The DeCavalcante crime family is an organized crime family that controls organized crime activities in Elizabeth, New Jersey and surrounding areas in the state, despite operating on the other side of the Hudson River in New York, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). It maintains strong relations with much of the Five Families of New York, plus the Philadelphia crime family, the Patriarca crime family of New England. Its illicit activities include construction, building and cement violations; drug trafficking; extortion; fencing; fraud; illegal gambling; hijacking; labor racketeering; loansharking; money laundering; murder; and pier thefts. The DeCavalcantes are, in part, the inspiration for the fictional DiMeo crime family of HBO's dramatic series, The Sopranos. The DeCavalcante family was the subject of the CNBC program Mob Money, which aired on June 23, 2010.
Although not recognized as an autonomous crime family until the regime of Sam DeCavalcante, there were several bosses in North Jersey during the Prohibition era controlling transportation of alcohol and whiskey into New York City. In Newark, New Jersey, there was the Newark family headed by Gaspare D'Amico, the Reina family's Jersey crew controlled by Gaetano Reina, the Masseria family's New Jersey faction and the Elizabeth family headed by Stefano Badami. In Newark, D'Amico controlled illegal gambling and bootlegging operations throughout the early 1920. In 1935, Vincenzo Troia a former associate of Salvatore Maranzano conspired to take over the Newark family and he was murdered. Two years later in 1937, D'Amico fled the United States after a failed assassination attempt on his life order by Joe Profaci. The Commission decided to divide up his territory among the Five Families and Badami's Elizabeth family.
Stefano "Steve" Badami, became the boss Elizabeth-Newark family however, his reign proved to be very disruptive, as members of the Newark and the Elizabeth factions began fighting for total control of New Jersey. As Badami kept controlling the crew up towards the 1950s, he was suddenly murdered in 1955, in what appears to have been another power struggle between the two factions. Badami's Underboss and fellow mobster, Phil Amari stepped up to run the illegal operations.
Filippo "Phil" Amari, a mobster recognized by US law enforcement to be heavily involved with labor racketeering, loansharking, extortion and narcotics activities in Newark and New York City, was now considered the new head of the New Jersey organization. His reign proved to be very short, as there were multiple factions operating underneath who all conspired to take over. While still in charge, he relocated to Sicily and was replaced by Nicholas "Nick" Delmore, who with Underbosses of Elizabeth and Newark, Frank Majuri and Louis LaRasso attended the infamous 1957 Apalachin Convention to represent the small New Jersey crime family.
As Delmore kept running the organization before he became ill in the early 1960s, the rebellious times of New Jersey had finally ended. Nick Delmore later died in 1964, and his nephew Sam DeCavalcante was quickly installed as new boss of the newly official recognized "DeCavalcante crime family" of North Jersey.
Sam the Plumber Edit
The official criminal organization began with Sam DeCavalcante, a diplomatic, 'old school', classy and calculated Don who resembled, in many ways, the character of Don Corleone in Mario Puzo's The Godfather. He was born in 1913 and was a mobster involved in illegal gambling, murder and racketeering for most of his life. He died of a heart attack at the age of 84.
Between 1964, when he rose to power, and 1969, when he was incarcerated, he doubled the number of made-men within his family. He owned "Kenilworth Heating and Air Conditioning", in Kenilworth, New Jersey, as a legal front and source of taxable income and for which he gained the nickname "Sam the Plumber". Sam DeCavalcante also claimed to be of Italian royal lineage and another nickname he bore was "The Count". He gained much respect because he won a coveted place on the infamous 'Commission', a governing body for the U.S. Mafia, which included the Five Families of New York and the Chicago Outfit of the Midwest. Mob representatives of Miami were also included.
DeCavalcante and 54 associates were charged and tried; he pleaded guilty to operating a gambling racket, turning over $20 million a year. At the same time, a state report indicated that he and another Mafia family controlled 90% of pornography stores in New York City. DeCavalcante was sentenced to five years, and after he was released from prison, he retired to a high-rise condo in Florida and largely stayed out of Mafia business, although the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believed he was still 'advising' the family into the early 1990s.
Giovanni Riggi Edit
After Sam DeCavalcante left prison in the mid 1970s, he appointed Giovanni Riggi as acting boss of the family while he stayed semi-retired in Florida. DeCavalcante stepped down as Boss officially in 1980, passing leadership to Riggi, who had been a business agent of the "International Association of Laborers and Hod Carriers", in New Jersey for years. He was promoted to the position of official boss, and he reaped the enormous benefits of large labor and construction racketeering, loansharking, illegal gambling and extortion activities. Riggi also had the family maintain their old traditions, which Sam DeCavalcante saw as unnecessary. After Riggi used his power and influence to place subcontractors and workers other than laborers at various construction projects around the state, the DeCavalcantes were able to rip-off union welfare and pension funds. Riggi continued to run the family throughout the 1980s, with underboss Girolamo Palermo and Stefano Vitabile as consigliere, after Frank Majuri died of health problems. It was around the mid-1980s that Riggi's fell increasingly under the influence of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.
After Riggi's conviction for racketeering, he appointed John D'Amato as acting boss of the family in 1990. D'Amato was later revealed to have participated in homosexual acts and was murdered in 1992. Riggi continued to run the family from his jail cell, but he appointed Giacomo Amari, as his new acting boss. All was seemingly settled until Amari became ill and died slowly of stomach cancer in 1997. This caused a massive power vacuum within the family high-ranking members pushing to become the next boss of the DeCavalcante crime family.
The Ruling Panel Edit
After acting boss Amari's death, Giovanni Riggi organized a three man ruling panel in 1998 to run the day-to-day business of the crime family. These members of the ruling panel were Girolamo Palermo, Vincent Palermo (no relation) and Charles Majuri, with Stefano Vitabile as the reputed consigliere and adviser to the three.
