Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

Understanding Castellano

Carlo Gambino
Carlo Gambino (AP)

Prior to family patriarch Carlo Gambinos death in October 1976, he tried to steer the family in a new direction. Author Peter Maas explains:

Although the mob members would never abandon such standbys as loan-sharking, illegal gambling, hijackings and narcotics trafficking, Gambino favored a more sophisticated effort to dominate the construction industry, trucking, food distribution, garbage disposal, even to infiltrate Wall Street

Castellano subscribed to this way of thinking, preferring to focus his attention on these activities while allowing his underboss, Dellacroce, to oversee the interests that involved the traditional muscle end of the family. But in doing so, Castellano lost the respect of family members who were in the strong-arm factions.

Gravano opened The Bus Stop, a new after-hours club in Bensonhurst. One night a group of bikers came in and told Gravano they were taking over. In an ensuing fight, Gravano broke his ankle and the bikers were chased off. Gravano, following protocol, went to Castellano and received permission to murder the leader of the biker gang.

While still in an ankle cast, Gravano and Milito hunted down the leader, wounding him and killing another member of the gang. When Gravano reported back to Castellano what had transpired, the businessman-like don was flabbergasted that Gravano participated in the hit himself while still on crutches. Castellano contacted Gravanos capo Aurello to inquire as to why Gravano hadnt assigned the hit to members of his crew. Aurello told the boss, What can I tell you. Hes got the balls of a fucking elephant.

While Castellano may have been more appalled than impressed with Gravanos cowboy actions, their relation was about to change. Gravano went into the plumbing and drywall business with his sisters husband, Edward Garafola. Castellano soon sent for Gravano to fix a problem he had with water pressure at his mansion in Staten Island, which his mob associates dubbed the White House. The construction business is something Castellano understood and he used his union connections to help Gravanos new company.

Paul just loved construction, Gravano related in his book. That was his true pet, the construction industry.

As Gravanos involvement in the construction field increased, he became an intimate at Castellanos White House, meeting with his inner circle.

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