#14: Did the Gallo Crew Beat Up Neil Dellacroce?


In one corner, you have the man who was infamous for keeping a real lion in the basement of his club, who was diagnosed as a schizophrenic after an arrest, and loved to liken himself to the famous on-screen gangster, the sadistic “Tommy Udo” from ‘Kiss of Death.’

In the other corner, you have one of the most respected men in the history of Cosa Nostra, a former member of Murder Inc. who was said to have dressed like a Catholic priest while committing a mob murder, and who was described as *quote* “one of the scariest individuals I’ve ever met in my life” *end quote* by legendary New York City detective Joseph Coffey.

So what happens when these two mob heavyweights mix?


Episode Transcript


Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of The Member’s Only Podcast. I am your host Jacob Stoops, and I’m a mob enthusiast and historian.

Similarly to our last episode, today’s show falls firmly into the category of shows that I didn’t expect to do. But sometimes in the course of doing my research, I find things that are too good (and in this case TOO UNBELIEVABLE) not to share with my audience.

So what is the topic you might ask?

The story happens to concern two infamous New York Cosa Nostra members. Two members known for their penchants for violence, one of which launched two Colombo Mafia wars in the 1960’s and 70’s, and the other who would become known for being the only person standing between John Gotti and Paul Castellano and an all-out Gambino family war in the 1980’s.

Of course, I’m talking about none other than Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo, Capo in the Profaci-Colombo crime family, and Aniello “Mr. Neil” Dellacroce, long-time Underboss in the Gambino crime family.

While working through the research for Part 2 of the Raymond Patriarca biography episodes, I came across an old article in the New York Times and as I was reading it, I was more or less stunned by what I was reading.

These are two people whose stories you don’t often hear intersecting, but the article that I found not only alleges that they crossed paths, but that the interactions between the two men were vicious in nature.

Though this episode will not be a straight-forward biography, I again felt compelled to share it – even if it is a bit like this podcast’s version of running a mob gossip column (as always backed up with as many facts as I could find).

Now, before we get into this episode, I’m going to acknowledge that this topic was just covered over on the great mob channel OC Shortz. More or less, he beat me to the punch on this story—no pun intended. I was literally in the middle of putting together all of my research for the episode, when I saw that he’d just released a video on the exact same topic. Of course my first reaction was, “Well shit,” but was quickly followed by “Oh well.” The great thing about this genre is that there are many different ways to tell a story, many different angles, and many different perspectives. So I’d encourage everyone to go watch his video (which I’m sure will be great as always), and my hope is that my content can hold a candle and maybe add some additional context as I’m a little more long-winded.

Anyhow, if you’ve enjoyed my content, I’d just like to remind you to please smash that subscribe button and turn on the bell to get notifications when I release a new episode.

To all my new followers, welcome and I looked forward to interacting with you!

To my existing followers, thank you for taking the time to watch and interact with my videos.

Now, let’s share this story!  

1972: The Second Gallo War

Okay, so let’s first cover the article I’ve been referring to. I’m going to go ahead and read it verbatim, and I want you to pay close attention to the end of the article as this is what took me by complete surprise as I’d never heard this story before.

The article, which feels like a complete time-capsule dropping you right into that place and time in mafia history, is from the New York Times written by Nicholas Gage (no not Nicholas Cage) dated April 12th, 1972, and it is entitled “Gang War Could Be a Rough One: Gallo-Colombo Fight Would Draw on ‘60’s Experience.”

I’ll warn you in advance that the article is a bit wordy, so please bear with me.

Here we go “quote*:

“If there is an all-out gang war in Brooklyn between the Gallo and Colombo groups, as the number of bullet-riddled bodies over the past few days suggest, both sides have the men and the guns to make it the bloodiest internal Mafia conflict in many years.

A check of the committed members of the two sides as listed in a report compiled by the intelligence division of the Police Department shows that there are 118 members of the group headed by Joseph A. Colombo Sr. and 85 in the group that was led by Joseph Gallo. Colombo was shot in the head nearly a year ago and has not recovered: Gallo was shot to death Friday morning.

The Gallo group, although outnumbered, includes men with more ‘war’ experience than the Colombo group. Some of these have the capacity to provide the strong leadership lost to the group with the murder of Gallo.

The experienced Gallo men are veterans of the Profaci-Gallo ‘war’ in the early nineteen-sixties. In that conflict, which resulted in a dozen murders, a faction led by Larry, Joseph and Albert Gallo rebelled against their Mafia ‘family’ then headed by Joseph Profaci over the division of the family profits.

Profaci Men Sidelined

Colombo took over the Profaci family in 1964 and concluded a peace with the Gallo group. But to secure his position as leader, Colombo sidelined many of the men who had been close to Profaci during the war and replaced them with less experienced younger men loyal to him.

