The Bronx priest whose brother was oddball Genovese crime-family boss Vincent “The Chin’’ Gigante has died at age 90.
The Rev. Louis Gigante, who once headed up the South East Bronx Community Organization and served as a city councilman in the 1970s, was known for his vociferous defense of his Mafioso brother.
Louis Gigante, who died last week, was described by The Post in 1975 as a “priest who plays power politics instead of bingo.”
At the time, he told The Post his old-school party-machine politics were “a question of power.
“People have to eat,” Louis said.
Born the youngest of five boys to immigrant Italian parents, Gigante grew up with his family in Greenwich Village. His older brothers went on to become mobsters, with Vinnie rising through the ranks of the Genovese crime family to lead the organization for decades.
The mumbling, pajama-wearing, Greenwich Village-walking don died in prison in 2005 after his conviction on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to kill rival mob boss John Gotti.
Presiding over his brother’s funeral Mass, Louis Gigante said Vinnie “lived a Christian life and was a good man.”
Louis Gigante defended his brother during his trial — at which the mob boss would often appear confused — telling reporters that “The Chin” had suffered from a degenerative brain condition since the ’70s.
When a Mafia turncoat told the feds that Louis Gigante himself was a made man — testimony the informant later denied at trial — the priest was dismissive.
“Not a bad movie, but even Hollywood doesn’t go that far,” Louis quipped to the Post in 1997.
As head of SEBCO, Louis Gigante was instrumental in the revitalization of one of the most impoverished sections of The Bronx, bringing relative safety and stability to a neighborhood that had literally been in ruins.
But his success there caught the eye of government investigators in the 1990s, who suspected the involvement of Genovese-connected contractors in SEBCO’s rebuilding efforts. No charges were ever filed against Louis Gigante or his organization.
Louis made headlines in the 1980s as well — when he used $25,000 of his own money to bail out one of the so-called “Central Park Five,” a group of teenagers arrested, falsely convicted and ultimately exonerated for the brutal rape of a Manhattan jogger.
“Everyone who’s so filled with anger about these suspects should ask themselves, ‘what if this were my son, wouldn’t I want him helped?’ ” the priest said at the time.
He also ended up in the news last year when he was slapped with lawsuits accusing him of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy in the 1970s and a 10-year-old girl in the 1960s. He did not comment on the two suits at the time. Both lawsuits were still pending at the time of his death, the New York Times said.
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