Thomas "Shorty" Spero (December 28, 1923- February 1980) was a well-respected and feared capo in the Colombo crime family who was killed by a Genovese crime family hit squad for seeking revenge for the murder of his brother. He was an early mentor to Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano.
Spero was the brother of fellow Colombo family soldier Ralph Spero and uncle of Colombo family associate Thomas Spero. He was also the uncle of Angelo Sepe, who was an associate of Lucchese crime family mobster Paul Vario. In 1968, Shorty Spero opened the door for Salvatore Gravano, who was then a member of a petty street gang, to move into organized crime. According to Gravano, Spero, who Gravano described as a powerful member of the Colombo crime family, had heard of his reputation and was anxious to meet him. According to Gravano, Spero had a brief speech for him;
"Ive had my eye on you. Why not come with me? You're a tough guy, but you cant keep doing things your own way. You cant live your whole life on your own. Sooner or later, you're going to get in real trouble or get killed. I'll give you a different relationship, where you can be somebody". "You will never catch me in a lie," Thomas "Shorty" Spero told his new recruit. "I will never lie to you". Gravano readily accepted Speros proposal. He was then introduced to Shorty's powerful associate, "The Snake" Carmine Persico, the future boss of the Colombo family, who gave Gravano a warm welcome and assigned him to Shorty Spero's crew.
In 1970, Spero ordered Gravano to murder Joseph Colucci, a fellow Spero associate with whose wife Tommy Spero (shorty's nephew) was having an affair. Colucci reportedly was planning to kill Gravano and both Spero's in retaliation. A short time after the Colucci murder, Gravano and Tommy Spero were called to a hotel room in midtown Manhattan. Here Tommy described the murder to the hierarchy of the Colombo family Carmine Persico, Gennaro Langella, Salvatore Albanese, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Hugh "Apples" McIntosh and Shorty Spero. Afterwards Shorty told Gravano that Persico said they had done a good job; "Junior loves you," Spero told him. "He's real proud of you."
In the late 1970s, Shorty's brother Ralph was murdered and Shorty vowed to seek revenge. Around February 1980, Shorty himself disappeared. Spero was reportedly killed by Gerard Pappa and Pete Savino who buried his remains. Pappa himself was killed in July of 1980. Spero and another mobster, Richard Scarcella's bodies were found in the foundation of Savino's business in Brooklyn. At Vincent Gigante's 1997 trial Savino testified that one of the reasons Pappa was ordered killed by Gigante was because the murder of the two men, which was not "authorized".
According to mob informant Joseph Cantalupo, "He (Shorty Spero) was a violent individual, there was nothing nice about Shorty Spero, he lived by violence. He lived that way and he died that way...so there's no more Shorty Spero".