The widow of a hero firefighter who died in the Deutsche Bank blaze in 2007 is asking a federal judge to show mercy to a reputed Colombo mob associate facing sentencing on drug and money laundering charges.
Linda Graffagnino wrote the letter on behalf of John Cerbone, a plumber and alleged member of Colombo capo Joseph Amato’s crew. He’s facing a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison and up to 87 months under federal guidelines when he is sentenced next week in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Linda Graffagnino wrote a letter to a judge asking for mercy when sentencing John Cerbone, who pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering charges.
Cerbone is the longtime boyfriend of Graffagnino’s sister, and often took the widow's two young children on outings to the park, the beach and the zoo after their father, Joseph Graffagnino, perished in the building that had been damaged in the World Trade Center attack.
"We are family in every sense of the word," she wrote to Judge Nicholas Garaufis. "John is not an angel and I am not excusing the crime he has committed. I am simply asking you to please consider leniency when you sentence him."
Linda Graffagnino received a $10 million settlement from the city and the Deutsche Bank contractor that was demolishing the building when a fire broke out. Cerbone's lawyer, John Meringolo, was a childhood friend of the deceased firefighter and also represented his wife in the multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit.
Cerbone claims that he thought the laundered funds were proceeds of loansharking, not drug distribution — a contention the government disputes.
Cerbone pleaded guilty to the charges in July.
Her father-in-law, Joseph A. Graffagnino also sent a "good character" letter to the judge.
"John has been there for my family and has been selfless since I have known him," the elder Graffagnino wrote to the judge.