Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss

( 21 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.
Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews
True-crime veteran Carlo (The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, 2006, etc.) chronicles the extraordinary life of Lucchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. Such is our Mob-obsessed culture that Paul Castellano, Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, John Gotti and Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, Casso contemporaries that figure prominently in this narrative, require no introduction. Because of widespread publicity surrounding the arrest and trial of dirty NYPD cops Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito (see Jimmy Breslin's recent The Good Rat) the public has only recently been alerted to Casso, the Mafia chieftain at whose behest the detectives killed. Within La Cosa Nostra, though, Gaspipe was famous, thanks to his vast network of law-enforcement contacts, stoolies and plants. As an inter-family bridge builder, he was celebrated for his lucrative crime schemes, feared for his expertise and readiness to use a .38 revolver and admired for his discretion and reliability. Notwithstanding his eventual decision to break his vow of omerta and cooperate with law enforcement, Casso sits today in a supermax prison, in part at least, because he knows too much. Fearful of opening him to cross-examination, prosecutors have declined to permit Casso to testify at Mafia trials where the lies fellow rat Gravano told-testimony upon which numerous convictions rest-would be exposed. Moreover, Casso knows too much about the crooked cops and FBI agents who for years helped him break laws and evade capture. Thanks to a family connection-his mother was once Casso's wife's best friend; his sister used to babysit the Casso children-Carlo has the real goods. He shares all the lurid particulars about a criminalcareer stretching from a South Brooklyn boyhood, to Casso's Mafia-arranged, no-show union job at age 17, to his early murders, to his notoriously effective B&E crew, to his becoming a "made" man in 1974, to his making the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1990. Though the prose too often gets in the way-no observation unrepeated, no cliche unuttered-the inside information about the lifestyle, rituals, killings and betrayals is priceless. An authoritative look at a once-rampant predator now at bay. Agent: Matt Bialer/Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
Booklist
“A fine entry in the burgeoning field of works tracing the decline of the traditional organized crime families and their once impenetrable structures.”
New York Press
“We’ve all read novelists and true crime writers who try to put you inside-the-mind-of-the-serial-killer, but I can’t remember one that succeeded with the physical and psychological intimacy of this collaboration between the writer and the killer himself.”
Los Angeles Times
“I couldn’t put the book down. The details are amazing, told from many points of view; very scary indeed.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Absorbing…detailed, Phil Carlo allows the killer’s grotesque acts to be squarely view.”
People
“Phil Carlo paints a disturbing portrait of cold-blooded killer, Richard Ramirez. In the true crime tradition of In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song, Carlo compellingly tells the ghastly story from numerous points of view, including those of Ramirez and two ingenious sheriff’s detectives who finally cracked the case.”
San Jose Mercury News
“I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. because I couldn’t put the book down. Quite a compelling read. The amount of details is truly amazing.”
Toronto Sun
“Carlo tells this amazing story like a novel, with its dramatic ending when a hard-working, lowly police detective eventually got on Kuklinski’s trail and hunted the hunter like a real-life version of The Fugitive. A chilling look at the creation of a psychopath.”
CNN
“Carlo’s book is filled with never-known-before details. He did his homework and wrote a very compelling true crime tale.”
Northridge Chronicle
“Carlo’s book is a chilling, painstakingly researched account of the summer that kept residents of the San Gabriel Valley and later the entire state, captive behind closed doors and windows in fear. I read the book twice I was so taken by it.”
People Magazine
"Phil Carlo paints a disturbing portrait of cold-blooded killer, Richard Ramirez. In the true crime tradition of In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song, Carlo compellingly tells the ghastly story from numerous points of view, including those of Ramirez and two ingenious sheriff’s detectives who finally cracked the case."
From the Publisher
"The inside information about the lifestyle, rituals, killings and betrayals is priceless." —-Kirkus
Denis Hamill
PRAISE FOR THE NIGHT STALKER“Carlo has given us an astonishing portrait of a killer not seen since In Cold Blood.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616849443
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Carlo was born and raised on the mean streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn—the same streets Tommy Pitera hailed from. There, Carlo earned a Ph.D. in street smarts, and he escaped a life of crime by writing about it with unusual insight. He is the author of the bestsellers The Night Stalker, about notorious serial killer Richard Ramirez, and The Ice Man, about infamous Mafia contract killer Richard Kuklinski. Carlo lives with his wife, Laura, in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Gaspipe

Chapter One

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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Table of Contents

