Paul Castellano: Wikis


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Constantino Castellano

Paul Castellano on March 30, 1984.
Born June 26, 1915(1915-06-26)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died December 16, 1985 (aged 70)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Ballistic trauma
Resting place Moravian Cemetery, Staten Island
Other names Paul Castellano, "The Howard Hughes of the Mob", "Big Paul", PC, "The Pope", "The Chicken Man"
Occupation Crime boss, wholesale meat merchant, New York City construction tycoon
Known for Head of the Gambino crime family
Religious beliefs Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Nino Manno
Children Peter, Philip, Joseph, Constance

Constantino Paul "Big Paul" Castellano (June 26, 1915 – December 16, 1985), also known as "The Howard Hughes of the Mob" and "Big Pauly" (or "PC" to his family), was a Mafia boss in New York City. He succeeded Carlo Gambino as head of the Gambino crime family, then one of New York's largest Mafia families. In early 1985, he was one of many Mafia bosses arrested on charges of racketeering, which was to result in the Mafia Commission Trial; in December of that year, while out on bail, Castellano and his bodyguard were shot to death outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan on the orders of John Gotti.


Early life

He was born in Brooklyn in 1915, to Giuseppe Castellano and Concetta (née Casatu). Paul's father was a butcher by trade, and was also an early member of the Mangano crime family, forerunner of the Gambino family. Paul Castellano was the first cousin to Maj. General Vito Castellano[1] who occupied key capitol positions in Albany, such as, the former commander of the New York National Guard and Governor Mario Cuomo's former chief of staff.[2]

He logged his first arrest in 1934. The 19-year-old Castellano refused to identify his two accomplices to the police and served a three-month prison sentence. By refusing to cooperate with authorities, Castellano enhanced his reputation for mob loyalty. Castellano often signed his name as "C. Paul Castellano" because he hated his first name, Constantino. Eventually he became known as Paul. Castellano was a big man standing at 6'2" and weighing 270 pounds with this stature many other mob guys steered out of his way. Castellano became a member of the Mangano family sometime in the 1940s, and was named a capo under Vince Mangano's successor, Albert Anastasia. In 1957, after Carlo Gambino became boss, Castellano attended the Apalachin Conference.

With his butcher's background, Castellano launched a successful wholesale poultry distribution business that at its height, supplied 300 butchers in the city. His customers included two of the largest supermarket chains in New York City, Key Food and Waldbaum's.

In 1975 Castellano ordered the murder of his daughter's boyfriend, Vito Borelli, after hearing that Borelli had said Castellano resembled Frank Perdue, the owner and commercial spokesman for a poultry company. Castellano considered this an insult due to Perdue's balding and elderly appearance and his comic awkward mannerisms. Ironically, Perdue would later call on Castellano for assistance with union issues at one of his processing plants, a decision Perdue later said that he regretted. Castellano allegedly murdered his son-in-law, Frank Amato, the husband of his daughter Connie, for abusing her. In 1980 Amato disappeared and was never seen again. The executioner, according to FBI documents, was Gambino soldier Roy DeMeo, who cut up Amato’s body and disposed of the remains at sea.

Rise in the Gambino family

In 1975, Castellano became acting boss for the aging Gambino and in 1976, after Gambino's death, assumed the title of official boss. The front runner to replace Gambino had been underboss, Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce. However, before his death, Gambino allegedly designated Castellano as his successor. Gambino had married Castellano's sister and strongly believed in family ties. Although disappointed, Dellacroce decided to support Castellano's elevation, and Castellano retained him as underboss.

Castellano saw himself more as a businessman rather than a hoodlum; in fact, his longterm goal was legitimacy. Under Castellano, the Gambinos expanded their already strong influence on the building industry. For decades, the Gambinos had controlled Teamsters Local 282, which could literally bring most construction jobs in New York City to a halt. Castellano's connections expanded to places as far away as Kuwait. As part of an effort to lead a more open lifestyle, he purchased a large mansion in the prominent Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. He didn't entirely forsake murder, however. For example, after finding out that Nicholas Scibetta, the brother-in-law of mobster Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, was engaging in what was seen as behavior embarrassing to the family, Castellano ordered him killed.

Castellano also fostered or developed important alliances for the Gambinos, such as with the Irish-American mobsters from Hell's Kitchen known as the Westies, who Castellano would call upon as enforcers and hitters, and with a group of Sicilians known as the Cherry Hill Gambinos, who imported and trafficked large quantities of Sicilian heroin throughout the United States.

Some Gambino wiseguys began losing respect for Castellano, feeling he had lost touch with the essence of the organization. They felt he was too distant, but Dellacroce, it was believed, wouldn't approve of an attempt on his life, and thus they could not harm him.

