Frank Lino, 76, appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court Friday where Judge Nicholas Garaufis resentenced him for his raft of crimes.
BY JOHN MARZULLI
A former mob capo who traded membership in the Bonanno crime family for God and the government skated on six gangland murders Friday.
Frank Lino, 76, served more than eight years in prison after his 2003 arrest but was sentenced to time served in Brooklyn Federal Court as a reward for helping the feds.
Looking tanned, and wearing black-framed eyeglasses and a double-breasted suit, Lino sheepishly raised his hand when Judge Nicholas Garaufis glanced around the courtroom looking for him.
“Oh, in the business suit,” Garaufis observed.
Lino’s cooperation was “extraordinary” and helped to bring down some two dozen Bonannos including then-boss Joseph Massino, according to prosecutor Nicole Argentieri.
He also helped the feds recover the remains of three slain gangsters buried in mob graveyards.
“He has found God and with God’s good grace he’s where he should be, a grandfather of 15,” his lawyer, Barry Rhodes, said.
But Lino will spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder in the Witness Protection Program, in danger of being killed for breaking the Mafia code of silence.
The mob rat even provided information to the feds about his son Joseph, a reputed Bonanno soldier, and cousin Eddie Lino, according to court papers.
Lino wiped away tears as he apologized to families of the victims — none of whom was present — and shook the judge’s hand on the way out of the courtroom.
“Good luck,” Garaufis said.
Lino’s most famous hit was the 1981 rubout of Dominick (Sonny Black) Napolitano who was marked for death as punishment for befriending undercover FBI agent Donnie Brasco (Joseph Pistone) who infiltrated the crime family.
Lino was also implicated in the 1962 murder of two cops by associates of his, but Lino was not charged in the killings because he had been severely beaten by detectives at a police stationhouse.
Decades later, after Lino flipped, there was an extraordinary scene right out of “The Godfather: Part II” when fictional mob canary Frank Pentangeli’s brother was brought by the Corleone family from Sicily to sit in the audience at a Senate hearing in order to silence the would-be informant.
During a 2003 hearing, Lino’s brother appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court, stood up in the front row and asked Garaufis if he could speak to Frank.
In Friday’s hearing, Rhodes reminded the judge of the cinematic moment in his courtroom, adding that Lino has “spurned that sick world he was once part of.”
Lino is a free man in the Witness Protection Program along with Massino, who became the highest-ranking New York City mob boss to become a turncoat after he was convicted of racketeering and murder, and Massino’s brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale, who also helped the feds dismantle the Bonannos
Salvatore Vitale, who also helped the feds dismantle the Bonannos.
Lino was a 10th-grade dropout who knocked around as a driver for a funeral home and a stockboy before he became involved with the Genovese and Colombo families.
He received his button from the Bonannos in 1977 and embarked on a lifetime of crime.
But Garaufis said Lino appeared to be truly remorseful for the acts of violence in his “past life.”