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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Judge hands Bonnano mobster eight year sentence for vicious assault

A reputed wiseguy from Tottenville's cooperation with authorities on other matters didn't help him one bit at his sentencing Thursday in an unrelated assault case.

First, Justice William E. Garnett shot down Peter Lovaglio's request to take back his plea stemming from a savage attack in a Richmond Valley sushi lounge 16 months ago, despite statements by Lovaglio's lawyer that he recently learned the defendant was being "handled" by an Organized Crime Bureau detective who advised Lovaglio, without the attorney's knowledge, to reject prosecutors' original plea offer.

Then, Garnett sentenced Lovaglio to eight years in prison, the maximum under a plea agreement the defendant subsequently accepted from prosecutors in January, for smashing the victim with a glass, blinding the man in one eye.

"This was a vicious physical attack," said Garnett. "No one has license under any circumstance to strike such a violent blow."

The assault occurred about 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2015, inside the upscale Takayama Sushi Lounge on Page Avenue.

Lovaglio, 55, who was garbed in a gray fleece pullover and blue jeans, apologized to the victim, Bonafede Forte, before sentence was imposed.

"It was a terrible assault," he said. "There's no excuse for that."

But, he added, he did not know Forte owned the restaurant, and believed someone had threatened him and his family at the time of the episode.

Lovaglio, an alleged Bonnano crime family member, has previously served time in federal prison for securities fraud, in which he was also on the hook for restitution of more than $700,000, and for collecting credit by extortion in another case.

Thursday's proceeding took a turn at the outset when defense lawyer Patrick V. Parrotta asked that Lovaglio be given back his plea.

Parrotta told the court he learned, just weeks ago, Lovaglio was cooperating with federal authorities and being "handled" by an NYPD Organized Crime Bureau detective, who arranged for the defendant to turn himself in about 10 days after the attack.

Parrotta said he was blind-sided by the development, and contended the detective had counseled Lovaglio to decline prosecutors' original plea offer in March of last year.

Parrotta said the offer was to plead guilty to attempted first-degree assault in exchange for a five-year prison sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Natalie Barros and Adam Silberlight confirmed the five-year offer, but said Lovaglio would have been required to plead guilty to the top charge of first-degree assault.

Lovaglio later pleaded guilty two months ago in state Supreme Court, St. George, to first-degree assault in exchange for a sentence of no less than five years and no more than eight years, to be decided by the judge.
Parrotta contended Lovaglio's constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by the detective's advice to the defendant.

Silberlight, however, told the court he spoke to the detective, who denied giving Lovaglio any legal advice or telling the defendant not to take the original plea.

With respect to the sentence itself, Parrotta recommended five years.

He said Lovaglio's cooperation with federal authorities in the past year has taken guns off the street and "made the community of Staten Island safer." He had no further details on the cooperation arrangement.
Prosecutors said they could not corroborate Parrotta's statement about the alleged gun busts with the Justice Department.

Barros sought an eight-year sentence, calling the attack "completely unprovoked (and) vicious."

She said Lovaglio's friend had gotten into a fight with another person in the lounge, but Forte, the owner, had broken it up. He even gave the defendant a drink on the house afterward.

The defendant later got a glass of water, called Forte over and "smashed him in the face" with the glass, she said.

Barros said prosecutors had extended the original plea offer last year not knowing the extent of Forte's injuries or if he'd be able to testify at trial.

Forte, 53, told the court he lost sight in his left eye and has no feeling on the left side of his face.

He said his injuries have forced him to sell the business, one he built from the ground up and relished running.

"Before this injury, I was an individual who was healthy and enjoyed life," he told Garnett. "This has been difficult not only for myself, but for my family."

"Please," he implored Garnett, "do not allow this man to walk the street to have the opportunity to do this to anyone else."

In imposing sentence, Garnett said Lovaglio's plea agreement was "eminently fair" and a five-year sentence "is not justified" given the facts of the case.

The judge noted Lovaglio potentially faced a sentence of up to 25 years had he been convicted of first-degree assault at trial.

Besides prison time, Lovaglio is subject to five years' post-release supervision.

Outside court, Parrotta said Lovaglio would appeal.



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