Sunday, January 15, 2017

No More Little Nicky

The old school Mafia guys are starting to drop fast in 2017.  Nicodemo Scarfo Sr. aka “Little Nicky,” the ruthless boss of the Philadelphia family, has died and it may have been on Friday the 13 or early on the 14th.  It would seem more fitting for Little Nicky to die on Friday the 13th.

Born in 1929 in Brooklyn New York, his family moved to New Jersey where he would grow up.  He was always trouble and soon followed his uncle Nicholas Piccolo, a made member of the Philadelphia family, into organized crime. Piccolo aka “Nicky Buck” became a capo under long time boss Angelo Bruno.  Little Nicky proved himself capable after a stint as a boxer and a part time gig tending bar.  He went out on hits for the family and was soon proposed for membership in 1954 and was inducted into the family along with two of his uncles.

Little Nicky was always a hot head.  In 1963 he stabbed a man to death outside a restaurant in Philadelphia.  The boss Angelo Bruno did not like what he had done and contemplated killing him but instead he banished Little Nicky to Atlantic City.  Atlantic City at the time was a former resort town that had become nothing but a shell.

Fortune seemed to smile on Little Nicky in 1976, when the state of New Jersey legalized gambling in Atlantic City.  He had struggled to make ends meet with a small bookmaking and loansharking operation.  In 1976 that all changed and he changed his direction. He went into the cement business with his Nephew Philip Leonetti aka “Crazy Phil.”  

They infiltrated unions and other crime family members had a rebar company.  When the building boom started, the cash flowed in and the cement company, Scarf Inc., was able to cash in on it.

In 1979 an Atlantic City contractor named Vincent Falcone insulted Little Nicky.  As a result, he was lured to a house where Crazy Phil shot him while the others watched. A plumber named Joseph Salerno Jr. was also present during the murder, but afterwards he went to the FBI.  They arrested Little Nicky and the others but they were all later acquitted by a jury.  They did find a gun in Little Nicky's home so he was sentenced to two years in prison.

In 1980 Angelo Bruno, the boss, was shotgunned to death in front of his home. The next boss, Philip Testa, aka “Chicken Man” lasted a year before he was blown up by a bomb planted on his front porch.  It was then that Little Nicky stepped up and took power in Philadelphia.

He immediately started ordering murders, including Salvatore Testa’s - the son of the former boss.

He was able to consolidate power in the city, and he started imposing a street tax on illegal activity.  He had many people murdered and he would leave them in public to instill fear.

The money began to pour into the family and he became the New Jersey version of John Gotti or Al Capone.  He had a nice house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida along with a boat named CASABLANCA The Usual Suspects.

In 1987 the Feds started catching up to the family and Little Nicky was convicted in the extortion of a builder.  He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.  In 1988 a massive RICO case was brought against him and 16 others.  He was found guilty on 33 counts, which included 8 murders, and he was given another 55 years in prison.  

Little Nicky was convicted the next year of another murder and given a life sentence, which meant he would die in prison.  He did manage to get acquitted in a retrial for that murder, but he still had to do the other sentences.

He tried to run the family from prison but it fell into civil war and even his son Nicky Jr. was shot.  Nicky Jr. would be inducted into the Lucchese family where he would become a capo.  Nicky Jr. is currently serving a 33 year sentence for various crimes. Crazy Phil, his nephew and former underboss, would flip and tell the FBI everything.

So the violent little man Scarfo is now gone. I am sure somebody will miss him, but Philadelphia and all of his victim’s families can breath a sigh of relief.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Joe Bilotti: Old School Gambino

It was just before 6pm on December 16, 1985 when the black Lincoln pulled up and parked in front of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan.  The streets were busy, but four men dressed in trench coats and fur hats moved with purpose.  The passenger was Paul Castellano, the boss of the Gambino crime family.  As he stepped out of the car, the men opened fire on him. The driver emerged and ducked a little to look towards Paul before he was shot in the back.

The forgotten man was Tommy Bilotti, Castellano’s driver and the new underboss of the family.

Tommy had a brother named Joe that passed away last week.  Joe was real Cosa Nostra, not like the clowns that run around playing the role in Brooklyn and Staten Island.  Guys who were in the life consider Joe the ultimate wiseguy. He kept a low profile, both before his brother Tommy was murdered by John Gotti’s crew and after.

The Billotti brothers were both known as tough guys with their hands.  They used that fear to build up a massive gambling business.  This proved a natural segway into their next business, which was loansharking.  They both prospered because of their talent as businessmen.

One of the men on record with Tommy was a man named Joe Watts, a childhood friend who grew up with the Bilottis in the South Beach section of Staten Island.

Joe Watts was known as “the German” because he was part German.  He managed the loan shark business for Tommy until Tommy was gunned down outside Sparks Steakhouse.

John wanted to get rid of Paul Castellano and Tommy Bilotti because he was caught up in the web of a heroin trafficking case and pure greed. Gotti and a few others plotted to take over the family, but they were not sure when to do it.

One plan was to put plastic down in the Watts home and invite Tommy over and murder him.
Then another man would take Tommy’s place as Paul's driver and murder him.
Instead, they settled on the midtown Manhattan spectacle.

Once Tommy was murdered, Sammy Gravano, the man who would later become John Gotti’s underboss, met with Joe Bilotti at a diner.  He told Joe that his brother’s murder was just business.

Joe Watts was urging John Gotti Sr. to murder Joe also, lest he seek revenge.  Joe agreed that he would accept it and not cause trouble.

John Gotti rewarded Joe Watts with Tommy’s loansharking book/business and it made him a millionaire.  No wonder Joe Watts was in on the murder of the boss.  He was one of the shooters.  Joe Watts might have made some money and had a few good years but he has been locked up for years.

In 2011 Joe Watts was handed another prison sentence of 13 years for his participation in another murder. At 69 years old who knows if he will see freedom.

Joe Billotti outlived John Gotti.  He was able to see him go away after Sammy Gravano helped team USA put him away.  Gotti would die inside, never again a free man.

He continued to take part in Gambino family business.  He was seen meeting with members of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra family in Florida in recent years.

Joe was a successful guy who most people don't know had a cigar factory in the Dominican Republic.  

So we say goodbye to another old timer who lived the life.