Ex-son-in-law of John Gotti avoids prison in plea deal

FILE - In this July 17, 2015, file photo, Carmine "The Bull" Agnello of Bentleyville, Ohio, is escorted into court in Cleveland. Agnello, a reputed member of the Gambino crime family and former son-in-law of John Gotti agreed Thursday, June 1, 2017, to a plea deal to avoid prison in what authorities originally said was a multi-million dollar scam involving stolen cars and scrap metal in Cleveland. (Ida Lieszkovszky /The Plain Dealer via AP, File)

CLEVELAND (AP) — A reputed member of the Gambino crime family and former son-in-law of John Gotti agreed to a plea deal that included a large fine but no prison, after being indicted on racketeering and conspiracy charges related to what prosecutors said was a multi-million dollar scam involving stolen cars and scrap metal in Cleveland.

Carmine “The Bull” Agnello, 56, pleaded guilty Thursday to an environmental violation and no contest to theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm charges. Agnello could have faced a lengthy prison sentence had he been convicted on the original charges in an August 2015 indictment.

Agnello’s deal calls for him to pay $180,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into his business practices in Cleveland. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office agreed to dismiss charges against Agnello’s wife, Danielle, and his business, Eagle Auto Parts. The judge placed him on inactive probation for a year, which will end when he has paid the money, defense attorney Ian Friedman said Friday.

Prosecutors also agreed to return heavy equipment seized during the investigation and a shotgun found during a search of Agnello’s upscale home in the Cleveland suburb of Bentleyville to one of his associates.

Then-Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty and Cleveland police made a big splash after Agnello’s arrest in July 2015 for what he and others said was a scam that involved weighing down stolen vehicles with sand and dirt before selling them to a scrap yard. McGinty said Agnello bribed scrap yard employees to look the other way about the weighted-down vehicles, many of which had been stolen and purchased by Agnello for as little as $50, sometimes less.

Prosecutors later alleged that Agnello defrauded the scrap yard of $4.2 million over three years, Cleveland.com reports. The theft charge included in the plea deal states Agnello stole between $7,500 and $150,000 from Ferrous Processing and Trading in Cleveland.

The plea deal concludes what McGinty said in 2015 was an 18-month investigation led by Cleveland police and assisted by a detective from the New York City Police Department’s organized crime unit. Wiretaps on Agnello’s phones intercepted conversations with mob associates in New York and Cleveland, authorities said.

Friedman on Friday called the plea deal “fair and just” and thanked county Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, who took office in January, for resolving the case. Friedman declined to comment further. An O’Malley spokesman didn’t return messages seeking comment on Friday.

Agnello moved to Cleveland after his release from a federal prison in Youngstown in 2008. He married the daughter of a suspected Armenian-American terrorist with whom he served prison time. Agnello was married 17 years to Victoria Gotti, the daughter of the late Gambino crime boss. They divorced in 2002. Victoria Gotti starred in a reality show with her and Agnello’s three sons called “Growing Up Gotti.”

Agnello received nine years in prison and was ordered to pay $11 million in restitution in 2001 after pleading guilty to federal charges of racketeering and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. Authorities said Agnello was involved in a scheme to take control of scrap yards in Queens.

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