Thursday, January 19, 2006

Prosecutors deny mobster's "embarrassment" claim

Friends of ours: Victor Riccitelli

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that they had every right to release transcripts of a Bridgeport mobster's incriminating conversations about the Mafia last month, rejecting the mobster's claim that they were trying to embarrass him. Victor Riccitelli, 72, who faces sentencing for racketeering Friday, broke the mob's honor code in October, admitting his Mafia membership and pleading guilty rather than have secret FBI tapes played in court.

Prosecutors surprised Riccitelli in December, however, when they included details of his conversations in a memo placed in the public court file. The conversations included descriptions of the Mafia induction ceremony and the mob's leadership structure.

Riccitelli accused prosecutors of intentionally embarrassing him and asked a judge to dismiss the case. Prosecutors rejected that argument Wednesday, saying they were just trying to prove that Riccitelli lied under oath when he said his conversations about the Mafia were just things he had read in a book. If the judge wants more evidence, prosecutors said, they're happy to play the secret recordings in open court and discuss them then.

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