A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction and four-year prison sentence of Joseph Bonanno Jr., son of reputed Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno Sr., in a fraudulent investment scheme involving presidential posters.
Federal investigators said Bonanno, through a company based in Los Gatos, Calif., concocted a worthless purchase order for 400,000 historical posters featuring U.S. presidents, and used it to get a $200,000 loan from a Salt Lake company.The charges of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy also involved an attempt to get $810,000 in financing from a man who turned out to be a government informant, based on other purported purchase orders for the posters. The charges were based on events in 1981 and 1982.
Joseph Jr.'s brother, Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno, was acquitted in the same trial, held in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. Two other men pleaded guilty.
In a 3-0 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a variety of challenges to the conviction, including a defense claim that the government was guilty of either "outrageous conduct" or entrapment through its use of the informant.
The opinion by U.S. District Judge James Redden of Oregon, assigned to the court for the case, said there was no evidence that the informant, Lou Terra, who had a prior criminal conviction and other charges pending, had instigated the scheme or forced Bonanno's company to rely on him as a funding source.
"The defendants here were already involved in the purchase order scheme when Terra approached them," Redden said.