Monday, March 27, 2017

Long-Time Bonanno Crime Family Member Indicted For Arson; Six Others Indicted For Violent Crimes

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York released the below information:

BROOKLYN, NY – Two indictments were unsealed this morning in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging seven defendants variously with arson, bank robbery, Hobbs Act robberies and firearms offenses based, in part, on their participation in the criminal affairs of the Bonanno organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the Bonanno family).[1]  The defendants – Vincent Asaro, John J. Gotti, Michael Guidici, Matthew Rullan, also known as “Fat Matt,” Christopher Boothby, also known as “Bald Chris,” Matthew Hattley, also known as “Mack,” and Darren Elliott – were arrested earlier today. 

The seven defendants are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann, at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.  The cases have been assigned to United States District Judge Allyne R. Ross.

The charges and arrests were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).

“The defendants are charged with committing an assortment of violent crimes – arson to exact punishment for a perceived slight and robberies to unjustly enrich themselves.  This Office and its partners will continue to vigilantly pursue such organized violence and stop it in its tracks,” said Acting United States Attorney Rohde.  Ms. Rohde thanked the Queens District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and the Nassau County Police Department’s Major Case Bureau and Robbery Squad for their assistance in the investigations.

“A man well-known in organized crime circles allegedly got cut off in traffic, and exacted his revenge by sending his associates to allegedly torch the victim’s car.  The FBI refuses to allow acts like arson, bank robbery and home invasions to be conducted as business as usual, as if it is just another day in the office.  The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively go after those who refuse to follow the laws and prey upon the law-abiding public,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.


As alleged in the government’s court filings, Asaro was inducted into the Bonanno family more than 30 years ago and has previously held the position of captain.  In early April 2012, Asaro was traveling in a car in Howard Beach when he became enraged at another motorist who had switched lanes in front of Asaro at a traffic light.  Asaro chased the other vehicle at a high rate of speed.  Later, after obtaining the home address of the owner of the other vehicle, Asaro directed an associate of the Bonanno family (“Associate-1”) to set fire to that vehicle.  Associate-1 then recruited Gotti and Rullan to help him carry out the arson.

As further alleged, Associate-1, Gotti and Rullan drove in Gotti’s Jaguar sedan to a service station in the pre-dawn hours of April 4, 2012 where they filled a container with gasoline and proceeded to the residence of the owner of the other vehicle.  Associate-1 doused the vehicle with gasoline, and Rullan ignited it.  An NYPD police officer in an unmarked car observed the crime in progress and pursued the Jaguar on a high-speed chase through the streets of Queens until he terminated the pursuit for safety reasons due to Gotti’s reckless driving.

The following day, Associate-1 told Asaro about the arson, and Asaro drove to the auto body shop where the burned vehicle had been towed to confirm that his order had been carried out.

Bank Robbery

Two weeks after the vehicle arson, Gotti, Rullan, and Guidici allegedly robbed the Maspeth Federal Savings and Loan Association.  On April 18, 2012 at approximately 5:45 p.m., Guidici entered the bank and handed the teller a note demanding money and stating, among other things, “I HAVE A BOMB[.]”  The teller placed $5,491 on the counter, which Guidici took.  Guidici then joined Gotti and Rullan who were waiting outside the bank in a car.  The three defendants then fled the scene together.

Home Invasion Robbery

Boothby, an associate of the Bonanno family, and Hattley are charged with robbing a residence in Queens on March 12, 2014.  Boothby remained outside the home as a lookout while Hattley and another Bonanno associate (“Associate-2”) tied up the homeowner’s girlfriend (“Jane Doe”).  The defendants then stole more than $50,000 in cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry, including high-end designer watches and a Cartier ring from Jane Doe’s finger, among other items.

Jewelry Store Robbery and Attempts

Hattley and Elliott are charged with the gunpoint robbery of a jewelry store in Franklin Square, Long Island, making off with approximately $250,000 in merchandise, and the attempted robberies of two other jewelry stores, also in Franklin Square, between August 17, 2011 and May 5, 2012.  The jewelry store owners were menaced with guns and tied up.

