Two Alleged Gambino Wiseguys Arrested For Arson (One Of Them Seems To Know Skinny Joey Merlino Too)

Just a few stray thoughts here... First off, if you threaten a guy and set his car on fire, don't do it in front of his security camera, or you might get arrested. And when you're actually lighting that fire, try to avoid setting yourself on fire in the process. Also, don't frequent high-profile mob trials -- but if you do anyway, at least try to avoid getting your photograph taken with the alleged boss of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra...

Joseph Merlino and alleged wiseguy Peter Tuccio walk together.

That's this week's lesson, as learned by two alleged mobsters with ties to the Gambino crime family -- one of whom, above, doesn't appear old enough to grow facial hair. (Three wiseguys were involved actually; one of them copped out in 2016.)

The New York City Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigation also played a role in this case, which makes sense, considering...

A small business owner was being extorted by a Gambino capo to the tune of $400 a year. (That is the number reported by the Queens Daily Eagle. Yes, we believe that is a typo, too -- either that or maybe $400 a week or a month -- either that or a few zeros had to have fallen off the end of that number.... At least for the capo's sake, we hope... -- And we were wrong -- $400 a year is the correct figure, as per the Fed's.... That comes out to how much a month?.... Well, a guy's gotta earn, right?)

Apparently tired of paying, the businessman started to go out of his way to avoid this Gambino capo.(He was supposed to be paying the capo out of proceeds from a pizzeria business, so we'd guess the small business in question... was a pizzeria...)

One unlikely duo... and apparently we have a mole, it looks like...

As per the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York: In December 2015, Peter Tuccio, Jonathan Gurino and Gino Gabrielli chased a small business owner as he departed a Howard Beach smoke shop and accosted him in front of a nearby pizzeria, where Tuccio asked,  “how’s [the captain]?” and commented on the victim’s 2014 Mercedes-Benz. The victim fled into the pizzeria.

Later that same night, the businessman’s home security camera system caught Gabrielli pouring a flammable substance on the Mercedes. The car caught fire and Gabrielli ran away from the scene with his pant leg on fire. Gabrielli and Tuccio were later seen on surveillance video entering Jamaica Hospital.

The small business owner and the Gambino capo are not identified.

Tuccio and Gurino were indicted Friday. Gabrielli pleaded guilty to arson in August 2016.

Tuccio "dutifully attended every day of Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino’s racketeering trial earlier this year," as per a Daily News report.

“Organized crime families have long relied on extortion and threats of violence in exchange for so-called ‘protection,’” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. “As alleged, the defendants set a man's car on fire to send a message, but now they are the ones feeling the heat as they face justice for their crimes. As long as organized crime families and their associates continue to act outside the law, the FBI and our partners will investigate and bring charges against them.”

The torched Mercedes....

Friday’s indictment charges Tuccio and Gurino, both 25, with arson, arson conspiracy, extortion, extortion conspiracy and using fire to commit a felony.

Both were released on $700,000 bond and placed under house arrest with their parents agreeing to put their houses on the line for their release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Moore said at the hearing that a witness to the fire reported finding a dead rat on her car. She requested Judge Steven Tiscione remand the two men, contending they’re a flight risk and pose a danger to the community.

Both Tuccio and Gurino deny the charges. Each faces a 15-year mandatory sentence if convicted.

Well, it so happens we found the press release: 

Two Alleged Associates of Gambino Organized Crime Family Indicted for Arson and Extortion
Defendants Charged with Setting Fire to Victim’s Car to Induce Protection Payment

An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Peter Tuccio and Jonathan Gurino with arson and arson conspiracy, extortion and extortion conspiracy and using fire to commit a felony. The defendants were arrested today and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the charges.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants delivered a frightening message in the form of fire to force a businessman to pay protection money to a high-ranking gangster,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Today’s charges against two alleged crime family associates demonstrate that whether you are a made member or a young associate looking to advance in a crime family, the end result is the same – prosecution and prison.” Mr. Donoghue thanked the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigation for their assistance in the investigation....

As alleged in court filings, a captain in the Gambino Organized Crime Family (referred to herein as Co-Conspirator-1), had been extorting a local businessman $400 per year. During 2015, the businessman began dodging Co-Conspirator-1 to avoid making payments. On December 3, 2015, Tuccio, Gurino and Gino Gabrielli observed the businessman leave a smoke shop in Howard Beach and drive away. The three men followed at a high rate of speed and confronted him outside a pizzeria.

 Tuccio asked, “how’s Co-Conspirator-1?” and commented on the business owner’s car, a 2014 Mercedes Benz. The businessman fled into the pizzeria. Later that night, the businessman heard a loud noise and saw that his car was on fire.

Shortly thereafter, the businessman paid Co-Conspirator-1. As detailed in court filings, the businessman’s home security video system had recorded Gabrielli pouring a substance on the Mercedes, the car erupting in flames, and Gabrielli running away with his pant leg on fire. Shortly thereafter, Gabrielli and Tuccio were caught on surveillance video entering Jamaica Hospital.

Gabrielli pleaded guilty to arson in August 2016.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants each face a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorney Nadia E. Moore is in charge of the prosecution. (See press release here).