Persico- Orena war
In the early 1990's an internal war broke-out in the Colombo crime family when capo Vittorio Orena got ambitious and decided to challenge imprisoned mob boss Carmine Persico for the leadership of the crime family. "Nicky Black" sided up to the faction led by Orena and was one of the most powerful members of the dissident faction making him a target for the Persico loyalists.
Grancio was killed by capo and hit man Gregory Scarpa who was a Persico loyalist during the Orena-Persico war. Scarpa stalked Grancio outside a social club he was known to frequent and pulled up alongside his Toyota Landcruiser SUV when he stopped at a red light and shot him many times, Scarpa then got out from his car and shot Grancio a few more times in the face to make sure he was dead. Scarpa had recently suffered an attempt on his life and was seeking revenge that day against Grancio. He was under the impression that Grancio had a role in the attempt on his life.
Controversy Surrounding his death
At the time Grancio was murdered he was supposedly under FBI surveillance and Gregory Scarpa was an FBI informant, it has been alleged by former hit man Larry Mazza, who later became an FBI informant, that Scarpa successfully called his FBI handler, Lindley DeVecchio to pull surveillance off Grancio so Scarpa's crew could shoot him. However, nothing against DeVecchio could be proved by New York detectives.
In 2018, the killing of Grancio was depicted in the television series "I Lived With a Killer", in the episode about killer Larry Mazza, filmed in Regina, Saskatchewan. Local part-time actor Ralph Watzke played the role of Grancio; the program depicts both Mazza and Scarpa to have been his killers, as many people believe to have been the case. Mazza was never convicted or imprisoned for any of the killings he did, and remains alive today, a free man.