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A 29-year-old Ozone Park man may spend the rest of his life in prison after a Queens jury found him guilty of slaying a neighborhood pizza owner’s son in 2009.
Francis LaCorte was found guilty in Queens Criminal Court Monday of the murder of Gerardo Antoniello, who came to the aid of his 61-year-old father during an attempted robbery, District Attorney Richard Brown said.
After plotting to pull off two previous robberies in Queens, LaCorte conspired in September 2009 with another man to rob Romeo Antoniello, whose name graces the pizzeria he owned, at 132-24 Cross Bay Blvd., according to Brown.
As Antoniello closed up the pizzeria late in the evening of Sept 19 and walked home, the robbers approached him and forced their way into his home, struggling with the elderly man as 29-year-old Gerardo Antoniello came to his father’s aid, Brown said.
During the struggle, one of the robbers pulled out a weapon and fatally shot Gerardo Antoniello in the head before fleeing empty-handed, the DA said.
Gerardo, who was known as Jerry to his friends, was rushed to Jamaica hospital where he died shortly before 6 a.m., police said
Angelo Antoniello said that while the conviction brings his family some sense of closure, the weight of his brother’s death still hangs heavily.
“We’re just glad this garbage is going away and that’s what he is: garbage,” he said. “My mom’s cried every day for the last few years.”
Antoniello said the investigation was still ongoing, and that there were still more suspects who needed to be brought to justice. “We still live in fear. You never know who’s going to come knocking on your door.”
The elder Antoniello moved to Queens from Italy more than 40 years ago, and was active in the community as a beneficiary of local charities, friends said. The community came out in support of the family with a candlelight vigil soon after the young man’s untimely death.
LaCorte and the rest of his crew were eventually arrested, with three of his accomplices pleading guilty to robbery, burglary and conspiracy charges, Brown said.
LaCorte was one of more than 120 reputed Mafia members arrested in January 2011 in one of the largest organized crime busts in the country’s history, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.
LaCorte was convicted of second-degree murder, attempted robbery, attempted burglary and conspiracy, the DA said. He faces 75 years to life when sentenced April 16, the DA said.
“The defendant in this case has been found guilty following a jury trial of having orchestrated, planned and carried out three separate home robberies, one of which culminated in the untimely death of a young man who bravely went to the aid of his father during one of the robberies,” Brown said. “Under the circumstances, the defendant has forfeited his future and can be expected to spend most, if not all, of the rest of his life behind bars.”
Vincent Mineo, who conspired with LaCorte to rob Romeo Antoniello, pleaded guilty in February to attempted robbery, burglary and conspiracy and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the DA said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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