Thomas DeSimone: Wikis

  
  

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Tommy DeSimone
Born May 24, 1950(1950-05-24)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 14, 1979 (aged 28)
Howard Beach, Queens, New York, U.S.

Thomas Anthony "Two-Gun Tommy" DeSimone (May 24, 1950 – January 14, 1979) was an Italian-American gangster and associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York. Also known as "Tommy D", he was a nephew of Los Angeles mob boss Frank DeSimone. He was married to Angelica "Cookie" Spione, but had many mistresses, including Theresa Ferrara.

Contents

Family tree

Thomas DeSimone's paternal grandfather, Rosario DeSimone, was the former boss of the Los Angeles crime family. His paternal uncle, Frank DeSimone, was a criminal attorney-turned-mobster; "Uncle Frank" (as he was known) replaced Jack Dragna in 1956 after the latter's death, becoming the second DeSimone family member to become Los Angeles crime family boss. Thomas is the cousin of Salvatore DeSimone, who would later become a Los Angeles, California Catholic priest. Thomas' sister was Dolores and his two brothers were Gambino crime family associate Robert DeSimone (imprisoned for life) and Gambino associate Anthony DeSimone, murdered by mobster Thomas Agro in the early 1980s. Thomas was also related to mobsters James, Joseph, Ralph, Phil and Franky DeSimone. He was the brother-in-law of mobster Joseph "The Barber" Spione. His sister Phyllis was Jimmy Burke's mistress since she had been sixteen years old. He is the ex-father-in-law of Gambino crime family associate Salvatore DeVita, and uncle-in-law to Silvio P. DeVita from Toms River, New Jersey.

Association with Vario and Burke

DeSimone worked under Mafia capo Paul Vario with his friends Jimmy Burke and Henry Hill; DeSimone and Hill had known one another since they were young men, when Burke took them on as his protégés. DeSimone was involved in truck hijacking, dealing stolen property, extortion, fraud, and murder.

DeSimone was well-known for his violent temper. While playing pinochle with Joseph Iannuzzi and Agro, he would throw darts at the other players when he started losing. Hill described DeSimone and Burke by saying, "It didn't take anything for these guys to kill you. They liked it. They would sit around drinking booze and talk about their favorite hits. They enjoyed talking about them." Hill later described DeSimone as a "pure psychopath". Hill suggested that DeSimone had something to prove because his older brother Anthony had become an informant and was allegedly murdered by the Gambino family.

Gangland slayings

DeSimone committed his first known murder on March 15, 1968. He was walking down the street with Hill when DeSimone spotted Howard Goldstein, unknown to either gangster. Hill recalls DeSimone turning to him and saying, "Hey Henry, watch this." DeSimone yelled, "Hey cocksucker!", pulled out a .38 caliber pistol, and shot and killed Goldstein. Hill exclaimed, "That was cold-blooded, Tommy!" DeSimone replied, "Well, I'm a mean cat."

In 1970, he killed William "Billy Batts" Devino, a made man who was part of the Gambino family and who worked with rising mobster John Gotti. Devino had just gotten out of prison after serving a six-year term for drug possession. While Devino was incarcerated, Burke had taken over his businesses, and now that Devino was out of prison, he (Burke) needed Devino out of the way. One night while Devino and Burke were having drinks in The Suite, DeSimone showed up. Recalling the days when DeSimone had shined shoes, Devino began taunting DeSimone by calling him “spit-shine Tommy.” A few weeks later Batts, Burke and Hill were at The Suite again, and DeSimone entered with a .38 revolver and a plastic mattress cover. Burke held Devino in a headlock while DeSimone beat Devino with the revolver. DeSimone, Burke, and an unwitting Hill loaded Devino into the trunk of Hill's Buick Riviera, and were on their way to bury him when Devino woke up. He was beaten and stabbed until he eventually died.

DeSimone's third murder is described by Hill in Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy. A young man named Michael "Spider" Gianco was acting as bartender at a card game where DeSimone took out a handgun, and demanded that Gianco dance for him. DeSimone shot him in the foot when Gianco refused. A week later, Gianco was again serving drinks; DeSimone started to goad him about his wounded foot, spurring Gianco to reply "Why don't you go fuck yourself, Tommy?" DeSimone lost his temper and shot Gianco three times in the chest, killing him. Burke and Hill were furious, and made him bury Gianco's body in the cellar. His corpse must have been subsequently moved, since it was never discovered.

