Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Basciano says poker buddies set him up

Vincent Basciano
Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, reputed ex-boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, says two jailhouse poker buddies attributed a murder plot to him in order to gain the favor of prosecutors, according to a story by John Marzulli of the New York Daily News.

Basciano was found to be in possession of what looked to be a list of people he would like killed. The list included the names of the federal judge presiding over his case and the prosecutor. Since the list was discovered, Basciano has been confined to his prison cell for 23 hours a day.

Basciano insisted that the list was compiled at the suggestion of a fellow inmate, who was acquainted with the Santeria religion. The list was supposed to magically aid the crime boss in his upcoming trial. However, a couple of inmates, with whom Basciano regularly played cards, told authorities that the people named on the list were to be targeted for assassination.

Defense attorney James Kousouros says the inmates were looking to help themselves by creating the story of a murder plot. Kousouros indicated that Basciano has reached out to fringe religious and mystical practitioners recently. "The government... is well aware that he has asked [his wife] to consult with fortune-tellers and mystics...," the attorney said.

Basciano, believed to have succeeded Joseph Massino as Bonanno crime boss in 2003, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy on May 9, 2006, after a 10-month trial. He was indicted on racketeering, gambling and murder conspiracy charges in November 2004. One member of his jury would not convict on the murder charge. He faces a retrial before Judge Nicholas Garaufis on that charge this year.

In 1994, Basciano was accused of heroin smuggling and later acquitted. His "Gorgeous" nickname is reportedly the result of his ownership of a beauty salon.

Other MobNews items relating to Basciano:

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.