Fearsome reputed hit man Charles Carneglia has undergone a wiseguy makeover on the eve of his federal trial.
A prison barber did wonders for Carneglia, transforming him from a scary Charles Manson look-alike to a craggy Gorton's Fisherman. Carneglia's ponytail is gone. The stringy, white hair and flowing beard have been neatly trimmed.
The fearsome enforcer for the Gambino crime family, who is charged with five murders, wore a cardigan sweater for jury selection Monday and a powder-blue pullover Tuesday.
Despite the radical change, Carneglia's previous look was apparently burned indelibly in the mind of at least one prospective juror who got a glimpse of the old Charles last week in Brooklyn Federal Court on the first day of jury selection.
"His appearance gave me the impression he was guilty," the anonymous juror told Judge Jack Weinstein. "He looked a little bit on the shady side with the ponytail and the beard."
The juror was excused, and Carneglia glared at him as he left the room.
Defense lawyer Curtis Farber insisted there is no plan to make Carneglia look less sinister. "He looks the same to me," Farber said, adding that Carneglia had trouble getting in to see the barber and having his dentures fixed over the 11 months he has been in the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Federal prosecutors have lined up at least 10 cooperating witnesses to testify at the blockbuster Mafia trial beginning Thursday.
They include the late John Gotti's self-described "adopted son" Lewis Kasman and Gambino associate John Alite, who will be the star witness against John A. (Junior) Gotti at his trial late this year.
Thanks to John Marzulli
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