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

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bonanno crime family boss Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano found guilty in gangland hit

A jury in the death penalty murder trial of former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano convicted him today of ordering a hit on a mob associate considered to be a renegade.
Basciano will now face a possible death penalty - the jury will now decide whether he should be punished with life imprisonment or execution.
The jury found Basciano guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, murder in aid of racketeering, and an illegal gun charge, reaching their verdict after a month-long trial and three days of closed-door deliberations.
During the trial, the panel heard contrasting tales about the Bonanno boss.
Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano.
Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano.
Federal prosecutors portrayed Basciano as an "ambitious" and "ruthless" gangster, hungry for power, whose stranglehold on leadership would be strengthened by the brutal suppression of a dissent within the mob family.
Basciano "ordered the murder of Randolph Pizzolo, who disrespected and disobeyed the defendant and paid for it with his life," Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank had told the jury in Brooklyn federal court.
Prosecutors said that Basciano gave the order to rub out Pizzolo, a Bonanno associate who was branded as reckless and insubordinate. He was later gunned down in 2004 in an industrial section of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Basciano "was deadly serious about rooting out" problems during a period of instability for the Bonannos, and Pizzolo's death "would be a statement to everybody in the crime family that Vinny Basciano don't play around," Frank said, citing the testimony of a former mobster who testified against Basciano.
The prosecution argued that evidence such as secret recordings of Basciano's conversations, as well as testimony from former Bonannos who became government informants, demonstrated overwhelmingly that Basciano - who was in jail at the time - gave the order to kill Pizzolo.
But Basciano's defense attorneys countered that Basciano wasn't involved in the murder of Randy Pizzolo.
"At times in his life, he was a hoodlum. But he didn't kill Randy Pizzolo," said George Goltzer, one of Basciano's defense attorneys told the jury during the trial.
The defense argued that Dominick Cicale, a Bonanno captain-turned government informant, perjured himself when he testified that Basciano ordered the hit.
In fact, Basciano told another mobster behind bars to "let him [Pizzolo] go" - which the defense claimed meant don't kill him for his misdeeds.
The defense portrayed the Bonannos who testified for the government as self-serving murderers who were seeking reduced sentences for their own crimes and were immersed in the mob culture of lying.
"Lying was an everyday part of life - everyone in the Mafia lies and cheats and steals," Goltzer told the jury.
The defense team suggested that Pizzolo's murder was ordered by other Bonannos on the street and grasping for power - Cicale and acting boss Michael "The Nose" Mancuso.
During the trial, the jurors also heard testimony against Basciano from a half-dozen former Bonanno mobsters who became government informers and are now in the witness protection program.
The most notable among them was Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, who headed the Bonannos for two decades before switching sides and becoming the first official boss of a New York crime family to take the witness stand on behalf of the federal government.
The jury will have the remainder of the week off, and then return Monday for the so-called penalty phase of the trial. The panel will then hear arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys who will argue for their positions on whether Basciano should be executed for his crimes or receive a second sentence of life in prison.
Basciano is already serving a life sentence in prison for an earlier mob murder.


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