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Sunday, 17 April 2011

second-generation gangster busted for slicing up a Brooklyn pizzeria owner worked as mob muscle

22:50 |

second-generation gangster busted for slicing up a Brooklyn pizzeria owner worked as mob muscle for his sibling's suspected loanshark operation, law enforcement sources said Saturday.

The NYPD and the FBI are probing whether mob associate Benny Geritano was doing his half brother's bidding in the bloody street showdown with celebrity pizza maker Mark Iacono.

"Benny has a screw loose and goes off," one source told the Daily News. "But his job was to collect his half brother's loans."

Both combatants, each armed with a knife, blamed the other for the Friday fight, and neither cooperated with police - with Iacono's silence bolstering the theory of a mob loan or extortion, sources said.

"No one is giving up a reason," a second source told The News. "These are a couple of hard guys, neighborhood guys."

Iacono, 43, denied the violence was linked to organized crime.

"A mob hit? No," the Lucali owner told The News from his hospital bed. "Who said that?"

Geritano's half brother Anthony Mascuzzio was indicted in January for his roles in a huge Gambino family marijuana ring and the 2008 theft of more than $1 million in electronics goods.

His alleged loansharking business was reportedly financed by those criminal operations and a multimillion-dollar Brooklyn bank heist several years ago, authorities believe. Mascuzzio's late father was a trusted member of Gambino boss John (Teflon Don) Gotti's inner circle.

Stepson Geritano, 38, was arrested shortly after the Smith St. throwdown in Carroll Gardens. He gave reporters a middle finger and said nothing as he was walked out of the 76th Precinct stationhouse last night after he was charged with assault.

The nationally known Iacono, whose clientele includes Jay-Z and his wife, Beyoncé, was charged with felony assault yesterday in his Lutheran Medical Center bed, authorities said.

The Brooklyn businessman nearly bled to death after suffering wounds to his throat, back and legs.

But authorities charged the pizza maker was carrying his own blade when the violence erupted inside a local supermarket before spilling into the street.

Ex-con Geritano, who beat a 1991 murder rap, was doing construction work in the neighborhood before the brawl, a source said. He and Iacono had known each other for more than 20 years.

A large kitchen knife was found at the blood-soaked stabbing scene, and authorities believe Geritano - who was on probation - fled with his knife.

"Geritano's weapon has been described as a small knife, and Iacono's weapon as a big knife," another law enforcement source indicated.

Iacono, who was planning an expansion into Manhattan, earned his gaudy reputation with pizza hailed by Zagat's as the city's best.

The restaurateur, wearing a smile and a blue hospital gown, made an optimistic prediction Saturday: "Tell everyone I'll be back making pizza soon."

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