The mystery over the fire that gutted a Christian Orthodox church in Manhattan took the strangest turn yet when a Serbian newspaper accused former Gambino enforcer John Alite of torching the cathedral, an allegation he called “ridiculous.”
Alite, who was sprung from prison in 2013, said the article was likely planted to inflame long-standing tensions between Albanians and Serbs.
“It’s ridiculous,’’ Alite, an Albanian, told about the claim he’s being investigated for the blaze that engulfed the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street last Sunday.
“That’s not what my life is about,’’ he said, insisting he’s changed. “I don’t want to be known as the guy who used to kill people on the street.”
The former hit man, who now works to as a motivattional speaker and a mentor for bullied kids, said he called the FBI and Homeland Security when the article appeared.
“I contacted them,” Alite said. “I told them I was being accused of something. Everybody thought it was ridiculous.”
Alite said he’s considering legal action against the Serbian paper and shot down rumors that the story was spread by his pal-turned-rival John Gotti Jr.
“I really don’t think it was him,” Alite said. “What I would say to him [Gotti] is: Just meet me and end this. Join forces with me. Be man enough and shake my hand and end it.”
Alite took the stand against Gotti Jr. in a 2009 racketeering case which ended in a hung jury.
“The Serbians’ mission has been to incite another war,” Alite said. “This been going on for a couple months.”
While saying the blaze may have been caused by carelessly stored candles, the FDNY is also probing whether it’s connected to fires the same day at Serbian Orthodox churches in Australia and Russia.