greg Jones celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against Virginia, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2002, in Tallahassee, Fla.

“McFadden never called it a scam and the Penningtons got half their money back,” said Coriaty.

Spanakos eventually became so frustrated that he marched uninvited into the FBI’s West Palm Beach office in March 2009 to share his remarkable tale.

“Just walked in blind,” he recounted. “They asked me to sit down, like on television, and started the interrogation. They start pushing mug shots in front of me — ‘Do you know this guy? This guy’s a made guy.’

“I’m thinking they’re killers maybe. That really shocked me, who the FBI said they were.”

He agreed to bring a wired-up briefcase to a meeting with Coriaty, Sebastiano and a third man, recording a two-hour conversation about the whole mess.

A few months later, the FBI ended its investigation without explanation.

In November 2012, Spanakos visited with a detective in the Palm Beach County sheriff’s office, where he found a sympathetic ear.

“A preliminary review confirmed Spanakos’ allegations as well as the alleged organized scheme to defraud investors and the public,” read a Jan. 3, 2013, report. “This case is now open and further investigation continues.”

Anquan Boldin #4 of the Florida State University Seminoles watches the ACC game against the University of Maryland Terrapins on Sept. 14, 2002.

And it did. Until it didn’t again.

The Palm Beach investigator contacted the FBI in February 2016 after receiving a subpoena about the allegations brought by Spanakos.

“I contacted FBI special agent (redacted) to determine the status of this case,” the investigator wrote in a March 1, 2016, report.

“It was determined that the FBI declined to prosecute this case and that no further investigation would ensue.”

Spanakos was stunned, recalling a conversation in which the Palm Beach detective called the case a slam dunk with arrests likely in two weeks.

A Freedom of Information Act request for documents on the case, filed with the FBI last June, has yet to produce a response. An agency spokesman did not return an email for comment.

The SEC declined to comment on the case, and the Palm Beach investigator ignored emails about his probe.

Spanakos was even more stunned by an outburst following the Dec. 3, 2013, deposition of Robert Pate’s daughter regarding allegations of money-laundering. As she answered questions, Pate stared directly at Spanakos and dragged one hand across his abdomen as if gutting a fish.

“You are a f---ing dead man, Spanakos!” screamed Pate when the Q&A concluded. “You’re f---ing dead!”

McFadden spoke to Coriaty for the final time about four years ago, when he heard the same old phony song and dance.

“The last thing I heard was he wanted to meet with me and send some documents to show everything was legit,” said McFadden. “Same pitch as before.”

Larry Pennington, like Spanakos and McFadden, holds out hope for a resolution of the long-pending case. But his optimism, despite what he sees as the obvious nature of the scam, wanes with each passing year.

“If somebody came up and robbed you with a gun, they go to prison for 25 years,” said Pennington.

“But they sit there and they do this, and they’re untouchable.”


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Gravano and Lohan appeal dismissal of Grand Theft Auto lawsuit

Lindsay Lohan and the daughter of turncoat mobster Sammy "The Bull" Gravano want the state's top court to find they were victims of grand theft video.

Lohan and Karen Gravano, a "Mob Wives" personality, have sued video game makers Take-Two Interactive Software and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games, for allegedly using their images and personas in the popular Grand Theft Auto V, which was released in 2013.

Lacey Jonas in Grand Theft Auto.

After a lower court denied motions by the video game makers to dismiss the suit, a state appeals court in Manhattan reversed the decision, saying the cases "must fail" because the game did not specifically use Lohan or Gravano's "name, portrait or picture."

Lohan and Gravano appealed the dismissal of the two lawsuits to the Court of Appeals, the state’s top court.

The Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the cases on Wednesday.

Lohan says the game character “Lacey Jonas” is actually her. The game includes references to her history and was used in advertising material and on merchandise.

Gravano has argued the game character “Antonia Bottino” is modeled after her. The game makes references to the character being the daughter of a mobster who became a government witness.

Gravano’s father was a key witness against Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and other mobsters.

Karen Gravano has argued the game character “Antonia Bottino” is modeled after her.

The two claim the gamemakers violated invasion of privacy provisions under the state Civil Rights Law.

Gravano lawyer Thomas Farinella said "at a minimum, Ms. Gravano is entitled to put this before a jury."

Gravano was originally seeking $40 million in damages.

Lohan lawyer Frank Delle Donne could not be immediately reached for comment.

Antonia Bottino in Grand Theft Auto.

Take-Two and Rock Star attorney Jeremy Feigelson referred inquiries to the company.


Brooklyn supermarket with links to Gambino family seeks $4M in tax breaks

They’re making the city an offer it can’t refuse.
A Brooklyn supermarket that a Gambino family mobster owned and his son now runs wants $4 million in tax breaks to build condos and a new grocery store.
Tapps Supermarkets, which operates a Key Food at 575 Grand St. in Williamsburg, has applied to the city’s Industrial Development Agency for building- and sales-tax exemptions. In its application, Tapps describes itself as a “family-owned supermarket” hoping to build a six-story mixed-use tower at the Grand St. site.
Records show Tapps has been owned by Pasquale "Patsy" Conte, who federal prosecutors said was a supermarket mogul and a captain in mob king John Gotti’s crime family. Conte was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 1994 for conspiring to murder a construction contractor who had disrespected Gotti. He admitted that he helped to arrange the hit on the contractor, whose shot-up body was found in a World Trade Center garage in 1990.
He was sentenced to another three and a half years in the clink in 2001 for a racketeering charge. He was released in 2003.
It’s unclear if the 92-year-old gangster grocer still owns a piece of Tapps, which operates seven supermarkets in the city.
But federal court records show that Conte had a 23.9% stake in Tapps in 1995. His son — who has never been accused of being involved with the mob — and other relatives also owned shares in the company at the time.
A 2008 property record also shows Conte and his family had real estate holdings tied to 575 Grand St. A person who answered the phone at Tapps’ office on Tuesday declined to comment.
Pasquale Conte leaves Manhattan Federal Court on Feb. 27, 1987 after posting $3 million bail. 
Pasquale Conte leaves Manhattan Federal Court on Feb. 27, 1987 after posting $3 million bail.
Conte’s son, Pasquale Conte Jr., submitted an application for the tax breaks under the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health program, which aims to get supermarkets to expand stores in underserved communities.
Tapps’ application says that the subsidies would ultimately benefit the city as it would generate an estimated $6.28 million in direct and indirect taxes.
It plans to build 118,000 square feet of condo space and 98,000 square feet of affordable housing. Tapps would open a new supermarket on the ground floor and basement of the building, according to the application. The supermarket would allows Tapps to hire three more full-time employees and six part-timers.
The application says Tapps plans on starting the demolition on the existing building next month.
The Economic Development Corporation, which runs the Industrial Development Agency, said anyone can apply for the tax benefits but must be vetted.
EDC said Tapps has met the initial requirements for a public hearing on the benefits — which will be held Thursday. However, the agency said it is still completing its due diligence on the firm and awaiting additional documentation.
Conte Jr. — who is Tapps’ vice president and treasurer — and Tapps’ lawyer, Steven Polivy, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.