Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

More Bloodshed

Gravanos Plaza Suite discotheque was doing a booming business in the early 1980s. On weekends patrons stood in long lines waiting up to an hour at times before they could gain admittance. On the ground floor of the club, Gravano had his construction headquarters, which included his private office and one for his brother-in-law, Edward Garafola. Gravano despised Garafola and took several pot shots at him in his book. He never considered killing him because of Garafolas marriage to his older sister.

In 1982 Frank Fiala, described as a multimillionaire cocaine dealer whose legitimate business was manufacturing marine parts and supplies, wanted to rent Gravanos club for one night for $40,000 to throw himself a birthday party. Two days after the party, Fiala offered Gravano a million dollars for the Plaza Suite, which Sammy had valued at about $200,000. The deal called for a $100,000 check up front, $650,000 to be paid in cash under the table, and another check for $250,000 when the deal closed.

Before the transaction was completed, Fiala began to act as if he had already purchased the club. He brought people in to begin remodeling the place and he hired his own bouncers. All of this irritated Gravano, but the last straw came when Fiala moved into Sammys private office and began breaking through an office wall. Gravano, enraged, stormed into the office followed by Garafola. Fiala was standing behind Gravanos desk. He sat down in Sammys chair smirking at the two men.

What do you think youre dong? Gravano growled. This doesnt belong to you till the closing. Get the hell out of here.

Fiala reached into a desk drawer, removed an Uzi and aimed it at the two. Ordering the pair to sit down, the brazen, yet foolish, Fiala stated, You fucking greaseballs, you do things my way.

The second Gravano realized he was not going to be shot he began to plot Fialas demise. As he and Garafola left the building he ordered his brother-in-law to round up the boys. The following night, an ambush was set up outside the Plaza Suite. As Fiala, in the midst of a cluster of people, approached a narrow alley beside the club, Garafola called out to him. Fiala spun around to see who was speaking to him. He saw Gravano. Fiala had a surprised expression on his face as Gravano said, Hey, Frank, how you doing?

With that Louie Milito ran into the alley and shot Fiala in the head. After Fiala fell to the pavement, Milito stood over his body and fired two more bullets one into each eye. While people were screaming and running in all directions, Gravano walked over to Fialas body and spit on it.

While Gravano had extracted his revenge, he was faced with two problems. First, the wrath of Castellano for killing without the bosss permission, and second, the ensuing investigation would delve into the ownership of the Plaza Suite.

Gravano laid low for almost three weeks until Frank DeCicco informed him that Castellano wanted to see him and Milito. Gravano had already called his crew together and made the decision that if they had to they would kill Castellano. By the time the meeting was held in a Manhattan restaurant, Castellano had been given the details of what Fiala had done. He was still miffed that Gravano had not come to him first. Gravano prepared a story for Castellano claiming he didnt come to him because he wanted to protect the boss in case something went wrong with the hit. Castellano bought Gravanos explanation, which saved Sammy from a certain execution.

Attorney Gerald Shargel
Attorney Gerald Shargel (UPI)

Gravano didnt fair as well when the Internal Revenue Service got involved in the ongoing murder investigation. The incident, due to the publicity, forced Gravano to sell his farm and then he was indicted for allegedly trying to bilk the government out of the taxes from the sale of the Plaza Suite. When the case came to trial, noted defense attorney Gerald Shargel represented Gravano. Despite the fact that Shargel thought Gravano would be found guilty on at least some of the charges, the jury acquitted him.

The acquittal brought Gravano little joy as he had just found out his right hand man, Joe Stymie DAngelo, had been murdered by a Colombo associate who was out celebrating that he was about to be proposed for membership. DAngelos killer met his fate at the hands of the Colombo Family.

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