Since last June, when Colombo was critically wounded at Columbus Circle, none of these young men has been able to give the family strong leadership.

Joseph Yacovelli and later Vincent Aloi are reported to have tried serving as acting heads of the family, but with limited success. Neither has the experience or the temperament to be a wartime leader, according to law-enforcement officials.

The one who did have the qualifications is Carmine Persico, who started serving a 14-year Federal prison term 10 weeks ago for hijacking.

Persico was one of the most daring front-line lieutenants for Profaci in the war against the Gallos a decade ago. He is now in the Federal Penitentiary at Atlanta, and prison records show he has kept close tabs on recent developments in Brooklyn.

The records show that in the last three weeks his brother, Alphonse, who is listed by the police as a Colombo family member, and his chief lieutenant Jerry Langella, have visited Persico at the prison four times.

Persico’s cellmate at Atlanta is High McIntosh, who was convicted with him in the hijacking case and stood with him in the last war with the Gallos.

The visits to Atlanta have led law-enforcement officials to speculate that Persico and McIntosh may be offering some long-distance direction to less experienced Colombo men back home.

There is also the possibility that in the event of all-out war some of the old Profaci captains sidelined by Colombo would come back and assume command positions. These have been identified by the police as Harry Fontana, John Oddo, and Salvatore Mussachio.

Gallo Group’s Strength

On the other side, the Gallo group is missing two of the three Gallo brothers (Larry died of cancer in 1968) but is still strong enough to cause a lot of damage. In fact the group can count on 30 more men now than the 55 it had in the war 10 years ago.

Albert Gallo, the surviving Gallo brother, is not considered as aggressive as Larry and Joseph were but is said to be smarter than either of them.

He is also supported by 25 or so veterans of the war of a decade ago. The most formidable is John Cutrone, 51 years old, who has a long arrest record but no major convictions. Officials believe he would take command of the Gallo group in the event of all-out hostilities.

Such a war could possibly be avoided through the intervention of Mafia leaders such as Carlo Gambino or Thomas Eboli. But they would involve themselves only if invited in as mediators.

Mediation Tradition

Under Mafia tradition a conflict within a family is off-limits to other families except on invitation to serve as peacemakers.

The force of this tradition was illustrated in the Gallo-Profaci war. Aniello Dellacroce, said to be Gambino’s underboss, at one point in the conflict seemed to be advising Profaci lieutenants.

On hearing of this, Joseph Gallo sought out Dellacroce and, finding him in the Little Italy section, punched him in the eye. But Gambino did not order any punishment for Gallo for striking his underboss because Dellacroce had breached Mafia tradition in siding with Profaci.

Later, however, Raymond Patriarca, the reputed Mafia boss of New England, was invited by both sides to mediate the conflict  and played a key role in bringing it to an end.

There is a possibility that someone of similar standing may be asked to come in as a mediator between the Gallo and Colombo groups before full-scale war breaks out because such conflicts invite unwelcome attention to all Mafia activities.

Gambino, reputed boss of the biggest New York family, would be the likely choice for such a role, but he is suffering from a heart condition and may not be up to it.”

*End quote*

Okay, that was A LOT to unpack, but we’re specifically going to focus on the end. As I was reading it for the first time, my initial reaction was ‘Wait, Joe Gallo did what? To whom?’

Firstly, I had no idea that these two heavyweights had ever crossed paths. Second, not only did they cross paths but it sounds like Gallo may have actually laid a beating on ‘Mr. Neil.’

My first thought was that there was absolutely no way this was true. But let’s go ahead and dig into this little bit of mob drama if you’ll humor me for playing armchair quarterback for a bit.

I’d like to call your attention to the date of the article I’m referencing, which was April 12th, 1972. This was exactly 5 days after Joey Gallo was gunned down at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy.

This article’s author was speculating about not just a continuation but a ramp-up in violence related to the war, later dubbed the Second Colombo Family War, that had been not so quietly simmering between the Gallo crew and the rest of the Colombo family since the shooting of family boss, Joe Colombo Sr. on June 28th, 1971.

While that is certainly paramount to the story, that’s not the part we decided to dig into for this episode. Instead, we’re chose to head back in time to the first war within the then Profaci family between the Gallo’s and then boss Joseph Profaci to find out if the story of “Crazy Joe” decking Gambino underboss Neil Dellacroce was indeed true, and why there wasn’t a reprisal right then and there?

1961: The First Gallo War

Now my first question was this: Was this story even true (because it was pretty unbelievable)? But where there’s smoke there’s fire, and in this case I not only found a lot of reports indicating that this beating did in fact take place.

