Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

A New Regime, Another Murder

In Underboss Gravano states, We made an agreement that nobody involved in this from here on out would ever speak to each other about it at any time under any circumstances and wouldnt admit anything to anybody in our family or in any of the other families. The official party line was We dont know what happened to Paul, but our family is intact.

A meeting of the Gambino capos was called and family consigliere Joseph Gallo held forth were still investigating. However, it was time for the family to move forward. Gotti and DeCicco had agreed before the meeting that John would be boss and Frank underboss. When DeCicco stood up and nominated Gotti for boss there was no opposition. At the same meeting Aurello told Gravano that he would like to step down. Gravano became an official capo in the Gambino Family.

Even though the Commission was in disarray because of the governments case, Gotti still wanted to maintain the Gambino Familys seat. Gravano states, We got recognition from every family, including the Genovese family. Except the Genovese people said that there was a rule broken, that the situation with Paul had to be put to rest, and somebody would have to answer for that, if and when the Commission ever got together again.

Gravano and DeCicco, who had been hiding in safe houses while all this was taking place, decided that they could now loosen up. Their decision proved to be a bit premature.

On Sunday, April 13, 1986, less than four months after the Castellano murder, Gravano and DeCicco were at James Faillas Veterans and Friends Club in Bensonhurst. Gotti, who had planned to be there, called and said he would meet the two later in Manhattan.

Frank Bellino, a member of the Lucchese Family, stopped by and asked DeCicco for the business card of a lawyer he was looking to have represent him in an upcoming case. The card was in the glove compartment of DeCiccos Buick Electra, which was parked across the street. As the two men walked out, DeCicco spotted a bag underneath his car and joked to Bellino, Theres probably a bomb under my car.

DeCicco got in on the passenger side, sat down and opened the glove compartment. The bag under the car did indeed contain an explosive and was then set off by remote control. In Underboss, Gravano describes the scene in graphic detail:

DeCicco's bombed car
DeCicco's bombed car

Frankie Hearts [Bellino] goes flying backwards. The blast blew his shoes off. And his toes. I go flying across the street. And theres Frankie Hearts with the blood shooting out of his feet. I saw Frankie DeCicco laying on the ground beside the car. With the fire, it could blow up again. I tried to pull him away. I grabbed a leg, but he aint coming with it. The leg is off. One of his arms is off. I got my hand under him and my hand went right through his body to his stomach. Theres no ass. His ass, his balls, everything, is blown completely off. I was wearing a white shirt. I looked at my shirt, amazed. There wasnt a drop of blood on it. The force of the blast, the concussion, blew most of the fluids out of Frankies body. He had no blood left in him, nothing, not an ounce. 

Danny Marino and Failla, who had been waiting for Castellano at Sparks the night of the murder, stood outside watching as a police van put the two victims inside and sped off. Gravano told all the family members to go to Talis, his new restaurant, but both Failla and Marino declined. Later Gravano says he found out that the two were part of a plot to kill both Gotti and DeCicco, which was orchestrated by Gigante and Anthony Casso. Gravano claims Failla and Marino would be appointed by the Commission to run the Gambino Family if the plot were successful.

In November 1997, Jerry Capeci of the New York Daily News reported that Casso, now a government witness, had revealed that Herbert Blue Eyes Pate, a drug dealer and Genovese Family associate, detonated the bomb. Casso told authorities, The plotters reportedly used a bomb to divert suspicion toward Sicilian hoods, who often use explosives. Pate, who had no links to the Gambino family and was unlikely to be recognized by mobsters while staking out DeCicco.

Five days after the murder Pate was in court on a tax evasion charge. He was later sentenced to 12 years in prison and released in November 1996.

Gravano claims from this point on he used a driver and never left his car unattended.


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