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Prosecutor Says Convictions a Victory Over Organized Crime

June 29, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ A prosecutor hailed the racketeering convictions of seven men linked to 11 killings as a victory over some of ″the most vicious and violent″ mobsters.

″The number and ferocity of the crimes charged and proved in this case are difficult to comprehend for normal individuals,″ U.S. Attorney Benito Romano said. ″They ruled their turf with absolute disregard for human life.″

Five of the defendants were involved in the slayings that prosecutors claimed were carried out in connection with other crimes committed by associates of the Gambino family.

The crimes included narcotics trafficking, pornography, auto theft, loan sharking and extortion.

Among those slain were witnesses and intermediaries for Florida drug dealers. Some victims were dismembered and put in garbage bags.

A defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said there would be an appeal.

He said the verdict showed the ″patent unfairness″ of a multidefendant trial, which took 17 months and was one of the longest federal criminal trials ever.

″If you put enough defendants in a room and enough criminal charges in an indictment and if the trial takes long enough, the jurors will feel an obligation to convict in light of the enormous time and expenditure of the government,″ he said.

After the verdict, U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Broderick immediately revoked the bail of all but one defendant.

″These defendants were the most vicious and violent members and associates of organized crime that have ever been brought to trial,″ Romano said. ″New Yorkers can feel a little safer today and the mob, I think, considerably weaker.″

Prosecutors said the crew, which operated out of an apartment in Brooklyn, was headed by Roy DeMeo, who was killed by gang members in a power struggle in 1983.

Jurors, who heard 207 witnesses, appeared grim and tired as the foreman read back guilty verdicts on all 17 counts.

They had deliberated 12 days.

The numerous murder allegations were part of racketeering and conspiracy charges against Anthony Senter, 34, Ronald Ustica, 44, Joseph Testa, 34, Salvatore Mangialino, 52, and Douglas Rega, 39.

Other defendants convicted of racketeering in counts that did not include murder allegations were Sol Hellman, 63, and Carlo Profeta, 46. Hellman was allowed to remain free on bail.

Testa and Senter, who were convicted of conspiring to murder a witness against the stolen car operation, face possible life sentences. The other defendants could receive prison terms of 20 years.

Broderick scheduled sentencing for Sept. 13.

The case, which dates from a 1984 indictment, is one of the last in a series of widely publicized, mob-related prosecutions brought by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

The original 78-count indictment charged that Paul Castellano headed a racketeering enterprise, the Gambino family.

U.S. District Judge Kevin T. Duffy, who originally had the case, broke it up in 1985, with the first trial focusing on a car-theft ring that allegedly stole hundreds of cars in New York.

Before the conclusion of that case, Castellano was slain outside a restaurant. Eventually six of eight defendants in that trial were convicted of various charges.