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

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Bonanno rat hopes story of FBI betrayal appeals to new jury

Joe Barone closes his eyes in a bedroom far from home and falls into a dream.
The dark-haired ex-FBI informant sits inside an Italian restaurant, surrounded by pals from the Bonanno crime family. Someone asks Barone to sing a song, like he did in the old days.
It feels good. Until it all goes bad.
“The next part of the dream, a guy — I think his name is Anthony — is shutting all the doors,” the mob expatriate recounts. “And he says ‘Oh, they found out you’re here, Joey. There’s lines out the door, waiting to kill you.’”
Life isn’t much better for Barone, 56, when his eyes are open.
The second-generation gangster is still waging the city’s longest-running mob war, a legal battle with the FBI that enters its ninth frustrating year this month.
“I feel like that movie, ‘The Never Ending Story,’” says Barone, his accent pure New York despite a move to a safer, undisclosed location.
“It’s all this legal mumbo-jumbo,” he continues. “I try to put up a good face, to be tough and strong. But it’s hard. I’m one man against the federal government.”
The latest legal skirmish brings lawyers for the government and Barone before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Jan. 24 oral arguments.
Barone is suing the FBI and his old handlers, accusing the feds of throwing him to the wolves after his Jan. 9, 2009, arrest in a $1 million murder-for-hire plot.
The plaintiff, who spent 18 hazardous years as a confidential informant, hopes for a ruling that would lead to a trial. Government lawyers will argue for a dismissal, alleging Barone went rogue on the FBI.
Barone's trial on the cover of the Daily News 
Barone maintains his role in the proposed slaying was all in a day’s undercover work. A Manhattan federal jury agreed, acquitting him after two days of deliberations in July 2010.
He now seeks unspecified civil damages, accusing the feds of withholding “key exculpatory evidence,” outing him as an informant and inflicting emotional distress.
The fight has already cost the man known as “JB” more than $400,000 in legal fees, his suburban Westchester County home, $86,000 pilfered by a since-disbarred lawyer — and his marriage.
“I’ve been floating around now for almost eight years — in hiding, living where I’m living, divorced,” the former Bonnano associate told the Daily News.
Barone’s new world is a deadly no-made man’s land — spurned by his old FBI pals, and fearful of lethal mob payback. He’s sadly familiar with the latter process.
It was back in 1991 when Barone, reeling from the Genovese family’s murder of his mobbed-up dad, flipped and joined the feds.
There’s little dispute about his effectiveness as an FBI mole. His undercover work lasted three times as long as the six-year mob stint by renowned FBI agent Joe “Donnie Brasco” Pistone .
A December 2005 FBI document praised Barone for his work identifying 48 “subjects of interest” and solving three homicides.
Barone even spared the lives of a federal judge and a federal prosecutor by exposing a mob murder plot against the pair — implicating Bonanno family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano.
“He was a gold mine,” said his former attorney, Jose Muniz, at Barone’s trial.
Life isn’t much better for Barone, 56, when his eyes are open.
And yet Barone somehow landed on the wrong side of the law.
In two particularly bizarre twists, he was ratted out by an NYPD snitch — and arrested by agents from the FBI, his employers for nearly two decades.
He was busted on a Friday afternoon after returning home from grocery shopping with his girlfriend. Barone then spent 16 nerve-wracking months in prison as the Metropolitan Detention Center buzzed with jailhouse threats against the rat in their midst.
His long-ago acquittal doesn’t feel much like a win anymore.
“I got my day in court, to save my life, to beat the charges that were lied about me,” Barone said as the anniversary of his arrest approached.
“But because of the way it had to take place, my life got ruined. Why are they fighting me so hard? I’m just one little guy against the whole big government.”
While Barone’s appeal is fueled by emotion, the government’s court filings rely on legalese.
“In Barone’s underlying criminal case, the government gathered substantial evidence of Barone’s involvement in the actus reus elements of the murder for hire scheme with which he was charged,” read one recent government filing.
The feds further contend that Barone, despite his long undercover run, lacked the authority to conspire with the other informant — and was required to promptly report any details about possible crimes.
Despite all he’s lost, Barone clings to one thing: Hope that another jury can hear his story.
“That’s all I’m looking for, to get my fair share at trial,” he said. “Why can’t I get my day in court?”