Joseph "Piney" Armone (September 13, 1917 – February 23, 1992) was an Italian-American mobster who served as the underboss of the Gambino crime family from 1986 to 1990 and was promoted to consigliere in 1990.
Born on the Upper East Side, Manhattan, Armone earned his nickname "Piney" in the 1930s by extorting money from Christmas tree vendors. He was the younger brother of mobster Stephen Armone, a Gambino soldier. Armone married Josephine DiQuarto and was the father of two children. Josephine is a relative of Genovese crime family capo Dominick DiQuarto. A devoted family man, Joe Armone stayed away from mistresses and often took his wife out for dinner. Armone lived in Brooklyn.
Armone wore thick glasses and had an arthritic limp in his leg from an ancient gunshot wound. Armone rarely cursed; his speech, while not grammatical, had a high-flown formality once described as "Mob Shakespearean". He believed in omerta, the Cosa Nostra code of silence, was straightforward and direct, and highly trusted in mob circles. Armone was also respectful and polite to any Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents he encountered. Armone's arrest record included robbery, felonious assault, homicide, and narcotics violations.
Early criminal career
In 1957, underboss Joseph Biondo allegedly picked Armone and two other family mobsters to assassinate family boss Albert Anastasia. However, before the attack could take place, Armone was arrested on a narcotics charge and sent to jail. Biondo allegedly replaced Armone with his brother Stephen Armone and Steven Grammauta and the hitmen killed Anastasia. However, other accounts suggest that Profaci crime family capo Joey Gallo and his crew members were responsible for the Anastasia murder.
In 1964, Armone survived an assassination attempt. Armone was in a Manhattan bar when a gunman shot him five times at point blank range.
On October 1, 1964, Armone and 11 other mobsters were indicted in what became the French Connection case. They were accused of transporting $20 million of heroin from 1956 to 1965 from France to the U.S. using sailors, businessman, and a diplomat as drug couriers. During the trial, one of the jurors was approached outside the courthouse by Patricia DeAlesandro, a former Playboy bunny and a friend of Armone. DeAlesandro tried to bribe the juror, but he reported the incident to law enforcement. DeAlesandro was later convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years in prison.
On June 22, 1965, Armone was convicted of the French Connection charges. In July 1965, Armone was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
After serving ten years in prison, Armone was released. When capo Paul Castellano became family boss, he promoted Armone to caporegime.
In 1985, Armone became a conspirator with Gambino capo John Gotti to assassinate the highly unpopular Castellano and take control of the Gambino family. In January 1986, after Castellano's murder, Gotti's became the new Gambino boss and allegedly appointed Armone as his new underboss. Gotti then sent Armone to Florida to overlook Gotti's criminal enterprises there.
On December 22, 1987, Armone was convicted in New York on charges of racketeering conspiracy involving extortion, bribery and illegal interstate travel to commit bribery. The bribery charge involved a plot in 1981 and 1982 to bribe a government official $20,000 to transfer the son of Gambino consigliere Joseph N. Gallo from a New York state prison to a federal prison.The judge offered Armone release on bail until sentencing so long as Armone renounced his ties to the Gambino family. Armone refused and was sent to jail. On February 22, 1988, Armone was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and was fined $820,000.On September 24, 1988, in a separate case, Armone was convicted in Florida of extortion, loansharking, and racketeering in Broward County
On February 23 1992, Armone died in prison of natural causes. He was buried in the Cemetery of the Resurrection in Staten Island, New York.
In popular culture
- In the 2001 television movie Boss of Bosses, Joe Armone is portrayed as "Piney Armone" by actor Mark Margolis.
- Armone is portrayed by Dominic Chianese in the 1996 TV film Gotti.
People murdered by Joseph Armone
Order: Nº. Name/Rank/Affiliation/When/Involvment/Reason
- Paul Castellano/Boss/Gambino crime family/December 16, 1985/Planned it/Armone 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/Armone 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.