The epic saga of the Genovese crime family
Eight Million Stories
There are Eight Million Stories in the Naked City; Here are Eight of Them.
Some anecdotes of Genovese family. Schemers, players, big earners, buttons, shylocks, bad men and perhaps men not so bad.
Matty the Horse and the Impossible Dream.
Mathew Ianniello, known as "Matty the Horse" could be a rare exception to the gangster stereotype. Decorated for combat in World War II, he may well have been a good man in a bad job. One night in July 1988, while on remand in the Metropolitan Correction Centre in New York, he saved the life of a corrections officer who had been attacked and struck down by a pool ball thrown as a missile. He stood over the fallen officer like some massive Praetorian Guard until help arrived.
Although he apparently controlled the porno industry around Time Square, his major endeavours were built around Teamster locals, private garbage combines and hot dog distribution cartels around the city, where the mob's authority was big enough to exert command in a modest manner. He owned and operated several restaurants in Manhattan, and in fact was on duty at his eating house, Umbertos, that night in 1972 when "Crazy Joe" Gallo went to the Big Social Club in the sky. There is also a little-known story concerning "Matty the Horse."
At about 8 a.m. on a bright, clear spring day. May 25, 1979, a little, six-year-old boy with a mop of blond hair and twinkling blue eyes that sparkled with the love of life kissed his mom goodbye. He was setting off for the first time ever to walk by himself the two blocks to his school bus stop in Greenwich Village. He was dressed in a dark blue corduroy jacket, blue pants and white sneakers. On his head was a black baseball cap, and over his shoulder his blue satchel covered in little white elephant figures. When he reached the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets, he turned and waved at his mom, then vanished forever from the face of the earth. His name was Etan Patz.
The search for him was long and fruitless, generating massive media cover. In 1983, President Reagan announced that May 25 would be honoured in his memory, as National Missing Children's Day. It is celebrated to this day.
Desperate to find some lead on the boy, and with all traditional investigative enquiries exhausted, the authorities turned to Ianniello to seek his help through the myriad channels that were only open to him. Matty reached out to all his contacts throughout the underworld, but even he could not perform the required miracle that Stan and Julie Patz were frantic for. Little Etan Patz has never been seen again.
In due course, Matty received a letter of commendation for his efforts in the investigation. That letter was later presented in mitigation as testimony to his character for early parole on a RICO conviction.
Bobby Manna's Manna and Fat Man Irwin.
Louis Anthony Manna, also known as "Bobby," was incensed, furious, irate, in fact very annoyed. The 59-year-old consigliere of the Genovese family was venting his spleen with some of his closest friends and aides at his operating base, Cassella's Restaurant, Hoboken, New Jersey. Unfortunately for him and them, every word they uttered was being recorded on an FBI wiretap, even though they were conversing in the men's room. The deviousness of the FBI bugging teams knows no decent boundaries.
Manna's manna was being sorely savaged by the actions of two different people who were both connected, but miles apart. And both were about to feel the sting of his anger. One was John Gotti, boss of the Gambino family, who would ultimately weather the storm; the other was Irwin Schiff, whose metaphysical ship, himself, would sink with all hands.
The tape heard Manna and his pals discussing plans to murder John and his brother Gene outside their social club in Queens, The Bergen Hunt and Fish Club, where the only fishing was done with rods that fire.38 calibre bullets, and the only hunting occurred across the concrete landscape of New York. The crime they had committed to warrant this finite action was their apparent intention to move into New Jersey and muscle in on the lucrative gambling and labour racketeering business, then the prerogative of the Genoveses.
The man who supposedly would whack the Gottis was Frank "Dipsy" Daniello, a retired Hoboken, New Jersey, police lieutenant. The tape only ever referred to Schiff and his intended killing as the "the fat man," so the FBI were never able to pin this one down. Gotti was subsequently warned by the authorities that his life was under threat. Two FBI agents, Bruce Mouw and George Gabriel, visited John Gotti at his home in Howards Beach and warned him of the threat. Gotti claimed he had no enemies, but when he learned that the threat was originating from the Genovese, he sent Sammy Gravano, newly appointed consigliere of the family, to talk to Gigante's underboss and let them know that they knew of the plot. The Genoveses of course denied it all, but Gotti made sure he had plenty of men around him from that time on, just in case.