All of the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on the robbery, attempted robbery, arson and arson conspiracy charges.  In addition, Asaro, Gotti and Rullan each face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment if convicted of the arson-related charges and Hattley and Elliot face a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment if convicted of the firearms charges.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole M. Argentieri, Lindsay K. Gerdes, Keith D. Edelman, and Alicyn L. Cooley are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

Age: 82
Queens, NY

Age: 23
Queens, NY

Age: 22
Queens, NY

MATTHEW RULLAN, a.k.a. “Fat Matt”
Age: 26
Queens, NY

CHRISTOPHER BOOTHBY, a.k.a. “Bald Chris”
Age: 37
Queens, NY

Age: 30
Queens, NY

MATTHEW HATTLEY, a.k.a. “Mack”
Age: 26
Queens, NY

E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos. 17-CR-00127 (RRM) and 17-CR-00128 (ARR)

[1] The charges contained in the indictments are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


  1. Paul, I have a dumb question: Why have Italian-Americans so often been drawn into criminal activities? Don't misunderstand my question. I'm not slamming Italian-Americans. I'm wondering about the prominent history of Mafia-style criminal activities as opposed to other nationality-based criminal activities. I guess the question is still not coming out right. Yes, I know other immigrant/ethnic populations have some infamous histories, but the Italian-American prominence puzzles me. Am I making any sense at all? I hope I am not being at all offensive.

  2. Tim,

    Italians and Italian-Americans involved in crime, organized or otherwise, make up a very small percentage of the ethnic group.

    They are no more predisposed to crime than any other group.

    (I like what Mark Twain said, there is no criminal class in America - except Congress (ha).

    Cosa Nostra is no longer the largest or most powerful criminal group. Other ethnic groups and independents share the criminal wealth these days.

    At one time, poverty and low wages made some with a criminal (and lazy) bent join organized crime gangs. The same with Jews, the Irish, the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese and other groups. There is even organized crime in Scotland, Wales and England (as a Davis, are your people from Scotland, Wales or England? There are people named Davis all over there).

    I guess Italians get more "ink" - publicity - than the other crime groups because of the drama - real or otherwise, due or undue - associated with the mob. They can be flashy, brash and they have some great, odd and funny nicknames.

    Since the 1960's the appeal has been glamour, drama and easy money, but as Joe Pistone, an Italian-American FBI agent who went undercover for six years with the Bonanno crime family as "Donnie Brasco," noted. it is a hard life, always scheming and worrying about jail or getting "clipped."

    You might want to read Joe Pistone's "Donnie Brasco." Great true crime book.

    You can read my Crime Beat column and interview with him by using the search box in the upper left corner).

    And/or my Crime Beat column with former Philly mob underboss Philip Leonetti.


  3. Thanks, Paul, for your patient and forgiving response to my dim-witted, poorly framed and articulated question. I will track down the Rx book and your postings. Again, thanks!
    BTW, my family, in spite of the English-looking spelling of the surname -- three generations ago -- actually came from the coal-mining regions of Wales to the coal-mines of western Pennsylvania. I nearly took a job in the mid-60s in the coal-mines but escaped that fate via U.S. Navy beginning in January 1966.

  4. Tim,

    My father's Davis branch is Scot-Welch. I was stationed at Holy Loch, Scotland for two years and I met people named Davis, as well Davies. We are part of the old Davidson Clan.

    There are also people named Davis in Wales, of course, as well as England and Ireland.

    The Davis people were seafarers like us and you'll find the name now all over the world.

    Years ago I was in Jamaica and when I checked into a resort, the girl behind the counter said, "Oh, Davis! A nice Jamaician name..."


  5. Tim,

    Arthur Lewis (Welch family) was a writer who wrote "The Lament of the Molly Maquires" a great book.

    The film with Sean Connery (one of my favorite actors) sided more with the Mollies than the book. (I wrote a Crime Beat column on Lewis and the book, also here on this website).

    The book might interest you, as it deals with Western PA coal mining history. A rough era.

    I didn't know what "I owe my soul to the company store" meant in the song "16 Tons" until I read the book.


  6. Thanks, Paul. I knew about company stories because of stories in my family; my father was a coal-miner, and he remembered the not-so-good-old-days during the Depression.