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’

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this day in crime history: december 29, 1975

TWA

On this date in 1975, a bomb was detonated in the TWA baggage claim area at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Eleven people were killed and seventy-five were injured. A Croatian nationalist emerged as a suspect, but there was never sufficient evidence linking him to the crime. The case remains officially unsolved.

Further reading:

New York TimesTerrorist’s Release Reopens Wound of Unsolved Bombing

Wikipedia – 1975 LaGuardia Airport bombing

this day in crime history: december 22, 1984

On this date in 1984, self-employed electronics repairman Bernhard Goetz just said no to subway mugging. Letting his gun do the talking, Goetz shot four unarmed men he claimed were trying to rob him. He fled the state after the shooting, but turned himself in nine days later in New Hampshire.

Goetz was tried for felony assault, attempted murder, and illegal weapons possession. He was acquitted of the assault and attempted murder charges, but convicted of the weapons charge, for which he served eight months in jail.

Following the criminal trial, Darrell Cabey, one of the men who was shot, filed a lawsuit against Goetz. The jury found Goetz liable for Cabey’s injuries and awarded Cabey – who was left paralyzed by the shooting – $43 million. Goetz responded by filing for bankruptcy.

Since the shooting, Goetz has run unsuccessfully for mayor of New York, and for public advocate. He also founded his own company, appropriately named Vigilante Electronics.

Further reading:

The Eighties Club – The Subway Vigilante

Wikipedia – Bernhard Goetz

Biography Channel  – Bernhard Goetz

this day in crime history: december 16, 1985

BigPaulC

On this date in 1985, Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano and his underboss/bodyguard Thomas Bilotti, were shot dead outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan. The hit was reportedly carried out at the order of John Gotti, a captain in the Gambino family. Following Castellano’s death, Gotti would take over as the family’s teflon-covered boss. The teflon wore off in 1992, when Gotti was convicted of thirteen counts of murder, including those of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Paul Castellano

Gangsters, Inc. – John Gotti

Sparks Steak House

this day in crime history: december 8, 1980

loozer

On this date in 1980, former Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City by a pathetic loser named Mark David Chapman. Chapman was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twenty years to life in prison. He first came up for parole in 2000. His parole was denied. He has been denied at every subsequent parole hearing. He is eligible again in August 2018.

Further reading:

Crime Museum – The Murder of John Lennon

Wikipedia – Death of John Lennon

this day in crime history: december 4, 1875

On this date in 1875, William “Boss” Tweed, former head of the Democratic machine in New York City, escaped from jail and fled to Cuba. Tweed was facing hard time for his role in fleecing New York taxpayers of millions of dollars (some estimates run as high as $200 million). Almost captured in Cuba, Tweed moved on to Spain. He was arrested there in 1876 by a police officer who reportedly recognized him from a political cartoon by Thomas Nast. He was returned to the United States by Spanish authorities. He died of pneumonia in the Ludlow Street Jail in 1878.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – William M. Tweed

Biography.com – Boss Tweed

Friday Movie Quote from 1/1/10

this day in crime history: november 17, 1989

On this date in 1989, drug dealer and mobster Costabile “Gus” Farace, Jr. was shot and killed in his car in Brooklyn, NY. Joseph Scalfani, an associate of Farace, was also shot, but survived the attack. Farace, a low-level associate of the Bonanno crime family, was being sought by federal agents in connection with the shooting death of DEA Agent Everett Hatcher, who was killed in Staten Island the previous February. Farace’s murder would remain unsolved until 1999, when two former Bonanno associates, James Galione and Mario Gallo, pleaded guilty to the crime. Bonanno family members reportedly ordered the hit because they feared Farace would turn informant if the feds arrested him for Agent Hatcher’s murder.

Further reading:

Office Down Memorial Page – Special Agent Everett Emerson Hatcher

New York magazine – “Death of a Hood”

New York Times“In Plea Bargain, Two Admit guilt in Mob Figure’s ’89 Killing”

Wikipedia – Costabile Farace