A former crime boss convicted of ordering several murders is appealing for "compassionate release" from federal prison after serving more than 31 years behind bars.
Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso's defense attorneys noted in a court filing last week that the 88-year-old's "advanced age and severe chronic medical conditions, along with his long imprisonment and perfect institutional record" as an "extraordinary and compelling reason for a sentence reduction."
Granting a compassionate release at this time "would not diminish the nature and circumstances of the underlying offenses nor undercut the need for general/specific deterrence," Amuso's New York-based attorneys wrote. The former boss of the Luchese crime family, who is held at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, suffers from serious medical ailments that have largely rendered him immobile, according to the attorneys, who included testimonies from the mobster's children and grandchildren.
The family members further described in the filing Amuso's devote Catholic faith and how he guided and supported them through phone calls over the years, remaining a trusted father and grandfather in their eyes rom behind bars. While in prison,, the elderly felon cannot get around without a wheelchair due to chronic arthritis, has clouded and worsening vision, lost all of his teeth, and has made pleas for medical help – including handwritten notes for cortisol shots – that are not answered promptly, his attorneys argue.
"Mr. Amuso’s life expectancy is grim, and his advanced age and deteriorating health render his remaining quality of life negligible. Indeed, Mr. Amuso’s advanced age and medical ailments have substantially diminished his ability to provide self-care within a prison setting, and conventional treatment promises no substantial improvement," the filing says.
The filing comes as the latest from a string of aging former Mafiosos pleading for compassionate release under the First Step Act of 2018, the New York Daily News reported.
Amuso was convicted in 1992 of all 54 counts in a racketeering indictment charging him with nine murders, extortion, gambling, and labor corruption.
This file images shows a security vehicle outside the fence at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. Former mob boss Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso is seeking a compassionate release from the prison at age 88. (Jim R. Bounds/Bloombe
Though sentenced to life without parole, Amuso was named in federal indictments related to alleged Lucchese family conspiracies while imprisoned even decades later.
His conviction came just months after John Gotti was convicted in the same Brooklyn Federal Courthouse and given a life sentence for heading the Gambino family, the nation’s most powerful criminal syndicate. Key testimony against Amuso came from a former lieutenant and longtime friend, Alfonse D’Arco.
An FBI mug shot of mafia Don John Gotti, released on Dec. 11, 1990, in New York. (Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
D’Arco took over as acting boss when Amuso went into hiding.
The FBI later found Amuso in Scranton, Pa. D’Arco, one of the highest ranking members ever to betray the mob, said he reluctantly became an informant because he feared mob associates were about to kill him and his son. His testimony provided a rare look into the murder, violence, rackets, and schemes of the Mafia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.