By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Rudy Giuliani has always maintained he has a sharp eye for spotting wrongdoers, but even the best slip up sometimes. So it was that Giuliani, in his last years as mayor, befriended a Little Italy restaurateur named Perry Criscitelli, who was allegedly a wiseguy-in-training at the time. Criscitelli's name is expected to pop up at least a few times at the upcoming murder trial in Brooklyn of his alleged mob handler, reputed acting Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano.
Giuliani liked Criscitelli and his Mulberry Street pasta house, Da Nico, so much that he courted his then girlfriend, Judith Nathan, there and had the restaurant cater his postYankee World Series victory parties at City Hall. He even OK'd Criscitelli to head the San Gennaro street festival, after conducting a noisy mob cleansing of the organization. Going further, his aides approved a low-rent, long-term lease for the city-owned backyard behind the restaurant so that Criscitelli could use it for dining alfresco (a move that angered low-income tenants in the tenement next door).
But secret mob tapes that may be played at the trial show that Criscitelli was considered such a bonus baby by Basciano that he ordered him not to get his hands dirty. "I got Perry now," boasted Basciano in a December 21, 2003, conversation. "Perry is going to be in the background. I told him, 'You ain't going to be used for nothing. You know, there are shooters and earners. You're an earner,' " Basciano told a mob pal, according to ganglandnews.com.
Criscitelli quit as head of the San Gennaro feast last year amid published reports of his mob ties. Giuliani has maintained there was no way he should have known about the linguine slinger.