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Man once convicted of mob slaying in ‘96 arrested after crashing car into Stoneham liquor store, police say

A man once convicted in a 1996 mob slaying in Revere was arrested Saturday after he allegedly crashed his car into the side of a Stoneham liquor store and treated himself to a beer, cigar, and bag of chips before striking a police officer, officials said.

John Bacigalupo, 54, of Revere, drove a sedan into the front doors of Rapid Liquors on Main Street around 1 a.m., Alia Spring, a spokeswoman for the Stoneham Police Department, said in a phone interview Saturday.

Store owner Doug Shahian said Bacigalupo hopped over the hood of the car and picked up a loose cinder block after the crash, which he then used to smash two of the store’s windows.

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“It was surreal,” Shahian said. “I didn’t really believe my eyes when I turned on the cameras overnight and saw the gentleman shopping for beer and smoking a cigar down at the store.”

Bagicgalupo sipped from a Budweiser and opened a bottle of bourbon while inside, and was standing at the front of the store when police arrived, Shahian said.

A struggle ensued between Bacigalupo and the officers, who had to use a Taser on him three times, Spring said. He also allegedly broke more of the store’s merchandise when he hit an officer in the face, Spring said.

Bacigalupo refused medical treatment once he was arrested, she said.

He was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, breaking and entering in the nighttime, larceny under $1,200, malicious destruction of property under $1,200, malicious destruction of property over $1,200, and resisting arrest, Spring said.

He was held on $100,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned Monday in Woburn District Court, police said in a statement.

Shahian said the store’s front doors and vestibule sustained substantial damage from the crash, but that the shop was still able to open by 9:30 a.m.

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Rapid Liquors has been owned by Shahian’s family since 1973. Besides a “fair share of thefts,” he said there hadn’t been any major incidents at the shop until Saturday morning.

“We’re all safe and that’s all that really matters,” Shahian said.

Baciagalupo’s arrest comes more than a dozen years after his conviction for the Revere murder was overturned by the state’s highest court.

Bacigalupo was convicted in 2001 of murdering Robert Nogueira, a reputed mob enforcer, in a Saugus hotel parking lot and attempting to kill Vincent “Gigi” Portalla and Charles McConnell outside a Revere nightclub in November 1996.

The Supreme Judicial Court overturned Bacigalupo’s conviction in 2009, saying his constitutional rights were violated when a witness testified at the trial that Bacigalupo’s codefendant, Gary Carter, admitted to his and Bacigalupo’s roles in the attacks.

The trial judge had told the jury that Carter’s statements could not be used against Bacigalupo, but the SJC ruled that those instructions were insufficient. The SJC tossed out the conviction, citing a US Supreme Court decision that held that a non-testifying codefendant’s confession implicating the defendant violated the defendant’s right to face the witnesses against him.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.