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Queens Member of Gambino Crime Family Pleads Guilty to Torching Car to Extort Cash

Joseph Merlino, purported Philadelphia crime family boss (L) and Peter Tuccio (R) (Provided by US Department of Justice)

Jan. 15, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

A Queens member of the Gambino organized crime family has pleaded guilty to setting a businessman’s car on fire after he stopped paying making extortion payments to the mafia.

Peter Tuccio helped torch the businessman’s late-model Mercedes-Benz in 2015, in an effort to extort money from the victim’s pizzeria, according to federal prosecutors.

Tuccio, a Queens resident and an associate member of the notorious mob family, pleaded guilty to extortion in a Brooklyn federal court Wednesday.

The 27-year-old faces a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Tuccio, along with co-defendants Jonathan Gurino and Gino Gabrielli, followed the businessman in a high-speed car chase after they saw the victim leave a Howard Beach smoke shop in his Mercedes on Dec. 3, 2015.

The trio caught up with him outside an eatery where they confronted him about a missed payment. The businessman had been avoiding an annual extortion payment to the crime family.

During the confrontation Tuccio commented on the businessman’s 2014 Mercedes. He and his co-defendants then plotted to burn the victim’s car to prompt him to make payment, prosecutors said.

That night the businessman heard a loud noise outside his Howard Beach home and saw that his car was ablaze.

The burned 2014 Mercedes Benz (Provided by US Department of Justice)

Gabrielli was recorded on home security footage setting the car on fire by dousing it with an accelerant before running away with his pant leg on fire.

A short time later Tuccio and Gabrielli were caught on surveillance video entering Jamaica Hospital.

Following the arson, the businessman paid more than $5,000 to the Gambino family.

Gabrielli pleaded guilty to the arson in 2016 while Gurino pleaded guilty to extortion in June 2020. They are both awaiting sentencing.

The burned 2014 Mercedes Benz (Provided by US Department of Justice)

The burned 2014 Mercedes Benz (Provided by US Department of Justice)

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