Film Tells Story of Married Couple Who Robbed the Mob

Rob the Mob, directed by Oscar-nominee Raymond de Felitta (City Island, Bronx Cheers) and starring Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia and Ray Romano, opens in cinemas next month.

The film purports to tell the true-life story of Thomas and Rose Marie Uva, a married couple who made the foolhardy, fatal decision to make quick cash by robbing Mafia social clubs in Little Italy, Queens and Brooklyn, a crime spree that ran from the summer of 1992 to near the end of that year, specifically on Christmas Eve 1992, when the two were killed.

Thomas and Rose Marie Uva; the press dubbed the married
couple as "Bonnie and Clyde."
In nearly every robbery, 21-year-old getaway driver Rose Marie waited in the car while Tommy, hefting an Uzi, would simply walk into the clubs, the doors of which were open.





Tommy, 28, told the men inside to put their cash and assorted jewelry into a bag he'd thoughtfully provided, pointing his sub-machine gun at them while they did what was asked. Some reports say he told the mobsters to drop their pants while he sprinted into the car. That probably happened following the time he robbed one club twice, doubling the humiliation and anger of the mobsters to the extent that they chased him out of the club. The couple escaped and the wiseguys, despite what had happened to them, nevertheless voiced their admiration for Rose Marie's skills as a getaway driver.


During one robbery, an angry mobster in the process of placing his green and bling into Tommy's bag told the young robber that he'd eventually be found and killed.

Tommy replied, "Everybody dies."

They robbed around five or more social clubs, some more than once, including the Hawaiian Moonlighters (better known by mobsters as the Andrea Dorea) in the heart of Manhattan's then-thriving Little Italy, as well as the Veterans and Friends, based in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a longtime stronghold of Cosa Nostra. Both clubs were Gambino social clubs owned by serious people at the time: family capos Joseph "Joe Butch" Corrao and James "Jimmy Brown" Failla, respectively. Failla had been Carlo Gambino's driver in earlier years, and it was outside his club that Gotti underboss Frank "Cheech" DeCicco was blown up by a bomb planted under the orders of the wily Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, which wouldn't be revealed publicly for some years to come. Payback for Castellano at Sparks.

The Uvas, husband and wife, cleaned up.

Two other clubs, both no-name joints, one on Bath Avenue near Bay 13th, two blocks away from Failla's place, was also a Gambino joint; the other, near Bay 16th, was owned by then-Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero.

It should be noted that the Uvas were both ex-cons, and one or both was nursing a drug habit, according to some reports. Both had seen Goodfellas, a mob cautionary tale if ever there was one. And both should've been aware that the mob has its own intelligence operation that could rival that of the FBI (back in those days, anyway.)

Back in March 2012, the NY Daily News ran a story on the fading out of the old mob social clubs. "... the glory — and gory — days of Café Liberty in Ozone Park, Queens, are long gone. The gangsters who once filled the social club are in the ground or behind bars. The 13 remaining dues-paying members are legitimate workingmen and retirees who can’t afford the $800 a month for rent and utilities. Soon, the club will close, like John Gotti’s Ravenite and many others — a sign of the times and the state of the prison-ravaged mob in New York.".

Some reports said that Tommy had been something of a mob buff, and had even attended trials of some mob figures, including John Gotti. He probably knew that mobsters seldom bring heavy hardware to social clubs, where key activities were drinking espresso and talking about crimes in heavily disguised language (law enforcement usually bugged clubs and set up full-time surveillance operations in front of more high-profile ones). Gangsters went to these places to relax, luxuriate in camaraderie or share anxieties about rumored indictments. They talked about women, a good plate of pasta, maybe. Whatever. But being mobsters, most of them (except for the brokesters) would always have rubber-banded bricks of cash jammed in their pockets. No self-respecting wiseguy would ever call the cops after being robbed, either.

Cafe Liberty in Ozone Park back in 2012, the year it closed,
along with quite a few other social clubs.
In the end, which came pretty swiftly for "Bonnie and Clyde," as the media'd dubbed them (Jerry Capeci rechristened them "a dumb Bonnie and Clyde") the Uvas were given a public execution, shot three times in the head each while sitting in their Mercury Topaz at a stoplight at the intersection of 103rd Ave. and 91st St. by two gunmen. The murders occurred in broad daylight at a busy intersection in Ozone Park on the morning of Christmas Eve 1992. The wife supposedly was found with more than $1,000 on her person, and cops suspected the couple likely were on their way to do some last-minute Christmas shopping.

