Gambino Mobster Dies Serving Life for Notorious Double Homicide

Bartolomeo (Bobby Glasses) Vernace, the Gambino mobster convicted of participating in the 1981 murders of John D’Angese and Richard Godkin -- reputedly over a spilled drink and in full view of dozens of patrons of the Shamrock Bar in Woodhaven, Queens -- died on March 2, 2017, notes the BOP site.

Vernace, 67, was at Allenwood Penitentiary when he died of natural causes.

Vernace died of natural causes serving a life sentence
The Feds convicted Vernace for a 1981 double homicide in Queens.
On April 17, 2013, after a five-week trial, with the Hon. Sandra L. Townes presiding, Vernace was found guilty of a racketeering conspiracy that spanned from 1978 through to 2011, when Bobby Glasses was arrested. At the time he'd been a member of the Gambino crime family's ruling panel. (He was actually arrested on Mafia Takedown Day.)

Vernace was convicted for participating in all nine racketeering counts, which included heroin trafficking, robbery, loansharking, and illegal gambling -- in addition to the double homicide.

He'd been formally sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison in 2014 in Brooklyn's federal courthouse.

Vernace, aka “Bobby Glasses,” had a long Mafia career that began in the early 1970s. When he was arrested with more than 100 alleged mobsters on Mafia Takedown Day, he was a captain as well as a member of the Gambino crime family's three-member ruling panel. 

At the Shamrock Bar on April 11, 1981, a dispute reportedly arose after a drink was spilled on the girlfriend of Gambino associate Frank Riccardi, who was then pitted against others in the bar. Riccardi then departed the bar and apparently drove over to a nearby social club. He returned to the Shamrock bar with Vernace and Ronald "Ronnie the Jew" Barlin. 

The three entered the bar and gunned down Godkin and D’Agnese in front of bar patrons who scurried for cover when bullets started flying.

Inside Shamrock Bar following 1981 murders.

Vernace disappeared from the streets, not returning until the passage of years. Once he believed he'd avoided state charges for the murders, he showed up in Queens as an active member of the Gambino crime family.

For two decades Vernace's profile within the family grew. He helmed a large, affluent crew based out of a social club on Cooper Avenue in the Glendale section of Queens.

In 1998, Vernace was charged in Queens County Supreme Court with the Godkin and D’Agnese murders but was acquitted following the 2002 trial. 

During testimony in the later federal trial, the Shamrock Bar's bartender Patrick Sullivan admitted that he had lied at the earlier trial.

Sullivan claimed for years that he knew nothing about the killings of the Shamrock's owners.

When asked why he lied for so many years, Sullivan said, "Two men were dead over a spilled drink. That was reason enough to be afraid. I didn’t want to get hurt."

Reportedly, the NYPD was somewhat reluctant to investigate the case, according to published reports. At least one of the victims in the case may have had some "colorful" connections of his own. D'Agnese was said to be dating Linda Gotti, who also was in the Shamrock on the night in question. 

Linda Gotti -- niece of late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti -- was also expected to testify in the federal trial against Vernace, though in the end, she didn't.

Back on April 11, 1981, the Shamrock Bar held "Western Night."

New York was then an embattled city, suffering from a soaring crime rate. More than 1,800 murders were committed in 1981.

READ 1981: A Most Violent Year for New York's Mafia

Following the spilling of a drink "A girl was making a scene," Sullivan, then 55, testified. "She started going into a big tirade about how her dress was forever ruined."

Frank Riccardi, aka "The Geech," Vernace and Barlin were long rumored to be the three killers who arrived to settle the score for the forever ruined dress.

They confronted Godkin, who supposedly spilled the drink. D’Agnese, 22 at the time, sought to intervene on his friend's behalf.

The Gambino mobsters shot him too.

The same year, two cops at the 118th Street precinct, Lieutenant Dan Kelly and Detective Bill Gill, said several witnesses had identified Barlin as one of the shooters.

Barlin was arrested and detained.

None of the charges against any of the three ultimately stuck.

At the 1998 state trial, Sullivan noticed several men resembling tough-looking wiseguys seated in the courtroom, he told an Irish newspaper.

Sullivan was frightened after seeing those men. There were other factors he failed to detail that had also caused him to revise what he'd known.

In the end, he chose not to testify against Vernace.

Law enforcement officials were not unsympathetic. A later news report noted than one NYPD detective had actually told Sullivan to change his telephone number.

"(The detective had) said he had children my age and . . . he didn’t want to see me get hurt," Sullivan recalled. "So he said, 'I’ll tell them I couldn’t find you.'"

During the federal trial, Sullivan finally told the truth. The mob was nowhere near the ferocious beast it had been when gangland shootings were a New York norm rather than an exception.

Godkin’s widow was in the courtroom, crying.

Godkin, a Vietnam vet, and his co-owner/friend, D’Agnese, had deep ties to the local Queens community. At the time of their deaths, they both volunteered to work with the South Queens Boys Club on Atlantic Avenue.

Vernace is the only one of the three to be convicted of the double murder. Riccardi, who died in 2007, was acquitted in a state trial and Barlin's case was dismissed in 1981.

A column in this week's Gang Land News noted:
A family friend told Gang Land that Vernace, who suffered from diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease, died at a hospital near the Pennsylvania federal Bureau of Prisons facility on Thursday, about two weeks after he was felled by a heart attack.