Brancato cleared in 2005 killing

An actor from the Sopranos and A Bronx Tale was cleared of charges of second-degree murder in the death of Police Officer Daniel Enchautengui – who tried to stop a burglary in his neighbor’s basement apartment while off-duty and lost his life in December 2005.

Actor Lillo Brancato was found not guilty of second-degree murder by a Bronx Supreme Court jury in a decision handed down on Monday, December 22.

The jury found Brancato guilty of a lesser charge of attempted burglary, stemming from when he tried to break into the home of the supplier of prescription drugs for both he and his partner Steven Armento.

The supplier, who passed away several months earlier, lived in a basement apartment on Arnow Place in Pelham Bay. Armento blasted the 28-year-old P.O. Enchautengui with a .357 magnum shot to the heart while Brancato looked on. Both Armento and Brancato were shot by Enchautengui. The two men were in search of narcotics after a wild night of drinking.

Armento was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life in prison on November 13.

“I find the decision not to convict Brancato of second-degree murder for the death of P.O. Enchautengui very disappointing,” said Vic DePierro, who helped get the corner of Arnow Place and Westchester Avenue named after P.O. Enchautengui, with the help of Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “Both Brancato and Armento were up to no good – doing drugs and breaking into houses. I hope the jury was not swayed by his celebrity status.”

DePierro said that his heart goes out to Enchautengui’s family, especially his sister Yolanda Rosa Nazario, who has been very outspoken about her brother’s murder.

“We hope that the family and the friends of Daniel Enchautengui find comfort in the fact that at least one in the pair responsible for his death was convicted of the murder,” said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

There is some speculation that it is likely Brancato will be released from prison at the beginning of next year, because he has almost served the amount of time that would fulfill the duration of a sentence for attempted burglary.

District Attorney Robert Johnson said he intends to make sure that Brancato receives the full severity of punishment for his conviction.

“Brancato was clearly a participant in a crime which lead to the death of a courageous police officer,” Johnson said. “We intend to press for the maximum sentence that the law allows.”

Many are outraged that Brancato was convicted of a relatively less serious charge.

“He was caught with Armento during the commission of a crime,” DePierro, a community-affairs officer at the 49th Precinct, said. “This decision is an outrage.”

Brancato, Daniel Enchautengui

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