Law enforcement was aware of the duo and their high-risk shenanigans, and suspected the Gambinos and/or Bonannos were behind the murders. But no one was charged in the case until September 2005.

The robberies were such a sore spot among the mobsters involved, according to FBI reports and law enforcement officials, that the Gambino, Bonanno and Colombo crime families had argued over which borgata should have the right to whack the married couple. Once the Uvas were slain, the Gambinos and Bonannos then argued over who should get the credit.

The Old Days: Inside the Gambino's Ravenite social club,
since turned into a retail store. Pictures of Gotti and Neil
Dellacroce hang up on the wall; Gotti used to sit here
below them. The Uvas didn't rob this one, as far we we know.

In September 2005, Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia was indicted for the Uva murders, as well as for Frank "Geeky" Boccia's 1988 murder. In May 2007, a federal jury convicted Pizzonia on a racketeering charge of conspiracy to commit the Uva murders, though he was acquitted on all three murder counts. Because Pizzonia had already pleaded guilty to an illegal gambling charge before the trial, the conspiracy charge was enough to convict him on the entire count. On September 5, 2007, Pizzonia was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Ronald "Ronnie One-Arm" Trucchio, also believed to have bee involved in the hit, is serving life in prison for racketeering and associated crimes, but I don't believe he was ever specifically charged for the Uva killings. The best information I could find was a New York Times article that noted not enough evidence had been gathered against Trucchio to charge him with the Uva slayings. (Plus, he's serving life, anyway.)

According to court papers introduced during Pizzonia's trial, John A. Gotti (Junior) once boasted to later-informant Joseph Massino, Bonanno boss at the time, that the rumors going around that Bonanno soldiers Anthony Donato and Vincent Basciano were the Uva hitters were untrue, and that the Gambino family was responsible.

"Skinny Dom" was not found guilty
of murdering the Uvas. 
As for Massino, I have read he either believed Junior was bragging and that his own people were indeed behind the hits, or he believed Junior was telling the truth and grew angry at Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano for lying to him. (Massino seems to have had a lot of trouble with Basciano over the many years they spent on the street.)

The prosecution claimed that Pizzonia had sought and got approval from the acting boss of the family, Gotti Junior, to carry out the hit; Gotti Junior in turn had received confirmation from Gotti Senior, imprisoned at Marion, to eliminate the Uvas.

Pizzonia’s own club, the aforementioned now-shuttered Café Liberty, was twice robbed by the Uvas.

Perhaps the best summation of the entire bizarre Uva case was voiced by a juror at the end of the trial:

“Why would they do that? Why would anybody? I mean, you know?”

Tommy, a mob buff, as noted, was found to have a list of the names and phone numbers of various mobsters in New York City. Was he planning to eventually start calling these men, the very ones he robbed, identifying himself, maybe see if he could use his and Rose Marie's ballsy criminal prowess to win some credibility? Maybe work his way into a crew?



Comments

  1. Still some social clubs out there. If you know anyone and are actually from New York it isn't hard to find them

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  2. Guess the mob does kill girls! What a shame she was a pretty girl!!

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  3. Tommy was a good friend of mine and a very wild kid who wanted to be in the mob just like most of us in that crew, he went to prison for sticking up a McDonald's across the street from his house on Tremont ave and when he came home he was even more crazy. When he met his wife he stopped hanging with me, ( Rosemarie thought I was a bad influence on Tommy) and moved to Queens from the Bronx. Tommy knew the rules of the mob and he was given passes a few times but when he did this shit he had to know it was suicide. I can just picture him in his deep voice saying " I'm Crazy Joe" which was one of his favorite gangsters and movie Crazy Joe Gallo

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  4. Most clubs were ordered to close by the bosses because of wire taps and feds watching and taking pictures outside of the clubs

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  5. well it just goes to show you..that you don't rob the mob or even humiliate them in any way..anf that's the price they both paid for that..sad but hey you just don't do that

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  6. Maybe he was planning on calling these mobsters and trying to get in a crew, your last few sentences are right on the money even if you were joking. Tommy wanted to be recognized by the mob and in his delusional state actually thought he would get respect and made by showing them he had balls. The movie is complete bullshit. I was Tommy's best friend and I wish the movie was more true story than bs

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  7. Whats the "true" story?

    ReplyDelete

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