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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Judge denies $2 million bail package for aging Bonanno captain after threats surface

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A Brooklyn federal judge rejected the bail bid of "Goodfellas" gangster Vinny Asaro Thursday, days after the feds accused the aging mobster of trying to arrange the murder of a prosecutor on his arson case.
Judge Allyne Ross brushed off Asaro's $2 million bail package, saying the charges — having a car torched that cut in his traffic lane — and the new claims of a rub-out all combined to show "just how volatile, dangerous and violent the defendant remains."
Asaro denied making any threats. But Ross said the fact that authorities even had to investigate the incident showed there were “credible threats warranting a response.”
The judge said it made no difference if the 82-year Bonanno capo had health problems, as the defense argued. The high-ranking gangster only had to communicate his intentions to others in order to put people at risk, Ross said.
In 2015, Asaro was acquitted on charges that he was involved in the 1978 Luftansa heist immortalized in the 1990 gangland opus "Goodfellas."
But prosecutors indicted Asaro in March for having a car charred by mobster minions in 2012 when the driver cut in his lane. They nabbed him, plus six others who were accused of other crimes like a bank robbery and jewelry store stick-ups.
Asaro was held without bail when arrested on the new case.
And that's when prosecutors said an inmate passing through the Metropolitan Detention Center heard the alleged threats.
"We need to handle this and do something about this b---h," Asaro allegedly told another defendant in his case. According to sources, the person referred to is Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri, who wasn't at Thursday's court clash.
Another time, Asaro allegedly said, "We need to do something about this b---h, and not f--k it up like Vinny. We need to handle this."
"Vinny," according to the prosecution, is the onetime acting Bonanno boss Vincent Basciano who tried to get the prosecutor on his case whacked.
On Tuesday, Asaro's lawyer, Elizabeth Macedonio, said her client "adamantly denies" the allegations he was putting out any sort of hit request.
And even at the very best, Macedonio said this was "an angry, 82-year-old man sitting in prison lamenting he was back in prison" in the sights of the same government team that came at him in the Luftansa case.
Macedonio said she's had hundreds of defense clients through the years who've complained about the prosecutors on their case.
There was "nothing special except for the fact that the government is going after Mr. Asaro yet again."
The murder threat investigation turned up zilch, Macedonio said, noting authorities found no plans or anything in visitor logs and recorded calls.
She noted Asaro was thrown in the special housing during the investigation — but now he's back in general jail population with the other reputed Bonanno members and associates.
Asaro posed no danger to the community, she said. He's been minding his business since his 2015 acquittal, Macedonio said. The old-timer's been acting like any other old-timer — "cooking dinner, eating dinner, enjoying his family."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Edelman said Asaro was doing more making blustery chit chat behind bars. He made "multiple, specific serious threats regarding a prosecutor," Edelman said.
In Asaro's world, phrases like "do something" and "handle this" were "specific words with specific meaning ... it’s murder."
Asaro's family and supporters blew him kisses and said "we love you" as he was taken out of court. They declined to comment outside the courtroom.
Macedonio told reporters she was "disappointed" the judge "relied on the government's baseless allegations. Now we're going to focus on the trial."
Asaro's trial is scheduled for August.



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