Organized crime may be on the decline, but Mafia trials still are getting attention, says USA Today. In New York City, three pending federal prosecutions target La Cosa Nostra, the Italian-American syndicate made famous by The Godfather books and films, and HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Defendants include John A. Gotti, son of John J. Gotti, the “Dapper Don” who died in federal prison in 2002 while serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering. In Chicago, federal prosecutors hope to try alleged mobster Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, 76, and 10 alleged associates this year for conspiracy to commit at least 18 unsolved murders, some dating back more than 30 years.
“Vinny Bionics,” “Jackie Nose,” “Mikey Scars,” “Louie Electric” and “Skinny Dom” are among the characters who appear in court papers filed in the New York cases. Mafiosi “are not as large and as powerful as they once were, but they can still draw a crowd,” says Jerry Capeci of Ganglandnews.com and author and co-author of six books on the Mob. “And let’s face it, (Mob trials) are a lot more colorful than, what, Enron and like that.” In federal court in Brooklyn, testimony is scheduled to begin Feb. 22 in the murder, racketeering, bookmaking, and extortion trial of Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, 46. Court papers describe him as the acting head of the Bonannos, one of five Mob “families” in New York City. Since mid-January, jury selection has been going on in secret to protect potential jurors’ identities.