Irwin Schiff was big 350 pounds and six-foot three. A 50-year-old con man and loan shark, he was connected to the Gambinos. He was involved in the talent agency business, boxing promotion field and investment business. He was also robbing the Genovese family by skimming money off the top of a money-laundering operation that was run by the family, through him, out of Atlantic City.
On August 8, 1987, he went to dinner with the wife of a friend. She was a beautiful blonde model called Judy Galip. They were dinning at a very exclusive place, Sergio Bravo Ristorante at 1452 Second Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Just as Irwin was about to dive into the desert of his $90 dinner, a man walked up behind him in the crowded restaurant and shot him with a .25 calibre revolver at point blank range, in the head, twice. The killer was allegedly identified as Tony Rotolo, a 46-year-old Italian immigrant.
As a result of the wire taps, and supporting evidence from people like Cafaro, Manna and his mobster friends went on trial on May 6, 1989, at Newark Federal Court, on various racketeering charges, including the murder of Schiff. On June 26, Bobby Manna's manna gave up on him completely and he went to prison for 80 years. The judge in his case was Judge Maryanne Trump, sister of Donald Trump.
Ba Boom Ba Boom in Brooklyn
The "Chin" really hated "Johnny Boy." Vincent Gigante held court at the Triangle Social Club in Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village. Not far, just around the corner, in fact, in Mulberry Street, John Gotti strutted his stuff at the Ravenite. There, or uptown at Da Noia, the swish restaurant owned by his friend, Carlo Vaccarezza, or across the East River at the Bergen Hunt and Fish Club, Gotti, a legend in his own lunchtime, was slowly and irrevocably destroying the mythological mystery of the Cosa Nostra.
Gigante never, ever forgave John for being the true potzo that he was; for his flamboyant filibustering that brought the mob nothing but grief. For his arrogance and untimely treatment of the law, and the law's revenge, that ultimately brought the mob to its knees. But most of all, Gigante, never forgave him for killing Castellano, a friend and accomplished conspirator in the management of the Commision. Gigante decided to seek his revenge.
Frank DeCico was appointed underboss when Gotti assumed control of the family after orchestrating the murder of boss Paul Castellano. On Sunday morning, April 13, 1986, De Cico was at the Veterans and Friends Social Club at 1468 86th Street, in the Bensonhurst district of Brooklyn. He had arranged to meet Gotti there and then drive over to the Ravenite later in the morning. The Veterans was the base for James Failla, a senior capo in the family and former bodyguard/driver of Carlo Gambino. Gotti slept in late that morning, as he often did, and eventually rang the club to cancel his appointment.
As a group of mobsters were standing on the sidewalk outside the club, chewing the fat, DeCico was talking to Frank Bellino, a capo in the Lucchese family. Bellino, who from a distance looked very similar to Gotti, asked DeCico for the business card of a lawyer that Frank had recommended. The two men walked over to DeCico's car and, as Frank leaned in to open the glove-box where he had stashed the card, a bomb exploded under the vehicle. Bellino, his feet blown off by the blast, was hurled backwards, grievously injured. DeCico was almost torn apart by the detonation and died before reaching the hospital.
The use of a bomb to commit a hit surprised law enforcement officers and seriously disturbed Gotti and his mobsters. It was the first time in New York mob lore that a senior boss had been eliminated in this way. The Chin had degreed that only the boss and underboss of the Gambino family be killed, in order to avenge the murder of Paul Castellano and Tommy Billoti, both shot dead four months earlier outside a restaurant in Manhattan. He was, however, only able to satisfy half his appetite for revenge. Gotti slept late and survived.
Eleven years later, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, ex-Lucchese underboss, unravelled the mystery. Gigante had approached Casso, who for some reason he trusted. In view of Casso's record of deceit and back-stabbing, it's hard to know why. Casso was asked to organize the murder. He, in turn hired Herb Pate, a Genovese associate and one-time U.S. Army munitions expert to arrange the details.
