Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss

Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss

by Philip Carlo

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061429859
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 140,812
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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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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.

Table of Contents

Preface xv

Introduction xix

Book I The Making of a Boss

Chapter 1 A Man of Respect 3

Chapter 2 Street Smart 8

Chapter 3 First Blood 13

Chapter 4 Last Standing 17

Chapter 5 Readin', Writin', 'Ritmatic 21

Chapter 6 A Very Close Shave Indeed 23

Chapter 7 Irrationally Violent 28

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

Chapter 9 Larceny-Hearted 39

Chapter 10 The Opposite Sex 42

Chapter 11 True Love 44

Chapter 12 Bensonhurst 47

Chapter 13 The Carlos 50

Chapter 14 Dreams 52

Book II Stone Cold

Chapter 15 Making Bones 61

Chapter 16 The Burn Bar 67

Chapter 17 Casso's Crew 70

Chapter 18 A Blessed Event 73

Chapter 19 A Backstabbing Backstabber 78

Chapter 20 Straightened Out 83

Chapter 21 Rising Star 87

Chapter 22 Mia Figlia 92

Chapter 23 Anthony Junior 95

Chapter 24 Bad Apples 97

Chapter 25 Family Affair 101

Chapter 26 Crimes Pays 106

Chapter 27 The Forbidden Fruit 108

Book III La Vendetta

Chapter 28 Inside Info 113

Chapter 29 Kennedy Airport 116

Chapter 30 Newfound Wealth 119

Chapter 31 The Seeds of the Windows Case 122

Chapter 32 The Secret Sweeper 125

Chapter 33 Double, Double, Toil and Trouble 131

Chapter 34 Great Usurper 134

Chapter 35 Sparks Steakhouse 138

Chapter 36 Justice, Mafia Style 141

Chapter 37 Toys "R" Us 144

Chapter 38 A Curse from the Grave 149

Chapter 39 Mean Streets 151

Chapter 40 Hssssssst 156

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

Chapter 42 Honor Thy Father 163

Chapter 43 "You're Under Arrest" 167

Chapter 44 The Bull 171

Chapter 45 Housekeeping 176

Chapter 46 The Chin 181

Chapter 47 The Commission 187

Chapter 48 Sanitation190

Chapter 49 Sausage Fingers 193

Chapter 50 Starter 196

Chapter 51 The Killing of Vinnie Albano 199

Chapter 52 Racketeering 202

Book IV Gone with the Wind

Chapter 53 Gaspipe's Crystal Ball 209

Chapter 54 Underground 213

Chapter 55 The FBI Comes Knocking 215

Chapter 56 Fat and Skinny 221

Chapter 57 Light on His Feet Pete 224

Chapter 58 Backfire 232

Chapter 59 Et Tu, Brute? 238

Chapter 60 Escape 243

Chapter 61 Tight-Lipped Vic 246

Chapter 62 King Gaspipe 249

Chapter 63 No, You Come Up 252

Chapter 64 Earthquake Rocks Mafiadom 257

Chapter 65 The 302s 269

Chapter 66 The Teflon Don 277

Chapter 67 Anathema 280

Chapter 68 A New Regime 283

Chapter 69 Contraband 286

Chapter 70 A New New Lease 289

Chapter 71 Gaspipe Meets the United States Senate 295

Chapter 72 No Comment 299

Book V The Living Dead

Chapter 73 Hellhole 303

Chapter 74 Impartial Observation 304

Chapter 75 Chinese Torture 305

Chapter 76 Dumb Fuck 307

Chapter 77 Reconciliation 311

Chapter 78 No More Pain 317

Chapter 79 The World Suddenly Turned Upside Down 319

Chapter 80 Phoenix 321

Chapter 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 339

Acknowledgments 345

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"The inside information about the lifestyle, rituals, killings and betrayals is priceless." —-Kirkus

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