Saturday, 2:15 PM
Lawyer: 'The Cheese Man' talked tough, but never hurt anybody
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
Reputed New England Mafia underboss Carmen "The Cheese Man'' DiNunzio may have allegedly been caught on an FBI tape delivering a bribe to secure a Big Dig contract and threatening to throw an associate off a roof, but he never actually hurt anyone, his lawyer argued in federal court today.
"Don't take him by his words, take him by his actions,'' said Boston attorney Anthony Cardinale, arguing that DiNunzio, who owns a cheese shop in Boston's North End, isn't dangerous and should be released on bail while awaiting trial on a federal charge of conspiracy to commit bribery. DiNunzio and two associates are accused of a scheme that paid a $10,000 bribe in September 2006 to an undercover FBI agent posing as a corrupt state official in a bid to secure a $6 million contract to provide 300,000 cubic yards of loam to the Big Dig.
Cardinale portrayed DiNunzio, 50, of East Boston, as a harmless person, who refused to retaliate against the undercover agent after the deal fell apart and he kept DiNunzio's money.
A longtime associate of DiNunzio's, who was secretly cooperating with the FBI during the bribery sting, tried to goad DiNunzio, Cardinale said. The longtime associate told DiNunzio that the undercover agent was laughing at him and, according to Cardinale, he told the reputed mobster, "You're an idiot. You're all done. You're not getting your money back.''
Yet, even then, Cardinale said, "Nothing happens.''
Assistant US Attorney Peter K. Levitt argued that DiNunzio and his co-defendant, Anthony D'Amore, 55, a convicted drug dealer and reputed mob associate from Revere, should be held without bail until the case is resolved because they might try to harm the cooperating witness, who has not been identified in court, and are a danger to the public. The third man charged in the case, Andrew Marino, 42, of Chelmsford, who owns a small trucking company, was released on bail May 2.
During today's hearing, Levitt played an FBI tape of a Sept. 27, 2006, meeting in which D'Amore told the cooperating witness that after he made money on the loam deal he planned to give DiNunzio $50,000 to share among a group of convicted mobsters who have served years in prison and are about to be released.
"Listen, there's a bunch of nice guys coming home,'' said D'Amore, according to the tape. He mentioned Vinnie Federico, who was one of four soldiers who pricked their trigger fingers, burned holy cards, and pledged to kill for the Mafia during an induction ceremony in Medford in October 1989 that was secretly bugged by the FBI.
Attorney William Fick, who works for the Federal Defender's office and was appointed to represent D'Amore, argued that his client was just showing "empathy'' for men who came out with nothing after serving years in prison.
US Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein took the request for bail under advisement.
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