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Life in the Bonanno Family

Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. In this episode, we have a special guest, Jack Amato, who shares his experiences growing up in Sicily and the United States. He talks about his father’s encounters with the mafia and their journey from owning a restaurant in Brooklyn to buying a luncheonette in Glendale. Jack discusses how his father dealt with tough guys and troublemakers in the neighborhood, sometimes reaching out to wise guys for assistance. He also shares his experiences in the lunch wagon business and his involvement with figures like Joe Massino and Rusty Rastelli. The conversation then delves into the early days of running lunch wagons and catering businesses.Ā  Jack Amato discusses the relationships formed with prominent figures in the industry, such as mafia members like Joe Massino and Rusty Rastelli. They talk about the buying and selling of products, including cigarettes without a stamp, and the arrangement in which a percentage of sales would be paid to Joe Massino for the items provided. Jack Amato describes his personal experiences and interactions with various mobsters. He shares stories of confrontations, alliances, and even getting shot in the stomach during a robbery attempt. He discusses his decision to focus on the pizzeria business and interact with figures like Pizza Connection conspirators like Baldo Amaro and Cesar Bonaventura. Jack also relates his involvement in bookmaking and other ventures, including opening a maintenance and cleaning business. The conversation then turns as Jack Amato discusses legal troubles, accusations, and encounters with law enforcement. They talk about Jack being arrested and facing serious charges, including attempted murder and conspiracy. Jack Amato maintains his innocence and describes the pressure to cooperate with authorities. They also discuss the changing dynamics within the mob and the different power figures that emerged.
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[0:00] Welcome, all you wiretappers out there. Good to be back here in the studio.
Gangland Wire, you know, retired Kansas City Police Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins here.
And I have a really interesting, different sort of an interview.
We’ve got a man from Sicily. I started noticing this man on our podcast page.
Gangland Wire podcast was posting and he has a book that he’s written and it tells about his life, you know, both in Sicily and when he came over.
And when he came over, his family ended up, you know, getting jobs and being around some of the Bonanno families.
So he has a lot of experiences with this from, shall we say, from the, not really from the associate side, not even associate, more like from just somebody that lived in the neighborhood and people that had to do business with mob guys and with his roots in Sicily.
So his name is Jack Amato. So welcome, Jack.

[0:57] Thank you for getting me to your show. You invited me to your show.
Well, I’m really anxious to have you now.
A Father’s Belief, part one. That’s the name of your book, correct?
Yes, yes. All right, and you can get that on Amazon, I believe, can’t you?
Yeah. Let’s move along. In this next segment, let’s move along to your life in the United States.
And as your father, you know, he had a restaurant and there were mafia around and they had the lunch wagon business.
And so as you grew up and grew into that and those people were in your life, let’s talk about that.
Okay. All right, so. So like I said, we were in Brooklyn working along for showman, you know, my father was working there and my schooling, I didn’t make it to junior high school.
And so my father wanted to get us out of there, but he wanted us to go in the pizza business.
That was a thing for immigrants to go in to make pizza.
That was a big deal. So we learned to make the pizza, me and my brothers.

[2:08] And my father, with the help of my older brother, because he already was in America, he knew his way around, We found this place that it was a luncheonette in Glendale with a house for us to live in, you know, and we bought that house and we took over the luncheonette.
There’s a story in my book about the transaction.
And like I said, there was a pizzeria two blocks away, not even, a block and a half.
They were doing good. They were the only ones there. There was Sicilian too and they were related to the Gambino.
Okay. Okay. And.
But we bought a luncheonette, we’re going to convert it into a pizza place, you know, and keep the counter with the ice cream and the milkshake, you know, but have a pizzeria luncheonette.
So when we start doing work to rebuild out, we got a visit from two guys.
And actually, I ended up talking to them. I broke the language.
My father didn’t even speak English. My older brother, too, and they want to say, who’s the owner here, right?

[3:24] So I said, it’s my father, it’s family-owned, why?
You know, why? I was already a tough guy. I was 15 now.

[3:35] I’ve been seeing it all, and I heard about, you know, being getting shagged down, that you got to pay protection money, you know, which I already learned that from being in Brooklyn, with the Gallo brothers, you know?
I mean, I don’t think they did that. I don’t think they, I think they just did their own business, bookmaking, Sherlock, you know, any stolen goods from the ship, you know, the longshoreman, you know, stolen goods.
There was no drugs, really that I have to say heroin?
No, it was a big thing was the numbers shy and selling stolen good, you know, and that was it, you know.
And if somebody else wanted a favor or something, they paid for the favor.
That’s how they made money, you know.
So I was familiar with that. But anyway, so I said, my father does not speak English, so what’s the problem?
So he says, well, you know, you got to bring your father here, you know, before they talk to me. He says you could translate.
So I called my father and told him, and said, you guys want to talk?
And he said, you know, you can open up a pizzeria here because there’s a pizzeria here.

[4:57] So, instead of a little conversion, my father took the guy and threw him out, grabbed him by the arm.
You know, he was a fisherman, pulled the boat, you know, I mean, he was strong, he was not, you know, he could hurt you by just squeezing his hand.
So he says, you know, go take a walk, you know, and throw him out.
The guys are like, you know, they didn’t do that.
They left. So my father reached out and he went to the other pizzeria.
Went to the guy’s place. You know, on a Friday night when they’re busy. Got to learn.
And he told the guy, you know, he says, listen, people came to my place.
They mentioned your name.
We should not open a pizzeria.
And the guy goes, I don’t know nothing about it.
I don’t know nothing about it. So my father told him, OK, I’ll tell you something about it. Anything happens to my place.
I’m going to come here and put you in the oven.

