Nick The Blade – early years
Eugene “Nick the Blade” Gesuale was a notorious Capo in the Genovese Crime Family. He also was the infamous “Pittsburgh Connect” in the movie Goodfellas and the guy that sup[plied narcotics to Henry Hill. Nick the Blade Gesuale grew up in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh. He stared in the mob as a numbers runner like many other budding young gangsters. He dropped out of Central Catholic High School and started learning the trade of cutting hair at the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy. He will use this skill during his many years in prison. This seems like an unusual occupation for the real tough gangster Gesuale, but he was as tough as they come. The cops arrested Nick the Blade as many as 13-14 times from 1959 to 1981. The prosecutor could never get a conviction because all the witnesses refused to testify. Gesuale got this nickname, Nick the Blade, after he sued a knife in several fights. I found stories about his famous temper and knife ability like he sliced up a man’s face for checking out his girlfriend and he supposedly stabbed a guy at a brawl after a basketball game. The Pittsburgh police arrested him for many assaults in the 1970s and ’80s, including a shooting in a parking lot, and after they arrested him for running over a man with his car. As usual, no convictions because the victims refused to cooperate with the prosecution.
Nick the Blade in Prison
It was reported in Real Crime magazine a prisoner once said that Nick the Blade was a throwback gangster who did not “mess around” and “if he had a problem with you, he would tell you and if it was serious, he would strap up and you would not see it coming even at 70 years old.”
The Genovese Family in Pittsburgh
Most people think that the Genovese Family was restricted to New York City but they often had small enclaves of territory in upstate New York and in Pennsylvania. The mob has been active in western Pennsylvania since the 1920s because it was prime territory for bootlegging during Prohibition and there was already a sizable Sicialian populatio. The Genovese branch in Pittsburgh has been well konw for running narcoitics, gambling, loansharking and labor racketeering in Steel City for many years. FBI records show that Nick the Blade Gesuale “made his bones” for the gangland murder of a low level gangster named Alphonse Marano in 1967. The Pitsburgh underboss Joseph “Jo Jo” Pecora ordered this maan murdered becuse he had unknowlingly introduced an undercover IRS agent to himslef and other mobsters. Later after the resulting investigaiton the IRS arrested Pecora at the mob Marano’s social club where Marano was runing a interstate gambling racket.
Nick the Blade and Narcotics
Nick the Blade Gesuale became a well-known and notorious feared mobster by the 1980s. Another criminal reported to Real Cime that he was Pittsburgh’s biggest heroin trafficker by the 1908s. A judge would describe him as vicious, amoral, and that he was “as bad as it gets” in the criminal underworld. The IRS claimed he had earned as much as a million dollars in 1980 dollars during this time. He was a kilo weight dealer. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, Nick the Blade was one of Pittsburgh biggest narcotic’s traffickers. The Pittsburgh mafia bosses used Nick the Blade as an enforcer because they knew he was an all-in Mafia member and would practice the code of Omerta. He was a liaison between Outlaw bikers and the Mafia because he was in the narcotics business with the bikers.
Fearsome Drug Kingpin and the Goodfellas connection
A Pennsylvania Crime Commission report in 1990 claimed the LaRocca/Genovese La Cosa Nostra family and the Pagans motorcycle gang were the largest and most feared narcotics organization in western Pennsylvania. The FBI once asked the Pittsburgh mob boss, John LaRocca, why he kept around a volatile man like Gesuale. Larocca replied, “He keeps the heat off of us.” Nick the Blade lived a lavish life flaunting his wealth everywhere. He lived in an expensive top-of-the-line Penthouse apartment, he wore the most expensive designer clothes, the cops observed him eating at the most expensive restaurants and buying several different girlfriends’ expensive gifts. When he flew, he always flew first-class. he drove expensive cars and lost large amounts of cash in Las Vegas. Nick the Blade was the infamous “Pittsburgh connection” mentioned in the Scorsese film, Goodfellas because he was the narcotics connection for Henry Hill, James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, and Thomas “Two-Gun Tommy” DeSimone.
Show notes by Gary Jenkins
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