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

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Baby Shacks' loses bid for bail

Any hopes Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio had of being home for the holidays were dashed by a federal judge on Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge William Smith said Manocchio's lawyers failed to present any new information to convince him to overturn an earlier ruling that Manocchio be held without bail at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls.
About a dozen supporters of Manocchio appeared in court including local filmmaker Michael Corrente, who had written the judge a letter attesting to Manocchio's character. When asked outside the court why he was there, Corrente shot back, "Why are you here?" and ran from reporters. Corrente wrote one of 13 letters of support for Manocchio previously filed with the court.
The hearing shed new light on evidence the U.S. Attorney's office may present at Manocchio's trial. Prosecutor William Ferland said Manocchio was able to hide his substantial wealth by using credit cards belonging to his associates. Ferland read a transcript he said was from a secretly recorded conversation between an unnamed informant – wearing a wire for the FBI – and businessman Joseph Ruggiero. Ferland said Ruggiero is a made member of the Patriarca crime family.
The prosecutor said the conversation took place in July and Ruggiero admitted to the informant that he would regularly let Manocchio use his credit card to travel to Florida. Ruggiero told the informant Manocchio had access to "30 grand" in credit cards between him and others.
"Louie went on my Amex," Ferland quoted Ruggiero as saying from the transcript. "I'm not going to tell the feds that."
Defense attorney Joseph Balliro called just one witness for the hearing – Probation Officer David Picozzi – in an attempt to convince the judge that placing Manocchio on a GPS monitoring bracelet would ensure his stay in Rhode Island. Lawyers had asked Manocchio be placed in the custody of his brother at the latter's Glocester home.
Picozzi’s testimony may not have gone the way Manocchio’s legal team had hoped. The government employee testified the monitoring system is not perfect "but precise," yet said a number of factors could give a defendant time to run if there was a technical problem with the system.
"I can't predict what's going to happen," Picozzi said.
During a break in the action Manocchio, who was dressed in a tan prison jump suit with his legs in shackles, turned to his supporters and quipped the courtroom looked like a funeral parlor.
"It's sadder than a funeral parlor," Manocchio said.
Balliro argued his client has received an outpouring of support from the community, including more than a dozen letters written on his behalf.
"He's very kind, considerate, respectful and a family man," Balliro said. "He is not the kind of person to disappoint all these people."
But Judge Smith said his concerns had little to do with Manocchio's character and more with his prior life on the run, when he hid from murder charges for nearly a decade in the 1970s. Manocchio was later convicted for his role in the gangland slaying of two renegade bookmakers, but served only two years in prison after a key witness was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Referring to his years on the run, Balliro said his client eventually turned himself in because of strong family ties in Rhode Island.
"He's not a rebel," Balliro said. "Not many of us are the same person we were 40 years ago."
Smith also said his prior ruling to hold Manocchio was based on the defendant's access to people with money and Manocchio's "lack of a financial footprint."
In court, prosecutors said Manocchio's only legitimate source of money is a $950 monthly pension check he receives for his service in the U.S. Army. Target 12 previously reported Manocchio enlisted in 1946 and served for a little over a year before being discharged in 1947, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs records in Washington.
Balliro said he has been able to secure $1.5 million in real estate as surety for bail and said Manocchio never tried to flee even though he was aware he was the target of a federal investigation for two years before his arrest.
But Ferland said FBI agents were able to raise questions about two of the properties Manocchio planned to use as collateral. One of them was from a person Manocchio had never met, according to Ferland, who said the owner was only asked to post the property at the request of Dr. Anthony Manocchio – the brother of the accused.
Ferland said the other location, a commercial property on Atwells Avenue, wasn't even owned by the individual claimed by defense attorneys. He said the current owner had no idea it would be used to back up Manocchio's bail.
If convicted, Manocchio could face up to 15 years behind bars, a sentence the judge described as "substantial."
"I don't see any reason to change my order regarding detention," Smith said.
As Target 12 first reported, Manocchio was arrested in January as part of a national crackdown into organized crime. He’s accused of running a criminal enterprise from his apartment on Federal Hill in Providence and extorting strip clubs for protection money.
In all, eight people with Rhode Island ties have been arrested as part of the probe. All have pleaded not guilty except for reputed mob associate Thomas Iafrate, who entered into a plea agreement this summer.
Iafrate was sentenced to 30 months behind bars and three years of supervised release. Iafrate will begin his sentence on Jan. 3, 2012.
"It's never a happy occasion when someone is sentenced to prison," said his defense lawyer Artin Coloian.



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