Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Boss of the Lucchese crime family|
|Criminal charge||Murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, racketeering|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso (born 1934, Brooklyn) is a New York mobster and boss of the Lucchese crime family. Amuso was described as a "Deadly Don", by Assistant United States Attorney Charles Rose. He is currently serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Cumberland, a federal correctional facility in Maryland on murder and racketeering charges.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Enforcer for Gallo
- 3 Lucchese crime family
- 4 Boss of the Lucchese family
- 5 Imprisoned Lucchese Boss
- 6 References
Vittorio Amuso was born in 1934 and grew up in Brooklyn. In the late 1940s, he was introduced to Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo, a prominent caporegime in the Gagliano crime family, a forerunner of the Lucchese crime family. Amuso acted as a bodyguard and chauffeur for Carmine Tramunti.
Enforcer for Gallo
He later became an enforcer for Profaci crime family mobster, Joseph "Crazy Joe" Gallo, in Brooklyn. In the early 1960s, the Gallo brothers declared war against longtime crime boss, Giuseppe "Joe" Profaci and the old Profaci faction of the family, because Profaci cut into Gallo's profits. Amuso would allegedly kill several members of the Profaci faction, but was sent to prison sometime in the early 1960s, along with Joey Gallo and a dozen others, for extortion charges.
After Joe Gallo's release from prison in early 1971, he continued his war against the family on June 28, 1971, when boss Joseph Colombo was shot. Months later on April 7, 1972, Joe Gallo was shot to death in Little Italy Manhattan, New York, while he was celebrating his 43rd birthday. Many Colombo crime family members, especially those from the old Gallo crew, defected to other crime families. Amuso went to the Lucchese family sometime during that year, as an associate in the crew of Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari.
Lucchese crime family
Amuso became of one of Furnari's top protégés along with Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. On December 21, 1972, Amuso was arrested by police outside the "House on Morgan Avenue," a front for the "Bronx Connection" kickback scheme, selling prison paroles for as high as $20,000 to prison inmates. Presumably to meet with the building owner, Richard Curro, a city corrections officer and Lucchese family associate, who acted as liaison between inmates and the Luccheses, Amuso was in possession of a switchblade and a file folder of parole documents at the time of his arrest.
Made man to prison
In 1977, Amuso became a made man in the Lucchese family. On May 30, 1977, Amuso was arrested with Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, for their involvement in a drug trafficking ring smuggling heroin from Bangkok, Thailand. At the time of the Brooklyn mobsters' arrest, he had been found with three pounds of heroin in his possession. Reportedly, the heroin operation was headed by Amuso, his cooperator Casso, and two other associates of the Lucchese crime family. They were all sent to prison.
Murder of Frank DeCicco
On April 13, 1986, the underboss of the Gambino crime family, Frank DeCicco, was killed when a bomb placed under his car went off. The bomb had been planted by Herbert Pate, while Amuso, Casso, and Vic's brother Robert watched from a parked car. The target was allegedly Gambino boss John Gotti, who earlier, with DeCicco, had organized the murder of former boss Paul Castellano, without the permission of the Commission. Reportedly, Amuso and Casso, along with Genovese crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, had planned Gotti's execution, but killed DeCicco by mistake. Although Casso later testified that both he and Amuso had conspired with Gigante, this was never raised at the trial, because Casso was dropped from the Witness Protection Program many years later.
Murder of Anthony Luongo
On February 15, 1985, Corallo, Furnari and underboss Salvatore "Tom Mix" Santoro were indicted in the Mafia Commission Trial, along with the top major heads of the Five Families. To replace him, Corallo put his protégé Anthony "Buddy" Luongo as acting boss sometime in early 1986. However, around December of that same year, Luongo disappeared. It was rumored that Amuso, then Luongo's driver and bodyguard, killed him to remove his last major opponent. Amuso's associate, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso was also reportedly involved in the Luongo incident.
By late 1986, Corallo realized that he, Santoro and Furnari were headed for convictions that would send them to prison for life. To avoid internal war and keep up the family's tradition of a peaceful transfer of power, Corallo summoned Amuso and Casso to a meeting at Furnari's house, and decided that one of them would succeed him as boss. Furnari then met with his two protègés and told them to decide which one would take the mantle. They ultimately decided that it should be Amuso. He was named acting boss later in 1986, and the new official boss on January 13, 1987, when Corallo and others were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Boss of the Lucchese family
The Cartel Windows case
Amuso, the first member of the Lucchese family's Brooklyn wing to become boss, soon started one of the bloodiest reigns in Mafia history. Historically, the Lucchese family had been reckoned as the most peaceful of the Five Families. In marked contrast, Amuso had a simple way of dealing with anyone who crossed him—kill them on the spot.
