Genovese family mobster from Yonkers cleared in 1997 murder case goes to prison for obstruction and gambling

By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.

An alleged Genovese crime family mobster from Yonkers was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison on Monday. John Tortora pleaded guilty to obstruction and gambling charges in 2020. He had been charged with ordering a 1997 murder, but prosecutors could not back up that allegation.

Prosecutors alleged that Tortora had ordered the stabbing murder of Richard Ortiz on November 11, 1997, outside a bar in Yonkers. Ortiz was working as a police informant and “was drinking inside the Mill Tavern […] when he got into an argument with men inside the bar. The argument moved outside, escalated and Ortiz was stabbed multiple times in the stomach and left for dead under a Saw Mill River Parkway underpass less than 100 feet away,” the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported.

Visit by Genovese family capo Daniel Pagano

Jonathan Bandler, a journalist with the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, reported that “[Tortora’s] lawyers made the case that Yonkers police, the FBI and prosecutors mistakenly relied on Lucchese mobster Carmine Francomano Jr.'s account that Tortora ordered the hit. They contend it was Francomano who directed another man, Abdil Saez, to kill Ortiz after he suspected Ortiz had stolen from mob gambling machines and told authorities about an after hours club run by Francomano's family.”

Tortora was linked by investigators to Genovese family capo Daniel Pagano, who visited his check cashing business. They issued a grand jury subpoena for surveillance video footage, but Tortora refused to turn it over – eventually destroying the evidence.

This got him a charge for obstruction. He admitted as much, pleading guilty. He also pleaded guilty to his involvement in a sports betting operation.

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