Alleged mobster in custody in Honolulu after indictment


POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

An alleged associate of a New York Mafia crime family is in custody in Honolulu awaiting a decision by a federal judge in Brooklyn on whether he can return to New York on his own to face racketeering charges or return in custody.

Vito Pipitone, 27, was on his honeymoon here when he turned himself in Wednesday after learning that his brother and other alleged leaders, members and associates of the Bonanno organized crime family had been arrested in New York on federal charges.

A grand jury in New York returned a 33-count indictment Sept. 30 charging Pipitone, his brother Anthony and 13 others with extortion, bank fraud, narcotics trafficking, illegal gambling and assault, all in support of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. The District Court in Brooklyn kept the indictment under seal until Wednesday.

Pipitone is charged with conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon and with intent to cause bodily injury, assault in aid of racketeering with a dangerous weapon, and assault in aid of racketeering with intent to cause serious bodily injury.

The charges stem from an Oct. 10, 2004, incident in which Pipitone, his brother and three others charged in the indictment allegedly stabbed and beat two men they believed were responsible for breaking the windows of a protected restaurant in Queens, federal prosecutors said in court documents.

The beating led to the hospitalization of both victims, one with serious bodily injuries including a punctured lung.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi denied the government's request on Wednesday to order Pipitone held in custody without the opportunity for bail pending his transfer to New York and ordered Pipitone released on a $50,000 signature bond.

Kobayashi noted that Pipitone turned himself in, is a lifelong resident of New York, does not have a criminal record, has a sponsor who does not have a criminal record and does not have a significant history of travel to foreign countries.

The government is appealing Kobayashi's order to a district judge in Brooklyn.