Street Beefs Put Gambino Associate Sal Romano With Capo Mikie Scars

This is part two of the series centered on former Gambino capo Mikie Scars and former associate Salvatore Romano. See part one here; part three here...


When Gambino mobster John Gammarano went to prison, Salvatore Romano, an associate on record with him, had concerns.

Romano realized he needed to speak to Michael (Mikie Scars) DiLeonardo.

Mikie Scars and The Pizza Guy
Michael DiLeonardo and Sal Romano today.
Ironically, the person who ultimately brought Romano and DiLeonardo together was Genovese mobster Louie Black.

"Louie was with Genovese guys," DiLeonardo told us. "He started hanging around Johnny G. They were good friends."

Nevertheless, Louie Black was around Michael first, for around 16 years. (Yes, a Genovese associate hung around with a Gambino member. The mob is not as formally organized as some believe. They don't wear ID badges with their name, rank and serial number, for instance.)



There's lots of "lateral" relationships, and activities that can result. Johnny G himself had close ties to one Bonanno capo, as you'll see; in fact, he wanted to share Romano with the Bonanno mobster more than his own crime family. In earlier times, he'd have been killed for that. But then Johnny G was smart enough to know this so he wouldn't have done it.

The Romanos--Sal and Marian
Sal and his beautiful wife, Marian.

In fact, Michael recalls, Louie Black only started hanging around with Johnny G after he'd bounced around with other crime families seeking to get his button. "His mother hooked him up with Johnny G," Michael recalled.

That isn't as unusual as some may think. Guys actually got made because their mother dated a wiseguy.

Then Gammarano goes to prison. Louie and some other guys with him went right to Michael DiLeonardo. Johnny G wasn't going away for life, as we noted, he'd been dealt a five-year sentence.

They went to Michael because they'd all been with Michael.

"(Louie Black and others) are back with me. Louie's still with the Genovese family. He opened up to me about Sal. He tells me that Sal was told to go see Johnny G's nephew. Sal was supposed to go to him, which made zero sense. The nephew has to be home when his wife says so," DiLeonardo recalled.

The other piece of this is Danny Marino, who went away in 1994.

"I was given Marino's crew when he went away. 

"Gammarano had been in Danny Marino's crew. That's how Johnny G wound up in my crew."

Before Sal Romano came in to him, in October of 1994, George Lombardozzi, Phil Lombardozzi and some soldiers and associates came in to Michael. "They were the made guys left on the street."

Carmine Lombardozzi was a high-ranking member of the Gambino crime family who died in 1992. He had various nicknames, including the "King of Wall Street" (apparently, no one trademarked the nickname) and "The Italian Meyer Lansky."

Carmine Lombardozzi 


By the end of his criminal career, Lombardozzi was among the Gambino crime family's biggest earners. His nephews included Daniel Marino and George Lombardozzi... Blood lines play a huge roll in the Mafia -- and also can trump "crime family ties." Many historical mob allies, if you dig deep enough, you will find there are blood ties.

Romano and DiLeonardo talked that night in the club Turquoise.

"It was casual," Michael recalled.

When the night ended, Michael decided that Louie Black and Joey D'Angelo would get to know Romano, then maybe Michael would get to know him.

Circumstances had brought Michael and Sal together that night. In time, the two would become great friends, much much more than business partners. But that night they each harbored concerns and doubts about the other.

Sal still thought of himself as Johnny G's man.

Michael was a Gambino capo ever wary of everyone. He put two of his guys around Sal Romano to ensure that he was a solid guy. In the end Michael was impressed by Sal.

Over time, "I got friendly with Sal," Michael said. "We started to meet for drinks."

We will get to that, the friendship between Michael and Sal, which really started to bloom the day the Feds visited Romano and told him that the West Side supposedly had marked him for a dirt-nap. The Genovese family's most notorious crew (Vincent (Chin) Gigante was a key member), the Feds told Romano, were loading up to put the Gambino associate's lights out, permanently.

