Bonanno Crew's Retrial Inevitable, Manhattan DA Says

The Manhattan district attorney’s office said there will be a retrial. The New York Times quoted her saying: “The inability of one juror to continue deliberating is not a reflection on the overall strength of the case.”

The nearly three-month-long enterprise corruption trial of Nicholas "Nicky Mouth" Santora and three other Bonanno mobsters in Manhattan's State Supreme Court ended in a mistrial. So ordered Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer -- after one juror needed to be replaced and a second declared he couldn't continue.

After eight days debating the case (and three years since the defendants were arrested) jurors couldn't reach a verdict regarding gambling, prescription drugs and loansharking charges. The alleged crimes supposedly occurred between March 2010 and February 2012.

Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said there will be a retrial. The New York Times quoted her saying: “The inability of one juror to continue deliberating is not a reflection on the overall strength of the case.”

Considering the length and breadth of the trial -- which included 450 intercepted telephone calls, and testimony from turncoat Bonanno capo James Tartaglione -- the trial's result is considered a blow to prosecutors. (Also significant, it's been widely and repeatedly reported in the media that Santora was a character in the Donnie Brasco book and film -- though the jury seemed to have ignored this.)

The charges failed to include a single allegation of violence; the indictment consisted of charges relating to loan-sharking, illegal Costa-Rican-based Internet gambling, and drug diversion -- the illegal selling of prescription drugs.

Five others were rounded up with the four defendants but pleaded guilty before trial.

Nicky Santora

"Overzealous detectives and prosecutors" were to blame for seeking to link "Nicky Mouth" to crimes committed by the three younger men," Santora's attorneys said.

Nicky's codefendants must have loved hearing that. ...

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer seemed to agree with -- or at least not contradict -- Santora's defense attorneys. In his view, he said, the case against "Skinny" Santoro was "by far the strongest."

Based on his decision, Dwyer set bail for Santoro at $250,000 cash and $500,000 bond.

Dwyer also ordered that bail figure for defendants Vito Badamo and Ernest Aiello.

Bail for Santora was set at $500,000 cash and $1 million bond.

"The evidence of all four of them in a criminal organization is very strong," Dwyer said before announcing those figures. "The evidence of criminal activity is very telling for all four."

The alleged mobsters have already been behind bars for three years.

The bail applications arrived the day after the judge ordered a mistrial due to juror dissonance.

What happened in jury deliberations?
Juror No. 9 believed the rest of the jury was not considering his opinions. Apparently he wasn't as willing to vote guilty in lockstep with them.

"I can't go on at this point," he told the court. "They're not listening to me. I can no longer sit there and listen to them anymore. I want to make sure what I render is just, not just because we don't want to be here anymore or we've been here for three months."

Dwyer had already dismissed juror No. 1 because of concerns that he was unable to heard the wiretap recordings.

They also claimed he wouldn't read the transcripts because he believed they were not faithful to what was actually said on the wiretaps. The judge himself had instructed the jury that the transcripts were not evidence, as the SI Advance reported.
The Advance also noted:

"It's a little bit frustrating because we're trying our hardest," one of the jurors said. 
"He was able to hear just fine," juror No. 9 said. "He just kept getting attacked and they didn't like his responses." 
However, when asked if he was able to follow the evidence, juror No. 1 said, "Yes." 
After the dismissal, juror No. 9 asked to speak to the court and said he was "pissed" juror No. 1 was dismissed, and added that the two of them were ganged up on because they disagreed with the rest of the jury. 
"We were in the minority on this," juror No. 9 said. "We've been getting attacked on stupid things because we don't see eye to eye. It's not guilty until proven innocent, it's innocent until proven guilty."