Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

Chronic Bad Boy

Former hit man Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, who helped bring down mobster John Gotti, was charged in late February, 2003 with murder for allegedly arranging the 1980 killing of a New York City police officer, a prosecutor said Monday. Gravano was charged in the death of Peter Calabro, a day before another admitted hit man, Richard Kuklinski, pleaded guilty to pulling the trigger, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.

Richard Kuklinski, police mugshot
Richard Kuklinski, police mugshot

Gravano hired Kuklinski, known as The Iceman, a month before the shooting and provided the shotgun Kuklinski used to kill Calabro, 36, of Upper Saddle River, Molinelli said.

Molinelli would not give a motive, and said he did not know why Gravano, who was a hit man for the Gambino crime family, used Kuklinski to kill the officer.

Gravano, who is imprisoned on drug charges, could be brought to New Jersey within several weeks to face the single murder count, unless he opposes extradition, Molinelli said.  Since New Jersey did not have the death penalty in 1980, neither Kuklinski nor Gravano could be executed.

Kuklinski was charged after he confessed to the slaying in an interview broadcast May 20, 2001, on the HBO series "America Undercover." Molinelli said Gravano, who later became a government informer, hired Kuklinski to kill Calabro and provided Kuklinski with "the specific weaponry and equipment needed to carry out the homicide."

Gravano also was in the area at the time Calabro was killed, the statement said. Calabro's body was found in a station wagon with two shotgun wounds on March 14, 1980.

Gravano is now in prison in Colorado, where he is serving state and federal sentences for masterminding an Ecstasy drug ring while he lived in Arizona.

According to the New York Daily News, Gravano will have to sit tight in his pink underwear - for now.

Salvatore Gravano
Sammy the Bull Gravano, in prison garb (Associated Press)

Although the notorious mob snitch was charged very recently with a 20-year-old murder of a corrupt New York City cop, his extradition from Arizona has been delayed. Until a flaw in the extradition petition is corrected, he'll stay in the Maricopa County jail, where the warden makes inmates wear rose-colored unmentionables under their black and white-striped jumpers.

Two gangsters convicted of murder largely on the word of Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano hope the latest charge against the Mafia turncoat is their ticket out of jail.

Reputed Gambino associate Orazio (Ozzie) Stantini has filed legal papers seeking a review of his conviction because Gravano failed to reveal his role in the 1980 slaying of a rogue city cop.

His co-defendant Robert Bisaccia, a reputed Gambino captain, has joined in the request for an evidentiary hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The two men are the first convicts to claim that their conviction should be thrown out since Gravano was charged by New Jersey authorities last week in the slaying of NYPD Detective Peter Calabro.

Kuklinski is serving a 60-year prison term on four murder convictions. He accepted a plea bargain that calls for him to serve a concurrent 30-year state prison term. He will be sentenced April 11 and will not be eligible for parole until 2046

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