Anthony Casso
Born May 21, 1940Brooklyn, New York, United States
Alias(es) Gaspipe
Allegiance Lucchese crime family

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Anthony Casso

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Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso (May 21, 1940) is a former New York City mobster, he served as Underboss, and acting boss in the Lucchese crime family until he was arrested in 1993, becoming a cooperating witness for the Federal Government.

Early life

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Born in Brooklyn, Casso was the youngest of the three children of Michael and Margaret Casso (née Cucceullo). Each of Casso's grandparents had emigrated from Campania, Italy, during the 1890s. His godfather was Salvatore "Sally" Callinbrano, a Capo in the Genovese crime family, who maintained a powerful influence on the Brooklyn docks. Casso dropped out of school at 16 and got a job with his father as a longshoreman. As a young boy, Casso became a crack shot, firing pistols at targets on a rooftop which he and his friends used as a shooting range. Casso also made money shooting predatory hawks for pigeon tenders. Casso stands at 5'6 and weighs 185 pounds. He was a violent youth and member of the infamous 1950s gang, the South Brooklyn Boys. He is the father-in-law of Genovese crime family mobster Paul (Slick) Geraci. Casso soon caught the eye of Lucchese capo Christopher "Christie Tick" Furnari. Casso started his career with the Cosa Nostra as a loanshark. As a protege of Furnari, Casso was also involved in gambling and drug dealing, in addition to loansharking.

Over the years, there have been various stories of how Casso got the nickname "Gaspipe" - Casso himself claims it is from his father, a mob enforcer who used a gas pipe to threaten union dissidents and other victims, however others say it is because his father hooked up illegal gas connections. Even though Anthony detested the nickname, it stuck to him for life and though few would say it to his face, he allowed some close friends to call him "Gas". He married Lillian Delduca in 1968 and had a daughter and son. In the 1970s, Casso murdered a drug dealer who was suspected of cooperating with the government. In 1974, at age 32, Casso became a made man, or full member, of the Lucchese family. Casso was assigned to Vincent "Vinnie Beans" Foceri's crew that operated from 116th Street in Manhattan and from Fourteenth avenue in Brooklyn.

Casso and another young soldier, Vittorio "Vic" Amuso, soon started a criminal partnership that would last for years. They committed scores of crimes, including drug trafficking, burglary and murder. When Furnari became the Lucchese consigliere, Casso's influence also increased. Casso and Amuso were chosen to handle the assassination of Gambino boss John Gotti, but the attempt failed. Lucchese boss Anthony Corallo, seeing a guilty verdict coming in his trial, picked Casso as new Lucchese boss. Casso refused and instead suggested that Amuso become new boss.

Big Money

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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance photograph of Casso (right) with Lucchese family boss, Vittorio Amuso (left)



Under new Lucchese leader Amuso, Casso became the family underboss replacing Mariano Macaluso who retired in 1989, although he wielded as much influence as Amuso. During this time, Casso maintained a glamorous lifestyle, wearing expensive clothes and jewelry (including a diamond ring worth $500,000), running restaurant tabs up to thousands of dollars, owning a mansion in an exclusive Brooklyn neighborhood and going on huge spending sprees. While at the top of the Lucchese family, Amuso and Casso shared huge profits from their family's illegal activities. These profits included: $15,000 to $20,000 a month from extorting Long Island carting companies; $75,000 a month in kickbacks from eight air freight carriers that guaranteed them labor peace and no union benefits for their workers; $20,000 a week in profits from illegal video gaming machines; and $245,000 annually from a major concrete supplier, the Quadrozzi Concrete Company." Amuso and Casso also split more than $200,000 per year from the Garment District rackets, as well as a cut of all the crimes committed by the family's soldiers.

Paying dues

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In one instance, Casso and Amuso split $800,000 from the Colombo crime family for Casso's aid in helping them rob steel from a construction site at the West Side Highway in Manhattan. In another instance, the two bosses received $600,000 from the Gambino crime family for allowing them to take over a Lucchese-protected contractor for a housing complex project in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Casso also controlled Greek-American gangster George Kalikatas, who gave Casso $683,000 in 1990 to operate a loan sharking and gambling operation in Astoria, Queens.

The Russian Mafia

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Casso had a close alliance and with Ukrainian mob boss Marat Balagula, who operated a multi-billion dollar gasoline bootlegging scam in Brighton Beach. Balagula, a Soviet Jewish refugee from Odessa, had arrived in the United States under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. After Colombo captain Michael Franzese began shaking down his underlings, Balagula approached Lucchese consiglieri Christopher Furnari and asked for help. In response, the Lucchese family received a percentage of Balagula's gasoline profits. The money was strategically shared with New York's other four Mafia families and became the Five Families' biggest moneymaker after narcotics trafficking.

