Feature Articles

September 2005

Last Days of the Gotti Gang

Part Five: Junior�s Trial Intersects �Mafia Cops� Trial

By J. R. de Szigethy and Lou Eppolito Jr.

     It was probably inevitable, but a reference to a murder in the upcoming �Mafia Cops� trial, regarded as one of the biggest Mafia trials in years, was made by two Prosecution witnesses in this year�s other sensational Mafia trial, that of John "Junior" Gotti, accused of a variety of crimes, most notably the 1992 shooting of talk show host Curtis Sliwa. Co-operating witnesses Anthony Rotondo and "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo both made references during their testimony in Junior�s trial to the murder of Gambino associate Bobby Boriello, who was gunned down outside his Brooklyn home in 1991.

     Anthony Rotondo is a former member of the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante Mafia Family, the exploits of which have been portrayed for several years in the HBO hit series �The Sopranos.� Rotondo has previously testified in the �Sopranos Trial� of his New Jersey Mafia co-horts, which included the sensational testimony that Mafia Godfather John D�Amato was whacked by members of his own family for being gay.

     Accused �Mafia Cops� Stephen Caracappa and Lou Eppolito, Sr. are under indictment for nine murders, including that of Boriello. Interestingly, information given to the Feds about the Boriello murder by Sammy �The Bull� Gravano and Mikey Scars reveal that at the time of the murder, some members of the Gambino Family were unaware that Luchese Family Underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, with the alleged help of his "crystal ball," Detectives Caracappa and Eppolito, was behind the hit. In his depositions with the government once he became a co-operating witness, Gravano detailed how top members of the Gambino Family had a sit-down with counterparts in the Genovese Family, demanding that they kill their associate Preston Geritano, whom they mistakenly believed was behind Boriello�s murder. In his trial testimony against his �brother� Junior Gotti, Mikey Scars DiLeonardo regurgitated the same information about the murder of Bobby Boriello.


     If there is one lesson that �wiseguys� in the Mafia should learn from recent organized crime history, that lesson is that it is extremely dangerous for a �Made� member of the Mob to be a driver and/or Underboss of an American Mafia Family. Because Godfathers are frequently the targets of assassination from both within and without their own Mafia families, a tradition has evolved over the decades in which a Godfather will designate his most trusted associate, either an Underboss or other high-ranking associate, to be the �driver� of his car. Such traditions are rooted in the experiences in the 20th Century in which car bombs were frequently used to take out gangsters. This practice reached it�s zenith in and around Youngstown, Ohio, referred to by it�s residents as �Murdertown, USA.� Irish Mobster Danny Greene�s car bombing murder in 1977 was a pivotal moment in American Mafia history, and would lead to the extinction of the Cleveland Mafia Family, as detailed in Rick Porrello�s book �To Kill the Irishman.�

     Such lessons of the dangers of entering one�s car were not lost on Gambino Family Godfather Paul Castellano and his Underboss, Thomas Bilotti, a childhood friend of accused Mafia Cop Stephen Caracappa. On December 16, 1985, Bilotti alone entered Castellano�s car at his palatial Staten Island estate known as the �White House,� located at the top of �Todt Hill,� so named from early Dutch settlers, which translates �Death Hill.� Bilotti inserted his key into the ignition and the automobile started up without incident. Godfather Castellano then climbed in, late on his journey for a meal at one of his favorite restaurants, Sparks Steak House in Mid-Manhattan, a supper to be shared with Gambino associate Frank DeCicco. However, upon exiting their car at Sparks, both Godfather Castellano and Bilotti were executed by a hit team of John Gotti�s.

     These murders elevated John Gotti to the rank of Godfather, with Frank DeCicco his Underboss and driver. However, once again, the automobile of a gangster would prove fatal. In April, 1986 DeCicco got into his car parked on a Brooklyn street, which Gotti had also planned to be in, and a bomb underneath the car was detonated. DeCicco was blown to pieces. Some suspected that Genovese Godfather Vinnie "Chin" Gigante, the "Oddfather" notorious for his bizarre, apparently insane behavior, was behind the assassination, his motivation being that Gotti had not obtained the �permission� of the "Commission," the ruling body of all Five New York Mafia families, to take out Godfather Castellano.

     Godfather Gotti regrouped from this car bombing and named as DeCicco�s replacement as Underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. Gravano may have been a vicious murderer, but he wasn�t stupid, so the former hairdresser was more than willing to let John Gotti�s trusted aide Bobby Boriello perform the duty of chauffeuring the Godfather around New York City. Boriello also performed the same vital duties for Gotti�s son, Junior.

     Bobby Boriello was himself a hitman of accomplishment, and will be best remembered for his role in the 1990 murder of Gambino associate Louis DiBono. DiBono was one of just several Gambinos whose lucrative businesses the greedy Sammy Gravano coveted. DiBono had secured, most likely through bribery, the lucrative contract to install fireproofing foam on the infrastructure of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, while they were being built and afterwards as routine maintenance. DiBono, however, found that he could save millions by cutting corners and not properly applying the fireproofing foam throughout the building. His criminal negligence was not unnoticed by various officials but went uncorrected for decades. Experts have testified in recent years that had the Twin Towers been properly fireproofed, they probably would have collapsed due to the events of 9/11, but still would have stood many hours longer, thus allowing the rescue of hundreds of firefighters and other rescue personnel, as well as those trapped inside the burning buildings, who otherwise perished on that Fateful day.

