An unhinged Coney Island cabbie who often offered free rides to pretty neighborhood girls was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison on July 8 for killing and hacking up one of the beauties.
Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said that 54-year-old Saleh Al-Muwallad pleaded guilty to killing 27-year-old Jessica Giudici on June 28.
Last April 26, Al-Muwallad picked up Giudici in his cab and brought her back to his apartment on W. 19th Street and Mermaid Avenue, where he fatally stabbed the young woman during an apparent argument outside his apartment door.
A few hours later, Al-Muwallad called police, claiming that he was thinking of taking his own life.
When 60th Precinct cops arrived, they found Al-Muwallad sitting on the front stoop of his building.
“I killed her,” he told the police, beckoning them to go inside, where they found a knife lying in a congealing puddle of blood on the bedroom floor, according to NYPD reports.
Next to the blood were four heavy-duty garbage bags, each containing pieces of the young beauty, prosecutors allege.
Al-Muwallad was immediately taken into custody. He underwent a psychiatric evaluation, but was deemed sane enough to defend himself at trial.
According to published reports, Al-Muwallad thought Giudici, a home health-care aide, was his girlfriend and was outraged when he learned she was seeing someone else.
Friends and family members told reporters that Giudici never dated Al-Muwallad and often avoided him when she could.
“He followed her,” Michelle Cooper, Giudici’s best friend explained. “He gave her free rides. But she’d always tell him, ‘Leave me alone.’ ”
It was unclear just how Al-Muwallad got Giudici to his apartment, although she was last seen accepting a ride from him to a local pharmacy so she could pick up some Benadryl.
Prosecutors said that Al-Muwallad “was acquainted” with Giudici and would drive “the victim, her family and other neighborhood residents around” the neighborhood.
As thousands of borough residents cheered for Spain in the World Cup, Brooklyn federal prosecutors were cheering the Spanish authorities who extradited a notorious heroin smuggler back to the U.S.
Prosecutors said that 38-year-old Valentino Cruz, aka “Cholo,” “Jorge” and “Roberto Vasquez,” was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on July 2 for participating in an international drug trafficking conspiracy.
According to court papers, Cruz, a U.S. citizen, ran a crew that imported and distributed heroin throughout the United States between November 2006 and October 2008.
But his lucrative enterprise began falling apart when one of his cohorts was nabbed trying to smuggle 5-1/2 kilograms of heroin into the U.S. from Ecuador through Miami International Airport.
As federal authorities smashed up his drug ring, seizing more than 30 kilograms of drugs set to be sold in the U.S., Cruz fled to Ecuador.
After a two-year manhunt, investigators found him in Spain, where he was arrested and shipped back.
Cruz faces life in prison if convicted of running the drug ring, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, who described the defendant as “a major target believed responsible for importing vast quantities of heroin into this country.”
A 93-year-old old school gangster confined to a wheelchair was wheeled away to prison on July 6 after being convicted of racketeering charges.
John “Sonny” Franzese, a reputed underboss of the Colombo crime family nicknamed “the Nodfather” because of his propensity to fall asleep during testimony at his three-week trial, was found straining to listen to the jury when they found him guilty of shaking down high-priced Manhattan strip clubs.
Once his conviction was entered into the record, Franzese’s bail was revoked and he was transported to a holding cell. Bail was continued on associates Joseph DiGorga, 70, and Christopher Curanovic, 42, who were convicted of conspiracy and racketeering charges alongside him.
To attain their conviction, federal prosecutors presented the jury with hours of taped conversations where Franzese identified himself as the underboss of the family and discussed with DiGorga how to extort money from city strip clubs.
“You can’t look like there’s something gonna happen because then they know you’re shaking ’em down,” DiGorga said in one recording regarding one of the clubs.
In another recording, Franzese gave his son, a Colombo family captain, lessons on how to collect money from an extortion victim.
“If he don’t give it to you, leave him on the floor.” Franzese said.
United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement that comments like Franzese’s amount to “a perfect example of how organized crime makes money for its criminal enterprise.”
Proving there’s no such thing as omerta among mob families anymore, nearly all the recordings were taped by Franzese’s son John Jr., a drug addict who spent years as a government informant, prosecutors said.
Franzese’s attorney, Richard Lind, vowed to appeal the verdict.