According to Philip Carlo,

Shortly afterward, on June 12, 1986, Balagula's rival, a psychopathic hitman named Vladimir Reznikov, entered the Rasputin nightclub in Brighton Beach. Reznikov pushed a 9mm Beretta into Balagula's skull and demanded $600,000 as the price of not pulling the trigger. He also demanded a percentage of everything Balagula was involved in. After Balagula promised to get the money, Reznikov snarled, "Fuck with me and you're dead -- you and your whole fucking family; I swear I'll fuckin kill your wife as you watch -- you understand?"

Shortly after Reznikov left, Balagula suffered a massive heart attack. He insisted, however on being treated at his home in Brighton Beach, where he felt it would be harder for Reznikov to kill him. When Anthony Casso arrived, he told Balagula, "Send word to Vladimir that you have his money, that he should come to the club tomorrow. We'll take care of the rest." Casso also requested a photograph of Reznikov and a description of his car.

The following day, Reznikov arrived at Balagula's nightclub to pick up his money. Instead, Reznikov was confronted by Gambino associate Joseph Testa, who fatally shot him on Casso's orders. According to Casso, "After that, Marat didn't have any problems with other Russians."

Fugitive boss

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Following the imprisonment of Amuso in 1991, Casso became the de facto boss of the family. In Ernest Volkman's book "Gangbusters", it is alleged that while both Casso and Amuso were on the run from the law, Casso wanted complete control of the family and set up Amuso to be taken down by the FBI. This theory is contradicted, however, by Casso's biographer Philip Carlo. According to Carlo, Casso had no desire to be boss of the Lucchese family and attempted to arrange for Amuso's escape from Federal custody after his arrest. To the great disappointment of Casso and the Lucchese captains, Amuso refused to leave prison out of fear for his life. As a result, the Lucchese captains asked Casso to replace him as boss. Casso reluctantly accepted.

While evading authorities for over three years, Casso maintained control over the Lucchese family. In the process, he ordered 11 mob slayings as well as plotting with Genovese leader Vincent "the Chin" Gigante to murder John Gotti. Casso and Gigante were deeply disgusted that Gotti had murdered Paul Castellano without the sanction of the Mafia's Commission. All attempts on Gotti's life were stymied, however, by the constant presence of news reporters around the Gambino boss.

In another incident toward the year of 1993, Casso used the Brooklyn faction-leaders George Zappola, Frank "Bones" Papagni as well as the family Consigliere, Frank "Big Frank" Lastortino, to kill former Lucchese Underboss and Bronx faction leader Stephen "Wonderboy" Crea. However, due to the massive indictments at the time, all members of the plot were eventually incarcerated on various charges, including Casso, who was arrested at a mistress's home in Mount Olive, New Jersey, in 1994.

By this time, several high ranking members of the Luchesse family had defected. Among them was a former captain whom Casso had targeted for assassination, Peter Chiodo. Chiodo had committed numerous murders for Casso, but was incensed that Casso had also ordered the assassination of his wife. According to Casso, Chiodo had chosen to involve his wife in the business of the Luchese family. Therefore, he alone was responsible for the contract on her.

Informant

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Once Casso realized that there was an enormous amount of evidence against him, he decided to become an informant. Believing that he would be sent into witness protection with his wife and children, Casso revealed everything he knew about the inner workings of the Lucchese Family.

Casso disclosed that two NYPD detectives were on the Lucchese payroll. These detectives were later determined to be Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who committed eight of the eleven murders Casso had ordered. Carracappa and Eppolito had also given Casso information which led to many others as well, revealing the names of potential informants. However, when Casso revealed similar corruption within the FBI, no one was interested. In addition, Casso also enraged Federal prosecutors by accusing Gambino turncoat Sammy Gravano of masterminding Richard Kuklinski's murder of NYPD Detective Peter Calabro. Although this slaying was not covered by Gravano's immunity deal, no one was interested.

After his information was used to completely dismantle the Lucchese family, Casso was dropped from the Witness Protection Program. He is currently serving a life sentence without parole at the Supermax ADX Florence prison in Florence, Colorado.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in March 2009 Anthony Casso was transferred to the Federal Medical Center (FMC) at the Federal Correctional Complex, Butner in North Carolina for the treatment of prostate cancer. However, by July 2009, he had been returned to ADX Florence.

Quotes

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  • "Most all men in my life, everyone I know, had girlfriends. It goes with the territory. Women are drawn to us, the power, the money, and we're drawn to them. But only in passing. Some guys treated their mistresses better than their wife, but that's a f---in' outrage. No class. Only a cafone does that. I never loved any woman but Lillian. She and my family always came first."


  • "I truly feel sorry for the younger generation that wants to belong to that life. It's sad for them. There is absolutely no honor and respect today. Little do the newcomers know that there are many made members in the Mafia that wish not to be there and would like nothing better than to walk away from it. So they do the next best thing: stay low key if possible. The young newcomers will never see the kind of big money that was once made. That's long gone. They don't realize what it means to be free and have peace of mind until its taken from them."


Some of the content on this page has been provided by the following page on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Casso


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