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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brazen Staten Island burglar breaks into house of murdered Gambino boss, flees before homeowner gets gun

A burglar nearly breathed his last in the sprawling Todt Hill mansion that once belonged to mob boss Paul Castellano early this morning -- fleeing for his life as the house's current owner fired a gun behind him, according to sources familiar with the heist.
The break-in took place at about 3:35 a.m., at a column neoclassic mansion at 177 Benedict Rd. in Todt Hill, according to police. Investigators are looking into whether it fits a pattern in the area, which has been plagued by break-ins since the so-called "Ninja Burglar" spree began in 2007.
The burglar entered through a rear veranda and made his way to a bedroom, authorities said.
The homeowner heard a noise inside a walk-in closet and went to investigate -- and that's when he saw the burglar, an unidentified man dressed in black, with gloves and a mask, sources said.
"Get out of my way," the bandit said, then brushed by the homeowner and ran off with a number of high-end watches, according to sources.
"While the guy's looking for his gun, he makes his escape," one law enforcement source familiar with the case.
The homeowner went to the front of the house and fired a shot, then to the rear, where he fired two more, basically to make sure the burglar kept on running, the source said.
benedictroad.jpgCops are at on Benedict Road on Todt Hill this morning. Here, they are seen outside the home of former Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano.
Had the homeowner gone for his gun before investigating the closet, the source mused, "that would have been the end of the Ninja."
The gun is legally registered to the homeowner, and no charges are expected to be filed against him, sources said.
The grounds supervisor at the Benedict Road home said that the homeowner was too involved in the details of the investigation to come to the door and comment today.
The burglar picked a way of entry that bypassed the house's alarm system sources said, entering through a window into a veranda, then removing a glass sliding door pane, sources said. And he made his way up to the third floor bedroom before being heard, even though the homeowner, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law were all home, according to sources.
"Four o'clock in the morning, I hear banging, banging on my door: 'Open up, it's the police!'" said Gina Rammiarone, who lives next door. When she looked outside to make sure it's police at her door, "It looks like a war zone at four in the morning," she said.
Neighbors recalled a police helicopter and a massive presence of officers and detectives.
"It's very scary," Ms. Rammiarone said. "I know that all the neighbors need to be careful."
The mansion, which is often referred to as the White House, was once called home by Paul Castellano, the boss of the Gambino crime family.
Castellano met a messy end at the hands of a four-man hit crew working for John Gotti on Dec. 16, 1985. The crew waited outside the Sparks Steak House, wearing Black Russian fur hats and pale trenchcoats, and when Castellano got out of his car on his way to dinner, they riddled him with bullets.
It's not the first time the mansion has been targeted by burglars.
A pair of professional thieves, Michael McLean and Robert Mede tried to hit the White House during a spree of break-ins they pulled off in the early- to mid-1990s, only to abort the job when they realized someone either was home or came home, one of the detectives on the case said in a 1996 interview with the Advance.
McLean and Mede, electricians by day, started their spree in Brooklyn, but came to Todt Hill because they saw what investigators believe this current crop of Todt Hill burglars sees -- massive, affluent houses, separated by plenty of tree cover, with landscapers constantly coming and going.
Police eventually caught up with the duo after McLean brought a date to a Broadway show, using tickets stolen during one of the break-ins. The ticket's owners showed up at the theater and confronted McLean, and two years after the encounter, gave police the crook's name, which led them to learn about Mede and start building a case against both men.
So far, police haven't had that kind of luck in this most recent spate of burglaries. Police are investigating two separate burglary patterns -- one in the Todt Hill area, the other in Emerson Hill and Grymes Hill.
And the heist artists are hitting many of the same streets targeted back in 2007 and 2008, at the height of the so-called "Ninja Burglar" spree.
The "Ninja" turned out to be more urban legend than mystical assassin - police sources have since attributed the 2007 and 2008 spree to no fewer than three independent crooks or bands of crooks, including a group of Albanian nationals whom the NYPD had deported.
But the professional break-ins continued in the same neighborhoods, with new patterns emerging later in 2008, and again in 2009 and this year. One police source close to the case said the deported Albanian nationals weren't responsible for all 19 of the burglaries involved in the original " Ninja" pattern.



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