By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — A group of alleged mobsters reportedly tried turning an Avenue B nightspot into their own version of the Bada Bing.
The racketeering trial of an alleged Mafia ringleader revealed Monday that the reputed gangsters allegedly shook down the small cocktail lounge Rue B near East 12th Street for protection money and threatened its owner when he said he couldn’t afford the fee, the Daily News reported.
Rue B owner Peter Dupre testified in Brooklyn Federal Court that two associates of alleged Colombo family mobster John “Sonny” Franzese tried to stab a screwdriver through his hand and threatened to break his leg if he didn’t pay $1,500 a week in protection money, the News said.
Franzese, who is being charged with racketeering but not the extortion of Rue B, reportedly made the low-lit Alphabet City bar his regular hangout in 2007 after he was introduced to Dupre by actor Vinny Vella, who had parts in the hit HBO series “The Sopranos” and Martin Scorsese’s mafia flick “Casino.”
One of Franzese’s alleged thugs, Christopher Curanovic, reportedly settled for $500 a week from Dupre but continued to menace him with threats of physical violence, the News reported.
Dupre testified that Franzese, 93, who is also accused of shaking down a pizzeria and a pair of strip clubs, told him, “If anybody has a fight with you, they have a fight with me,’” the New York Post reported.
Dupre added in his testimony that Curanovic, 28, and his cronies began running up tabs to the tune of $500 and not paying for them, the News reported.
Curanovic also reportedly threatened Dupre’s business partner with a large knife before the bar owner went to police at the Ninth Precinct for help.
The FBI intervened and caught Curanovic collecting payments from Dupre through surveillance equipment, the News added.
An employee who answered the phone at Rue B on Tuesday said he had expected Dupre to be in but hadn't seen him. He declined to comment on the situation.