Frank DeCicco pronounced (duh-SEE-co or duh-CHEE-co) (November 5, 1935 Bath Beach, Brooklyn – April 13, 1986 Dyker Heights, Brooklyn) was a New York mobster and labor racketeer belonging to the Gambino crime family. He served as underboss of the Gambino crime family from December 17, 1985 to April 13, 1986 when he was murdered.
DeCicco is the son of a Gambino crime family soldier identified as Joseph (Boozy) DeCicco from Benevento, Campania, Italy and younger brother of Gambino crime family capo George DeCicco. Joseph (Boozy) DeCicco was a made man in the Gambino crime family that earned his peculiar nickname because of his reputation as being an alcoholic. Frank was known among his criminal associates as "Franky D" or "Frankie Cheech" (in no reference to comedian Cheech Marin). As a child being raised by alcoholic Joseph, Frank was raised in an environment of violence and guile like Anthony Casso. Frank had two children, Vincent and Grace. Frank is a cousin to Gambino crime family associate Robert DeCicco born on July 27, 1950 and Bonanno crime family Capo Louis "Louie Electric" DeCicco March 9, 1946 and maternal uncle of wrongfully convicted rapist Scott Fappiano born c.a. 1941 and relative by marriage to Mark Fappiano. He had 1 sister, Betty DeCicco. He is also a step cousin of Renee Lombardozzi, who is Carmine's stepdaughter from his second marriage. Frank's uncle George married Gail Lombardozzi, the daughter of Gambino crime family capo Carmine Lombardozzi and sister of Renee. He is also an in-law to Gambino crime family capo turned turncoat Michael DiLeonardo and the late Colombo crime family capo Robert DiLeonardo. He is also a distant cousin to Gambino crime family capo Michael "Big Mike" Ricci, the husband of Antoinette Mari Ricci, the ex-wife of former relative by marriage, Michael DiLeonardo and distant relative of Kurt Ricci born September 15, 1965. He is also an uncle of Gambino crime family capo turned mob informant Joseph "Joey Boy" Orlando born on March 19, 1949. Family of DeCicco include Joseph Gotti-Keen believed to be living in England and Adam Gotti-Keen, also believed to be living in England. Both chose to go by their maternal surname - Keen - and pursue straight avenues of work and life.
DeCicco had been brought up as a child in an environment of violence and guile. He was said to have had "balls the size of grapefruits", when discussing his bravery and courage. He was a huge fan of the film The Godfather. He was married to wonderful woman. He was the capo of Gambino crime family mob associate Joseph Watts. He was said by Gravano to be devious, calculating and observant. He was also known to have an uncanny success at gambling at craps games or roulette and was known to frequent and operate illegal gambling establishments in Brooklyn and Manhattan which is where he first met his future friend and boss John Gotti. He owned multiple social clubs in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn located on Bath Avenue. He considered Gambino crime family capo James Failla, his "rabbi". While he was a close friend and protege of Failla, he did not tell Failla of the plan to murder Paul Castellano until he was shot dead out front of Sparks Restaurant where DeCicco and Failla waited inside. Frank was not a racist and formed relationships with other ethnic groups. One of the members of his own crew was Gambino crime family mob associate Joseph Watts who was of Welsh-German extraction. Unlike John Gotti, he was very protective of his children and did not want his son to become involved in organized crime, and become legitimate businessmen. He was a client of New York City criminal attorney Alan Arrone.