The first evidence I found came from a House Select Committee on Assassinations Report which reads


“The Gallo-Profaci gang war was raging in New York, and had been since 1961. It was described in an FBI Intelligence Bulletin as “the most notorious feud in gangland since the Castellamarese War” (circa 1930-1931). Though an intrafamily affair, it was threatening to involve other New York families, and the media’s coverage could not have pleased organized crime anywhere.”


The report goes on to list out the blow-by-blow events and sure enough, in 1961 you get to the confrontation between the Gallo faction and Dellacroce.


“September 21, 1961. Anniello Dellacroce, a capo in the Carlo Gambino L.C.N. family, is dining in the Luna Restaurant in Manhattan and is severely beaten by the Gallo group.”


So in this case, it was phrased as the Gallo group, which meant maybe Joey Gallo did the beating himself or maybe not. Additionally, some sources indicate that the Gallo crew member most involved was a man named Larry “Big Lollipop” Carna.

In fact, Dellacroce was directly questioned by General Counsel Edward J. McLaughlin about the beating and Carna’s role during a 1970 public hearing by the Joint Legislative Committee on Crime.


“Mr. McLaughlin said Dellacroce had been “severely beaten” in 1961 by Larry Carna, a member of the Gallo brothers’ gang. He then said: ‘Larry Carna was later shot and wounded—wasn’t that a result of the beating you received?”


While it is true that Larry “Big Lollipop” Carna caught a bullet in the leg 3 months after the Dellacroce incident, it’s unclear if the shot came as retribution from Neil or as just another shot in the Gallo Wars. He would ultimately survive his wounding.

In another bit of evidence I was able to dig up, you’re dropped right into the middle of the Gallo-Profaci War. This document comes from a U.S. Government Memorandum sent on May 20, 1964 from an individual named C.A. Evans to a Mr. Belmont under the subject, “Criminal Intelligence Digest.” The document contains “background information pertaining to changes in leadership of three La Cosa Nostra families, including a complete summary of the notorious Gallo-Profaci feud.”

So I’m going to deliver the portion of the content relevant to the Gallo-Profaci conflict, which will of course include the Dellacroce incident, but will go much further and will relate some names and stories that I’m sure you’ll recognize.

Okay, so bear with me as this is a lot of information that I’m about to throw at you and the part about Mr. Neil is only a very small sidebar.


“The opening blow in the highly publicized campaign was struck on Monday, February 27, 1961, when a group of hoodlums–headed by Nicholas (Jiggs) Forlano, Carmine Persico, Jr., and two of the three Gallo brothers–kidnapped five of Joseph Profaci’s top leaders in a daring bid for power. The captive leaders reportedly included Profaci’s brother-in-law “underboss” Joseph Magliocco, as well as four caporegimas. Taken to an undisclosed location, the prisoners were held through Tuesday, February 28, while the insurgents carried on long-distance negotiations with Profaci, who was then vacationing in Florida.

Crusty, 63-year-old Giuseppe (Joseph) Profaci had been head of the Brooklyn “family” and a national figure in La Cosa Nostra circles since the death of Salvatore Maranzano nearly 30 years earlier, but he quickly realized that his opponents were dealing from a position of strength and that his own position was, at best, somewhat dubious. Approximately 90-125 of his 150 men were said to be in the Forlano-Persico-Gallo camp, and individual members of other “families,” while ostensibly remaining neutral, were alleged to be sympathizing with the rebels, some of whom had been forced to pay Profaci as much as $1,000 a month in tribute. The day before the kidnapping, in fact, the Gallos are known to have contacted Anthony (Tony Bender) Strollo, one of Genovese’s capos, and later they were to claim that they had obtained Strollo’s approval for their attempted coup.

Profaci ignored the demands that he resign as head of the “family” but offered to consider the various complaints against him if the five prisoners were released. There then followed an uneasy truce, during which Profaci finished his vacation and Joe Gallo married dancer Jeffie Lee Boyd.

Behind the scenes, however, there was considerable maneuvering, with “family” officials persuading undecided members to desert the conspiracy and insurgent leaders creating new members to replace the deserters. There was a sign of things to come when two gunmen blased away at Joe Gallo during the first week of May but, intentionally or otherwise, all six shots struck wide of the mark. The dispute was then referred to the “Commission,” which allegedly refused to act for fear that a meeting of such high-level hoodlums might precipitate a raid by the FBI or some other law enforcement agency.

By August, 1961, the Gallos must have felt that they were making steady progress when John Scimone, Profaci’s chauffeur, defected to their cause. What they did not know, however, was that Scimone was a “plant” and that Persico and Forlano had done some defecting on their own. The first to discover the true state of affairs was 34-year-old Joseph (Joe Jelly) Giorelli, described as one of the Gallos’ top “trigger men.” Reportedly lured on a fishing trip by Scimone, Persico, and Salvatore (Sally D) D’ Ambrosio, he is said to have been shot in the head, after which his arms and legs were cut off, his body stuffed into a barrel, and the barrel thrown into Sheepshead Bay, near Coney Island. Early in the morning of August 25, Giorelli’s clothing–stuffed with fish–was thrown from a car in front of a restaurant operated by the Gallo family. But, by that time, the Gallos had received their own warning.

