Nicholas Scibetta (pronounced Shseeb-Etta), also known as "Little Nicky" (died 1977), was a Sicilian-American mobster who was the nephew of Joseph Zicarelli and John Zicarelli and is the brother-in-law of Salvatore Gravano.
Nicholas Scibetta was born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, like his future brother-in-law Salvatore Gravano. He was the only son born to first generation emigrants, a Mr. Scibetta from Cammarata, in the province of Agrigento, Sicily and an Italian-American woman Mrs. Zicarelli from Bayonne, New Jersey. Mr. Scibetta and Mrs. Zicarelli had had two daughters, Debra and Diane, before she gave birth to Nicholas. His mother was a housewife and their father was a "a terrific father, but very strict" man who was a certified electrical engineer who worked the night shift for Western Electric (now AT&T Technologies) putting together circuit boards for the telephone company. While it is said that Mr. Scibetta was a strict authoritarian, it is never mentioned in any way that he physically abused his children by the observations made by Gravano.
Sammy later said about the unidentified Mr. Scibetta, "a beautiful guy, a mild-mannered guy, totally legitimate, one of the nicest guys I ever met in my life. His whole thing was looking after his baby daughter (Debra), which is completely understandable to me. I didn't have a problem with that." He only let Sammy court their daughter and keep Debra out late if her sister Diane would go with them. When Sammy Gravano started dating Debra From a young age, his parents knew that Nicholas was a "crazy kid" who was always getting into trouble. This suggests that he suffered from psychiatric problems that at the time were never diagnosed, possibly attention deficit disorder. He was a maternal nephew of Joseph Zicarelli, a notorious capo in the New Jersey satellite faction of the Bonanno crime family. It is unknown if he is a distant relative of Buffalo crime family capo Santo Scibetta, who controlled Hamilton, Ontario. He was a close acquaintance of Gambino crime family mob associates Liborio Milito and Joseph (Stymie) D'Angelo Sr. who would both eventually be involved in his murder. It is also suggested that while raised a Catholic along with his sister he was not a devout believer in the Roman Catholic faith and spoke of interests joining a cult or a "group" of dissidents, somewhere outside the state.
Among his other criminal endeavours, Zicarelli controlled a vast gambling empire operating from Hudson County, New Jersey. Around the time Sammy met Nick's sister, his uncle Zicarelli was sentenced to twelve to fifteen years for paying off politicians, allegedly including a U.S. congressman and a local prosecutor. Sammy later said, "He was a good kid, nice as you could want, growing up." But then he started doing cocaine and drinking heavily. He was arrested numerous times for driving while intoxicated with cocaine and alcohol. In Sammy Gravano's autobiography Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia by Peter Maas, there are no photographs of Nicholas, but there are photos of his other brother-in-law Gambino crime family capos Edward Garofala, Garofala's cousin Edward Garofalo who is the nephew of Emmanuele Garofalo and a distant relative of mob associate Keith Gordon. Although he was raised properly by his parents and the nephew of Joseph Zicarelli, it was obvious by Sammy Gravano and fellow criminal associates in the Gambino crime family and Bonanno crime family that he did not have any real potential as a successful career criminal in organized crime.
When he told Debra's parents that he wanted to marry her there were protest from the mother and father. They would tell him, "She's too young, she's only seventeen. At first they're totally against it. Then they try to postpone it. Finally, they say we should at least wait until she's eighteen, which was in May (of that year)." Sammy agreed. The parents told Sammy and Debra to book a hall for the wedding. They thought that Sammy and Debra wouldn't be able to book a place less than a year in advance, and given enough time, the two would break up.
Nicholas's life was financially unstable, along with Sammy Gravano's. Sammy Gravano later said, "For one week he (himself) would be flush with cash, but two weeks later he would be broke. He never saved any money. He shopped for clothes, picked up tabs at restaurants and night clubs, handed out huge tips and dined on champagne and filet mignon at the Copacabana." Sammy later said of himself, Nick and his young aspring mob associates, "Fucking kids, all dressed up like jerk-offs, running around, doing a little gambling, doing a little this and that and then broke again and it's macaroni and ricotta at home or spaghetti, past e olio, with the oil and garlic." Due to prior situations that arose in the past while Scibetta was alive, and current accusations that arose in court in 2003, it is suggested that Nicholas was a closeted homosexual. During his short life he was never known to have been with female companionship or had been engaged or married.
