Nicky “Cigars” Santora an alleged captain in the Bonanno crime family was arrested last July along with eight other reputed mobsters in a case that include charges of racketeering, drug trafficking, loansharking, and illegal gambling. Although he has a criminal record that dates back all the way to the 1960’s he claims he has been falsely accused of being a mobster. His attorney Michael Alber told the court that his Santora was not a member of the New York mafia and did not hold the rank of Capo or Consigliere in the Bonanno family as the feds have claimed. He also argued that lunch and dinner meetings Santora had which included other reputed Bonanno family members were simply Italian tradition with old friends and not used to conduct mafia business as the feds have claimed.
“Nicky Santora in court”
Albers said restaurants and diners are where Santora liked to socialize and would often simply be eating out with friends. But prosecutors used these meetings with mobsters which included alleged Bonanno family underboss Vito Badamo as a means to get Santora’s phone taped and his home raided as part of the corruption case. According to the feds Santora and Badamo met at diners and the Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival to conduct mob business like the handing off of gambling profits. But Albers claims these meetings were simply to break bread with an old family friend. The meetings prove nothing Albers said and it is not a crime to meet people and eat.
Santora was caught on wiretaps setting up meetings with Badamo at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival where Badamo operated a zeppole stand in 2011. But Albers argues these conversations don’t include anything about illegal gambling or other mafia activities and are completely innocuous these meetings and wiretaps alone are insufficient evidence needed to establish a pattern or criminal activity or enterprise corruption. But the feds claim Santora was also caught on wiretaps grooming a mob underling telling him to “stop acting like a clown” and “When i leave your going to be taking over the neighborhood and you have to know how and what your doing”.
Albers claims that the whole indictment should be thrown out of court because Santora already pleaded guilty in 2012 to similar charges during the same time span and its double jeopardy. He said the charges virtually mirror each other so this current 158 page indictment should be tossed. Santora and his fellow wiseguys face up to 25 years in prison if convicted in the enterprise corruption case.