Antonio "Tony Ducks" Corallo (February 12, 1913 – August 23, 2000) was an Italian-American mobster and boss of the Lucchese crime family. For decades, Corallo controlled dozens of labor unions, industries, and legitimate businesses in New York and around the country, he controlled trucking, the ports, garbage hauling, meat, produce, and fish companies, building trade, carpentry, electrical, and construction unions in New York and around the country. For over two decades, Corallo was one of the most powerful crime lords in America.
Corallo was born in New York City in 1913 and grew up in the Italian neighborhood of East Harlem. Corallo got his nickname, "Tony Ducks" by his ability to avoid, or "duck," subpoenas and convictions during a criminal career that stretched seven decades. Corallo was a quiet, unassuming man who enjoyed gardening, opera, and pasta. In his later years, Corallo owned a luxurious home in Oyster Bay Cove, New York. Corallo was married and had a son and a daughter.
Early Criminal Career
In the 1920s, Corallo joined the 107th Street Gang in East Harlem. His first arrest in 1929, for grand larceny, was at age 16. He was not convicted. By 1935, Corallo was working with the Gagliano crime family under boss Gaetano Gagliano. Underboss Gaetano Lucchese recruited Corallo to work with mobster Johnny Dio, the leader of labor racketeering operations in the Manhattan Garment District.
In 1941, Corallo was arrested after police found Corallo in possession of a narcotics cache valued at $150,000. He was later convicted of narcotics violations and sent to the city jail on Rikers Island for six months.
Rise to power
In 1943, Corallo was appointed as a caporegime of his own crew, an accomplishment for a man in his early 30s. He then moved his base of operations from East Harlem to Queens. Corallo and Dio eventually controlled five local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The two gangsters used these paper locals to set up favorable deals with trucking companies and exploit the rank and file chapter members. Corallo and Dio also controlled local chapters of the Conduit Workers Union (now called the Communication Workers' Union), the United Textile Workers Union (now called UNITE HERE), and the Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators (now called the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades). These labor racketeering activities earned millions of dollars for the Gagliano family.
On August 15, 1959, Corallo testified before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management The senators wanted Corallo to explain the theft of $5 million from Teamsters Union local 239 by using names of dead mob members. Like many other mobsters, Corallo refused to answer any questions; he pleaded the Fifth Amendment 120 times during his two-hour interrogation.
On December 7, 1961, Corallo was indicted on charges of trying to bribe New York Supreme Court Justice J. Vincent Keogh and former U.S. Attorney Elliot Kanaher. Corallo wanted them to drop a bankruptcy fraud case against one of his associates. On June 17, 1961, Corallo was convicted of bribery. On August 2, 1962, Corallo was sentenced to two years in state prison.
On July 13, 1967, Gaetano Lucchese died of a brain tumor. Corallo was the leading candidate to become boss, but he was facing indictment later that same year.
On December 18, 1967, Corallo was indicted on charges of receiving a kickback payment from a contractor for the renovation of the Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx. Also indicted was James L. Marcus, the former city water commissioner, who had started dealing with Corallo due to loanshark debts. On June 19, 1968, Corallo was convicted in the Marcus bribery case. On July 26, 1968, Corallo was sentenced to three years in federal prison.
With Corallo in prison, the Commission designated Carmine Tramunti as interim Lucchese boss. Some historians have speculated that Corallo became boss immediately upon his 1970 release from prison, and that Tramunti was only an "Acting" or "Front" Boss for the next three years. On May 7, 1973, Tramunti was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Corallo was now the undisputed boss of the Lucchese family.
One of Corallo's first moves as boss was to take over gravel distribution in various areas of New York such as Long Island. In owning major gravel, carpentry, and electrical companies in his territories or areas of influence, Corallo increased the Lucchese crime family's wealth and influence in the construction industry and with the unions involved. The garbage industry would be next on his list. With the help of a union official named Bernie Adelstein, the front business would be called Private Sanitation Industry Association. Next with the help of powerful Lucchese capo Paul Vario and his massive crew, Corallo would gain enormous power at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Mafia Commission Case
In the early 1980s, Corallo unwittingly provided the government with evidence that would send him to prison for 100 years. While listening to a wiretap inside the house of Lucchese capo Salvatore Avellino, investigators discovered that Avellino was serving as Corallo's driver several times a week along with Capo Aniello Migliore who also served as a driver. In 1983, investigators decided to use new electronic surveillance technology to place a microphone and recorder inside Corallo's Jaguar XJ that Avellino drove for him in hopes of gaining some incriminating conversations.
To the amazement of investigators, they obtained recordings that not only implicated Corallo, but also seven other high ranking mobsters in other families and provided the first proof as to the existence of the Mafia Commission. Corallo and Avellino had long conversations on many topics. The government now had the chance to attack the high levels of several Mafia families. This would be called the Mafia Commission case.
On February 25, 1985, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and New York City Police went to Corallo's Oyster Bay home to arrest him on racketeering charges. However, Corallo was in the hospital and was not arrested until after his release a few days later.
On November 19, 1986, Corallo and the other defendants were convicted of all charges. On January 13, 1987, Corallo was sentenced to 100 years in federal prison.
On August 23, 2000, Anthony Corallo died of natural causes at the Federal Medical Center for prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.