Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fortunato convicted as Polito walks


Brooklyn Judge Joel Goldberg yesterday convicted Mario Fortunato, 60, of second-degree murder in connection with the November 1994 killing of loanshark Sabatino Lombardi, according to reports by Michael Brick of the New York Times and Scott Shifrel of the New York Daily News.

The surprising conviction came a day after a jury found Fortunato's co-defendant Carmine Polito, 48, not guilty. Polito chose a jury trial, while Fortunato - target of a weaker prosecution case - opted to let the judge decide his fate.

Fortunato (right), a baker, and Polito, a pizza maker, stood trial together in federal court on similar charges in 2003. They were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The following year, the decision was overturned on appeal. State murder charges were brought against the pair in 2005.

Prosecutors argued that Polito wanted Lombardi dead in order to escape a large debt. Fortunato, prosecutors said, had a personal grudge against the loanshark.

During a card game at the San Giuseppe Social Club on Brooklyn's Graham Avenue, Lombardi and Genovese Crime Family member Michael D'Urso were shot by intruders. Lombardi lost his life. According to prosecutors, Polito and Fortunato arranged the "hit." D'Urso, who has since aided in the prosecution of a large number of his former underworld associates including Genovese boss Vincent Gigante, testified against Polito and Fortunato.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.