Lillo Brancato Jr., 29, stands formally accused of killing a New York police officer

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 15, 2005 03:00 PM
Credit: David Longendyke/JPI

Former Sopranos actor Lillo Brancato Jr. was charged with second-degree murder and held without bail on Thursday in New York’s Jacobi Medical Center, where he is being treated for two gunshot wounds inflicted by the police officer he and another man are accused of killing last Saturday.

The 29-year-old Brancato (who played would-be mobster Matt Bevilacqua on several episodes of the HBO series in 2000, and also appeared in 1995’s A Bronx Tale with Robert De Niro) was arraigned along with Steven Armento, who is in the hospital with six gunshot wounds and was charged with first-degree murder.

Neither man spoke or entered a plea at the hearing in the hospital conference room, the Associated Press reports. Both are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 9.

The arraignments came one day after about 20,000 police officers and New York City officials turned out at the funeral for Officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, who was off duty when he heard glass breaking in a neighbor’s apartment. According to authorities, the two suspects were trying to burglarize the apartment and steal prescription drugs.

Assistant District Attorney Terry Gottlieb told AP that Brancato has told police that Enchautegui identified himself as a police officer and ordered both men to freeze, then Armento started shooting.

The prosecutor added that Armento, after the shooting, told investigators, “I thought I’d shoot him first because I thought he was going to shoot us.”