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Federal Grand Jury Probes A Rash Of Home Invasions In Howard Beach

Jerry Capeci is regarded as an expert on the mob. His website, Gang Land News, is a subscription-based website. This article was republished with permission.

By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn is investigating a violent gang of low level Bonanno crime family associates that is alleged to be behind a rash of home invasion robberies and burglaries in Howard Beach and nearby communities in Queens and Long Island, Gang Land has learned. Sources say federal prosecutors have been presenting evidence to a grand jury about dozens of robberies in a community that was immune to drug dealing and violent crime when John Gotti and the bosses of the Luchese and Bonanno crime families lived there.

That mob immunity apparently vanished, however, with the death of the Dapper Don and the removals of Vic Amuso to prison, and Joe Massino to the federal witness protection program. In several home invasions, sources say the masked marauders made off with thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry after beating residents.

Victims, both men and women, were allegedly forced to strip naked and bound with plastic ties. Sources say that on occasion the gang threw all caution — and good sense — to the wind by targetting the homes of organized crime figures and others with crime connections. The gang’s death-wish modus operandi mirrors the real-life plot of Rob The Mob, the 2014 movie about Thomas and Rosemarie Uva, a Howard Beach couple who robbed mob social clubs in the 1990s, and were whacked by the mob.

Local community leaders confirmed the crime outbreak to Gang Land. “In March and April (of last year), there were a lot of push-in robberies and burglaries,” said Joseph Thompson, a former Brooklyn resident who moved to Howard Beach 20 years ago and is president of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol Inc., HBCOP, a community watchdog group that was founded in June to try to help cops stem the tide. “For a while,” said one neighborhood denizen, recalling the onslaught of break-ins a year ago, “it got so bad it seemed like every other day, you’d hear about another one. The 106 (precinct) even set up a command station.” And those were “just the reported robberies,” said a knowledgeable law enforcement source who is familiar with a federal grand jury probe by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn in conjunction with the Queens District Attorney’s Office and Detectives with the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division (OCID).

According to court records obtained by Gang Land, a ringleader of the group is Gene Borrello, a 30-year-old 6-foot-2inch, 200-pound former Howard Beach resident with numerous arrests and convictions for fraud, drugs and weapons charges in New York and Long Island since 2003. Borrello is currently cooling his heels on Rikers Island, where he’s been detained on burglary, and possession of weapons and burglars tools on a Queens arrest warrant. Borrello is also facing armed robbery charges lodged against him in Palm Beach Florida, where he was living last year and where he also is a suspect in home invasions.

In Queens, Borrello is charged with planning the armed robbery of a suspected drug dealer’s home last June 5, and with supplying the guns that two co-conspirators had with them when they set out from Howard Beach to hit a residence in the upscale Five Towns area of Long Island, according to an arrest complaint by OCID detective Gerard McNally. In mid-March of 2014, as the ring was moving into high gear, Borrello supplied a Howard Beach cohort, Frank Nunziata, also 30, with two loaded guns, a 9-millimeter pistol and a .22 caliber revolver, for use in the caper, McNally stated in the complaint. From his Florida base, Borrello later “sent him pictures of the target location” and gave Nunziata the layout of the house. In late May, Borrello allegedly instructed Nunziatta to meet up with the third member of the plot, Borrello’s brother, Frank Cipolla, 25, to give him the guns for safekeeping, and iron out the robbery plan.

The plan was for Nunziata to drive, and supply Cipolla a towel-covered-crowbar to break the sliding glass back door. They would find a safe with drugs, guns and more than $100,000 in the bedroom. Each would get a third of the haul, McNally wrote.

Unbeknownst to the brothers Borrello and Cipolla, however, Nunziata began cooperating with detectives and the Queens DA’s office following his arrest on drug and other charges a year earlier. And at 11:44 PM on June 5, shortly after Nunziata pulled away from his home at 115th Avenue and Bridgeton Street, OCID detectives stopped his dark blue BMW, and pulled both men from the car.

 In the glove box, they found a loaded .22 caliber revolver. Also allegedly found in the car were plastic zip ties, a pair of crowbars, two screwdrivers, a ski-mask and a bandana. Cipolla, whom police said had a 9millimeter pistol tucked in his waistband and a pair of black gloves in his lap, was arrested on numerous charges.
Since their arrests, hearings on charges against Borrello and Cipolla have been adjourned repeatedly with no objection from defense lawyers. Cipolla, who has a New Jersey drug conviction on his rap sheet, is free on $150,000 bail. Attorneys for each defendant, and Queens Rackets Bureau prosecutor Brian Kohm declined to comment.
The U.S. Attorney’s office also stayed mum. Howard Beach Community patrol president Thompson credited the law enforcement community, particularly the 106 precinct police, for squelching the recent robbery plague. He said crime in Howard Beach is down more than 25% since last year.
“We’re pretty much a quality of life patrol right now,” said Thompson, adding that his diverse group of community volunteers “serves as eyes and ears of the police department” and has proven to be “a deterrent against crime” since they began their patrols last August. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, sources say a federal grand jury impaneled to hear the case has heard testimony from several robbery and burglary victims in recent months as prosecutors push forward in an effort to obtain a racketeering indictment against several members of the violent home invasion gang of mob associates.

 


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