They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. A self-described pothead said he was drafted into a mob war against his will when a Mafia associate took him out for what he thought would be a night of club hopping — but he was instead given a gun and told to participate in a gangland hit.
Robert Ventriglia — who wasn’t even in the mob — yesterday told jurors in the trial of two Colombo Mafia members, that he was taken to a street in North Massapequa, Long Island, and told to “shoot at the people” who get into a nearby parked car.
He said if he didn’t obey the order from Colombo associate Eric Curcio, he may be the one sleeping with the fishes.
“I was in fear of my life,” Ventriglia said.
Before the night in 1992 was over, renegade Colombo crime-family member John Minerva was dead along with his pal Michael Imbergamo.
“We shot at the car,” said Ventriglia, who carried out the Long Island murder with another gunman. “I was on the passenger side on the sidewalk in front.”
Ventriglia, 46, described the rubout for members of a jury deciding the fate of two alleged mobsters on trial in a Brooklyn federal courtroom.
Dino “Little Dino” Saracino, 39, and former Colombo street boss Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, 59, are on trial for six gangland murders, including the killing of a cop.
Prosecutors said Ventriglia was carrying out Gioeli’s orders when he and the second gunman, Anthony Colandra, opened fire on Minerva and Imbergamo.
Minerva, a Colombo soldier, and Imbergamo, his friend who was not an intended target, were gunned down as they sat in a car parked in front of the Broadway Café in North Massapequa.
Brooklyn federal prosecutors have charged Colandra with lying to the FBI about the double-hit on Long Island. Colandra allegedly told investigators he was at a bar at the time of the killings.
A law-enforcement source confirmed that Ventriglia, a cooperating witness, had no choice.
“In this life, refusing an order will get you killed,” the source said.
As for Colandra, “several cooperating witnesses, including his former co-conspirators, will testify that Colandra in fact did commit the murders and that Colandra even bragged about doing so,” Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes wrote in a court document.
Saracino’s cousin, Dino “Big Dino” Calabro, testified earlier in the trial about his role in the double murder.
Calabro said he drove the getaway car and said the handguns used in the hit were tossed down sewer drains.
He said he “zig-zagged” through side streets after leaving the murder scene in an effort to avoid responding police cars.
Calabro has pleaded guilty to the Minerva-Imbergamo murders and testified against Gioeli as an FBI informant.
He is now in the witness-protection program.
Calabro has said he and Saracino murdered NYPD Officer Ralph Dols on Gioeli’s orders in 1997.