WEST VILLAGE — The longtime meat supplier for Bleecker Street butcher Ottomanelli & Sons is cutting ties with famed shop — announcing Wednesday that it will no longer work as its meat distributor following a racially charged incident involving a store worker earlier this year.
Mosner Family Brands insists it has been cooperating with investigators who are probing an April exchange in which the supplier's driver, who is black, was handed a noose by employee Joe Ottomanelli inside its Bleecker Street location.
“If you are stressed at work, you can put this around your neck and ease the pain,” Ottomanelli, 60, allegedly told driver Victor Sheppard, 36, according to police sources.
Mosner, which is based in the Hunts Point section of The Bronx, said it hadn’t planned to make a final decision about working with the butcher shop until the police probe culminated — but ultimately decided to end the business relationship now.
“Mosner Family Brands condemns such intolerance, and any form of racism and discrimination,” President Michael Mosner said in a statement. “This incident warranted the termination of our firm supplying its products to this butcher shop.”
Ottomanelli was charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime. He’s next due in court Sept. 19.
Meanwhile, Sheppard has yet to return to work after indicating three different times that he would, the company said, adding that it offered him an alternative route outside of Manhattan to avoid the store.
“Mosner Family Brands has continued to communicate with the employee’s union representative on the matter in the hope that Mr. Sheppard will, in due time, be able to return to his post,” the company said in a statement. “The Mosner Family stands ready to welcome Mr. Sheppard back to the company.”
Sheppard's lawyer, Wylie Stecklow, called Mosner's decision to end its relationship with Ottomanelli "comforting," but said the ultimate goal remains a conviction in the case.
"This was never about his employer," Stecklow said. "This is about [Manhattan District Attorney] Cy Vance taking this case seriously and supplying the District Attorney's office the appropriate resources to convict Ottomanelli of this hate crime."
Stecklow added that his client is seeing a therapist to get over the episode but added that it takes time.
"A noose has been used for hundreds of years as a violent weapon to lynch African-Americans in this country," he told DNAinfo. "It's as if somebody comes to your child who suffers from a peanut allergy waving a bag of peanuts in their face saying, 'It's only a joke, it’s only a joke.' It's not a joke to someone who's suffering from it."
The butcher shop declined to comment.