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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Trio of turncoats take the stand against Bonanno captain


John Zaffarano was supposed to testify at the 80-year-old Bonanno goon’s racketeering trial on Thursday, but claimed he was too sick to fly up from Florida.

To the feds, Vincent Asaro is one of the masterminds the 1978 Lufthansa robbery immortalized in the mob movie “Goodfellas.”

To the nervous witness squirming on the stand Friday, Asaro was “my cousin Vinny.”

“Do you want to be here?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri asked 57-year-old John Zaffarano.

"No I don't,” said Zaffarano, visibly nervous and glancing at Asaro in Brooklyn federal court.

Zaffarano was supposed to testify at the 80-year-old Bonanno goon’s racketeering trial on Thursday, but claimed he was too sick to fly up from Florida.

Sitting on the stand, the chubby witness looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there, and at times claimed to have trouble remembering what he told the grand jury earlier.

His pop, Mickey Zaffarano, was a Bonanno family capo and sleaze merchant whose Pussycat Theater in Times Square showed some of the biggest porn movies of the 1970s, like “Deep Throat.”

Vincent Asaro, 80, is accused of orchestrating the spectacular 1978 heist at Kennedy Airport that netted the robbers $6 million in cash and jewelry.

Last week, another cousin — star government witness Gaspare Valenti — testified Asaro gave Zaffarano’s dad a $100,000 cut from the spectacular 1978 heist at Kennedy Airport that netted the robbers $6 million in cash and jewelry.

Valenti also said Asaro lent the elder Zaffarano $100,000 at one point, a loan that was repaid.

Zaffarano told the court that after his dad was felled by a heart attack in 1980, Asaro lied at the funeral and told him his pop still owed $250,000.

“Yeah I believed it, I guess,” he said.

Argentieri reminded Zaffarano that he had testified to a grand jury that he believed Asaro was lying and that he ended up paying him more than $250,000.

“I had a substance abuse problem back then and I was on a white cloud so I really don't remember,” the worried witness sputtered.

John Zaffarano’s father Mickey owned the Pussycat Theater in Times Square, which showed some of the biggest porn movies on the 1970s like “Deep Throat.” When John sold the building, Asaro asked for a cut from the sale, Zaffarano said.

Then Argentieri asked Zaffarano what happened in 1986 after he sold the building on 59th St., where his pop’s porn emporium was located for $18.5 million .

Zaffarano said Asaro demanded a cut of that action and wound up getting between $300,000 and $400,000. He said his cousin also presided over a sitdown at a Little Italy restaurant with legendary Genovese gangster Matthew “Matty the Horse” Ianniello, who wanted $1 million in compensation because his shuttered peep shows were in the sold building.

“He suggested I pay (Ianniello) because he's not the kind of person to fool around with," Zaffarano testified, saying he wound up coughing up $750,000 to the fearsome gangster.

"I gave money to my whole family," he said. "Vinny helped me negotiate that thing."

Zaffarano admitted he moved to Florida to get away from Asaro. He said he was running a waterfront bar called Rumbottoms and owned a replica Viking ship in the 1990s when Asaro and Valenti came calling.

Valenti, who testified earlier against Asaro and secretly taped their conversation for the feds, called it a shakedown.

Zaffarano said “cousin Vinny” made a “business proposition” and reluctantly admitted he “probably asked for money.”

Joe Pesci as Vinny in “My Cousin Vinny.” Zaffarano frequently referred to the defendant as “cousin Vinny” during his testimony.

Reminded that he told the grand jury he gave Asaro $250,000, Zaffarano stammered, “I’m having a little trouble with my memory.”

On cross-examination, Zaffarano said he had not seen Asaro in 20 years before Friday and insisted he never gave him any cash out of fear.

"I always loaned money with the intention that I wasn't going to get it back and if I did, hooray,” he said.

Zaffarano was followed on the stand by another alleged Asaro shakedown victim who testified what happened to him after he missed his weekly “protection money” payments.

Guy Gralto told the court he was shot and robbed after Asaro drove his car through the fence of Gralto's auto parts store on 101st Ave. in Queens.

Asaro, who seethed as Zaffarano and Gralto testified, finally blew his stack another mob turncoat, Anthony Ruggiano Jr., took the stand.

Ruggiano testified that his late Gambino soldier father, "Fat Andy," helped Asaro and Lufthansa heist co-architect James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke fence jewelry stolen in the robbery. He also told the court Asaro started placing $100 bets at Aqueduct Racetrack after the robbery.

“This guy is lying through his teeth,” Asaro snarled.

Asaro is also accused of helping Burke strangle a suspected snitch with a dog chain.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/vincent-asaro-cousin-boss-shook-trial-article-1.2417977

Tony Soprano's Cadillac Escalade is up for auction


One of the two Escalades used by James Gandolfini's character Tony Soprano on HBO's "The Soprano's" will go up for sale next month.
It's tough running one of America's most high profile crime syndicates, just ask Tony Soprano.

Fortunately, you won't have to be the boss to drive like the boss when Tony's iconic white Escalade hits the auction block next month.


James Gandolfini signed the driver’s side sun visor, “Thanks for the truck, James Gandolfini,” and the panel above the glovebox, simply “James Gandolfini.”

The white 2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV, which was featured in the last three seasons of HBO's award-winning series "The Soprano's" will go up for sale through online auction house RR Auction on November 12.

The vehicle, which was leased to the HBO production by Movie Cars Incorporated, was one of two identical Escalades driven by Tony Soprano, who was played the late James Gandolfini, on the set of the show. Gandolfini, as Soprano, was often seen entering the car parked outside the family home or driving to meet up with members of the New York mafia families, according to RR Auction, while the other car was more frequently used for interior shots.

The Cadillac Escalade being put up for auction was used for the majority of the exterior shots, including some of the show's iconic chase scenes.

The car was even featured in one of the show's famous chases scenes, in which Soprano drives another character off the road while pursuing him to collect a debt.

Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack in June 2013, signed the driver's side sun visor and on the panel above the glovebox with a black felt tip marker.

