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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mobster Convicted in Case That Featured Boss’s Testimony

A mobster who is already serving a life sentence for attempted murder was convicted Monday of ordering a gangland killing to cement his rise to power in the Bonanno crime family.
A Brooklyn jury deliberated over the course of four days before finding the mobster, Vincent Basciano, also known as Vinny Gorgeous, guilty of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. The same jury will decide if Mr. Basciano should be put to death in the trial’s penalty phase, which begins May 23.
The federal trial of Mr. Basciano featured testimony by a former Bonanno boss, Joseph Massino, the highest-ranking member of the city’s five Italian organized crime families to testify against one of his own.
Mr. Massino, 68, began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century’s worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos. The bloodshed included the shotgun killings of three rival Mafia captains.
In 2005, Mr. Massino agreed to wear a wire and betray Mr. Basciano, who is known for his meticulously groomed hair, sharp suits and hot temper. Before trial, he won approval to have access to five different suits to wear to court, one for each day of the week.
Jurors heard a recording of Mr. Basciano, 51, boasting: “I’m a hoodlum, I’m a tough guy. Whatever happens, happens. Let’s go.”
The tape was evidence that the defendant is “a cold-blooded, remorseless killer,” Stephen Frank, an assistant United States attorney, said.
Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Basciano, while seizing control of the Bonannos as acting boss in 2004 after Mr. Massino was jailed, orchestrated the killing of a mob associate, Randolph Pizzolo. The killing was payback for a drunken tirade by Mr. Pizzolo demanding induction into the Bonanno family.
On tape, Mr. Basciano confided that he gave the order to kill Mr. Pizzolo.
The defense claimed that Mr. Basciano took credit for the murder to protect the real killer, a friend in the Bonanno organization who acted without proper permission from Mr. Massino. His lawyer described Mr. Massino and other turncoats who testified for the government as deceitful opportunists.
Mr. Massino is serving two consecutive life terms for eight murders. He testified that his cooperation spared his wife from prosecution, allowed her to keep their home and gave him a shot at a reduced sentence.
By cooperating, he told jurors, he was violating a sacred oath he took during a 1977 induction ceremony to protect the secret society. It was understood, he said, that “once a bullet leaves that gun, you never talk about it.”



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