Basciano's Attorneys Take Their Defense From 'The Godfather'

Life imitates art in the courtroom when it comes to picking jury for a trial centered on a gangland hit
Michael Corleone's second victim in a one-two hit;
he's readying to fire another round into the corrupt detective's face.

Attorneys for former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano's upcoming death-penalty case have formed a defense we call: "The Captain McCluskey defense," 

Fans of The Godfather will understand. But we will explain, just in case....Remember the scene where Michael (Al), Sonny (Jimmy) and Tom (Robbie) are trying to figure out how to kill arch-enemy Virgil Sollozzo before he can take another shot--literally--at their father, who is recuperating in a hospital protected by legal bodyguards licensed to carry firearms?

"The Turk," proposes dinner with Michael; Michael proposes to Sonny and Tom, through clenched teeth held together by wire -- the result of a busted jaw from, who else, Captain McCluskey --  that he actually go ahead and meet Sollozzo for this dinner and whack him there in the restaurant with a gun pre-planted in the men's room. And since McClusky, who is The Turk's bodyguard, is going to be there, Mikey will blow away the police captain, too.

After Sonny, in a great piece of acting by Jimmy Caan, tries to laugh off Michael's plan, Tom ominously points out that, "No one has ever taken out a police captain," etc., to which Michael grunts, "We have newspaper reporters on the payroll, right? So what about a story about a police captain who gets mixed up in the rackets (not Mafia, thanks to Joe Colombo) and finally gets what's coming to him. They'd like a story like that." (I am paraphrasing from memory, not quoting the script.)

"They might," Tom muses, "they just might." And so Michael commits a double-homicide just as McClusky is digging into his veal, to protect his father and family in one of the most famous scenes in movie history. (It is also the scene that saved Pacino's acting career, but I digress.). Then Michael hightails it the hell onto a plane and it's soon: Bella Sicilia!!!

And there you have the defense: Blame the victim. That is what Basciano's attorneys plan to do, according to an article in the New York Post, tell jurors in the mobster's upcoming death-penalty case that the victim of a hit the former Bonanno boss allegedly ordered put his own self in danger by getting involved with the Mafia.

"By voluntarily choosing to engage in violent criminal conduct, the victim in this case, Randolph Pizzolo, willingly participated in dangerous and illegal activities, a circumstance that contributed to his unfortunate death," defense attorneys wrote to Brooklyn federal court Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

Basciano ordered the murder of mob associate Pizzolo because he was reportedly "running his mouth a lot" and "robbing" a Basciano friend on a construction job. The hit was supposedly meant to send a message that the new boss doesn't play around.

Jury selection was under way for Basciano's trial, during which he faced capital-murder charges for ordering Pizzolo's 2004 murder in an industrial district of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Federal prosecutors said Basciano, already serving a life sentence for another murder, ordered the Pizzolo rubout from behind bars.

In addition to that argument, Basciano's attorneys, Richard Jasper, George Goltzer and Ying Stafford, also told jurors that even though Basciano "suffered an abusive childhood," he has shown as an adult that he is "capable of acts of generosity and kindness."

And they wanted the panel to know that other mobsters convicted in the Pizzolo murder, including hit man Anthony "Ace" Aiello, did not receive the death penalty.


  1. As Bugsy Siegel said: "We only kill each other."

  2. to compare a mongral like Vinny to a true giant, if only a fiction, cheapens the great. Vinny is a legend in his own mind who on the street has no respect. His first mouthpiece, a kid named friedman, is doin life for vinny, everyone the bastard touched lost in the relationship. "Our Family" is in total disarray, lacks respect from the other four and has been forced to earn from dealing H, a no no. Society should not waste a good needle on this gutless mullian, letting him rot the way decayed meat does is more appropriate

    1. Rusty's kin -- excellent comment!

  3. the judge should take his tie and hang the guy.

  4. Rusty 'Kin - you are a pisser! Vinny Basciano cheapens Michael Corleon, a fictional character! I guess it just shows how low Vinny has sunk. The man is in a tough spot: He was handpicked to be boss by Joe Massino, the Bonanno boss who flipped, taking away any cred Vinny had had as boss.


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