At approximately 2:40 p.m., Sunday, August 20, Sergeant Edward Meagher of the New York City Police Department strolled into a Brooklyn cocktail lounge on a routine inspection and, while chatting with the owner, heard groans coming from a darkened area at the rear of the lounge. Investigating the noises, Sergeant Meagher found 33-year-old Lawrence Albert Gallo, the oldest of the Gallo brothers, near death with a rope drawn tightly around his neck. As the sergeant approached, three figures brushed past him out of the darkness and fled from the building.

Patrolmen Melvin Blei, waiting outside for Sergeant Meagher, ordered the fleeing men (subsequently identified as Scimone, Persico, and D’Ambrosio) to halt but was shot in the face by D’Ambrosio. The would-be killers then hopped into a white Cadillac, driven by Aurelius (Larry) Cirillo, and drove rapidly away.

Reportedly in charge of the strangling, although not on the premises at the time, was Mimi Anthony (Dominick) Scialo, another member of the Profaci “family.” Three years earlier, Scialo had been indicted for the brutal gangland slaying of a young hoodlum and his teen-age associates, as a result of which he was added to the Bureau’s “Top Ten” wanted list in May, 1958. After spending more than a year in a fugitive status, Scialo surrendered to the Kings County District Attorney’s office on July 27, 1959, and shortly thereafter it was announced that prosecution against him had been dropped because of “insufficient evidence.”

During the late evening hours of August 21-22, 1961, the third attempt in a week on a member of the Gallo faction was made when William Salvatore (Sonny) Pepitone’s automobile was forced to the curb and two wild shots were fired at him.

After that, the Gallos went into hiding. Gathering their followers about them, they collected cots and food and fortified themselves in a series of dingy apartments on President Street in Brooklyn, where they were to remain for the better part of the next two years. As of mid-September, they had not returned the fire of the Profaci faction because Larry Gallo was still waiting for some kind of decision from the “Commission.” Then, when they did strike back, the first victim was a caporegima in the Carlo Gambino “family.”

On September 21, Aniello Dellacroce was dining at the Luna Restaurant in Lower Manhattan when he was suddenly attacked by a gang of Gallo “strongarm” men. Beaten and kicked unmercifully, he suffered severe injuries and reportedly would have been killed if some of Vito Genovese’s soldati (soldiers) had not intervened and stopped the attack.”


I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but if you want you can go read the report for yourself (which will be listed in the sources on my website). The fighting will go on for several more years.

Joe Gallo would be convicted of conspiracy and extortion in November 1961 and would spend the rest of the 1960’s in prison, which was a significant blow to their cause. Ironically, the extortion had taken place inside of Luna’s Restaurant, the same restaurant as the beating of Neil.

Larry Gallo and crew would continue the fight for several more years, with several more men being murdered on both sides. Eventually, Carlo Gambino and the “Commission” stepped in to offer protection to deserters of the Gallo cause. Gambino would even go so far as threatening to harm relatives of the Gallo faction in mid-June of 1962 if they didn’t come out of their fortress on President’s Street and fight.

After some more shooting, the war officially ended after Raymond L.S. Patriarca, boss of New England, mediated a peace agreement between both factions.

It’s at this time where the “Commission” takes over direct control of the family and appointed 40-year-old Joe Colombo as the new boss.

Of course we know this will lead to the events of the second Colombo War referenced at the top of this episode.

Okay, back to the issue with Dellacroce. Now I don’t consider myself a journalist, but if you go by the rule of having at least three credible sources for every fact I think we’ve got more than enough credible information here so say confidently that the assault occurred.

Based on my sources, it sounds like it was not Joey Gallo himself, but more of a group effort perpetrated by his crew (though of course I wouldn’t put it past him to do some of this work himself—they didn’t call him “Crazy Joe” Gallo for no reason). I mean it’s well-known in Mafia lore that this man had an actual lion chained up in his club for the purposes of scaring people who needed scaring, but the man his crew assaulted arguably had an even more vicious and fearsome reputation in the underworld.

Now if you don’t know who Aniello “Neil” Dellacroce is, you’ve likely been living under the proverbial Cosa Nostra rock, but just in case I’ll share a few anecdotes about the man who would go on to be the Underboss of the Gambino family for both Carlo Gambino himself as well as Carlo’s successor, “Big Paul” Castellano.