DeCicco joined the Gambino crime family and became a "soldier" sometime in the late 1970s-early 1980s and was very close to then boss Paul Castellano. Anthony Casso and Frank DeCicco teamed up together in 1973 and were ripping off diamond dealers all over New York State. Frank lived in Staten Island, New York. He was known as a stand-up guy from an early age and a stone cold killer if need be. When hijacking transport trucks with Anthony Casso he did not once ever use violence in hijacking trucks. On the other hand, he did use violence when collecting loan shark and bookmaking debts. Salvatore Gravano later commented that Frank was an "awesome guy". Frank stood over six feet tall and was big, tough and muscular. Nobody was crazy enough to challenge Frank; he was feared. He had a nose that was smashed over to one side. He had a thick neck that when he became angry exposed thick arteries. He also had a head of silver hair that he dyed black leaving silver streaks styled in a pompadour quaff similar to that of his close friend John Gotti. Frank drove a non-descript Buick Electra and remained very low key compared to John Gotti. Frank had one resounding asset to his credit: he was from Bath Beach, Brooklyn. This unremarkable fact of consequence, for that made DeCicco part of what was known as the "Bath Beach Mafia" within the larger Mafia; Castellano and other bosses from Bath Beach tended to bestow favor upon those similarly blessed to have been born in that Brooklyn waterfront community.It also goes to show that the Bath Beach Mafia were more successful by keeping a low key profile unlike John Gotti. That was John Gotti's demise.
DeCicco became a protegé of Castellano's, and he was elevated to an executive post in the Mafia-dominated cement workers' union. In the union, he functioned as a bagman for payoffs from the rigging of construction projects to Castellano. But with Castellano aging and Dellacroce near death, his future was becoming uncertain and he would not have a supporter. Paul Castellano later told Gravano, when there was a business partnership that Gravano and DeCicco wanted to go in, about his thoughts on Frank, "Frankie? Frank's a gambler. He's a street dog Sammy." As a capo, his crew was one of the most powerful in the Gambino crime family who sent their men to the front lines, second to the crews led by Anthony Gaggi and Roy DeMeo.
Murder of Nick Scibetta
Paul Castellano told DeCicco to get Sammy Gravano's crew to murder Nicholas Scibetta, the brother-in-law of his friend Salvatore Gravano. Frank gave the murder contract to Sammy Gravano's Gambino crime family mob associates Liborio Milito and Joseph D'Angelo Sr. They felt sorry for Gravano and told him of the murder contract that had been handed down. Frank DeCicco discussed the planned murder with Castellano and convinced Paul to let Gravano know of his murder that was to be carried out. Sammy would later say, "I couldn't talk to Toddo (Salvatore Aurello) about this. Paul has purposely kept him out of the loop. This piece of work is off the record. If I talk to him, he's involved, too."
Murder of Louis Milito
Sammy Gravano would later say in his autobiography, "Louie (Milito) had got pinched for something and was away for a short time when we made our move (the murders) of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti. Frankie was steaming. Louie could have betrayed us if he wasn't in jail. He was playing both sides. As soon as Louie got out of jail, Frankie said he had to be killed. A guy like that was too devious. "I argued for Louie's life. I asked Frankie, who was now our underboss, to let Louie come under me (Gravano's supervision). After all, we had spared people before. I would tell Louie what we discovered. I would put him on the shelf. I tried to convince Frankie that we didn't have to kill him. But Frankie was adamant. Louie had to die. He had slapped us all in the face with his double-dealing. Even if Paul (Castellano)'s threat to kill me wasn't real, Louie didn't know it and he never tried to warn me. Then Frankie got blown up."
Murder of Roy DeMeo
Paul Castellano handed down the murder contract of Gambino crime family capo Roy DeMeo to Frank. His crew could not get to him, so Frank recruited The Gemini Twins, Anthony Senter and Joseph Testa De Meo's own crew members to carry out the execution. Roy was murdered by Anthony and Joseph on January 10, 1983. Frank would later allegedly confide this information in secrecy to Sammy Gravano shortly before his own murder.
