Sal Romano Was Among the Gambino's Wealthiest Mobsters

PREVIEW: We are writing a profile of former Mafia associate Salvatore Romano who practically invented Wall Street racketeering. Not only was he among the wealthiest mobsters ever, he also was intimately involved in a period of Gambino history during which the crime family seemed close to splitting apart into a violent factional dispute.

 In 2014, The Mafia and Trevor McDonald told the stories of several former members of the American Mafia.

Trevor McDonald interviewed these men, who once lived in the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia area -- and had since scattered to various locations around the country following their departure from "the life."

Sal Romano, left, Michael DiLeonardo, at a wedding filmed as
part of the ITV show Mafia Women and Trevor McDonald.

This year's followup, Mafia Women and Trevor McDonald, aired on February 16 and February 23 in the U.K. It never aired in the U.S. but is available online. You can view it here.

Using the same format as the 2014 show -- two hourlong episodes -- the aim of this sequel was to offer a detailed look at the lives of women who married mobsters -- or had them for fathers and brothers.






Still, some former mobsters also appeared on the show, and many of them have never before spoken publicly.

Among the new faces is ToniMarie Ricci, former wife of Michael "Mikie Scars" DiLeonardo.

The lineup also included:

  • Linda Scarpa, daughter of notorious Colombo crime family capo Gregory Scarpa.
  • Salvatore Romano, a former Gambino associate who earned hundreds of millions of dollars courtesy of Wall Street "pump and dump" scams, and his wife, Marian Romano.
  • Former Colombo crime family capo Anthony Russo.
  • Sal Mangiavillano.

Marian Romano on her wedding day. She had no clue what she was getting into.


As he did in 2014, McDonald journeyed  to "undisclosed locations" across America to meet the cast.

He visits people in the midst of daily life, usually in their homes. He asks about contrasts, seeks details about the best of times -- and the worst.

The basic paradigm for many stories is the same: there were good times and bad -- until everything comes crashing down. In the end, the wiseguy is forced to flip or wade into a trial packed with enough evidence to put him in prison for an incomprehensible amount of time.

For some wiseguys, the alternative to joining Uncle Sam was a bullet in the back of the head.


The Romanos
They lived in a $5 million opulent Staten Island mansion and enjoyed all the perks of an affluent lifestyle. At one party, Paul Anka sang. The affair, during which Marian danced with the crooner, was videotaped. The couple watches the video regularly, re-experiencing their past.

Sal Romano, Brooklyn-born and Staten Island-bred, graduated college and, at his Mafia career's pinnacle, was one of the wealthiest mobsters tied to the Gambino crime family.

For six years, the Romanos lived in their Staten Island mansion.
In 1992, he was sent away for two years on a stock fraud case.

He cooperated in 2004, when law enforcement arrested him for stock scams. The Gambino mobster had used a licensed stockbroker as a front man and the assistance of Swiss banks to pull off complicated rackets worth millions of dollars.

Romano may well have helped the Feds nail another Gambino mobster -- who also was one of their longtime targets -- John "Junior" Gotti. Federal prosecutors apparently made a big blunder based on misplaced confidence in their case. The Feds decided not to call Romano to testify about the role Junior played in the pump and dump scams because they thought they were winning and didn't need Romano on the stand.


Marian didn't know what she was getting into when she married Romano. She didn't come from a Mafia-linked family.

When Romano built his Staten Island mansion, he had the contractor include "hot spots" throughout the house, which allowed him to safely store as much as $2 million in cash.

Romano, at age 18, commenced working on Wall Street as a Lehman Brothers apprentice. At the time, his father was a mobbed-up accountant.

Eventually, Romano opened up his own shop. In his best years, he managed up to $600 million in clients' assets, according to the show. Romano himself earned around $200-$300 million over a 10-year period. The Gambino crime family benefited as well, pocketing many millions of dollars until the scams came crashing down.

Sal risked his life by wearing a wire and recording his confederates over a one-year period.

After a year of this, the general consensus on the street was that Romano was wearing a wire. Everyone -- literally, every one -- on the street ceased saying a word to him.

Marian was well aware of Sal's decision to cooperate -- Sal joined Team America on the night of his son's First Holy Communion. The two events will forever be linked in the Romanos mind.


Stolen moment: Marian Romano at her son's First Holy Communion. 
She knew what was to commence, and the far-reaching implications.

 Two agents one day approached him and told him that the operation was over.

He was pulled off the street and relocated with his family.

Thinking of that time, Marian said, "It was rough... I love him, he's my children's dad, and we had to be together."

In the end, she's glad she stuck with Sal, she said.

So is Sal...

Upcoming stories:
ToniMarie Ricci
Anthony Russo

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