Two alleged members of the Gambino crime family from Howard Beach felt the burn of justice on Friday after being indicted on charges that they helped torch a businessman’s car over late extortion payments.
Peter Tuccio and Jonathan Gurino, 25, face charges of arson and arson conspiracy, extortion and extortion conspiracy, and using fire to commit a felony. They were arrested on Nov. 16 and arraigned on federal charges in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants delivered a frightening message in the form of fire to force a businessman to pay protection money to a high-ranking gangster,” U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said on Friday. “Today’s charges against two alleged crime family associates demonstrate that whether you are a made member or a young associate looking to advance in a crime family, the end result is the same – prosecution and prison.”
According to the indictment, Tuccio, Gurino and a third individual — Gino Gabrielli — allegedly work for an unnamed captain in the Gambino family who had been extorting payments from the businessman.
During 2015, prosecutors said, the businessman stopped making the payments to the captain and began dodging them. Tuccio, Gurino and Gabrielli then took action on Dec. 3, 2015, after spotting the businessman leaving a smoke shop in Howard Beach and drive away.
Federal agents said the three suspects followed the businessman’s car, a 2014 Mercedes Benz, at a high rate of speed, then confronted him later outside a neighborhood pizzeria. Tuccio allegedly asked the businessman about the Gambino captain, then made a comment about the Mercedes Benz.
Later that night, according to the indictment, the businessman heard a loud noise and then noticed that his car was on fire. This prompted the businessman to pay off the Gambino captain.
Through an investigation, the indictment noted, investigators recovered footage from the businessman’s home security video system which showed Gabrielli pouring a substance onto the Mercedes Benz and the vehicle subsequently bursting into flames.
The footage further showed Gabrielli running away with his pant leg on fire, prosecutors said. Gabrielli later entered Jamaica Hospital, allegedly accompanied by Tuccio, seeking treatment of his burns.
Law enforcement agents later arrested Gabrielli, who pleaded guilty in August 2016 to arson charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York pursued the indictment of Tuccio and Gurino with the help of the Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigation.
Tuccio and Gurino each face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted, Donoghue added.