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An actor who starred in both “The Sopranos” and “Goodfellas” took his tough guy persona too far — and now he’s facing more than three years in jail.
Anthony Borgese, 72, best known for his role as Sonny Bunz, the owner of the torched Bamboo Lounge in “Goodfellas,” told a Brooklyn federal court judge on Feb. 9 that he used his mobster movie star image to threaten a man into paying a debt he owed an upstate car dealership.
“I used extortionate means to collect a debt from a person who lived near Monticello,” Borgese told Judge Eric Vitaliano as he pled guilty to extortion.
Federal prosecutors say Borgese, who also appeared as Larry Boy Barese in 14 episodes of “The Sopranos,” was contacted by the owner of an upstate car dealer who needed help getting money from the debtor.
Prosecutors charge that when veiled threats didn’t work, Borgese led several Gambino crime family members to the debtor’s home. The mobsters attacked the man, who remained unidentified in court papers, leaving him with a broken jaw and a broken rib.
Federal investigators learned about the attack from wiretaps on members of the Gambino crime family.
Borgese’s defense attorney, Kevin Faga, told Judge Vitaliano that his client “did not lay a hand on anyone” during the attack.
“This is a difficult day for him,” Faga told reporters. “He’s embarrassed and he’s concerned for his family’s privacy.”
Borgese is expected to be sentenced in the next few weeks, but celebrity appears to have its privileges: he won’t have to go to jail until late August, after he hosts his yearly charity golf tournament for Cerebral Palsy research, according to courtroom insiders.
Killer wants new venue
An attorney for the man accused of killing Bay Ridge beauty Laura Garza wants to move his client’s upcoming trial out of the upstate New York — and it’s pretty much assured that Brooklyn won’t be on the list of potential new venues.
Claiming that all the news reports surrounding Michael Mele’s arrest has been “extensive and prejudicial,” defense attorney Craig Brown requested to have the trial held outside of Orange County on Jan. 25.
“[Potential jurors] have been inundated with the media juxtaposing the sympathetic sweetheart with the deviant defendant,” Brown wrote in his brief, claiming that the media have painted Mele as a sex-crazed monster.
Mele, a convicted sex offender on probation for masturbating in front of a group of young women at an upstate mall, was charged with killing Garza in December — two years after the aspiring dancer disappeared.
Garza had just moved to an apartment on Shore Road near 93rd Street from her native Texas in December, 2008 when she vanished. She was last seen with friends at the Chelsea club Marquee on 10th Avenue in Manhattan. Investigators looking into her disappearance collected surveillance footage from the club, which showed her celebrating with Mele. Cops later learned that Mele and Garza left the club together at 4 am and were seen a few hours later inside his SUV.
Mele claimed he had nothing to do with Garza’s disappearance, although cops recovered some grim circumstantial evidence from his home and vehicle: bloodstains were found inside Mele’s 2005 Infiniti FX35 and he had removed a piece of hallway carpet outside his apartment. Mele’s building super, who saw the 25-year-old rooting around a dumpster in the back of the building around the time Garza disappeared, said Mele admitted to accidentally pouring bleach on the hallway carpet.
The probe into Garza’s disappearance turned into a murder investigation in 2010 when a group of all-terrain vehicle riders discovered the young woman’s body half buried in a Pennsylvania field.
A judge is currently reviewing Brown’s request for a new venue. Orange County prosecutors opposed the motion, which they described as “premature” since no one knows if or when the trial would begin.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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