Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Attorney: Rizzuto won't flip

A defense attorney for Vito Rizzuto said the reputed Canadian mob boss will not cooperate with U.S. investigators in order to win a lighter sentence for himself, according to a story by Adrian Humphreys of Canada's National Post.

Prosecutors had hinted that Rizzuto (right), 61, was looking for a plea deal. Defense attorney David Schoen refused to comment on any plea negotiations. But Schoen answered "unequivocally no" to a question on Rizzuto's possible cooperation.

Rizzuto was extradited to the U.S. from his home in Montreal to stand trial for alleged participation in the Bonanno Crime Family's 1981 assassination of three underworld figures in Brooklyn. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Former Bonanno Family bigshots Joseph Massino (left) and Salvatore Vitale are expected to testify for the prosecution in Rizzuto's trial. Vitale's cooperation with authorities has been apparent, as he has already testified repeatedly. Massino, who reportedly aided an investigation against Bonanno boss Vincent Basciano, has not appeared for the government on a witness stand yet.

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Basciano could face death penalty

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.

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About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at tphunt@gmail.com.)
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website Mafiahistory.us; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; 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.