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

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Jersey law enforcement group gives citizenship award to reputed mobster Frank DiMattina


He's a convicted gun-toting extortionist and a reputed mobster, but that didn’t stop a New Jersey statewide law enforcement group from saluting a local caterer as “honored citizen of the month.”
Frank "Frankie D" DiMattina was nominated for the award from the New Jersey Honor Legion — a nonprofit with more than 6,000 members in law enforcement — on Feb. 1, three weeks after his Jan. 6 conviction for using a gun to shake down a rival bidder for a Staten Island school lunch contract.
In a bid for leniency on the extortion rap, DiMattina has sent a copy of the plaque he received — and a video of the Feb. 22 award ceremony — to Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein.
Sentencing on the conviction is set for Monday, and DiMattina could face up to seven years.
Local cop Kim Latkovich nominated DiMattina, the owner of Ariana’s catering hall in Woodbridge, N.J., because he and business partner Joseph Barrile had “consistently answered the call to open their facility and staff for the benefit of police, fire, EMS and the community in general,” according to court papers his lawyer submitted.
Federal prosecutors have a less rosy view of DiMattina. They allege he is a mobbed-up caterer linked to powerful Genovese capo John "Johnnie Sausage" Barbato and former underboss Venero "Benny Eggs" Mangano.
The award has raised questions about the police honor legion’s first vice president, Jeffrey Marsella, a sergeant with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. The Genovese crime family has had deep hooks on the docks for decades, and both Barbato and Mangano are longtime waterfront racketeers.
“It’s very embarrassing,” said a Waterfront Commission source.
But Waterfront Commissioner Executive Director Walter Arsenault said Marsella contends he had nothing to do with picking DiMattina for the honor.
“Upon learning of this matter, the commission commenced and is conducting an internal investigation,” he said in a statement.
“Sgt. Marsella has indicated to us that he has not personally met, written a letter on behalf of, or presented any honorary plaque to Frank DiMattina.”
DiMattina, 44, who aspired to star in a reality TV show featuring his catering hall, is facing foreclosure of his home and owes the government millions for small-business loans, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Dennehy said in court.
Hard up or not, DiMattina traveled to Brooklyn Federal Court each day of the three-day trial in a chauffeured limousine.
Defense lawyer Lawrence Schoenbach acknowledged the Honor Legion’s award is “remarkable” for its timing shortly after DiMattina’s conviction.
DiMattina, who denies he’s a mob associate, has filed a motion to set aside the verdict, claiming he now has an alibi for the day he was convicted of threatening the extortion victim.
His lawyer has submitted sworn affidavits from catering hall employees stating that DiMattina was in New Jersey and not Staten Island on the day rival school-lunch bidder Walter Bowers was threatened.
At the time of the extortion, DiMattina was licensed by the NYPD to carry a firearm because he had been robbed.
Marsella, Latkovich and Honor Legion President James Kostoplis could not be reached for comment. The honor legion’s website was taken down Friday after The News made inquiries about DiMattina’s citation.


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