The Plot to Kill Sammy the Bull

June 27, 2022

Retired Kansas City Police Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins examines the Gotti plot to kill Sammy the Bull Gravano. After Gravano served his time from his plea arrangement, 5 years for a lifetime of murder, assault, extortion, and racketeering. He was relocated to Tempe Arizona in the Witness protection program but left after a few years because he did not like the constraints. In 1995, he relocated to Scottsdale Arizona, started a construction company, and lived an open life. he even gave interviews to Diane Sawyer on 60 minutes and to the Arizona Republic newspaper. This enraged the Gotti family, especially after they learned he was collaborating on a book about his life in the Gambino family and his rise to underboss for John Gotti Sr. He even hired a publicist to get more press attention, the exact thing he claimed he did not like about John Gotti.

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Gary tells the story of how Peter Gotti ordered two Gambino soldiers, Thomas “Huck” Carbonaro and Eddie Garafola, to murder Gravano.

Salvatore “Fat Sal” Mangiavillano gave an interview to Ed Scarpo of www.cosanostranews.com in which he described the story of how he helped a New York hit team further a plot to kill Sammy the Bull Gravano on the orders of Gambino boss, Peter Gotti. Sammy the Bull Gravano described this attempt on his life in his podcast episode titled, A Hit Team From New York Came To Arizona To Kill Me.

Fat Sal Mangiavillano was born in Italy and came to the US as a child. He never got his citizenship and lost his first green card after a criminal conviction. As an adult, Fat Sal worked with a sophisticated crew of New York thieves who perfected the art of breaking open bank night deposit boxes and then graduated to bank burglaries and invasion-type bank robberies. In other words, he was an upper-echelon professional criminal worthy of a whole podcast himself. Sal was known for his resourcefulness. For example, he made a homemade gaff with three-pronged spears to pull money out of night deposit boxes. During one Queens, New York, heist, he rigged a remote-controlled drill to cut through concrete and steel. His organized crime pals dubbed his capers “Fat Sallie Productions.” Fat Sal told Ed Scarpo that when he was a 16-year-old car thief, he first met a guy named Thomas Huck Carbonaro at a Gravano-connected chop shop. This was in the early 1980s. Huck was a little older and a member of Sammy the Bull Gravano’s crew. He got friendly with Huck when he saw him working as a doorman at an after-hours bar owned by Sammy the Bull Gravano.

By 1988, Fat Sal has a crew chopping and tagging stolen cars. This means he would either chop the stolen car into body parts to be sold as used parts to auto-body repair shops or -re-tag a stolen car with another VIN number and title from a salvaged car. of interest, Chris Paciello was one of the guys bringing him stolen cars. Through these connections, he met a young smash and grab thief named Tommy Dono. He claims he and Tommy got arrested in a case of mistaken identity for mugging an off-duty cop. The cops handcuffed them to a radiator at the police station and beat them for several hours off and on. In the end, the cops brought in their fellow officer who exclaimed, “These aren’t the guys they were Puerto Rican.” He said he and Tommy Dono bonded over this incident and started working together.

During this time, Fat Sal learned about alarm systems and other technical skills needed to do the more lucrative scores. He was retagging stolen cars and sending them to Atlanta at his own body shop by this time. In 1993, he claimed a guy from a Colombo crew included him on a bank score if he could shut down the ADT alarm system for New York so they could hit a bank safety deposit vault in Brooklyn. He said that since Tommy was “on record” or associates with Huck and the Gravano crew, they included Huck on this score. During the next few years Fat Sal, Tommy, and Huck perfected the art of robbing bank night deposits, then the safety deposit boxes inside and invasion robberies.

He went to prison in 1996 for a bank burglary in Dover Delaware. Since he was not a citizen, he was ordered deported to Italy after his prison sentence. In 1999, he flew back from Italy to Canada and took a Jet Ski across the Niagara River. He had someone leave a car at his landing point where he returned to Brooklyn. Back home, Fat Sal got in touch with Tommy Dono and Huck Carbonaro. By this time, Tommy had a case and was about to go to prison. He said Huck took him for a walk and talk and asked him to join a crew to find and kill their old boss, Sammy Gravano. He said that he had gotten the order from Peter Gotti.

