Release of mafia rat Gene Borrello enrages his robbery victims

The leader of a violent home-invasion crew that terrorized Queens residents for years is headed back to the streets after receiving an early Christmas present last week — a time-served prison sentence of five years.

That was the reward Gene Borrello got for helping the feds snag more than 20 Bonanno family cohorts in a series of arsons, murder plots, extortion and home-invasion robberies in his own neighborhood.

The release of Borrello has outraged residents of Howard Beach — a neighborhood that boasts more than a few wiseguy residents and usually has a high tolerance for mob antics. Borrello, however, who was long considered a lowlife thug and one-man local crime wave, is considered a special case.

Neighbors there say they suffered through years of terrifying break-ins during which victims were bound, beaten and robbed by Borrello’s old crew — and now fear he may go back at it.

“This animal is now free to do the same thing all over again,” said one longtime neighbor who spoke only on a promise of anonymity.

Borrello, the irate local said, “forced himself into the homes of law-abiding citizens, tied them up, placed a gun to their head and stole their life savings and personal belongings.”

But that’s not how the feds see him.

Sources say that Borrello was lauded by federal prosecutors during a secret proceeding in Brooklyn as a major reason they were able to nail Bonanno captain Vincent Asaro for arson after his stunning acquittal in the $6 million Lufthansa heist.

In 2017, Asaro was sentenced to eight years in prison for a case of extreme road rage. Asaro was cut off in traffic in Ozone Park and had someone figure out the driver’s address from the license plate number.

He dispatched a crew, including Borrello, to dump gasoline on the driver’s car and burn it.


Borrello also helped take down a marquee name: John J. Gotti, the 23-year-old namesake grandson of the late Mafia boss.

The third-generation Gotti to take up the business of crime pleaded guilty to charges covering a Queens bank robbery with two young cohorts as well as helping to torch the car that annoyed Asaro.

Young Gotti — like Asaro and all 21 mob-connected defendants who were charged in three major indictments filed in 2017 — opted to plead guilty rather than take his chances at trial. As a result, Borrello’s cooperation has never been publicly acknowledged by the feds.

Borrello, 35, was not bashful in admitting that he played major roles in the litany of crimes that assistant US attorneys Lindsay Gerdes and Keith Edelman cited in court filings during pretrial proceedings.

His arrest record began in 2003, at age 19, and he had a well-earned reputation in Howard Beach as a “menace to society” for more than a decade. Sources say Borrello flipped in early 2016, more than a year after police arrested him in September 2014 as the leader of a violent home-invasion ring following a joint probe by the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

In one case, Borrello recruited a robbery team that waited until Robert Cotrone, the owner of an allegedly mob-connected auto-body repair shop, left for work before breaking into his home.

Then they dragged his fiancée out of bed, tied her up, ripped a Cartier engagement ring off her finger and “looted the house of $50,000 in cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry,” the prosecutors wrote.

“She’s not the only woman Borrello’s terrorized and nearly frightened to death,” said a Howard Beach resident who called the time-served five year sentence “a disgrace.”

“The government did the residents of Howard Beach a huge disservice,” said the resident, by asking for “five years for crimes that [should carry] a real 20-year sentence.”

This is an edited version of an article by Jerry Capeci that first appeared on

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