Paul "Big Pauly" Castellano
He was born Constantino Paul Castellano, in Brooklyn, on June 20,
Paul was the youngest of three and was the only boy. As most children
did, Paul dropped out of school in the eighth grade
and learned to be a meat cutter and was running numbers for
His father was a butcher but he also ran numbers for bookies.
Paul grew up in a middle class, Italian neighborhood where the
crime was not that evident.
At the age of 19, Paul was involved in an armed robbery. His two
friends escaped, but Paul was convicted and spent 3 months in jail.
He was sentenced to a year in Hartford County jail but would only serve
3 months and 4 days. When he returned home, he was hailed a hero for never
ratting out the other boys that got away from the police. This would be
the beginning of Paul's reputation for being a "stand up guy".
This was Paul's first run in with the law and would be his last
one for almost twenty three years.
At age 22, in 1937 he married his childhood sweetheart Nina Manno,
Nino Manno was the sister in law of Carlo
They had 3 sons and a daughter. But while the marriage appeared
to be good on the outside, it soured quickly in private. Castellano suffered
from diabetes, and it was said that one of the side effects was sexual
He separated from his wife, and had an affair with his Colombian
house keeper, Gloria Olarte.
It was rumored that he had a penile implant. Whether it was true
or not, his underlings believed it and ridiculed him. They lost respect
for him. And the more they lost respect for Castellano, the weaker he became
as a boss.
After Paul's marriage he set himself up in the meat business and
by the early 1950's, Paul was running an extremely successful wholesale
operation known as Blue Ribbon Meats. While running his legitimate meat
business, Castellano continued to do jobs to consolidate his position within
the Brooklyn boys.
Paul became close to his cousin Carlo, and developed the so called
"White Rackets," construction bids, union affairs and political ties, while
another Carlo Gambino friend, Aniello "Neil" Dellacroce, managed the "blue
collar" side of the family that was head quartered at the Ravenite Social
Club in Little Italy.
The key to Paul's rise to stardom was his cousin Carlo. Carlo
Gambino became boss of his own family and ruled masterfully for many
years. When Carlo was at his death bed he declared that his cousin Paul
would take over as boss.
Dellacroce, was a man's man, he was from the old school who followed
the tradition of unquestioned loyalty, accepting the death bed decision
of Carlo Gambino to anoint Castellano as the new Gambino family head.
While Dellacroce used respect and loyalty to keep his turf in line,
Castellano preferred dealings. He negotiated a truce with the leaders of
the Irish New York Mafia; the Westies, offering their leaders, Jimmy
Coonan and Nicky Featherstone, to use the Gambino family name in their
business in exchange for 10 percent of their earnings out of Hell's Kitchen
on the West Side of Manhattan. However, they could not kill anyone unless
they had permission from Big Pauly. The Westies abused the privilege and
in an ironic twist, forced the police to confront Castellano in a private
meeting concerning Westies committed murders. The police wanted Castellano
to cut his ties with the Westies, which he did.
Castellano, although adverse to using violence, did not shy from
it. It is alleged he turned to one of his guys Roy DeMeo, to murder
his son in law, Frank Amato, whom he had heard was beating his pregnant
daughter, Connie, and was having affairs. When Connie had a miscarriage,
Amato's body disappeared on Sept. 20, 1980.
A federal probe of DeMeo in 1982 prompted Castellano to meet
with DeMeo. When DeMeo refused to meet with Castellano to discuss the federal
probe. DeMeo's body was found in the trunk of his car Jan. 10, 1983.
Castellano lived in a mansion on a 3.5 acre estate on Staten Island
at the top of Todd Hill, valued at $3.5 million and built as a copy of
the White House. In fact, he called it his "White House." It sharply contrasted
the humbled, middle class home of Carlo Gambino and most of his Gambino
family underlings. The mansion was protected by a rottweiler named
Castellano did not mingle with his family underlings, and instead
spent most of his time with his lover, Gloria Olarte
and big money private industry friends, dining frequently at Sparks
Steak House in New York.