DeCicco became heavily involved in labor racketeering with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local 282. The Union Local 282's members included truck drivers in the hauling industry, forklift operators, dock workers, warehouse workers and concrete inspectors. This local had jurisdiction over the entire concrete pouring industry could shut down the city's construction industry at will. Through the connections of Paul Castellano, he held a no-show International Brotherhood of Teamsters union official position with the Local 282. The Local 282 represented approximately 4,500 construction truck drivers. The members of Local 282 delivered concrete and building materials to construction sites in New York City and Long Island. The essential nature of Local 282's services at construction sites places the union in a strategic position. Indeed its history of control by organized crime has earned Local 282 the appellation of “candy store for the mob.” Though the small group of reformers never never won a majority of votes in the Local, they engaged in a protracted and well-publicized campaign to clean up the corrupt practices of its Local officers. Testimony before the SIC, disclosed that DeCicco was on the payroll of Leon DeMatteis Construction Corporation; a major New York State builder. Although paid overtime, DeCicco was rarely present at any construction sites. He also held influence in the Steam Fitters Local 638 of the Plumbers Union represented by George Daly. DeCicco installed many Gambino members into the Local, including Salvatore Gravano, Michael DiLeonardo, Louis Vallario, Frank Fappiano, and Liborio Milito. DeCicco was responsible for delivering payoffs from union bosses such as John Cody and Robert Sasso to the Gambino administration. DeCicco and would often attend meetings at Castellano's Todt Hill, Staten Island mansion, known to family members as the "White House". DeCicco was allegedly close to Castellano at this time.
Feelings about John Gotti
Sammy Gravano stated to Frank that he wanted him to be boss after the murders of Thomas Bilotti and Paul Castellano were carried out. Frank told Gravano, "John's fucking ego is too big. I could be his underboss, but he couldn't be mine. Look, he's got balls, he's got brains, he's got charisma. If we can control him to stop the gambling and all of his flamboyant bullshit, he could be a good boss. Sammy, I'll tell you what. We'll give him a shot. Let him be the boss. If it don't work within a year, me and you, we'll kill him. I'll become the boss, and you'll be my underboss, and we'll run the family right."
Relationship with Angelo Ruggiero
There was tension between Aniello Dellacroce and his followers and Paul Castellano, and Frank DeCicco enjoyed their mutual respect. But when Ruggiero tried to convince DeCicco that Dellacroce had real disputes against Castellano, he did not believe him. To Ruggiero's unhappiness, DeCicco said that as far as he was concerned, his uncle was a faithful underboss to Paul Castellano. This would later change as DeCicco later agreed with the "Dellacroce faction" of the Gambino crime family and helped orchestrate the execution of both Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti.
Even though DeCicco could quite possibly have been looking at a future spot in the Gambino ruling administration as a result of the 1985 Mafia Commission case, he would eventually turn against Castellano and plot his death along with John Gotti, Joseph Armone, Salvatore Gravano, and Frank Locascio. On December 16, 1985, Paul Castellano and his newly appointed underboss Thomas Bilotti were shot to death while exiting their Lincoln Town Car outside of Sparks Steak House in Midtown Manhattan. DeCicco had arranged the meeting at the restaurant, setting up his boss and underboss for the assassination. Soon after Castellano's death, Gotti became the new family boss; he rewarded DeCicco by making him his underboss. DeCicco was now in charge of all of the "white collar" rackets that once belonged to the Castellano faction of the family. This caused tension between John Gotti and his friend Angelo Ruggiero.
Car bomb victim
Before the bombing, The Staten Island Advance received, but did not publish, a letter predicting DeCicco's death. The anonymous letter writer said the revengeful relative of Thomas Bilotti or Paul Castellano was recruiting an inmate on Riker's Island to carry out a contract on the life of DeCicco. On April 13, 1986, while approaching his car after leaving a meeting at the Veterans & Friends Social Club on 86th St. in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Frank DeCicco was killed by a Improvised explosive device explosion placed underneath his black Buick Electra.
