Friday, December 14, 2007

Mob Trial Ends in Aquittal for Pizza Maker

In a stunning reversal of fortune, a Brooklyn jury Thursday night acquitted a pizza maker of cooking up a plan to gun down a mob loanshark and his cousin.

Carmine Polito, 48, whose 2003 federal conviction in the case was overturned on a technicality, is free and clear after a five-week trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court - where one of the victims and two accomplices testified against him.

"Obviously there is no justice," said Assunta Rozza, whose brother Sabato (Tino) Lombardi was killed and cousin Michael (Cookie) D'Urso wounded in the 1994 attack at a Williamsburg social club. "This mother------ is going to have Christmas with his family - and my brother never will," she said, adding that she thought jurors were afraid because the case involved mobsters.

She also said she thought Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Joel Goldberg disallowed too much evidence.

The judge will decide the fate of Polito's co-defendant, Mario Fortunato, 60, whose federal conviction also was overturned.

"This is a big win. It's a huge upset," said Polito's gleeful lawyer, Gerald McMahon, who fought a contentious battle and very nearly came to blows with prosecutor Christopher Blank during a break in the action last week. "These guys were so confident they wouldn't even offer a serious plea" deal, said McMahon, who had blasted the three main witnesses.

D'Urso joined the main shooter and the getaway driver in testifying against Polito and Fortunato.

Prosecutors said the pair organized the hit because Polito owed money to the Genovese-connected Lombardi and Fortunato wanted to settle an old score with D'Urso.

The evidence was considered stronger against Polito than Fortunato, who chose a bench trial before Goldberg.

"These three guys were two crackheads and a wanna-be [mobster]," McMahon said. "Juries are looking at these types of cases [based on accomplice testimony] a little more carefully now."

The federal case came after D'Urso entered the witness protection program and helped convict about 40 Genovese crime family members, including the late boss Vincent (Chin) Gigante, then Polito and Fortunato.

Goldberg is expected to render his opinion in the Fortunato case Friday.

Thanks to Scott Shifrel

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