A Melville man faces 25 years to life in prison after being convicted Monday of shooting a beloved Brooklyn pizzeria owner to death in an apparent robbery gone wrong three years ago in Brooklyn, authorities said.
Andres "Andy" Fernandez, 44, was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the killing of L&B Spumoni Gardens owner Louis Barbati following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Fernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 8.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said surveillance video and other evidence showed that Fernandez, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, lay in wait for Barbati, 61, on June 30, 2016, shooting him as he exited his car outside his Dyker Heights home on 12th Avenue about 7 p.m.
Authorities said Barbati, who'd left L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend, Brooklyn, about 6:40 p.m., was carrying a bag filled with $15,483 cash when he was shot. They said Fernandez took off without taking the money. Authorities said evidence showed Fernandez had been in the vicinity of the restaurant, located on 86th Street, earlier in the day.
Investigators initially considered many different possible motives for the slaying, including that it might have been tied to the mob or related to a dispute over the recipe used for the restaurant's famed pizza sauce, but ultimately concluded it was just a robbery gone wrong.
Authorities said video surveillance showed Fernandez lurking near Barbati's home just before the shooting and said the footage showed the assailant parking his car near the house, putting on a dark glove and holding a firearm as he waited behind a tree for Barbati to arrive.
The footage did not show the actual shooting but did show Fernandez walking across the street with the gun, then fleeing to a white Acura with a license plate later traced to him.
The criminal complaint against Fernandez, who was charged on Nov. 3, 2016, said "multiple individuals" identified him from the video and said cellphone records also showed he was in the vicinity of the restaurant earlier in the day, as well as being present at the murder scene.
"With today's verdict this defendant has been brought to justice for the murder of a beloved husband, father and fixture of the Gravesend community," Gonzalez said in a statement, adding: "I commend the jury for its hard work convicting this defendant, and for bringing some solace to the family, friends and many Brooklynites affected by this senseless tragedy."