Federal prosecutors have notified a federal judge in Brooklyn that they will seek the death penalty if Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano is found guilty of ordering a mob execution, according to an Associated Press story by Tom Hays.
Basciano (left), 47-year-old former boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, is scheduled to go to trial in June. He was convicted of racketeering offenses in a separate case last year.
In a brief letter to the trial judge, the prosecution did not explain its decision to pursue capital punishment, a rarity in Mafia trials. The only Brooklyn federal court case to result in a death sentence in the past year was that of Ronell Wilson, who was convicted of killing two police detectives. However, the threat of the death penalty has been used to convince other Mafia defendants to plea bargain or to cooperate with investigators.
Basciano's reputed predecessor as Bonanno boss, Joseph Massino, apparently decided to cooperate in an investigation of Basciano after being confronted with the possibility of a death sentence.
Basciano is accused of ordering the December 2004 murder of Randolph Pizzolo, believed to be a Bonanno family associate. He is also charged with compiling a list of targets for assassination, according to a story by Michael Brick of the New York Times. The list, which includes the name of trial judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, was a device to aid in prayer, according to Basciano. The defendant offered to take a polygraph test to show that the list was compiled with innocent purposes in mind. Prosecutors revealed that Basciano failed that test.
Related MobNews posts:
- Basciano says poker buddies set him up 01-09-07
- Feds: Montagna is new top man for Bonannos 11-15-06
- 'Gorgeous' wants a new judge 11-02-06
- Not a hit-list, just a lucky charm 09-24-06
- Feds investigate Basciano plot against judge 09-20-06
- 'Gorgeous' complains to the management 08-29-06
- Feds: Gotti Jr. contemplated false testimony 06-15-06
- Vinny Gorgeous guilty of racketeering 05-10-06