Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Chemical Cowboys: The Club King Of New York

Caruso & Paciello in Miami

In November 1994, Caruso and Paciello reopened Mickey's as Club Risk. Attendance was lackluster. Paciello lost faith in Caruso's promoting prowess, and Caruso grew increasingly frustrated at being frozen out of management decisions as Paciello took closed-door meetings with Gambino family associates Johnny Rizzo and John D'Amico.

Caruso's girlfriend, who stayed behind in New York, had just given birth to their son and wanted Caruso to come back home. But it wasn't until he found a murder fugitive in his Miami apartment that he decided to cut his losses. Paciello had given Gambino mobster Vinnie Rizzuto Jr. the okay to hide in Caruso's apartment while the FBI and the Columbo family were looking for him for the murder of a capo's son.

By February 1995, Caruso had fled back to New York and vowed to his girlfriend that he would uphold his New Year's Eve resolution not to drink, deal drugs, or be lured back into a life of crime. Caruso was fearful that Paciello would kill him just for what he'd seen and heard.

Fugitive Rizzuto, who was later caught using Caruso's name and identification, would eventually plead guilty to murder and was sentenced to twenty-five years. Club Risk mysteriously burned down weeks after Caruso's exit, and Paciello used the insurance money to open a new club that boasted such celebrity guests as Jennifer Lopez, Donald Trump, Niki Taylor, and Gianni Versace. The handsome nightlife impresario became a celebrity in his own right, dating supermodels and attending charity balls. But years later, the feds finally caught up with Paciello. In 2000, the twenty-nine-year-old club owner pleaded guilty to his role in the bank heist and Shemtov's murder as part of a cooperation deal and was sentenced to seven years. Tommy Reynolds, who shot Shemtov, got life in prison.

Excerpt from Chemical Cowboys by Lisa Sweetingham