The day of the hit, Anthony Casso and Vittorio Amuso parked on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn across from a lumber yard near the 19th Hole, the Lucchese crime family criminal headquarters. Herbert Pate drove up to the social club in a gray Oldsmobile Toronado and parked near Scarpaci's Funeral home. He had two bags filled with groceries. He walked toward DeCicco's car, carrying the bags, under the guise of just being an innocuous shopper. Near the car he dropped one of the bags. Groceries spilled out all over the street. As he was picking them up, he quickly stuck the bomb on the bottom of the car using a magnet. He put the groceries back in the bag and went on his way. When DeCicco exited James Failla's social club, Herbert drove toward DeCicco's car. They crossed the street and got into the car. He opened the door of his Buick Electra and slid into the passenger side. He was looking through the glove compartment with Lucchese crime family soldier Frank "Frankie Hearts" Bellino, where former vice-president of Local 20 Cement and Concrete workers union, standing nearby on the sidewalk. They crossed the street and got into the car. After the doors closed, Pate detonated the bomb. The bomb literally tore Frank DeCicco apart. His body was strewn all over Eighty-sixth Street. His body was severely mangled in the blast losing a leg, an arm, his genitals and his buttocks.
Anthony and Victor all met up shortly thereafter at Caesar's Bay Bazaar, a store on the Belt Parkway. The bomb exploded and DeCicco was killed instantly, Bellino lost several of his toes on both feet but survived. However, the intended target, John Gotti, was not there. Turncoats and informants would later reveal that the order for the hit came from Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante, who did not like Gotti or approve of him killing Castellano without approval from the Commission, and conspired his murder with Lucchese crime family leaders Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. Sammy Gravano would later say in his biography,
- "Frankie Hearts [Bellino] goes flying backwards. The blast blew his shoes off. And his toes. I go flying across the street. And there's Frankie Hearts with the blood shooting out of his feet. I saw Frankie DeCicco laying on the ground beside the car. With the fire, it could blow up again. I tried to pull him away. I grabbed a leg, but he ain't coming with it. The leg is off. One of his arms is off. I got my hand under him and my hand went right through his body to his stomach. There's no ass. His ass, his balls, everything, is blown completely off. I was wearing a white shirt. I looked at my shirt, amazed. There wasn't a drop of blood on it. The force of the blast, the concussion, blew most of the fluids out of Frankie's body. He had no blood left in him, nothing, not an ounce."
He was pronounced dead after being rushed by ambulance to Victory Memorial Hospital. His mangled car, the 1985 Buick Electra was registered to an official of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union.
Supervising agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Edward Magnuson testified that a confidential informant had told him that Gotti was, "very angry relative to the murder of Frank DeCicco, and when he was out on bail, or when the trial was over, there was going to be a war, and John would take his revenge."
The Brooklyn Diocese denied a Mass of Christian Burial to the family of Frank DeCicco. The decision, diocesan officials said at the time, was made for the sake of Mr. DeCicco's family and to honor "the solemnity of the occasion". According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the church can deny a Mass of Christian Burial "in the case of those persons who have not lived in communion with the Church according to the maxim which comes down from the time of Pope Leo the Great (448) quibus viventibus non communicavimus mortuis communicare non possumus (i.e., we cannot hold communion in death with those who in life were not in communion with us)."
After the murder of Frank DeCicco, John Gotti was concerned about Thomas Gambino. His concern was related to the political maneuvering aimed at Gotti that took place shortly before Castellano's death. Gotti issued instructions for all Gambino crime family made men and mob associates to attend DeCicco's wake, held over two days at the Sparaci Funeral Home not far from the two-foot hole in the pavement and single black shoe left from the car bomb explosion. Gotti had heard reports that Castellano intended to name Thomas Gambino as his chosen successor, and fretted even after Castellano's death that Gambino would attempt to make some kind of move. But Gambino told Gotti he had no such ambition, and when he appeared with Gotti at the funeral of DeCicco, the political signal was very clear: Gotti and Gambino had made some kind of arrangement. At the same time, Gotti determined that Carlo Gambino's three other sons would not place any obstacles in his way. In the wake of his murder, Gotti appointed Salvatore Gravano as underboss and Angelo Ruggiero as an acting co-underboss while still active as capo of the Bergin crew and co-consigliere with Joseph Armone due to Armone's ailing mental capacity.
