The Chicago Syndicate: Vincent Basciano
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Vincent Basciano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vincent Basciano. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire (Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files).

Dominick Cicale was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. From a young age he was closely associated with the Genovese crime family, considered the most powerful Mafia group in America. Fate intervened. In 1999 Cicale forged a tight alliance with Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, then an up-and-coming member of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno crime family. Under Basciano's tutelage, Dominick rode the fast track: he was inducted into the American Cosa Nostra and swiftly rose from soldier to capo, amassing great wealth and power. Cicale befriended and associated with numerous high-ranking figures within all of New York's Five Families as he plotted and schemed in a treacherous world where each day could be his last.

This installment views startling details surrounding the brutal gangland murder of Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia and its resulting impact on relations between the Bonanno family in New York and its Montreal -based "outpost" established by the Mafia Commission in 1931. The cast of characters further includes high-ranking Mafiosi such as Joseph Massino (The Last Don), Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna, Vito Rizzuto, Vinny Gorgeous (a nickname never used in his presence) and Cicale himself.

Monday, July 08, 2013

"Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise and Fall of a New York Mobster" on Crime Beat Radio

On July 11th, journalist Robert Destafano discusses his new book, Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise and Fall of a New York Mobster. Also Margaret McClain, Special Correspondent, reports on the Bulger Trial.

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vinny Gorgeous Begs Jury for Mercy

After a blood-soaked career as a New York mafia boss, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano found himself begging a jury Tuesday for something he rarely gave himself: mercy.

Jurors in Brooklyn federal court began hearing arguments on whether the convicted murderer and former boss of the Italian-American Bonanno crime family should be executed or spend the rest of his life in a top security prison.

A lawyer for Basciano, a 51-year-old famous for his sharp suits and swept-back, immaculate hair, made an emotional appeal, telling the jury to let his client die "in God's time and not man's."In several years' time, defense attorney Richard Jasper said in a dramatic whisper, jurors would be asked by their children how they acted "and you will be able to tell them: 'I chose life.'"Basciano was convicted last week for ordering the murder of a fellow wiseguy, Randolph Pizzolo. Unlike in usual cases where the judge sets the sentence, the jury in a capital case also has sentencing power.

Prosecutor Jack Dennehy described "the murderous rise to power" that took Basciano to the top of the Bonannos, one of New York's traditional five Cosa Nostra crime syndicates.

He said Basciano was involved in several mafia killings, both as trigger puller and the man who gave the orders -- "a man who wants to decide who lives and who dies."If Basciano were sent to prison, even without parole, he would continue to pull the strings, Dennehy argued. "He will not leave the Bonanno crime family behind in prison."Basciano's life and trial could be taken from the script of a brutal Hollywood mafia movie. A striking-looking man, he spent three decades thriving in the snake-pit of the Big Apple underworld.In court, he has fought equally hard to justify his infamous "Vinny Gorgeous" nickname. He complained several times at the outset about his poor access to clothes and he even borrowed the judge's tie so that he could look smart before jurors came in.

On Tuesday, the cool killer wore an olive green suit with a tie in forest colors and a white shirt. His silver-black hair was combed perfectly backward.With years of experience in the justice system, Basciano takes active part in his defense. He entered court carrying a box of documents and spent his time taking notes -- passing some along to his lawyers -- and shaking his head when Dennehy said he'd gone as far as plotting to murder women.

Dennehy said the fallen mob boss "poses a future danger to others" and had "earned the ultimate punishment, the punishment of death." But Jasper, his voice ranging from a near shout to intimate whispers, sought to tug jurors' consciences. For a death sentence, the jury must be unanimous. If not, Basciano will go to prison.

Jasper urged jurors against thinking that life in prison was a soft option. Basciano, he said, would be sent to the Supermax facility in a remote part of Colorado, a place "feared" by the hardest of the hard.There would be no second chance for Basciano, he said. "Vinny Basciano will come out of prison in a box."The dapper don act will be over too."No suits, no shirts, no ties, no 'Vinny Gorgeous,'" Jasper said. "The rest of his life in prison."

Friday, May 20, 2011

How Joseph Massino Exposed the Ugly Truth About "Vinny Gorgeous"

A New York City mobster who is serving a life sentence for attempted murder could become the first mafia boss to face the death penalty after being convicted in a case accusing him of ordering a gangland killing to cement his rise to power in the Bonanno organised crime family.

A Brooklyn jury had deliberated for four days in the death penalty case before finding tough-talking Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano guilty of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges on Monday.

The jury, after being swayed by wiretaps and a series of low-level mob witnesses, will reconvene next week to decide whether Basciano, 51, will get another life term or execution by lethal injection.

The federal trial of the one-time owner of the Hello Gorgeous beauty salon featured testimony by former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who made another first in this trial, by becoming the first boss to testify against one of their own.

Massino, 68, began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the Bonanno ranks.

He is serving two consecutive life terms for eight murders. He testified his cooperation spared his wife from prosecution, allowed her to keep their home and gave him a shot at a reduced sentence.

By cooperating, he told jurors he was violating a sacred oath he took during a 1977 induction ceremony to protect the secret society. It was understood, he said, that "once a bullet leaves that gun, you never talk about it".

The bloodshed revealed by Massino's testimony includes the shotgun slayings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1980s.

