Lawyer drops discrimination suit against Williamsburg bakery after learning co-owner has possible mob ties


BY JOHN MARZULLI
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Drop the lawsuit, take the cannoli.
The lawyer for a disabled woman suing a Brooklyn pastry shop for not being wheelchair-accessible withdrew the lawsuit just days after learning the bakery’s co-owner has reputed ties to the Mafia and was tried for a gangland murder, the Daily News has learned.
Valerie Williams, 50, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was shocked to learn Wednesday that lawyer Donald Weiss had filed papers in Brooklyn Federal Court dropping her discrimination suit against Fortunato Brothers Café and Bakery in Williamsburg.
Williams immediately contacted the law firm and said an associate told her the suit had been withdrawn “for my safety.”
“He (Weiss) must be scared of them,” Williams said. “I don’t have anything against the establishment. I just wanted a wheelchair ramp.”
Williams said she has been customer of the bakery for years, but finally got fed up with having to wait outside while friends purchased her favorite chocolate mousse pastry because she couldn’t navigate the two steps at the entrance.
“I used to make a joke about the men standing outside, I called them ‘The Godfathers,’” she said. “I live in the Spanish section (of Williamsburg) and when you go into the Italian section it’s a whole other world.”
Weiss filed the suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act on June 3.
The following day Weiss told The News that he was unaware that prosecutors had alleged bakery co-owner Mario Fortunato was an associate of the Genovese crime family and had been convicted both in state and federal courts of participating in the 1994 murder of loanshark Tino Lombardi in the San Giuseppe Social Club on Graham Ave., and the wounding of Lombardi’s cousin, Michael D’Urso.
Both convictions were overturned on appeal and Fortunato pocketed a $300,000 settlement from the state earlier this year.
Weiss filed a “notice of voluntary dismissal” of the suit Wednesday.
Neither Weiss nor the bakery returned calls for comment.
Williams said she is so upset that about the suit being dropped without consulting her, she is reconsidering the law firm representing her in a similar discrimination suit that is pending against a Spanish restaurant. In the complaint against Fortunato Brothers, Williams claimed she was entitled to recover $2,000 in damages plus $500 for each of the 34 alleged violations found in the entrance, dining area and bathroom.

“I have nothing against them. I don’t know the owner. I just love their pastries,” Williams said.

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