Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano Could Face Death Penalty for Mob Murder

Notorious mob boss 'Vinny Gorgeous' could face the death penalty after being convicted on Monday in federal court of ordering the death of a former Mafia associate.

A jury in Brooklyn reached the verdict on its fourth day of deliberations after the month-long trial and now must decide whether he should be killed for his crime or locked up for life.

It is only the second time in 30 years that a mobster has faced the death penalty for a gangland murder.

In 1992 Thomas 'Tommy Karate' Pitera was convicted of seven murders and could have been executed, but instead the jury gave him life in prison.

There is no longer a state death penalty charge in New York but the feds are seeking the death penalty under the murder in aid of racketeering statute.

Vincent Basciano, who was known to mobsters as Vinny Gorgeous, was already serving a life sentence for an attempted murder conviction in 2007.

This time, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, murder in aid of racketeering, and an illegal gun charge in relation to the killing of a mob associate who ran afoul of the Bonanno organised crime family in 2004.

The trial featured testimony by former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, the highest-ranking member of a New York City Mafia family ever to testify against his own.

Jurors heard secret recordings by Massino in which 51-year-old Basciano admitted to the killing. Prosecutors suggested Basciano was a power-hungry gangster, 'ruthless' and 'ambitious' in his lethal methods.

Basciano gave the order to kill Randolph Pizzolo, a Bonanno associate who was gunned down in 2004 in an industrial section of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank told the jury at Brooklyn federal court Basciano continued to run the crime family from behind bars.

Basciano 'ordered the murder of Randolph Pizzolo, who disrespected and disobeyed the defendant and paid for it with his life,' he said. Pizzolo's death 'would be a statement to everybody in the crime family that Vinny Basciano don't play around,' Frank added.

He suggested a secret recording which captured the gangster saying 'let him [Pizzolo] go', proved the mobster's guilt.

Despite the recordings and testimony from former mob associates of the gangster, Basciano's defence had tried to argue he wasn't involved in Pizzolo's murder. 'At times in his life, he was a hoodlum. But he didn't kill Randy Pizzolo,' George Goltzer, one of Basciano's defense attorneys, told the jury.

The defence painted half a dozen former Bonannos who testified against Basciano as ruthless murderers seeking reduced sentences at any cost.

One of them, Joseph Massino, was the Bonanno boss for two decades before turning on his own and becoming the first head of a New York crime family to testify for the government.

The case relied heavily on secret recordings between Basciano and Massino, who was wearing a wire.

The jury will return to court in a few days to discuss Basciano's penalty and determine whether or not he should be executed for his mob crimes.

Thanks to DMR

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