— The Brooklyn native with ties to the mob (busted here two years ago by U.S. Marshals as he attempted to flee from his posh Pacific Beach hideout) has been convicted of attempted murder and obstruction of justice in the maiming of a New Jersey motel owner. Neil Guy Lombardo was staying with his girlfriend at a Mission Bay-view condo when authorities staked him out and chased him down the beach to wrestle the cuffs on him March 10, 1998. In December 1997 Lombardo shot and then used his car to repeatedly run over Samuel Ippolito, brother of Joseph Ippolito, closely tied to the Lucchese and DeCavalcante crime families. The incident happened in front of Ippolito's Driftwood Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Joseph Ippolito was in custody on drug charges at the time, and the assault on his brother was said by authorities to have been a warning to Joseph against cooperating with the government's case against the mob families. Cops never said how Lombardo came to find a temporary home in San Diego. Last week he was sentenced by a federal judge to ten years in prison.

Flashing and Banging

An unidentified "active-duty military member" from San Diego has been fingered as the illegal seller of 40 "flash-bang" explosive devices to a military-surplus dealer in Virginia. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Daniel F. Robinson, owner of Toni's Surplus and Loan in Hopewell, was arrested by federal agents last week and charged with illegal gun possession. The raid came after Robinson allegedly talked about bombing federal buildings and killing U.S. agents, the paper said. Tennessee police stopped a van two months ago allegedly connected to Robinson. It contained 18,000 rounds of ammunition, along with the flash-bangs, which are used by Navy SEALs to confuse the enemy during attacks. Federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms special agent Christopher Green told the paper the devices are never legally sold as military surplus. Agents said that a search of Toni's Surplus had also turned up an exotic night-vision scope used by SEALs. The investigation is said to be continuing.

Where There's Smoke

An aide to New York governor George Pataki has finally settled ethics charges stemming from a free meal he and his family received from a lobbyist for tobacco giant Phillip Morris during the 1996 Republican Convention in San Diego. James Natoli, Pataki's director of state operations, got a meal worth $251.20, along with another $1000 or so in freebies, in violation of New York law limiting gifts from lobbyists to $75 a year. Last week Natoli paid a $2000 fine to settle the case against him filed by the state Ethics Commission ... Multimillionaire financier Warren Hellman, father-in-law of UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes, is reported to be back in the thick of the deal to take over the San Francisco Examiner from the Hearst Corporation. But Ted Fang, owner of the weekly newspaper company buying the Examiner, so far won't identify his money sources.

The King and Them

Diet-drug maker Metabolife, employees of which have been major financial supporters of mayoral candidate Ron Roberts and Republican congressman Brian Bilbray, has surfaced again as a big-money political donor. This time, U.S. senator Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, has released a list of 51 individuals and corporations who gave him $303,150 of so-called soft-money donations during 1999, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Metabolife, with a $25,000 donation, ranks second on the list. First is boxing promoter Don King, with $50,000 ... The controversial Mexican airline Taesa -- grounded since a crash last November, when one of its old DC-9s killed 18 people -- may be purchased by a local company. ARG Investments, which state corporate records show maintains an address in Coronado, is reported by Aviation Daily to be one of two other potential investors in the airline, founded by Mexican power broker Carlos Hank Gonzalez and his son Jorge Hank Rhon ... A website operated by Japan's Aum Shinrikyo sect is said to be running on an unidentified San Diego Web server, according to Tass, the Russian news service ... Microsoft's Bill Gates is said to be hanging out frequently in Rancho Santa Fe, according to the trade magazine Computer Reseller News.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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