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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Genovese associate seeks millions of dollars for unjust conviction

 Mario Fortunato a Brooklyn baker and acquittal maker wants some dough for false mob raps.
Someone who has been tried for murder not once but twice would most likely not want to see the inside of a court again — but this baker’s on a legal roll.

Reputed Genovese associate Mario Fortunato, who twice beat the rap for a gangland murder, is now headed to trial in civil court in a bid to recoup millions of dollars from the state for what he calls his “unjust conviction and imprisonment,” the Daily News has learned.

Fortunato, a co-owner of Fortunato Brothers Bakery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has won a major legal victory over state prosecutors in the Court of Claims that allows him the potential to get payback in civil court.

“It’s a critical decision,” his lawyer, Irving Cohen, told The News. “It means the case will either be settled or go to trial.”

Judge Alan Marin rejected the state attorney general’s argument that Fortunato got himself convicted because he initially lied to a detective by claiming he had already left a card game in the San Giuseppe Social Club on Graham Ave. in East Williamsburg when a Mafia hit spilled blood in 1994.

Pasqualina Lombardi, mother of Sabatino "Tino" Lombardi, celebrates with a cry of "Revenge!" outside the courtroom after a judge convicted Mario Fortunato for Lombardi's 1994 murder. That conviction was overturned.

Fortunato, now 60, was tried and convicted in Brooklyn Federal Court for the rubout of loanshark Tino Lombardi and the wounding of the victim’s cousin Michael D’Urso. After the conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office brought Fortunato to trial in state Supreme Court, getting a conviction, which was also overturned, this time in the state Appellate Division.

Fortunato’s civil suit, Cohen said, seeks monetary damages only for the two years in prison he served following the state conviction.

Judge Marin ruled Wednesday that Fortunato’s inconsistent statements — after his initial fib, he later admitted to another detective that he was in fact present for the shooting — did not disqualify him from a right to sue the state under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act of 1984.

A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declined to comment.

Fortunato’s co-defendant in the case, pizzamaker Carmine Polito, also won a reversal of his federal murder conviction and was acquitted of murder at trial in a state court in 2007.

After he survived the shooting, D’Urso became a government informant and wore a hidden recording device in his Rolex watch which secured evidence that brought down dozens of Genovese gangsters, including Vincent "Chin" Gigante, then boss of the Genovese crime family.



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