Aged Mafioso Gets Two Years for Pulling Punch in Gambling Shakedown

Posted on: May 2, 2024, 07:40h. 

Last updated on: May 3, 2024, 09:00h.

A reputed octogenarian New York Mafia capo was sentenced to two years in prison this week for shaking down a Manhattan restaurateur over a gambling debt. But his lawyer says Anthony “Rom” Romanello, 86, has “no regrets” about slugging the victim, reports The New York Post.

Anthoy Romanello, Rom Romanello, Tony Romanello, Shuqeri Selimaj, Luan Bexheti, Joseph Celso, Genovese, Mafia, Mob, Manuel Mayi
Anthony “Rom” Romanello leaving a Brooklyn federal courthouse in December 2023 after being convicted of extortion. He was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday. (Richard Harbus/Daily Mail)

The aged and alleged Genovese goodfella was convicted of extortionate collection of credit and conspiracy to commit the same by a Brooklyn federal jury in December.

In 2017, Romanello was hired to put the frighteners on Shuqeri “Bruno” Selimaj, owner of the now-defunct Lincoln Square Steak restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, prosecutors claimed.

Selimaj’s nephew and his nephew’s brother-in-law owed an $86K gambling debt to aspiring Albanian film star Luan Bexheti, an alleged Genovese associate, per court filings.

‘Threats and Violence’

Romanello and co-defendant Joseph Celso, reputedly a Genovese soldier, “used threats and violence” against Selimaj in “repeated” attempts to collect the debt, according to prosecutors.

On their third visit to the restaurant, Romanello was caught on camera punching Selimaj in the face, footage that was shared widely on social media. There was no denying that punch happened, but the question during the trial was why it happened.

Romanello’s lawyer, Jerry McMahon, argued that Selimaj and his client were old acquaintances who had gotten into a drunken disagreement.

The punch had nothing to do with an extortion threat — it happened because Selimaj had allegedly called Romanello a “washed-up Italian with no balls,” McMahon explained.

Presentencing, McMahon claimed that “beyond any shadow of a doubt … Rom has no regrets and why should he?”

“What would Jerry McMahon do?” McMahon added with a flourish. “Knock him flat out!”

‘No Joke’

During the trial, Selimaj testified that Romanello attacked him after he said he would only be able to pay $6K of his nephew’s brother-in-law’s debt. This enraged Romanello, according to Selimaj.

I was afraid this Mafia guy was going to hurt me, my nephew,” he testified. “I was afraid because nobody jokes with the Mafia … It was no joke.”

Prosecutors had lobbied for a tougher sentence for Romanello, arguing that age should not be a “shield for no punishment.” They claimed he has been told “time and again that he needs to change his life [but] he doesn’t.”

Romanello has a 2007 conviction for conspiracy to obstruct justice and for racketeering conspiracy.

Celso was convicted on a conspiracy extortion charge and awaits sentencing. In 1993, he was charged with the murder of Manuel Mayi, a Queens College student from the Dominican Republic, but he was acquitted after the prosecution’s star witness suddenly left the country.