this day in crime history: january 14, 1979

On this date in 1979, Lucchese crime family associate Thomas “Two-Gun Tommy” DeSimone was reported missing by his wife. Turns out he was whacked, reportedly by members of the Gambino family. DeSimone, who was believed to have killed at least ten people, apparently killed someone he shouldn’t have. I guess if you kill enough people, that’s bound to happen eventually. Anyway, DeSimone’s victims included William “Billy Batts” Devino, a made man with the Gambino family, and Ronald “Foxy” Jerothe, a protege of future Gambino family boss John Gotti. Killing made men without permission is a big no-no in the mob, which Tommy found out the hard way.

He was lured to his death by Lucchese family members who told him he was being “made,” and that they were taking him to the ceremony. But instead of getting made, he got dead. DeSimone’s body was never found. His remains were thought to be buried in a “mob graveyard” on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

Tommy DeVito, the character played by Joe Pesci in the movie Goodfellas, was based in large part on Thomas DeSimone.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Thomas DeSimone

The Free Information Society – DeSimone, Thomas

American Mafia History – Goodfella, Thomas DeSimone

New York PostJohn Gotti killed mobster played by Joe Pesci in ‘Goodfellas’

7 thoughts on “this day in crime history: january 14, 1979

  1. Most of that mob graveyard was dug up. There were skeletal remains from under a pile of earth dumped in Brooklyn, along National Drive area at the end of a street that I do not recall as ever being identified and I do not remember the year discovered if it would fall into the scope of the investigation of that case. The pile of dirt was there for years, and not much information of when it was dumped. The NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner usually retains a sample of tissue and today with DNA testing, possibly, the case could be closed out, if it hasn’t already been tested. I recall another mob dump along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, somewhere past Avenue U, but have no clue what is there today or if GPR or cadaver dogs could sniff anything.


    • If memory serves, they were also digging up the basement of Jimmy “The Gent” Burke’s former home in search of the remains of some of his victims. Imagine being the poor schlub who bought that house…


  2. The old “You’re being made” trick seems to work a lot. It was used on one of the Spilotro brothers, too (fictionalized in The Casino).
    That’s why, whenever I got a promotion at work, I skipped the party and just waited for the money to come through.
    You can never be too careful.


  3. John D.:
    Those were crazy times along the eastern seaboard, that’s for sure.
    In Philly, we went through quite a few years where mobsters were whacking one another, many times in front of their own homes.
    The corridor between NYC & Philly were humming with mob “traffic”.
    Good story.

    Stay safe out there.


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