Prosecutors Convict on Obstruction of Retired DEA Agent, But Not on Bribery From Buffalo Mafia and Other Charges

By Steve Neavling

A now-retired DEA agent accused of protecting drug traffickers in exchange for cash bribes was convicted by a jury of obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents. 

But the jury failed to reach a verdict on a dozen other charges including taking bribes from the Buffalo Mafia, and acquitted Joseph Bongiovanni of a charge that alleged he improperly deleted information from his DEA cellphone, the Associated Press reports

The verdicts capped a seven-week trial in which prosecutors alleged Bongiovanni provided an “umbrella of protection” to drug dealers and others with ties to organized crime. He also was accused of revealing the identities of confidential informants and deceiving colleagues by opening bogus case files. 

Prosecutors alleged he took more than $250,000 in bribes from the Buffalo Mafia to sabotage drug probes and to protect a strip club owned by a childhood friend that prosecutors said was used for drugs and sex trafficking. 

But in the end, prosecutors were unable to convince the jury that Bongiovanni was guilty of most of the charges. 

He faced up to life in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Tripi said he hopes to retry Bongiovanni on the corruption charges that hung the jury. 

But Bongiovanni’s lawyer Robert Singer said he will try to dismiss those charges, saying the hung jury “calls into question whether this prosecution should continue.”

The mixed verdict “showed everybody that the government’s evidence was really not that convincing,” Singer said. “The only thing Mr. Bongiovanni was convicted of was taking a file from the DEA office to his house.”

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