Danny Marino, Gambino capo. DiLeonardo got Marino's
crew when he went to prison. Johnny G was in Marino's crew.

As for the beefs going on around Wall Street, it was basically a matter of "everybody was claiming everybody."

"I knew this kid who worked in a restaurant I'd go to. He parked cars for the restaurant. One night, he has a Ferrari and is a multi-millionaire," DiLeonardo said.

The guy working in the restaurant's valet parking concession was not a unique case. Guys from all over Brooklyn were taking the Series 7 test, aka the General Securities Representative Exam (GSRE), a test for registered representatives. (The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administers the exam, which stockbrokers take to get a license to trade.) Once they passed the exam, they'd be able to become stock brokers and work for a mobbed up shop and make millions.

It soon reached the point where aspiring Mafia members hired someone else to take the test for them. (This was depicted on an episode of The Sopranos. A teacher takes attendance for the test and calls everyone's name. Only when he calls out, "Christopher Moltisanti," an Asian guy raises his hand.)

"Johnny G was great in construction but he was one sneaky bastard," Michael said. "He was very lucky, too."

Having gotten a basic okay with Michael, Sal tells Johnny G's nephew the news that, basically, he's with Mikie Scars now.

Gammarano's nephew visits Johnny G and tells him that Romano is with Mikie Scars.


The Mob Wives Father
At one point, Bonanno capo Anthony "TG" Graziano comes looking for Michael. (He was looking for Michael because Gammarano was trying to get Romano away.)

"TG comes looking for me," Michael said. "I tell him, TG, this isn't your business. I don't care what Johnny G told you."

READ Lowdown on TG, Father of "Mob Wives" Gals


As we noted in part one, Gammarano had made the befuddling decision to send Romano, whenever he needed help, to his nephew, a legit guy in the business world. The whole point of a guy like Romano partnering up with a guy like Johnny G is that, when Romano finds himself locked in a beef with another member of organized crime, he can use Johnny G to work his way out of it.

As observed in the earlier story of DeCavalcante capo/"King of Wall Street" Phil Abramo, not every mobster knows every other mobster. Abramo didn't know who Johnny G was but he knew enough to put his moves on pause so he could find out and negotiate with him. This is what the "sitdown" was designed for: to solve everyday problems among their own that otherwise could've led to violence.

Romano's brief "sitdown" with Abramo cost him $10,000, primarily because he was smart with his mouth. But by paying that amount he was free of Abramo.


TG Graziano tried to do Johnny G a favor....

As per standard Mafia protocol, mobsters -- when told that another Cosa Nostra member is already tied to an asset from which they themselves are moving to benefit -- are supposed to stop everything, find out who the other member is, grab a third party for introductions, and work to resolve the potential dispute.

This is the key reason the mob exists.

 Henry Hill -- or the fictional version of him -- said it best in Goodfellas:
"Hundreds of guys depended on Paulie (Vario, though he was named Cicero in the film) and he got a piece of everything they made. And it was tribute, just like in the old country, except they were doing it here in America.
And all they got from Paulie was protection from other guys looking to rip them off. 

And that's what it's all about. That's what the FBI could never understand. That what Paulie and the organization does is offer protection for people who can't go to the cops. That's it. That's all. They're like the police department for wiseguys."

Johnny G's move made no sense. How's an Everyday Joe citizen going to help a mob associate when he locks horns with a member of a crime family?

Romano was concerned about this because there were a lot of beefs at the time. By then, the Mafia had found ways to earn in finance, succumbing to the large feverish mania that fueled most 1990s Wall Street brokerage houses.

The competition wasn't very far from Romano; in fact, there was a crew led by a notorious Colombo capo in the same building Romano's firm was in.

Crews from every New York family had infiltrated Wall Street, and for the mob, the money was so serious they had the incentive to step up their game.

