Former Bonanno captain Peter Lovaglio and associate Steven Sabella are key figures in the feds case against the supposed New York Mafia leaders. Assistant US Attorney Gina Castellano described both defendants as violent mobsters who loan shark and extort people and are guilty of multiple crimes. She also said in her opening statement to the jury that “These two men led a sophisticated criminal organization that took whatever they wanted from whoever they wanted through intimidation, through threats and violence.”
“Peter (Pug) Lovaglio”
While on the stand Lovaglio described a meeting that took place back in 2015 where he claims Cammarano also known as “Joe C” was elected as acting boss of the Cosa Nostra family. Prosecutors showed the jury photo’s of Bonanno family members entering a garage and Lovaglio followed saying “That was the day we had the meeting to vote Joe in.” According to reports Lovaglio successfully caught Cammarano on tape talking about his role as current head of the NY Mafia family along with the families rising status under his leadership. He also discussed the structure of the family under him along with a dispute that has taken place between the Bonanno’s and the Gambino family.
The defense attacked Lovaglio’s character including the fact that he was deactivated as a confidential informant by the feds for withholding information about crimes he had committed. Lovaglio also described an assault that took place at a Staten Island Sushi restaurant which included him striking the owner in the face with a glass ultimately blinding him in one eye. It was a glimpse into a long criminal history in organized crime which has led to Lovaglio having spent multiple years in prison including an eight-year stretch he is currently in for.
Sabella took the stand in Manhattan Federal Court and told the jury about his business and personal dealings with Zancocchio. He claimed that he, Zancocchio and other mafia associates co-owned and operated Pulse Gentlemen’s Club starting back in 2000. He told the jury that Zancocchio had taken a hefty cut of the profits from the club. He went on to give details of an assault at the hands of Zancocchio that took place in the back room of the club back in 2014.
According to Sabella the two men rarely got along saying that tensions had simmered between them for years. He said an unfounded rumor at the time (Zancocchio reportedly believed that Sabella had acted inappropriately with his daughter) enraged the alleged wiseguy leading to the altercation. A meeting took place in the fall of 2014 in the clubs back room between himself, Zancocchio, Joseph (Joe Valet) Sabella and Jerry Chili. Porky seemed angry but introduced him to Joe Valet but after the exchange of pleasantries, Zancocchio punched him in the face.
Sabella testified that “He continued to punch and kick me, I just tried to fend off the blows. The beating stopped when Chili yelled “Enough!” He said that he sustained various injuries including a busted nose and a back eye but being involved in organized crime you don’t go to the police. When asked how he felt about Porky now by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Swergold he said: “I can’t stand the guy.” After the incident, Sabella said he was frozen out of his legit and mob-linked rackets including gambling, loan sharking and strip clubs.
He claims he lost approximately 2 million dollars in earnings almost instantly causing him to go into financial ruin. His marriage would eventually fall apart and last year he decided to switch teams and started cooperating with the feds. The defense also attacked Sabella’s character noting that he has once told investigators that he had a $400 dollar a week cocaine habit. Zancocchio’s attorney also noted what he described as racist and homophobic posts made by Sabella on a social media site belonging Porky’s granddaughter. The posts were made after Sabella had signed his cooperation agreement and he was asked if making those post had gotten his deal ripped up for which he said no.
Sabella also has his own legal problems at hand as he is facing 25 years behind bars for racketeering conspiracy and illegal gambling. Both Cammarano and Zancocchio are also facing extended sentences if convicted on the racketeering conspiracy charges.
UPDATE: Both Cammarano and Zancocchio have been acquitted (more info Here)