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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ex-Mafia Boss Vincent Basciano has Meltdown, Disses Judge and Court

Former Bonanno crime-family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano had a meltdown in court today, shouting at a judge during a court hearing to explain why he's refusing to come to the courthouse to review a questionnaire for potential jurists in his upcoming capital murder trial.
"My paranoia is legitimate!" Basciano yelled at Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn federal court, after the judge ordered US Marshals to remove the fuming mobster from the hearing. "This has been a kangaroo court all along with you."
For months, Basciano has been complaining that he cannot properly prepare for the trial with his defense attorneys, because he's in a high-security wing of the Manhattan federal detention center where he must converse with the lawyers through a glass window, which also makes it difficult to review legal papers.
This undated surveillance file photo, released by the U.S. Attorneys Office in New York, shows mob veteran Vincent Basciano, former head of the Bonanno crime family.
This undated surveillance file photo, released by the U.S. Attorneys Office in New York, shows mob veteran Vincent Basciano, former head of the Bonanno crime family.
So after receiving dozens of letters and legal motions from Basciano and his lawyers complaining about the situation, Garaufis finally directed the Marshals Service to dedicate a special team to transport Basciano to the courthouse where the once-dashing mobster will meet face-to-face with his attorneys in a private cell to prepare for the trial.
Prior to the judge's order, the Marshals Service had protested that the operation was very expensive and drained its manpower resources, but the judge ordered the unusual arrangement over their objections out of concerns that the issue would further delay the start of the mobster's trial.
But now Basciano is refusing to leave his solitary confinement cell and come to the courthouse to meet his attorneys, fearful that the US Marshals guarding him will eavesdrop on his discussions with the defense team.
One of his attorneys, George Goltzer, told the judge today that Basciano was concerned that the courthouse cell has a "listening device" that would permit federal authorities to monitor the conversations.
The judge appeared incredulous that Basciano was now refusing to take advantage of the face-to-face trial preparation meetings that he had been asking for during months of pre-trial legal wrangling.
When he asked the defense team about the issue, Basciano interrupted and began shouting directly to the judge and refused commands from the bench to be quiet.
"I don't want to hear from you," Garaufis said calmly to the mobster. "You can leave."
After Basciano was escorted by US Marshals to a holding cell outside the courtroom, the judge cautioned the defense team about their client's behavior.
"If there are any more outbursts like we saw today, he's going to watch this trial from a cell with a television," Garaufis said.
The judge then directed the Marshals Service to make sure the monitoring device in the holding cell will be turned off if Basciano eventually decides to meet with his defense team there.
The Marshals also extended an invitation to have one of the defense attorneys sit at the control panel in the Marshals command post to ensure that no one was listening into the mobster's meetings with his attorneys.
Basciano's lawyers said they would discuss the issue with their client and try to resolve the issue, as jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
The development is yet another stumbling block in a death penalty case that has dragged on for six years.
So far, the legal defense in Basciano's death penalty trial has cost taxpayers nearly $4 million — and the trial doesn’t even start for another two months.
To date, the team of defense lawyers preparing for the mobster’s April trial have clocked nearly 20,000 hours on the case, which accounts for nearly $3 million of the taxpayer cash spent, according to an order recently issued by Judge Garaufis.
Beyond those attorneys’ fees, more than $800,000 in other expenses have also been borne by taxpayers in a death penalty case that has dragged on for six years — "including travel, paralegal services, investigators, and other experts," Garaufis wrote.
The resources expended "demonstrates the extraordinary complexity of this case," Garaufis wrote about the mobster, who is already serving a life sentence on an earlier conviction.
In his ruling, the judge also rejected a motion from Basciano’s attorneys to throw out the case — which charges the mobster with the murder of a mob associate — on the grounds that it has been delayed to the point that it violated constitutional protections ensuring timely justice.
"While the six-year delay is certainly ... substantial ... this delay was almost entirely caused by Basciano," the judge wrote, pointing out that a complicated capital case requires massive preparation.
The judge also noted Basciano’s attorneys "repeatedly requested" more time to prepare their defense.


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