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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vinny Gorgeous sentencing: Gangster will kill behind bars if he's not executed, says prosecutor

A federal prosecutor urged jurors Tuesday to sentence former Bonanno crime boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano to the death penalty because prison walls cannot prevent him from killing again.

"The defendant will not stop, he will not leave the Bonanno crime family behind in prison," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Dennehy.

"He poses a future danger to others and he has earned a sentence greater than prison."

Basciano, 51, was convicted last week in Brooklyn Federal Court of ordering the 2004 murder of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.

Several cooperating witnesses testified that Basciano gave the order to kill Pizzolo before he was arrested for the murder of another man, and the hit was carried out while Basciano was in a federal lockup.

In the penalty phase of the trial, prosecutors will present evidence that Basciano was responsible for at least three other slayings and numerous murder plots targeting mobsters, the girlfriend of a Bonanno capo for informing Basciano's wife that he had a girlfriend and a federal prosecutor.

"The death penalty is appropriate for a man who wants to decide who lives and dies," Dennehy said.

The jury of seven men and five women must be unanimous for the death penalty. If one juror disagrees, then Basciano is sentenced to life in prison.

"If you impose life in prison, Vinny Basciano will come out of prison in a box," defense lawyer Richard Jasper said. "You don't have to kill him. Death is not the answer."

Jasper delivered an impassioned argument, his voice rising and falling, his finger punching the air to make a point.

He reminded the jury that Basciano will end up in a Colorado prison known as "Supermax" where inmates are locked down 23 hours a day and the staff can change a lightbulb without even entering a cell.

"Mr. Basciano will be under control," Jasper said. "Life as he knows it is over. No suits, no shirts, no ties, no 'Vinny Gorgeous.'"


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