In the shadowed cobblestone streets of Manhattan, history has a way of whispering through the generations. A tale unfurls, not of gallant knights, but of old-world mobsters and unspoken codes. Time, it seems, has not washed away the grit from New York’s more nefarious corners.
Anthony “Rom” Romanello, a reputed capo within the venerable Genovese family—his eight decades of life etched into the lines of his face—found himself in a markedly more personal altercation. The battleground: the now-defunct Lincoln Square Steak, a temple of gastronomy on the Upper West Side, where once, the sizzling of choice cuts played chorus to whispered negotiations. Its proprietor: Shuqeri “Bruno” Selimaj, a restaurateur with the unfortunate luck of being entwined in a tale of debts and dishonor.
This story, however, spun a different thread. Romanello, the prosecution spun, had donned the cloak of an enforcer, fists heralding destruction for unsettled gambling accounts. They painted a scene of Romanello and reputed Genovese soldier Joseph Celso deployed by a Queens bookie on a grim mission—to exact an $86,000 tribute from Selimaj’s kin.
Yet, in the drama-laden courtroom of Brooklyn federal court, the narrative was challenged. Romanello, represented by his attorney Jerry McMahon, became not a hammer of the mob, but an aggrieved senior, lashing out not for gold but for honor. McMahon conjured a more prosaic image—an aged Romanello, the weekly patron, spiraling into a drunken skirmish after harsh words from an old acquaintance.
“He didn’t punch Bruno to collect a gambling debt,” McMahon proclaimed, dispelling the specter of extortion with a flick of his tongue. “He punched him because Bruno insulted him to his face.”
Observers noted, with a blend of mockery and disbelief, as McMahon painted his client’s punch as feeble, “People who have viewed the video will say my client punches like a girl,” he quipped.
But every story has its depths, and Selimaj, under the weight of his own words, recounted a visit from an Irish bookie—Mike Regan. Regan’s message was as chilling as it was clear: relatives of Selimaj owed a heavy sum, not to just anyone, but to Luan Bexheti—an alleged mob affiliate with dreams of silver screen stardom.
The plot thickened as Selimaj navigated threats veiled in silence and the relentless undercurrent of Mafia intimidation. A family member’s safety hung in the balance, prompting a hasty retraction of his statement to the police, and the settling of familial debts—a tribute paid in fear.
And as if ripped from the very threads of a crime drama, Bexheti himself—whose filmography graced the annals of IMDB and whose voice resonated with the menacing tone of a Grand Theft Auto IV gangster—loomed in the background.
Testimony revealed Selimaj’s dread, “I was afraid this Mafia guy was going to hurt me, my nephew,” he testified. And so, a truth as old as the city’s bedrock emerged in his words: “It was no joke.”
The dance of justice and retribution continues, a sly pas de deux of old-world omertà and the modern court’s quest for truth. The story of this modern-day courtly dance, truth entwined with fear and tradition, is far from over. The consequences of a single punch, thrown not in shadow but in the harsh light of day, will be weighed and measured. The trial, as destiny decrees, continues.