[6:03] Oh, in the oven. Right in the oven.
So my father didn’t go alone. He took a couple of guys with him, you know, longshoremen. showman.
Right away, my father didn’t wait for anything to happen.
He reached out for the wise guys, which in the area, 18th Avenue, Williamsburg.
You know, there’s a lot of paisans over there.
I want to know if anybody know this pizzeria.
So sure enough, you know, they find out what you would belong to. They came in and that.
The people that were involved with the guy, you know, came to apologize.
You know, it was a misunderstanding, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And that was it.
And that was the first experience I got seeing my father in action.
The second action I seen him, there was the group of bad boys, I guess, in the neighborhood.
They go drinking, to bars, then come in on weekends.
You know, we had a jukebox. And you split the money with the guy who gives you the jukebox.
They would come in and play jukebox, start dancing in the place, and they used to get out of there.
So one night, my father had a, he told me, who’s the tough guy here?
You know, who’s the leader?

[7:31] So there was the other kids working, he says, he’s the leader, you know, the pinpointer.
So my father one day was in the kitchen, you know, like I said, he had his friends too, you know, from the other side, from Italy.
So, and he wanted to teach this kid, you know, a lesson.
So they were making mess out of the pizzeria, you know, my father came out and said, pick it up, you know, he was throwing napkins and dishes.
And the guy started making his hands like, you know, rough and cool, you know, but that my father went crazy, you know, grabbed him by the throat, you know, and pulled out a knife, put it in his neck.

[8:18] Like, you know, like, and the other guys, and he’s a Sicilian.
I kill you, you know, I kill you.
You don’t do this here, this is my house, you know.
Anyway, they became good friends after that. There was no more trouble.
Your father had reached out to somebody when he first got this threat from the other pizza place.
And so he reached out to somebody to start asking about who were they, were they connected?
Now, who did he reach out to?
Do you remember who that was? Well, there was coffee shop.
You know, people from the town, Carini, there was, what do you call it, a residence there, you know, and they knew, how do you say, the Gambino was next door neighbor for my town, Torretta.
It was like 15 minutes away. Okay.
So we knew the Gambino from system. All right. I got you now.
Okay. So that’s how it reached out.
But Carlo Gambino was American, came in America like me, a young kid.
You know what I mean? Yeah, I know what you mean. He was in America, he was American. He was, what do you call it, from Sicily.

[9:43] He became Carlo Gambino, the boss over here in America.
So same thing with Joe Bonanno, a lot of these guys, they came my age.
You know, the developer to make money. At that time, there was the liquor, right?
The liquor, I mean, the wine, the liquor, right?
Huntry Ben. Mm-hmm, yeah, the probation was going on, yeah.
He wasn’t really reaching out to.
Anybody who was he knew was in the mafia, but he reached out to other people he knew from his area in Sicily that had been there for a while to find out who am I dealing with?
And then he finds out he’s not dealing with anybody that’s going to be come back and kill him and burn him out.
It sounded to me like he figured out who they were.
Right. Because you already He knew that he told the guy from the pizza place.
Threats and Apologies at the Glendale Pizzeria

[10:37] That they were the place who has a Glendale pizzeria.
He told the guy, if anything happens to my place or my kids, I’m gonna come here and put you in the oven.
Okay, all right. I don’t care who does it, who it is, I’m holding you responsible.
So that’s all over now. That’s all over.
Like you don’t hear anything back from them. They even come and apologize for what he said.
Her father went away. He wanted to show that he was serious.
So, yeah, but he heard that he was related with the Gambino.
He put a word with his spies on to find out who this guy is really connected with. OK.
OK. And it turned out to be that he was married to one of the cousins from the Gambino.

[11:27] No affiliation with them off, just using their name. I gotcha. I gotcha.
That’s how it came to that. All right. All right. I’m sorry.
I just needed to straighten that out in my own mind.
Your father’s a tough dude and he runs a good place and there’s no hanky-panky and there’s no young kids doing anything wrong.
We talked about the lunch wagon business and CINO and Rusty Rastelli and all that. So where does that come in here with the lunch wagon business?
Okay, well, what happened is I came of age, you know, 20 years old, and I found a girl I was in love with.
I was working seven days a week and weekends, and I didn’t want to do it no more. You know, I wanted to spend time with my girl.

[12:16] I wanted to take her out, because we were working all the time.
So I said that, I don’t want to do this no more, you know, I’m two years gone.
So what happened was the girl that I met, she was related to Joe Massino, Salvatore.
Salvatore was the bloodline. In other words, our mother and Salvatore are brothers and sisters.
And Joe Massino was married to one of the sisters. And he had the catering business.
Just a wagon. That’s all he had. He was working with the wagon.
I asked him, you know, if there’s a wagon I could buy.
Now Sal got into it first with the business.
He finally dropped a wagon for Sal Vakhali to buy.
So he bought it first, I bought it second. So we were like family.
You know, we were in there. And Sal Vitale, Sal Vitale and he was a brother-in-law to Joe Massino. Yeah. Okay.

[13:23] But Sal Vitale was my mother-in-law’s brother.
Okay. So my wife is niece, blood niece.
All right, I gotcha. So you guys are running lunch wagons and Joe Massino has a catering business.
Not yet. Not yet. He bought it soon afterwards.
He bought a JJ, what they call a JJ Cater, JJ, you know, Deli, a mess, a mess in the factory.
And that’s where the story starts.
Early Morning Load-Up at Issylo for Delivery Routes

[14:04] The wagon, we will load up from Issylo, it was called Issylo, where we get the milk, everybody will come there, the danishes, the milk, soda, the ice, there’s a load up place for the coffee truck.
So three o’clock in the morning, four o’clock in the morning.
We all lined up there to get our product and then everybody dispatched to go to the factory, the territory that was unionized by Rusty Rustelli.
Yeah, Rusty Rustelli had already formed his organization. Yeah.
And he ran this easy load place.
He didn’t run it, he was the boss. He was the boss. His brothers, his brothers.
There was a Marty Louis Rastelli, the other brother Carmine with the Islanders, what do you call it? He was in the union.
He would do something else. Okay. Okay. But then they sold you the product that you then went out, but you had a certain area, certain factories that you serviced.
Yes. And then you resold the product and kept the profit and then came back and bought it again.

