Nicholas “Nicky Mouth” Santora a reputed captain and former underboss in the Bonanno crime family and members of his alleged mafia crew are on trial in Manhattan.
Santora is charged with overseeing an illegal online gambling operation, loansharking, and the sale of prescription drug from 2010 to 2012. Prosecutors told jurors in the opening remarks that the New York mafia is still thriving and the Bonanno family was alive and well per the NY Post report. The old guard was training the new mob members to take the reins, according to ADA David Stuart as he laid out the case against Santora and his co-defendants.
Santora inspired the character played by Bruno Kirby in the mob film Donnie Brasco back in 1997. But Stuart remarked that this was not Hollywood and the crimes against the reputed mobsters were real and the mob in New York was far from dormant. He also cautioned jurors to not be fooled by the 73 year old mobsters appearance as he sat in his wheelchair at the defense table. One defense attorney claimed that Santora and his co-defendants, which include Anthony “Skinny” Santoro, Vito Badamo, and Ernest Aiello are nothing more than close friends that grew up together. He said his client was involved in a gambling operation that had nothing to do with the Bonanno family even though the idea of the mafia is sexy.
“Left to Right: Vito Badamo, Ernest Aiello, Anthony Santoro, Nicky Santora“
The defense also attacked the credibility of James Tartaglione a key cooperating witness for prosecutors in the case claiming he killed seven people. It was also noted by Santora’s lawyer that even though prosecutors claim the alleged mob capo was running a crew there was no physical evidence being put forward that linked him to such a crime. The state of the Bonanno crime family has been in question over the last few years after crushing blows by law enforcement to the Cosa Nostra family’s leadership aided by the cooperation of former high ranking members. But these claims of the family being alive and well coincide with the appointment of alleged new acting boss Joseph Cammarano Jr so perhaps the family is in better shape than it seemed or is at least ready to try and rebuild its ranks.