Eleonora and Gregorio Gigliotti [right], and their son Angelo were arrested in March of 2015, for allegedly running a drugs ring from their restaurant. Gregorio begged the judge to spare his wife who pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine
A convicted drug dealer broke down in Brooklyn court, NY on Tuesday. Federal judge gave Gregorio Gigliotti an 18-year sentence for his role in a family run drug scheme based at a family owned pizza restaurant. With several members of the family convicted of importing and exporting cocaine along with, the 61-year-old pizzeria owner prayed the court for a show of clemency for his family.
When the verdict was read in court in 2016, Gregorio Gigliotti held up pretty well, even gave a two-thumbs up sign to family members minutes before the jury entered the courtroom, while his wife of his son, also on trial, sobbed uncontrollably.
The Jury convicted Gregorio Gigliotti on all counts including possession of seven guns found in a safe in the basement of his restaurant. Angelo, was acquitted on the gun charges.
Gregorio Gigliotti outside his pizza restaurant bagged 18 year jail sentence but begged the judge to spare his co-conspirators in the family drug trade
Angelo Gigliotti was his father’s partner in the family drug trade. He too convicted in the ‘Coke packed in yucca’ trial. His dad would prefer he stayed out of jail
On Tuesday however, with all legal channels exhausted, the rumored mob-connected, Queens restaurant owner who trafficked drugs tearfully asked the judge to show mercy while sentencing his wife and son, who were also busted in an international drug trafficking sting operation.
“You truly have my life in your hands and God’s hands,” Gigliotti, said as he choked back tears. “I understand I made a mistake in my life.”
Gigliotti asked Brooklyn Federal Judge Raymond Dearie to be lenient sentencing his 36-year-old son, Angelo and his wife, Eleonora, 56. Both have been convicted on related charges
Italian restaurant, Cucina a Modo Mia, in Corona, where Eleonora and Angelo Gigliotti worked and conspired to import 55 kilos of cocaine from Costa Rica which recycled for the European market
In May of 2015, Federal prosecutors arrested 13 drug traffickers tied to a cocaine ring operating out of the Italian restaurant and pizzeria in Queens.
Prosecutors said the owners, the Gigliotti family used their restaurant in Corona, called Cucino a Modo Mio, and a produce import company as a front for illegal trades. The FBI said at the time, that Gigliottis were “Using their family’s businesses as a front for a narcotics trafficking operation, the defendants as alleged sought to establish a global cocaine ring”.
They were charged with plotting to distribute some 55 kilos of cocaine discovered in shipments of yucca, imported from Costa Rica, in 2014.
When investigators searched the restaurant in 2015, they found a cache of firearms, brass knuckles, more than $100,000 in cash and a ledger detailing drug deals.
Prosecutors proved that in that year alone, both men smuggled two shipments containing more than $1 million worth of cocaine from Costa Rica secreted inside the box flaps of yucca.
Furthermore, they enlisted family members, including matriarch Eleonora Gigliotti, to deliver cash to dealers in Central America who then shipped the drugs to a family-run produce warehouse in The Bronx.
In July 2016, Gigliotti and his son Angelo were convicted of bringing in over 50 kilos of cocaine in a smuggling operation, which had links to Italy and Costa Rica.
The younger man was acquitted of two serious gun possession charges against him that would added another mandatory five years in prison. Still he faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years behind bars for the drug trafficking conviction while Gregorio faced at least 15 years.
The Gigliottis allegedly had cocaine shipped from Costa Rica to the U.S. in boxes of yucca plants
The cocaine, was then sent to a crime organization in Italy to be sold in Europe
Jurors heard dozens of wiretapped conversations between Angelo and Gregorio, sometimes in Italian, discussing the international operation.
“Do you remember the movie ‘Casino?” Gregorio asked his son in one recording about a drug associate. “Do you remember what happened to the two brothers? This is what I have to do to him.”
Eleonora Gigliotti had pled guilty to lesser charges of conspiracy to import cocaine in Brooklyn Federal Court. She faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and also agreed to pay a $1.625 million forfeiture judgement.
Although Gigliotti is a reputed associate of Genovese capo Anthony Federici, that information was excluded from the trail. But prosecutors previously said in a memo that the Gigliotti family had “close business ties” to the infamous Calabria-based crime organization the ‘Ndrangheta’. The memo cited Italian authorities who learned Gigliotti was negotiating a cocaine sale with members of the clan. Feds also claimed Gigliotti and his son had ties to the New York City-based Genovese crime family.
Gigliotti’s attorney Elizabeth Macedonio painted a different picture, saying her client came from Italy to America in 1973 as a young man and worked hard to succeed. Before opening his restaurant, the name of which means “I cook it my way” in Italian, Gigliotti owned and operated several construction businesses.
“Somewhere along the way,” Macedonio said, Gigliotti got mixed up with drugs and alcohol, which caused his decline. She asked for a 15-year sentence, the required minimum for his conviction. Prosecutors pressed for a 35-year-to-life sentence.
Among those arrested in the Italian sweep was Franco Fazio [right], known as ‘The Ambassador’, seen here smiling as he was led away in cuffs from his apartment in Calabria.
The same sting operation dubbed ‘Operation Columbus’ snagged the Gigliottis’ cousin, Franco Fazio, aka “The Ambassador,” who was arrested by Italian police in Calabria along with a dozen other suspects. Fazio was charged with conspiracy to import cocaine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Gandy noted Gigliotti went to trial and “at no point fell on his sword in any public way.” Gandy said Gigliotti was the one calling the shots in a large-scale operation that imported at least 120 kilos of cocaine since 2012.
Dearie said he couldn’t understand why Gigliotti had done legitimate work so hard for so long only to end up in front of him.
He wasn’t “some fat cat sitting in a hotel suite” dealing drugs, the judge said.
“You just decided to add one more business. It’s hard to figure out why, other than money, as the expression goes.”