Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

The Boss's Days are Numbered

Special Agent Bruce Mouw
Special Agent Bruce Mouw

In the early 1980s, the government was beginning to beef up its attack on New Yorks five organized crime families. FBI Special Agent Bruce Mouw was selected to head up what was called the Gambino squad. The determined agent set about developing a chart showing the hierarchy of the Gambino Crime Family and identifying as many made members and associates as possible. The squad also worked to develop confidential informants inside the family. One of the gang members they turned early on was Wilfred Willie Boy Johnson, a childhood friend of Gambino Family rising star, John Gotti.

Angelo Ruggiero
Angelo Ruggiero

Over the years, Johnson provided intimate details of what was going on inside Gottis crew, which at the time operated out of the Bergin Hunt & Fish Social Club in Queens. With information provided by Johnson, Mouw found out that another childhood friend of Gottis, Angelo Ruggiero, acted as captain for the crew. Mouw received permission to tap a telephone in Ruggieros home. The phone he tapped was Ruggieros daughters Princess phone, which Angelo had bragged about using to avoid taps in front of Johnson. Later Ruggieros house was bugged in an area where he held meetings. Ruggiero, who earned the nickname Quack Quack, due to his habit of non-stop talking, provided the FBI with an abundance of information about the inner workings of the Gotti crew, as well as the Gambino Family.

With the information the FBI recorded from the Ruggiero bugs, they were able to obtain probable cause to justify installing a bug at the White House home of Paul Castellano. In addition, Mouw found out that Ruggiero, John Carneglia and Gottis brother Gene were involved in a major heroin operation.

While the FBI toiled away on its investigation, Gravano was staying focused on his construction business. He got involved in the concrete paving business, which was essential to the building trade in New York City. Four of the five New York crime families had control of the cement industry in the city and made millions of dollars from it by manipulating bids and steering contracts. Ironically, one of the first companies Gravano became involved with in this industry was run by the son of his first murder victim, Joe Colucci.

During this time Gravano got into a dispute with Louis DiBono, a member of another Gambino crew, who was in a drywall partnership with Sammy. As the situation escalated Castellano called for a sit-down. According to Gravano, DiBono had cheated him out of $200,000. Gravano looked at the smug DiBono and exploded. He jumped up and shouted, This fat scum bag was robbing me. He was robbing the family. Paul, give me the permission and Ill kill him right here and now.

Aniello (Neil) Dellacroce
Aniello (Neil) Dellacroce

The startled gang members were speechless until Gambino Family underboss Neil Dellacroce spoke in support of Gravano. Castellano decided that the two men should settle the matter by ending their business relationship. When word of the sit-down got back to Gotti at the Queens social club he was impressed by the fact that his mentor, Dellacroce had backed Gravano.

In August 1983, Ruggiero, Carneglia and Gene Gotti were arrested for heroin trafficking by Mouws Gambino squad. Word of the tapes from Ruggieros house and telephone reached Castellano. The angry boss ordered Dellacroce, Ruggieros uncle, to bring him copies so he could hear what Angelo had said about him.

A showdown between the two factions was imminent.

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