The Improbable Rise of a Gambino Associate Who Married Mafia Royalty

Alleged Colombo soldier Angelo Spata (pictured) was among the 100-plus mobsters arrested in the big 2011 bust known as Mafia Takedown Day

Initially, I didn't even know who he was, even after using his photo in a story. All I can say is, I'm certainly glad I did. It led to me eventually contacting Michael DiLeonardo, which ultimately resulted in this story. (If you're really interested in the backstory, you can read it here in the original version published in early summer 2016.)


Angelo Spata found the key to power and fortune marrying a Persico, which led to his induction in the Colombo crime family
Angelo Spata does a Carlo Gambino grin for media.


Angelo Spata was an up and coming member of the Colombo crime family because, some might say, he married well. Through marriage, he became a somebody, specifically, a Persico... Blatant nepotism may be frowned upon in the workplace, but it's alive and well in Cosa Nostra, and arguably has never been more important to the remaining Mafia presence in the USA (for better or worse).






When Angelo started out as a mob associate, he was with the Gambino crime family, along with his father. This is according to Michael DiLeonardo


Michael was the Gambino's link to the violent Colombos.

Sausage and Peppers
Angelo Spata and his father, his whole family, actually, were in the business of preparing sausage, onions and pepper sandwiches, which they sell at feasts in New York City.

Spata's father was connected to the Gambinos; Angelo Spata Senior was a Gambino associate who was originally with "Mr. Lilo," (aka Olympio “Lilo” Garafalo). When Mr. Lilo died in 1986, Angelo Spata Senior was moved to Jackie D'Amico's crew, where "he worked Lucy's sausage at every feast and made a ton of money," DiLeonardo said, noting Mr. Lilo, then Jackie, pocketed around $500 from Spata at the San Jennaro feast.

Jackie "Nose," as usual reaches for the doorknob. 


“Jackie gets him in 1986 – when Jackie became a captain," as DiLeonardo told us.

Jackie's promotion had a ripple effect that boosted the Sicilian-speaking Spata Senior for essentially doing nothing more than simply keeping Jackie informed "about the (Gambino crime family's) Sicilians," DiLeonardo said.

"He was a carny guy,” Michael added. “Now he’s feeling his oats, going to social clubs. Jackie made him more important.”

Spata Senior was a mover and a shaker – a man seeking to make money using his position with the Gambinos. He was able to gain a valuable beer and soda concession at one feast; these beverages couldn’t be brought in from the outside, they had to be purchased at the feast. (Michael testified in 15 trials; everything said here can be corroborated by court transcripts.)

“Later on I come on the scene. I am a Brooklyn guy,” Michael said.

“I know Angelo from the feast – I was shylocking – giving him 10k. He’d pay me after the feast – plus 1 point.”

Spata Junior  was quick to follow in his father’s footsteps.


A Funny Story
Angelo Senior happened to look up to a certain Gambino capo, Joe “Butch” Corrao, who was based in Lower Manhattan in Little Italy.

Joe Butch's Little Italy crew was involved in loan sharking, extortion, gambling, and other traditional rackets. Joe Butch also owned several Manhattan eateries, including Taormina and Cafe Biondo, both on Mulberry Street. John Gotti often frequented Taormina.



"Joe Butch" was as "tall as Paul," Mikie said.

Joe Butch also had an interest in Brooklyn-based Bayside Fuel, which heated large housing complexes and homes in New York City.

Angelo Senior asked Joe Butch to stand in as Godfather for Angelo Junior at his Catholic confirmation.

“So Joe Butch is his godfather,” DiLeonardo said.

“Now Joe Butch is taller than Paul (Castellano). He’s the tallest Gambino. And Joe Butch’s son came onto the scene. Now Vinny Butch also is tall – he’s a big guy. Vinny Butch has the kid (Spata Junior) driving him around.”

Many a wiseguy would bite his cheek to hold in a burst of laughter at the comical sight of a small, slender Angelo running around from the driver's side to open the passenger's side door for Vinny Butch, who towered over Spata.

Spata Junior also had quite a Joe Butch fixation, Michael said. “He’d get a kick out of saying Joe Butch was his godfather.”

When Michael and Jackie Nose got 18th Avenue, Spata Senior really had D’Amico’s ear, DiLeonardo said.

As noted, in September 1992, capo John Gambino hightailed it out of New York with his brother. Both decided that going on the lam was better than facing heroin smuggling charges, though they were caught not long after they split the northeast. 


Carmine "Junior" Persico, still running things....

With the Gambino brothers gone, John Gotti named DiLeonardo and John "Jackie Nose" D'Amico as his overseers on 18th Avenue, a long-time Gambino stronghold in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

There's not much recent news available regarding Angelo Spata Senior. Michael said he had more to say about him but that he didn't want to get him "jammed up with a few certain 18th Avenue guys."

