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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Witness testifies during Gambino murder trial that he no longer fears mob retaliation

Bar owner Richard Godkin (pictured above) and fellow proprietor John D'Agnese were senselessy slain at a Queens bar in 1981. 
Bar owner Richard Godkin (pictured above) and fellow proprietor John D'Agnese were senselessy slain at a Queens bar in 1981.

Fear kept him silent for 30 years.
A former bartender admitted Wednesday that he lied to cops and jurors for more than three decades about who was responsible for the senseless murders of two tavern owners by Gambino gangsters.
“I was afraid,” Joseph Patrick Sullivan testified in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Fugitive Frank Riccardi (center), is escorted to Queens court room for the 1981 murder of 2 people in a Woodhaven bar. Riccardi was captured after Det Thomas Mansfield (left) from the Cold Case Squad of the NYPD worked five years in tracing him down. Det. Oscar Hernandez carrying Riccardi's belongings.
“Two men were dead over a spilled drink,” he said at the murder and racketeering trial of reputed Gambino capo Bartolomeo Vernace. “That was reason enough to be afraid.”

Sullivan was serving drinks in the Shamrock Bar in Queens on April 11, 1981, when all hell broke loose on “Western Night” after a patron accidentally knocked over a glass near a gangster’s moll.
Catherine Godkin, seen here at her office in Queens, NY., lost her husband Richard Godkin to a senseless mob crime. 
Before the night was over, Shamrock owners Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese were shot dead.
“A girl was making a scene,” Sullivan, 55, said. “She started going into a big tirade about her dress was forever ruined.”
Testifying with immunity granted by the feds, Sullivan said he knew the goons who returned later that night to the Shamrock with guns.
Bartolomeo Vernace is an accused killer. Witness Joseph Patrick Sullivan was afraid to talk — until now. 

The woman’s boyfriend, Frank "The Geech" Riccardi, shot D’Agnese in the face, and Vernace, known as “Pepe,” was struggling with Godkin, a Vietnam veteran and father of four young children, against a bowling arcade machine.
“‘Where’s your gun now, tough guy? Go for it,’” Vernace said to Godkin, according to the witness.
NYPD sketches of hot-tempered gunman Frank "The Geech" Riccardi. 
Sullivan said he heard two shots in quick succession. A third thug, Ronald "Ronnie the Jew" Barlin fired a round into the ceiling before the killers fled, Sullivan said.
Godkin’s widow, Catherine Godkin, wept in the courtroom as the witness described her dying husband’s labored breathing as he lay slumped against the wall bleeding profusely from a chest wound.

Article from April 11, 1981 edition of the Daily News titled about the the death of Richard Godkin and John D'Agnese. 
Over the next 30 years, the state murder cases crumbled against Barlin, Riccardi and Vernace as Sullivan deliberately withheld information. Charges were dropped against Barlin; Riccardi was acquitted in a state murder trial and is now deceased; Vernace was acquitted in 1998 in a state trial.
No one personally threatened him, but Sullivan recalled what made him fear cooperating with the law.
Shortly after the killings, he received word that Gambino mobster Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio wanted to talk to him at the tough guy’s social club. Sullivan dutifully reported to the club, but no one was there.
Article from April 12, 1981 edition of the Daily News titled about the arrest of Ronald Barlin in the shooting of Richard Godkin and John D'Agnese.
D’Agnese’s girlfriend, Linda Gotti, was in the bar that deadly night, too, and Sullivan said that was a notorious last name in the Queens neighborhood.
Then there were the large, “no-neck” men sitting in the front row at Vernace’s state trial in 1998 when Sullivan suffered a bout of amnesia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris asked the witness if he was testifying voluntarily. “No,” Sullivan replied. “I was granted immunity, forgiveness for my past transgressions as long as I tell the truth.”



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