Feature Articles

July 2002

Carmine Agnello

By John William Tuohy

"He's gonna get indicted some day, this moron" John Gotti.

     With his father-law and brother-in-law behind bars, the government has decided to slam dunk, Carmine Agnello, husband of Gotti's daughter, Victoria.

     The problem m ore or less started when Agnello also sued the New York Racing Association, which runs the Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga tracks, because they barred him for life from entering the tracks. Agnello said the ban is a violation of his constitutional rights.

     The government responded with a raid of Sutphin Auto Parts, in Jamaica, Queens, business that authorities believe is owned by Agnello, police took a loaded .380-caliber handgun and a sawed-off shotgun in the store's office.

     The handgun was found in a briefcase. The shotgun was taped to the underside of an office desk - with the barrel pointing forward, but since the weapons were seized using a search warrant that was overly broad and was based on police information that was improperly obtained.

     Police asked for the warrant after a detective who was staking out the Auto Parts store during a stolen car parts investigation, saw an employee frantically taking objects from a desk drawer. The detective said he walked into the office, saying later he feared for his safety and feared evidence was being destroyed. Once inside, he saw ammunition boxes in an open drawer. Based on the detective's observations, a judge issued a search warrant.

     A Queens judge later ruled that the police improperly seized guns from Agnello and that the detective should not have entered the office. The sworn statement "fails to provide a reasonable basis to believe [the detective] feared for his safety or that the destruction of evidence was occurring," Robinson said.

     Agnello�s hair-trigger temper is well known within the Gambino operation, something his family members explained away as a chemical imbalance, regulated with medication.

     Over the years, Agnello has scuffled with cops writing him traffic tickets,. And prosecutors say he threatened to break the fingers of a debt collector and put him in the trunk of a car, and the indictment says he threatened to hit a stockbroker with a hammer.

     Agnello said he never threatened the broker but that the conversation occurred after the man lost $500,000 of Agnello's money.

     Agnello was, apparently, difficult to work for. In one secretly recorded conversation he is overheard confronting a worker who is not piling enough cars onto an outgoing flatbed.

     "Let me explain something," Agnello says. "If I lose money, you're going to get hurt. If I don't lose money, you don't have to worry about getting hurt. That's your job. That's why you're going to get hit when I come in, because you're lying to me,"

     A while later Prosecutors dropped assault and harassment charges against Agnello because one of his alleged beating victim, Jose Pons, who had filed a police complaint claiming Agnello bashed him with a cellular telephone, refused to testify. Agnello said Pons fabricated the assault because he was fired by Agnello for stealing.

     A product of Ozone Park, Queens, Agnello pursued Victoria Gotti against her fathers wishes, picking her up every after noon in his Cadillac Seville at St. John's University.

     "He was from the other side of the tracks - not in the financial way, but he represented danger," Victoria said "He kept following me, so one day we went out. My family was wild."

     The two wed in 1984 and have three sons. As a father, Agnello earned a reputation as an indulgent parent was deeply involved in his children�s lives.

     In January of 1999, the New York City Police Department decided to do something about the mob's stranglehold on the Big Apple's scrap iron market, so they set up a sting by opening a dummy scrap yard, called Stadium Scrap Metals in Queens.

     Over a three-month period, undercover detectives brought in scores of dead car suppliers by paying top dollar, which caused a shortage of scrap for Agnello's business. That problem brought a visit from Agnello and his childhood pal, 390-lb. Joe "Jumbo" Burger. According to the Police, when they set up the sting, they weren't fishing for Agnello, rather, it was a trap he walked into.

     According to police, Agnello and Burger told the undercover cops at Stadium Scrap that he wanted them bring their business to his company, New York Shredding, saying "I'm sure I can do business with you, or I can just run you out of business."

     The undercover officers refused by telling Agnello they didn't want to pay the bridge tolls to send their cars from Queens to the Bronx.

     The meetings between Agnello and the undercover officers were recorded inside the offices of Stadium Scrap.

Agnello: I'm going to be forward with you ... I'm telling you what we can do, we can do business ... or we are going to be banging heads.

Undercover No. 10: I deal with Johnny D.

Agnello: I'm gonna have to get back to you ... (pause) Mike, what I'm trying to say to you ... I can do business with you or I can just run you out of business. ... (inaudible) You can't make it.

