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Shelby Township

February 22, 2013

Former Shelby restaurateurs face federal extortion charges

By Brad D. Bates
C & G Staff Writer

Just more than a year removed from being sentenced to 60 days in jail following a violent attack on a business rival, two former Shelby Township restaurateurs now face federal extortion charges.

Giuseppe D’Anna, 60, and Girolamo D’Anna, 48, were arrested and made court appearances Feb. 21 in Detroit to face charges stemming from actions that culminated in an April 28, 2011, assault on another local restaurant owner.

Following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Detroit Field Division, the brothers face charges on one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy and two counts of attempted Hobbs Act extortion. All three charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Hobbs Act charges are derived from a law that restricts against acts of “extortion by force, violence or fear.”

The charges are connected to actions up to and including the April 28, 2011, beating, which saw both men plead no contest to reduced assault with a dangerous weapon charges Oct. 27, 2011, in Macomb County Circuit Court after they were initially charged with assault with intent to murder, a life felony, 20-year felony extortion charges and 10-year felony witness intimidation charges.

The federal indictment claims the brothers and other unnamed “co-conspirators” allegedly attempted to extort the rival owner “from approximately 2009 through approximately April 2011.”

The April 28 assault took place after the brothers reportedly approached the victim, Pietro Ventimiglia, over the expansion of his restaurant, Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, located just south of the D’Anna’s restaurant, Tirami Su Ristorante on Schoenherr Road.

A report from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s office following the incident said the brothers “stormed” into the restaurant at closing time and hit the owner 11 times with a bat.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said the pair had allegedly threatened the victim since 2009, when he first opened his competing restaurant, and that Giuseppe D’Anna allegedly threatened to kill the victim “so the problem would be over,” and also threatened his family.

At the circuit court sentencing last year, James C. Thomas, who represented Giuseppe D’Anna, said that the plea was an admission of wrongdoing in “an isolated event borne out of the economy.”

“(Giuseppe D’Anna) is being responsible,” Thomas said at the Jan. 6 sentencing before Judge Richard Caretti at Macomb County Circuit Court, urging the judge not to disregard his client’s previously clean record. “He acknowledges he acted wrong.”

Defense attorneys could not be reached before press time. Vincenzo Manzella, who represented Girolamo D’Anna in the previous assault case, said he was not representing Girolamo D’Anna in the federal case. A message for Thomas was not returned at press time.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brad D. Bates at bbates@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.