Friday, February 24, 2006

Godfather Facing Rat Infestation

Friends of ours: Bonanno Crime Family, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, Joseph Massino, Patrick DeFilippo, James "Big Louie" Tartaglione
Friends of mine: Frank Santoro

Call it the March of the Rats.

When acting Bonanno boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano goes on trial, he'll face an extraordinary number of Mafia turncoats. The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office has a list of "more than 75 witnesses, including 18 cooperators," according to court papers filed by Basciano's lawyer. "There is not one trial in public consciousness that has seen as many rats," one legal insider said.

Former family godfather Joseph Massino, who was convicted in 2004 of committing seven rubouts but cooperated to skirt the death penalty, is expected to make his rat debut. Many of the Bonannos who testified against Massino will also be witnesses against Basciano and his co-defendant, reputed capo Patrick DeFilippo, when the trial begins Thursday, a source said.

Basciano and DeFilippo are charged with a host of illegal-gambling counts and attempting to murder David Nunez in 1985 over rival gambling operations. The hit failed, and Nunez is alive and well but currently serving a three-year stint in an upstate prison for sexually abusing two young girls.

On top of that, Basciano, 46, allegedly took part in the February 2001 murder of mob associate Frank Santoro, who was blasted with a shotgun while walking his dog after he plotted to kidnap one of Basciano's sons.

Playing the part of the Pied Piper is prosecutor Greg Andres, whom Basciano allegedly plotted to whack for decimating the crime family through numerous convictions. Basciano is charged with that crime in a separate indictment, and Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis said Andres is not allowed to mention it to the jury. Andres could often be seen glaring at Basciano and recently took umbrage with the reputed crime boss' passing comments to him and an unorthodox habit of standing next to his lawyers during side conversations with prosecutors and the judge throughout jury selection. "I don't want to talk to him, I don't want to hear from him, and I don't think he should be at the sidebar," Andres said during one of the side sessions, according to court papers filed late last week.

Also in the prosecutors' arsenal of evidence is a recorded conversation between Basciano and turncoat James "Big Louie" Tartaglione in which Basciano downplays the chances of being convicted of the Santoro murder, which could put him away for life.

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