Guido Anthony Penosi (born 1931 - died February 22, 2010) known as "the bull", was a narcotics dealer with the Gambino and Lucchese crime families who operated primarily in Los Angeles. He was famously indicted for an extortion attempt against singer Wayne Newton.
Not much is known about Penosi's earlier years other than his being convicted of murder as a juvenile. In 1971, Penosi was convicted of tax evasion for not paying income taxes for several years during the 1960's and at some point became associated with the Gambino crime family and also the Lucchese crime family in New York city.
Newton and Penosi
During the 1960s, Penosi met Newton while he was performing at New York City's famous Copacabana Club. After that meeting, their friendship continued to develop. According to court records, Newton's office calendar marked Penosi's birthday prominently and Newton spent almost a month with Penosi in Florida. Penosi attended the wedding of Newton's brother. In 1976, Newton flew to Los Angeles with his band to perform for Penosi's son free of charge.
Problem and Payment
In 1980, Newton approached Penosi for help. Newton had pulled out of a Las Vegas tabloid show called Backstage. As a result, he had been receiving threats from other organized crime figures. To help Newton, Penosi contacted his cousin Frank Piccolo, who allegedly solved the problem. However, Newton may not have realized that Penosi and Piccolo expected some payback for this favor. As Judge William Norris of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote,
"Newton went to Penosi with a problem and Penosi called Piccolo who helped solve the problem. Piccolo and Penosi later discussed 'earning off' Newton and possibly 'earning off' his ownership of the Aladdin Hotel. Piccolo and Penosi were investigated and indicted by a federal grand jury, which heard the testimony of Wayne Newton. All of these facts are beyond dispute."
Newton originally tried to deny any relationship with Penosi. Judge Norris wrote that Newton,
"...testified falsely that Penosi had never visited him" and that it was "...undisputed that a disagreement over an amount not less than $20,000..." had motivated Newton to go to Penosi for help.
This episode became public when the NBC TV network did an expose on Newton's alleged mob connections. Newton tried to block NBC in court from airing the program, but failed. In June 1981, Penosi and Piccolo were charged with conspiring to extort money and 'valuable rights' from Newton and entertainer Lola Falana. The first trial resulted in a hung jury and the second trial in 1982 found Penosi not guilty on all charges.
"... Penosi, arrived at the deposition open-shirted, adorned with large gold jewellery and dressed — I know of no other way to say it — like someone involved in organized crime. Penosi was questioned about his relationship with Newton and received detailed responses. When asked if he sometimes had engaged in one criminal act or another, Penosi would respond, "I take the Fifth" (pronounced "Fiff"), Penosi seemed amused..."
Activities in L.A.
Although his Mob bosses were based in the Big Apple, Penosi preferred running his mob business from Mirabelle’s restaurant located on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Penosi operated low-key and lone-wolf-like – while he brokered big-league drug deals, extorted entertainers — and committed countless other crimes. FBI agents accurately pegged Penosi as a man who got-things-done. The “Bull” was a cash-cow for his east coast capos – but he had never given as much as a crumb to the Los Angeles crime family in the way of tribute. That changed when he met mobster Anthony Fiato and cut him in for a big piece of his "sky-is-the-limit" poker game that was located in a ritzy Sunset Strip high-rise. After this Penosi became associated with the L.A. mob.
Penosi reportedly retired to Phoenix, Arizona in later life, where he died on February 22, 2010 of natural causes.