Last week I wrote about Joey “Caves” Compietello who gave such a valuable compelling look inside the Colombo Family. He has the classic tale of mob life that shows that the Mafia is far from dead. The question is why in 2014 would anyone still strive to become a made guy?
Those who have reached middle management or at least stable status in the Mafia were born in the late 1960’s or the early 1970’s. This was a time that the Mafia had a strong presence in many neighborhoods across the US. The FBI was just starting to understand how it worked and how to use the RICO laws.
Many young up and comers never went past the 9th grade and dropped out of high school. This does not mean they are stupid by any measure. Many are smart but were bored by school and the lure of the streets was strong.
The 1980’s was a time in Brooklyn where many of those young men started stealing cars. Many older Mafia members owned junk yards or auto repair places. So these young high school dropouts could earn very good money by stealing and dropping off these cars to them.
They would be chopped and parted out or tagged. Tagging a car means they would buy a car that had been wrecked beyond repair that the insurance company sold as totaled. Once owning this frame they would remove the VIN ( Vehicle Identification Number) then steal the exact car and install the totaled cars “tags” on the stolen car. This was a huge money maker because they could buy a wrecked car for mere hundreds and sell the tagged car for thousands of dollars.
Once many of these young expert car thieves made some cash they would find their own spots to “Chop” or disassemble stolen cars. Many parts from a car are valuable and there is no way to trace them so they can sell the parts.
Money and greed are why many were killed by those around the Mafia. The Mafia does not pay for killing. Those around or inside the Mafia take part in murder to advance their position.
It is one of those unpleasant byproducts of the life.
Those who ran the Chop shops kicked up money to whatever Mafia guy they were “around” or “with”. The more money they kicked up the more status they had. They also wanted the cash so they could just live, so anyone stealing from them was literally taking food from their mouths.
Joe Meech or Joe Miccio was working with Joey Caves and others in a Chop Shop. Dino Calabro was not made but he was “with” Tommy “Shots” Geoli, meaning he was kicking money up to him. Joe Meech was selling parts from chopped cars and keeping the cash for himself.
Joe Meech was picked up by a guy nicknamed “Tigger” one day to take care of some car business when they stopped to also pick up Joey Caves. Once in the car Joey Caves pulled out his pistol and shot Joe Meech in the head. They drove to 17th and Shore Parkway where Joey pushed Joe Meech out of the car and shot him three more times to make sure he was dead.
In the book “Mob over Miami,” the author made it seem like Carmine Gargano was murdered by those around the Bath Ave Crew or Jimmy “Frogs” Galione cocaine crew. Carmine was murdered because he was involved with Dino Calabro in a chop shop business and he wanted more money from it. He was lured to a chop shop off MacDonald Ave where he was shot in the head and smashed with a hammer. They buried him under the floor of the shop but his family came there looking for him. They moved him out to the Colombo graveyard in Farmingdale Long Island where others would be buried. The FBI would never find his body but they found hair and other traces of him in the MacDonald Ave chop shop.
The Colombo war in the 1990’s tore the family apart and life long friends were out looking to kill each other. The older made Colombo members used the young thugs to scout out and kill others because they were not known. The young guys would “Sit” on targets houses or businesses so they could get their routines down.
Joey Caves “sat” on Joe Baudanza’s home and Joe Scopo’s home. Joe Baudanza is a Colombo Capo who was part of the ruling panel that ran the family because boss Carmine “Gimpy” Persico is away for life. Joe is also the brother of Carmine Baudanza a Colombo soldier and the Uncle of John Baudanza a Lucchese Capo. Joe Baudanza was inducted, made or as the Colombo’s put it “Coming to the house” in a home on Long Island. I know because my friend Joe Campy was made at the same time and place.
John Baudanza and Little Craig Marino were drivers and bodyguards for Joe Scopo. They must not have been good because Joe was shot in front of his house after Teddy Persico Jr came home on a prison furlough for his grandmother's funeral. Teddy was kneeling next to her body when he gave the order to murder Scopo. Joey Caves did not murder Scopo but he sat on his house. Joey would be made in Brooklyn by among others Joe Baudanza and at the same time as little Craig Marino.
The Colombo’s were aware that the FBI and others were always watching or listening to them so they adopted some new tactics. A thumb across the cheek was how they referred to a made guy and a thumb across the back was their way of indicating a Capo. All the families used methods close to this, in Los Angeles they would point to the chest for a soldier, the shoulder for a Capo and the sky for Pete Milano the Boss.
The stories and the methods are the same all over the US in the Mafia families. Chicago is the same, just not as “Cowboy” as the rest of the families. All the the families now have a good chance of continuing on because the FBI is busy with terrorists.
The information they got from men like Joey Caves, Joey Massino, Sammy Gravano, Andrew DiDonato, Mikey Scars, Philip Leonetti, Al D’Arco and so many more is priceless and provides a glimpse into a secret criminal world that few on the outside can understand.
Hollywood will keep churning out their mindless gangster flicks with stars who carry a new pistol with designer gloves on their hands. Most of these will fall short of the life but all you have to do is look at the trials of the real deal.
Joey Caves should get a sentence like Sammy Gravano or any of the others that came before. He has helped team USA in the fight against Organized Crime.