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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Prosecutors say Gambino associate ordered robbery because he knew of cash

A Gambino crime family associate directed a murderous team of ex-cons to rob Queens neighbors he believed had a ready stash of cash at home, a Queens prosecutor said Thursday.

Francis LaCorte, 29, faces a murder charge for masterminding the September 2009 home invasion that led to the slaying of custodian Gerardo "Jerry" Antoniello, a cop's brother who died coming to his father's defense.

"This man betrayed his own neighbors," prosecutor Brad Leventhal told jurors during closing arguments in Queens Supreme Court.

Leventhal said LaCorte and Vincent Mineo, who's already pleaded guilty to his role in the crime, hired "henchmen" from across the city to carry out three Ozone Park home invasion robberies.

"They didn't want to get their hands dirty," Leventhal said. "Either they were too scared to do it themselves or, more likely, it was too risky."

Leventhal said LaCorte, the owner of two cellphone stores, acted as a "fence," selling drugs and stolen goods for a rotating gang of thieves.

LaCorte's lawyer, Christopher Renfroe, took aim at three members of the robbery team who testified to LaCorte's role in the home invasions, including the one that killed Antoniello, 29.

"These are not credible witnesses," Renfroe told jurors. "They lied. They perjured themselves. They stole and they committed murders."

Rashod Cowan, 32, Jason Burrell, 40, and Shawn Stallworth, 26, agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for getting years shaved off their expected prison terms. Two others suspected of shooting Antoniello have not been caught.

Antoniello was coming to his father Bartolomeo's aid when he was shot in the back of the head. Prosecutors say the elder Antioniello, 61, was targeted for the large amount of cash he brought home each night from Romeo's, his Cross Bay Boulevard pizza place.



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