Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Actor Steven Seagal and the Mob

Legal Unpleasantness

Under Siege video cover
Under Siege video cover

Of course, Seagal's greatest successes, such as Under Siege and Under Siege II, were long behind him at this point. He had found religion and was refusing to commit to any more films that highlighted violence. The mob, of course, didn't want to hear anything about his new-found morality. They wanted the money. Nasso was now in a bind. The goons were demanding their skim off the top, but the cash cow was refusing to produce. Nasso did everything he could to change Seagal's mind, even putting together the four-picture deal for him, but Seagal wouldn't budge. Their relationship became increasingly acrimonious, and by early 2001 the partnership was all but formally dissolved.

Nasso then filed a $60 million civil suit against Seagal for breach of contract. He claimed that for the millions of dollars Seagal had earned during their partnership, Nasso himself had earned a mere $850,000. He also claimed that Seagal had borrowed $500,000 from him to pay taxes and had never repaid the loan. Was Nasso hoping to get the cash that Ciccone was demanding through the lawsuit?

Not surprisingly, according to Vanity Fair, the last words Nasso said to Seagal were, "Go f**k yourself."

But on June 4, 2001 — three months after Nasso had filed his suit against Seagal — police and federal agents pounded on the door of Nasso's Staten Island home, Villa Terranova, before dawn and arrested him. He was charged with "conspiracy to commit extortion" and "extortion of an individual in the film industry." Simultaneously, 16 other men were arrested, all of them part of a wide-ranging 68-count indictment. The two counts against Nasso were a small part of it, but it would prove to give an otherwise routine Mafia sweep some Hollywood flare.

Nasso didn't need to be told the identity of the "individual in the film industry" he was allegedly extorting. It wasn't long before he learned that Seagal had testified before a federal grand jury, and the picture the actor painted of his ex-partner wasn't a pretty one. Nasso's bail was set at $1.5 million.