The Chicago Syndicate: Frank Santoro

Showing posts with label Frank Santoro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank Santoro. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vinny Gorgeous Gets Life in Prison without Parole

A former beauty salon owner known by the Mafia as Vinny Gorgeous was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole for the 2001 killing of one of his gangland rivals, federal prosecutors said.

A jury convicted Vincent Basciano in 2006 of racketeering, attempted murder and gambling but deadlocked on a murder charge in the slaying of Frank Santoro. After a retrial, Basciano was convicted of murder in July 2007.
Beauty.com
Basciano, who once owned a salon called Hello Gorgeous, used a 12-gauge shotgun to kill Santoro because he believed Santoro wanted to kidnap one of his sons, prosecutors said.

One of Basciano's lawyers, Ephraim Savitt, said he plans to appeal and challenge prosecutors' central trial witness, Dominick Cicale, a former Basciano protege who said he and Basciano gunned down Santoro. The defense lawyers have said prosecutors built the case on untruthful testimony from mob turncoats.

Basciano became the acting boss of the Bonanno organized crime family after the arrest of Joseph Massino.

Massino was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for orchestrating murders, racketeering and other crimes over a 25-year period. He avoided a possible death sentence by providing to the government evidence against Basciano and other mobsters.

While imprisoned together, Massino secretly recorded Basciano discussing a plot to kill a prosecutor, resulting in new charges against Basciano, authorities said. If convicted in that upcoming trial, Basciano could face the death penalty.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Was it Self-Defense or Murder by Alleged Mobster?

A reputed low-level gangster on trial for killing a high-level mobster in a Bronx street brawl is expected to take the witness stand Monday.

Frank Santoro, 59, is on trial for the July 11, 2002, murder of Thomas Pennini, who authorities said was acting as a good Samaritan trying to break up a street fight involving three women - including Santoro's girlfriend.

Bronx Assistant District Attorney Dan McCarthy said Santoro was a man who settled grudges with a bad temper and gun. Santoro's lawyer says his client shot in self-defense because he thought Pennini had a gun.

Santoro's jury trial is being presided over by state Supreme Court Justice David Stadtmauer.

Pennini was gunned down outside a doctor's office in Pelham Bay after he tried to stop a fight that a woman and her daughter were having with Santoro's girlfriend, authorities said.

In the midst of the battle, the girlfriend called Santoro, known as a neighborhood bookmaker, loanshark and leg breaker, on her cell phone.

"Santoro walked up to [Pennini] and pistol-whipped him across the face with that .45-caliber, semiautomatic pistol so hard that bystanders on the street could hear it," said McCarthy during opening statements.

However, according to McCarthy, Pennini "didn't go down, he tried to grab for the gun."

He said Santoro shot Pennini in the stomach and the bullet went through his abdomen and hit every major blood vessel. McCarthy said Santoro "left Pennini dying on a sidewalk."

Authorities said the 6-foot, 280-pound Santoro jumped back into his Chevy Blazer and fled. He was captured nearly two weeks later after a tip from a Daily News reader.

Santoro's lawyer Jack Litman said there is no debate that Santoro shot Pennini, but the shooting was self-defense. He said his client shot "Pennini once in the abdomen" because he thought the shiny blade Pennini had in his hand was a knife. "But it turned out to be a pair of scissors," said Litman. "He acted instinctively to save his own life. Frank Santoro, before July 11, 2002, had never seen Thomas Pennini. "Never met him, never talked to him and didn't know what he looked like."

Authorities described Pennini, 54, a local businessman, as a high-level independent mobster who worked for the Luchese, Genovese, Bonanno and Gambino crime families. He was particularly close to the Gotti family after having served an eight-year prison term for heroin trafficking a decade ago.

Litman said Santoro called 911 when he found out that the women had gotten into an altercation. He said the shooting was a justifiable and noncriminal killing.

If convicted, Santoro faces 25 years to life in prison.

Thanks to Chrisena Coleman

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Man Says "Mafia Cops" Ordered Him to Dig Grave

Friends of mine: Lucchese Crime Family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso
Friends of ours: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa, Frank Santoro

A tow truck driver testified Tuesday that he was forced to dig the grave of a jeweler who was allegedly kidnapped and killed in 1986 by two New York City detectives moonlighting as hit men for the mob.

A gangster involved in the Brooklyn slaying "told me that I had to help bury the dead man," Peter Franzone said at the federal trial of the former detectives, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. "He said if I told anybody, he'd kill me and my family."

The 56-year-old witness said he kept quiet for 19 years because he was convinced no one would believe that police were mixed up with the mob, and because he feared Eppolito might put him in his own grave. "I was afraid of Louie Eppolito," he said.

Franzone broke his silence last year under questioning by federal authorities reinvestigating the slaying of Israel Greenwald, a Diamond District jeweler who ran afoul of the Luchese crime family.

Authorities allege Eppolito, 57, and Caracappa, 64, were involved in the killings of Greenwald and seven other victims between 1986 and 1990 while on the payroll both of the NYPD and Luchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. Prosecutors said the detectives committed killings for up to $65,000 a hit.

Greenwald was killed in 1986 after being pulled over by Eppolito and Caracappa and taken to a parking garage managed by Franzone, prosecutors said.

On the witness stand Tuesday, the tow truck driver told jurors he had seen a man in a pinstriped suit and a yarmulke being led inside a one-car garage by a Luchese associate, Frank Santoro, and a man fitting the description of Caracappa. Eppolito -- whom he had previously met -- was waiting in a car outside, he said.

Franzone said about 20 minutes later, the garage door opened, and Santoro and the other man emerged without Greenwald. The other man left with Eppolito, and then Santoro took Franzone into the garage, showed him the victim's body and ordered him to dig a 5-foot grave in the garage, the witness testified.

The body was dumped in the hole, and covered with cement. Santoro himself was killed the next year.

Greenwald's body was discovered last April after Franzone told investigators where to find it. Authorities said the jeweler had been shot in the head.

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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