Hoboken mob trial defendent attacks feds' use of informant

Hoboken mob trial defendent attacks feds' use of informant
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Tapes secretly recorded for the federal government by Peter Caporino, 69, who owned the Character Club in Hoboken and allegedly had ties to the Genovese crime family, are expected to be the centerpiece of the March 20 trial of reputed mobster Joseph Scarbrough, accused of running illegal sports betting out of Hudson County.

But if Caporino, an FBI informant for a decade, takes the stand, defense attorneys are hoping to pounce.

In pretrial motions, Michael Koribanics, Scarbrough's attorney, argued that the long-term use of Caporino by the government amounts to outrageous prosecutorial misconduct. He asked the judge to dismiss the charges or hold an evidentiary hearing before the trial on the use of Caporino.

He said Caporino had the best of both worlds - the ability for years to openly profit from a gambling racket because he was working with the FBI.

"The only one who gained was Mr. Caporino. He gained by continuing his widespread bookmaking, extortion, extensions of credit and running a lottery. All done with the government's approval and help," Koribanics wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Faye Schwartz, in her reply, countered that Scarbrough's claims are "devoid of legal and factual merit" and don't come close to meeting the threshold to throw out the charges.

Scarbrough, a 66-year-old West Orange resident known as "Big Joe," is among a dozen alleged crime family associates facing trial this month on federal racketeering, extortion or gambling charges.

Caporino, according to court papers filed by the government, spent more than two years building the key evidence in the case: Recording roughly 800 hours of conversations with fellow mobsters and others, including unidentified public employees.

Prosecutors have described Scarbrough as a high-ranking associate of the family who oversaw bookmaking and loansharking operations from his own members-only club in Hoboken.

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