His fourth murder, according to Hill, occurred when DeSimone got carried away after being asked to "rough up" a witness to a robbery. After a truck heist, a foreman had refused to allow Burke to unload the cargo of a hijacked truck in his warehouse, and made a tremendous fuss because they had no union cards. Burke attempted to reason with the man, who stood his ground and refused to be intimidated. Burke later sent DeSimone to the man's house in New Jersey, with instructions to threaten and "rough up" the man to ensure he would cooperate with Burke in the future. DeSimone, angry for having to drive all the way to New Jersey, ended up beating the man to death.

DeSimone killed Gotti protégé Ronald "Foxy" Jerothe on December 18, 1974. DeSimone had dated Jerothe's sister and then beaten her up, prompting Jerothe to threaten to kill him. When DeSimone heard about the threat, he went to Jerothe's apartment and knocked on the door. Jerothe opened the door, and punched DeSimone in the face. DeSimone then shot Jerothe between the eyes, killing him.

He also garotted Burke's close friend, Dominick Cersani, on the former's orders in a Cadillac outside Robert's Lounge for being an informant for the police. Cersani was buried in the partially unfinished basement of the saloon.

Role in the Lufthansa heist

DeSimone was alleged to have taken part in the December 1978 Lufthansa heist from JFK International Airport, the largest robbery in U.S. history at the time. The loot is reputed to have been almost $6,000,000, only a fraction of which was recovered. He was picked out by having very well-polished shoes, too well-polished for an airport employee. He was the one who suggested recruiting his ex-cell mate Angelo Sepe for the heist.

Hill claims that during the week after Christmas 1978, after murdering Lufthansa robber and mob lackey Parnell "Stacks" Edwards in his home in Ozone Park, Queens, DeSimone was going to become a "made" member of the Lucchese Family. A few weeks later, DeSimone disappeared.

In Gangsters and GoodFellas, Hill mentioned that DeSimone had killed around four people in prison, bringing the total to around 10. Hill commented that DeSimone would murder someone just because he wanted to try out a new firearm and wouldn't hesitate to use someone as human "target practice".

Making his Bones

DeSimone then murdered Stacks Edwards. DeSimone was a good friend of Stacks and was disappointed to hear that he had failed to get rid of the truck used in the Lufthansa Heist in New Jersey where the evidence would be destroyed. When he was told by a ranking mafioso that he could become a made man because of this hit, he agreed. Once he found out where Stacks was hiding, he visited Stacks and shot him six times in the chest and head with a silenced pistol.

Disappearance and death

DeSimone was assassinated as a reprisal for having killed two of John Gotti's close friends, specifically Billy Batts and Foxy Jerothe.[1][2]

On January 14, 1979, DeSimone's wife, Angela, reported him missing. She said she had last seen Tommy "a few weeks earlier" when he borrowed $60 from her. Following the Lufthansa heist, Theresa Ferrara, Martin Krugman, Robert McMahon, Joe Manri, Parnell Edwards and Paolo LiCastri had all been murdered by Burke, who wanted to avoid paying them their share of the loot. For years, the New York Police Department and the FBI believed that DeSimone had either been murdered by Burke, or that he was in hiding to avoid being killed. His brother-in-law, Lucchese family member Joseph "The Barber" Spione, also disappeared shortly afterward.

When Hill became an FBI informant in 1980, he told authorities that DeSimone had been murdered by the Gambino crime family. Despite the oft-given date of death of January 14, 1979, the exact date of DeSimone's murder is uncertain. Henry claimed that in "the week after Christmas" that he and Jimmy Burke had gone down to Florida to straighten out a drug deal gone bad. Tommy had remained behind in New York because he was going to be made. When Jimmy called to see if the ceremony had occurred (the code phrase was to ask if Tommy had seen his godmother yet), Burke was told that it had been called off due to a heavy snowfall. The next day, Burke listened in and found out that DeSimone had been murdered; he slammed the receiver down and began crying, as depicted in the film Goodfellas. Henry also indicated in both the book Wiseguy and the DVD commentary to Goodfellas that DeSimone was already dead when Martin Krugman disappeared on January 6, 1979.

