A State Supreme Court judge sentenced Lillo Brancato Friday, January 9 to ten years in prison for his role in a botched 2005 Pelham Bay burglary. Brancato watched fellow pal Steven Armento shoot and kill an off-duty New York City police officer.
The Yonkers-born actor, who played Robert DeNiro’s son in A Bronx Tale and a gangster on The Sopranos, could walk free in 2014 if he behaves. Brancato has already served three years behind bars.
“Once again, failed justice,” 49th Precinct spokesman Vic DiPierro said. “One of these two mutts will be back on the street. A police officer will never walk the streets again.”
Armento was convicted of murder. His sentence: 25 to life. Brancato’s case hinged on the .357 Magnum Revolver Armento fired at Enchautegui.
Prosecutors charged Brancato with felony murder, stating that his actions while committing another crime led to Enchautengui’s death. According to prosecutors, the 32-year old actor knew about Armento’s gun. Brancato said he didn’t.
On Monday, December 22, a State Supreme Court jury in the Bronx found Brancato innocent of felony murder, but guilty of housebreaking.
Justice Martin Marcus’ sentence fell short of the maximum term for attempted burglary, angering Enchautegui’s family and police.
“On this day of disappointments in court, we hope that the family and friends of Daniel Enchautegui find some comfort in the fact that at least one in the pair responsible for his death was convicted of murder,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The incident occurred at 3119 Arnow Place, the home of Kenneth Scovotti, Brancato’s friend and a drug dealer.
On December 10, 2005 just before dawn, Brancato and Armento forced their way into Scovotti’s place. According to Brancato’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, the two were high and looking to score drugs. Scovotti had died months earlier.
Enchautegui, Scovotti’s neighbor, woke to the sound of breaking glass, called 911 and took a gun outside. He shot Brancato and Armento, and took a slug to the chest. Brancato was drug-addled when he decided to participate in the burglary, Tacopina stated.
“Based on what [Enchautegui] did off-duty, you can only imagine what kind of police officer he was,” said DiPierro. “He was the neighbor I’d want my parents living next door to.”
After the sentencing, Brancato told reporters he would reform. According to various reports, the movie mobster kicked his drug addiction in 2006.
Police arrested Brancato and Armento near Scovotti’s Pelham Bay apartment soon after the shooting. Both were critically wounded.