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Reputed Bonanno family mob boss and Gotti grandson plead guilty to arson charge

John J. Gotti (left), grandson of the deceased

John J. Gotti (left), grandson of the deceased mob boss John Gotti, and Vincent Asaro pled guilty to setting fire to the car of a man who cut in front of Asaro in traffic. Photo Credit: Andrew Schwartz; Anthony Lanzilote

Eighty-two-year-old reputed Bonanno family mob boss Vincent Asaro and John J. Gotti, the grandson of the late Gambino family boss, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court to arson for torching the car of a man who cut off Asaro in traffic.

Asaro, who won a near miraculous acquittal in 2015 of charges that he was part of the notorious $6 million Lufthansa heist in 1978, faces 41 to 51 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, while Gotti faces 60 to 71 months.

In March, prosecutors said that after another motorist cut in front of Asaro at a traffic light, he obtained the owner’s address and ordered an associate to arrange to set the car on fire, and the associate recruited Gotti and another man to carry it out.

Asaro, of Queens, who admitted to using facilities of interstate commerce to procure the arson in violation of the federal Travel Act, emphasized to U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross that he would never cooperate against anyone, and he didn’t know who the associate hired to commit the arson.

“I made arrangements with this person to take care of it, and it was done,” he said.

Asaro is suffering from liver and heart ailments, among other problems, and his lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio said afterward that she hoped his sentence — scheduled for Oct. 24 — would reflect his age and health. “He has his good days and his bad days,” Macedonio told reporters.

But the aging alleged mobster’s sentencing could also be affected by his past behavior.

The government could bring up his alleged role in the Lufthansa case, despite his acquittal, and in a bail argument in May prosecutors said he made threats in jail about both a witness in the Lufthansa case and the woman who has prosecuted both the Lufthansa and the arson case.

Gotti, 23, of Queens, said he agreed with “others” to burn the vehicle in Broad Channel, Queens. “Together we set fire to the vehicle,” he said. “My role was to drive the getaway car.”

He pleaded guilty under a different federal statute than Asaro, and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

Gotti also admitted, for purposes of sentencing, to having participated in a bank robbery. He is currently serving an 8-year state drug sentence, and prosecutors agreed to recommend that half of his federal sentence run concurrent with his state sentence.

Gotti’s accomplice in the arson, Matthew Rullan, 26, of Queens, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to bank robbery, and agreed to admit to the arson for the purposes of sentencing.

Ross set the sentencings for Oct. 24.


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