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

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vinny Gorgeous facing death penalty, but former mob boss may not fit mold of monstrous murderer

The feds have their work cut out.
Basciano doesn't fit the mold of a monstrous murderer.
His "Vinny Gorgeous" nickname - derived from a hair salon he owned - could apply to his striking good looks. He's the best-dressed mobster since the late John Gotti and is said to be charming, funny and smart enough to amass millions before the feds took him down.
The odds are also against federal prosecutors - winning a death sentence is about as likely as getting struck by lightning.
There were 428 capital cases prosecuted between 1988 and 2007, with 59 resulting in a death sentence and only three actual executions in the past decade.
Plus, Basciano's conviction for ordering the murder of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo seems mild compared with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for slaughtering 168 men, women and children.
"You can bet the farm that Vincent Basciano will not be given the death penalty," predicted lawyer Matthew Mari, who represented Thomas (Tommy Karate) Pitera, the last Mafioso to have a jury decide whether he should live or die.
Pitera was convicted of seven murders, but the jury gave him life in prison because they were also repulsed by his victims, Mari said.
Observers of Basciano's trial have wondered why the government has spent millions for the death penalty case when he's already serving a life sentence for another murder and Pizzolo was a mob nobody with no redeeming qualities.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis was rebuffed last year when he asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to reconsider seeking the death penalty.
Basciano's former lawyer, Ephraim Savitt, said the zeal to execute him appears to be driven by unproven suspicion that he plotted from jail to kill a judge, a prosecutor and cooperating witnesses.
"Not to denigrate a human life, but prosecutors seemed to have assigned an importance to this case beyond its actual value," Savitt said. "There's no deterrent value because people in that [Mafia] life do not fear the death penalty, but if they're isolated behind bars, they are essentially dead."
If sentenced to die, Basciano will rot on death row for years while the case is appealed and feds decide how to kill him.
Meanwhile, the feds are also rethinking how to execute a prisoner now that manufacturers have stopped making the drugs necessary for lethal injection.
"At this time the Bureau of Prisons is reviewing its options related to the shortage of sodium thiopental," said spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.


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