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

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Lawyer launches new bid to release dementia stricken 90 year old former acting Colombo Boss

The one-time head of New York’s notorious Colombo family won’t rejoin the criminal underworld if he’s released as he doesn’t even remember who he is — sometimes mistaking himself for the president of the United States — his lawyer argued Thursday.

The attorney for the 88-year-old Victor “Little Vic” Orena, serving three life sentences for one of the bloodiest mafia wars in New York City history, is taking a new approach to getting his client free.

At a Brooklyn Federal Court hearing, Orena’s lawyer David Schoen said that were his client to be re-sentenced and ultimately released, there’s no chance he’d reconnect with his old allies, as prosecutors have argued is a risk.

“My client is suffering from advanced dementia. He, at times, does not know who he is and assumes that he is the president of the United States,” Schoen said. “Sometimes he thinks he is the president. How will he even introduce himself to these people?”

Earlier this year, an appeals court panel found that a judge may re-sentence a prisoner when a count against them is overturned.

Arguing that that scenario applies to Orena, who’s expecting one of nine counts he was convicted of to be overturned, the retired mob boss’s lawyers want him to get a new sentencing and ultimately be released so he doesn’t die behind bars.

Prosecutors, who have fought against Orena’s release, objected to the maneuver. They say there’s no need to re-sentence him for the whole case and that the judge should simply vacate his conviction on the one count to be thrown out — using and carrying a firearm concerning a crime of violence — which carried five years.

In the early 1990s, Orena served as the acting head of one of two factions battling for control of the Colombo family, waging a bloody war against imprisoned family boss Carmine Persico that led to a dozen deaths and injuries to 28 people.

Orena was convicted and slapped with three life sentences plus 85 years in federal prison three days before Christmas 1992.

The patriarch with five sons and 20 grandkids has already seen multiple requests for release on compassionate grounds denied by appeals courts, most recently in August last year. The court found that Orena’s medical issues were “extraordinary,” as prosecutors agreed, but not enough to spring him loose.

Among multiple arguments, Schoen, in court filings, said his terminally ill client was wrongly convicted. He cited Orena’s rehabilitation behind bars, “model inmate behavior for during the more than 30 years he has served,” service to others and spiritual development, among reasons the judge should revisit his punishment.

“Mr. Orena stands before the Court today on the eve of his 89th birthday a very different man for all purposes relevant to sentencing,” Schoen wrote.

At Thursday’s hearing, Judge Eric Komitee said the probation department should speed up paperwork on their recommendations so he can take steps to make a ruling on Orena’s request.



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