By David Amoruso
Posted in 2001
Paul Castellano was born Constantino Paul Castellano in Brooklyn on June 26, 1915. His parents were from Sicily and had traveled to the United States to give their children a better life. Castellano's father was a butcher and also controlled a small gambling operation. Castellano was the youngest of three children and the only boy. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade and became a meat cutter with his dad and helped him out with the gambling operation. Being involved in gambling and bookmaking Castellano was bound to come into contact with heavier crimes and at the age of 19 he did. Together with two friends Castellano was involved in an armed robbery, his two friends managed to escape but Castellano wasn't that lucky, he was arrested, convicted and spent three months in prison without naming his two friends. Once he got out he was celebrated as a hero. He had done the right thing and had proven he was a stand up guy.
After this brush with the law Castellano kept a very low profile. In 1937 he married the sister in law of Carlo Gambino, this marriage would almost guarantee Castellano mob glory. In 1957 Castellano was on his way to the important Apalachin meeting a sign of his and more importantly Carlo Gambino's rise to the top. It should've been Castellano's finest moment till date but it turned out to be a disaster and would earn him his second brush with the law and his second prison term. When called to testify about Apalachin before a New York grand jury he again kept his mouth shut and was found guilty of contempt. He was sentenced to five years in prison of which he served seven months. Upon his release back in Brooklyn his stature had grown even more. He had earned respect and again showed what a loyal guy he was. Pretty soon things were back to normal, Castellano was back in business with his meat company called Blue Ribbon Meats. A very succesful meat wholesale company that thanks to mob influence was only doing better and better. Castellano was living the good life.
As Carlo Gambino's health worsened it became clear he needed to choose a successor. For Carlo it went between his Underboss Neil Dellacroce and Paul Castellano. Carlo chose Castellano and in doing that had sealed Castellano's faith and broke the Gambino Family in two factions. When Gambino died at his Long Island home in 1975 a meeting took place where Gambino's decision was discussed. The result of the meeting was that Castellano would be boss and no one would step up. Dellacroce honored Gambino's choice and was happy to stay on as Underboss. Castellano was now one of the most powerful Mafia bosses in the United States.
Castellano's reign was a quiet one. He wasn't flashy and lived very enclosed in a mansion in Todt Hill, Staten Island far away from the daily grind of the streets. The mansion was valued at $3.5 million dollars and had the nickname The White House because that's what it resembled. At his "White House" Castellano was isolated and ran his criminal empire. He lost touch with the streets and the basic rules. He started seeing himself more as a businessman than as a boss of a Mafia Family. Because Castellano was up in his white house all day the soldiers on the street started losing respect for him. They were on the street trying to make money and he was up in his house and never showed respect, even siding with rival families against his own. With a faction already unhappy with Castellano from the beginning things only got worse.
The boss got whacked On February 25, 1985 the bosses of the five New York Families were all indicted in the famous Commission Case. As Boss of the Gambino Family Castellano of course was indicted as well but for Castellano the indictments were double bad news. The indictments had wiretapped evidence coming from a bug in Castellano's mansion. The rebel faction was getting ready to make a move but they were held back by Underboss Neil Dellacroce. However when Dellacroce died Castellano's position became very vulnerable. The rebel faction was led by John Gotti who never liked Castellano and had always wanted Dellacroce to follow in Gambino's footsteps. Gotti was held back by Dellacroce but now with Dellacroce dead nothing could stop him. Gotti started getting support within the Gambino Family to whack Castellano. There were doubts but when Castellano didn't attend Dellacroces wake Gotti had no problems getting support. Plans were made, a hit team assembled and on December 16, 1985 Paul Castellano along with his newly appointed Underboss Tommy Bilotti was gunned down in front of Sparcks Stake House. Castellano's reign had ended in a way typical for most mobsters, he died a violent death.
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