Mob Snitch Can Sue Over Breakup With Feds

     MANHATTAN (CN) — A former mob informant on the outs with the feds after nearly two decades of canary life persuaded a federal judge Thursday to advance his retaliation suit.
     Born into the family of a reputed La Cosa Nostra member, Joseph Barone says he began cooperating with the FBI in 1990, rising through the ranks to become a top “Tier II” confidential informant.
     The New York Daily News profiled the informant’s fall from grace in its 2011 article “Rat in a Trap,” which described how Barone once tipped the bureau to mob hits plotted by Bonanno boss Vinny Basciano against U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis and federal prosecutor Greg Andres.
     Barone’s 18-year friendship with the feds tripled the undercover tour achieved by storied agent Donnie Brasco, the title character of the 1997 crime drama starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino, the Daily News noted.
     It all came crashing down on Jan. 9, 2009, when the government charged Barone with a $1 million murder-for-hire plot — the details of which Barone said the feds were spoon-fed by a “notoriously unscrupulous” New York City Police Department informant.
     A federal jury acquitted Barone, but not before he saw his name leaked to the press and spent a 15-month stint in solitary confinement, ostensibly for his protection.
     The year after his exoneration, Barone accused the government of putting him and his family in grave danger by blowing his cover to the press and prosecuting him despite knowing that he was innocent.
     Barone’s amended complaint describes his ordeal as “torture.”
     A regular witness in Eastern District of New York mob cases, Barone’s civil action brought Barone across the Brooklyn Bridge to the Southern District of New York, where he is seeking money damages for his time as a defendant.
     U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan gave Barone the green light Thursday to pursue his claims.
     If Barone proves his case, the government’s conduct “arguably would have been ‘so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the 11-page ruling states.
     Attorneys for Barone did not return an email seeking comment.
     Representatives for both the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to give interviews on the ruling.

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