April 21st, 2010
11:28 PM ET

Bail set at $2M for alleged Gambino crime family member

Bail was set at $2 million on Wednesday for alleged Gambino crime family member Onofrio Modica, who is charged with, among other things, racketeering in connection with the deaths of two people.

Modica was among 14 alleged Gambino crime family members charged in New York on Tuesday with counts including  murder, racketeering, prostitution of minors and trying to locate and intimidate a sequestered jury.

At Wednesday's bail hearing for Modica on Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig said Modica is a danger to the community and a flight risk, accusing him of being a "serious participant" in a 1987 double killing.

Modica drove a motorcycle that carried a gunman into a crowded parking lot, Honig said, where the gunman shot and killed the intended target, along with a bystander.

Honig said Modica's motorcycle was found near the scene shortly after the murders and that he continues to brag about the killings. "He earned his way in [to the Gambino family] with those murders," Honig said.

Modica's lawyer, Mathew J. Mari, denied Wednesday that his client ever owned the motorcycle or that he'd ever been involved in organized crime.

Mari said the government indicted Modica as punishment after he refused to cooperate with its investigation into the Gambino crime family.

"He wasn't dangerous at all when they were trying to get him to cooperate," Mari told CNN. "After he failed to go along with them and told them to 'go to hell,' well, this is where you wind up. You wind up in court with the government saying you're too dangerous to be on the street. It's ludicrous."

Modica also is charged with jury tampering, which stems from 1992, when then-boss John J. Gotti was on trial on federal racketeering and murder charges. According to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, Modica and other members of the Gambino family tried to locate the anonymous, sequestered jurors sitting on the trial.

Modica went to the hotel where the Gotti jury was sequestered, determined the floor the jury was staying on, and planned to phone in a bomb threat, Honig said Wednesday.

The plan was called off after Gotti believed that the jury would not convict him, authorities say.

Mari told CNN that his client plans to put three houses up as collateral for bail in coming days.

Thirteen of the 14 charged, including Daniel Marino, named by the U.S. attorney as the current boss of the Gambino crime family, were arrested bewteen last week and Tuesday. Those 13 entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The 14th, Steve Maiurro, remains at large.

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