Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather- The FBI and Paul Castellano

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9780440212294: Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather- The FBI and Paul Castellano

Paul Castellano headed New York's immensely powerful Gambino crime family for more than ten years. On December 16, 1985, he was gunned down in a spectacular shooting on Manhattan's fashionable East Side.

At the time of his death, Paul Castellano was under indictment. So were most of the major Mafia figures in New York. Why? Because in 1983 the FBI had hidden a microphone in the kitchen of Castellano's Staten Island mansion. The 600 hours of recorndings led to eight criminal trials. And this book.

Agents Joe O'Brien and Andris Kurins planted that mike. They listened to the voices. Now they bring you the most revealing look inside the Mafia ever ... in the Mafia's own words.

Le informazioni nella sezione "Riassunto" possono far riferimento a edizioni diverse di questo titolo.

From the Back Cover:

"Beautifully done, not only strange and fascinating but even touching."
-- Robert Daley, author of Prince of the City

"At least as good as Mario Puzo, with shades of David Mamet or even Arthur Miller."
-- New York Daily News

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

On December 16, 1985, at approximately five forty-five in the evening, Paul Castellano, the most powerful gangster in America -- the Mafia's Boss of Bosses -- was gunned down on a busy Manhattan street, along with his driver, bodyguard, and underboss, Thomas Bilotti.

The rubout was a classic instance of how the Mob deals with difficult questions of succession, and with qualms about internal security. Castellano had been at the top of the Mafia pyramid for nine years, since the 1976 death of his cousin and brother-in-law, Carlo Gambino. His reign had been a time of prosperity and relative stability for New York racketeers. But now Big Paul was seventy years old, and had diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart trouble. Unprecedented legal pressures were being brought to bear on him. He was a man beset, and he was tired; according to some, his grip on reality was loosening.

Some of his associates hated him, and he knew it. Being hated was not in itself a problem. It went with the job. Being hated without being feared, however, was dangerous, and Castellano was coming to realize that some of his young lieutenants -- most especially the cocky and ambitious John Gotti -- no longer feared him.

Or rather, they feared not his strength but his possible weakening. At the time of his death, Paul Castellano was on trial for running a stolen car ring and conspiring to commit murder. These charges, while serious enough, said less about the full gamut of Castellano's crimes than about the government's subtle and painstaking strategy of building cases against him piece by piece, one by one. He had already been indicted, arrested, and freed on bail in the famous Commission case, which would come to trial in 1986, and would essentially dismantle the Mob's entire leadership structure. The even more personally damning Castaway case, stemming from the bugging of Castellano's residence, was also being readied. The bottom line was that, win or lose, Big Paul would be in and out of court for years, and this made his underlings very nervous.

Unlike younger Mafiosi, whose mettle was proved and whose careers were sometimes made by an early show of loyalty and defiance that led to a conviction for contempt of court or obstruction of justice, Castellano had nothing to gain from a prison term. At seventy, the idea is not to impress but to survive. Castellano didn't want to be away from his doctors, from his supply of insulin and heart pills. He didn't want to be away from the gaudy comforts of his Staten Island mansion. He didn't want to be away from his mistress, who happened also to be his, and his wife's, Colombian maid.

For all those reasons, it was feared that Big Paul might sing. And to those who might be implicated in what Paul Castellano had to sing about, killing him seemed less trouble than enduring the worry and the sleepless nights that would attend his private confabulations with the authorities.

So the hit was arranged.

It was to be a highly public act -- no Hoffa-like disappearing routine -- and this, in the language of the Mob, sent a message: The murder was not a rebellion by some splinter faction of the Gambino clan, but a stratagem sanctioned by the five major Cosa Nostra families of New York. As in some primitive ritual, all members of the tribe would acknowledge, accept, and share responsibility for the slaying of the patriarch; they would all, so to speak, eat a piece of Paul.

Telling, too, was the fact that the killing took place uptown. Old-style Godfathers, when their time was up, tended to be eliminated in the linguine joints of Little Italy. They landed facedown in the clam sauce, their blood blended with the red-and-white-checked tablecloths, and the bullet holes in the walls behind them became tourist attractions. But Paul Castellano, who fancied himself a savvy and thoroughly American businessman, and who imagined that he was guiding the Mob into the promised land of legitimate enterprise, was murdered on the tony East Side -- to be exact, on Forty-sixth Street, between Second and Third avenues.

His last meal, had he lived to savor it, would have been eaten at Sparks Steak House, and would have consisted of the third cut of a prime rib of beef. Big Paul, a former butcher, claimed that this was absolutely the most succulent slice; it was his custom to examine the meat, raw, at his table before actually ordering. But regulars were expected to be demanding at Sparks. If the hundred-dollar Bordeaux was the slightest bit cloudy, back it went; sometimes even perfect wine was rejected, simply as a ceremony of power. Only three miles north from Angelo's of Mulberry Street, the uptown eatery was galaxies removed from the straw-covered Chianti bottles of Little Italy, from the communal wedges of pungent cheese, the thick espresso cut with anisette.

But despite the thin veneer of sophistication, the Mob was still the Mob, and the assassination of Castellano and Bilotti might as easily have happened in the Chicago of Al Capone.

