Limo VP charged in hacking of emails


John Sinagra's federal indictment in Las Vegas looks tame compared to his once having been charged as a mob hitman in a sensational New York murder case.

But the indictment, quietly returned last week, is creating intrigue within the lucrative Las Vegas limousine business.

Sinagra, 47, vice president and general manager of VIP Limousines of Nevada, was charged with hacking into the emails of his former employer, the rival Las Vegas Limousines, and stealing key company information.

From November 2009 to November 2010, Sinagra used his knowledge of the email system at Las Vegas Limousines, owned by Frias Transportation, to unlawfully access 20 email accounts there to benefit his new company, the indictment alleged.

"The emails that the defendant stole contained sensitive information, such as lists of employees and their compensation, lists of vendors and their contact information, price quotes to customers, advertising budget proposals and background checks on prospective company employees," the indictment alleged.

Sinagra is alleged to have forwarded more than 1,000 emails to other accounts he created, under pseudonyms, including one named after the fictional New Jersey mobster Sonny Steelgrave from the old CBS television series, "Wiseguy."

In 2006, Sinagra and a former FBI agent were charged in a 1990 gangland slaying in New York of an 18-year-old man who had witnessed an underworld murder. The agent, Roy Lindley De­Vecchio, was accused of providing information to the late FBI informant andColombo crime family captain Gregory Scarpa Sr., to help Scarpa knock off mob rivals. DeVecchio had managed Scarpa, nicknamed "The Grim Reaper," as an informant for the FBI.

Sinagra was charged with fatally shooting the man under orders from Scarpa. But in 2007, a New York judge dismissed the case, concluding that prosecutors had violated his rights by waiting more than 15 years to charge him. They had received a tip years earlier that Sinagra might have been the shooter, but failed to act upon it, the judge found.

"It was a constitutional law violation, but he also was factually innocent," said New York lawyer Joseph Giaramita, who defended Sinagra. Giaramita declined to discuss the new federal case against Sinagra, but said he intended to come to Las Vegas to represent Sinagra again.

Murder charges against DeVecchio, who now lives in Florida, also were dropped in 2007 after the prosecution's case fell apart at trial. DeVecchio went on to write a book critical of prosecutors for filing the criminal case against him.

In May 2011, the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes" aired an interview with DeVecchio in which he denied ever providing Scarpa with information.

After the murder case against Sinagra was dismissed five years ago, he told New York reporters, "I just want to go home." Home was Las Vegas, where the New York media reported that Sinagra worked for a limousine company.

In a résumé posted online, Sinagra says he was the operations manager for Las Vegas Limousines from June 2008 to July 2009, where "he gave the company a boost in their sales and service."

He says he has been managing VIP Limousines of Nevada, formerly known as Las Vegas VIP Limousines, since August 2009. He started out in the transportation business in Las Vegas as a cabdriver in 1995.

Sinagra declined to comment Wednesday on both the Las Vegas indictment and the New York murder case.

He surrendered to FBI agents last week and was later released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty to aggravated identity theft and unlawfully obtaining information by computer from a protected computer.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach set an Oct. 16 trial before U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro.

Mark James, a former state senator and county commissioner who runs the Frias Transportation companies, including Las Vegas Limousines, did not return phone calls.

Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

 

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