[15:27] My truck was mine. I bought the truck with the route, we call it route. Route.
I don’t know, I’ve been there with the coach, I never heard of that. Roach wagon, yeah.
I never heard of that. Well, that’s a derogatory term for it.
Okay, I don’t know. I used to think we were gypsies. Yeah. You know what I mean?
You were like a gypsy in my head.
I never heard of a rote, but they call it rote. People were happy.
Yeah. You know, we’d go there, bring them coffee, lunch.
You could stop in the gas station, too.
You know, and the guy goes, oh, can I get something? Can I get it?
Well, you’re getting gas.
You know, we’d get hot coffee, hot chocolate, you know, everything.
Sandwich, hot and cold. Everything was going good, my relationship with Tomasino, you know, we were like family.
But then I got very close to Marty Rostello, that’s the boss’s brother.

[16:28] Marty. And he got to like me a lot, you know. And brother Luger got to like me too.
Then the nephew Luger, which is the name of his father, he was like a son to Rostelli. You know, Phil Russell, he was Phil, never had a son, he was always in jail.
So he never had a family.
So that was his protege for this, you know, his son.
So he loved that kid, you know, when he was he was a kid. It was five years old.
I was 40, was 25, already married.
So we got along very good, being that he had this JJ Daly, you know, we’re both sandwiches from that.
So Rusty helped him to hold the truck to go buy sandwiches from him, you know.
So maybe he was getting kickbacks.
Joe Massino as a Fence for Stolen Goods

[17:26] I don’t know, but a lot of stolen goods were going through that process.
So everybody would get products, cigarettes, you know, and would watch them selling cigarettes, stolen goods, you know, to be anything.
We were selling the truck, pick up numbers, take a bookmaking action.
So everybody was making money.

[17:52] So all the drivers had an opportunity as you would pick up your milk and coffee and all that.
At one place you’d go to Joe Massino’s to get the sandwiches.
He was making out the sandwiches. He had people making sandwiches.
Yeah. And then was it at Joe Massino’s that then if you wanted to pick up parlay cards for sports booking or cigarette, extra cigarettes that were stolen cigarettes, untaxed cigarettes, or whatever, if they had, somebody had a load of little, the calculators or whatever they happened to have.
Maybe you had some clothes, had some, some coats that somebody had had gotten a shipment, taking a shipment off the docks and got a bunch of coats, men’s coats or something, and you’d throw them on the truck, you’d hit your stops.
And then you had these other items to sell. Is that kind of how that worked?
Yes. Bill became a fence for the wise guys. All right. He was the fence.
People would go bring stuff to him.

[18:50] And he would give it out to the drivers because everybody wants to make a buck.
Yeah, I understand. There was no killing, there was no stealing.
It was you would sell product, whatever it is.
Could be a jacket, could be a coat, jogging shoes, sneakers, shoes, you know, that was it.
So Joe, he became very important to some people because he was the fan.
And I’m always curious exactly how these things work.

[19:23] Did you buy that, for example, you had five cartons of cigarettes.
Did you buy those cigarettes from him for, you know, say half what you might sell them for and then sell them for retail?
Or did he just give them to you and you brought him all the money back for the stolen property, then he gave you some of that? How did that work?
Well, you work the percentage.
Okay, percentage. In other words, yeah, so they give you a hundred cartons of cigarettes, right, we used to say like $2 a pop, $2 a carton, then you could sell it whatever you want for it, but you had to pay him back his $2 that he wanted for each carton.
Okay. So if it was a hundred cartons, you owe him $200, and then if you sold it for $3, you made $100.
Okay. But that stuff was moving so fast.

[20:14] Not bad. Before you got it, people bought it because it was cheap.
Yeah. There was cigarettes without a stamp, bringing it from North Carolina or whatever, Virginia.

[20:26] Everybody was happy. Joe got very, how do you say, moved up and not leave because he had that JJ Dolly.
You know, and it was me.
Growing Distrust Towards Joe Massino

[20:42] I found them very not trustworthy. Oh, he wasn’t like a Sicilian guy.
It was more American, but third descent, third generation. Interesting.
Was there something that was there something that he did or did you just watch, you know, how he dealt with people that caused you to distrust him?
Yeah. The thing was that he was just a bad mouth, his brother-in-law, Sal. Okay.
Because Sal, he had three sisters, and his mother, which would be Joe Massino’s mother-in-law, adores Sal.
Spoil him, you know, like he’s the boy in the family, and you know, and he was always just to say, I didn’t come that way, you know, my mother didn’t give me shit, you know, my mother never gave me anything, so you know, so I used to put it so, how could you, he He loves you like a brother, right?
He’s got no brother, he’s got a sister, right?
He does anything for you. And you need a guy like him, really, because he was dedicated. He loved the life.

[21:52] Become a mafioso, you know? Because he came from Sicily too, his father. He was born there.
Yeah, but his father, Sal’s father was born in Sicily.
Yeah, the whole brothers, sisters too, you know? So they came from San Joseph, you know, like it’d be a mountain, Corleone. It went from the mountain.
So they were like more familiar with that kind of mafia, you know.
But they were good people. They were not bad people.
I mean, you got guys that just like to show off.
They are killing people because you’re giving the wrong look or said the wrong thing, you know.
And most of the guys like that don’t last, you know.
Because they’re not wanted, you know, you gotta be, you gotta be a good guy, you know, you gotta be, help the people, not hurt the people, you know, you protect them.
That was the true mafiosi, you know, you protect, you’re the hero.

