DeCavalcante crime family
|Founded by||Stefano Badami|
|Founding location||Elizabeth, New Jersey|
|Territory||Northern New Jersey, Trenton, Atlantic City. The family also maintains territory in New York, Connecticut and Florida|
|Ethnicity||Men of Italian descent, other ethnicities as "associates".|
|Membership (est.)||40 made members, approximately 100 associates|
|Criminal activities||bookmaking, building, cement, and construction violations, bootlegging, corruption, drug trafficking, extortion, fencing, fraud, hijacking, illegal gambling, loan-sharking, money laundering, murder, pier thefts, pornography, prostitution, racketeering, and waste management violations|
|Allies||Five Families of New York, Patriarca crime family of New England, Philadelphia crime family, and the Pagans Motorcycle Club|
|Rivals||Various gangs over NJ, including their allies|
The DeCavalcante crime family is an Italian-American organized crime family that operates in Elizabeth, New Jersey and surrounding areas in the state and is part of the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). It operates on the other side of the Hudson River from the Five Families of New York, but 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 bookmaking, building, cement, and construction violations, bootlegging, corruption, drug trafficking, extortion, fencing, fraud, hijacking, illegal gambling, loan-sharking, money laundering, murder, pier thefts, pornography, prostitution, racketeering, and waste management violations. The DeCavalcantes are, in part, the inspiration for the fictional DiMeo crime family of HBO's dramatic series The Sopranos. The DeCavalcante family was the subject of the CNBC program Mob Money, which aired on June 23, 2010 and The Real Sopranos TV documentary (first airdate April 26, 2006) directed by Thomas Viner for the UK production company Class Films.
- 1 History
- 2 Historical leadership
- 3 Capos
- 4 Current soldiers
- 5 History of Membership
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
The DeCavalcante family was not recognized as an autonomous crime family by The Commission 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. There were two Mafia families based in New Jersey: the Newark family headed by Gaspare D'Amico, and the Elizabeth family headed by Stefano Badami. The New York City families had crews operating in New Jersey: the Masseria family's New Jersey faction, and the Reina family's Jersey crew. There was also Abner Zwillman, a Jewish gangster operating in Newark and the Philadelphia crime family operating in South Jersey.
In 1935, Vincenzo Troia, a former associate of Salvatore Maranzano's, conspired to take over the Newark family and was murdered. Two years later, in 1937, D'Amico fled the United States after a failed assassination attempt on his life, ordered by Joseph Profaci. The Commission decided to divide up his territory among the Five Families and Badami's Elizabeth family.
Stefano "Steve" Badami became the boss of the 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. Badami kept controlling the crew up to the 1950s, but 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 was a mobster recognized by US law enforcement as being heavily involved with extortion, labor racketeering, loansharking, and narcotics activities in Newark and New York City. He was considered the new head of the New Jersey organization, but 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. Delmore attended the infamous 1957 Apalachin Convention to represent the small New Jersey crime family, with underbosses of Elizabeth and Newark Frank Majuri and Louis "Fat Lou" LaRasso.
Delmore kept running the organization until he became ill in the early 1960s, and the rebellious times of New Jersey had ended. He died in 1964, and his nephew Simone DeCavalcante was installed as new boss of the officially recognized "DeCavalcante crime family" of North Jersey.
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, for which he gained the nickname "Sam the Plumber." Sam DeCavalcante also claimed to be of Italian royal lineage, so 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 New York State report indicated that he and another Mafia family controlled 90% of pornography stores in New York City. DeCavalcante was sentenced to five years in prison and, upon his released, he retired to a high-rise condo in Florida and largely stayed out of Mafia business, although the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believed that he was still advising the family into the early 1990s.
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, who had been a business agent of the International Association of Laborers and Hod Carriers in New Jersey for years. Riggi was promoted to the position of official boss, and he reaped the enormous benefits of large labor and construction racketeering, loansharking, illegal gambling, and extortion activities. Riggi also had the family maintain their old traditions, which Sam DeCavalcante saw as unnecessary.