In his podcast, Our Thing, Gravano told how Fat Sal and Thomas Huck Carbonaro had come to Arizona after they learned about his new construction business and where he lived. I believe they actually learned about Gravano’s whereabouts from a Gravano relative. As a matter of fact, a hit team member was Gravano’s brother-in-law Eddie Garafola. Both Garafola and Carbonaro were Gambino soldiers looking to please their new boss, Peter Gotti.  Sammy tells his fantasy about how he would kill these men after he took them to a secluded place tied to a chair and explained the rules like how you never hurt a member of the family or kill anybody in front of the family.

Fat Sal Mangiavillano told Ed Scarpo of Cosa Nostra news that first of all, he knows the rules, and they never planned to hit Gravano in front of his family or to harm any member of his family. He said they knew the FBI would come down hard on a hit on Gravano, but they were prepared for that. In his mind, once a member violates the oath, they are no longer members and no longer protected by the rules, but they would never harm a family member. At the time, Fat Sal himself was in wit Sec for another case and he said, I never became a punk, I became a little more humble but never became a puck.

Fat Sal said that anybody in the hit team would be recognized, and Gravano would probably be armed. They tried to make a device that they could place along a route Gravano might walk. This device would spin and shoot shotgun shells. In the end, I guess they experimented because he said it didn’t work. Sal said, “his office was the main point of attention, and was the location we would set up electronic surveillance.” They went to Phoenix in December 1999 and got actual Arizona driver’s licenses for the team with fictitious names. He claimed this was from the Arizona DMV. They located found Sammy’s construction company office from the newspaper article. They bought some black market guns in Arizona and then headed back to New York for Christmas. The plan was to return and plant some listening devices on Gravano to help get a location safe for the hit. The team returned and conducted surveillance on Gravano but could never get the right situation to take him out.

At that time, Sal got arrested for other bank burglaries and a racketeering conspiracy in the “Bank Crew Case.” This was in June of 2000. That was the third time the Feds had prosecuted him and again he was looking at a long sentence and then deportation.  Then a year later, he was indicted on a fourth Federal case—because of cooperators telling on him—for racketeering conspiracy, which was for armed takeover bank robbery and conspiracy to commit armed takeover bank robberies and the interstate transportation of stolen money.

He flipped on the 4th of July weekend of 2002, two years after surrendering on the Bank Crew Case, after running into Sammy’s brother-in-law Eddie Garafola (a reputed Gambino soldier) in the bullpen at the Federal lockup in Brooklyn. (I was going to court for an evidentiary hearing.) He noticed that Eddie was nervous and he stated, “I could smell the fear about him.” He became paranoid that a was turning on him and he would be looking at a murder-for-hire plot case soon. Mangiavillano told Ed Scarpo, “I made a hasty decision to cooperate. I can give you 100 excuses, but I won’t. At the end of the day by street code, I am still a rat/stoolpigeon—I don’t like it, but it’s the truth, I crossed the line. I can’t take it back and I won’t make half-baked excuses and blame guys who stood up. These are the rules of the street, not only Cosa Nostra.” He said he was selected for this team because he had a reputation as a meticulous planner with knowledge of alarms and stealthy moves. He said he was not a member of Cosa Nostra, nor did he want to be. He said he believed in the rules of that life and one reason is that once he was asked to join the plot, a refusal would show weakness, and folks might question his loyalty in the future.

Salvatore “Fat Sal” Mangiavillano is living in secrecy somewhere and probably not in the US because of his citizenship problem.

The government convicted the rest of the hit team for this plot, other murders, extortion, and racketeering. They were Louis Vallario, a Gambino capo, Frank Fappiano who was a Gambino soldier and enforcer, Edward “Cousin Eddie” Garafola, who was a brother-in-law of Gravano and a Gambino soldier, Frank Matera, and finally Thomas “Huck” Carbonaro another Gambino soldier. These men were also convicted of murdering Frederick Weiss and Frank Parasole.

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