Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo (September 2, 1902 – October 20, 1973) was a member of the New York Genovese crime family who dominated loansharking operations in New Jersey during the 1960s. The subject of a two-year federal undercover operation, DeCarlo's conviction revealed widespread corruption of New Jersey public officials and tied singer Frank Sinatra to organized crime.
He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on September 2, 1902. DeCarlo represented Genovese family business interests in the New Jersey underworld; he was an associate of Abner "Longey" Zwillman and Gerardo Catena. DeCarlo was an excellent cook; his specialty was fried pasta with anchovies. His wife died mysteriously after giving birth. He reportedly later married a woman named Frances Ryan and had two children. His arrest record included income tax evasion, breaking and entering, counterfeiting, robbery, and liquor law violations. DeCarlo owned the La Martinique Tavern in Mountainside, New Jersey
Based in New Jersey, DeCarlo rose to the position of caporegime, or captain, of a crew. He achieved this promotion by gaining control over the loansharking, or "juice" racket, illegal gambling, and murder for hire. DeCarlo also systematically eliminated his rival mobsters during the late 1950s.
Between 1961 and 1963, federal agents began wire tapping conversations between DeCarlo and his mob associates. These wire taps revealed corruption among law enforcement, prominent businessmen and state officials including Newark Mayor Hugh Addonizio and influential Hudson County politician John J. Kenny. Both Addonizio's and Kenny's political careers ended after the wire transcripts were published. The transcripts also mentioned Sinatra. On one tape, DeCarlo discussed methods for committing murder; he described a so-called "humane" hit in which he shot a victim through the heart. According to DeCarlo, it was a painless way to die.
In September 1968, DeCarlo and his men brutalized Louis Saperstein, who owed DeCarlo $400,000. Government witness and former mob associate Gerald Zelmanowitz described an intense beating of Saperstein in DeCarlo's office due to a $5,000 monthly interest payment. Zelmanowitz said Saperstein was lying on the floor, looking purple, his tongue hanging out, and he was covered in blood and spit. On November 26, 1968, Saperstein died of arsenic poisoning. That same day, the FBI received a letter from Saperstein that detailed his problems with DeCarlo. In March 1970, DeCarlo was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
After DeCarlo served 18 months in prison, President Richard Nixon pardoned him, ostensibly due to his poor health. DeCarlo himself claimed to be dying of cancer. Disregarding the usual protocol, U.S. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst approved the pardon request and sent it to White House Counsel John Dean. Dean then delivered the request directly to Nixon. It was rumored that Vice President Spiro Agnew, a personal friend of Frank Sinatra, persuaded Nixon to approve the request. Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox later investigated the DeCarlo pardon, but found no evidence of corruption.
In December 1972, DeCarlo was released from prison. He died in Mountainside, New Jersey on October 20, 1973. This was five days before a deadline to pay a $20,000 fine from his 1970 conviction. He was buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover, New Jersey. The funeral was scheduled for the afternoon but was held in the morning because "the family just didn't want any more publicity."
In popular culture
- Clarke, Thurston and Tigue, John J. Jr. Dirty Money: Swiss Banks, the Mafia, Money Laundering, and White Collar Crime. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975. ISBN 978-0-671-21965-9
- Kwitny, Jonathan. Vicious Circles: The Mafia in the Marketplace. New York: W.W. Norton, 1979. ISBN 978-0-393-01188-3
- Volz, Joseph and Peter Bridge. The Mafia Talks. Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett, 1969.
- Zeiger, Henry A. The Jersey Mob. New York: New American Library, 1975.
- Kelly, Robert J. Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-313-30653-2
- Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-8160-5694-1
- Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Treasury Department, "Mafia: the Government's Secret File on Organized Crime, HarperCollins Publishers 2007 ISBN 0-06-136385-5
- Murray Ison (October 21, 1973). "Decarlo Of Mafia Dead Of Cancer. Impropriety Denied. Mobster Chieftain Was 71. Got Clemency From Nixon". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
Angelo DeCarlo, a one-time powerful Mafia leader who was granted executive clemency by President Nixon last Christmas because he was suffering from terminal cancer, died yesterday at his home in Mountainside, N. J. He was 71 years old. ...
- "A Tale of Two Tapes" The Mafia in New Jersey
- "Frank Sinatra and the Mob" Crime Magazine
- The Mob's President: Richard Nixon's Secret Ties to the Mafia by Don Fulsom
- "Decarlo Burial Held In Morning. Only Family Is at Service in Effort to Avoid Publicity". New York Times. October 24, 1973. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
The burial of a reputed Mafia leader. Angelo DeCarlo, scheduled for this afternoon, was held this morning instead because 'the family just didn't want any more publicity.' ...