[22:56] You’re not the, you know, that’s how I came, that’s where I came from.
So, Joe Massino was much more Americanized and much more about business.
And you could tell that by just how he conducted himself. Is that what I hear you say? Yes.
Yes. The only thing you’d like to steal.

[23:18] Who bad mouthed whoever he thought he could bad mouth.
So to me, I wasn’t, it didn’t excite me.
The way he could bad mouth his brother-in-law, he’s gonna bad mouth me.
So anyway, to move on with the story with the wagon, I got close to Marty and I got closer with Rastelli too.
Getting Closer to Marty and Rastelli

[23:40] Because when he came home from prison, there was a war between Galante, not really a war, who was going to be the boss between Galante and Rastelli.
Because they were both appointed to run the family.
Once, you know, Joe Bannano left for Arizona, somebody else was put on, the guy died.
These guys were working under Joe Bonanno. You know, Joe Bonanno was the boss.
They say he ran away, did this, He did that, you know, the government puts out a lot of things that even today, you see the news people, right?
Yeah. They put out a lot of stuff that you don’t even know if you’re coming or going believe what you watch on CNN, what’s over here.
So that’s what was going on. A lot of these people don’t understand the truth, what happened.

[24:37] And when Joe Bonanno was in Arizona every time, he didn’t care about it anymore, you because he wanted to go to Vegas, he wanted to see New Megan.
It was already in Canada with the heroin.
I mean, Rizzuto. Phil Rizzuto, you heard of him? Vito Rizzuto from Montreal, yes.
Yeah, yeah. That was his people.
So he didn’t need New York no more.
He knew New York was the time, used to call it, I guess, people say it’s like a common bomb.
Any time it could explode. Yeah.
And it still happens today, right? Yeah. Right. It’s not like used to be dead, you know.
So let me interject just a minute here for you guys.
He mentioned Galante is a man named Carmine Galante who had come up in the Bonanno organization, and he was a he wanted to deal heroin. And like Bonanno wanted to deal heroin and it was all coming through Canada and that was his thing.
He comes back out of prison during this time, around this time that Jack’s talking about, and he just says, I’m the boss of the Bonanno family and Rusty Rastelliā€™s out here, who Jack is connected to.
Most people want Rusty Rastelli to be the boss. They don’t really want Carmine Galante to be the boss. So that’s kind of where we are, guys.

[26:04] You got it, you’re saying it right. All right, go ahead, go ahead.
Okay, so I kept my distance going through the, I would just pick up my sandwich and go, but I would be hanging out with Marty, you know, it was another fellow from Tommy D, younger, young guy that was like very close to them related.
So he became my friend, close friend, And we would go play cards by Marty.
There was another guy, was a 400 pound beastie. His name was Beastie, 400 pound guy.
Yeah, it was like the enforcer with the coffee truck.
You know, this guy would come to you and tell you, hey, you got to pay your dues. What do you do? You know, you pay your dues.

[26:54] So, and there was another guy, you know, and then we used to hang out with Marty.
And Phil Rastelli liked that, and Phil Rastelli told me, you know, I’m not going to be around too much, but help my brother out if you need you to drive him somewhere, go somewhere.
And that was the relationship built out. But now, matter of fact, one day, he was stuck in Isilo, his brother was supposed to come and pick him up.
His brother, Carmine, was supposed to go to pick up his car because he was getting clean.
He just came home from being away, you know, jail.
So he was stuck there. Nobody was there. Everybody was afraid to go near him because there was this conflict with the Galante group, right?
And Joe Massino didn’t know which where to go then.
Of course, the other guy is, well, he said, he’s the boss. And the other guy says, he’s the boss. So you don’t know where to go.

[28:03] So I seen him, he was trained. And I said to him, I said, well, you got to go. I take.
He looked at me, said, no, thank you. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. He knows I was close already to his brothers.
He didn’t want to get me involved. Yeah, I see. Yeah. You know, he was trying to be, you know, go home, go home.
But no, I take, you know, so he says, go home, kid.
You know, I said, I’m going to take a note for an answer. I want to take you. I drive.
I thought of eyes looking at his wife. All right. So I took him and I took him to Astoria.
I wish cause he’s getting scarred.
But in the car, he seemed like to know about. He knew about my father.

[28:53] You know, and he tells me don’t trust nobody.
Don’t step on nobody’s toe. Just be good.
Don’t try to be like some of these assholes, you know?
You know, run around like with no brain and do stupid things.
Look at me, I’m in jail for all my life, right?
So when I come, I got no kids, I got no family, right?
The only thing I know is being a mobster, you know?
That’s it, you know? So I’m looking at him, I go, you’re the boss, you know what I’m saying, you’re the boss.
But he didn’t think that he was happy with, you know, the life he spent, all his life. So we had a good relationship.
But with that, the word got out that I took Phil for a ride, John Messina finds out, the other guy finds out.
So there was like a little bit jealous.
Rusty Rastelliā€™s arrival with his brothers and parking incident

[29:55] When Rusty Rastelli one day came to J.J.
Kane in Deli, you know, with his brother Carmine, because his brothers always drove him. He didn’t have no strangers, always his brothers.
He traveled alone, but he traveled with his brothers. Never bodyguard, always family.

[30:15] So he parked, he gives me the key to go park his car and put all those white guys.
You don’t want to book the car. I’m back in everybody’s looking at me, you know, like, what is it?
But there was a lot of envious after that because any party is anything.
I’ll be sitting at the head of the table with the rest of it.
So that was a big resentence from Joe. Joe wasn’t too happy about that because he probably knows how people move up in the lot.
Yeah, you know, so they go by, I get flat tires, you know, my car, you know, I’m getting the same, which I go back outside, I get flat tire.
I was doing good. I bought myself a Trans Am 1974 with the Eagle.
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I remember those. I read one.
Hot, man, hot. Who the hell is this kid?
Who the hell? You know, that’s it. All the guys with the thug.
You know, they were like, who the fuck?

