A notorious killer-turned-Mob rat will remain behind bars for the rest of his life because he remains a “danger to the community” even while hooked up to a ventilator due to COVID-19, a federal judge ruled.
Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso — whom the feds say took part in as many as three dozen Mob hits for the Lucchese crime family — contracted the coronavirus earlier this month at a maximum-security federal prison in Arizona, and has been clinging to life at a local hospital.
The 78-year-old mafia executioner turned rat himself after pleading guilty in a wide-ranging racketeering case in 1994, but the feds dropped him from the witness protection program after he broke a cooperation agreement several times. Casso was then sentenced to more than 400 years in prison.
His reign of terror as one of the mob’s most feared killers was so brutal that even the threat of imminent death from coronavirus doesn’t qualify Casso for compassionate release, Brooklyn Federal Judge Frederick Block ruled.
“The court has carefully considered the gravity of defendant Antony Casso’s medical condition. But even assuming it presents an extraordinary and compelling circumstance, the court finds, in light of the nature and extent of the defendant’s criminal history, that he remains a danger to the community,” Block wrote.
Casso’s lawyers argued that he was already confined to a wheelchair, has prostate cancer, is awaiting a heart operation and had lung issues.
At the Tucson prison, 148 inmates have COVID-19 and two have already died of the disease. More than 400 other inmates have recovered, but it’s not clear Casso will rejoin them.
“Just days ago, he tested positive for COVID-19. He is currently hospitalized due to severe respiratory problems,” wrote Casso’s lawyers. “His COVID-19 infection and rapidly deteriorating health require better medical care than [Bureau of Prisons] can provide.”
Casso has been hospitalized and returned to the prison three times, but now remains in an emergency room hooked up to a ventilator, his lawyers said.
There was little sympathy for Casso at the courthouse, with the feds claiming that he unsuccessfully tried in the 1990s to have a federal judge and a prosecutor handling his case bumped off.
“All defendants sentenced to life in prison will, at some point, begin to succumb to one disease or another, or suffer from failing health due to old age,” wrote federal prosecutors in response to Casso’s application for release.