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An actor who served time behind bars after an attempted burglary that killed NYPD officer Daniel Enchautegui just got the boot from an upcoming appearance.
“A Bronx Tale” and “The Sopranos” actor Lillo Brancato was set to take part in a special pregame ceremony on May 10. The Italian Heritage Night was to take place at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania prior to the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs game.
Ironpigs announced it on their Facebook page Monday, and were quickly overwhelmed with furious comments from people all across America.
For the first couple of hours, whoever was managing the social media page for the ball team tried arguing back, mocking some of the angry fans.
Which was a horrible idea… considering most of the people who were fired up are active duty police officers or those who had lost loved ones in the line of duty.
Shortly after, the announcement post disappeared. It was replaced with this:
Due to the swift and overwhelming response of our fans, we are canceling the scheduled appearance of Lillo Brancato at Coca-Cola Park on May 10.
Our goal was to bring in an individual who, through his experience with addiction, could offer advice to others in how to avoid making the same mistakes in their own lives.
We sincerely apologize.
Michael Burke is the President and Founder of Brothers Before Others, a 501c3 that sends flowers to the funerals of every police officer. Law Enforcement Today is proud to support this incredible organization. Burke was the first one to catch the appearance and call out the team. After the cancellation, his was one of hundreds of comments left in response:
Michael J. Burke There are tens of thousands of better choices.
Just a bit of advice an apology should not contain a “but “.
You made a mistake, own it .
As far as the cop killer goes EVERY venue that publicizes his appearance gets it like you did .
NEVER FORGET NYPD OFFICER Daniel Enchautegui.
Austin Glickman runs the Law Enforcement Officer Weekend, an event Law Enforcement Today is proud to be the media sponsor for. Organizers created the event to pay tribute to police officers across America and those who have fallen. He also expressed his anger in the comments:
Others pointed out that the team should get their employees in line:
Richard Floyd Thanks for finally doing the right thing. We could have done without the snide remarks from whoever handles your Facebook page in the meantime. This was a bad idea from the get go. Whoever thought this was a good idea should be out of a job.
Others called out the fact that the fan outrage didn’t change what happened long before he was booked as their participant.
Steve Mould While I appreciate you doing the right thing in the end…..he was a participant in the killing of a police officer before the uproar by your fans. You should have known better BEFORE.
Lillo Brancato is a 41-year-old actor best known for starring in 1993’s “A Bronx Tale.” He has started making his rounds again because he’ll soon be appearing in a new film noir titled “Dead on Arrival,” written by director Stephen Sepher of “Heist” fame.
The former “Sopranos” actor isn’t exactly well loved by the Blue Family. He was released on parole in 2013 after serving eight years for his involvement in an attempted burglary that killed NYPD officer Daniel Enchautegui.
A jury found Brancato guilty on the attempted burglary charge in 2008. They did, however, acquit him of murder in the death of the 28-year-old and sentenced him to 10 years. His partner, Steven Armento, was convicted of murder. He’s serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Since being released, Brancato has kept himself busy acting.
“I always wonder, do people think that I lost it?” he said. “Do people think that I don’t have the chops anymore? I feel like I have to prove something when I’m in front of the camera. Especially for my good friend Steven… He believed in me and had the courage to hire me and cast me for this film, which, let’s face it, not everyone would have. I felt had to really, really do right by him and give this character and my performance my all, just to say thank you to Steve for believing in me.”
Brancato insists he’s a changed man. He made his film debut at age 17 after he was personally handpicked and mentored by Robert De Niro for the icon’s directorial debut in “A Bronx Tale.”
He rose to stardom quickly in Hollywood. With it came a race down a rabbit hole into cocaine, heroin and other hard drugs that lasted through his run in “The Sopranos” in 2000.
The star of the show called him out.
“My drug addiction was already spiraling out of control,” he recalled. “I think [James Gandolfini] took notice of that… He did say, ‘We have a really good thing here. We’re acting and not too many people have opportunities like we have. Just be careful.’ And I knew exactly what he was talking about.”
He wasn’t careful. His addiction escalated and on December 10, 2005 he and Armento broke into a house in the Bronx to steal prescription drugs.
