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

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Attorneys for Vinny Gorgeous aim to discredit mobsters who testified against him


Defense attorneys representing former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano rested their case today, in a strategy that appears to be aimed chiefly at discrediting former mobsters who testified during the trial as government witnesses.
The defense team is now poised to portray the former Bonanno wiseguys who took the stand against Basciano as thugs and murderers, whose professional lives were built upon the cornerstones of deception and outright lying.
Both sides told the judge that they plan to present their closing arguments to the jury on Monday in Brooklyn federal court.
Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano
Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano
The defense team chose to call only a few witness in a trial that already lasted a month, but perhaps their strongest was another government cooperator who took the stand today.
Carlos Medina, an admitted Colombian drug dealer and professional hitman also known as "Dino Diablo," told a saga that could be used to raise questions about the earlier testimony of former Bonanno captain Dominick Cicale, who had testified against Basciano for federal prosecutors.
Medina, who admitted to killing a man with an icepick and murdering another by shooting him in the head with a M-16 assault rifle, was housed inside the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn at the same time as Cicale in 2007.
Today the hitman accused Cicale of lying and concocting a phony assassination plot behind bars which was woven to suggest that Basciano wanted him dead.
"He asked me...if I could get together and put on a story...that I was being hired...on behalf of Vinny Gorgeous to kill him," Medina said on the stand today.
"He says, 'Vinny Gorgeous had put a contract to kill him,'" Medina said.
Cicale, a protege of Basciano's who was one of the government's chief witnesses at this death penalty murder trial, was motivated in creating the fictitious plot by his desire to get out of prison on bail, Medina told the jury.
"He was stressed out...because the government had him in jail," Medina said. "He was just trying to manipulate the government into putting a story together and convince the government that he was under threat."
Basciano's defense attorney, George Goltzer, asked Medina who came up with the idea for the phony assassination plot.
"It was all Dominick Cicale's idea," Medina said.
Earlier this week, Cicale testified that Basciano had directed him to orchestrate the murder of a Bonanno associate who was considered to be disrespectful and insubordinate.
Cicale told the jury that Basciano ordered the hit on Randy Pizzolo, who was gunned down in 2004 on an industrial street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Basciano, who faces the death penalty, says he's innocent.
Medina's testimony today will allow Basciano's defense attorneys to portray Cicale as a self-serving liar whose animus against Basciano might be the motivation to lie on the witness stand.
Medina, who has been convicted of involvement in four murders - including a botched hit for a Colombian drug lord that took the lives of two innocent people in a case of mistaken identity, insisted that he was telling the truth about the alleged Cicale plot.
Earlier today, Basciano's lawyers also questioned former Bonanno crime-family underboss Salvatore "Good Looking Sal" Vitale, who switched sides to become one of the most helpful government informers in US Mafia history, asking about his interactions with Joseph Massino, the Bonanno family's long-serving boss.
The defense team asked Vitale, who is free now and living in witness protection, about his role in 11 mob murders, along with a host of other offenses such as extortion and gambling.


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