Once the king of Throggs Neck, Bronx mobster Vincent (Vinnie Gorgeous) Basciano can’t be a very happy father these days.
Besides spending 23 hours a day in a cramped cell for the rest of his life, the man who once ruled the Bronx and beyond as acting head of the Bonanno crime family has just seen three sons busted by the feds and facing their own heavy duty jail time.
Described by federal authorities as mob associates, Vincent Jr., Joseph and Stephen Basciano were arrested along with two other suspects on drug trafficking charges involving a cross-country marijuana distribution ring that allegedly moved hundreds to thousands of pounds of weed.
All three pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to narcotics conspiracy charges on Wednesday, Sept. 18. If convicted, they face prison terms of up to 40 years.
“We have seized evidence, recordings and compelling witness testimony,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Mermelstein said in court Wednesday.
According to the indictment, at one point a confidential informant complained over the phone to co-defendent ElonValentine about the “poor quality” of the marijuana supplied by Joseph Basciano.
Vincent Jr., 32, was released on $500,000 bond, and Joseph, 27, was sprung on $250,000 bond. But Stephen, 29, was held pending an additional hearing after prosecutors said they have tapes of him brother boasting about owning weapons and shooting at people. He also has a prior 2007 conviction for assaulting a Rivere Avenue neighbor.
History of violence
“The evidence is incredibly strong against him and he has a demonstrable history of violence,” Mermelstein said.
This all can not be sitting well with their father, now serving two life terms at the Super Max prison in Colorado, said Anthony DeStefano, a veteran New York City crime reporter and author of two other books about the mob.
His newest book, “Vinny Gorgeous The Ugly Rise and Fall of a New York Mobster,” is a riveting, detailed look at Basciano’s reign and ultimate downfall, taking the reader to where the man described as a hot-headed, cold-blooded killer left his imprint.
That includes the former beauty salon on E. Tremont Avenue where the vain Basciano picked up his nickname, to Manhattan nightclubs and restaurants for “meets,” to his darker life, including the murder of a neighborhood drug user near Pennyfield Avenue.
It details how Basciano took over the Bonanno crime family when its boss, Joseph Massino, went to jail, only to later betray Basciano to the feds to save his own skin.
DeStefano said he walked the streets of E. Tremont Avenue, trying to soak up Basciano’s immediate world.
“It was HIS neighborhood in a sense. He was like the main character in the area. And I got a sense of ‘A Bronx Tale’ walking the streets. But it’s changing. And some great restaurants!”
As for Basciano’s sons, “I met all of them and they were very congenial kind of guys,” said DeStefano. “No attitude, very courteous, curious about the previous books I had written.”
He was “not at all surprised” at their arrests.
“Although, seeing what the father had done and gone through, I would have thought the kids would have said, ‘You know, let’s just go our own way. Let’s just work our way in some decent obscurity, go about our lives and do something different,’” said DeStefano. “But you know, the pull of the street is sometimes hard to resist.”
He said he still holds out some hope for the sons.
“I’m hoping that these kids can get a break on this case. I’m hoping for their sake that they can get away from this going forward. But it’s a federal case, and federal is hard to beat. It’s like ‘I’ll see you in five years….’”
DeStefano will be in the Bronx Nov. 7 for a book signing at Barnes & Noble at the Bay Plaza Shopping Mall. The book, by Lyons Press, is also available at other book stores and online at Amazon.com.