Riggi used his power and influence to place subcontractors and workers at various construction projects around the state, and the DeCavalcantes were able to steal from union welfare and pension funds. Riggi continued to run the family throughout the 1980s, with underboss Girolamo "Jimmy" Palermo and Stefano Vitabile as consigliere, after Frank Majuri died of health problems. It was around the mid-1980s that Riggi fell increasingly under the influence of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.
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. 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, with 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, consisting of Girolamo Palermo, Vincent Palermo (no relation), and Charles Majuri, 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 and felt that he was wronged when he was not selected as the only acting boss. To gain complete control of the DeCavalcante family, Majuri decided that he should murder Vincent Palermo, leaving himself in charge of the family. Majuri contracted soldier James Gallo to murder Vincent Palermo; however, Gallo was a strong ally and friend of Vincent Palermo's, and told him about Majuri's plans. In retaliation, Vincent Palermo decided to have Majuri murdered. However, after one plot fell through, the murder was eventually called off.
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. Guarino spent ten years undercover working for the FBI. He wore a listening device and recorded conversations that 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. 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. Palermo realized they would likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars and decided to cooperate with the FBI in exchange for a lenient sentence. This resulted in the arrest of 12 more men less than a year later. This decimated the crime family's hierarchy and put it on the brink of extinction. Other top members, like Anthony Rotondo and Anthony Capo, also agreed to become government witnesses.
In 2001, 20 mobsters were charged with racketeering, seven murders, 14 murder conspiracies, attempted murder, extortion in the construction industry, and stock fraud. 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 on trial, who was hoping to be released in 2003, and he was sentenced to 10 additional years in prison.
Current position and leadership
Between 1999-2005, about 45 men were imprisoned, including the family’s consigliere and seven capos. With the decline of the DeCavalcante family, New York's Five Families have taken over many of the rackets in North New Jersey. It is unknown how much influence, if any, John Riggi had maintained in the family. He was in jail since the early 1990s until his release from prison on November 27, 2012. Riggi, the boss of the DeCavalcante crime family for 33 years, died in 2015. 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. Sicilian immigrant Francesco Guarraci is now believed by law enforcement to be the current acting boss of the DeCavalcante crime family. Joseph Miranda continues to serve as the DeCavalcante underboss.
In March 2015, the FBI arrested 10 members and associates of the crime family on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and distribution of drugs. Members arrested include 71-year-old captain Charles "Beeps" Stango and 72-year-old consigliere Frank Nigro. Among the indicted was 36-year old DeCavalcante crime family associate James Heeney, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2016 for conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine; admitting that he sold more than one-half a kilo of cocaine to an undercover FBI agent for at least $30,000. DeCavalcante associate Rosario Pali was sentenced to six years and three months in prison and Nicholas DeGidio, another associate, was sentenced to 1 year and 5 months in prison. Both were convicted of distributing more than 500 grams of cocaine. John Capozzi, also a DeCavalcante crime family associate, was charged and convicted under the same conditions however he was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months. Mario Galli was also charged with cocaine distribution. Luigi Oliveri was charged with the possession of contraband cigarettes. In March 2017, Stango was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Stango and his son were charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine and conspiring to run a prostitution business, however he was set up by law enforcement after he discussed killing a rival located in Elizabeth, New Jersey for $50,000. Consigliere Nigro had approved Stango's request of murder, Stango had plotted to hire 2 members of an unidentified motorcycle gang. 68 year old Paul Colella was to act on behalf of Stango and find out if other DeCavalcante members would approve of the murder. In 2016, his son Anthony Stango Jr was sentenced to 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to using a telephone in interstate commerce to conduct a prostitution operation, conspiring to distribute five grams or more of cocaine, distributing more than $70,000 worth of cocaine and possessing a shotgun as a convicted felon; during an appearance before judge William H. Walls.
