Thomas DeSimone

Thomas Anthony DeSimone (May 24, 1950 – January 14, 1979) also known as "Tommy Two-Guns" or "Tommy D", was an Italian-American mobster and hitman for the Lucchese crime family. DeSimone was a grandson and nephew of Los Angeles crime family bosses Rosario DeSimone and Frank DeSimone, respectively. He was married to Angelica "Cookie" Spione, but had many mistresses, including Theresa Ferrara. In the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas, the character Tommy DeVito (played by Joe Pesci) is mostly based on DeSimone. DeSimone got the nickname "Tommy Two-Guns" because he was known to have always had two pistols on him at all times. DeSimone was a psychopath, and was regarded as a "homicidal maniac" who loved and enjoyed killing people. Henry Hill described DeSimone as a psychotic serial killer for his enjoyment of murdering people, and even innocent people. Hill later said that

"Tommy DeSimone would often murder people out of boredom, and he would always put notches on his pistols to mark down how many people he has killed, and i remember him showing me and letting me count all of the notches that he had on his pistols and i clearly remember that i counted exactly 136 notches, i mean thats how sick and psychotic he was. Tommy was a fucking loose cannon, he was a fucking homicidal maniac, and he was a pure psychopath. Tommy wouldn't hesitate to kill literally anybody in a heartbeat, he didnt care who it was, he would kill anybody and everybody. Tommy was a hitman for the Lucchese Crime Family, and he was very, very good at killing people."

Biography Edit

Thomas' sister was Dolores and his two brothers were Gambino crime family associate Robert DeSimone and Gambino associate Anthony DeSimone, murdered by mobster Thomas Agro in 1979. He was the brother-in-law of mobster Joseph "The Barber" Spione, who was slain for refusing to help kill DeSimone in the late 1970s. His sister Phyllis was Jimmy Burke's mistress since she was sixteen years old. He is the ex-father-in-law of Gambino crime family associate Salvatore DeVita.

His father owned and lost a printing shop due to a compulsive gambling addiction. Both DeSimone's grandfather, Rosario DeSimone, and uncle, Frank DeSimone, were bosses of the Los Angeles crime family. DeSimone's paternal grandfather Rosario DeSimone was the boss of the Los Angeles crime family after Vito Di Giorgio was killed in Chicago in 1922. DeSimone's paternal uncle, Frank DeSimone, was a criminal attorney-turned-mobster; "Uncle Frank" (as he was known) replaced Jack Dragna in 1956 after the latter's death, becoming the second DeSimone family member to become Los Angeles crime family boss.

Criminal career Edit

DeSimone was introduced to the Vario Crew in 1965. Henry Hill said in Wiseguy, "Jimmy [Jimmy Burke] came by the cab stand one day with a skinny kid who was wearing a wiseguy suit and a pencil mustache. It was Tommy DeSimone. He was one of those kids who looked younger than he was just because he was trying to look older. Jimmy had been a friend of Tommy's family for years, and wanted me to watch out for Tommy and to teach him the cigarette business – help make him a few bucks."

DeSimone worked under Lucchese Crime Family capo Paul Vario with Jimmy Burke, Henry Hill and hundreds of more Lucchese crime family associates. Tommy DeSimone, Henry Hill, and Jimmy Burke was involved in truck hijackings, armed robbery, bank robbery, burglary, robbery, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, cigarette smuggling, auto theft, loan sharking, Protection rackets, bookmaking, dealing and fencing of stolen property, extortion, fraud, arson, contract killing, assassinations, car bombing, and murder.

DeSimone was infamous for his violent temper: His sister was quoted saying

"Tommy's teenage years revolved around boxing, street fighting, lifting weights, smoking cigarettes, and beating the shit out of a punching bag he kept in a spare room. He had a short fuse, and Tommy was well known on the streets as a vicious street fighter, Tommy loved brutally beating the shit out of people, he was very fearless, he wasn't scared of anyone or anything. Tommy had punches that were very fast and very powerful, his fists were iron, he always preyed on the strong, and he had an animalistic appetite. He would drink almost a gallon of whole milk a day. His only other childhood hobby was collecting different kinds of pocket knives, stiletto knives, and bowie knives he kept in a large old cigar box under his bed." While playing pinochle with Joseph Iannuzzi and Agro, he would throw darts at the other players when he started losing.

