A judge has ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn to release copies of five tape recordings made by an informant that were used as evidence last year in the federal racketeering trial of Joseph Massino, the convicted “Last Don” of the Bonnano crime family. Mob reporter Jerry Capeci, of ganglandnews.com and the New York Sun, had challenged prosecutor Greg Andres’ refusal to provide copies of the recordings made by informant James Tartaglione.
Andres argued against release on five points: concern for the safety of informants, fair-trial considerations for remaining defendants, a lack of “legitimate public interest,” the potential chilling effect on other prospective informants and “the permanence of the recordings” since Capeci presumably would post them for download on his website. In a 17-page ruling, Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote, “I am unpersuaded that the factors cited by the Government, taken individually or collectively, are of sufficient weight to overcome the strong presumption in favor of access…to materials which have been introduced into evidence at trial and presented to the jury.” He specifically rejected the notion that online journalists should be regarded differently than print or broadcast reporters. To obtain a copy of the ruling, email Capeci at firstname.lastname@example.org.