A former business partner of Steven Seagal was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after admitting he plotted to have the mob shakedown the action-film star.
Julius Nasso, a producer of early Seagal films, also will pay a $75,000 fine and receive mental-health counseling after his release from prison. He pleaded guilty last August in federal court to extortion conspiracy and was sentenced Tuesday.
Prosecutors said the plea agreement took into account Nasso's law-abiding past and a history of depression and anxiety that affected his mental stability.
Nasso's lawyer, Robert Hantman said his client's crime was "an aberrant incident that is unlikely to happen again and totally out of character for somebody who is otherwise a well-respected and successful businessman."
Nasso told a federal magistrate that he had an "understanding" that a reputed capo in the Gambino crime family, Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone, would confront Seagal in the VIP room of a Brooklyn steakhouse about a debt in a way "that would be perceived to be a threat."
Ciccone was convicted of racketeering in the case along with Peter Gotti, the late mob boss John Gotti's brother.
Nasso and Seagal formed a production company after meeting in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. Over the next decade, they made movies including "Marked for Death," "Out for Justice" and "On Deadly Ground" before their falling out. Nasso sued Seagal for $60 million, accusing the actor of backing out of a four-movie deal.
At the Gage & Tollner steakhouse in 2000, Ciccone and other Gambino enforcers demanded that Seagal keep working with Nasso and pay him $150,000 a film, the actor testified at Peter Gotti's trial.
Afterward, Nasso told Seagal, "If you would have said the wrong thing, they would have killed you," the actor said.
Surveillance tapes later captured Ciccone's crew chuckling over how "petrified" the actor looked.
"I wish we had a gun with us," one said. "That would have been funny."
Said another: "It was like out of the movies."
Seagal spokesman Peter Mirijanian said Tuesday that Nasso had tried to ruin Seagal's career.
"Although some of the harm to Mr. Seagal cannot be undone, he feels vindicated knowing that Mr. Nasso has had to confess to a judge that he is a felon, extortionist and a liar," Mirijanian said.
By Michael Weissenstein