Testimony About Links To The Mob Not Allowed In U.s. Record Trial

Posted: May 18, 1988

Federal law enforcement authorities say that reputed mobster Dominick Canterino is a conduit between New York City record company mogul Morris Levy and Genovese crime family boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante.

But a federal judge ruled yesterday that the alleged relationship could not be brought out during a conspiracy trial in which Levy and Canterino are co- defendants.

U.S. District Judge Stanley S. Brotman yesterday would not allow proposed testimony from two FBI agents about alleged organized-crime links among Levy, Canterino and Gigante. His ruling came after defense attorneys argued that such testimony was prejudicial and irrelevant.

A short time later, the prosecution rested its case.

Levy, Canterino and Howard Fisher, the comptroller of Levy's Roulette Record Co., are on trial in federal court in Camden on charges that they conspired to take over the wholesale record business of Darby, Pa., record distributor John LaMonte in a dispute over a $1.25 million business deal.

Law enforcement sources have described the case as an example of how organized crime has infiltrated the multimillion-dollar recording industry.

To date, however, most of the evidence heard by the jury has come from dozens of secretly recorded conversations taken from wiretaps and listening devices planted in the phones and business offices of Levy and Gaetano ''Corky" Vastola, another reputed mob figure linked to the extortion.

Vastola is to be tried at a later date.

In arguments made while the jury was out of the courtroom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald S. Davidson said that it was important for the jurors to understand the relationship between Canterino, Levy and Vastola, and said FBI agents would testify that Canterino "is a conduit through which Morris Levy contacts Vincent Gigante."

The jury has heard several conversations between Vastola and Levy and one three-hour tape of a meeting in Levy's office in which Canterino is brought in to resolve problems with the deal with LaMonte.

Davidson said the FBI testimony would explain "why these guys are paying this kind of homage to Dominick Canterino."

On the tapes, Davidson said, Canterino's role "is very vague."

"It's fuzzy," he said. "Dominick doesn't say, 'Hello, I come from Vincent Gigante. What I say, it's God's word.' They don't say that. These jurors don't know that. People in the room knew that."

Defense attorneys, however, argued that testimony from FBI agents would be based on information from informants and unrelated investigations that cannot be challenged or verified.

The conspiracy charge centers on a dispute over LaMonte's purchase of 4.7 million cutout - or discount - records and tapes from MCA Records Inc. of Los Angeles in 1984. The government charges that LaMonte was beaten by Vastola after refusing to pay for the shipment.

LaMonte, who agreed to cooperate with the government after being beaten, contended that many of the more marketable records he ordered were never delivered.

Levy's Roulette Records and another company, Consultants for World Records Inc., were intermediaries in that deal, according to testimony and documents introduced during the trial.

Consultants for World Records was a company controlled by reputed Gambino crime family member Salvatore Pisello and Genovese crime family members Rocco

Musacchia and Federico "Fritzie" Giovanelli.

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