Appeals Court Affirms Genovese Associate's 25-Year Prison Sentence For Murder-For-Hire Plot, Other Crimes

With thanks to our pal "Vincent" for pointing out the denial of the appeal...

Salvatore Delligatti, an associate with the powerful Genovese crime family who was sentenced to 25 years in prison, will remain behind bars until February 7, 2037, after a federal appeals court rejected his appeal last month.

Salvatore Delligatti, alleged Genovese associate
Salvatore Delligatti, alleged Genovese associate, is slated for release in 2037. 

Delligatti , who was convicted in 2018 following a three-week trial in Manhattan federal court for committing a range of alleged crimes, including for being the "main organizer and leader" of a failed plot to whack a rival gangster, raised various challenges, including that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his conviction and that his 25-year prison sentence was "substantively unreasonable."

The United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, in an opinion published June 8, concluded that his  arguments "lacked merit" and affirmed the sentence.

Delligatti, 46, who currently resides at FCI Berlin in New Hampshire, had been found guilty on all counts of racketeering conspiracy, murder-for-hire conspiracy, participation in an illegal gambling operation, and a firearms offense.

Delligatti, who was pinched in 2015, was one of 18 Genovese family members and associates indicted in 2016 on racketeering conspiracy charges. Charged in the same indictment were alleged Genovese soldiers Robert DeBello (aka “Old Man,” “Bobby” and “Grandpa”) of Whitestone, and Steven Pastore of Staten Island, and associate Ryan Ellis (“Joseph Princi,” “Baldy,” “Lazy Eye” and “Zeus”) of Bayside. 

The longtime Genovese family associate was the only defendant in the case to go to trial; all the others copped out, according to a court filing that highlighted the gloom and doom felt by Genovese soldier DeBello, who Delligatti was on record with, after Delligatti's 2015 arrest on State murder conspiracy charges. 

At one meeting, DeBello told associates Ellis and Romano and confidential informant CW-2 that Delligatti was "going to get us pinched," that "you can't beat a fucking conspiracy case," and that "if this gas station is bugged, the whole neighborhood is fucked."

The filing also notes the July 4, 2010, murder of alleged Genovese associate Christopher Castellano by "unidentified members of the Genovese family." Castellano had been a partner with Delligatti in several illegal gambling operations. He was murdered based on suspicions that he was cooperating, as per the filing.

The key conspiracy charge in the case involved Delligatti and Robert Sowulski hiring three members of the Bloods street gang to kill rival Genovese mobster Joseph Bonelli. Law enforcement sources said that Delligatti and others believed Bonelli was snitching about mob bookmaking ventures in Queens following his 2012 release from prison.

Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano
Vinny from the Bronx wanted Bonelli hit for disrespecting a wiseguy's son.

Delligatti committed all his crimes in order to increase his standing in the Genovese family, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, who detailed the murder conspiracy.

“Delligatti recruited a group of hitmen to murder an individual,” he said. “But Delligatti’s hitmen were caught red-handed by the Nassau County Police Department and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office before they could carry out their hit. Delligatti now stands convicted of this foiled murder plot and other crimes he committed with the Genovese family.”

As part of Delligatti’s participation in the Genovese family, around May 2014 through June 2014 he conspired with Robert DeBello, a “made” soldier, and Ryan Ellis, a Genovese family associate, to murder Whitestone “tough guy” Joseph Bonelli, according to the prosecutors.

Delligatti asked for and received permission from DeBello to murder Bonelli, according to the indictment. Instead of carrying out the murder himself, as he had been authorized to do, Delligatti instead hired a crew of hitmen from the Bronx to ambush and kill Bonelli at his house, prosecutors said.

Delligatti provided the hitmen with a loaded .38 revolver, a getaway car, and offered to pay them thousands of dollars for the murder, prosecutors said. Delligatti’s plot was thwarted as a result of wiretap surveillance by the Nassau police and the Nassau DA’s office, prosecutors said.

The hired hitmen were apprehended in the getaway car a few blocks from Bonelli’s house on June 8, 2014, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said police recovered the loaded revolver, a spray bottle containing bleach and other materials in the car.

Prosecutors added that from April 2014 through May 2014, Delligatti and others in the Genovese family, including DeBello and Ellis, took part in a conspiracy to use threats of violence and economic harm to extort the owners and promoters of a night club located on the rooftop of a hotel in Queens.

From about 2013 through 2015, Delligatti, DeBello and Ellis were involved in a large-scale bookmaking and sports betting operation that took bets from gamblers in Manhattan and Queens, while making use of an offshore wire room, according to prosecutors.

Vinny Basciano, when he was still on the street as Bonanno acting boss, also didn't have a high opinion of Bonelli and wanted the Genovese associate rubbed out.