The bloodletting started with the so-called "Windows Case" in 1986, when Amuso felt that his family wasn't getting enough profit from the operation, and demanded that Casso supervise Lucchese's share in the cartel. The Gambino, Colombo, Genovese and Lucchese families had together created a cartel in 1978, which eventually controlled over $150 million in contracts from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The cartel monopolized the industry through Local 580, a Lucchese family-controlled local of the Iron Workers Union. Through the union, the cartel could solicit bribes, extort payoffs and enforce its monopoly. The cartel worked its controlled industry by charging a tax of approximately $1.00 to $2.00 for almost every window replacement, public and private, sold in New York City. The iron fists of Casso and captain Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo raised Amuso's shares in the cartel.
Dispute with Accetturo
The bloodletting only increased after Amuso named Casso as his underboss in 1988. Toward the late 1980s, Amuso and Casso began arguing with the head of the family's New Jersey faction, Anthony "Tumac" Accetturo, about the profit Amuso received. Accetturo had only been sending $50,000 a year to New York, but Amuso and Casso wanted half of the Jersey Crew's yearly take. When Accetturo refused, Amuso stripped him of his rank.
In the fall of 1988, the entire Jersey Crew was summoned to meet with Amuso in Brooklyn. Ten of the crew's members showed up for the meeting. However, fearing that they were being set up to be killed, they all abruptly drove off. In a fury, Amuso ordered the entire Jersey Crew killed — the now-infamous "whack Jersey" order. Soon, the entire New Jersey crew had gone into hiding, decimating the Lucchese interests in New Jersey. Amuso and Casso went on to eliminate anyone on even the merest suspicion that they might be defectors or if they were considered potential rivals. Over the next 12 months, most of the New Jersey crew members returned to the family. Amuso told the crew members who came back that Accetturo was an outlaw and needed to be disposed of. Amuso sent hitmen to Florida to search for Accetturo. However, what Amuso didn't realize was that Accetturo was jailed in New Jersey for refusing to testify in front a state panel. Accetturo would later become an informant. Accetturo's former protégé and longtime rival, Michael "Mad Dog" Taccetta, who was also despised by Amuso, reputedly took over Lucchese's Jersey Crew, the nickname of their faction in Northern New Jersey, toward his conviction in 1993, before Accetturo eventually agreed to become an informant.
Fugitives and convictions
In early 1991, Amuso and Casso were indicted as part of a racketeering investigation. Acting on prior knowledge, Amuso and his Underboss went into hiding. Amuso named Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco as acting boss. But the bloodshed of Vic Amuso and Tony Casso wasn't over yet, as Lucchese caporegime Peter "Fat Pete" Chiodo was charged with violations of the RICO act in 1991.
Suspecting that Chiodo had turned informer, Amuso decided to have Chiodo killed. On May 8, 1991, three gunmen shot Chiodo 12 times, but failed to kill him. A few weeks later, Amuso sent word to Chiodo's attorneys that his wife had been marked for death. This violated a longstanding Mafia rule that women are not to be harmed. Later, a hit team nearly killed Chiodo's sister.
The move backfired spectacularly, as Chiodo became a government informant and agreed to testify against several major heads of the Five Families, including Amuso, that same year. Chiodo revealed details of the entire Windows Case operation, several murder and conspiracy charges, loansharking and extortion, as well as money laundering and drug trafficking operations around Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.
Amuso issued several other orders that led many inside and outside the Lucchese family to conclude he was no longer acting rationally. He and Casso crafted a list of 49 people that they wanted dead—half of whom were Lucchese wiseguys. He also ordered D'Arco to bring in a bomb expert from the Philadelphia crime family as part of a plan to blow up Gambino boss John Gotti. Amuso then turned his wrath on D'Arco, whom he held responsible for the failed hit on Chiodo. He effectively demoted D'Arco by naming a four-man panel to run the family in his absence.