Sammy Gravano did not involve Nicholas in his own personal criminal activities but it is suggested that Nick was making a living as an independent criminal with associates of the Gambino crime family.
Falling out with the Gambino crime family
Nicholas was the source of much anxiety, grief and stress of Salvatore Gravano from the time he married his sister, to the time of his murder in 1978. One day, Liborio Milito phoned Sammy to report that somehow Nicholas had ended up in a gay nightclub owned by Gambino crime family capo John Rizzo. A major brawl had erupted. The police had been called to the scene. Sammy later stated, "I got down there right away and got him out of the joint before the cops started pulling people in."
Another incident involved the son of Tony Jets, a Gambino crime family mob associate. Nick and the son had gotten into a fight and the son had beaten him up. Nick went to the police and the son was arrested for assault. Following this arrest, Sammy said that following this incident, "he was being marked as a rat (stool pigeon)."
"Now Frank (Frank DeCicco) did not get into this, but the girl's father went bananas. He goes to Toddo (Salvatore Aurello). He wants Nick roughed up. I step in and say I'll take care of it, let me handle it. I talked to Nick and slapped him in the face pretty hard. But it was better than getting his arms and legs broken. There are other situations with the kid. I'm trying to figure out what to do. Maybe get him the hell out of Bensonhurst. But unbeknownst to me, Paul Castellano is hearing about all of this. It's being put on record with Paul, the incidents with the recreational drug use and alcoholism, the thing with Tony Jets's son, George DeCicco's daughter and many other incidents. Paul Castellano told Frank DeCicco to get Sammy Gravano's crew to murder Nick. Frank gave the murder contract to mob associates Liborio Milito and Joseph (Stymie) D'Angelo Sr. They felt sorry for Gravano and told him of the murder contract that had been handed down. Frank DeCicco discussed the planned murder with Castellano and convinced Paul to let Gravano know of his murder that was to be carried out. Sammy would later say,
"I couldn't talk to Toddo (Salvatore Aurello) about this. Paul has purposely kept him out of the loop. This piece of work is off the record. If I talk to him, he's involved, too."
Torn between family relations and the Mob
Sammy Gravano later said,
"So now I got an option. It's to die with Nicky. I chose against Nicky. I took an oath that Cosa Nostra came before everything. I never thought it would come down to this. But it did. I was devastated. I was thinking of my wife and in-laws, what good people they are, and how devastated they would be.":
Nick's gangland slaying and cover up
Sammy Gravano stated,
"I was hoping that it would be like he just disappeared. It would be better for his mother and father. They knew he was a crazy kid. Maybe he had met somebody, some group of people, and run off. The bottom line is that I let it happen. That makes me just as guilty. I didn't know the body would be chopped up afterwards. That's not me." The police discovered one of his hands somewhere. There was a memorial held for him but his body was never found". He was declared legally dead in 1985. It is unknown exactly how or where his body was disposed of.
Discrepancies in film
In the HBO made for television movie Gotti Sammy Gravano portrayed by William Forsythe murders Nicholas, portrayed by Frank Crudele, by himself in a construction supply warehouse, while in his autobiography Underboss he states that it is members of Gravano's own crew, allegedly Liborio Milito and Joseph D'Angelo and Frank DeCicco carried out the murder contract for Paul Castellano and not Gravano. The Gravano character also states that his wife Debra, the sister of Nicholas would be divorcing him after he testified in court about being an accomplice in both before and after the fact of Nicholas' gangland execution, Debra did not.
Alleged homosexual relations
In 2003, during the damaging testimony of former Gambino crime family capo Michael DiLeonardo, supporters of John Gotti filed allegations to New York City newspapers that Salvatore Gravano was involved in homosexual relationships with several young men, at least one of which was alleged to have been Nicholas. The accusations are unsubstantiated and have not been proven to the public.
In popular culture
In the made for television HBO movie Gotti, Scibetta is portrayed as "Nicky Scibetta" by actor Frank Crudele. It falsely portrays that Sammy Gravano was the one who individually murdered him. In the film Witness to the Mob,
Nicky is portrayed by actor Kirk Acevedo. He is alleged a real life inspiration for HBO prison drama serioes Oz characters uncle and nephew, Nino Schibetta and Peter Schibetta.