Like prior dispatches, this article is not one that had to happen. Regular readers won’t be surprised to read that this article has been instigated into reality by the actions of Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti and supporters of Team Gallo.
Dennis Giacomo “Jack” Vilella, who is a self-practicing bankruptcy attorney in New York City and an active campaign supporter of Team Gallo, warned Facebook group moderators of the Glen Cove Forum that there would be potential legal action unless they remove a post. The post concerned statements made by Brian Pemberton that criticized Vilella’s apparent anti-police Facebook posts. Vilella wrote the posts on April 27 under his now defunct “Giacomo Vee” account.
Pemberton, who said his brother is a cop in Baltimore, took umbrage at Vilella’s apparent praising of the Baltimore riots. He stated:
Check out how the leader of the Tony Gallo campaign, Jack Vilella aka Giacomo Vee, was bashing the cops during the Baltimore riots. He is proud of how the Crips and the Bloods were to ‘take up arms against a common enemy.’ He calls the cops the enemy. My brother is a cop in Baltimore. Is he our enemy?
Pemberton was also annoyed by Vilella’s implication that an honest cop is the exception and not “the rule.”
Vilella has been photographed prominently with Team Gallo and he expressed publicly his role in collecting petition signatures for the team.
There is no doubt that Councilman Tony Gallo knows of Vilella’s “Giacomo Vee” account. On the day after Vilella’s posts about the Baltimore riots, Gallo responded to Vilella’s comments about the “YMCA issue.”
Pemberton concluded that Gallo should publicly denounce Vilella’s posts and remove him from “any association” with the campaign. Pemberton’s post can be viewed in its entirety here.
After one of the authors of this article reposted Pemberton’s comments in the Glen Cove Forum, Vilella sent the following message to Glen Cove Forum admin Marge McDonnell on June 10, 2015 at 1:38 a.m.:
Marge. I write to advise you of activity on the Glen Cove Forum page. A Brian Pemberton wrote libelous statements about me that were shared by Robert Germino on your page. I have forwarded this information to my attorneys for further handling. I request that you remove these comments as they are not true and are causing damage to me personally and professionally. If you would like to discuss this matter with me further, please feel free to contact me at 212-235-1884. Because of the sensitive nature of these issues and allegations, I hope that the posts will be reviewed quickly and that they are removed just as fast. Thank you. Jack Vilella. PS – I have written to the other admins of this page and have made the same request.
Since he sent that message, Vilella disabled his “Giacomo Vee” account and it appears that he scrubbed the petition signing post from social media; however, the Beacon also discovered additional controversial posts by Vilella.
If Vilella feels strongly about his public statements on police action, why hide them and threaten lawsuits? Since Vilella made himself a public member of Gallo’s mayoral campaign efforts, does he not deserve the same level of public scrutiny as those who are running for office?
What caught our attention about Vilella’s vague threat of legal action–that he sent the “libelous statements” to his “attorneys for further handling”–is its proximate resemblance to Spagnoletti’s response to a confrontation at a May 5, 2015 pre-council meeting.
When Councilman Joseph Capobianco asked about whether he had used an anonymous commenting account to comment on Newsday, Spagnoletti responded that he had met with a “team of attorneys” who were going to “proceed accordingly” because they believed there was “defamation and libel” posted on this website.
Audio from that May 5 meeting can be heard after this paragraph. Spagnoletti talks about what his lawyers will do at about 12 minutes. They can dance around it with vague language, but the logical implication of the Spagnoletti and Vilella threats are the same: To get what they want, Team Gallo will use threats of legal force against its critics and those who dare publish things unfavorable to their cause.
The Beacon invites Team Gallo to post a response to this article.
Mike Bruschini provided contributions to this article.