Federal agents captured Amuso at a suburban mall outside Scranton, Pennsylvania. Shortly afterward, D'Arco was set up to be killed at a meeting of top Lucchese leaders at a Manhattan hotel. D'Arco spotted a man carrying a gun under his shirt. The man later went to the bathroom — and when he came out, the gun was gone. Realizing that the next guy to come out of the bathroom would likely come out shooting, D'Arco fled for his life and turned state's evidence. His testimony (and that of many others) proved to be devastating to Amuso's case, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992. Amuso is currently serving his life sentence at a high security federal penitentiary in Coleman, Florida.
Casso managed to remain free for two more years until he himself was apprehended in 1993. Believing Casso was responsible for his arrest, Amuso effectively banished Casso from the family. Casso responded by turning informer himself. After the incarcerations of both Amuso and Casso, the U.S. government learned that they each had, allegedly, ordered more than 10-12 slayings while they were fugitives and while on trial, using corrupt NYPD cops Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa as their personal hit men.
Imprisoned Lucchese Boss
New Lucchese Acting boss
After Amuso's indictment in 1991 with the testimony provided by former acting boss Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco, Amuso promoted his caporegime Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede, to acting boss, with the help of the Ruling Panel members, Steven "Wonderboy" Crea, Anthony "Bowat" Baratta, Salvatore "Sal" Avellino and consigliere Frank "Big Frank" Lastorino in 1991. It was around this time that Lastorino used the indictments of Amuso and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso to take advantage of the situation and gained much of the authority in the family when he aligned himself with Brooklyn faction leaders George "Georgie Neck" Zappola, Frank "Bones" Papagni, Frank Gioia, Jr. and George Conte.
Fearing rivalry from Bronx
In early 1992, Amuso feared that rivalry was being developed in the Lucchese crime family, as some mobsters thought, with Amuso out of the way, that they could take over. The rivals were the old Bronx faction of the family, and Amuso felt he had to prove that he was still in charge. On April 3, 1992, Aniello "Neil" Migliore, one of the most powerful capos of the family, was celebrating the birthday of a friend's granddaughter in a Westbury, New York restaurant on Long Island. During the party, a gunman in a passing car fired one or two shotgun blasts through the restaurant window, hitting Migliore in the head and chest. Despite his wounds, Migliore survived. The attempt on his life did not sway Migliore away from the crime family, though, as he kept operating throughout the 1990s.
Bronx & Brooklyn rivalry
As Amuso allegedly attempted to kill Aniello "Neil" Migliore from the Bronx faction in 1992, he chose another Bronx faction-leader named Steven "Wonderboy" Crea as the new and powerful underboss of the Lucchese crime family to keep rivals from the Bronx in line. However, this decision almost triggered a new war within the crime family, as Crea, along with Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede decided to turn the family's power center away from Brooklyn, New York, and back to the Bronx faction where it had been for decades. This, however, didn't please the imprisoned boss Vic Amuso and his supporters within the Brooklyn faction. Crime family consigliere, Frank "Big Frank" Lastorino sought to organize the murder of Steven Crea using capos George Zappola, Frank Papagni and Frank Gioia, Jr., and would further plan to use the death of acting boss Steve Crea to gain the control of the Lucchese crime family. U.S. law enforcement also recognized these members as the actual leaders of the family at the time, and even picked them up on wires and bugs saying they were going to kill Gambino crime family boss John "Junior" Gotti, son of John Gotti, and his rival Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo to split up the Gambinos. This conspiracy also included Genovese crime family boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante and on-the-lam leader, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso before he was apprehended. But due to massive indictments of the time, slashing all members of the three families involved in the conspiracy, the plot never succeeded, and Amuso continued to run the family from prison as most of the conspirators themselves were sent to prison.
Restructure of the family
During the mid-1990s, the majority of the Brooklyn faction leaders, many of whom were known Amuso's rivals, were sent to prison on various charges. To keep some sense of stability within the Lucchese crime family, Amuso promoted his loyal friend and Brooklyn capo Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone to the position of consigliere, replacing Frank Lastorino. Amuso also kept Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede as the crime family's acting boss. DeFede oversaw important crime family operations such as those in the Garment District, which brought in between $40,000 to $60,000 a month. Amuso kept Stephen "Wonderboy" Crea of the Bronx as the underboss, overseeing the construction and union racketeering operations that made the crime family between $300,000 and $500,000 a month. Daidone was put in control of the crews and street soldiers that took care of all the debt collection and muscle work, basically the collection of gambling and loansharking debts, the extortion operations and allegedly murder for hire. After Daidone was promoted to the number three spot, Long Island caporegime Joseph "Joe C." Caridi stepped up to run Daidone's former crew.