A made Bonanno crime family source from Queens who requested anonymity told us that Basciano had ordered Joseph (Joe C.) Cammarano Jr. to hit the Genovese associate -- and Cammarano skillfully wiggled out of it.

"Vinny gave the order to whack Joseph Bonelli and Cammarano never followed through."

Court documents claim Basciano wanted Bonelli gone because Bonelli tried over-zealously to collect a debt from a mobster’s son in 2004. Bonelli "went berserk," the New York Post reported.

Wiretaps of the alleged hit order are contained in paperwork filed in February 2007 as part of a then-ongoing federal case against several Bonanno crime members.

Basciano was heard detailing the story of how Bonelli violently attacked someone at the Villa Sonoma, a restaurant then run by Paul (Fat Paulie) Spina.

Cammarano never made a move against Bonelli. After around three weeks, he was confronted about the fact that the Genovese associate was still breathing. Cammarano was quick thinking enough to bring up another guy Basciano wanted hit even more than Bonelli, Randy Pizzolo, who also was still walking around past his assigned expiration date.

"He threw that it in Vinny’s face," said the Bonanno source. "Randy is acting up and carrying guns," Cammarano told Basciano, according to the source, who was involved in carrying out murders for Vinny Gorgeous.

Basciano, who was convicted in 2011 and again in 2012 and is serving two life sentences, ordered the December 2004 murder of Pizzolo, an associate of the mob family, as a "wake-up call,” according to a court filing..

Cammarano later rose to become acting boss (as well as acting underboss) for Michael (Mikey Nose) Mancuso--until Mancuso tossed him and three of his pals out of the Bonanno family. That happened after the stunning March 2019 acquittal of Cammarano and his reputed consigliere John (Porky) Zancocchio on two counts of conspiracy.

Mancuso—who was released from prison one day prior to the acquittals—was pissed off at how the Bonanno duo defended themselves during the trial.

Also shelved were Cammarano codefendant Zancocchio and Cammarano stalwarts Vito Grimaldi, Joe C's father-in-law, and son Joseph Grimaldi, his brother-in-law.

Mikey Nose replaced Joe C with John (Johnny Skyway) Palazzolo, law enforcement sources told Gang Land News, which broke the story about Mikey Nose shelving the four Bonanno wiseguys.

As per Gang Land: "Sources say Mikey Nose blamed all four wiseguys for the trial strategy of lawyer John Meringolo, who honed in on the fact that several Bonanno wiseguys other than Zancocchio had served as the family's consigliere from 2012 to 2018."

"As a legal defense, it was a brilliant move: It effectively countered the prosecution's claim that Meringolo's client was the crime family's consigliere during the racketeering conspiracy charged in the indictment."

Mancuso apparently didn't appreciate the notion that he frequently replaced consiglieres.

Mancuso is old school and "apparently felt that it was demeaning for the defense to take that tact," one mob lawyer remarked to Gang Land.

Acting boss Joe Cammarano and others at Bonanno Christmas Party
Joe C's Bonanno family Christmas party (before Mikey Nose shelved him and three others).

Bonelli survived Basciano's tenure on the street but was arrested in 2006 on drug and weapons charges.

Facing a 25-year sentence, Bonelli claimed that a mutual friend introduced him to the ADA, who told him he’d get a sweetheart deal for hiring her boyfriend. Veteran Queens Assistant District Attorney Barbara Wilkanowski was embarrassed by the mobster's claims that she'd promised him a no-jail deal on drug and weapons charges if he hired her lawyer boyfriend for $20,000.

Bonelli took his allegations to Wilkanowki’s bosses.

She was placed on an extended leave because of a pending internal investigation.

Two years later, however, the Genovese cocaine merchant confessed he'd made the whole thing up, noting in a sworn statement that he'd "misstated, exaggerated and falsely characterized" his tale about Assistant District Attorney Barbara Wilkanowski.

"As a result of information I obtained through mutual friends, I had personal information about ADA Wilkanowski and knew of her kind nature and took advantage of this information," Bonelli wrote in the statement filed in Queens Supreme Court.

Bonelli recanted all earlier claims that Wilkanowski promised to intervene in his 2006 coke bust case on condition that he hire Manhattan defense lawyerRobert Kelly. He also withdrew his claim that Wilkanowski and Kelly were romantically involved.

"The recantation absolves Mr. Kelly and Ms. Wilkanowski of any impropriety," said Kelly's lawyer Marvin Ray Raskin. "They are not now and never have been boyfriend or girlfriend. They know each other from court, nothing more."

Bonelli submitted his statement with his guilty plea to the 2006 drug bust and an assault charge that occurred outside a Whitestone bar on Dec. 28, 2007. He was sentenced to five years.