Matthew Ianniello

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Matthew Ianniello
Born(1920-06-18)June 18, 1920
DiedAugust 15, 2012(2012-08-15) (aged 92)[1]

Matthew Joseph "Matty the Horse" Ianniello (June 18, 1920 – August 15, 2012) was a New York mobster with the Genovese crime family who was once the acting boss of the Genovese Crime Family. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ianniello controlled the lucrative adult entertainment business that was then centered in the Times Square section of Manhattan.[2]

Early years[edit]

Matthew Ianniello was born in 1920 in Little Italy, Manhattan.[3] He grew up in the Italian neighborhoods of New York.

Ianniello was married to Beatrice May and the couple had four children.[2]

Ianniello allegedly got his nickname "Matty The Horse" in a youth baseball game. Ianniello was a gifted player with a hard swing. During one game, the opposing pitcher threw a hard pitch into the face of the batter. A fight erupted in which Ianniello knocked down the pitcher, who was older and taller than him. After this episode, someone remarked about Ianniello: "That boy is as strong as a horse."

In 1940, Ianniello started working for his uncle as a waiter in a restaurant in the Brooklyn dockyards. In 1942 or 1943, Ianniello enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in World War II. In 1945, Ianiello returned home as a decorated war veteran, having received a Purple Heart and a bronze star. He went back to work at his uncle's restaurant and by 1949 became partners with his uncle in a second restaurant, Matty's Towncrest Restaurant.[3]

In 1951, Ianniello was arrested on charges of possessing heroin,[2] but the charges were dropped.

In 1960, Ianniello became partners with Edward L. DeCurtis, a longtime associate, in running private afterhours drinking clubs for gay men.[3] Ianniello would eventually own a string of clubs and nightclubs for both gay and straight men, including the Gilded Grape and the Hay Market.[2]

Genovese family[edit]

In the 1960s, Ianniello joined the Genovese crime family, then run by imprisoned boss Vito Genovese. Ianniello's sponsor was mobster and future acting boss Frank Tieri.[3]

Ianniello eventually controlled Amalgamated Transit Union, bus drivers Local 1181, giving him the power to extort payments from school bus companies in New York as well as the union driver.[4]

On February 2, 1965, Ianniello was indicted on contempt of grand jury charges for refusal to testify. However, the charges were dismissed in 1966.[5]

At the beginning of the 1970s Ianniello was promoted to caporegime. By now, Ianniello controlled over 80 restaurants and sex-oriented clubs in New York, including most of those located in the Times Square area of Manhattan.[6] Officially, he still had a respectable job with the union.

In 1972, Colombo crime family rebel Joey Gallo was murdered at Umberto's Clam House, a restaurant in Little Italy, Manhattan, that was secretly owned by Ianniello.[citation needed] On April 7, 1972, early in the morning, Gallo, who was celebrating his birthday with family and friends, arrived at Umberto's for a late night snack.[7] When he arrived, Gallo greeted Ianniello. A Colombo associate sitting at the bar saw Gallo and immediately left to notify his superiors. Soon afterward, several armed Colombo associates stormed into the restaurant and shot and killed Gallo.[8] Ianniello was in the kitchen at the time and missed the entire attack. Ianniello later claimed no prior knowledge of the attack[9] and was not charged in relation to it.[citation needed]

The Nevada Daily Mail reports Matthew was at the cash register that night but "the proprietor dove into the kitchen and lay on the tile floor with his hands over his eyes as soon as Sonny Pinto and two out-of-town torpedoes known only as Cisco and Benny came in the side door blasting. The next thing he knew, Pete "The Greek" Diopoulis, a Gallo bodyguard, was pushing a gun in his face and pulling the trigger but only clicks came out because it had been emptied trying to save Joey."[10]

In 1986, Judge Weinfeld sentenced Matthew Ianniello to six years in prison on a racketeering charge that involved skimming over $2 million from bars and restaurants (including Umberto's Clam House, the Peppermint Lounge, and a topless bar called the Mardi Gras, all in Manhattan), secretly owned by Matthew; his business partner Benjamin Cohen of North Hills, L.I.; and seven associates.[11]


On February 28, 1985, Ianniello was indicted in federal court in New York on charges of racketeering involving the operation of several restaurants, bars and carting companies.[12] Using a wiretap on Ianniello's office, agents assembled proof that he was skimming profits from several establishments that he secretly owned. On December 30, 1985, Ianniello was convicted on numerous counts.[13] On February 16, 1986, Ianniello was sentenced to six years in federal prison on the 1985 charges.[11]

On May 13, 1986, Ianniello was acquitted on all charges in the 1986 indictment on racketeering in the garbage industry.[14] On May 17, 1986, Ianiello was indicted in federal court in New York on new charges of labor racketeering, construction bid-rigging, extortion, gambling and murder conspiracies.[15]

On May 18, 1988, Ianniello was indicted again in Newark, New Jersey on racketeering charges involving the 1984 Genovese takeover of a gravel company in Edgewater, New Jersey.[16] On October 13, 1988, Ianniello was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison after being convicted of the 1986 bid rigging racketeering charges.[17]

Acting Boss[edit]

In 1995, Ianniello was released from prison. When Genovese boss Vincent Gigante went to prison, Ianniello became acting boss. By 1998, Ianiello was deeply involved in Almagated Transit Union Local 1181, a bus drivers union.[18] Through the union, Ianiello forced a medical center to pay $100,000 to renew their lease and then make regular cash payments in order to keep it.[19] Between 2001 and 2005, protection fees on Connecticut garbage businesses earned Ianniello more than $800,000.