The Colombo crime family's administration made Wild Bill disappear.
But first, he ran scams on Wall Street....

Romano took great pride in his business, illicit though it was, and tried to stay below the radar as much as possible by maintaining an atmosphere of professionalism.

He noted: "All of our staff dressed like the average New York business professional, and our office had a very corporate environment. We tried to play the role of a legitimate firm, even though we were not."

Many wiseguys can't or won't hide their true nature; as much as they don't want to be on the radar, they can't help puffing out their chests and simply being who they are (or, for some, who they believe or pretend they are).

So many other wiseguys working on Wall Street didn't agree with Sal's philosophy; they were stone-cold hoodlums and didn't care very much who knew about it.

In the very same building where Sal worked was another brokerage firm, Euro-Atlantic Securities, which was secretly owned by Colombo wiseguy William "Wild Bill" Cutolo, who'd rise to Colombo crime family underboss, before he was murdered.

The other secret owners of Euro-Atlantic were Cutolo associates Dominick "Black Dom" Dionisio, and Enrico "Rico" Locascio.

"The Colombo guys never attempted to hide who they were," Romano said.

Violence broke out inside their office basically on a daily basis.

Cutolo's brokers showed up for work dressed in standard Mafia uniform: sweatsuit and sneakers.

"We knew the way they posed themselves and operated would cause a lot of heat. Those guys never attempted to hide who they were or how much they loved being what they were," Romano said.

It so happened that around that time, in December of 1996, Business Week magazine ran a cover story (written by venerable investigative journalist Gary Weiss).

The Mob on Wall Street, the name of the story, revealed that a three-month investigation into "organized crime ha(d) made shocking inroads into the small-cap stock market."

The Mafia had established a network of stock promoters, securities dealers, and boiler rooms to engage in "pump and dump" manipulations. Specifically, four organized crime families (as well as some reputed members of the Russian mob) controlled approximately two dozen broker-dealers, the story noted.

Three firms with alleged Mafia ties were identified by Weiss: Hanover Sterling, which was under the Genovese crime family's thumb; Stratton Oakmont, Inc., linked to Abramo; and Cutolo's Euro-Atlantic Securities.

Sal's firm was not mentioned in the article. As Sal explained, "We had heard about the article before it was published and were very worried about its contents. We hoped that our firm and my involvement as a Gambino associate were not mentioned. And thankfully, we were not."

A note to Gary Weiss: Your story, as you probably know, did cause concern. Brokers who worked for the firms mentioned in the article feared indictments were imminent.

Some brokers approached Sal for an interview to obtain a position at his firm. Romano initially had problems with this, but decided to ignore potential issues.

Mikie Scars recently spent some quality time with an old, old friend....

As he put it: "Hiring knockaround brokers associated with other crime families could create some problems and beefs, but we took the attitude, We’ll do it now and worry about it later. So, we went ahead and hired some of these renegade brokers."

One immediate ramification was that the Colombo’s were not happy.

"If any beefs were to come our way, at least I could handle them quickly. And, if it was beyond my control, I could reach out to Michael DiLeonardo."


There are obvious reasons why Johnny G tried to keep Sal under the radar.

Did he think there'd soon be a change in management? John "Junior" Gotti was boss, for all intents and purposes. Maybe Gammarano thought planning was under way to remove John Gotti's son from the top, pinching off the Gotti regime of the Gambino crime family.

Or maybe he was just greedy and didn't want anyone else having a claim to Sal Romano, a major earner for the Gambino crime family who was successfully under the Feds radar.

Maybe both?

But the bottom line was, with Johnny G out of the way in prison, Sal needed someone to represent him, and if possible, to advocate for him. (Remember, everything that drove him was getting his button.)


Mikie Scars went to bat for Sal Romano in the end. And their friendship outlived the Mafia.


Yep, part three is coming....very soon....





Comments

  1. Great stuff Ed, can't wait for part 3!! Allie Shades

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