A federal judge has granted Vincent Asaro, a reputed mob boss and member of the Bonanno crime family, a compassionate release from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a decision issued on Friday, Judge Allyne R. Ross of the Eastern District of New York said that Asaro’s age and his deteriorating health were “extraordinary and compelling” reasons for his release. The court documents list Asaro as 85 years old.
Asaro has been held at the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He’s serving eight years in prison after pleading guilty in 2017 to ordering his associates to set a man’s car on fire.
Last year, Asaro had a stroke and suffers from paralysis on the right side of his body and a brain disorder called aphasia, according to the judge’s ruling.
There were no confirmed Covid-19 cases in the prison where Asaro was being held, Ross wrote, but it’s unclear how much testing has been conducted and it’s possible that there are undetected cases in the facility.
“While I do not know whether Asaro currently has the ability or the power to command others in his organization to carry out criminal acts at his will, I do not believe that, given Asaro’s current state, his release would put the public at a significantly increased risk of danger,” the judge said in her decision.
Asaro’s attorneys, Ross wrote, have said their client cannot say much beyond “hello” and “how are you?” and “often stutters to the point of incomprehensibility.”
In 2015, Asaro was found not guilty on charges that he participated in the infamous 1978 Lufthansa robbery at the JFK International Airport, which was depicted in the movie “Goodfellas.”