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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mobster might be cleared because of 1996 boxing brawl

One of the more infamous moments in modern boxing’s checkered past now may help clear a mobster of murder.
A free-for-all brawl that erupted among spectators in Madison Square Garden during a July 1996 match between Brooklyn native Riddick Bowe and Polish pugilist Andrew Golata took a central role today at the trial of a Gambino crime family wiseguy.
John Burke is charged with the murder of John Gebert, who was gunned down in a bloody Mafia hit elsewhere in the city at the same time as the boxing match.
Defense attorneys Richard Jasper and Ying Stafford say that Burke wasn’t involved in the Gebert rub-out - he was at home watching the boxing match on television with the woman who eventually became his wife.
Danielle Vaccaro, who is now Burke’s now ex-wife, testified yesterday that’s why events on that particular night are so easy to recall.
“A riot broke out in the ring. I had never seen anything like that before,” Vaccaro said on the stand in Brooklyn federal court.
“That was the night John Gebert was murdered?” she was asked.
“Yes,” Vaccaro said.
The Garden match went south in the seventh round after Golota landed several low blows and eventually was disqualified.
A frenzied fight began in the ring and soon spread into the stands, where spectators engaged in fistfights.
The testimony from Burke’s former wife comes as the defense begins its case, trying to convince the jury that the wiseguy played no role in three mob murders or drug trafficking.
His attorneys believe that Vaccaro’s testimony represents an important alibi defense that could counter the fed’s claim that Burke was at the Gebert murder scene.


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