November 14, 2003
Tozzi Knew All Three of the Gallo Brothers
Tozzi knew many of the mob types in the area. He was particularly familiar
with the Gallo brothers, Joseph 'Crazy Joe', Larry, and Albert 'Kid Blast'.
The three brothers had worked for Mafia boss Carlo Gambino. Rival Mafia
figures nicknamed Gallo "Crazy Joe" because of his unpredictable,
ruthless nature. In the late 1940s
& early 1950s, Gallo and his brothers, Larry & Albert
"Kid Blast," engaged in a mob war against the Joseph Profaci
family to gain control of the Brooklyn drug racket. Gallo later continued the
war against Joseph Colombo. Realizing the gradual shift in power from
Italians to blacks, Gallo made friends with black gang leaders, who
helped him run his rackets. An unknown gunman shot & killed him
at a NYC restaurant on April 7, 1972.
The Neapolitan Noodle was a
restaurant located at 320 East 79th Street in Manhattan.On Friday, August 11,
1972 it was the scene of one of the worst mistakes in Cosa Nostra history. It
was set in motion many years earlier. For more than a decade, a Colombo family
faction led by the three Gallos brothers, Larry, Joey and Albert, had been in
various degrees of rebellion. In 1961, they had kidnapped four top aides to
then-boss Joe Profaci under secret encouragement from Carlo Gambino. At the
time, the crafty Gambino family boss was attempting to undermine Profaci and
his ally Joe Bonanno. When Profaci, and his successor Joe Magliocco, both died
of natural causes
soon after, Gambino (left) threw his support behind Joe Colombo and he became
boss in 1963 of the crime family that still bears his name. A shaky peace was
negotiated in which the Gallo gang was promised a fair share of the rackets.
One of the main factors in the success of the truce was the absence of hot
head Crazy Joey Gallo who had begun a lengthy prison sentence for extortion.
For the next eight years there was relative calm in the relations between the
Gallos and Colombo. Larry Gallo had passed away in 1968, leaving the gang
leadership in the hands of the youngest brother Al "Kid Blast"
Gallo. When Joey Gallo was released from prison in 1971 the situation was ripe
for an explosion.
Colombo had vaulted into national prominence by forming the Italian American
Civil Rights League to protest the FBI's arrest of one of his sons. The small
picket line mushroomed into an organization which hosted a huge rally of
upwards of 50,000 people
at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Colombo (right) became a celebrity the likes
of which was not seen again until the late 1980's in John Gotti's heyday. This
was in sharp contrast to the decimated Gallo gang that was eking out a living
in minor rackets. Joey Gallo was infuriated at his lost years, his lack of
power and his subservient position to Colombo. It was a dangerous mix. If
nothing else, Joey Gallo was a veteran of the streets, and was quick to pick
up the growing dissatisfaction by Gambino and other mob bosses towards the
publicity seeking Colombo. It was a chink in Colombo's armor that Gallo was
ready to exploit.
"As Colombo prepared for the
second years rally he was already at odds with Gallo and it became apparent
that he no longer enjoyed the support of the powerful Carlo Gambino.
Nevertheless, Colombo pressed ahead and was gunned down by Jerome Johnson just
as the rally was to begin. Johnson in turn was killed even as he was being
wrestled to the ground by police officers. It appeared that Gallo had struck
spectacularly. However as the weeks passed it became apparent that there was
no evidence to link Gallo or any other Cosa Nostra member to the crazed
Johnson. He was apparently just a pathetic soul who attempt to gain fame by
blowing away a major figure. Gallo still had problems, however.
the incapacitation of Colombo, a tough faction, led by Carmine (Junior)
Persico, moved to the top. Persico's group was more than a match for Gallo.
They gained Commission approval for a hit on Gallo and within a year of the
Colombo shooting, Joey Gallo was bleeding to death outside Umberto's Clam
House in Little Italy. It had been pure coincidence that he had arrived there
to celebrate his birthday and also by chance he was spotted by a fringe
gangster who rounded up some drunken allies who gunned Gallo down in the
presence of his wife, stepchild, sister, his bodyguard and his date. It was a
public execution with no planning and was to foretell the disaster to come at
the Neapolitan Noodle.
"Albert Gallo was thirsty to
revenge brother Joey's death. High on his hit list was Joe Yacovelli, the
Colombo consigliere who had been directing family operations for the
then-jailed Persico. Yacovelli had personally approved the Gallo shooting at
Umberto's. On Aug. 11, the Gallos had pinpointed Yacovelli, Allie Persico,
Jerry Langella and at least one other Colombo hood at the bar of the
Neapolitan Noodle. Minutes before the hitmen arrived, however, the gangsters
had moved to a table.In their place were five meat dealers, there with their
wives celebrating the engagement of one of their daughters to the restaurant's
manager. As this party moved to a table, led by the wives, the shooter,
dressed in casual clothes and wearing dark glasses and a long black shoulder
length wig, opened up with two guns killing Sheldon Epstein and Max Tekelch
and wounding two other men. The killer escaped and was never found. The public
outrage was led by Mayor Lindsey, who promised but never succeeded, in running
the gangsters out of town. Columnist Jimmy Breslin, who had written a book
which parodied the exploits of the Gallo gang, berated himself and others who
had glorified the hoodlums. Unfortunately, it was all talk. It would be
another decade before any significant progress was made against the well
entrenched Cosa Nostra Families.
"Two decades later, two more
innocent victims, including an 18-year-old boy working in a bagel store, would
be among ten fatalities in another bloody war waged by factions headed by
Persico and acting boss Victor Orena in 1991 and 1992."
Tozzi is seen here arresting Albert "
Kid Blast" Gallo
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