By Rich Calder
A reputed Gambino crime-family associate was cleared Thursday of taking part in the last rubout believed ordered by the late mob boss John Gotti.
The feds dropped their witness-tampering case against ex-con Daniel Fama, 49, telling a Manhattan federal judge they didn’t have enough evidence that Fama was part of the plot to silence demolition contractor Edward Garofalo in August 1990 by gunning him down outside his home in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.
Garofalo, known as “Eddie the Chink,” was killed to keep him from cooperating with authorities and Fama drove hit men Frank “Frankie Fapp” Fappiano and Joseph “Little Joey” D’Angelo to and from the crime scene, the feds had claimed.
“There was not enough to show that Mr. Fama” tried to “obstruct a grand jury investigation,” federal prosecutor Jason Masimore told Judge John Keenan.
A stone-faced Fama remained silent in court upon hearing the good news and declined comment afterwards.
Fama, of Manhattan, was busted in April 2013 on the charges of killing an informant to obstruct justice. He had previously spent 17 years in the slammer for racketeering before being sprung in 2009.
Fama had been out on bail since November after his lawyers showed the judge testimony from former Gotti underboss-turned-rat Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. The lawyers claimed it refuted any allegations that Fama knew the murder plan was to rub out a government snitch.
Federal statute of limitations had passed for the government to charge Fama with conventional murder that doesn’t involve witness tampering.
“Gravano is prepared to testify that John Gotti ordered him to kill Garofalo for a variety of reasons,” the lawyers wrote in the bail application. “Moreover, Gravano will testify that he assembled a team to carry out the murder but he never told any of the participants the motive for the murder.”
Fama’s lawyer Charles Carnesi on Thursday said the case should have never gone forward because the FBI agent who made the bust relied on the same “evidence” that Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bhahara’s office also reviewed before opting to drop the charges.
“It was a difficult decision for the US Attorney’s office to make, but I have the greatest admiration for them,” said Carnesi.
Carnesi also said he doubted his client would have to face similar charges someday in state court where the statute of limitations don’t apply.
“Mr. Fama spent 17 years incarcerated,” he said. “He’s been a productive citizen ever since.”