Turncoat Linked to Gambinos for Decades Freed by Florida Governor, Feds

It's not very often a governor, his cabinet, three federal prosecutors and other government officials go to bat for a former drug addicted mob associate -- but that is exactly what happened yesterday.
Murder scene

Kevin Bonner, for the past decade, had been serving 24 years of a state sentence at an undisclosed federal prison.

And yesterday his sentence was commuted, thanks to the Feds, as well as the state of Florida. Bonner has put away, or on trial, a multitude of Gambino wiseguys. A former Woodhaven resident, he has testified about mob mayhem and murder going back to the early 1980s.

Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet "ended the long prison sentence of a robber-turned-mob informant whose testimony prosecutors say helped break up the Gambino crime family in Florida and New York," according to the Miami Herald.

Also lending their support via letters were three federal prosecutors -- Tampa U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III, New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and formerly New York U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, now the U.S. Attorney General.

In addition both Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Trezevant and retired Tampa FBI agent Charlotte Braziel "urged the state to set Bonner free and put him on probation as a reward for extensive cooperation that they said helped solve a number of "cold case" murders."

"This is an exceptional case," said Braziel.

"Mr. Trezevant and I have never sought clemency for any witness. Mr. Bonner was an exceptional witness. He earned this. … Without Mr. Bonner, we would not have been able to disband an organized crime network that operated in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”

Ronnie "One-Arm" Trucchio and John Alite were both convicted based on Bonner's grand jury and trial testimony in Tampa some 10 years ago. He also testified at a trial in which more than 60 members and associates of the Gambino crime family faced a bevy of mob crimes.

He was serving his term in a Florida prison when in 2003, "he agreed to cooperate with authorities and became the "first domino" that led to convictions of prominent mob figures," the Herald reported.

"The Gambino family [made] efforts to plant a flag in the Tampa Bay area and to use that as a base from which to spread across the state of Florida," Trezevant said.

“For us, Mr. Bonner was the perfect witness. He was very bright, he was completely candid and truthful, and he has an absolute photographic memory."

Although Alite was indicted as a co-defendant with Trucchio and others, he fled to Brazil and was not extradited for the 2006 trial.

At that trial, Bonner "described Alite as Gotti's right-hand man in the late 1980s and early 1990s."

Alite and Gotti knew each other from Queens, NY, and Gotti signed as a witness on Alite's marriage license in 1989, Bonner testified.

Bonner "was a man and a gentleman," Alite told us in a telephone interview.

"I understand life, man," Alite said, when we asked about his feelings toward Bonner.

The Herald reported that, following Wednesday’s agreement, Bonner, 52, will be given a new identity, as well as the opportunity to start fresh.

As for Bonner's crimes, he is known to have repeatedly robbed dry cleaning stores to support a drug addiction.

Governor Scott, who is concerned about Bonner's drug habit returning, included two strong conditions for the release: Bonner must undergo regular biweekly drug testing his first year on probation and he also must pay $3,500 in restitution and court costs.

Bonner grew up in Queens and hung around Jamaica Avenue, sources told us. They also confirmed news reports that previously quoted Bonner as saying he grew up in Woodhaven, which was "overflowing with wiseguys" at the time.

“Everyone was a criminal. Everyone wanted to be a hoodlum. But they seemed to have a little more money,” Bonner told Long Island's Newsday. “We didn’t have no money.”

He quit school in the eighth grade. From there, he made his way, at the age of 16, to a juvenile detention center.

Bonner’s downfall began in the mid-1980s when he became a drug addict, and moved to Florida thinking that he'd start fresh.

The New York Post, in February 2008, described Bonner as one of "two of the prosecution’s star witnesses in the upcoming Gambino trial," the other was Peter "Bud" Zuccaro. Both were "drug-dealing turncoats who’ll be giving encore performances in their roles as mob rats."

One month previous, a grand jury had indicted 62 Gambino crime family members, including consigliere Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo. The case included charges of murder, narcotics and racketeering conspiracy.

In a 2006 Tampa trial, Bonner testified against "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio.

"Everybody was dealing coke at the time," he said.

"There was the Circus Bar, you had Frankie and Johnny’s. You had all the bars out in Queens. Everybody was selling out of them," Bonner testified.

He told the jury about how he and a friend had tried to rob a funeral home, pretending that a relative was deceased. All the while, the duo were focused on robbing a safe that they believed was behind a picture in a downstairs office of the funeral home.

When the funeral owner took them downstairs to look at coffins, "that’s when I pulled the gun on him," Bonner said. "I started looking along the wall behind the pictures and stuff like that."

But they were unable to find the safe.

Testifying at one of Junior Gotti's trials in 2009, Bonner attempted to pin a 1983 murder on the former "mob scion."

John “Junior” Gotti fatally stabbed a man during a Queens bar brawl in 1983 — but his father paid an NYPD detective $10,000 to make the investigation “go away,” a former member of Gotti’s crew testified...

Kevin Bonner said the up-and-coming mob scion “went to work” after 24-year-old Danny “Elf” Silva wouldn’t stop drunkenly pestering Gotti one night at the Silver Fox Bar in Queens....