Michael Pappadio (May 14th 1922-1987) was a New York mobster and a capo in the Lucchese crime family. He was involved in racketeering in the Garment district of Manhattan along with soldier Anthony DiLapi.
Background and Early Life
Michael Pappadio was born on May 14th, 1922, in New York to a large family with seven brothers. Pappadio spent a lot of his life working in and around the garment industry, based largely in mid-town Manhattan. He also spent a lot of his life working in and around the Mafia, in particular, the group known on record as the Lucchese crime family.
Pappadio stood at 5ft 8 Inches and weighed 200lbs. He was a plug of a man, physically and mentally strong, and someone who did not openly display fear or physical discomfort. Michael handled all the household finances. When anyone needed money, he gave it to them. He was a domineering personality, whose word was never questioned. When anyone asked about his work, he simply told them he was employed in the garment district. He had four different telephone lines installed in his home, and they seemed to ring non-stop every day.
In 1972, Michael met and married Frances Ierfino who legally adopted the children in 1974. This was his first marriage. The year they married, Michael arranged for an imposing, four bed, four bath brick and stone Colonial to be built in the exclusive Bayside Gables complex in Queens. For some strange reason, with all the wealth in the family, Frances worked part-time as a computer data entry operator at Liz Roberts Apparel in Manhattan, and even stranger, as a part-time counter help at The Bagel Club on 35th Street, in Bayside.
Pappadio was a very rich Capo earning an estimated $1 million a year from his garment racketeering business. He owned a large house in Bayside Gables, Queens worth $2 million, an apartment at 35 Park Avenue, Manhattan; a condo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a house in the Hampton’s; a Mercedes S-Class and employed a Latin American housekeeper called Haydesa Severo.
Career in the Lucchese crime family
Michael Pappadio had for many years been a made man in the Lucchese crime family, getting his stripe, or admission into Cosa Nostra, sometime between 1974 and 1977. He was a member of the Harlem/Bronx faction of the Lucchese crime family based in the northern areas of New York City.
Michael Pappadio was promoted to Caporegime after the murder of his older brother Andimo Pappadio who was murdered outside his home in Lido Beach, Long Island on September 25th 1976. His main responsibility as capo was managing the Lucchese crime family’s interests in the garment district, his elder brother’s main focus prior to his murder. Michael had been ‘in place’ for many years, taking over the position on the death of his brother, and as such, was one of the most powerful crime figures in the area. Not only did he milk huge revenues out of this bustling commercial centre in mid town Manhattan, he also operated a very lucrative loan sharking business among the teeming streets, one that grossed millions of dollars each year.
He had suffered a stroke in August, 1982, which had left him with a permanent limp in his right leg. Despite this he was still doing the complex and demanding business of supervising the Lucchese crime family garment racket.
Pappadio was allegedly hiding the money gained over 50 businesses away from the family for his own benefit, and had earned $15 million that Amuso was unaware of. He was called to a meeting with bosses Vittorio Amuso and Anthony Casso in Greenwich Village, Mahattan to explain his side of the story. In a violent and heated confrontation, Amuso demoted Michael from his job in the garment industry, demanding he handed over all record books he was maintaining that involved details on the companies and unions that the family controlled. The meeting ended with Michael refusing to hand over his business and storming off, vowing to stay on the job, irrespective of Amuso’s demands. The boss warned Pappadio that if he persisted, he would issue instructions to have him killed. But like a man with a death wish, Michael Pappadio continued to involve himself in the day-to-day running of the family’s garment district affairs.
In the months after the meeting Capo Alphonse D'Arco met with Pappadio several times to try and convince him to hand over his businesses saying that Amuso would spare his life if he obeyed the orders. But Pappadio was too stubborn to give up his businesses.
On the day of his murder Pappadio and his wife Frances left their home in Bayside Gables, Queens at 8:30am and drove in their Mercedes S-Class. They stopped at The Great Bay Diner where he told her he was going for a coffee, before heading next door to the produce store to pick up fruit and vegetables. They agreed to meet in an hour, and Frances drove off to do her own shopping. She returned about 10 am, but Michael was not waiting for her. Pappadio had met up with Capo Salvatore Avellino and his son Carmine at the diner and they both went to a bakery in Queens owned by Avellino. When Pappadio and the Avellino's arrived at the bakery they went inside. Alphonse D' Arco and one of the soldiers in his crew, George Zappola, waited to carry out the killing. D’Arco was carrying a copper wire cable wrapped in blue insulation tape, and Zappola was holding a .22 revolver. As Carmine Avellino led Michael through the bakery towards the rear office area, D’Arco sprang out from behind a pillar and started bashing Michael around the head with the makeshift weapon. To everyone’s surprise, the man remained standing, blood streaming from his face. He screamed out: ‘Why are you hitting me?’
Zappola stepped up, produced the revolver and shot Pappadio. The bullet actually ricocheted off his head, striking a door-frame, and amazingly the man remained standing, holding his face between his hands. Zappola then pulled out a snub-nose .38 caliber revolver and shot Michael again in the head. Unbelievably, he still remained on his feet, his legs, now spread wide, to support his dying body, while Salvatore Avellino, Alphonse D'Arco and George Zappola stood around attacking him until he fell to his knees, and collapsed onto the floor dead.
Pappadio's murder was not solved until February 11th 1992 when Alphonse D' Arco had become an FBI informant and confessed to the murder of Pappadio.