Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Bossby Philip Carlo
The boss of New York's infamous Lucchese crime family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso's life in the Mafia was preordained from birth. His rare talent for "earning"—concocting ingenious schemes to hijack trucks, rob banks, and bring vast quantities of drugs into New York—fueled his unstoppable rise up the ladder of organized crime. A mafioso responsible for at… See more details below
The boss of New York's infamous Lucchese crime family, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso's life in the Mafia was preordained from birth. His rare talent for "earning"—concocting ingenious schemes to hijack trucks, rob banks, and bring vast quantities of drugs into New York—fueled his unstoppable rise up the ladder of organized crime. A mafioso responsible for at least fifty murders, Casso lived large, with a beautiful wife and money to burn. When the law finally caught up with him in 1994, Casso became the thing he hated most—an informer.
From his blood feud with John Gotti to his dealings with the "Mafia cops," decorated NYPD officers Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, to the Windows case, which marked the beginning of the end for the New York Mob, Gaspipe is Anthony Casso's shocking story—a roller-coaster ride into an exclusive netherworld that reveals the true inner workings of the Mafia, from its inception to the present time.
One of the most dangerous, intriguing Mafia chieftains ever, Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso served as an apprentice thief and killer before rising to boss of the infamous Lucchese crime family, according to Carlo, a childhood neighbor of the South Brooklyn native. Carlo (The Ice Man) depicts a violent teen doted on by his gangster father and his mob godfather, Sally Callinbrano, groomed in the art of the kill and Cosa Nostra values. As his enterprises in hot goods and drugs prospered, Casso became the chief enforcer and mob royalty, able to buy a stylish lifestyle as well as an assortment of crooked cops and FBI agents. Tucked away in this book's blood-drenched pages is a picture-perfect love story between Anthony and his wife, Lillian Delduca. And for Mafia-obsessed readers, there are fascinating tidbits from the now jailed Casso about mob bosses John Gotti and Paul Castellano, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Hoover's FBI, the Russian mob and several thug rubouts. This powerful story is required reading for anyone with a yen for the Mafia, the criminal underworld and a law enforcement system struggling to keep up. 8 pages of b&w photos. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, head of the Lucchese crime family, was one of the last "old-school" Mafiosi. A shrewd businessman, a gifted thief, and an ice-cold killer, he controlled a loyal army and a group of dirty cops and FBI agents-he called them his "crystal ball" because they gave him advance notice of raids and arrests. But after he himself was arrested in 1993, he rocked the law enforcement world by turning informant. Crime author Carlo (The Ice Man) lived next door to the Casso family in Brooklyn as a boy. From prison where he is serving multiple life sentences, Casso has told Carlo his life story, revealing details never divulged before. Carlo paints this feared and revered Mafia boss in a generous light, emphasizing his roles as loving husband, devoted father, and generous and trustworthy friend over those of ruthless mob boss. The writing is workmanlike at best, rife with clichés and occasionally repetitive. However, because the story is enthralling and constitutes an important record of the last days of the great Mafia families, this book is essential for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ3/15/08.]
Deirdre Bray Root
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Read an Excerpt
A Man of Respect
Anthony Casso was raised within the confines of a Mafia culture, mind-set, belief system.
The youngest of three children, Anthony was born in Park Slope's Methodist Hospital on May 21, 1942. He had a brother, Michael, born in 1936, and a sister, Lucille, who was born in 1939. His parents, Michael Casso and Margaret Cucceullo, met in a bakery the Cucceullo family owned on Union and Bond streets in 1934, and it was love at first sight—egli ebbe un colpo di fulmine, struck by a lightning bolt, as Italians say.
This was the height of the Depression. Hard times were the norm. The world was starving. Men with hostile, gaunt faces filled with anger crowded soup lines and shamelessly begged. A mass exodus of able men left South Brooklyn and searched far and wide around the country for work, money, and a way to feed their families. Anthony's father, Michael Casso, however, managed to prosper during these hard times, for his best friend, Sally Callinbrano, Anthony's godfather, was a respected capo in the Genovese crime family, and he had substantial influence on the nearby Brooklyn docks. Michael Casso and Sally had grown up together and had been best friends since grade school. They played ball together. They stole together. They watched each other's backs. Sally made sure Michael Casso worked every day, that he had access to the regular pilfering that went on at the docks, as a matter of course.
