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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

N.J. Supreme Court orders reputed NJ Lucchese family Boss back to jail

FBI mugshot of Martin Taccetta.Martin "Marty" Taccetta via Wikipedia
When a judge overturned Martin Taccetta's conviction on racketeering charges nearly five years ago, the reputed Lucchese crime family mobster celebrated his release from prison with a cigar.
Today, the state Supreme Court ordered that he be returned to prison to serve a life sentence.
Martin "Marty" Taccetta is alleged to be the current Boss of the Jersey Crew, a powerful faction of the Lucchese crime family based in New Jersey.
In a unanimous decision, the justices said Taccetta's conviction could not be overturned because he confessed to a judge during his appeal that he would have lied on the witness stand in order to take a plea deal allegedly offered by the state.
"Though we recognize that sometimes an accused, unknown to the trial judge, will perjure himself to put through a plea agreement, a court cannot give official license to such a practice," Justice Barry Albin wrote for the court.
The case involved allegations Taccetta and fellow Lucchese crime family figures initiated the golf-club beating death of an Ocean County businessman, Vincent "Jimmy Sinatra" Craporatta, to intimidate the victim's nephews into sharing profits in a Jersey Shore boardwalk arcade operation.
Taccetta, 58, of East Hanover, repeatedly denied, both during and after his trial, any involvement in the 1984 murder.
He was convicted in 1993 of first-degree racketeering, second-degree conspiracy to commit racketeering, and two counts of second-degree theft by extortion.
He was later acquitted of the murder charge but sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years when the judge found the overall criminal conspiracy led to the killing.
Today's decision was cheered by Attorney General Anne Milgram.
"For decades Marty Taccetta was one of the most prolific members of organized crime, whose power and control over the Lucchese family threatened the residents of New Jersey and illegally impacted commercial activity," Milgram said.
But Taccetta's lawyer, Steven Duke, said his client was "completely innocent" on all of his charges.
"The Supreme Court of New Jersey knows all that as well. It has decided, however, that because Martin Taccetta had the temerity to assert his innocence, he should spend the rest of his life in prison," Duke said.
Authorities arrested Taccetta this evening and took him to the Morris County Jail, said Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the Attorney General's office. Aseltine said he will be turned over to state prison officials today.
Taccetta had been placed under house arrest with an electronic monitor last year because of his criminal history.
In 1998, Taccetta filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming David Ruhnke, his trial lawyer, did not tell him he would serve a life-term if he was acquitted of the murder charge. Taccetta alleges he was offered a plea deal by the state for a 20-year sentence -- but turned it down because he believed he would get off on the most severe charges and serve a lesser term.
In 2005, Superior Court Judge James Citta in Ocean County agreed Ruhnke had misinformed Taccetta by telling him to reject a plea deal that would have seen him paroled in as little as eight years.
Citta sent his case back for a new trial and Taccetta was released from prison.
But today, the justices voiced their overwhelming opposition to Citta's ruling.
Even if Taccetta received bad advice from Ruhnke, the justices said, he was not entitled to a new trial after his appeal because he said he would lie to the court to get out of a lengthy prison sentence.
"He would have perjured himself at the plea hearing, and an unwitting court would have accepted the plea offer," Albin wrote. "That result is antithetical to our court rules, case law, and the administration of justice and, therefore, we must reject it."


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