While imprisoned together in 2005, the former Bonanno boss agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano, a gangster known for his meticulously groomed hair, sharp suits and hot temper. Before trial, Basciano won approval to have access to five different suits to wear to court – one for each day of the week.

Jurors heard one recording of Basciano boasting, "I'm a hoodlum, I'm a tough guy. Whatever happens, happens. Let's go."

The tape was evidence that the defendant is "a cold-blooded remorseless killer," Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank said in his closing argument.

Prosecutors alleged that Basciano – while seizing control of the Bonannos as acting boss in 2004 after Massino was jailed – orchestrated the killing of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo. The slaying was payback for a drunken tirade by Pizzolo demanding induction into the family.

Thanks to Richard Hall and Tom Hays

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mobster Salvatore Volpe Paid $50,000 After Restaurant Owner Gets His Wife Pregnant

You'd have thought getting a mobster's wife pregnant would carry the ultimate price. But it turns out even a cuckolded Mafioso can sometimes forgive and forget - for the right fee.

Salvatore Volpe, a low-level Bonanno family associate, told a court in New York he accepted $50,000 from a restaurateur who impregnated his wife, in exchange for not killing him.

The 48-year-old took the stand yesterday as a government witness in the trial of Bonanno boss Vincent 'Vinny Gorgeous' Basciano, who is accused of ordering the 2004 murder of  Randy Pizzolo.

Volpe, who works as a plumber, revealed his wife had an affair with the owner of Trattoria Romana, Staten Island, in 2003.

Volpe didn't discover her infidelity until she fell pregnant - although she initially tried to pretend it was his baby, he told Brooklyn Federal Court. He claimed that when he found out the truth, he broke up with his wife then went straight to his crew boss, John Palazzolo, who sent three Bonanno gangsters to confront the owner, known only as 'Anthony'.

According to Volpe, the restaurateur had his own Mafia connections, and sought protection from the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante crime family. Except his plan backfired, and the family were allegedly keen to take the chance to appease the Bonnanos by killing him in his own trattoria basement.

The dispute led to two tense meetings at nearby Alfredo's restaurant as the rival gangs thrashed out a deal, Volpe told the court, although he was too junior to be privy to the talks. He said the Bonnanos sought to avoid killing the man, and instead proposed a $50,000 'tax', $10,000 of which would go to the DeCavalcantes as commission for brokering the deal.

According to the New York Daily News, Volpe told the court: 'Instead of [the restaurant owner] getting killed, he'd have to pay a tax. It was basically a penalty.' He gave the usual cut to his Bonanno bosses, he said, and took the rest for himself. He told the court it was a welcome sum, as the family rarely sent any work to his plumbing business.

Volpe's revelations about the inner-workings of the mob were part of his first day of testimony against Basciano, who faces the death penalty if convicted of ordering Mr Pizzolo's killing.

Yesterday Volpe said Mr Pizzolo sealed his death warrant by boasting he was going to 'level the Bronx' in revenge for not being indicted into the crime family. That was a reference to Basciano, who was then based in the Bronx as the acting Bonanno boss.

He also said the gang discussed killing defence lawyer Gerard Marrone after he put himself forward for membership - but Mr Marrone said he never asked to join.

Volpe is the second 'mob rat' to testify at the trial. Last week the court heard from former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, the New York mafia's highest-ever ranking informer. He agreed to wear a wire in jail to record a conversation with Basciano about the 2004 killing. Prosecutors played the recordings to the court last week, and the jury heard Basciano apparently tell his predecessor: 'I gave the order. Randy was a f***ing jerkoff.'

Bonanno soldier Anthony Aiello has already pleaded guilty to killing Pizzolo, but now his boss is on trial accused of ordering the murder.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mobster Robert Perrino Allegedly Killed for Finding Religion

A Mafia associate and newspaper delivery man was 'whacked' by the mob in a horrific murder - because he found religion.

Robert Perrino was shot in the head and brutally stabbed in the ear with an ice pick by Bonanno mobsters after they allegedly became worried that he was going to church too often.

They are said to have thought turning so suddenly to religion was an indication that Perrino, an associate of the family, might be considering grassing to police.

Perrino's skeletal remains were found in 2003 in Staten Island but he had been missing from 1992, more than a decade earlier.

At the high-profile federal murder trial of Vincent Basciano, fellow Bonanno Mafioso James Tartaglione, known as 'Big Louie', shed light for the first time on the possible reason for Perrino's horrific murder.
Tartaglione said of Perrino: 'He would go to church every day. He was praying every day. They thought he may flip -- that he found religion.'He was saying certain things that he felt a little more religious.'

He added that, as a result, underboss Salvatore Vitale ordered his murder. 'Sal had him whacked out,' he told the court.

After the order was made, Perrino, who had a job on the side as superintendent of deliveries at The New York Post, was told to go to Brooklyn social club Basile's. At the club, a hit man shot him in the head and another thrust an ice pick in his ear. Perrino’s body was not found until Vitale himself began cooperating with police.

At Vitale's high-profile murder trial last year, Perrino's widow Rosalie wrote a letter that was read out in court
She wrote: 'As a result of Salvatore Vitale’s criminal inhuman behaviour, my grandson never knew his grandfather, and he and our granddaughter have grown up without this special man. 'Salvatore Vitale caused my own life to unravel and the colour in my life to drain away.'

At the Basciano trial, prosecutors also played recordings of a meeting between Basciano and Tartaglione at the Seacrest Diner on Long Island. Tartaglione was wearing a wire.

Basciano can be heard predicting his demise during the conversation. 'The end of the day, we're all gonna be in jail,' he said. 'That's going to f***ing happen.'

Basciano, 51, sneered in court as a series of boasts about his power as a mobster were replayed to the court. He said of late mob boss John Gotti, his criminal role model: 'You know what? He did it the way he wanted, and he died the way he wanted.'

He then added, of his own methods: 'I don't need anybody that anybody's gonna give me. I got my own guys. I do it myself.'

Thanks to DMR

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Joseph Massino Historical Mob Trial Testimony

A jailed former Mafia boss who once ordered a payback killing in the infamous "Donnie Brasco" case made gangland history Tuesday by becoming the highest-ranking member of the city's five Italian organized crime families to break their sacred vow of silence and testify against one of their own.

Joseph Massino Joseph Massino Historical Mob Trial Testimonytook the witness stand at the Brooklyn trial of Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who served as one of his captains in the Bonanno crime family. Prosecutors say that Massino secretly recorded Basciano admitting he ordered a hit on an associate who ran afoul of the secretive Bonannos.

"You will hear the defendant did not tolerate being disrespected or disobeyed and that the penalty for both was death," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri said in opening statements.

Moments after being sworn in, Massino pointed across the courtroom and identified Basciano — "the guy sitting in the gray suit" — as the crime family's former acting boss. The defendant stared back at the government's star witness, steadily chewing on a piece of gum.

In clipped tones, Massino gave the anonymous jury a colorful tutorial on the Mafia.

By cooperating, he explained, he was violating a sacred oath he took during a 1977 induction ceremony to protect the secret society. It was understood, he said, that "once a bullet leaves that gun, you never talk about it."

He testified that when he took control of the family he gave strict orders to never utter his name — a precaution against FBI surveillance. Instead, his soldiers touched their ears to refer to him, earning him the nickname "The Ear."

Asked about his duties as boss, he replied, "Murder. ... Making captains. Breaking captains" — lingo for promoting and demoting capos. He said he also had to assess talent. "It takes all kinds of meat to make a good sauce," said Massino, the one-time proprietor of a Queens restaurant called CasaBlanca. "Some people, they kill. Some people, they earn, they can't kill."

Massino, 68, broke ranks and began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos. The bloodshed included the shotgun slayings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover Brasco in the 1980s. Brasco's story became a movie starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.

While imprisoned together in 2005, the former Bonanno boss agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano.

The understudy "told me that he killed him," Massino said in recounting a conversation about the 2004 slaying charged in the current case. "He said (the victim) was a scumbag, a rat, a troublemaker, a bad kid."

In his opening statement, defense attorney George Goltzer told jurors that Basciano took credit for the coldblooded murder to protect the real killer — a friend in the Bonannos who acted without proper permission — "from the wrath of Joseph Massino." The lawyer described Massino and other turncoats slated to testify for the government as deceitful opportunists. "The United States government needs to make deals with the devil. ... You don't have to accept what they say," Goltzer said.

Prosecutors say Basciano, the one-time owner of the Hello Gorgeous beauty salon, rose to his leadership role after a series of Bonanno defections and successful prosecutions in the 2000s decimated its leadership.

The 50-year-old defendant, known for his explosive temper, could face the death penalty if convicted of racketeering, murder and other charges. He already is serving a life term for a conviction in a separate case in 2007.

Massino is serving two consecutive life terms for eight murders. He testified his cooperation spared his wife from prosecution, allowed her to keep their home and gave him a shot at a reduced sentence.

He said he hoped "one day maybe I'll see a little light at the end of the tunnel."

And what about Donnie Brasco?

Massino said he had never met the real-life undercover. Asked whether the movie was accurate, he started to move his hand in a dismissive way before the judge cut him off. "Jurors, disregard this," the judge instructed while making the same motion.

Thanks to Tom Hays

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Richard Basciano Not Related to "Vinny Gorgeous"

The New York Daily News has issued the following correction to the story directly below:

“An Aug. 3 article about the partnership of Jamie Masada and Richard Basciano in the Laugh Factory mistakenly reported that Basciano's brother is the former Bonanno crime family boss known as "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, who is serving a life sentence for murder. In fact, the two are not brothers. The News regrets the error.”

Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada has filed suit against his Times Square business partner, Show World owner Richard Basciano, claiming that he has been shaken down by the mob-connected adult theater owner (In actuality there is no specific claim in the civil action that the Laugh Factory was “shaken down” or that a New York crime family is shaking down the Laugh Factory). Masada alleges to have been threatened with a gun, coerced into contracts and even says that the club was told that "somebody could be killed" if a certain comedian was booked again.

The suit pits the new, cleaned-up Times Square against its seedier past. Basciano has Gambino crime family associates and is the brother Bonanno crime family boss "Vinny Gorgeous." (Per above correction, the Bascianos are not related.) Masada, on the other hand, was personally asked to bring the Laugh Factory to New York by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the wake of 9/11. "I thought, 'Yes, New York needs some laughs,'" Masada said when he agreed to bring the club to Times Square in 2003.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Mobster Supports Having a Broad Vocabulary

He's known as Vinny Gorgeous, but convicted mob boss Vincent Basciano might want to trade up to Vinny Photogenic or Vinny Pulchritudinous.

The feds might want to pick up a dictionary before reading Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano's letters.

Some of his letters from federal prison, which are being intercepted and scrutinized by authorities, are full of such words as "thespian," "flippant" and "sagacious," his lawyer said Thursday.

A new form of gangland slang, or a coded message to fellow wise guys? No, attorney Ephraim Savitt said, just vocabulary Basciano wants the recipient -- his 7-year-old son -- to learn.

"He wants the kid to go to college and be a success," Savitt said, claiming his client's fatherly aims are being frustrated by authorities' slow pace in reviewing the letters.

Basciano "enjoys using $10 words and uses them correctly, I might add," his attorney said.

Basciano, 48, is serving a life sentence for the 2001 killing of a Mafia rival. A jury convicted him 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.

Basciano still faces trial on charges of plotting to kill a prosecutor.

Authorities say Basciano became the acting leader of the Bonanno organized crime family after the arrest of Joseph Massino, who is serving a life sentence for murder, racketeering and other crimes.

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.
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.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Following eight weeks of trial, a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, returned a verdict convicting Colombo organized crime family acting boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico and administration member John "Jackie" DeRoss of murder in aid of racketeering and witness tampering. Specifically, Persico and DeRoss were found guilty of orchestrating the May 26, 1999, murder of Colombo family underboss William Cutolo, Sr.

The evidence at trial established that Persico and DeRoss murdered Cutolo because they believed he was about to take control of the Colombo family from Persico, and to serve as retribution for Cutolo's actions during the bloody Colombo family war in the early 1990s. During the war, Cutolo, on behalf of the faction loyal to Vic Orena, tried to wrest control of the Colombo family from Alphonse Persico and his father, the family's official boss, Carmine "The Snake" Persico. As part of the murder plot, Persico summoned Cutolo to a meeting on the afternoon of May 26, 1999. That afternoon, an auto mechanic dropped Cutolo off at a park near 92nd Street and Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the designated place for the meeting with Persico. Cutolo was never seen or heard from again, and the government's evidence indicated that Cutolo's body most likely was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. That evening, DeRoss kept watch over Cutolo's crew at the Friendly Bocce Social Club in Brooklyn, where the crew was awaiting Cutolo's arrival for their traditional Wednesday evening dinner. When Cutolo failed to show up, DeRoss feigned surprise and directed Cutolo's son, William Cutolo, Jr., to telephone his father. Early the next morning, May 27, DeRoss, on Persico's orders, arrived at Cutolo's home and began questioning Cutolo's widow, Marguerite Cutolo, about the location The United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York United States Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York

Persico and DeRoss were also found guilty of tampering with witnesses Marguerite Cutolo (Cutolo's widow), Barbara Jean Cutolo (one of Cutolo's daughters), and William Cutolo, Jr. The trial evidence included a recording William Cutolo, Jr., secretly made of DeRoss threatening the Cutolo family in March 2000, several months after it was publicly disclosed that Persico was a target of the FBI's investigation of the Cutolo murder. During the meeting, DeRoss ordered the Cutolo family to provide false, exculpatory information to a private investigator hired by Persico. DeRoss told the Cutolo family that, if they did not assist Persico, Marguerite Cutolo could be "hurt," as could the "little . . . kids," referring to Barbara Jean Cutolo's seven and five-year-old daughters. Marguerite and Barbara Jean Cutolo both testified at trial that, as a result of DeRoss's threats, the Cutolos withheld information about the murder from law enforcement authorities for years, including Cutolo, Sr.'s statement to Marguerite Cutolo on May 26, 1999, that he was going to a meeting with Persico.

Persico was the second acting boss of an LCN crime family convicted in 2007 of murder charges in the Eastern District of New York. On July 31st, Bonnano organized crime family acting boss Vincent Basciano was convicted of racketeering murder and is awaiting sentencing. "Law enforcement's campaign against organized crime will continue until our communities are free from its corrupting influence," stated United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell. Mr. Campbell praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency that led the government's investigation.

When sentenced by United States District Judge Joanne Seybert, each defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The government's case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Buretta, Deborah Mayer, and Jeffrey Goldberg.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mafia Boss Tries Witchcraft to Thwart Prosecutors

A federal judge Thursday unsealed a handwritten incantation that Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano stashed in his shoe to put a curse on prosecutors, FBI agents and mob turncoats during his 2006 racketeering trial.

Basciano has been jailed under conditions usually reserved for terrorists because the feds suspect it was a hit list to eliminate the gangster's enemies.

Basciano's lawyers say it was merely Santeria witchcraft meant to drive away bad vibes.

The spell goes: "Before the house of the judge, three dead men look out the window, one having no tongue, the other no lungs, and the third was sick, blind and dumb."

The words are to be repeated on the way to court and inside the courtroom, an Internet gypsy book of magic says.

Basciano must have been a lousy warlock, because he was convicted of murder and racketeering.

The beleaguered mafioso got a break from his stifling confinement yesterday after Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered the government to allow Basciano to spend one hour in the courthouse with his mistress and their 6-year-old son - under the supervision of FBI agents.Charles Tyrwhitt

Thanks to John Marzulli

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

La Cosa No More?

In early 2004, mob veteran Vincent Basciano took over as head of the Bonanno crime family. The reign of the preening, pompadoured Mafioso known as Vinny Gorgeous lasted only slightly longer than a coloring dye job from his Bronx hair salon.

Within a year, the ex-beauty shop owner with the hair-trigger temper was behind bars betrayed by his predecessor, a stand-up guy now sitting down with the FBI.
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It was a huge blow to Basciano and the once-mighty Bonannos, and similar scenarios are playing out from coast to coast. The Mafia, memorably described as "bigger than U.S. Steel" by mob financier Meyer Lansky, is more of an illicit mom-and-pop operation in the new millennium.

The mob's frailties were evident in recent months in Chicago, where three senior-citizen mobsters were locked up for murders committed a generation ago; in Florida, where a 97-year-old Mafioso with a rap sheet dating to the days of Lucky Luciano was imprisoned for racketeering; and in New York, where 80-something boss Matty "The Horse" Ianniello pleaded to charges linked to the garbage industry and union corruption.

Things are so bad that mob scion John A. "Junior" Gotti chose to quit the mob while serving five years in prison rather than return to his spot atop the Gambino family.

At the mob's peak in the late 1950s, more than two dozen families operated nationwide. Disputes were settled by the Commission, a sort of gangland Supreme Court. Corporate change came in a spray of gunfire. This was the mob of "The Godfather" celebrated in pop culture.

Today, Mafia families in former strongholds like Cleveland, Los Angeles and Tampa are gone. La Cosa Nostra our thing, as its initiates called the mob is in serious decline everywhere but New York City. And even there, things aren't so great: Two of New York's five crime families are run in absentia by bosses behind bars.

Mob executions are also a blast from the past. The last boss whacked was the Gambinos' "Big Paul" Castellano in 1985. New York's last mob shooting war occurred in 1991. And in Chicago, home to the 1929 St. Valentine's Day massacre, the last hit linked to the "Outfit" went down in the mid-1990s.

The Mafia's ruling Commission has not met in years. Membership in key cities is dwindling, while the number of mob turncoats is soaring.

"You arrest 10 people," says one New York FBI agent, "and you have eight of them almost immediately knocking on your door: `OK, I wanna cut a deal.'"

The oath of omerta silence has become a joke. Ditto for the old world "Family" values honor, loyalty, integrity that served as cornerstones for an organization brought to America by Italian immigrants during the era of Prohibition. "It's been several generations since they left Sicily," says Dave Shafer, head of the FBI organized crime division in New York. "It's all about money."

Which doesn't mean the Mafia is dead. But organized crime experts say the Italian mob is seriously wounded: shot in the foot by its own loudmouth members, bloodied by scores of convictions, and crippled by a loss of veteran leaders and a dearth of capable replacements.

The Bonannos, along with New York's four other borgatas (or families), emerged from a bloody mob war that ended in 1931. The Mafia then became one of the nation's biggest growth industries, extending its reach into legitimate businesses like concrete and garbage carting and illegal pursuits like gambling and loan-sharking. The mob always operated in the black.

Things began to change in the mid-1980s, when the Mafia was caught in a crossfire of RICO, rats and recorded conversations. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act handed mob prosecutors an unprecedented tool, making even minor crimes eligible for stiff prison terms.

The 20-year sentences gave authorities new leverage, and mobsters who once served four-year terms without flinching were soon helping prosecutors.

"A good RICO is virtually impossible to defend," insists Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, who drafted the law while serving as counsel to Sen. John McClellan in 1970. The results proved him right.

The first major RICO indictment came in 1985, with the heads of three New York families and five other top level Mafiosi eventually convicted. It took nearly two decades, but the heads of all five New York families were jailed simultaneously in 2003.

Authorities around the country were soon using Blakey's statute and informants against Italian organized crime in their cities.

In Philadelphia, where the mob was so widespread that Bruce Springsteen immortalized the 1981 killing of Philip "Chicken Man" Testa in his song "Atlantic City," one mob expert estimates the Mafia presence is down to about a dozen hardcore "made" men. Their number was once about 80.

The New England mob claims barely two dozen remaining made members about half the number involved 25 years ago. The Boston underboss awaits trial.

In Chicago, home of Al Capone, the head of the local FBI office believes fewer than 30 made men remain. That figure stood at more than 100 in 1990. The city's biggest mob trial in decades ended recently with the convictions of three old-timers for murders from the 1970s and '80s.

In Los Angeles, there's still a Mafia problem "La Eme," the Mexican Mafia. An aging leadership in the Italian mob, along with successful prosecutions, left most of the local "gangsters" hanging out on movie sets.

The Florida family dominated by Santos Trafficante, the powerful boss linked to assassination plots targeting President John F. Kennedy and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is gone. The beachfront Mafia of the 21st century is mostly transplanted New Yorkers, and money generated by the local rackets isn't kicked up the chain of command as in the past.

"You have guys running around doing their own thing," says Joe Cicini, supervisor of the FBI's South Florida mob investigations. "They don't have the work ethic or the discipline that the older generation had."

The decline of "Family values" is nothing new. Back in January 1990, a government bug caught no less an expert than Gambino boss John Gotti wondering if the next generation of mobsters was equal to their forebears. "Where are we gonna find them, these kind of guys?" Gotti asked. "I'm not being a pessimist. It's getting tougher, not easier!"

During the same conversation, Gotti questioned the resumes of a half-dozen candidates for made man: "I want guys that done more than killing."

Even harder, it would turn out, was finding guys who could keep their mouths shut.

"Mob informant" was once an oxymoron, but today the number of rats is enormous and growing with each indictment. And the mob's storied ability to exact retribution on informants is virtually nonexistent.

"There is no more secret society," says Matthew Heron, the FBI's Organized Crime Section Chief in Washington.

"In the past, you'd start out with the lowest level and try to work your way up," Heron continues. Now "it's like playing leapfrog. You go right over everybody else to the promised land."

Basciano, 48, the one-time owner of the "Hello Gorgeous" beauty parlor, faces an upcoming trial for plotting to kill a federal prosecutor. The case was brought after his old boss, "Big Joey" Massino, wore a wire into a jailhouse meeting where the alleged hit was discussed.

By the time Massino went public with his plea deal in June 2005, another 50 Bonanno associates had been convicted in three years. The number of colleagues who testified against them, going right up to Massino, was in double digits. Basciano now faces the rest of his life in prison.

The Bonanno family is now led by the inexperienced "Sal The Ironworker" Montagna, just 35 years old, according to the FBI. Montagna shares one trait with his family's founder: He, too, is a Sicilian immigrant.

The mob of the 21st century still makes money the old-fashioned way: gambling, loan-sharking, shakedowns. Three Genovese family associates were busted this month for extorting or robbing businessmen in New York and New Jersey, making off with $1 million.

There are other, more modern scams: The Gambino family collected $230 million in fraudulent credit card fees linked to pornographic Web sites. Another crooked plan grossed more than $420 million when calls made to "free" phone services triggered unauthorized monthly fees on victims' phone bills.

After getting busted, mobsters are quick to offer advice to the FBI about allocating the agency's investigative resources.

"I can't tell you how many times we've gone to arrest people, and the first thing a wiseguy says is, `You should be going after the terrorists," said Seamus McElearney, head of the FBI's Colombo crime family squad in New York. "They say it all the time: `You should be doing that.'

"And leaving them alone."

Thanks to Larry McShane (Sara Lee)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vinny Gorgeous Faces Death Penalty Alone

Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano will fly solo at his federal death penalty trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Four members of his Bronx-based crew will be tried separately from Basciano on racketeering and gang-related murder charges next year.

Basciano will go on trial in August for allegedly ordering from prison the rubout of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo in December 2004, and putting out a contract on prosecutor Greg Andres. He faces death by lethal injection if convicted of Pizzolo's murder.

Then-acting Bonanno boss Michael (Mikey Nose) Mancuso and reputed soldier Anthony (Ace) Aiello are charged with carrying out the hit on Pizzolo, but former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declined to seek the death penalty against them.

They will be tried in May, alongside reputed soldiers Anthony (Bruno) Indelicato and Anthony Donato, who are charged with whacking junkie Frank Santoro with Basciano in the Bronx in 2001.

Basciano was convicted last summer of killing Santoro for threatening to kidnap his son. During a recent hearing, Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis noted it might be confusing in a single trial for the jury to consider murder charges against two of the defendants and not Basciano, who shotgunned the victim.

In a 17-page ruling issued yesterday, Garaufis concluded there should be separate trials due to the possibility of antagonistic defenses among the defendants.

"The easier course for any judge is to have a joint trial and go through it all once," said Mancuso's attorney, David Schoen. "The decision to sever the noncapital defendants was right and legally sound."

Basciano's attorneys also sought a separate trial because informing the jury that only Basciano was facing the death penalty would have been prejudicial.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Are New York Gangsters Basically Teenage Girls with Guns?

Someone once said that New York gangsters are basically teenage girls with guns. Looked at from the proper angle, it does seem there is something particularly adolescent about a group of grown men for whom gossip, betrayal and a hair-trigger sense of loyalty runs deep in the blood.

Just Because BasketsTake, for instance, Vincent Basciano, the former hair salon owner and former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family, whose jailers — not coincidentally — once accused him of having an “unusual sophistication” at passing notes. In a legal dust-up that, beyond its violent elements, could have taken place in the girls’ locker room after field hockey practice, Mr. Basciano has accused a man, who once accused him of murder, of trying to implicate him in a phony plot to take the man’s life.

That probably bears repeating with a bit more explanation.

The trouble started in July when Mr. Basciano (known as “Vinnie Gorgeous” because of the hair salon he used to own) and his former best friend, Dominick Cicale, were both inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the huge federal jail in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Basciano was being held there during his racketeering trial in Brooklyn on charges of, among other things, having killed a gangland wannabe named Frank Santoro. Mr. Cicale, who pleaded guilty to racketeering in the same case, had double-crossed him and was, at that point, a main government witness at the trial.

According to court papers filed Tuesday evening, Mr. Cicale — in what some described as an attempt to get his former friend into further trouble with the law — reached out to a handful of fellow inmates in the super-secure witness section of the jail and asked them to tell the authorities that Mr. Basciano had recruited them through a jail guard to murder Mr. Cicale. Even the government acknowledges that there was no real plot beyond the vengeful, imaginary one that Mr. Cicale sought to pin on his onetime friend.

Ephraim Savitt, Mr. Basciano’s lawyer, said Mr. Cicale may also have been trying to get out of jail by hatching the phony plot. “What he was trying to convey was that there’s no place within the prison system that’s safe for him,” Mr. Savitt said. “I think he wants to convince the government and the court to let him out of jail to some undisclosed location.”

It was Mr. Savitt, in his legal papers, who first brought the plot to the court’s attention. He is hoping the allegations against Mr. Cicale will taint him to the point the judge in the case, Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, will grant Mr. Basciano a new trial. Mr. Basciano was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering at the trial, which ended in July, largely on the basis of Mr. Cicale’s testimony.

To further discredit Mr. Cicale, Mr. Savitt says an inmate from the jail has claimed that Mr. Cicale liked to order other inmates to “create mischief” and was known for “acting out.” He once told an inmate to throw water on the cable box, for instance, Mr. Savitt’s papers say. He also — on purpose — spilled his coffee on the kitchen floor.

The notes Mr. Basciano was accused of having passed in jail were mentioned in the defense’s recent filing to suggest that the government has a track record of watching its inmates closely and therefore must have known of Mr. Cicale’s plot. One of them was more momentous than your average teenage note, including as it did the names of five men the government says Mr. Basciano wished to kill. But, according to Mr. Basciano’s wife, Angela, who was interviewed by the government, the note was not a murder list but a “Santeria list.” She says that Mr. Basciano wanted to place the men — among them, a prosecutor and a federal judge — under a voodoo spell. Mrs. Basciano told the government that she went so far as to take the list to a “Santeria priestess” in the Bronx, court papers say.

Judge Garaufis has yet to rule on Mr. Savitt’s request for a new trial, which is contained in the court papers that are full of the he-said, he-said back-and-forth that makes up a large part of Mafia talk. One paragraph, in particular, catches the flavor. The names involved are less important than the air of gossipy disagreement.

“Cicale testified that Anthony ‘Bruno’ Indelicato initially was the person who called him about a ‘piece of work’ in which Cicale could ‘make his bones’ by killing Frank Santoro. Yet, P. J. Pisciotti testified that Indelicato told him that he was surprised to hear, just prior to the murder, that Santoro would be killed and that, in his view, it was a mistake to kill Santoro. Cicale testified that he had enlisted P. J. Pisciotti to kill Michael Mancuso and throw him off a boat. Pisciotti testified that, to the contrary, there was never a plan to kill Mancuso and throw him off a boat.”

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Death Penalty Sought for Mob Boss

Friends of ours: Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, Bonanno Crime Family

Vincent Federal prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against a former New York City mob boss accused of ordering a hit on a rival.

The trial of Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano will begin in June.

The one time leader of the Bonanno crime family is accused of ordering the murder of a rival gang member in 2004. He's also accused of trying to kill a federal prosecutor.

Basciano's fate will now rest in the hands of a jury. The 47-year-old was found guilty of racketeering, attempted murder and gambling in a separate case last year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bonanno's Name Bambino Godfather

Friends of ours: Bonanno Crime Family, Salvatore "Sal the Ironworker/Sal the Zip" Montanga, Joseph Massino, Baldassare "Baldo" Amato, Patrick "Patty from the Bronx" DeFilippo, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Vincent "the Chin" Gigante

The Bonanno crime family has tapped a man of steel to rebuild its crumbling empire, the Daily News has learned.

He's Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna, the newly minted boss of the Mafia family, according to law enforcement sources - and he's practically a bambino at only 35 years of age.

The Sicilian-born Montagna and his wife, Francesca, own a small ironworks company in Brooklyn, but they show no signs of living the high-life of a Mafia don. The couple and their three daughters live in a modest ranch house in working-class Elmont, L.I., not far from the Queens border.

"Putting someone that young and relatively unknown in charge indicates that they're desperately seeking to salvage the remnants of the family from the recent prosecutions and convictions," said Mark Feldman, former chief of organized crime for the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office.

Feldman said the move clearly "signals desperation" on the part of a mob family that has seen three bosses and acting dons bite the dust in three years. Most noteworthy was the conviction of longtime family boss Joseph Massino, who is now serving life in prison.

Last night, a teenage girl answered the door of Montagna's vinyl-sided home on Oakley Ave. and said the reputed crime kingpin was not at home. Two little sisters stood at her side. Outside, a small construction crew was wrapping up its day working on Montagna's brick driveway.

A short time later, Francesca Montagna drove up in a late-model Lexus SUV and turned angry when asked if her husband was the new head of the Bonanno family. "I don't know what you're talking about," said the dark- haired woman, dressed in a sweatsuit. "I have kids in here. It's not appropriate for you to be here."

Until now, Montagna has rarely appeared on the radar of the NYPD and the feds, and neighbors said they knew nothing about any reputed mob ties. Still, the Mafia talk didn't worry them. "Am I scared?" said one local. "Absolutely not. I come from Brooklyn. Believe me, when you live next to one of these people, there's nothing to be afraid of."

Another neighbor found the suggestion "ridiculous," but quickly added, "We'd be shocked and scared at the same time if that is true. Wow!"

The Montagnas run the family-owned Matrix Steel Co. on Bogart St. in Brooklyn. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the firm supplies structural material for builders and reported a modest $1.5 million in sales last year.

In 2003, Montagna pleaded guilty to criminal contempt charges and was sentenced to probation for refusing to answer questions before a Manhattan grand jury. He had been indicted a year earlier after a probe by the Manhattan district attorney's office as one of 20 wiseguys charged in a takedown of a Mafia crew allegedly involved in gambling, loansharking and weapons possession.

Whether the new Bonanno boss has any other arrests was unclear yesterday.

"He's well-liked by the rank and file," said an underworld source, adding that Montagna is also known as Sal the Zip, a reference to the name bestowed on members of the crime family's Sicilian wing.

Sources said Montagna was close to legendary Bonanno gangster Baldassare (Baldo) Amato, another immigrant from near Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily, and served in the crew of capo Patrick (Patty from the Bronx) DeFilippo. Those guys are largely history now, with Amato recently sentenced to life in prison and DeFilippo facing a retrial on murder charges.

Led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Andres, the feds have indicted and convicted more than 70 Bonanno gangsters since 2002, leaving behind about 75 shell-shocked members on the street. Sources said Montagna's promotion couldn't have happened without the blessing of Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, who once operated Hello Gorgeous, a hair salon in the Bronx, and became the official boss of the crime family after Massino turned rat.

Thomas Reppetto, author of the just-published "Bringing Down The Mob: A War Against the American Mafia (Henry Holt)," said the new breed of boss pales in comparison to past godfathers like the late John Gotti or Vincent Gigante. "There may no longer be a boss in the sense that we understood the term, an all-powerful figure at the top, because naming an official boss provides the FBI with a clear target," Reppetto said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mob Boss Hit List Results in Terror Case Restrictions

Friends of ours: Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano

A set of restrictive rules established for terrorism suspects has been imposed on a convicted mob figure under investigation for plotting to kill a federal judge and others, prosecutors disclosed in a court hearing Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales imposed the rules on reputed mob boss Vincent Basciano after a jail house informant revealed a list that Basciano wrote, which prosecutors allege was a hit list with the names of the judge, a prosecutor and three mafia turncoats.

Basciano gave the list to the informant, a fellow inmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, according to prosecutors, and indicated he wanted the people on it killed. A lawyer for Basciano has said that the list was intended for a mystical religious ceremony, recommended by the informant, to improve Basciano's fortune in his trial.

Basciano, known as Vinny Gorgeous, was convicted earlier this year of racketeering charges, though jurors deadlocked over more serious allegations including murder.

The special rules imposed on Basciano, known as special administrative measures, restrict privileges including phone and mail use and visits. They also require his lawyers to sign affidavits saying they will not pass messages from their client to anyone.

The measures have been used 40 times since they were developed in 1996, according to a Justice Department spokesman. Twenty-five of those instances involved terrorism cases. The spokesman said that the rules had been used in three other organized crime cases, but would not say which.

A prosecutor in the hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn suggested the rules were meant to keep Basciano from communicating what they allege are bad intentions.

Basciano now faces a murder and racketeering indictment including the accusation that he planned to kill the prosecutor whose name appeared on the list. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Canaries Get Tweet Salvation

Friends of ours: Junior Gotti, Bonanno Crime Family, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, Patrick DeFilippo, Vito DeFilippo, Gambino Crime Family, Salvatore LoCascio, Genovese Crime Family, Joseph Ida, John Gotti, Joey "The Clown" Lombardo

Today's rats escape sleepin' with fishes

The stampede of Mafia turncoats joining Team U.S.A. is radically changing the way gangsters try to beat the rap. Faced with damning testimony from high-ranking rats, wiseguys are wising up to the fact that it's futile to deny they're in the mob.

It was once a violation punishable by death to publicly acknowledge one's membership in a crime family. But John A. (Junior) Gotti has done it. So too has a gaggle of gangsters in the hope the wiseguys can neutralize the government's weapons.

"He's in the Bonanno family," declared defense lawyer Barry Levin last week at the trial of Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano, once the clan's acting boss. "We don't care. So if you spend three weeks listening to the Bonanno family, you've heard it here. You can take a nap."

Levin's strategy so infuriated prosecutors they asked the judge to instruct the jury that it was out of bounds. The lawyer for Basciano's co-defendant Patrick DeFilippo was also up front with jurors about his client's mob lineage. "His father Vito was a member ... and it was as natural for him at that time a long time ago to join as it was, say, for me to become a lawyer," said attorney Richard Levitt.

Recently, lawyers for Gambino capo Salvatore LoCascio and Genovese soldier Joseph Ida admitted their clients were made men, but insisted each had decided to quit the Mafia.

It's a long way from the bold denials John Gotti's mouthpiece Bruce Cutler was making in 1990 when he said: "There is absolutely no evidence of what prosecutors call an Italian-American Mafia in America."

Mafia historian Thomas Reppetto recalled that Chicago gangster Joey (The Clown) Lombardo even took out an ad in a newspaper in 1992 to proclaim he wasn't in the Mafia anymore. Lombardo was indicted last year on a raft of charges.

For years wiseguys and their lawyers nervously tiptoed around naming the criminal enterprise when pleading guilty to racketeering. Has omerta - the Mafia's code of silence - been revised? "Apparently so," said former federal prosecutor Edward MacDonald. "There's no point in contesting membership anymore. The evidence is so overwhelming. You might as well concede the obvious."

Thanks to John Marzulli


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