'Sopranos' Alum Lillo Brancato Breaks Silence Following Prison Release
Former Sopranos actor Lillo Brancato has spoken out for the first time since he was released from prison on New Year's Eve, after he served eight years behind bars for his role in a botched Bronx burglary that also led to the murder of an off-duty cop.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight in his first sit-down interview since his release, Brancato shared his remorse for the death of NYPD officer Daniel Enchautegui, whose sleep was interrupted by the sound of shattering glass after Brancato and low-level mobster Steven Armento allegedly tried to break into an apartment to steal valium. Enchautegui confronted Brancato and Armento and a gun battle erupted, with the cop suffering a fatal wound to the chest. Armento was latter convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
"I wish I could just take it back and I could bring police officer Daniel back to life," Brancato told ET. I mean he was a hero. He was off-duty, lived next door, heard broken glass, came out and put his life on the line."
Brancato was sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2009, but he had already served three years in jail while awaiting trial and was eligible for a conditional release next July. He reportedly earned an earlier release by taking college courses and meeting disciplinary standards, but he will be on parole until the end of 2018.
Brancato, who starred opposite Robert De Niro in 1993's A Bronx Tale in addition to playing a wannabe mobster who gets killed by James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano, also reflected on how he squandered some of his career opportunities.
"I thought about [my past career] a lot, and it reminds me of a saying someone once told me, 'It takes a second to get in trouble and a lifetime to get out of it.' And I think about that every day, because I did have many great opportunities … and I made the horrible choice to use and abuse drugs," he told ET.
However, now, his main priority is not returning to acting but focusing on his sobriety.
"[Acting is] not the most important thing to me," he said. "The most important things to me right now [are] staying focused and giving back, and using that second chance at life."
Portions of the interview will air on Friday and Monday.