News and Press Releases

Criminal Defense Attorney Charged with Racketeering, Murder Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2005

Bonanno Family Acting Boss Charged with Soliciting the Murder of a Federal Prosecutor

ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and JOHN A. KLOCHAN, Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Division, today announced the filing of a superseding indictment charging criminal defense attorney THOMAS J. LEE with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder and obstruction of justice. The indictment also supersedes racketeering charges against Bonanno family acting boss VINCENT BASCIANO to include as additional predicate acts a conspiracy to murder rival Bonanno family captain Patrick DeFilippo, and solicitation of the murder of a federal law enforcement official. BASCIANO, together with Bonanno family captain DOMINICK CICALE and soldier ANTHONY AIELLO, were charged in the underlying indictment with the December 1, 2004 murder of Randolph Pizzolo.1

LEE will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto, at the U. S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis. BASCIANO will be arraigned on the new charges at a later date. As alleged in the indictment and the government's detention memorandum, LEE used his status as a criminal defense attorney to carry messages in and out of the Metropolitan Detention Center ("MDC") in Brooklyn, New York, between Joseph Massino, the incarcerated official boss of the Bonanno family, and BASCIANO, a captain who rose to the position of acting boss while Massino was in jail.

Often pretending to visit another inmate in order to avoid creating a record of their contacts, LEE gave Massino messages from BASCIANO on a variety of Bonanno family matters, including the induction of new members, promotions within the family and various rackets such as loansharking and extortion. LEE also brought Massino BASCIANO's requests to kill Bonanno family captain Patrick "Patty" DeFilippo and the adult sons of cooperating witnesses. BASCIANO and LEE are both charged with conspiring to kill DeFilippo. Using the pre-arranged term "jocko," LEE advised Massino that BASCIANO wanted to "jocko" DeFilippo. BASCIANO admitted as much in a recording of a meeting with Massino at the MDC-Brooklyn on January 3, 2005. When Massino recounted that LEE told him BASCIANO wanted to kill DeFilippo, BASCIANO responded, "I did say that."

LEE is also charged with obstructing justice by making false and misleading statements to the court regarding the nature of his relationship with Massino. In doing so, LEE concealed their illicit communications and prevented the court from fulfilling its obligation to ensure that LEE, who was formally representing two Bonanno family soldiers who were Massino's co-defendants, could represent them without any conflict of interest.

In the racketeering count, BASCIANO is also charged with requesting Massino's permission to murder a federal law enforcement official on November 23, 2004. As detailed in the detention letter, BASCIANO advised Massino that he knew a location where the federal law enforcement official - a prosecutor - could be found. Because of this threat, the prosecutor has been and continues to be protected by the United States Marshal's Service.

"Today's indictment underscores our unwavering commitment to the integrity and sanctity of the judicial process," stated United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "Threats to the men and women of law enforcement and corruption of members of the bar will not be tolerated. We will prosecute vigorously anyone who would harm those whose job it is to protect our community, and we will zealously defend the fairness and integrity of our system of justice."

FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge KLOCHAN stated, "The FBI will never rest in its efforts to counter individuals who seek to impede the fair and efficient administration of justice. Likewise, we remain ever vigilant to the integrity of our courts and the safety of those individuals whose life's work is making them function for the benefit of all."

If convicted of all charges, LEE faces a maximum of 60 years in prison. Because of the pending charge regarding the Pizzolo murder, BASCIANO faces the possibility of life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas J. Seigel and Bridget Rohde

The Defendants:

Name: THOMAS J. LEE
Alias: "Tommy Lee"
DOB: 6/22/67

Name: VINCENT BASCIANO
DOB: 11/14/59

 

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1 The charges contained in the indictments are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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