A Brooklyn federal judge is asking prosecutors to agree to a reduced sentence for a mobster who says that he’s reformed thanks to a series of changes in his life that include taking spin classes while in a federal lockup.
John Imbrieco is more than 15 years into a 20-year sentence after a shooting at a Genovese crime family social club in Williamsburg that left one man dead and another injured.
But Judge Leo Glasser said Imbrieco deserves to be released now — given his self-improvement efforts while imprisoned and the legal complications in his case.
The judge recommended resentencing Imbrieco to time served, after reading the 53-year-old inmate’s self-represented motion to trim his sentence.
Glasser said if he had power to order another sentence, said he would do it, “at peace with the thought that the interest of justice has been served.”
The judge's letter to Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said: “It is my hope that the Government will seize this opportunity to serve that interest, affirming the truth that the Government wins when justice is served.”
Writing from a low-security Connecticut prison, Imbrieco says he’s been a model prisoner who completed all sorts of programs while locked up, such as car dealership, restaurant conception, plumbing — even taking spin classes.
Though identified as a Bonanno associate in court papers, Imbrieco, 53, said he “terminated his old way of life and has no desire to return to prison,” according to documents obtained by the Daily News.
Imbrieco added that "with the wisdom, maturity and marketable job skills gained," he had "the willingness and maturity to lead a law abiding and productive life."
Though Imbrieco wants out now, he said he could be up for a release to home detention as early as December 2018, with his two years of credit for good behavior.
What landed Imbrieco in lockup was his role in a 1994 shooting that killed Genovese Crime Associate Sabatino Lombardi and wounded associate Michael D'Urso, who would become a government cooperator.
Imbrieco's cousin, Carmine Polito, was a Genovese associate and a serious gambler, according to a federal appeals court. By November 1994, Polito owed Lombardi about $50,000 and $10,000 to D'Urso. Polito planned the shootings, prosecutors said, and roped in Imbrieco.
The shootings were not authorized by Genovese superiors, who considered killing Polito as punishment. They dropped the idea on the concern that Polito would become a government cooperator if he discovered he had a bullseye on his head.
In 2003, Imbrieco pleaded to RICO conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Polito and another man, Mario Fortunato, were found guilty at trial and sentenced to life. Appellate judges undid their convictions in 2004 and ordered a new trial. Part of the appellate court’s reasoning was that the RICO conspiracy convictions — the offense Imbrieco also pleaded to — were not based on evidence showing the shoot-up was meant to "maintain or increase" status in the Genovese crime family. The evidence actually showed the shootings put Polito in the dog house in a big way.
Polito and Fortunato were ultimately tried in state court. Polito was acquitted and Fortunato's conviction was reversed for lack of evidence.
When Imbrieco made his motion, he invoked a 2014 decision by former Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson to give time served to a man who bettered himself behind bars while doing 57-year term for carjackings. When Gleeson asked prosecutors to consider vacating Francois Holloway's convictions, they first declined but later agreed.
The outcome showed the "difference between a Department of Prosecutions and a Department of Justice," Gleeson said. He urged Holloway to "make it count" when resentencing him to time served.
Glasser said one could only imagine Imbrieco's "tortured misgivings" for pleading and his "vain search" for a way to make his co-defendants' appellate decision apply to him.
Then came Gleeson's decision, said Glasser, which gave Imbrieco "a ray of hope.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment.