NEW YORK -- Stars of the television show "Mob Wives" experienced a harsh dose of off-screen reality Monday when cast member Renee Graziano's father was sentenced to one and a half years in prison after his ex son-in-law wore a wire for FBI agents investigating the Bonanno mobster.
"I'm sorry for causing all this grief," Anthony Graziano, 71, said through his attorney in court. "To my grandchildren -- I'm going to leave you again."
Hector Pagan Jr. secretly taped Graziano along with five other members and associates of the Bonanno crime family last year. Four men, including Graziano, were sentenced to four and a half years collectively after the recordings revealed they had attempted to collect a $150,000 illegal gambling debt and alluded to being involved in a robbery in a social club controlled by the family.
Pagan was often featured on "Mob Wives" -- a show produced by one of Graziano's daughters, Jennifer Graziano.
"These are very serious crimes," said Chief U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon as she laid down Graziano's sentence. "He was part of a conspiracy to engage in the affairs of that enterprise," she added, referring to the Bonanno syndicate, one of New York's five notorious crime families.
Amon gave Graziano the minimum suggested sentence but chastised his continued association with the organized crime family, ordering him to cut off all contact with them -- something he has failed to do in the past.
In 2003, Graziano was sentenced to 20 years in Florida and New York for murder, fraud and racketeering, among other charges. He was released from prison for health reasons.
"He continued to engage in some type of criminal conduct," Amon told the packed courtroom as Graziano leaned in front of her on a cane.
Graziano begged Amon to be taken out of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where he already served 8 months, because of his worsening diabetes and eyesight.
"Can I get out of there fast?" Graziano said. "They're killing me there!"
Amon did not recommend Graziano serve time in a medical facility, but she said his health was a factor in the sentence.
Three other men associated with the Bonanno family were also sentenced to 6 months, one year and one and a half years for their role in attempting to collect the debt and alluding to the robbery.
Like Graziano, Anthony Calabrese, 44, Vito Balsamo, 56, and James LaForte, 35, pleaded guilty after prosecutors dropped extortion and racketeering charges against them in April.
The alleged acting Bonanno family boss, Vincent Badalamenti, 54, also pleaded guilty to collection of an unlawful debt this spring, but he avoided sentencing when prosecutors told Amon they were only going to present evidence from a 1999 extortion charge to the court.
Defense attorney Ron Fischetti said the other charges were likely put aside because the prosecution's witness is unreliable.
"Everything was based on Mr. Pagan's testimony," Fischetti said after court. "Our position is that Mr. Pagan is completely unworthy of belief."
Fischetti said if the prosecution has attempted to sentence charges from Pagan's testimony he would have to be able to prove Pagan committed extortion and murder.
"They want to avoid cross examination," Fischetti said.
Prosecutors will present their evidence for the 1999 extortion charge to Amon on Sept. 18. In that case, Badalamenti allegedly ordered a bar on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn be taken over when its owner failed to pay a debt.
A sixth defendant, Nicholas Santora, 70, will be sentenced in October.
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