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Vincent Gigante Trial: 1997

Defense Accuses Informants Of Lying To Save Themselves

In his closing arguments, Gigante's attorney, Michael Marinaccio, branded the turncoat gangsters "psychopaths and liars," claiming they tailored their stories to get favorable government treatment. Assistant U.S. attorney Andrew Weissman countered that the Mafia squealers were telling the truth; if they weren't, they would lose their promised freedom.

"In the old world, lying was a way of life," he told jurors. "After they made a deal with the government, lying risked everything."

Marinaccio produced a series of elaborate charts to remind jurors how many people the government witnesses had admitted killing. He warned the jury not to believe the "words of six madmen." Gigante stared vacantly from his wheelchair.

The panel of eight women and four men deliberated 16 hours over three days before delivering a guilty verdict. Jurors decided Gigante indeed headed a sophisticated bid-rigging and kickback scheme to infiltrate the window-replacement business. He also was convicted of conspiring to kill informer Savino as well as Gambino crime boss Gotti and his brother Gene.

Gigante affected the role of crazy man to the bitter end. At his sentencing on December 18, 1997, Judge Weinstein ordered "The Chin" to shed his sweatpants and don gray slacks and blazer from a stash of used clothes set aside for improperly attired defendants. Looking dazed and confused, Gigante said "Good morning" to the judge and courtroom viewers. He listened glumly as the judge gave him a 12-year prison term and imposed a $1.25 million fine.

With mandated good time, Gigante could be free in 10 years. Noting "The Chin's" sentence could have been as much as 30 years, Judge Weinstein stated he had weighed Gigante's documented hypertension and heart problems against his crimes. Nevertheless, Gigante appealed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Gigante's conviction in January 1999. He then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming he was denied a "face-to-face confrontation" with Savino when the dying man testified via closed-circuit television. He said his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser had been violated. In January 2000, the Supreme Court justices let Gigante's conviction stand.

"The Chin" now serves his 12-year term in a Fort Worth, Texas, prison hospital. He reportedly has delegated many mob duties, but continues to call the shots in Genovese family operations, just as he's done for decades.

B. J. Welborn

Suggestions for Further Reading

Capeci, Jerry. "Chin: Dazed, Confused, Guilty." The Week in Gangland, The Online Column (July 29, 1997).

Okwu, Michael. "Judge: Mob Boss Fit to Be Tried." CNN Interactiv (August 19, 1996).

"Vincent, 'Chin' Gigante Loses Appeal." USA Today Online (January 18, 2000).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentVincent Gigante Trial: 1997 - An Elaborate Ploy, Mob Informants Testify About Gigante's Sanity, Defense Accuses Informants Of Lying To Save Themselves