Bruce Cutler, the attorney for John Gotti asked Judge Nickerson to delay John Gotti's trial citing a rash of publicity that morning the trial commenced regarding DeCicco, his body blown to bits the day prior. He said articles saying "some of Mr. Gotti's friends may have a complicity or involvement" and had "broken and shattered" his client's presumption of innocence. The judge denied Cutler's claim and the trail commenced.
In 1985 Supreme Court Judge Eugene Nickerson decided in the aftermath of DeCicco's death to seat an anonymous jury for John Gotti's racketeering trial. This was considered a phenomenon in many organized crime family cases. In November 1997, Jerry Capeci of the New York Daily News reported that Casso, now a government witness, had revealed that Herbert "Blue Eyes" Pate, a drug dealer and Genovese family associate, detonated the bomb. Casso told authorities, "The plotters reportedly used a bomb to divert suspicion toward Sicilian hoods, who often use explosives. Pate, who had no links to the Gambino family, was unlikely to be recognized by mobsters while staking out DeCicco."
Unfortunately for the plotters, Gotti had changed his routine and Pate had mistook Bellino who had an uncanny physical resemblance Gotti. Five days after the murder, Pate was in court on a tax evasion charge. He was later sentenced to 12 years in prison and released in November 1996.
People murdered by Frank DeCicco
Order: Nº. Name/Rank/Affiliation/When/Involvment/Reason
- Nicholas Scibetta/Associate/Gambino crime family/1978/Passed on orders, kept Gravano out of the loop because he was Scibetta's brother in law/Scibetta was killed because he was involved in a dispute with George DeCicco's daughter.
- Vito Borelli/Associate/Gambino crime family/1980/At the scene/Disposed of the body along with Bonanno associate Salvatore Vitale. Borelli was killed because he disrespected Paul Castellano.
- Unidentified car dealer/Independent/October 1980/Personal/DeCicco was the hitman along with Roy DeMeo.
- Antonino Inzerillo/Capo/Gambino crime family/October 1981/Personal/DeCicco was the hitman along with John Gambino and Joe Watts. Inzerillo was killed because he was involved in mob war in Sicily.
- Roy DeMeo/Soldier/Gambino crime family/January 10, 1983/Passed on orders to Gemini twins/Castellano had DeMeo murdered to cover his tracks because DeMeo's car theft ring had brought heat on the Gambino crime family and brought criminal charges against Castellano. Castellano passed the orders on to DeCicco and he asked the Gemini twins to kill DeMeo.
- Paul Castellano/Boss/Gambino crime family/December 16, 1985/Planned it/DeCicco was involved with the planning of this murder and arranged a meeting with Castellano at Sparks Steakhouse. Castellano was killed because he was unpopular and because Gotti wanted to become boss.
- Thomas Bilotti/Underboss/Gambino crime family/December 16, 1985/Planned it/DeCicco was involved with the planning of this murder and arranged a meeting with Castellano at Sparks Steakhouse. Bilotti was killed because he was unpopular and because he was Castellano's bodyguard.
- Augustus Sclafani/Soldier/Gambino crime family/1986/Ordered it/DeCicco had Sclafani murdered because he accused DeCicco of being an informant.
Popular culture and trivia
- Frank DeCicco was 6 ft tall, muscular and had dyed black, well combed hair like John Gotti.
- In the made for television HBO autobiographical movie Gotti, DeCicco is portrayed by actor Robert Miranda.
- In the movie Witness to the Mob, Frank is portrayed by actor Frank Vincent.
- DeCicco drove a Grey 1985 Buick Electra.