Boss (official and acting)
- 1920s–1955 — Stefano Badami (murdered)
- 1955–1957 — Filippo "Phil" Amari (retired)
- 1957–1964 — Nicholas "Nick" Delmore
- Acting 1962–1964 — Sam DeCavalcante (became boss)
- 1964–1982 — Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (retired)
- 1982–2015 — Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi (died of prostate cancer August 3, 2015)
- Acting 1990–1992 — John "Johnny Boy" D'Amato (murdered)
- Acting 1992–1997 — Giacomo "Jake" Amari (died of stomach cancer)
- Ruling panel — 1997-1999 - Girolamo Palermo, Vincent Palermo and Charles Majuri (members arrested)
- Ruling panel — 2000-2004 - Girolamo Palermo, Stefano Vitabile and Giuseppe "Pino" Schifilliti
- Acting 2005–2007 – Joseph "Joe the Old Man" Miranda (stepped down)
- Acting 2007–2012 – Francesco "Frank" Guarraci
Underboss (official and acting)
- 1920s– 1931 — Sam Monaco (murdered on September 10, 1931)
- 1931–1955 — Filippo "Phil" Amari (promoted to boss)
- 1955–1956 — Nicholas "Nick" Delmore (promoted boss in 1957)
- 1956–1957 — Francesco "Fat Frank" Majuri (stepped down and became consigliere)
- 1957–1991 — Louis "Fat Lou" LaRasso (murdered)
- 2007–present – Joseph "Joe the Old Man" Miranda
Consigliere (official and acting)
- 1920s–1957 — Unknown
- 1957–1982 — Francesco "Fat Frank" Majuri
- 1982–unknown - Stefano "Steve the Truck Driver" Vitabile
- Unknown-present - Frank Nigro (arrested 2015)
Northern New Jersey Faction
- Giuseppe "Pino" Schifilliti
- Girolamo "Jimmy Dumps" Palermo
- Acting Salvatore "Little Sal" Timpano
- Gaetano "Corky" Vastola
- Louis "Louie Eggs" Consalvo (promoted in 2015)
- Francesco "Frank" Guarraci (former acting boss)
- Charles Stango
South Florida Faction
- Jerry Balzano - he served 2 years after being convicted of racketeering conspiracy in 2011, other charges were selling untaxed cigarettes and the theft of a $15,000 tax refund check. His first release violation would consist of Balzano admitting to the possession of a handgun and ammunition. Whilst on supervised release in November 2016, Balzano engaged in a road rage incident after another driver cut him off, which prompted him to assault and hurl verbal abuses at the driver. He received 11 months in prison and 21 months of supervised release.
- Anthony Mannarino
- Bernard NiCastro
- Gregory Rago
History of Membership
Government Informants / Witnesses
- Vincent Palermo - former boss during the 1990s. He married the niece of Sam DeCavalcante during the early 1960s. He brokered alliances with the Genovese and Gambino crime families, considered to be the most powerful American Mafia families. Along with James "Jimmy" Gallo, he shot and killed Fred Weiss in 1989. He became a government witness in 1999 after facing a life sentence and the possibility of the death penalty. He entered the witness protection program and relocated to Texas.
- Anthony Capo - former hitman for the DeCavalcante family. He served as the driver in the 1989 murder of potential government witness Fred Weiss as a favor to Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. He shot and killed DeCavalcante acting boss John D'Amato in 1992. In 1999, to avoid a life sentence after being suspected of involvement in 4 murders, Capo agreed to become a government witness and testified against the DeCavalcante mafia family. He also testified against the New York Colombo and Genovese mafia families. Capo died in 2012 at the age of 52.
- The Changing Face of Organized Crime in New Jersey: A Status Report (PDF). May 2004. pp. 121–125.
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- Mob Money. CNBC. June 23, 2010.
- Thomas Viner (Director) (April 26, 2006). The Real Sopranos. Class Films.
- Newton, Michael (1957). The Mafia at Apalachin. p. 95.
- "Chronological History of La Cosa Nostra in the United States, January 1920 - August 1987". The Nevada Observer. January 8, 2006. Archived from the original on July 3, 2006.