     When Bobby Boriello was elevated to the status of �driver� in the days after the murder of Gambino Underboss Frank DeCicco, that Family was in a state of chaos. The Gambinos believed that Vincent Gigante was most likely behind the event, and soon determined that Luchese Mafia Family Underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso was probably involved in the bombing also, aligned with the Genovese Family to avenge the unsanctioned murder of Godfather Castellano. Thus, on September 14, 1986, several members of the Gambino Family attempted to assassinate Gaspipe. Although wounded by gunshots, Casso survived. Inside Casso�s car, cops found evidence that Gaspipe had at least one secret source in law enforcement that was assisting him in his criminal enterprise, which assisted him in the commission of the murders of 36 people.

     The Gambinos had picked the wrong crazed murderer to shoot. Once recovered from his wounds, Gaspipe set out on a campaign of revenge to kill all those he believed were in on the hit.

     The American Mafia operates in very secretive ways, and often members will associate, and even commit murder with, people whom they only know by nicknames. Often, those names are apparently unrelated to the description of the wiseguy in question; the short, skinny father of Detective Lou Eppolito, for example, Ralph Eppolito, was known by his moniker "Fat the Gangster." For several years, the Feds allege, Gaspipe Casso gave thousands of dollars through an intermediary to the son of "Fat the Gangster," whose identity he only learned when Casso came across Detective Eppolito�s book �Mafia Cop.�

     As to the identities of those involved in the attempted hit on him, Gaspipe was only certain of one of them; James Hydell, an accomplished hitman for the Gambino Family. In their current indictments, the Feds allege that Mafia Cops Caracappa and Eppolito kidnapped Hydell, under color of law as police officers, feigning arrest, and delivered Hydell personally to Gaspipe. Casso then tortured Hydell before killing him in order to determine the identities of all of those involved in his shooting. One such name was that of Nicholas Guido. The Mafia Cops allegedly used NYPD computer files to give to Gaspipe the address of one �Nicholas Guido� who lived in the Bensonhurst area of Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the Mafia Cops came up with the address of the WRONG Nicholas Guido. On Christmas Day, 1986, a young, innocent kid by that same name died a hero protecting his Uncle from an assassin who suddenly appeared out of nowhere to blast bullets at Guido through the windshield of his new car. This sloppy work on the part of the Mafia Cops forever stole Christmas away from the family and friends of Nicholas Guido.

     The Mafia Cops were more professional in regards to their efforts to murder Eddie Lino, another Gambino whom Gaspipe suspected was in on his assassination attempt. Lino was also an accomplished hitman, having been one of the triggermen in the murder of Godfather Castellano and Bilotti. Gaspipe knew Lino would be difficult to take down, so he allegedly hired the two Mafia Cops to pull Lino over on the pretense of a traffic stop in November, 1990. Lino did just that and was blasted away by Caracappa, at least one witness to which will testify to in their upcoming trial.

     More often than not, hired killers by the Mafia are eventually killed themselves by other Mafia hitmen. A few months after Gaspipe Casso effected the murder of hitman Eddie Lino, came Bobby Boriello�s turn to die.

     On April 13, 1991, Boriello strolled outside his Bensonhurst home towards his car. Waiting for him was one of Gaspipe Casso�s hitmen, who gunned him down dead in his driveway.


     It appeared to be of no concern to Gaspipe Casso nor his hired gunman who killed Bobby Boriello that by murdering him in his driveway his dying body might be found by his wife and two young sons. Nor did the revelation to the �Mafia Cops� 5 years earlier that their supplying the wrong information to Gaspipe as to the address of "Nicholas Guido" - a mistake that took the innocent life of a young man on Christmas Day - stop, through guilt and remorse, the accused cops of continuing to assist Casso in the commission of murders for profit, such as that of Bobby Boriello.

     While Mikey Scars DiLeonardo was testifying in Junior Gotti�s trial as to the murder of Bobby Boriello, the New York Post ran an interview with his widow, who said DiLeonardo turned his back on her request for assistance after her husband�s murder, but that John "Junior" Gotti stepped up to the plate and provided both financial assistance as well as emotional support for Boriello�s two boys.

     Many in New York laughed when it was revealed that Junior Gotti had renounced the �life� and planned to move far away from New York if acquitted and write children�s books. Others saw this as a desire on Junior�s part to return to the innocence of childhood and get a second chance in living out his life. Only God and Junior Gotti know what is truly in his heart, but as to his immediate future, that will be determined for him by a jury of his peers.

To be continued

Related Features

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Four: Curtis Sliwa Gets His Day In Court

Partners in Crime: The Mafia Cops
Part Seven: The NYPD�s �Other� Mafia Cop: Steve Gardell

Crime Scene: World Trade Center

Additional sources:

FBI Documents regarding the depositions of Salvatore Gravano, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, as posted at the website of the Smoking Gun.


James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:

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