A former mob lawyer who turned canary against Bonanno crime-family boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano was sentenced Friday to time served — three days — by the same judge Basciano once tried to have killed.
Defendant Thomas Lee cried and hugged his attorney after Brooklyn federal court Justice Nicholas Garaufis handed down the sentence.
“Good luck, and have a good life,” Garaufis told Lee, nearly 14 years after the defendant took the stand against Basciano to finger him for racketeering, including acts of murder, murder conspiracy, and solicitation of murder.
Lee admitted to abusing his power as a lawyer to pass messages from acting boss Basciano to the family’s incarcerated official head, Joseph Massino, in 2004 regarding a murder plot.
“I don’t blame my upbringing, I don’t blame my neighborhood, I don’t blame my father’s drug addiction,” Lee told the court Friday, referencing his mob-tinged childhood in The Bronx. “The most important thing is that I’ve broken the cycle.
“The self-inflicted wounds are the worst,” the 51-year-old said. “And the difficulty is, the story I injected myself into is folk, it’s created.”
Lee spent three days in jail, just long enough to be arraigned, in 2005 before being set free on $2 million bond and heading straight into the federal Witness Protection Program, where he remains.
While he had faced between 121 to 151 months behind bars following his guilty plea to a charge of racketeering, prosecutors went to bat for him in a letter to Garaufis, given his testimony at multiple trials.
The judge Friday thanked prosecutor Amy Busa for the submission, which he described as “all these many years later, bringing back these memories I had hoped to forget.”
Garaufis was named on a 2006 hand-written hit-list Basciano passed off behind bars while he was awaiting retrial, after a jury deadlocked on his first trial.
Basciano was eventually convicted on racketeering charges, including acts of murder and murder conspiracy, and is serving life in prison.
Lee declined to comment through his lawyer, Joel Cohen, though the attorney lauded the sentence.
“I think he earned the sentence he got,” Cohen said.
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