The Lucchese Family
The Gaspipe Backfires
In 1993, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso was finally caught. He'd been on the lam for 30 months, staying with an old girlfriend in central New Jersey. The government couldn't wait to get him into court. Having allegedly participated in 36 murders, including the bombing of Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco in 1986 and a plot to rub out federal Judge Eugene Nickerson, Casso would be easy pickings. In all likelihood, they'd be able to lock him away for the rest of his life. But Casso, unlike his boss Vic Amuso, decided there was nothing to be gained from being a standup guy. Instead, he flipped, offering to testify against the mob.
It was a surprise move, but not an unwelcome one. Government prosecutors knew he was a treasure chest of inside information, not only about the Lucchese family, but about some of the other families, and they compared him to another valuable turncoat, Gambino underboss Sammy "Bull" Gravano, whose testimony against Gambino boss John Gotti helped put away the elusive Teflon Don. But Casso apparently didn't understand that turncoats are supposed to show that they've turned a corner in their lives and want to leave their criminal ways behind them. If anything, Gaspipe seemed to feel that cooperating with the government gave him license to misbehave.
Incarcerated in a special prison unit for cooperating witnesses, Casso frequently picked fights with other inmates. In one instance, he assaulted a handcuffed prisoner in the shower room. On another occasion, he attacked an inmate twice his size with a rolled-up magazine. The 350-pound prisoner grabbed the 165-pound Casso by the shirtfront and beat him mercilessly until guards tore them apart. Both men were relegated to solitary confinement as a result.
Jerry Capeci writes in his article "Gaspipes Gets Gassed" that Casso also sweet-talked a prison secretary into doing favors for him, including giving him use of an unmonitored telephone. Casso also "bribed guards at the Otisville Correctional Facility to supply him with cash, steaks, sushi, turkeys, vodka, wine and other contraband."
Casso was proving to be a loose cannon, and prosecutors feared what he would do on the stand if he were ever used as a witness. They decided not to use him in the trial against Genovese boss, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, relying instead on the testimonies of Sammy Gravano and "Little Al" D'Arco. Casso was so incensed that he'd been passed over, he wrote a letter to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn after Gigante's conviction and blasted the turncoat witnesses, accusing Gravano and D'Arco of lying on the stand. Prosecutors must have blown a gasket when they received his written temper tantrum, fearing that this document could jeopardize their hard-won conviction.
This time, Casso had gone too far. He was booted out of the program and evicted from the witness-protection unit of the prison. Branded a rat by his former mob cohorts, he had to be housed by himself in solitary confinement for his own protection. Prosecutors then wrote their own letter to the court, recommending that Casso not be given leniency in sentencing for cooperation that never paid off. They asked that Casso be given a life sentence, which is exactly what he got. His sushi and steak days were over.