Michael added that he does miss  those sausage, onion and pepper sandwiches that "Little Angelo" once made for him.

Here, Michael, have a sausage and pepper
sandwich on us!

Angelo Junior's Path
Angelo the son followed in his father’s footsteps.

Later, Angelo married a Persico and became a member of the Persico family – as well as a made member of the Colombo crime family. (Carmine Persico has been running the family since the Joe Colombo shooting.)

"Angelo had been dating a nice girl," DiLeonardo recalled. "In 1995 he meets Susan, Allie Boy’s sister. He dumps the other girl for Allie Boy’s sister."

On Spata’s wedding day, DiLeonardo officially “released” Spata to Alphonse Persico, aka “Little Allie Boy” or “Allie Boy” – Carmine Persico’s son, acting boss of the Colombos during the 1980s and 1990s. His uncle, who died in 1989, had the same nickname as Alphonse.

"That's my wedding present to you," Scars told Allie Boy, referring to his spontaneous decision to release Angelo Junior.

Allie Boy affably zinged him with:


"Give him to me? I'll just fkin’ take him!"



Spata was proposed for induction in August 2010 but the ceremony was called off, according to reports.

"He’s just a sausage guy – like his father," Michael said, emphasizing there's nothing wrong with the sausage business or the Spata father and son.

"I liked the family a lot," he said, while also adding: "We had no need for the kid."

Allie Boy Persico.


"How Pathetic"
Whether Spata has been an asset for the Colombos so far is open to debate. His most recent bust in November 2013 is somewhat pathetic as John Marzulli noted in the New York Daily News:

The mob’s Thanksgiving turkey award goes to Angelo “Little Angelo” Spata of the Colombo crime family. 
Spata, the son-in-law of Colombo crime boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico, was busted for shoplifting lighting equipment valued at $164 from a Home Depot in Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned. (Truth be Told was correct about this, too.) 
The reputed mob associate was caught on Nov. 8 making off with a dimmer switch and LED recessed lights from the Coney Island store without paying, according to a court complaint. 
“How pathetic,” said a law enforcement source.

Spata was charged with petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Both charges are misdemeanors that carry a maximum jail sentence of one year.

Spata caught a lucky break however. As reported:

A Brooklyn federal judge took mercy on a haplass Colombo associate charged with stealing $164 worth of merchandise from a Home Depot last month — and opted not to revoke his bail on a racketeering charge. 
Angelo Spata — the son-in-law of jailed Colombo boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico — was out on $1 million bond when he was busted not scanning five recessed lights at a self-checkout line in the Coney Island store on Nov. 8.

Spata's attorney argued the scanner issue was a mistake. (How do you accidentally steal five recessed lights at a self-checkout line?)

Spata tried to steal $164 in lighting equipment.

Spata was free on $1 million bail in a separate racketeering case from January 2011.

In December 2013, Spata submitted letters from a half-dozen Catholic priests seeking leniency from the judge. He faces up to 21 months in prison for money laundering and illegal gambling.

The letters were written to Brooklyn Federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto months prior to Spata's bust on Nov. 18 for shoplifting $164 worth of lighting equipment from the Coney Island Home Depot.

At his January 2014 sentencing for the federal charges, Spata got a 15-month prison term for racketeering and gambling raps.

Spata, 39, had faced up to 31 months after pleading guilty to extorting vendors at the Santa Rosalia festival in Brooklyn and taking part in illegal gambling.

Spata was working hard to prompt Brooklyn federal Judge Kiyo Matsumoto to give him a no-jail deal, hoping his charitable works and family responsibilities would mitigate his charges.

Federal prosecutor Gina Parlovecchio argued that Spata was hiding the true extent of his power in the Colombo crime family.

“He is a more powerful member for the Colombo crime family than he has sought to portray in these proceedings,” she said. “These are serious crimes that warrant serious punishment.”

Matsumoto opted for the lower end of federal sentencing guidelines but made sure Spata got a harsh wake-up call by handing down a 15-month sentence as well as a $7,500 fine.

Spata Junior, at age 41, was released on April 29, 2015.


Gambino Crime Family at Odds with Colombos
Allie Boy and Michael DiLeonardo had grown close and were very friendly, something difficult to believe considering the larger context. One would think these two would’ve been shooting at each other rather than joking over drinks.

John Gotti, after all, had “started the Colombo war," “Mikie Scars” said. “He wanted to control the Colombo family. He had us; he had the Bonanno family – and he wanted the Colombos. It was (Joseph) Scopo he tried to work through to control the Commission.”

Gotti had issues with the Colombo crime family's boss, Carmine Persico, who he considered a rat.

