Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

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Gravanos sudden rise in the hierarchy of the Gambino Family did not go unnoticed by the FBI. Soon, two agents from the Gambino squad, Frank Spero and Matty Tricorico, were staking out Gravanos office on Stillwell Avenue. He soon established his daughter, Karen, in a nearby florist shop. Gravano claims he and his daughter became so well liked in the neighborhood that teachers from a local school once came to let him know that he was being watched by the authorities.

Another place where the FBI kept a watch was Talis, Gravanos newest restaurant located at 18th Avenue and 62nd Street in Bensonhurst. Gravano was becoming a major player in New York Citys construction industry and would no doubt be aided by the murders of Louis Milito and later Louis DiBono. Peter Maas reveals:

Gambino squad intelligence sources had already identified Sammy as a rising force in the construction industry, and at Talis on Tuesday nights, Spero and Tricorico could see it for themselves concrete company executives, building contractors and subcontractors, shop stewards in the construction unions and the Teamsters all flocking in to eat and drink, to touch base with Sammy.

Helping to keep Gravano informed about the surveillance outside Talis was Joey DAngelo, the 18-year-old son of Gravanos late friend and bodyguard, Stymie DAngelo.

As Gravano became more successful in his legitimate businesses, he could sense some jealousy from John Gotti, despite the fact that Sammy claimed he was kicking up $2 million a year to him from his dealings with the Teamsters alone.

Joseph (Joe Piney) Armone
Joseph (Joe Piney) Armone

Gravanos position within the family during 1986 and 1987 seemed to bounce around. He at one time was the co-acting underboss with Angelo Ruggiero and the co-consigliere with Joe Armone. In the aftermath of the Ruggiero tapes, both Armone and former family consigliere Joseph N. Gallo were indicted, tried and convicted of racketeering charges and sent to prison. At this point, while Gotti was actually out of prison for a few years, Gravano was named official consigliere and Frank Locascio named acting underboss of the family.

Gene Gotti
Gene Gotti

Three other members of Gottis former Bergin crew Ruggiero, John Carneglia and Gene Gotti were enmeshed in the governments narcotics indictment. Gene Gotti and Carneglia, after a third trial (the first two ended in mistrials), were found guilty in 1989 and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Ruggiero, whose case had been severed from the others due to poor health, was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at home on December 5, 1989. Ruggieros indiscretions during the last years of his life led Gotti to breaking him as a captain and then banishing him from all Gambino Family activities. Despite the urging of both his brother, Gene, and Gravano, John Gotti refused to see his childhood friend Ruggiero during the last months of his life.    

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