Six years ago, the world of La Cosa Nostra was rocked by Bonnano crime family head Joseph Massino when he agreed to testify for the government against acting don Vincent "Vinnie Gorgeous" Basciano, who was accused of killing a mob associate. Now, as Massino is expected to sing today, it's time to get sentimental about the mob. Over the weekend, the Daily News' headline declared, "Mafia legends 'turning in graves' as ex-Bonanno boss to rat out Vinny Gorgeous at trial," while the NY Times reports today, "When he takes the witness stand on Tuesday, he will make history as the first official boss of one of New York’s five mob families to break ranks and testify for the government."
Massino, who claimed he was a restaurateur and not a mobster, was convicted in 2004 for killing an underling and sentenced to two life sentences; while he was in prison, he made recordings of Basciano talking about ordering the killing of Randolph Pizzolo and plotting the murder of a federal prosecutor. The Times goes on, "[Massino's decision] was all the more shocking because of his reputation as an Old World stalwart, a crime boss who seemed to cling to the fading values of honor and omertà, the Mafia’s code of silence, a reputation that had earned him the tabloid nickname 'the last don.'"
Thomas Repetto, who wrote American Mafia, told the News, "A boss testifying against another boss is a sea change in the mob world. The old-time bosses like (Charles) Luciano and (Vito) Genovese are rolling in the graves. The Mafia as they knew it no longer exists." Still, a lawyer who previously represented Vinnie Gorgeous faulted the Justice Department for wasting another $4 million on this death penalty trial, since Basciano is already in prison for life.