DeCavalcante crime family

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DeCavalcante Family
Founding location Elizabeth, New Jersey
Years active 1900s-present
Territory Northern New Jersey, Trenton, Atlantic City. The family also maintains territory in New York, Connecticut and Florida[1]
Ethnicity Men of Italian descent, other ethnicities as "associates".
Membership 40 made members,[1] approximately 200 associates
Criminal activities Racketeering, gambling, loan-sharking, extortion, bootlegging, murder, prostitution, money laundering, waste management, fraud, fencing, drug trafficking, construction management, corruption and bookmaking
Allies Five Families of New York, Philadelphia and Patriarca crime families, and the Pagans
Rivals Various gangs over NJ, including their allies

The DeCavalcante crime family is an organized crime family that operates in Elizabeth, New Jersey[1] and surrounding areas in the state and is part of the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). Despite operating on the other side of the Hudson River from the Five Families of New York, it maintains strong relations with many of them as well as with the Philadelphia crime family and the Patriarca crime family of New England. Its illicit activities include construction, building and cement violations; drug trafficking; extortion; fencing; fraud; illegal gambling; hijacking; labor racketeering; loansharking; money laundering; murder; and pier thefts. The DeCavalcantes are, in part, the inspiration for the fictional DiMeo crime family of HBO's dramatic series The Sopranos.[2] The DeCavalcante family was the subject of the CNBC program Mob Money, which aired on June 23, 2010.[3]

History

Beginnings

Although not recognized as an autonomous crime family until the regime of Simone DeCavalcante, there were several bosses in North Jersey during the Prohibition era controlling transportation of alcohol and whiskey into New York City. In Newark, New Jersey, there was the Newark family headed by Gaspare D'Amico, the Reina family's Jersey crew controlled by Gaetano "Tom" Reina, the Masseria family's New Jersey faction and the Elizabeth family headed by Stefano Badami. In Newark, D'Amico controlled illegal gambling and bootlegging operations throughout the early 1920. In 1935, Vincenzo Troia a former associate of Salvatore Maranzano conspired to take over the Newark family and he was murdered.[4][5] Two years later in 1937, D'Amico fled the United States after a failed assassination attempt on his life order by Joseph Profaci. The Commission decided to divide up his territory among the Five Families and Badami's Elizabeth family.[6]

Stefano "Steve" Badami, became the boss Elizabeth-Newark family however, his reign proved to be very disruptive, as members of the Newark and the Elizabeth factions began fighting for total control of New Jersey. As Badami kept controlling the crew up towards the 1950s, he was suddenly murdered in 1955, in what appears to have been another power struggle between the two factions. Badami's underboss and fellow mobster, Filippo Amari stepped up to run the illegal operations.

Filippo "Phil" Amari, a mobster recognized by US law enforcement to be heavily involved with labor racketeering, loansharking, extortion and narcotics activities in Newark and New York City, was now considered the new head of the New Jersey organization. His reign proved to be very short, as there were multiple factions operating underneath who all conspired to take over. While still in charge, he relocated to Sicily and was replaced by Nicholas "Nick" Delmore, who with underbosses of Elizabeth and Newark, Frank Majuri and Louis "Fat Lou" LaRasso attended the infamous 1957 Apalachin Convention to represent the small New Jersey crime family.

As Delmore kept running the organization before he became ill in the early 1960s, the rebellious times of New Jersey had finally ended. Nick Delmore later died in 1964, and his nephew Simone DeCavalcante was quickly installed as new boss of the newly official recognized "DeCavalcante crime family" of North Jersey.

Simone DeCavalcante

The official criminal organization began with Simone DeCavalcante, a diplomatic, 'old school' Don, known as "Sam the Plumber" and "The Count". He was born in 1913 and was a mobster involved in illegal gambling, murder and racketeering for most of his life. He died of a heart attack at the age of 84.

Between 1964, when he rose to power, and 1969, when he was incarcerated, he doubled the number of made-men within his family. He owned "Kenilworth Heating and Air Conditioning", in Kenilworth, New Jersey, as a legal front and source of taxable income and for which he gained the nickname "Sam the Plumber". Sam DeCavalcante also claimed to be of Italian royal lineage and another nickname he bore was "The Count". He gained much respect because he won a coveted place on the infamous 'Commission', a governing body for the U.S. Mafia, which included the Five Families of New York and the Chicago Outfit of the Midwest. Mob representatives of Miami were also included.