Bids will start at $5,000 and will be accepted November 12 through 19.

http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/tony-soprano-cadillac-escalade-headed-auction-article-1.2416938

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trial of Bonanno captain accused in Lufthansa heist continues


The paralegals working with federal prosecutors on the "Goodfellas" trial pushed two carts, filled with black binders, to and from court, when one of the star witnesses took the stand recently.
The binders were packed with hundreds of pages of transcripts, containing conversations between admitted Bonanno crime family member, Gaspare Valenti, and his cousin, Vincent Asaro.
Valenti is pinning the 1978 Lufthansa heist — which netted six million dollars in never-recovered cash and jewelry — on his cousin, and says he was there, too! The infamous robbery at JFK airport in Queens was an integral part of the plot in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film, “Goodfellas.”
Valenti testified on the stand that he recorded about 1,000 hours of conversations between himself and Asaro, who is an accused capo in the Bonanno family.
Asaro is now 80 years old. The feds are accusing him of not only the heist but also a murder from 1969.
Valenti testified that Asaro and Jimmy “The Gent” Burke strangled a warehouse owner named Paul Katz with a dog chain in the late 60’s because they suspected Katz was a snitch.
In one of the recordings, Asaro, then in his late 70’s, is heard using common, La Cosa Nostra lingo, boasting, “I’m a f---ing friend 37, f----ing years, a wiseguy. And another 50 years before that.”
Valenti testified the 50-year reference and revealed Asaro knew “the life.” He said Asaro’s father was also a member of organized crime.
When PIX11 News visited the trial, we listened to multiple audio recordings being played as evidence.
One of them that stuck out: Asaro is heard warning his cousin, Gaspare, about meeting a man in Las Vegas.
“When you go see that guy, watch what you say about money to him,” Asaro told Valenti. “He could be wired up.”
Valenti was also wired up, recording the conversation.
Watching Gaspare Valenti intently at the trial was Valenti’s son, Anthony, who the feds say is attached to the Bonanno family.
“Is that something you wanted for your son?” the federal prosecutor asked the elder Valenti.
“No, never,” the father responded from the stand.
At that point, Anthony Valenti looked up toward the ceiling, from the spectator’s section in the court.
Outside, PIX11 tried to talk to Anthony Valenti, asking him if it was tough to watch his father serve as a government witness against his cousin.
The son was reluctant to speak, but when PIX11 asked if it was hurtful to sit there and listen to his dad, he responded “Of course it is, of course it is.”
In another recording, Valenti captures an alleged conversation between an associate named John Rangano and Vincent Asaro.
“When do we stab this guy in the neck,” Rangano is heard asking. The voice identified as Asaro responds, “Stab him today,” and then adds, “I told you to give him a f---ing beating.”
Asaro has been in federal custody since January 2014, and when PIX11 paid a visit to his old stomping grounds near Liberty Avenue and 86th Street in South Ozone Park, we found a large “SPACE FOR RENT” sign hanging on his shuttered social club.
His Astro Fence Company has been closed down.
A man we met outside the car wash on Liberty Avenue, across the street, spoke about the changing times.
“Time changes everything,” said Ed Folk, who has lived in the South Ozone Park area for all of his 39 years. When PIX11 asked, “Even the code of silence,” Folk replied, “I don’t think there is a code anymore.”
Vincent Asaro pleaded not guilty to the alleged crimes in 2014, and his defense attorney, Elizabeth Macedonia, told PIX11 that cousin Gaspare Valenti is creating stories “out of whole cloth.”
“The man plead guilty in 2009, and he’s been out ever since,” Macedonia said. “He’s getting paid $3,000 a month of taxpayers’ money—so yeah, that’s pretty much a sweetheart deal, for a lifetime of crime.”
Valenti said money was the reason he went to the FBI to begin with in 2008. He was a “broke fella” and needed the cash to support himself and his family.

http://pix11.com/2015/10/29/bonanno-family-secrets-spilled-on-cousin-vinny-at-goodfellas-trial/

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Turncoat Gambino gangster testifies at Lufthansa heist trial


dnp; Exported.;
Several years after the spectacular 1978 Lufthansa heist, Bonanno hood Vincent Asaro rounded up his crew to do another job — punish another mobster for shooting a dog.

An accused killer who apparently loves animals more than people, Asaro was furious when Peter "Bud" Zuccaro shot a guard dog protecting his nephew’s auto body shop.

Testifying Wednesday at Asaro’s racketeering trial, Zuccaro said the dog went after him because he just returned from a robbery and was wearing a disguise. He did not specify if it was “Champ” or “Blackjack.”

“The dog zeroed in on me, jumped over the desk, I guess he didn’t recognize me, as started chewing on my arm,” the 60-year-old mob turncoat testified. “I shot him in the head. He mauled my arm. I had no choice.”

Later, Zuccaro said in Brooklyn federal court, Asaro showed up at his home with other members of the gang that pulled off the $6 million robbery at Kennedy Airport that was immortalized in the movie “Goodfellas.”

There was James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, the murderous architect of the heist portrayed in the mob movie by Robert De Niro, and his son, Frank, Zuccaro told the court.

Asaro also brought along more muscle — Tommy DeSimone, who was played in the flick by Joe Pesci, and Parnell "Stacks" Edwards, who was depicted by Samuel L. Jackson.

Zuccaro, an admitted murderer and pot purveyor currently in witness protection, testified Wednesday in Asaro's trial.

The beef was later settled without anybody getting hurt by then-Bonanno capo Joseph Massino, who broke with the mob in 2011 and is also testifying against Asaro.

“Joe, I’m your brother, who do you believe?” Asaro complained, according to Zuccaro.

“I believe you but this kid (Zuccaro) is no liar,” Massino replied, he said. 

Zuccaro was followed on the stand by a parade of retired FBI agents and by the end of the day 80-year-old Asaro was ranting to Judge Allyne Ross about his lawyers.

“FBI agent after FBI agent after FBI agent, all I want my lawyers to ask, 'Was Mr. Asaro doing anything wrong?'" the grumpy geezer griped. "I'm not questioning my lawyers ability but they don't question them. I’m not being represented the way I want to be."

Ross assured Asaro that his lawyers are "fabulous."
 
Asaro, 80, is also accused of helping mobster Frank Burke strangle a snitch with a dog chain.

Earlier Zuccaro, a mob rat who was once one of Gambino boss John Gotti’s most loyal henchmen, testified there was not much honor among the Lufthansa thieves.

Frank Burke, he said, blabbed about the robbery and said Asaro and his cousin, Gaspare Valenti, were also involved.

“He led me to believe he was set for life,” Zuccaro said of Frank Burke. “Frankie said Vinny kept Gaspare’s end (of the Lufthansa loot) and was trying to blame Jimmy Burke.”

Valenti later took revenge by secretly taping incriminating conversations with Asaro and testifying this month at his trial.

In this Dec. 13, 1978, file photo, police cordon off an area around a stolen black van discovered in Brooklyn that was used in the $6 million heist.

