Thursday, October 09, 2008

FBI Role In Mob Killings Suppressed At Sentence Reduction Hearing

Springfield Republican

Milano Jr. said he wished more of the FBI's
inner workings could have been aired during the hearing,
but his father abandoned other arguments
as part of the agreement that led to Wednesday's hearing.

Federal judge cuts seven years from mob killer's sentence


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Gaetano J. Milano can't take back the bullet that killed a rival gangster nearly 20 years ago, but what a judge called "an extraordinary rehabilitation" won him early release from prison after an emotional hearing in federal court Wednesday.

Milano, 56, did not walk out the door of the courthouse as his family members and lawyers had hoped. However, U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas reduced Milano's sentence from 33 to 26 years.

With eight years now left in his sentence, Milano could be released in four years for good behavior.

The former East Longmeadow resident was convicted in 1991 of executing William "Wild Guy" Grasso as they hurtled down Interstate 91 in a van two years earlier. Grasso was second-in-command of the Providence-based Patriarca crime family and had a reputation as a ruthless and reckless gangster.

Nevas acknowledged Grasso's character when he handed down the reduced sentence, but maintained, as he did after Milano's trial 18 years ago, it did not justify murder.

"We all know about Mr. Grasso, who he was, what he was," Nevas said. "He was probably responsible for other people's deaths, either directly or indirectly. But no one can sit in (judgment) on the life of another person. That's just not our role."

Milano's case has been a long one, and filled with moral nuances. Nevas granted a defense motion to set aside Milano's earlier sentence on the grounds he received ineffective trial counsel.

The grounds for resentencing were established by agreement between the prosecution and defense. That agreement followed a 13-year appeal process which focused most recently on FBI cover-ups and agents' handling of "upper echelon informants," such as the late gangster Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio. Investigators have admitted that Mercurio was among protected mobsters who were culpable in the Grasso murder conspiracy but were not prosecuted because of their value to the government.

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