Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Reputed Gambino Soldier Gets Tongue-Lashing from Judge, But No Prison Time

A Brooklyn restaurateur got a slap on the wrist for laundering Mafia money Friday - with a little help from friends like Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Reputed Gambino crime family soldier Joseph Chirico won't serve a single day in prison: He was sentenced to six months' house arrest - and can spend 10 hours a day at his Marco Polo restaurant in Carroll Gardens - without even wearing an ankle bracelet.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Brownell said Chirico passed $1,500 in tribute money from a mob associate to another Gambino soldier. "Organized crime has been a curse, especially in counties like Brooklyn and Queens," Brownell argued.

Federal Judge Jack Weinstein gave Chirico a tongue-lashing for swearing an oath to the Mafia - but let him off after Chirico's lawyer read glowing letters from Markowitz and former Brooklyn beep Howard Golden.

Weinstein, who has sentenced scores of Gambinos in the past year, said he always slammed inducted members with more severe sentences.

He said he was swayed because of Chirico's character and defense lawyer Joseph Benfante's argument that jailing him would mean closing the restaurant and putting 25 people out of work. "Being connected with this gang has been useful in his business, he's looked up to, unfortunately, with respect," Weinstein said.

A spokesman for Markowitz declined to comment on Chirico's mob ties.

Chirico, who declined to speak at his sentencing, had faced six to 12 months in prison under federal guidelines.

Meanwhile, Weinstein also sentenced the late Gambino boss John Gotti's brother Vincent and nephew Richard to 97 months in prison for conspiring to murder a Howard Beach bagel store owner suspected of having an affair with Vincent's wife.

Thanks to John Marzulli

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