2007-04-19 / Front Page

Owner gunned down in front of Rt. 18 diner

EAST BRUNSWICK - Authorities continue to investigate last week's shooting death of Seville Diner co-owner Frank Lagano, but little information about the homicide has been made available.

Lagano, 67, of Tenafly, was shot at 3:20 p.m. April 12 in the parking lot outside the Route 18 diner, and police responded to a 911 call to find him lying on the ground bleeding from the head. He was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m. at Raritan Bay Medical Center, Old Bridge division, according to a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

An autopsy performed Friday by Dr. Andrew Falzone of the Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office revealed that Lagano died of a gunshot wound to the head. The death was ruled a homicide.

The prosecutor's office, which is investigating the shooting death with the East Brunswick Police Department, did not release further details regarding the circumstances or the investigation, and calls seeking information earlier this week were not returned.

In a statement issued Friday, authorities asked that anyone with information to contact East Brunswick Detective Paul Natalicchio at (732) 390-6990 or Investigator Eleazar Ricardo of the prosecutor's office at (732) 745-4239.

Published reports indicate that Lagano may have had ties to organized crime. He was awaiting trial in Bergen County on racketeering charges for his alleged role in a gambling ring that authorities said netted $300,000 a week, according to the Bergen Record. The ring was run by reputed Genovese mobster Joseph "The Eagle" Gatto and split among the Genovese, Bonanno/

Massino and Lucchese crime families, the newspaper reported.

The Seville Diner, which Lagano reportedly purchased in 2005, closed after the shooting but reopened for business on Friday.

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