|Spero died in prison in 2008.|
The once-supremely powerful "Old Man" of the American Mafia was 79 when he passed, a guest of the Federal Medical Center of the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.
Spero was a stone cold gangster who lived it, walked it, talked it, breathed it. The only thing that may have captivated him as much as "the life" were his pigeons. That and frying chicken cutlets in the back of his club on Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, Brooklyn. He also ran the Big Apple Car, a limo service.
He spent near-uninterrupted decades on the street before finally going away for life in 2002 on racketeering and murder charges in a case considered surprisingly circumstantial in that no direct testimony against him was ever offered.
While serving as acting boss of the Bonanno family, Spero made his now infamous remark on informants: "All the family members of those who become rats should be killed. Women, children, everything. Murder them."
Spero was given an opportunity to save himself and flip on his boss, Joe Massino. Spero turned it down, quickly. Not even considering it. Massino didn't return the favor, but by then it didn't matter, not for Spero.