Three men in trench coats, tipped off to Castellano's expected arrival by a confidant-turned-traitor named Frankie De Cicco, loitered in the urban shadows of the early Christmas-season dusk. Thomas Bilotti turned his boss's black Lincoln onto Forty-sixth Street, and parked it directly in front of a No Parking sign; the car had a Patrolmen's Benevolent Association sticker on the windshield. As the two victims emerged, the assassins approached them, producing semiautomatic weapons from under their coats and loosing a barrage of bullets at close range. Castellano and Bilotti were each shot six times in the head and torso. Nothing if not thorough, one of the killers then crouched over Castellano's body and delivered a coup de grace through the skull. In no particular hurry, the assassins jogged down Forty-sixth Street to Second Avenue, where a getaway car was waiting. Witnesses of the hits, of whom there were several, remembered no details except for the trench coats, and that the getaway car was a dark color.

Thomas Bilotti, a short, thickly muscled man who in life had been a hothead, a loudmouth, and a show-off, ended up sprawled in the middle of Forty-sixth Street, his arms and legs splayed wide apart in a final insistence on being noticed; around him spread a huge red stain, as though little Tommy's last gesture of machismo was to demonstrate how much blood his squat body had contained.

Paul Castellano, by contrast, had lived a life that was all discretion and self-effacement. He had worked hard at keeping his name out of the papers, and even in death he hid his face from public view. Shot, he fell backward toward the open door of his Lincoln, coming to rest with his head and neck grotesquely propped against the floorboard, his spine cantilevered over the curb, his long legs blocking the sidewalk like those of a sleeping wing. He hardly bled, as though age, sickness, and dread had already drained him dry.

If it is true that the manner of a person's death speaks the last word on his life, then the death of Paul Castellano, Boss of Bosses, made it clear that, for all the man's illusions of legitimacy and suavity, of business savvy and executive prowess, he had in fact remained a thug. Stripped of his power, bereft of his mystique, he ended up as one more gangland corpse, dead in public with his trousers unflatteringly hiked up to reveal a white sliver of calf above the translucent nylon sock.



If Paul Castellano's murderers had needed just)fication for killing him, they could have made a fairly persuasive case that their leader had doomed himself by a singular act of carelessness, lack of vigilance, or fatal overconfidence: he had somehow, in March 1983, allowed the FBI to bug his house.

Special Agents, with court approval, had foiled Castellano's complex alarm system and eluded the Doberman pinschers that patrolled his grounds. They had entered the Boss's private quarters -- the sanctum sanctorum of Mob business -- and planted a live microphone that functioned undetected, for almost four and one-half months. From the point of view of law enforcement, the Castellano bug was one of the most significant and fruitful surveillances in history.

From the Mafia's perspective, it was not only an unforgivable blunder on Castellano's part but a calamity of major proportions -- probably the greatest breach of Mob secrecy since a small-time hood named Joe Valachi decided to go public with his life story in the early 1960s. More than thirty Gambino crime family members were recorded discussing their illicit activities. Schemes were hatched, roles were assigned, while the Bureau listened in. Conversations with high-ranking members of other Cosa Nostra families provided fascinating insights into how the Mob's pie is divvied up. The machinery was laid bare.

So fertile were the Castellano tapes that even as the l990s were beginning, prosecutions stemming from the three thousand pages of transcripts were still under way. In all, more than a hundred indictments resulted from the bugging of Big Paul's Todt Hill residence. It is not an exaggeration to say that the destiny of the entire Gambino crime family was reshaped as a direct result of the surveillance.

Castellano's power and prestige were irreparably compromised by the bug. Not only did its successful placement cause him profound loss of face but the unflinching microphone caught him deriding associates, mocking fellow mobsters, setting factions against each other. As prescribed by law, everyone against whom the tapes were used as evidence had a right to review their contents; hearing themselves victimized by Big Paul's caustic wit, even formerly loyal cohorts turned on him. If ever a man was undone by thinking out loud, that man was Paul Castellano.



We -- the authors of this book -- are in a unique position to write about the Castellano surveillance, because we conducted it. We went in. We planted the mike. And we listened to the voices.

Special Agent Joseph F. O'Brien is one of two men who first penetrated the ...

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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reissue. Language: English . Brand New Book. Paul Castellano headed New York s immensely powerful Gambino crime family for more than ten years. On December 16, 1985, he was gunned down in a spectacular shooting on Manhattan s fashionable East Side. At the time of his death, Paul Castellano was under indictment. So were most of the major Mafia figures in New York. Why? Because in 1983 the FBI had hidden a microphone in the kitchen of Castellano s Staten Island mansion. The 600 hours of recorndings led to eight criminal trials. And this book. Agents Joe O Brien and Andris Kurins planted that mike. They listened to the voices. Now they bring you the most revealing look inside the Mafia ever . in the Mafia s own words. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780440212294

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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reissue. Language: English . Brand New Book. Paul Castellano headed New York s immensely powerful Gambino crime family for more than ten years. On December 16, 1985, he was gunned down in a spectacular shooting on Manhattan s fashionable East Side. At the time of his death, Paul Castellano was under indictment. So were most of the major Mafia figures in New York. Why? Because in 1983 the FBI had hidden a microphone in the kitchen of Castellano s Staten Island mansion. The 600 hours of recorndings led to eight criminal trials. And this book. Agents Joe O Brien and Andris Kurins planted that mike. They listened to the voices. Now they bring you the most revealing look inside the Mafia ever . in the Mafia s own words. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780440212294

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