A retired judge says he agreed to help a suspected mobster awaiting trial only because he likes the food at his Bronx restaurant.
Anthony Fiorella, his sister and his brother-in-law have been regulars at Pasquale’s Rigoletto for several years, he said.
Someone at the Arthur Ave. eatery approached Fiorella several months ago and asked whether he would be willing to help Pasquale "Patsy" Parrello — after whom the restaurant is named — with his case, the judge told the Daily News on Tuesday.
Lawyers for Parrello, who is charged in a massive racketeering conspiracy, had pushed for his release on $2 million bond shortly after his arrest last August.
They argued the community backed the 72-year-old restaurateur and that many, including Fiorella, were willing to guarantee the bond — but asked the federal judge presiding over the case to keep the supporters’ identities under wraps.
While Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan wound up denying the suspected Genovese capo’s petition on Oct. 31, he only recently decided to unseal the document naming the supporters.
Fiorella was among them, listed as a potential guarantor for the whopping bond. Fiorella started on Brooklyn Housing Court in 1988, and then worked in Bronx Housing Court from 2011 until his retirement in 2013.
Retired Judge Anthony Fiorella is a regular at Pasquale's Rigoletto.
Fiorella doesn’t recall many specifics about the request, except that “there’s never been a bail discussion while we were there (at the restaurant).”
Fiorella wasn’t familiar with Parrello’s lawyers’ pitch — saying at one point, “I never made any representation that I’d be able to pay any money.”
Nevertheless, the 79-year-old former judge said his relationship with Parrello was limited to brief interactions at the Italian restaurant.
“It’s strictly, ‘Hello, how are you?’ when I was in there,” he said.
“I agreed to try to help him out in some way if he needed help,” Fiorella explained, adding, “The only thing I can say is we’ve been going there for several years and how it happened, I can’t recall.”
Fiorella did, however, know a lot about the food served there.
“The food has always been good,” Fiorella said. “The restaurant is very nice, the people are all great. The employees they have a good attitude and they are very helpful.”
Asked if his decision to help stemmed from the fare, Fiorella enthusiastically said “sure” — and named the veal scallopini as one of his favorite plates.
Fiorella said he didn’t know what Parrello is on the hook for or the status of the case. While Fiorella and his family dined at Pasquale’s Rigoletto this past Saturday — when he ordered chicken Francese — there wasn’t any talk of the criminal proceeding, he said.
Parrello’s lawyers declined to comment on the documents.
Fiorella, who lives on the Upper East Side, said he doesn’t think there’s a problem with offering support to Parrello, even though he had worked in the courts.
“This is after the fact in the sense that I’m retired from the bench,” he said.
Fiorella was raised in East Harlem when there was a lot of mob activity — and it didn’t affect him, he said.
“Growing up in that area, the family knew a few mobsters,” he said. “But that didn’t mean we subscribed to it.”