Asaro is also accused of helping Burke strangle a snitch with a dog chain and burying the body beneath the basement of a Long Island home.

Zuccaro, an admitted murderer and pot purveyor in witness protection, also related the now familiar mob tale of how he and another hood beat — and shot in the buttocks — Victoria Gotti's then-boyfriend Carmine Agnello on orders from Victoria's father.

Agnello’s crime was beating up the Mafia Princess.

Like Asaro, Zuccaro is from a section of East New York they all call “The Hole.”

“It looked like a meteor hit something,” he told the court. “It was a hole below sea level.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/lufthansa-trial-witness-asaro-upset-killed-dog-article-1.2414778

Haunted mansion that was site of Bonanno family murder open for Halloween


 The Kreischer Mansion will be the setting of an
A Staten Island mansion that was the site of a mafia slaying and is now considered haunted will play host to an interactive theater piece tracing the home's bloody history.
The Kreischer Mansion at 4500 Amboy Rd. will open its doors to the public on Saturday for a "Halloween Thriller" with tours of the home, dancing, art pieces, a seance and an "immersive" theater project about the building's history, said Ezat Luba, 33, whose father owns the property.
"The point of this event is to bring a new audience and to bring exposure to this house to people out of Staten Island, and for people on Staten Island," Luba said.
Each floor of the house will be dedicated to one of the activities, with seances in the attic and a haunted house in the basement.
"It’s going to be more of a texture sensory thing," said Luba, a veterinarian. "It’s going to be in the dark."
On the second level, a dance company Luba knows will take groups through an immersive theater project with each room delving into the history — and supposed haunting — of the home.
"You go through the room and you get to experience each of the storylines," she said. "All the rooms connect, you can can go around the rooms pretty seamlessly."
The home was one of two identical mansions built in the 1880s by brickmaker Balthasar Kreischer for his two sons — Charles and Edward — that overlooked the family's factory, the Associated Press reported.
A year after the homes were completed, Kreisher died. His factory burned down a few years after that, according to Luba and the AP.
The factory was later rebuilt but had troubles that reportedly caused Edward Kreischer to shoot himself  In 1894, the AP reported.
Even though his home burned down in the 1930s, Edward Kreischer's weeping wife has been reported to be heard in the remaining mansion, the AP reported.
People also reported other ghosts haunting the house including a cook who killed himself inside and a man and a woman who appear and slam doors. Scratching noises were also reported to be heard in a closet where the kids were kept when they were in trouble, according to the wire service.
The property changed hands several times until Luba's father, Isaac Yomtovian, bought it in 1998.
In 2005, then-caretaker Joseph Young was charged with killing Robert McKelvey in the home, the AP reported.
Young was reportedly paid $8,000 by the Bonanno crime family to kill McKelvey and in April 2005 lured him to the property where he stabbed and strangled him before sawing his body to pieces and burning them in the furnace, according to the AP.
The home has largely remained unused since, but has been rented out as settings for shows including "Boardwalk Empire" and "Bones" and for photo shoots, Luba said.
"My dad still just wants to sell it," said Luba. "I'm just taking advantage of it while I can."
The "Halloween Thriller" is on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Advance tickets are $40 for early admission and $60 with a seance. The event is for ages 21 and older. For more information visit the website.

https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151028/charleston/haunted-mansion-that-was-site-of-mafia-kiling-open-for-halloween

Sammy the Bull Gravano's prison sketches being sold at Hells Kitchen gallery


Sammy the Bull’s prison sketches getting rave reviews
Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, the mob turncoat who brought down “Dapper Don” John Gotti, has developed a different talent in prison — doodling.

And his charcoal sketches were selling for $250 apiece at a Hell’s Kitchen gallery on Tuesday night. 
Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano and John Gotti leave the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy on March 20, 1990.

Conception Gallery was offering interested buyers the one-time opportunity to purchase a work by the man who was once one of the Mafia’s most feared hit men.

The mob rat now spends his days sketching pictures of mafiosi, skulls and busty women to pass the time and keep his mind sharp in an Arizona prison.

Gravano began taking his work seriously when a fellow inmate offered him a piece of paper, some charcoal and magazine clippings for inspiration. His talent soon attracted the interest of other inmates, who began requesting portraits to send home to their families as gifts.

In one piece, he sketched a 1929 head shot of Al Capone and signed it “Sammy the Bull.”

“When he first sent home a drawing, I didn’t realize he actually created it. The father I knew could barely draw a stick figure,” Gravano’s daughter, Karen, said.

“He sent me a drawing of my daughter. When I was younger, he gave me everything: Rolex’s, diamonds, you name it, but this drawing meant more to me than anything, as I know he put his heart and soul into it and it’s his way of feeling connected to his grandchildren,” said Karen.


She said half of the profits from the sale of her father’s drawings will go to a nonprofit.

A rep from the gallery could not say where the remaining funds would go.

Gravano, 70, has served 16 years of a 20-year term for running an ecstasy ring.
 
http://nypost.com/2015/10/28/sammy-the-bulls-prison-sketches-getting-rave-reviews/

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hostage describes Lufthansa heist ordeal


In harrowing detail, a former Lufthansa Airlines worker on Tuesday described the night in 1978 when mafia bandits descended on a cargo area and subdued staffers at gunpoint before pillaging a vault packed with more than $6 million in cash and jewels.

Rolf Rebmann told jurors at accused Lufthansa heist mobster Vincent Asaro’s Brooklyn federal court trial Tuesday that he was toiling in the wee morning hours at the Kennedy Airport terminal when he heard a commotion.

“I heard a noise, someone hollering at the back,” Rebmann recalled. “I went over to investigate. I opened the other door and there was a van parked there and a guy standing next to the van.”

Not knowing that he was about to become a reluctant witness to one of the biggest robberies in history — one that would come to be immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob classic “Goodfellas” — Rebmann made a polite inquiry of one of the intruders.

“I asked if I could help him,” Rebmann said. “He said , ‘No’ and stuck a gun in my face and told me to get into the van face-down.
Rolf Rebmann outside court on Oct. 27.

The no-nonsense Bonanno bandits warned Rebmann and other Lufthansa employees herded inside a cargo van that running their mouths about the stickup job could get them killed.

Demanding the wallets and car keys of the hostages, the wiseguys reminded them: “We have your wallets. So we know where you live.”

It was a threat that would be repeated in another instance by Robert De Niro’s Jimmy Conway in the 1990 film: “You might know who we are, but we KNOW who you are.”

Meanwhile, other members of the robbery crew had accounted for everyone except a man named Rolf.

