He may look like a mobster — but he’s not guilty of being one.
Two reputed mobsters, including Joseph “Joe C” Cammarano Jr., the dapper reputed acting Bonanno crime family boss, were acquitted on all charges in a racketeering and extortion case on Wednesday.
Cammarano and his reputed consigliere John “Porky” Zancocchio were acquitted on two counts of conspiracy.
Zancocchio was also acquitted on one count of attempted assault in aid of racketeering for allegedly beating up a Bonanno associate.
Jurors were apparently persuaded by defense arguments including that the jury shouldn’t convict Cammarano just because he looks like a stereotypical goodfella.
“Looking like you stepped out of a central casting in a mob movie doesn’t make you a part of one of these groups,” Jennifer Louis-Jeune said in opening statements.
Prosecutors argued at trial that the men directed others to carry out loansharking, drug dealing and violent extortions of Staten Island and Long Island businesses from 2002 through 2018.
“Together Cammarano and Zancocchio ran the Bonanno crime family overseeing the family’s illegal activities and lining their pockets with illegal proceeds,” Assistant US Attorney Jason Swergold said in closing arguments Monday, adding that the pair “are responsible for the actions of the lower-level members even when they sat back and kept their hands clean.”
After the two-week trial the jury began deliberating on Tuesday afternoon, reaching the unanimous acquittal in just under a day.
At trial jurors heard from over 30 witnesses, including from four cooperating witnesses, one of whom is the man prosecutors say Zancocchio beat up for the mob.
Former Bonanno associate Stephen Sabella took the stand to recount the day that Zancocchio, and two other made men, came to the strip club Sabella co-owned with Zancocchio and attacked him in a back room.
“He punched me in the face. He continued to punch and kick me. I just tried to fend off the blows,” Sabella said.
Zancocchio’s lawyer, John Meringolo, didn’t deny that the incident happened but argued that Zancocchio assaulted Sabella not for the mob but to defend his family over racist comments that Sabella made on Facebook about Zancocchio’s biracial grandkid.
“[He] didn’t do it for the Bonanno crime family, he did it for the Zancocchio family,” Meringolo said during his opening statements.
The prosecution’s star witness, Bonanno turncoat Peter “Pug” Lovaglio, testified about a 2015 meeting where he said Cammarano was elected acting boss of the crime family.
“That was the day we had the meeting to vote Joe in,” Lovaglio said as the jury was shown photos of the reputed wise guys entering a garage.
But the defense argued that both Lovaglio and Sabella are lying criminals whose testimony can’t be trusted.
Cammarano’s lawyer, Elizabeth Macedonio, said outside court that she wasn’t surprised by the jury’s verdict.
“The government brought a case that should never have been brought,” Macedonio said. “There was very thin evidence and clearly the jury quickly saw its way to the only true verdict.”
Meringolo said, “The jurors were as diligent as I’ve ever seen. They took their oath very seriously.”
“The government should evaluate their use of cooperation of Mr. Sabella and Mr. Lovaglio before they bring more cases,” Meringolo said.
The pair were arrested last year alongside eight other quirky nicknamed reputed wise guys, including George “Grumpy” Tropiano, Eugene “Boobsie” Castelle, Albert “Al Muscles” Armetta, Joseph “Joey Blue Eyes” Santapaola and Ernest “Butch” Montevecchi. Six of the men have taken guilty pleas and two more are expected to go to trial.
The Manhattan US Attorney’s office declined to comment.
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