Bk. I The Making of a Boss

Ch. 1 A Man of Respect 3

Ch. 2 Street Smart 8

Ch. 3 First Blood 13

Ch. 4 Last Standing 17

Ch. 5 Readin', Writin', 'Ritmatic 21

Ch. 6 A Very Close Shave Indeed 23

Ch. 7 Irrationally Violent 28

Ch. 8 When You Steal Without Hurting Anyone, It's a Lot of Fun 37

Ch. 9 Larceny-Hearted 39

Ch. 10 The Opposite Sex 42

Ch. 11 True Love 44

Ch. 12 Bensonhurst 47

Ch. 13 The Carlos 50

Ch. 14 Dreams 52

Bk. II Stone Cold

Ch. 15 Making Bones 61

Ch. 16 The Burn Bar 67

Ch. 17 Casso's Crew 70

Ch. 18 A Blessed Event 73

Ch. 19 A Backstabbing Backstabber 78

Ch. 20 Straightened Out 83

Ch. 21 Rising Star 87

Ch. 22 Mia Figlia 92

Ch. 23 Anthony Junior 95

Ch. 24 Bad Apples 97

Ch. 25 Family Affair 101

Ch. 26 Crimes Pays 106

Ch. 27 The Forbidden Fruit 108

Bk. III La Vendetta

Ch. 28 Inside Info 113

Ch. 29 Kennedy Airport 116

Ch. 30 Newfound Wealth 119

Ch. 31 The Seeds of the Windows Case 122

Ch. 32 The Secret Sweeper 125

Ch. 33 Double, Double, Toil and Trouble 131

Ch. 34 Great Usurper 134

Ch. 35 Sparks Steakhouse 138

Ch. 36 Justice, Mafia Style 141

Ch. 37 Toys "R" Us 144

Ch. 38 A Curse from the Grave 149

Ch. 39 Mean Streets 151

Ch. 40 Hssssssst 156

Ch. 41 The Golden Ox Incident: Gotti's Revenge? 158

Ch. 42 Honor Thy Father 163

Ch. 43 "You're Under Arrest" 167

Ch. 44 The Bull 171

Ch. 45 Housekeeping 176

Ch. 46 The Chin 181

Ch. 47 The Commission 187

Ch. 48 Sanitation 190

Ch. 49 Sausage Fingers 193

Ch. 50 Starter 196

Ch. 51 The Killing of Vinnie Albano 199

Ch. 52 Racketeering 202

Bk. IV Gone With the Wind

Ch. 53 Gaspipe's Crystal Ball 209

Ch. 54 Underground 213

Ch. 55 The FBIComes Knocking 215

Ch. 56 Fat and Skinny 221

Ch. 57 Light on His Feet Pete 224

Ch. 58 Backfire 232

Ch. 59 Et Tu, Brute? 238

Ch. 60 Escape 243

Ch. 61 Tight-Lipped Vic 246

Ch. 62 King Gaspipe 249

Ch. 63 No, You Come Up 252

Ch. 64 Earthquake Rocks Mafiadom 257

Ch. 65 The 302s 269

Ch. 66 The Teflon Don 277

Ch. 67 Anathema 280

Ch. 68 A New Regime 283

Ch. 69 Contraband 286

Ch. 70 A New New Lease 289

Ch. 71 Gaspipe Meets the United States Senate 295

Ch. 72 No Comment 299

Bk. V The Living Dead

Ch. 73 Hellhole 303

Ch. 74 Impartial Observation 304

Ch. 75 Chinese Torture 305

Ch. 76 Dumb Fuck 307

Ch. 77 Reconciliation 311

Ch. 78 No More Pain 317

Ch. 79 The World Suddenly Turned Upside Down 319

Ch. 80 Phoenix 321

Ch. 81 The Death of La Cosa Nostra 325

Postscript 329

Casso's Neighbors 333

Gaspipe Revelations 335

Appendix "Government Witnesses: Getting More - or Less - Than They Bargained For?" Joshua L. Dratel Dratel, Joshua L. 339

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    One of Carlo's better books

    Author Philp Carlo specializes in books about the mafia and their henchmen. In addition to "Gaspipe," I have read Carlo's books "Iceman" and "The Butcher," which detail the lives of self-proclaimed mafia contract killer Richard Kuklinski and mobster Tommy "Karate" Pitera. Of the three, "Gaspipe" is likely the most accurate portrayal of the subject matter because Carlo actually lived next door to Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. It has been revealed that Kuklinski blatently lied about his involvement in at least one high-profile mob hit, and the story behind Pitera, a mob drug dealer who learned karate at a young age, is not very enthralling.


    Casso is an interesting figure- an extremely well-dressed family man who fulfills his childhood dream of joining the La Cosa Nostra. He is a top "earner" who excells at making money for the mafia. Thus, he is highly sought after by all of the New York families. He chooses the Lucchese family and subsequently declines an invitation to become the boss in order to stay "below the radar." His enterprises, which included drug trafficking and complex burglaries, netted him "rooms full of money." Casso had it all for a while, but he eventually went into hiding as his associates began getting indicted left and right. He was eventually arrested and ended up pleading guilty to several charges, for which he received a de facto life sentence because his lawyer was sloppy. He now resides in the federal supermax prison in Colorado.

    Carlo paints a sympathetic picture of Casso, making him out to be a very likeable guy. He has morals- rapists and others who prey on women are brutally murdered on Casso's orders. But he is also a businessman who will kill without hesitation to protect his interests. It's an interesting tale about a high-ranking mafia figure that you don't hear much about on television shows, must of which focus on John Gotti. I recommend "Gaspipe" to those interested in learning more about mobsters who were not part of the Gambino family.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    awesome

    great exciting book

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    CHECK THIS OUT.

    AAAAAAAAAWWWWWSOME!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Gaspipe

    Very gritty

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Not great...did not really enjoy it...

    Kind of a laundry list of he did this....he did that... But not much of a narrative of the events...no real dialogue or detailed description of many of the events.... Over and over: he was honorable...and loved his wife...but could be a pschopathic killer and he was surrounded by psychopaths... But i do not feel i got a great sense of the fabric of his personality or experiences. Maybe that goes with this type of book...

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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