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Suspected Gambino crime family capo Carmine Agnello was released from custody Tuesday afternoon after his wife, Victoria Gotti, the daughter of jailed mobster John Gotti, and other family and friends promised to pay his $2 million in reduced bail.
Agnello had been arrested exactly one week earlier on Jan. 25 in an elaborate police sting operation at the Willets Point scrap metal yards.
A resident of Old Westbury, L.I., Agnello was charged, along with Mark Lomonaco and Joseph Burger of Woodhaven and Steven Scala of Maspeth, with enterprise corruption under the state's Organized Crime Control Act, restraint of trade, first-degree coercion, fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree grand larceny and third-degree arson and attempted arson.
If convicted, each faces up to 25 years in prison.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has also begun civil forfeiture proceedings against Agnello, seeking to seize more than $8.8 million of the defendant's assets, including the posh, $5 million, 14-room Old Westbury home he shares with his wife Victoria.
Agnello is the son-in-law of John Gotti, the reputed head of the Gambino crime family who is serving a life sentence in federal prison in Colorado.
Agnello was labeled "one of the most elusive figures in organized crime" and an alleged captain, or capo, in the Gambino crime family by Brown at a news conference last week announcing the arrests.
Agnello had spent the past week in custody at Rikers Island as his lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg, and prosecutors wrangled in court before State Supreme Court Judge Seymour Rotker over who would post the $2 million in bail.
He was present at Tuesday's hearing in Kew Gardens, clean-shaven, dressed in a white windbreaker and jeans and carrying a baseball cap.
Victoria Gotti promised Rotker she would pay the $125,000 in fees and premiums necessary to Jack Robbins, a bail bondsman operating in Brooklyn.
In the past several days Agnello's mother Marie and friends of the Gotti family endorsed confessions of judgment, meaning they are liable for the full $2 million bail money should the defendant flee.
Agnello's bail had originally been set at $10 million because of his wealth and alleged mob connections and because prosecutors feared he might attempt to flee in light of a possible 25-year prison term.
Dressed in a black skirt, shirt and jacket, Victoria Gotti, who is a novelist, said her publisher, Crown, a division of Random House, owed her approximately $125,000, excluding royalties, which she was willing to promise to Robbins on her husband's behalf. She said she receives the payments in increments and would pay Robbins as she received them.
The judge said under the terms of his bail, Agnello must turn any passports over to court custody and must remain in the five boroughs and Nassau County, where he lives.
"For business purposes we need some more mobility, Judge," said Kornberg, noting that Agnello needed to travel to New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the purposes of attending car auctions and dealing in scrap metal.
Rotker said Agnello could travel to those two states on business.
The arrest of Agnello and three others capped a months-long auto salvage ring sting operation during which four undercover auto crimes cops opened and operated Stadium Scrap at 126-49 35th Ave. in the Willets Point area. The business crushed salvaged cars and resold them to a nearby legitimate scrap metal processor.
Soon after Stadium's April opening, Agnello, who owns a majority interest in the Bronx-based New York Shredding Corp. and the Willets Point-based New York Scrap, was allegedly joined by the three other defendants in a campaign to drive the undercover cops out of business through threats, break-ins and firebombing.
Sherry Hunter, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney, said Lomonaco and Scala had each been released on $100,000 bail late last week, but Burger had not made his $1 million bail.
She said the four defendants were again due in court in late February because Burger and Lomonaco have new lawyers who need the time to prepare.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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