NEW YORK (AP) — A former "Sopranos" actor convicted for his real-life role in the slaying of an off-duty police officer during a botched break-in at a Bronx home was released from prison Tuesday and put on parole.
Lillo Brancato Jr. was freed after serving time for a 2008 burglary conviction. At the same trial, he was acquitted on a second-degree murder count that carried a possible sentence of 25 years to life.
Brancato was sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2009. At the time, he had already served three years in jail while awaiting trial and was eligible for a conditional release in July 2014.
He earned an earlier release by taking college courses and meeting disciplinary standards, officials said. He was ordered to report to his parole officer in suburban Westchester County, where he will live and remain under supervision until the end of 2018, they added.
Brancato, 37, was freed over the vehement objections of police union officials, who insisted he should have been convicted of murder.
"This union will take any steps necessary to ensure that this miscreant follows the conditions of his parole down to the last letter," Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in statement.
There was no immediate response to a message left Tuesday with Brancato's lawyer.
Brancato was an unknown when he got his big break starring opposite Robert De Niro in the 1993 film "A Bronx Tale." He later landed smaller film and television roles, most memorably in "The Sopranos," playing a bumbling, wannabe mobster who gets killed by Tony Soprano.
By 2005, Brancato started having minor brushes with the law, including an arrest for heroin possession. He began hanging out with Steven Armento, a low-level Genovese crime family associate until he was banished for drug addiction, authorities said.