Gregory J. DePalma (April 24, 1932 - November 18, 2009, Butner, North Carolina) was an acting capo in the Gambino crime family who was responsible for introducing an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent in his crew.
In the 1970s, DePalma became friends with numerous celebrities after he built the Westchester Premiere Theatre in Tarrytown, New York. These friends included singers Liza Minnelli and Dean Martin, and baseball player Willie Mays, with whom DePalma frequently played golf. However, DePalma's most prestigious friend was singer Frank Sinatra. In 1976, DePalma appeared in a famous group picture at the Theatre with Sinatra, then Gambino boss Carlo Gambino, future boss Paul Castellano, and other Gambino mobsters. As soon as the theatre opened, DePalma started looting its cash and other assets. In 1977, DePalma became a made man in the Gambino crime family.
On June 6, 1978, DePalma was indicted on state charges regarding the theatre's financial collapse. However, the first trial ended in a hung jury. Later in 1979, before the second trial, DePalma pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud; one piece of evidence that helped the prosecution case was the picture with Sinatra. DePalma was sentenced to four years in prison. In the 1990s, DePalma was named a caporegime (captain). According to the FBI, he also visited imprisoned boss John Gotti while Gotti was incarcerated.
In January 1999, both DePalma and son Craig pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. The charges were based on the Gambino takeover and extortion of Scores, a famous strip club in Manhattan. As with the Westchester Theatre, the Gambino plan was to drain the cash from Scores and then get out. On June 13, 1999, a federal judge sentenced DePalma to 70 months in federal prison, a light sentence due to DePalma's claims of poor health. The sentencing took place in DePalma's hospital room at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York. Later that day, the same judge sentenced Craig in court to 87 months in federal prison. He was released on February 28, 2003.
In 2002, while still in prison, Craig attempted to hang himself and was left in a persistent vegetative state. He died in December 2010.
Operation Jack Falcone
Following DePalma's release in 2003, a new mob associate, Jack Falcone, really FBI agent Joaquin Garcia, got close to DePalma. Over the next year, Falcone provided DePalma with a steady stream of excellent quality stolen goods. By August 2004, Garcia claims DePalma considered nominating him, as Falcone, for induction into the Gambino family. What DePalma didn't realize was that Falcone was actually Joaquin "Jack" Garcia, and the FBI was providing the goods. For two years, Garcia listened in (wearing a recording device) on conversations DePalma had with many mobsters in the Gambino family.
On February 21, 2005, DePalma, Garcia, and Gambino mobster Robert Vaccaro were meeting another mobster in the Housewares section of a Bloomingdales department store in Westchester County. When the other mobster failed to show them proper respect, Vaccaro grabbed a solid crystal candleholder and started beating him on the head. Garcia convinced DePalma to stop Vaccaro and leave Bloomingdale's quickly.
On March 9, 2005, Garcia's undercover assignment ended as FBI agents arrested DePalma and 32 other Gambino mobsters on racketeering charges. By May 2006, DePalma's health was again in decline. He had spent most of the past year in the hospital, had a cancerous lung removed, and had suffered a heart attack. DePalma was morbidly obese and taking 20 medications a day. However, the judge ruled that he was healthy enough to stand trial.
On November 18, 2009, DePalma died at age 78 in the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.