Genovese Mobster Nabbed In Cold Case Murder Faces New Charges

Genovese wiseguy John Tortora, aka Johnny T -- who was arrested this past August for hiring others to commit  a 21-year-old stabbing murder outside a Yonkers tavern -- will face new charges in a few days from a superseding indictment.

Richard Ortiz was murdered in November 1997 supposedly
for stealing from Johnny T's Joker Poker slot machines....

The new charges are for destroying evidence, falsifying records, and obstruction of justice.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the filing of the new indictment on November 14. Tortora will be arraigned on the new charges this Monday, November 19, before the Honorable Sidney H. Stein at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan.

Tortora, 61, was previously indicted on charges related to the brutal stabbing death of Richard Ortiz in November 1997. He was arrested on August 2, 2018, and has remained in custody since that time.

Berman said: “As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, in an attempt to hide his illegal racketeering activity, the defendant was willing to destroy evidence and obstruct justice. ...the defendant’s alleged attempts to impede the criminal justice process have resulted in his being charged with additional federal crimes.”

The charges arise from Tortora's alleged role in destroying video recording evidence, and in the subsequent creation of a letter containing false information about the destruction of that evidence, which was provided to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Tortora, of Yonkers, is charged with destruction of evidence, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, falsifying records, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

 Prosecutors also contend that Tortora was involved in gambling, extortion and drug trafficking.

"The arrest of John Tortora should remind everyone that justice delayed is not justice denied," FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said in a statement. "Whether a crime was allegedly committed decades ago or just day ago, the FBI will maintain the same tenacity and we will be relentless toward ensuring those who commit violent crimes be held accountable for their actions."

Tortora was ordered held without bond following his appearance in Manhattan federal court.

Ortiz, then a 29-year-old landscaper living in a one-bedroom apartment on Lockwood Avenue, was drinking inside the Mill Tavern when he got into an argument with men inside the bar.

The argument moved outside, escalated and Ortiz was stabbed multiple times in the stomach and left for dead under a Saw Mill River Parkway underpass less than 100 feet away.

He was found by a young woman who thought he was a pile of clothes or garbage in the street.

He would be pronounced dead three-hours later at St. Joseph's Medical Center after doctors attempted surgery.

Ortiz's family had long thought he was killed in suspected retaliation for acting as a police informant. A few weeks before his death, family said they visited him and found his face battered. He reportedly told them he slipped and fell.

Four days after his killing, Yonkers police arrested then-31-year-old former convict Abdill Saez, but the Westchester County District Attorney felt they needed more evidence to move forward with a case and the charges were dropped.

Throughout the late 90's, Yonkers police would maintain they arrested the right man.

Tortora was among dozens connected to the Genovese crime family - including Pasquale Parrello and two other capos - arrested by the FBI in 2001 after an undercover NYPD detective infiltrated the mob posing as a trucking company owner named Big Frankie.

However, Tortora was only convicted of a misdemeanor in that case and was sentenced only to 24 months of probation.

After Tortora was arrested this past summer, the Yonkers Tribune reported that his brother, Anthony T, is employed by International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 456, "in what may best be described as a “little need to show” job.

Anthony T also drives for a politician....

"In the weeks working on verifying the facts, the Yonkers Tribune learned that Anthony T was chauffeuring New York State Senator Shelley Mayer about. He is not employed by her in any fashion. He approached her and asked if she could use a driver. It is evident she agreed since she uses his services in that capacity.

New York State Sentor Shelley Mayer and Governor Cuomo.

It further queried: "...Did Sen. Mayer properly vet Anthony T.? Does he have a valid driver’s license, did his alleged family ties to the Genovese Crime family not raise any concerns for Sen. Mayer? Does he have a criminal record?

"Since Sen. Mayer must contend with many sensitive issues as a New York State Senator is she not concerned that her conversations with someone in the car or by telephone can be overheard by Anthony T as he chauffeurs her to and fro?"

The Senator won reelection (she is a Democrat). See reelection story here.

If convicted, Tortora will more than likely spend the rest of his life in prison; the conspiracy charges carry life in prison as the maximum penalty, while murder in aid of racketeering and murder for hire carry a mandatory life in prison sentence or the death penalty.

Gang Land News this week reported that "a corrupt, mob-connected former New York City buildings inspector is (the) key witness against" Tortora in this case.

As per the site, "Law enforcement sources say the witness, a longtime Luchese family associate, has told the feds that wiseguy John (Johnny T) Tortora ordered the killing of Richard Ortiz because he suspected that Ortiz had stolen money from Joker Poker machines that Tortora had in several bars and other locations in Westchester at the time."

"The sources say the witness, Carmine Francomano Jr. asserts that he got that information from the man who was arrested and charged with stabbing Ortiz to death in November of 1997, Abdill (Chino) Saez.

Francomano Jr. allegedly claims that Saez told him that "he killed Richie for Johnny T" because Tortora suspected that "Richie and his brother were breaking into his machines and stealing money from him."

Carmine Junior was arrested with Carmine Senior and brother Frank Francomano in a 2009 indictment in which Manhattan prosecutors  accused the Luchese crime family of infiltrating the New York City Buildings Department, saying that three of the family’s associates found jobs as building inspectors and that others in the family, including top bosses, committed a wide range of crimes.

Carmine Junior

Six building inspectors were accused of taking bribes to grant building permits, expedite inspections and overlook building violations. The three inspectors said to be Luchese associates were also accused of more traditional mob-related offenses, including bribery, gambling, drug trafficking, extortion and loan sharking.

Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, said 27 of the 29 people named in the indictment had been arrested; the other two remain at large. Those indicted include bosses and associates of the Luchese family, officials of four corporations, real estate officials and the six building inspectors.

As construction and scaffolding inspectors, two Luchese associates, Frank Francomano and his brother Carmine Francomano Jr., took bribes from builders and property owners, the indictment said. The two men “used their association with Cosa Nostra to further their criminal activity by instilling fear in victims” and paid their superiors in the crime family, said a statement by the district attorney’s office.

Mr. Morgenthau said the largest known bribe was $44,000, paid by a real estate company to Carmine Francomano Jr. for “favorable dispositions” of building inspections. Altogether, Mr. Francomano accepted $82,500 in bribes, Mr. Morgenthau said.