In 1994, Henry Hill, in his book Gangsters and Goodfellas, gave an expanded story of the events leading up to DeSimone's death. Hill's wife, Karen, had been having an affair with Hill's boss, Mafia caporegime Paul Vario. When Hill was sentenced to prison, DeSimone approached Karen for sex. When she turned him down, DeSimone attempted to rape her. In retaliation for the attempted rape, Vario approached the Gambino crew and revealed that DeSimone had murdered Jerothe and Devino without first seeking permission from the Gambino crime family, violating Mafia protocol. Sometime in late December 1978/early January 1979, DeSimone was contacted and told that he was going to be "made". Peter Vario and Bruno Facciolo took him to an unknown location, where he was murdered.

There are two theories as to who actually killed DeSimone. According to mob informant Joseph "Joe Dogs" Ianuzzi, Thomas Agro claimed in 1985 that he was the driving force behind the murder. Agro also claimed to have murdered DeSimone's brother Anthony after he turned informant. Agro also suggested murdering the eldest and last remaining brother, Robert. According to Ianuzzi, Agro would often laughingly refer to killing the third DeSimone brother, stating that "Maybe it is time to go for the DeSimone trifecta!" Another account, told by Henry Hill in Gangsters and GoodFellas, states that John Gotti himself was the assassin. On May 17, 2007 on the Howard Stern Show, Hill reaffirmed that Gotti had killed DeSimone.

DeSimone was declared legally dead by the FBI in 1990.

He was thought to have been buried at a suspected "Mafia graveyard" on the Brooklyn-Queens border [3] near John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the body of Al Indelicato was found in 1981 and the bodies of Philip Giaccone and Dominick Trinchera were recovered by police in 2004.[4] His remains, however, have never been located.

Goodfellas

DeSimone's infamy rests on his depiction by actor Joe Pesci in the 1990 movie Goodfellas (renamed "Tommy DeVito" in the film), a role for which Pesci won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The movie took some artistic liberties: primarily, DeSimone was six years younger than Hill, not the same age (as implied when they first meet), and while depicted in the film as a small man with an attitude, DeSimone was a large, burly enforcer, standing about 6 ft 2in and over 200 pounds.

Although principally based on DeSimone, Tommy DeVito also functions as a composite character. The DeVito character is substituted for various individuals not portrayed in the film; for example, in the double-date scene where Hill meets his future wife, Tommy DeVito is substituted for Paul Vario's son, Paul Jr, who actually went on the date.

Hill, nevertheless, calls Pesci's portrayal "between 90 and 95 percent accurate", mentioning only that the diminutive Pesci did not physically resemble the tall, muscular DeSimone. Pesci was also 46 years old during production of Goodfellas, while DeSimone was only in his teens and twenties during the events depicted in the film.

Also, in real life, Vario allowed the Gambinos to kill DeSimone in retaliation for the murder of Batts and Foxy Gerothe, whereas in the film, elder members of the family solely execute Tommy DeVito for killing a "made man" without permission. Hill's narration makes a reference to the true events, saying DeVito was murdered as "revenge for Billy Batts and a lot of other things." In the film, DeVito is literally shot through the head by Vinnie (Charles Scorsese), an elder member of the Gambino Crime Family based on Bruno Facciolo, and Tuddy Cicero. Unlike his real-life counterpart, DeSimone, DeVito's body is found shortly afterwards, and he is given a funeral, although he was shot (post-mortem) in the face so that his mother couldn't have an open-coffin ceremony.

Notes

References

  • Pileggi, Nicholas, Wiseguy: Life In A Mafia Family, Simon & Schuster (1986) ISBN 0671447343
  • Hill, Henry, Gangsters and Goodfellas: The Mob, Witness Protection, and Life on the Run,Taco Salad for Mafia, M. Evans and Company, Inc. (December 25, 2007) ISBN 159077129X
  • Ianuzzi, Joseph, Joe Dogs: The Life and Crimes of a Mobster, Simon & Schuster (June 1993) ISBN 0671797522
  • Hill, Gina; Hill, Gregg, On the Run: A Mafia Childhood, Warner Books (October 2004) ISBN 044652770X







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