Bonanno “Enforcer Of Choice” Discusses Asaro Car Torching, Shootings

Gene Borrello, a former Bonanno associate and the key witness in three recent Mafia roundups, was a major player in the arson case that helped the Feds finally nail 84-year-old Bonanno capo Vincent (Vinny) Asaro — two years after his lawyers bested them in court by winning a stunning and humiliating victory for the longtime wiseguy.

John J. Gotti, a grandson of the late Gambino boss,
The car Asaro ordered torched. Inset, Gotti grandson who copped to being arson wheel man.

Also implicated in the arson case was John J. Gotti, a grandson of the late Gambino boss, who pleaded guilty to helping torch the car that earned Asaro’s deep animosity. (Gotti was a very capable wheelman, we've learned.).

Gotti and Asaro—in fact, all 20-plus defendants charged in that trio of 2017 indictments — copped out. Since there was no jury trial, the Feds have not publicly detailed the full extent of Borrello’s cooperation.

However, Borrello has been lifting the curtain slightly for Cosa Nostra News….

“I was doing everything” for Asaro and Ronald (Ronnie G) Giallanzo, Borrello told Cosa Nostra News.

“I did all the dirty work. I was their sucker."

“John Gotti Junior (and others, including Matthew Rullan) were under me. They were waiting for me to be a member. Gotti Jr. reported to me, Fat Matt and the others all worked under me. I dealt with Vinny, I was the one going to him. He told me (to torch the car) the day before we did it. Vinny took me in his car and drove me to show me where the driver lived."

“I’ve set 100 cars on fire — you go to the gas station and pretend you are filling your tank and you put gas in a Gatorade bottle. Then, when you’re at the car you're going to torch,you toss the gas all over the hood and windshield. It goes up, and fire goes through the windshield, and the whole car burns up.”

Asaro –who is scheduled to be released in March 2022 – initially escaped all legal repercussions for his role in one of the most storied heists in American history — the Lufthansa Airlines heist. He went to trial and thanks to some exceptional lawyering, he was acquitted by the jury.

Why couldn’t Asaro (we asked Gene) forget about revenge over what seemed to be an inadvertent minor traffic mishap?

“It was a case of Vinny being a notorious maniac. Any little thing with him can become a problem. He (initially) wanted to kill the guy, but (then he cooled down and) told me, ‘I want you to blow the car up.’”

Borrello, who reportedly was touted as a major reason the Feds were able to finally get Asaro -- for arson -- following his embarrassing acquittal in the $6 million Lufthansa heist, flipped in early 2016 after his September 2014 arrest following a joint NYPD-Queens District Attorney’s Office probe.

Borrello was the driving force behind Asaro’s revenge effort to torch the car of the motorist who cut Asaro off in 2012.

Furthermore, based on evidence introduced in court, plus the word of the man himself, Gene Borrello, 35, seemed to have been the “enforcer of choice” for Asaro and acting capo Ronald (Ronnie G) Giallanzo. Exhibit A: Giallanzo sent emails to his brother-in-law to ask why Borrello hadn’t been sent to collect an overdue loanshark debt. The repeated emails, at least some of which were sent in November 2012, “clearly (signify) his desire” for his crew members “to use Borrello, who was known for his willingness to use violence and threats of violence, to collect loanshark business,” prosecutors noted in court filings.

As per Gang Land News, these emails “establish (Borello) as a major player in Ronnie G’s crew.”

Borrello was the gunman in a 2006 murder plot that Giallanzo was charged with ordering. Also, under Giallanzo’s orders (allegedly passed down in 2010-2011, at least once while Ronnie G was in prison) Borrello hunted down and shot at least two individuals — both so-called deadbeat loanshark customers, in one case, winging the man; Borrello was nearly run over by the man’s girlfriend in the process. In the second case, Borrello shot the victim in the leg while the target was sitting in his car at 207 Park in Howard Beach. “I shot him in his truck — a black hummer — right by the park I fired two shots” hitting him in his thigh.

Borrello, who spoke with us for two previous stories, here provides new details about two cases involving Vinny Asaro’s use of mob violence against two individuals who committed the grave sin of disrespecting him. Asaro tapped Borrello to launch both campaigns of street violence.

