FBI seeks one of two indicted in 2009 Howard Beach killing

By Sarina Trangle

FBI agents requested assistance finding one of two men charged in the 2009 killing of an Ozone Park pizzeria owner’s son days after the criminal indictment against the pair was unsealed, agents said.

A grand jury in Manhattan federal court handed up an indictment charging Antoine Burroughs, 25, and Leon Whitfield, 23, with attempting to rob Bartolomeo Antoniello in his home on Sept. 9, 2009 because they believed he would have cash from the Romeo’s Pizzeria he owned on Cross Bay Boulevard, according to the FBI and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Agents said the duo shot the entrepreneur’s son Gerardo Antoniello in the head, taking the 29-year-old’s life as he attempted to protect his father.

“Burroughs and Whitfield had no regard for life,” said George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office. “The FBI stands with our law enforcement partners to announce these charges and to reiterate that this case will not be done until all those involved face justice.”

Whitfield’s attorney, Edward Wilford, said his client plans to enter a not-guilty plea in court Tuesday.

“The case is a very serious case. It involves a potential capital punishment,” Wilford said. “We will be litigating the case to establish his non-guilt.”

The FBI said Friday that they were seeking Burroughs, who authorities described as 6-foot-1 and about 180 to 190 pounds, with a prominent mole on his right cheek. Burroughs, who goes by the names Butter and Youngblood, was last believed to be in Harlem, agents said.

Both Burroughs and Whitfield are charged with murder, discharging a firearm, robbery conspiracy and attempted robbery, according to the indictment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a letter in court noting that it planned to make a recommendation as to whether or not prosecutors would seek the death penalty by the end of April.

Four others have previously been charged in the botched home invasion.

Queen Supreme Court Judge Richard Buchter sentenced Francis LaCorte, of Ozone Park, to 50 years to life after prosecutors said he recruited a handful of ex-cons to conduct a series of push-in robbers in the neighborhood in 2009.

When LaCorte’s crew targeted the elder Antoniello, prosecutors said his son, a school custodian, was shot in the back of the head when he rushed to defend his dad, who was being pistol-whipped.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Ozone Park resident Vincent Mineo partnered with LaCarte, who had ties with the Gambino crime family, to orchestrate the attack on the Antoniellos and two other robberies. Mineo was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted robbery, burglary and conspiracy, the DA said.

Brown also announced in June 2012 that two others – Jason Burrell, of Brooklyn, and Rashod Cowan, of the Bronx – pleaded guilty to burglary and attempted robbery.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.