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For the actor, see Tony Salerno

Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno

"Fat Tony" after arrest by police
Born May 1, 1911(1911-05-01)
East Harlem, New York, U.S.
Died July 27, 1992 (aged 81)
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.

Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno (May 1, 1911 - July 27, 1992) was a New York mobster who served as front boss of the Genovese crime family from the 1970s until his conviction in 1986. Salerno was born and raised in East Harlem, New York. As a young man, he became involved in gambling, numbers, loansharking and protection rackets through the Genovese family. Salerno climbed the family ranks by controlling a possible million dollar a year numbers racket operation in Harlem and a major loansharking operation. Many mobsters moved out of Harlem and East Harlem when they became predominantly Latino and African-American; however, Salerno kept his headquarters at the Palma Boys Social Club in East Harlem. Usually seen wearing a fedora hat and chomping on a cigar, he was nicknamed "Fat Tony' due to his size.

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Family success

In the 1970s and 1980s, Salerno divided his time between a home in Miami Beach, Florida, a 100-acre (0.40 km2) estate and horse farm in upstate Rhinebeck, New York, the Palma Boys Club, and his apartment in the upscale Gramercy Park section of Manhattan. Salerno served as consigliere, underboss, and acting boss (or front boss) of the Genovese family. He controlled S&A, a concrete contracting company, and Certified, one of the two major concrete suppliers in Manhattan.

In 1978, Salerno was sentenced to six months in prison for illegal gambling and tax evasion charges. In early 1981, Salerno suffered a mild stroke and retreated to his Rhinebeck estate to recuperate. At the time of his stroke, Salerno was underboss. After his recovery and the March 31, 1981 death of Genovese boss Frank Tieri, Salerno apparently became the head of the Genovese Family.

Front boss

Although Salerno was widely thought to be the boss of the Genovese family, it later became clear that Salerno was not the real power. Vincent "The Fish" Cafaro, Salerno's right hand man later turned informant, said that Salerno was only a "front man". Ever since the death of boss Vito Genovese in 1969, the real family leader had been Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo. Over the years, Lombardo used several acting bosses to disguise his true status from law enforcement and the other four New York crime families. Over the years, Lombardo groomed Vincent "Chin" Gigante as his successor. According to Cafaro, Salerno became front boss in 1981 to protect Gigante.

Commission case

In 1985, law enforcement finally caught up with Salerno. On February 25, 1985, Salerno and the eight other New York Bosses who comprised the "Mafia Commission" were indicted in the so-called "Mafia Commission Trial." It started in September 1986 and lasted three months. On November 19, 1986, Salerno was convicted on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges and sentenced, along with six other defendants, to 100 years in prison.

Prison time and death

In October 1986, Fortune Magazine named the 75-year-old Salerno as America's top gangster in power, wealth and influence. Many would dispute the "top power and influence" assessment, and the money figures were greatly exaggerated by federal and local law enforcement. The article in Fortune accomplished what they wanted; to bring attention to their indictment of Salerno. After his conviction and imprisonment, Salerno's health deteriorated because of his diabetes and suspected prostate cancer.

In July 1992, Anthony Salerno died of a stroke at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He died alone at age 81 without family members allowed at his bedside. Salerno was buried at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx in New York.

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Michael "Trigger Mike" Coppola
Policy racket in New York City
1948-1986
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
Michael "Mike" Miranda
Genovese crime family
Consigliere

1972-1975
Succeeded by
Antonio "Buckaloo" Ferro
Preceded by
Carmine "Little Eli" Zeccardi
Genovese crime family
Underboss

1975-1981
Succeeded by
Saverio Santora
Preceded by
Frank "Funzi" Tieri
Genovese crime family
Front boss

1981-1987
Succeeded by
Vincent "The Chin" Gigante
as boss
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