After 33 Yrs., Justice Is Served
Previously convicted of participating in a 1981 double homicide at a now-defunct Woodhaven bar, a former crime family captain was ordered last Tuesday, May 27, to spend the rest of his life in a federal prison, prosecutors announced.
Bartolomeo (a.k.a. Bobby Glasses) Vernace, 65-a member of the Gambino crime family who previously operated out of a Glendale café-was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Sandra L. Townes to serve life without parole. He was convicted in April 2013 of participating in a racketeering conspiracy that included the April 1981 murder of two men at the former Shamrock Bar on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven.
Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese-who co-owned the Shamrock Bar and ran the area’s Boys and Girls Club-were gunned down by Vernace and an unidentified accomplice shortly after the victims got into a dispute with a reputed Gambino member over a spilled drink.
Seventeen years later, the Queens District Attorney’s office brought charges against Vernace for his role in the double homicide, but he was acquitted at trial in 2002. Federal agents cuffed the mobster in January 2011 in a national organized crime bust resulting in the arrests of nearly 100 reputed gangsters.
One of the murder witnesses took the stand at Vernace’s federal trial in 2013 and admitted to lying under oath during the Queens case, fearing retribution if he told the truth, law enforcement sources noted.
“For more than four decades, [Vernace] dedicated his life to committing crimes for the mafia. He rose through the ranks to become a powerful Gambino family leader by making money from crime and committing brutal acts of violence,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement last Tuesday. “We hope the [murder] victims’ families are able to take some measure of comfort from the fact that, with this life sentence, one of the killers has now been brought to justice.”
“Vernace made a life of being a key player in the Gambino crime family where his activities led to his convictions for heroin trafficking, robbery, loansharking, gambling, firearms, as well as the vicious double murder,” added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos. “Today’s life sentence ensures the rest of Bobby Glasses’ life will only be seen inside of a federal facility.”
Federal prosecutors said the double shooting occurred on the night of Apr. 11, 1981, when an unidentified Gambino family associate got into a dispute with others in the Shamrock Bar over a spilled drink. The associate reportedly left the bar and went to a nearby social club, where he picked up Vernace and a second, unidentified suspect.
Shortly thereafter, authorities said, the three mafia members returned to the Shamrock Bar and confronted Godkin and D’Agnese as bar patrons looked on. Before pulling the trigger, it was reported, Vernace allegedly held a gun to Godkin’s head and taunted him, while one of the accomplices threatened D’Agnese with a weapon.
Godkin was shot in the chest at point blank range, while D’Agnese was shot in the face. Following the gunfire, Vernace and his cohorts fled from the scene.
Law enforcement sources said Vernace went into hiding following the shooting and emerged years later to become a leading Gambino officer. He eventually got his own crew based at a defunct café on Cooper Avenue in Glendale and served on a three-member panel that led the entire crime family.
Prosecutors stated he engaged in a variety of criminal activities including robbery, loansharking and illegal gambling.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Evan M. Norris, Amir H. Toossi, M. Kristin Mace and Claire S. Kedeshian prosecuted the case.