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Friday, August 15, 2008

Ex-sgt. was in on slay: sources

The New York Daily News by ALISON GENDAR AND JOHN MARZULLI - August 14, 2008

The fatal shooting of a Staten Island jeweler during a bungled robbery attempt was an inside job carried out with the help of a retired NYPD sergeant, law enforcement sources said Thursday. Two Genovese crime family associates and a third hoodlum were arraigned Thursday on federal charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty. But ex-Sgt. Jason Aiello is beyond the reach of the law - he was killed last month in a shootout with cops after escaping from a mental ward. Aiello was victim Louis Antonelli's bodyguard, but on April 29 he betrayed his best friend for a cut of the robbery proceeds, sources said. "The robbery team believed Antonelli would have hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewelry with him, and had been informed that Antonelli would be alone and unarmed," according to court papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. Aiello is not named in the documents, but sources said he set up Antonelli. "Aiello was the only one who knew where Antonelli was that day," said a police source. Federal prosecutors said mob associates Christopher Prince and Anthony Pica acted as lookouts while alleged gunman Charles Santiago ambushed the victim. The plan was not to kill Antonelli, only scare him, but Santiago opened fire, sources said. An alleged fourth accomplice, getaway driver Joseph Gencarelli, is cooperating with authorities. The crew commits robberies, burglaries and other crimes under the protection of the Mafia, said prosecutor John Buretta. "Mr. Antonelli's death reminds us that the Mafia continues to murder in order to make money," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell. Prince, 25; Pica, 29, and Santiago, 25, pleaded not guilty and were held without bail. Investigators suspected Aiello from the start because he wasn't carrying a gun. He suffered an apparent nervous breakdown last month from the strain of the probe. Aiello's attorney did not return a call for comment.

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