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Big Paulie

Big Paulie



By
John William Tuohy


Constantino Castellano. Gambino Family Boss. Born June 26, 1915 Died December 16, 1985 AKA Paulie, AKA Big Paulie AKA PC. Castellano, the son of Sicilian immigrants, Giuseppe Castellano and Concetta Casatu, was the youngest of three children.  His father was a butcher, but also ran an illegal gambling operation, which Paul began helping out with after dropping out of school.
  In 1934, Castellano was arrested in an armed robbery and spent three months in prison. Released from prison without having squealed on his partners, Castellano was gradually brought in closer to the mob. Years later in 1957, when Castellano was called to testify before a grand jury about his connections in organized crime, he refused to provide any information and was sentenced to five years in prison for contempt of court.
 Although he only served seven months before being released, his reputation as a standup mobster was firm. In 1937, three years after his first arrest, Castellano married Carlo Gambino's sister-in-law and was brought into Gambino’s gambling and bootlegging operations.
  Castellano became boss after Carlo Gambino's death in 1976 but Gambino had stipulated before his death that Castellano retain Aniello Dellacroce as his underboss, to prevent a street war since most in the family believed that Dellacroce should have been appointed underboss to Castellano.
  Castellano used his underworld ties to drive many of his otherwise legitimate business to astounding success, including Castellano’s favorite Blue Ribbon Meats. Another Castellano owned business, Scara-Mix concrete, based in Staten Island, dominates the borough's concrete pouring industry. In 2006, during John Gotti, Jr.'s racketeering trial, former captain Michael DiLeonardo testified that he was the bagman for the family and collected thousands of dollars per year from the brothers Peter and Philip who operated Scara-Mix.
  The problem was that Paul Castellano tried to run the Gambino organization like a corporation, a point completely lost on his Capos who grew to resent Castellano’s high handed management style
  Although Castellano assumed he was keeping a low profile. Something he insisted on from his underlings, Castellano purchased a massive home on Staten Island. There were also rumors that Castellano, who was having an affair with his Colombian born housecleaner who was half his age,  had undergone an operation to cure his impotency due to high blood pressure, in which a device was installed in his penis. All of this, the massive home, the affair and his distance from the front lines, began to work against him and he lost respect among the family's rank and file, especially John Gotti’s crew.
   Castellano was already worried about Gotti and his crew and repeatedly said that he would murder anyone in his family who was dealing in drugs, fully aware that Gotti was a major narcotics dealer. It was only a matter of time before Castellano and Gotti crossed swords and only the intervention of Underboss Aniello Dellacroce, Gotti’s mentor, kept the peace.
   In 1985, Castellano was indicted in the Commission Case after the government gathered evidence on the family from a wiretap in his home. Castellano was released on $3,000,000 bail but rumors spread, as they always do in the underworld, that Castellano, then 70-years-old might try to cut a deal with the government because he enjoyed the good life to much to give it up.
   When Neil Dellacroce died later that year, John Gotti went on the assault against Castellano, especially after Castellano neglected to attend Dellacroce's wake. With that one stupid move, Gotti was able to gain support of most of the Gambino Family and on December 16, 1985 Paul Castellano was gunned down outside of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan.

   The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York refused to grant Castellano the last rites of the church, citing the notorious circumstances surrounding both his life and death. This restriction led many New York Italian-Americans to accuse the predominantly Irish-American archdiocesan hierarchy of prejudice against Italians. But the church held strong and Castellano was buried in the non-sectarian Moravian Cemetery in Staten Island.

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