On July 27, 2005, Ianniello was indicted on racketeering charges in New York involving extortion and loansharking. Agents arresting Ianniello at his home reported that he was watching the film The Godfather Part III.[20][21] On June 10, 2006, Ianiello was indicted in federal court in New Haven on charges of racketeering involving trash hauling in Southwestern Connecticut.[22] In 2006, Ianniello pleaded guilty to the New York racketeering charges and received an 18-month prison sentence.[23] The same year, he pleaded guilty in Connecticut to two racketeering charges for extorting the trash hauling industry and was sentenced to two years in federal prison to run concurrent with the 18 month New York sentence.[24] Ianniello's attorney had asked for leniency, saying Ianniello had cancer and was in general poor health. [23]

Later life[edit]

On April 3, 2009, Ianniello was released from the Federal Medical Center (FMC) for prisoners in Butner, North Carolina.[25] On August 15, 2012, Ianniello died at his Long Island home in Old Westbury, New York, of health problems related to heart ailments and other illnesses, including prostate cancer.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

Matthew Ianniello is portrayed by actor Garry Pastore in the 2017 HBO series The Deuce. He has a recurring role in the first season but will become a regular in the second season coming out in September of 2018.[26]


  1. ^ a b c DeStefano, Anthony M. (August 19, 2012). "LI mobster Matthew 'Matty the Horse' Ianniello dies at 92". Newsday. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Vitello, Paul (August 24, 2012). "Matthew Ianniello, 92, Former Mafia Boss". New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Collins, R. Thomas (2002). Newswalker: A Story for Sweeney. RavensYard Publishing, Ltd. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-928928-03-4.
  4. ^ Jacobs, James B.; Cooperman, Kerry T. Breaking the devil's pact the battle to free the Teamsters from the mob. New York: New York University Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-8147-4366-8.
  5. ^ Gage, Nicholas (September 25, 1972). "Study Shows Courts Lenient With Mafiosi" (PDF). New YOrk Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  6. ^ Collins (2002), 126.
  7. ^ Skillings, Pamela. "Manhattan, New York: Photo Tour of Sites of Famous New York Deaths". p. 9 of 11. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  8. ^ Gage, Nicholas (May 3, 1972). "Story of Joe Gallo's Murder" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  9. ^ Paul Vitello (August 23, 2012). "Matthew Ianniello, the Mafia Boss Known as 'Matty the Horse,' Dies at 92". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Hugh A. Mulligan (May 5, 1985). "In These Eateries, Pasta Was Served With Bullets". The Nevada Daily Mail. p. 3A.
  11. ^ a b "Ianniello Is Sentenced In Racketeering Trial". The New York Times. February 16, 1986.
  12. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H (March 1, 1985). "REPUTED CRIME BOSSES ARRAIGNED". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  13. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H (December 31, 1985). "9 OF 10 FOUND GUILTY IN SKIMMING TRIAL". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  14. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (May 14, 1986). "SIX DEFENDANTS ARE ACQUITTED IN A MOB TRIAL". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  15. ^ "U.S. Attorney Reports Indictment of Ianniello". New York Times. May 16, 1986. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  16. ^ Uhlig, Mark A (May 19, 1988). "8 Reputed Members Of Genovese Family Indicted by U.S. Jury". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Salerno, Now Serving 100 Years, Gets 70 More in Bid-Rigging Case". New York Times. October 14, 1988. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Two Accused of Extorting Bus Companies" By Paul von Zielbauer New York Times June 3, 2009
  19. ^ Hays, Tom (July 29, 2005). "Authorities crack down on New York's Genovese crime family, with 20 arrests". North County Times. Retrieved 1 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Rashbaum, William K (July 29, 2005). "Metro Briefing | New York: Manhattan: Reputed Mob Family Boss Indicted". New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Reputed Genovese family members indicted" Marissa Muller CNN July 28, 2005;
  22. ^ "Mob Figures Are Charged With Controlling Trash Hauling in Connecticut". New York Times. June 10, 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  23. ^ a b Rubinsky, Cara (May 9, 2007). "Reputed Mob Boss Sentenced in Trash Case". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  24. ^ McShane 2007
  25. ^ Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator
  26. ^

Further reading[edit]

American Mafia
Preceded by
Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo
Genovese crime family
Acting boss

Succeeded by
Daniel "Danny the Lion" Leo
as acting boss