New York Daily News

January 10, 2009 

Ex-'Sopranos' actor Lillo Brancato gets 10 years in prison for burglary that led to NYPD cop's death

By RICH SCHAPIRO and CORKY SIEMASZKO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

A Bronx judge stuck another dagger in the heart of a slain cop's sister Friday when he gave Lillo Brancato a reduced sentence for a botched burglary that led to the officer's death.

"This is gonna be good for me," the actor-turned-junkie told his lawyer after Justice Martin Marcus handed down a 10-year sentence.

Officer Daniel Enchautegui's outraged sister, Yolanda Rosa, said the former "Sopranos" actor deserved the 15-year max - and should have been convicted of murder, not just burglary.

"I am disappointed in the justice system," she said outside the Bronx courthouse. "He'll always be a murderer, no matter what the jury says."

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Vice President John Puglissi ripped Marcus for not having "the courage to follow through and give the maximum sentence to this lowlife, drug addict, washed-up actor."

"This is a travesty of justice," he said. "Lillo Brancato was able to act his way out of a murder conviction and now that mistake was tragically compounded by less than a maximum sentence."

Defense lawyer Joseph Tacopina said Brancato, 32, should be out of jail in about five years with good behavior and credit for the three years he's served.

"He accepts and embraces the five years, and he's going to make that into something positive," the lawyer said. "He's going to do something with his life. He's not going to whine and complain."

Brancato was charged with second-degree murder in the killing of the 28-year-old officer on Dec. 10, 2005.

Drunk and high, Brancato and Steven Armento, 52, were trying to break into an apartment to steal prescription drugs when Enchautegui confronted them.

Last month, a Bronx jury acquitted Brancato of murder but convicted him of burglary - a verdict that outraged Rosa and police groups.

They said Brancato was just as guilty as Armento, who shot Enchautegui at point-blank range and was convicted of murder.

Dressed in a dark suit and speaking at his sentencing in a low and shaky voice, Brancato told the court he was sorry.

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not pray for him and his family," Brancato said of the slain cop. "He will forever, until the day I die, be in my thoughts and prayers."

Brancato admitted he made "mistakes," but added, "at my core I am a good and decent person."

Brancato said he's looking forward to starting over.

"I am not talking about resuming my acting career," he said. "I am talking about much more than that. I am talking about being a good son, brother, friend and citizen."

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com