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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Prosecutors want mafia information kept from jury at upcoming trial

Manhattan federal prosecutors are trying to block jurors in an upcoming mob case from hearing dirty laundry dredged up about several witnesses who are expected to testify at trial.
Philly mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and Genovese capo Eugene "Rooster" Onofrio are among some 46 wise-guys charged last year in a massive racketeering scheme. Most of those charged have already pleaded guilty.
But Merlino, 55, and Onofrio, 75, have not admitted wrongdoing, and their trial is set to start Jan. 16, 2018, records show.
Prosecutors with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, in a motion filed Friday, asked that certain witness background information be kept out of the courtroom.
Two of the G-men who are expected to testify were previously scrutinized by the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility over their handling of the mob case, records show. The probe included a look at the agents’ “supervision of a cooperating witness and documentation of their work," according to a court filing.
One agent was cleared during the inquiry.
But the internal review found that the other agent dropped the ball by failing "to timely generate and upload several investigative reports during the course of the investigation," and was slapped with a five-day suspension, the motion states.
Prosecutors are asking Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan to prohibit Merlino and Onofrio's lawyers from asking about the internal FBI investigation.
Bringing up this investigation, prosecutors argue, wouldn't provide meaningful insight into the agents' credibility — and could confuse and distract the jury.
Thomas Nooter, who represents Onofrio, told the Daily News he will "be opposing the prosecutor’s attempt to limit cross-examination on the FBI internal investigation."
Prosecutors also want to keep defense lawyers from asking two cooperating witnesses about past incidents of domestic violence.
These two witnesses told the feds they had "been involved in several physical altercations with domestic partners." They don't appear to have been prosecuted in relation to these incidents, the feds said.
"These incidents have no bearing on the truthfulness of the cooperators] and their discussion at trial would be inflammatory and without probative value," prosecutors claim.
Prosecutors won’t try to prevent Merlino and Onofrio's lawyers from asking about "their direct involvement in other violent assaults, which led to bodily injury."
According to court papers, one witness "participated in a violent assault in or around 2011 in which the victim was injured, and has also been involved in other assaults," while the other cooperator "has committed assaults using a glass and a bottle."
Neither the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office nor FBI commented on the filing.



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