“We got everybody but we can’t find this guy Rolf!” one of the mobsters exclaimed, not knowing he had been stuffed into the van alongside another captive staffer, Rebmann testified.

After realizing that he was accounted for, Rebmann was made to open the bay doors to the interior of the cargo area and was then led inside with a gun at his back, he told jurors.

He was eventually placed into the lunch room alongside his colleagues and the bandits drove the van inside the facility.
The Lufthansa heist orchestrated by mobster Vincent Asaro was depicted in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob classic, ‘Goodfellas.’

“They told me to lay down on the floor and that was that,” Rebmann said. The crooks repeatedly told the tied-up employees to stay calm if they didn’t want any violent complications.

“Do as you’re told,” Rebmann recalled hearing. “We don’t want to hurt anybody.”

With the final obstacle to the treasure immobilized, the crew then entered a vault and discovered $6 million in currency and valuables.

The heist team eventually created a human chain and loaded up the cargo van with the loot before speeding off into the night.

Dazed and frightened, the Lufthansa staffers finally dared to stir.

“Somebody said there is nobody there,” Rebmann recalled. “And that’s when we all got up.”

http://nypost.com/2015/10/27/hostage-describes-terrifying-reality-of-goodfellas-heist/

Big Ang's cousin on trial had a cache of weapons during 2011 traffic stop


Luigi Grasso (left) appears in State Supreme Court on Monday, to stand trial on weapons charges related to a 2011 Second Ave. traffic stop.
“Mob Wives” relative Luigi Grasso had a cache of weapons, zip ties, ammo and other nefarious items when he and his accomplice were out on a “job” in 2011, prosecutors said Monday.

Grasso, whose cousin is Angela "Big Ang" Raiola from the VH1 reality show, is already serving a 38-year federal prison sentence and has another 17 years in a Staten Island case.

He’s now standing trial in Manhattan Supreme Court on weapons charges stemming from a traffic stop on Second Ave. four years ago.

Prosecutor Brian Rodkey suggested in his opening statement that Grasso, 48, and his co-defendant were up to no good while driving around armed and that wiretap calls revealed they were following a stocky man they called their “target.”

But Grasso’s lawyer, Alex Grosshtern, told jurors they “maybe get to dislike Mr. Grasso” after hearing “ugly” things about him, but they should focus only on the charges in the case. He argued the NYPD’s Organized Crime unit “had nothing on him for months and decided to grab him that day.”

Grasso, aka Ronnie Petrino, was convicted last year in Brooklyn Federal Court for his role in a fatal robbery. He was not the shooter.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/mob-wives-cousin-guns-2011-job-prosecutors-article-1.2412668

Bonanno captain's attorneys fail to rattle turnocoat's testimony


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Attorneys for accused Lufthansa heist mobster Vinny Asaro on Monday tried to punch holes in the devastating testimony of his turncoat cousin, portraying the Bonanno canary as a lying crook desperate for a government payday.

Lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio hammered away at Gaspare Valenti’s credibility, outlining his unsavory history of lies, unpaid loans, two-bit mafia crimes and the $178,000 in debts the feds have helped him pay for his cooperation.

But Valenti, who calmly told jurors last week that he and Asaro were deeply involved in the infamous Kennedy Airport score immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 movie “GoodFellas,” emerged mostly unscathed.

Macedonio reminded Brooklyn federal court jurors that the broke cooperator immediately began accepting payments of $3,000 a month from the feds as a reward for information that could solve one of the most iconic crimes in American history.

But Valenti maintained his composure on the stand, calmly copping to his long list of mundane crimes but remaining firm on facts related to the charges against Asaro.

At one point, Macedonio tried to challenge his assertion that he and the Lufthansa heist crew dumped all of their loot in his Brooklyn home in the early-morning hours after the robbery, insisting that his family dog, Beauty, would have barked and woken up his family.

But as he did with most of her inquiries, Valenti calmly parried the attack and said the mutt was actually sickly and docile.

“Beauty wasn’t a barker,” he maintained.

At another point, Macedonio challenged Valenti’s assertion that the bandits planned the heist at a bar owned by Lufthansa maestro James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke — the Lucchese associate played by Robert De Niro in the film.

“You didn’t read about that in the newspaper?” Macedonio asked.

Without missing a beat, Valenti fired back, “Read about it? I didn’t have to read about it. That was me.”

With Valenti’s critical — and largely effective — turn on the stand complete, the government plans to trot out former Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino later this week.

According to the feds, Asaro gave Massino, who was not yet don, an attaché case stuffed with jewels and valuables as tribute from the massive haul.

http://nypost.com/2015/10/27/attorneys-fail-to-poke-holes-in-cousin-vinnys-testimony-at-lufthansa-trial/

Monday, October 26, 2015

Defense starts cross examination of Bonanno rat


The cross-examination of Lufthansa stool pigeon Gaspare Valenti literally went to the dogs Monday.
Valenti, who's testifying at the trial of his cousin, Vincent Asaro, testified last week that the crew in the infamous 1978 heist brought the loot back to his Brooklyn basement, as his family slept – and on Monday, a defense attorney asked him how that didn't disturb his dog, Beauty.
"So that's one, two, seven, 13 people living in the house? ... So you also had a dog named Beauty?" Asaro's defense lawyer, Elizabeth E. Macedonio, asked the 68-year-old Valenti. "And Beauty was a barker, wasn't she?"
Asaro wasn't rattled by the line of questioning, though.
"My sister lives upstairs. It's a tremendous house," he said, noting that he came in through the front door, then unlocked a side entrance to the basement. "Beauty always stayed on the porch. Beauty wasn't barking. She was a sickly dog that we took care of."
Macedonio asked, "And nobody in the house woke up?"
"No," Valenti replied.
"Not one person?"
"No."
Macedonio seemed to struggle to make her blows connect when questioning Valenti about the heist, and about the other details of his life in crime, which he described in direct testimony over four days last week.
She asked Valenti how his family didn't realize he was hiding the heist money in the doorjambs of the house, whether he knew that the man he hit in the head with a gun during the heist was, in fact, a guard, and whether the nightclub "Afters" was named for "after Lufthansa" or "after hours."
She also had Valenti recount his testimony about how he stole and gambled cash from his mob cohorts, how he fled to Las Vegas and left his family behind, and how he was "enticed" into committing crimes by an undercover FBI agent while in Vegas.
Asaro, a reputed Bonanno capo, is accused of racketeering, murder, and planning and taking part in the Dec. 11, 1978 armed robbery of the Lufthansa Airlines building at John F. Kennedy Airport – a score that was immortalized in the Martin Scorsese film, "Goodfellas."
Valenti, the government's star witness,described the heist in cinematic detail Tuesday, testifying that the robbers made an impromptu decision to bring the score – more than $6 million cash and sacks of jewelry – to his house.
Valenti, who turned government informant in 2008, wore a wire for years, recording conversations of himself and Asaro as the two committed extortion schemes and reminisced about gambling away the Lufthansa proceeds, prosecutors allege.
Asaro is also accused of the 1969 murder of Paul Katz. Valenti testified he helped bury the body, then dig it up again years later when James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke -- a Bonanno associate portrayed by Robert De Niro as "Jimmy Conway" in "Goodfellas " – became nervous it might be discovered.
http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/10/defense_lawyer_tries_to_rattle.html

