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Middle Villager arrested in auto theft ring: DA

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A suspected Mafia boss from Middle Village was arrested earlier this month in connection with a multimillion-dollar car theft enterprise, police said.

Frederick “Fritzy” Giovannielo, whom police contend is a captain in the Genovese crime family, was arrested May 17 along with 23 others as a result of a 10-month investigation into stolen vehicles, insurance fraud and stolen parts, according to a release issued by Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

The criminal complaint issued by the Brooklyn district attorney against Giovannielo contends he and three accomplices threatened a victim with physical harm earlier this year in order to steal money from him. Giovannielo was charged with conspiracy in the fourth degree and grand larceny in the second degree, the complaint said.

The three accomplices were not identified.

Giovannielo was released from prison in 1994 after serving five years on racketeering charges. He was convicted of the 1986 killing of a New York detective, Anthony Venditti, but an appellate court reduced his sentence after finding the prosecution failed to prove his involvement in the murder.

The arrest of Giovannielo was part of a larger crackdown on a suspected auto theft ring allegedly run by Staten Island resident Ernest Varacalli.

The police allege that Varacalli, the owner of Angle Auto Parts in Brooklyn, ran an auto-theft enterprise in which stolen vehicles collectively valued at over $1.8 million were dismantled in his salvage yard and their parts resold to auto body shops in the metropolitan area. More than 20 stolen air bags were allegedly delivered to Angle Auto Parts each week for resale, Kerick said.

The commissioner said police believed Varacalli to be an active member of the Genovese crime family with a close working relationship with Giovannielo.

Several Queens residents from Ridgewood, Maspeth, Glendale, Flushing, Jamaica and Corona were arrested for their alleged involvement in the car theft ring, Kerick said.

Police executed search warrants at A & G Auto Dismantling at 1937B Flushing Ave. in Ridgewood and Richmond Auto Salvage at 87-71 130th St. in Richmond Hill in addition to 12 other auto shops in Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey.

Kerick said “the arrests shut down a major pipeline of revenue for organized crime and deliver a blow where it hurts the most — in the wallet.”

He said the number of cars stolen last year in the city dropped by 75,800 compared to eight years ago, marking a 75 percent reduction in auto theft.

“With these criminals off the streets and their illegitimate shops closed for good, those crime figures can only improve,” Kerik said.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes cited theft as one of the top five reasons for the exorbitant cost of auto insurance in New York, which is poised to surpass New Jersey as having the nation’s highest insurance rates.

“We are committed to eliminating criminals from the insurance system so all New Yorkers can feel confident that their insurance premiers are providing the insurance coverage they need, not subsidizing fraudulent activities,” said Superintendent Gregory Serio.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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