Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Gotti, the Last Mafia Icon

Moving Up

Gotti's first step up the mob ladder came at the expense of Carmine Fatico's legal woes. Gotti's next step would come in a similar manner, but this time it was Dellacroce's problems with the law.

Aniello Dellacroce and John Gotti hit it off right away. In many ways they were like two peas in a pod. In Gotti: Rise and Fall, authors Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain give this insight into Dellacroce's personality: "…he was Carlo's bad cop. He was fierce, violent, foul-mouthed and clever, and Carlo relied on him when a mix of treachery and trickery was needed to settle some contentious matter." Operating out of the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street in the heart of Manhattan's Little Italy, Dellacroce was highly visible in the neighborhood – so much so that a 1972 Senate committee investigating organized crime actually identified him as the boss of the Gambino Family.

Another thing Dellacroce and Gotti had in common was their bad habit of losing big in gambling. In 1968, Dellacroce was indicted for income tax evasion after reporting an income of $10,400 when his actual income exceeded $130,000. In addition, the IRS discovered that, while on a three-day vacation in Puerto Rico, Dellacroce had lost more in gambling then he claimed as income for the entire year. Dellacroce was sentenced to a year in prison, and then after he refused to testify before a grand jury, five more were added on, even though he was granted immunity.

With Fatico keeping a low profile and Dellacroce in prison, Gotti, still in the status of an associate, began making regular visits to family boss Carlo Gambino. Years later, Gotti would be overheard on a bug calling Gambino a "rat mother fucker" and a "back door mother fucker" for never promoting him, but in 1973 the young hood stood in awe of "Don Carlo."

A student of Niccolo Machiavelli, the Italian philosopher, Gambino had a habit of quoting from "The Prince." Later while in prison, Gotti would also study the writings of Machiavelli, to the point where he could quote whole parables. Gotti strutted proudly in front of the Bergin crew as he relayed orders from the revered family boss. Although Gambino's edict to stay clear of drug dealing fell on deaf ears, other orders were obeyed. One of the rulings that came down from Gambino was that family members were to stop the practice of kidnapping other criminals, which at the time was "in vogue." Gambino put the ban in effect after the kidnapping and murder of Manny Gambino, Don Carlo's nephew.

The killing of Manny Gambino, and the subsequent murder of Irish mobster James "Jimmy" McBratney, would become part of the Gotti myth.


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