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Saturday, 21 May 2011

crime-family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano was found guilty Monday on all charges by a Brooklyn jury and now could face the death penalty for his crimes.

16:06 |


Federal prosecutors said that Basciano -- who is already serving a life sentence for another mob murder -- ordered the assassination of Randy Pizzolo, a Bonanno associate considered reckless and insubordinate, who was later gunned down in 2004 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that the directive "let him go" meant that Pizzolo should be killed.

But Basciano's defense attorneys countered that the phrase was not an order to kill Pizzolo, and instead meant that Pizzolo should be ostracized for his bad conduct and be given a smaller role in the crime family.

It took the panel four days to reach a verdict.

Secret recordings of Basciano's conversations as well as testimony from former Bonannos who became government informants -- most notably Basciano's predecessor as boss, "Big Joey" Massino -- demonstrated overwhelmingly that Basciano gave the order to kill Pizzolo from behind bars, prosecutors argued.

Federal prosecutors portrayed Basciano as an "ambitious" and "ruthless" gangster, hungry for power, whose stranglehold on leadership would be strengthened by the brutal suppression of a dissent within the mob family.

Basciano "ordered the murder of Randolph Pizzolo, who disrespected and disobeyed the defendant and paid for it with his life," Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank had told the jury in Brooklyn federal court.

But Basciano's defense attorneys countered that Basciano was not involved in the murder of Randy Pizzolo.

"At times in his life, he was a hoodlum. But he didn't kill Randy Pizzolo," said George Goltzer, one of Basciano's attorneys told the jury during the trial.

The defense argued that Dominick Cicale, a Bonanno captain-turned-government informant, perjured himself when he testified that Basciano ordered the hit.

The defense also portrayed the Bonannos who testified for the government as self-serving murderers who were seeking reduced sentences for their own crimes and were immersed in the mob culture of lying.

"Lying was an everyday part of life -- everyone in the mafia lies and cheats and steals," Goltzer told the jury.

The defense team suggested that Pizzolo's murder was ordered by other Bonannos grasping for power -- Cicale and acting boss Michael "The Nose" Mancuso.

The jury will have the remainder of the week off, and then return Monday for the so-called penalty phase of the trial. The panel will then hear arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys who will argue for their positions on whether Basciano should be executed for his crimes or receive a second sentence of life in prison.

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