In August 2012, Asaro’s intended victim -- a janitor -- knew he was in serious trouble. To escape whatever fresh hell Asaro was planning for him, the janitor used his links to Bartolomeo (Bobby Glasses) Vernace, who at the time was Gambino consiglieri.

As for what fueled Asaro's rage: Asaro and the janitor got into an argument at a deli, and one thing led to another and the janitor supposedly shoved the longtime wiseguy.

"Bobby Glasses was Vinny’s good friend. Bobby went to Vinny and asked him to stop going after the janitor."

The janitor's crafty little maneuver seemed to work—but only until the Feds arrested Vernace and charged him with committing a notorious double murder. (Vernace had actually been acquitted of the two murders in a state case brought against him years prior.) In 2014 Vernace was convicted for the 1981 murders of John D’Angese and Richard Godkin — reputedly over a spilled drink and in full view of dozens of Shamrock Bar patrons in Woodhaven, Queens. Vernace died on March 2, 2017, at age 67 at Allenwood Penitentiary of natural causes.

When Vernace was off the street, Asaro picked up right where he left off. (Or rather, he told Gene to....)

“Vinny ordered me to shoot the janitor in broad daylight. I wound up beating him with a billy club. I beat him pretty bad.”

“Vinny showed me where the guy lived. His name was Mike – he was in his late 30s-early 40s and worked in an apartment building.

“At first Vinny wanted me to kill the guy, I said sure. Then Vinny realized we were killing a janitor," meaning an honest, hard-working man who was not a criminal. (Gangland hits work best when the target is a violent, hardcore criminal, not a full-time working stiff .... or the New York media has a field day.)

“Vinny could not let it go. I am not glorifying what I did, I was a bad kid who they used.

“The message for the janitor was: if you ever disrespect our people again we’ll kill you.”

Vinny wanted to make an example out of him ...

Gene Borrello
Gene Borrello

Torching a Car in Broad Channel
In 2017, in federal court in Brooklyn, Asaro pled guilty and was sentenced by United States District Judge Allyne R. Ross to eight years imprisonment for violating the Travel Act for using a telephone to order that a vehicle be burned. (The Travel Act was first signed into law in 1961 by then President John F. Kennedy; interestingly Gene doesn't recall a specific order related via phone. He also said that while Asaro  may have mentioned the arson effort via phone, he primarily spoke directly to him, even driving him to the target's home to show him.)

In sentencing Asaro, Judge Ross acknowledged that the long-time member of the Bonanno family had participated in the 1969 murder of Paul Katz, the 1978 robbery of the Lufthansa Airlines Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport, and that as of 2013, Asaro was actively involved in loansharking. Then he ordered Asaro also to pay $21,276 in restitution for the damages to the car burned in the arson.

Asaro acknowledged calling some mob associates to set the car ablaze after its driver cut the Bonnano capo off in Howard Beach.

“Another person burned a car at my request,” Asaro declared during his appearance. “I made arrangements with this person to take care of it, and it was done.”

The same day as Asaro bit the bullet, Gotti Junior confessed his role in the arson. Gotti was already serving a term of eight years for his conviction for running a “$1.6 million oxycodone ring” in his Howard Beach neighborhood allegedly out of his legendary grandfather’s home. We've touched on this previously. John Gotti never conducted mob business in his home -- so law enforcement never penetrated the Gotti family's inner sanctum. The legendary mob boss, who died in June 2002, insulated his family from the life. Then, in August 2016, while eyeballing a younger John Gotti, NYPD cops armed with a search warrant finally got inside the late Gambino boss's longtime residence. They supposedly ransacked the place. Gerard Marrone, the lawyer representing the grandson, told one journalist: "(The cops) destroyed the house. "

The grandson and six others were arrested and charged with the illegal distribution of prescription pills in Howard Beach and Ozone Park, Queens. The Queens District Attorney identified Gotti as the mastermind, "the main seller of the organization (that) primarily sold Oxycodone pills for around $23-$24 per pill."

