Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reputed Gambino leaders reject plea deal

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri, Anthony "The Genius" Megale, Alphonse Sisca

The reputed leaders of the Gambino crime family rejected a plea offer Wednesday that would have headed off a New York trial and the testimony of an FBI agent who prosecutors said infiltrated the Mafia family, an attorney said.

Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri, who allegedly served as Gambino boss, and Anthony "The Genius" Megale, who prosecutors said was the family's No. 2 man, were among dozens of people arrested in the New York mob sweep last year.

Federal prosecutors offered a plea deal that included a wide range of prison sentences of up to 15 years for nine defendants in the case, said Stephan Seeger, who represents Megale.

The defendants had until Wednesday to accept the offer and Seeger said it was rejected because all the defendants couldn't agree. He said he expects some defendants, including Megale, will continue negotiating before trial.

Squitieri's attorney, Gerald Shargel, had no comment on the negotiations and said he was preparing for the May 8 trial.

The U.S. attorney's office in New York had no comment Wednesday. Documents on file in New Haven, where Megale faces up to 6{ years in prison on a related case, also describe the negotiations.

Prosecutors say Squitieri, Megale and other defendants made millions of dollars through extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling and other crimes during the past decade.

Megale, 52, of Stamford, was Connecticut's highest ranking gangster, prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty in October to racketeering conspiracy in Connecticut but denies being the Gambino underboss.

An FBI agent in the New York case posed as a mobster and helped make hundreds of secret recordings, authorities said. He was so convincing, the FBI said, he was considered for Mafia membership.

Attorney John L. Pollok, who represents reputed Mafia captain Alphonse Sisca, said Wednesday morning that plea negotiations have been difficult because prosecutors insisted all nine defendants take the deal.

Megale's attorneys are trying to negotiate a deal in which his sentence could run concurrently with whatever he receives in Connecticut.

Thanks to Matt Apuzzo

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