Hey, Vin! Solitary’s OK, huh?

By Anthony M. Destefano

June 27, 2007

The retrial of reputed Bonanno crime captain Vincent Basciano began last week in federal court in Brooklyn. Aside from his guilt or innocence on the racketeering murder of Frank Santoro, one of the other questions onlookers are talking about is why the handsome, well-coiffed gangster always seems so tan despite being in solitary confinement.

Basciano has been in custody since late 2004 – he was slightly darker then – and was put into strict solitary confinement in the summer of 2006. He is locked in his cell for 23 hours a day and can’t go outdoors – except to go to court.

Though some have speculated that Basciano uses tanning lotion or might even be taking pills, the answer to his tan complexion may very well lie in his genes.

Basciano’s wife, Angela, told Newsday that her spouse’s Italian heritage includes some family members from Sicily and the rest from the mainland near Calabria. Those roots give him that complexion, she said.

Some dermatologists agree.

Many people from Sicily have skin colors that are rated four or five on a darkness scale that has a maximum level of six, said Dr. Joshua Fox of Advanced Dermatology PC of Roslyn. The real test of a person’s baseline skin color is to compare the facial skin to that of the buttocks, Fox said.

“He may just be a man who really has a darker skin,” said Dr. Michael Holick, a skin expert at Boston University Medical Center, about Basciano’s Mediterranean complexion.

But another explanation for Basciano’s darker complexion may have to do with his blood pressure. A source close to the Basciano family said he has had high blood pressure, which dermatologists agree can cause a person’s complexion to be darker and more ruddy.

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