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Daily Archives: July 27th, 2009

carneglia 2

CADMAN PLAZA EAST — Sentencing is scheduled this week for Charles Carneglia, a Gambino crime family soldier who was convicted in March of racketeering, extortion and four gangland murders.

Though the feared Mafia assassin faces life in prison, Carneglia was acquitted of the most infamous of the murders for which he was charged — that of a Brooklyn court officer in 1976.

Carneglia, 61, was acquitted of the murder of Brooklyn Criminal Court Officer Albert Gelb, and of the conspiracy to murder Gelb, who prosecutors said was shot to death to stop him from testifying against Carneglia on a gun charge. He was 25 years old and the city’s most-decorated court officer at the time of his death.

Although Carneglia was acquitted of that murder, he was convicted of four others, including Gambino family associates Michael Cotillo and Salvatore Puma. He was convicted of conspiracy and murder in the death of Louis DiBono, a Gambino soldier whose death was ordered for a perceived snub to “Dapper Don” John Gotti Sr., and was convicted of armed robbery and felony murder in the death of Jose Rivera, an armored-truck guard at JFK Airport.

Although some of the various counts against Carneglia were not proven, jurors mostly returned convictions — for charges including marijuana distribution, kidnapping, securities fraud and for the robberies of a Sears store and a funeral home. However, he was acquitted of extorting residents at the Greentree Condominums in Queens.

Carneglia was accused of five murders and various other conspiracy charges for crimes he allegedly committed for the Gotti organized crime family. He was convicted of four of the five murders.

Today, in Brooklyn Criminal Court hangs a bronze plaque commemorating Gelb, who had arrested Carneglia and was days away from testifying against him when he was killed. It still says that Gelb was killed “at the hand of an assassin.”

With evidence against him including hundreds of pages of documents from the FBI, jurors were certainly expected to take multiple days before returning a verdict. It took just about a week.

Carneglia’s defense was that he had retired from the mob in 2001, outside the five-year statute of limitations for racketeering.

Defense attorney Curtis Farber gave a passionate closing and criticized the government’s lack of evidence against Carneglia. He said Carneglia was a drunk with money problems, not a mafioso.

Witnesses called by the defense included Carneglia’s former barber and some of his friends. The barber, Frank Selvaggio, has cut Carneglia’s hair for years and said that around 2001Carneglia told him he was retired and that he was upset people still considered him a mobster.

John White, a younger man and bank robber, was with Carneglia in Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institute. He testified that Carneglia protected him when a convict named “Moe” stalked him for jailhouse sex.

Two friends from Howard Beach also testified that Carneglia was a good person and said he was dedicated to his 95-year-old mother, whom he told that he’s currently working in California rather than admit he’s in prison. 

 thanks Samuel Newhouse