"It fell off da truck" was the phrase commonly used for their stealing. The shipping companies accepted the practice; they had no choice. They wrote it up as "dacost a doin' business," as a retired dockworker recently put it, an old-timer now eighty.
Each of Anthony's grandparents emigrated from Naples, Italy, one of the most corrupt, crime-ridden, and dangerous cities in the world, between the years 1896 and 1898. They were a part of the mass exodus of Italians from the Mazangoro. Hardworking, industrious people, Casso's grandparents prospered—the Cucceullos opened a bakery. Casso's paternal grandfather, Micali, opened a bowling alley on Union Street and Seventh Avenue. Both the Cassos and the Cucceullos prospered, and eventually attained the elusive American dream. The effects of the Depression were not that dire for them. Fewer people went bowling, but Michael Casso Sr. managed to make a living, and the Cucceullos' bakery was always busy. Most everything on the shelves was gone by midday. The bakery was ideally located near the Gowanus Canal where there were thousands of blue-collar workers, and Union Street was a main artery with a good deal of traffic. A busy trolley line traveled in both directions.
Michael Casso and Margaret Cucceullo's union proved to be a good one. They were ideally suited for each other, deeply in love, and they would stay together till death parted them. Anthony Casso's childhood was a happy one. All his memories of his early years are good ones. He was showered with love from both his parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. His father never hit him. Anthony wanted for nothing. One would think, considering how cold and mean Casso could be as an adult, that he'd been brutalized as a child, beaten and regularly put upon, but just the opposite was true. Even today, he says his best friend in life was indisputably his father.
Michael Casso was a bull of a man, as powerful as three average men. This was a genetic trait. He had the rock-hard body endemic to southern Italian males, and his regular working at the docks, stressing and straining his muscles, helped build his impressive physique. Anthony's father was a calm, easygoing man; he rarely, if ever, got angry and rarely raised his voice, but he was a fierce street fighter, one of the toughest men on the Brooklyn docks.
Michael Casso's nickname was "Gaspipe" because he always carried an eight-inch length of lead gaspipe that he used like an impromptu blackjack, or held in his huge, large knuckled fist when he threw a punch to add bad intentions to the blow. Anthony would, years later, inherit his father's nickname and become known through Mafiadom as Gaspipe, never Anthony, though he did not use a gaspipe as a weapon. It is no accident that most all street guys have nicknames. This was a simple though clever way to confuse law enforcement as to the true identity of any given made man.
Anthony Casso's first conscious recollections of the Mafia were Sunday outings with his father. He was seven years old. They'd get dressed up, get in his dad's car, a big, shiny Buick, and drive to his godfather Sally Callinbrano's club on the Flatbush Avenue extension and Bridge Street. They'd make their way straight down Flatbush Avenue toward the Manhattan Bridge. The young Casso very much enjoyed this time alone with his dad, just the two of them in the car cruising along. The year was 1949 and these are some of the warmest memories Anthony has of his childhood, him and his father slowly driving along Flatbush Avenue. Little was said during these private outings with his dad. Just the fact that his dad would take to him Callinbrano's club was, Anthony knew, an honor. Michael Casso was, in a very real sense, introducing his son to a secret society, a far different place from the straight world.
Sally Callinbrano was a prominent force, a highly respected capo in the Genovese crime family. He was a thin, distinguished, gray-haired individual. He was always in an impeccably cut suit, starched white shirt and silk tie, glistening leather shoes. He was perfectly barbered. A huge diamond pinkie ring adorned his right hand.
"He was a class act all the way," as Casso puts it. After the murder of Albert Anastasia in 1957, Callinbrano essentially took over his rule of the International Longshoremen's Association Union, ILA Local 1814, a powerful position that guaranteed prestige, honor, and money. Lots of it.Gaspipe. Copyright © by Philip Carlo. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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