Investigators believe the killing late Thursday of a co-owner of a popular Brooklyn pizzeria, once linked to a mob-extortion case, appears to be the result of a botched robbery.
Louis Barbati, 61, was shot dead outside his Dyker Heights home about 7 p.m. while returning from his L & B Spumoni Gardens with what the NYPD said was a considerable amount of cash in his pockets.
Barbati, who had left the restaurant about 6:30 p.m., had just pulled into the driveway of his 12th Avenue home when a man dressed in a dark hooded sweatshirt came up to him and started firing, hitting Barbati numerous times, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
It was unusual for Barbati to return home with cash after a workday, Boyce said.
“It is not something he normally does, so we are looking into that as a possible robbery motive, nothing else has come up, other than robbery right now,” Boyce said. He added that police were reviewing a bunch of private security camera video as they hunt to identify the shooter.
Boyce said no money appeared to have been taken from Barbati, whose wife and children were at home when he was killed. He wouldn’t specify how much money Barbati was carrying, although reports said it was as much as $15,000.
Boyce acknowledged that he was aware of recent allegations about a mob extortion case linked to L & B Spumoni, though he didn’t think it had any link to the killing.
In 2012 reputed Colombo crime family associate Francis Guerra went on trial after being indicted on charges he tried to extort a Staten Island pizzeria owner who he thought had stolen a secret pizza sauce recipe used by L & B Spumoni. However, a Brooklyn federal court jury acquitted Guerra of the extortion charge, as well as allegations he had been involved in some mob killings.
Boyce said despite the mob lore, Barbati seemed to be a regular businessman.
“We found him to be a regular citizen, with no issues, he has never been arrested, no issues at all,” Boyce said at an unrelated news conference on the NYPD’s July Fourth security preparations. “There were some recipe things going on a couple of years ago. We don’t believe that has anything to do at all” with the killing.