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

Friday, October 22, 2021

Powerful Colombo Captain who claimed he ran Staten Island is sentenced to six years in prison


A reputed Colombo crime family captain who authorities said was a ruthless force on Staten Island during his reign will be spending more time behind bars than he hoped after he was dished a nearly-six-year prison sentence in Brooklyn federal court Thursday.

Joseph Amato Sr., 62, a Colts Neck, N.J., resident who earlier this year pleaded guilty to shaking down two people and stalking his then-girlfriend with a GPS tracking device on the borough, was given minimal sympathy by federal Judge Brian M. Cogan, who called the defendant’s attributes “almost as bad as they can possibly be.”
Garbed in a blue shirt and green pants, Amato mostly sat quiet in court as his lawyer, Scott E. Leemon, fervently argued the conditions at the Brooklyn federal jail where his client has been for the past two years are “barbaric.”

Those conditions, Leemon contended, should warrant a more lenient sentence of 63 months — the bottom of the suggested federal guidelines for the crimes considered in the court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes argued Amato, who previously served time in prison for his association with organized crime, “doesn’t hesitate to use violence to get what he wants” and has made a series of decisions that has warranted his reputation as a “fearsome mobster.”

“In virtually all of those choices, he has put the goals of the Colombo crime family at the top,” said Geddes.

Prosecutors said Amato “is never going to leave the mafia” and pointed to his willingness to involve his own son, Joseph Amato Jr., in criminal activities as evidence of his dedication to the criminal organization.
Amato Jr. previously pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to extort a loan borrower. The two were among 20 suspects, including 17 borough residents, indicted in Brooklyn federal court in October 2019.

While the two parties could not come to an agreement on the proposed sentencing guidelines for the case (the government believed the sentencing range should be between 70 and 80 months while Leemon calculated it to be between 63 and 78 months), Cogan, who has the right to depart from those suggestions, said the guidelines mattered “very little” in his decision.
Cogan said he considered parting upward past the range of 70 months, noting, “I’ve got to say, there’s a lot of reasons to do it.” However, the conditions at the federal prison ultimately factored into his final verdict, he said.
And while Leemon mentioned Amato Sr.’s “productive” time in prison, which included working and feeding other inmates, Cogan said, “those things pale in comparison to the life he chose for himself.”
Additionally, as prosecutors noted, the stalking charge Amato Sr. pleaded guilty to was not included in the proposed guidelines.
The alleged Colombo captain, who tracked his then-girlfriend in 2015 and 2016 by placing a GPS tracking device in her car, regularly retrieving and recharging it to reposition it on the vehicle, once emailed the woman, “This is my Island, not yours,” referencing Staten Island. “I have eyes all over,” he said.
Excluding that charge from the guidelines, Cogan said, gave Amato Sr. “a real break.” And while the capo took responsibility for the crimes, the federal judge said he had no belief the defendant was capable of believing his crimes were inherently wrong.
“Everything about him suggests incorrigibility,” Cogan said at the sentencing.

In addition to the five-year-and-10-month sentence, Cogan ordered one year of supervised release that included no contact with any members of organized crime groups.
That point drew a line of contention from the defense lawyer, Leemon, who requested the man’s son be excluded from that restriction.
Prosecutors opposed lifting that rule, citing the pair’s actions together, while Leemon suggested Amato Jr. “changed” his life around.
Ultimately, Cogan determined the two could only engage in monitored conversations with a third party present.
In addition, Amato Sr. must forfeit just over $60,000, the court said.
While he has a right to appeal, Leemon said his client will “probably not” file that paperwork.



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