John Gotti's grandson heard on secret wiretap of Bonanno captain


John Gotti Agnello was heard greeting Gaspare Valenti and Vincent Asaro when they turned up at an auto parts store sometime in November 2011 looking to meet up with a mobster named Jumbo.
One of John Gotti’s grandsons made a cameo appearance on a secretly recorded tape that was played Friday at the racketeering trial of Bonanno gangster Vincent Asaro.

John Gotti Agnello was heard greeting Gaspare Valenti and Asaro when they turned up at the auto parts store sometime in November 2011 to see a mob associate identified only as Jumbo.

“How you doin’ Gar,” the 28-year-old son of Victoria Gotti and mobster Carmine Agnello can be heard greeting Valenti, apparently unaware he was wearing a wire for the feds.

Those were the only words from Agnello, best known from the reality TV show “Growing Up Gotti,” which ran from August 2004 to December 2005.

“This kid is a sweetheart,” Valenti was heard saying of Agnello as they entered the store.

Asaro, who is accused of helping pull off the $6 million Lufthansa heist immortalized in the movie “Goodfellas,” had shown up at the unnamed shop with Valenti to snag a number for somebody named “Richie Glen Cove,” the tape revealed.

Another recording, made on June 5, 2012, revealed Asaro’s disgust for Henry Hill, a mobster turned FBI informant whose biography was the basis of “Goodfellas.”

Hill helped plot — but did not actually take part — in the 1978 robbery at Kennedy Airport. He died in 2012.

Gaspare Valenti (l.) and Vincent Asaro (r.) had showed up at the unnamed shop to snag a number for somebody named “Richie Glen Cove,” the tape revealed.

“No, f--- him,” Asaro was heard telling his cousin Valenti, when asked him if he went to Hill’s funeral.

“That’s one less left of Lufthansa,” Valenti replied.

Asaro, who apparently did not hear Valenti, replied “What?”

So Valenti repeated himself.

“F--- him,” said Asaro. “C--------r.”

“He made a big thing like he was there with us,” Valenti said.

“Yeah,” Asaro replied. “Piece of s---.”

As the tapes played, Valenti’s hulking son, Anthony "Fat Sammy" Valenti was back in the Brooklyn federal courtroom staring daggers at his 68-year-old dad.

Vincent Asaro (center), on trial for racketeering, was one of four organized crime associates arrested, and is believed to be involved int he infamous 1978 Lutfhansa Heist.

The younger Valenti, a Bonanno hood, has been coming to the trial to support Asaro, 80.

He may want to rethink his allegiances after prosecutors played a tape in which Asaro tells Valenti he regrets that his son Jerome moved to have Fat Sammy join the Bonanno family.

“I told Jerry he should have never been straightened out,” Asaro was heard saying.

When the prosecutor asked Valenti if he wanted his son to join the mafia, he replied “No, never.”

As his father spoke, Fat Sammy stared up at the ceiling.

“I have no comment,” he said later.

Over the course of the week, the feds have played several tapes secretly recorded by Valenti in an attempt to link Asaro directly to the robbery.

Gaspar Valenti, a Bonanno associate, and father of Anthony "Fat Sammy" Valenti, testifies at Brooklyn Federal Court in connection with the Lufthansa heist.

They revealed that the once fearsome Asaro was down on his luck and broke. Prosecutors say he pocketed more than $500,000 from the heist, but blew most of the dough at the track.

Valenti was also in on the robbery, they say. He turned on Asaro because he too was broke and needed money to support himself and his family.

The last tape Valenti recorded was in June 2013. In it, as the FBI instructed, Valenti revealed himself as a turncoat by telling Asaro the feds are “all over Liberty Ave.” while they were heading out of a Queens diner.

That was a reference to the house where Valenti and Asaro in 1969 buried murder victim Paul Katz in the basement. Asaro is charged with strangling the suspected snitch with a dog chain.

Only three people knew that secret — Asaro, Valenti and James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, the brains behind the Lufthansa score. And Burke was dead.

Suddenly realizing he’d been betrayed by his cousin, Asaro put his car in park and sighed, according to the transcript.

"I'll see you later Gar ... Don't call me!" Asaro snapped.

Valenti described the look on Asaro’s face to the jury.

"A look of disgust, a look of hatred," he said. "You had to be there to know the look. How could you do this to me? That was the look."

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/grandson-john-gotti-heard-tape-vincent-asaro-trial-article-1.2408696

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bonanno mobsters skipped Goodfellas rat Henry Hill's wake


Pals so mad at ‘Goodfellas’ turncoat they skipped his wake
“Goodfellas” mob rat Henry Hill was so hated by some of his former pals that they skipped his 2012 wake.
“F–k him,” growled Bonanno capo Vinny Asaro on a secret recording played Friday at his trial in Brooklyn federal court.
On trial for the famed 1978 Lufthansa heist that was featured in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 flick “Goodfellas,” Asaro told his wire-wearing turncoat cousin, Gaspare Valenti, that he didn’t bother to attend Hill’s wake.
“That’s one less left of Lufthansa,” Valenti chimed in, referring to Hill’s death and the dwindling number of crooks left from the score. “He made a big thing like he was there with us.”
“Yeah,” Asaro responded. “Piece of sh-t.”
Valenti, a Bonanno associate who earlier testified that he and Asaro took part in the $6 million JFK robbery, flipped on his cousin after tiring of the mob life in 2008.
Hill — the turncoat who was portrayed by Ray Liotta in the movie based on Hill’s life in the mob — was not on the actual job that night, but put the crew in touch with Marty Krugman, a Queens wig-store owner who first tipped them off to the potentially glorious haul.
But after grousing one too many times about his inadequate cut of the Lufthansa loot, Krugman — presented as “Morrie” in the film — was knocked off.
Valenti earlier testified that Asaro waited in a car near the JFK heist along with reputed mastermind Jimmy “The Gent” Burke while the robbery crew breached the hangar and loaded up the loot.
Increasingly paranoid in the wake of the heist, Burke bumped off many of the participants to prevent them from snitching.