[31:28] They will say Greseball. They won’t call me Zip.
But not in my face. Yeah. There was one time, this fat guy, big guy, he said Greaseball.
You know, he said it, that’s who you call a goosebump, you know, like, I said, you could be big or you want to get a left pipe, I ain’t showing the head, I’m faster than you, I’m going to get you.
It blew his mind. It brings up a question. You mentioned the term zip.
Did you hear that term much?
That’s what Carmine Galante. He brought people over.
Cesar Amato. And I can’t remember the other guy’s name. Baldo Amato.
Baldo Amato and other people from Sicily and everybody in America called him zip. So did you hear that much?
Yeah. One day I heard that word zip.
But because most of them were from the Naples.
After Giobannano left, Pocahontas Solano got killed, they were more Neapolitan.
The heads of the family became almost Neapolitan. They wanted to push the Sicilians out.

[32:45] But that was going through since the 30s. There was always the conflict between the Neapolitans the Sicilians, the Camorra.
You ever heard of the Camorra? Yeah, I’ve heard of that. Yeah. Okay.
So there was always, you know, who’s going to be the power.
So, but after Paul Castellano died, they, most of them were Neapolitans.
Yeah. So they started…
Gotti was a Neapolitan, so interesting. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[33:17] They started using this word zip. So I think Joe Mossina, he says, you’re a zip, you know, when I’m in conversation.
I said zip before my, yeah, I put my hand on my zip on my pants. He says, zip.
I’m gonna open the zip. And he didn’t like that. Freaked out.
They grabbed me. They grabbed me.
And they, we go see all these other guys, you know. And they put them in shading in my neck.
You know, I said, go ahead, do it. If it makes you feel good, do it. What I do?
I zip, you know, trying to intimidate.
But I stood my ground and I actually pushed him.

[34:04] They thought I was sick. I was crazy. Like my father, he was crazy.
They didn’t know your father when they started pushing you, did they?
Oh yeah, well, then, you know, with the Lunch Wagon, see that’s when I met with this guy Tommy D.
I would go play cards Upper Masters.
It was a blackjack game.
It was run by, I don’t know if it was from the General B’s family or was from the Gambino.
It was a blackjack game that was like all the white guys would go to their play and they would play blackjack, but they, you know, up to a hundred dollar limit that you could bet.
At that time, a hundred dollars was like a thousand dollars.
Yeah. That’s a lot of money.
So, but that’s where I met John Gotti, Richie Giovinelli.

[35:00] Carmine Pudding, Michael Franzese you heard that name, Michael Franzese.
Michael Franzese. Michael Franzese, but it’s related to the guy who does podcasts.
Yeah, the Bud Michael Franzese.
Yeah, yeah, now he became a priest and everything, but. Yeah.
Yeah, and what happened to the priesthood? I thought he was becoming a priest, now he’s in the pocket.
You know what I mean? Everything is about money. Yeah.
Right? Yes. Right. So, hey, look, whatever is good for you, do it, you know, but don’t go out and talk about other people, you know, you know, when you’re doing something that you say you, you change, but you didn’t change. Right.
That’s how I met all this guy. Yeah. Now, one of my staff, there was, in other words, people from jail go to work.
It was a rebuilt phone, you know, used phone that we varnished, or what’s the word I’m looking for?
Recycled? Recycled, yeah. Right. And there used to be people from jail come and do this work.

[36:16] And there used to be a paymaster that would cash the checks, come in with the food case money and cash the check.
Now, the word was out that this guy could carry maybe a hundred thousand dollars in cash.
That was one of my stops. They came to rob this guy. I ended up getting shot in my stomach.
We don’t know if it was a coincidence or was it done on purpose because it was people from the truck.
So I almost lost my life. I was out of business for a while.
It was out of a group. So that’s when I started to say, hey, I gotta be my own man.
Getting shot and deciding to be independent in business

[36:58] I gotta, you know, I gotta back in the business with the pizzeria.
But meantime, I was going to all this club, the other John Gotti, I played cards with him.
You know, I made myself respected. Don’t never like that.
What are you doing over there? What are you doing with this?
Tony Mirra for instance, Tony Mirra, we were friends. Oh, really? Say he was a bad man.
And he was a tough dude.
Depends. There was a lot of bad guys. Yeah, a lot of bad guys.
He was just one of many bad guys, I guess.

[37:37] OK. But, you know, I didn’t do nothing with him. We just play cards.
Yeah. You know, we play cards. Hey, well, you know, we were like from Sicily to Sicilians.
You know, I end up with meeting.

[37:51] Baldo Amaro, that put me there. Cesare Bonventre? Yeah. Bonaventre, he was the other.
Yeah, he was the guy. He was the head guy. I met Caravano.
They invited me to go to the club, Costello Marese, that’s what I think about.
They invited me. They actually wanted to buy my pizzeria.
You know, first of all, they wanted me to get involved with them.
Yeah. No, I got to get out.
I can’t do this. Well, that was kind of my next question, the pizza connection, and these guys are, you know, they were the genesis of the pizza connection and on Knickerbocker Avenue, I think that’s where they started with the first pizza. That’s where they were.
That was the location. And then they started building out from there with pizza places clear out to Illinois, really, and down to Pittsburgh and or Philadelphia and a lot of that whole pizza connection deal.
Now, you were asked to join in with that, with your pizza place to help with that.

