New York prosecutors claim prison videotape prove mob boss fit for trial - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

New York prosecutors claim prison videotape prove mob boss fit for trial

Updated:
(NEW YORK) - The prison surveillance video, silent and murky, shows the purportedly demented don holding court with his son and two other visitors.

During an animated chat, he rises from his chair and paces. He gestures with his hands, puts on sunglasses and combs his hair without obvious strain.

Prosecutors say the three-minute scene captured last year at a Texas prison helps prove that Vincent ``The Chin'' Gigante is a picture of physical and mental health _ and not, as his lawyers have insisted, insane.

The video as well as audiotapes of prison telephone calls were filed in federal court Wednesday to support the government's position that Gigante, 74, is fit to stand trial on new charges that he ran the powerful Genovese crime family from behind bars.

U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser was not expected to make an immediate ruling.

Gigante's attorney, Gary Greenwald, insisted his client suffers from heart disease, dementia and schizophrenia. He labeled prosecutors' conclusions meaningless and premature given that Gigante has yet to be examined by a psychiatrist.

``The government is making a big deal that he can speak to his friends and family,'' Greenwald said. ``That's not inconsistent with a person with a mental disease. ... It doesn't make him less sick.''

While on the street, Gigante was dubbed ``The Oddfather'' for his habit of wandering Manhattan's Greenwich Village in a bathrobe and mumbling to himself. But authorities have long alleged it was an act designed to dodge prosecution _ one that worked for decades.

A judge finally ruled in 1997 that Gigante was feigning mental illness and ordered him to stand trial on racketeering and murder conspiracy charges. Gigante _ who sat in a wheelchair and stared into space throughout the trial _ was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

A new indictment unsealed in January alleged Gigante used his crime family to infiltrate the International Longshoreman's Association, allowing it to run extortion rackets. Gigante's son, 45-year-old Andrew Gigante, allegedly relayed orders from his father to subordinates.

Glasser entered an innocent plea for Gigante last month after the defendant claimed he could not comprehend the charges.

The court papers filed Wednesday argue that phone calls recorded at the prison show ``Gigante is capable of engaging in completely normal conversations regarding complex matters.''

In one call last year, Gigante's wife told him about news accounts of the arrests of Genovese soldiers.

``All I know was they said some men were arrested with a family, and that you were running it,'' she said.

``I was running it?'' he responded. ``I was running around the park.''

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