DeCavalcante and 54 associates were charged and tried; he pleaded guilty to operating a gambling racket, turning over $20 million a year. At the same time, a state report indicated that he and another Mafia family controlled 90% of pornography stores in New York City. DeCavalcante was sentenced to five years, and after he was released from prison, he retired to a high-rise condo in Florida and largely stayed out of Mafia business, although the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believed he was still 'advising' the family into the early 1990s.

John Riggi

After DeCavalcante left prison in the mid-1970s, he appointed Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi as acting boss of the family while he stayed semi-retired in Florida. DeCavalcante stepped down as boss officially in 1980, passing leadership to Riggi,[7] who had been a business agent of the "International Association of Laborers and Hod Carriers", in New Jersey for years. He was promoted to the position of official boss, and he reaped the enormous benefits of large labor and construction racketeering,[7] loansharking, illegal gambling and extortion activities. Riggi also had the family maintain their old traditions, which Sam DeCavalcante saw as unnecessary. After Riggi used his power and influence to place subcontractors and workers other than laborers at various construction projects around the state, the DeCavalcantes were able to rip-off union welfare and pension funds. Riggi continued to run the family throughout the 1980s, with underboss Girolamo "Jimmy" Palermo and Stefano Vitabile as consigliere,[8] after Frank Majuri died of health problems. It was around the mid-1980s that Riggi's fell increasingly under the influence of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.[9]

After Riggi's conviction for racketeering, he appointed John D'Amato as acting boss of the family in 1990. D'Amato was later revealed to have participated in homosexual acts and was murdered in 1992.[10] Riggi continued to run the family from his jail cell, but he appointed Giacomo "Jake" Amari, as his new acting boss. All was seemingly settled until Amari became ill and died slowly of stomach cancer in 1997. This caused a massive power vacuum within the family high-ranking members pushing to become the next boss of the DeCavalcante crime family.

The Ruling Panel

After acting boss Amari's death, Riggi organized a three man ruling panel in 1998 to run the day-to-day business of the crime family.[11] These members of the ruling panel were Girolamo Palermo, Vincent Palermo (no relation) and Charles Majuri,[12] with Stefano Vitabile as the reputed consigliere and adviser to the three.

The Panel, however, infuriated longtime captain Charles Majuri, who had been a hardworking member of the family since his teens, feeling he was wronged when he was not selected as the only acting boss.[12] To gain complete control of the DeCavalcante family, Majuri decided that he should murder Vincent Palermo, leaving him in charge of the family.[12] Majuri contracted soldier James Gallo to murder Vincent Palermo, however, Gallo was a strong ally and friend of Vincent Palermo, and told him about Majuri's plans.[12] In retaliation, Vincent Palermo decided to have Majuri murdered. However, after one plot fell through, the murder was eventually called off.[12]

Informants and convictions

Toward the late 1990s, the 'Ruling Panel' kept running the DeCavalcante crime family with Giovanni Riggi still behind bars as the boss. The downfall of the DeCavalcante family was precipitated in 1998 when an associate named Ralph Guarino became an FBI informant in an effort to avoid a long prison sentence in connection with taking part with two others in a heist of $1.6 million from the World Trade Center.[12] Guarino spent 10 years undercover working for the FBI. He wore a listening device and recorded conversations mobsters would have about criminal business. During Guarino's time as an informant, fellow mobster Joseph Masella was gunned down on the orders of Vincent Palermo.[12] Using information provided by Guarino, US law enforcement launched a large scale arrest on December 2, 1999 of over 30 members and associates of the DeCavalcante crime family.[13] Palermo realized that they would likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars and decided to cooperate with the FBI in exchange for a lenient sentence.[13] This resulted in the arrest of 12 more men less than a year later.[13] This decimated the crime family's hierarchy and put it on the brink of extinction.[13] Other top members like Anthony Rotondo and Anthony Capo also agreed to become government witnesses.[14]

In 2001, 20 mobsters were charged with racketeering, seven murders, 14 murder conspiracies, attempted murder, extortion in the construction industry and stock fraud.[13] This was the fourth indictment of the family since 1999. Since then, several other top mobsters agreed to become government witnesses in exchange for being given lenient or no sentences at all. US law enforcement even put Giovanni Riggi, who was hoping to be released in 2003, on trial and he was sentenced to 10 additional years in prison.[7]

