A man accused of dealing cocaine for the Los Angeles Mafia testified Monday that he offered to hire "some weightlifters" from the East Coast to help an undercover FBI agent deal with threats from two alleged cocaine suppliers.
But Robert D'Agostino, who later admitted to selling 83 grams of cocaine to the FBI agent, said he didn't know at the time that the two alleged suppliers were actually undercover government informants.
D'Agostino, 54, a former master chef at restaurants throughout Southern California and Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to the cocaine charges in July but has sought to prove that government agents trapped him into the transactions in order to coerce him into testifying against higher-level members of the Los Angeles crime family.
U.S. District Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez on Monday rejected the motion, calling D'Agostino "anything but a person being put upon," and sentenced him to six years in prison.
Testifying before his sentencing, D'Agostino said it was the government informants, Craig Anthony Fiato and Lawrence Fiato, who supplied him with the cocaine he eventually sold to FBI agent Robert M. Hamer--an assertion government officials vigorously denied.
D'Agostino said Hamer, who spent months undercover taping conversations with reputed crime family members, 14 of whom were indicted last spring with D'Agostino, claimed the Fiatos were "on his back" for money he owed from an earlier cocaine transaction and D'Agostino said he could provide help, for a $5,000 fee.
Doing Him a Favor
"I said I can get in touch with some people, and I'd take the money to them and see if they were interested in getting these guys off him," D'Agostino testified. "I was only trying to do Hamer a favor. That's not my business."
Richard Small, head of the Los Angeles Strike Force on Organized Crime, said after the hearing that federal agents believe D'Agostino planned to hire some East Coast mobsters to rough up the Fiatos--not knowing that the Fiatos were actually cooperating with the government.
But when Small pressed D'Agostino to identify whom he planned to hire for the job, he said only, "whoever wanted the job . . . some weightlifters."
D'Agostino said he believed the Fiato brothers were dangerous. "They're capable of blowing you away, sir," he told Small during cross-examination. "I know their neurotic conditions, of talking with them and telling me some of their fanatic stories. This mother so-and-so, I'll break his legs, I'll break his arms, I'll blow his eyes out. I don't need to get involved with those types of characters."
D'Agostino also claimed that a Los Angeles police officer informed him in 1985 that local organized crime leaders, including alleged Mafia boss Peter Milano, had put out a contract on his life.
"He (the officer) said some people were gonna put a hit on me," D'Agostino testified. Robert Paduano, a reputed organized crime figure from Newport Beach, had reportedly been designated to carry out the murder, D'Agostino said.
His attorney, Alan May, claims that both the cocaine transaction and the report of the contract were attempts to get D'Agostino to testify against other reputed crime family members.
He argued Monday for a lenient sentence, calling D'Agostino "a person who has a heart of gold" who occasionally became involved in drug transactions as "favors."
"His biggest problem, I guess, is associating with the kind of people they say he associates with," May said.
The trial for the other 14 defendants is scheduled for March.