Michael said as much in testimony.

“John Sr. instigated the war,” DiLeonardo told a Brooklyn jury regarding the early-1990s war between Persico and Vittorio "Vic" Orena.

“John made some statement that Carmine was a rat,” said DiLeonardo.

Of the trial, The New York Post reported:

The ex-Gambino capo told the jury deciding the fate of Carmine’s son, Alphonse “Allie Boy” Persico, 52, that Gotti favored Orena, but he made it clear that Gotti’s goal was a power grab. 
“He figured if he could get ‘Junior’ Persico out as boss and Vic Orena in, he would have another vote on the Commission [the ruling body of Mafia families],” he said. 
Allie Boy is accused of ordering the murder of Orena loyalist William “Wild Bill” Cutolo in 1999 to ensure that he’d retain control of the family while doing time on a gun rap. 
Fifteen people were killed in the civil war, said DiLeonardo, who tried to broker a peace and persuaded then-boss Peter Gotti – after John Sr. went to prison in 1992 – “to meet with Allie to patch things up.” (We'll revisit this, later on in this story.)
“I loved the guy,” DiLeonardo said of Alphonse Persico. “He was a good guy.”  (More on this, too.)
Earlier in the day, Chris Paciello, who started working for the feds after pleading guilty to murder, recalled a sit-down in which he shunned the Gambino clan for the Persicos. 
“Look, you’re not under any pressure,” DiLeonardo told Paciello at the decisive meeting in a Brooklyn bakery in 1996, according to Paciello, former owner of a Miami celebrity hot spot called Liquid. 
“Whatever you decide is up to you, but you gotta make a decision where you feel you belong,” DiLeonardo allegedly told Paciello, who said Persico was present.


Joseph Scopo's Role
For decades, John Gotti knew Scopo. He supported Vic for the top spot, but Gotti also thought by installing a new Colombo regime, he'd benefit as well through this relationship.

John Pappa serving life for Scopo murder.


Gene Gotti and Scopo even had an "an unusual joint loansharking operation,” as Gangland News reported. The book was said to be "booming” in 2002, when the story was published. Joseph's brother Ralph, a Colombo soldier, took over his brother’s share of the operation, which in 2002 had more than $1 million “on the street” earning from 100 to 200 per cent interest a year.

Scopo also was a "hijacking buddy of Gene and John Gotti back in the early 1970s."

Though Scopo was a Colombo mobster, he remained close to the Gottis – up until his 1993 murder.

Michael and John “Junior” Gotti were supposed to meet Scopo on the night he was killed.

Joseph Scopo was the last casualty of the third Colombo war. (Some would say the second-to-last.) In October of 1993, he was shot to death in front of his Queens residence. He’d been driving home from dinner with his future son-in-law, Angelo Barrone, seated beside him and his nephew, Dominic Logazzo, in the backseat.





As they pulled up in front of Scopo’s house on 110th Street in Ozone Park, masked gunmen approached and fired, using a Mac-10 automatic pistol and a .380 automatic pistol. (John Pappa, a violent young associate and son of Gerard Pappa, a Genovese mobster killed by Vincent “The Chin” Gigante in the 1970s, was sent away for life after killing several people who he believed were trying to claim credit for the Scopo hit.)

In a report of the murder, the New York Times wrote: "Joe Scopo was definitely a big score," and a "tremendous loss" to the Orena faction, said a law-enforcement official… Scopo, a former vice president of Local 6A of Cement and Concrete Workers in New York City, also was said to be the underboss of the Colombo crime family’s Orena faction.

Gotti also was a strong influence over Vittorio "Little Vic" Orena, according to Michael and other sources. He was very subservient when in Gotti’s presence.

By early 1991, Orena believed he should be made official. He viewed Persico as out of touch, was negotiating some sort of television biography. Orena first sought to elevate himself via the Commission, but the Commission refused. Orena instructed consigliere Carmine Sessa to poll all the capos – “that sounds like John,” Michael said – which was a mistake. Some capos were Persico’s relatives. As for Sessa, he alerted the boss, who swiftly ordered Orena’s death.


Mikie Scars Appointed Liaison to Colombos
"I became the liaison to the Colombo family," Michael explained when asked about how he'd come to grow so close to Allie Boy despite the problems between the two organizations.

That's right, each crime family has a liaison to each of New York's other crime families, a man specially appointed to the position, and it's usually the consiglieri, Mikie Scars said.

"I was picked. I get appointed – I know the Persicos," But there was another factor, Scars said.

"Junior doesn’t want to meet Allie Boy." Why? Not a question Michael answered directly but considering the alleged problems caused by Gotti Senior....you figure it out.

"John Senior called the Colombos 'the Cambodians,'" due to all the fighting, Scars said.

