Joe Bruno on the Mob – Charges Dropped on Knife Fight Between Pizza Chef and Reputed Gangster

This is the way things were always solved in the old neighborhood, and the police would have never been called in the first place.

It was alleged that Brooklyn pizzeria owner Marc Iacono and reputed gangster Batista “Benny” Geritano got into a knife fight in front of Joe’s Superette, a deli in the Carol Gardens section of Brooklyn. Both men were badly injured. Geritano was brought to the hospital by his girlfriend. Iacono was taken by ambulance to a different hospital. The police, after putting two and two together, arrested both men.

The only problem was, both men, true to the code of the streets, didn’t rat out the other man as the one who knifed him. So with no witnesses, and no cooperation from either stabbee (I just made that word up), the police had no alternative but to drop the case completely.

Like I said up top, this is the way things were always handed in the old neighborhood (in New York City’s Little Italy).

Three words I never heard uttered there were, “Call the Police.”

Could never happen.

The article below appeared in the New York Times.

All Charges Are Dropped in an Attack in Brooklyn

June 22, 2011

The scene, on a Friday afternoon in April, seemed a chaotic clash of old and new Brooklyn: A celebrated pizza chef and a mob henchman, acquaintances from the neighborhood, were slashing each other on Smith Street.

The fight occurred outside a weathered institution, Joe’s Superette, a deli in Carroll Gardens well known for its deep fried prosciutto balls. It was just a few blocks from Lucali, over on Henry Street, where the pizza chef, Mark Iacono, 44, tended to the thin-crust pies he made in his wood-burning oven, which have drawn rave reviews, along with A-list celebrities, since 2006.

But Mr. Iacono, who suffered significant blood loss, was not the only victim. The police said the other man in the fight, Batista Geritano, known as Benny, was a victim as well, and eventually the police charged both men with attempted murder and other crimes.

Both, however, declined to testify against the other, fearing self-incrimination. Neither blinked, and so each walked away happy on Tuesday, when the Brooklyn district attorney dismissed all charges.

“At the end of the day, we did not have a case to take to the grand jury,” said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

According to the police, Mr. Iacono and Mr. Geritano, who is described by a law enforcement official as a Genovese family associate with several convictions for weapons possession and jumping bail, became involved in a furious argument inside Joe’s Superette. The dispute spilled onto the street, the police said.

Mr. Geritano’s girlfriend pulled up, the police said, and drove him to the hospital, where he was treated for slash wounds. Officers arrived at the hospital to arrest him.

Mr. Iacono, meanwhile, was taken to Lutheran Medical Center by ambulance. Three days later, he also was charged.

The police tried to figure out how the fight began. Speculation included a romantic dispute, money issues and an attempt by Mr. Geritano to force Mr. Iacono to cooperate with the mob.

Since it was not clear just who was the victim and who the attacker, prosecutors would not grant immunity to either man were he to testify before a grand jury. The risk of self-incrimination was apparently too high, and without the cooperation of at least one of the men, the case could not go forward.

“We have been insisting that Mr. Geritano was the victim in this situation, having suffered the first blow in this melee between the two men, a stab wound to his back,” his lawyer, Steven R. Kartagener, said. “We are quite pleased that justice was done in the charges being dismissed against Mr. Geritano.”

Mr. Iacono’s lawyer, James Frocarro, said Mr. Iacono was “very happy with the result.”

Mr. Iacono, whose brother Chris is also a pizzaiolo and recently opened a restaurant in South Park Slope, spent two years building Lucali, creating it out of what was once his favorite neighborhood candy store, Louie’s. His artisanal pies draw the foodies and the famous to the modest brick restaurant with the farm tables inside.

Lucali was briefly closed after the fight, but Mr. Iacono eventually returned to work. “He is fine,” Mr. Frocarro said.

Mr. Geritano, 38, is under house arrest, facing federal charges that he violated the conditions of his release from an earlier prison sentence.

The longtime owner of Joe’s Superette, Leo Caladonato, died in May, and the deli, along with its deep fried prosciutto balls, are now gone.


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