Thomas Bilotti

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Albert Flores

Thomas "Tommy" Bilotti (March 23, 1940 - December 16, 1985) was an American mobster with the Gambino crime family who served as underboss for two weeks. It was this promotion that helped trigger the 1985 assassination of Gambino boss Paul Castellano; Bilotti would end up killed as well as part of the assassination.

Early life

As a young man, Bilotti joined the Staten Island crew of Gambino capo Michael D'Alessio. Bilotti also spent time as Alexander DeBrizzi's chauffeur and bodyguard. +more Bilotti later became a criminal associate of John D'Alessio, Michael's brother. Bilotti was involved in labor racketeering, extortion and loansharking.

Bilotti soon gained a reputation for violence. In one incident, Bilotti assaulted Colombo associate Robert Pate. +more In 1970, D'Alessio allegedly recruited Bilotti and his brother, Joseph, to murder Thomas Ernst, the boyfriend of D'Alessio's daughter. However, the murder attempt failed when D'Alessio's daughter shot at them.

Castellano protegeé

Over the years, Bilotti became a close aide-de-camp, and confidant for capo Paul Castellano. Bilotti was a regular visitor to Castellano's Todt Hill, Staten Island, mansion and was considered a close family friend. +more However, when Castellano started an affair with his maid, Bilotti kept it secret from Castellano's wife.

Bilotti and Castellano owned Scara-Mix, a concrete company on Staten Island. He was also heavily involved in the Steam Fitters Local 638 of the Plumbers Union that was represented by George Daly, an associate who belonged to his crew. +more Daly served as Local 638's business agent until his 1987 conviction for soliciting bribes to ensure labor peace.

Conspiracy

Aniello Dellacroce's death of cancer on December 2, 1985 started a chain of events that led to Castellano's murder two weeks later. Several factors contributed to the conspiracy to kill Castellano; his failure to attend Dellacroce's wake was an insult to the Dellacroce family and his followers. +more Secondly, Castellano named his bodyguard Bilotti as the new underboss. Castellano also hinted that he planned on breaking up the Gotti crew over rumors of drug dealing.

Gravano suggested killing both Castellano and Bilotti while they were eating breakfast at a diner. However, when DeCicco tipped Gotti off that he would be having a meeting with Castellano and several other Gambino mobsters at Sparks Steak House on December 16, Gotti and the other conspirators decided to kill him then.

Death

On Monday, December 16, 1985, Bilotti drove Castellano to the prearranged early evening meeting at Sparks Steak House in Midtown Manhattan, on East 46th Street near Third Avenue. A hit team (consisted of Salvatore Scala, Edward Lino and John Carneglia) waited near the restaurant entrance; positioned down the street were backup shooters Dominick Pizzonia, Angelo Ruggiero, and Tony Rampino. +more Gotti observed the scene from a car across the street.

As Castellano was exiting the car at the front of the restaurant at around 5:26 pm EST, the gunmen ran up and shot him several times. Allegedly, John Carneglia was the gunman who shot Castellano in the head. +more Bilotti was shot as he exited from the driver's door; before leaving the murder scene, Gotti drove over to view the bodies.

Aftermath

Thomas Bilotti is buried fifty yards away from Castellano in the Moravian Cemetery of New Dorp, Staten Island. Bilotti left behind ten children, including a six-week-old baby daughter. +more Bilotti's wife Donna suffered a nervous breakdown and a miscarriage.

Five years after Castellano's murder, Gotti was arrested by the FBI in late 1990 on racketeering charges, and denied bail 10 days later. On April 2, 1992, with the help of Gravano becoming a government witness, Gotti was convicted of numerous racketeering charges, including the 1985 Castellano and Bilotti murders. +more On June 23, Gotti was sentenced to life in federal prison, where he died of throat cancer a decade later in 2002.

In the TV movie Boss of Bosses, Bilotti is portrayed by actor Richard Foronjy. In the 1996 made-for-TV movie Gotti, Bilotti is portrayed by actor Ron Gabriel.

Further reading

Davis, John H. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family. +more New York: Harper Collins, 1993 *Maas, Peter Underboss: Sammy The Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia *O'Brien F. Joseph Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather: The FBI and Paul Castellano.

Murdered American gangsters of Italian descent

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