Bonanno in Contempt for Not Answering Queries About Mafia

Associated Press

Retired Mafia leader Joseph Bonanno today was found in contempt of court by a federal judge for repeatedly refusing to answer questions about organized crime in New York.

U.S. District Judge Richard Owen of New York ordered Bonanno “placed forthwith in the custody of the attorney general” for civil contempt. Bonanno had been ordered to go to a hospital today to give a deposition to government lawyers.

“I’m too sick to answer the question,” Bonanno, 80, said earlier today. He added that his doctor “recommended me not to testify. I could die. That’s what they told me, so I’m not in a position to testify.”

U.S. Atty. Rudolph W. Giuliani had asked Owen to find Bonanno in contempt. But Bonanno’s attorney, Alfred S. Donau III, said that “will at the very least endanger his life and possibly kill him.”

Earlier, the hearing at St. Mary’s Hospital was briefly recessed after Bonanno asked for a nitroglycerin tablet, which his doctors have said he has been taking to counteract chest pains. On Wednesday, his doctors told Owen that Bonanno could suffer a stroke or fatal heart attack if he was forced to testify, but Giuliani said he had been “crying wolf” about his health for decades.