Ironically it was his lover and maid that betrayed him.
The FBI planted bugs in Castellano's "White House" in late 1983
with the help of his maid and lover, Gloria Olarte.
She had been upset with they way her affair was going with Paul.
It was Gloria Olarte who told the FBI that Paul Castellano often sat at
his kitchen table where he discussed business with family members.
While Castellano and his trusted aide and driver Tom Bilotti were
Gloria Olarte let an FBI agent posing as a repairman, into Big
Paul's house. He planted a bug in the kitchen near the table.
The bug recorded 600 hours of conversations detailing Gambino family
Paul Castellano to Joseph "Piney"
Armone during a recorded talk:
"You only live once, Piney. Am I right? You
don't get to do everything. No one does. Me, I got no regrets. The thing
I wish, I wish I had more education. I wish I was more, ya know, educated.
But I say that now. At the time, what I wanted was the streets, so I took
'em. I always felt, if there's something you want to do, do it now. Don't
fuck around waiting. Am I right?"
"Yeah, Paul, you're right."
"But at the same time, let's not kid ourselves.
This life of ours, this is a wonderful life.
If you can get through life like this and
get away with it, hey, that's great. But its very, very unpredictable.
There's so many ways you can screw it up. So you gotta think, ya gotta
be patient. A lotta guys they're yanking their zipper before their dick's
put away, then they wonder why they got snagged. And they don't know when
to zipper their fucking mouth shut, either.
I tell 'em 'You listen, you learn. You talk,
you teach.' Am I right, Piney?"
"Yeah, Paul, you're right."
"Because there's just so many fucking things
that can blow up on you."
"Yeah, Paul, there are."
"There's so many ways they can get you."
Paul Castellano to Joseph "Piney" Armone
during a recorded talk :
Look, when we sit down to clip a guy, we
have to remember what's at stake here. There's some hazards. Guys forget
that. They get a guy behind in his vig payments, they get a hard on about
it, right away they want to whack him.
Why? Just because they're pissed off, they're
aggravated. But what I say is:
"Hey, you're making a living with this guy.
He gets you aggravated, and right away you want to use the hammer!
How do you get your fucking money then?"
It's means and ends. The idea is to collect.
But you know, Paul, I think some guys just
take so much pleasure from breaking heads that they'd almost rather not
Yeah, yeah. We got some guys like that. Dick
fists, I call 'em. I'm always sayin' to 'em,
"Just to take a guy out, that ain't the point."
Because I tell ya', Piney,
anytime I can remember that we knocked guys
out, it cost us.
It's like there's a tax on it or some shit.
Somebody gets arrested. Or there's a fuckup,
which means we gotta clip another guy, maybe a guy we don't wanna lose.
Paul's reign as boss would be plagued by F.B.I harassment,
health problems, and a lack of respect by his soldiers.
The F.B.I saw Castellano as the big fish in the sea. They went
after him with a vengeance.
Castellano was arrested on March 30, 1984, and charged with sanctioning
the murder of 24 people,
from information based on wire taps of his home. He was released
on a $2 million dollar bond.
On Feb. 25 1985, Castellano was arrested along with the heads of
several other families in what became known as the Commission Case, an
investigation into control over the construction business.
Much of the evidence came from the tap in Castellano's kitchen.
It was rumored that Castellano planned to rat on the Gambino family
that prompted the other families to seek his murder.
Dellacroce, who believed in the principle of loyalty to the family,
refused to permit it.
Castellano controlled some 24 street crews, increasing his take
from 10 percent to 15 percent,
always making a point of complaining about the money that he received.
It seemed it was never enough, adding to the growing animosity
among his soldiers and supporters of Dellacroce.
Paul's soldiers felt that he had grown out of touch with them,
and maybe he even looked down at them.
