If you’ve ever wondered where David Chase got all those fan tastical ideas for “The Sopranos,” maybe he, like the feds, had his own mob informants. Or maybe the feds were his informants.
Tonight’s special episode of “American Greed,” titled “Mob Money,” is the story of the rise and fall of New Jersey’s DeCavalcante crime family, New Jersey gangsters who bear more than a passing resemblance to “The Sops.”
The DeCavalcantes were always, by mob standards anyway, minor players in the estimated $50 to 90-billion-a-year, ah (what the hell do you call it?), industry. In fact, the five families of New York called them “the farmers” and thought of them as country bumpkins.
Hardly. In fact, when the NY families started to break down, the DeCavalcantes took over.
But in 1998, in an attempt to impress the DeCavalcantes, a wannabe named Ralph Guarino robbed Bank of America of $1.6M in broad daylight. The moron and his co-morons in crime, however, made two fatal mistakes: They took the wrong bags from the bank and ended up with foreign currency. They also forgot about security cameras which videotaped the whole thing.
Guarino cut a deal and wore a wire. For years he rode around with the soldiers of acting DeCavalcante boss Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo. Like the mugs on “The Sopranos,” most of the underlings whined and complained to Ralph constantly while spilling secrets as the feds collected stories of murder, extortion, gambling, prostitution and you name it.
After a while, the DeCavalcantes wanted to make Ralph one of their own. Unfortunately, to be “made” he’d have to kill someone, so the feds had to call a halt to it all.
Vinny was arrested and immediately turned rat. For his cooperation (he brought down his entire family), he got two years. He now lives in the not-so-secret Witness Protection Program in Texas. In a giant mansion. In a gated community.
He runs a strip joint. God bless America.
The FBI believe they have smashed the mafia family who inspired TV’s The Sopranos.
Ten of the mob’s most senior men – with nicknames including Knuckles and Whitey – have been held in a sting by undercover agents.
The DeCavalcante family now face charges of plotting murder, distributing drugs and promoting vice.
Suspects include reputed captain Charles Stango, 71, and 72-year-old Frank Nigro, said to be a consigliere, or adviser.
Court papers say the DeCavalcantes operate under the direction of New York’s Gambino crime family.
Prosecutors allege Stango got permission from Nigro to kill an “out of control” family member who had insulted an acting Cosa Nostra boss.
The hit was said to involve two hired members of an outlaw biker gun gang. Richard Frankel, head of Newark FBI, said the arrests “disrupted operations of one of the region’s most notorious crime families”.
US Attorney Paul Fishman said: “Organised crime remains a real problem although its ranks have been thinned by countless convictions and its own internal bloodletting.”
Similarities between the DeCavalcantes and The Sopranos have been noted since the show began in 1999.
Mob boss Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, was said to be based on captain Simone DeCavalcante who died in 1997 of natural causes at 85.
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