Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vinny Gorgeous vows to act as own lawyer at trial

Vinny Gorgeous, US Attorney's OfficeVincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano by Thomas Roche via Flickr

Mobster Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano is threatening to play lawyer at his own death penalty murder trial - possibly cross-examining his ex-boss turned mob rat, fallen Bonanno chieftain Joseph Massino.

The truth-is-stranger-than-fiction twist could pit the two Mafia heavyweights against each other in a Brooklyn federal courtroom in October.

Basciano, already imprisoned for life on a separate murder conviction, insists he's not bluffing about representing himself.

"It's not a threat your honor," Basciano told Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis, according to a transcript filed last week.

The flamboyant mob thug is trying to force Garaufis to reinstate a fourth lawyer to his defense team. His lawyers, paid for with tax dollars because Basciano says he's broke, have already cost $1.7 million.

The judge hasn't balked. "I'm not going to make my decisions based upon some veiled threat," Garaufis said.

Basciano is accused of murdering a mob associate and plotting to kill Bonanno-buster prosecutor Greg Andres. He's also suspected of drawing up a hit list naming Garaufis and several turncoats as targets.

He faces the death penalty if convicted of the murder.

Basciano appears to be ripping pages from the playbook of jailed-for-life Colombo boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico, who represented himself at his 1986 trial and allegedly put out a hit on prosecutor William Aronwald. The hapless death squad staked out the wrong address and wound up killing the prosecutor's 79-year-old dad, George, an administrative law judge.

Key evidence against Basciano is a conversation between him and Massino in jail - secretly recorded after Massino became the highest-ranking active New York mob chieftain to flip.

The possibility of Basciano representing himself came after the judge dismissed court-appointed lawyer Jane Smith from the case.

Garaufis noted the law only provides for two court-appointed lawyers. Basciano still has three, yet lead attorney George Goltzer is whining they can't be ready for the trial unless Smith returns.

"[Basciano] says to me point-blank ...'Goltzer, if you can't be ready, I'm going to ask this judge to go pro se," Goltzer said, using the legal term for representing oneself at trial.

"It's not something I even want to begin to contemplate."



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