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

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Elderly Genovese Captain busted for punching restaurant owner in the face over unpaid debt

A Queens bookie who once acted in a movie called “Albanian Gangster” was arrested along with two reputed Genovese crime family mobsters he allegedly enlisted to collect a debt, federal prosecutors and sources said Tuesday.

The trio, including an alleged 84-year-old Genovese capo, was charged in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday for the extortion scheme against an Italian restaurant owner, according to an indictment against them and a law enforcement source. 

The suspects — wannabe film star Luan Bexheti, 49, reputed soldier Joseph Celso, also 49, and octogenarian and longtime wiseguy Anthony “Rom” Romanello — all face two federal counts for extortion. Celso faces a third count for obstruction of justice, according to the indictment. 

The case stems from a gambling debt a restaurant owner racked up with Bexheti in 2017, when the actor, who has appeared in more than 40 indie flicks, was moonlighting as a bookie, a law enforcement source said. 

Bexheti, an apparent Genovese associate of Albanian descent, allegedly enlisted Celso and Romanello to collect, the source said. 

Romanello — who was acquitted in Brooklyn federal court a decade ago on extortion charges — allegedly punched the restaurateur in the face to convince him to pay up, the law enforcement source said. 

The other accused mafioso, Celso, was implicated in the 1991 slaying of Manuel Mayi, a 19-year-old Dominican Queens College student.

The teen was chased for 16 blocks and beaten to death by a mob of nearly a dozen people who allegedly spotted him spraying graffiti in Corona. 

Celso was the only person charged in the slaying, but was acquitted at trial in 1993 after the main witness in the case left the country, The Post reported at the time. 

All three of the suspects pleaded not guilty and were released on bond at their arraignments in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday. None of the defendants, nor any of the eight or so relatives and friends with them, commented as they left.

A judge set Celso’s bond at $1 million because he is charged with obstruction of justice as well as extortion. His attorney, Anjelica Cappellino, declined to comment after the hearing.



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