A mobster convicted of murdering a potential homicide witness four decades ago was back on the stand Monday, arguing that his life sentence should be tossed because his attorney misled him — and others who committed more vile crimes got a slap on the wrist.
Stephen LoCurto — known in the Big Apple’s seedy underworld as “Stevie Blue” — told a federal judge in Brooklyn that he would have taken a plea deal during his 2006 trial if his attorney hadn’t misled him about the amount of jail time he faced.
“These guys all had two and three murders, and they were getting 10-year pleas!” the 62-year-old grinning killer told the judge, referencing other mobbed-up murderers who he claimed had more bodies on them than he did.
But his old trial attorney, Harry Batchelder, never told him that he was facing life in prison, LoCurto said in his erratic, meandering testimony.
The Bonanno crime family mobster said he thought he only faced 20 years in jail — or about the same as what the feds offered in their plea deal.
Batchelder should have grabbed him by the collar, shook him and said he was risking life in prison by rejecting the deal, LoCurto said.
Thinking the deal was no better than what he faced at trial, LoCurto said he told his lawyer to tell prosecutors what they could do with the deal.
“Didn’t you tell [Assistant US Attorney] Greg Andres that he could ‘wipe his a–‘ with that letter?” assistant Assistant US Attorney Andrew Roddin asked the wise guy Monday.
“I said something slang, I don’t really recall,” LoCurto replied.
Batchelder testified over Zoom that LoCurto’s story was wrong.
The attorney brought what he called a plea proposal to his client – who then told him that he could “wipe my a–” with it.
“Steven was adamant that he was not going to take 20 years,” Batchelder said. “He believed that he could testify on his own behalf and prevail at trial. I tried to explain that this case was different from [an earlier state trial in which LoCurto was acquitted].”
LoCurto also admitted later that he had been given access to court documents that said he faced life in prison if convicted.
LoCutro was convicted of the racketeering-connected murder in July 2006 when a jury found that the then-45-year-old soldier with the Bonanno crime family had put a bullet in Joseph Platia — a potential witness in a homicide — about two decades earlier, according to the New York Times.
Federal authorities said at the time that the mob put a hit out on Platia because the gangsters thought he knew which Bonanno family mobsters had murdered and dismembered one of his pals, mob associate Robert Capasio.
Right after the Manhattan shooting, LoCurto was arrested a block away with the .38-caliber pistol still warm in his pocket, the Times said.
LoCurto told the court that he’d heard the shots, then just stumbled on Platia’s lifeless body slumped over in a car with a gun next to him.
LoCurto claimed he picked up the gun and put it in his pocket for self-defense, the Times said.
The mobster has been fighting the conviction since it was decided, including a failed appeal in 2009, according to the Daily News.
Federal prosecutors have maintained that the 20-year plea was never an actual deal, the Daily News said.
Batchelder confirmed that Monday.
“I would call this a letter of proposal,“ he testified. “They had 25 defendants. It was a plea proposal.”
This article was originally posted here