Tommy Desimone

Henry Hill's ex-wife Karen said in Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy, "Tommy DeSimone always drove around in a brand-new car and wore expensive clothes, and he and Angela lived in a two-room tenement slum," while Henry Hill described DeSimone and Burke by saying, "It didn't take anything for these guys to kill you. Jimmy Burke taught Tommy how to kill, and Tommy knew exactly how to kill. Jimmy and Tommy both were professional and efficient executioners. Jimmy and Tommy wouldn't hesitate to kill anybody that crossed them the wrong way. They were fucking loose-cannons, i mean they were both fucking bloodthirsty psychopath's, they were both cold-blooded killers, they were both sadists, and they were both serial killers, and they were killing machines, and they really enjoyed killing people. Jimmy and Tommy were as vicious as it gets. There is not a fucking gangster in history that could be more vicious then Thomas DeSimone and Jimmy Burke. Jimmy and Tommy would kill absolutely anybody, and when I say anybody I mean anybody, they would kill in a heartbeat. They would kill someone for the smallest reasons without hesitation, and sometimes they would kill someone for no reason at all, sometimes they would kill someone just for the fun of it. Tommy was probably more violent and psychotic than Jimmy was, but Jimmy was far more tougher, intelligent, cunning, deadlier and dangerous then Tommy. Jimmy murdered around 200 to 300 people, and Tommy killed probably around 100 people. Jimmy and Tommy murdered around 40 to 50 people together. Jimmy and Tommy would sit around drinking booze and talk about their favorite murders that they committed. They enjoyed talking about them. Jimmy and Tommy once told me that they couldn't go more than a week without killing someone, hinting out to me, that they killed much more people than i thought."

A former NYPD Detective named Frank Santarsola said "It gave Thomas DeSimone and Jimmy Burke enjoyment to viciously beat up somebody with their bare hands, beat somebody to death with a baseball bat, stab somebody to death, break somebody's wrist, break every bone in their body, torture somebody to death, or to cut someone's head off. Jimmy Burke and Thomas DeSimone were some of the most bloodthirsty, sadistic and psychotic individuals that I've ever came across. They were both homicidal maniacs." Hill later described DeSimone as a "pure psychopath" and a "psychotic killer." Hill once said of Thomas DeSimone, "Tommy was fucking loose cannon, he was a fucking homicidal maniac and he was always strung out on coke constantly, and he was always talking about how much he loved and enjoyed murdering people. He was very unstable, deranged and psychotic." Hill suggested that DeSimone had something to prove because his older brother Anthony had become an informant and was murdered by the Gambino crime family for that.

According to Henry Hill, "Jimmy Burke was as tough, ruthless, vicious, and lethal as they come. Jimmy was tough-as-nails, he had an immense, scary, and intimidating presence, he was 6 foot 3 and weighed 270 pounds. He was very big, burly, and buff, and he was extremely muscular. He had extremely large, tattooed, muscular arms, as a result of being a bricklayer in his early twenties. Jimmy's arms were about the same size as a silverback gorilla's arms. Jimmy had supernatural toughness, and he had superhuman strength, when I was an 17-year-old kid, I once saw Jimmy and this big black guy that was affiliated with this African-American street gang, fist fighting, and this huge black guy was about 6 foot 5, and weighed over 300 pounds, and this fucking guy had a reputation for being one of the toughest and most feared men in Harlem. Jimmy was throwing, and tossing this massive black guy around like a fucking rag doll. Jimmy caved this guy face in, and there was blood everywhere, all over the place, and this guy literally looked like his face was gone, and it only took Jimmy about sixty seconds to beat this guy half to death. I also once saw Jimmy beat the shit out of this guy that owed Jimmy money, and then Jimmy literally flipped the guy's car over on top of the guy while he was unconscious from Jimmy beating him up so bad, from that point on i knew better than to cross Jimmy Burke. Nobody fucked with Jimmy, people were terrified of him. For over 30 years Jimmy had a reputation for being one of the most toughest, dangerous and feared guys in New York City. Jimmy was also a very rich man, he had a net worth of over $200 Million in the mid-1970s, and for more than 30 years, Jimmy was one of the most powerful, respected and successful gangsters in New York City, and Jimmy was one of the most powerful and feared gangsters in America, At his height. Jimmy was very respected and admired within the Five Families because of his many people he killed for them, and for how much money he made for them. No Irish-American gangster will ever be as feared, successful, or as powerful as Jimmy Burke, not even Whitey Bulger comes even close to what Jimmy Burke was. Jimmy Burke makes Whitey Bulger look like a fucking boy scout."

