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FBI mob informant lawsuit can continue, judge rules

A federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday ruled that a former longtime FBI mob informant can continue a lawsuit claiming that the government maliciously exposed his identity and prosecuted him for a murder plot because he refused to follow their orders.

The suit by Joseph Barone alleges that when he refused an assignment that he thought was too dangerous, his handlers charged him with a murder for hire plot based on conversations he initiated as part of his undercover work. He was acquitted in 2010.

Manhattan U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan denied a government motion to dismiss claims for malicious prosecution and infliction of emotional distress, saying Barone’s allegations were solid grounds for a suit if he could prove them.

“Plaintiff alleges that the defendants, among other things, deliberately and maliciously arrested and prosecuted him for serious felonies, despite knowing his innocence,” the judge wrote. “This conduct, if it occurred, arguably would have been so outrageous in character and so extreme as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency …”

During his career as an informant, Barone says in his lawsuit, he helped thwart a plot to kill Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis and a federal prosecutor. Bonanno family leader Vincent Basciano was eventually prosecuted in that case.

“We’re very pleased with Judge Kaplan’s decision,” said Barone’s lawyer, Mark Weissman. A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office had no comment.

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