September 13, 1917|
New York City, USA
|Died||February 23, 1992
New York City, New York, USA
Born on the Upper East Side, Manhattan, Armone earned his nickname "Piney" in the 1930s by extorting money from Christmas tree vendors. He was the younger brother of mobster Stephen Armone, an early member of the Mangano crime family, forerunner of the Gambino family. Armone married Josephine DiQuarto and was the father of two children. Josephine is a relative of Genovese crime family capo Dominick DiQuarto. He is an uncle to Gambino crime family capo Joseph (Joey The Blonde) Giordano. A devoted family man, Joseph Armone stayed away from mistresses and often took his wife out for dinner. Armone and his family lived in Brooklyn.
Armone wore thick glasses and had an arthritic limp in his leg from an ancient gunshot wound. Armone rarely cursed; his speech, while not grammatical, had a high-flown formality once described as "Mob Shakespearean". He believed in omerta, the Cosa Nostra code of silence, was straightforward and direct, and highly trusted in mob circles. Armone was also respectful and polite to any Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents he encountered. Armone's arrest record included robbery, felonious assault, homicide, and narcotics violations.
Early criminal career
Armone followed his brother into the Mangano family. By the time Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia took over the family, he had become one of the family's major earners. In 1957, underboss Joseph Biondo allegedly picked Armone and two other family mobsters to kill Anastasia. However, before the attack could take place, Armone was arrested on a narcotics charge and sent to jail. Biondo allegedly replaced Armone with his brother Stephen and the hitmen killed Anastasia. However, other accounts suggest that Profaci crime family capo Joe Gallo and his crew members were responsible for the Anastasia murder.
On October 1, 1964, Armone and 11 other mobsters were indicted in what became the French Connection case. They were accused of transporting $20 million of heroin from 1956 to 1965 from France to the U.S. using sailors, businessman, and a diplomat as drug couriers. During the trial, one of the jurors was approached outside the courthouse by Patricia DeAlesandro, a former Playboy bunny and a friend of Armone. DeAlesandro tried to bribe the juror, but he reported the incident to law enforcement. DeAlesandro was later convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years in prison.
After serving ten years in prison, Armone was released. When mobster Paul Castellano became family boss, he promoted Armone to caporegime. Mob author and journalist Jerry Capeci would cite Armone's success as an example of the American Mafia disregarding its official ban of dealing drugs.
In 1985 Armone was recruited by capo John Gotti into a conspiracy to kill Castellano. Gotti already had the support of capo Frank DeCicco and soldiers Sammy Gravano and Robert DiBernardo, but lining up the support of Armone was a critical step in the conspiracy. As a well respected old-timer in the Gambino family, Armone would offer more credibility to the new regime and placate Castellano's supporters. For his part, Armone had a dim view of Castellano as a gangster and saw Gotti's coup as a final chance to rise to a leadership role in the family.
That chance came in April 1986, when Gotti's original underboss, Frank DeCicco, was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb. Gotti then appointed Armone as his new underboss and sent him to Florida to supervise Gambino activities there.
On December 22, 1987, Armone was convicted in New York on charges of racketeering conspiracy involving extortion, bribery and illegal interstate travel to commit bribery. The bribery charge involved a plot from 1981 to 1982 to bribe a government official $20,000 to transfer the son of Gambino consigliere Joseph N. Gallo from a New York state prison to a federal prison. Gallo was also convicted in the trial. At their ages, any sentence imposed on Gallo and Armone would ensure they would die in prison. With this in mind, the judge released Gallo on bail before sentencing, effectively giving him a final Christmas with his family. Armone was offered a similar temporary release, but only on the condition that he publicly admit his role in the family and renounce his ties to it. Gotti, however, had banned Gambino members from taking plea deals that acknowledged the existence of the family, and refused Armone an exception.
On February 22, 1988, Armone was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and was fined $820,000.
In popular culture
- In the 2001 television movie Boss of Bosses, Joe Armone is portrayed as "Piney Armone" by actor Mark Margolis.
- Armone is portrayed by Dominic Chianese in the 1996 TV film Gotti.
- "Information, Misinformation, Disinformation...Part I". Gangsters Inc. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- Celona, Larry; Italiano, Laura (2012-09-25). "Reputed Gambino captain indicted on $50G extortion charge". New York Post. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
- Giancana, United States Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics ; foreword by Sam (2007). Mafia : the government's secret file on organized crime (1st ed.). New York: Collins. p. 346. ISBN 0-06-136385-5.
- "Joseph Biondo". La Cosa Nostra Data Base. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "U.S. Indicts 12 in Smuggling of $20 Million in Narcotics". New York Times. October 1, 1964. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "Ex-Bunny Sentenced for Bribe Attempt". New York Time. January 4, 1966. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "4 Convicted and 2 Freed In Smuggling of Heroin". New York Times. June 23, 1965. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "363 F. 2d 385 - United States v. Armone .". Open Jurist. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- Capeci, Jerry (2002). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Penguin Books. p. 152. ISBN 0-02-864225-2.
- Raab, p. 373-375
- Capeci; Mustain 1996, p. 95
- Buder, Leonard (December 23, 1987). "4 Convicted At Mob Trial In Brooklyn". New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- Buder, Leonard (February 10, 1988). "A 10-Year Term Given by Judge To Crime Figure". New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- Raab, p. 405-406.
- Capeci; Mustain 1996, p. 135, 203-204
- Buder, Leonard (February 23, 1988). "Mob Figure Gets 15 Years; He is Also Fined $820,000". New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- Strombert, Amy (September 24, 1988). "Jury Convicts 8 Tied To Crime Family". Sun Sentinel.com. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "Joseph "Joe Piney" Armone". Find A Grave. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- Capeci, Jerry; Mustain, Gene (1996). Gotti: Rise and Fall. New York: Onyx. ISBN 0-451-40681-8.
- Raab, Selwyn (2005). Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires (2006 ed.). New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-36181-5.
- O'Brien, Joseph F., and Kurins, Andris, Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather: The FBI and Paul Castellano, Pocket Books (1993) ISBN 0-671-71541-0
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