Big Ang's Cousin Saved Inmate's Life, Gets 20 Yrs

Grasso said he was with “two other guys,” waiting to be delivered to the courtroom for a hearing on his 2012 gun charge. That's when he noticed someone "dangling."
Luigi Grasso, Big Ang's cousin.

It was about about six months ago when newspapers were reporting that Luigi Grasso, cousin of ‘Mob Wives’ star Big Ang, had saved a suicidal inmate's life in a courthouse holding cell before Grasso’s appearance on a weapons rap. 

Grasso's actions were lauded by no less than a Manhattan judge. 

The distressed suicidal inmate, who was never identified by officials, had fashioned a noose from a T-shirt and was hanging from the top bar in the pens of Manhattan Criminal Court at 111 Centre St. on Oct. 7 when the brawny mobster literally leaped into the air to save him, according to witnesses.

“I was sitting down, reading my legal work in the bullpen,” Grasso, who is two inches under 6 feet and weighs in at around 280 pounds, told the Daily News from Rikers Island.

“I’d seen this guy dangling from the ceiling and he was there for a while. I grabbed him and I untied him.” 

Grasso said he was with “two other guys,” waiting to be delivered to the courtroom for a hearing on his 2012 gun charge. That's when he noticed someone "dangling." 

For his quick-thinking efforts, Grasso, 47, was praised by Justice Bruce Allen, who said: 

“Before appearances are made, we have to acknowledge Mr. Grasso. Apparently he was instrumental in helping downstairs with another inmate who was in some difficulty. Thank you, Mr. Grasso.” 

A mere seconds later, Allen denied Grasso's defense team’s bid to suppress statements and evidence, which would've likely led to a new trial.

Surveillance photo of Grasso.

Alex Grosshtern, who is Grasso's lawyer, said his client rushing to the aid of an ailing fellow inmate was a display of “his true character.”

The story reached its conclusion last week, when Grasso was sentenced to 20 years to life in the Manhattan weapons case.

Luigi Grasso, aka Ronnie Petrino, was sentenced for transporting a cache of weapons and other potential robbery tools in 2012.

In any event, the new sentence will at least run concurrently with the 38-year federal prison term he’s already serving in another case, the one in which Hector Pagan testified.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ellen Biben, who presided over Grasso's trial last year, said that "extended incarceration and the lifetime supervision are warranted to protect the public interest."

Yet letting Hector Pagan out, the shooter who actually killed James Donovan -- then testified against his cohorts in crime, that is in the interest of protecting the public?

As noted in March 2014:

Luigi Grasso and Richard Riccardi were found guilty for the killing of James Donovan.

Grasso, 46, of Staten Island, and Riccardi, 41, of Manalapan, N.J., each face a minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in prison.

They were both convicted on conspiracy, robbery, firearms use and murder charges.

"The defendants plotted this brazen robbery and took the life of James Donovan because of their unrelenting greed," said Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. "After lying in wait for Donovan, the defendants coldly robbed him, shot him and left him to die in the street."

While authorities said Grasso and Riccardi helped plan and carry out the July 2010 fatal robbery, the actual shooter was Hector Pagan, the cooperating witness in the case who testified against Grasso and Riccardi at the two-week trial in an effort to reduce his own potential prison sentence.

Renee Graziano's ex-husband.

"I just can't understand how the government has no problem letting the shooter go so you can put away two guys who only wanted to rob him," said Susan Kellman, Mr. Riccardi's lawyer.

That makes two of us, Ms. Kellman.....

According to the WSJ, Donovan was being investigated by the Business Integrity Commission, a city agency overseeing private garbage haulers and other businesses, when he was murdered.

On the day of the murder, BIC investigators were monitoring by camera a business in Gravesend, Brooklyn, where they knew Donovan made weekly transactions. According to court records, a glitch caused the camera to stop recording as the fatal robbery started. 

However, investigators said they found surveillance footage from nearby stores and discarded cigarette butts that put the three men at the scene at the time of the murder.