Untitled-27A.JPG
The Lufthansa heist makes the front page on Dec. 11, 1978.

The feds claim Asaro was given $500,000 after Lufthansa but squandered it through gambling and extravagant purchases.
Prosecutors later played Valenti’s final recording of Asaro in 2013, where Valenti informed his cousin that agents were eyeing a house where an alleged Asaro murder victim was once buried.
Valenti claimed Asaro grew suspicious of him after he made the disclosure and that he never saw him again until this week’s trial.
“And at that moment you believe he knew you were an informant?” asked prosecutor Nicole Argentieri. “Yes,” Valenti answered as Asaro scowled at him from the defense table.

http://nypost.com/2015/10/24/pals-so-mad-at-goodfellas-turncoat-they-skipped-his-wake/

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bonanno captain laments in secret recordings that he's part of a dying breed


Gaspare Valenti, a Bonanno associate,  testifies at Brooklyn Federal Court in connection with the Lufthansa "Goodfellas" heist.
The Bonanno gangster accused of helping pull off the biggest heist in U.S. history complained that he was part of a dying breed in tapes played Thursday at his racketeering trial.

Broke and bitter and 76 years old, Vincent Asaro bemoaned his fate in a car while his cousin Gaspare Valenti secretly recorded the conversation the feds.

“I’m the only wiseguy left in my neighborhood,” Asaro complained.

Referring to the 1978 Lufthansa robbery that netted $6 million in cash and jewelry as “the thing,” Asaro complained that he didn’t get a big enough cut.

“We never got our right money, what we were supposed to get, we got f----- all around," Asaro ranted in a February 2011 conversation. "Got f----- all around, that f-----g Jimmy (Burke) kept everything."

Burke, aka Jimmy the Gent, was one of the masterminds of the spectacular robbery at Kennedy Airport that was immortalized in the movie “Goodfellas.”

When Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri asked Valenti what he and now 80-year-old Asaro were talking about, the mob turncoat answered, “The Lufthansa heist.”

Testifying in Brooklyn federal court for a third day, Valenti said they got on the subject of “the thing” after a crew member Danny Rizzo came begging for a pack of cigarettes and $200.

"I thought he (Rizzo) was kidding," Asaro said on one of the tapes. "He looked f------ desperate."

Valenti, 68, explained that Burke “kept the money from the other guys,” referring to the shares owed to the half dozen members of the crew who were later whacked.


The once fearsome Asaro is also charged with strangling a suspected snitch in 1969 with a dog chain.

“Jimmy kept it all,” he said. “Our money from Lufthansa.”

Burke, who died in 1996 and was the model for the "Goodfellas" character played by Robert De Niro, killed them all, prosecutors said earlier.

Prosecutors say Asaro personally pocketed more than $500,000 but blew most of the money at the track.

On another tape, Asaro complained that his son Jerome would not help him out even after he got him inducted into the Bonanno crime family, gave him their fence company, and split the proceeds from the sale of a Carvel store.

“My son’t a real scumbag,” he said. “Not a f----- penny, not a f---- dime. He broke my f----- heart."

Asaro and Valenti are heard on the tapes trying to come up with a score to make some quick money, like hijacking a truckload of cigarettes.


Valenti even mentions getting food stamps and complains how the bureaucratic process has become complicated.

“It used to be easy, food stamps,” Asaro says.

In a September 2011 conversation, Asaro expressed fear that his frequent blowups with other Bonanno wise guys could result in his being put out to pasture.

"I'm broke, I'm getting like a f----- animal," Asaro says.

While Valenti testified on Wednesday, Asaro could be heard telling his lawyer that his cousin was wearing a beige suit and that he’d worn a different suit each day of testimony.

"He's dressing a lot better now," Asaro joked to his lawyers. "Maybe I should go in the witness protection program."

The once fearsome Asaro is also charged with strangling a suspected snitch in 1969 with a dog chain.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/vincent-asaro-refers-lufthansa-heist-wire-tap-article-1.2407654

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bonanno gangster describes why he turned on his cousin and the mob during court testimony


Gaspar Valenti, a Bonanno associate and father of Anthony (Fat Sammy) Valenti, testifies at Brooklyn Federal Court in connection with the Lufthansa "Good Fellas" heist on Tuesday.
The Goodfella who helped pull off the biggest heist in U.S. history was a brokefella some 30 years later when he helped the feds set a trap for his cousin — Bonanno crime family captain Vincent Asaro.

Gaspare Valenti began secretly taping Asaro after they had a falling-out three decades after the infamous 1978 Lufthansa robbery that netted them and their crew $6 million in cash and jewelry.

“Over money, as usual,” Valenti testified Wednesday, when asked at Asaro’s racketeering trial what their argument was about.

Testifying in Brooklyn federal court, Valenti said that by 2010 he was out of cash and sick of the mob life.

“I called the FBI,” he said. “I needed help financially to support my family. I was just tired of that life. I was having nightmares about things that I had experienced.”

Valenti, who returns to the stand on Thursday, said the FBI quickly signed him up to be an informant and he agreed to wear a wire to tape Asaro.
‘Goodfellas’ heist witness: Why I’m ratting on my cousin Vinny

In the meantime, Valenti said, the government paid his expenses, including the rent and electrical bill.

“All this time you’re with me I never got you pinched,” Asaro told Valenti at the Esquire Diner in Ozone Park, Queens, unaware that his cousin is taping him.

But Asaro, who is also charged with strangling a suspected snitch in 1969 with a dog chain, had also became a shadow of his formerly fearsome self, the tapes revealed.

In one taped conversation, Asaro described his bleak existence.


Vincent Asaro (c.), being taken from FBI Headquarters in 2014. Asaro, was one of four organized crime associates arrested, and is believed to be involved in the infamous 1978 Lutfhansa Heist.

“I don’t usually come out early no more,” he said. “Where am I gonna go? I got no place to go. They brought me a nice striped bass last night.”

It was not immediately clear who “they” was.

Asked where he hangs out, Asaro said he sometimes spent time at an Ozone Park bowling alley or at the Cafe Liberty, an old Gambino family social club on Liberty Ave.

“People hate me in there, I don’t pay my dues,” Asaro said.

Things were so bad Asaro had to hock his jewelry. “Nobody’s earning,” he said.

Still, Asaro could muster-up some menace when necessary.