Undercover: I don't know if you know, but people down here are a little upset with you guys down here, the way you do business. ...

Joseph (Jumbo) Burger: Who's that?

Undercover: Everybody.

     On June 15, at Agnello's New York Shredder, 1340 E. Bay Ave. Agnello asks an unidentified man to throw a Molotov cocktail at Stadium Scrap, the undercover shop.

Agnello: Listen to me, all you gotta do is, all you gotta do is, buy glass bottles. ...

Male voice: And bust them?

Agnello: Yeah. And fill them up, and throw them all around the truck, all around the office.

Male voice: I don't even gotta open the gate?

Agnello: No, drive by, get a ... (inaudible) Get it, get it, I'll give you $2,000 ... (inaudible) glass bottles, real big water bottles. Throw them over the fence, throw them over the fence.

Male voice: All right, and just get it, everything all right.

Agnello: Get in your car, wing it, and keep on going.

     The man was caught by police, trying to break into Stadium Scrap. The man agreed to cooperate and told the cops that Mark LoMonaco, a friend of Agnello's, had promised to pay him $2,000 to burn down Stadium Scrap and that Agnello had told him to toss ten gasoline-filled bottles into the yard. The police helped the informant set a controlled fire that burned parts of Stadium Scraps office.

     He agreed to cooperate with the police and wear a wire. On June 21, the man returned to New York Shredder.

Male voice: Yo, I went there. There was only a flatbed in there I burnt. You heard it, right?

Agnello: You did?

Male voice: Yeah. I f-----g, I went in that yard, I burnt the flatbed. I didn't get the office. ... The crane guy started coming ... so I, I threw the gas on the flatbed, I burnt that s--t up, and I left.

     A few days later, Agnello was indicted and charged with coercion, conspiracy, grand larceny, arson and restraint of trade and enterprise corruption.

     They also had him on tape allegedly ordered the fire-bombings of two rivals, providing detailed instructions to a hired arsonist on how to carry out the plan using "thin glass bottles" and road flares. Another recording has Agnello bragging how a Bronx trucking company allegedly shut its doors less than two hours after Agnello personally threatened to put the owner and his partner "in the hospital" and "fucking out of business."

     Taken into custody, he was held on $10 million dollars bail, prompting his then attorney, Marvyn Kornberg, to remark, "That's not bail, it's a telephone number."

     His lawyers defended Agnello as an old-fashioned, six-day-a-week businessman with savvy "You don't find him in social clubs or out at nightclubs," said one of his attorneys, Larry Bronson. "He gets to work at 6 a.m. and he's there on Saturdays. He's a workaholic."

     As they did in the Gotti case, prosecutors moved to freeze Agnello's assets, and had police follow Victoria and surround an ATM machine at a Pathmark store to keep her from withdrawing money from the family accounts.

     And it was a list of impressive holding. New York Shredding Corporation was estimated to be worth $40 to 50 million dollars, and the scores of commercial and residential properties around the Queens' area, which he said he owned, have an estimated total value of $65 million. The couple's home in Old Westbury, Long Island, was worth $5 million which prompted the FBI to investigated how Agnello funded the house, on the premise that if the house could not be used for bail purposes if it was built with money obtained through crime.

     The investigation showed that the couple took out a mortgage of only $850,000, unusually small for a house of that value, but, investigators were unable to trace the source of funding for the house.

     A few days later, the Queens district attorney has moved to seize the house, bank accounts and two of Agnello's companies, New York Shredding and New York Scrap Metal. The FBI was also investigating Agnello�s ownership in CMJ Agnello Auto Parts, C&M Agnello Inc., Jamaica Auto Salvage, CMJ Glass Inc., Jamaica Auto Glass, Jamaica Auto Radiator, Liberty Mason Material, Avenue Concrete Inc., My Three Sons Carting and Queens New York Auto Parts.

     Agnello appeared in court for the hearing, at one point loudly cracking his knuckles, and offered to agree to stringent conditions in the bail offer, including house arrest, electronic monitoring and limits on visitors.

     His lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg, said the tapes show the district attorney overcharged his client. "You can't commit the crime of arson when the police officer sets a controlled fire by himself," he said.