During the 1960s, DeSimone and fellow associates Henry Hill, Joey Allegro, and Stanley Diamond would go on regular hijackings. While hijacking, DeSimone would always carry his gun in a brown paper bag. "Walking down the street, he looked like he was bringing you a sandwich instead of a .38." Hill said.

DeSimone committed what is believed to have been his first murder on March 15, 1968 at the age of 18. He was walking down the street with Hill when DeSimone spotted Howard Goldstein, a passing pedestrian, a random stranger unknown to either gangster. Hill recalls DeSimone turning to him and saying, "Hey Henry, watch this." DeSimone yelled, "Hey cocksucker!" and pulled out a .38 caliber pistol, and shot and killed Goldstein. Hill exclaimed, "That was cold-blooded, Tommy!" DeSimone replied, "Well, I'm a mean cat."

Murder of William "Billy Batts" Bentvena Edit

In the book Wiseguy, Henry Hill said they threw a "welcome home" party at Robert's Lounge, which was owned by Jimmy Burke, for William "Billy Batts" Bentvena (confused as William Devino), a made man in Carmine Fatico's crew (the same crew John Gotti was a part of) in the Gambino crime family.

Bentvena had just been released from prison after serving a six-year term for drug possession. Hill states in Wiseguy that Bentvena saw DeSimone and asked him if he still shined shoes and DeSimone took this as an insult. Hill also said that Bentvena provoked DeSimone because he wanted to impress some mobsters from another crime family. A couple of minutes later when that issue was going to be forgotten, DeSimone leaned over to Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke and said "I'm gonna kill that fuck." Hill saw that he was serious about it. A couple of weeks later, on June 11, 1970, Bentvena went over to "The Suite" owned by Hill in Jamaica, Queens to go drinking with DeSimone's crew, including Hill, DeSimone, and Jimmy. Later that night DeSimone took his girlfriend home and Burke started making Bentvena feel comfortable. Twenty minutes later, DeSimone arrived with a .38 revolver and a plastic mattress cover. DeSimone walked over to him at the corner of the bar and attacked Bentvena. Before Bentvena was attacked, Jimmy Burke tightened his arms around Bentvena and he was pistol-whipped with the .38 revolver. He was so inebriated that he couldn't defend himself.

In the book Wiseguy, Hill said that before DeSimone started to beat Bentvena, DeSimone yelled, "Shine these fucking shoes!" DeSimone killed Bentvena not only because he had insulted him, but also because Burke had taken over Bentvena's loanshark business while Bentvena was in prison. According to Hill, Bentvena had been complaining to Joseph N. Gallo about getting back this racket. Not wanting to return the business to Bentvena, Burke knew sooner or later Bentvena would have to be killed. After the beating, the three men put Bentvena in the trunk of Hill's 1970 Buick Electra and later while the three men were driving on The Van Wyck Expressway, they discovered that Bentvena was not dead. Later, they visited DeSimone's mother's house to get a knife, lime and a shovel. Later in the drive, closer to their destination, Hill said it had been an hour of DeSimone driving and he kept getting mad about the noises in the trunk and finally slammed the brakes and leaned over for the shovel and that Burke and DeSimone "didn't actually shoot him, they just stabbed him, forty or fifty fucking times, it was fucking crazy, and they both loved every minute of it." In the film version of Bentvena's death, Tommy stabs Bentvena eight times and Jimmy shoots Bentvena four times.

Hill does not mention a knife, but claims Burke and DeSimone finished Bentvena off by beating him with a tire iron and the shovel, respectively and the men later buried him under a dog kennel. At the time of the murder in 1970, Bentvena was 49 years old and was a well-respected and a feared made man in the Gambino crime family, as well as a personal friend of Gambino boss John Gotti. Murdering a made man without the official consent of the Commission is an unforgivable offense in the Mafia code of omerta, especially by a rival family and a mere associate such as DeSimone, and it was this murder (after the Gotti crew definitively tied DeSimone to the killing) that led to DeSimone's own murder as retaliation.