The bomb, fashioned from C-4 plastic explosive, was made up into a small parcel. Pate, carrying shopping bags, walked past DeCico's car that morning, stopped as though to re-arrange his parcels, and while doing this slipped the bomb under the car. Later, as DeCico reached into the car, the bomb was detonated by remote control. From his car, controlling the blast, Pate mistook Bellino for John Gotti, whom he had been told would be seen with DeCico that morning.
To Kill a Cop
The mob has an unwritten law never to kill a police officer or federal agent of any department. This is not an altruistic philosophy, rather one grounded in self- preservation. These kind of killings bring down too much heat. When Gus Farace, a mob wannabe, murdered D.E.A. agent Everett Hatcher in 1989, the DEA flooded New York with 400 men, almost bringing the daily activities of the mob to a halt. It therefore came as a surprise to most people to learn of the death of NYPD Detective Anthony J. Vendetti.
The 34-year-old police officer, married with four young children, was killed on Jan 21, 1986. He and his partner, Detective Kathleen Burke, 42, were on surveillance duty in Queens that night. They were part of a joint FBI/NYPD investigation into organized crime and the two officers were concentrating, in particular, on three members of the Genovese family.
At about 8:25 p.m. that evening, Burke dropped Vendetti off outside Castillo's Restaurant at 5455 Myrtle Avenue in the Ridgewood section of Queens. He apparently went in to use the rest room. Burke drove the car around the block and, as she returned and pulled up in front of the building, a nightmare scene was unfolding before her eyes. There on the sidewalk, highlighted by the neon signs and lights from the restaurant windows, she saw her partner, gun drawn, facing three men also with guns. As she left the car, shots were fired. Her partner went down and she was wounded in the rapid exchange of gunfire that occurred. Detective Vendetti, hit four times, died instantly. Burke was rushed to the hospital, where she gave police officers details of the shooting and the names of at least one of the men she had recognised in that brief, frightening moment of street combat.
Three men, all members of the Genovese family, were subsequently arrested and indicted for the murder. They were Frederico Giovanelli, Steve Maltese and Carmine Gualtiere, who was subsequently identified as the man who had fired the fatal shots. They claimed self defence. It seems that they thought Vendetti was a rival mobster. Although not normally armed, they were that night because of problems they were having with a rival faction of the Gambino mob. In addition, Giovanelli had been attacked and robbed outside the same restaurant some time previously.
They were tried twice for murder, in the State Supreme Court at Kew Gardens, Queens. Each time the jury deadlocked. They were then tried a third time under a RICO violation, which included racketeering, loan sharking and bookmaking. The indictment also charged that Vendetti's murder and the wounding of Burke occurred during their investigation of these operations
On July 30, 1989, all three men were found guilty and sentenced to varying prison terms. Giovanelli, who was described as a soldier in the Genovese family, was released from prison in 1995. In 1998, he was again arrested and charged with parole violation in connection with an illegal sports-betting and numbers operation that was allegedly turning over $50 million a year.
A star witness to the confrontation was Frank Simone, 25, a passerby who saw the shoot-out and testified at both the first two trials for the prosecution, then turned tail and in the third trial, confessed he had lied, and spoke for the defence. In October, 1989, his body was found in a park in the Bronx. He had multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body. A pile of dead fish were found on the grass, near his body. In mob lore, dead fish are a symbol that informers end up in the river. Interestingly enough, Simone was a sous chef, noted for his skills in preparing fish.
For some people, of course, the case will never end. Detective Burke, present at the final trial said, "There is no joy, although I am happy there is finally a verdict, But a man is dead. Detective Vendetti will never see his children grow, and for that we will always carry pain."
Bad As Can Be
LaToya Jackson, sister of singer and performer Michael Jackson, was married to Gordon Jackson, her business manager. They had a stormy marriage and relationship. At one time during her career, it is claimed that her husband was allegedly paying the Genovese crime family $1,00 each month. The money was paid direct to John (Big John) Schenone, who in turn handed it over to then consigliere James (The Little Guy) Ida.
The payments began in 1994 and, according to a sworn affidavit by FBI agent Michael Campi, Schenone would receive the check, cash it in and deliver the money to Ida. The payments were paid in return for protection offered to LaToya when she visited New York, supplied by the Genovese, and to prevent potential shakedowns from other Mafia families. Gordon admitted that Schenone was his wife's bodyguard from 1987 to 1994, but denied he had any connection to organized crime.