"Junior asked me about Allie Boy. 'I know his brothers and his sisters but not him,' I told him. Junior wouldn't go. He tells Jackie to tell Allie Boy that 'Michael is a Gotti.'" Michael has decision -making ability.

Shortly following Michael's appointment, Jackie introduced him to Allie Boy.

"I had a real good relationship with Allie Boy,"  Michael said.

"Meanwhile Allie Boy is asking why Junior won’t meet him – 'Why won't he meet me,' he'd ask me.

The Colombo factions were still shooting up New York. "They're still fighting that war," Michael said.

But the mob doesn't exist to fire weapons at people. No matter what else is happening, the need for revenue is ongoing.

"We had a lot of business – concrete, (we put them in the concrete business). [Editor's note: Michael is saying the Gambinos put all the other families in concrete -- that business was owned by the Gambino's initially.]  We had (Chris) Paciello (Miami nightclub impresario) doing this and that. There's a million things going on."


After receiving permission from John "Junior" Gotti and DiLeonardo, Vic Orena opened a concrete concern called La'Quila, which by July 2006 was working at the World Trade Center. The man who owned the company had been barred from the business,as The New York Times reported.

What compounded the problem was Jackie "Nose" -- who taking a page from the boss's book, repeated Gotti's belief that Persico was a rat. Jackie repeatedly claimed this to such an extent, word got back to Allie Boy, who was quite pissed off at the Gambinos already.

"Jackie went around telling everyone that Junior (Carmine Persico) wasn't the boss," DiLeonardo said.

Michael eventually arranged for a sit-down between Jackie and Allie Boy so Jackie could tell Allie Boy that the Gambino crime family recognized Carmine Persico as the boss. The meeting was held at Areo, a restaurant in Bay Ridge.

"We advised jack to say Carmine was in fact the boss and that the Gambinos had no problem with that sort of an apology. Politics at play," Michael reiterated.


Peter Gotti Meets Allie Boy
When Junior went away, in 1998, Peter Gotti became Gambino boss, Michael arranged for a meeting between the Dapper Don's brother and Allie Boy, Colombo acting boss.

"I introduced Peter to Allie Boy as acting boss. They offered me a seat at the table. I said no thank you. I wanted to let them alone. I told Pete to tell (Allie Boy) that we acknowledge his father (meaning the imprisoned Carmine Persico) as the boss and we’ll help do whatever they want to put it back together."

Michael recalled that Peter arrived at the meeting, a restaurant on Staten Island's Ellis Street, with his bother Richard. Michael arrived with Eddie Garofalo, and Allie Boy arrived by his lonesome.


Peter Gotti met with Allie Boy to make peace with the Colombos.

Michael gives the Colombo boss kudos for that, showing up alone to meet the Gambinos. For all Allie Boy knew, he could have been walking into a trap.

"Allie Boy had balls," Michael said.

Michael and Allie Boy became good friends, building a relationship on trust and respect. They'd often have dinner together (with no one else accompanying them). On occasions they'd exchange gifts, expensive watches, pricey wines.

Speaking somberly Michael described how he broke that trust when he flipped. "I'm still sickened that I hurt Allie Boy and Jack DeRoss (a Colombo capo sent away for life with Allie Boy) -- two men who are true Cosa Nostra."

A year or two later, Allie Boy was arrested while in Florida.

In February 2000 he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for illegal weapons possession charges.

Persico was eligible for release after about a year as part of his plea deal (he also had to pay a $40,000 fine and serve three years of probation). Then he was sent away for good for the murder of William "Wild Bill" Cutolo.

But before he goes away, Persico wanted to "straighten out the kid because everyone is in jail," Michael said.

"Now (Spata Junior) became a different guy. He’s walking around like someone he’s not.

"I did him a favor, I got him released – he became something he shouldn't have been. He’s the boss's son-in-law.

"John Senior called the Colombos 'the Cambodians," due to all the fighting, Scars said.

"Angelo was a great kid. He changed when he got straightened out," Michael said.

He said it in an earlier story, how some guys get their button and wake up stupid the next day.

“They all know I know the truth," Mikie Scars mused.



Comments

  1. Another great story Ed! I've said it before and I'll say it again, someone needs to do a book with Scars. He knows so many main players from the 80's & 90's. Would love to hear more about his relationship with Allie Boy Persico. Allie Shades

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  2. "Allie Boy affably zinged him with: 'Give him to me? I'll just fkin' take him!' 'He’s just a sausage guy – like his father,' Michael said, emphasizing there's nothing wrong with the sausage business or the Spata father and son. 'I liked the family a lot,' he said, while also adding: 'We had no need for the kid.' "

    Sounds like the Gambino's were throwing out the trash and Allie Boy took it.

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