Friday, July 27, 2007

Mafia Barber Avoids Jail

Friends of ours: Genovese Crime Family

It was a close shave yesterday for an East Harlem barber who nearly went to prison for lying to the FBI about his Mafia clientele.

Instead, a federal judge sentenced Claudio Caponigro to a year's probation for playing dumb when FBI agents asked him to identify photos of some of his mobster pals

"Your honor, I'm sorry to hurt anybody," Caponigro, 76, told Manhattan Judge Lewis Kaplan.

The Italian immigrant will go back to doing what he has done for more than 56 years - cutting hair in his tiny shop on E. 116th St.

Caponigro's lawyer, Michael Washor, said his client is "embarrassed and shamed" but has no plans to retire. "This is a man who has devoted his life to his family, to his neighborhood and, believe it or not, to his profession," Washor added.

Caponigro was indicted last year along with 45 others in a vast racketeering conspiracy that included charges that the acting boss of the Genovese crime family signed off on a hit from prison.

FBI agents visited Caponigro's shop in November 2004 and asked him if he could identify several Genovese crime family members. Later, he was caught on tape telling mob-lawyer-turned-informant Peter Peluso, "They ask me a couple of questions. I don't answer not one question. I says, 'I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just a barber.'"

Caponigro was sentenced with several other septuagenarian mobsters accused in the same case.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

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