At Gotti's 2017 sentencing, he said, “I agreed with others to set fire to a vehicle in Broad Channel, Queens. My role was to drive the getaway car.”

What lit the fuse of the arson, as per the government: In early April 2012, Asaro was driving in Howard Beach when another motorist switched lanes in front of him at a traffic light. Asaro grew enraged at the maneuver and chased the other car at a high rate of speed. The targeted motorist drove into Ozone Park while calling the police and describing his location. The intended victim then intentionally drove toward traffic cameras — he also intentionally circled the block in an attempt to ensure that the cameras recorded what was happening. He also wanted to alert the police to his location.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, at Asaro’s sentencing, said that Asaro was “(u)nsatisfied with the outcome of his pursuit,” and took things to another level entirely when he contacted “an associate with access to a local law enforcement database, identified the license plate information of the car, and put in motion a plan to set fire to the vehicle in front of the victim’s residence. Once the arson had occurred, at the hands of those directed to do so, Asaro insisted on checking in person to ensure his orders had been followed. The anger that propelled Asaro to action is reminiscent of so many scripted Hollywood dramas, but unlike the fame and fortune of the big screen, Asaro’s story ends on a different note. Today’s sentence proves that living life in the fast lane is sure to be short lived.”

Asaro then directed Gene Borrello (“Associate-1”) to set fire to the victim’s car. He then recruited Matthew (Fat Matt) Rullan and John J. Gotti to help carry out the arson.

Borrello, Gotti, and Rullan drove in Gotti’s Jaguar to  station in the pre-dawn hours of April 4, 2012 where they filled a container with gasoline and proceeded to the residence of the victim. Borrello doused the vehicle with gasoline, and Rullan ignited it.

An NYPD police officer in an unmarked car observed the crime in progress and pursued the Jaguar on a high-speed chase through the streets of Queens until he terminated the pursuit for safety reasons due to Gotti’s reckless driving.

The following day, Borrello told Asaro about the arson, and Asaro drove to the auto body shop where the burned car had been towed to confirm that his order had been carried out.

Borrello, in his own words, discussed what happened.

The night we blew the car up, I went and told Gotti Jr. and Fat Matt.

We were in high speed chase after the arson. In the car was me, Gotti, and Fat Matt. And Gotti floored it, he went through every light. It was a good thing this was at around three in the morning.

We got very lucky because there was only one cop car chasing us. He was with the 100 precinct. He watched us light the car up. I told Gotti to floor it, and he did, and we drove from Broad Channel to Howard Beach and the cop was behind us. (They went from the 100th precinct to the 106th.)

The cops later confirmed, after I went bad, that we got away. I rolled out of the car – I didn’t want the kids to get locked up. Usually, when someone jumps out of a speeding car, the cop thinks they are jumping out because they have a weapon on them.

We lit the car up in Broad Channel, which is a completely different neighborhood from where we were from. (The cop who watched them light the car up didn’t know who they were, in other words.)

Vincent Asaro
Asaro arrested for Lufthansa crimes -- later acquitted.

The following is a rundown of some crimes in which Borrello was involved:

A) He and Gotti, Michael Guidici, the son of Gambino soldier Frank Guidici, and another robbed a Maspeth, Queens, bank on April 18, 2012

B) From August of 2011 until May of 2012, Borrello was allegedly involved in three armed robberies that netted more than “$200,000 worth of merchandise” from jewelry stores in Franklin Square, on Long Island, with two other defendants

C) In 2013, Borrello and Giallanzo grabbed a deadbeat loanshark customer outside the All American Deli, dragged him to his car, and “beat (him) until he soiled himself.”

D) In March of 2014, Borrello was involved in the planning of an alleged March 12, 2014 home invasion robbery in Howard Beach in which co-defendant Christopher (Bald Chris) Boothby and another made off with $250,000 in cash and $100,000 in jewelry

E) In September of 2014 Borrello was arrested for another home invasion robbery of a suspected drug dealer. Queens detectives, after informer Frank Nunziata tipped them off, pulled over Borrello and half-brother Frank Cipolla while the two were driving to the to-be victim’s home. Guns, a ski-mask, and plastic zip-ties were found in the car.