After longtime boss Giovanni Riggi went on to be indicted for labor racketeering and extortion charges in late 1989, Vastola stepped up as the new acting boss of the North JerseyMafia while Riggi was on trial. It was around this time, rival Gambino crime family boss John Gotti reached out to several members of the family, in an attempt to gain full control of it. One of these mobsters was D'Amato, who reportedly conspired with Gotti and his underbossSalvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano into murdering Vastola. (Gotti was later convicted of this conspiracy.) Soon, Riggi was convicted of his charges and sentenced to 15 years in 1990, which meant that Vastola kept running the day-to-day activities. Only after Riggi's conviction, Vastola was convicted in major extortion charges and sentenced to eight years in prison. From behind bars, Riggi promoted D'Amato as acting boss of the DeCavalcante crime family.
D'Amato's reign was short, as it soon became clear that he had been recruited by the Gambino crime family, although, at the time it was not certain that this was the case[clarification needed]. Later in 1991, D'Amato had an argument with his girlfriend, the same girlfriend who captain Anthony Rotondo was also involved with, and she told Rotondo that when she and D'Amato were out at clubs during the evenings, D'Amato would be swinging and have sex with other men. Reportedly, Rotondo became quite upset and shared it with the current administration members Giacomo Amari, the reputed underboss, and Stefano Vitabile, the powerful consigliere, who acted on prior knowledge and decided to have D'Amato murdered while informing the incarcerated Riggi. In January 1992, D'Amato was reported missing. His body has never been found, although US law enforcement recovered his car and some of his blood in it.
US authorities never recovered D'Amato's body and didn't find any leads until 10 years later, when law enforcement recognized Riggi as the main conspirator in D'Amato's murder, as well as charging powerful capos Philip "Phil" Abramo, Giuseppe "Pino" Schifilliti and the reputed consigliere Stefano Vitabile in organizing it. Reputed men involved in the murder conspiracy Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo, Anthony Capo and Anthony Rotondo would later testify about this murder against their former associates. In 2006, Abramo, Schifilliti and Vitabile were sentenced to life imprisonment. Riggi had another 8 years added to his sentence. He was released on November 27, 2012.