     An elderly Queens couple, Joseph D'Alia's and his wife, put up $120,000 for Agnello�s bail, however, the source of the funding was so suspicious that the hearing judge postponed bail while the offer was reviewed saying "It's almost incredulous on the basis of an alleged friendship that it would be of such magnitude to give Mr. Agnello a $100,000 gift," and that "especially when I noticed Mrs. D'Alia's appeared to be choking on the fact that she's paying over $120,000 out of her pocket and she's not going to get it back."

     The D'Alias claimed to be longtime friends of Agnello's and said that Joseph had met Agnello 16 years before while working at Belmont Racetrack.

     Remarkably, D'Alia worked as an hour wage guard for Wackenhut Security.

     The couple agreed to put up as collateral their $400,000 house, which they said was inherited "from a sick friend" as well as $400,000 they won "playing slot machines at Harrah's in Atlantic City in 1992".

     From Jail, the elder Gotti told Victoria "He's built himself a gallows. He's bought the noose. ... There's no question of my love for him, [but] he needs me out there. He needs me like white on rice."

     After Agnello's release on $2 million bail , prosecutors charge, he went to Willets Point and showed business owners a picture of the alleged informant. They say he made the symbol of the Italian horns - pinkie and index fingers pointed outward - a symbol of death.

     Agnello denied the claims. "I never threatened anyone or made any signals, nothing like that at all," Agnello was jailed again and the said he "is a danger to the community"

     Then someone slipped word to the press that was having an affair with one of his employees. That eventually led to a divorce which ended the 15 year marriage.

     The women, or rather, the women��the other was a women Agnello knew from his days growing up in Howard Beach, the third was the other was a woman he met at a scrap-metal yard�� who broke up the Agnello-Gotti relationship was the foul-mouthed Debbie DeCarlo ,a 36 year old, plain looking mother of two, who had a tattoo of Agnello's face, with his name spelled above it like a crown of thorns in the small of her back. But when prosecutors closed in on their alleged criminal activities, she tried to hide their intimate relationship from the feds and Agnello's wife, Victoria, by covering up his face with another tattoo, a bulldog - Agnello's nickname: "The Bull."

     Agnello was obsessive and possessive of his famous novelist wife, but Victoria, grew suspicious of the time her husband spent with DeCarlo, and ordered Agnello to move DeCarlo out of the auto shop. "Carmine wants me to move out of his office [because] Vicki knows where I am," DeCarlo said.

     Agnello sent her to a close friend's yard on nearby and then lied to Victoria that DeCarlo been fired and had moved out of the state.

     However, word eventually reached Victoria that DeCarlo was back in t he office, several times via bizarre, anonymous phone calls to her home. Victoria confronted her husband, who once again denied the truth, blaming the calls on vengeful FBI agents and insisting DeCarlo long ago moved out of state. But the calls eventually were linked to DeCarlo, who became so obsessed with Victoria she filed a complaint with cops where she lived on Long Island. She claimed Victoria was having her followed because she saw a car outside her home, sources close to the case say. The car was actually there to pick up a neighbor, cops later determined.

     At times, DeCarlo seemed more in charge of Agnello's operations than he was. On the tapes, she is heard advising Agnello on business deals, yelling at him for not collecting debts, managing his financial ledgers and helping hide his ownership in various companies.

     In a typical conversation, DeCarlo is heard giving Agnello a tongue-lashing for allowing an associate to fall behind in payoffs. "I would have thrown him out a f- - -in' month ago, the sick mother- - - - - -You put that man in business. It did not cost him a f- - -ing dime, you didn't see nothing, then he fights you for [payoffs],They all f- - -ing get over on you. "You put your price tag on loyalties and the ones that f- - -ed you, you keep letting them do it, You keep] getting f- - -ed . . . I get so pissed at you."

     "Yeah, yeah, yeah," Agnello said.

     In one of the most critical conversations, DeCarlo went through more than two dozen companies in which Agnello had an interest, most of them allegedly hidden behind fronts, giving prosecutors a road map to track Agnello's cash.

     In a display of the pot calling the kettle black, berates a cousin who brought his girlfriend, to a social event, disrespecting his pregnant wife in front of friends.

     "I know everybody plays the field. Everybody f- - -s around. No one's an angel. "But your wife is a good woman and you got two kids and one kid on the way. Have a little class for your f- - - - -g wife. You know you touch the oven, you're gonna get burned."

     Then the cousin told Agnello that he might tell his pregnant wife about the affair to clear the air. "What, are you sick?" Carmine said.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached by writing to

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