In a somewhat novel twist, FBI taped conversations between Ida and Schenone, in which Ida complained bitterly that one of the checks presented, bounced! Schenone is in jail facing murder and racketeering charges and James Ida is serving a life sentence for racketeering and murder convictions. LaToya filed for divorce from her husband in May, 1996.
A mobster who lived a long life and died an unusual death for a gangster -- natural causes
-- passed away on December 29, 1992. Eighty-one-year-old James Napoli, also known as "Jimmy Nap," died peacefully in his sleep in his Kips Bay, Manhattan, townhouse.
A member of the Genovese crime family, he was a serious connoisseur of fine foods and wines, and lived a life of genteel luxury and comfort. Described by law enforcement investigators as bright, shrewd and well-respected, he had ties to almost every major crime family in the United States.
In the 1970s, he operated what was described as the largest numbers operation in the country. When he was arrested in 1976, it was stated that his business employed 2,000 people and took in more than $150 million each year. He apparently ran the whole shooting match from a bar stool at the Hi Way Lounge, on Metropolitan Avenue, in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.
He first made the news in 1969, when he was indicted for fixing several boxing matches. In 1978, he was convicted for gambling and sentenced to five years in a federal prison.
He was married to Jeanie, a former night club singer and theatrical producer, whose work he admired, and backed financially, including $250,000 in a musical version of Marilyn Monroe's life, in 1984.
He was once taped by the FBI, allegedly plotting with mob associate, Irwin Schiff, to murder John Gotti. The plan was foiled and Napoli was never charged in connection with the tape. Schiff was later killed, in an Upper East Side restaurant.
Kennedy and the mob
The only fact that is not in dispute is that President John F. Kennedy was shot dead that day in Dallas. From that point onwards, it all turns into an enigmatic conundrum.
There is, however quite a lot of information that introduces the aspect of the mob into the story. Jack Ruby was a member of organized crime in some capacity. He was one of the chief suborners of the Dallas police. He was the payoff man, which meant he had access to a lot of information and a lot of important knowledge. The way he walked into that garage that night and killed Oswald illustrates how easy it was for him to move around. He worked directly under Joe Civello, who controlled Dallas in partnership with Carlos Marcello, boss of Louisiana, and Santo Trafficante, Jr., head of the small but powerful Tampa family.
It has recently been disclosed that Johnny Roselli, Chicago's main muscle on the West Coast, allegedly admitted shooting Kennedy from a culvert to the front of the motorcade.
There are also numerous examples of mobsters threatening to kill Kennedy. Just talk, but interesting talk. Two in particular illustrate the passionate anger he had generated between himself and the mob. One hood, taped by the FBI, who worked for the Bruno family in Philadelphia was heard saying, "See what Kennedy done? With Kennedy, I should take a knife and stab and kill the fucker. I mean it. This is true. Honest to God. I hope I get a week's notice. I'll kill. I'll kill, right in the White House. Somebody has got to get rid of this guy."
A couple of months later, another wiretap recorded Nicolino Carlente, a capo in the Genovese family, saying; "I'd like to hit Kennedy. I'd gladly go to the penitentiary for the rest of my life. Believe me."
Old Bookies Never Die
When a man enters Cosa Nostra and takes the oath, his entry into the mob is for life. The only way out is in a box or, increasingly popular over the last 20 years, through the Witness Protection Program. Some gangsters, though, seem to go on forever.
In January, 1994, police and investigators from the Brooklyn District Attorneys office nabbed 23 people in a series of raids on Brooklyn bookmaking joints. At one bust at the Arlington Social Club, 391 Manhattan Avenue in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, among the people arrested and detained was Nicky (Shuffles) LaGuardia. A long serving capo in the Genovese family, he had just celebrated his eighty-first birthday the day before. "Wrong place, wrong time," said one of the arresting law enforcement officers as the octogenarian was lead away to be arraigned.
He was a lot more fortunate than a former friend and fellow family member, Gaetano Amato, who was a mere 78 years old when he was shot dead in front of another Brooklyn social club two years earlier.