Murders of Gianco, Cersani, and Jerothe Edit

DeSimone's third murder is described by Hill in Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy, and also is portrayed on film in Goodfellas. A young man named Michael "Spider" Gianco was serving as a bartender at a card game, where he and DeSimone had an argument (after Gianco forgot about DeSimone's drink) that resulted in DeSimone pulling out a handgun and demanding that Gianco dance for him. DeSimone shot him in the foot when Gianco refused. A week later, when Gianco was again serving drinks (now in a full leg cast), DeSimone started to goad him about his wounded foot spurring Gianco to reply, "Why don't you go fuck yourself, Tommy?" After a stunned silence, a delighted and impressed Burke, having now developed a respect for Gianco for sticking up for himself, gave Gianco some money before jokingly teasing DeSimone, who hadn't said or done anything in retaliation, about "going soft". DeSimone, in his usual way, took the teasing seriously and lost his temper, fatally shooting Gianco three times in the chest, angrily demanding of Burke if that was "good enough for him". Burke and Hill were furious with DeSimone's lack of control; Burke yelled, "All right, you dumb fuck, if you're going to be a big fucking wiseguy, you dig the hole!" and made him bury Gianco's body in the cellar by himself.

Hill stated that after he saw this he was truly convinced that DeSimone was a total psychopath. It is believed that Gianco's body was subsequently moved, because it was not found in that location. There is also recent speculation as to whether "Spider" Gianco even existed as the police never found a birth certificate or family and friends, indicating that Hill possibly made the story up. But on the Howard Stern Show, Hill said that "Spider" was buried next to the Robert's Lounge, which was owned by Jimmy Burke, along with other bodies.

His fourth murder, according to Hill, occurred when DeSimone and another associate named Stanley Diamond {1922-1991} got carried away after being asked to "rough up" a witness to a robbery. After a truck heist, a foreman had refused to allow Burke to unload the cargo of a hijacked truck in his warehouse, and vehemently protested because they had no union cards. Burke attempted to reason with the man, who stood his ground and refused to be intimidated. Burke later sent DeSimone and Stanley Diamond to the man's house in the boondocks of New Jersey, with instructions to threaten and "rough up" the man to ensure he would cooperate with Burke in the future. DeSimone and Stanley Diamond, angry and so worked up about having to drive all the way to New Jersey, ended up beating the man to death.[1]

DeSimone's fifth murder occurred when Jimmy Burke ordered the murder of his best friend, Dominick "Remo" Cersani, who became an informant and was going to set Burke up in a cigarette hijack for Burke to get arrested. Burke got suspicious about Cersani and later found out from one of his friends from a Queens, New York DA's office that Cersani was talking to the NYPD and that they were going to arrest Burke on a truck hijacking charge. DeSimone and Burke killed Remo that same week. The pair met Remo at Robert's Lounge and said to him "Lets take a ride." DeSimone strangled Remo with piano wire. Henry Hill said in Wiseguy that "Remo put up some fight. He kicked and swung and shit all over himself before he died." Burke had Remo's body buried next to the bocce court behind Robert's Lounge. It was said that whenever Burke and DeSimone played bocce with their friends, they would jokingly say "Hi Remo, how ya doing?"

DeSimone killed Gotti protégé "Foxy" Ronald Jerothe on December 18, 1974. DeSimone had dated Jerothe's sister and had beaten her up, prompting Jerothe to threaten to kill him. When DeSimone heard about the threat, he went to Jerothe's apartment and knocked on the door. Jerothe opened the door and punched DeSimone in the face. DeSimone then shot Jerothe between the eyes.

Lufthansa heist Edit

DeSimone was alleged to have taken part in the December 1978 Lufthansa heist from JFK International Airport, the largest robbery in U.S. history at the time. The loot is reputed to have amounted to almost $6,000,000, of which only a fraction was recovered. DeSimone was spotted because he had very well-polished shoes, too well polished for an airport employee. He was the one who suggested recruiting his ex-cell mate Angelo Sepe for the heist.