[38:50] Yes, they came in. But see, there’s so many stories about what happens when I was in the pizza place.
They I was willing and willing in the pizzeria to the old Irish kid, the German kids behind in Glendale. They should be the railroad.
And there’s a lot of goods coming through there. Oh, I’d say is that.
And the Irish kids used to go steal there, they rob them.
And they used to come to me to buy. I became the fence. Okay.
The fence with the Irish kids and the German kids. And that’s how we would get very close.
Then they would bring a cigarette in. So I had my own thing going.
Now the pizzeria, the Cesare Bonventre and Baldo Amato, they came to my place, had pizza. And they were saying, you know, that’s how they were doing it.
They were doing it that they want to unionize the pizzerias, you know, to make a union, you know, like Colombo did with the Yeah, the Italian American, civil rights, yeah, the drugs.
The heroin, a lot of money. Yeah.

[40:07] And I said, no, because an incident happened before that somebody snitched on me, that I had guns in there, in the pizzeria, I had drugs, so they come and raid my place. But they didn’t find anything.
They only find shells, holsters, because I had given the weapons I had, give it to Marty, because they were fighting.
Transition: From dealing with stolen weapons to getting involved in Bonaventure

[40:32] I said, I don’t need this weapon. Yeah, so I gave her because I bought them from the kids.
They were stealing, you know, so I was lucky that I didn’t find out that you were.
Yeah, it was lucky. So with that issue, when I went to me, Cesare Bonventre, they said Bonaventre and Baldo, and they want me to get involved.
I said, I just got right. We’re looking for drugs. They were looking for this. I’m on the nose.
I got to sell my pizzeria because I’m done over here because the business now started going down.
Can you imagine an Italian guy in a German neighborhood, he got raided, the word gets out, that’s it.
There was a time for me to move out and I went to live in Lindenwood.
You know, the house stood with us, we didn’t tell the house, so I sold the pizzeria.
My father already went back to Italy, Sicily, he retired, so now I was on my own.
Playing cards, playing cards, I got involved with people for East New York, so I’d hang out with them, which belonged to the Gambino, and I was doing good there.
So Joe Massino finds out, and he put the word out.
Now he’s already made, he’s already a made guy.

[42:01] He tells the people that I belong to him, you know, my nephew doesn’t belong there, you know, he belongs to us.
So they caught, I was doing good there, we were running the gambling, firework, the numbers, I was making money. And they loved me, they liked me a lot.
They were not both Neapolitans.
I see. But they loved me and other people too.
You know, Richie Giovanelli too, I got along with him too. The other guys I’m not mentioning because they’re still around.

[42:41] So they’re still. So I was doing good. And every time I tried to do good, there was a stop.
You know, he would claim it. But it wasn’t a part of him.
I wanted, I was close with the Rastelli and being close to the Rastelli, it was like me having a, you know, I’m like a mad guy, you know. Yeah.
I’m with the boss, you know, I’m not with Joe Blow that he’s just being paid, you know, as a soldier. I was sitting with the boss.
So, but I always knew not to step in nobody’s store.
You know what I’m, I’m through territory, or do business or disrespect anybody.
I did my own thing. And then what happened was from, it’s a lot of things in the book.
Yeah, you can’t tell everything’s in the book. We want people to buy the book.

[43:41] You like this, is that? Anyway, so I was, you know, I got out of the pizzeria and opened up what’s called a JC Maintenance. What was that, a JC?
Maintenance, JC Maintenance, maintenance, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning offices and yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And I was paying taxes and then, you know, I did that for a good time.
You know, then I got involved with Investor Money and Jewish Guys, you know, jewelry.
So I was doing good, you know, I mean, so I didn’t need, I didn’t need dromacy, I didn’t need. But I always thought that I could not do too much while I lived.

[44:30] Queens. Yeah, I understand. So I moved out and went to Long Island.
Now we’re talking about, that’s the 80s. So we’re there from the 70s, now to the 80s.
And I was doing good. I was moving Suffolk County, Nassau County.
I was bookmaking, you know.
I didn’t like Shylock. I didn’t like, I tried. I tried it.
So one day, one guy owe money and because of bookmaking, you know, you want to turn it into a shop. A lot of guys, that’s what they do. They bang you up.
You can’t pay. It’s not shared money.
I couldn’t do it because one time I went to somebody’s house, you know, to try to collect money and the wife is crying.
We got no money for the milk, you know. Yeah.
Very. And I got a very I felt like dirt, you know, like I’m taking away milk from the baby.
Yeah. You’re not going to be the hero there, are you?
No. So I got I got very sentimental.
I said, that’s not my kind of thing.
So I just stuck with bookmaking, gave everybody limits, you know, and invest money, you know, with business.
But I got right out by Joe Massino.

[45:51] I bought my operation in Nassau County.
And I was lucky because I had 12 guys on the me. But there was the train in Brown City.
I don’t know if you remember the black guy shooting down all the people.
Oh, and Long Island. Long Island. Yeah, right. Yeah. You remember something about that? Yeah. He shot a bunch of people on the train.
Yes. It was the same day that that happened. Yeah. that I got busted with 12 guys.
So Nassau County, it was an open territory.
All the mafiosi threw away from Nassau County and Suffolk.
Because the laws are hard, they put you in jail. They didn’t have any connections over there either.
Right, so they didn’t fool around. So I went there because I figured it’s an open country.
I’d rather deal with the law than deal with this. Joe Massino.

[46:48] Yeah, it was, yeah. It was Joe wanting money from you, and if he’d learned you were making money, did he expect you to give him some?
He never knew much about what I was doing. He always asked questions, what is he doing?
Was because I had my operation in Long Island, you know, so he didn’t have, but then he got the hook and that’s when I got busted, you know, with the bookmaking and they didn’t give me jail time because there was never no violence. Yeah.
You know, I only did bookmaking, you know, then I got to pay the fine.
That was it. They give me probation, you know, misdemeanor. But there was no violence. They would threaten anybody.
So I was a good guy. I was a good guy. But don’t mess with me, though.