According to the Mafia Encyclopedia by Carl Sifakis:


“In many respects, Aniello “Mr. Neil” Dellacroce was the model of the mythic Mafia don. His name in Italian meant “little lamb on the cross,” and the underworld is rife with tales of the pleasure he took in killing people. A federal agent once said of him, “He likes to peer into a victim’s face, like some kind of dark angel, at the moment of death.” Sometimes he even traveled about the country done up as Father O’Neil. He also sought to confuse his enemies on both sides of the law by occasionally having a lookalike pose as him in public.”


Speaking of his Father O’Neil moniker, there is of course the legendary story of Neil dressing up as a Catholic priest during a hit to throw off his supposed victim.

And of course there are some reports that indicate he was part of the Italian wing of the infamous Murder Inc. group when coming up in the 1930’s.

As if that’s not enough to frighten most people, here are a few additional quotes that all serve to build the legend, which even in 1961 was almost fully honed in the underworld:

First, there’s this characterization from a news reporter about Dellacroce.


“His eyes had no color… as if his soul was transparent”.


There is another poignant quote often attributed to former New York mob investigator, Joseph Coffey.


“Dellacroce was one of the scariest individuals I’ve ever met in my life. Dellacroce’s eyes were like he didn’t have any eyes. Did you ever see ‘Children of the Damned?’ His eyes were so blue that they weren’t even there. It was like looking right through him.”


And lastly, I’ll share the sentiments of Ralph Salerno, a former New York Police Department detective, when asked about Dellacroce.


“When Carlo Gambino died, if I’d been asked to place a $10 wager as to who would be his successor, I would’ve put $10 on the man who was his underboss, Aniello Dellacroce, a tough man. Of all the gangsters that I’ve met personally and I’ve met dozens of them in all of my years there were only two who when I look them straight in the eyes I decided I wouldn’t want them personally mad at me. Aniello Dellacroce was one and Carmine Galante was the other. They had bad eyes, I mean, they had the eyes of killers. You looked at Dellacroce’s eyes and you could see how frightening they were, the frigid glare of a killer.”


So it’s very clear. This is a serious dude and not a man to mess with in any circumstance which of course begs many questions (which I’m going to attempt to help explain, understand, and justify from the perspective of the parties involved).

First, why on Earth would you punch someone like that?

Well, the obvious answer is that the Gallo crew was crazy, and there is certainly some credence to that. They clearly wouldn’t have been afraid to take a bold action – which this was.

But this situation wasn’t exactly black and white.

If you remember, at this time in the war, the Gallo crew had been forced into hiding after the betrayal of Carmine Persico (which is of course where he gained the name “The Snake”), the nearly successful attempt on Larry Gallo’s life, the murder of top button man Joseph (Joe Jelly) Giorelli, and the attempted murder of another crew member Salvatore (Sonny) Pepitone.

So when they finally decided to return fire, they had to come out strong, and in a direction nobody expected. Well, this move would certainly qualify.

While it isn’t an action against your direct enemies in this case, making an example of a highly-feared and respected soldier was sure to send a message to other families to stop meddling in the conflict.

That being said, I agree that putting hands on someone like Dellacroce who was in the same family as the head of the “Commission” was most certainly batshit crazy (and akin to signing your own death warrant).

This of course leads to the next natural question.

Isn’t it against the mob’s supposed rules to touch another ‘made’ man, let alone punch a man who at that time was a Capo of another family in the face?

And the answer to that again is obvious. Yes, it is supposed to be against the rules. That being said, I’m reminded of a line from (of all movies) Pirates of the Caribbean when Geoffry Rush’s character, Captain Barbossa, when challenged about his adherence to the Pirate Code:

(Video clip; “The code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.” )

And of course there’s the great line in The Sopranos from the one and only Johnny Sack:

(Video clip; “I mean, what happened to this thing? For God’s sake, we bend more rules than the Catholic Church.” )

I’ve said many times on this show, the Mafia’s rules are selectively enforced, and there will be times where you’ll see strict adherence to the technical specificity of the rule, while at other times following the rules seems more aligned to whichever way the wind is blowing at the time (or whoever has or wants the power).

Simply stated, sometimes the rules are enforced with deadly consequences, and in other cases people are given a pass.

Why that is, I won’t insult you by claiming to know.

Which brings me to my last question.

In this case, why wasn’t there immediate retribution, and what were the potential longer-term ramifications?

Alright, again I’m going to qualify what I’m about to say. I have some guesses as to the reason Dellacroce and Gambino didn’t immediately have the Gallo crew wiped off the planet, and some of those guesses may be right, some wrong, or all wrong. But that’s what’s interesting about playing armchair quarterback 60 years later. You’re afforded the benefit of hindsight, but due to the subject matter and timeframe limited on the facts available.

