The Rev. Louis Gigante, a Catholic priest, politician and protector of his mob boss brother Vincent Gigante, died Wednesday. He was 90.
His death was confirmed to The New York Times by Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. His cause of death was not disclosed.
The Greenwich Village native, the youngest of five sons born to Italian immigrants, emerged as his brother’s unapologetic protector as federal prosecutors pursued Vinvent, the Genovese family boss known as “The Chin.”
The elder sibling was notorious for his decades-long performance feigning mental illness to dodge federal investigators and prosecution.
Louis Gigante was an urban developer and City Council member equally at home in the pulpit and the public eye.
He was a college basketball star at Georgetown University and became deeply involved in developing much-needed housing in the deeply poor and violence-ravaged South Bronx, primarily in Hunts Point.
In an interview with the Daily News years later, in 2007, Gigante said crime and neglect in the neighborhood had been forcing his parishioners from their homes.
“Our neighborhood was devastated completely,” Gigante said. “The city had abandoned us.”
His Southeast Bronx Community Organization (SEBCO) rehabilitated or built several thousand housing units in the needy neighborhood, and Gigante was awarded millions of dollars in grants and subsidies for his South Bronx projects from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Gigante served two terms as a Democrat on the City Council after a failed run for Congress in 1970, losing a primary bid to Rep. Herman Badillo.
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A statue honoring the activist priest was erected in the South Bronx, and he was honored in 2017 for his rebuilding efforts in the neighborhood.
Louis Gigante stood by Vincent before and after the Mafia chief was convicted in 1997 of racketeering and other crimes committed as boss of the powerful crime family.
Vincent Gigante died in prison in 2005 after avoiding prosecution for decades by pretending he was mentally ill and unfit for trial. The brothers were often seen together in Greenwich Village, where Vincent lived and wandered the streets in a ratty bathrobe and mumbling to himself as part of his law enforcement dodge.
Louis Gigante attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx and landed an athletic scholarship to Georgetown, once scoring 24 points against George Washington University.
After entering St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, he was ordained a priest at age 27 in 1959.
At his St. Athanasius parish in the Bronx, Louis Gigante’s congregation once included future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. He retired from the parish in 2002 and from SEBCO in 2007.
In 2021, Gigante was accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old Bible student in his Bronx parish in the early 1960s and a boy age 9 or 10 in the mid-1970s. Both cases were pending in State Supreme Court, according to the Times, which cited court documents.