After a three month trial and over a week of deliberation in the three-year-long case against alleged Bonanno crime family mobsters, the case ends in a mistrial.
Nicholas Santora, Anthony “Skinny” Santoro, Ernest Aiello, and Vito Badamo were accused of enterprise corruption which included drug trafficking, loansharking, and illegal gambling according to authorities. Santora was the ringleader of the nine-man New York mafia crew that was busted back in 2013 according to prosecutors. The defendants have been incarcerated for the last three years and are expected to request bail while prosecutors decide whether or not they will retry the case.
“Vito Badamo, Anthony “Skinny” Santoro, Ernest Aiello and Nicholas Santora (seated from left to right)”
A defense request for a mistrial was granted by Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer after juror #9 told the court he could not go on. According to the juror his opinions were not being considered by the rest of the jury as he felt they were only worried about getting a guilty verdict. He told the court “They’re not listening to me. I can no longer sit there and listen to them anymore. I want to make sure what I render is just, not just because we don’t want to be here anymore or we’ve been here for three months.”
Before this shocking development occurred juror #1 had been dismissed from the jury after the panel voiced concerns over his ability to hear any of the wiretap evidence played during the deliberations. The judge brought in each juror separately and asked about juror #1 and several expressed their concerns about his ability to hear the evidence. But juror # 9 said, “He was able to hear just fine, he just kept getting attacked and they didn’t like his responses.” When asked whether or not he understood all of the evidence juror #1 said yes. Once juror #1 was dismissed juror #9 asked to speak to the court.
Juror #9 then informed the court that he was “pissed” and claimed he and juror #1 were ganged up on because they disagreed with the rest of the jury. He said “We were in the minority on this, we’ve been getting attacked on stupid things because we don’t see eye to eye. It’s not guilty until proven innocent, it’s innocent until proven guilty.” Supreme Court Judge Mark Dwyer has no choice but to declare a mistrial after these internal problems were brought to light. The prosecution can now either retry the mafia case, make plea deals with the defendants, or dismiss the charges.
A conference call has been scheduled for Wednesday to determine the course of action but prosecutors indicated they intend to retry the case against the Bonanno family suspects. Manhattan District Attorney’s office director of communications said “The inability of one juror to continue deliberating is not a reflection on the overall strength of the case,” and they intended to notify the court of their intentions for a retrial. This is yet another misstep by prosecutors of late in trials against the Cosa Nostra families of the NY mafia.
The judge set bail for Anthony Santoro, Vito Badamo, and Ernest Aiello at $500,000 bond and $250,000 cash along with $1 million dollar bond and $500,000 cash for alleged mob leader Nicholas Santora.