So I’ll first share some thoughts on why there might not have been immediate retribution in 1961 after the incident:

First guess: The situation was complex for Costa Nostra, there was a high degree of media and law enforcement scrutiny building, it was an intrafamily conflict, and the “Commission” wanted to stay out of it if possible. Nobody wanted to be collateral damage. Of course the flip side of this was that all families seemed to be meddling on one side of the conflict or other, and to some it was all part of a big Mafia chess board.

Second guess: Gambino may have been testing Dellacroce. It’s often said that after Albert Anastasia was murdered in 1957, that the only man in the family Carlo worried about was Dellacroce. In fact, it is rumored that he sided with Armand “Tommy” Rava after Gambino was installed as boss, until Rava was summarily executed just 2 weeks after the famous Apalachin meeting. It wasn’t until Carlo and Neil settled their differences. Only 4 years afterwards, this attack takes place. Could it have been that Neil was getting mixed up in another family’s business without Carlo’s approval? If so, then not punishing Dellacroce’s attackers could have been a way to put him in his place and then test his loyalty to the family.

Third guess: Gambino overplayed his hand and got caught with it in the cookie jar. He may have instructed Dellacroce to advise Profaci’s soldiers and when the beating occurred, he may have just recognized that he was in a tough spot and thus used the rules as a way out of the situation by ruling in favor of the Gallo crew in the subsequent sit-down.

Last guess: Gambino had enough foresight to know that he might be able to use one side or the other at some point in the future, so by staying neutral he may have been waiting to see which horse would be the best one to back. It seemed that Carlo was always involved in some Machiavellian maneuverings and this could have been him biding his time for an ultimate move or moves later on. I’m a firm believer that Gambino was likely pushing Gallo in the early 1970’s to take action when he realized that Colombo was drawing too much heat with the Italian American Civil Rights League. And I also believe that he had no moral issue tying up the loose end that was Joey Gallo by killing him as well. They didn’t call Gambino a fox for no reason, and he was most likely playing both sides against the middle in this situation.

When I was thinking about it, I kept playing back the famous quote by Michael Corleone to his subordinate Frank Pantengeli in The Godfather, Part II:

(Video clip; “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Now if Hyman Roth sees that I interceded in this thing in the Rosato brother’s favor he’s going to think his relationship with me is still good. That’s what I want him to think.“)

It could simply have been a real case of keeping your enemies close.

Outside of those short-term possibilities, there were also a lot of longer-term ramifications to not dealing with Gallo as soon as his crew laid hands on Mr. Neil.

First and most obvious was that this failure to deal with Gallo ultimately led to the second War just 10 years later once Gallo was released from prison.

Second, not taking care of Joey Gallo most definitely allows the circumstances to be ripe for the assassination attempt on Joe Colombo.

1974: A Mobster Talks

After the hit on Colombo, we all know that “Crazy Joe” Gallo gets whacked on his birthday in April of the following year. And as you’ll see from this 1974 article by Paul Meskil from the New York Daily News which gives a blow-by-blow of how the Joe Gallo hit was planned, Dellacroce appears to have gotten his revenge by helping to facilitate Gallo’s ultimate demise.

As with the other articles, I’m going to cover most – if not all the material – because it’s just so damned interesting, but you’ll see Dellacroce make an important cameo mid-way through the story.


A Mobster Talks:

Colombo Is Shot, The War Starts

‘WHEN JOE COLOMBO got shot, everybody went into hiding. The war was on with Joe Gallo.’

In those words, Joseph (Joe Pesh) Luparelli described the start of the Colombo-Gallo war—an annihilation contest that is still raging in Brooklyn more than three years after the Colombo hit.

Joe Pesh was in the center of the action. As the driver-bodyguard-courier of Joseph (Joe Yack) Yacovelli, consigliere of the Colombo crime clan and field marshall of the Colombo troops, he served at command headquarters and in the front lines. For a few brief days, he was a war hero. Then he went AWOL because he did not believe Gen. MacArthur’s maxim that ‘old soldiers never die.’

Planned to Wipe Out Gallo

In two days of conversations with this reporter in a motel 1,000 miles from New York, Luparelli revealed that Joe Yack had planned to wipe out the entire Gallo gang. He also disclosed details of unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Gallo, who was finally slain ‘in a spur-of-the-moment thing.’

About 11:30 a.m. on June 28, 1971, Colombo was shot three times in the head as he arrived at Columbus Circle for a Unity Day rally sponsored by his Italian-American Civil Rights League. As the gang boss fell, critically wounded, one of his supporters gunned down Colombo’s assailant, a black gunman named Jerome A. Johnson. Johnson died instantly, his killer was never caught and there was nothing to link Johnson to Gallo. But the Colombo mob was convinced that Crazy Joe was behind the hit. Yacovelli immediately began plotting Gallo’s execution, Luparelli said.

“Joe Yack told me, ‘I want that bastard’s head. I want to roll it down President St. like a bowling ball. I want everybody to see it. And that Mooney (Gallo captain John Cutrone)! I want to personally peel him like a banana.”

