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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sonny Franzese Trial Update

The owner of East Village cocktail lounge Rue B testified Monday that a Mafia goon tried to jam a screwdriver through his hand in a violent mob shakedown.
Peter Dupre said he fended off the attack in his office by thug Christopher Curanovic, who was demanding $1,500 a week in protection money to be paid to alleged Colombo gangster John "Sonny" Franzese.
"He was trying to stab my hand into the top of my desk," Dupre testified at Franzese's racketeering trial in Brooklyn Federal Court. "I was very much resisting and pulling my hand away."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Posa showed the jury photographs of Dupre's desk with deep cuts in the wood from thrusts of the screwdriver.
Franzese, 93, is not charged with the Rue B extortion, but Curanovic and alleged crony Danny Celaj put the squeeze on the night spot after Franzese became a fixture there on Tuesday nights in 2007.
"I impassionately tried to explain to them that it was a tiny bar and restaurant and I simply couldn't pay that much," said Dupre, a former actor who appeared in the films "Annie Hall" and "Taxi Driver" and the soap opera "As The World Turns."
Curanovic settled for $500, but warned, Dupre testified, that if he didn't pay "he'd like nothing more than to beat the crap out of me."
Franzese was introduced to Rue B by actor Vinny Vella, who had small roles in "The Sopranos" and Martin Scorsese's "Casino."
Dupre said one night Franzese took him for a walk and told him, "You're with me now. ... If anyone has a fight with you, they have to fight with me."
Dupre said he didn't mind giving Franzese free food and drink, but wasn't happy when Curanovic began running up tabs with friends without paying, including a $545 bill for sliders and pesto eggplant.
After the screwdriver attack, Curanovic threatened Dupre's business partner with a large knife, Dupre testified. That's when he sought help from a cop he knew at the 9th Precinct. The FBI was called in. Surveillance equipment was installed in Dupre's office and recorded him making payments to Curanovic.
Meanwhile, Franzese's lawyer backed off calling mob associate Gaetano Fatato to testify after prosecutors said they would question him about Franzese seeking his help in murdering the gangster's own son, John Franzese Jr., after learning he was a informer.
The younger Franzese recorded hundreds of hours of conversations with his father and testified at the trial.


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