A fashion-conscious former beauty salon owner Vinny Gorgeous doubled as a ruthless killer determined to rise through the ranks of the Mafia.
The gangland hit in 2001 on one of Vincent Basciano's rivals "was just one crime in a life of crime committed by this defendant," Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Chan told an anonymous jury in federal court in Brooklyn.
Basciano, 47, sought to rub out mobster Frank Santoro because he believed Santoro wanted to kidnap one of his sons, Chan said. "Using a 12-guage shotgun, the defendant shot Frank Santoro, not stopping even after Frank Santoro collapsed to the ground."
Defense attorney James Kousouros countered by accusing the government of building its case on the testimony of mob turncoats who "are admitted degenerate liars."
Basciano, wearing an olive suit, his gray hair combed into a pompadour, looked fit despite months of maximum-security captivity. U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis had granted a request by the one-time owner of the Hello Gorgeous beauty salon for four suits, four pairs of shoes and four ties to wear throughout the trial.
A jury convicted Basciano last year of racketeering, attempted murder and gambling, but deadlocked over murder charges in Santoro slaying and a retrial was ordered.
Authorities say Basciano became the acting boss of the Bonanno organized crime family following the arrest of Joseph Massino, who was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes. Massino dodged a possible death sentence by agreeing to cooperate with the government and provide evidence against Basciano and other mobsters.
While imprisoned together, Massino secretly recorded Basciano pitching a plot to kill a prosecutor, authorities said. The alleged scheme resulted in new charges against Basciano; if convicted at another trial next year, he could face the death penalty.
Last year, Basciano also was accused of drawing up a list of people he wanted killed - including Garaufis - and giving it to another unidentified inmate, not knowing he was a cooperator. Prosecutors offered no evidence that the scheme went any further, and no charges were brought.