5 convicted in extortion case
By TIMOTHY O'CONNOR
Five Westchester County men were convicted yesterday of extorting a convicted White
Plains con artist in 2001.
After deliberating over five days, a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan
convicted the five men of 15 of the 16 counts in the indictment.
Angelo DiPietro, 48, who until recently lived in Mount Vernon, and Michael Pizzuti,
40, of Eastchester face up to life in prison after being convicted of the most
serious charge: carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.
Angelo Capalbo, 45, of White Plains was acquitted of that same charge, but convicted
of extortion and conspiracy charges and faces up to life in prison. Joseph Genua, 50,
of Mount Vernon, and Harold Bringman, 60, of New Rochelle also face up to 40 years in
The men were convicted of extorting John Perazzo, of Sammis Lane, who pleaded guilty
in 2002 to defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme. He was sentenced in state Supreme
Court in White Plains to three to nine years in prison. Perazzo, who had no
cooperation agreement with prosecutors, did not testify at the trial.
But three government informants did, including Maurizio "Mo" Sanginiti of Dobbs
Ferry, who was arrested along with the other five men and charged with extorting
Perazzo when a federal indictment was unsealed in February 2004. Within weeks,
Sanginiti was cooperating with the feds. He and two other men who participated in the
extortion, Din Celaj and Mark Nicholson, agreed to plead guilty and testify against
the five who were convicted yesterday.
Sanginiti testified that he squeezed Perazzo along with DiPietro and Capalbo.
Prosecutors contended that group was a rival to Pizzuti and Bringman in shaking down
Perazzo as each side tried to get money they said Perazzo owed them. Eventually,
there was a tense standoff in July 2001 at Perazzo's home that culminated with
Pizzuti kidnapping Perazzo and Celaj chasing Bringman down the Hutchinson River
Parkway, firing shots at him, according to prosecutors.
After that, the two sides called a truce and agreed to work together to get money
from Perazzo, according to prosecutors.
Perazzo was arrested in August 2001 by investigators working with Westchester County
District Attorney Jeanine Pirro's office. Sanginiti testified that, after that, he
paid Yonkers Republican Committee Chairman Zehy Jereis $5,000 to get information from
someone close to Pirro's office as to whether he, DiPietro and Capalbo were also
under investigation. Sanginiti did not testify as to who Jereis' alleged source was,
but in an FBI document he said it was the district attorney's husband, Albert Pirro
Pirro and Jereis denied the charges.
The courtroom, packed with family members and supporters of the defendants, as well
as FBI agents, U.S. marshals, and staff from the U.S. Attorney's office, was silent
as the jury forewoman read the verdicts, her voice barely above a whisper.
Pizzuti's wife hung her head and cried. DiPietro's wife, Anna, who had closed her
eyes and prayed moments before the jury entered the room, left the courtroom weeping
after the verdict.
Lawyers for the five men vowed to appeal yesterday's verdict and criticized Judge
Shirley Wohl Kram's handling of the case.
"I have a great deal of confidence that the conviction will not stand appellate
review," said William Aronwald, Capalbo's lawyer. "If not advertently, then certainly
inadvertently, Judge Kram's rulings made it impossible for Mr. Capalbo and his
co-defendants to get the fair trial they are guaranteed."
DiPietro's lawyer, Joseph Bondy, who engaged in a running battle with the judge, was
"We're immediately appealing," he said minutes after the verdict. "This was the most
outrageous, unfair, prosecution-slanted federal trial I've ever witnessed, heard of
or took part in."
Kram ordered all five men jailed pending sentencing, but did not set a sentencing
I intend to last long enough to put out of business all COck-suckers
and other beneficiaries of the institutionalized slavery and genocide.
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Humvees, or calls in air-strikes. It doesn't have a high command, or
high security, or a high budget. The army that can defeat terrorism
does battle quietly, clearing minefields and vaccinating children. It
undermines military dictatorships and military lobbyists. It subverts
sweatshops and special interests.Where people feel powerless, it
helps them organize for change, and where people are powerful, it
reminds them of their responsibility." ~~~~ Author Unknown ~~~~