Alex Constantine - March 19, 2010
Rothstein figure accused of making threat
A reputed Sicilian mafioso charged in an FBI undercover case linked
to Scott Rothstein's Ponzi scheme was previously arrested for allegedly
threatening a Miami Beach security officer with a handgun
By JAY WEAVER | Miami Herald | 03.19.10
As he was eating al fresco at Soprano Cafe on Lincoln Road, Settineri opened his leather jacket to flash a handgun at a private security officer, a police report states.
``I will put this gun in your f-----g mouth,'' Settineri told the security officer, the report says. ``I know where you live. I'll go to your house and kill you and your family.''
Miami Beach police eventually caught up with Settineri, who denied threatening the guard with his firearm. The cops arrested Settineri, 41, of Miami, on an aggravated assault charge, a third-degree felony.
But that's the least of his problems.
Last week, FBI agents arrested Italian-born Settineri, a naturalized U.S. citizen who works as a wine wholesaler, on obstruction of justice and money laundering charges in connection with Rothstein's $1.2 billion investment scam. Federal authorities also accuse him of being connected to the mafia's Colombo and Gambino crime families.
At the same time, Italian National Police officers flew to Miami and revealed charges accusing Settineri of belonging to the Sicilian mafia and participating in a slew of violent crimes.
Settineri was a regular on Lincoln Road, where he sold wine to restaurants lining the popular pedestrian way.
Michael Catalano, Settineri's lawyer, said his client was eating with a couple of other men at Soprano Cafe on Jan. 8 when he had the run-in with the security officer, Cesar Mainardi, who was on his patrol bike. He worked for Security Alliance, a company contracted with the city of Miami Beach.
Catalano said Mainardi confronted Settineri over a woman they both knew.
Mainardi "weaved his way through a tight crowd and intentionally harassed him,'' Catalano said. Settineri "told the security guard to leave him alone, and he made up these allegations.''
But Mainardi, in an interview with The Miami Herald, denied the fight was over a woman. In his police statement, Mainardi accused Settineri of threatening him for no reason: "Apparently he did not like the way I looked at him, and I noticed his reaction and wanted to talk to him, but he acted aggressive.''
'Mainardi told police that Settineri flashed the semi-automatic weapon, which was in a holster on his belt. But "he never took it out,'' Mainardi said.
Settineri left the restaurant after the confrontation, but Miami Beach police reached him on his cellphone.
According to the police report, Settineri admitted having a "heated argument'' with the security officer but denied "threatening him with any type of gun.''
Settineri said he owned four guns, but they were all at his Brickell Key condo in Miami at the time of the incident. Police found no weapon on him. State records show that Settineri has a concealed-weapons permit.
Rothstein, who came to know Settineri through a Broward security company he had hired for protection, allegedly talked Settineri into shredding documents and laundering $79,000 in November from the Fort Lauderdale lawyer's Ponzi scheme, according to an indictment unsealed last week.
Rothstein, 47, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges in January, faces up to 100 years in prison at his sentencing in May. But he may end up spending less time behind bars; the feds plan to put him in prison under the witness protection program for helping sting Settineri in the FBI undercover operation.
Italian authorities charged Settineri along with 19 other people allegedly linked to the Sicilian mafia. The charges: extortion, drug trafficking and attempted murder.