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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A second life sentence for Vinny Gorgeous offers him relief

On Wednesday afternoon, the federal Bureau of Prisons Web site suggested something of an uncertain future for Vincent J. Basciano, known in some circles as Vinnie Gorgeous for his stint as the proprietor of a Hello Gorgeous beauty salon in the Bronx: It listed his release date (“actual or projected”) as “unknown.”
But the fate of the onetime acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, who in fact was already serving life in prison, had already been decided earlier that day by a federal jury in Brooklyn, which concluded the penalty phase of his racketeering and murder trial, his second racketeering case in the same courthouse in recent years.
The panel, after deliberating for less than two hours, chose a sentence of life without parole over death for the dapper, carefully coifed crime figure.
A lawyer for Mr. Basciano, Richard Jasper, said after the verdict that his client was relieved. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Brooklyn, Loretta E. Lynch, said that she respected the verdict and appreciated the jury’s service.
Mr. Basciano, 51, had been facing the death penalty after his conviction for ordering the killing of Randolph Pizzolo, a Bonanno associate whose murder, according to prosecutors, was payback for a drunken tirade that angered Mr. Basciano. The trial was particularly notable because it featured for the first time the testimony of Joseph C. Massino, who became the first official boss of one of New York’s five mob families to break the Mafia code of silence to testify for the government.
Mr. Massino, a former Bonanno boss, told the jurors that Mr. Basciano had spoken to him about ordering Mr. Pizzolo’s murder, in a conversation he had taped in January 2005 when the two were in a Brooklyn prison together.
At the trial another Bonanno turncoat, Dominick Cicale, a former high-ranking member of the family, testified that he had helped Mr. Basciano kill Mr. Pizzolo, and that Mr. Basciano had once plotted to kill a prosecutor.
But Mr. Cicale’s appearance may have worked against the government’s push for a death sentence. Defense lawyers pointed out in court that Mr. Cicale and other mobsters who were culpable in the death of Mr. Pizzolo were not facing the death penalty, and argued that Mr. Basciano should also be spared.
The jury apparently agreed. On their verdict sheet, a majority of the jurors listed it as one of their mitigating factors.
“There are other members of organized crime that have admitted to an equal or greater number of serious crimes that are not facing the death penalty, much less incarcerated,” they wrote.



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