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FBI paid $25K to lure organized crime figures into fancy dinner trap

February 2, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
FBI paid $25K to lure organized crime figures into fancy dinner trap

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The FBI paid $25,000 to entice 20 mobsters to a gangland “Last Supper” — all with a gang turncoat in the role of Judas — before authorities later arrested them all.

FBI Special Agent William Inzerillo revealed the setup on Wednesday under cross-examination at the racketeering trial of notorious Philadelphia mob leader Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, who was among the people that attended the restaurant at the “Cosa Nostra Christmas party” in The Bronx.

“We supplied money. We paid for the party. Over 20 people attended, and we paid for all of them,” Inzerillo said in Manhattan federal court.

Almost all of the mobsters who filled themselves with gnocchi Bolognese and fettuccine at Pasquale’s Rigoletto on Arthur Avenue were later apprehended during a massive roundup of 46 mobsters in 2016.

This included the restaurant’s namesake owner, infamous Genovese crime-family capo Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello, Merlino and acting capo Eugene “Rooster” O’Nofrio.

The 2014 get together signified the only time that the trio — who the feds say were important figures in a massive, multi-crime-family racketeering plot — were together during the feds’ five-year probe.

At one point, they even posed for a picture and “joked that the photo was going to get them arrested.”

The mobster party was organized so Manhattan prosecutors would have jurisdiction to charge Merlino ,the New York Post reported.

In fact, the feds even gave him a ticket to fly from Boca Raton, Florida. Inzerillo testified that the cash for the party was given to mob rat John Rubeo “to give to Parrello,” and Rubeo also used FBI cash for Merlino’s plane ticket.

“We gave [Rubeo] $5,000 for the flight and transportation for [Merlino] and his wife,” Inzerillo stated.

At one point during the questioning, defense attorney Edwin Jacobs Jr. asked why the feds agreed to underwrite the excessive cost of the “Cosa Nostra Christmas party.”

“We didn’t want to pay for it, but that was what [Rubeo] needed,” Inzerillo responded.

Jacobs — who in 2001 assisted Merlino in beating three murder raps — also asked why taxpayers paid for the hefty bill for Merlino to attend.

“He always said he was broke,” Inzerillo continued.

After Inzerillo’s testimony, 42-year-old Rubeo spent over six hours spilling his guts on the stand.

The incarcerated former Genovese associate said he decided to rat in an attempt to avoid life in prison for drug dealing and other crimes.

Prosecutors played almost 20 secret recordings Rubeo made, including one in which he contended to a fellow mafioso, “Listen. I’m not a scumbag.”

The assertion led to a derisive snort from Merlino’s wife, Deborah, while a froup in the gallery repeated Rubeo’s words, and said: “Yeah, right.”

Parrello, 73, pleaded guilty in 2017 to extortion and was sentenced to seven years — leading to gasps of shock from his supporters in the courtroom.

Before he was sentenced, Judge Richard Sullivan — who’s presiding over Merlino’s trial — coldly said to Parrello that he could have gone straight after a previous prison stint.

“There’s a history of capos who have died in prison,” Sullivan said to the aging, half-deaf gangster.

“You must have understood, you had 88 months to think about it.”

Charges against O’Nofrio are still pending.

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