[47:38] I got it. I won’t. I understand. You know, the people of people.
Yeah. You’re giving them a service. That’s how I felt. Yeah.
And that’s my was my thing. You know, just to. And then I opened up a restaurant in Colomichi, in Guam City, in Franklin Square.
I had it for 20 years there.
I started, I kept putting up with the bookmaking. I got busted there because some of the associates that infiltrated my business, they belonged to Joe.
They came to my restaurant, they became friends. So we were doing business together.
And there was a wire recording from Brooklyn, from Masford to the club.
I would go on the phones and call from the street phone.
I would never call from the house or something. So anyway, I got hooked up with the organized crime, Spiro.
Anthony Spiro. Anthony Spiro, yeah. They picked him up.
They picked everybody up, about 20 guys.
I had nothing to do with them. but they have me as the bookmaker, you know, edging off business, so they right away they threw me in with the group.
So they came to my home.

[49:05] Lucky at the time I had the guns I had to permit. I had to permit because I took shooting.
That’s the only way you could have a life. I always had a clean record. I was not a bad guy.
So when they arrest me, the feds would say, you know, you face a 40 years. Oh.
I said, what? Yeah. Yeah. For bookmaking? I don’t think so.
Right, but they had the other guy with slot machines.
Accusations of Murder and Conspiracy

[49:41] Attempt to murder, you know, there was a lot of charges. Was this part of a RICO case then on Anthony Spiro?
No, I don’t think it was a RICO case. It was that he was bringing in this slot machines from our side, stay to stay.
Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. And supposedly he was being accused of murder.
I don’t know if it was that guy that they killed from 18th Avenue.

[50:12] You know, I can’t remember. I can’t think of it right now.
Anyway, they were trying to connect them with the murder, but everybody else was part of the conspiracy organization.
And now I’m part of it. Then they bring in this charge from Nassau County. a bookmaker.
You weren’t operated there by yourself.
You can’t do that. I was surrounded by, you know, the head of the FBI or the Bonanno crime family and they wanted me to talk.

[50:47] Listen, I’ve been a bookmaker all this period and a businessman.
Okay. So I got nothing to do with that guy, you know, or never.
I said, if you got proof for me, took me, show me where you could connect me with that.
I never went to clubs, you know, that was the club, the social club, the social club. Yeah. Like the Raven or.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I never went. I went to Ravenite when I played with John Gorri, but that was in the early years. Then I stood away too, that’s another stories of my book, what happened there, playing cards.
There’s a lot of it. I’m just giving you my independency where I moved along, try to stay away from that.

[51:43] But I was too close with the Rastelli. So Rusty died, I went to the funeral, you know, and that’s when…
Became the superpower, you know, Salvatore, Spero. Joe was in jail at that time.
He was a, you know, so, but Phil Rastelli was steadily.
His man was thorough. Anthony Spero was this guy. He was the real power.
Power Shift and Loss of Respect

[52:15] And then with Salvatore, they were good together. They, they brought back the, the family.
And then John Gotti likes Spero. He was starting to lose respect for Joe.
I don’t know why, but they were not, not close.
When they say he went back in the commission, they went back in the commission.
It wasn’t because of Joe, it was a jail. You know, it was Ferro and Sal that ran the Lugo Stivo.
There was a lot of good guys that I like, you know, and they were moving good.

[53:01] Even Vinny Hustle, Osaro, Osaro, Vinny Osaro. Okay.
The guy from Lufthansa. Oh yeah. Okay. I got you. I remember now. Okay.
He was another guy. He was a tough guy.
He was a good guy. He didn’t he didn’t do nothing like some other people do.
He was a matter of saying he was a real mafioso.
And so was Carmine, Tony, Francheze, You know, I did something for him.
You want to hear this one?
OK, one last story. Yeah, we don’t want to go. There’s a lot of stories.
I know we don’t want to give them all away, Jack. So let’s have one.
Let me give you this story. The guy likes me a lot.
Somebody went up to the family in Colombo.
They wanted to kill one of the pawns. And they were gonna pay a lot of money because the guy wanted to take over the company.
That was a contract murder.

[54:01] They asked Carmine to set up a sting, which was a sting.
You know what I mean? Am I saying it right? Sting? Yeah, they were gonna like make him- Make it look like they kill somebody.
They kill somebody, yeah. Right, for the money.
Because the guys, it was been really wanted to kill his partner to the company.
So that’s a bad people or some people. They go through the mafia guy or mafioti, to set up a contract to kill their partners.
This way they could take the partner.
So they tell them they’re not interested.
They kept insisting, come on, give me a hundred thousand. of the 100,000. So the greatest thing.
I put the dead guy in the trunk. With blood all over.

[54:52] I put the guy in the trunk, right? Yeah, did they take a picture of you?
No, I was drunk. Yeah, but did they take a picture of you and then show it to the guy? No, no, the guy want to see the body.
Oh, you had to lay there and pretend like you were dead?
Yeah, full of blood. Businessman came and checked it. Oh, that’s crazy.
Yeah, the guy goes, I want to see his face. Because I chopped him up with a hack.
Give me my money, give me my money. He got his money. Oh, wow.
I walked away and he’s going, I mean, this motherfucker, you know, he says he wanted us to be killers for money.
Fuck him. Wait till tomorrow, wait till tomorrow his partner walks in to come to work.
Carmine chooses me to tell the story

[55:46] That was, Carmine never forgot, he was his best friend, you know, the British were good.
Sal wanted to do it, he wanted to play the dead body, but Carmine chose me.
There was a lot of, I’m saying there’s a lot of story. I’m here, they’re not here.
Right. Yeah. So I wrote wrote this thing, but I wrote it myself because I was trying to get a journalist to write it.
The journalist was working for New York Town, like Capesi. Yeah.
They would talk about the mob and they’re a Capesi. Yeah.
But I try to reach him. Then I got to reach another guy.
He says, I’ll write the story, but it’s going to cost you $40,000, there’s no guarantee, you know, it’s going to suck.
Yeah. Yeah. Where am I? I’m a nobody.
You know, these guys have become famous because they’re bad guys, you know? Yeah.
You know, that’s how they get reputation.
So then I said, you know what, maybe I’ll write it myself.
So I wrote it and I gave it to this company, Ex Libre. Ever heard of them? Yeah, I have.