Joe DeFede's imprisonment
On April 28, 1998, DeFede was indicted on nine counts of racketeering stemming from his supervision of the crime family rackets in New York's Garment District from 1992 to 1997. The prosecution reported that since the mid-1980s the Lucchese crime family had been grossing between $40,000 and $60,000 per month from the Garment District rackets they controlled. In December 1998, DeFede pleaded guilty to the charges and received five years in prison. Angry at his guilty plea, Amuso became uncertain of DeFede's loyalty to the crime family and, in the future, Amuso would regard DeFede as a traitor and thief.
Wonderboy's enormous profit
After the imprisonment of Joe DeFede in 1998, Amuso handpicked Bronx faction leader, Steven "Wonderboy" Crea as the new acting boss of the Lucchese crime family. Crea, a loyal Amuso underboss began sending a larger amount of the crime family's profits to the imprisoned boss, which convinced Amuso that DeFede had been skimming profits from the crime family the whole time he was acting boss. Amuso decided to put out a contract on DeFede's life in late 1999. On September 6, 2000, Crea and seven other Lucchese members were arrested and jailed on extortion charges. Crea was eventually convicted in 2001 and sentenced to five years in prison. Steven Crea was released from prison in 2006.
Daidone, DeFede and D'Arco
Following the imprisonment of Crea in 2001, influential consigliere, Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone was promoted to acting boss and began to run the day-to-day operations of the crime family. Daidone, at the time, one of the strongest and most dangerous crime family members, would continue to oversee the contract ordered by Amuso on imprisoned former acting boss Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede. DeFede did not know that Amuso had placed a contract on his life but, during DeFede's imprisonment, he was demoted from capo to soldier and this alerted him to the possibility that he had fallen out of favor with boss Vic Amuso and could be in serious trouble. Upon DeFede's release from prison on February 5, 2002, it was reported that the former Amuso ally immediately turned to the government for help and became an informant. Federal witnesses Joe DeFede and Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco gave the U.S. government information regarding Lucchese controlled racketeering operations based around New York City, which helped the federal government continue their decimation of the old Amuso-faction.
Both D'Arco and DeFede also provided information about rackets such as gambling, loansharking, extortion and even information about some old murders, which led to the indictments of Mafia cops, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. Eppolito and Caracappa were allegedly working for and taking large bribes from former Lucchese underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso since the 1980s. The two highly decorated NYPD officers were apparently used by Casso and the Lucchese crime family to gain valuable information about ongoing police investigations and cases concerning New York Mafia member. The two bad cops were also used to lure rivals and possible government informants to their deaths and, in some cases, they apparently executed the victims themselves. Daidone received a life sentence in 2003 on racketeering and murder charges, while more than a dozen other prominent Lucchese crime family members were sent to prison during that same year on various charges.
The Committee/Ruling Panel
After the conviction and imprisonment of acting boss Louie Diadone in 2003, Amuso instituted a new ruling panel/committee of influential capos to oversee and run the crime family's day-to-day activities. Prominent and senior Lucchese capos Aniello "Neil" Migliore, Matthew "Matt" Madonna and Joseph "Joey Dee" DiNapoli were handpicked by Amuso to lead the crime family. These senior capos were chosen as street bosses to work in tandem. Instead of placing one particular member in the official underboss position, Amuso divided the power between three influential capos. Migliore, a former Corallo loyalist and Amuso rival, is now said to be one of the most powerful mobsters in the Lucchese crime family.
In 2006, former acting boss Stephen "Wonderboy" Crea was released from prison, and the ruling panel/committee continued to run day-to-day activities of the crime family. In late 2009, ruling panel members Madonna and DiNapoli were indicted on labor racketeering, illegal gambling and extortion charges. In 2009, Steven Crea took over as acting boss of the crime family.
As of July 2014, Amuso remains the official boss of the Lucchese crime family. Amuso, is serving his life sentence at Federal Correctional Institution, Cumberland, a federal correctional facility in Maryland on murder and racketeering charges. Mafia expert Jerry Capeci described Amuso's succession as one of the biggest mistakes in the crime family's history.<citation needed> According to another Mafia historian, Selwyn Raab, Amuso's bloodthirsty tactics resulted in the loss of more than half the family's made members — either as a result of being killed, imprisoned or turning informer.
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