A federal judge Friday told the son of imprisoned-for-life celebrity mobster Vincent "Vinnie Gorgeous" Basciano that he'll have to serve 42 months for marijuana distribution before he can start fulfilling a pledge to not follow in his father's footsteps.
Stephen Basciano, 30, one of three sons of the former Bonanno family boss who were indicted in a marijuana conspiracy last year, told Manhattan U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in a letter that he didn't want his father's life, and promised in court to mend his ways.
"I've had a lot of time to think," he said in a plea for leniency. "I just want to let you know this will never happen again. I'll never risk my freedom again. ... I've learned my lesson." Sullivan said he believed Basciano, but noted that he became involved in the marijuana conspiracy right after finishing a two-year sentence in an assault case that hadn't deterred his criminal behavior.
"You should have recognized then what you recognize now when you got out of prison," the judge said. "I think three-and-a-half years is right, particularly considering you did a two-year term and that didn't do the trick."
Vincent Basciano, 54, is imprisoned for life, for murder and racketeering, at a maximum-security federal prison in Colorado. The three brothers were accused of being part of a ring that imported hundreds of pounds of marijuana from California and ran distribution routes. They all pleaded guilty.
In his letter to Sullivan, Stephen Basciano said he didn't want to "walk down the same path" as his father, and he hadn't considered marijuana a "serious drug." But the judge rejected any idea that moves to legalize marijuana should mitigate the sentence.
"This is not a case that involves medical marijuana," he said. "It was all part of the illicit drug trade to get money through illegal means."
Basciano will get credit on his sentence for the year he has been in jail. He was also ordered to forfeit $600,000. His brother Stephen, who Sullivan said played a lesser role, got 6 months. Brother Vincent Jr. has not been sentenced.