[57:06] Publisher company. But they didn’t fix it. I didn’t do a lot of editing.
Oh, when I got the book, I wasn’t too happy about it.
And then I redid, you know, you got the book, right?
This one. And then I wrote a follow-up, you get it?
I got you. And then I got another one that’s translated in Italian.
And it was, I wanted to get the people from my town.

[57:35] But I had a professor, a professor from the government, from Pittsburgh.
It went through, he worked, you know, with the mob. He put away a lot of people.
I told him a bit about my story. He said, you got a lot of good shit here.
You know, he goes, I had to give him a summary. Summary? Yeah.
Because you got a lot of stuff there.
He goes, but that time it was going downhill, the mob thing.
Yeah, now it’s uphill. Now it’s doing good. Yeah, now it’s going up.
That’s why I said, now this is the time to do it, you know? I mean, I’m watching these guys all in the podcast talking about this, about that.
I got a story that’s real, you know?
I mean, it’s a long story that I always said, the Godfather movie was great, you know, but it’s even not real people, you know, not real, not real story.
There I am. I’m the real thing. It’s sad to say.
If anybody really could be the Godfather, it should be you.

[58:46] I’m laughing. So I said, I got to do it. So, you know, I revived it.
You know, with drama, drama. A little drama in it, a little drama to it.
Yeah, yeah, all that, all of that.
You know, did it, so I came out with this. So, but I, with the other book, I got 26 reviews, which was this one.
This one was the original. Oh, okay. But I, I wanted it to be holy, like.
Yeah. But, see, and this was the original. It’s a little smaller than that. I see.
Yeah. And not to, you know, they didn’t read this based on the true Sicilian, you know, they just looked at the picture. Right.
But I got 46 reviews out of this that they liked it. And they said, when you’re going to write the second?
But then I threw it away because Joe Massino was still alive.
Yeah. You know what I mean?
The other, I said, you know, I got, which then I moved down to Florida.
That’s where I am now. And I opened up a pizzeria here in Florida for 10 years, I mean, in business.
From mafia connections to a pizza place in Florida

[1:00:02] And I got, they came in to check my books.

[1:00:07] It’s amazing. And then at the liquor, at the liquor, Yeah, they set up my, one of my workers that sold the beer to underage person. Oh, yeah.
Over here, right, they set it up, two licenses.
One was 18 and up, and then the other one 16, but they look like license.
But one is supposed to be junior license.
The one license. That’s what happened. The guy gave the beer to this girl who was doing bring break.
Bring break, man. And he didn’t have the regular license. He had the junior license. We got ready like. Yeah.
Like what the hell is this?
Yeah. You know, so. Here’s a guy like you being connected to some of the most dangerous New York City mafia people in the world.
And these cops down here in Florida busted you because one of your employees sold a beer and it was just one direct because it was the underage employee that wasn’t supposed to sell the beer, sold the beer to the underage kid. That’s crazy.
So never, never.
They don’t have enough to do.

[1:01:26] You still got a pizza place down there? No, I’m done. No. OK.
I was going to say if I went down there this winter, I’d stop by and see you.
I’m done. I’m retired now. Ah, good.
Now, when I’m looking at the story, I think it’s a good story.
I mean, they did The Soprano.
Yeah. You know, I mean, from New Jersey, we had the…
I got the big deal, the people. I got the good stuff.
That’s what I’m looking for. You just keep doing what you’re doing.
You just keep getting your story out there.
There’ll be more people that’ll want you on their podcast, especially after this comes out.
I’m sure of that. I’ll get calls.
Matter of fact, I’ll suggest you to a couple of people I know that have podcasts.
And people will start getting you on their podcast because you have great stories.
I really appreciate you coming on the show. I got guys are just going to love this this first hand stuff, the real stuff.
It’s got. All right.
I really appreciate you coming on, Jack. And I wish still had the pizza place.
I’d stop by and eat some pizza this morning.
Now, I’m trying to relax, relax. You are my grandchildren. Yeah.
You know, I hope nothing comes out of this.
Maybe the feds are going to come in and get you. And don’t just don’t admit to any murders.
No statute of limitations on murders, you know? Yeah, I know.

[1:02:54] But it was a pleasure. It was a pleasure to talk to you guys.
That was a heck of a show. I tell you what he is.
Jack is a cool guy. Like I said, I wish he really had still had the pizza place down there. We’d all stop down there when we were going to Florida.
But don’t forget, I like to ride motorcycles. So watch out for motorcycles when you’re out there on the streets. And if you have a problem with PTSD and you’ve been in the service, the VA website has a good hotline for that.
And you know, alcohol and drug addiction goes right along with PTSD.
And whether you’ve been in the service or not, you can get hold of former Gambino man, Anthony Ruggiano.
He is a drug and alcohol counselor down there in Florida and on his website and his YouTube page, he has a hotline.
So give him a shot if you have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
And don’t forget to like and subscribe and tell your friends about the podcast and share it on your social media and do all those kinds of things.
And rest assured that I really like putting these out and I really like getting these great mob stories like we had today, some really previously unknown mob stories.
And he’s got his books out there, A Father’s Belief, and I’ll have links to the Amazon page for those books. So look for his books. Thanks a lot, gu

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