Yack’s tirade against Gallo made a lasting impression on Joe Pesh. “The way he grind his teeth,” the ex-mobster recalls, “it looked like he would have ate him.”

“I was up at Monticello (N.Y.) when Colombo got shot,” Luparelli continued. “I heard it on the radio and I went down to Mulberry St. right away. Joe Yack and Junior (Carmine Persico) and a lot of Colombo men were there. Joe Notch, Colombo’s driver and bodyguard, told Joe Yack he’d go to President St. and shoot Gallo. He kept saying, ‘Let me go. Let me go.’

Told Him to ‘Forget It’

“Yack told him to forget it. Then he went and told some other guy what he wanted to do and when Yack heard about it he said, ‘Let him go if he wants to commit suicide.’

“Sonny Pinto (Carmine Di Biase) told me to take Joe Yack to my house. I was then living at 2070 20th Lane in Brooklyn. Yack stayed at my apartment while my wife and kids were in Monticello. From there on in, I was always with him. I had to drive him, guard him and stay with him.”

“A few days later, Sonny Red (Alphonse Indelicato) got us a three-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a building in Nyack (at 101 Gedney St. on the Hudson River). It had a doorman and boat dock and the guy who owned it (the apartment) kept a boat there.”

“Right after the Colombo shooting, I drove Joe Yack to private meetings in Long Island, Jersey, Manhattan and Brooklyn. He had to go see the (Mafia) commission, the family heads, to talk to all the bosses and get some kind of order that it was all right for him to go after Joe Gallo. We used several different cars and we were never tailed.”

“One night Joe went to meet O’Neill (Aniello Dellacroce, underboss to crime czar Carlo Gambino) at the Market Diner downtown on the West side near the vegetable markets. I had two guns on me. Yack wouldn’t hold a gun so that if we ever got arrested he’d be clean. O’Neill had someone with him who was packing a piece.”

“Yack and O’Neill sat in a booth and talked while I watched the door to make sure no one came in to disturb them and make sure there were no Gallo guys around.”

Meeting With Gambino Set Up

“After the meeting Joe Yack told me he had to meet Carlo Gambino. He said, ‘I want you to do everything right because I don’t want nothing to go wrong. Of all things, I don’t want no tail.’”

“Next day we drove to the Howard Johnson’s on Queens Blvd. We used My Oldsmobile. Vinnie Aloi (then acting boss of the Colombo family) drove up in a cream-colored Cadillac with his chauffeur. Two of Gambino’s men picked them up in another car and drove off with a backup car following.”

“When Yack came back a few hours later, he told me: ‘I got the okay to smash the Gallo gang.’ All the commission approved the contract on Joe Gallo.”

Death List Prepared

Luparelli said that Yack had prepared a death list of 17 Gallo hoods and associates. The list, headed by Crazy Joe and his brother Kid Blast, included Mooney Cutrone, Frank (Punchy) Illiano, Rosario (Roy-Roy) Musico and Jerry Ciprio.

“These were 17 guys he wanted killed. We had their pictures, names, addresses and places where they might be.”

“Bozo (the Colombo family accountant) collected pictures of Gallo guys, taken at night clubs, weddings and things like that. Joe gave me the pictures and told me to keep them in a safe place. I put them in a big frame and put it behind a tapestry in my house.

Ordered to Find Girl

“Joe Yack also got some pictures of the colored girl (who was seen in Columbus Circle with Johnson minutes before Johnson shot Colombo). He gave me an assignment to go to different places and find out who is this girl. He wanted to get ahold of her so we could get the truth.”

Luparelli could not find the girl but “we got some information from a night club bouncer” who said he had seen the girl and Johnson talking to Joe Gallo’s bodyguard, Pete the Greek, a few days before the shooting. So far as Yack was concerned, this clinched the case against Crazy Joe.

“We had got word that Joe Gallo was always with blacks in jail,” Luparelli said. “When he got out, there was a lot of blacks going on President St. and asking for Joe Gallo and Kid Blast. From what he heard, Joe Gallo was forming a crew of black guys.”

‘Hit Was Out for Him’

“The word was out for all the families to stay away from Joe Gallo. He was declared an outlaw and the hit was out for him. Joe Yack told the commission that he would clean up the mess. He didn’t want no other families involved and nobody offered too much help.”

Although he must have known about the contract, Gallo continued to visit his old haunts in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including Little Italy’s popular Luna Restaurant, 112 Mulberry St.

“So we set up a hit at Luna’s….”

Can I just pause right there to say how ironic it is that the first attempted hit was at the very restaurant where the Gallo crew assaulted Dellacroce. It sounds like pure coincidence, and it didn’t ultimately pan out, but it’s interesting how these things tie together sometimes.