There was a tape of Asaro shaking down a relative for a $3,000 share of a house of a deceased family member that had just been sold.

One night, as Asaro was preparing to meet a potential shakedown victim he hadn’t seen in years at a Starbucks, Valenti asked him if he would recognize him.

“For money, you could be dead 300 years I'd know what you look like,” Asaro answered laughing.

On still another tape, Asaro admitted he was at a Waldbaum’s in Howard Beach preparing for a more modest job.

“I’m gonna make lentil soup,” he could be heard saying.

Police cordon off an area around a stolen black van they suspect was used by thieves who escaped with more than $6 million in cash and jewels from JFK airport in December of 1978.

Valenti testified that Asaro was an animal lover who once sought permission from Bonanno family capo Joseph Massino to shoot another Bonanno hood for kicking a dog.

Massino denied the request — and is expected to testify against Asaro at the trial.

Another time Asaro sicced some beefy Bonanno goons on a group of punks who were making lewd comments and harassing women as they walked up the stairs to the elevated subway platform in Ozone Park, Valenti said.

More tapes are expected to be played in court Thursday, including some in which Asaro rants about not getting all the dough he was promised from the JFK heist.

This was 68-year-old Valenti’s second day on the stand. And this time, his hulking son, Anthony "Fat Sammy" Valenti, was not in the courtroom starting daggers at this dad.

The hefty hoodlum told the Daily News earlier that he had come to show support for Asaro — not for his father, who broke the Mafia code of silence.

Valenti told the court the JFK heist, which figured in the movie “Goodfellas,” was planned at Robert’s Lounge on Lefferts Blvd., a joint in Queens a short drive from the scene of the spectacular crime — Kennedy Airport. It’s now a Guyanese and Jamaican restaurant.

Earlier, Valenti described in detail how the Lufthansa robbery went down. And he rattled off the names of the robbery crew that Asaro and legendary Lucchese mobster James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke assembled.

Valenti also named Henry Hill, a mobster turned FBI informant whose biography was the basis of “Goodfellas.” And he revealed that deceased Gambino family chief John Gotti got a cut of the loot, even though he had nothing to do with the heist.

But when Valenti described how some members of the crew “died and some went missing” after the robbery, federal Judge Allyne Ross told the jury “to ignore the last comment.”

Ross ruled earlier that prosecutors cannot tell the jury about the bloodbath because the elder Burke was responsible for whacking a half-dozen members of the crew, not Asaro.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/goodfellas-mob-snitch-explains-betrayal-asaro-trial-article-1.2405940

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bonanno soldier shows up to court to watch turncoat father testify in Lufthansa heist trial


Gaspare Valenti, a Bonanno associate and father of Anthony (Fat Sammy) Valenti, testifies at Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday in connection with the Lufthansa "Goodfellas" heist.
If looks could kill, his dad would be dead.

As mob turncoat Gaspare Valenti testified Tuesday at the racketeering trial of 80-year-old Vincent Asaro, his hulking son Anthony "Fat Sammy" Valenti glared at his pop.

Dressed in a navy-blue suit and looking more like Larry David than a Bonanno family hood, Gaspare avoided his son’s eyes as he betrayed his cousin Asaro in a Brooklyn courtroom.

“Lufthansa,” Valenti answered, when asked by prosecutor Nicole Argentieri what was the most serious crime he ever committed. “We robbed the Lufthansa air freight company.”


Valenti, 68, was referring to the spectacular 1978 robbery at Kennedy Airport that netted nearly $6 million in cash and jewels — and was dramatized in the mob movie “Goodfellas.”

The government witness also revealed that deceased Gambino family chief John Gotti got a cut of the loot, even though he had nothing to do with the heist.

“To keep peace among the families, we didn’t want retribution or anyone to rob us,” Valenti answered when asked why the Dapper Don got some of the dough.

As an angry-looking Asaro sat at the defense table, Valenti identified him as the man in an FBI surveillance photo shaking hands and laughing with Gotti outside the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Queens.


Gasper Valenti (l.) turned snitch against alleged mobster Vincent Asaro (r.).

Valenti said Asaro was one of the masterminds of the JFK heist.

“I was very close with him,” he said. “We had, like, a bond.”
 
That bond was severed when Valenti, starting in 2008, broke the Mafia code of silence and began secretly recording hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations with Asaro, prosecutors say.

Handcuffed James Burke "Jimmy the Gent" taken to Federal Court.

Those tapes will be played Wednesday when Valenti returns to the stand.

Through all of Valenti’s testimony on Tuesday, Fat Sammy stared daggers at his dad — a sinister scene that could have been lifted from “The Godfather: Part II.”

But Valenti was not rattled into recanting by his boy, who like the accused is a member of the Bonanno crime family.
Anthony (Fat Sammy) Valenti, son of the government's star witness in the case against accused mobster Vincent Asaro in the Lufthansa "Goodfellas" heist.
“I have nothing to say,” Fat Sammy told the Daily News politely during a break. “I would appreciate it if you don’t bother me anymore.”

Valenti — in his first public account of the heist — described in detail how the Lufthansa robbery went down. And he rattled off the names of the other members of the robbery crew that Asaro and legendary Lucchese mobster James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke assembled.


Reputed mob boss John Gotti, seen in 1990, apparently got a cut of the Lufthansa loot "to keep peace among the families."

Valenti also named Henry Hill, a mobster turned FBI informant whose biography was the basis of “Goodfellas.”

“We thought there was going to be $2 million in cash and there was $6 million,” he said. “I was separating gold chains and watches and the diamonds and emeralds and rubies.”

But Asaro quickly brought everybody back down to earth.

“We’ve got to be real careful now,” he said, according to Valenti. “They’ll look to rob us. They’ll look to kill us. It could be anyone who hears of the score.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/mob-snitch-spills-78-lufthansa-heist-asaro-trial-article-1.2404298

Monday, October 19, 2015

Turncoat Bonanno underboss testifies at trial of captain accused in Lufthansa heist



NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
“Goodfellas” came to life Monday in a Brooklyn courtroom at the trial of an aging Bonanno gangster as prosecutors revisited the “score of all scores” — the infamous 1978 Lufthansa robbery.

They also put the first of several rats on the stand to testify against 80-year-old Vincent Asaro, starting with a former Bonanno underboss and admitted killer named Salvatore Vitale.

But the government’s star witness is mob stick-up man Gaspar Valenti, who could be take the stand as early as Tuesday at Asaro’s racketeering trial.