Current position and leadership

Between 1999-2005, about 45 men have been imprisoned, including the family’s consigliere and seven capos.[15] With the decline of the DeCavalcante family, New York's Five Families have taken over many of the rackets in North New Jersey.[12] It is unknown how much influence, if any, John Riggi still has in the family. In his late 80s, he had been in jail since the early 1990s until his release from prison on November 27, 2012.[16] In early 2005, longtime soldier Joseph Miranda took over as acting boss and inducted up to 12 members as he tried to rebuild the family before stepping down as acting boss in 2006.[15] Sicilian immigrant Francesco Guarraci is now believed by law enforcement to be the current acting boss of the DeCavalcante crime family.[17][18] Joseph Miranda continues to serve as the DeCavalcante underboss.[18]

Historical leadership

Boss (official and acting)

(excluding Gaspare D’Amico[19])

Underboss (official and acting)

Consigliere (official and acting)

Capos

Northern New Jersey Faction

South Florida Faction

Current soldiers

History of Membership

Deceased Members

Government Witnesses

References

  1. ^ a b c The Changing Face of Organized Crime in New Jersey A Status Report. May 2004. (pg 121-125) [1]
  2. ^ Stasi, Linda (2010-06-23). "Story behind the real 'Sopranos'". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  3. ^ Mob Money
  4. ^ Chronological History of La Cosa Nostra in the United States January 1920 - August 1987 The Nevada Observer Jan. 8, 2006
  5. ^ Humbert S. Nelli. The business of crime: Italians and syndicate crime in the United States. (pg. 203)
  6. ^ DeVico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra. Tate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-60247-254-8
  7. ^ a b c "SICK DON GETS 10 Real Soprano too ill for court". Daily News (New York). September 27, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  8. ^ "Fbi's Star Snitch Admits Fibs". Daily News (New York). May 21, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  9. ^ Zambito, Thomas (2004-11-17). "Don's Long Shadow Creeping Into Trial Of Brother". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  10. ^ "RELIVING A GORY RUBOUT Big-time turncoat tells how a wiseguy got his". Daily News (New York). May 13, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  11. ^ "REAL 'SOPRANO' SINGS N.J. mob boss cut secret deal". Daily News (New York). October 24, 2000. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mob Money", originally airing on CNBC on June 23, 2010
  13. ^ a b c d e New Charges for Mob Family as U.S. Indictment Names 20, by Alan Feuer. New York Times. April 20, 2001
  14. ^ a b "Mob Story". Nj.com. 2003-05-09. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  15. ^ a b Capeci, Jerry (2005-05-21). "What’s Left of the Mob". New York Maganize. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  16. ^ Federal Bureau of Prisons "John Riggi"
  17. ^ Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger. "Reputed head of mob crime family, N.J. man are indicted on extortion charges". NJ.com. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  18. ^ a b State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation (2004). "The Changing Face of ORGANIZED CRIME IN NEW JERSEY – A Status Report – DeCavalcante". SCI 2004 Report. MafiaNJ.com. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  19. ^ Critchley, David The origin of organized crime in America: the New York City mafia, 1891-1931 (pg.290)
  20. ^ Organized crime and illicit traffic narcotics, Volume 1 (pg. 333)
  21. ^ Capeci, Jerry The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia (pg.70 )
  22. ^ "Real Life Sopranos". Crimelibrary.com. 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  23. ^ DOJ Press Release United States Attorney Southern District of New York
  24. ^ THE MOB ON WALL STREET Businessweek http://www.businessweek.com/1997/13/b3520108.htm
  25. ^ DOJ Press Release United States Attorney Southern District of New York
  26. ^ "Decavalcante Indictment". Ipsn.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  27. ^ "DOJ Press release on DeCavalcante Indictment" (Press release). Ipsn.org. 1999-12-02. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  28. ^ Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator

Further reading

  • Smith, Greg B. Made Men: The True Rise-and-Fall Story of a New Jersey Mob Family. Berkley Books, 2003. ISBN 0-425-18551-6
  • Jacobs, James B. Busting the Mob: The United States Vs. Cosa Nostra. New York: NYU Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8147-4230-0
  • Jacobs, James B., Coleen Friel and Robert Radick. Gotham Unbound: How New York City Was Liberated from the Grip of Organized Crime. New York: NYU Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8147-4247-5
  • Goldstock, Ronald, Martin Marcus and II Thacher. Corruption and Racketeering in the New York City Construction Industry: Final Report of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. New York: NYU Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8147-3034-5
  • United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Organized Crime in America: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1983.

External links