An Ozone Park man was found guilty on Monday of masterminding a home invasion that ended in the murder of Jerry Antoniello, a 29-year-old who was shot in the head when trying to defend his father, the well-known owner of a Cross Bay Boulevard Pizza Shop, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Francis LaCorte, 29, could be sentenced to life in prison after a Queen Supreme Court jury convicted him of second-degree murder, first-degree attempted burglary, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and fourth-degree conspiracy, according to prosecutors.
Brown said LaCorte “orchestrated, planned and carried out” three home robberies between August and September of 2009, one of which was at the Ozone Park residence of Bartolomeo Antoniello. Antoniello owned Romeo’s Pizza in Ozone Park for 20 years before he died several months after his son was murdered.
Jerry Antoniello “bravely went to the aid of his father during one of the robberies,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
“Under the circumstances the defendant has forfeited his future and can expect to spend most, if not all, of the rest of his life behind bars,” the DA concluded.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter, who presided over the trial, will sentence LaCorte on April 16 at the Kew Gardens courthouse.
According to trial testimony, LaCorte and another Ozone Park man, Vincent Mineo, who has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week, met in September 2009 to plan the home robbery of Bartolomeo Antoniello. The two recruited a group of criminals from throughout the city to execute the robbery, prosecutors said.
Jerry Antoniello was the youngest of three sons, one of whom is an NYPD officer. He worked for the city Department of Education as an operating engineer at PS 127 in East Elmhurst and had recently saved up enough money to purchase a condominium near St. John’s University in Fresh Meadows.
Jerry Antoniello’s parents opened their pizzeria in 1992, when their youngest son was 12, and family members said he was always lending a hand at the business. He went on to be a maintenance supervisor at PS 65 in Ozone Park and then a facilities manager at PS 242 in Whitestone.