Paul saw himself as a businessman and seemed to forget that while
running a family was a business it also involved some dirty work. Paul's
legal problems and his failure to stay in touch with the streets ultimately
On Dec. 2, 1985, Neil Dellacroce died from brain cancer.
On December 16, 1985, as Paul's under boss opened the back seat
door for Castellano, three men in trench coats pulled from under their
coats semiautomatic weapons and put six bullets each in Paul and his under
The men then causally jogged down the block and into their getaway
There was talk by the families that maybe Big Paul's death was
faked by the F.B.I.
and he would then turn up to testify. The F.B.I. thought maybe
Paul faked his own death.
This document put everyone's mind at ease.
It is said by some that the hit on Castellano was in return for
his lack of leadership
and for his continual legal problems which brought the spotlight
on all the families.
In part, this is true.
Anyone that had anything to do with any of the families wanted
to see Big Pauly out of the picture.
No one thought with his bad health and the pressure he was under,
that he would not try to cut a deal.
The F.B.I. tapes had him nailed to a cross.
Another guy who was slowly nailing himself to the cross was
Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano.
Gravano wanted to have his relative Eddie Garofalo, a New York
construction contractor, killed.
He had asked his friend John Gotti about it and John Gotti told
him to forget about it.
He told him there was no reason to whack Eddie.
Gravano was upset, he liked to kill his business rivals .
He then went to Big Paul and demanded the killing.
Big Paul turned him down and told him that the family had enough
heat and not to cause any problems.
Gravano had his own agenda planned and killed his brother in law
After the murder, Gravano assumed control over all of his
brother in law's construction business enterprises.
This was all confirmed by F.B.I. taped conversations of
John Gotti and others complaining about
Gravano’s business greed and his manipulation of the Gambino Family
to have business rivals murdered,
including union liaison and “friend” Robert “DiB” DiBernardo.
DiB was shot in the back of the head by a Gravano underling
while DiB was having coffee with Gravano at Gravano’s office.
Garofalo was shot by Gravano in his construction warehouse.
These and other actions by Gravano had everyone upset.
Big Pauly wanted Gravano whacked because he said he was out of
but no one liked or respected Paul and John Gotti considered Gravano
John Gotti didn't condone what his friend had done but he didn't
want to whack his friend either.
Gotti tried to talk to Gravano and Gravano assured Gotti that things
On Dec. 2, 1985 they did!
Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano and two associates killed Big
John Gotti wasn't even there and had no idea what Gravano was planning.
John Gotti wasn't complaining much, he benefited by his death and
he didn't like Paul anyway.
John Gotti and others were concerned about who did kill Big Paul
but no one was able
to investigate much because of all the heat the feds had placed
on all the families.
In later months after all the smoke cleared
one of Gravano's shooters was talking and accidentally made a comment
about the hit.
Joe Gallo who had assumed leadership of the family after Paul's
death was made aware of the comment.
He called a meeting and informed all the bosses
regarding the commission rule on an none sanctioned hit of a boss,
whereby those responsible must be killed by any family for the
Salvatore "Sammy the Rat" Gravano knew he was done
and decided to manipulate the Gambino family again and make a deal
with the F.B.I
The F.B.I knew Gravano was a liar and murderer.
They just didn't care!
As long as he made up enough lies to convict John Gotti and others
he was a hero in their eyes.
This is a true case of blind justice or just the Justice Department
not wanting to see the truth.
Once Gravano cut a deal with the government,
Gravano admitted in court that he had personally ended the lives
of 19 of his associates and enemies.
Call me naive, but how many did Ted Bundy kill? or other serial
A vicious self confessed killer responsible for some 19 or more
Gravano was able to trade in his career of murder,
keep all the money he made for his killings and business dealings,
for a new life by lying about John Gotti and others.
Gravano was released from prison after serving only 5 years in
prison, in exchange for his cooperation.
Look around your neighbor he may be living next to you.