Enchautegui, who was off-duty at the time, investigated the burglary and was shot point-blank in the chest by Armento.
Brancato overdosed in his jail cell a few days later, then says he became sober on November 18, 2006. He credits loved ones for that “wakeup call”.
“They were fed up with me,” he said. “They were saying, ‘What were you thinking? We love you. We want to see you get better.’… And for some reason on that day, something just sunk in. And I just decided that day when they left, and I was being escorted back to my cell, I just made that decision in my mind I can never, ever have another drink or another drug in my life.”
Brancato says now that he’s been sober for 11 years, he wants to help young people avoid making similar, drug-fueled mistakes.
“Sobriety is something that can be a challenge every single day,” he said. “… It can take the littlest thing to trigger a relapse… And you know, when I am candid about sobriety, others do reach out to me. And you know what? I do try to help. Because it helps them. But at the same time, it helps me.
“As far as my sobriety’s concerned, I have it under control just for today. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring and you can’t ever get too cocky or complacent when it comes to this, because that could be my demise. But just for today, I feel strong, I feel great and I want to continue on this path forever.”
As for the murder of the NYPD officer? He blames it on “wrong place, wrong time”.
“I was a drug addict,” he said. “I was at the wrong place at the wrong time… And the fact that I have been on the right path and willing to help others and love doing so, I think that is worthy of a second chance and that is worthy of people’s support.”
Perhaps that explains why in 2015, the head of the New York Police Department’s union called for a boycott of his 2016 film “Back in the Day”, which starred Alec Baldwin, Michael Masden and Danny Glover.
“… Let’s not kid ourselves, I made some monumentally bad choices,” he said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that heroic police officer who lost his life.
“And there’s not a day that goes by I don’t think and wish how I could change that and the outcome of that night. But I can’t do that. What I can do is control myself and my own actions.”
Great. Go talk to kids about your screwup at their high school. You sure as hell don’t deserve to be celebrated at a ball game.
Now I understand there are some of you reading this right now who are going to take exception to Law Enforcement Today calling out this team. We hear your comments all of the time.
“Stay in your lane.” “Focus on policing.” “Shut your mouth and remember your jobs are to be cops.”
Those of you feeling that emotion right now… you obviously missed a recent article where we warned you… we’re done playing nice. In case you missed it… enjoy:
Don’t Like Cops Calling Out Politicians and Celebrities? Buckle Up. We’re DONE Being Quiet.
It was suggested that I open this article with the following line:
“You may have noticed that over the past six months, we’ve gotten a little more outspoken at Law Enforcement Today.”
Screw it. I’d prefer to go with some real talk. Here we go.
We’re flat out PISSED at what’s happening to those who hold the Thin Blue Line and how their families and supporters are being treated. So we’re done keeping our mouths shut.
In the past, we had taken a completely middle of the road path. Report on things pertaining to law enforcement. Avoid politics, religion, celebrities and controversy at all costs. Tell people about fallen officers. Rinse. Repeat.
After much soul searching, the staff at Law Enforcement Today agreed that we had a duty that was much greater than staying in hiding. We have a responsibility not just to report on topics that impact law enforcement officers and their families, but to go to war for them.
You may not realize this, but Law Enforcement Today now reaches more than 25 million people per month. It is still – and always has been – owned by police.
Those officers toed the line because, quite frankly, that’s what cops do. They don’t get political because they CAN’T. They aren’t outspoken because they’d risk being fired. After all, the first amendment doesn’t mean anything when you wear a badge.
Then one day it happened. Robert Greenberg, the Founder of LET, turned on Fox and Friends and saw my mug on there. I was doing a segment about the war against police officers in America. He started following me on Facebook and shortly after, reached out.
“I know you’re the CEO of a marketing agency, but you’re one of the most pro-LEO guys who ISN’T a cop that I’ve ever seen. If you ever need stats or data to support cops on the national news, we can help you.”
It was a match made in heaven. We had just launched our campaign to donate $1 million in services to tell the stories behind the uniforms of emergency responders and veterans.
A year later, Robert asked me to be his National Spokesman.
“You can do one thing that we as cops can NOT do,” he said. “You can run your mouth, and no department is going to fire you.”
(Above- Kyle Reyes and Graham Allen produce a piece calling out the attacks on police officers.)
