U.S. charges New York mob suspects with vendetta arson, robbery

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2017 3:37 PM

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday rounded up seven mob suspects on charges of robbery and a vendetta arson in which a reputed Bonanno crime family associate was accused of having a car torched because its driver cut him off at a traffic light.

Among the suspects was John J. Gotti, grandson and namesake of New York's infamous "Teflon Don" mob boss. Prosecutors said he robbed a bank and carried out the car-torching that Asaro ordered. Gotti, 23, is already serving an eight-year sentence after pleading guilty last month to selling oxycodone, an opioid prescription pain medication.

"The defendants are charged with committing an assortment of violent crimes – arson to exact punishment for a perceived slight and robberies to unjustly enrich themselves," said acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde, whose office covers Long Island and the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

All seven were arrested early Wednesday and were set to be arraigned at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn after two indictments were unsealed that detail nine charges related to crimes that occurred as long ago as the summer of 2011.

Prosecutors said Vincent Asaro, 81, a member of the Bonanno crime family who was cleared in November 2015 of involvement in the 1978 Lufthansa airport heist that helped inspire the movie "Goodfellas," became enraged when a motorist moved in front of his car at a traffic light in early April 2012.

After chasing the car, Asaro tracked down its owner's address and arranged for a fellow Bonanno crime family associate to set fire to the car, they said. Gotti and Matthew "Fat Matt" Rullan, 26, were recruited and torched the car on April 4, they added.

Also arrested were Michael Guidici, 22, Christopher "Bald Chris" Boothby, 26, Darren Elliott, 30 and Matthew "Mack" Hattley, 26.

Gotti and Rullan are also accused of manning the getaway car after Guidici allegedly robbed Maspeth Federal Savings and Loan Association of $5,491 on April 28, 2012 by handing a teller a note saying "I HAVE A BOMB."

Boothby and Hattley are charged with robbing a Queens residence on March 12, 2014 of more than $50,000 in jewelry and other items after tying up the homeowner's girlfriend.

Hattley and Elliott are charged with robbing a Long Island jewelry store in Franklin Square of $250,000 in merchandise at gunpoint and attempting to rob two others, all between Aug. 17, 2011 and May 5, 2012.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)