In the 1972 blockbuster movie, The Godfather, Luca Brasi, a fictional character who is the main enforcer for the equally fictional Corleone Crime Family meets Bruno Tattaglia and Virgil Sollozzo, enemies to the Corleone Family, at a nightclub owned by Tattaglia. (The scene was actually filmed at the bar of the Hotel Edison on West 46th Street between 7th and 8th. The hallway and bar today, look exactly the way they appear in the film)
In the scene, as Brasi speaks to Tattaglia and Sollozzo, another hood quietly comes up behind him Brasi and garrotes him to death with a piano wire.
The actor who played the strangler was Norman Bacchiocchi, AKA Norman Beck, who hailed from Derby but right after the film was living between Las Vegas and his father’s house in the Valley as he tried to build a business running junkets from Connecticut Las Vegas. The Godfather was his only screen appearance and his only screen credit.
According to the police, at some point, Bacchiocchi fell in with members of the Gambino Crime family and became a gambler and suspected drug dealer who was into loan sharks over his gambling losses. However, his father said none of that was true. His son was a law-abiding hairdresser who was training to become tour operator.
Norman Louis Bacchiocchi was born in Bridgeport on June 18, 1942, to Louis Bacchiocchi and Dorothy Vitello. The family moved to Derby where Norman was an outstanding athlete.
Besides an outstanding record in football, he was also considered “A virtual one-man track team” for Derby High. In the 1960 Housatonic League Track Meet, he was the top competitor in the meet while winning the high jump and javelin events, finishing second in the 220-yard dash and broad jump, third in the discus. He was also a member of Derby's winning relay team, as well as a member of the chorus and glee clubs.
Derby’s track coach at the time, and future Superintendent of Schools, Angelo Direnzo said that Bacchiocchi “…...was brilliant in track... and most of the top track colleges in the country were interested in him. He was an easy boy to coach and never gave me any trouble."
Like so many other lively teens, he had a series of driving offenses, all of which seemed to involve running red lights but otherwise was a well-known and well-liked kid.
Then, in June of 1960, for some unknown reason, he crossed the line. Bacchiocchi and Anthony Meneo, 19, of 14 Star Street, Ansonia and Vincent Thomas Velleco, Jr., 21, of 92 Cheever street, Ansonia, committed a violent assault and robbery.
Police reported that the young men accosted Ditore around 4 a.m. as he about to enter his home. They pulled a gun on him and forced him back into the car and had him drive to Torrington-Thomaston road, where he was hit over headthe with a pistol and robbed of $60 and his wristwatch. The boys then leaped into a follow-up car and sped off towards Waterbury.
They were suspected, but not charged, with another similar robbery in New Haven the two days before, but the victim refused to cooperate with the police. In that case, Velleco and Meneo posed as hitchhikers and were picked up by a Wallingford man in New Haven. He was forced to drive at gunpoint to East Rock park in New Haven, where he was robbed of his wallet and a watch. Police said Bacchiocchi had been following them and picked them up a half a mile down the road.
Ditore, the victim in the second robbery, phoned the Torrington police and gave them the robber's license plate number. The Torrington police put out a statewide alarm for the car with its description.
About a half hour after the robbery, a Waterbury patrolman noticed the car driving erratically at a high speed and gave chase but lost them as they entered Naugatuck. He phoned into the Bethany State Troopers who were already looking for the car after and had managed to trace the plates to Bacchiocchi. They arrested him when he arrived home.
Bacchiocchi was sent to Cheshire Reformatory for his role in the robbery but only served a short time there. In 1961, he attended the University of Bridgeport where he was a member of the cappella choir but gave it up to move to California. After his appearance in the Godfather in New York, Bacchiocchi temporarily moved back to the valley and lived with his father in Shelton.
In about the early Spring of 1979, Bacchiocchi got into a dispute over money with Mark Iuteri, described then as a low-level mob associate. In 1971 Iuteri severely beat a Fairfield man named Frank Satmary Jr with a blackjack. Iuteri was hired to do the beating by the father of one of Satmary's girlfriends, as retribution for an assault on his daughter. Iuteri was arrested in the case, but charges were dismissed.
