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Queens Chronicle

UPDATE: Bonnano mobster Pisani convicted of sex assault

Councilman Ulrich had written in his defense in loansharking case, not this one

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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 10:10 am

UPDATE

Robert Pisani was found guilty of sexual assault on Wednesday, June 27. 

Pisani was accused by a former employee of his Howard Beach deli. The victim, a teenage girl, claimed Pisani touched her inappropriately and forced her to touch his penis. Pisani is a known associate of the Bonanno crime family. 

The trial began on Thursday, June 21. According to the Queens District Attorney's Office, Pisani is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 14 and faces a maximum of one year in prison.

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Howard Beach businessman and Bonanno crime family associate Robert Pisani is on trial this week for an alleged sexual assault that happened on April 28, 2017.

The alleged incident occurred in his Howard Beach deli, with one of his female employees.

According to court files the alleged victim says that Pisani “grabbed her buttocks without her consent ... pulled the back of her bra strap causing it to snap open ... then grabbed her hand and placed her hand on the defendant’s penis without her consent.”

The trial began last Thursday, June 21, and the victim was scheduled to testify this past Monday.

Pisani is currently facing a maximum of one year in prison for this case.

Pisani had previously pleaded guilty in a Mafia loansharking case in which he admitted to collecting unlawful debts in furtherance of a racketeering conspiracy.

He pleaded guilty on Nov. 17, 2017 and in the months leading up to his sentencing had reached out to family, friends and community leaders asking for character letters.

Dozens of Pisani’s close family and friends wrote letters to Judge Dora Irizarry, including Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).

Ulrich, who has known Pisani for a number of years, says he wrote the letter as a request from a constituent.

“I wrote the letter about the federal trial, not the sexual assault trial,” said Ulrich. “Clearly I did not write the letter last week asking for any special treatment for the trial he is currently involved in.”

Last Friday the Daily News posted an article regarding Ulrich’s letter in which he called Pisani a “really good guy.” Ulrich later took to Facebook to claim the article was fake news and a joke. Ulrich said he felt it made it look like he had done something wrong.

“I guess to them I’m guilty by association. But that article didn’t do a good job at telling the whole story,” said Ulrich.

When asked why he agreed to write the letter, Ulrich said he has only ever known Pisani as a great help to the community.

“When my daughter was sick in the hospital he anonymously brought food to the nurses. I had to ask who it was, then when I offered to pay for the food he told me to give the money to charity,” said Ulrich. “That’s the guy I wrote the letter for. He still needs to take responsibility for his crimes and I made that clear in my letter.”

As for the sexual assault case, Pisani’s lawyer has said that they will fight the accusations. At press time no verdict has been made.

Ulrich said he wants it to be clear that he stands by everything he said in the letter, but that it was written to the judge for Pisani’s loansharking case, not his sexual assault trial.

“He deserves his day in court just like everyone else and he deserves the assumption of innocence until proven otherwise,” said Ulrich, about Pisani’s ongoing sexual assault trail. “But that letter I wrote had nothing to do with this trial, the two are like apples and oranges.”

CORRECTIONS

This article initially stated that Rob Pisani's deli is closed. It remains open and he remains the owner. Also, the photo shows the location before he bought it, when it had a different name. The original caption to the photo was incorrect about that.

We regret the errors.

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