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Jury hands ‘Last Don’ guilty verdict

"Massino's conviction marks an important step in our continuing effort to eliminate organized crime in New York," said Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. "(It) brings to justice a man who reigned over the Bonanno family during one of the mob's bloodiest periods in the last three decades."During the nine-week trial in Brooklyn federal court, the prosecution team contended that for 25 years Massino was a "one-man army," taking control of the family with the 1981 massacre of rival Bonanno captains Alphonse Indelicato, Philip Giaccone and Dominick Trinchera.The 61-year-old, who prosecutors said operated much of his empire from his family's Casa Blanca Italian restaurant in Maspeth, also masterminded the execution of Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, a crew captain held responsible for letting federal agent Joseph Pistone infiltrate the family, the federal government said. That case, dramatized in the film "Donnie Brasco," sent more than 100 gangsters to prison. In a stunning betrayal, eight turncoat mobsters Ñ including Massino's brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale Ñ broke the fabled La Cosa Nostra code of silence by testifying against the Bonanno chief. They revealed compelling and gruesome details of the inner workings of the family. The 10-woman, two-man jury were told that Massino was a cunning leader who learned the first names and education history of federal agents investigating him. He was dubbed "The Ear" after demanding that subordinates only refer to him by pointing at their ears in order to beat wire taps. Massino was one of the most powerful mobsters in the country when he was arrested in 2002, earning the nickname the "Last Don" because he was the only leader of the five New York City crime families not behind bars. The chiefs of the Gambino, Colombo, Genovese and Luchese families have all been sentenced to lengthy prison terms."They will soon be joined by the Bonanno crime family official boss, Joseph Massino," when he is sentenced Oct. 12 before Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Mauskopf said.He faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for the 11 racketeering charges, she said, which include seven counts of murder, and counts of arson, loan sharking, gambling and extortion. A second murder indictment, which carries the death penalty, is set for trial next year.And on Monday, the Jury ordered Massino to forfeit $10.4 million and his ownership of two Queens restaurants, Casa Blanca in Maspeth and Cafe Veneto, which the the U.S. attorney's office said the Bonanno chief acquired through illegal means. "The mob is about two things: murder and money," Mauskopf said in a statement. "We will send mobsters to jail for murder and use the tools at our disposal to strip them of the profits generated by their illicit activities."Massino's conviction marks the further deterioration of the Bonanno clan, with government investigations leading to guilty pleas or convictions of more than 30 family members, Mauskopf said. They include the family boss and under boss, four members of its ruling committee, 10 captains or acting captains and seven soldiers, Mauskopf said.In addition, 33 members have been indicted, including acting boss Anthony Urso, acting under boss Joseph Cammarano, and eight former captains and 13 soldiers."Together, these prosecutions constitute the most significant and sustained assault against a single organized crime family and have dealt a striking blow to the Bonanno family's leaders and membership," Mauskopf said.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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