Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Gotti, the Last Mafia Icon

Chin's Retaliation

Vincent (Chin) Gigante
Vincent (Chin) Gigante (AP)

Before having Castellano murdered, Gotti had sought the approval of the other New York families, with the exception of the Genovese Family and their leader Vincent "the Chin" Gigante. After the murder, Gigante, who would soon be the only member of the Commission that wasn't dead or in prison, sought to avenge the killing. Gotti had sent a message to Gigante and the other families that "all was well" with the Gambino Family, and a message was relayed back from the Genovese boss that "someday, someone would have to pay for Paul."

In Gotti: Rise and Fall, the authors reveal Gigante's plan as he plotted with old-time Gambino capos, James "Jimmy Brown" Failla and Daniel Marino. Failla controlled the city's private sanitation industry and Marino was a trucking-company proprietor. Capeci and Mustain write:

"He (Gigante) also intended to play kingmaker. After Gotti and DeCicco were dead, he would step in and urge the Gambino capos to elect Failla, who had been a friend as long as Paul was. Failla, at his urging, would then choose his underboss."

Gotti and DeCicco had made a point of visiting the various family capos on their home ground, something Castellano considered beneath him. On Sunday, April 16, 1986, just days after the Giacalone RICO trial began, Gotti was supposed to meet DeCicco and Gravano at Failla's Veterans & Friends social club in Bensonhurst. In addition to crewmembers of Failla, Danny Marino was also in attendance.

Outside the club, several hundred yards away, a hit team that was organized by Gigante and Lucchese Family higher-up Anthony "Gas Pipe" Casso was ready for action. A bomb hidden in a brown bag was placed under DeCicco's automobile. What the killers didn't know was that Gotti had telephoned the club earlier to let them know he couldn't make it and for DeCicco to meet him later that day at the Ravenite.

While members of the group were discussing family business, Frank Bellino, a member of the Lucchese Family, arrived to discuss a legal problem with DeCicco. Bellino wanted the telephone number of an attorney and DeCicco had the lawyer's business card in the glove compartment of his Buick Electra. As the two men approached the car DeCicco commented about a bag that was visible under the vehicle. "There's probably a bomb under my car," he joked to Bellino.

As the two men approached the car, Herbert "Blue Eyes" Pate, an associate of the Genovese Family (who years later was ratted out by Anthony Casso as the hit man), was given a signal. He waited as DeCicco sat down on the passenger's side and opened the glove compartment. Then he detonated the bomb. Gang members, except Failla and Marino, rushed from the social club to the scene of carnage. Gravano pulled his dying friend away from the burning automobile. Both victims were taken by a police van to Victory Memorial Hospital, where DeCicco was pronounced dead. Gotti moved quickly to gather the troops. All of the family capos and their crewmembers were ordered to attend the wake for a showing of strength and unity.

Unaware of who was behind the murder, Gotti still believed he had a good working relationship with Gigante. The Chin thought otherwise and was not finished with his effort to remove Gotti from the leadership of the Gambino Family. However, according to Gravano, Gigante wasn't the only one plotting. In 1988, Gotti requested a meeting of the Commission. With his friend Joseph Massino (head of the Bonanno Family but removed years earlier from his Commission seat), Gotti lobbied to get the Bonanno boss back on the Commission. Then in a power play, Gotti backed Vic Orena for the position of  "acting boss" of the Colombo Family. Gotti's game plan was that, with the loyalty of those two family bosses, he could control the Commission.

As the maneuverings raged on, a New Jersey faction of the Genovese Family was making plans to kill both John Gotti and his brother Gene.  Louis Anthony "Bobby" Manna, a 59-year-old capo from Jersey City, conspired with five other gang members to pull off the assassination. When government agents heard about the plot from listening devices planted in the restaurant of Martin "Motts" Casella, they notified Gotti. In June 1989, Manna and two others were convicted in the death plot.


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