By Naeisha Rose
Patricia Adams, the publisher of The Forum newspaper, has been accused of participating in witness tampering on behalf of an associate of the Bonanno crime family, according to the FBI.
Adams was arrested Aug. 16 for allegedly threatening to use her community newspaper to publicly humiliate the alleged sexual assault victim who was set to testify against Robert Pisani. Pisani is a deli owner who has ties to the crime family and was already out on bail in a racketeering case, FBI Special Agent Andrew Campbell said.
Pisani was arraigned May 4 on charges of forcible touching, sexual abuse and harassment of the victim, who was an employee at his store, the All American Bagel & Barista Company in Howard Beach, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Adams frequented the Bonannos’ social club in Ozone Park, where guests would wager money on card games and sports bets, according to Campbell. Since 2014, her gambling landed her under a mountain of debt to the crime family and she allegedly tried to seek Pisani’s help in a restaurant venture, he said.
“Adams owed money to individuals associated with the Bonanno family,” Campbell said. “Her gambling habits resulted in losses of up to $1,500 per week from sports betting and card games controlled by the Bonnanno family.”
Prior to the sexual assault and the witness tampering cases, Pisani was released on a $500,000 bond co-signed by his wife Jamie in the racketeering case. The bail also included the forfeiture of two properties, home confinement with GPS monitoring and he was permitted to work at two stores he operated after being arraigned March 28 on racketeering, operation of illegal gambling businesses, and debt extortion, according to a criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.
If Pisani is convicted, the Department of Justice would receive $26 million in forfeitures from him and the nine other alleged associates of the crime family on the racketeering charges, according to a spokesman for Brooklyn federal court.
Pisani violated the terms of his bail the moment he was arrested on sexual assault charges and suspected of persuading Adams to prevent the supposed victim from testifying before the May 16 Bail Revocation Hearing, according to the FBI. Pisani and his wife were set to lose everything they had put up for the bond, according to Campbell.
The victim’s father was the person who notified authorities about Adams allegedly trying to humiliate his daughter through The Forum, which covers Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Broad Channel, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, according to the FBI. Adams had requested the father’s presence at a Starbucks and made threats towards the victim for 2 1/2 hours, according to the agent. The father recorded the conversation May 14.
“I’m going to hurt her,” Adams said in the recording. “It’s not going to be good for her publicly.”
“[The assault case] only matters once she crosses the threshold and signs the paper that says she is going through with it,” Adams said on the recording. “They’re going to shred her like they put her through a Cuisinart.”
Adams faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of witness tampering and is currently out on a $150,000 bond with home detention. She has to wear an ankle bracelet. Her home was put up as part of the bail package, according to Brooklyn federal court.
Pisani is under home detention with leave only for his state and federal court appearances. Adams and Pisani are waiting for a court date for their federal cases, according to Brooklyn federal court.
In a separate case. Pisani is set to go before a Queens judge Oct. 5 on the sexual assault allegations, which Brown’s office will prosecute, according to a spokeswoman.
In addition to the 20 years he could receive if found guilty in the racketeering case, he could face an additional year in prison convicted of sexual assault, according to the Queens DA.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose