A reputed murder-for-hire mobster whom law enforcement has linked to scores of contract killings was convicted Wednesday of gunning down a city tunnel digger he mistook for a drug dealer.
Notorious triggerman Joseph Meldish, 54, was found guilty of pumping nine shots into Joseph Brown, 35, inside a crowded Throgs Neck bar in March 1999.
Meldish had meant to kill Brown's drug-dealer brother, Thomas.
The mob thug, who allegedly worked for three crime families, smirked and winked at sobbing family members Wednesday as officers led him out of the courtroom.
His accomplice, Kimberly Hanzlik, 45, was also convicted of murder for tipping off Meldish to Brown's location in the bar.
The duo was brought down on testimony from their getaway driver, David Thiong, who squealed in return for immunity.
The jury of six men and six women reached a guilty verdict despite the absence of any physical evidence.
"They were railroaded," said a relative of Meldish. "They're putting the wrong people away."
The killers face 25 years to life in prison.
Law enforcement sources said Meldish was longtime muscle for the Purple Gang, an independent crew originally affiliated with the Luchese mob, and later with the Genovese and Bonanno crime families.
Police believe the former heroin addict carried out roughly 70 contract killings before cops nailed him for Brown's murder in 2007, sources said.
"He killed imperviously for a long time because he covered his tracks," said a law enforcement source familiar with Meldish's background.
"This was long overdue."
Meldish had meant to kill Thomas Brown, 46, over a neighborhood feud, but mistakenly shot his look-alike brother on the advice of Hanzlik, prosecutors said.
"'This is for you, motherf----r,'" Meldish allegedly yelled as he fired at Brown in front of his horrified wife at Frenchy's Tavern.
Lawyers for the pair told a different story, claiming Joseph Brown may have been killed as retribution for his own gangland murder.
Jurors said they were torn throughout deliberations, but felt Thiong's testimony made it impossible to acquit.
"They obviously wanted this guy dead," one juror said. "And they didn't care if it happened right in front of his wife."
Sentencing is set for March 9