An 82-year-old reputed boss in the Bonanno crime family, Vincent Asaro, and John J. Gotti, grandson of the late Queens crime boss John Gotti, were responsible for setting fire to the car of a man who cut in front of Asaro in traffic, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
That arson was among a series of crimes — including a jewelry store robbery in Franklin Square, a home invasion in Queens and a bank robbery in Queens — alleged in two indictments unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn that named Asaro, Gotti, 23, and five other men, all Queens residents.
In a widely publicized trial, Asaro was acquitted in November 2015 on federal racketeering charges involving the theft of more than $6 million in cash and jewels from a Lufthansa facility at Kennedy Airport in 1978. Court testimony and law enforcement sources said he has been with the Bonanno crime family in various capacities for over three decades, mostly recently as a captain and part of a ruling family committee.
Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said in a statement that the arson charge stemmed from a road rage incident in Howard Beach in April 2012 when another motorist switched lanes in front of Asaro at a traffic light. Asaro later got the home address of the vehicle owner and ordered a mob associate to set fire to the vehicle, the prosecutor said.
Rohde alleged that the associate then recruited Gotti and Matthew Rullan, 26, and all three men set fire to the car on April 4, 2012.
Two weeks after that, Gotti, Rullan and Michael Guidici, 22, of Queens, robbed the Maspeth Federal Savings and Loan Association by claiming to have a bomb, she said. They got away with $5,491, the prosecutor said.
Christopher Boothby, 37, an alleged member of the Bonanno crime family, and Matthew Hattley, 26, stole $50,000 in cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry during a home invasion in Queens on March 12, 2014, the prosecutor said.
Hattley and Darren Elliott, 30, are charged with the gunpoint robbery of a jewelry store in Franklin Square and getting away with $250,000 in merchandise, the prosecutor said. The store owners were tied up and menaced with guns, she said.
They are also charged with the attempted robbery of two jewelry stores in Franklin Square between Aug. 17, 2011, and May 4, 2012, the prosecutor said.
At arraignments late Wednesday, Asaro, Gotti, Rullan and Guidici, pleaded not guilty. Boothy, Hattley and Elliott were slated for arraignment later.
Asaro’s defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio said after court that “we have faced these unfounded allegations before and refuted them and feel we can do it again,” referring to the prior acquittal in the Lufthansa trial.
Gotti is currently serving an eight year state sentence on a drug case and will not be eligible for bail. His father is Peter Gotti, the son of the late mob boss John Gotti who died in 2002 in a federal prison. Asaro and Rullan consented to be temporarily detained pending bail applications. Guidici was released on a $1 million bond by Judge Roslyn Mauskopf.