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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Genovese associate pockets $330,000 over wrongful murder conviction

A Brooklyn baker — and alleged mob associate — is rolling in the cannolis after pocketing $300,000 to settle a lawsuit charging he was unjustly convicted and jailed for participating in a gangland rubout, the Daily News has learned.

Mario Fortunato, a co-owner of the Fortunato Brothers Bakery in Williamsburg, was convicted in federal court and later in state court of the 1994 murder, but both verdicts were later overturned by appeals courts.

Fortunato is getting the dough for the 22 months he spent in state prison after the second degree murder conviction in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He did not file a lawsuit against the feds for the first conviction of murder in aid of racketeering.

A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman confirmed that Fortunato's suit was settled in the Court of Claims on Dec. 19. Fortunato's lawyer Irving Cohen declined to comment.

Fortunato — who federal prosecutors alleged was an associate of the Genovese crime family — was charged with luring loanshark Tino Lombardi to the San Giuseppe Social Club on Graham Ave., where he was whacked by a hit team as the men played an Italian card game called Ladder 40.
Mario Fortunato, defendant charged with murder, outside State Supreme Court in Brooklyn during his trial. Fortunato will get $330K for the 22 months he spent in jaril after the convictions were overturned.

Lombardi's cousin, mob associate Michael D'Urso, was also wounded in the ambush and subsequently became a government informant.

D'Urso, who still carries bullet fragments in his neck from the shooting, was astonished by the payday.

“I'm shocked. It's a complete disgrace,” D'Urso told The News on Monday. “I lived, my cousin died. My cousin Tino's wife, his mother, his children, they went through torture. For them to have to see (Fortunato) on the street every day, my heart bleeds for them.”

“Me, I don't give a f--- about him, but for my family it's heartbreaking,” D'Urso said.
Signage at Fortunato brothers bakery, which Mario co-owns.

D'Urso wore a hidden recording device in his Rolex watch for the feds to gather devastating evidence against Genovese gangsters, which led to more than 70 arrests including the late crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante.

D'Urso testified at Fortunato's trial that they were targeted because Fortunato's alleged co-conspirator Carmine "Carmine Pizza" Polito wanted to get out of paying a $60,000 debt. Polito's federal conviction was also overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals and when he was retried on state murder charges a jury found him not guilty.

Fortunato was convicted after a bench trial in state court but the verdict was thrown out by a panel of Appellate Division judges who found “the verdict was against the weight of the credible evidence.”

There was bad blood between Fortunato and D'Urso for years, according to D'Urso.
Mario Fortunato accompanied by his wife leaves Brooklyn Federal Court after reversal of his murder convictions.

"Since I was a kid I used to watch Mario abuse my father, he'd belittle him at the card table," D'Urso testified at the second trial. "He'd put a chair next to my father, get on the chair and fart on his head."

D'Urso made two failed attempts to kill Polito in revenge for the shooting.

Fortunato was sentenced in both cases to life in prison before his extraordinary good fortune kicked in and he was freed.

“He got away with murder and now he's won the lottery,” said a source involved in the prosecution.



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