Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

Business as Usual

Under Castellanos guidance, Gravano was finally making big money. He opened another after-hours club and began operating the Plaza Suite, a popular disco in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, which Gravano made his construction headquarters. He was making $4,000 a week from the disco alone.

Gravano purchased a 30-acre farm for his family in rural New Jersey. He claimed, For me, that farm was the highlight of my life. It was a retreat from the mob. He soon purchased trotting horses and hired a trainer to prepare them for racing at tracks in Freehold and the Meadowlands.

Gravano was finally able to provide for his family in the manner he had always dreamed. However, it would be his other family that would keep him from enjoying the fruits of his labor.

In Philadelphia the local Mafia don, Angelo Bruno, had run a relatively peaceful operation for nearly twenty years. Along the way he earned the nickname the Docile Don. When he was murdered in March 1980, it created a power struggle for control of the family. When the Commission ruled in favor of Nicodemo Little Nicky Scarfo, the loser was John Johnny Keys Simone, a cousin of Bruno. Gravano was dispatched by Castellano to murder Simone.

The killing took on a bizarre twist for Gravano, who held two meetings with Simone, gaining his confidence to set him up to be hit. Using Milito and DAngelo, he trapped Simone at a country club outside Trenton, New Jersey and dragged him into a van in the clubs parking lot. On the way to a wooded area where they were going to kill Simone, the victim displayed a remarkable calmness that caused Gravano to refer to him as a mans man.

During the long hours spent in the van between the abduction and the execution, Simone relayed to Gravano how the greed and treachery of the Genovese Family in New York had led to the bloody war in the Philadelphia family. Before the van arrived at the designated area, Simone told Gravano that he had made a promise to his wife that he would die with his shoes off. He also requested that a made member of the group kill him. Arriving in a wooded area of Staten Island, the van came to a stop and Gravano removed Simones shoes.

Ill walk out on my own, Simone said. Let me die like a man. Simone took several steps away from the van. He stopped and lowered his head. Per his request, Gravano had Milito, a made man, shoot him in the back of the head.

The following day Gravano claims he met Castellano at the Todt Hill mansion and reported what happened. Gravano says Castellano smiled and put his arm around my shoulder. He said he was proud of Sammy the Bull.

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