The Steven Seagal Mafia extortion case may have played out like a third-rate ''Sopranos'' episode, but it's ending with a surprise twist. After more than a year of denying he'd been involved in a Mob plot to extort $3 million from the ''Half Past Dead'' star, producer Julius Nasso has changed his tune and agreed to a plea deal on the charge, the Associated Press reports. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Genser said that Nasso is expected to enter a plea in Brooklyn Federal Court next Wednesday. Terms of the plea deal were not disclosed, but both the New York Post and New York Daily News quoted sources close to the case as saying Nasso would likely spend a year behind bars. Had he gone to trial, he could have faced a five- to eight-year sentence, the Daily News reports.
Nasso was charged in mid-2002 during a federal sting against the Gambino crime family. He publicly denied that he had conspired with mobsters to extort money from the actor, whose early movies he produced. He blamed the federal allegations against him on Seagal, against whom Nasso filed a still-pending $60 million breach-of-contract lawsuit earlier last year, a suit that claimed the actor had backed out of an agreement to make four more movies with him.
Upon the announcement Wednesday of Nasso's plea deal, Seagal lawyer Martin Pollner told the Post, ''On behalf of Mr. Seagal, this announcement is a total vindication of what he testified to at the previous trial. He's pleased that justice is being pursued and that his name is now clear.'' As for Nasso, ''he just wants to put this behind him and continue with a fruitful, productive life,'' his lawyer, Robert Hantman, told the Daily News.