A federal jury has convicted Bartolomeo “Bobby ” Vernace for the murders of John D’Agnese and Richard Godkin in 1981. Vernace a captain in the Gambino crime family was so highly regarded that he was at one time a member of a ruling panel which ran the family operations. Back in 1998 Vernace beat state murder charges for allegedly killing D’Agnese and Godkin to avenge a drink that was spilled on the girlfriend of fellow Gambino family mobster Frank Riccardi. Riccardi was also tried on state charges although separately from Vernace and was also acquitted and he later died in 2007.
In the previous state trial the prosecutions were hindered when key witnesses Joseph Patrick Sullivan and Linda Gotti refused to testify in fear of the Mafia. But after three decades they were now ready to tell the truth although the prosecution only used Sullivan on the stand his testimony sealed the fate of Vernace. Sources close to the case say Vernace turned down a plea deal offered calling for him to spend 12 years in prison and instead took his chances in court. When the verdict was read Vernace merely shrugged as the wife and daughters of Godkin wept tears of joy that justice was finally served. Defense attorney Charles Carnesi said he never questions a jury’s verdict but he will review the records and all of the options available to Vernace.