By Mark Hallum
The reputed Bonanno family captain Vincent Asaro, 82, was sentenced last week to eight years in prison for torching a car as retribution for a road rage incident in Howard Beach.
Asaro, who was previously acquitted of taking part in the 1978 Lufthansa heist and of choking a police informant to death with a dog chain, was indicted in March. According to prosecutors, the crime boss ordered four underlings, including John Gotti’s grandson, to start the 2012 car fire after the driver had cut Asaro off in Howard Beach.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Allyne Ross said that in sentencing Asaro, she had given weight to the charges on which Asaro was acquitted, The New York Times reported. Asaro’s lawyer, Elizabeth Macedonio, had requested that her client’s acquitted conduct not be taken into consideration in the sentencing, according to the Times. Macedonio said that sentencing Asaro for crimes that he was not found guilty of could “turn the American justice system on its head.”
Macedonio was confident that the indictment was actually revenge for Asaro’s 2015 acquittal in the Lufthansa heist, in which nearly $6 million in cash, precious metals and jewels was stolen from the German carrier at Kennedy International Airport. It stands as one of the biggest thefts in state history.
The sentencing follows a series of indictments and convictions of organized crime figures in south Queens.
Ronald Giallanzo, 46, was charged in March with racketeering, extortion and attempted murder in crimes that spanned 20 years in the Howard Beach area, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. Giallanzo was one of 10 people charged.
The younger Gotti, then 23, was sentenced to eight years on drug charges. Gotti, whose grandfather John headed the Gambino family, was estimated by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to have had an average income of $1.6 million a year while peddling oxycodone and other prescription medications in Howard Beach and Ozone Park.
Howard Beach police stopped the Gotti grandson’s car in June for having windows tinted beyond the legal limit. He was found to have an expired driver’s license and a Gucci bag containing more than 200 oxycodone pills.
Queens native and Bonanno member Christopher Boothby, 37, was charged alongside Giallanzo in March. Known as Bald Chris, Boothby had also been indicted with Gotti and Asaro in the car arson and in Hobbs Act robberies and firearms offenses a week before.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall