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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Gaetano J. Milano was sentenced in 1991 for executing William "Wild Guy" Grasso


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Gaetano J. Milano was sentenced in 1991 for executing William "Wild Guy" Grasso as they sped down Interstate 91 in a van two years earlier. A volatile mobster even by mob standards, Grasso was a fellow soldier in the Providence-based Patriarca crime family and Milano told the judge he believed it was Grasso or him.
"It was kill or be killed," Milano said at his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas, the same jurist who will reconsider Milano's sentence next month.
Fueling that argument, defense lawyers have argued, was the late Boston mobster Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio, revealed in the 1990s to be a "top echelon" FBI informant who the agency shielded from prosecution in the murders of Grasso and others. The FBI's mishandling of mob moles like Mercurio, James "Whitey" Bulger and others has prompted widespread litigation of old sentences and early release of several gangsters who have successfully argued they were framed by or took the fall for informants. Mercurio died in 2006 in the federal Witness Protection Program, 17 years after recording a prized Mafia induction ceremony in Medford for the FBI. A former federal prosecutor with a Boston organized crime strike force, Diane Kottmyer, now a Superior Court judge, ultimately testified in a separate trial that Mercurio had been complicit in the Grasso murder and others, but was never charged.
Defense lawyers believe Mercurio also pitted Boston and Connecticut mob factions against each other with bogus reports that members on each side were plotting to "clip" or "take out" the other, according to court filings.
In a surprise move in 2006, Nevas released Milano's codefendant, 82-year-old Louis Pugliano, of West Springfield, after Pugliano served just 15 years of a life sentence. Lawyers for Pugliano ultimately won his early release through an agreement with prosecutors who agreed to a resentencing based on flawed jury selection and ineffective counsel arguments.


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