Mario Gigante (born November 4, 1923 Greenwich Village, Manhattan) is a New York City mobster who served as caporegime for the Genovese crime family. He is the older brother of late family boss Vincent Gigante.
Gigante was born in Lower East Side, Manhattan to Salvatore Espositio Vulgo Gigante (April 26, 1900- April 1979), a jewel engraver, and Yolonda Santasilia-Gigante (1902-May 10, 1997), a seamstress and maternal nephew of Dolores Santasilia. His parents and aunt were first generation immigrants from Naples, Italy and never learned the English language. Vincent and his extended family relatives settled in New York City and Westchester County including Connecticut and Massachusetts. He had four brothers, Vincent Gigante, Pasquale A. Gigante (October 18, 1921 - January 7, 1983) and Ralph, who followed his brother Vincent into a life of organized crime but who would later . His last brother Louis Gigante became an ordained Roman Catholic priest at St. Athanasius Church in the South Bronx and city councilman.
Mario began his criminal life as a "made man," or full family member, in caporegime Vito Genovese's Greenwich Village crew. At that time, his younger brother Vincent Gigante was Genovese's chauffeur. During the power struggle between Genovese and then boss Frank Costello, the Gigante brothers were reportedly involved in several significant hits for Genovese. On August 12, 1957, the day after the attempted assassination of Costello, New York Police Department (NYPD) detectives were watching Vincent's house in Greenwich Village. When Mario drove up, detectives took him out of the car and one tried to search him. Mario punched the detective and was arrested for assault. In court, the charge was reduced and Mario paid a $25 fine.
By the 1970s, both Mario and Vincent were capos of their own crews. Neither brother had served significant prison time as they both kept low profiles. In the early 1980s, Vincent Gigante became the boss of the Genovese crime family. Mario rose to become one of the family's highest earners, involved in illegal gambling, loansharking, and other rackets. On January 25, 1975, Mario was indicted on charges of illegal gambling.
On June 16, 1983, Mario was convicted of loansharking and received an eight year prison sentence. However, former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato allegedly lobbied U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani to reduce Mario's sentence. In 1989, Mario's sentence was reduced to six years in prison. Mob turncoat Vincent "Fish" Cafaro later alleged that he had approached power broker and attorney Roy Cohn to bribe a judge to lower Mario's sentence. Cafaro said he delivered a $175,000 “payoff” to Cohn in three installments, dropping off the final $50,000 with Cohn’s law partner, Thomas Bolan. These allegations were investigated, but no charges were ever filed.
After Vincent Gigante was sent to prison in the summer of 1997, the family switched to a collective decision-making system. On October 1, 1997, Mario and other Genovese mobsters pleaded guilty to racketeering charges involving the trash hauling industry in Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties in New York. According to prosecutors, the Genovese crime family maintained a "property rights" system in which they took control of local hauling firms and then insisted each firm had a "permanent right" to every customer. On one occasion, Mario enforced those rights by ordering the baseball bat beating of an uncooperative hauler. Mario served a brief prison sentence for racketeering. In 2005, Vincent Gigante died and Daniel Leo became acting boss. Mario, now elderly, is assumed to be retired.