- Nelli, Humbert S. The business of crime: Italians and syndicate crime in the United States. p. 203.
- DeVico, Peter J. (2007). The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra. Tate Publishing. ISBN 1-60247-254-8.
- "SICK DON GETS 10 Real Soprano too ill for court". Daily News. New York. September 27, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "Fbi's Star Snitch Admits Fibs". Daily News. New York. May 21, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- Zambito, Thomas (2004-11-17). "Don's Long Shadow Creeping Into Trial Of Brother". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "RELIVING A GORY RUBOUT Big-time turncoat tells how a wiseguy got his". Daily News. New York. May 13, 2003. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "REAL 'SOPRANO' SINGS N.J. mob boss cut secret deal". Daily News. New York. October 24, 2000. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
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- Feuer, Alan (April 20, 2001). "New Charges for Mob Family as U.S. Indictment Names 20". The New York Times.
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- Capeci, Jerry (2005-05-21). "What's Left of the Mob". New York Maganize. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "John Riggi". Federal Bureau of Prisons.
- 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.
- 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.
- "FBI announces 10 New Jersey mafia arrests". Associated Press. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
- "Ten Members and Associates of Decavalcante Organized Crime Family Arrested". FBI. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- "Linden crime family associate gets 6 years". My Central Jersey. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
- "DeCavalcante Captain Admits Planning Rival's Murder: U.S. Attorney". Patch.com. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- "Toms River brothel capo gets 10 years in murder plot". APP. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- "Son of accused 'Sopranos' mobster admits plot to run prostitution biz". NJ.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- Critchley, David. The origin of organized crime in America: the New York City mafia, 1891-1931. p. 290.
- "Stefano Badami". Organized crime and illicit traffic narcotics. 1. p. 333.
- Capeci, Jerry. The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia. p. 70.
- Ten Members and Associates of Decavalcante Organized Crime Family Arrested - Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey
- "Real Life Sopranos". Crimelibrary.com. 2012-03-06. Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- DOJ Press Release United States Attorney Southern District of New York
- Profile of DeCavalcante crime family capo Charles Stango - Gangsters Inc.(12/02/2016)
- "THE MOB ON WALL STREET". Businessweek. 1997.
- "Reputed N.J. mobster admits road-rage assault caught on tape". Philly.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- "'Sopranos' mobster returns to jail after punching another driver in vicious road rage attack while victim's screaming wife called the cops". The Dailymail. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- "Decavalcante Indictment". Ipsn.org. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "DOJ Press release on DeCavalcante Indictment" (Press release). Ipsn.org. 1999-12-02. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "Inmate Locator: Gregory Rago". Bureau of Prisons.
- Goldstock, Ronald; Marcus, Martin & Thacher, I.I. (1990). 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. ISBN 0-8147-3034-5.
- Jacobs, James B. (1994). Busting the Mob: The United States Vs. Cosa Nostra. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-4230-0.
- Jacobs, James B.; Friel, Coleen & Radick, Robert (1999). Gotham Unbound: How New York City Was Liberated from the Grip of Organized Crime. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-4247-5.
- Smith, Greg B. (2003). Made Men: The True Rise-and-Fall Story of a New Jersey Mob Family. Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-18551-6.
- United States Congress, Senate, Committee on the Judiciary (1983). Organized Crime in America: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O.
- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. RIGGI, John M., Appellant in 90-5974; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. TIMPANI, Salvatore, Appellant in 90-5975. UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT. 1991. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.
News and reports
- Rashbaum, William K. (October 20, 2000). "Crime Family Dealt a Blow, Police Say". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 29, 2003.
- Rudolph, Robert (May 9, 2003). "Mob Story - How a crime family turned dysfunctional". The Star-Ledger.
- State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation (1989). The Mafia in New Jersey.
- Tuohy, John William (January 15, 2000). "Round Up The Usual Suspects". Rick Parnello's AmericanMafia.com.