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

Sunday, October 25, 2009

No peace of the pie in Ray's pizza war

The co-owner of the oldest Ray's Pizza in the city is threatening to shut down the Little Italy landmark if she doesn't get a bigger slice of the pie.
Cheryl Sorrentino, the daughter of Luchese mobster Charles "Charlie Brody" DiPalermo, is suing the family of the restaurant's founder, Ralph Cuomo, who was also a Luchese wiseguy, for cutting her out of a 36 percent piece of the pizzeria.
Sorrentino appears to be violating a cardinal mob rule by going against her family in the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
"It's a shame," said Josephine Teristi, 70, who has lived above the pizzeria since the 1940s. "They're all going against each other. It's a big mess. It's a very big mess."
Sorrentino claims that Cuomo's girlfriend Lorraine Marini and his cousin Helen Mistretta, who now run the restaurant, have stiffed her out of more than $250,000 in back rent since Cuomo died in April 2008.
She's also suing her mentally-incapacitated 85-year-old aunt, Nancy Salvatore, who lives rent-free above the restaurant at 27 Prince Street.
Sorrentino, whose mother was Cuomo's sister, inherited a stake in the property when DiPalermo died in July.
She claims that after Cuomo's death last year, Mistretta started pocketing rent money from the tenants who live above the pizzeria, according to the lawsuit.
Even if Sorrentino does get her $250,000 settlement, it's possible that the nearly 50-year-old joint could close for good.
"Cheryl is looking to sell the whole thing," said Teristi. "There's a whole lot of trouble going on."
Richard Gravante, the lawyer for Marini and Mistretta, said it was Sorrentino who was trying to grab the dough.
"This complaint is a meritless effort by Sorrentino to launch a pre-emptive strike," Gravante said. "My clients were about to file a lawsuit for misappropriation of funds."
The lawyer says Sorrentino took $90,000 from the pizzeria.
Although there are many pizza places named Ray's -- or Original Ray's, or Ray's Original, or Famous Ray's, or Original Famous Ray's -- it is generally conceded that Cuomo's was the first.
He opened the restaurant 1959, a few years after he was caught robbing a Park Avenue restaurant at gunpoint, according to the Gangland News Web site.
Cuomo was convicted of heroin trafficking in 1969 after he was caught with 50 pounds of smack.
He always claimed to keep the drug business separate from the pizza business, but in 1998, he was sentenced to four years in federal prison for running a multimillion-dollar heroin business out of the pizzeria.
DiPalermo, who married Cuomo's sister, was busted by then-US Attorney Rudy Giuliani in 1986 for running a billion-dollar heroin ring. The two-year investigation netted 38 mobsters who allegedly controlled the sale of one-sixth of the heroin sold in the country.



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