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Ex-Bonanno crime boss gets 2 life terms

From Leslie Mattingly
CNN

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Organized Crime

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Massino was sentenced to two life sentences Thursday after pleading guilty to involvement in eight mob murders and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Massino is the first known Bonanno family boss to be convicted in more than two decades.

He served as family boss for more than 10 years during his 25-year association with the family, according to court records.

He received one life sentence for his July 2004 conviction on seven counts of murder, plus racketeering, extortion and other crimes.

The second came for his guilty plea to murder in connection with the killing of Bonanno family captain Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia, according to Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn.

Massino admitted to a federal judge that he gave orders to eliminate Sciascia, who was shot to death in 1999. He waived his right to appeal his 2004 convictions as part of the plea agreement.

The other charges stem from some of the most notorious murders in mob history, including the 1981 massacre of three Bonanno captains and the killing of Bonanno family soldier Anthony Mirra.

It was Mirra who unwittingly allowed undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone, known as Donnie Brasco, to infiltrate the family.

The ties of loyalty in the Bonanno family began to unravel after Pistone infiltrated their world in the late 1970s, a story told in the Al Pacino-Johnny Depp movie "Donnie Brasco."

Massino avoided the death penalty under a plea bargain with federal prosecutors.

His attorney, Ed McDonald, said the government can apply to the courts for a sentence reduction after one year, depending on the extent of Massino's cooperation.

Following Massino's conviction last year, FBI agents were led to a vacant lot in Queens, New York, where they unearthed the bodies of the slain captains. (Full story)

Massino's brother-in-law, "Good-Lookin' " Sal Vitale, and other former members of the Bonnano family were key witnesses that led to a guilty verdict.

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