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Mobster, 96, admits guilt but might avoid prison

Published March 1, 2007


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A 96-year-old mobster pleaded guilty Wednesday to overseeing robberies and other crimes for the Genovese crime family, but the man who needed a cane and had trouble hearing in court likely will avoid prison.

Albert "the Old Man" Facchiano sat before the judge because of back pain, but said, "Guilty, your honor," when asked about the Florida charge of racketeering conspiracy and a New York charge of conspiracy to tamper with a witness.

When Facchiano is sentenced May 25, he will likely face house arrest because of his health problems. His attorney said he sees a doctor four times a week for back pain, arthritis and other ailments.

Facchiano, who will be 97 on March 10, wore a special headset to hear U.S. District Judge James Cohn and told the judge he takes blood pressure pills.

At certain points, attorneys had to repeat or rephrase questions so that he could hear or would understand.

"Is your mind OK?" Cohn asked at one point, a question Facchiano appeared to have trouble hearing.

"Oh, yes," he eventually responded. "I can't hear, but I can understand, your honor."

According to prosecutors, from at least 2000 to 2003, Facchiano supervised associates who committed crimes including extortion, robberies, money laundering and bank fraud.

The charges Facchiano pleaded guilty to carry a total maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Under the plea agreement, however, prosecutors recommended Facchiano be sentenced to "a period of probation with a special condition of home confinement."

Prosecutors, defense lawyers and Mafia experts have said they can't remember anyone that age facing crimes committed so recently.

Facchiano, also called "Chinky" and "the Chinese Guy," was indicted in the two states last year.

A "made member" of the nation's largest and most powerful Mafia family for decades, Facchiano was a low-level figure, according to the FBI. He has an arrest record dating back to 1932 and served eight years of a 25-year sentence on federal racketeering charges after being arrested in 1979.

In the unlikely scenario that Facchiano goes to prison in the most recent case, he would be among the oldest inmates in the country. According to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records, there were 30 inmates 80 and older at of the end of 2003, the last year complete records are available.

[Last modified March 1, 2007, 00:57:11]

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