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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Family of Bonanno informants rewarded for dismantling the crime family

Richard Cantarella, a former member of the Bonanno family’s ruling panel, was a key witness against jailed boss Joseph Massino.

It was a real-life version of the "The Family" film — minus Robert De Niro — complete with a brood of Bonanno rats worthy of central casting.

Former capo Richard "Shellack Head" Cantarella swaggered into the courtroom Tuesday, followed by his dolled-up wife, Lauretta Castelli, and their ex-soldier son, Paul Cantarella, to be rewarded for helping the feds dismantle the crime family.

“This is an unusual sentencing proceeding,” Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis noted before letting the three off with no jail time for their past misdeeds.

Cantarella went first, his salt-and-pepper hair coiffed to perfection as he wore brown-tinted glasses.

"Take your hands out of your pocket," the judge said.

The Cantarellas entered the Witness Protection Program in 2002 and hid out in Arizona for a time — not in France like the fictional family of snitches in the De Niro film.

Paul Cantarella smiled as he told the judge, ‘I made some bad decisions, and I’d like to put it behind me.’

“The best thing I did was get my son out of this life,” Cantarella told the judge. “And the possibility of my male grandchildren getting into this life.

"It's a very treacherous and cunning life, and who knows how they would have turned out.”

Cantarella became a multimillionaire parking lot mogul while rising in the ranks of the Bonanno family and had three gangland murders on his resume.

Castelli, 66, looked decades younger than in her mug shot, wearing a fuchsia blouse, black tights and shoes with 6-inch cork heels that revealed a tattoo on her left foot.

“My husband did all the talking for us,” she told the judge. “I'd like to thank you for giving my family a second chance.”

Evidence photo from the wake of Gaspare Amato in July of 1997 of Richard Cantarella. It was shown to the jury at the racketeering trial of Bonanno crime boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano.

When he was arrested, Cantarella was a member of the crime family’s ruling panel, a position that made him a powerful witness against jailed boss Joseph Massino, who later flipped, too.

But Castelli was the “linchpin” in sealing the deal with her husband and son’s cooperation with the government, according to prosecutor Amy Busa.

Richard Cantarella had served five years behind bars before he was granted bail and faced life in prison; the son faced 20 years for racketeering and the wife up to one year for a misdemeanor relating to money laundering.

The modern mob family had clearly hit the trifecta.

“I made some bad decisions, and I’d like to put it behind me,” Paul Cantarella, 42, said, smiling.

While the judge and defense lawyers noted the Cantarellas made mob history by helping dismantle the Bonannos, the only spectators in the courtroom were FBI agents and two tourists from England who had wandered into the courthouse while sightseeing in Brooklyn Heights.



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