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Ex-Stripper Married to the Mob

NY- Elizabeth Crespo was married to the mob, the wife of a reputed Bonanno crime family associate who did much of his talking with a baseball bat.

With her now-ex-husband behind bars and her life still haunted by him, the striking Brooklyn mother of three is taking a few swings of her own – detailing for the Daily News the good, bad and ugly of being hitched to an upwardly mobile thug.

“We were always at christenings, weddings, engagements. Everybody’s got the car, the jewelry,” Crespo said. “The whole thing seemed fascinating.”

But it all ended when husband Eugene Lombardo was arrested – and the ex-stripper and her kids nearly ended up on the street.

Now, try as she might to leave Lombardo in the rearview mirror, Crespo finds herself battling him in court, most recently beating back his bid to have their three sons visit him in prison.

The nixing of jailhouse visits was a relief, especially since her 12-year-old has been plagued by dreams of the family being shot in a mob rubout. The boy even drew a chilling picture of his worst nightmare.

“I tell myself, ‘How could you be so stupid?'” Crespo said, adding that she has wanted to share her story because, “I feel like women should know.”

Crespo was a 26-year-old stripper in 1990 when she met Lombardo, then 38, in the VIP room of Pastels, a disco in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

She had her own car and her own apartment in Brighton Beach, having left Yonkers, where she grew up one of eight children in a religious Puerto Rican family.

“We didn’t hit it off at first,” she remembered, but Lombardo, an imposing 6-foot-4, 240-pound man, was persistent. “I thought he was a good-looking man. He wanted to have children, to settle down.”

Four months later, she was pregnant with their first son.

At the time, Lombardo was running a Bay Ridge men’s store, Summer Again, with the daughter of Bonanno crime family capo Frank Lino.

Within a few years, Crespo and Lombardo had a house in Sea Gate, the gated Coney Island community, and an inground swimming pool. With the new home came lots of parties hosted by the unmarried couple.

“The whole thing with the house was to try to ingratiate himself with the mob,” said Crespo. “He always said that one day he would get a phone call at 2a.m., and he would have to go meet the guys and get initiated.”

Still, some things about the life rubbed her the wrong way.

“Everything was a scam,” she recalled. “There was nothing honest.”

She got an early taste of that when Lombardo told her that he wanted to report her engagement ring stolen so that he could collect the insurance.

Crespo said she knew Lombardo had been in prison for an insurance scam before they met, but claims she didn’t know the details of his criminal record.

Court records show three convictions for fraud, as well as a stint in jail in 1994 for shaking down a madam and beating a witness with a baseball bat.

But Crespo said Lombardo was never violent with her or the kids. She actually admired the seemingly close relationships he had with his “friends.”

The man Lombardo most wanted as a friend was Lino, who would later violate the Mafia code of omertà and help the feds take down Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino.

“Frankie was over [at] the house every Sunday freeloading on meatballs,” Crespo said.

And when her first son, Nicholas, was born, Lombardo insisted Lino be the boy’s godfather.

The good times ended abruptly in 1997 when Lombardo, Lino and others were arrested during a federal crackdown on mob infiltration of Wall Street. They were later convicted of running a massive “pump and dump” scheme in which they manipulated the prices of stocks – making millions on the backs of investors.

Lombardo pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 1999 and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Crespo married him in 1998 in a bid to keep the feds from seizing his assets. She said she agreed to wed because he threatened not to send money to support the kids if she did not.

But when Lombardo went to prison, Crespo said, she and the boys lost everything, including their house and car.

“Everyone stopped coming around,” said Crespo, who wound up moving with her children into a “roach-infested dump” in Flatbush.

And while the divorce, granted earlier this year, was not contested, Crespo said, she’s been fighting Lombardo, 53, over visitation and child support.

Crespo said her sons, Nicholas, 13, Andrew, 12, and Erick, 8, have no interest in communicating with their dad.

She said Andrew began having nightmares after learning last year from a newspaper article that Lino, whom he thought of as a grandfather, was a murderous gangster.

Among the divorce court papers is a drawing by Andrew depicting Lino with a gun in his hand and Crespo and her other two sons dead on the floor. Andrew is the only survivor.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine refused to order the kids to visit, but said Lombardo was free to call them once a month.

Crespo said in court papers that her boys want nothing to do with Lombardo.

“Whenever he gets out, it is my prediction he will be a problem for his children and his ex-wife,” said her lawyer Paul Batista.

Lombardo’s attorney Bert Brown did not return repeated calls for comment.

But when Lombardo appeared in court via videoconferencing, he insisted he just wants to be friends with everyone. “I am for the kids 110%,” he said.

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