UPDATE: Police were trying to determine why a 2015 Mercedes driven by an accused con man from Glen Rock with reputed mob ties crossed a double-yellow line and slammed into another vehicle in North Brunswick yesterday, critically injuring a 58-year-old grandmother.
The Mercedes driver, 48-year-old Paul Mancuso, also was hospitalized, along with a passenger in a Misubishi Outlander that he struck. The other driver, local resident Regina Bagala, was in critical condition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, police said.
Mancuso, who is under federal indictment on charges of scamming unwitting investors out of $3 million, was driving on Jersey Avenue in the Middlesex County when the crash occurred yesterday at 12:30 p.m., they said.
All three occupants had to be extricated from both vehicles.
The crash site is a little over 10 miles from the Seville Diner in East Brunswick, outside of which a former associate of Mancuso’s, 71-year-old Frank Legano of Tenafly, was shot dead in April 2007 in a gangland-style hit that has yet to be solved.
Mancuso reputedly has ties to Genovese captain Joseph “The Eagle” Gatto ( above, right ) of Paterson, who died in April 2010. Authorities said Mancuso participated in a gambling ring headed by Gatto that took $300,000 a week in illegal wagers from tens of thousands of customers nationwide.
Gatto’s father and brother, legendary North Jersey Genovese gangster Louis “Streaky” Gatto and Louis Gatto Jr., both died while serving federal prison sentences.
Late last summer, a federal grand jury indicted Mancuso and Pasquale “Pat” Stiso, a disbarred attorney from Westchester, on charges of conning 15 victims out of $3 million by pretending to broker deals on a pizzeria in the Bahamas, a casino in Atlantic City and the “flipping” of a chunk of real estate in Matawan, among other bogus ventures that authorities said drained victims’ life savings.
Both were up to their necks in hock with bookies — including a $500,000 debt that Macuso still hadn’t paid, the indictment on file in U.S. District Court in Newark alleges.
Instead of funding the purported projects, Mancuso and Stiso used the money for personal expenses and financing their involvement in illegal gambling pursuits,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said at the time, adding that the victims “lost all of their investments or life savings in Mancuso’s schemes.”
Beginning in 2009, Mancuso held himself out as a real estate investor, broker, and/or developer, as well as a “hard money” lender and broker of other various purported investments, according to a complaint on file in federal court.
Federal agents say he conned “substantial investments for various projects that, in fact, either did not exist at all, or in which [he] had no actual involvement.”
Stiso, meanwhile, “held himself out as an individual who was working with Mancuso on various purported projects,” the complaint says.
“Most, if not all, of Mancuso’s victims lost all or substantially all of the money they invested with him and his co-conspirators,” it adds. “Many of Mancuso’s victims have lost all or substantially all of their life savings in his various schemes to defraud.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.