Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo (born March 17, 1940) is a New York mobster who was the reputed acting boss of the Gambino crime family.
Nicholas Corozzo was born in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY. Nicholas is the older brother of reputed Gambino consigliere Joseph Corozzo as well as twin brothers Blaise Corozzo, a Gambino soldier, and Anthony Corozzo, a Gambino associate. Corozzo is the uncle of Joseph Corozzo Jr, a high-profile New York defense attorney. Nicholas' daughter, Bernadette, is married to Gambino soldier Vincent Dragonetti. Prior to Corozzo's incarceration, he lived in Bellmore, Long Island. He stands at 5′5" tall and weighs approximately 170 pounds.
Rise in the Gambino crime family
Sources state that during the early 1980s, Nicholas Corozzo was a bitter rival of Gambino capo John Gotti. When Gotti became boss in 1985, he declined to promote Corozzo to capo. However, since Corozzo was such a good earner for the family, Gotti did not want to get rid of him. In turn, Corozzo professed loyalty to Gotti. It was only after Gotti went to prison in 1992 that Corozzo was finally promoted to Caporegime, along with Gambino soldier and Corozzo's friend Leonard DiMaria. This is somewhat disputed however, as a 1989 report states that he had been given control over Joseph Corrao's operations following Corrao's incarceration.
With Gotti in prison, Corozzo, DiMaria, and Nicholas' brother Joseph Corozzo, now consigliere, formed a ruling panel that unofficially ran the Gambino family. In the mid 1990s, Corozzo was elevated to acting boss of the family.
In 1996, Corozzo ordered the murder of Lucchese crime family associate Robert Arena. Arena had allegedly murdered Anthony Placido, a member of Corozzo's crew, and had failed to return some stolen marijuana to a drug dealer. On June 26, 1996, the Gambino gunmen found Arena driving with Thomas Maranga, an Arena associate, in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn. After forcing Arena to stop the car, the gunmen shot and killed both men. However, till this day there is no concrete evidence that Corozzo ordered the murder of Robert Arena.
In December, 1996, Corozzo was indicted in Miami, Florida on 20 racketeering charges that included attempted murder, arson, and loansharking. Corozzo was accused of running a loansharking business in Deerfield Beach, Florida that charged 260% yearly interest on loans. Federal agents arrested Corozzo as he emerged from the surf at a beach in Key Biscayne, Florida. In August 1997, Corozzo pled guilty to racketeering charges in Florida and was sentenced to five to ten years in prison. Later that year, Corrozo again pled guilty in Brooklyn to racketeering and bribing a jail guard.
While in federal prison, Corozzo shared a cell with Gambino associate Joseph Vollaro, who was serving a drug conviction. After his release, Vollaro started paying tribute to Corozzo's crew on a trucking company he started. However, facing another drug conviction in 2004, Vollaro agreed to become a government informant and record his conversations with Corozzo.
After Corozzo's release from prison on June 10, 2004, Corozzo was again expected to take over Gambino crime family. However, due to increased law enforcement attention, he initially kept a low profile. The Gambinos were reportedly led by John D'Amico until 2005. Corozzo kept his position as a Caporegime, despite health concerns and tight parole restrictions. In 2006, a new report stated that Nicholas Corozzo and John D'Amico were the new bosses of the Gambino family, with Arnold Squitieri as underboss and Joseph Corozzo as consigliere.
Indictment and Flight
In February 2008, Corozzo was indicted twice, one for the federal Operation Old Bridge and the other for the state Operation Touchback. The federal indictment was for the 1996 Arena and Maranga murders and other racketeering charges, with Vollaro as their main witness. The state indictment, constructed and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Benjamin J. Mantell, was for enterprise corruption, specifically for a Queens-based gambling ring that grossed almost $10 million over two years from sports betting.
Before law enforcement could arrest Corozzo, his daughter Bernadette alerted him that agents were arresting Gambino members. Corozzo immediately went into hiding. The FBI searched intensively for Corozzo and the television program America's Most Wanted did a feature on him. On May 29, 2008, after four months as a fugitive, Corozzo surrendered to authorities with his lawyer by his side. Authorities said that Corozzo appeared exhausted and unable to handle the media publicity surrounding his disappearance.
In July 2008, Corozzo pleaded guilty to the state enterprise corruption charges. ADA Ben Mantell handled the plea bargain that Corozzo agreed to on the state level.
On April 17, 2009, Corozzo was sentenced to 13½ years in federal prison for 1996 Arena and Maranga murders. On April 28, 2009, Corozzo was sentenced to 4½ to 13½ years on the state sports betting conviction.
He was sentenced to serve the state sentence at the same time as the federal sentence. As of December 2011, Corozzo was serving his two sentences at the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, a medium security facility in Leavenworth, Kansas. As of October 26, 2012, he was being held at the Federal Correctional Complex, Florence, a high security facility in Florence, Colorado.
By March 2015, Corozzo was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Loretto, a low security facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania. As of March 2018, he was imprisoned at the low security Federal Correctional Institution, Allenwood Low in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
On November 29, 2019 he was released from prison after serving more than thirteen years behind bars. His projected release date had been March 2, 2020.