Anyhow, back to the article…

*Quoting Luparelli again*

“We had two guys stationed outside Luna’s, two crash cars, a backup car and a getaway car headed towards Canal St. to go over to Brooklyn. Three men were put in an apartment on Baxter St. (overlooking the restaurant entrance.)”

‘I Brought a Carbine’

“I brought a carbine up there and showed them where to wait until the order came to whack Gallo out. They stood in the apartment two, three days. One of the guys was fooling around with the carbine and a shot went off.”

“It went through the wall and the Chinese man who lived next door started hollering. They had to run out of the apartment and that whole plan went down the drain.”

“Then we heard Gallo hung out in the Village around Fifth Ave. and 11th St. We tried to set something up there, but he was too cautious.”

‘Hit Him in Parole Office’

“Now Junior (Persico) came out with an idea: ‘Why don’t we hit him in the Parole Office?’”

“I said, ‘How are you going to get away in all the traffic?’”

“He said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll use a motorcycle.’”

The Parole Office is in the State Department of Correctional Services at 314 W. 40th St. near Eighth Ave., one of the busiest areas of New York.

“Junior said he’d do it himself with a shotgun,” Luparelli continued. “Then he’d jump on the motorcycle and go. They put about 15 Colombo guys up near the Parole Office. Most of these guys were associates, not made guys (official Mafia members). There was nobody that Gallo knew but they all knew him. When Gallo was in jail, he lost contact with people’s faces.”

‘I’d Make Him Beg for Life’

“They had some cars laid around to foul up the traffic so Junior could get away after the hit. Joe Yack said: ‘I hope to God they get this guy. I’d like to have him in my hands. I’d make him beg for his life. I want him to crawl. I’ll actually (have a sexual orgasm) watching him die.’”

The mob learned the date Gallo was scheduled to report to his parole officer.

“The call came (for the hit) but Gallo didn’t show up. They waited another week but he didn’t show up again. Then they called a meeting in a basement over in Brooklyn. A captain (Colombos captain Nick Bianco) came in and said Mooney wants a peace meeting in Junior’s Restaurant on Flatbush Ave.”

“Joe Yack says, ‘Tell him we want a peace meeting with him and Joe Gallo. Ask Joe Gallo to please come. Promise him nothing will happen. When he comes there, I want you to kill him right outside the place. If anybody gets in front of the gun, shoot through them.’”

“A few days later, Bianco reported to Yack at the Nyack hideout: ‘Mooney says Joe Gallo won’t go to no meeting. He (Gallo) says do whatever you want, he don’t give a f**k.”


And of course, we all know that while they didn’t get him right away, the Colombo’s were able to catch up to Gallo at Umberto’s Clam House in the wee morning hours of April 7, 1972 (his 43rd birthday). The man from the last story, Joseph Luparelli was allegedly who spotted Gallo and alerted the family of his presence, who sent Carmine “Sonny Pinto” Di Biaseand four others to take care of business.

And to relate this story back to the main subject of the feud between Gallo and Dellacroce, while Neil didn’t ultimately pull the final trigger it was clear that he had a part in setting up the approval of the hit and in that way was able to get his long-awaited payback on Gallo.

Final Thoughts & Closing

Okay, that’s it for this episode! It certainly was a bit of a different episode, but a really compelling story nonetheless that I really want to share with my channel.

Like I said, I hadn’t realized that these two legends had crossed paths so directly, and to find out how Neil played a part (however small) in Joey Gallo’s ultimate demise was interesting to say the least. It was also a great opportunity to dip my toe in the proverbial waters of the Gallo Wars which I’ll certainly cover in more depth in a future episode.

Coming up next, we’re going to be digging into some of the lesser-known crime families around the country beginning first with the Smaldone family, and then maybe the Cerrito family, to be followed by other lesser known families.

My goal will be to tell the entire history of those families so that people get a glimpse of what the Mafia was like outside the primary hubs of New York and Chicago. Hopefully that will be of interest to viewers since other families aren’t talked about nearly as often.

After that, we’ll likely get back to some biographies, but my goal is to continue to mix things up.

Before you go, please don’t forget to Subscribe so that you can continue to enjoy my content as it’s released and if you have any thoughts please leave them in the comments on YouTube or write us a review on Apple. Lastly, feel free to check out our website at www.membersonlypodcast.com, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Until next time, gratzie!

Online Sources:

Primary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

Books & Other Sources:

  • Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Empires. Macmillan. 2005.
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia: From Accardo to Zwillman. Checkmark Books. 2005.
Jacob Stoops, the host of The Gangland History Podcast

Jacob Stoops

Host of the Gangland History Podcast

This podcast sits at the intersection of my life-long love for history, my love of mob movies, my now decades-long fascination with the Mafia, as well as my passion for content creation.