‘Sopranos’ Actor Dodges Murder Conviction of NY Police Officer

December 23, 2008

(ChattahBox) — A jury found Sopranos actor Lillo Brancato Jr. not guilty in the murder of off-duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui (En-chow-TAY’-gee) during a botched burglary three years ago.  Prosecutors said Brancato, 32, and accomplice Steven Armento broke into a basement apartment to steal prescription drugs after a night of drinking at a strip club in December 2005. Officer Daniel Enchautegui, who lived next door and was off duty, came out to investigate.

Armento shot the 28-year-old officer with his .357 Magnum, hitting him in the heart. The dying officer fired back, wounding both men. Armento was hit six times. Brancato, who drove the car to the apartment, was shot twice. Armento was convicted earlier this year of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Brancato did not fire the gun used in the killing;  During the gun battle,

Brancato’s lawyer claimed his client was just a drug addict—”He didn’t have a gun, never alleged to have a gun, never committed a crime of violence, got shot.” The jury had been deadlocked last week, but the judge asked them to continue their deliberations. The 32-year-old former actor was, however, found guilty of attempted burglary. He faces from three to 15 years in prison; the former actor could get credit for time served because he has been behind bars nearly three years.

Brancato was led out of court in handcuffs. His sentencing is Jan. 9, and District Attorney Robert T. Johnson said he would seek “the maximum sentence that the law allows.” Brancato’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said his client was relieved with the verdict. “There was never going to be smiles,” he said. “This is not a case that warrants that.”

Brancato became a childhood star in the 1993 movie “A Bronx Tale,” playing a young kid from the neighborhood who is torn between two worlds and two men: a local mobster played by Chazz Palminteri and his straight-and-narrow bus-driver father, played by Robert De Niro.

He also notably appeared on the second season of “The Sopranos,” where he played a bumbling aspiring mobster. His character carried out a series of low-level crimes for the New Jersey mob before being gunned down by Tony Soprano and his sidekick as he tearfully begged for his life.

Reported by: Hot Momma Celebrity Gossip


One Response to “‘Sopranos’ Actor Dodges Murder Conviction of NY Police Officer”

  1. matt goldman on December 24th, 2008 8:48 am

    Granted Brancato didn’t pull the trigger, but it would seem reasonable that he share in the punishment for the death of the officer. It was Brancato that led Argento and himself to the apartment of Brancato’s friend. He either gave an Oscar-worthy performance or the jurors were in a generous mood.

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