How sad is it that cops don’t get a voice?
Robert and I started traveling the country together to capture the stories of those who serve and protect our communities and our country.
We’ve interviewed the guy who ran the bomb squad in the Aurora movie theater massacre and was checking for bombs under the bodies.
We’ve shared the story of the off-duty cop who ran into Parkland unarmed when the shooting started and saved kids’ lives.
The officer shot while sitting in his cruiser at a light by a Muslim terrorist sat down at The Whiskey Wall to share his story.
We’ve spent time with countless wounded officers, including cops shot in the Dallas 5 massacre, the first cop in the door at the Pulse Nightclub shooting and literally hundreds of others.
We’ve attended conferences where we interviewed dozens of police survivors whose lives were saved by Concerns of Police Survivors.
We spent time working on investigations with a counter-human trafficking intelligence agency called DeliverFund.
We’ve worked with a company called DetectaChem that’s taken the war on the opioid crisis from border to border by putting the right products in the hands of police officers to save lives.
I could go on and on and share with you literally hundreds of videos, tell you thousands of stories or talk to you for days about the police wives, kids of cops and other amazing supporters we’ve met.
But the point is this – there’s a massive Blue family out there. And with a reach of more than 25 million people per month, we need to give them a voice. We need to share the stories of wounded officers and the impact their injuries had on their families. We need to honor the fallen, but we need to support the living as well.
We’ve seen the comments you’ve left when we post stories calling out politicians or celebrities. And it’s funny – we look deeper to see who is talking about what.
Overwhelmingly, LEOs and their families support us calling out policies that aren’t good for cops. They are behind us on going after celebrities who rail against LEOs.
But there have been many people who troll us, telling us we shouldn’t talk about those topics.
(Above: Kyle Reyes and Graham Allen share a powerful message to the families of fallen police officers.)
Interestingly, when we look deeper into who those complainers are, we find they typically aren’t in or related to law enforcement. As a matter of fact, most of them don’t actually follow us on social media… they show up to complain and try and stifle our – and your – voices.
Enough is enough. There’s a war on the color Blue in America. And we are going to continue to call it out. If a politician isn’t supporting the laws in America or those who are sworn to uphold them, we will call that politician out – regardless of whether they are a D or an R.
If there’s an entire party that’s working in a particular situation to undermine law and order in America, we are going to call that party out.
If there are companies, celebrities, community leaders, community organizations, non-profits or anyone else that wants to mess with the Blue Family, prepare to be called out.
John Jay Wiley, a retired Baltimore police sergeant injured in the line of duty, is the producer and host of the Law Enforcement Today podcast and radio show. He points out the blindness of law enforcement when it comes to those who come after the Blue Family:
“When working the street, when we received a call that an officer was down or was under attack, we would drop everything and go through anything to help them. It didn’t matter if it was gunfire, a fist fight, a criminal gang or terrorist attack … we were coming and we would do anything to make sure they were okay. Rest assured that when celebrities, activists, media, politicians or political parties unfairly attack law enforcement officers, we are coming to their defense as well.”
And yet those same protectors aren’t allowed to speak out.
For too long, the voices of those who serve and protect have been silenced. Not anymore.
We’ve launched stories from Sgt. A. Merica. Who IS that? He is YOU. He is each of US.
We decided to give a voice to LEOs and supporters who need to hide their identity.
Here’s how it works.
People submit articles. Once we verify their identity and background, we post the content anonymously to protect them, while still giving them a platform to share their stories.
We have a private email address set up that goes directly to our Founder for these stories. Send them to [email protected]
I want to end with a closing thought for those of you who have a problem with us very specifically calling out socialism. Let’s be very clear. Socialism and a free society protected by law enforcement officers will never go hand in hand.
President Trump nailed it:
“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” the president said. “America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”
At Law Enforcement Today, we are unashamed, unapologetically, unabashedly in support of the good and righteous men and women who hold the Thin Blue Line.
We will fight to give them and their families voices and protection. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the streets to defend freedom.
And let us not forget the words of President Ronald Reagan:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Officers of America – we’ve got your six. And we’re about to get even more vocal about it.
~Kyle S. Reyes
National Spokesman, Law Enforcement Today
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