And like a scene from another famous mob movie, Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II,” Valenti’s hulking son was in the courtroom Monday to stare his 68-year-old father down.

“I’m here for Vinny,” Anthony "Fat Sammy" Valenti, a reputed soldier in the Bonanno crime family, told The Daily News.


Asked about his turncoat father, he said, “I could care less about him.”

In her opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Gerdes told the court Asaro planned the heist at Kennedy Airport with legendary Lucchese mobster James "Jimmy the Gent Burke, who was portrayed in “Goodfellas” by Robert De Niro.

Gerdes said Asaro personally pocketed more than $500,000.

“He knew Burke was someone he could make money with,” Gerdes said. “Jimmy Burke and Vincent Asaro were true partners in crime.”

Asaro was a made man in the Bonanno organized crime family since the 1970s, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Gerdes said.

“For him, the Mafia was literally the family business,” she said. “The defendant is a gangster through and through.”
 
In this Dec. 13, 1978, file photo, police cordon off an area around a stolen black van discovered in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police suspect the van was used by thieves who escaped with more than $6 million in cash and jewels from a John F. Kennedy International Airport hangar.

In the weeks leading up to the robbery, Asaro, Burke and the “robbery team met, they talked, they visited the cargo building to get a lay of the land,” Gerdes said. “On the night of the heist itself, the robbery team brought all the tools they would need — guns, masks, gloves.”

“The defendant and Jimmy Burke waited nearby in a car, ready to act as a crash car if the police happened to stumble upon the crew,” she said.

Gerdes laid out the government’s case against the Asaro ahead of expected testimony from Valenti, who is also the accused mobster’s cousin and will give his account of the robbery immortalized in the Martin Scorsese movie.

Vincent Asaro's trial began on Monday.

New of the Lufthansa heist on Dec. 12, 1978.

Asaro had recruited Valenti as a member of the crew, prosecutors said. But the greedy gangster allegedly kept Valenti’s share.

That cheap move by the old wise guy is now about to haunt him in court. Valenti recorded hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations with Asaro over the years.

Asaro, a once-obscure Bonanno hood, is the latest mobster to be dragged out of the shadows by the crumbling of omertà — the Mafia code of silence by which members of New York’s five Italian crime families lived and died.

Dressed in a gray pullover sweater, Asaro was chewing gum when he came into the courtroom — looking more like a cranky old man than a gangster.

In a nod to his age, the federal marshals agreed to transport Asaro to the courthouse separately from the bus load of other Metropolitan Detention Center prisoners with court date. This was so the oldfella could sleep in a bit longer, sources said.

The spectacular Dec. 11, 1978 Lufthansa robbery, carried out with the inside information provided by crooked airport workers, netted nearly $6 million in cash and jewels.

The robbers clipped a lock on a fence and made their way into the terminal building where they held workers at gunpoint, the prosecutor said.

When they reached the vault: “Jackpot!” Gerdes said. “Boxes upon boxes of money and jewelry. More than they could have ever imagined.”

Asaro plowed his Lufthansa cash into loansharking, but gambled most of it away at the race track, the prosecutor said. He also kicked up $100,000 to the Bonanno family through then-capo Joseph Massino.

Massino, who broke with the mob back in 2011, is expected to tell the jury about getting a piece of the Lufthansa loot.

Burke died of cancer in 1996 while serving a 20-year to life sentence for murder.

When Vitale took the stand, he testified he too only got a pittance from the robbery.

“He was always a big spender,” Vitale cracked, referring to his brother-in-law Massino.

Looking dapper in a navy blue suit and print necktie, Vitale testified that Massino gifted him with a single gold necklace from the briefcase brimming with baubles stolen in the robbery that Asaro gave him to take to a fence on Canal St.

“This is from the Lufthansa score,” Massino said, according to Vitale.

As for Asaro, Vitale told the court he was often a hothead at mafia sitdowns.

“You're supposed to be respectful to people across the table,” Vitale said. “Vinny gets hostile."

Vincent Asaro (l.) and Judge Allyne Ross look on as prosecutor Lindsay Gerdes (r.) makes opening statements in Asaro's trial in this court sketch on Monday.

Vitale also identified a list of mobsters who were proposed for induction into the Bonanno family, a list that included Fat Sammy.

As Vitale testified, Asaro glared at him and appeared to be muttering the F-word under his breath. At one point he complained the court stenographer was blocking his view of the witness.

In a sign of how times have changed, Vitale was asked by a prosecutor to describe what a “pre-cell phone” phone book looks like. Among the names in the yellowing pages of Vitale’s phone book were “Tommy Shot” and “Vinny Green from Las Vegas.”

Vitale, who made his ninth appearance as a government witness, also lamented his life in witness protection and said it was impossible to find legit work, suggesting he’d applied for jobs at Target and Walgreens.

Scenes from the movie " Goodfellas " shot at Neir's Tavern in Woodside, Queens.

"Who's going to hire someone in his 60s who has a Social Security card that was just issued and sounds like a wise guy from Brooklyn?" Vitale said. "I've been turned down by every company."

When Vitale revealed he was given a $250,000 payment from the feds for being a whistleblower, Asaro shook his head.

Living in witness protection is "one lie after another until you find solid ground,” Vitale said. “If I had to do it again, I would have kept it real and gone to jail.”

Judge Allyne Ross ruled earlier that prosecutors cannot tell the jury about the bloodbath that followed the robbery because Burke was responsible for whacking a half-dozen members of the crew, not Asaro.

But every single anonymous juror who filled out a questionnaire for the trial acknowledged they have seen “Goodfellas,” during which a half-dozen accomplices are found whacked while the Derek and The Dominos masterpiece “Layla” plays in the background.

Handcuffed James Burke "Jimmy the Gent" taken to Federal Court.

Asaro is also charged with the murder of a suspected snitch in 1969, extortion, and arson.

In her opening statement, defense attorney Diane Ferrone dismissed the witnesses against Asaro as a bunch of murderers and liars.

Ferrone called Valenti a con artist who became a paid government informant in the late 2000s and agreed to wear a wire to record his conversations with Asaro.

“You shouldn’t believe him because his latest con victim is the United State government,” Ferrone said.

As for Valenti and other government witnesses, Ferrone said, “When necessary, they lie to each other and they lie to save themselves. ... Once a liar, always a liar.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/trial-begins-accused-mobster-asaro-lufthansa-heist-article-1.2402784

Sunday, October 11, 2015

FDNY widow asks judge for leniency for Colombo gangster


John Cerbone pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering charges.
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.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-fdny-widow-seeks-mercy-family-mob-member-article-1.2389615