Later years and assassination

In the early 1980s, Castellano became worried about the ambitions of the ruthless John Gotti, a protègé of Dellacroce, and the pair seemed to be on a collision course. Castellano repeatedly made it clear that he would kill anyone who was dealing in narcotics—knowing that Gotti was doing just that. Meanwhile, Gotti began to turn mobsters against Castellano, which was not very difficult given the growing discontent in the family. Castellano rarely left his mansion and, although he demanded tribute payments from them, he rarely bothered to mix with the foot-soldiers of the family, as if they were beneath him. Although some felt insulted, Castellano was closest to a four-man-panel, consisting of capos Thomas "Tommy" Gambino, Daniel "Danny" Marino, James "Jimmy Brown" Failla, Thomas "Tommy" Bilotti and John "Uncle Johnny" Perrillo.

Castellano ordered the murders of James "Jimmy the Clam" Eppolitto and his son, both being former crew members. The hits were carried out by trusted captain Anthony "Nino" Gaggi and Roy DeMeo, an infamous assassin with a prolific hitlist. Yet, after being indicted with Gaggi over a stolen car operation, Castellano ordered DeMeo's slaying as well, out of fear the ruthless killer may cooperate with the authorities. At this time many low-level foot soldiers requested their release from the Gambino family. Those who went to Castellano (such as John "Meatballs" Sciarrino, Mike Vignapiano and Lenny DiCarlo who ran numbers for Uncle Johnny)had their lives spared while others were ordered killed due to betraying the "Omerta"

In early 1985, he was one of many Mafia bosses arrested on charges of racketeering, which was to result in the Mafia Commission Trial. Castellano was released on $3 million bail and there were rumors that the 70-year-old might try to cut a deal with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and turn on his criminal associates in order to avoid prison. There were also rumors that he had undergone an operation to cure his impotence in order to help him carry on an affair with his young maid, rumors that Gotti happily spread.

Paul Castellano didn't mind being tagged as a murderer. However, according to the book "Murder Machine" by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci, Castellano got offended when he thought that a police officer had implied that he was less than a gentleman. When Detective Kenneth McCabe placed him under arrest, he did not protest. But when McCabe mentioned to Castellano that his late cousin, Carlo Gambino had been a "real gentleman", Castellano looked hurt and then responded, "What? I'm not a gentleman?"

On December 2, 1985, Dellacroce died of lung cancer. Castellano then made two major mistakes. First, he did not attend Dellacroce's funeral - which was viewed as highly disrespectful. Second, Castellano then named his bodyguard, Tommy Bilotti, as the new underboss. Although Bilotti was a loyal mobster, he was also a brutish loanshark with little of the diplomatic skill required to hold such a high rank within the organization.

Within two weeks of Dellacroce's death, on December 16, Castellano and Bilotti were shot to death outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan on the orders of John Gotti. They had been lured there supposedly to a meeting with Gotti in order to iron out their differences. The hit team included Richard Kuklinski,Vincent Artuso, Joseph Watts, (Anthony Jesse Fraga Jr.) Salvatore "Fat Sally" Scala, Edward Lino, and John Carneglia, with backup shooters positioned down the street including Dominick Pizzonia, Dominick "The Mind" LaForgia (who is largely credited with masterminding the logistics and participants of the Castellano assassination) The first half Italian/Puerto Rican to become a "made man" and known to be residing in San Diego,Ca. Angelo Ruggiero and Anthony Rampino. Gotti and Gravano observed from a car across the street.


Controversy dogged Castellano even in death, as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York refused to grant him the last rites of the church, citing the notorious circumstances surrounding both his life and death, leading many Italian-Americans (including New York State Governor Mario Cuomo) to accuse the predominantly Irish-American archdiocesan hierarchy of applying a prejudicial double standard (citing as an example the case of Brian O'Regan, an allegedly corrupt New York City police officer who, fearing impending arrest, committed suicide in a Long Island motel room the same year as Castellano's death; O'Regan did receive a Mass of Christian Burial despite the fact that a suicide note was found in the room and its authenticity was established beyond any doubt). Castellano was buried in the Moravian Cemetery, a non-sectarian cemetery located in the New Dorp section of Staten Island.

During his life, Castellano was able to set up his sons in successful businesses, making them become multimillionaires themselves, while not becoming Gambino criminals (although their companies certainly benefited from the fact that their father commanded a network of over 350 made members and hundreds of more associates). One such business, Scara-Mix concrete, based in Staten Island, dominates the borough's concrete pouring industry. In 2006, during the racketeering trial of Gotti's son John A. Gotti, former captain Michael DiLeonardo testified that he was the bagman for the family and collected thousands of dollars per year from the brothers Peter and Philip who operated Scara-Mix.

The elder Gotti succeeded Castellano as head of the Gambino family, a fact that was confirmed by the testimony of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Gotti's underboss, when he entered into a plea bargain with the government in 1991. Gotti was later convicted of ordering Castellano's murder, along with a host of other crimes.

Popular culture

Further reading

  • O'Brien, Joseph F. and Kurins, Andris. Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather: The FBI and Paul Castellano. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.ISBN 0-671-71541-0


External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Neil Dellacroce
Gambino crime family
Co-Underboss with Neil Dellacroce

Succeeded by
Neil Dellacroce
Preceded by
Carlo Gambino
Gambino crime family

Succeeded by
John Gotti
Preceded by
Carlo Gambino
Capo di tutti capi
Boss of bosses

Succeeded by
John Gotti

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