In 1974, Iuteri operated a chemical company, Ako, and as part of that operation, was indicted for "holding a female against her will and forcing her to engage in sexual activities with certain customers of Alco." He was also charged with fraud, bribery of government purchasing agents, battery and threats of injury and death.
The FBI said that Iuteri offered protection for drug distribution, dealt drugs, shylocked and offered out murder-for-hire services, stating that "has successfully evaded prosecution in the past as a result of actual and implied . . . threats of death and serious bodily injury to those who would testify or provide information to law enforcement agencies,"
In 1977, Iuteri was behind a $10 million advance fee loan swindle in Hawaii. He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison but somehow managed to walk out of jail after serving less than two years on the authority of the US Parole Commission.
Things went from bad to worse between Bacchiocchi and Iuteri and eventually became serious enough that New Haven mobster Salvatore Annunziato, the resident Capo for the Gambino Crime Family and Ralph “Whitey” Tropiano, New Haven Capo for the Genovese Crime Family called a “sit-down”, a meeting, over the incident.
It isn’t clear what happened at the meeting, but the bosses evidently sided with Iuteri because Bacchiocchi was murdered a few days later. Tropiano and Annunziato would have to have signed off on the murder. Another report says that after the first meeting with Tropiano and Annunziato, Iuteri and Bacchiocchi met with "a short balding guy" later identified as Tommy Gambino, son of Carlo Gambino and boss of the mob crew that ran the New Haven area for the Gambino operations there. Gambino also failed to end the hostilities. Police say that it was Gambino who authorized the Bacchiocchi murder.
On the night of May 25th, 1978, Bacchiocchi rented a car and drove to a secluded cabin near the entrance to West Rock Park in Hamden to attend a friend’s birthday party. The property belonged to Robert Racclo’s father. Once there, Iuteri and Anthony Puccino shot him to death. Raccio, a known drug dealer who had spent time in an insane asylum, hated Bacchiocchi and had been beaten by Bacchiocchi in the weeks past.
Bobby Raccio told his girlfriend that Bacchiocchi was killed because he “had a big mouth and owed a gambling debt he wouldn't pay off" and that after Iuteri shot Bacchiocchi several times he handed the gun to Raccio, so he could shoot him. But Raccio said he told Iuteri "Mark, I can't do it…...then Mark gave it to Tony (Anthony Puccino) and said, 'You do it."' Raccio said Puccino fired a single shot into Bacchiocchi already dead body. Raccio turned states witness after his girlfriend told him that she was a police informant and had tapped all of their conversations about the Bacchiocchi murder.
On the witness stand, Iuteri said that he lied to police in his confession about shooting and killing Bacchiocchi in order to cover for a man named Raccio. Iuteri said he left a nightclub in the early morning hours on the day Bacchiocchi was killed. He said that he, Raccio, Puccino, Bacchiocchi drove in separate cars to the New Raccio's father’s house where the killing took place and as he pulled into the driveway he heard screaming inside the house. Two men ran past him as he got out of his car and started walking up the driveway. He said he heard more screaming inside the house, then six gunshots. "Bobby (Raccio) had a gun in his hand, an automatic. He was ranting and raving. Everybody hated him. (Bacchiocchi) He deserved it."
To back up his testimony, a dubious fellow named Richard Magnotti, of Hamden, said that he and Bacchiocchi had gone to a bar in New Haven just days before Bacchiocchi was killed, where they were confronted by Raccio. Magnotti said that when he and Bacchiocchi tried to leave Raccio tried to stop them and Bacchiocchi "threw (Raccio) out into the middle of the street."
Magnotti was an interesting fellow who had a habit of declaring mentally incompetency whenever he was arrested. A bank robber by trade, he was a one-time crime partner of Eugene Onofrio, AKA the Bull. A Genovese family hood best-known in Connecticut for the murder of Jimmy Cotter, a known associate of organized crime in New Haven.
Cotter was found barely clinging to life, shot multiple times, run over by a car and lying unconscious on a Milford, road in the early morning hours of June 28,1972. The first officer on the scene was Nick Pastore, who later became New Haven Police Chief.