DeSimone then murdered Parnell Edwards. DeSimone was a good friend of Stacks Edwards and was disappointed to hear that he had failed to get rid of the truck used in the Lufthansa Heist in New Jersey, where the evidence would be destroyed. When DeSimone was told by a ranking mafioso that he could become a made man because of this hit, he agreed. Once he found out where Stacks was hiding, he visited Stacks and shot him six times in the chest and head with a silenced pistol. In Wiseguy, Hill mentioned that DeSimone had killed "around" four people in prison, bringing his body count to approximately 11. Hill commented that DeSimone would sometimes kill someone just because he wanted to try out a new firearm and wouldn't hesitate to use someone as human target practice.

Hill stated that he and Jimmy Burke didn't know how many people DeSimone had killed.

Disappearance and Alleged killers Edit

It is believed that DeSimone was murdered as a reprisal for having killed two of John Gotti's close friends, specifically William "Billy Batts" Bentvena and Foxy Jerothe. On January 14, 1979, DeSimone's wife, Angela, reported him missing. She said she had last seen Tommy "a few weeks earlier" when he borrowed $60 from her.

Following the Lufthansa heist, Theresa Ferrara, Martin Krugman, Robert McMahon, Joe Manri, Parnell Edwards and Paolo LiCastri had all been murdered by Burke, who wanted to avoid paying them their share of the loot. For years, the New York Police Department and the FBI believed that DeSimone had either been murdered by Burke, or that he was in hiding to avoid being killed. DeSimone's brother-in-law, Lucchese family member Joseph "The Barber" Spione, also disappeared shortly afterward.

When Hill became an FBI informant in 1980, he told authorities that DeSimone had been murdered by the Gambino crime family. Despite the oft-given date of death of January 14, 1979, the exact date of DeSimone's murder is uncertain. Henry claimed that in "the week after Christmas," he and Jimmy Burke had gone down to Florida to straighten out a drug deal gone bad. Tommy had remained behind in New York because he was going to be made. When Jimmy called to see if the ceremony had occurred (the code phrase was to ask if Tommy had seen his godmother yet), Burke was told that it had been called off due to a heavy snowfall. The next day, Burke found out that DeSimone had been murdered; he slammed the phone down and began crying, as depicted in the film Goodfellas. Henry also indicated in both the book Wiseguy and the DVD commentary to Goodfellas that DeSimone had been killed when Martin Krugman disappeared on January 6, 1979.

In 1994, Henry Hill, in his book Gangsters and Goodfellas, gave an expanded story of the events leading up to DeSimone's death. Hill's wife, Karen, had been having an affair with Hill's boss, Mafia caporegime Paul Vario. When Hill was sentenced to prison, DeSimone approached Karen for sex. When she turned him down, DeSimone attempted to rape her. In retaliation for the attempted rape, Vario approached the Gambino crew and revealed that DeSimone had murdered Jerothe and Bentvena without first seeking permission from the Gambino crime family, violating Mafia protocol. Sometime in late December 1978, or early January 1979, DeSimone was contacted and told that he was going to be "made." Peter Vario and Bruno Facciolo took him to an unknown location, where he was murdered.

There are two theories as to who actually killed DeSimone. According to mob informant "Joe Dogs" Joseph Iannuzzi, Thomas Agro claimed in 1985 that he was the driving force behind the murder. Agro also claimed to have murdered DeSimone's brother Anthony after he turned informant. Agro also suggested murdering the eldest and last remaining brother, Robert. According to Ianuzzi, Agro would often laughingly refer to killing the third DeSimone brother, stating that "Maybe it's time to go for the DeSimone trifecta!" Another account, told by Henry Hill in Gangsters and Goodfellas, states that John Gotti himself was the assassin, Hill claimed that John Gotti killed DeSimone by cutting him in half with a chainsaw. On May 17, 2007, on the Howard Stern Show, Hill reaffirmed that Gotti had killed DeSimone. He also added that the death "took a long time," as Billy Batts had been a personal friend of Gotti's and he wanted to assure that DeSimone suffered before he died.

DeSimone was declared legally dead by the FBI in 1990, the same year Goodfellas was released. His body was discovered in 2004, buried in a Queens, New York, mass grave known in Mafia circles as "The Hole" near the John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the body of Alphonse Indelicato was found in 1981 and the bodies of Phillip Giaccone and Dominick Trinchera were recovered by police the same year.

In popular culture Edit

DeSimone's infamy rests on his depiction by actor Joe Pesci in the 1990 movie Goodfellas (renamed Tommy DeVito in the film), a role for which Pesci won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

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