Lillo Brancato Jr., the actor best known for playing a small-time wannabe hood executed by Tony Soprano on HBO’s acclaimed series “The Sopranos,” was paroled on Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, Brancato has been serving a 10-year sentence for an attempted burglary conviction for his role in a 2005 shooting that left an off-duty police officer dead; he was acquitted on a more severe count of second-degree murder that could have put him away for life.
Brancato appeared in six episodes of “The Sopranos’” second season in 2000 before his character, Matt Bevilaqua, was killed by Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). Despite a few more roles in film and TV, including the Eddie Murphy flick “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” Brancato began running afoul of the law.
According to authorities, Brancato even hung out with real-life organized criminals before they banished him for his ongoing substance abuse issues.
In 2005, Brancato went from a Bronx strip club to break into a nearby apartment, according to prosecutors in his trial. Brancato and his associate, Steven Armento, who had worked with the Genovese crime family, intended to steal Valium. But the sound of breaking glass alerted off-duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui, who confronted the two men in an alley.
Prosecutors said Armento set off the ensuing gun battle that left Enchautegui dead and both Brancato and Armento wounded.
Armento was tried separately and found guilty of first-degree murder. He is serving a life sentence.
Officials said Brancato earned an earlier release by taking college courses and meeting disciplinary standards. However, he will be supervised by his parole officer in Westchester County until 2018.
At his sentencing, Brancato told the judge, “I’m not talking about resuming an acting career. I’m talking about being a good son, brother, friend and citizen.”
[For the record: A previous version of this post reported the quote from Brancato was from his parole hearing. It was from his sentencing.]