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Mob enforcer with colorful past fights gun charge



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Updated: March 28, 2013 6:45AM

Mob enforcer Mario Rainone has served hard time for extortion, burglary and even for bribing a prison guard to smuggle Italian sausage and pasta into his jail cell.

During his long and colorful criminal career, he once allegedly threatened to chop off the heads of a restaurateur’s children if he wasn’t paid $200,000. On another occasion, fearing his Outfit pals were about to kill him, he entered the federal witness-protection program, only to think better of cooperating when his mother’s porch was bombed.

Now the 60-year-old mobster is fighting in federal court to prevent an altogether less cinematic end to his life — a potential life sentence for a humdrum gun charge.

The balding, gray-haired Rainone sat mute during the first day of his trial in Judge Harry Leinenweber’s courtroom Tuesday as prosecutors outlined how Addison Police found a stolen .357 Smith & Wesson revolver in Rainone’s nightstand in February 2009.

Rainone denies the gun was his, but if he’s found guilty, his previous felony convictions and lengthy rap sheet mean he faces a prison sentence of 15 years to life.

Rulings by the judge mean prosecutors can’t tell jurors about Rainone’s mob ties or the details of his previous crimes, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said the case is straightforward.

“Police found this gun in that man’s bedroom,” Bhachu said in his opening statement, holding the revolver in one hand and pointing at Rainone with the other.

After a dispute with his girlfriend, Darlene Cozzo, Rainone had been staying with her adult daughter, Michelle, at her condo in the 1200 block of Lake Street, Bhachu said. The gun was found in a bedroom of that condo that was used only by Rainone, and it was next to personal effects and documents belonging to Rainone, the prosecutor added.

But Rainone’s attorney, Joseph “The Shark” Lopez, questioned how police handled the scene, pointing out that at least four other people had access to the bedroom and that no DNA or fingerprints were found on the weapon.

The trial is expected to conclude Wednesday.

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