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At Galati trial, a tangled tale of romance and retribution

A year before Tiffany Galati's boyfriend, Andrew Tuono, was shot in a hit in Atlantic City that prosecutors say was arranged by her wannabe mobster father, she asked one of the same hit men to rough up an ex-boyfriend.

Andrew Tuono leaves Federal Court in Camden after testifying in the trial of Ronald Galati who is accused of hiring hitmen. Tuono was dating Galati's daughter Tiffany at the time. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )
Andrew Tuono leaves Federal Court in Camden after testifying in the trial of Ronald Galati who is accused of hiring hitmen. Tuono was dating Galati's daughter Tiffany at the time. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )Read more

A year before Tiffany Galati's boyfriend, Andrew Tuono, was shot in a hit in Atlantic City that prosecutors say was arranged by her wannabe mobster father, she asked one of the same hit men to rough up an ex-boyfriend.

"I wanted Jeff beat up," Galati, 33, said while testifying for the government in her father's murder-for-hire trial in federal court. "Not killed. I'm not a murderer."

"Unlike my father, who actually had bullets firing at me," she added with a scathing look toward the defense table, speaking directly at Ronald Galati, "I just don't know how you can do that to your own kid, or even put me up here."

Ronald Galati is on trial before Judge Joseph Rodriguez in Camden, facing murder-for-hire and attempted-murder charges that could land him in prison for 15 years.

Galati, an alleged Philadelphia mob associate who owns an auto shop in South Philadelphia, is also facing insurance-scam and unrelated murder-for-hire charges in Philadelphia.

In a critical day of testimony that lifted the curtain on a sordid inner drama, the jury heard from Tiffany Galati; her then-boyfriend, who was shot three times but survived; and Galati's right-hand man, Jerome Johnson - one of three admitted hit men who were to be paid $20,000 each for the job.

The three hit men who pleaded guilty in the Camden case also have pleaded guilty in the Philadelphia murder-for-hire plan, which targeted a rival auto shop owner but was never carried out. They are expected to testify against Ronald Galati there, too.

Prosecutors have said that Galati was incensed because he did not want his daughter dating someone he had considered a friend and that the two had moved away from Philadelphia to Atlantic City along with his grandson.

She was working at an Atlantic City spa at the time of the shooting.

On Tuesday, the jury of 12 women and two men heard from Johnson, who testified that Galati was behind the Nov. 30, 2013, hit. He also admitted that Tiffany Galati had asked him to beat up Jeffrey Capuano, her former boyfriend and the father of her son, in November 2012.

In text messages - read in court by defense attorney Anthony Voci in an apparent attempt to discredit her testimony against her father - she asked Johnson to hurt Capuano:

"I'll pay whatever, I don't care. Gotta be done. . . . Just make sure my kid ain't around him when it happens, please, that would be traumatizing."

Tiffany Galati admitted wanting Capuano hurt but said she never wanted anything to happen to Tuono.

"I loved him; I still love him," she said of the 35-year-old Tuono. The two split up in May.

In nearly three hours of testimony, Tiffany Galati, clad in black Spandex pants, gray sweater, and gold sandals, her tone often sarcastic, said she had not spoken to her father since two days after the shooting.

She said she blamed two miscarriages on the stress she said her family caused her when she broke up with Capuano and started dating Tuono.

So horrifying was her relationship with her family that she texted a photo of a fetus in the toilet to her brother, sister, and father after a miscarriage in August 2013.

She testified that her brother replied that if it was Tuono's baby, it was "for the best."

Compounding that was an ugly custody battle with Capuano over their now-6-year-old son, and a restraining order she filed against Capuano's father. She said her father still took Capuano's side.

In retaliation, she refused to let her father see his grandson while she had custody, even when Ronald Galati showed up in Atlantic City about two weeks before the shooting.

"My father hurt and betrayed me," Tiffany Galati said.

"Your father loved little Jeffrey to the exclusion of all things and all people?" Voci asked.

"Yeah, he probably loved him more than me," she responded.

Tuono, 35, wearing jeans and a black dress shirt, and sounding diffident at times, testified that his relationship with Ronald Galati rapidly deteriorated once he started dating Tiffany Galati.

He said Galati threatened him, quoting lines from the mobster movie Goodfellas and making jokes about a meat grinder at the restaurant where they were eating, just a few weeks before he was shot.

Voci raised questions about Tuono's involvement with drugs, hinting they could have been the real reason he was shot. Tuono said on the stand that he had only ever taken prescription pills and testosterone enhancements from GNC. He said he had never seen the men who shot him before.

Tuono was shot in a hand, a hip, and the stomach. He told Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richardson that he tried to dial 911, to no avail, and called a few friends to say goodbye. Tiffany Galati also never called 911, saying that she was shocked and confused, and that police responded shortly thereafter anyway.

"Tiffany's standing there like she's frozen. I'm like, 'Tiff, get out of here. Call the cops,' " Tuono said.

Two days after the shooting, Tiffany said she called her father and asked for $8,000 for an attorney to help her get primary custody of her son.

"He wouldn't help," she said. "But he had $20,000 to give to shooters." She said her father told her, " 'Leave me alone, I'm going to jail in 30 days for life. You're dead to me,' " and hung up.

When asked how she felt about her father now, she said, "He's my father; I still love him." At that, Ronald Galati wiped his eyes with a tissue and took a sip of water.

As his daughter exited the courtroom, Galati turned around in his chair and waved goodbye. Tiffany Galati walked out of the double doors, flanked by two U.S. marshals.

The trial continues Wednesday, when the government is expected to rest its case.

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