Cotter was driving along East Town road near the Connecticut Post shopping center when three cars, one driven by Bobby “Suedes” Celentano, “Skippy” Don Perrotti and Eugene Onofrio, AKA Rooster, boxed him in. He said Perrotti and Onofrio leaped out of their car and fired on him as he tried run. He said ONofrio shoot him three times, Perrotti shot him twice and Celentano, ran over his leg as he lay in the road. The leg was later amputated at Milford hospital.
He died six days later, catching an infection during surgery to remove the bullets from his body. He was only 35 years old when they killed him. He’s buried at Saint John the Baptist Greek Catholic Cemetery in Stratford.
Eventually, after two trials, Eugene Onofrio was found guilty of manslaughter, but it was over turned on appeal. Bobby Suedes Celentano and Skippy Perrotti, were both acquitted.
Skippy Perrotti and his wife Rosemary owned the La Contessa restaurant in Orange, he eventually was made a member of the Gambino operation in Connecticut according to the state police.
Eugene Onofrio would eventually become a Capo in the Genovese crime family in Connecticut and would oversee the Genovese Family affairs in Manhattan’s Little Italy and Western Massachusetts for the Family’s longtime satellite wing in Springfield. He ran everything from his East Haven home. He was arrested in 2016, at age 74, for extortion and loan sharking. The feds caught Onofrio and Philadelphia boss Skinny Joe Merlino on tape in hundreds of conversations including one where Merlino said Onofrio “It’s simple. You’re my friend. You trust me. I tell you ‘Listen drive me home right now’ Get you in the car, I shoot you in fuck’n head and its over” Onofrio’s previous arrests included non-support in 1960, breach of the peace 1967 and gambling in 1973.
But back in March of 1970, O’Nofrio and Richard Magnotti were arrested in March 1970 for the robbery of the Second National Bank of New Haven branch in Hamden. His later conviction would include narcotic trafficking. Magnotti went on to rob another bank that same year, the People’s Savings Bank in Orange. He got away with $10,000 in cash but only got as far as the bank’s parking lot where police were waiting for him because a teller had managed to trip the alarm. Apparently, he had planned to hoof it on foot because his car had been stolen at gun point earlier in the day. In 1985, Magnotti was convicted of stabbing his father to death.
In the Bacchiocchi murder, remarkably, almost unbelievably, Iuteri and Puccino were released when the case ended in a mistrial in 1980. In 1984, rather than stand trial again, Iuteri agreed to pled to a much-reduced charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Iuteri boss on the Hawaiian swindle was said to be Charlie DeMartin described by police as a man "considered a major organized crime figure in City of New Haven, the New area, considered by the Bureau to be associate member of the Colombo (La Cosa Nostra) family in New York”
In the late 1970s, DeMartin ran a large policy racket in New Haven before he inadvertently brought an undercover FBI agent in the operation. On July 21, 1979, DeMartin and Frank Altrui were arrested in New Haven on charges stemming from an incident involving the attempted shooting of Michael Solevo.
On July 21, 1979, Solevo was working at his family's restaurant, "Antonio's," on Main Street in East Haven. The Solevo family was "on its toes" while at work as a result of pressures on Solevo's father for money. Two weeks before, the front window of the Solevo home had been shot out.
At approximately 8:15 p. m., Solevo saw a black Cadillac Eldorado pull up and double-park in front of the restaurant. Inside the car were DeMartin and Altrui whom Solevo had known for ten years. Next, he saw what he assumed was a cane
Solevo also saw what he thought might be a cane but was actually a shotgun. The shooting started. A series of bullets missed Solevo but hit two teens who were walking some distance from the restaurant. At approximately 8:30 p. m., New Haven police found DeMartin and Altrui at GG's Lounge in the Fair Haven section of New Haven, about three miles from Antonio's restaurant, and arrested them both. A 12-gauge shotgun and a .38 caliber nickel-plated revolver were on the front seat of Altrui’s car. A spent 12-gauge shotgun shell was discovered, as well as a live .38 caliber round.