NEW YORK -- Reputed Mafia underboss Alphonse 'Allie Boy' Persico Friday was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a $30,000 fine for extortion, seven years after he fled to escape the conviction.
'This sentence I'm getting now is a death sentence for me,' the paunchy Persico told U.S. District Judge Thomas Platt. 'I'm innocent.'
The judge replied it was not his verdict, but a jury's, and Persico, his hair dyed black but showing signs of gray, was led out of the courtoom.
In a plea for leniency, defense attroney Frank Lopez told the judge that the 58-year-old Persico was not in good health.
Persico was tracked down last month in West Hartford, Conn.
'As the marshals who arrested him told me, it really wasn't an arrest, it was a rescue. Persico was in such bad health,' Lopez said.
Persico is reportedly suffering from heart disease and emphysema. Lopez said he may appeal the sentence.
Prosecuter Edward McDonald, the chief of Brooklyn's Organized Crime Strike Force, told the judge that Persico was 'the leading crime figure in the country' when he became underboss of the Colombo crime family.
He is the older brother of jailed Columbo crime boss Carmine 'Junior' Persico.
Persico was nabbed by U.S. marshals while cooking spaghetti sauce in a luxury condominium in West Hartford.
His seven years on the lam, which began on June 23, 1980, the day he was to be sentenced for extortion, was reportedly financed and aided by false identification papers provided by mob associates who ran a so-called underground railroad.
Persico insists he fended for himself, using $60,000 he had when he went into hiding, as well as the aliases 'Al Longo' and 'Anthony Perri' and the assumed identities of a retired accountant or a rug dealer.
But a probation department memo confirmed by McDonald said Persico was harbored by the Patriarca crime family on Rhode Island who supplied the fugitive with funds and phony identification papers.