The Panel, however, infuriated longtime captain Charles Majuri, who had been a hardworking member of the family since his teens, feeling he was wronged when he was not selected as the only acting boss. To gain complete control of the DeCavalcante family, Majuri decided that he should murder Vincent Palermo, leaving him in charge of the family. Majuri contracted soldier James Gallo to murder Vincent Palermo, however, Gallo was a strong ally and friend of Vincent Palermo, and told him about Majuri's plans. In retaliation, Vincent Palermo decided to have Majuri murdered. However, after one plot fell through, the murder was eventually called off.
Informants and convictions Edit
Toward the late 1990s, the 'Ruling Panel' kept running the DeCavalcante crime family with Giovanni Riggi still behind bars as the Boss. The downfall of the DeCavalcante family was precipitated in 1998 when an associate named Ralph Guarino became an FBI informant in an effort to avoid a long prison sentence in connection with taking part with two others in a heist of $1.6 million from the World Trade Center. Guarino spent 10 years undercover working for the FBI. He wore a listening device and recorded conversations mobsters would have about criminal business. During Guarino's time as an informant, fellow mobster Joseph Masella was gunned down on the orders of Vincent Palermo. Using information provided by Guarino, US law enforcement launched a large scale arrest on December 2, 1999 of over 30 members and associates of the DeCavalcante crime family. Palermo realized that they would likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars and decided to cooperate with the FBI in exchange for a lenient sentence. This resulted in the arrest of 12 more men less than a year later. This decimated the crime family's hierarchy and put it on the brink of extinction. Other top members like Anthony Rotondo and Anthony Capo also agreed to become government witnesses.
In 2001, 20 mobsters were charged with racketeering, seven murders, 14 murder conspiracies, attempted murder, extortion in the construction industry and stock fraud. This was the fourth indictment of the family since 1999. Since then, several other top mobsters agreed to become government witnesses in exchange for being given lenient or no sentences at all. US law enforcement even put Giovanni Riggi, who was hoping to be released in 2003, on trial and he was sentenced to 10 additional years in prison.
Current position and leadership Edit
Between 1999-2005, about 45 men have been imprisoned, including the family’s consigliere and seven capos. With the decline of the DeCavalcante family, New York's Five Families have taken over many of the rackets in North New Jersey. It is unknown how much influence, if any, Giovanni Riggi still has in the family. In his 80s, he has been in sick and in jail since the early 1990s. He is due out of prison on November 27, 2012. Longtime soldier Joseph Miranda took over the family as acting boss around early 2005. He inducted up to 12 members and tried to rebuild the family before stepping down as acting boss in 2006. Sicilian immigrant Francesco Guarraci is now believed by law enforcement to be the current acting Boss of the DeCavalcante crime family. Joseph Miranda continues to serve as the DeCavalcante underboss.
Historical leadership Edit
Boss (official and acting) Edit
Newark New Jersey family
1910s– 1937 — Gaspare D’Amico — in 1937 he fled the country after a failed assassination attempt on his life; his crime family is later disbanded.
Elizabeth New Jersey family
1920s– 1955 — Stefano Badami — murdered on March 31, 1955 in Newark, New Jersey at Vito's Clam bar on 15th Avenue.
1955–1957 — Filippo Amari (retired)
1957–1964 — Nicholas Delmore Acting 1962–1964 — Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (became boss)
1964–1982 — Sam DeCavalcante (retired)
1982– present — Giovanni Riggi
Acting 1990–1992 — John D'Amato (murdered) Acting 1992–1997 — Giacomo Amari (died of stomach cancer) Three man ruling panel 1997–1999 — Girolamo Palermo, Vincent Palermo and Charles Majuri (members arrested) Acting 2005–2007 – Joseph Miranda (stepped down) Acting 2007– present – Francesco Guarraci
Underboss (official and acting) Edit
1920s– 1931 — Sam Monaco (murdered on September 10, 1931)
1931–1955 — Filippo Amari (promoted to boss)
1955–1956 — Nicholas Delmore (promoted boss in 1957)
1956–1957 — Frank Majuri (stepped down and became Consigliere)
1957–1991 — Louis LaRasso murdered shortly before his 65th birthday in 1991.
2007– present – Joseph Miranda
Consigliere (official and acting) Edit
1920s– 1931 — Unknown
1931–1957 — Unknown
1957–1982 — Frank Majuri
1982– present Stefano Vitabile
History of Membership Edit
Current members Edit
Giovanni Riggi Boss
Stefano Vitabile Consigliere
Joseph Miranda Underboss
Philip Abramo Capo
Louis Consalvo Capo
Girolamo Palermo Capo
Gregory Rago Capo
Giuseppe Schifilliti Capo
Gaetano Vastola Capo
Francesco Guarraci Acting Boss/Capo
Bernard NiCastro Soldier
Anthony Mannarino Soldier
Deceased Members Edit
Philip Amari - Capo/Newark Faction(1930s-1955)
Nicholas Delmore - Capo/Newark Faction(1930s-1955)
Sam DeCavalcante - Capo/Newark Faction(1950s-1964)
Stefano Badami - Capo/Elizabeth Faction(1920s-1937)
Frank Majuri - Capo/Elizabeth Faction(1957–1964)
Louis LaRasso - Capo/Elizabeth Faction(1955–1957)
John D'Amato - acting boss murdered in 1992.
Giacomo Amari - underboss died of cancer in 1997.
Joseph Masella Associate murdered in 1998.
Frank Polizzi Capo (1980's-2001)
Government Witnesses Edit
Anthony Capo (died 2012 of natural causes)