When a Lucchese big was getting stiffed on full repayment for a $100,000 loan, he put Daniel Capra, his younger brother Michael Capra and a third man on the job of tough-talking debt collection.
“Shake him up a little bit,” Daniel Capra, 58, was heard telling his 52-year-old sibling as law enforcement eavesdropped on the call. The brothers later admitted to the extortion effort, as did reputed capo Carmine Avellino, 72.
On Wednesday, Brooklyn Federal Judge Ann Donnelly shook off Capra’s bid for no prison time. Days earlier, she gave Capra’s brother five years’ probation. Avellino is scheduled for sentencing next month.
Daniel Capra’s lawyers contended Avellino was running the show and their client shouldn’t be seen as some sort of superior.
To make the point Daniel Capra wasn’t bossing his little brother around, attorney Leonard Lato said his wife could give him a to-do list, like picking up the dry cleaning, without being the one calling the shots.
“We could argue who’s in charge there,” Donnelly said to chuckles in the courtroom.
Prosecutor Maria Cruz Melendez said the recordings showed it was the younger brother who checked with Daniel Capra on what to do next.
The defense said Daniel Capra was a good family man, with health issues including heart problems, who made a bad decision. And the victims weren’t exactly people trying to put their kids through college, said Lato, who went through some of the convictions on the debtors’ records.
But Donnelly, a longtime prosecutor before becoming a judge, said she’d “been in the business a number of years.” A high number of victims “tended not to be the nicest people themselves,” she said.
Daniel Capra told the judge he made a “huge mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking.” He asked not to be separated from his family members, who were watching. “They are very important to me,” he said.
A defendant’s family suffers at every sentencing, Donnelly retorted — and she wondered out loud why people didn’t think of them when committing crimes.
“A sentence of incarceration is unwarranted. We are now deciding whether an appeal is worthwhile,” Anthony LaPinta, another lawyer for Daniel Capra, said after the sentencing.