Lucali's Owner Charged With Attempted Murder

Man accused of stabbing pizzeria owner also charged with second-degree murder.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Famed Brooklyn pizzeria owner Mark Iacono (inset right) has been charged with attempted murder.

    A Brooklyn pizzeria owner stabbed during a knife fight on a busy commercial block last week has himself been charged with attempted murder, NBC New York has learned.

    Mark Iacono, 43, remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition with stab wounds to the face, head and back.

    He operates pizzeria Lucali, a known favorite of foodies and celebrities that GQ magazine ranked the second-best in the country in 2009.

    Assault charges were filed against him after Friday's violent exchange with 39-year-old Benny Geritano, and those charges have now been upgraded to include second-degree attempted murder, second- and third-degree menacing, harassment and fourth-degree criminal possession, the Brooklyn district attorney's office told NBC New York.

    It wasn't immediately clear if Iacono had an attorney, nor whether he would be arraigned in the hospital or in court once his condition improved, the DA's office said.

    Geritano was arraigned on second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault charges Sunday in connection with Friday's incident. In court, Geritano lifted his shirt to show a judge stab wounds to his chest and stomach that he says Iacono inflicted upon him, reports the Daily News.

    Geritano's attorney, Steven Kartagener, told the court Iacono stabbed his client first, inciting the violent exchange.

    Geritano, whose half-brother reportedly has mob ties and whose own connections are being investigated, began arguing with Iacono, a former friend of his, inside a supermarket in Carroll Gardens on Friday afternoon, police said.

    The argument spilled into the street and escalated into a knife brawl on busy Smith Street.

    Prosecutors say Geritano stabbed Iacono multiple times before fleeing the scene to get treatment for wounds he suffered in the fracas. While Geritano appeared in court with his hands bandaged, prosecutors also said that Iacono suffered "far worse" injuries.

    NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Geritano has 10 previous arrests. In the early 1990s, he was charged twice with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to lesser charges, Browne said.

    The judge set Geritano's bail at $250,000, but says he can't post it until he can prove he's not paying it off with mob money.

    Police were investigating whether Geritano had ties to the Genovese organized crime family and whether he was trying to shake down Iacono to get a slice of his pizza empire, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because that part of the investigation was ongoing.

    Iacono was a marble mason before he became a pizza entrepreneur in 2006 after taking over the building that once housed his favorite childhood candy store. The cozy neighborhood pizzeria he opened serves up brick-oven pizzas.

    The pizzeria quickly developed a following comparable to other famous city pie parlors -- with Jay-Z and Beyonce said to make regular stops at the restaurant.

    A sister restaurant run by Iacono's brother, called Guiseppina's, opened last year.